The Audubon Guide to Binoculars

The Audubon Guide to Binoculars

When it comes to birdwatching, what you choose to look through makes all the difference.

By Wayne Mones/ Illustrations by Serge Bloch
Published: November-December 2009

There are other bird-worthy binoculars for sale. But I have used each of the following models and recommend them based on my experience and on feedback from fellow birders. All will give you years of birding enjoyment. I favor seven-power binoculars, because they are very bright and tend to have panoramic fields of view, but I also like eight-power models. The price ranges shown below are based on commonly published prices from Internet retailers.

 

ALPHA CLASS (LESS THAN $2,500) 
These models are the best available, so select the one that feels good to you. Yes, they're expensive, but take the plunge and you will never be sorry.  These are the current state of the art.
1. Leica Ultravid HD 7x42 (or 8x42, or 8x32)
2. Nikon EDG 7x42 (or 8x42, or 8x32)
3. Swarovski EL 8.5x42 (or 8x32)
4. Zeiss Victory 7x42 T* FL (or 8x42, or 8x32)

 

ALMOST ALPHA CLASS (LESS THAN $1,000)  
These models come very close to the state of the art and cost a lot less.
1. Nikon Premier 8x42
2. Zeiss Conquest 8x40 BT* (or 8x30 BT*)

 

BEST-VALUE CLASS (LESS THAN $500) 
These offer sharp, bright images with accurate color rendition and little observable distortion. All are durable and waterproof. You're not settling for an inferior product if you buy one of these instead of a hyper-expensive pair, because all are far superior to anything that existed 20 years ago. And, hey, you can use the savings to pay for a birding trip.
1. Bushnell Legend 8x42
2. Leupold Cascades 8x42
3. Leupold Katmai 6x32 
4. Nikon Monarch 8x42 PC ATB
5. Swift Audubon Roof Prism 8.5x44
6. Vortex Fury 6.5x32

 

"GET IN THE GAME" CLASS (LESS THAN $100)
These afford surprisingly good images and wide fields of view. (The Leupold is great for kids because of its compact size and light weight.) Neither is waterproof or fog-proof.
1. Leupold Yosemite Porro Prism 6x30
2. Nikon Action 7x35

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Author Profile

Wayne Mones

Wayne Mones has been an avid birder since childhood, and leads bird walks. He has written about birding optics for Better View Desired, Bird Watcher's Digest, and on The Perchthe Audubonmagazine blog.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine

Comments

binocular Right eye focus adjustment

My binocular is an Audubon Equinox 8X42 58B 103240 which I have been using for about eight years. Fortunately the adjustment between the two eyes has been satisfactory but I have never been able to get the right eye focus ring to moove. I recently had cataract surgery on my right eye and I may need to make adjustments to the right eye focus. Is the adjustment ring "frozen" for some reason or is there some special manuver one must do to make the ring moovable and thus adjust the focus for the right eye?

Sincerely, Carl Bankes

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