Looking for new Binoculars for birdwatching duties

Thread resurrection here.

Looking for a one stop pair of bins in the sweet spot. Not really about the money, but considering I want something for the garden/dog walk/odd day hike I don’t see the need to go big. But I don’t want cheap.

I have settled on the Nikon M7 as a benchmark.
Not sure on the 8x42 or 10x42.

I’d pay more but it has to be for a real jump, not just a bit of polish or for a name.

Nikon are quite a high bar for casual use

But once and buy right.
Seems the Japanese made hg are even better…

I use these and have been very pleased with them. British firm and they get very favourable reviews.

HAWKE UK | Endurance ED 10x42 Binocular - Green (hawkeoptics.com)

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Nikon M7 8x32 and 10x42 reduced at Jessop

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These were recommended upthread

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You might get loads of different opinions. For what it is worth, I advise you pop into a local bricks and mortar shop and try some out. Binoculars are a very personal purchase - one instrument might suit one person but won’t another - physical size, location of focuser, eye relief, balance of instrument and other factors determine whether you will enjoy one instrument over another. Do not be afraid to buy a used instrument from a reputable dealer.

Certainly, Nikon, Hawke, Zeis, Kowa, Vortex and Opticron are well respected manufacturers and should find something that suits without having to go too spendy.

Have a look at Cley Spy in Norfolk or In Focus - branches in many parts of England or The Birders Store in Worcester or even London Camera Exchange to see what is available. But nothing will beat looking through something and handling them.


That’s the issue these days, nowhere to get hands on.
I’m open to buying used as well, as it gets more for less.
Does seem to be much much of a muchness at a given price point, and more about taste (like watches).

Look for a local RSPB centre with a shop, they often sell and hire binoculars and give good advice.

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I think there is more to choosing binoculars than taste. Ergonomics and “fit” are very different. If you cannot get to a physical store the places I suggested will be happy to talk to you and you could check out their returns policy.

At £500 ish I would be looking at (in no particular order) Vortex, Hawke, Opticron. Are you wedded to 10x42? You might find 8x42 less difficult - typically greater apprarent field of view and less heavy without giving much away in magnification.

Ambivalent about 8 or 10. Depends on price and how much I want to future proof (seems to be a natural “upgrade” route).
Eight seems the right choice but ten might stop a later itch!
I won’t hammer these, but I do want to buy right and have something to last. They will need to do it all, from sofa browsing through the window to day hikes and trips.

Finally getting a chance to have a play with literally ALL the things today, as we are heading back to Carsington water, and the RSPB shop has most makes in stock. I’ve put off getting anything until I get chance to go hands on.
I’ve been promised the chance to have a really good play with any of them outside, with ideal scenery to test.

From online research, I’m going to be testing the Swarovski EL 8.5x10, zeiss victory SF, alongside some cheaper Nikon and own brand.

They have also some expensive compact ones which look great for travel, but I think are limited in capability.
The above EL will probably be the benchmark and the ones that I’d get on just reading alone. Most of my use will be wooded areas, some low light, and less so open spaces (test matches!).

@Bolts how are you finding them?
They are closely matched on reviews with the ELs.
Did you get 8 or 10? Ruled out NL on price despite them being best on paper.

I really like the Zeiss Victory ( I have the 8x42 which I prefer for birdwatching).

Pros: very nicely balanced for birdwatching especially because you can be holding these up for long periods and relatively light for a big body. what I really like is the flat field of view - hard to describe - but when you look at say a hedgerow it’s ‘flattened out’ which makes it extremely easy to see small birds hopping around etc. I’ve found that these unlike other bins do really take you into another world. I also like the purple coating - don’t know what it does but it looks cool :wink:

Compared: I expect the differences in optical quality between these and the Swarovski are minimal but against the Nikon I still have they are night and day - I didn’t try the Swarovski’s but they are a bit pricier as you say and I wasn’t sure I’d be getting much more, although they are of course de rigeur for birders! Supposedly the NL is better for Astro work but I would hardly ever do that, so not relevant.

Negatives: Slight annoyance that my copy has a tiny amount of dust right in the top of one of the lenses - I haven’t bothered to send it back yet as it’s really hardly noticeable but I’d recommend checking. The eyepiece covers are a bit crap in that they’re not secured to the body and the case is rigid and pretty pointless as it’s too bulky to take out - could buy a separate soft case but I haven’t as I tend to just have them round my neck at the ready.

Other than that highly recommended.

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Save your money on expensive binoculars, simply stand closer to the objects you wish to view.


Bit of a swerve ball: getting some of the Swarovski CL Curio 7x21 (unless anyone can convince me otherwise).

Superb reviews and they can go everywhere with me. Dog walks, hikes, travel. Pocket option rather than to replace the proper ones.

The bigger bins need some more consideration as to exactly what size. And I may wait until the NL appear at used prices.

7x21 Shirley?

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If money no object then go for them.

I had several really good pairs of bigger bins down the years but when walking the dog etc they were too big, heavy and cumbersome so never took them with me.
Obviously if you go out purely to watch birds, sit in hides etc, then a 10x40 or something similar is going to be better.

I went for a smaller pair of Nikon 10x25 HGL that easily fit in a trouser or coat pocket and still have tremendous optics.

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Exactly my sentiments. The best, for specific occasions will get used a bit. The next best for all occasions will be an item I pack for any walk.
I’ve still got a feeling an 8 or 10x42 is incoming eventually!

You’ve obviously decided so I’m not going to try.

But if you want bins for birding :man_shrugging: you’re going to be changing/buying an alternative pretty quickly. If Swarowski is your preferred brand then the NL Pure 10x42 are waiting for your card to be swiped.

I would also recommend a demo of the Leica 10x42 Noctivid.