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The best binoculars in 2022 for astronomy, wildlife, sports fans and more

The best binoculars
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Getting the best binoculars means having a clear idea of what you want to use them for, how much weight you're prepared to carry around, and how much you can afford to spend. High-end binoculars are, not surprisingly, pretty expensive, but you don't have to spend a fortune to get a perfectly good pair ideal for your favorite pastime or hobby.

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If your subjects will be a long way away then you'll need decent magnification, though be aware that the higher the magnification, the harder it's going to be to keep the image steady, though a tripod can help you out here for extended periods of wildlife spotting.

If you're using binoculars in low light, and especially for astronomy, then you'll also need light-gathering power, and for this, you need big objective lenses. The bigger the lenses, the easier it will be to make out faint or dim objects – and a good pair of binoculars can reveal more detail in the night sky than you could ever imagine. But big lenses also mean more weight and potentially more arm strain, which is why astronomers often mount their binoculars on a tripod to reduce shake and fatigue.

In general use, then, you'll want to pick a compromise between magnification, light-gathering power, and weight. Sports fans and casual ramblers will often pick binos with modest specs in both regards, just to get binoculars small enough and light enough to fit in a jacket pocket.

Below we list the best binoculars available today, from a range of manufacturers. We've selected specific models here, but remember that many of the binoculars in this list are also available in other sizes and magnifications.

We've also put a more detailed section on how to choose the best binoculars right at the end of this guide, just in case you'd like a little more information before deciding.

The best binoculars in 2022

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)
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A pricey set of premium binoculars, but the spectacular stabilization makes them worth it

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 114 metres
Closest focusing distance: 2.5 metres
Eye relief: 16mm
Weight: 1110g
Dimensions: 137x175.8x85.4mm

Reasons to buy

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Steady image stabilized performance
+
Weather proofed with it
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10x magnification and good size optics

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulkier than non-stabilized models
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Weightier than most at 1,110g

All of Canon’s current range of binos have the ‘IS’ suffix in their model name to denote the fact they’re image-stabilized binoculars (opens in new tab). This battery-operated option enables you to get a wobble-free image by just pressing a button on the binoculars – and the stabilizing effect is both instant and jaw-dropping. 

From the broad range of Canon IS options available, we've picked the rubber-coated Canon 10x42L IS WP model as the best. As the name suggests, they’re also waterproof, so ideal for an even broader range of long-distance pursuits. Plus, Canon’s ‘L’ series is its premium lineup, providing a super steady view in the most adverse of conditions. 

As well as rock-solid stability, these porro prism binoculars sit comfortably in your hand and sport a comfortably long (at 16mm) eye relief, plus a large 4.2mm exit pupil for a bright field of view. They also offer the closest focusing distance that’s closer than most, at just 2.5 meters. 

Read our full Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)
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These top quality compact binoculars are bursting with brightness

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 56mm
Field of view at 1000m: 105m
Closest focusing distance: 3m
Eye relief: 18.2mm
Weight: 1030g
Dimensions: 167x146x65mm

Reasons to buy

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High-end optics
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Sharp, bright and contrasty images
+
Travel-friendly size
+
Unbeatable build quality

Reasons to avoid

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High price
-
Relatively narrow field of view
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Lens caps can get in the way
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Not much eye relief 

The ability to get a close focus on nearby objects as well as a reasonably wide field of view makes the Celestron Nature DX ED 12x50 useful for a range of outdoor uses, as does the tough build quality and the ED glass, which gives excellent images that are bright, colorful and sharp. If you're after a mid-range pair of large binoculars ideal for wildlife viewing, the Celestron Nature DX ED 12x50 fits the bill.

Read our full Celestron Nature DX ED 12x50 review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)
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These mid-range binoculars come with a handy harness and boast excellent optics for all-round use.

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 50mm
Field of view at 1000m: 107 metres
Closest focusing distance: 1.83m/6 feet
Eye relief: 17mm
Weight: 862g/30.4 oz
Dimensions: 7 x 13.4 cm/6.7 x 5.3 inches

Reasons to buy

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Harness prevents neck-ache
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Good quality shoulder bag
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Impressive in lowlight

Reasons to avoid

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Harness can get confusing
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Tethered lens caps are fiddly
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Close focus is 6ft

If you can't decide between buying binoculars primarily for wildlife or astronomy then you only have one decision to make. Perfect for both day and night activities, 10x42 or 10x50 binoculars are the best option for most people, though the Vortex Crossfire HD 10x50 we have here is a definite step-up product that comes with a unique chest harness for extra comfort and quick deployment. 

With the excellent build quality and superb optics, we think the Vortex Crossfire HD 10x50 should be candidate binoculars for anyone looking for a step-up option to use for many years in all kinds of scenarios, from wildlife to sport to astronomy.

Read our full Vortex Crossfire HD 10x50 review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)
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Compact and waterproof and amongst the finest mid-range binoculars you can buy

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 142
Closest focusing distance: 2m
Eye relief: 17mm
Weight: 655g/ 23.1oz
Dimensions: 14 1x 130 x 51mm

Reasons to buy

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Excellent image quality
+
Compact and lightweight
+
Waterproof
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Stuff sack and harness included

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive
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Loose lens caps

Offering the perfect balance between portability, durability, and image quality, the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 manages to straddle the divide between affordability and quality. They offer good views across the board, with the optical highlight including a wide field of view and a close focus. 

We were also impressed by the extras in the box, particularly a harness housed in a small stuff sack. If you’re after a step-up pair of full-size binoculars with a slice of quality then the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 is a great candidate. 

Read our full Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binocular review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)
Best budget binoculars for astronomy

Specifications

Magnification: 15x
Objective diameter: 70mm
Design: Roof prism
Field of view at 1000m: 77 metres
Closest focusing distance : 13m/43 feet
Eye relief: 18mm/0.71in
Weight: 1.36g/48oz
Dimensions: 220x110x280mm/8.7x4.3x11in

Reasons to buy

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Huge 15x magnification
+
Great for stargazing
+
Comes with shoulder bag & tripod adaptor

Reasons to avoid

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Best used with tripod

Binoculars are a great alternative to a traditional telescope for observing the night sky - as long as they have enough magnification. And these incredibly well-priced Celestron binos have a huge 15x magnification which can help you to observe galaxies, planets, and lunar details. In our tests, you can just about handhold them, but they are better used with a tripod - and very conveniently they provide you with an adaptor that simplifies attaching them to three-legged support.

Read our full Celestron Skymaster 15x70 review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)
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large and heavy binoculars are a good value way of getting closer to your subject

Specifications

Magnification: 12x
Objective diameter: 50mm
Field of view at 1000m: 96m
Closest focusing distance: 7m/23 ft
Eye relief: 16.1mm/0.63
Weight: 36.8oz/1kg
Dimensions: 179 x 196 x 68mm

Reasons to buy

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12x magnification
+
Waterproof and fog-proof design
+
Good value price

Reasons to avoid

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Heavy to hold for long periods
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Some edge distortion
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Lens caps are easy to lose

The Nikon Action EX 12x50 is a great value combination of high power and light-gathering. If you really want to get closer to objects then look for binoculars with 16x magnification – and prepare to always use a tripod – but we think 12x is a worthy upgrade from 10x binoculars without hugely adding to the weight. 

Yes, the Nikon Action EX 12x50 is heavy, but the extra power they offer (and for very little extra outlay) alongside their rugged design and clean crisp, and colorful images make them a great option if long-distance observing is your objective. 

Read our full Nikon Action EX 12x50 review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)
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The best binoculars at this price, with rugged construction and fog-proofing

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 122 meters /400ft
Closest focusing distance: 3 metres/ 10ft
Eye relief: 15.7mm
Weight: 575g
Dimensions: 150x130x52mm

Reasons to buy

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Big-name brand at a modest price
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Rugged rubber armor construction
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O-ring sealed

Reasons to avoid

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Not premium optical quality

Nikon is a reassuring name when it comes to optical quality, and its binoculars are made with just as much care and attention to detail as its lenses. So much so in fact that this pair of Nikon binoculars won a Red Dot design award. 

These binoculars are armored and come with a non-slip construction, available in 8x42 and 10x42 configurations. The highly reflective silver alloy mirror coating on the surface of the prism lenses delivers a light and clear view that's comfortable to enjoy for long periods thanks to the long eye relief. 

The binoculars are also fog-proof, with a sealed O-ring and nitrogen-purged innards. As an all-around option at an affordable price point, these are the best binoculars you can buy today.

Read our full Nikon Prostaff 3S 10x42 binocular review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)
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Great budget binoculars, with great value and a range of sizes

Specifications

Magnification: 8x
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 118 metres (357 ft at 1000yds)
Closest focusing distance: 3.96 metres/ 13.1ft
Eye relief: 18mm
Weight: 624g / 22 oz
Dimensions: 146x126x53mm

Reasons to buy

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Versatile and well suited to wildlife
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Sturdy polycarbonate housing
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Waterproof

Reasons to avoid

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Neither small nor light

Something of a bargain, this pair of Celestron BaK-4 prism binoculars boasts 8x magnification and multi-coated optics to keep your view as clear as possible. This isn't the only size available – you can get these Outland X binoculars in other magnifications and sizes too. They're suitable for outdoor use by birders and wildlife watchers, thanks not only to said magnification but also to a sturdy polycarbonate build and waterproofing. 

The decent-sized 42mm objective lenses on offer here gather a lot of light, making these binoculars suitable for use in dim conditions as well as in regular daylight. A large smooth-feel focus wheel aids operation and a long 18mm eye relief delivers viewing comfort. Capable of being tripod mounted if desired, a strap, lens cloth and carry case come as standard, plus a limited lifetime warranty.

Read our full Celestron Outland X 8x42 review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)
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Great binoculars for astronomy and star-gazing, best used on a tripod

Specifications

Magnification: 20x
Objective diameter: 80mm
Field of view at 1000m: 56 metres
Closest focusing distance: 20.2 metres
Eye relief: 15.5mm
Weight: 2.45kg
Dimensions: 330.2x241.3x101.6mm

Reasons to buy

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High magnification and large lenses
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Rugged rubber armour

Reasons to avoid

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Big and bulky
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Better on a tripod

To shoot for the stars, you obviously need a pair of binoculars with a high magnification factor, as well as ones with excellent light-gathering abilities. You'll find both here with the splendidly named ‘SkyMaster’, ensuring this affordable pair is tailor-made for amateur astronomers, allowing for use at dusk, dawn, and night. 

Multi-coated lenses combine with BaK-4 prisms to allow for increased light transmission and therefore high contrast images with bags of detail. Stargazers will also benefit from the fact that this option can be tripod mounted, while it also has its own center support rod for increased stability. 

A polycarbonate and aluminum build provides both robustness and portability, while you also get a product that is waterproofed and fog-proofed with it, which is especially useful on cold winter nights.

Read our full Celestron SkyMaster Pro 20x80 review (opens in new tab) or The best telescopes for astrophotography (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)
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The best binoculars for kids, both light and waterproof

Specifications

Magnification: 6x
Objective diameter: 30mm
Field of view at 1000m: 140 metres
Closest focusing distance: 3 metres
Eye relief: 21mm
Weight: 485g
Dimensions:: 116x160x40mm

Reasons to buy

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Compact and light – fit in a sling bag
+
No eyestrain for kids as young as seven

Reasons to avoid

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Not the most powerful 
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Lacks features like anti fogging

The low-cost Opticron Savanna WP 6x30 binoculars are portable, waterproof, and contemporary-looking porro prism binoculars and they’re as suited to youngsters as they are adults. In fact, this range – 'Savanna', rather than 'Savannah' – is said to be usable by children aged 7+ without fear of eyestrain. 

As well as being compact enough for little hands, they’re relatively lightweight too, at a little under 500g, while offering a relatively wide field of view for curious eyes and minds. The 6x magnification doesn’t make them the most powerful pair of binoculars on the block, but you can upgrade to the 8x30 model – weighing just a few grams more – for just a little more outlay, which represents something of a bargain in itself.

Read our full Opticron Savanna WP 6x30 binocular review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)
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A more expensive price bracket, but great premium binoculars for nature and wildlife

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 108 metres
Closest focusing distance: 1.5 metres
Eye relief: 16mm
Weight: 665g
Dimensions: 131x140x53mm

Reasons to buy

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Compact relatively light and versatile
+
Waterproofed and nitrogen filled

Reasons to avoid

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10x may not be enough for wildlife
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Pretty pricey

This bright, sharp, and reliable model from the Olympus Pro lineup (a new 8x42 version is also available) feature nano coating for the first time in the range. Olympus is renowned for its optical expertise, so it’s no surprise that we get the same high-performance Zuiko optics that it deploys with its camera systems. Indeed, the claim here is these binoculars' optics offer unprecedented light transmittance for their class. 

They're compact, ergonomically designed, and of rugged construction that prevents any ingress from water if submerged at a depth of one meter for five minutes. Close-up performance is also impressive, with the ability to view subjects as near as 1.5m. 

Nitrogen filling prevents fogging while the design is slim and simple. An extendable eye relief provides comfort for spectacle wearers, as do a dioptric adjustment ring, flip-down lens cap, and a new strap mount. A 15-year warranty provides extra peace of mind.

Read our full Olympus 10x42 Pro binocular review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)
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High-quality, highly compact binoculars ideal for birdwatching, though not cheap

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 30mm
Field of view at 1000m: 121 metres /362ft
Closest focusing distance: 2 metres/ 6.6ft
Eye relief: 15.2mm
Weight: 450g
Dimensions: 119x126x47mm

Reasons to buy

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Wide angle of view 
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Waterproofed
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Anti-fog magnesium alloy build

Reasons to avoid

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You pay a premium for being compact

One of the newest premium binoculars on the market comes from Nikon in either 8x30 or – as we’ve selected for our top pick – 10x30 options. The Nikon Monarch HG 10x30 binoculars are not only compact and relatively portable at 450g, but the magnesium alloy build also has the benefit of being water and fog-proofed too. The idea is that these are the performance of Nikon’s Monarch HG 42mm diameter version but in a smaller body. 

The use of extra-low dispersion (ED) glass corrects chromatic aberration that can cause color fringing, while comfort is provided via a soft-to-the-touch neck strap. Both Nikon’s 10x and 8x options are supplied with a semi-hard-type case for protection when transporting. A tripod adaptor for each is an optional extra. If you’re looking for the best compact binoculars, this pair from the camera stalwart takes the crown.

Read our full Nikon Monarch HG 10x30 binocular review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Leica)
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Leica makes binoculars as well as cameras, and to the same exceptional standard

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 113 metres
Closest focusing distance: 1.6 metres/ 5.3ft
Eye relief: 15.5mm
Weight: 730g
Dimensions: 117x140x65mm

Reasons to buy

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Full body rubber armor
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Outstanding image sharpness
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Excellent colour fidelity

Reasons to avoid

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Luxury price tag 

The Leica Trinovid-HD 10x42 are the best binoculars for bird watching. And they're a solid all-round option in general too, combining state-of-the-art image performance with a ruggedness that will withstand whatever the outdoors may throw at you. 

Their ergonomic design and steady grip allow for accurate and precise focusing, delivering both razor-sharp close-ups of our feathered friends, plus long-distance clarity. The performance stays consistent too, whether you’re viewing subjects at first light or at dusk. 

Good contrast and color fidelity are key for bird watchers and these binoculars offer that in spades, as well as several choices of model, from Leica Trinovid HD 8x32 (opens in new tab) to the 10x42 we’ve selected.

Read our full Leica Trinovid HD 8x42 binocular review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)
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These wide-angle Vixen SG 2.1x42 binoculars are a niche purchase but give you a unique perspective on the night sky

Specifications

Magnification: 2.1x
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 25°
Closest focusing distance: 2m
Eye relief: 8.4mm
Weight: 410g/14.5oz
Dimensions: 46x128x54mm

Reasons to buy

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Unique field of view
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Incredible depth of field
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Portable size

Reasons to avoid

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Lack magnification
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Edges are very blurry
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Lose-able lens caps

The Vixen SG 2.1x42 is all about immersion and not magnification. You would never use them for birdwatching and nor would you want to take them on a safari, but used as a second pair of specialist binoculars for stargazing they impress. Yes, the magnification is lacking, but that's how they’re able – in conjunction with some excellent glass within a superb all-around build – to create an addictive wide-angle view of the night sky. 

If you've always preferred naked-eye stargazing to the close-up views offered by telescopes and binoculars then the Vixen SG 2.1x42 can take you to the next level by supercharging your night vision while retaining and extending your wide-eyed view of the night sky. 

Read our full Vixen SG 2.1x42 binoculars review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)
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These Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 binoculars are a good value for beginners keen on wildlife, the night sky and more

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 50mm
Field of view at 1000m: 118
Closest focusing distance: 7m
Eye relief: 12mm
Weight: 27 oz / 765g
Dimensions: 185x81x160mm

Reasons to buy

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Bright and colorful images
+
Lightweight design
+
Easy to use
+
Affordable price

Reasons to avoid

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Lens caps are easy to lose
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Slight edge distortion
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Not much eye relief

The Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 is about as basic a pair of binoculars as you can get. The Celstron brand makes many different models of binoculars, some exceptionally high-end, but this pair of 10x50’s represents the most affordable available. 

Will they suffice or do you need a more expensive pair? That depends on what you're after. Equipped with 10x magnification and 50mm objective lenses, the UpClose G2 10x50 are both powerful and fast, offering plenty of magnification and also able to collect a lot of light. 

That makes them theoretically usable in both bright light and in low light conditions, including complete darkness. So why are the UpClose G2 10x50 so affordable? That's partly down to the lack of any niceties, with no quality accessories or coverings.

Read our full Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Bushnell)
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16. Bushnell Powerview 2 10x42

Tough outdoor binoculars with an all-metal build, and the cheapest in our list

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: Not specified
Closest focusing distance: 6.1 metres
Eye relief: 15mm
Weight: 630g
Length: 150mm

Reasons to buy

+
All-metal chassis
+
Even weight distribution
+
Good light transmission

Reasons to avoid

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Fairly basic design/features

While the Bushnell Powerview 2 10x42 may be a pretty basic pair of binoculars in terms of features, the aluminium-alloy chassis gives them a real premium feel. You certainly get the impression this pair could survive a knock or two (though we wouldn't recommend testing this on purpose). 

The reasonably large objective lens ensures good light transmission, and the ridged focus control wheel is satisfying and intuitive to use. With rubber grips for a secure hold, the Bushnell Powerview 2 is an all-around well-designed set of binoculars, at a pretty reasonable price. 

(Image credit: Celestron)
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17. Celestron Nature DX 10x56

Mid-priced binoculars well suited to low light conditions and astronomy

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 56mm
Field of view at 1000m: 105m
Closest focusing distance: 3m
Eye relief: 18.2mm
Weight: 1030g
Dimensions: 167x146x65mm

Reasons to buy

+
Nitrogen filled to prevent fogging
+
Suitable for low light with large 56mm lens

Reasons to avoid

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Heavier than many alternatives

There are binoculars from Celestron’s Nature range, with even higher magnification and larger objective lenses, and likewise, there are devices that cost less with smaller lenses and less magnification, so we’ve gone for a good value option in the middle that, with a 10x56 spec, ticks our essential boxes and makes for a decent all-rounder, particularly with the facility to focus as near as 3m too. 

As well as being great in low light, they're suitable for outdoor use, thanks to a durable polycarbonate construction filled with dry nitrogen gas to prevent fogging in cold and wet conditions. Add in multi-coated optics and this is a robust, well-specified pair of binoculars suitable for everyone from beginners to intermediate users.

Binocular specs: what to look for

Binoculars have lots of different specs, but there are two key ones that are best to focus on if you want to keep things simple. These are magnification and lens size. 

Most binoculars will list both in their name. When you're browsing for binoculars, you'll quickly notice that their names tend to include something like "10x20" or "6x30". These two numbers refer respectively to the magnification factor and the size of the lenses. So in this example, we've got binoculars with 10x magnification and 6x magnification. You might think it'd be a matter of picking the binoculars with the largest magnification, but in practicality, it limits your field of view, which can make things harder to spot. 

The second number refers to lens size. A larger lens will make the image brighter and clearer, especially in low light, but will also make the binoculars bigger and heavier (and probably more expensive)

This means that for your hobby or subject, it's worth thinking about what the best combination of magnification of objective lens size will work for you.

See also: Best binocular harness (opens in new tab)

Best binoculars for astronomy: If you're planning on stargazing, we'd recommend a binocular size of around 7x50. The 7x magnification will work well for Astro viewing as a compromise between the field of view and magnification, while a 50mm lens will provide plenty of light transmission for spotting fainter celestial objects. 

Best binoculars for horse racing and other sports: Sports tend to happen in the day, so a bright objective lens is less of a concern. Something like an 8x30 will hit the spot, as the 8x magnification should be plenty to see what's going on from the stand. There's no point getting something big and heavy if you don't need it!

Best binoculars for nature: A high magnification combined with a smaller and lighter objective lens will make for a good combination here. Some binoculars offer 10x26, and anything in that ballpark should work. However, if you do want to use a heavy pair, consider choosing one that can be affixed to a tripod. That way, you don't have to get tired arms from holding it!

Read more: Best spotting scopes (opens in new tab)

More expensive binoculars will also have handy features like weatherproofing and fog resistance, and some even have image stabilization on board!

More buying guides

We've got buying guides to far more than just binoculars! Check out or list of buying guides below, for advice on everything from astronomical telescopes to opera glasses...

Read more:

Best budget binoculars under $100 (opens in new tab)
The best monoculars (opens in new tab)
Best binocular harness (opens in new tab)
The best spotting scopes (opens in new tab)
Best rangefinder binoculars (opens in new tab)
The best opera glasses (opens in new tab)
The best night vision goggles and binoculars  (opens in new tab)
The best telescopes for astrophotography (opens in new tab)
The best microscopes (opens in new tab)
Best borescopes and inspection cameras (opens in new tab)
The best portable hides for wildlife photography (opens in new tab)

Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specialising in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound and many more for various advertising campaigns, books and pre/post-event highlights.


He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected in to BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 


He is familiar with and shows great interest in medium and large format photography with products by Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa and Sinar and has used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI and everything in between. His work covers the genres of Equestrian, Landscape, Abstract or Nature and combines nearly two decades of experience to offer exclusive limited-edition prints to the international stage from his film & digital photography.

With contributions from