Easy Guide for Getting Binoculars for the First Time

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Overwhelmed by all the information on the internet about choosing the perfect pair of birdwatching binoculars? All you wanted to do is to identify and observe birds from far away and never did you expect wind up in the middle of all this confusion. You are certainly not alone as we have to come to see that many people come to us for help with choosing their first pair of binoculars binoculars. However, it may be daunting when we say that learning about these specifications are very important when thinking about binoculars because they influence what you can do with them and how comfortable they will be for you to use them. In this article, we will try to simplify it as much as we can so you understand that they all mean and present our favourite birdwatching binoculars!

Important Key Terms

All of this information will be found in either the product name or in the specifications tab and do not specify for birdwatching binoculars.

Bushnell Natureview 6(Magnification)x30(Aperture) Birdwatching Binoculars

Magnification How much larger and closer you get to the object without moving closer.
Aperture The diameter of the objective lens measured in mm.
Eye Relief The distance between your eye and the eyepiece at which you will receive the widest field of view. This is more important for people wearing glasses where the binoculars with a greater eye relief than 15mm is recommended as allows for room for your glasses.
Prism Type There are two common prism types: porro prism and roof prism. Porro prism binoculars are the chunkier design where there is a significant distance between each monocular of a pair of binoculars. Roof prisms are the smaller, more lightweight design where both monoculars are cylindrical,  parallel and closer to each other. >/td>
Waterproof/Fogproof Most specifications should say whether the binoculars are waterproof and fogproof. This is important for marine use and humid or wet weather conditions.
Field of View How much you can see (measured in horizontal distance) you can see at set distance of 1000 metres or yards.

Things you should think about

Binoculars are essentially multipurpose tools as there are really two specifications that dictate what you could do with them (the aperture and magnification). This means that with, say a 8×42 you could be using it as general observation binoculars, hunting binoculars, marine binoculars. But does that mean that choosing any old 8×42 binoculars would be perfect for birdwatching? Definitely not. There are a few additional considerations you will need to make that makes some binoculars more specialised.


Birdwatchers tend to observe their target for long periods of times to distinguish the smallest of details of the bird. This means that  choosing a lightweight set of binoculars that are not too straining on your arms is crucial. Different brands and designs at set specifications are likely to have differing weights. Thus a key factor in choosing which specific pair of binoculars you should purchase is to consider how much weight you can handle and work from there. You can do this by estimating how much weight your arms can handle for 20 minutes (or how long you expect to be using them for) before getting sore to consider whether a 700g or a 500g pair binocular is the more appropriate choice for you.

Large aperture

When you have chosen how much weight you can handle, you should try to maximise the aperture of the binoculars. Why? Because large aperture allows more light to enter the objective lens and for your views to be brighter and clearer. This is especially important for birdwatchers whose primary goal is to make out the finest details about the bird and observe with clarity that is true to colour and life. So choosing a larger aperture objective lens is also very important to getting effective birdwatching binoculars.


Consider the weather conditions you will be likely to use these binoculars in. Particularly for wet and humid conditions, getting a waterproof and fogproof design will be a lifesaver. No more predictions on whether water will get on your binoculars and getting a new pair – your binoculars will be safe in all weather conditions!

ED Lenses

You may be able to tell that some binoculars have ED or HD in their title and cost significantly more than other binoculars. The premium price may  be due to the brand or country of manufacture of the binoculars, or alternatively  due to the use of extra-low dispersion (ED) glass in the lenses. ED lenses offers a superior viewing performance as they are designed to reduce chromatic aberration , a flaw inherent to poor quality optical lens which involves blurriness or graininess towards the edges of the lens. With ED glasses, you will see clear, perfect views throughout.

Recommended Birdwatching Binoculars

Bushnell Natureview 8×42

bushnell_natureview_8x42_228042Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 5.09.47 pm

Ergonomic Design

The textured pattern on the body make these binoculars extremely comfortable to hold securely.


For purely birdwatching you may not really need waterproofing but it would be a good safety precaution. For Melbournians who live through crazy weather conditions, predicting whether the weather will be clear enough for non-waterproof binoculars is pretty much impossible so getting waterproof binoculars cannot be recommended enough.

Magnification and Aperture

8x magnification allows me to be further away for the birds to prevent them from getting startled but close enough to discriminate detail. The large aperture significantly helps with the amount of detail I can observe.

Roof Prism Design

Roof prisms are definitely more comfortable to hold and the lightweight design enables me to hold them up for long periods of time without getting sore arms.

Steiner Safari Ultrasharp 8×30

steiner_safari_ultrasharp_8x30_4405Safari Ultrsharp 8x30 Specs


At just 611g, holding these binoculars are compact enough to hold comfortably for long periods at a time.


These binoculars are waterproof and fogproof which makes it perfect in all weather conditions!

Steiner product

German optics is well renowned for its high quality and it is very obvious in this pair of binoculars. Clarity and high resolution with true to colour observation is very evident.

Kowa BD Series Promina 8×32 DCF ED Binoculars

kowa_bd_prominar_8x32_binoculars_3Kowa DCF


At only 560g, these binoculars are extremely comfortable to hold up for longer periods at a  time.

Rubber coating

The rubber coating makes these binoculars incredibly comfortable to hold. It also protects the internal optical mechanisms from being damaged through knocks and bumps.

Japanese optical engineering

Japanese optical engineering is well renowned for its high quality and advanced innovative technology.

ED Lenses

ED lenses reduce chromatic aberration leaving you with beautiful views throughout the lens.


These binoculars are completely equipped to handle the worst weather conditions and still deliver brilliant, breathtaking views!


Has our guide helped you find your ideal pair of birdwatching binoculars? We would absolutely love to know. If you are still confused about which to buy, we are more than happy to help. You can get our assistance by simply popping by our Mitcham showroom and trying on a few pairs of binoculars to find out your preferred option or by asking our friendly staff on 1300 884 763 if you’re outside of Melbourne. Either way, we will be able to help you alleviate some of that confusion and get you birdwatching with the most appropriate pair of binoculars in no time!

Some other great reads…

Binoculars or telescopes? Which one is better for me?

Cleaning and Caring for Binoculars Optics


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