FIVE Best Bird Binoculars Reviewed

The Top Five Bird Binoculars reviewed in my list include some of the best binoculars ever made with superb scientific optics and precision.

Bird binoculars are not created equal, nor are they all suited well for field work. This review includes 5 splendid bird binoculars at the high end of the scale. They are among the absolute best binoculars made in the world today. When it comes to luxury binoculars like these it is hard to go wrong with your selection. The differences are subtle and preferences are personal, even among serious field testers. Most of these bird binoculars are considered an investment and rightly so. Some experts report that these optical instruments hold their value better than your new car or stocks and bonds and recommend buying several pairs.

Zeiss. Leica. Swarovski. Leupold. Steiner.

Later, another post will discuss some really fine bird binoculars in more affordable models and brands:
Nikon. Bushnell. Olympus. Minolta. Canon. Pentax.

Other bird binoculars reviewed at this site are Pentax and Nikon binoculars, though only one model for each was discussed. That remains the form for these reviews.  One model for each brand is outlined with some overview information. The basic questions being addressed are:

  • Who makes them:
  • Who uses them:
  • What are they like:
  • What are their special features:

Steiner

Steiners are usually seen as part of the uniform of military or law enforcement personnel. Retirees who are accustomed to them are seen in the field doing some bird-watching, but it is not common.

  • Who makes them: Steiner has been a leader in optics for more than 60 years.
  • Who uses them: Military and law enforcement activities are the primary uses for these exceptional binoculars.
  • What are they like: Military standards require bright detail, durability in tough combat conditions. They offer better evening or night viewing and are shock resistant,fog proof and waterproof. The Predator model at 10X42 is closest to the standard for nature observation.
  • What are their special features: Steiner Binoculars are remarkably light weight with exceptional depth-of-field. They have excellent user comfort ratings and allow long extended use. Standard sizes include 20×80 for maximum light and magnification in shadows. The most commonly seen models are 10×50 or 7×50, though newer compact models are now available at 6×30 and 8×30. These lenses amplify red and brown shades and reduce blues, greens and UV light. This gives you a crisp clear image beyond your expectations. Expect a price tag anywhere from $200 to over $1000 for these finely crafted instruments.

ZEISS

  • Who makes them: Carl Zeiss, Inc. has been making precision optics since 1846.
  • Who uses them: Serious birders, hunters and wildlife observers.
  • What are they like: Zeiss has exceptional durability and superb wide vision. Some experts say they feel like the perfect binoculars. The FL series is the flagship model for Zeiss birding binoculars with good reason.
  • What are their special features: They have a unique protective coating that repels water and oil resulting in beading on the surface when wet. Their worldwide lifetime service warranty is a standard.



LEICA

  • Who makes them: Leica has been making precision optics, and binoculars since 1907 in Germany.
  • Who uses them: Serious birders.
  • What are they like: LEICA ULTRAVID 10 x 42 BL is preferred by many serious birders because of the eye comfort, particularly for people who wear eyeglasses when birding.
  • What are their special features:They have excellent image steadiness for long distance viewing. These very compact and elegant binoculars are exceptionally lightweight with a magnesium body and titanium hinge shaft.


SWAROVSKI

  • Who makes them: Swarovski, world renowned for precision crystal work, branched into optics in 1949 in Austria.
  • Who uses them: Serious birders.
  • What are they like: Without a doubt these set the standard for all of the high end binoculars, indeed for all binoculars. The precision and engineering is unsurpassed.They have a broader field of view and shorter focus distance than most others in this class.
  • What are their special features:Remarkably lightweight magnesium alloy body set the pace for others to lighten up. Ergonomic design and twist and lock eyecups are also leaders.

LEUPOLD

  • Who makes them: Leupold has been making and repairing precision engineering optics since 1907 in Portland, Oregon.
  • Who uses them: Birders, hunters, wildlife observers, boaters.
  • What are they like: The Wind River model is appreciated by many birders in the field.The 10X50 models weigh more than most of those mentioned above.
  • What are their special features:The image is bright and clear, their focus is closer than expected and they are slightly more affordable, almost in the next class beside the Nikon 10X42 Monarchs.


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9 Responses to FIVE Best Bird Binoculars Reviewed

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  6. Dear Sirs,

    FIVE Best Bird Binoculars Reviewed

    I have read your comparison chart on
    Binoculars for Birders with interest.

    The birders have preached and stand by
    the standard 8×40 binoculars for many years.

    But, I being a novice, I would like to start with a
    smaller investment, of what you call, a pair of
    back-up binoculars, 10×25 compact.

    I need your expert advice on the following
    binoculars that I wanted to consider.

    Perhaps, you could give your opinions of each
    one that I am considering to buy.

    Usage for me would be quite minimum,
    may be about 12 hours in a year and
    about 100 times a year. Each time will be
    about 5 to 10 minutes observation until
    the real interest kicks in.

    Which one, in your expert opinion would
    be a suitable binoculars that you would
    like to recommend for me?

    I hope with your good recommendation,
    I could start birding.

    Make Model
    Leica Utravid 10×25 BL
    Leica Utravid 10×25 BR
    Swaroski Pocket 10x25B
    Zeiss Victory Compact 10x25T*
    Minox BV 10×25 BRW
    Steiner Wildlife 10×26
    Steiner Safari Pro 10×26
    Nikon Sportstar EX10x25 DCF
    Nikon Travelite EX10x25 CF

    Best Regards,

    Cheong CH
    ======================

  7. You can hardly go wrong with the selections you made. They are all superb binoculars. If I could afford it I would buy a swarovski pocket Otherwise I would choose the one that fits best and feels right. And gives a good clear field of vision and depth of field. Best of luck to you. Let me know what you decide.

  8. I have a pair of Cornell 8X30 IFC super power and appears to have been manufactured by Japan telescopes inspection institute. They have a view field of 8 degree — 420 ft. at 1000 yrds.model # 22225… Question– Are these still mfg. and if not do they have any re-sale value. Still in original box and case and in new condition.. thanks

  9. Duane, I do not know the answer to your question. I might check with Cornell Labs for info. Surely they have some resale value but I am not familiar with that type.

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