So you are looking for best binoculars under 500. You are on the right page we have done enough research and looked deep into finding the binoculars that have lived up to their reputation. Apart from Vortex in this list which is around for almost 2 decades other brands have much more bigger history. Different magnification, lens diameter and exit pupil make each binocular different from the other.
If this is your first time then we highly encourage you to read buyers guide. We have compiled the most important factors that are important to understand before you finalise your decision. If you are short on time then from you can consider any of the Nikon or Leupold from this list. So lets begin!
|Name||Magnification||Lens Diameter||Exit Pupil||Price|
|NIKON 7298 MONARCH||10x||42mm||4.2mm||Click Here|
|NIKON 7548 MONARCH||8x||42mm||5.25mm||Click Here|
|Canon Ultra Compact Binoculars||10x||30mm||3mm||Click Here|
|LEUPOLD BX-3 MOJAVE||10x||42mm||4.2mm||Click Here|
|VORTEX OPTICS VULTURE HD||15x||56mm||3.73mm||Click Here|
- 1 REVIEWS OF BEST BINOCULARS UNDER 500 DOLLARS
- 2 BUYING GUIDE FOR BINOCULARS
- 3 VERDICT
REVIEWS OF BEST BINOCULARS UNDER 500 DOLLARS
If you prefer then jump to the buying guide before moving on to reading the review of the best binoculars. However, if you are confident and already know enough about the binoculars then proceed to read about the reviews.
Nikon 7298 MONARCH
Nikon has produced a beautiful design with variety of features. With massive magnification power of 10 we have included it in the list of best binoculars under 500 dollars. Nikon has facilitated the users by including the highly reflective multi layer prism coating that aids in making bright and crisp images. You can view bird high up in the trees with Nikon 7298 MONARCH as its exit pupil is big enough to capture light from little objects.
The expression 10 x 42 means that it can zoom in upto 10 times the size of object with naked eye. While the 42 is the diameter of the lens. The exit pupil is calculated to be 4.2mm which is good enough to use this gadget in low light conditions. Overall the build is tough, rugged and reliable. You can carry it around your neck the weight is under 1kg and pretty manageable. The camouflage adds to the tactical importance of this unit.
A very healthy eye relief of 15.5 mm ensure that along with light weight it is easier for you to view from the eye piece. The lens is coated with multi layers to correct the reflection error. The model is also coated with rubber which makes it water, weather and fog proof. A problem which cannot be compromised. Nikon provides the neck strap along the unit so you are saved from buying it separately. Unlike other models, the focus model is at right grip neither too tight or loose. You can easily rotate it to adjust the focus.
Among the problems is the eye piece quality. The plastic feels like low quality that is vulnerable to cracks under stress. The lens cover also struggles to attach perfectly and can be predicted to get more loose over time. In comparison with competitors the field of view is relatively smaller. If you are wearing eye glasses then it will be difficult for you to position to view the correct image.
Nikon 7548 MONARCH 7 8×42
Nikon 7548 is very nicely balanced in terms of design. Company according to its reputation has build a very durable model which is comfortable and easy to use. Lighter in weight than the Nikon 7298 and weighs just 1.3 lbs. You can easily carry it around your neck while out there in the wilderness. The chassis is made up of polycarbonate reinforced with fiberglass. Usage of polycarbonate ensure the unit to remain durable while at same time insensitive to expansion and contraction during summer and winter.
You must have notices the expression 8 x 42. It can magnify an object upto 8 times to what it is appearing with the naked eye. The objective lens measure at 42 mm. The exit pupil is bigger than 7298 and measure 5.25mm. This makes this binocular better to use in low light condition that 7298. So if you are a low light wilderness explorer it would be a better decision to go for Nikon 7548 if you are choosing between 7298 and 7548. Owing to great features both make into list of Best Binoculars Under 500.
At the current price tag it should be understood that the binocular is water and fog proof. The places where the moistures makes it way in is sealed by O ring, therefore, you are free to use it even in places of high humidity. The eye relief is more than 7298 at 17.1mm which makes it even easier for users who wear eye glasses. The focus wheel is easier to use and one and a half clockwise rotation will take focus to infinity.
Nikon has made the field of view to be full 8 degrees giving field of view at 1000 yard of 419.2 feet. Angular field of view is 6.7 degrees. Both these metrics are much bigger than the average binoculars in the market. It comes with a durable case made up to fabric. Nikon provides a separate belt loop sewn that you can use. If you do not want to use the belt you can use the 2 inch sneck strap. With neoprene part of almost 36cm you can fit it easily around your shoulders.
Among the shortcomings is the neck strap which can be a bit confusing to integrate with the binocular. Some users have complained about that chromatic aberration during bright overcast conditions. Another nominal problem is the mark left by the eye piece after removing from the case. Lastly the diopter for right tube is too stiff for handheld focus.
Canon 10×30 Image Stabilization
Because of Canon state of art Image Stabilizing technology in this binoculars we have included it in the list of best binoculars under 500. It helps in reducing the vibration as you move. It is worth mentioning that the binoculars with magnification of atleast 10x experience much more vibration problem as it gets amplified as well. If you are hunting then you will experience fast moving object, image stabilizing will help you in tracking the object.
It weighs only 600 grams which is reasonable if you have to carry it around your neck. To increase the comfort Canon provides eyecups which are comfortable when used closed to the face. The central focus is at right grip, rotating it with one rotation takes the focus to infinity. Lenses are coated with multiple layers to lower the light deflection loss. If you do not understand the deflection point then please head over to buying guide where it is explained thoroughly.
Exit pupil is 3.2mm which is lower than the two binoculars reviewed above. Twilight factor is 17.9 which is just par good. You will get angle of view of 6 degrees giving field of view of 1000 yards which is reasonable but not to be proud of binocular of 10x magnification power. One cool thing which is found only in high end binoculars is the Field Flattener Lenses. As you view the eyepiece, the image on the edges is very blurry this can tire out the eyes in short time. Having FFL which is high end feature in this mid priced binocular, Canon provides a great feature to boast off, it is one reason why it makes into list of Best Binoculars Under 500.
In the package, you will get the carry case designed very elegantly with front aluminium badge. You will also get two AA batteries and eyepiece caps I the package. You do not need to buy neck strap as currently Canon is providing the neck strap along. Previously Canon was not including the strap but that is no longer the case. Over all if you compare it with the Nikon then Canon is behind in terms of specs but due to image stabilizing feature offered it really covers the big shortcomings.
People have complained that it is not fully water and fog proof. So you should be very careful if you are planning to use in boat, rain or misty conditions. Canon have used smaller objective lens of 30mm which is lower by 2mm from what mid-sized binoculars is used. Exit pupil is good enough but is lower than the two Nikon models reviewed above.
Leupold BX-3 Mojave
A premium quality binocular from Leupold. It includes an open bridge roof prism design. Design is slim and has multi coated lens coating. It is available in wide variety of magnification and lens diameter. You can buy the one which suits your requirement the most. It enjoys great track record at amazon and has won wide praise from the critics.
Leupold takes the problem of light beams scattering after they enter the lens called chromatic aberration out of question. Leupold has done coating 64 times on the lenses which make them free from chromatic aberration. This give premium quality brightness and clarity to produce best images. The results are pretty similar to high tech extra-low dispersion glass which is found only in very high end binoculars.
Available in wide variety of exit pupils, over all binocular has great lens diameter and twilight factor. You can twist the casing to match your size. Unlike Canon, Leupold has made this binocular complete water and weather proof. Build is very strong made with combination of rubber and plastic. Mojave has soft focusing which enable to focus smoothly. In the packaging you will get carrying case, cover for lens and neck strap. It is to ensure your binoculars safety.
The twisting eye cups are great but they collect dirt and some time feel hard to operate. Also the rubber of the eye piece is also uncomfortable for repeated use. The lens cap cover is hard to remove and then to reattach. Some users have complained about the purple fringing in the lens.
Vortex Optics Vulture Hd
A 15 times magnification power that provides great control of sight at your hands. Vortex is relatively a newer brand when it compared with other brands who are around for long time. The 56mm lens diameter is wide enough to let light from objects far away to reach binocular and form a crisp image.
Vortex has used BaK4 prism to provide clear image. The multi-layered lens made up of extra low dispersion and high dense glass works in great combination to produce high quality images. The multi layered coating on lens works to produce results with great brightness. Vortex goes a step ahead from other brands called ArmorTek to make the lens free from scratches and dirt.
The chassis is coated with rubber armour to give it protection from the environment. The O-rings seal the binocular from moisture and fog. It is further reinforced with argon to save it from internal fogging. A user used it in strong shower for an hour and the unit still worked fine. So it keeps up the promise of water and weather proof.
It will fit nicely in your hands and rubber ridges along the armour further improves your grip while holding it. Unlike some poorly designed binoculars, Vulture HD focus knob is easier to reach. Vortex provides Extra Low dispersion glass which is specialized in removing the spherical aberration. ED glass is high end feature which is available on binoculars which are available at higher price tag. Therefore, in this mid range binocular you get the perks of a high end unit at reasonable rate.
As this is a 15x binoculars, you will experience serious shaking when going for magnification beyond 10x. Therefore, you need to consider buying a tripod to mount this unit, this would help in getting more stable images. Because the exit pupil is narrow at 3.7mm, you will observe the image getting darker as the light becomes low.
BUYING GUIDE FOR BINOCULARS
Before you plan to buy binoculars, it is necessary that you understand the basic terminologies about them. We have compiled a list of most important factors that must be understood to get educated about binocular.
By objective lens size binoculars come in wide variety of sizes designed for various expeditions. Here are the categories.
FULL SIZE BINOCULARS
For low light situations, you need a bigger lens to catch more light. Full size binoculars are ideals in such situation as they are capable of capturing more light. They have wide field of view and provide stable images. But the problem is, they are quite big and will prove difficult to carry them for outdoor adventures. These are best to spot wildlife and also to used them on your boat.
MID SIZE BINOCULARS
Another great size for binoculars if you are upto wildlife hunting or to use in similar sports. They are lighter and smaller then full size binoculars. Therfore, are manageable and can be stored in your backpack relatively easier.
COMPACT SIZE BINOCULARS
They are lightest binoculars available in wide range of variety. Can be carried easily but are not ideal outdoor serious adventures. However, because of small size they can be easily carried in you backpacks.
Whenever you view a binocular it will be associated with a term like 5 x 20 or 7 x 35. This expression is quite meaningful as It tells how much is the binocular capable of magnifying the object. It is an important factor when you are searching for Best Binoculars Under 500.
A binocular associate with expression 5 x 20 means that your binocular will be able to magnify the object 5 times more then what it appears with the naked eye. Another way to understand this is that if an object is 100 meters away and you view it from the binoculars then it will appear to be at distance of 20 meters away. The distance is calculated by dividing distance (100) by magnification power (5).
BINOCULAR OBJECTIVE LENS
The second number after x in the binocular expression shows the diameter of the lens in millimetre. For example in these two expressions 5 x 20 and 7 x 35, 20 and 35 represent the lens diameter.
So dimeter of second lens is bigger than the first one. Bigger the diameter of the lens, more light it is able to gather. More light captured by lens more will be definition of the image views. Better will be the image edges and it will be more refined. A lens having big magnification and small lens dimeter will be able to magnify the object but you will view blurry image.
Exit pupil is also an important element for binocular. It means the brightness and stability of an image when magnified by the binocular. A large number means the image will be brighter for low light condition. If your binocular has large exit pupil then you have more margin to move your hand with out destabilizing the image.
It is worth noting that as you have higher magnification, you are more prone to disturbance by movement. As your hand movement and its caused disturbance will be magnified by the lens.
It is not a complicated task to calculate the exit pupil. For example in expression 5 x 20 the exit pupil of this lens is 4mm.
If you are a hunter who does the business in low light conditions then you need a binocular with higher exit put. Conversely if you are bright light worker then exit pupil is not that important because human eye pupil itself retracts to 2mm. Most exit pupils are larger or equal to this size.
Another term which is related to how bright an object will appear. It is dependant on prism, lens elements, quality of glass and coating used. In order to get the brightness all you need to do is to take square of the exit pupil. So like in above example of 4mm exit pupil, the relative brightness of this lens is 16.
So higher the relative brightness of the lens more brighter it will appear. Looks for higher brightness index if you operate in low light conditions. It can prove crucial and can make a difference. For bright light conditions it is not really an important factor.
The distance between eye piece (place where your view in binoculars) and your eyes is Eye Relief of Binoculars. It is a term associated with comfort of your eyes. AN eye relief very long or too close can be hard to view for longer period of time.
Most of the binoculars have a centre focus system. It is located between the two oculars You can do the center focusing, with dioptric adjustment dial located on one of the two eye pieces to tune the focus on individual lenses. This dioptric correction is manufacturer dependant and may be place on right, left or both eye pieces. Some models have the correction system connected to central focusing system.
A common problem in all optical lenses is that they are not complete light catchers. Some of the light is reflected away and not used to define the image. This causes a blurry image to form. In order to correct this problem, manufacturers coat certain mixture over the lens to decrease the light back deflection. Lenses which are coated with multilayers are able to catch upto 98% of the light. In low end models anything about 90% is a great deal.
WATER AND WEATHERPROOF
IF water gets inside the casing then it becomes almost impossible to get it out completely. It will create misty layer on inside of your lens making it useless. The binocular should be water proof and should not let water to seep through the casing.
Usually the tubes are covered with O rings to provide the sealing to cut off the moisture. You can use such binocular is foggy or rainy weather. But they are not fully capable to be submersed into water and still work perfectly.
In short, your chosen binocular should be waterproof, fog proof and weather resistant. If you are on a budget and forced to buy an inferior model then do not use it in the sea or in rain.
The casing your binocular is made up of is called chassis. It can be made up of Aluminium, Magnesium, Polycarbonate etc. Aluminium is the most popular material as it is light, strong and available in reasonable budget. While magnesium is even lighter than aluminium and is strong enough handle wear and tear for longer time.
Drawback of using metal is that they become cold in winter and hot during summer. They also expand and contract according to temperature as well. Therefore, another material polycarbonate is used which is inexpensive, corrosion free and also strong.
If you read the entire buying guide then the picture must be clear in your mind. IF you are a low light time adventurer then go for a binoculars which has a better bigger exit pupil. Conversely, if you keep everything under the day light then stick exit pupil should not be of any concern to you.
Both Nikon model compete each other and Leupold Mojave spices up the competition. Both are still in different budget range, so decide what suits your style the most. If you are among those who do not want to carry a tripod along then look for Canon. Because with great magnification comes great disturbance. So get started and improve your vision with a binocular.