Picking a binocular can be tricky if you are on a budget, especially if you want one like the Nikon 8252 ACULON A211 10-22×50 Zoom Binocular. Because when it comes to maximizing the value of money, you need to dig deep into the details. And there is no shortage of details in binoculars.
So, pardon this lengthy article because we are here to give you the best binocular under 200. Along with a thorough buying guide, you will also find all the goods and bads of the ten market-leading products.
However, you won’t find your match just by gazing at the pros and cons. Try to read a bit, and you will never have to go to google again.
9 Best Binoculars under 200
We only wanted the best binoculars for under $200 on our list. So we had to settle for nine. Sorry, we couldn’t give you a round number.
1. Nikon 8252 ACULON A211 10-22×50 Zoom Binocular (Black)
Anything coming out of the Nikon factory is worth some respect. And products like the ACULON A211 earn that respect for Nikon. If you are looking for binocular with a zoom feature under 200, then this might be your best bet.
This product has an adjustable zoom from 10x to 22x. You don’t always see this kind of zoom in a product this cheap. Nikon also added a tripod adapter because maintaining the stability at that kind of zoom is almost impossible.
You will also find an easy to reach focus knob that can manage the focus of that zoom. The minimum focus distance is 49.2 feet or 15 meters. And to control the zoom itself, you will have another knob that allows quick adjustment of the magnification.
However, a deep zoom is no good without a clear lens. Thus the Aculon has a 50mm multicoated objective lens. Furthermore, Nikon has used its Eco-glass technology in its lenses to deliver the best clarity with amazing precision. The glasses are also free from all kinds of heavy metals such as lead or arsenic.
These glasses facilitate a leaner FOV of 199 feet from 1000 yards. Your real FOV is 3.8°, and your apparent FOV is 36.7°. It also features a 2.3mm exit pupil. These are pretty good numbers.
Along with the mechanical capabilities, this Porro prism binocular is also very durable. It is coated with a rubber layer, which makes it immune to heavy shocks. This rubber also gives it a sleek look and a secure grip. The device also features retractable eyepieces, which are also comfortable to place on your eyes.
2. Celestron – TrailSeeker 8×42 Binoculars
Celestron is another big name in the market. There are five variants of this product. All of them are 8 and 10 power binoculars with objective lenses ranging from 32 regular glass to 42 ED glass. Here, we are focusing on the 8×42 regular.
It has the typical roof prism design or top-hinge design with a single central bridge. However, this is the German BAK-4 prism, which is the best you can get in the market for this price.
The lenses are gonna be dielectric and phase coated. Hence, your colors are going to be more vivid and sharp. All the optical surfaces are fully multi-coated. For ease of viewing, the lenses also have an anti-reflective coating.
For more exceptional durability, the exterior features a trick rubber while the main structure is built with magnesium alloy. It is lighter than aluminum and stronger than polycarbonate.
Eyecups are fully retractable, and there are two intermediate twists in the refraction. The eyepiece housing is made of metal, unlike other low-value binoculars. You will have a 17mm of eye relief along with the soft padding of eyepieces. So, you will not have any problems with obscure vision.
But the best design feature is that it is waterproof and fog proof. It also prevents dust from settling in. For the special design, you will also find it convenient in the winter. The accessories that will come with the product are –
- Objective lens cap
- Neck strap
- Harness strap
- Carry case
- Rain guard
- Lens cloth
- Instruction manual
As with most of the binoculars, it also features a diopter adjustment in the right eyepiece so that you can adjust it to match the left eye. For viewing objects in close proximity, you will have a 6.5’ close-up focus.
3. Vortex Optics Crossfire Roof Prism Binoculars
Although it is well below the 200 dollar mark, it performs surprisingly well. Another surprising fact is that there is not quality information online on this Vortex binocular even though it is very popular among consumers. But we are gonna clear everything out.
First of all, the look is fantastic. You have a high friction rubber finish that gives you a warm feeling on your hand instead of the cold plastic feel other cheap binocular tend to give.
They are styled with olive and black colored rubber. You also have the option to mount it on a tripod. The eyecups of both sides are made of soft rubber and have an excellent fit.
There are four variants of this product. They are 10×42, 10×50, 12×50, and 8×42. So, all of them will have decent exit pupils. We are gonna be discussing the 8×42 here.
The lenses are multicoated. So, you will have the best clarity in this budget. The lenses are also designed in a way that promotes light transmission. Hence, you can reap the full benefit of roof prism.
Interpupillary Distance or IPD of the 8×42 is 56mm-76mm, and the eye relief is 17mm. However, the eyecups are retractable and can be set at any distance you want. So, people with glasses will have no problem.
The close-up focus of the 8×42 is 7.5’, and it increases with the power of the binocular. So, a bird in close proximity won’t be a problem anymore. The linear FOV of the product is 393 feet from a distance of 1000 yards. And the real angular FOV is 7.5°.
Lastly, this binocular was made to withstand all kinds of weather. This is waterproof as well as fog proof. Along with the sealed interior, it also features nitrogen purging to make it immune to weather conditions completely.
4. Bushnell Legend L-Series 10x42mm Binoculars
Another legend from the Bushnell L-series. This is extremely tough and has some unique features that are rare in this class of binoculars.
The most lucrative feature of this product has to be the RainGuard HD technology. There is a coating of hydrophobic materials that repels all kinds of moisture, starting from liquid water to fog, mist, and even snow. Adding to that is the oleophobic coating that repels oily substances as well as sticky prints from your lenses.
Other than those two, the lenses are also going to be fully multicoated. Adding to that is the phase 3 prism coating that rejoins the two halves of the light ray precisely at the same time and focal point. Moreover, you will also have an ultra-wide band coating. All of these coatings make the image vivid and sharp.
Coatings were the highlight of the review. Now we can move on to some other features. Let’s first look at what will be inside the package other than the binocular itself. They are –
- Cloth drawstring bag
- Carrying case
- Rubber lenses
- Neck strap
- Belt loop for the carry bag
Unlike its predecessors, all of the L-series binoculars feature ED prime glass. Also, you will have a locking eyepiece diopter for a better view.
Like most of the binoculars of this list, it also has a strong structure. It has a magnesium chassis and a non-slip rubber armor. The design is ergonomic and ensures the best convenience.
It has an ED prime glass so that you can view white objects at high magnification with the best precision. The focal knob and eyepiece diopter also do a pretty good job of getting all the info in one place. Lastly, all of these glasses are lead-free. So, you don’t have the liability of ruining the environment now.
5. Nikon Prostaff 7s Binocular 42mm
Another product from the optical giant. They are so good that we can’t help but get them on this list.
It is a 10x42mm binocular. So, it has pretty standard ratios, but somehow Nikon made it more compact than the binoculars with the same numbers. With these measurements, we can easily calculate the exit pupil of 4.2mm, which is also pretty standard. But of course, this standard is in Nikon’s quality.
However, the place where this device really went way above the average is the image quality. You will have the best resolution pictures with full multilayer coating. It also has a high reflection mirror coating that gets rid of all the extra light that you don’t need in your prism.
Another big plus for the binocular is the phase coating, which you know corrects the speed of the shorter light path of roof prisms. Hence, you have the best roof prism vision by rejoining both halves of the light at the same time.
There will be an eye relief of 15.5mm. Moreover, you will have a retractable eyepiece. So, this piece is excellent for people with glasses.
With the 42mm objective lens, you will have a real angular FOV of 6.2° and an apparent angular FOV of 56.9°. Linearly, you will have a 324 feet FOV from 1000 yards. The relative brightness of the device is measured at 17.6.
Now let’s talk about the construction and design of the product. Nikon made it as sturdy as possible, keeping the weight down. However, the weight is not going to be a problem as there is going to be a nice wide strap. You will also find a nice bag to go with that.
The strength of the binocular increases even more with the rubber exterior skin. This not only makes it shockproof but waterproof and fog proof as well. Although the O-rings also make the sealing even stronger.
6. Nikon 7245 Action 10×50 EX Extreme All-Terrain Binocular
Another Nikon product, another big story to tell.
The EX Extreme is a Porro prism binocular with Eco-glass that gives you the best visual in any condition. These high index multicoated lenses with BAK-4 German standard prisms give you the best service.
Other than the multi-coat, this has all kinds of coating that you would want in a binocular under 200. The central focus is smooth, and the sensitivity is impressive.
With a magnifying power of 10x and an objective lens of 50, we can calculate the exit pupil, which is 5mm. This is better than most of its peers. It has an excellent eye relief of 17.1, which you can adjust with the adjustable eyecups.
The relative brightness of the field-glass will be 25, which does seem a little less to me compared to other Nikon products. However, you will have a handsome leaner FOV of 341 feet from 100 yards. The real AFOV is 6.5°, and the apparent AFOV is 59.2°. For focusing on close objects, you will have a 23 feet close focus option.
These numbers are screaming that this is way above the average quality of a 200 dollar binocular. However, I would have liked the close focus a little lesser.
Now, let’s talk about the coatings because this ATB has a lot of them. It has a metal vaporized prism coating and a dielectric high reflective multilayer prism coating. These give you more than 99% of reflectance.
The binocular is also very versatile. You can use it in low light conditions to hunt or observe the wildlife that is only available at night. Other than outdoors, it can also help you with astronomy. It is certainly one of the best hunting binoculars under 200.
7. Leupold BX-1 McKenzie Binocular
This is another BAK-4 prism binocular from Leupold. The one we are reviewing is 10x42mm, but there are three other variants of these products with different power and similar specifications. There is also BX 2, 4, and 5, but they will cost you more for better power and clarity.
We can easily calculate the exit pupil to be 4.2mm, which is pretty standard in the binocular market. But design and durability was the place where Leupold has outdone the market.
It has an open bridge design. The whole construction is backed by rubber. There is also a high impact polymer housing that gives you better traction and the tool exceptional ability to withstand substantial impacts. Plus, the design glorifies the stylish shadow gray look of the McKenzie.
The binocular is 100% waterproof. No amount of moisture can do any harm to it, making it completely fog proof. All of it is in lightweight and compact construction. The design is also highly ergonomic relative to the current market standards.
Now, let’s get to the numbers. With the 42mm objective lens, you will have a linear FOV of 305 feet from a distance of 1000 yards. The real angular FOV is 5.8°. And, if you are focusing on something near, you will have an incredible close focus distance of 10 feet.
When we get to the rear side of the binocular, we will have an IPD range of 56mm to 74mm. The eye relief of the eyepieces is 13.7mm. However, you will have a twist-up retractable eyepiece to adjust the eye relief.
Another highlight of the product is the twilight management system. The central focus is broad and smooth to adjust. Lastly, for the best clarity, contrast, and color fidelity, you will have a multi-coated lens system inside the device.
8. Vanguard Spirit XF Binoculars, Black, 10×42
Among all of the products on our list, this is the most debated one. Because some amateur buyers don’t know what their dollars can get them.
When you look at the Spirit XF, the first thing that crosses your mind is the looks of the device. The open bridge body has a bold rubber backed design with a textured armor for better traction. Vanguard is actually a company that focuses on photographic equipment. They are bringing that expertise in the binocular sector.
It has 10x power with a pair of 42mm objective lenses. So the exit pupil is 4.2. This is at the higher end of the average binocular range, which is very good for the price. Paired with the BAK-4 prism, this binocular gives you amazing clarity from a distance. The lenses are multi-coated for better results in every condition.
With this objective lens, you will have a linear FOV of 332 feet from a distance of 1000 yards. And, the real angular FOV is 6.3°. This is what you want from a binocular of this power.
However, if you are focusing on something closer than expected, you won’t have trouble observing it because it has one of the best near focus of 6.9 feet. Any experienced person would know how special it is to find a binocular of those numbers.
The eye relief of the eyepieces is 16mm. But like all great binoculars, this also has adjustable eyecup with two stages. They are also very soft on your eyes. There is also a diopter in the right eyepiece to adjust and fix the dissimilarities of the two eyepieces.
9. Nikon 16003 10×42 ProStaff 7S Binoculars
This is the fourth Nikon on our list. Any reviewer will tell you that almost half of the spots in a topper list are not uncommon to this Japanese giant. Furthermore, this is also the most expensive field-glass on the list.
And it is expensive because of the strong materials that are used to make the binocular structure. It has a polycarbonate chassis that is backed by fiberglass. Hence, it can take the largest blow to its body.
Being an ATB (all-terrain binocular), this can handle any weather and any outdoor condition while giving you the best-magnified image. And this ATB title comes from the nitrogen and O-ring seals that make it completely waterproof.
Also, this submersible device is resistant to internal fogging in all moisture and temperature conditions.
The roof prism design ensures the most compact design. With an exit pupil of 4.2mm, it will have a linear FOV of 324 feet at 1000 yards. You will have a relative brightness of 17.6. The eye relief is about 15.5mm, which is perfect for spectacle wearers. However, you can adjust that with the retractable eyecups.
Another big plus in the device is the coatings. You will have a phase coating that corrects the disarrayed lights spectrums. Also, these multicoated optics feature anti-reflective coating. It maximizes the light transmission for the best contrast and clarity. All of this coating ensures you the best image.
Lens pens are handy tools as they clear out all the fingerprints, dust, and other problematic objects from your delicate lenses. And Nikon packed one in this product’s package for some extra value.
What to Look for Before Buying?
We are not gonna leave you with the reviews only. Because specifications of a binocular can get a little complex.
Find what you need in the guide below so that you don’t have to break your keyboard on google.
Prisms are the primary component of your binocular that is used to correct an inverted image coming from the objective lens. There are two types of prisms popular in the market. They are –
- Porro prisms
- Roof prism
Porro prisms are better for high-resolution viewing. Although they will take more space as they bend the light at a Z shape.
Roof prisms are lightweight and compact. However, they lose some light. To compensate for the light, you must find a roof prism with Multi-coated lenses.
Field of View
Field of view or FOV is the width of the area you can see through your binocular. This is directly related to the objective lens. There are two kinds of FOV. They are –
- Angular field of view (AFOV)
- Linear field of view
Angular FOV is the angle we can see through the binocular. And linear FOV is the width of the area that can be observed through the binocular from a distance of 1000 yards.
Angular FOV also has two variant which are –
- Real AFOV
- Apparent AFOV
Real AFOV is the angle of view without magnifying the binocular to observe an object. Apparent AFOV is the angle of view of an object apparent to the viewer after the magnification.
Your linear FOV should not be less than 190 feet from a 1000 yards. And the minimum for real AFOV should not be less than 3.5°, and for apparent AFOV should be less than 32°. All of the products chosen in our list is way above this minimum mark.
The direct distance between the surfaces of the eyepiece lens where the light exits the binocular and your pupil is the eye relief.
If your eye is closer than the eye relief, then a crescent shadow will appear in the FOV and shift around abruptly. And, if you have too much eye relief or, in other words, if your eyes are further away from the recommended eye relief, you will notice vignetting around the circumference of the FOV.
So, not getting the correct eye relief will mess up your FOV big time. The standard for eye relief is 14mm to 20mm. If you wear glasses, you need at least 15mm.
Try to find one binocular with retractable eyepieces so that you can make the device more versatile and compatible with different users.
You must buy a device with robust internal construction. The chassis should be built with strong materials such as polycarbonate or magnesium alloys. Magnesium alloy is better than others. But polycarbonate with fiberglass is also a strong contender for the first spot.
There should be a strong rubber backup with textured skin. This allows the binocular to stay in one piece even after taking a heavy blow.
The shaft of light that exits the binocular from the eyepieces is called the exit pupil. In simpler terms, it is the amount of light that hits your pupil.
You can determine the exit pupil by dividing the objective lens by the power (magnification) of the binocular. A smaller exit pupil means a dimmer image. And a larger exit pupil means clearer and brighter images with more detail.
Therefore, you certainly can’t go below a certain level of power (8x or 10x). And the determination of the exit pupil comes down to the objective lens, which directly relates to the size of the device. Now you have to decide how much you want to trade compactness for clarity.
It is a calculated value derived from the magnification and objective lens of the binocular. The square of the exit pupil is your relative brightness, which is a rough estimate of the brightness of the binocular. Therefore, low magnification and high objective lenses will give you more brightness.
Interpupillary Distance or IPD is the difference between the two pupils of the eyepieces at the rear of your binocular. It should be adjustable, and the range of adjustability should be around 55mm to 75mm, as it is the general distance of eye pupils for normal people.
Contrary to the general functions of a binocular, close-up focus or near focus is the minimum amount of distance a binocular can focus from. If the object is too close, you might need that feature.
Although you don’t need that to be too extreme such as 6 or 7 feet as some of the binoculars in our list, don’t go more than 50 feet. Try to stay below 20 feet.
Extra-low dispersion or ED glass is a big factor that marketers don’t seem to understand very well. However, here is what you need to know about this technology.
You might have noticed color fringing when viewing the edges of white objects or borders of your view range at high magnification. This happens for chromatic aberration, which is a result of varying focal points of different light wavelengths.
ED glass is a special kind of glass that corrects this problem so that you can have a sharper view at high magnification irrespective of the color of the object.
This is a significant factor for any optical product. Everyone seems to flaunt their products’ coatings without clearing out what they actually do. Let’s not even mention the absurdity of other reviews talking about coatings.
Here is a list of coatings and their descriptions.
- Oleophobic Coating
This is a coating that repels natural oil from the screen. With this coating, you won’t have sticky prints or marks on your lenses.
- Hydrophobic Coating
It is a coating that repels water but doesn’t attract dust. This not only works with liquid water but also moisture and fog.
- Dielectric Coating
The coating of several alternating materials of high and low refractive index to create a non-metallic dielectric coat, which makes the surface behave as a dielectric material is a dielectric coating.
Look for an aluminum mirror coating or silver mirror coating. However, Porro prism and Abbe-Koenig roof prism don’t use this coating.
- Phase Coating
This coating slows half of the light that is traveling faster than the other half. Hence, it creates a more accurate image.
- Fully Multi-Coated
It means that the lenses have been coated multiple times to give you the best image quality.
- Mirror Coating
It is a coating on the prisms that deter total internal reflection.
There are more coatings. But in a 200 dollar device, these are all you will find.
ATB or all-weather compatibility is primarily earned by having a nitrogen-filled seal, which prevents fogging inside the binocular. O-rings also make a good seal that prevents any moisture from getting inside the structure.
Along with these two other features make the binocular ready for hot African savanna, Scandinavian snowy mountains, humid forests of Brazil, and so on.
Types of Binoculars
Based on the key structure of the binocular it can be divided into two groups –
- Galilean binocular
- Prism binocular
Galilean binoculars consist of concave lenses for rear eyepieces and convex lenses for frontal objective optics. They are low powered and not used nowadays.
Prism binoculars use convex lenses on both ends. These use a prism in the optical tube to rectify the image. And the binoculars are of two kinds –
- Porro prism binoculars
- Roof prism binoculars
Other than these types, we can also group some binoculars based on their purposes. They are –
- Night vision binoculars
- Marine binoculars
- Astronomy binoculars
- Opera glass binoculars
- Infrared binoculars
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a lot of things that you can be confused about a binocular. Here are some FAQs that might clear some of those misperceptions.
What is an O-ring seal?
O-rings are mechanical elastic gasket designed to seal two parts by compressing during assembly. This is a cheap yet very effective seal.
What is the twilight factor?
It is a rough estimation of the low light performance of a binocular. The root of the multiplication of the binocular’s magnifying power and objective lens diameter is your twilight factor. So, they are directly proportional to the magnification and objective lens.
What is the focal length?
The distance between a lens’s focus point and its center is called the focal length. It gives you the estimation of how strongly the lens is converging or diverging light.
What is independent focus?
There are two types of focus –
- Independent Focus (IF)
- Central Focus (CF)
The mechanism that lets you control the focus of an individual tube of the binocular is known as independent focus. There is generally a diopter in the right eye to adjust the focus with the left eye.
What is HD glass?
It is the same as the ED glass. These prevent color fringing. Generally, higher-end binoculars have this glass.
I don’t know if you will believe me or not, but I kept the article as short as possible. In fact, I skipped a lot of details that a person with basic common sense should understand independently. Because there is a lot write when we are talking about the best binoculars under 200 dollars.
For someone who wants the best from his/her bucks, a little research shouldn’t hurt.