Binoculars: Ratings of Sources
Total of 25 Sources
For an explanation of how we rank reviews, see our ratings criteria page.
Optics Test 2010
by Editors of Outdoor Life
Our AssessmentOutdoor Life magazine has an extensive review of binoculars, riflescopes and spotting scopes in its annual test of hunting equipment. Each pair of binoculars is rated and receives a letter grade for image, design and value. The models are also ranked by optical quality. The Swarovski EL 42 Swarovision 10x42 and Zeiss Victory 10x25 earn the coveted Editor's Choice awards, while the Pentax DCF CS 8x42 and Redfield Rebel 8x32 earn Great Buy designations. Several other binoculars earn high ratings, including the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD and Weaver Super Slam 10.5x45.
Optics Test '09
by Editors of Outdoor Life
Our AssessmentAlthough it is older than the 2010 optics test, the 2009 report from Outdoor Life, which primarily covers binoculars, is still useful. Twenty-seven binoculars and spotting scopes are evaluated, and each one receives an overall rating and individual letter grades on factors like optical quality, image, design and value. The best binoculars receive the Editor's Choice award.
Field Test: Lightweight Eights
by Matt Mendenhall
Our AssessmentBirder's World magazine enlists the help of 11 testers from the Riveredge Bird Club in Newburg, Wis., to test eight lightweight binoculars. Each tester evaluates every pair of binoculars, and the individual models are rated on optical quality, comfort and eye friendliness. Of the eight binoculars tested, the Nikon Monarch 8x36 ATB is the top scorer with a rating of 4.4 (out of 5). Binoculars from Eagle Optics and Brunton also receive high scores.
Optics Field Test: Specifications, Reviews, and Rankings of 11 Top Binoculars for Birdwatching
by Matt Mendenhall
Our AssessmentBirder's World magazine evaluates 11 pairs of high-end birding binoculars with the help of 20 testers. The binoculars range in price from $1,000 to just under $3,000. Each of the 20 testers evaluates between three and five binoculars. At the end of the testing period, the binoculars are rated on image quality, eye friendliness and comfort. Testers are also asked if they think the binoculars are worth the money and if they would buy them for themselves. The Zeiss Victory FL 8x42 impresses testers the most, although the Leica Ultravid HD 8x42 is not far behind.
by Ryan Krogh
Our AssessmentOutside magazine tests lots of outdoor gear for its annual buyer's guide, including binoculars. Six testers evaluate an unspecified number of binoculars for various activities, including hiking, hunting and cross-country skiing. Four binoculars "performed the best" and earn a recommendation. Although all four binoculars perform well, the Pentax DCF NV receives a Killer Value award.
Best Binocs Under $500
by J.T. Kozak
Our AssessmentBird Watcher's Digest has one of the most comprehensive tests of binoculars under $500. While they focus on binoculars for a specific purpose -- bird-watching -- the testing is comprehensive and incredibly detailed. Three testers, including an optics expert, evaluate 33 binoculars over two days of bird-watching in Nebraska. Each binocular is rated on a four-point scale with individual scores for optics, focusing effort and handling. Four binoculars score perfect 4-star ratings, while several others receive near-perfect scores of 3.8 out of 4. Unfortunately, some of the binoculars are now discontinued, indicating this undated article may be slightly outdated.
Sports and Outdoors
by Mathew Honan
Our AssessmentMathew Honan tests four pairs of binoculars that include night-vision technology. Each pair of binoculars receives a lengthy write-up, and products are rated on a 10-point scale. The Luna Optics LN-PB3 receives the highest rating and is the only pair of binoculars to be blessed with an Editors' Pick award.
by Editors of ConsumerReports.org
Our AssessmentConsumerReports.org hasn't updated its binoculars report in several years, but the vast majority of binoculars tested are still on the market. Editors test 34 pairs of binoculars, but only four earn a recommendation. Each model is rated on image quality, ease of use, field of view and durability. The full details are only available to subscribers.
Petzal's Picks: The New Best Rifles, Scopes, and Binoculars of 2010
by David E. Petzal
Our AssessmentField & Stream magazine recommends the Minox APO HG as the best new pair of binoculars for 2010. The binoculars are said to be a good choice for hunting, and editors rave that "their optical opulence is blindingly wonderful." Unfortunately, there's not much analysis to accompany the recommendation and no other binoculars are evaluated.
March 2008 Essentials Review: Binoculars
by Editors of Backpacker
Our AssessmentBackpacker magazine has a detailed review of five pairs of binoculars, although the review is slightly dated. Models are recommended in compact, mid-size and full-size categories, and the Nikon Travelite V is named a best buy. Each pair of binoculars receives a paragraph of analysis, and the reviews are somewhat balanced.
Gray's Best 2010
by Jim Babb
Our AssessmentGray's Sporting Journal is an outdoor magazine geared toward hunters and fishermen. Each year, the magazine's editors select the best products they've reviewed for that year in the Gray's Best awards. While we don't see which binoculars didn't make the cut, editors say they reviewed "hundreds" of products in arriving at their decision. For 2010, the Zeiss Victory RF 10x45 is the only pair of binoculars to receive a Gray's Best award.
by Editors of AllBinos.com
Our AssessmentFor serious aficionados, this Polish website has some of the most technical reviews of binoculars we've seen. Each pair of binoculars is thoroughly evaluated on criteria like focusing, housing, internal reflections, prism quality and much more. Binoculars are rated on a percentage scale and then ranked from best to worst. For 10x42 binoculars, the Nikon HG L DCF earns a good review.
by Editors of Optics4Birding.com
Our AssessmentAlthough this site is primarily a retailer for birding binoculars, it offers guides for selecting binoculars, including a page on choosing binoculars for kids. Twenty-two mid-priced to high-end binoculars are reviewed in detail, covering specific pros and cons about optics, focusing, ergonomics and accessories. The in-depth reviews cover some aspects not included elsewhere, like the quality and convenience of rain guards and lens caps. Optics are also evaluated, but binoculars are neither compared nor rated.
Hunting's Top Gear 2010
by Ken Bailey
Our AssessmentOutdoor Canada magazine evaluates the new products released at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor trade show, an event held each January. Editors don't specify how many binoculars they evaluated, but the Bushnell Fusion 1600 ARC binoculars receive the Best New Gear award for 2010. The analysis is brief and the binoculars are not rated.
by Contributors to Amazon.com
Our AssessmentAmazon.com has a good selection of binoculars, and customers can rate them on a five-point scale. For binoculars priced under $50, users recommend several Bushnell binoculars. It's a good idea to check to see what users have said about a model you're considering, as you can usually find some new information not mentioned elsewhere. Unfortunately, many of the top-rated binoculars have already been replaced by newer models.
by Contributors to Buzzillions.com
Our AssessmentBuzzillions.com is a user-review site that compiles reviews from various online retailers, including Cabelas.com and REI.com. More than 1,200 binoculars are listed on the site, and many attract more than 100 individual reviews. The Nikon Travelite V and Cabela's Euro binoculars receive a good amount of feedback.
by Michael and Diane Porter
Our AssessmentBirdwatching.com publishes excellent testing of binoculars, but most of the reports date to 2007 or earlier, so their recommendations and analysis are largely outdated. Michael and Diane Porter describe themselves as "avid birdwatchers," and their testing is detailed and thorough. In addition to several roundups of binoculars in different price ranges, the Porters also recommend specific binoculars for those who wear glasses or need close focus, but again the recommendations are outdated.
by Tim Gallagher
Our AssessmentLiving Bird is a quarterly magazine published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. In previous issues, editors had excellent comparative tests of binoculars, but recent issues focus on single-product reviews instead. Unfortunately, only two reviews have been published recently, and the binoculars are not rated or compared to other models.
by Editors of BetterViewDesired.com
Our AssessmentBetterViewDesired.com is an enthusiast birding site that focuses on optics and binoculars. The site hosts detailed single-product reviews of binoculars, but unfortunately the site stopped posting new reviews in 2006. The archive can be helpful for some binoculars, but the lack of recent reviews makes this source less helpful than those we rank higher.
The A-Team for Adventure
by Vikramaditya Singh
Our AssessmentLiveMint.com, a business website run by The Wall Street Journal, recommends several gadgets for adventure travelers. Only one pair of binoculars is recommended, and the binoculars are not rated or compared with any competing models. Vikramaditya Singh says the Steiner 8x30 Wildlife Pro binoculars are versatile enough for birders, hikers or mountaineers.
The Best Binoculars
by Neil Parmar
Our AssessmentReviewer Neil Parmar enlists the help of a retired ornithologist from Yellowstone National Park to evaluate five pairs of binoculars. The Canon 10x42 L IS WP doesn't particularly impress the expert, since it's heavy and "cumbersome to use." The Bushnell Elite 10x43 gets high marks for its compact, lightweight design, but the Pentax DCF ED 10x43 is named the best value overall. The Leica Ultravid HD 42 10x42 also receives high marks.
by Adam Bunker
Our AssessmentThis British magazine focuses on sports and outdoor gear for a male audience, and editors have a brief article on the best new "gizmos" for men. The Leica Ultravid 8x20 BL binoculars are highlighted, but the analysis is rather superficial and no other binoculars are reviewed.
by Contributors to Hunting & Fishing Gear Review
Our AssessmentUsers review 37 different binoculars here, primarily for usability in hunting. Quite a few are older models, and most of the reviews date back several years. Most binoculars get high ratings here, with only one brief review each. However, the comments can be useful after you've already narrowed your choice.
by Contributors to Epinions.com
Our AssessmentUser reviews at Epinions.com can be sorted by rating, but even the highest-rated binoculars usually have only a handful of reviews. Still, it's convenient that you can filter the dozens of binoculars listed here by quite a few factors, including price range, water resistance, maximum magnification, diopter adjustability, lens coating and more.
by Contributors to BirdForum.net
Our AssessmentThis U.K. forum is a good place to ask specific questions about birding binoculars, as well as to check out other users' experiences with binoculars you're considering. The forum posts are categorized by brand, and all major binocular brands are well represented. The search functionality is also helpful for identifying posts about specific models.