9 best binoculars for 2022 - the ultimate buying guide

From low-ticket to high-ticket here are the best binoculars for every purpose!
Atharva Gosavi

When it comes to viewing objects from long distances, a pair of binoculars is the first thing that comes to mind. The magnification they offer allows you to avoid straining your eyes to see objects clearly from far away. Choosing the best binoculars may seem like an uphill task, especially if you're doing so for the very first time. 

Selecting binoculars requires you to know a few basics; this is essential if you don't want to invest your hard-earned money in the wrong product. We've listed below the parameters you should consider, in the given chronological order, to make sure you choose the right pair of binoculars to suit your needs perfectly. 

How to choose the best binoculars

When it comes to choosing the best binoculars, there are a bunch of specs you need to consider, however, the optimum for each differs depending on how you plan on using them.

1. Purpose of use

The reason why you're looking to buy a pair of binoculars lies at the very crux of your buying journey. Your purpose for buying binoculars will help you define the type of binoculars you need.

There are different types available for different purposes, such as binoculars for stargazing, wildlife, hunting, birdwatching, and much more. Once you've zeroed in on your purpose and subsequently the type of binoculars to buy, you'll also need to look at the concerned specifications accordingly.

2. Magnification

Magnification is a measure of how magnified an object appears when you see it through a pair of binoculars. For instance, if you're viewing an image 40 meters away with 8x binoculars, they'll appear as if you're seeing it from a distance of eight meters.

The higher the magnification, the larger the objects will appear. However, that doesn't mean you can simply pick binoculars with the highest magnification, because that affects other parameters, which we'll talk about later.

There are standard, or optimum, magnification values you can adhere to for the type of binoculars you wish to buy; here are some of them:

  • Birdwatching or tracking moving objects - 8x 
  • Stargazing for budding astronomers - 7x to 10x
  • Hunting - 8x to 10x

3. Effective diameter of the objective lens

The effective diameter of the objective lens defines the brightness levels binoculars offer. The higher the effective diameter, the brighter the view will be. However, the effective diameter is also inversely proportional to the weight of the binoculars. 

Here are the optimal effective diameters you can follow:

  • Below 25mm - for compact binoculars
  • Between 26 and 49mm - for standard binoculars
  • Over 50mm - for astronomical observations and business use

4. Exit pupil diameter

When you view the eyepiece lenses of the binoculars from about 30cm away, you'll see a bright circle. This circle is known as the pupil of the binoculars and its size is known as exit pupil diameter. The exit pupil diameter is used to determine the relative brightness a pair of binoculars offers. 

If you're using binoculars on brighter locations, an exit pupil diameter of two or three millimeters is a must. On the contrary, in darkness, the exit pupil diameter should be around five to seven millimeters. 

5. Lens coating

A good lens coating reduces reflected light and allows more light to pass through so users can get a brighter view of the object in question. So if you're looking for brighter imagery, this factor is essential to consider. 

6. Field of View

While buying binoculars, don't dare overlook the Field of View (FoV) a pair offers. A smaller FoV means you get a wide view of the surroundings that helps you locate objects faster by changing the orientation. In contrast, a large FoV means you'll find it difficult to locate objects because of the narrow image view. 

FoV is inversely affected due to the magnification of binoculars. The larger the magnification, the narrower the Field of View. The smaller the magnification, the wider the Field of View. 

If you're planning to get a binocular pair for birdwatching or tracking moving objects, it's essential to have a wider FoV so you can easily track them by changing the orientation. On the other hand, narrower FoV is beneficial if you're viewing a stationary object from a very long distance. 

7. Weight and size

The lighter weight and smaller size of the binoculars mean you won't have too much trouble carrying them around. Also, the effective diameter of the objective lens directly affects the weight and size. So, if lightweight and small size are some of your high priorities, you'll need to compromise on the effective diameter, and therefore, the brightness of the view. 

8. Eye relief

Eye relief is the distance from the final surface of the eyepiece lenses to the eye at which the entire field of view is comfortably visible through the binoculars. This feature is especially necessary for people with glasses as it enables you to use binoculars without removing your glasses. 

9. Pricing

Pricing plays a paramount role in your binoculars buying journey because your budget will indirectly affect the specs you wish to go for. In terms of a price range, we recommend first checking your experience level with binoculars and then setting an optimum budget range.

1. For a novice irrespective of the purpose of use, you can get a decent pair of binoculars in the range of $100 to $200. We recommend refraining from buying ones below hundred bucks, though.

2. For people who have already used a pair of binoculars irrespective of their purpose of use, you can go for the mid-range ones in between $200 to $500. 

3. For professionals and experts, any high-end binoculars above $500 will be a good choice given they fulfill the necessary criteria required for your purpose of use. 

How to read the binocular type correctly

When you visit any online or offline store, you'll see that binoculars are always represented in the form of an equation preceded by the brand name.

For example, Canon 10 X 30. Here, "10" means 10x, referring to the magnification of the binoculars. Similarly, "30" means 30mm, referring to the effective diameter of the objective lens.

So, by reading the name, you can get a clear idea of the magnification and the brightness of the image that a particular pair of binoculars offers.

The best binoculars to buy in 2022

Now that we've established all the necessary basics, let's take a look at some of the best binoculars you can buy depending on your purpose. Here, we've dissected the list based on the three price ranges - starting from low-ticket to high-end binoculars. Also, we've mentioned the best binoculars for different purposes of use in every price range.

1. Nikon 10-22x50 Aculon A211 Binoculars

Black binoculars
Source: Nikon/Amazon

Nikon as a brand needs no introduction, but if you're thinking you need to spend big as a novice for a quality pair of binoculars, you couldn't be more wrong. These binoculars are a proper steal for a bargain price given the features they offer. 

For under 200 dollars, you get insanely powerful optics that allow you to increase magnification from 10x to 22x. The rubber eyecups promise easy and comfortable viewing of objects, which is commendable for constant use. The entire body also has a rubber coating that ensures a firm grip even in wet conditions and stands as a testament to durability. 

The 50mm effective diameter means it offers the optimum brightness required for stargazing and astronomy. This pair of binoculars also uses multi-colored lens coating that enhances the image brightness. If you're a budding astronomy or birding hobbyist, these Nikon binoculars will definitely give you the experience you're looking for.

Why you should buy them:

  • Impressive features at bargain pricing
  • Best binoculars for budding astronomy or bird-watching hobbyists
  • Rubber coating and multi-coated lens promise long-lasting durability

Why you should avoid them:

  • Heavy weight
  • Zoom quality may be an issue for ultra long distances

2. Celestron SkyMaster 25x70 Binoculars

Black binoculars
Source: Celestron/Amazon

The Celestron SkyMaster binoculars is a heavier model given that it has a higher effective diameter of objective lens as compared to the Nikon model. However, you also get brighter images and better zoom quality. 

The Celestron SkyMaster binoculars also offer multi-coated lenses, which allow more light to pass through and block reflected light, meaning you get a more enhanced view of objects. The rubber grip ensures it doesn't slip through your hands. What's more, it has a good eye relief distance so people with glasses will find these binoculars more convenient. 

Why you should buy them:

  • Great value for money
  • Best binoculars for people who wear glasses
  • Good quality of zoomed view

Why you should avoid them:

  • Heavy weight
  • Double vision isn't impressive enough

3. Celestron SkyMaster 20x80

Black binculars
Source: Celestron/Amazon

This SkyMaster model has less zooming capability and is heavier in weight than its counterpart. However, you get a better Field of View which enables you to locate objects faster, and that's precisely what you need when you're tracking moving objects like airplanes or birds. 

Also, if you're a budding astronomer interested in studying the skies, the Celstron SkyMaster 20x80 is the perfect choice to go for as it works well in low-light conditions and dark areas, thanks to the BAK-4 prisms that enable better light transmission and produce brighter images. 

The SkyMaster 20x80 also has an impressive eye-relief distance that makes it a great choice to consider for people who use glasses. The binoculars also have a water-resistant exterior that promise durability and make it an awesome choice for outdoor expeditions.

Why you should buy them:

  • Great choice for astronomical viewing
  • Best binoculars for people who wear glasses
  • Better for tracking moving objects

Why you should avoid them:

  • Heavy weight
  • Build-quality can be improved

4. Vortex Optics 12x50 Diamondback HD Binoculars

Source: Vortex/Amazon

The Vortex Optics 12x50 binoculars come with multi-coated lenses that ensure maximum amounts of light pass through to produce crisp, clear, and bright images. Also, the Armortek coating plays its vital part in shielding the exterior lenses from scratches and dirt. What's more, the O-ring seals of the binoculars make sure none of the dirt particles enter the binoculars through any opening. 

The Vortex Optics 12x50 binoculars have adjustable eyecups, which can twist up and down to ensure you get a comfortable viewing experience - irrespective of whether you wear glasses or not. The rubber exterior completes the rugged construction of the binoculars, providing a non-slip grip and long-lasting durability.

Why you should buy them:

  • Great choice for astronomical viewing and bird watching
  • Adjustable eyecups that provide comfortable viewing
  • Armortek coating safeguards lenses from scratches and dirt

Why you should avoid them:

  • Eye relief is very short; not suitable for users with glasses
  • The dials are hard to turn

5. Athlon Optics 8x42 Binoculars

9 best binoculars for 2022 - the ultimate buying guide
Source: Athlon/Amazon

The standout feature of the Athlon 8x42 binoculars is its ED glass; it ensures you get sharper and clearer imagery with no chromatic fringes to spoil the view quality. Armored with rubber, these are the best binoculars to use in the mid-range pricing for hunting purposes. 

Additionally, the Argon purging makes sure you get a waterproof set of binoculars along with thermal stability. Given the magnification is low, the Athlon binoculars have a good Field of View that enables users to scan things quickly while viewing multiple objects horizontally. 

The eye relief of these binoculars also deserves a mention; it allows users with glasses to see the view clearly. Apart from durable construction, the Athlon binoculars also need to be appreciated for their lightweight and compact build, meaning you can enjoy portability without worrying about them taking up a major chunk of your luggage.

Why you should buy them:

  • A good choice for users with glasses
  • Excellent binoculars for birding 
  • Clear and high-definition view 
  • Lightweight and durable construction

Why you should avoid them:

  • The close range focus is disappointing

6. Vortex Optics Viper HD 8x42 Binoculars

Source: Vortex/Amazon

Here is another Vortex variant and, in fact, it's better than its counterpart we just went over. The low magnification and mid-level effective diameter makes it compact in size and a fantastic choice for hunting and wildlife activities. The XR anti-reflective lens coatings provide bright views in dimlit and dark areas. 

The eye-relief of the Vortex Optics binoculars is customizable, so you have a comfortable viewing experience. Also, the O-ring seals and Argon purging make these binoculars waterproof and durable for a pretty long time span. 

Why you should buy them:

  • Compact in size and lightweight
  • Customizable eye-relief for better experience
  • O-ring seals increase durability

Why you should avoid them:

  • The close range focus doesn't stay steady and is affected due to play

7. Leupold BX-4 Pro 10x42 Binoculars

Source: Leupold/Amazon

Moving on to the high-end section of binoculars, the Leupold BX-4 Pro promises relentless performances that are worth a try. It has everything you can possibly ask for in a premium pair of binoculars. It's fogproof, waterproof, and provides commendable performance in low-light areas. 

If you're looking for the best binoculars for your hunting expeditions, the Leupold BX-4 Pro is your best bet. It boasts mind-blowing clarity of images and a rugged chassis that makes it durable for the long term. Also, the 16mm eye relief means it's a great choice for people with glasses who are looking for high-end binoculars.

The Leupold BX-4 Pro also weighs less, which makes it the perfect, portable set of binoculars to have on an outing. All in all, there's hardly a con you'd find convincing enough to reject them.

Why you should buy them:

  • Durable construction
  • Great choice for wildlife and hunting
  • Lightweight and portable

Why you should avoid them:

  • Better options are available

8. Canon 12x36 Image Stabilization III Binoculars

Source: Canon/Amazon

If you're looking for a pair of binoculars that can be used for multiple outdoor activities like hunting, birdwatching, and more, then Canon has the perfect answer. The Image Stabilization III binoculars have a rather impressive balance of magnification and effective diameter of objective lens, meaning you have the perfect blend of high-quality imagery and viewing angles with an appreciable Field of View.

These Canon binoculars are equipped with Porro II prisms that help reduce the loss of light and provide stunning resolution. The long eye relief of 14.5mm means your eyes are in for a comfortable viewing experience. 

The compact size and light weight of the binoculars make it a must-have for professionals who have had ample amount of experience with using different kinds of binoculars, especially for hunting and birdwatching. 

Why you should buy them:

  • Compact design
  • Great choice for wildlife and hunting
  • Lightweight and portable

Why you should avoid them:

  • The rubber coating turns sticky after a certain period of time

9. Swarovski EL 12x50 Binoculars

Green binoculars
Source: Swarovski/Amazon

It would be criminal not to mention a pair of Swarovski binoculars when you're discussing high-end models. The EL 12x50 binoculars have made quite a name for themselves with the second-to-none quality they offer. Apart from the binocluars, you also get a field bag, eyepiece cover, lift carrying strap, and an objective lens cover included in the packaging.

The Swarovski EL 12x50 is so light in weight you don't need a special harness for it, unless you are constantly using it for hours. The effective diameter of the binoculars makes it a perfect pair for stargazing, as well as for birdwatching and hunting. 

The Swarovski EL 12x50 also renders beautiful colors and provide lifelike, crisp, and clear image quality. In a nutshell, you are going to spend a lot on these binoculars, but every penny is going to be worth it. 

Why you should buy them:

  • Long-lasting and durable
  • Lifelike imagery
  • Perfect for stargazing, hunting, and birdwatching

Why you should avoid them:

  • Only for professional explorers

Our take on the best binoculars

As we've discussed, selecting the best binoculars means you have to consider multiple permutations and combinations to choose a pair that perfectly fits your requirements.

If you're looking for a low-ticket set of binoculars, we recommend going for the Celestron SkyMaster 20x80 binoculars since they can be used for multiple purposes and are a great fit even for people with glasses.

If you have an intermediate level of experience using binoculars, we recommend the Vortex Optics Viper HD 8x42 pair. They offer optimum magnification necessary for multiple activities like stargazing, birdwatching, and more. Plus, the effective diameter ensures clear and bright imagery.

In the high-end range, we recommend going for the Swarovski EL 12x50 for its all-round use and long-lasting durability coupled with lifelike image quality. 

The choice of binoculars, as we've previously said, depends on various factors, so you can choose one that checks the maximum amount of boxes on your list of requirements. 

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