It doesn’t matter whether you’re an avid birder or only just starting to watch birds – if you want to capture all the subtleties of the surroundings, nothing beats a good pair of binoculars.⁠⁠

⁠When choosing a pair of binoculars, it’s important to understand the specifications: 8×42, 10×50, 8×25, 12×56 etc. This helps determine which one best suits your needs. The first number indicates the magnification and the second number the diameter of the front element of the binoculars.⁠⁠ The magnification determines how large objects will appear when looking through the binoculars which, while it’s a personal choice, 10x is generally best for birding.⁠⁠ A larger diameter collects more light for a brighter view, yet makes them heavier. For birding, the 40 mm, 42 mm, or 44 mm diameters serve as a good medium compromise between low-light capability and portability.⁠⁠

⁠⁠Outdoorphoto sells top binocular brands such as Canon, Nikon, Swarovski and Zeiss at various price ranges to suit your pocket and needs. Our top picks for budget-friendly birding binoculars.

1. Swarovski CL 10×25 Pocket Binoculars

With build and image quality nature enthusiasts have come to expect from Swarovski, the CL Pocket Binoculars are no exception. It features a unique dual-hinge bridge that is scalloped on the underside to allow the barrels to fold underneath the concave bridge for a reduced footprint – leaving you with a compact binocular that fits perfectly in your hand. 

In addition to the noteworthy compactness, these glasses are packed with Swarovski’s usual gamut of premium optical features. This includes fully multi-coated glass, comfortable 17 mm eye relief, 53° apparent viewing angle, and a minimum focus distance of 2.5 m. If you’re in need of an affordable binocular with Swarofki’s quality, this is the pair for you.

  • Compact Roof Prisms
  • Swarobright and Swarotop Lens Coating
  • Scratch-Resistant Swarodur Coatings
  • Twist-Up Hypoallergenic Eyecups
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2. Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 Binoculars

These binoculars feature Schott ED glass for bright, sharp images that meet all demands for versatile use. With a rugged design, an excellent close focus distance of only 1.6 m, a wide field of view and a very affordable price, this model is a great choice for anyone who loves birding.

It offers optical clarity and precision even in adverse light conditions and is comprised of a waterproof and nitrogen-filled design for robust use.

  • Schmidt-Pechan Roof Prism Design
  • Zeiss Hydrophobic Multi-Coated Optics
  • Schott Extra-Low-Dispersion Glass
  • Twist-Up Rubber Eyecups
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3. Nikon Monarch M5 10×42 Binoculars

The Monarch series is known for its focus on comfort and performance. It’s popular for birding, hunting or sports watching applications. The improved Monarch M5 produce a wider field of view that enables a more immersive observational experience. 

It features a new exterior design and offers a contrast-rich and high-resolution image with true-to-life colour and minimal colour fringing received from the extra-low dispersion (ED) glass.

  • Phase-Corrected Dielectric-Coated Prisms
  • Anti-Reflection Fully Multicoated Optics
  • Extra-Low Dispersion Glass Elements
  • Nitrogen Filled, Water and Fog Proof
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4. Nikon Monarch M7 10×42 Binoculars

Boasting an incredibly wide viewing angle, higher resolutions and outstanding low-light capabilities. Along with the 42 mm objectives with 10x magnification, nature’s detail will become indescribable. 

With the Monarch M7, you can expect an astonishing wide 120.2 m field of view at 1000 m that lets you locate your subject when spotting birds and wildlife surrounded by trees and landscapes. You will also view your image through ED glass, multilayer lens and prism coatings, true-to-life colour and minimal colour fringing.

  • Phase-Corrected Dielectric-Coated Prisms
  • Anti-Reflection Fully Multicoated Optics
  • Extra-Low Dispersion Glass Elements
  • Nitrogen Filled, Water and Fog Proof
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5. Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 Binoculars

An entry-level solution that offers bright imagery full of contrast. With a powerful magnification and a relatively compact design, this binocular gives users the ability to discern details at a distance without weighing them down. 

Offers a 63º apparent angle of view that improves ease of use and limits apparent shake usually found in large magnification optics. It also boasts a durable rubber coating that provides a non-slip grip even in wet conditions.

  • Silver-Coated Roof Prisms
  • Multicoated Optics
  • Lead- and Arsenic-Free Eco-Glass
  • Nitrogen Filled, Water and Fogproof
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6. Bushnell Legend 2.0 10×42 Binoculars

Enjoy many hours of birdwatching with these binoculars. An all-glass, fully multi-coated optical system enhances resolution, contrast and light transmission, while its ergonomic design with soft-touch rubber provides a confident, comfortable grip. But, that doesn’t make them less rugged as they’re both waterproof and drop-proof. 

  • Fully Multicoating Optics
  • RainGaurd HD Water Repellent Coating
  • Ultra-Smooth Focus Wheel
  • Ergonomic Design
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7. Canon 10×20 IS Binoculars

Small, compact size for comfortable handling with 10x magnification and image stabilisation for a super-steady view. The Porro prism optics enables a rich depth of field to help measure the distance between objects while delivering a wider field of view. 

The Image Stabiliser technology developed from Canon’s camera lenses improves clarity and reduces shake. With the Canon 10×20 IS Binoculars you have the option to choose between normal IS or powered IS to adapt to moving or still subjects. It also ensures reduced eye strain which allows you to enjoy birdwatching over long periods. 

  • Traditional Porro Prism
  • Broadband Super Spectra Coating System
  • Lens Shift Image Stabilization
  • Choice of Normal or Powered IS Modes
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Still unsure? Comment below with your questions! We are here to help. You can also get in touch by phoning us at 012 348 3693 or sending a mail to info@outdoorphoto.co.za