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Last updated: January 25, 2023
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What makes a good pair of binoculars? Is it the size, type of prism and lenses, or the price? Are the best binoculars under 50 as good as any other binoculars? Let’s find out.
One thing top binoculars have in common is that they are of a certain weight and size. They fit in your hands perfectly and you can carry them for as long as you need without getting fatigued. Additionally, they have a magnification power that is high enough to bring images of objects at various distances, near and far, close enough. The objective diameter is wide enough to allow plenty of light and the formation of a clear picture with high color integrity. And their field of view is wide enough for you to enjoy a broad layout of the scenery and view the full images of large objects. Based on these factors, the SkyGenius 10 x 50 Powerful Binoculars was chosen as our Editor’s Choice. Read on to discover top binoculars that offer all these and more.
More features: right eyepiece focus ring, tripod interface, slip-proof exterior, aspherical lenses, shock-resistant rubber, carrying bag included
SkyGenius Powerful Binoculars feel sturdy in the hands, a pointer to their good build quality. They are made from aluminum and given a non-slip rubber coating that has excellent grip, ensuring they don’t accidentally slip from your hands. And should they do that, the strong neck strap will keep them on your person, preventing an accidental drop that could cause breakage. That said, be careful not to drop them as the plastic bits can break easily.
They have 10x magnification, an objective diameter of 50 mm, and a field of view of 367 feet at 1,000 yards, putting them at the top of the list of best cheap binoculars for outdoor activities. The eyepieces adjust easily and are easy to focus. Simply adjust the eyepiece up or down as needed. If wearing glasses, raise the eyecups to get the best view. Thanks to the large center focus knob that’s easy to operate, you’ll find these binoculars easy to use. They have a diopter system that brings balance to both eyes, and you can adjust each eyepiece separately for enhanced clarity. Also present is corrective optical lens coating that keeps distortion at a minimum and ensures color fidelity. Combining multi-layer coating and aspherical lenses provides superior light transmission and boosts image quality, which makes these binoculars great for use in low light environments, for example, at dusk. However, they won’t give the desired results if used in total darkness.
More features: night vision, rotatable eyepieces, carrying pouch included, BAK4 prism lenses, FMC lens coating, shockproof exterior
If you are looking for a pair of binoculars that the whole family can use, Occer Compact Binoculars are worth considering. These are the best compact binoculars under 50, and because they only weigh 0.65 pounds, they’re kid friendly. They have 12x magnification, an objective diameter of 25 mm, and a field of view of 273 feet at 1,000 yards. While the field of vision is wide and excellent for objects that are a distance away, it can make it somewhat difficult for unaccustomed hands to hold the eyepiece steady. It also means this model won’t give you a great view of things that are relatively close, say, like when you’re watching a game from the bleachers. Though the seller’s description identifies them as night vision binoculars, they are not equipped for full-on night vision, so there is no point in trying to use them in an environment where there is total darkness. However, if there is some light in the surroundings, no matter how little, expect clear images. The clarity and picture quality easily matches that of higher-priced models. This is attributable to the high quality optics technology used, including the BAK4 lenses coated with multi-layer FMC coating. If you’re viewing without glasses, slightly shift the eyepiece upwards to bring it to focus, and if wearing glasses, a slight shift downward does the trick.
They come with a cleaning cloth, neck strap, and a carrying case. The quality of the latter two is wanting, but they are easy to replace.
More features: 9 mm eye relief, abrasion resistant rubber exterior, Porro prism, roll-down eye caps
Bushnell Falcon Wide Angle Binoculars have a 10x magnification, 50 mm objective direction, and a field of view of 300 feet at 1,000 yards. They rely on Porro prism and coated lenses to deliver crisp, clear images. They are easy to adjust and are equipped with the Insta-Focus system, which uses a central lever to bring the eyepiece in focus. All you have to do is press the lever one time to enjoy precise focusing. Fold-down eyecups protect the lenses from scratches if you are wearing glasses.
A close-focusing distance of 25 feet means you won’t be able to focus down to a distance shorter than this, which is a bummer for some people. A good number of folks like to focus down to 10 feet, but most will happily compromise given the superior image quality the glasses give.
A rubber, abrasion-resistant finish provides sufficient grip to safeguard the binoculars from slipping off your hands during use and enhanced durability. However, this isn’t top-of-the-line rubber so it does wear out over time, which isn’t a big price to pay considering how little you’re paying for the binoculars.
These are adult binoculars. At 1.7 pounds, they’ll be a bit heavy for children. Their slightly larger size compared to other binoculars, 9.3 x 8.2 inches, will likely hinder your child from handling the binoculars in comfort.
It comes with a strap and carrying case, although both are of inferior quality.
More features: shock resistant exterior, IPX7 waterproof rate, BAK4 prism lenses, night vision, 2-year warranty
With 12x magnification and an objective diameter of 50 mm, the Anthter Powerful Binoculars do a fine job of drawing objects that are a fair distance away, all without distortion. They use BAK4 Prism and multi-layer coated lenses to provide clear images. A light transmission rate of 99.5% and high contrast combine to ensure the images have superb color rendition. These are not night vision binoculars, but they nonetheless deliver well in low light areas. As long as there’s some light in the surroundings, you should be able to enjoy good quality images.
These binoculars are well made, yet compact, and measure only 5.75 x 5 inches.
Waterproof nitrogen-filled coating is added to the lenses and sealed with O-rings to keep moisture out and protect the lenses from water damage. As a result, the lenses don’t fog up while you use the eyepiece, so you’re able to enjoy bright and clear images at all times.
They come with a smartphone attachment that is compatible with most phones, and you can record your sightings on your phone as you like. The only problem is that setting up the phone connection is not easy, and the manufacturer doesn’t provide any detailed instructions on how to do so. You’ll have to rely on demos that are widely accessible on the Internet from other manufacturers to figure it out.
Other features: BAK4 prism, fully multi-coated lens, center and right eye focus, waterproof, fog proof
For the price, it’s almost a crime that the OMZER Compact Binoculars are as high-quality as they are. However, previous customers aren’t complaining, and neither should you. Remember, these are binoculars that you can use for professional escapades and even recreational sightseeing, depending on your mood.
Of course, driving these capabilities is the Porro prism that has been used to make pricier binocular models. Further, the binos use the BAK4 prisms which in educated binoculars circles is the best option where Porro prisms are concerned.
The glass also lives up to the billing of a high-class purchase despite you having to pay a budget price. After all, the multi-coated lenses will only improve what you see.
It also seems the manufacturer wasn’t satisfied with just making a budget pick. They also wanted to design the binoculars in a way that kids, adults and anybody who got their hands on the binos enjoys them. The binos reflect that ideal with the focusing wheel in the middle and the easy-fold design.
Additionally, that difference between your right and left eye is catered to in the binos. Comfort adds a bit of value to the binoculars as well with the adjustable eyecups being included.
Finally, wet weather and fog, while it may affect other lower-quality binos is not an issue you can expect with the OMZER Compact Binoculars in your hands.
Why did it make our list?
Waterproof and fog proof
Right side adjustment caters to different eye strengths
Easy to use
Adjustable eyecups are comfortable for most users
The binos are designed with multi-coated lenses
What is not ideal about it?
It seems the quality control from the manufacturer leaves something to be desired. However, if you are among the lucky many you’ll get binos in tip-top shape the first time
More features: BAK-4 FMC prism lenses, central focus wheel, anti-slip exterior, aspherical lenses, lifetime maintenance, shock-proof coating
Gskyer Binoculars have an 8x magnification, an objective diameter of 40 mm, and a field of view of 357 feet at 1,000 yards. They are perfect for all kinds of indoor and outdoor activities and deliver images with clarity and brightness, thanks to high light transmission and corrective optical FMC coating on the lens. The binoculars use BAK4 Prism to ensure you get the highest picture quality. Focusing is easy, and it’s all because of 1) a center focus knob that enables you to enjoy precision focusing quickly and easily with a single touch, and 2) the efficient Diopter System, which adjusts vision in both eyes and ensures they align so perfectly that it seems as if you were looking through one lens.
These binoculars are solid and well made, and they feel balanced in your hands. They are shaped in a way that allows you to enjoy a comfortable grip on the binoculars while you use them. An anti-slip exterior with shock-resistant coating boosts their durability. The only thing you may not like is their weight. At 2.5 pounds, they are quite heavy and won’t be easy to carry around, which can be a downer if you engage in sightseeing adventures frequently. But it’s a small inconvenience given how superior the quality of images they show is and how easy it is to operate them. Because of their bulk and weight, they are best suited for adults and children who are 10 years and above.
More features: 3 sec fast focus, 21 mm eyepiece, 16.5 mm BAK4 Prism, anti-slip coating, eyecups fit for people with glasses, abrasion resistant rubber exterior, lifetime warranty, IPX7 waterproof rate, tripod interface
The BFULL Compact Binoculars weigh only 1 pound and are light enough for long periods of continuous use. The weight is barely noticeable, and this makes them perfect for both adults and children. The eyepiece measures 21 mm, with an objective diameter of 42 mm and 10x magnification. They are designed with adjustments for use with glasses and without. If you have glasses, twist the eyecups downward to get a clear view, otherwise twist the eyecups upward.
The dials are smooth and responsive, and the lens focuses on your target in as little as 3 seconds. Even better, they use advanced technology that supports one-hand focusing. So whatever the situation, you are not going to have any trouble focusing your lens when using these particular binoculars.
For enhanced viewing and clarity, they use a 16.5 mm BAK4 prism. Protective, weatherproof coating on the lens makes these one of the best waterproof binoculars under 50, and it allows you to use the binoculars in wet and foggy weather. And the abrasion-resistant exterior protects the binoculars in case it falls from a height of 0.7 m or less.
They have a mounting interface for your tripod or phone. Setting up the tripod or attaching your phone is easy.
These are well made binoculars that will reignite the joy of bird watching and sightseeing in you. They come with a lifetime limited warranty.
More features: BAK4 prism lenses, 18 mm rotatable eyepieces, IPX7 waterproof rate, lifetime warranty, case included
One of the best budget binoculars, Unjust Optics Binoculars for Adults and Kids is perfect for just about any event, from bird watching to hunting, game drives, and sports. This is a solid pair of glasses with an excellent build quality. The combination of a 42 mm objective diameter, a field of view of 305 feet at 1,000 yards, and 10x magnification power makes for clear viewing. The eyepieces measure 18 mm and are easy to adjust. Note that you have to readjust your focus every time the distance of your target object changes, but this will likely not be a problem because the lenses are responsive and precise. The binoculars use BAK4 prism lenses, which, complemented by high light transmission, are bright and clear even in low light conditions.
The lenses are moisture proof and have a waterproof rating of IPX7, so you can use them in wet conditions without worrying that this could damage them.
Although comfortable for adults, they are a little heavy and bulky for kids to use over extended periods. With a weight of about 1.5 pounds, you can see how they can wear down a child who may find it tricky to balance the weight of the binoculars while simultaneously trying to get a clear focus.
One of the best things about buying this pair is that it comes with a lifetime warranty. It’s hard to beat such a deal, and for $50 at that.
What do we love it for?
Excellent build quality
Includes carrying case
What were we disappointed with?
Weighty and bulky for kids
Things to Consider
It’s not enough to know how to use binoculars. It pays to understand the mechanism behind the gadget’s operation and how different features, such as magnification, objective diameter, and viewing angle, influence the quality of image you see. Because then, you can use these features as a guide when choosing binoculars. We’ll explain how these features work and how to evaluate them when buying binoculars.
Are cheap binoculars worth buying?
Yes. Although some binoculars, and specifically the ones we’re talking about in this article, may cost little money, there is nothing cheap about their quality. They certainly don’t have the quality levels of expensive binoculars, but they are no feeble trash either. Manufacturers of low-budget binoculars use the right mix of optics to deliver adequate magnifying power, keep the field of view big enough, and get the color rendition right. When it comes to what really matters in a binocular – focus tightness and picture quality – they do not cut corners. The optics aren’t top notch, as in high-end binoculars, but they are acceptable. Where they may compromise is in the design and materials, which may not be as ergonomic, rugged, or durable as those used in expensive binoculars.
If you’re not concerned about the minute details of an image, say, the number of stripes you can count on an animal or the exact shade of brown it is, but are satisfied with the general outline of the object, cheap binoculars will do.
If you’re not an ardent binoculars user, it makes sense to spend as little money as possible on a pair of binoculars. Most occasional users don’t see the point in splurging money on something they won’t use often, and this makes cheap binoculars an attractive option.
If you have kids or grandkids that enjoy using binoculars, you can let them use these without obsessing about what a financial setback it will be if they drop them and ruin them.
Low-cost binoculars make great gifts. Even when the list of people who deserve a gift is long and your budget limited, with 50-dollar binoculars, you can present a meaningful gift to your loved ones.
How to clean binoculars
The first step is to remove dust using compressed air or the brush on a lens-cleaning pen. Do not use any other brush because regular brushes are rough and will scratch the lens. Blow compressed air into other parts of the binoculars where dirt is likely to accumulate, like the focus knob.
Spray lens-cleaning solution on a lens cleaning cloth and use it to wipe any remaining stubborn dirt. If your binoculars are waterproof, you can hold them under running water to wash off the dust, but avoid rubbing them. Don’t use any other type of solution to clean your lens, and only use water if the eyepiece is moisture proof. Likewise, do not breathe on the lens because your breath contains water droplets and will leave spots on the lens. Only use lens cleaning tissue or a lens micro fiber cleaning cloth to clean your eyepieces, and if you have neither, use a clean, soft piece of cotton cloth. Any other fabric, no matter how smooth it looks, will scratch the delicate lens surface. Finally, wipe the lens dry with a second lens cleaning cloth.
If your lenses are fogging, keep the binoculars in a warm, dry place for a few days. The moisture inside the binoculars will escape to the warmer outside air. Next, place a desiccant in an airtight bag and cover the binoculars with the bag. The desiccant will draw out the moisture from the lenses, leaving them dry. To prevent fogging, always cover the lens and avoid exposing the binoculars to moisture, unless it’s waterproof.
Features to consider while buying the best binoculars under $50
Binoculars efficiency depends on numerous features. These are the features you should evaluate when buying your binoculars. We discuss them below.
Magnification indicates the extent to which the object you are viewing is enlarged. It is denoted by the first numeral in the two-number equation commonly used to identify binoculars. For example, in 7×40 binoculars, 7 represents magnification, meaning the binoculars will magnify the object up to 7 times its size as seen through your naked eyes. A high magnification number gives a large view of whatever it is you’re looking at, while a small magnification number gives you a smaller view. If you’ll mostly be viewing items that are a short distance away, say, sporting activities or surveying your front yard, a pair of binoculars with a low magnification is ideal. Using binoculars with a high magnification number in this case will bring a larger-than-life view of the sports arena, for instance, and it will appear as though they were standing right in front of your nose. Another thing you’ll notice is that high magnification gives a small field of view. So instead of seeing the entire team and their reactions to their opponents’ move, you only see a section of the players. Or, in the second scenario, you only see a portion of your gate instead of seeing the entire driveway. To view objects that are a long distance away, like wildlife, planes in the sky, or landmarks located across town, you need binoculars with high magnification power. These will bring the objects close enough for you to identify them clearly.
The weight of the binoculars determines how user friendly they are. If you plan to use your binoculars regularly and for long periods, choose a pair that is light so that you don’t tire easily when using them. Fortunately, there are plenty of lightweight (weighing 1 lbs. or less) binoculars with excellent image quality, so you won’t be compromising on quality when you choose lighter binoculars as opposed to heavier ones. One of the things that increase binoculars weight is the objective lens. The bigger these are, the heavier the binoculars become. So, consider this when deciding what size of objective lens to go for. If the binoculars you really want lean on the heavy side, you have the option of using a tripod instead of holding them in your hands, and this has the added advantage of keeping the binocular steady all through and rewarding you with clear images at all times. Many binoculars come with a mounting interface for a tripod.
The objective lenses are the front lenses of the binoculars. They are denoted by the second number in the identifying equation. In our example above (7×40), this would be 40, and this number represents the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters. So, our 7×40 binoculars would have 40 mm objective lens. These lenses play a key role in that they determine the quality of image you get to see, and this is informed by the amount of light they allow to pass through, meaning the more light they let in, the clearer and brighter the image will be. Larger objective lenses give better quality images.
Hand straps are handy tools that secure your binoculars on your wrist while freeing your hands to do other things if needed. They are used as an alternative to the neck strap, which is often the cause of neck pain for many binoculars users. If you’re worried about growing neck pain because you frequently hang binoculars around your neck, consider using hand straps instead. They are made from a strong material and are designed with a bit of padding to ensure your comfort. They can be as long as 11 inches or more and have a security slide that you use to adjust for fit. Most binoculars come with straps, whose quality differs from brand to brand. If you don’t love the quality of the strap your binoculars come with, buy a replacement strap of your liking. They are readily available in different materials and sizes at camera shops.
Your binoculars should have a warranty, which qualifies you to get a replacement or help if the product doesn’t perform as you expected. There is no standard warranty period for binoculars under $50. Some like Anthter Powerful Binoculars come with a 2-year warranty, while others have a lifetime warranty. Quite a number fall in the latter category, among them BFULL Compact Binoculars, Unjust Optics Binoculars for Adults and Kids, and Gskyer Binoculars. Weigh your options and choose what you feel is a fair deal as far as the manufacturer’s guarantee is concerned.
Binoculars have a long lifespan, which results from a combination of quality materials and preservation-boosting technologies. For instance, the binoculars frame is made from durable aluminum coated with silicon. The exterior part of the binoculars is coated with a shock-resistant and anti-slip material, which may also be waterproof to protect against water damage. The glass lenses are covered with a film coating, which in addition to preventing the unwanted reflection of light, also protects the glass from moisture and dust. Fold up/down caps may also be used to further protect the lenses from scratches.
Eye relief refers to the distance from your eye to the eyepiece, and it is different for people who wear glasses than it is for those who don’t wear glasses. Usually, manufacturers use eyecups to attain a distance that’s suitable for the human eye. Some eyecups are adjustable, and these allow you to obtain eye relief for the glasses you’re wearing. You only need to tilt the eyecups up or down as indicated in the user manual. Other binoculars have a dioptric system, which allows you to make a one-time adjustment so that you can focus both eyes on an object through the eyepiece without closing one eye. Once you’ve set the diopter adjustment, that’s it. You don’t need to reset it again. From there on, you only have to adjust the center focus knob.
The viewing angle refers to the surface area or how much ground you can see when you look through the binoculars. It can be defined as the angle of view at the objective lens or as the apparent angle of view, which is the angle of the magnified field. The angle of view is typically a small, single-digit number, while the apparent angle of view is a higher, double-digit number. That’s how you tell them apart, but they indicate the same thing and point to the field of view, where the bigger the angle is, the wider the field of view. The field of view is calculated as the distance – measured horizontally – that you can see through the binoculars at 1,000 meters or 1,000 yards. If calculated per 1,000 meters, the distance is computed in meters, and if calculated per 1,000 yards, it’s measured in yards.
For convenience, most binoculars come with accessories like neck or hand straps to keep them safely strapped on your body and prevent drops. They may also come with lens covers to protect the lenses from damage and a carrying case for easy transportation of the binoculars. Other accessories you may get include a smartphone mounting point that allows you to attach your mobile phone and record activity. They may also have a tripod interface, which allows you to place the binoculars on a stand for steadier focus. This also ensures that you don’t get tired if you’re using the binoculars for long.
Binoculars shells are hardy, made to last, and designed for use in all weather conditions. The shell of your binoculars, while made from aluminum, is covered in a rubberized material on the outside. The rubber used has an anti-slip texture to prevent the binoculars from accidentally dropping out of your hands. It also has abrasion-resistant properties, and in some cases, is waterproof. The waterproofing treatment is extended to the lenses, and this allows you to use the binoculars in wet conditions.
You can use $50 binoculars for a range of indoor and outdoor activities, and you can use them for most events that call for you to use high-end binoculars, with the exception of activities like stargazing that demand high-tech optical technologies, which these basic models may not have. With $50 binoculars, you can enjoy a close-up view of indoor and outdoor sports, bird watching, wildlife tracing, hunting, sightseeing, ocean watching, fishing, and keeping an eye on your yard, among many others.
Top waterproof models you can buy include BFULL Compact Binoculars, Unjust Optics Binoculars for Adults and Kids, and Anthter Powerful Binoculars. To be sure that the binoculars you wish to buy are waterproof, check whether they have a waterproof rating. This should be clearly indicated in the description box, and if you can’t find this information, contact the seller or manufacturer for confirmation before buying the binoculars. The rating indicates how much water you can expose the binoculars to without damaging it.
Our top choice is SkyGenius Powerful Binoculars, a sturdily constructed pair with a wide objective diameter. We like its picture quality, the adjustable eyepieces, diopter system and center focus knob, and its ease of use. Other attractive features are a thick neck strap, a strong carrying case, and a lifetime warranty.
Our second choice is Occer Compact Binoculars. These are the best compact binoculars under 50, and because they only weigh 0.65 pounds, they’re kid friendly.
Our choice for third binoculars under 50 dollars is Bushnell Falcon Wide Angle Binoculars. They are easy to adjust and are equipped with the Insta-Focus system, which uses a central lever to bring the eyepiece in focus.