6 Best Binoculars Under $500 – Buyer’s Guide of 2023

By Richard

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission for purchases made through the links. Read More

Are you a passionate bird lover? Do you spend time outside just like me and love to get a closer view of natural beauty? Do you enjoy exploring the outdoors and want to enhance your experience? If your answer is YES, Then investing in a good pair of binoculars is a must!

But the binoculars that most people buy don’t offer maximum performance. This is because they spend less and expect more from them. However, if you’re having a budget of 500 dollars, you’re lucky as there are tons of options that are available in this price range. 

But, finding the best binoculars under $500 is really hard as there are so many options on the market. It is quite easy to get stuck or make the wrong decision by not having proper knowledge. But don’t worry as I have got your back. 

In this blog post, we’ll be exploring some of the best options that are available under a $500 budget that provide excellent optics, durability, and ease of use. So, let’s get started.

Related Article: Best Binoculars Under 1000

Buyers Guide about Choosing Binoculars Under 500 Price Range

I know that many people don’t have much technical knowledge about optics, especially binoculars. When it comes to selecting the right binoculars, there are a few things to keep in mind. By keeping these factors in mind, you will be able to make an informed decision. In the section below, I’ll discuss those factors that you must check in binoculars to avoid making the wrong decision.

1- Build Quality

The build quality of a pair of binoculars is crucial to its durability. I recommend you look for binoculars that are made with high-quality materials that can withstand the wear and tear of regular use. Example of those high-quality materials includes magnesium, aluminum, and polycarbonate.

The binoculars should feel solid in your hands and should be waterproof. Make sure they are effectively sealed against dust and moisture. In addition, search for binoculars with O-ring seals and nitrogen purging to prevent moisture from entering the body.

2- Lens Coating

Binoculars that have excellent lens coating offer better visual performance and you will get clearer and sharper visuals. Don’t you know about lens coating? It is a process that involves applying a thin layer of material on the surface of the lens to improve its optical performance.

The basic goals of lens coating are to reduce reflections, increase contrast, and improve image clarity. This is achieved by reducing the amount of light that is lost due to reflections and refractions within the lens system. 

Below are some common types of lens coating:

  1. Anti-Reflection Coating
  2. Fully Multi-Coated
  3. Phase Correction Coating

It is ideal if you choose binoculars that have all of the above-mentioned coatings on the lenses.

3- Lens Protection

During buying binos, one often overlooked but crucial factor to consider is lens protection. Keep in mind that the lens is the most critical component of a pair of binoculars, and without proper care, it can become damaged, scratched, or fogged up. Scratched or fogged lenses won’t give you the required clarity and sharpness in the visuals.

But don’t worry as modern binoculars come with armortek coating on the lenses which protects them against scratches, and fingerprints. You should also ensure that your bought binos also have this coating on the lenses so that you could use them with confidence.

4- Weight & Size

Always remember that the size and weight of your binoculars can impact your ability to carry them with you on outdoor adventures. Heavier binos will cause discomfort and tiredness if you use them for an extended duration.

The size of your binoculars actually determines how portable they are. If you plan to take your binoculars with you on hiking trips or outdoor excursions, a compact and lightweight model is the perfect way to go. A smaller pair of binoculars can be easily stowed in a backpack or carried in a pocket, making them convenient for travel.

However, if you intend to use binoculars for low light conditions, then going with heavier binoculars can be a way because heavier binos come with bigger-sized objective lenses that capture more light and give you sharper visuals.

5- Eye Relief & Exit Pupil

Eye relief and exit pupil are the two most important factors that affect the comfort and quality of your viewing experience. Eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece and your eye when the entire field of view is visible. 

It is recommended to look for binoculars with an eye relief of at least 15mm. If you wear glasses due to weak vision, then choosing compromised eye relief will give you discomfort while using binos.

Exit pupil refers to the size of the beam of light that enters your eye. The larger the exit pupil, the brighter and clearer the image will be. If you intend to use binoculars in low light conditions, such as dawn or dusk, then I recommend you to go with a larger exit.

By following all these factors, I am sure that you’ll be able to find the perfect binoculars that will fall within the 500 dollars budget, and you’ll get perfect visuals with maximum comfort.

Also Read: Best Binoculars Under $400

List & Reviews of Best Binoculars Under 500

Reviews of our top picked binoculars

My aim is to give you everything that you need – not just a small buyer’s guide. I know that it is useful for getting basic knowledge. But still, extensive research is needed to find the best binos under 500 dollars. 

But don’t worry, I have done some research and found some very good binoculars that are perfect in every aspect. Below is the list of binoculars that I have picked as a result of my research.

  • Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 Binoculars
  • Vortex Optics Viper HD Binoculars
  • Maven C1 12X42mm ED Binoculars
  • Upland Optics Perception HD 10×42 Binoculars
  • Canon 10×30 Image Stabilization II Binoculars
  • NIKON Monarch M7 10×42 Binoculars

Are You in Hurry? Here are our TOP PICKS

Best Budget-Friendly OptionCheck Price
Best Performing BinocularsCheck Price
Premium & High-End OptionCheck Price

1- Nikon Monarch 5 8X42 Binoculars

These Nikon M5 binos come with  Extra-low dispersion (ED) glass which reduces the chromatic aberrations. Don’t you know about chromatic aberration? It is a common optical problem where different colors of light do not converge at the same point, causing blurry and distorted images.

So, these binoculars are designed to reduce chromatic aberration by dispersing the light more effectively. The use of ED glass in binoculars allows for clearer and sharper images, with improved color accuracy and contrast.

What actually pushed me to pick these binoculars for this guide is because of their low pricing. I know that all the binoculars that are going to be discussed in this are under $500, but these binos offer all the premium features but are still available at comparatively lower prices.

Not to forget that they also have a prism coating (dielectric high-reflective multilayer) that helps to enhance the clarity and brightness of the image. These coatings are made from materials that have a very high refractive index, which means that they are very good at bending light. 

This allows the coatings to reflect more light than other types of coatings, resulting in a brighter and clearer image. Apart from the excellent visual quality, these binoculars also have long eye relief.

As said earlier, binoculars with Long Eye Relief are beneficial for those who wear glasses or have eyesight problems. When you use binoculars with bigger eye relief, then you won’t have to take your glasses off. It makes your usage of binos very comfortable.

  • Excellent lens coatings
  • Lightweight, easy to carry
  • Strong body
  • Water and fog proofing
  • I don’t like their focus mechanism.

2- Vortex Optics Viper HD Binoculars

I am a big fan of the Vortex brand due to their focus on the small details. I myself used these Viper binos a few weeks back as one of my friends does own them. I can say with clarity that they are the best option available under a $500 budget.

Not to forget, these binos have a high-density optical system that is designed to deliver exceptional resolution, which means that you can see more detail and clarity in your view.  This high-density optical system also helps to minimize distortion and chromatic aberration

The right-eye diopter is another useful feature found in binoculars that helps you to adjust the focus on the right eyepiece to compensate for any differences in vision between your two eyes. If you have different eye strengths, I recommend you to go with these binos. 

Important point: By adjusting the right-eye diopter, you can ensure that both eyes are seeing the same level of clarity, which will help you to avoid eye strain and fatigue.

These binoculars also have argon gas purging plus o-ring sealings which ensure that they won’t get affected by moisture.  Argon is a superior choice compared to other gasses, such as nitrogen, as it has a larger molecular structure and provides better protection against moisture penetration.

As said earlier that they have o-ring sealings, and these seals are made of a durable rubber material that is resistant to water and air infiltration. When the binoculars are assembled, the O-ring seals are placed around the external seams to create a waterproof and airtight barrier.

These premium binoculars have two crucial features that can substantially improve your viewing experience: adjustable eyecups and IPD adjustment. You will be able to adjust the distance between your eyes and the eyepiece lens thanks to adjustable eyecups. IPD adjustment is also a very useful and practical feature.

Last but not the least, they also have the Armortek coating, which is made of a hard, durable material such as ceramic or diamond-like carbon, which is highly resistant to damage. This special type of coating will protect your binoculars against scratches, and other contaminants.

  • Water and fog proofing
  • Lens protection against scratches and oil drops
  • Adjustable eye cups and IPD
  • Additional accessories
  • Excellent visual quality
  • As said earlier, I have used these binos and they don’t have any fault at all. These are my personal favorites in this guide.

3- Maven C1 12X42mm ED Binoculars

I picked these Maven binoculars because of two main reasons. The first thing is that they offer brighter and sharper visuals in low-light conditions. If you look at their specification, you will come to know that they have a 42 mm objective lens size, plus all the lenses are coated which increase the transmission of light. 

Due to the transmission of light, you get brighter visuals before dawn or after dusk. Another thing that I love about these Maven binoculars is their lightweight. You might think that if they are lightweight, it means they will be poorly made or their build quality will be compromised.

No, this is not true. They are very strong and very much capable of being the shocks and falls. But what actually makes it lightweight is its polymer frame. They are not built with heavier material: but the frame and chassis are strong enough to give you decent durability.

I love their visuals quality because they use the ED lenses which reduce the glare production and increase the sharpness in the visuals. Are you thinking about color distortion? No, you won’t see any mixing or imbalance of colors.

Maven is one of those optics brands that don’t use the retailer system. Instead, they sell products by themselves which helps them avoid the retailer commission and reduce the price of the product, and give an advantage to the customers. So, you will get their product from the brand itself and at a lower price.

  • Excellent optical performance
  • Strong body and excellent waterproofing
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • The additional accessories that you get with the binoculars are not of high quality – they are fragile.

4- Upland Optics Perception HD 10X42 Binoculars

I believe that finding a pair that combines exceptional clarity with durability and convenience is something that actually matters the most. And guess what, these Upland Optics Perception Binoculars have managed to do just that. I consider them an excellent choice for hunting.

So, I said these are very good for hunting. You might question why? Right? Don’t worry as I am going to answer. These binoculars consist of a wider field of view which is something that hunters love. During finding the bucks in hilly areas, in bushes, or any other tough terrain, the wider field of view helps as you see more area. This is why I consider them the best binoculars for hunting under $500.

One of the standout features of these binoculars is the extra-low dispersion (ED) glass that’s used in their construction. However, In low light conditions, they won’t give you perfect visuals, but still, you will be able to see the target. Don’t expect too much in low-light conditions.

These binoculars also come with a range of accessories that make them incredibly convenient to use. The included carrying case makes it easy to take your binoculars with you wherever you go, while the lens cloth ensures that your lenses stay clean and free of smudges. 

I firmly believe in the fact that a pair of binoculars isn’t much good if they’re not built to last. Thankfully, the Upland optics are made with the most durable materials possible, so you can rest assured that they’ll be able to handle whatever you encounter while you’re out and about.

  • Exceptional clarity with perfect color balance
  • Additional accessories include a carrying case, lens cloth, neck strap, and lens caps
  • Nitrogen purging and O-ring sealing
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Sometimes, their lowlight usability is not optimal: and you will feel that more often when using them once the sun goes down.

5- Canon 10X30 Image Stabilization II Binoculars

I still remember when I was on the lookout for a pair of binoculars last year. I wanted to gift a nice pair to my nephew who is young so my aim was to find compact and portable binoculars with perfect performance, and I found Canon 10X30 binos. They are still present in our home: and trust me they actually surpass my expectations. 

One of the most important things that actually caught my attention was the impressive image stabilization feature. They use gyroscopes and sensors and offer steady and clear images, even when you are on the move. 

My nephew loves to go outdoors, especially hiking. According to his personal experience, these binoculars are perfect for hiking and bird watching due to their lightweight and easy-to-carry features. Hiking up a mountain or on a bumpy safari ride, these binoculars never fail to deliver crisp and sharp images.

They also have a Doublet field flattener which ensures that the image is sharp and distortion-free right up to the edges of the lens.  I appreciate that these binoculars are made with the most durable materials. From accidental drops to rough handling, these binoculars have proven to be resilient and long-lasting.

  • Advanced image stabilization technology
  • Doublet field-flattener provides sharp and distortion-free images
  • Compact and highly portable
  • Durable materials ensure
  • Easy to carry for an extended duration
  • They are not suitable for long-distance viewing, because their compact design limits their magnification capabilities.
  • Their eye relief could have been better i-e above 15 mm.

6- NIKON Monarch M7 10X42 Binoculars

Are you in the market and searching for compact binoculars that do not compromise optical performance? If yes, then the Nikon binoculars are definitely worth checking out. These binoculars are specifically designed for hiking, bird watching, and other outdoor activities where portability and ease of use are a must. 

They are so compact that you can easily fit them in your backpack or even in your pocket. So you won’t have to carry a separate carrying case for these binoculars. Their portability makes them ideal for those who love to travel light.

What I love about these binoculars is their oil and water-repellent coating. This means that they can be used in any weather conditions without worrying about water damage or smudging. This is a huge plus for those who are reckless outdoor enthusiasts and don’t care much about their tools.

Earlier I said that these binoculars are perfect for bird watching. Do you want to know why I said that?  Look, they are designed for close and smooth focusing, which is crucial when you try to spot those hard-to-see feathered creatures. The focus is incredibly precise, allowing you to zoom in on even the smallest details without any blurring or distortion. 

Hold on, these binoculars aren’t just for bird watching. They also have an incredibly wide field of view, which makes them perfect for hunting where you need to be aware of your surroundings. The wide field of view allows you to see everything around you without having to constantly adjust your binoculars.

  • Excellent and wider field of view
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Their visuals are pleasing to the eyes
  • Smooth focusing system
  • Eyecups are slightly fragile.


So, if you follow along with me, then I am sure that you’ve found the perfect pair of binoculars as I have reviewed six top-class pairs belonging to different brands. These best binoculars under 500 have been picked as a result of extensive research that I conducted. Apart from the research, I also utilized my own years of experience. 

In the end, if you ask my choice: I would go with either Vortex Viper or Nikon Monarch 5 as they both offer value for money and are perfect for a variety of outdoor activities. I am sure that after buying two of them, you won’t regret it at all. I hope that this guide will be useful for you. I am signing off! See you with another useful guide. 

Leave a Comment