Best Budget Binoculars for Birding: The Bird Must Be the Word

That headline reminds me of the Surfin’ Bird song because it has so many B’s in it. If you want to skip over the video below and just get into the best budget binoculars for birding, I’ll completely understand.

There are many binocular sets that could be touted as the “best for birding”. Most of them are 8×42 models. I narrowed the choices down to 3 such binoculars to make your choice more manageable. That left me with the following.

If you’re in a hurry, you can click (or tap) the links in the list above to check their prices and availability at Amazon. Otherwise, just keep scrolling and reading to learn more about them before making your purchase.

Bird Watching Made Easy…Or Easier

Celestron says this (which could apply to almost every decent 8×42 pair) about the Nature DX binoculars.

“Birders will love Nature DX for its bright, sharp views of distinguishing features and markings. You’ll get more bird identifications and more enjoyment from each birding outing. The 8×42 model is a favorite among beginning and intermediate birders, since birds are easier to locate and follow in its wide field of view.”

The most important part of those statements is the “wide field of view” they mention. The wider the field of view (FOV), the easier it is to spot birds at a distance. For the Nature DX, the FOV at the standard 1000 yards is 388 feet. That’s decent but nothing to write home about. There are other binoculars (like the Trailseeker below) that are even better.

Features of the Nature DX Binos

Assuming you’re going to be using the Celestron Nature binoculars outside most of the time, you’ll be pleased to know that they are nitrogen filled making them waterproof and fogproof. They are also fully rubber armored. If you drop them, it shouldn’t be the end of your investment.

Celestron Nature DX 8x42 binoculars
Celestron Nature DX 8×42 binoculars

The lenses are fully multi-coated, and the BaK-4 prisms inside are phase coated. This helps increase contrast and resolution while at the same time giving you brighter images than those without these coatings.

That said, there are other coatings and better glass available in other binoculars, but that would increase the cost beyond what Celestron has determined they want to charge for the Nature DX. They then, of course, pass the savings along to you.

The close focus of these binos is just 6.5 feet, so you can also use these for targets like insects and flowers. It’s not likely that you’ll be looking at birds two or three steps away.

For eyeglass wearers, the eye relief is 17.5 millimeters, which is long enough that you should be able to keep your glasses on if you choose when peering through these tubes. Twist up eyecups and a diopter with 3 settings plus or minus also assist in this area.

Celestron Nature DX eyepieces
Celestron Nature DX eyepieces

Since not everyone’s eyes are the same distance apart, Celestron allows you to adjust the interpupillary distance between the tubes from 56 millimeters out to 74 millimeters. This should easily be enough variance to accommodate virtually everyone’s eye spacing.

Specs and Accessories for the Nature DX 8x42s

The Nature DX 8×42 binos measure approximately 5.3 inches by 4.9 inches by 2 inches and weigh just over 22 ounces.

Since they weigh over a pound and you might be carrying them around for an extended period of birding, you’ll appreciate the included neck strap and padded nylon canvas carrying case. That said, you might want to upgrade the neck strap if you’re a really avid birdwatcher.

You get lens caps for the 42 millimeter objective lenses and rainguard caps for the eyepiece lenses. Included in the package are a lens cloth (a nice touch) and an instruction manual, though you probably won’t need the latter.

The Nature DX binoculars are tripod adaptable, meaning they have a screw hole into which you can attach an adapter that will, in turn, lock onto a tripod. From that setup, you could even add a camera for digiscoping.

Celestron Nature

Check the pricing and availability of the Celestron Nature DX 8×42 binoculars at Amazon.

Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars

Check the pricing and availability of the Celestron Nature DX 8×42 binoculars at Ebay.

Celestron Trailseeker 8×42

Compared to the Nature DX, the Trailseeker binoculars will seem quite similar except in one significant aspect. The FOV is wider at 426 feet. This is a great feature in a pair of binos used for birding.

Celestron Trailseeker 8x42 binoculars
Celestron Trailseeker 8×42 binoculars

The coatings on the glass in the Trailseeker are a bit better too. You get fully broadband multi-coated lenses, and the Bak-4 prisms have both phase and dielectric coatings. The images you see through the Trailseekers should be a tad clearer than those you see through the Nature set.

The close focus matches that of the Nature DX at 6.5 feet. It also has the same twist up eyecups and a diopter with three stops in both directions.

You can adjust the interpupillary distance of the magnesium alloy body from 55 to 73 millimeters – virtually the same as the Nature DX model.

As you might expect from another pair of 8×42 binoculars, these measure and weight nearly the same too. The specs on these are 5.5 inches by 5.1 inches by 2 inches and a weight of just over 23 ounces.

Eye relief is only a hair less at 17 millimeters. You can compare these features, specs, and more in the table below.

ModelNature DX 8×42Trailseeker 8×42
FOV (ft.)388426
Nitrogen filledYesYes
Lens coatingsFully multi-coatedFully broadband multi-coated
Prism materialBaK-4BaK-4
Prism coatingsPhasePhase and dielectric
Close focus (ft.)6.56.5
Eye relief (mm)17.517
EyecupsTwist upTwist up
Interpupillary distance (mm)56 to 7455 to 73
Dimensions (in.)5.3 x 4.9 x 25.5 x 5.1 x 2
Weight (oz.)2223
Tripod adaptableYesYes
Lens capsYesYes
Rainguard capsYesYes
Carrying caseYesYes
Neck strapYesYes
Harness strapYesYes
Lens clothYesYes

So this Celestron model is in the running for the best inexpensive binoculars for birding.

Celestron Trailseeker

Check the pricing and availability of the Celestron Trailseeker 8×42 binoculars at Amazon.

Celestron Trailseeker 8×42 Binoculars

Check the pricing and availability of the Celestron Trailseeker 8×42 binoculars at Ebay.

And there’s one at least one more pair you should look at – the Nikon Monarch. Spoiler alert: They’re really, really good.

Nikon Monarch 5 8×42

Since I’ve reviewed the other main budget binos for birding elsewhere, I’ll refer you to that article for further review.

Nikon Monarch 5 Binoculars Review

Nikon Monarch

Check the pricing and availability of the Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 binoculars at Amazon.

Nikon Monarch

Check the pricing and availability of all Nikon Monarch products at Ebay.

If you have a bigger budget than is needed for the binoculars above, you can check out some of the best birdwatching binoculars here.

Ultimate Birding in the Midwest

For those living in or traveling to the Midwest, check out these articles about the best places to use your binoculars (or spotting scopes) in these several states.

Conclusions about the Best Budget Binoculars for Birding

As I noted near the top of this article, there are many sets of binoculars that vie for the title of the best in this category. I presented you with this short list just to get your search started.

If you want to end it here and pick one (or more) of these three options, that’s great.

But if none of these were especially to your liking, just keep looking. You will find a pair that meets your specific needs and budget.

Gary Sonnenberg

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