Whether this is your first rodeo or not, a good set of binos is definitely a must-have ingredient of your go bag. You are a fan of Bushnell Binoculars or Athlon Optics; buying the best binoculars is not a question of fandom. In fact, buying yourself a good set of binoculars is quite a complex task. Not that it is a boring one, not for the hunting or birding enthusiasts.
Nikon Monarch was one of the first binoculars that I used. But after these tests, there’s a lot more I can say about them. So for the buyers among you who are going to get their first ones, we are sure to suggest some of the best you can buy.
Best Binoculars from Athlon Optics, Bushnell Binoculars and More
The best binoculars are bound to have a certain set of features, especially birding is their use. For instance, it is important to check how well the bino can perform in high brightness and then in low light. Looking up at the bright sky isn’t easy if the brightness through the binoculars doesn’t allow colors to show more.
Moving on, in a dense forest, you’d need the piece to gather as much light as possible. We have tested these and other aspects of some of the best binoculars from names like Athlon Optics, Bushnell Optics, Nikon Binoculars and so on.
Also, at the end of the product reviews, you will find a befitting buyer’s guide to fill you in. In case you have more questions, try out the FAQ section or drop a comment below!
Best Overall Pick
Athlon Optics Midas ED
Big Things in Small Packages
There is hardly a product that covers all bases for a buyer’s guide. Yet, this beauty from Athlon Optics does so. In far less than what companies like Ziess and Nikon ask, these binoculars manage to beat more of them in quality and features as well.
Best Binoculars on Budget
Nikon 8217 Trailblazer ATB
Durable, Compact and Economical
Not everyone wants to spend more than a hundred bucks. Yet, we wouldn’t want you to settle for a sub-par product. Don’t do that, make use of what these Nikon binoculars have to offer. The vision quality is pretty hi-res and they are truly the best compact binoculars we have tried.
It was quite interesting to see how the first product we reviewed was hard to beat for all the others. The Midas ED by Athlon Optics, best binoculars as per most of our testers, isn’t short of impressive. For starters, it is hard to get a good set of binos for anything below $1000. Yet, Athlon Optics manages to do that for far less.
In a price tag that rarely performs like this one, you get an 8 x 42 binoculars that has even superior quality. You will see that some of the new models these days cost far less than their predecessors. This is because of lower prices of optical solutions as well as manufacturing. Even the Midas ED benefits from the same.
Athlon Optics boasts of very low chromatic fringe, sharper and clearer images. All thanks to Dielectric prism coating, advanced FMC lenses, and better water proofing methods than before.
Moreover, this is a very solid build that is durable in harsh conditions. This not only includes the design and material of the case but also the optics. The textured grip on the sides makes it easy to hold it through and the focus knobs are solid. Not only that, the focus-adjustment works like a charm and has the ideal length of rotation.
Moving on, Athlon Optics boasts of the widest field of view which is better than the Nikon binoculars. The field of view is even wider at a distance, where it beats more than a few other contenders of the best binoculars spot. For instance, even the Nikon Prostaff doesn’t allow you to focus as close as the Midas ED.
- Superior Performance
- Good Price
- Wider Field of View
- Aesthetic Sense of Design
While it is true that the superior quality of Athlon Optics has no companion, the acclaimed Legend Ultra HD is also a strong contender. While testing for the best hunting binoculars, this Bushnell Optics model proved its worth, especially with the 10 x 42 version.
Since the viewing field is often a concern, the 10 x 42 model provides 340 feet of a field of view. Yet, you can also go for the other variants i.e. the 8X36, 8X42 and 10X36 models if you want.
The Bushnell Legend is head to head with the Midas ED on waterproofing and fog proofing. The lenses are well guarded with RainGuard HD water-repellent lens coatings. And with the superior ED prime glass and its ultra-wide coating you can expect clearer views of the game.
In terms of weight, the Bushnell binoculars are heavier than the Midas ED. But since it has a microfiber carrying bag as well as a neck-strap included in the case, that should not be much of an issue. It also offers a good close focus which is better than many of the big names like Nikon binoculars, Opticron and Vortex Optics.
If you are looking for birding binoculars, or adventuring after some game in the forest, this can do the trick for below $300. Which, by the way, is the least for getting your hands on a good model among most binocular reviews. The other model from Bushnell binoculars that we tested was the 138005 H20. Despite being good compact binoculars, they are bad with movements.
- ED Prime Glass
- Good Value for Money
- Good Field of View
- Tacky Strap Installation
- Case Quality Can Be improved
There are tons of models from Nikon that we came across. From Prostaff, the Nikon binoculars that everyone used to rage about, to the Monarch series. We have had so many in-demand products from them. Yet, if compared with the latest features offered and the price points, Nikon has a lot of competition.
The 8217 Trailblazer ATB was one of the first products that impressed us with its size. These compact binoculars can fit in your pocket so that you don’t always need a neck-strap. Like other models, there is an O-Ring protection on the shell to ensure waterproofing and fog proofing. The nitrogen filling helps too, and as a result we can say the Trailblazer is quite effective in its claim of sustaining harsh conditions.
It might not look the part from pictures, but the shell grips are very rubbery and soft. This also means better gripping in times of need. Yet, we would not suggest the ATB to anyone who has shaky hands. Unlike the Athlon Optics model above, this one doesn’t react well to even slightest of movements.
The field of view is also much smaller. But then again the version we tested was an 8 x 25 while the Athlon and Bushnell binoculars were 8 x 42 and 10 x 42 each. Even with that difference in mind, the quality of optics was worth appreciating. Along with the BAK4 Roof Prisms, there are many layers of coating for better image quality as well as protection.
In case something goes wrong, you can always claim the lifetime warranty that Nikon binoculars are offering. But don’t expect the product to break down on you. This is a very solid build and we expect it to last much longer than what it looks like.
- Good Compact Binoculars
- High-Res Quality
- Budget Choice
- Smaller Field of View
- Highly Reactive to Shakes
Since hunting and birding are hobbies, not many of us put a price cap on them. That is why, if you have the spending capacity, we have got a premium product for you. Although it costs nine times more than the Athlon Optics model we discussed above, the Zeiss Victory SF is a luxury statement.
Made by the most renowned optics brand, the Victory series is top of the line. Even for Zeiss itself, this range of line is the best there is on the table. there is the standard 10x zoom win the 10 x 42 and it manages to stay crystal clear at all levels.
Not only that, with some of the best binoculars put to shame, the performance of these binos in the dark is also exceptional.
It doesn’t leave any stone unturned aesthetics and ergonomics wise. To ensure water and fog proofing it has Nitrogen filling, Abbe-Koenig styled prisms, Schott HT glass, and a very balanced weight.
Thanks to comfortable grips, you can hold them for longer and tireless. Last but not least, it has the capacity to get up close to the objects and offers up to five feet of close focus. This is much more than many we tested.
Obviously, all this is good if you can spend a few thousands of dollars extra on looking through binoculars.
- Premium Quality
- Wide Field of View and Close Focus
- Superior Performance
- Very Expensive
Keeping up with the standards set, the Mikon Monarch binoculars are also a very compact model. In fact, the first thing in favor of the bino is that it is one of the best compact binoculars out there. There are two magnification variants available so you can choose between 8x and 10x. Also, there are diameter variants to choose from as well.
As per the binocular reviews, you can expect a field of view spanning over 360 feet from 1000m. This is fairly good if compared with what else is on the table. What makes you question the choice, on the other hand, is that it is a premium product. This means you will need to spend some extra bucks if you are a fan of Nikon binoculars.
While it isn’t as expensive as the Zeiss model above, it will set you back by a thousand dollars. That being said, prices are subject to change but features aren’t. So for whatever you need to pay, the product will bring home ED glass technology as well as Armor Lens Coating to protect against scratches. Although the flip down covers can keep it safe most of the time.
In case you are looking for a more budget-friendly choice, you can always choose other Nikon Monarch binoculars like the Monarch 5 or the Monarch 7. Both of which are comparatively cheaper, and still packing the quality of Nikon products.
Also, if you decide to choose the smaller 8 x 30 version, it will be lighter as well as more compact than the 42mm diameter model. But that depends on the preference of the user. Which leads us to the next question: what is the Nikon Monarch HG good for?
Since they are smaller in size, and effectively water and fog proof, thy work equally well for birding and hunting pleasures. Not only that, you can even use them for golfing, safari as well as sailing.
- Wide Field of View
- Crisp and Clear Viewing
- Water and Fog Proof
- Expensive Choice
A number of budget products were also reviewed on purpose. It is obvious that everyone doesn’t want to spend a fortune on hobbies, which is why there is the Praktica Falcon. In less than a hundred bucks you an get a 12x zoom with a 50mm diameter for a greater field of viewing.
Although this will come at the cost of high-end features as well as a lower degree of quality, it should do the job for the freshers. We are not saying you’ll get the widest field of view, but 270 feet from 1000m is fair if you are paying so less.
Do not expect waterproof O-Ring or a fog proof case. But if you are a true enthusiast who would go out in all types of weather conditions, this might be a deal breaker for you. Similarly, it is a rather bulky item. Weighing about 770 grams, it is heavier than many.
It is true that there are other lighter substitutes, but we doubt they would be as good value as this one. The bottom line is, with its basic features it should not be considered more than an all-rounder for basic viewing pleasure. Not professional grade hunting or survival kits.
With basic but usable multi-coatings, it managed to perform well enough to be considerable. Same is the case with the BK7 prism glass which, despite not being top quality, isn’t the worst either.
- Very Economical
- Great Value
- 12X Zoom and 50mm Objective Diameter
- No Fog or Waterproofing
- Heavier Build
- Lacks High End Features
One of the first things you should consider while buying a good set of binoculars is the “Objective Lens Diameter.” For bird watching binocularsy, it is important how large the lens opening is. This is because the bigger is the size of the lens opening, the better the magnification will be. Not only that, but a larger objective diameter also means that the binos would react to the light better. Yet, in the end, it depends on your type of use. The best binoculars might have a diameter that is less than most because you do not need a bigger diameter.
In the most basic requirements, magnifying is what a bino does. So greater magnification is always a plus. Usually, you can get binoculars that have 8x zoom while others go up to 10x or 12x. There are some astronomy binoculars that have larger magnification too, that is if you are into stargazing.
Keep in mind that higher magnification needs suitable diameter and stability against shakes. When checking out the binocular reviews don’t forget to check how well it takes in the light and motion when magnified.
The best binoculars will have the best field of view. Treat that as a rule of thumb if you are going to be using the binocular on open and wide areas. How it works is simple. Try to track the field of view in feet as it is easier to understand. The measurement tells the size of view you will get at a distance of 1000 meters.
Anything over 200 feet is fine although companies offer over 300 feet and even 400 feet in the same price range. When comparing in degrees make sure that you only compare the actual field of view and not the apparent field of view. That is then multiplied with the magnification available to get the apparent values.
This is also a feature that you should compare in respect of your usual usage. If you are a survival enthusiast, a hunter on a mission, or a birding enthusiast with serious hunger for the harsh conditions, you cannot survive without waterproofing.
Imagine tagging game with your binoculars in the middle of a hunt and fog blinds the lens. Manufacturers use anti-fogging materials and ergonomic changes to ensure that lens stay dry. This should not be much of a concern if you are buying binoculars for evening strolls or sports alone.
Among many other things you should consider, eye relief is more important for people with glasses. Eye relief is a calculation of how far the binocular can be from the eyes without affecting the view. What happens is, as the distance between the eye and the lens increases, the field of view decreases. The best binoculars must have larger eye relief so that people with spectacles don’t have an issue using it.
What does an Exit Pupil Diameter mean? Is it the same thing as the Objective Diameter of the lens?
No, they are not the same thing. The Objective Diameter is the calculation of the size of the lens that is being used. This has an impact on the amount of magnification possible as well as the amount of light collected by the binoculars.
But, an Exit Pupil Diameter is a calculation of how bright the vision will be. In other words, it measures the light ray size inside the lens to show the level of brightness possible. It gets a little technical, but Exit Pupil Diameter is calculated by dividing the lens size by the amount of magnification it allows. From a buyer’s point of view, a greater Exit Pupil Diameter means a big yes.
Are there supposed to be different binoculars for bird watching, golfing and stargazing?
All three of these tasks have their own requirements so we prefer different binoculars for each. For instance, a 7 x 25 lens diameter should be enough for a general use binocular. Yet, nothing short of 8 x 30 will help you in bird watching and hunting. This is because birding and hunting binoculars need more detail and clarity.
It is about how your viewing objects behave. If you are viewing something that keeps moving, you will need better binoculars. Yet, if you are only a golf game spectator, a 6 x 17 set will suffice as the objects of your view are usually not moving, or moving very slow.
Stargazing is a different league. In this case, you are trying to focus on objects at an immense distance. There is very less or no light, and there are environmental impacts on visibility as well. Thus, stargazing jobs need at least a 10x zoom and a 40mm lens diameter – or more.
How important are lens coatings for the visibility of my binoculars?
Some of the best binoculars to buy these days have not one but many coatings on the lens. From Athlon Optics to Bushnell Binoculars and all the way to Nikon; lens coatings are being used for dealing with many things. The amount of light reflected, clarity achieved as well as the brightness ensured, all depend on multilayered coatings.
Buying lens without coating or with less of them is never suggested. As some of the lens coatings are actually used to keep your eyes safe from rays.