Safari Binoculars Review – Zoom-in on Wildlife

Binoculars Review A Person Using BinocularsIf you are planning to go on a safari adventure, there is one thing that you must pack in your luggage: Binoculars. Because of the overwhelming number of binoculars on the market, I have outlined in this safari binoculars review the best pair of binoculars available online.

First, keep in mind that the wildlife comes in different shape and size! During your safari adventure, you might encounter some birds, insects, wild dogs, giraffes and of course, the Big Five.

Many safari companies will lend you binoculars, which means ONE pair of binoculars for the whole group! To avoid having to share binoculars with others, you ought to bring your own binoculars on your safari vacation. Otherwise, you will miss out on the action while waiting for your turn for the binoculars.

How to choose the right binoculars for your safari vacation? There are three criteria that you need to consider when looking for a pair of binoculars, and they are as follows: the magnification, the objective lenses, and the field of view. So let’s review each one to help you pick the perfect binoculars for your safari.

Magnification

Many safari experts and wildlife photographers recommend binoculars with an 8-10X magnification. Why? Because they are more versatile since binoculars with an 8-10X magnification, enable you to track the wildlife from a distance and also observe the birds up close. You will not miss out any of the action.

Objective Lenses

The size of the objective lenses is used to classify the binoculars in 3 categories:

  • Full size: 42 mm.
  • Midsize: 32-36 mm.
  • Compact size: 21-28 mm.

One drawback of the full-size binoculars is that they are massive and cumbersome. So you need to take this into account, especially if you plan to keep your binoculars around your neck for extended periods of time.

There are two factors responsible for the image quality with binoculars:

  • The size of the objective lenses determines the amount of light coming through. Hence, with large lenses, you will get a clearer image, especially in low-light conditions like dawn and dusk.
  • The quality of the lenses and the prism has a tremendous impact on the picture quality.

However, nowadays, you can buy compact binoculars without having to forgo the image quality! There are compact binoculars of high quality available on the market that outperforms many full-size binoculars. These high-end compact binoculars are equipped with multi-coated optics and a high-quality prism.

Field of view (FOV)

The field of view is the width of the image that you can see through the binoculars, at once without having to move the binoculars. The way to measure the FOV is either:

  • In feet at a distance of 1000 yards.
  • In meter at a distance of 1000 m.
  • An angle.

The ideal FOV for safari binoculars is at least 330 feet at 1000 yards, or 105 m at 1000 m, or 6°.

I examined many brands and different styles of binoculars in order to write this review. So, without further ado, here they are, the best binoculars for your safari adventure!

Nikon Monarch 5  ED ATB 8×42 Binoculars


The Nikon Monarch 5 offers the perfect balance between quality and price. The lenses are fully multi-coated resulting in a high-resolution image.

The Nikon Monarch 5 is waterproof, fog proof, ultra-rugged and the lightest in its class. These binoculars weigh only 20 Oz (590g).

The rubber armor body provides an excellent grip even when wet, which significantly reduce the risk of the binoculars slipping through your fingers! Moreover, the chassis offers excellent protection against shocks, so even if you are the clumsy type, and accidentally drop them, you won’t damage the binoculars.

The Nikon Monarch 5 binoculars are eco-friendly since no lead or arsenic is present in the glasses.

One drawback with the Nikon Monarch 5 is the lens caps tend to come off too easily.

Specs:

  • Size:  Full-size binoculars
  • Prism type:  Roof prism
  • Magnification:  8X
  • Objective lenses:  42mm
  • Fully multi-coated optics
  • Waterproof/Fogproof
  • Rubber armor body
  • Lightweight (fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate resin)
  • Eco-Glass (lead and arsenic free)
  • Field of view:  330 ft @ 1000 yards/110 m @ 1000 m
  • Eye relief:  19.5 mm (0.77 in)
  • Close focus distance:  8.2 ft/2.5 m
  • Weight:  20 Oz (590 g)
Average Customer Review: 4.7/5
Where to Buy: Amazon

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 8×42 Binoculars


The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD binoculars are very popular because of their affordable price. The Bushnell Legend delivers a high-quality image through the ED (Extra-low Dispersion) Prime Glass.

The designers of the Bushnell Legend Ultra have outdone themselves, by using magnesium for the chassis which helps lighten the binoculars tremendously.

The Bushnell Legend Ultra has a wide field of view. Because of this, you can track the wildlife effortlessly from a distance, and still get a sharp image up to 6.5 ft (1.9 m). Therefore, the Bushnell Legend Binoculars are the ideal choice for a birdwatching safari to observe up close the birds as well as for game drives to watch the megafauna from afar.

Specs:

  • Size:  Full-size binoculars
  • Prism type:  Roof prism
  • Magnification:  10X
  • Objective lenses:  42mm
  • ED Prime Glass
  • RainGuard® HD water-repellent lens coating
  • Waterproof/Fogproof
  • Fully multi-coated optics
  • Lightweight, magnesium chassis
  • Field of view:  426 ft @ 1000 yards/142 m @ 1000 m
  • Eye relief:  17.2 mm (0.68 in)
  • Close focus distance:  6.5 ft/1.9 m
  • Weight:  22.4 Oz (635 g) 
Average Customer Review: 4.1/5
Where to Buy:  Amazon

 

Carl Zeiss Conquest HD 8×32 Binoculars


Zeiss, a German company, is amongst the top manufacturers of lenses in the world. Zeiss offers very high-quality products.

The Zeiss Conquest HD binoculars are amidst the best on the market. As a result, the Zeiss binoculars are expensive but worth it!

So, if you are looking to buy only one pair of binoculars since you don’t want to bother with various binoculars for different purposes, then you should opt for the Zeiss Conquest HD binoculars. These binoculars are extremely rugged and built to last a lifetime! You will be able to pass them on to your children!

 

The external lens is coated with a product called LotuTec which repels moisture and resists to scratching.

The Conquest HD offers an outstanding image quality even in low light conditions. The multi-layer coating of the lenses transmits more than 90% of the light, resulting in a high-resolution image.

Specs:

  • Size:  Midsize binoculars
  • Prism type:  Roof prism
  • Magnification:  8X
  • Objective lenses:  32mm
  • HD lens system
  • T Premium lens coatings for extreme brightness
  • LotuTec external lens coatings shed moisture and resist scratching
  • Waterproof/Fogproof
  • Field of view:  420 ft @ 1000 yards/130 m @ 1000 m
  • Eye relief:  16 mm (0.63 in)
  • Close focus distance:  4.9 ft/1.5 m
  • Weight:  22.2 Oz (630 g) 
Average Customer Review: 4.7/5
Where to Buy: Amazon

 

Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25 Binoculars


The Swarovski CL Pocket binoculars are a very high-end product. Therefore, the image quality delivered by these binoculars is excellent.

In order to obtain a high image quality, Swarovski is using very high-end prism as well as lenses. Consequently, the Swarovski CL binoculars are pricey.

With compact size binoculars, the chassis has to be sturdy to withstand shocks and abuse. So, a metal case is the frame of choice, which is more expensive than the plastic case.

The field of view for the Swarovski CL binoculars is similar to the ones of many full-size binoculars.

The eye relief of 17 mm (0.67 in) is above average for compact size binoculars. Because of this, the Swarovski CL binoculars are fitting if you wear glasses.

The Swarovski CL binoculars are perfect for bird watching, hiking, and walking safaris. Why? The dual hinge feature enables you to fold the binoculars to a size of 2.6 in (6.5 cm), a perfect fit for your side pocket! So, if you don’t want to wear your binoculars around your neck all day, but rather carry them in your pocket, then you should get the Swarovski CL binoculars.

Specs:

  • Size:  Compact size binoculars
  • Prism type:  Roof prism
  • Magnification:  8X
  • Objective lenses:  25mm
  • Fully multi-coated optics
  • Waterproof /Fogproof
  • Dual hinge bridge – Genuine pocket binoculars
  • Metal chassis, comfortable grip
  • Field of view:  357 ft @ 1000 yards/119 m @ 1000 m
  • Eye relief:  17 mm (0.67 in)
  • Close focus distance:  8.2 ft/2.5 m
  • Weight: 12.2 Oz (345 g)
Average Customer Review: 4.0/5
Where to Buy:  Amazon

 

Final Thoughts: Which Safari Binoculars to Choose?


First off, all the binoculars presented in this review constitute excellent picks for your safari excursion. However, bear in mind when selecting a pair of binoculars for your safari of the following:

  • Type of Safari: if you are going on a walking safari, you ought to bring compact binoculars. However, if you are going on game drives, you should opt for binoculars with a wide field of view.
  • Budget: No need to worry here! Nowadays, you can get good quality binoculars without spending all your savings!

If you are planning to go on a birdwatching safari and don’t want to carry loads of equipment with you in order to observe the various bird species, then you should get the Swarovski CL Pocket binoculars. Not only these binoculars fit nicely in your side-pocket, but they also deliver a high image quality that outranks many full-size binoculars on the market.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to spend a fortune to get awesome binoculars, then the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD binoculars are the one for you! These full-size binoculars are the best value for the price in their class. The Bushnell Legend binoculars are ideal for everyday use since they are very versatile. You can use the Bushnell Legend to observe objects from a distance as well as up close. They deliver high-resolution images. So if you are on a tight budget and want awesome binoculars, then you should buy the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD at Amazon.

 

If you have any questions about this review on binoculars, please leave a comment below. I will get back to you promptly.

 


30 Comments

  1. Buy Binoculars

    I am planning to buy Celestron binocular this one kindly help me out is it good for the Birding and hunting?

    Celestron Trailseeker 8×42
    Specifications
    8x magnification
    42 mm objectives
    25 mm exit pupil diameter
    17 mm eye relief
    Fully multi-coated (FMC) optics
    28 relative brightness
    BaK-4 prisms with phase and dielectric coatings
    8.1 degrees field of view
    Limited lifetime warranty
    Weight 1.45 pounds

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Well, the Celestron Trailseeker binoculars are in my opinion, could be a good choice for birdwatching and hunting. However, If I may, I have a suggestion for you. You should consider getting the Wingspan Optics Phoenix Ultra HD Binoculars as they are specially designed for birdwatching and therefore an excellent choice for your outdoor activities.

      Hope it helps, if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to drop me a line, and I will gladly help you out.

      Reply
  2. Rob S.

    These are cool. I love wildlife and nature and so many times you can’t see because it’s too far away. I have a telescope but binoculars are much better. I want to go on a safari one day and sure wouldn’t be with these. I like the descriptions and specs that are mentioned here. There’s some excellent information on what size and type to buy. Do they normally come with cases as well?

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Hi Rob,

      I am glad that you found value in my review. Hopefully you will get to go to Africa to observe the wildlife with your own binoculars. You dont want to share binoculars with ohthers and miss out on the action!

      To answer your question, no none of them come with a protective case. Hope it helps. Thanks,

      Sonia

      Reply
  3. Helen

    Sonia, yes binoculars are essential for any kind of traveling, even if you stay in cities. After all, there are many areas to visit in them including botanical gardens, zoological gardens, harbors and so on.

    I bought a Nikon many years ago, and it has served and is still serving well. We live up a hill overlooking the Huon River, and there are so many things to bring close to our eyes.

    During summer we have the yacht racing, in winter and spring, the storms fling the waves high in the air and often we just watch the eagles fly over the bay.

    I don’t expect to have to replace these, but from reading your excellent review, I believe I would buy a Swarovski as I find anything around my neck really annoys me.

    Then I would do another trek up to the Hartz Mountain National Park in the spring and drink in the view of all the spring flowers including the many Waratahs.

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Hi Helen,

      The Swarovski are indeed excellent binoculars. I find them to be very convenient when traveling since they are compact and can fit in your pocket! Thanks for sharing your thoughts,

      Sonia

      Reply
  4. Darren

    Hi Sonia,

    I’m planning to go on an African safari sometime within the next 12 months or so, as it has always been a dream of mine. I love photography and would love to photograph the wildlife in Africa.

    While I have a good camera, I am in need of some quality binoculars. I like the look of the Bushnell Legend you mention. Looks like just what I may need. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Hi Darren,

      You certainly need a pair of binoculars if you are thinking of going on an African Safari otherwise, you will miss all the action!

      The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD is an excellent choice since they are very affordable and offers a great image quality.

      Thanks,

      Sonia.

      Reply
  5. Bimmerguy

    You have a really good page here on great binoculars. Although I’m not going on a safari adventure anytime soon, I will be visiting Alaska and will need a quality set of binoculars to view the wildlife with. I’m considering buying the Nikon Monarch 5 ED ATB 8X42 Binoculars after reading your review on them. Thank you so much for the great suggestion. Your site is amazing! Keep up the great work!!!

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Hi Bimmerguy,

      You can’t go wrong with any of the binoculars that are shown in this review, and the Nikon Monarch 5 is an excellent choice indeed!

      Even though this post focused on binoculars fitting for a safari vacation, I think that everywhere there is wildlife present, you need to have a great pair of binoculars to be able to observe up close its beauty!

      Thanks

      Sonia

      Reply
  6. lifebeginswithyourhealth

    Hi Sonia,

    Very good products and review, I agree with you totally on when choosing binoculars size is something to consider seriously. I have binoculars myself , full-size , mid-size and mini-size. My full-size have not been used in years, my mid-size used more but my mini are my first choice they are light weigh and easy to lug around with me all day.

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Hi Jeffrey,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on binoculars.

      Sonia

      Reply
  7. Farhan

    Hi Sonia!

    Great review here, very comprehensive and easy to understand. I used to play around with binoculars while I was a little kid, and afterwards in the Army (doing reconnaissance work). However, now I don’t really know how a binoculars would benefit me, seeing that I am not really an outdoor person!

    Nonetheless, you did bring up a good point on using them for a possible “safari vacation”. Hence, the pocket Swarovski really appeals to me due to its compact size, and metal chassis.

    But what do you say about the lenses? Are they resistant to scratches over time? And I realise that lenses are usually the first to deteriorate in quality as compared to the rest of the binoculars.

    Thanks and all the best to your site!

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Hi Farhan,

      The Swarovski Pocket Binoculars are very high-end binoculars, and the lenses are scratch resistant so the binoculars will last you for a very long time. In fact, these binoculars will most certainly be the last pair of binoculars that you will buy in your lifetime!

      Thanks,

      Sonia

      Reply
  8. Jovo

    Hi Sonia, I love to read this article about binoculars. I myself have Minolta 8 times zoom somewhat similar to the Bushnell Legend, which you showed here. I usually use it when I go to mountains, to watch the wildlife. But, in the recent time, I realize that I do not carry my binoculars much because they are rather heavy. I normally have enough stuff to carry as a mountaineer.

    I realize that the models you show here are rather expensive, most likely this implies a great quality. Do not remember how much I paid my own; it was 13 years ago in Tokyo. I guess it was not so much. Thank you again.

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Hi Jovo,

      If you are looking for another pair of binoculars that are lightweight, the Bushnell Legend is an excellent choice, and for about $300, you get high-quality binoculars.

      I have shown in my review, four different pairs of binoculars, which are all of high-quality, but ranging from very affordable to expensive.

      Nowadays, with the technological advances, it is possible to get compact size binoculars that will outperform many full-size binoculars. But the downside is that these high-end compact binoculars are more expensive than the mid-size binoculars or the full size. However, keep in mind, that purchasing binoculars should be viewed as an investment, especially when buying high-end binoculars such as Swarovski or Zeiss. They will be the last pair of binoculars you will ever buy since they will last you a lifetime!

      Thank you,

      Sonia

      Reply
  9. Stephen

    Thank you, Sonia for a great review here on Safari Binoculars!

    I actually come from a wildlife country where it can be a huge viewing experience to look closely at, but a big mistake to get anywhere close to the big five! Nairobi, our national capital here in Kenya, is the only capital city in the world with a national park where the big five occasionally stray into the streets! At the parks, binoculars are a recommended must if indeed anyone doesn’t want to miss some action while taking turns at some common binoculars.

    Thanks, and I believe you love our wildlife!

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Hi Stephen,

      As you said, it would be quite a pity to go a safari vacation of a lifetime and miss out on the action because you have to share binoculars! Since you never know when you are going to encounter the wildlife, especially in Nairobi!

      Thanks,

      Sonia

      Reply
  10. Tammy

    Hi Sonia,

    What a great review. I have been thinking about traveling now that the kids are bigger since I do all my work online, and therefore, I can take it with me. I am glad you mentioned taking my own binoculars because I would not have thought of that, and sharing is no fun ;)!

    I have a question: do you know if the African hotels or safari lodges offer accommodations with an internet connexion? Is it safe to travel to Africa?

    What kind of binoculars will be best when traveling outside the USA?

    Ok, lol, it is more than just one question 😉

    Tammy

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Hi Tammy,

      Depending on what kind of safari adventures that you book, you will find that many safari lodges offer an internet connexion. However, you should be aware than the connexion speed is nothing like what you get in the USA! And also, keep in mind that if you decide to go into remote regions of Africa where the lodging is not a permanent camp, there will be no internet!

      Africa is safe to travel to, in general. Before you book you trip, check with the State Department to see if there are any warnings issued by the country you plan to visit. Besides, you need to use the same caution that you would when traveling to Europe or even within the USA!

      And for the pair of binoculars that you should buy for your traveling, it depends on your intended purpose, your preferences (full size or compact size binoculars), and most importantly, your budget. If the size doesn’t matter and doesn’t want to invest a large sum into your binoculars, then you should opt for the Nikon Monarch 5, which are high-quality binoculars for the price. But if you are willing to spend more and get a pair of binoculars that will last forever, then you should opt for something like the Swarovski CL Pocket Binoculars.

      Hope I have answered all your questions, if not drop me a line below and I will be glad to help you further, 🙂

      Thanks,

      Sonia

      Reply
  11. Sonny

    Hi Sonia,

    I always wanted to have a great pair of binoculars, I think that I found them! I enjoyed watching the videos!

    I’m an outdoor guy, a hunter who loves to explore nature, and to have a great pair of binoculars that are lightweight, compact enough to fit in your pocket is so important especially, when you’re trying to track down a wild animal in the forest.

    Thanks,

    Sonny

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Hi Sonny,

      I think that the Swarovski CL Pocket binoculars are the perfect choice if you’re looking for something that will last a lifetime. The Swarovski is expensive to buy, but these binoculars will probably be the last pair of binoculars you will ever buy! The image quality is without any reproach!

      The Swarovski binoculars is a sound investment with a high return!

      Sonia

      Reply
  12. Gary

    Hi Sonia

    Wow great site I have to say! I find myself a little envious of your travels, while I have traveled to many countries and enjoyed many cultures. I have never seen Africa but you never know what the future holds as I say.

    I found the product reviews very informative and helpful as I am looking for the perfect gift for my father who is an avid wildlife observer.

    May I ask what is your preference for binoculars?

    I look forward to your response.

    Kindest Regards

    Gary

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Hi Gary,

      My personal preference is the Zeiss Conquest HD binoculars. They are very high-end binoculars, thus, as you might expect they are pricey (around $900). But, you should see this as an investment. The Zeiss Conquest HD binoculars will most certainly be the last pair of binoculars that you’re going to buy, they will last you for a very long time!

      The Zeiss binoculars are compact and give you an excellent image quality even in low light conditions. And the quality of the lenses is beyond any reproach. Furthermore, the lenses are coated with a special coating that protects them from scratching.

      But, if you don’t want to a lot of money and still get an excellent pair of binoculars, the Bushnell Legend Ultra constitutes a very good also.

      Thanks,

      Sonia

      Reply
  13. Edmund

    Thanks so much for your advice Sonia. Really appreciate it. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sonia (Post author)

      Hi Edmund,
      You’re welcome. I’m glad I could help. 🙂

      Reply
  14. Edmund

    Hi Sonia, thanks for this comprehensive recommendation of binoculars of different specs that suits different occasions.

    My wife and I are planning a trip to Australia for Whale watching. My budget is not high, and perhaps we will only occasionally use the binoculars for bird watching when we go tracking at nature reserves.

    What would your recommendation be? Love to hear from your advice.

    Reply
    1. Sonia

      Hi Edmund,

      If you’re on a tight budget and plan to use the binoculars occasionally, your best bet is to buy the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD, which you can get at Amazon for a reasonnable if you are on on tight budget.

      This pair of binoculars is perfect for bird watching and whale watching since you can focus on objects that are at a minimum distance of 6.5 feet (1.9 m) (close focus distance) and be able to see small details. And these binoculars are waterproof and fog proof, so perfect if you’re going on a whale watching excursion!

      Hope it helps,

      Sonia

      Reply
  15. Robert Lawrence

    Hey, great post. I was lucky enough to go on a safari in Tanzania a few years back so I was really interested in this post.

    Your absolutely right about the binoculars. It is a very good idea to bring a pair of your own.

    I was constantly waiting for my turn when looking for wildlife and of course missed a couple opportunities to spot stuff.

    These are some great reviews. Thanks for the info.

    Robert

    Reply
    1. Sonia

      Hi Robert,

      And the pairs of binoculars you got to use on your trip were not very high quality binoculars neither! I’m sure that the next time, you’ll have your own binoculars… So, you won’t miss out on any wildlife sightings!

      Reply

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