12 Best Zoom Binoculars Worth the Money (2021)

Although zoom binoculars usually don’t come with high-end optics, the zoom function can be a lifesaver that regular binos just can’t offer.

Sometimes you just need to zoom in on details to assess the situation, and other times, you need a regular view. The best zoom binoculars have a large zoom range and won’t break the bank. Here are our favorites.

We Recommend

Best image quality

Bushnell Legacy WP

Best value/price ratio

Nikon Aculon A211

Best compact option

Pentax UP

Best Zoom Binoculars

1. Bushnell Legacy WP 10-22X50 Zoom Binocular

zoom binocular

The Bushnell Legacy WP is the best zoom binocular you can get today. It comes with rugged rubber armoring absorbs shock and offers a secure grip.

These had the brightest image and most natural color compared to other binoculars in this list.

The Bushnell WP zoom binoculars also come with a decent eye relief with good twist up eye cups and are waterproof.

These binos are bigger than roof prisms and feel like that should be twice the price. The size is little bit big but all the porro prism are like that. There’re always drawbacks.

When it comes to image quality, it really surprised me. It’s fully multi coated, which is a huge thing, especially at this price. This makes a noticeable difference int he viewing performance.

They offer a fully waterproof construction. The binoculars are also fog-proof and shockproof. This ensures they do not break when you accidentally let them fall.


What we liked

  • Great zoom range
  • Rugged armoring with a secure grip
  • Waterproof and fog-proof design
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Excellent build quality
  • Bright image with natural colors
  • Porro prism system
  • BaK-4 prism lens

What we didn’t like

  • Large design (common for all porro prism binos)
  • Doesn’t come with a neck strap

Waterproof: Yes
Best for viewing: All-around outdoors
Optical diameter: 50mm
Magnification: 10x – 22x
Close Focus: 20 feet / 6 meters
Field of view: 199 to 126 feet at 1000 yards 
Prism Type: Porro prism
Focus style: Center knob
Weight: 34.2 oz
Tripod Compatible: Yes

2. Nikon Aculon A211 10-22X50 Zoom Binoculars

zoom binocular

This Nikon Aculon A211’s are great multipurpose zoom binoculars.

This set offers great magnification for birds and wildlife while also maintaining a reasonable optical diameter to balance the light and field of view.

It’s quite easy to hold them steady enough at full zoom if you have a firm place to rest your elbows. At lower zoom levels it’s not necessary. There is a little adjustment required when transitioning from 10X to 22x, but that is to be expected.

These binoculars are durable and ergonomic, making them great for backyard bird watchers or any birders hoping to take them on a hike.

For the price, you will get a lot of value with clear images and surprisingly decent low-light performance.


What we liked

  • Top in class Nikon quality
  • Great zoom range
  • Quality Low Light Performance
  • More lightweight than competitors
  • Good Value for the Money
  • Sharp image and easy focus
  • Turn and slide rubber eyecups

What we didn’t like

  • Cheaply designed lens caps
  • Rather short eye relief

Waterproof: Yes
Best for viewing: Wildlife, Bird Watching, and General Use
Optical diameter: 50mm
Magnification: 10x – 22x
Near focus: 49.2 feet
Field of View: 199 feet at 1,000 yards
Prism Type: BAK-4 Porro Prism
Focus style: Central Focus Knob
Weight: 33.9 oz
Tripod Compatible: Yes, includes free tripod adapter.

3. Pentax UP 8-16X21 Compact Zoom Binoculars

zoom binocular

The Pentax UP zoom binoculars are the best compact zoom option you can get. It comes with aspherical lens elements that gives you edge-to-edge sharpness. The imagery is super clear and focusing is quick and easy. For the price I don’t think you could do better.

It has a single housing design that offers excellent performance and synchronized eyepiece movement. It also helps to reduce the number of moving parts needed to give you a great view of wildlife, birds, and other subjects far away.

The uni-body design of the binoculars also contributes to better durability. This ensures the binoculars can be used on frequent occasions without worrying about wearing it out.

Multi-coated optics help to ensure light transmission works flawlessly. All surface elements are coated. This helps to minimize the amount of flare and glare in the binoculars.

This pair of Pentax compact zoom binoculars provide easy customization of the zoom level. The zoomable binoculars have a magnification level that can be adjusted between 8x and 16x.


What we liked

  • Compact size
  • Multi-coated optics
  • Minimizes internal flare
  • Uni-body design
  • Aspherical lens elements
  • Edge-to-edge sharpness
  • Bright view

What we didn’t like

  • Only one color option
  • Low zoom compared to some alternative models
  • Not waterproof

Waterproof: No
Best for viewing: Wildlife, birds
Optical diameter: 21mm
Magnification: 8x – 16x
Near focus: n/a
Field of view: n/a
Prism type: Porro prism
Focus style: Center knob
Weight: 12 ounces
Tripod Compatible: No

4. Barska Gladiator 25-125X80 Zoom Binoculars

binoculars on a white background

Next up is a pair of super zoom binoculars. The Barska Gladiator Zoom Binoculars are best for astronomy and stargazing. A braced-in tripod adapter is included so using a tripod is a must with this one.

The zoom range varies from 25x to 125x and it comes with a large 80mm lens diameter.

The optics are made from multi-coated top-quality glass, featuring a BAK-4 prism system. This helps to provide a significant improvement in image quality. Views are crystal clear, even at maximum zoom.

The physical design feels rugged and has improved traction holding. Binos are covered with shock-absorbing rubber armor.

There is a carrying case that comes with the binoculars. This makes traveling and carrying the binoculars much easier.


What we liked

  • Best for stargazing and astronomy
  • Comes with a braced-in tripod adapter
  • Green lens
  • Up to 125x zoom
  • Provides a detailed look
  • High-quality optics
  • BAK-4 prism system
  • Multi-coated optics

What we didn’t like

  • Not that great for handheld use
  • Short eye relief

Waterproof: Yes
Best for viewing: Distance observation
Optical diameter: 80mm
Magnification: 25x to 125x
Close Focus: 19.7 ft
Field of View: 54ft  @ 25x
Prism Type: BAK-4
Focus style: Knob
Weight: 71.04 oz
Tripod Compatible: Yes

5. Olympus 8-16×40 Zoom DPS I Binocular

binoculars on a white background

When it comes to looking for a great pair of zoom binoculars, the Olympus 8-16×40 Zoom DPS I Binocular stands out.

This is due to its ability to provide a close minimum focus distance. The sturdy construction offered by the binoculars also contributes to improved usage.

The binoculars offer a compact and lightweight design. The compact zoom binoculars are easy to carry around – even on your neck – as it will not weigh you down.

These binoculars zoom between 8x and 16x, which you can adjust with the use of a ring-type zoom system at the top of the device. The zooming binoculars also use a BK-7 Porro prism for better performance, providing a much clearer view of subjects at a distance from your current location.

The field of view allows you to see for 1,000 yards out front. There is a minimum focusing distance of the only 32.8ft. The lens has an anti-reflective coating to help reduce flaring in the binoculars.


What we liked

  • BK-7 Porro prism
  • 1,000 yards field of view
  • Built-in eye relief
  • Improved brightness
  • Anti-reflective coating
  • Adjustable zoom
  • Durable construction

What we didn’t like

  • Low maximum zoom
  • Single-lens coating

Waterproof: No
Best for viewing: Wildlife, general use
Optical diameter: 40mm
Magnification: 8 – 16x
Near focus: 32.8ft
Field of View: 1,000 yards
Prism Type: BK-7 Porro
Focus style: Center knob
Weight: 27.9 oz
Tripod Compatible: Yes

6. Barska Gladiator 10-30×50 Zoom Binocular

zoom binocular

If you are new to bird watching and hoping to get affordable binoculars, the Barska 10-30×50 Zoom Gladiator Binocular is a great option.

It provides users the opportunity to use higher magnifications to view objects at a distant, but the lower settings also offer a great balance to ensure quality imaging.

The easy-to-use magnification lever allows you to simply increase the magnification with a quick switch.

Unfortunately, Barska binoculars do tend to be less durable then their competitors. One drop may easily result in a misalignment (low-price has its downfalls).


What we liked

  • Cheap price
  • Great for all-around outdoor activities
  • Anti-Reflection Coated Lenses
  • Decent handheld zoom
  • Easy-to-Use Magnification Thumb Lever
  • Comes with a case and neckstrap
  • Decent eye relief (15 mm)

What we didn’t like

  • Noticeable chromatic aberration

Waterproof: Yes
Best for viewing: Wildlife, Bird Watching, and General Use
Optical diameter: 50mm
Magnification: 10x-30x
Near focus: 26 feet
Field of View: 350 feet at 1,000 yards on 10x magnification
Prism Type: BK-7 Porro Prism
Focus style: Central Focus Knob & Thumb Lever for Magnification Changes
Weight: 31.75 oz
Tripod Compatible: Yes

7. Celestron SkyMaster 15-35X70 Zoom Binocular

zoom binocular

The Celestron SkyMaster 15-35×70 Binocular is another great option for astronomy as it offers a range of high magnification settings.

These binoculars are intended for astronomical viewing so casual birders may find these binoculars impractical.

However, paired with a proper tripod the Celestron SkyMaster can transform into an affordable spotting scope setup, perfect for viewing waterfowl or other birds and wildlife in open spaces.

Celestron is a renowned company that specializes in sports optics. Their low-to-mid range wildlife binoculars offer bird watchers great quality at a low price.

The Celestron SkyMaster 15-35×70, though large, is durable and also water resistant. Serious birders may find these binoculars a great option for viewing migratory waterfowl that flock to freshwater lakes and ponds.


What we liked

  • Great for astronomy
  • Great zoom range
  • Large 70mm lens aperture
  • Reasonably Priced
  • Water-Resistant
  • Good low-light performance 

What we didn’t like

  • Can be used only with tripod
  • Physically heavy
  • Eye relief is not that comfortable

Waterproof: Water-Resistant
Best for viewing: Night Sky, Wildlife, and Waterfowl (at great distances)
Optical diameter: 70mm
Magnification: 15x-35x
Near focus: 73.8 feet
Field of View: 115 feet at 1,000 yards
Prism Type: BaK-4 High Index Porro Prism
Focus style: Central Focus Knob
Weight: 3.31 lbs
Tripod Compatible: Yes, tripod adapter included. 

8. Nikon Aculon 8-24X25mm Compact Zoom Binocular

zoom binocular

If you’re looking for a compact zoom binocular, the Nikon ACULON Compact 8-24x25mm is a solid choice.

These binoculars are perfect for someone who doesn’t want to deal with bulky binoculars, but still hoping to get high magnification.

The Nikon ACULON Compact 8-24x25mm has exceptional zoom for its size. The handy zoom switch on the top makes changing the magnification simple.

Anyone interested in purchasing these zoom binoculars should know that these binoculars may not be the best option for observing detailed images of birds.

The small optical diameter does not allow sufficient light to enter the lens in low-light situations, making images appear dark and fuzzy. Users may also find it difficult to maintain a stable image when viewing objects at high magnification.


What we liked

  • Compact design
  • Lightweight
  • Smooth Central Focus Knob
  • Easy-to-Use Magnification Switch
  • BaK4 High Index Prisms

What we didn’t like

  • Poor Low Light Performance
  • Smaller zoom range than competitors
  • Short eye relief (13 mm)

Waterproof: No
Best for viewing: General Use
Optical diameter: 25mm
Magnification: 8x – 24x
Near focus: 13.1 feet
Field of View: 241 feet at 1,000 yards on 8x magnification
Prism Type: BaK-4 High Index Porro Prism
Focus style: Central Focus Knob & Zoom Magnification Switch
Weight: 0.7 lbs
Tripod Compatible: No

9. BetaOptics 20-144X70mm Military Zoom Binoculars

binoculars on a white background

For those looking to get their hands on a pair of high power zoom binoculars, you cannot go wrong with the BetaOptics 144X Military Zoom Binoculars.

These are not only the best zoom binoculars for birding, but for all other purposes too.

These are also high zoom binoculars, offering a maximum magnification setting of 144x. The lowest magnification provided by the binoculars is 20x.

When looking at a zoom binoculars review, the BetaOptics 144X Military Zoom Binoculars will usually be included in the list. The lenses are made from a BaK7 glass component and feature a special coating.

The coating helps to provide a significant reduction in flares and glaring while you are viewing a subject. The lenses feature a 70mm diameter.

A focus wheel with a Porro prism system is included in the design of these binoculars. This allows you to easily focus on any subject, even if they are far away.


What we liked

  • Military-grade binoculars
  • Up to 144x magnification
  • 70mm lenses
  • BaK7 glass
  • Center focus wheel
  • Comes with carrying case
  • Long-zoom binoculars 

What we didn’t like

  • Heavyweight
  • Higher price tag than many alternatives

Waterproof: Yes
Best for viewing: Wildlife, astronomy
Optical diameter: 70mm
Magnification: 20x to 144x
Near focus: 18mm
Field of View: 131 feet @ 1,000 yards
Prism Type: Porro
Focus style: Center focus wheel
Weight: 5lbs
Tripod Compatible: No

10. Sunagor 30-160X70mm Mega Zoom Binoculars

binoculars on a white background

Another great option, whether looking for manual or electronic binoculars, would be the Sunagor Mega Zoom Binoculars 30-160×70.

The binoculars feature top-quality materials in its construction. The zoom range can be adjusted to your liking.

While not the best small strong binoculars, the larger design of the device does provide better durability in outdoor conditions.

The binoculars provide a superior focusing system. This helps to provide a sharp view of objects that are at a distance. The zoom can be adjusted between 30x and 160x.

There is a built-in dioptric eyepiece correction system. This helps to adjust the binoculars to your own eyesight and comfort.

A sliding level is used to adjust the zoom level of the binoculars. The device also features a focus knob on the center of its structure. This makes it easier to focus in on any subject.


What we liked

  • Centre focus knob
  • Sliding zoom lever
  • Dioptric eyepiece correction
  • Up to 160x magnification
  • Multi-coated optics
  • Uses BAK-4 prisms
  • Rubber armored body

What we didn’t like

  • Higher price tag
  • Limited waterproofing

Waterproof: Yes
Best for viewing: Distant subjects
Optical diameter: 70mm
Magnification: 30x to 160x
Near focus: n/a
Field of view: n/a
Prism Type: BAK-4
Focus style: Ring
Weight: 3.2 lbs
Tripod Compatible: Yes

12. Nightfox Night-Vision 3X20 Zoom Binoculars

zoom binocular

For the wildlife enthusiasts who are not afraid of the dark, the Nightfox 100V Widescreen offers a unique viewing experience ideal for locating wildlife at night.

The Nightfox100V Widescreen zoom binocular captures night-time images and projects them onto a digital screen. These binoculars include a 3x fixed lens magnification and also a 2x digital zoom.

Users will find that these night vision binoculars are easy to use and provide quality imaging even in the dead of night.

Savvy bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts, who may find themselves at the right place at the right time, may be able to capture glimpses of nocturnal wildlife such as foxes, raccoons, and owls.


What we liked

  • Night Vision Capable
  • Compact
  • Easy-to-Use
  • Good Value for the Money

What we didn’t like

  • Low Magnification
  • Narrow Field of View


Waterproof
: No
Best for viewing: Nocturnal Wildlife
Optical diameter: 20mm
Magnification: 3x Fixed Zoom (Plus 2x Digital Zoom)
Near focus: Not Listed
Field of View: Not Listed
Prism Type: N/A
Focus style: Central Focus Wheel & Digital Zoom Button
Weight: 1.3 lbs (without batteries)
Tripod Compatible: Yes

Types of binoculars

There are a few different types of binoculars. Before you purchase a pair, it’s important to know the differences and determine which binoculars will be best for you.

Galilean

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.These are compact binoculars that use the same structure Galileo Galilei used when he viewed the night sky in the 17th century. Most frequently these binoculars are used as opera glasses. The design which features two convex lenses and two concave lenses, without the use of a prism, make these binoculars less than ideal for viewing wildlife. 

Roof prism

Many sport binoculars use a roof prism in conjunction with 2 convex lenses. This allows for a wider field of view and brighter, clearer images. Roof prism binoculars are more compact and are a great option for anyone planning to take their binoculars with them on a long hike. 

Porro prism

Many sport binoculars also use the porro prism system. This system still uses the 2 convex lenses allowing for wider field of view and clear images. But the design of the porro prism makes the binoculars much larger and heavier. These binoculars may be ideal for backyard bird watchers who want to see birds up close from the comfort of their home. 

Fixed lens

Fixed lens binoculars feature either a roof prism or porro prism system. These binoculars includes only one magnification setting and a focus knob to clear up the finer details within an image. Higher-end fixed lens binoculars offer exceptional image quality.

Zoom

Unlike most other binoculars, zoom binoculars feature a range of magnification. These binoculars can be bulkier but you’ll have the option to zoom onto your subject to get a closer look at the object you are viewing. 

Astronomical

Astronomical binoculars are massive. With a high magnification and a very wide optical diameter to allow light to pass through, these binoculars are fairly specialized and not a great option for someone interested in backyard bird watching. 

Understanding Your Binoculars

When purchasing binoculars you’ll notice that there are certain numbers attached to the description. For example, these numbers may appear as 8×42, 10×25, or 10-22×50. 

To better understand what these numbers mean, we need to break down the description. 

  • The first number refers to the magnification. Fixed lens binoculars will only have one number here, but a zoom binocular will include a range.
  • The second number refers to the optical diameter. This is important because larger optical diameters allow more light to filter through the lens. More light will result in clearer, brighter images. 
  • Another important thing to look for when purchasing binoculars is field of view (FOV). FOV may appear as a measurement like: 350 feet at 1,000 yards. This refers to how wide a view you may have at a distance of 1,000 yard. The wider the FOV the more picture you will see. Smaller FOV can result in a shaky image and perhaps make it difficult to locate the object you are trying to focus on.

Well-balanced binoculars will have a decent magnification working in conjunction with the optical diameter and FOV to produce high-quality images. 

Zoom Binocular Pros and Cons

Zoom binoculars are an excellent choice for birders, however there are some downsides to owning zoom binoculars. Here are the pros and cons of zoom binoculars:

Pros:

  • Zoom binoculars feature a range of magnification allowing you to zoom in on an object with physically moving.
  • Zoom binoculars can offer excellent image quality at lower magnifications that rival fixed lens models.
  • An affordable option for spotting wildlife at long distances.

Cons:

  • Magnification may be too strong depending on how far away the subject is. (Backyard bird watchers with small backyards may want to shy away from zoom binoculars.)
  • Image quality may decrease at higher magnification. For this, consider a superzoom camera instead.
  • Images may appear shaky at higher magnifications, so it may be a good investment to purchase a tripod as well.

How to choose zoom binoculars?

Now that you’ve learned about zoom binoculars, how do you determine which model is best? The answer to that question completely depends on the intended use. 

Before purchasing zoom binoculars, ask yourself: Am I planning on hiking with these binoculars? How much distance do I anticipate there being between me and the objects I’m viewing? Do I value magnification over image quality? Will I need a tripod? Etc.

Durability

If you plan on taking your zoom binoculars out for a hike or while travelling, you may want to invest in a pair that are well-built, weather resistant, and ergonomic. 

Size

Zoom binoculars are by nature large, but there are compact options on the market. If you go with a smaller pair, you may sacrifice some image quality and usability. 

Image quality

If you are prioritizing image quality the big thing you’ll want to look for is a good balance between magnification, optical diameter, and field of view. These specifications directly impact the quality of the images you’ll be seeing. Magnification determines how closely you can view an object. High optical diameter corresponds to better low-light performance. Wide field of view allows for better ease-of-use.

Zoom

Exactly how much zoom do you need? A magnification between 10x-20x can get you exceptionally close to birds and other wildlife. Magnification that is 20x plus may be a bit more than you need. Viewing at higher magnifications may also require the use of a tripod to ensure image stability.

PS! Also don’t forget a proper binocular harness for your binos. Yes, it’s essential if you don’t plan to buy new one each month!

Frequently asked questions

What is the best zoom on binoculars?

Various zoom options are available. The Sunagor Mega Zoom Binoculars currently have the highest zoom rating, with a maximum magnification of 160x. 

What is the strongest magnification for binoculars?

The strongest magnification is provided by both a great zoom level and appropriate coatings for a clear view. The BetaOptics 144X Military Binoculars can match such needs. 

Can you zoom in with binoculars?

Some binoculars do offer a zoom function. The zoom is often controlled with the use of a lever at the top of the device. As you turn the knob, you get more or less magnification. 

How does binocular zoom work?

Some use electronic systems to provide a view on subjects that are far away. Others rather adjust the lenses for magnification. The lens elements move as the zoom knob or ring is turned.



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