Best Binoculars for Wildlife Viewing and Safari Travel
Wildlife is full of captivating feathered, scaled and fluttery creatures. Its a place where nature is in full existence. Whatever animal you wish to see is possible. From the African lions to the coyotes of America, different kinds of creatures exist in the wild.
Both the friendly ones and those that are scared to come closer to human beings. In the wild, you can take photos as a form of remembrance. Some photos are easy to take because you can easily capture them from your car window, on the trail, and in the valleys. But some which are far off will require the best binoculars for wildlife viewing and safari to bring them closer to you.
The right pair of binoculars can enhance your experience with wildlife viewing and Safari travel exponentially. Binoculars are one piece of equipment a wildlife viewer or enthusiast cannot do without. It’s like a hunter going for hunting without a gun. The give better details and bring you closer to whatever it is you are looking at.
I do know how time-consuming and confusing this process of selecting the right binocular can be. We have lots of binoculars out there, but how to sift through and find the ones that are best for you is mostly the problem most people face. Hence the need for this article.
Tips on Choosing The Best Binoculars for Safari and Wildlife Viewing
A binocular choice is quite personal. There are many good ones out available that can give you very good images when you look through them.
Choosing quality binoculars is about finding the right compromise between size, weight, optical performance, ergonomics, practicality, function, and price. It is your goal to identify the combination of features that best fits your particular needs and circumstances for your selected budget.
A quick preview of the best binoculars for wildlife Observation.
|Zeiss Conquest HD Binocular||10x42 mm||$$$|
|Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binocular||10x42 mm||$$$|
|Wingspan Optics Thunderbird Ultra HD Binoculars||8X42 mm||$$$|
A quick table of the best budget binoculars for safari travel.
|Nikon MONARCH 5 Binocular||10x42 mm||$$$|
|Celestron Nature DX Binocular||8x42 mm||$$$|
Below are some tips to help you choose the best binoculars for safari and wildlife observation.
Depending on your budget, you can get decent binoculars even if you are on a low budget. You often hear the saying you get what you pay for. This saying isn’t far from the truth when it comes to binoculars world. Binoculars are priced according to their optical performances.
The best pair of binoculars are often very pricey and most people aren’t having the budget for them. but that doesn’t mean you can get a good pair of binoculars for the lower price. In fact, with a minimum of $200, you can get a decent pair.
There are premium brands out there with premium binoculars costing $1000s. However, you can find some really good brands that cater to the middle and lower class as well that offer really good optical performance.
That been said doesn’t mean you should go for the cheapest you can find. It is one of the biggest newbie mistakes you will ever make when choosing binoculars for the first time.
Look at the price range you can afford and note down the set of features you wish to have on your binoculars. First list the features that are most important to have and followed by the ones you can compromise on and take it from there.
Today you can get a good pair of binoculars for a relatively modest investment of around $150-$200, and you’ll find some truly decent and outstanding binoculars in the $300-$500 range that will serve you faithfully for decades of bird watching and wildlife observation.
Magnification and Objective Lens Diameter
Choose good quality lenses over higher magnification. Sure, you will see closer with a 20 power binocular, but not with the clarity or stability of an 8 – 10 power, and handshake will reduce its effectiveness even more.
But you may ask, how do you know the binoculars magnification?. Well, every binoculars have numbers printed on them.Such as (“10 x 42”). These numbers can sometimes be found on the focus wheel or the body itself of the set binocular.
The first of these numbers is the binocular’s magnification(10 x), the second is the diameter of the objective lens (42) which is usually measured in millimeters.
Higher magnification doesn’t necessarily mean better binoculars. The function of the binoculars is to bring the target closer to where you are by making it appear bigger than your naked eyes would see. Higher magnification binoculars images are unsteady with body movements. Hence unclear viewing and often have a narrow field of view making you see a small area of the target.
Tip: Best magnification for all around wildlife observations is the 8 to 10 magnifying power because the lenses are brighter, provide a somewhat wider field of view and typically provide a closer focus (to see details on a dragonfly, butterfly, tree moss, or birds in a nearby bush).
Binoculars with a magnification of 12 and higher should not be handheld but instead, use a tripod to hold them for steadiness and clarity. They are ideal for long range viewing and should be mounted. The only that case this does not count is when the binoculars are image stabilized.
The objective lens Size
As earlier on indicated, the objective lens diameter also known as the aperture is the second number following the magnification. For example; “10×42”. The “42” is the objective lens diameter. This number will determine the light gathering capacity of the binoculars.
The more light it is able to collect from the target, the brighter and crisper your view and which also means better images in low light conditions such as dawn or dusk. The quality of the lens is also essential for brightness. That is why the more layers of lens coatings you have on your binos, the better the quality of viewing.
Even a 15mm difference can have a big impact. A 8×50 binocular has the ability to gather twice the light as a 8×35 binocular. But also keep in mind that the bigger the lens diameter, the heavier or bulkier your binoculars will be. Higher objective lens size equal to bigger binoculars.
Tip: the higher the number, the better the view but for standand wildlife and Safari 35mm or 42mm are great
Field of view
A wider field of view is important for wildlife watching, Safari travel and bird watching. It allows you to scan a large area quickly and is also follow fast moving objects easier. Especially, moving animals or birds flying.
The field of view is simply how much area you can see looking through your binoculars. It can be expressed in meters / 1,000 meters, or as an angle of view (e.g . 110m/1000m or 6.3°).
If you remember I mentioned above that higher magnification binoculars tend to reduce the field of view and larger aperture increases the field of view.
While a wide field of view is a good thing, again it often involves trade-offs elsewhere in the optical design. Try to strike a balance between the field of view and other factors. The widest field of view might not necessarily be the best for you. Opt for a relatively wide field of view that still gives an overall good image quality.
Weatherproof(waterproof and fog proof)
When you are traveling to another city, country or even continent, you might not know the type of weather you might be subjected to. For that reason, it is recommended that you go for fog proof and waterproof binoculars.
These features allow you to use your device in harsh weather conditions such as rain, snow, fog or dust without fear that they might get spoiled or damaged by the weather conditions.
Most roof prism binoculars on the market today that is suitable for bird watching and wildlife are waterproof and are purged with an inert gas (either nitrogen or less often argon) to drive out water vapor and eliminate the potential for internal fogging when moving between extreme temperature gradients.
Ideally, if you have the budget, you should ensure you get fully weatherproofed binoculars for your travel, wildlife and safari viewing.
If you are a non glass wearer this feature shouldn’t be a problem but if you are a glass wearer, it is definitely a feature to consider before buying binoculars. The eye relief is the distance between your eyes and the eyepieces in which you can see the target in focus. This number is often measured in millimeters.
Knowing how to focus your binoculars to get the best eye relief is essential to seeing good quality images through your binoculars. Most binoculars have eye relief from 10 to 15mm. If you are a glass wearer opt for a larger field of view. Somewhere from 11mm should do fine.
The more layers of coatings your lenses have the higher the quality of image they will produce. Lenses are coated to reduce reflections and increase the light transmission, compensate for the aberrations inherent in any optical design and enhance image resolution, color fidelity and contrast of the binoculars.
Below is a quick classification of the lens coatings we have. The degree of the coating will determine the quality of the optical performance of your device. This is often used to differenciate cheap binoculars from high-quality ones. With the fully multi-coated lenses been the best.
- Coated: some, but not all air-to-glass surfaces in the optical system have a special coating applied to them
- Fully-coated: all air-to-glass surfaces in the binocular have a special coating applied to them
- Multi-coated: some air-to-glass surfaces in the binocular have multiple layers of coating applied to them
- Fully-multi-coated: all air-to-glass surfaces in the binocular have multiple layers of coating applied to them
Tip: If you are a serious wildlife enthusiast, always go for coated lenses. For they create the best images.
There are other features to consider such as prism coating, prism type used, exit pupil, warranty(limited and lifetime) and the binocular housing. But the most important ones are the ones I featured above. Mostly if you find binoculars that have quality optics it doesn’t usually fail you and can be used for a very long time.
Best Binoculars for Wildlife Viewing
Below are the best binoculars for viewing wildlife. These devices were selected based on intensive research and customers reviews. Each product is reviewed in details to give you an idea of what each binocular is.
1.Zeiss Conquest HD 10×42 Binoculars
Zeiss is a German brand that has been in business since 1846. they manufacture some of the premium binoculars today in the market and they also come with premium price tags. If you love quality, then Zeiss Conquest HD 10 x42 is recommended as one of the best binoculars for viewing wildlife.
This Zeiss conquest brings nature straight to your footsteps. With its high definition system of neutral color reproduction and sharp details representation, this bino is in a class of its own.
The lenses are multi-coated to ensure that it offers 90% of light transmission. This makes it work great even in low light conditions.
Its wide field of view allows you to capture fast-moving objects with ease. The Zeiss Conquest HD is robustly built and its ergonomic in design. and rotating and lockable eyecups ensure you can adjust your eyepiece to the right focus whether you are glass wearer or non-glass wearer.
- Excellent quality glass
- Excellent coating quality
- Fully weatherproof
- Glass wearer friendly
- Tripod adaptable
- Made in Germany
- Premium price
2. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binoculars
the Bushnell Legend is one of the most popular binoculars in the market. It has received over 800 verified customer reviews and rated 4.6/5.0 stars on Amazon. This is an indication that almost every customer who bought it is pleased with their purchase.
Its housing is made of magnesium providing a durable frame at lighter weights than even an aluminum alloy, which makes it easy to carry for extended periods.
The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD binoculars are both waterproof and have been made internally fog-proof by replacing potentially moisture-laden air molecules with dry, nitrogen gas. This legend model also has a “Rainguard HD” water-repellant coating on the exterior lens surfaces. These features make it resistant to harsh weather conditions such as water, snow, and condensation.
With its ultra-wide coatings, it has the ability to provide optimum brightness and true color across the light spectrum.ED Prime Extra-Low Dispersion fluorite glass delivers amazing color resolution and contrast of the image.
- Wide field of view
- Long eye relief for glass wearers
- Durable housing and easy to hold with hand
- Great image quality
- A bit heavy
3. Wingspan Optics Thunderbird Ultra HD 8×42 Binoculars
The Wingspan Thunderbird is built not to disappoint. With less magnifying power compared to the Zeiss Conquest HD and Bushell Legend, this binocular, however, was specially designed for the bird watchers and nature lovers in mind.
With Extra Wide Field of View, Close Focus, Phase Correction Coated Prism and ED Glass to Take Your wildlife viewing experience to a New Level of Clarity and Brightness. The ED glass prevents or reduces chromatic aberration, which causes color fringing. While the lens and prism coatings ensure maximum light transmission to create clear, bright and sharp images.
The Phase-correction coated high index prism and 42 mm lenses make Colors pop like Mother Nature designed them.
The Wingspan Thunderbird is nitrogen purged to be Waterproof and Fogproof in order to withstand tough weather conditions and rugged environments.
- Fully weatherproof
- High-quality optical performance
- Very long eye relief that offers comfort and eases use for glass wearers.
- Tripod adaptable
- Good value for the price
- The weigh 27 oz and few customers said they are bit heavy
Best Budget Binoculars for Safari Travel and wildlife
We all want quality for good price. Therefore, It is understandable if you are on a budget and yet want the best value for your money. These best budget binoculars for safari travel will offer you the best value for your money.
1.Nikon 7576 Monarch 5 10×42 Binoculars
Nikon is a popular and trusted brand which is loved by many. The Nikon Monarch was designed to be a bit lighter than its predecessor. It is built with extra low depression glass lenses making it a serious contender as the “go-to” binocular for any outdoor enthusiast.
The Nikon Monarch 5 binoculars 10×42 are made with polycarbonate reinforced with fiberglass. This makes them lightweight and sturdy ensuring you can use it for a long period.
The Monarch 5 lenses are fully multi-coated to provide maximum light resolution and transmission. This also ensures that this pair delivers shape, high contrast viewing experience. This pair also works well in low light conditions.
- Both waterproof and fog proof
- Lightweight and durable
- Good quality glasses
- Close focus is not perfect for butterflies though
2. Celestron 71332 Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars
This Celestron nature binocular has met the minimum requirement of Safari travel binoculars. Though It is priced below $150. Not the best of the best but it is good enough to get you by on your adventure. So, it’s for those who are looking for low budget binoculars for viewing wildlife.
These binoculars are ideal for beginners or newbies. This is because they will let you have the experience of using quite good binoculars without breaking your bank account. These binoculars are good for the entry level and hence the best budget binoculars.
The Celestron Nature DX binocular features high-quality phase coated BaK-4 Prisms and fully multi-coated lenses. The BaK-4 prisms have the ability to transmit light efficiently, thereby leading to the production of images that are very clear. The fully multi-coated optics, on the other hand, also allows for the efficient transmission of light to facilitate the production of brighter images.
- Fully weatherproof
- Lightweight and durable
- Very affordable
- Low cost but effective optics
- Eyeglass wearer friendly
- Few customers had issues with eye cups and diopter
Benefits of Wildlife Viewing
Wildlife has numerous benefits and is essential for our well being. But ever wondered some of the benefits you can get by just observing wildlife around?.
There is an innate human need to want to commune with animals, plants, landscapes, and wilderness. Thousands of years back, our forefathers lived in the wilderness before civilization. Nature has its way of producing an emotional response to wonder, awe and connects us with wild animals with a feeling beyond words.
According to research in the fields of socio-biology, ecopsychology, environmental psychology and deep ecology, there is a deep need for humans to have a relationship with the natural world for our own well-being.
Here are some benefits we get when we go nature observation.
it’s a largely accepted fact that the presence of animals soothes us and contributes to an overall feeling of happiness. This is definitely the case when interacting with wildlife as you go on trips and holidays to safaris and game reserves.
When you get to spend time with wildlife in their natural environment, you will find yourself growing increasingly calm as you watch these creatures move about.
Connection and Appreciation
when you interact closely with animals in the wild, there is a special benefit of reminding us how connected we all are. When you see the dolphins, lions, whales, and other animals, you’ll appreciate how close we are all linked in the great circle of life.
Increasing your knowledge of wildlife and of this planet aids you in understanding your place in the world, and possibly encourages you to take responsibility for helping preserve it
Encountering wildlife in its natural habitat is truly thrilling, but it can also be a tremendous learning experience.
It’s incredible to see these common behaviors of the wildlife creatures, and as you observe, you’ll also be learning, helping you better understand the creatures you are encountering.
Wildlife observation and Safari travel is even more enjoyable when you have the best binoculars for wildlife viewing with you. With any of these featured above binoculars for watching wildlife, you can bring nature closer to your feet. As I have covered, you now know what features to look for when choosing binoculars for your wildlife trip.
Ideally, they should be waterproof (not just water repellent), and nitrogen purged; provide long eye relief with an adjustable, twistable, eyepiece (not the fold down type); comfortable in your hands; easy to focus.
If you are on a tight budget too, I did cover the best budget binoculars for safari travel and wildlife as well. These are for those who are looking for very low budget binoculars that deliver good images. But as I mentioned earlier on, the binoculars quality are proportional to their price. So, it is wise to spend enough to get the best you can afford as they will last longer and also give you very good quality viewing.
Josephine is Editor @ Binocularsinght.com, an Electrical Engineering Grad who loves optics. She is an Outdoor Enthusiast and a Writer who likes escaping into the mountains for hiking adventures and enjoys other outdoor activities as well.