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Tips & Guides: Selecting Your First Pair Of Binoculars For Birdwatching | Neil Hermes

For beginner birdwatchers, nature lovers or anybody who has never owned a pair of binoculars before, choosing the right pair can be quite challenging because of the different brands, types, and specs involved.

In this article, I will give you my top five tips that can help you make a sound decision before you purchase your first pair of binoculars. Once you’ve decided what to get, I highly recommend you watch this short guide and video I created on how to use binoculars.


1. The right magnification of the binocular

The right magnification of the binocular


The first thing to think about when you are getting a pair of binoculars is the magnification that will be able to look at the bird. When we want to see things at a distance, it would be advantageous for us to enlarge the view so we can see more clearly.

The first number at the beginning of the sequence of the binoculars represents the magnification. The options usually range from 7-12. There’s an important trick here – the bigger the number, the larger the pair of binoculars becomes.

A binocular range of about 7 or 8 is very good for your first pair of binoculars.


2. Brightness or the amount of light coming into the binocular

Adjusting brightness in Binocular


The second number indicated on the binoculars refers to the amount of light that comes into the binoculars. It has to do with the size of the lens at the front. Hence, the larger the lens at the front, the more light that comes in, and the more likely you can see in darker conditions, like birdwatching in night time.

For the first pair of binoculars, an optical range of lens size around 40 to 50 is probably ideal for your first pair.


3. Field of View

The third factor is to look at the field of view. It has nothing to do with the magnification but rather how wide the view is of what you can see. If you are not used to using a pair of binoculars, it’s sometimes difficult to locate a fast-moving bird because the field of view is fairly narrow.

So the preference is for your first binocular to have the field of view as wide as possible. This number is indicated as the third number on a binocular and represents the field of view angle in degrees.

A good beginner’s choice would be 8*42 and a 7° field of view (e.g. 8×42 – 7°). The wider the field of view, the better.


4. Comfort 

The next thing you need to consider when buying your first pair of binoculars is how you feel while using it. There is no point in having a pair of binoculars that you feel awkward either in terms of weight or size. Hence, it must be comfortable to use.

There are no specs or numbers to look out for here. Once you’ve found a few pairs with the correct specs for magnification, brightness, and field of view, all you need to do is select the most comfortable pair for your personal use.


5. Price

Like most products in the market, the prices for binoculars are different and most of the time, competitive. The better the quality of the lens, the better the quality of the manufacturer, the higher the price is of the binoculars. However, the starting price I would recommend for a good pair of binoculars for birdwatching would range from $150 – $300.

Binoculars are an investment. But choosing a good, versatile pair you can use for a very long time is well worth the initial price. Especially if you know how to care for them properly.

If you’re new to the activity of birdwatching, or simply want to learn more about it, I highly recommend you scan my website, subscribe to my Youtube channel, or join one of my upcoming birding safaris.

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