Which binoculars to choose to observe animals?
When you’re on safari, a good pair of binoculars will allow you to see animals at a distance with remarkable clarity, while the wrong pair will make them blurry and invisible.
Wouldn’t it be a shame to miss out on some great moments because the binoculars you have are not suitable?
After all, you have decided to go on safari to see these animals in their natural environment!
In short, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to choose the right pair of binoculars for wildlife viewing.
Table of contents
- 1 Best choice:
- 2 How to choose binoculars for safari?
- 3 The best binoculars for animal watching
How to choose binoculars for safari?
Here are the factors to consider when choosing binoculars for your next safari.
1- The type of binoculars
There are two distinct variations of binoculars: the Porro prism and the roof prism.
Porro prism binoculars have objective lenses whose tubes are offset from the eyepieces; the prisms form an angle between the eyepieces and the objective lenses.
Roof prism binoculars have two straight tubes, making them smaller and more compact.
While many think that Porro prism binoculars are worth more because they are larger and bulkier, roof prism binoculars actually cost more because of the more modern manufacturing process.
If you want a quality pair of binoculars, the ideal is to go for a roof prism pair.
But if you are on a tight budget, Porro prism binoculars are still worth a look because, they also provide a good quality image!
In general, it is nice to have a high magnification.
However, on a safari without a tripod, the risk of an unstable view increases considerably.
In addition, it will be difficult to hold large binoculars.
Depending on your preference, consider balancing these two factors.
Ideally, you want 8x magnification.
Anything less than 8x or more than 10x is not recommended.
For night viewing, go for moderate magnification with larger lenses.
Be prepared to pay the price!
Think of this as an investment.
Some cheap binoculars produce dark, blurry, or distorted images at magnification.
That’s why you can’t judge binoculars on price alone.
The best binoculars are rarely the cheapest.
3- Field of view
The field of view is the width of an image that can be seen through the binoculars.
This means that the wider the lenses, the wider your field of view.
On a safari, a wider field of view will allow you to see more without having to move the binoculars and readjust them.
In general, field of view is expressed in degrees or meters.
A good field of view is 125 meters/1,000 yards.
When you have a choice of several different brands, always choose the pair of binoculars with the largest field of view.
4- The size of the lens
Binoculars with a 42mm lens or larger are best for safari use.
They produce high quality images.
However, they are often large and heavy.
If you’re on a walking safari, this may be a problem.
Instead, opt for smaller binoculars, which typically have lenses between 21mm and 28mm.
Medium-sized binoculars that have lenses between 32mm and 36mm are also a choice you may want to consider.
5- The exit pupil
Often, animals on safari are most active at dawn and dusk.
So chances are you’ll find yourself using your binoculars in lower light.
If this is the case, choose a pair with a large outside diameter and exit pupil size.
These features allow your binoculars to take in more light.
The exit pupil itself is the size of the image you will see through your lenses.
But first, what is an exit pupil?
It is the size of the lens divided by the magnification.
The size you want depends on your pupil and the time of day.
For a safari, a good exit pupil size is 5.25 mm or larger.
However, keep in mind that your pupil size in daylight is 2 mm to 3 mm.
So you can choose an exit pupil size of the same value.
The lighter and smaller the binoculars, the more comfortable they will be to carry around all day.
They’ll also be easier to hold, and better suited to situations that will require speed of use.
In addition, some safaris have weight limits, so that’s another factor to consider.
However, remember, weight must be balanced with lens size and magnification.
Therefore, we recommend medium-sized binoculars of 8×32, 8×42, or 10×42.
These options are a good compromise for most safaris and keep the weight under 600 grams.
Whether it’s your first or 20th time using binoculars, they can be difficult to handle. Add to that the safari conditions….you can easily get lost! It’s important that your binoculars are easy to use and maintain.
The smallest ones are not necessarily the best, as their size is usually the result of a comfort choice. Most of the smaller, more comfortable to hold binoculars do not have enough magnification. The bulkiest binoculars are usually the best.
Many safari vehicles have sunroofs, and some treks take place directly in the jungle.
So there’s a good chance you’ll get caught out in the elements.
The waterproof feature will protect your binoculars from rain and other unwanted bodies.
On a walking safari, you’ll be out in the open where dust and moisture are king.
You might even cross a river!
In all of these situations, waterproof binoculars will come in handy.
9- Fog lamps
When a pair of binoculars is exposed to extreme temperatures, especially in high humidity, the lenses can fog up or fog up, which can be a temporary inconvenience at best or ruin your view for good.
The good news is that today there are several binoculars at decent prices that are both waterproof and fogproof.
But again, remember, this is an investment!
10- Impact resistance
Since many safari tours take place in a Jeep or similar vehicle, you’ll need to be prepared, including your binoculars!
When you’re driving on bumpy roads, you’ll spend the majority of your time bouncing around.
That means your gear will be put to the test as well.
Choosing a shock-resistant pair will increase the chances that your new binoculars won’t get damaged.
However, “shockproof” usually means bulkier and therefore harder to hold.
This feature can even make them uncomfortable.
So, if you think this option is right for you, choose carefully.
11- Good eye clearance
This last feature will allow you to have good vision even when you hold your binoculars away from your eyes.
If you wear glasses or plan to wear sunglasses, look for a pair of binoculars with good eye clearance.
While this may add cost, it will be worth it in the hot sun of a safari.
The best binoculars for animal watching
Choice #1: Celestron Nature DX 8×32
In terms of value for money, these Celestron binoculars should be your first choice!
In fact, it’s one of the most powerful binoculars we’re going to feature in this list!
The magnification is 8x, while the objective lens diameter is 32 mm so you get clearer and sharper images.
Technically, this pair of Celestron binoculars falls into the category of medium-sized binoculars, however, you won’t feel its weight too much.
It weighs in at 510g.
Moreover, the dimensions are only 12.7 x 4.6 x 12.4 cm.
Really ideal for observing animals during a safari!
The field of view of these Celestron Nature DX 8×32 binoculars is: 7.4° per 1000 meters.
The high quality images can be attributed to the BAK-4 prisms.
The lenses are fully multi-coated to provide a crisp, sharp and clear visual experience.
Ergonomically designed, this pair of Celestron binoculars is easy to handle, even during long days on bumpy roads.
This is due in part to the non-slip rubber grip.
Not only does this shell provide a firm grip when moving through the savannah, but it also acts as a shock absorber.
For even greater comfort, these binoculars have a full 17.5mm eye relief.
However, be careful, if you drop your binoculars or if they suffer a shock, they will have trouble resisting!
If this is a function you are looking for, you will have to turn to another model.
|Lens diameter||32 mm|
|Eye width (IPD)||56 mm-74 mm|
|Field of view||7,4°|
|Close focusing distance||2 m|
|Ocular clearance||17.5 mm|
|Our Opinion||The Celestron Nature DX 8×32 binoculars are roof prism binoculars designed for the beginning safari enthusiast.
Priced affordably, they offer surprisingly excellent optical performance
Choice #2: Bushnell Natureview 8×42 Binoculars
The 8×42 binoculars are the most popular size for observing animals, especially birds. They offer a good compromise between size, brightness, field of view and good magnification, which is important for quickly spotting moving birds.
If you plan to use your binoculars to observe animals at greater distances or on safari, you may also want to consider the Bushnell NatureView 10×42 binoculars, which, while they have a narrower field of view, have better magnification.
This NatureView 8×42 binocular uses a roof prism design, for better durability and to keep them as compact as possible.
Bushnell also makes 8×42 Porro prism binoculars in the NatureView series, known as the “Bushnell Natureview Plus,” which offer slightly richer image depth and a wider field of view, but are heavier and much bulkier.
It all depends on your preferences as to what type of binoculars you want to have.
What we particularly like about these Bushnell 8×42 binoculars is that they are very durable.
In fact, they have a sturdy, non-slip rubber shell that cushions minor bumps.
They are also impressively waterproof, as the lens is sealed with O-rings that prevent moisture, dust and debris from entering the binoculars.
Finally, the eyecups are filled with nitrogen gas to prevent fogging.
The multi-coated lens and BaK-4 roof prism facilitate light transmission and provide a clear, sharp and precise view.
While the central control knob allows for quick focus.
With 17mm of eye relief, you’ll have no trouble using them even while wearing your glasses.
The Bushnell Natureview 8×42 binoculars weigh only 654g, which is pretty good for a full-size binocular.
|Lens diameter||42 mm|
|Eye width (IPD)||56 mm – 75 mm|
|Field of view||6,75°|
|Close focusing distance||4 m|
|Ocular clearance||15.2 mm|
|Our Opinion||Watching animals in their natural environment doesn’t have to come with a price tag.
NatureView binoculars are a good example.
Available in a variety of models, they are affordable and feature-rich.
The Porro BaK-4 prisms on some models produce brighter images and better edge sharpness.
The extended eye relief reduces eye strain for eyeglass wearers during long periods of viewing.
They are perfect for wildlife viewing on safari.
Choice #3: Nikon Sportstar EX 10×25 binoculars
These binoculars have been made to be very shock and water resistant.
In fact, they are waterproof, so you won’t have to worry about wrapping them up thoroughly if you have to cross a river.
Nikon Sportstar EX binoculars have the “fog” function.
Thanks to the nitrogen in the camera, fog cannot form inside the lens.
They also have O-rings, which prevent dirt and dust from accumulating in your pair.
Nikon Sportstar binoculars have a 10x magnification, so they can make your subjects appear 10 times closer than with the naked eye.
However, you will need a good hand grip!
That’s a small sacrifice when you consider that 10x magnification is a great choice if you do a lot of long distance viewing.
Featuring 25mm diameter objectives, excellent quality roof prisms and multi-coated lenses, Nikon Sportstar EX binoculars were designed to capture and utilize as much light as possible.
The large lens collects extra light, while the multi-coating ensures minimal reflection, allowing you to see clear, vivid images even in poor lighting.
The Nikon Sportstar EX has a wide field of view that allows you to see more of the area surrounding the animal you want to observe.
If you want to observe animals up close with intricate details, such as a bird, you’ll need a good focusing distance from your binoculars.The Nikon Sportstar EX binoculars have a close focusing distance of 3.5m, which allows you to observe your subjects more closely.
Nikon understands that not all eyes are the same, so these binoculars are designed to work with different eye needs.
With a rotating diopter ring, these binoculars allow you to manually adjust the focus for each eye to give you a better overall image.
If you wear glasses, the rotating and sliding rubber eyecups can be adjusted without affecting your vision.
These ergonomically designed binoculars have a rubber coating to give you the best possible grip, even in bad weather.
Nikon Sportstar EX binoculars are foldable, so you’ll have the ability to store them quickly and easily after each use.
They can fit discreetly in your pocket
Finally, they are made of eco-friendly glass and are completely free of lead and arsenic.
So you can feel safe in the knowledge that your binoculars have been designed in an environmentally responsible way.
|Lens diameter||25 mm|
|Eye width (IPD)||56 mm – 72 mm|
|Field of view||6,5°|
|Close focusing distance||3,5 m|
|Ocular clearance||10 mm|
|Our Opinion||The Nikon Sportstar EX 10×25 binoculars offer the highest quality of view and perform exceptionally well when observing animals in their natural environment.
They are easy to wear and durable.
They are ideal for people who are looking for medium-sized binoculars and want to discover new specimens during a safari.
Choice n° 4 : Occer compact 12×25 (ideal for children)
If you’re planning to take your kids on a safari, they’ll probably want a pair of their own.
However, there’s no need to spend a lot of money on something they’ll have trouble taking care of, kids are kids after all.
If you’re looking for a decent pair, the Occer Compact binoculars are among the best.
Small in size, these Occer binoculars are nevertheless quite powerful.
The magnification level is 12x, and the lens is 25mm.
These two features will give your kids a clear view.
Speaking of vision, these binoculars have a field of view of 83m/1,000m.
In terms of image quality, these binoculars are amazing.
They are coated with BAK4 prisms.
With a 15mm lens, they provide a brighter image in all lights.
For added comfort, the Occer is equipped with an eye relief and adjusts to your children’s vision if they wear glasses.
This also blocks out any peripheral distractions so they can focus on watching the animals!
Best of all, these binoculars can be controlled with one hand.
This will keep their hands free in case they don’t want to lose sight of their favorite animals but need to hydrate.
Finally, they are waterproof and will have no trouble resisting any shocks.
|Eye width (IPD)||No information|
|Field of view||7,5°|
|Close focusing distance||No information|
|Ocular clearance||20 mm|
|Our Opinion||These Occer compact12×25 binoculars are the perfect pair for kids.
Small in size, kids will have no trouble holding them in their hands.
They can even be held in one hand.
In addition, this pair of binoculars is packed with useful features.