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Best Cheap Binoculars
Cheap Binoculars Buying Guide
When it comes to binoculars, there is a dizzying array of models to consider, from top-of-the-line $2,500 Swarovski 10x42 EL Swarovision to cheap binocular knockoffs for $9 or $10. As the experts at REI note, prices usually correspond to the quality of the optics and to durability.
Back in the Cheapism range, finding decent optics is possible if you know what to look for and how you plan to use the cheap binoculars. If, for instance, you'll be carting them to sporting events, choose a pair with a wide field of view. The Bushnell Permafocus 7x35 (starting at $44), one of our top choices, is optimal for this kind of activity -- in addition to boasting a wide field of view, these cheap binoculars are focus-free, so keeping up with the action requires no action on your part. Good all-around cheap binoculars are exemplified by the Olympus Roamer 8x21 DPC I (starting at $30), an appropriate choice for activities such as backpacking because they're small, light, and useful for short-range viewing; additionally, the dioptric correction suits people with different vision in each eye. Also compact enough to take on a hike or keep in the glove compartment is the entry-level Bushnell Powerview 8x21 (starting at $14), which is also fine for bird-watching in daylight. The Vivitar CV-1025V 10x25 Binocular Digital Camera (starting at $21) completely lives up, or down -- as the case may be -- to its price. It supports a camera that takes up to 160 images, but the clarity of image on these cheap binoculars doesn't warrant saving the pictures it takes.
The features that make up a pair of binoculars are fairly standard throughout the product category. Models are distinguished more by their specifications (and price point) than by their features, which themselves are denoted by a precise technical vocabulary. Product overviews are littered with terms such as binocular magnification, field of view, focus adjustment, prisms, and eye relief that may be unfamiliar to first-time buyers but are important factors to understand and consider before making a choice, and each is discussed below.
You should also pay attention to the size and weight of the cheap binoculars (will they fit in your pocket? will they be comfortable to hold for long periods?); the presence of extra features (e.g., waterproof construction); and their performance in the field (how clear is the image? how user-friendly are they? how do they hold up to normal, and even excessive, wear and tear?). Again, these matters are discussed below. All this information can help you choose the cheap binoculars that are right for you.
And finally, the big names in the binoculars market include Bushnell, Barska, Tasco, Olympus, Nikon, Eagle Optics, Penta, and Alpen Pro. Each of these producers makes binoculars at a variety of price points, but Bushnell, Barska, Tasco, and Olympus offer the largest selection of cheap binoculars.
Best Cheap Binoculars
Bushnell Permafocus 7x35
The wide angle view with the Bushnell Permafocus 7x35 greatly expands the area you can see, which makes this model good for sporting events or viewing the city from on high. The focus-free feature ensures you won't miss any of the action. These binoculars can be used with a tripod and have a BK-7 Porro prism.Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Olympus Roamer 8x21
The Olympus Roamer 8x21 DPC I is a good choice for travelers, backpackers, or anyone who wants a small, lightweight binocular that delivers above-average image clarity. The dioptric correction compensates for different vision in each eye. This model features a BK-7 Porro Prism.Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
LaScala Optics Othello 3x25 Opera Glasses Review
Vivitar CV-1025V 10x25 Binocular Digital Camera Review
Bushnell Powerview 8x21 Review
Bushnell Permafocus 7x35 Review
Olympus Roamer 8x21 Review
Bushnell H20 Porro Prism 8x26 Waterproof Compact
Bushnell Powerview 8x21
Eagle Optics Energy 8x21
Vivitar 1502612 4x30
Eagle Optics Triumph 8x25
Olympus Outback 8x21 RC I
Bushnell Permafocus 8x25
Pentax Papilio 8.5x21
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Enjoy music festivals without going broke by following these tips, which include carpooling to get there and buying souvenirs on the last day.