Q&A with Ben: Casual Birding Binocular Recommendation

Ben Lizdas

Posted on April 29 2019

A customer recently requested binocular suggestions for a fairly sizeable budget. Keep reading to get Ben's insights on the best optics for the money.

Need a recommendation on binos for a casual birder with excellent identification skills. Current binos are Swift 10x. Budget between $200-$1000.

Thanks for your inquiry! I've got a few recommendations for you. There is quite a spread in your budget. Having said that, the models that come closer to the $1000 mark are going to be notably sharper, brighter, and display better color contrast than what we see at the lower end of your price range.

For the top models in your budget, my first consideration would be the Zeiss Conquest HD 10x43. These are outstanding binoculars and you'd have a hard time finding something with better optics for less than $1700. They are made in Germany, feature ED (extra-low dispersion) glass, and have rock solid mechanics as well as outstanding glass.

A similar piece to the Conquest HD is the Vortex Razor HD 10x42. It offers comparable optical performance and less rubber armoring. It may not have quite as much edge clarity as the Zeiss, but it's more similar than different. 

At the lower end of your budget, the Vortex Viper HD 10x42 is an excellent choice. It's not as nice of an optical system as the Conquest or the Razor, but it's good at its price point of $500.

If we go to lower price points from here, the optical performance, as well as the build quality, really start to drop off. So, I wouldn't recommend it as long as you're willing to spend at least $500. All the binoculars above have similar features such as a good close focus, waterproof construction, and lifetime warranties. They will all come with a case, neck strap, and lens covers as well.


If you have questions about your own birding binoculars, feel free to contact us at 833-262-1568, or at sales@redstartbirding.com.

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