We’re about halfway through 2024. The  weather is getting cold across the country but it’s an ideal time to go bird watching, spot  whales, take in nature or head  off to the  footy, so it’s also time to look at a few of the best binoculars for the year. 

1. Ultimate Optics

Swarovski NL Pure 

Picking what are the best binoculars you can buy is tricky.

Since their release in 2020 ,the Swarovski NL Pure series have distinguished themselves as being among the best binoculars ever made. They feature a rare combination of optical quality, mechanical features and elegance of design that makes them a delight to hold and observe through for long periods.

We feel the Swarovski NL Pure 10×42 are possibly the best all-around binoculars you can purchase today, although they are available in different magnifications to suit your lifestyle and even a smaller, 32mm size. Swarovski have also recently announced a larger, 52mm version of their NL Pure and they’ll be heading to BINTEL soon.

Swarovski NL Pure binoculars arrive at BINTEL all the time, so check with us and we can arrange some for you.

Pros: Pretty much everything!

Cons: They are expensive. (Then again, the best of anything usually is). Demand is high and can be tricky to obtain sometimes.

Also consider:  ZEISS Victory SF binoculars also offer exceptional optics and would be worth comparing at BINTEL

2. Best binoculars for bird watching

ZEISS SFL

The folks at ZEISS have certainly ticked all the boxes for bird watchers with their SFL range of binoculars.

To start with, they trimmed a couple of mm off the size of the main optics used in many birdwatching binoculars and spaced their components more closely.  Combined with some clever design in the body and mechanics, the ZEISS SFL binoculars are noticeably lighter and more compact than most you’ll find of a similar size.

For bird watchers, bright clear optics in a light and compact body means you’ll be able to more easily locate and keep track of our feathered wildlife.  Pop in to BINTEL to try some out! Of course,  the same features in ZEISS SFL binos make them a great choice for general nature and scenery viewing and handy to take to the footy or cricket. All ZEISS SFL models are water and weather resistant. A 20 year warranty is standard on all ZEISS gear.

Pros: Lightweight, bright optics. Great for travelling.

Cons:  Priced higher than some competitors

Also consider: The Nikon Monarch M5 and M7 binoculars have also been popular with our birdwatching customers for many years.  Great value too.

3. Best binoculars for sports

Pentax Binoculars

Binoculars well suited for sporting events have similar requirements to those for bird watching – you need to quickly find what you’d like to see and then take in sharp clear views.  You probably won’t need to travel as far to see your local football or cricket team in action as some bird watchers do however.  🙂

For sports fans, there’s several models of Pentax binoculars for great views no matter where you’re placed in the stadium.

Pros: Great viewing. Value for money.

Cons: Might be on the large side  for some.

Also consider: Olympus 10×42 EXPS Binoculars would also be spot on for taking to sporting events.

4. Best binoculars for the great outdoors

Vortex Binoculars

Everyone has a different idea of heading outdoors means! For some, it’s a drive down to the nearest National Park for a lazy Sunday afternoon picnic, and for others it’s a two weeks camping and hiking trip.

For good value, rugged binoculars that offer some great optics, Vortex produce binoculars that are a perfect option no matter where you’re travelling.  These start at the Vortex Raptor binos for around the $300 mark through through to their Diamond Razor series that compare well to the best of the European brands.

One of the other attractive features of Vortex binoculars is the lifetime warranty offered on all models.

Pros: Hardy, good optics. Include some excellent accessories.  Best warranty available.

Cons: Higher end models might be pricey for some.

Also consider:  The Nikon Action range that starts at under $300. These are also a good match for the  life on the move.

5. Best value for money binocular line up

Nikon Aculon 

Famous name Nikon have been making optics – cameras, binoculars, microscopes, spotting scopes and more – for over 100 years. Here at BINTEL we’ve been selling Nikon products for more than three decades and know the brand well.  The Nikon Aculon model range are their standard sized but fully featured binocular series. These start at well under $200.  Here’s some of them.

Pros: Great value, wide range of sizes and magnifications. Accessories included

Cons: For the price – nothing really!

Also consider: While they’re more expensive than the Nikon Aculon series, Meade Binoculars are packed full of features and are great value,

6. Best image stabilizing binoculars

Kite APC Stabilised 

Image stabilising binoculars featured electronics that hold them steady to avoid any had movements or shakes that produce unsteady viewing when using higher magnifications.

We’ve found the Kite APC 42 12×42 and 16×42 offer rock solid viewing when viewing at high powers, especially for objects in the distance.  Their new,  18 x 50 model, featuring ED  glass and ultra long life rechargeable battery,  quickly sold out once word got out about them in Europe.

Many of our Kite customers using them on boats both inland and even on the open ocean.

Pros: Excellent image stabilisation.

Cons: Demand for the Kite 18×50 ED model has meant they’re sold out for a couple of months.

Also consider: The Fujinon TECHNOSTABI 12×28 also offer good stabilising and are more affordable.

7. Best astronomy binoculars

Celestron SkyMaster 12×60

We often surprise folks by telling them just about any pair of binoculars can be used for astronomy! Even basic binoculars will reveal beautiful details such as those in the Milky Way that are hidden just beyond the reaches of our eyes.

If you are thinking about some binoculars for astronomy, the Celestron SkyMaster 12×60 are our current pick.  They’re only $175 and offer great optics for the price. The larger 60mm diameter front lenses will gather extra light to help you pick out fainter details and they’re also fairly light for their size – handy for extended viewing periods.

Pros: Excellent light gathering power, affordable.

Cons: Might be too large for some when travelling.

Also consider: The Pentax SP 20×60 WP have also proven themselves as popular astronomy binoculars. They have more magnification than the Celestron SkyMaster 12×60 and while the Celestron binos are waterproof, the Pentax SP 20×60 have more impressive weather protection for when conditions are less than ideal

8. Binoculars that have taken us by surprise in 2024

Gerber Nautica

The Gerber Nautica series have been a surprise for us this year. It’s mainly because it’s rare to see the inclusion of ED (Extra Dispersion) glass at a $399 price for the 8×42 size (with the 10×42 being a few dollars more at $410)

ED glass is usually found on more expensive binoculars and it helps bring a wide range of colours to a sharp, vivid focus.  Combined with a lightweight body and sturdy mechanicals that feel good in the hand, the Gerber Nautica binoculars have quickly become a lineup we often recommend to our customers.

Pros: ED glass, value for money, image quality normally found on more expensive binos

Cons: For the money – not much!

9. Smart Binoculars

Swarovski AX Visio

The convergence of technology and optics has been going for some years now with telescopes and recently we’ve seen a stream of astro products that make astrophotography especially something that even a complete beginner can accomplish.

The merging of tech and binoculars has started to happen as well.  At the moment, there’s only one pair “Smart Binoculars” on the market, the Swarovski AX Vision

These allow for species identification, video and still photography, features for tour groups and even the ability to livestream what you’re viewing through the binoculars.  Swarovski have even opened the AX Visio to third party developers and are actively encouraging  new ways to expand and use these new binoculars.

The AX Visio also have full Swarovski optics and the views through them are spectacular.

As a package, it’s one of the most impressive products we’ve even had through the doors here at BINTEL. It’s also been a major success worldwide and will be in short supply for the rest of 2024.

Pros: Superb optics, well thought out current capabilities, open for future possibilities

Cons: Pricey, in high demand

Also consider: While it’s not released yet, Unistellar have announced new smart binocular might be worth checking out if you’re an astronomer.

10. Pocket Binoculars

Nikon Travelite

Sometimes you simply need to have pair of small binocular that are tiny enough to fit in  a pocket or small bag or even just keep in the car for whenever you see something interesting.   There are quite a few different models in this category, however the tiny and mighty Nikon Travelite binos have been popular for many years.

Why? They’re certainly small but despite this, offer quite clear and sharp view. They’re also available in range of different magnifications and a case and neck strap are included

Pros: Tiny, excellent view for their size, good value.

Cons: Can’t be folded up like some others.

Also consider:  The ZEISS Terra ED pocket binoculars have better optics and fold into a more compact shape if you need something really time. A bit more expensive however.

If you’d like to add to this list, or have any other suggestions, please drop us a line!

Cheers,

Earl White

BINTEL

17th June 2024

 

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