Recommendations for binoculars for wildlife viewing?
May 20, 2013 5:38 AM   Subscribe

I would like recommendations for a good pair of binoculars, primarily for wildlife viewing. I did look through previous questions , but they focused mostly on use for concerts and birdwatching - the primary users of these live in Kenya, so think game parks and reserves. Price is around the $500 mark, as we only want to buy these once and then use forever, but certainly, if you have strong feelings about any you've used above that range, I want to hear it!
posted by darsh to Shopping (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Nikon Monarchs are the go-to 'decent' binoculars in this price range.
posted by pharm at 5:41 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yep, seconding the Nikon Monarchs. Love mine.
posted by Stewriffic at 5:48 AM on May 20, 2013

I have a pair of Monarchs for birding and they are awesome. The Audubon Society published a review of binoculars and I send it to anyone who is looking for a pair. It breaks down the various price tiers and recommends some models in each one.
posted by jquinby at 5:49 AM on May 20, 2013

I also recommend Nikon monarchs - mine have been through 8 weeks in the desert and 8 months in various rainforests, and are still going strong!
posted by ChuraChura at 6:26 AM on May 20, 2013

Best answer: Anything that's good for birding will be good for wildlife viewing -- you want 10x or 8x. I'm a big fan of Eagle Optics. I have a pair of Eagle Optics 10x that I love, from a lower price point.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:38 AM on May 20, 2013

I have been out the binocular market for a while now, three sets are enough (lightweight backpackable, mid size, full size).

My full size 7x50 have been great. With 7x power, you get close and with the 50mm lens a LOT of light comes in. The field of view at 7x and the stability of the image is worth not having the 10x reach.

My mid size are 8x40 and IMHO, the sacrifices to make them smaller are not worth the weight loss from the full size. For me, the full size ones are worth the weight. You will have to decide if that is the case for you.

(Bonus of the 50mm, they work great in the dark. You can actually see ~fairly~ well under moon and starlight.)
posted by Leenie at 1:11 PM on May 20, 2013

I love my Cabella's generic brand that I paid about $300 for, after comparing to the Nikons and everyone else. If you can get to a Cabella's and spend 30-45 minutes with their optical department person, and if he's anywhere as good as the guy in their Billings, MT store, you are going to get a super good lesson on binocs, how and where they're manufactured, differences between brands, overall functionality, how to use them, etc.. I'd say worth it almost for the experience alone.

I bought mine for wildlife and bird-watching in Kenya, when I was living there, FWIW. They are kind of standard rugged hunting binocs, and everyone who has used them with me on safari has been blown away by the quality. Knowing how to use binocs properly has been a boon as well.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:24 AM on November 20, 2013

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