A friend asked me what sort of binoculars to buy, as a first pair. It’s cool when you spot a bargain pair of binoculars, but baffling if you don’t really know what sort of design to choose, or why to choose it.
For any first time buyer I’d advise they spend enough to get something that isn’t likely to annoy or fail. £70-£100 might not sound cheap, but that’s a good price range to start looking for something decent and long-lived. Don’t go to a supermarket or a high-street chain.
Top of my Natureheads list this month would be the Opticron Oregon LE WP 10 x 42 DCF GA model. That’s a long title with lot of letters! Here my favourite initials are WP – it’s waterproof. That’s a key feature for me – why worry about rain when you take your binoculars out with you? You want to be out! Warehouse Express offer the Opticron Oregon LE WP for £96.89
I like the straight in-line design from having roof prisms, as it saves space and helps steadiness when you’re locked into a birdwatcher posture. Good strong 10 x magnification, with 42mm wide lenses to let in plenty of light, which makes for better resolution or sharpness. Lens coatings help to clarify the image.
Coming in at nearly the same price (due to an Easter price cut of £10 at Warehouse Express) are the Bushnell H2O 10×42 which are also waterproof. Or buy them for $134.49 from Shop Bushnell who ship fast to continental U.S. and pretty quick to outlying states.
OK, yes, the bargain hunters might get excited about the Warehouse Express for Bushnell Natureview Plus 10 x 42 porro binoculars because at only £87.40 you’ll save £30 on the normal price of £117.40. But they are not waterproof. On the positive, the nearest focus at 3.6 metres (about 4 paces) makes these binoculars useful for identifying things like butterflies or dragonflies at a distance that isn’t likely to scare them off.
Hang on, if you’re serious about insect watching, look at this lightweight little beauty for $99.99 at Shop Bushnell.com or £96.89 at Warehouse Express – the Bushnell Trophy 10 x 27 with a closest focus of only 2.1 metres. Plus it’s waterproof.
*Natureheads.com BEST BUY* Perfect for a butterfly survey or an adventurous wildlife holiday. Available in camouflage colours! It weighs only 310 grams – half the heft of some of those 10×42 models – so you won’t mind taking it on long treks with all your other kit. So it happily blasts the aforementioned ‘bargain’ out of the water in more ways than one.
For a great all-rounder with a brighter outlook, consider investing a bit more, and go for the Opticron Discovery WP PC 10 x 42 binoculars – they have a fantastic 2-metre nearest focus for insect fans. As 10 x 42 they also suit birders in need of a clear, far view. These binoculars are waterproof, phase-corrected (PC), with coated lenses, and have the steady, slim design. Only £136.04
More concerned with definition of detail and want a step up in quality? Look at the excellent Opticron Countryman BGA T PC 10 x 50 at £204.55 currently at Warehouse Express. They are heavier and the nearest distance focus isn’t special, but if you want a clear, sharp image, these are great, with a wide 50 mm objective lens.