I heard a podcast interview with Ben Lizdas from Eagle Optics on This Birding Life that was really helpful, and I am hoping you can point me towards some good choices for birding binoculars.
I will be going to Hawaii to do fieldwork in February, so I'm looking for something that will be good in humid/rainy conditions to view forest birds. At home, (Maryland--so less rainy, but still pretty humid) I'm also mostly looking at forest birds as well, but it would be nice to have something that would close-focus to about 10' too, if possible.
I would prefer to have something that's not too heavy but I'd rather have full-sized binoculars than pocket-sized ones. I'm looking to spend between $300-$600. Do you have some suggestions of models that fit what I need?
Thanks for your help!
Thanks for your inquiry. It sounds as if you’ve got some exciting fieldwork ahead!
For forest birding, I’d recommend an 8x42 to get a wide field of view and nice bright images. Here are some recommendations in your price range:
Eagle Optics Ranger 8x42, $300. These are our most popular birding and general use binoculars. Fairly compact and lightweight, close focus of 5.2 feet, and a field of view of 341 ft/1000 yards.
Zeiss Terra ED 8x42 Binocular $350. Zeiss is a great optics manufacturer, and the Terra is excellent at its price point. Fairly compact, they’ve got a close focus of 5.25 feet and a field of view of 375 feet.
If you’re willing to spend more, I would definitely the Eagle Optics Golden Eagle HD 8x42 Binocular, $589. In terms of most specs, they’re pretty comparable to the others, with a close focus of 5.1 feet and a field of view of 347 feet. However, optically, these will be the best you can get at this price, with really good edge-to-edge sharpness, minimal chromatic aberration, and overall brightness.
All of these options are waterproof and fogproof, and should be a good weight for hiking. Each also carries an unconditional, lifetime warranty.
Hope this helps-- please let us know if you have any other questions!