Birdwatching optics – such as binoculars and scopes – come with many different options, and the success of your next bird watching tour depends on choosing the right one.
Below we will explain how to choose the best bird watching optics, bird watching binoculars and scopes for your next bird watching adventure.
How to choose the right bird watching optics
Birdwatching scopes have their magnification and objective lens size marked on the body. Two numbers with a cross “X” between them will help you find the most suitable birding optics for your needs.
For instance, in an 8X42 birdwatching scope, 8 is the magnification and 42 is the size of the objective lens. The higher the magnification, the larger the image of the bird, and the bigger the size of the objective lens, the clearer the image.
Birdwatchers prefer magnifications in the range of 7X to 10X and objective lens sizes between 32 and 50.
Choosing the magnification
Birding optics with a higher magnification (like 10X), have a narrower field of view, produce shakier images and are heavier compared to scopes with lower magnification. These are ideal for long-distance viewing. You can take these on seawatching, hawk watching, and country birding trips.
On the other hand, birding optics with lower magnification (close to 7X) have a wider field of view, provide more stable images, and are lighter. It makes them ideal for birdwatching in dense forests.
If you want to own only one pair of birding optics, an 8X binocular offers a nice compromise.
Choosing the objective lens
An objective lens with a larger diameter (close to 50mm) will produce brighter images and perform well in dim light conditions, dense forests and during twilight. The downside of large-diameter birding optics is their heavier weight.
This weight can wear you down after a few hours of birding, and the strap can become uncomfortable to wear and leave an impression in your shoulders and neck.
The ideal objective lens size is about 40mm. If you’re willing to compromise a little on brightness, you can get a birding optic with even lower objective lens size that’s easier to carry around.
Then, why do binoculars with smaller optic lenses even exist? Because of their compact size. Some can even be folded and put into a pocket. They perform well enough on clear and bright days.
Eye relief and close focus distance
If you wear glasses, look for bird watching optics with an eye relief of more than 15mm. Eye relief of less than 15mm won’t provide a clear and complete image.
The close-focus distance is the closest distance at which your binocular can focus. When the birds aren’t around, close-focus optics will help you with butterfly watching.
Rent Bird Watching Optics
Binoculars for Birding
Good quality birding optics can cost you around $2000, but you can rent the same optics for a week for $95 through Checkoutside.com. Renting birding equipment is a great way to get a feel for different styles of binoculars.
We offer the Swarovski El 8×32 Binoculars for rental. It offers a perfect balance of magnification, brightness and weight. You can also rent the Swarovski EL 10×42 Binoculars and the Phone Skope Swarovski Binocular Add-On to capture images and videos on your phone directly from the binoculars. Rent bird watching optics here.
- Eye relief