Binoculars under $500 – Buying guide & Comparison
If you have no clue as to how to find the best binoculars under 500, our guide should deliver a lot of useful information to help you get started. No need to worry if you don’t have much time to deal with this problem. We’ve exempted you of the burden of having to read all those cheap binoculars reviews, and we’ve put the knowledge we gained by doing that to good use by bringing you our findings. According to our research, the first product you would want to consider is the Carson TD-050ED 3D Series, mostly because of its use of ED glass and HD optics, which deliver a sharp and detailed image. Many other features make this a desirable product, such as the 10x magnification power or the rubberized armor. Should the Carson TD-050ED 3D Series be unavailable, we strongly recommend you to check out the Nikon 7576 MONARCH as a reliable alternative.
In a market full of dubious options for sale, how do you find the most affordable binoculars, but also the ones that offer the best quality for their price? It’s a tough decision, especially if you’ve never had to shop for binoculars before. If you don’t know where to look for information, or you don’t know what to search for in the products that you’re analyzing, allow us to give you some helpful advice.
The most important thing to remember when shopping for binoculars, aside from the price which has to fit in your budget range, is to know your purpose. If you can establish beforehand what are the activities you’re going to be needing a pair of binoculars for, it’s a lot easier to look for useful characteristics.
This may not be the most important trait but it’s certainly one that heavily influences the price and that changes drastically from product to product depending on their original purpose.
Binoculars for outdoor activities don’t require high levels of magnification. Somewhere between 8x to 10x will be just fine for open air concerts, family trips or even bird watching. Long range binoculars usually have above 10x and a slightly higher price.
If you’re looking for binoculars for stargazing, the magnifying power has to be as high as you can get, 20x would be ideal but only if you can afford it. If you manage to find a product that fits into your price range and offers this type of magnification, you should be on the lookout for what it may lack in other characteristics because there’s no such thing as an ideal buy.
Cheap binoculars usually are built from less durable materials, which can result in a few unpleasant situations. For example, aside from the obvious scenario where pieces start falling apart and you can hope the warranty will help, you might end up with an item that doesn’t react well to humid environments.
Check for specifications with regards to weather conditions, because it’s important to know you can take your binoculars on a trip regardless of the weather forecast.
Less expensive materials often also mean less expensive production costs, which can result in design flaws such as a slippery surface that will be uncomfortable in rainy weather or adjusting knobs positioned in wrong places.
Type of lens
Another trait that heavily influences the final price, the type of lenses used generally determines the output, the view you’ll get by looking through your binoculars.
This is entirely up to you. Naturally, more expensive lenses will render a high-definition image, sharper and with increased contrast and brightness, as close to the naked human eye as possible.
Unfortunately, the best lenses are the most expensive ones, so stick with something you can afford. If the alternative you find is destined solely for amateur use, perhaps it won’t be such a tragedy after all.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can use any extra penny you can save, keep an eye out for products that offer you additional accessories, such as neck straps, carrying cases, lens caps, anything that will help with either transportation, storage or maintenance.
After all, the most important thing to remember is that a tight budget doesn’t necessarily mean you have to settle for low quality. Sticking to brand names which you know produce quality designs is probably your safest option if you want to find the best binoculars for the money since they can’t afford to stain their established name by manufacturing questionable models.
If you want to get an idea of what the market looks like currently, we’ve reviewed a few of the products we consider to be worth your time below.
Top under $500 binoculars reviews in 2018
Should you still have doubts about how to find the perfect pair, we’ll showcase a few of our favorite binoculars below, just so you can have a few recommendations to start from.
Carson TD-050ED 3D Series
Impressive in their qualities, Carson has always offered top notch optics, having an established brand on the market. This one is no exception, only it brings a new and important aspect: an affordable price without cutting back from the high-quality of their products.
Using extra-low dispersion glass to reduce color fringing and correct chromatic aberration, these binoculars will an excellent choice for both terrestrial and astronomical use, especially considering their impressive magnifying power, which is of 10x.
Although their design is apparently smooth, the exterior is rugged and provided with ergonomic thumb grooves for a tighter grip and increased stability. Tripod adjustable, they’ll give you some of the best views you’ve ever seen.
No need to worry about weather hazards. The Carson TD-050ED 3D Series is designed to be completely waterproof and fog proof, due to their nitrogen purged body. If you’re still uncertain about protection, you should know that the packaging includes many accessories to ensure safe transportation.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($289.99)
Nikon 7576 MONARCH
Maintaining all the good qualities we already appreciate in Nikon products, the 7576 MONARCH brings its unique contribution in the form of its affordable price. Extremely portable, being lighter than many other similar models and featuring a design that offers both a firm grip and a sleek appearance, this is definitely an item worth keeping an eye out for.
The quality of the image is irreproachable, due to the dielectric high-reflective multilayer prism coatings, added to increase the accuracy of color reproduction, brightness, and sharpness, and render a view close to what the naked eye perceives.
If you’re worried about its resistance, you should know that the materials used in manufacturing this model are of superior quality, ensuring waterproof and fog proof capacities.
This item is also equipped with many user-friendly features such as a knob on the center to help you adjust focus faster and catch targets on the move, or lens caps for protection during transport or storage.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($276.89)
Nikon 8248 ACULON
Another Nikon designs worthy of you attention, the 8248 ACULON is specifically thought-out to offer excellent ergonomics and high-definition views at an extremely affordable price.
Cheaper than most of other models, this one doesn’t cut back on the quality it intends to offer to its customers. Most of the same features we’ve encountered in the other Nikon product that we’ve reviewed can be found in this one as well.
For example, the durable armor offers a firm grip and is completely waterproof and fog proof, to allow you to use this item without having to worry about unfavorable weather conditions. What’s more, the multi-coated Eco-glass lenses will render a bright image with high contrast, capable of satisfying even the most pretentious buyer.
If you’re looking for those additional features you know can prove to be useful, you’ll find them in the 8248 ACULON. An easy to operate focus adjusting knob, rubber eyecups for increased comfort this design probably has everything you need.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($99)
Olympus 118760 Trooper
A basic Porro prisms pair of binoculars, the Olympus 118760 Trooper doesn’t offer as much as the other products we’ve reviewed, but considering it’s much lower price compared to them, it’s safe to assume that this is a model destined for amateur use and it offers the best it can for this price range.
Image quality is guaranteed by the anti-reflective lenses, while the wide angled field of view will allow you to follow targets along their trail and thus observe wildlife in its natural habitat.
Although autofocus is not an available option, this design features a large center knob to allow you to manually adjust quickly. If you’re worried about your health, you should know the lenses are treated with UV protection.
The exterior has a fine finish but offers a firm grip by featuring small rugged surfaces on its surface.
It should be mentioned that this is not a waterproof product, so it’s not safe to take it with you if there’s rain in the forecast.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($65.28)
Celestron 71018 SkyMaster
Another reasonably priced item for its impressive qualities, the Celestron Skymaster should definitely be an option to check on your list. Using high-quality BAK-4 prisms, this pair of binoculars will render a detailed image with a large color palette.
Featuring a magnifying power that goes up to 20x, this product is ideal both for terrestrial, long-range use and for astronomical use. Another trait that recommends it for stargazing is the extremely large objective lens, which allows you to use it in low-lighting conditions, including at night.
The wide eye relief ensures it’s comfortable to use, including for people who wear glasses. The rugged bits on the exterior surface will increase stability and reduce the chances of accidents that can damage the item.
Although not the cheapest item on this list, the SkyMaster makes up for it by offering many accessories designed to help with transportation, maintenance, and storage, such as a carrying case, lens caps, and rain guard, although it is also waterproof.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($102.4)