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Binoculars are a reliable way of getting a detailed view of something far off in the distance. Today, the technology in our binoculars has far surpassed anything that may have been used in the past, though the overall design doesn’t seem to have made much of an evolution. These models are now waterproof, fog proof, highly durable, and produce clear images that weren’t possible in previous decades. Of course, the prices can vary drastically from a small purchase to a serious investment. We’ve tested the following binoculars to see how they compare on the most important features and functionality. We’ve put all of our findings together into the following ten reviews to help you avoid wasting any time searching online and get back into the field with your new binoculars.
|Best Overall||Celestron 12×50 Granite Binocular||
|Best Value||Usogood 12X50 Binoculars||
|Premium Choice||Vortex Optics Roof Prism Binoculars||
|BFULL 12×50 Binoculars||
|Nikon PROSTAFF 5 12X50 Binocular||
No matter what you intend to use your scopes for, the Celestron 71376 granite binoculars will make sure you can see your mark in stunning detail with accurate colors. The multi-coated lenses give one of the best viewing experiences of any model we tested. Even better, these binoculars are tough enough to go anywhere with you, at any time. With many parts constructed from metal, they’re durable; plus, they’re waterproof and fog proof, so you don’t have to worry about inclement weather taking a toll on your tool.
Many times, in the field you’ll probably prefer a tripod-mounted option instead of the shakiness of holding them by hand for long periods. Luckily, the Celestron granite binoculars are tripod mountable for your convenience. With so many quality features packed into this unit, it shouldn’t be surprising that it doesn’t come cheap. While they’re far from the most expensive option we tried, they’re also far from the cheapest, falling in the middle of the price range. After trying them all, we feel that the value provided by the Celestron 71376 is well worth the extra money, which is why they have earned the first position on our list.
Quality binoculars can get expensive, but the Usogood AT66 binocularsare an affordable offering that doesn’t sacrifice the quality viewing experience. Included with your purchase are also two extras which we found to be pretty nifty. First, you’ll get a smartphone adapter to take pictures with your phone through the binoculars. Next, a tripod is included for mounting the binoculars, so you don’t have to hold them the entire time you use them. The tripod was a bit flimsy and weak, to be honest, but it’s still usable and a nice feature to be included at this price point.
The fully multi-coated optics allowed for a very crisp picture with true color representation that was unmatched by other models at this price. The BaK4 roof prism allowed low-light viewing. In testing, this allowed us to use the binoculars at night as long as there was some source of light such as a nearly full moon. We were satisfied with the durable build of these binoculars, too. They’re waterproof and abrasion-resistant thanks to the durable rubber armor coating. Altogether, we think the Usogood AT66 adds up to be the best 12×50 binoculars for the money.
Although these were the most expensive set of binoculars we tested, they also had the best image quality and color reproduction while being ultra-versatile for the ultimate in magnification technology. The eyecups adjust to multiple positions, so even those of us who wear glasses can find comfortable viewing with the Vortex RZP-2104. Even better, the locking right eye diopter allows you to adjust for focal differences between your eyes, a feature we didn’t see on many other models. The lenses on these were impressive and gave us the best low-light viewing of any binoculars we tried.
While the image quality is excellent, it’s not the only great feature of the Vortex Optics Razor roof prism binoculars. These were the most rugged and durable binoculars we tested, and we have no doubts that they can withstand hard days in the field. Armortek lenses are scratch-resistant and protect against oil and dirt, too. The O-ring seals protect against water and fog while the whole unit is coated in a rugged armor for protection from drops, scratches, and more. These are some of the most capable binoculars we’ve seen, but expect to pay a premium.
BFULL has made a budget-priced set of binoculars that performs better than some models we tested that sell at much higher prices. We appreciated the important features of the BFULL binoculars, such as the fully waterproof housing that allows you to take them into any weather and not worry about their longevity. The filled nitrogen means they don’t fog up either, so you’ll always be able to see your target. Despite being priced affordably, the lenses on these binoculars are still very high quality and give a bright and crisp image. Low-light vision is also possible, but it wasn’t one of the stronger performers in that department.
The first thing we noticed upon first holding these binoculars was that they’re one of the bulkiest models we tried. They’re also pretty heavy, so your arms will tire out quicker holding these than one of the lighter models. They are very durable for the price though, being housed in a rubber reinforced protective casing that keeps them safe from scratches, drops, and weather. Though not quite up to the same quality as the Usogood binoculars in our second position, we felt the BFULL were still solid performers.
Nikon is known for their cameras and lenses, so we had high hopes that their binoculars would deliver a great viewing experience. We were a bit disappointed that these were outperformed by lower-priced models from other manufacturers. The picture was not the clearest, especially when fully magnified. Things seemed to get a bit blurry which was made worse by the unsteadiness of hand-holding them for long periods. This is the reason that many manufacturers include a tripod mount on their binoculars. Nikon overlooked this important feature, however, and we feel it detracts from the end product.
The image from the Nikon 7573 may not have been the clearest, but the low-light performance was very respectable. This was also a comfortable pair of binoculars to use thanks to the turn and slide eyecups that allow a lot of versatility in how the binoculars fit your eyes. This was a nice feature, but it wasn’t enough to redeem these binoculars and earn them our highest recommendations.
Shock-resistant and fog-resistant, the Anthter binoculars are affordable, though not particularly noteworthy. The performance is adequate, landing them squarely in the middle of the pack. They are waterproof, but we expect that on all of our binoculars. We appreciate the tripod included with the Anthter model, which makes it much easier to achieve steady viewing without your hands shaking.
The image on these binoculars wasn’t the clearest. It always felt a little blurry no matter what we did. Likewise, the low-light performance was awful, so don’t get these if you’re looking to use them at dusk or dawn. When you hold them, they have a cheap plastic feel, unlike the solid rubber protective coating on many other models. In all, we think the Anthter binoculars are solid enough performers, though not special in any way. For the price, we think you’re better off going with the Usogood in our second position instead.
Leupold is a trusted name in optics, but the 173790 BX-1 McKenzie binocular is not one of their better offerings. It is durable, which is something we always appreciate in a tool meant for use in the field. The outer casing is shockproof, as well as 100% waterproof and fog proof. Despite being so robust, we feel that this model is very overpriced for what you get. The optics on a binocular are really the most important part, and this is where the Leupold comes up short.
When you look through the eyepieces of these binoculars, you’ll notice that the colors are definitely not accurate. You can see a rainbow effect occurring around all subjects. This chromatic aberration is very distracting and detracts massively from the viewing experience. For this reason, we suggest skipping the Leupold McKenzie and instead opting for something with a much higher image quality such as the Celestron granite binoculars that earned our number one pick.
Being the lowest priced of all the binoculars we tested, we didn’t expect too much from the LTTWSF binoculars. The low price is their best trait, but it results in a very cheap build quality with a poor lifespan. You can feel the low-quality when you hold them. The cheap plastic just doesn’t feel robust. Once you take them to your eyes, you’ll likely be disappointed again.
In our testing, each individual optic worked fine. The problem was with them working together. In ours, they were misaligned, resulting in a terrible viewing experience. Because of this, we could never get a fully focused image. Naturally, this makes them much less useful than we’d like. Though they may be the cheapest priced of the bunch, the value just isn’t there. We recommend spending a little more for a tool that will serve its purpose properly.
On paper, the Pentax binoculars had us most excited. While most of the binoculars we tested were waterproof, Pentax takes it to a whole new level. This model is fully submersible up to 1 meter thanks to the JIS class-6 waterproof rating. It’s nitrogen-filled so your lenses also won’t fog up. The body is built rigid but doesn’t feel nice in your hands. We prefer the rubberized armor coating found on many other models.
Our biggest complaints with the Pentax binoculars are about its size and weight. It’s far too bulky, which results in weighing much more than competitors. In the field, you won’t enjoy that extra weight dangling around your neck. When trying to hold them up, you will feel that fatigue much earlier, which will introduce some arm shake, making it even more difficult to get a clear picture. Despite these limitations, the Pentax is one of the more expensive models we tested. We think you’d be better served by the value of the Celestron granite binoculars that earned our pick for best overall.
Coleman is a well-known name in camping gear, though not so much in optics. These are robust and solid binoculars, but they don’t provide the best viewing experience. The impact-resistant rubber armor has a nice feel and you can tell it will do a great job of protecting these binoculars. However, it also makes them very large and bulky, which we didn’t like.
The mediocre image quality bugged us the most. For the low price, we didn’t expect too much, though other models offered much higher image quality for a slightly lower cost. The Coleman binoculars also didn’t include protective lens covers, which makes us worry about traipsing through wooded areas laden with heavy underbrush. In the end, we believe the Usogood binoculars in our second position are the best budget pick and will provide much better value than the Colemans.
Now you’ve read about each of our favorite 12×50 binoculars that are out right now. We’ve tested these, so you don’t have to. But you may wonder exactly what it was we were comparing them on. In this short buyer’s guide, we will discuss exactly that. Here we’ll cover the traits to prioritize and keep in mind when you’re deciding on which set of binoculars is the best choice for you.
Image quality is one of the single most important factors in grading these binoculars. In the field, the thing you most need is a clear image of your target. Without that, the binoculars aren’t serving the purpose they’re meant for. Today, a high-quality image can be found even on some lower-priced models. You want an image that’s clear and crisp so you can easily make out all the detail. It should be easy to focus and provide accurate color reproduction. On some models, you’ll see strange coloration effects, particularly around the edges of objects. This is called chromatic aberration, and it’s something you don’t want to experience from your binoculars.
Most of these binoculars were billed as having good low-light performance. In our testing, we found that some had much better performance in these conditions than others. This may or may not be a major factor to you, so it will come down to preference. If you don’t plan on using your binoculars at dawn or dusk, then you may skip this feature and focus on prioritizing other functionality instead. If you plan to use your binoculars in any conditions aside from mid-day under the bright sun, then the low-light performance can be a major benefit.
It’s not surprising that there’s some major variance between models when it comes to price. The most expensive binoculars we tested were about 50 times more expensive than the cheapest. That’s a pretty drastic difference. While the most expensive models offer features and functions above and beyond those of lower-end models, this doesn’t mean you’re getting the best overall value from the more expensive binoculars. You must determine for yourself how much you’re willing to invest, but we’ve reviewed offerings at all different price points.
Chances are good that your binoculars will not lead a very easy life. You will probably take them out into the field in less than favorable conditions, and do it repeatedly for years. This means you will need a pair with a build quality that can survive such a life. Most of the models today feature waterproof and fog proof or at least fog-resistant viewing. This is great, and we recommend looking for the highest-level waterproof rated binoculars you can find. Protective rubber armor can also keep them safe from drops and impacts, so we recommend looking for this.
When you’re holding the binoculars up to your eyes for extended periods, you will start to feel the weight of them. If they’re on the heavier side to begin with, you may wear out more quickly. This will cause you to shake, making it much more difficult to get a clear picture. Also, carrying around a big and bulky set of binoculars as you travel through the woods and brush can be quite a nuisance. If you’re fitting it in your pack, a larger set may take up too much space and reduce the room you have for carrying other necessities. We suggest looking for the smallest and lightest model possible for the sake of your own comfort.
Rather than spend hours researching each of these binoculars before purchasing one and hoping you made the right decision, these reviews should help you determine which features you need and which model will live up to your expectations. Before you make the purchase, we will summarize our findings once more. The Celestron 71376 granite binocular was our pick for the best overall. Waterproof, fog proof, and durable metal construction mean they’re backpack safe and great in any weather. The multi-coated lenses gave one of the best viewing experiences of any binoculars we’ve tried.
For those looking for the best value at a more budget price, the Usogood AT66 provides a level of value we think is unmatched at the low price they sell for. Excellent low-light vision lets you see at night. The durable armor coating keeps them safe from drops, impacts, and scratches. A tripod and a smartphone adapter are even included. Finally, the Vortex RZB-2104 optics razor roof prism binoculars were our premium choice pick. They combined the highest quality image with the most versatile fit, plus a high level of durability to protect this long-term investment.
Featured Image Credit: Rudy and Peter Skitterians, Pixabay
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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