Finding the right pair of binoculars to fit both your needs and budget can sometimes be hard. In your quest, you will find many binoculars that are relatively cheap but will most likely not have the qualities you desire, or you will find some that fit your perfect definition of an ideal binocular but are too costly. In this review, I try to make your work easier by pointing out four devices that have outstanding features and cost less than $200. I will also equip you with tips on things that you should be on the look-out for when purchasing binoculars.
Recommended product: Nikon Prostaff Waterproof 8×42 Binocular
This product stands out due to its ability to deliver clear, bright, and captivating images. This is made possible by the phase-coated roof prism and the fully multi-coated eco-glass lenses. With a field of view of 300ft at 1000 yards and accurate color rendition, you are assured of capturing the entire action around you. This is a gadget that is designed for utterly any outdoor activity from birding, attending sports games, sailing, attending concerts to hunting.
The body is ultra-rugged and rubber armored which makes it waterproof and also resistant to internal fogging in instances where it may be exposed to harsh conditions. Its ergonomic design, non-slip coating, and light weight makes it easy and comfortable to hold for long periods of time. The device allows a close focus distance of around 4 meters making it a valuable tool for birders.
Adjusting for a better view is easy as each side adjusts separately with a middle adjustment placed for finer tuning.
What does it come with?
Nikon Lenspen Cleaning System: comes in handy when your binoculars get dirty. It is a two-in-one gadget with one side consisting of a soft brush which is retractable that wipes off loose particles and dust from the glass and the other side removes fingerprints and spots by use of a unique cleaning compound.
Lenspen Fogklear Dry Anti-Fog Cloth: as the name suggests, it is useful in protecting the binoculars against fog and can be used more than 200 times.
6×6 inch microfiber lens cloth: it comes in a water-resistant pouch that ensures the lenses are protected from dryness, dust, and environmental contaminants.
- Sharp view
- Affordable price
- Excellent value for money
- Bright in low light conditions
- Light in weight
- Non-slip coating for firm gripping
- Water and fog proof
- Field of view 300ft at 1000yards
- Highly reflective mirror prism coatings
- Accurate color rendition
- Easy adjusting
- 25 year limited no-fault warranty
- Sub-standard lens covers. They are not attached and come off easily
- While the long eye relief is great for people who wear glasses, it is inconvenient for those who don’t.
Why would one want a binocular?
Everyone who needs action brought close to their eyes needs binoculars. The primary job for these devices is to ensure you don’t miss a single stroke as your favorite band plays the guitar, or lose sight of that magnificent bird because it flew further away or be unable to hunt because you can’t track an animal from a distance. They simply make your work easier and your experience more awesome.
Types of binoculars
Roof prism binoculars – these are the ones in which the eyepiece and the objective lens line with each other. This is made possible by aligning the prism with each other to form a line making them more compact than their counterparts, the Porro prism binoculars.
Porro prism binoculars – the eyepiece and the objective lens are offset from each other in that they are not aligned. They tend to be cheaper than the roof prism since they cost less to make.
Features to look for in a binocular
Magnification – this is the first number that appears on a technical specification like 7×50. It means that objects you view will appear seven times closer than they actually are.
Field of view – if you see a gadget that has a field of view of 300ft at 1000yards, it means that 300 is the width you will be viewing at a distance of 1000 yards,
Objective lens size – it is the diameter of the lenses which appears as the second number on a technical specification like 7×50. The objective lenses are the ones located further from your eyes on the other end from when you are viewing. The lenses size determines the amount of light that enters the binocular so, if you are interested in taking it out at night, look for a binocular with a big lens size.
Weight, size, and portability – depending on where and how you want to use the binoculars, you can choose from compact to full-size binoculars. For people who move around a lot like birders and hunters, a light-weight binocular would be preferred to prevent cramping and thus enhance the overall experience.
What to realistically expect from binoculars under $200
It is said that you get what you pay for and when it comes to binoculars, the same rule applies. However, with proper knowledge of what to look out for, you can be able to get a decent pair of binoculars that will serve you for years with no hitches. This mostly applies to individuals who engage in activities like birding, hunting, sailing, etc. Astronomers would likely have to consider devices of a higher price range and specifications to get the best images in their stargazing quests.
Nikon 7239 Extreme All Terrain 7×50 Binoculars
Regarding construction and performance, this device is highly reliable in harsh conditions. It is nitrogen filled and O-ring sealed making it water and fog proof and shock resistance. The lenses have multi-layered anti-reflective coatings that heighten brightness, contrast, and full display of color in all types of lighting.
It provides clear, crisp, and distortion free images over a field of view of 341ft at 1000yards making it a wise choice for anyone looking for quality. It has an eye relief of 17.2, a reasonable distance for people who wear glasses but also has a click-stop eyecup design that allows the adjusting of eye relief to suit different users. The quick central focusing assists in concentrating on objects, people or animals efficiently.
For anyone looking for a steady image, the binocular is made to be tripod adaptable. It comes with rainguard lens caps, neck strap, carrying case, and a Nikon limited 25 years warranty
- A large field of view of 341ft at 1000yards
- Relatively cheap
- Small in size so it is easy to carry around
- Rubber armor for a firm grip
- Tripod adaptable
- Clear, bright, and crisp images
- Water and fog proof
- A 6.4-degree angle of view
- 2 eye relief
- There has been a complaint about the twist up eye cups coming off while removing the cover.
Bushnell BN137500 Marine 7×50 Binoculars
These are especially suited for the marine life though they can also be used for other activities like hunting and birding. Not only are they nitrogen filled and O-ring filled to ensure they are fog proof and waterproof but they are also hermetically sealed to assure no moisture gets in the binoculars. It has a Porro-prism design with multi-coated optics that guarantees your images appear clear and bright. Its effectiveness in light transmission allows it to produce great images in low light environments. The 7x magnification makes it perfect for using when sailing or boating.
The Bushnell BN137500 marine 7×50 binocular has unique features that separate it from the rest of the devices in its category. For starters, it is designed such that it is highly resistant to saltwater corrosion, so one doesn’t have to worry about it getting damaged if it’s exposed to water. Secondly, they float on water! This means that in case they fall off, you can still have them back as they won’t sink down below. Lastly and probably the best feature is that it comes with a 3-Axis compass built into the viewing optics making them your best companion when in need of navigating and locating objects with precision.
- 18mm eye relief and roll-down eyecups making them friendly for people who wear glasses
- Good value for money
- Crystal clear images that are bright and crisp
- Resistant to saltwater corrosion
- Water and fog proof
- Works well in low light conditions
- Floats on water
- Has a compass for easy navigation and locating objects
- Has a rangefinder that allows one to work out distances to an object.
- Has a non-slip and non-skid rubber armor which supports a firm grip
- The compass is not stabilized enough when there is movement like a moving boat
- Does not have a combined focus for moving an image into close focus
Celestron 71400 Trailseeker 8×32 Binoculars
This gadget has a phase corrected BaK-4 roof prism that facilitates in attaining clarity and color fidelity as well as fully coated optics that allow for sufficient light transmission in low light and high light surroundings. It is made up of magnesium alloy making it light enough to carry around for long periods without cramping. It is nitrogen filled making it water and fog proof.
These binoculars are ideal for any outdoor activity. It has a field of view of 409ft at 1000yards and an eye relief of 15.6mm. The center focus wheel with ridges allows for the device to have an improved grip. It is tripod adaptable and the twist-up eyecups have multiple positions stops. The package also comes with a carrying case, neck strap, harness strap, lens coves, rainguard, lens cloth, and an instruction manual.
- Incredible resolution and clarity
- Crystal clear images
- Light in weight
- Water and fog proof
- 6mm eye relief
- Improved grip
- 2M minimum focusing distance
- Ideal for any outdoor activity
- Eyeglass friendly
- After years of use, the nitrogen gas inside the binoculars dissipates causing them to fog on humid days
- The possibility of losing the lens covers as they fall off often
Any of these binoculars would be a great gadget to carry on your next adventure whether a safari in Africa, sailing in the Dominican Republic, hunting, or simply birding in your local area. For a price of less than $200, these gadgets have outdone themselves when it comes to image superiority, color execution, high contrast, and flicker-free viewing.