How to be a Birder part 3

Hint # 3 Buy the best binoculars you can afford

Do I need to buy some binoculars to be a birder?

No – but having even cheap binoculars will help you develop your interest in birds. Using binoculars will help you to see the many details of the colours and the feathers and subtle differences between different species. It also helps to identify a bird that is far off.

What kind of binoculars should I buy?

Binoculars come in a variety of magnifications. Somewhere on the body of the binoculars you find some numbers. These numbers will say something like 8×30 or 10×50. The first number refers to the magnification. The second number refers to the diameter of the front lens in millimetres. The smaller numbers usually mean smaller and lighter items to carry which is important if you spend long hours in the field. The 10×50 type gives excellent views of the birds with good magnification but they can get rather heavy after a few hours strung around your neck. Investing in a good harness to carry your binoculars will be money well spent.

How much should I spend on binoculars?

How much have you got? This is really up to the individual. In Australian dollars, some serious birders feel quite happy spending $3000 on excellent quality binoculars. I’m sure they are wonderful, but I can only justify about $100 and I have seen some wonderful birds using cheap binoculars like that.

Bottom line

While the bottom line is your budget, it must be said that you get what you pay for. If you want good quality in your optics, you will have to pay for it. For the general, occasional birding use, anything over $500 Australian is probably overkill. I know many birders would strongly disagree with me. It’s your hobby; pay what you can afford and justify. Personally, if I had $3000 I would rather spend $100 on a perfectly adequate pair of binoculars and use the rest on petrol to go see some wonderful birds. That’s far better than sitting at home with the best binoculars money can buy – and seeing only sparrows and starlings in the backyard.


  • Choosing Binoculars for Birdwatching – a downloadable file from the Bird Observers Club of Australia.

Cattle Egret, Adelaide Zoo

Cattle Egret, Adelaide Zoo


2 Responses to “How to be a Birder part 3”

  1. Peter Shute says:

    “I can only justify about $100 and I have seen some wonderful birds using cheap binoculars like that”

    Trevor, I’d be very interested to know what you use. I’m the stingiest person I know, but I spent $300 and I still have doubts about how good they are.

  2. Trevor says:

    Mine were a birthday gift about seven years ago. They came from the local camping and outdoor centre called Horizon Leisure World – I think they are a franchise chain but maybe only here in South Australia. They’ve served me well.

    Brand name is Bushmaster and they are 10×50. Specifications can be viewed here:

    The Bushmaster range is widely available:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *