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  • Nikon Aculon A211 10-22x50

  • Athlon Optics Midas UHD 8x42

  • Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars

  • Nikon Monarch 5 8x42

  • Vortex Optics Diamondback HD

Product image of Nikon Aculon A211 10-22x50
Nikon Aculon A211 10-22x50

The Nikon Aculon series combines some of Nikon’s best optical technology with an affordable, flexible design. Unlike most binoculars, it offers a zoom lens. Though this does mean you’re sacrificing a bit in terms of clarity, you’re getting a wide range of options with magnification that can be adjusted from 10x all the way up to 22x.

These are quite large and heavy—you may want to use it mounted on a tripod—but they are super consumer-level binoculars that will deliver excellent performance in a durable, waterproof package. Best of all, the price isn’t anywhere near what the top-of-the-line models command, making this a perfect entry point for someone that wants a high-quality pair of binoculars but doesn’t want to break the bank.

Pros

  • Variable magnification from 10-22x

  • Massive 50mm diameter

  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Large

  • Heavy

Product image of Athlon Optics Midas UHD 8x42
Athlon Optics Midas UHD 8x42

Though you may think that binoculars are all about magnification, it’s important to consider your use case. Massive binoculars will get you up close and personal, but that’s not always ideal; birds can be difficult to track with overpowered binoculars, and you may want something relatively compact and lightweight.

The Athlon Optics Midas 8x42 delivers a very friendly 8x magnification that will get you a closer view but won’t be so tight that you have difficulty keeping your picture steady. The optics are particularly adept at handling tricky lighting situations, and reviewers rave about the bino’s ability to deliver excellent performance in any condition—especially at such a reasonable price.

Pros

  • Compact

  • Waterproof

  • Excellent optics

Cons

  • Relatively low 8x magnification

Product image of Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars
Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars

If you’re in the market for affordable binoculars for kids or just for casual use, these will get the job done. They’re certainly not on par with even hobbyist-level gear, but you’ll get a significant amount of magnification in a compact package.

That compact size does mean you’ll get a relatively small picture on the other end; the 25mm objective lens diameter is a little more than half the size of higher-end models. They’re affordable, durable, and will bring you right up close to the action.

Pros

  • Affordable

  • Compact

  • High magnification

Cons

  • Low quality optics

  • Small objective diameter

Product image of Nikon Monarch 5 8x42
Nikon Monarch 5 8x42

The Nikon Monarch series is one of the go-to bino recommendations among hobbyists, from hunters to bird-watchers and whale-watchers. They have everything you’d expect from a set of high-end Nikon binoculars: absolutely superb optics, build quality, and design.

Reviewers absolutely adore these binoculars, claiming the package is worth the price whether you opt for the 8x42 version or the 10x42. They borrow some of Nikon’s ED (extra-low dispersion) glass elements from the company’s lenses and higher-end binos, giving you that level of pristine quality in a set of binoculars well under what much of the competition goes for.

Pros

  • Compact

  • Waterproof

  • Excellent optics

Cons

  • Relatively low 8x magnification

Related content

Product image of Vortex Optics Diamondback HD
Vortex Optics Diamondback HD

The Vortex Diamondback HD binoculars are some of the best-selling and best-reviewed binos we’ve seen, offering superb build quality, optics, and a huge range of optical options perfect for just about any use case.

From hunting to whale-watching, you can find a Vortex Diamondback HD that will suit your needs. The magnification ranges from 8x options up to 15x, with objective lens diameters from compact 28mm all the way up to 56mm on the 15x models.

For our money, we’d look to the mid-range 10x42 models, which are relatively compact, durable, and offer an optical combination that should suit most people’s needs. And if you have a more extreme edge case? Well either the 8x28 or 15x56 should be more your speed.

Pros

  • Adaptable 10x magnification

  • Large 42mm objective diameter

  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Relatively large

Meet the tester

TJ Donegan

TJ Donegan

Executive Editor

@TJDonegan

TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.

See all of TJ Donegan's reviews

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