Top 5 Birding Binoculars For Under R5000
Binoculars are probably the most important piece of equipment for birders, but aren’t always the cheapest to purchase. Binoculars range massively in terms of both quality and price, with some stores like Clicks selling pairs for a couple hundred rand, while other brands are only available through high end retailers and can go for in excess of R30 000.
When purchasing bins, it’s often very much a case of getting what you pay for, and a pair of Swarovski aren’t going to let you down. With that said, there are many more affordable yet very good pairs available for much more affordable prices. In this article we’ll take a look at high quality binoculars for beginner and intermediate birders who don’t want to break the bank, and are available through local outlets or local online stores.
Vortex Diamondback 10×42 (R4800)
Eye Relief: 16mm
Angle of View: 6.6 degrees
Close Focus: 5ft
Full disclosure, this is the pair of binoculars I own. But my decision was based off the overwhelmingly positive reviews they have received globally as a set of affordable binoculars. There is an 8×42 variant of this binocular, available for around the same price, for those who are looking for a wider pair of binoculars. With that said, the Vortex Diamondback already have a wide field of view, and even the 10×42 version never feels like you’re lacking width in your view. The bins are strong and robust, offering a good solid weight, durability and great image quality. The only down side I have read about and encountered myself, is the fact that the cover for the eye cups are often loose and don’t attach properly.
Dielectric prism coating is given to both the Diamondback 8×42 and 10×42, an excellent element to receive in a budget pair of binoculars, which is sometimes limited to higher ranged products.
– Fully multi-coated – Increase light transmission with multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces
– Argon Gas Argon gas-purged and o-ring-sealed for fogproof and waterproof performance.
– Dielectric Coating Multi-layer prism coatings provide bright, clear, color-accurate images.
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD E-Series 10×42 (R4500)
Eye Relief: 15.2mm
Angle of View: 6.5 degrees
Close Focus: 8ft
The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD are a new pair of binoculars to the market, offering extremely high quality glass at an extremely good price. This model can sometimes be a bit tricky to find at a good price, but there are several local listings selling brand new pairs for between R4500 and R5000, allowing us to neatly fit the pair into our list of affordable birding binoculars.
The Legend Ultra HD come in two versions, the L-series and the E-series, the L series is of higher quality but also at a higher price. Dielectric prism coating is not present in the E-series, which would have been nice to have, but the E-series listed here is still extremely competent and offer excellent wide angle views with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a pair that costs twice as much. They offer advanced waterproofing and fog-proofing, while the magnesium chassis means you’re left with a lightweight pair of binoculars.
– Ultra Wide Band coating
– RainGuard® HD water-repellent lens coating
– Lead-Free glass
– Lightweight, magnesium chassis
Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 (R4500)
Eye Relief: 19.5mm
Angle of View: 6.3 degrees
Close Focus: 8.2ft
The Nikon Monarch 5 was released 3 or 4 years ago now, but remain an excellent choice for affordable, high quality binoculars. They are widely available in Southern Africa and can be picked up for R4500 to R5000 at many retailers. These binoculars have slightly lower magnification at 8x, but also offer an unbelievable eye relief at 19.5mm. They come with the aforementioned dielectric prism coatings, to ensure better quality images, as well as offering Nikon’s ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) glass, which removes chromatic aberrations to make your images clearer. The waterproof and fog-proof pair of bins weigh in at just shy of 600 grams.
– ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) Glass
– Fully Multicoated Eco-Glass lenses
– Dielectric High-Reflective Multilayer Prism Coatings
Celestron Nature DX 10×42 (R3500)
Eye Relief: 14mm
Angle of View: 5.8 degrees
Close Focus: 6.5ft
The Celestron Nature DX binoculars can be a little tough to find locally, but can often be found through online stores such as bidorbuy, from local sellers. They are extremely affordable, being available new for around R3500. If you want to buy them online internationally and have them shipped, you can pick them up for as little as R1500 (before shipping and customs). The Celestron Nature DX come in various sizes and magnifications, with the 8×42 and the 10×42 being the best for birders. The robust design, in combination with excellent glass quality for the price leave one with an excellent choice for a first pair of binoculars that certainly won’t break the bank. It is however worth noting that some users have reported problems in the quality of the eyepieces (build quality), but this seems to be only a couple of individuals out of hundreds of reviews, so could boil down to defective units.
– Nitrogen-filled housing for fogproof/waterproof performance
– BaK-4 roof prisms with phase-corrective coating
– Fully multicoated optics
Carson 3D TD-842 8×42 (R5000)
Eye Relief: 19.5mm
Angle of View: 6.5 degrees
Close Focus: 6.6ft
The Carson 3D binoculars just made it on the list. These bins can sometimes be a little tough to find locally, with most retailers who do stock it, selling it for a higher price, Takealot has them listed for R5800 for example. However, we did find some local retailers selling the TD-842 for under R4000. The Carson 3D TD-842 offer a rugged, shock-proof design and excellent quality glass at an affordable price. They are completely weather-proof, and also offer good eye relief. These bins have the backing of a lot of users, and a simple run through some of the online reviews will show you that they are often praised for their light and crisp visuals. If you have R1500 or so more of a budget, you can look into the Carson 3D ED series, which provides even better quality.
– Phase-corrected BaK-4 prisms, roof prism design
– Fully-multicoated optics, ED glass elements
In conclusion, there are several choices to make when considering buying a pair of binoculars for under R5000. All these bins listed, should provide you with more than sufficient quality in the field, however we strongly suggest reading user reviews on the models you are interested in, so you can ensure that all your required boxes are checked. Be sure to shop around and view online Southern African stores, in order to find the best deals available.