Best Binoculars Under 200 Dollars
200 Dollars is a Reasonable Budget for a Pair of Binoculars
You can get a good pair of binoculars for under $200. This sort of money will not get a top of the range, exclusive brand name but binoculars at this sort of price will work perfectly well. The actual performance difference between a $195 pair of binoculars and $1,000 pair is not as great as the price range might suggest.
Choosing the right pair of binoculars is all about compromise. Very powerful binoculars (over 10x magnification) will be large and heavy and will not be as effective at short distances. At the other extreme compact binoculars will obviously be light and highly portable but may not be able to match the performance of other binoculars especially in poor light.
Best 8 x 42 Binoculars Under $200
Both the Nikon 7540 (8 x 42) and the Nikon 7541 (10 x 42) represent excellent value for money. 8x binoculars are a little easier to steady than 10x binoculars. Every little tremor and shake that you make is only magnified 8x instead of 10x. If you're not absolutely rock steady, and if distant viewing is not so important then 8x will be your best choice.
Nikon 7541 Monarch 3 - 8 x 42 Binoculars
This pair of binoculars represent excellent value at the price (currently on offer at just under $200). The Nikon Monarch range (see 10 x 42 below) match the quality and performance of much more expensive binoculars. They have a 25 year No Fault repair or replace warranty and are designed to be rugged and durable. Most importantly the image they provide is bright, sharp and clear. They are also water and fog proof/sealed and nitrogen filled so are no "misting up" problems.
This is obviously very similar to the 8 x 42 Nikon 7540 Monarch 3 - 8 x 42. The larger 10x magnification makes it more suitable for distance work and as explained above you will notice a little more shake with 10x magnification than with 8x. In addition the 10x model tends to be slightly more expensive than the 8x model.
Nikon 7541 Monarch 3 - 10 x 42 Binoculars
This model tends to sell at about the $200 price break, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. At around $200 I felt it had to be included in this under $200 review, just bear in mind that you may have to check its price on a few occasions to catch it for less than $200.
Light and compact but with high quality optics.
Pentax 62599 9 x 28
This lightweight pair of binoculars (only 13 ounces) give a sharp focus and a bright image. The 9x magnification make them very versatile and suitable for many applications. For example they can focus on objects as close as 6 feet. They are suitable for serious birding and basic astronomy.
How to Choose a Pair of Binoculars Video
When it comes to understanding the key factors in choosing a pair of binoculars, a picture paints a thousand words. I scoured lots of videos to find a complete and thorough guide. This video is quite long (about 11 minutes) but it's well worth watching. You will see that binoculars in the range 8 x25 through to 10 x 42 are heavily featured.
Binoculars for Birdwatching Beginners
Don't Postpone Perfection!
I know, based on my personal experience, that it's easy to obsess about which pair of binoculars to buy. There are so many choices and compromises to be made. Hopefully there is plenty of information above to help walk through you the minefield. If you're just beginning to get into birdwatching or if you're thinking about getting a pair to encourage somebody else, don't get bogged down, just get a pair! Birdwatching will be transformed by whichever pair you choose.
Even experienced birdwatchers find it difficult to identify distant birds with the naked eye. Binoculars bring the birds up close and give you a chance not only to identify them but, more importantly, to appreciate them. In short binoculars make birdwatching enjoyable.
How to be a (Bad) Birdwatcher!
This is one of my favorite books and highly recommended for all birdwatchers or anybody thinking about getting into it. It's a most amusing insight into the joys of birdwatching. The author, Simon Barnes, explains that the essence of birdwatching is not about superb identification skills or ticking off every bird on a list. Birdwatching is way of life and a simple way to connect with nature every day. One day you will get a great view of a bird that will take your breath away and you'll be hooked for life. Every time you step outside you'll be birdwatching.