The Ugly Truth About Using Ordinary Binoculars For Bird Watching

Bird watchers need more in their binoculars than the average hunter or all around user. Birders demand a level of detail that virtually no other situation requires and need optics that cover a wide range of situations.  Unfortunately, your ordinary binoculars just doesn't have what it takes to give bird watchers everything they require to get the most out of birding. Because of the differences, there are some very important things you must know and look for before buying bird watching binoculars.

Below, we list many of the features and specifications to look for when choosing binoculars that are above the ordinary and best for birding.

Birding binoculars are not all the same.

From The Ordinary To The Spectacular. What To Look For When Purchasing Binoculars That’s Best For Birding!

Powerful binoculars doesn’t always mean they’re better!

Don’t think maximizing the power of your binoculars is a good thing. There can be a number of drawbacks to high powered binoculars.

You will get a narrower field of view (FOV), less apparent depth of focus, a less bright image and binoculars with higher magnifications will make it harder for you to keep a steady, shake fee image. A 10x image is shakier because any hand movement is magnified as much as the image is. Many people find they can actually see more detail hand holding 8x than 10x binoculars.

If you plan on using one pair of binoculars for all your bird spotting in a variety of situations, an 8x magnification is the most popular choice and will work well in most types of terrain and in a wide variety of birding situations, forested areas to open fields. Unless you’re looking to use your binoculars for a particular specialist task choose something in the 8x to 10x range, is considered the ideal range for general bird watching and wildlife observation. If you do a lot of bird watching at close quarters, or in enclosed places like woodlands trying to track small, fast-moving birds, then the wider field of view of an 8x may suit you better.

Wider field of view. 

The wider the field of view, the easier you will spot a bird high up in a tree when you raise your binoculars to your eyes - without having to search about for it. This is especially important when searching for smaller, fast moving birds that don't stay put. Lower magnification in binoculars also means a wider field of view, so many birders prefer 8x to 10x.

Learn about new, sleek binoculars!
Lighter Weight: Now let's talk about those big, bulky, ordinary binoculars that your grandfather gave you, or that you found in the attic. Most of us believed for a long time, (and some still believe), that if the binoculars we have aren't a big pair of military looking, heavy pair of binoculars, (known as Porro prism binoculars), then they aren't really binoculars. The truth is that a whole new line of sleek binoculars, called “Roof” prism binoculars, have just about done away with the need for the big, bulky binoculars.

Phase correction coating: Phase correction coating is a coating that is added to the prism inside binoculars in order to keep colors as clear and bright as the picture you're seeing.
Actually, the technical explanation is that phase correction coatings on the binocular prism helps keep light in correct color phases. These coatings are added on roof prism binoculars to enhance resolution, contrast, and color fidelity.

Because these coatings keep the light in the correct color phases, they produce images that have better contrast, a higher resolution and have a better color reproduction.

Porro-Prism vs Roof-Prism binoculars.

Binoculars come in two basic designs based on the type of prism used in their optical construction — there’s the traditional porro-prism design and the more modern roof-prism design. Porro-prism binoculars are the traditional shaped binoculars and are typically cheaper to produce, therefore cheaper to buy. Porro-prisms are usually more sensitive to damage when dropped or banged against hard objects than roof-prisms. They are also difficult to seal, making water and dust a potential problem, as well as internal fogging in extreme conditions.

Roof-Prism binoculars.

The more modern roof-prism design consist of two straight barrels, like having a pair of small telescopes attached together. The result is a more robust, compact and ergonomic binocular. High quality roof prism binoculars include
special phase-correction, high-transmission coatings on the prism surfaces to counteract these negative effects. Roof prisms are typically more compact and lighter than the ordinary porro-prism designs, and they tend to be more convenient to handle especially for those long bird watching journeys.

Roof prisms are more rugged, robust and less susceptible to mis-alignment and shock damage and are typically waterproof, dust proof and fog proof in extreme conditions.

Learn about ED and HD lenses!
HD and ED lenses.

Extra-low Dispersion (ED) or High Density (HD) lenses are used in the
objective lens elements of premium binoculars. Definitely not your ordinary binoculars. Their purpose is to correct color fringing. Color fringing can be an issue with standard binoculars, particularly when viewing high contrast subjects (birds that are against a dark background). ED or HD glass reduces or eliminates color fringing, improving the sharpness, clarity, contrast and
overall color fidelity of the bird you are viewing.

Color fidelity: Why is color fidelity so important? When it comes to bird watching, its important your binoculars reproduce accurate colors and tones. For birding in particular the correct identification of a bird can depend on your ability to differentiate between subtle variations in hue. Many ordinary binoculars have a subtle bluish or yellowish color cast.

Resolution: This is your binocular’s ability to reveal the fine detail in
the birds you’re viewing and of course a higher resolution image with more detail is always better when looking at a feathered friend. The main factors that affect the resolution of a binocular are the size of the objective lens, the magnification, the quality of the optical components and the lens and prism coatings. Again, not your ordinary binoculars.

Find great waterproof birding binoculars!
Waterproofing and Fog Proofing.

It will obviously benefit you to have waterproofing and fog proofing added to your birding binoculars. When you are out with nature, you need binoculars that can withstand any weather. Though waterproofing is important, the culprit you definitely want to avoid is binocular fogging. I don’t mean fogging on the outside of your binoculars, but you want to avoid internal fogging, which can ruin your binoculars for good, as well as say goodbye to your wonderful bird watching adventures. Technically, binoculars that are waterproofed and fog proofed are sealed internally with O-rings to prevent moisture, dust, and debris from getting inside your binoculars.

Close focus.

Some would say close-up bird watching is the best kind of bird watching. This is because not only can you see your bird magnified, but you can also see even more exquisite detail because you are so up close. A short close-focus distance lets you view subjects that are very close to you. Most high quality binoculars have close focus capabilities which is very important for birding.

View birds magnified!

What are the best birding binoculars?

It's really a matter of your personal use. Different models are best for different purposes and different birders. One company that specializes in bird watching binoculars is Wingspan Optics. They meet the needs of today’s birders by offering high quality optics that can take bird watching to a new level and with a selection to fit every budget.
Wingspan Optics was created to offer the Bird Watchers of the world the absolute best bird watching optics at the most affordable price. Wingspan Optics Binoculars and Monoculars are designed and built to provide high quality, reliability and superior functionality with every aspect of their optics; blending both style and optimum performance for every type of bird watcher, in every kind of condition. And all of their optics come with a 100% money back, lifetime warranty.

For more information on Wingspan Optics complete line of bird watching binoculars and monoculars, visit: