A good pair of binoculars is a vital piece of equipment for any bird watcher. If you do your birding at the coast or lakes, you may need binoculars for long distance viewing.
Choosing the right pair depends on:
- The magnification you want: for long distance you may need higher than 10 times
- Your budget: There are good long distance binoculars to suit all budgets
- The size and weight: Long distance binoculars tend to be heavier so you may need a tripod
- And when you will be out birding: If you are out in the evening or at night, you need to make sure your binoculars let in a good amount of light.
So let’s take a look at the things you need to consider to make sure you get the best pair.
If you want to view long distances, you obviously need a higher magnification, but you need more than that.
A good long distance pair of binoculars will have a magnification of up to 20 times, but you need to look at this in conjunction with the objective lens.
What is the objective lens?
The objective lens is the lens at the end of the binoculars and the larger it is, the more light it allows through. This is particularly useful if you’re birding on a dark day or at night.
For most bird watching and objective lens of 35 mm or 42 mm allows enough light in. If you’re looking at long distance viewing with a high magnification and you may need a larger objective lens of 50mm to 70 mm.
The drawback of a large objective lens is that they make the binoculars heavier to carry and hold. If you’re planning on birding for an afternoon you might be able to hold them steady at the start, but you will soon find your hands shaking the more you hold them up. This is why a tripod is a must have if you have a large objective lens.
If you want a good objective lens, then there are many options available to you, such as the Bushnell Powerview Wide Angle Binocular.
Our top picks for long distance viewing
Bushnell Powerview Wide Angle Binocular
- Magnification: 20 x
- Objective lens: 50mm
- 1 touch focus
- Weight: 1.88
- Non-slip rubber armor
The Bushnell Powerview Wide Angle Binocular offers 20 x magnification and a 50mm objective lens to give you close up images from a distance.
With one touch focus, you can follow birds and watch them safely and not have to waste precious time focussing as they move. The binoculars weigh 1.88 pounds, so are a convenient weight for everyone and the non-slip rubber armor helps protect them from knocks while out in the field.
The binoculars come with a case and lens covers so you can head out for a day’s birding as soon as they arrive.
The exit pupil refers to the size of the light which is visible through the eyepiece. A brighter image will have a larger exit pupil and so a smaller exit pupil will create a duller image.
A lot of birders mistakenly believe that a zoom feature is a must have. In reality if you have the right magnification and the right objective lens you should be able to view your images clearly. Rather than a zoom it is often best to find a pair of binoculars with a smooth and quick focus.
Use of the zoom can:
- reduce your field of view
- make it harder to focus quickly
A good budget will ensure you get the best binoculars you can and there are long distance binoculars for everyone. The more you can afford to pay, the higher the specification, but there are excellent binoculars at both ends of the price scale.
A good pair of binoculars if you’re on a tight budget is the Celestron 71008 SkyMaster 25 x 70 Binoculars.
Celestron 71008 SkyMaster 25 x 70 Binoculars
- Magnification: 25 x
- Objective lens: 70mm
- Eye relief: 0.51 inches
- Multi coated
- Protective rubber cover
- Weight: 3.25 lbs
The Celestron 71008 SkyMaster 25 x 7 Binoculars have an excellent specification at an excellent price. With magnification of 20 times and a large 70mm objective lens, you will be able to see birds at a distance in all their colorful glory.
The weight is 3.25lbs so if you plan to be out for a long time, you may decide to use a tripod, which also helps you move around to view more birds.
The internal prisms are multi-coated to give the image the best light, so they can be used on darker days just as easily as they can on bright days.
The binoculars come with lens cap, lens cloth, neck strap, rain guard, carrying case, tripod adaptor, and an instruction manual to get you started.
If you have a high budget, then an excellent pair for your long distance viewing is the Celestron 71454 Echelon 20 x 70 Binoculars.
Celestron 71454 Echelon 20 x 70 Binoculars
- Magnification: 20 x
- Objective lens: 70mm
- Nitrogen purged
- Tripod adaptable
- Good in low light
The Celestron 71454 Echelon 20×70 Binoculars are a high quality pair of binoculars which won’t fit everyone’s price range.
With a 20mm magnification and large 70mm objective lens, they are designed for long distance viewing.
They work well in all weathers, including low light and are waterproof with an anti-slip grip so you can do your birding anytime, anywhere. They are nitrogen purged so you can be sure you will always have a clear image with no fogging of the lens. They have also been constructed using a hard wearing aluminum alloy so they are lightweight and will withstand knocks. The lenses are fully coated to provide you with clear images every time.
Having such a large objective lens means you may prefer to use them with a tripod, and they are adaptable for tripod use.
The binoculars come complete with a waterproof, hard carrying case as well as a lens cap, rain guard, neck strap, lens cloth and instruction manual.
One very important consideration for long distance binoculars is the weight. Most pairs are quite heavy and if you’re going to be using them for some time, you will probably need a tripod. This doesn’t make them very easy to carry and they can be awkward if you are traveling.
You can get compact binoculars which are suitable for long distance viewing, but due to their size, you may be limited as to how far you can actually see. One great set of compact binoculars is these waterproof and lightweight 10 x 42 compact binoculars.
ZoomX Adult binoculars 10 x 42
- Magnification: 10 x
- Objective lens: 42mm
- Smartphone Adaptor
These binoculars are ideal for those who like to travel, for those who cannot hold a heavy pair or for anyone who is looking for a good set to get started with birding.
The BaK4 prism has ultra phase color correction and the lenses are multi-coated, to give you the clearest images. They are Nitrogen purged so they will not fog and are fully waterproof so you can go out in all weathers and in low light. The body is rubber coated for better grip so they will not slip out of your hands.
These binoculars also have a Smartphone adaptor so you can connect to your phone and view the images on the screen.
The magnification is 10 times and the objective lens of 42mm, which allows good light in. They weight just 1.2 pounds and their compact size makes them an ideal traveling companion. They come complete with a case, carrying strap, lens cap, lens cloth, smartphone adaptor and full instructions.