Best Binoculars Under $500 (For Birding & Hunting): Top Picks For Your Budget

binoculars on a brown table

Last Updated: July 13, 2021

Binoculars are made of various materials and have multiple features to completely fit each buyer’s preference. 

At the moment:

You might be confused about which one to choose because of all of the options, but one thing is for sure, you have a budget, and that is $500.

Let me do you the favor of offering you the best birding binoculars under $500 that are versatile enough to be of use in various other activities.

Our #1 overall product is the Ronhan 20x50 high-power binoculars, keep reading to find out why. 

The 5 Best Binoculars Under $500 Reviewed

1. Ronhan 20x50 Military Binoculars - Best Overall

20x50 High Power Military Binoculars, Compact HD Professional/Daily Waterproof Binoculars Telescope for Adults Bird Watching Travel Hunting Football-BAK4 Prism FMC Lens-with Case and Strap (20X50)

These Ronhan binoculars provide an ultra broad vision with their 50-millimeter objective lens and 20x magnification. What makes it better is the 56 millimeter at 1000 meters wide field of view that makes all details visible and clear. 

They feature aspherical lenses of 26 millimeters fully multilayer-coated with green film for superior light transmission and better image brightness. Another feature would be its low-light night vision, however, these don't mean you can still use them in complete darkness, only low light. 

It uses BAK-4 prisms for superior light transmission that provides better image brightness and a perfect round exit pupil.

Also, it has a rubber coating finish and an excellent sealing property for a firm grip and abrasion and water resistance. These features make it suitable for hostile environments. 

This has a center-focus knob that allows you to focus on a subject at a fast pace with high accuracy.

Even at different distances, fast focusing is made possible with its eyepiece ring. 

The package also includes a carrying bag, an anti-lost strap, a cleaning cloth, and a user manual. Perfect for beginners. 

Yet, the binocular case seems to defeat its purpose, they are made of nylon cloth that is non-stretchable, the binoculars barely fit into them and if they do, you won't be able to close them. 

Pros

  • Accurate fast pace focusing
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Water and fog proof
  • Fully multi-layer coated aspherical lenses
  • Rubber coated and tightly sealed

Cons

  • The binocular case is too small for use

Takeaway

These Ronhan binoculars possess numerous features that make your experience fulfilling, not to mention it comes as a complete beginner’s set. Its one and the only disadvantage is only a piece of cloth that won't affect the overall performance. 

CHECK CURRENT PRICE


2. Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars - Best Budget

Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars with Clear Low Light Vision, Large Eyepiece Waterproof Binocular for Adults Kids,High Power Easy Focus Binoculars for Bird Watching,Outdoor Hunting,Travel,Sightseeing

The Occer binoculars are compact and portable with the dimensions of 4 x 4.4 x 1.9 inches and extremely lightweight weighing only 5.3 ounces. It is high-powered with 12x magnification and a field of view of 273ft/1000y. 

Its 25-millimeter objective lenses are coated with FMC broadband green film while the eyepiece optical is coated with blue FMC coating. These produce a real color without any distortions. 

These binoculars use premium BAK4 prisms to reflect the maximum available light to keep a good quality image. 

Its 20-meter eye relief combined with the 15 millimeters large adjustable rotating rubber eyepiece provides comfortable viewing for eyeglass wearers. For non-eyeglass wearers, you can raise the eyecups to view a more focused image with ease. 

These also feature night vision goggles which is great because you can still use them in environments with weak light.

However, these are not for areas in complete darkness. 

They are made of ABS plastic and wrapped with non-slip rubber armor for a comfortable touch and a secure grip. They can bear moderate rain and moist environments but not heavy rain and soaking. 

For external care, it is advisable to store them in a dry area and use a dry and soft cloth to clean the lenses.

Pros

  • Large adjustable rotating rubber eyepiece
  • Has a non-slip rubber armor
  • Premium BAK4 prisms 
  • Night vision goggles

Cons

  • Non-waterproof

Takeaway

These binoculars are compact which is great because you can bring them anywhere and they’ll fit even in your pockets without sacrificing their features. It just requires extra care since it is not waterproof to avoid the lenses from moistening. 

CHECK CURRENT PRICE


3. Adasion 12x42 Binoculars - Best Lenses

12x42 Binoculars for Adults with Universal Phone Adapter - Super Bright and Large View Binoculars for Bird Watching, Hunting, Sports (Waterproof)

The best birding binoculars under $500 are those with good lenses to offer high magnification and accuracy so that you can view the plumage of the precious birds without hassle.

The Adasion 12x42 binoculars make use of 12x magnification to deliver larger and clearer detailed images. It has a narrow field of view of 367ft/1000yds and only weighs 1.25 pounds (560 grams)

It uses 16.5mm BAK4 Prisms made of thick barium crown glass for a bright and crisp image. This collects up to 32% more light and takes advantage of the 42-millimeter lens diameter to provide a bright view.

Its lenses are fully multi-coated with anti-chromatic aberrations.

These have adjustable eyecups to suit eyeglass wearers with its large eyepiece that produces bigger images comfortable to the eye.

They have a phone adapter so you can enjoy photography in a stable and portable manner. It is compatible with phone cases and is easy and quick to align. 

These are easy to focus on subjects and are great for distant objects, however, it is difficult to zoom in and out of your subject without losing the focus. 

Pros

  • Collects up to 32% more light
  • Phone adapter included
  • Fully-multi coated lenses
  • Anti-Chromatic aberrations
  • Large lens diameter

Cons

  • Narrow field of view
  • Difficult to zoom in and out

Takeaway

These are full-sized binoculars perfect for sightseeing and photography with their phone adapter. With 12x magnification, you’ll be seeing things closely but this also means you’ll have a narrow field of view which is only a disadvantage for certain instances.

CHECK CURRENT PRICE


4. Celestron - SkyMaster 25x70 Binocs - Best Magnification

Celestron - SkyMaster 25x70 Binocular - Large Aperture Binoculars with 70mm Objective Lens - 25x Magnificiation High Powered Binoculars - Includes Carrying Case

The Celestron SkyMaster is a full-sized binocular that features large 70-millimeter objective lenses. These lens diameters are highly suitable for astronomy and long-distance terrestrial viewing.

It has an ultra-sharp focus across its linear field of view of 141 feet/1000yards. Its BAK4 lenses are multi-coated and have 12x magnification. 

This uses Porro prisms for maximum image quality and brightness even in long distances and low-light conditions. 

It has an environmentally friendly protective rubber coating that provides an ultra-firm grip and water resistance.

These are compatible with eyeglass wearers with their adjustable eyecups, however, it is not suggested since it only has 13 millimeters of eye relief which can cause strain to eyeglass wearers. 

It has large eyepieces that are close together. This becomes a disadvantage when you add the rubber eyecups because they’ll collide with the bridge of your nose. 

Pros

  • Large 70-millimeter objective lenses
  • Ultra-sharp focus
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Has an ultra-firm grip
  • Has water resistance

Cons

  • Large eyepieces
  • A short eye relief

Takeaway

When we talk about the best hunting binoculars under $500, can be your most suited choice. That is because of its wide field of view and amazing magnification allowing you to find your prey while being aware of the dangers of the surroundings.

CHECK CURRENT PRICE


5. Hontry 8x42 Waterproof Binoculars - Best Durability

8x42 Waterproof Binoculars for Adults, Compact Roof Binoculars for Bird Watching, Hunting and Sightseeing Tour

The Hontry 8x42 binoculars feature 42-millimeter lenses that are fully multi-coated. It provides a clear image of quality. 

It uses 8x magnification which allows a wider field of view of 362 feet/ 1093 yards. These do not have the night vision feature but can still be of use in places with weak light sources. 

These use BAK-4 prisms that allow more light to pass through so you won't lose focus or distort the bright and sharp image.

Its outer covering is made of rubber that gives a firm grip and an anti-shock for protection. They are also nitrogen-filled to completely tightly seal the lenses into the casing. This assures that it will be water and fog-proof. Even if you drop or soak them in water, they will not fog up. 

Its ergonomic design is convenient for rough and extensive use.

The package includes the Hontry binoculars, a hanging bag, a carrying strap, two objective lens covers, and a soft rubber rain guard. 

Its disadvantage lies in the lenses, there are chances that the eyepiece won't be wide enough for your eyes and the focus is difficult to adjust when in motion.

Pros

  • Nitrogen filled for water and fog proof
  • Anti-shock rubber coating
  • Wide field of view

Cons

  • Small eyepiece
  • The focus knob is difficult to adjust when moving
  • Low magnification

Takeaway

Its field of view suggests that it is for scenery observation while its other features suggest that it is perfect for intense outdoor activities. It all depends on your preference.

CHECK CURRENT PRICE


What Binoculars Are About

When we hear the word “binoculars” we often think of an object used to zoom into the scenery. Personally, that’s kind of a boring definition for such a precisely detailed material. 

Binoculars are versatile devices made of a pair of telescopes mounted into a single frame. 

Viewing and zooming into sceneries aren’t their only purpose. Actually, a lot of people use them for work, especially those in the scientific field. 

What Makes Them Necessary

Monoculars can be odd and uncomfortable, not to mention old-fashioned, and telescopes are too big and powerful. 

Unlike these, binoculars serve as a middle ground by providing a 3D image from merging slightly different viewpoints.

They’re somewhat a more convenient version that comes in different sizes and are made of various materials to fit your preference without having to sacrifice its depth and accuracy. 

Guide In Purchasing The Best Binoculars Under $500

Man looking though binoculars watching sunset

Magnification

Do you ever wonder what those numbers in the binocular descriptions are? Well if we have the best 10x42 binoculars under 200, that would mean that it has 10x magnification.

Magnification allows you to see things closer, clearer, it's mainly the zoom-in feature. So 10x magnification means you’ll have the ability to see things 10x closer.

The number it has defines how far it can see. This means 10x magnification allows you to see a subject 10x closer, and so on. 

While seeing things from a far distance clearly may be amazing, everything has its disadvantages. For the magnification, that is the image’s sensitivity. The highest magnification at the moment is 30x and we can imagine that the image would distort within the slightest movement you make. Yet, this would still be the best birding binoculars under $500.

Another disadvantage would be that the higher magnification your binoculars have, the heavier they’ll be. This is because the binoculars would need thicker lenses to provide clearer and more up-close images.

Field Of View

The field of view is the second number in the binocular’s description. It is the width of an area that is visible through the eyepiece. Therefore, the wider the field of view, the more you’ll be able to see. 

A binoculars’ field of view is usually measured at a distance of 1000 yards.

It has a relation to the magnification as the higher the magnification, the narrower the field of view, and vice versa. This only means that if you’re using a pair on its maximum magnification, you’ll barely be aware of your surroundings.

The field of view also adds weight to the eyepiece. This is because a wide field of view requires larger lenses. Yet, a narrow field of view isn’t always a bad thing. It all depends on its purpose. 

Exit Pupil

Do you ever wonder how binoculars provide such good qualities of the image? The secret is all in the lighting. They gather light and concentrate it into the exit pupil which is the diameter divided by the magnifying power

Here’s where science comes in. The exit pupil needs to share the same diameter as the pupil of the human eye so that it can gather maximum light and provide a bright and sharp image. This can be quite tricky since the pupils dilate depending on the hour and decrease with age. 

An exit pupil that is larger than the user’s pupil tends to waste light, While an exit pupil that is too small tends to produce dim images. 

In the daytime, the average human pupil diameter is 3mm while it dilates into an average of 7mm at night.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is the distance of your eye and the eyepiece of the binocular. It determines the comfort in use, this also helps you avoid eye strain.

The longer the eye relief, the more comfortable it will be. Whether you wear glasses or not, it is best to get a pair of binoculars with at least 17 mm of eye relief. 

Lenses

If you thought that they just put lenses with different sizes and thickness, then you’re wrong. There’s so much more to the lenses of binoculars, that is because each of them affects the final image in different ways. 

For a visual representation, you can check out this youtube video:

Types

BK7 Glass

BK7 glass is a highly affordable material. So if you’ll be buying binoculars with these lenses, you can already assume that they’ll fit your budget. 

When people hear this name, they often think of low-end barely usable models. That is because BK7 glass has a pretty bad reputation. Oftentimes it produces low-quality images and is difficult to focus on subjects. 

But, it all depends on the manufacturer, if you’re looking to save, you’ll find models that use BK7 glass that still provides good images with proper calibration of course.

BAK-4 Glass

BAK-4 glass is the most frequently used material for binoculars. They are easy to find and are also probably the only type of glass used in binoculars you find. 

It isn’t the cheapest or most affordable, but it comes with many beneficial qualities. One of those is the durability it has. BAK-7 glass is great in chemical resistance which is highly beneficial if you like to travel with them, your binoculars would be safe from any droplets. You'll see this kind of glass in models like best safari binoculars.

These lenses are also tough when it comes to damage and impact, they’ll resist it and remain intact. Its high reflectiveness and low refractive index make sure that it’ll absorb as much necessary light at a fast pace.  

ED Glass

When you use your binoculars, it will absorb light of different wavelengths. However, sometimes these do not converge at the same point which leads to optical color defects or more commonly known as chromatic aberrations. 

ED glass or extra-low dispersion glass helps in correcting chromatic aberrations. When in use, you won't have to deal with image distortions due to scattering light. The image it will be producing is clear and firm. 

Because of the qualities it possesses, ED glass became very well known which caused it to be very expensive and rare to find.

Coating

Light reflects off glass surfaces, which is what exactly happens when the light is being absorbed into the lenses of the binoculars. This is called glare and it causes distortion, glitching, and dimness of the produced image.

To avoid this, binocular lenses come in various coatings of different substances at different times.

Cheap quality binoculars

Phase Correction Coating

When we talk about phase correction coating, we are looking into a coating that can single-handedly join all light waves together into a single frequency. 

Doing so avoids the produced image from glitching or from its colors separating. 

Anti-Reflection Coating

As discussed earlier, light reflects on the glass. With this coating, your image would not have any chromatic aberrations or distortions which makes it the most essential coating on lenses.  

Full Coating

The full coating is the process of individually coating each optic lens with a unique type of coating. This process helps in avoiding any errors present in a produced image. 

Multi-Coating

Multi-coating is very rare in binoculars, many claim that it isn't the most important anyway. However, it is still the best, which is why high-end models use this coating.

When we multi-coat, we individually coat every single optic lens multiple times producing multiple layers of different coating types per lens. 

Size

The size of each lens defines its weight and light transmissions. That means that each lens diameter serves a specific purpose. 

Bigger lens diameters mean a higher magnification, a wider field of view, and more light transmission. This creates a bright, clear, and firm image. 

Prisms

Prisms are what make binoculars themselves. 

This produces an accurate image instead of an upside-down inverted one. 

There are only two prisms used in the production of binoculars. Both of them produce different results and serve different purposes.

Porro Prism

Porro prisms are found in old binocular models. Physically they are wide and broad.

Nevertheless, these are still competitive in the market and are low cost. These gather maximum light and offer a wide field of view. 

Roof Prism 

Roof prisms are physically shaped like a house’s roof. They are common in compact binoculars because of the complex shape they have. 

These prisms are highly durable and have advanced optics but are also expensive. They are advanced in terms of optics and are highly durable.

Size

Binoculars differ in size, specifically the size of their objective lenses

Full-Sized

Full-sized binoculars have objective lenses that are greater than 40 millimeters. These are the 8x42, 10x50, and so on.

They have a larger exit pupil and have equal light gathering capabilities. This gives you image clarity even in low-light conditions.

Midsized

These lenses range from 30 to 40 millimeters.

They are best for outdoor use since they are good at holding steady in windy conditions and are very comfortable. They offer substantial performance without having to be huge and heavy at all. 

Compact

Compact binoculars are mini versions that have objective lenses lower than 30mm. These do not take up much space or weight without having to sacrifice their quality.  

Conclusion

The best overall in this binocular review is the Ronhan High Power binoculars while our best budget option is the Occer compact binoculars.

The Ronhan High Power binoculars only have one disadvantage that has barely anything to do with the model’s performance, and that is the pouch, this makes the product too good to be true. 

It is highly durable because of its rubber coating and tight sealing that makes it abrasion resistant and water and fog-proof. It is also fully multi-layer coated to correct all possible errors and focuses accurately at a fast pace. 

Binoculars under $500 reviews are all around the web, but I’m sure this one led you to choose the one that best suits you. Happy binocs viewing!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top