Binoculars are optical marvels that enable you to capture breathtaking views while observing distant objects and to bring them as close to you as possible. They are ideal for bird watching, wildlife viewing, nature observation, hiking, hunting, stargazing, and other outdoor activities.
But you must be thinking, how can someone buy the best binoculars under $200, given that its overall performance remains high quality? It is definitely true that quality does depend on the price and a binocular that you purchase for $1500 is way better than its $200 counterpart. But you might be surprised that there are a few hidden gems which offer great optical performance at dirt cheap prices as well.
For finding the appropriate pair of binoculars for yourself, you must be aware that it’s not only the brand name that can guarantee you a good pair of binoculars. You need to look at many factors before picking out your travel companion.
What to look for in Binoculars under $200?
Let us help you sift through some of the factors you need to consider while purchasing the best pair of binoculars under $200.
Higher magnifying power in a binocular allows you to focus on distant objects more clearly irrespective of the fact whether they are moving or stationary. But you must be aware that the amount of magnification achieved by a binocular determines the amount of light gathered and retained by it. This means more the magnification, the brightness reduces. Therefore, there should be a balance between magnification and brightness.
Objective Lens Diameter
Objective Lens Diameter determines the light transmission and retention rates of a pair of binoculars. The greater the width of the objective lens, the broader will be the field of view. Along with it, brightness will also increase because more light will be allowed to enter the binoculars.
The smooth coating of lens ensures that the outer surface of the binoculars is free from irregularities. This will help prevent the diffraction and spreading of light. Anti-reflective coatings must be used to reduce the amount of light being reflected back. Also, lens coatings tend to protect the lenses from scratches and make them easier to clean. One can even expect the use of phase corrective coatings for the optical elements used in a binocular.
The light to enters and pass through the binoculars by means of an exit pupil. The larger the width of the exit pupil, the more light is allowed to pass through and brighter is the resulting image. An exit pupil of 3-5 mm is considered appropriate and anything less than 3 mm would restrict the light gathering and retention potential of a pair of binoculars.
Field of View
The area of clear vision at 1000 yards can be referred to as the Filed of View. For example, a field of view of 420 feet means you will be able to see an area of 420 feet, at 1000 yards away from you.
Close focus refers to how close you can focus on an object using a pair of binoculars. It depends not only on the binocular but also on the viewer’s eye and focusing ability.
Image Clarity and quality are one among the factors that you need to consider before purchasing a pair of binoculars. If a pair of binoculars can make you feel like you are looking through your own eyes rather than a set of lenses, then such a binocular is a must have.
Low Light Performance
For several outdoor excursions, there can be situations where you want to capture stunning visuals in low light conditions. This may not be possible with binoculars that cannot perform well in poor lighting. Make sure to buy binoculars that magnify not only the image but the brightness as well.
A pair of binoculars needs to durable enough to accompany you on several trips and excursions and provide you with the best optical experience. You must ensure that the binoculars have a strong and protective armor to make the binoculars suitable for rugged use.
Overall Optical Quality
The lens quality plays a very important role in deciding the overall optical quality. Quality refers to the clarity of glass used and the degree to which the lens surface has been polished. The better reflection or dispersion of light reduces considerably with the usage of the high-quality lens.
It is important for binoculars to be waterproof, fog proof and dust proof since they are an essential outdoor gear. This will allow you to continue using binoculars even under harsh weather conditions. You can be assured of clear sights during rain, storm or cold weather.
Top 8 Best Binoculars under $200 in 2018
Here is a list of some of the most popular binoculars with a price tag of $200 or less.
Vortex Diamondback binoculars are known to be the most durable pair of binoculars. They have been around for quite some time now but were redesigned to a much impressive version in 2016. They are also one of the most popular ranges of binoculars due to their lower cost and a wide choice of configurations they offer and have been the perfect solution for hikers, nature lovers, hunters, etc.
The Vortex Diamondback 8×32 binoculars are fitted with roof prisms, are lightweight and well balanced. They provide noticeably clearer images with greater contrast. The field of view is wider at 420 feet/1000 yards, which is more generous than its counterparts. The phase corrected roof prism and multicoated glass creates stunning images. The external rubber armor is quite textured and provides a strong and quality grip. The dielectric coatings of the prism enhance image resolution, color, and contrast. The focus knob is quite precise and easy to use. Further, the O-ring seal makes them waterproof and fog proof as well.
- Good resolution in low light conditions
- Durability with rugged rubber armor
- Lightweight and compact design
- Wider Field of view
- Image not as sharp around the outer edges
Nikon PROSTAFF 7S 10×42 Binoculars are an ideal choice for those who wish to own good quality binoculars from a reputed brand at an affordable price. They are an excellent pair of binoculars with a stylish design and are one of the most popular binoculars among the masses.
Their high quality and innovative components make for a highly desirable pair of binoculars. They fall into the lightweight category because of their total weight of just 22.7 ounces. The ergonomic design features an exterior armor that is rubberized and non-slippery for optimal grip. The rubber coating provides shock resistance and makes them a durable pair of binoculars.
Nikon PROSTAFF 7S 10×42 binoculars come loaded with lots of optical and technological features including phase corrective coated roof prisms, multicoated eco-glass lenses, adjustable eye relief and are waterproof as well as fog proof.
The fully multi-coated lenses produce bright and clear images by maximizing the transmission of light through the binoculars and reducing reflection and glare. Phase corrective coating on roof prisms reduces chromatic aberration significantly.
They boast of all-terrain applicability because of their resistance to water and fog. The O-Ring seal and nitrogen filling makes it possible to prevent moisture from entering the unit and causing problems. This further helps in protecting the binoculars from dust and impurities, making them dustproof as well.
- Lightweight and easy to hold
- Long eye relief
- Waterproof, fog proof and dust proof
- No zoom
- Lens caps don’t attach easily
Bushnell Legend L Series 10×42 Binoculars are considered one of the best binoculars for hunting and are unmatchable in terms of their performance and durability. These binoculars feature ED Prime Glass, Ultra Wide-Band Custom Coating, and RainGuard HD for the sharpest, clearest view in all conditions. The ED prime glass reduces color fringing to provide improved color resolution and contrast. The RainGuard water repellent technology keeps lenses void of moisture and helps maintain a clear view in any weather condition. The Ultra Wide-Band coating improves light transmission.
This elegant pair of binoculars employs roof prism lenses for higher visual clarity and brightness. Also, they provide a wide field of view producing high quality, super sharp and vibrant images.
These compact, lightweight binoculars are a breeze to handle and they’re also as durable as they come while being waterproof and fog proof. The multi-coated lenses used by these binoculars result in sharp images, regardless of the distance. The non-slippery rubberized armor not only protects the binoculars from damage but offers a strong grip, even in wet weather conditions. The chassis made of a magnesium alloy makes them lightweight and compact as well.
- ED Prime Glass
- RainGuard water-repellent technology
- Fog and water resistant
- Lightweight magnesium alloy chassis
- Loose lens cups
- Eye relief isn’t satisfactory
Bushnell Trophy XLT 10×42 binoculars have been designed for hunters with a need for extra sharp clarity and perfect precision. Fitted with advanced roof prisms and glare-free multicoated lenses, Bushnell Trophy binoculars are world-class optics products which are considered to be the best in this space. They are all water-, fog-, and dust-proof thanks to the nitrogen purging and O-ring seals and can be considered tough, durable and dependable. They are an ideal choice for hunting, hiking, camping, etc.
Trophy XLT binoculars make use of BAK-4 prisms and multicoated lenses to provide bright, sharp and clear images without any color fringing. The objective lenses are protected by flip covers. They have an ultra-fast focusing system which is perfect for hunting. They also provide a very wide field of view and are capable of giving excellent performance in different light and weather conditions. They come with Dura-grip rubber coatings and soft touch thumb grips to make them comfortable for extended observations. The chassis is made of 100% high-quality materials which are extensively tested. One of the unique features involves these binoculars being 100% lead-free, which makes them an environment-friendly model produced by Bushnell. At 25 ounces, they are a portable pair of binoculars.
- Dura-grip rubber armor
- Soft-touch thumb grips
- Lightweight and portable design
- Multicoated optics
- Weather resistant
- Focusing issues
- Low-quality flip covers
Leupold BX-1 McKenzie 10×42 Binoculars are one of the most popular Leupold products on the market today. They are an affordable unit of all-purpose binoculars that are considered ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. This is partly because of the standard set of features that these binoculars possess and because of the lightweight design. These binoculars have a light chassis of about 22 ounces making them portable and ideal for the 10×42 configured binoculars.
Leupold BX-1 McKenzie binoculars are one of the very few Leupold binoculars that have a roof prism design instead of a Porro prism one. The advantage of a roof prism design over Porro prism is that it makes the binoculars lightweight and much more rugged. Also, they improve the light transmission capabilities of a pair of binoculars and reduce any kind of chromatic aberration. The custom twisted eyecups and the wide IPD (Inter Pupillary Distance) range offered by these binoculars provide a true and exact fit for any customer.
- Wide IPD range
- Fully waterproof and fog proof
- Value for money
- Quality Control issues
Leupold BX-1 Yosemite 6×30 Binoculars are a small and compact pair of binoculars which are capable of providing an all-around optical performance. These binoculars come with fully multicoated lenses and BAK-4 prisms for a superior level of light transmission and better quality of images. They boast of a 420 feet/1000 yards wide field of view and have a 5 mm exit pupil to support an exquisite amount of light transmission resulting in bright and crystal clear views. This pair of binoculars can be considered high performing as well as user-friendly. The IPD or Inter Pupillary Distance for these binoculars is adjustable which makes it easy to get a custom fit for any user. The design employs Porro prisms with BAK-4 glass to enhance the optical performance.
- Lightweight and compact design
- Long eye relief
- Excellent optical performance
- Not fog-proof
Redfield Rebel 10×42 Binoculars are a worthy pair of binoculars which provide an array of features under 200 bucks. At around $150, these binoculars provide the perfect 10×42 configuration and have everything that you need for your outdoor expedition. The features have been optimized to provide maximum usability. The features include water and fog resistance, fully multicoated lenses, phase corrected BAK-4 prisms, and a fully armored aluminum body.
The multicoated lenses provide ultimate light transmission and the BAK-4 prism glass ensures superior and brilliant image quality. The fully armored aluminum body makes these binoculars durable and robust as well as provide a secure grip.
Redfield Rebel 10×42 binoculars are a popular choice among several customers and have received a lot of attention and positive feedback from the reviewers.
- Value for money
- Aluminum armored body
- Multicoated optics
- Sometimes hard to focus with
Nikon Action Extreme 10×50 ATB Binoculars are one of the most popular All Terrain Binoculars in the market with a price tag below $200. These binoculars can be considered a beast when you look at the optical components used and optical quality achieved. With the configuration of 10x magnification power and 50 mm objective lens, they perform excellently under low light conditions. The use of Porro prism makes them lightweight and compact without hindering the optical performance. This pair of binoculars is environment-friendly as well because it makes use of lead and arsenic-free Eco-Glass for its lenses.
These best-budget binoculars are completely waterproof and fog proof as well. The excellent low light performance is due to the presence of the large exit pupils of 5 mm which results in spectacular images even in the dark. Because of this, these binoculars are considered to be ideal for outdoor activities such as wildlife viewing, hunting, hiking, etc.
- Eco-glass technology
- Excellent low light performance
- Value for money
- Waterproof and fog proof
- Slightly bulky
Now that you are aware of the factors you need to consider while purchasing the best binoculars under $200 along with some of the most popular pair of binoculars falling in this range, it should be easy for you to figure out the right pair of binoculars for yourself.