Porro prism binoculars can offer a very high-quality viewing experience without breaking the bank. They are bigger and bulkier than roof prism models, but they also pack in more features at lower prices. We’ve tried as many Porro prism binoculars as we could find, and the differences between them are immense. But don’t think you can just run out and grab the most expensive one and you’ll be satisfied. Even at the high end of the price range, there were mixed performances. We’ve done the hard work for you and compiled all the information we learned from our testing into the following nine reviews. Afterward, a short buyer’s guide will help you keep in mind which features you should prioritize to make the right purchase and not look back.
|Simmons 899890 |
|Fujinon Mariner |
|Bushnell BSH134211 ||10x||4.30/5|
|Olympus 118701 ||10x||4.20/5|
Sleek, lightweight, with excellent image quality, the R385 Raptor Porro prism binoculars from Vortex checked off all of our boxes to earn our top recommendation. Barely over a pound at a total weight of 1.08 pounds, these are one of the lighter models we tested. This makes them much more comfortable to carry in the field than many models that weighed twice as much. These binoculars are available in either 8.5X or 10X magnification for the same price. That price is on the more expensive end of the spectrum, but we feel this is a case of you get what you pay for.
The durable rubber armor does more than just protect it from bumps, drops, and scrapes. It’s also fully waterproof and fog proof so you never have to worry about them in inclement weather. They allow for focal differences between eyes by letting you individually adjust the right diopter. Overall, we don’t have many bad things to say about the Vortex R385 which is why they top our list. They are a bit pricey, but once you use them, you’ll understand exactly where the money went.
For those who are more budget-conscious, the Simmons 899890 offers affordability without sacrificing quality. 10X magnification makes sure you can see your target, even if it’s far off. The whole unit is protected by the rugged rubber armor, which is also textured for maximum grip, ensuring you never accidentally drop them in the field. We were very pleased with the sharp focus that matched and sometimes exceeded models that are considerably more expensive. This is why we think they’re the best Porro prism binoculars for the money.
Of course, they’re not perfect, and two flaws stuck out to us and prevented the Simmons binoculars from getting our number one recommendation. First, they were pretty heavy at 1.8 pounds. You can feel them swinging around your neck as you walk. Worse, they’re not waterproof. We often encounter poor weather conditions, so the lack of waterproofing worries us for the sake of longevity. Still, we think the value they provide is hard to match which is why they’re our pick for the best value.
Priced higher than the competition, the Fujinon Mariner also gives a viewing experience that competitors just can’t match. These binoculars are waterproof, but they take waterproof to a new level by actually floating in water with the included strap. If you’re using these in the field, you may like the built-in compass. In our testing, this wasn’t accurate enough for navigation, but it’s still a nice touch.
Each of the eyes on the Fujinon can be individually focused. For those who have focal discrepancies, this can be a make or break feature. The image quality they provide is excellent with a very sharp focus that’s easy to find and colors that were bright and accurate. The magnification is only 7X which is one of the lower levels we tested. This held them back from getting a first or second place recommendation. Still, the overall features and quality of these binoculars make them our premium choice pick.
Bushnell is a well-known name, so we expected these to be a solid performing set of binoculars. They were, but they didn’t do enough to break our top three. You can get these binoculars in 7X, 10X, or 12X magnification. They’re pretty heavy at 1.69 pounds, and we could feel the extra bulk when wearing them around the neck for extended periods. If looking through them for a long time, the stiff eye cups began to get very uncomfortable. We had a difficult time getting them to focus properly. Once focused, the image was very sharp and natural looking, and we were pleased with the image quality overall.
The durable armor coating serves several important purposes on the Bushnell binoculars. First, it’s non-slip and textured for improved grip so you don’t drop them. If you do, they’re also shock-absorbing to offer some impact protection. Even better, they’re waterproof and fog proof so inclement weather won’t be an issue. We think they’re solid performers that are just outshined by the three models we ranked higher.
The Olympus Tracker compact binoculars were the smallest and lightest set we got our hands on. We hoped to see some stellar performance to match, but they fell a bit short in that department which is why they only made it to the middle of the pack. At just 0.62 pounds, you can barely feel these when they’re around your neck. They also don’t tire your arm out, even with extended viewing. Despite the small stature and lightweight, they provide 10X magnification with a wide-angle view thanks to the 25mm objective lens.
Unfortunately, we had a lot of issues getting these Olympus binoculars to focus properly. Even when we got them as focused as possible there was lots of distortion present, particularly around the edges. Often, one eye will blackout making it difficult to see and contributing to the focusing problems. The final flaw is a lack of waterproofing or fog resistance. This makes them much less durable for use in the field. We wanted to like these for the small size and excellent portability, but they just didn’t produce the crisp and clear image we’d need to see for them to earn our recommendation.
Just missing our top five, the Legacy WP binoculars from Bushnell were solid performers that we think are overpriced. They are durable since the rubber armor is shock-absorbing, as well as waterproof and fog proof. That robustness comes at the cost of weight though. Weighing in at over two pounds these were one of the heaviest models we tried, and it made them very uncomfortable to wear or hold for long periods. Being so heavy, they’re also very bulky and wide. They were too wide for some of our testers and they didn’t get narrow enough to meet both eyes. We’d have to suggest skipping these in favor of something more deserving of the price with better performance and a lighter build.
Priced alongside some of the most expensive models we got our hands on, the BX-1 Rogue binoculars from Leupold were very small and compact which endeared us to them immediately. At just 0.79 pounds, they were one of the lightest pairs we’ve seen which we appreciate immensely after spending hours putting them to use. However, the narrow design has one drawback. For some of our largest testers, these were too small to reach both eyes. Even fully extended, they just couldn’t make it. If you have a larger head, you may not even be able to use these compact binoculars. If you can use them, the image quality is great and rivals some of the best units we tried.
Fully waterproof and fog proof, these are great for inclement weather. Even though they’re light, we prefer not to hold them up by hand the whole time and often mount our binoculars on a tripod. That’s not a possibility with the Leupolds. Altogether, we think it’s priced too high for what you get, and we’d like to see them extend a bit farther and add a tripod mount to get our top recommendations.
When looking through the Kowa YF30-8 Series binoculars, the first thing we noticed was the very wide field of view. At 8X magnification, it’s not as powerful as we’d prefer, but thanks to the wide view you can see a lot with these binoculars. That said, they don’t focus well, and we spent a lot of time fiddling with the focus knob to try to get a clear image. Even when focused as clearly as possible, the edges would darken and blur, detracting from the viewing experience. They are waterproof and fog proof so you can take them in poor weather conditions.
Despite all the drawbacks, the Kowa binoculars are priced towards the top of the price range where our premium choice sits. For the money, we think the Fujinon Mariner provides much higher value, so we’d recommend taking a look at it instead. It’s quite a lot to invest in a set of binoculars, and we think the image quality on the Kowa pair will disappoint.
Landing right in the middle of the pack price-wise, the Tasco Off Shore binoculars offer a waterproof viewing experience that’s rugged enough for marine life. They’re very heavy at 2.3 pounds, which is often a good sign of durable build quality. In this case, the outer housing just feels cheap and doesn’t have the nice rugged feel of the rubber armor coating on many competing models. Thanks to the multi-coated optics, these should perform well in low light conditions. In our testing, this wasn’t the case. Ultimately, they’re not a bad set for the price, we just think that better value can be found elsewhere.
Now that you’ve read about our nine favorite Porro prism binoculars, you could just take our advice and purchase one of our top three recommended binoculars. This would be a fine choice, but we suggest taking a moment to refresh yourself on which features you should personally be prioritizing. This can be different for everyone depending on how each person plans to use his or her binoculars. No matter how yours will be put to use, the following traits are the ones we think are most important.
In a perfect world, we would always have clear and sunny skies for everything we planned. All of us know this isn’t reality. More than likely, you will deal with inclement weather at some point, maybe all the time. If your binoculars aren’t equipped for this weather, they will not be around to accompany you on very many outings. Luckily, many manufacturers take this into account and have made waterproof binoculars and fog proof. If there’s a chance you’ll be outside in the elements, we suggest looking for a pair that is both. If you skip these features, you’ll understand quickly why we recommend them.
Magnification determines how much closer the items you’re looking at will appear to you through the binoculars. It also affects how far you can see overall. Some models are available in multiple magnification levels to suit your needs. Others are only available at a single, pre-selected magnification. Keep an eye on this before you purchase so you don’t get an unpleasant surprise the first time you use them.
Binoculars are most often used outside. They can be dropped, hit a rock, land in the mud, get wet, etc. Many things can happen when you’re out in the elements. Beyond standard weather protection, the best binoculars offer impact and shock protection in the form of rubberized armor coatings. More than just protective, they also add grip and texture to make it less likely that you drop them.
If you’re carrying your binoculars around your neck all day, you will start to feel the extra weight. While some models we tested were well under one pound, others were over two pounds. After a day of trudging along through the woods, you may be sick of the extra weight you’ve been dragging around. Beyond carrying them, heavier binoculars will tire your arms out during use. This can cause you to shake a bit and ruin the image you’re seeing. For these reasons, we always prefer lighter binoculars when possible.
All factors of convenience aside, a binocular’s job is to magnify something in the distance to allow you to see it as if it were up close. To do this job properly requires high-quality lenses that provide a clear and sharply focused image with accurate color representation. If a binocular can’t serve this purpose, it’s not any good. This is the main trait we think you should look for. While these traits are important, image quality trumps them all.
We’ve covered a lot of information, and we wouldn’t want you to miss anything. Between our reviews and buyer’s guide, you should be prepared to pick your new sighting partners and make the purchase. Before you do, we’re going to summarize our top recommendations so they’re fresh in your mind. We think the R385 Optics Raptor from Vortex was the best choice overall. The durable rubber armor protects them from impacts, water, and fog. They’re great for inclement weather and weigh just 1-pound.
For a budget-priced binocular that still provides a quality viewing experience, we suggest the Simmons ProSport. With 10X magnification that easily comes into sharp focus all housed in a protective rubber coating, it’s the best bang for your buck when buying binoculars. If you’re willing to spend more, our premium choice the Fujinon Mariner is the ultimate viewing pleasure. It floats in water with the included strap so it’s waterproof. Each eye focuses individually, and the image quality is top-notch. No matter what price point your budget tops out at, one of these three binoculars will be a perfect fit for your needs and your wallet.
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