Best Birding Binoculars Under $200 (Updated July 2023)

Posted by Brian Moscatello on Sep 29th 2020

Pete Dunne's sage advice has always been to buy the best binocular you can afford. He further advises that if you don't have enough for the one you really want, save up until you do. It's more cost-effective than buying several intermediate optics and working your way up. He's right, so I won't argue the point!    

But there are valid reasons for buying something less than your dream optics.  If don't have a binocular now, even an inexpensive one will greatly enhance your birding success and enjoyment.  Or you may have a binocular, but it's just not working for birding (I'm looking at you, ubiquitous 10x21 folding compacts) and want something that lets you actually get on a bird and then see details. 

This isn't a complete, definitive list; there are certainly other worthy Porro prism binoculars such as the Celestron Ultima series (8x32 to 10x42 from $119.95 to $149.95) and the Nikon Action Extreme (7x35 for $129.95 and 8x40 for $149.95). Because of the wider chassis of Porro prisms, these are a better fit for larger hands.

If you want really light weight, look at the 30-to 33 mm sizes.  For a brighter image at dawn or dusk go with a 42 mm. Now here are fifteen binoculars, all under $200, with features that ensure they'll work for birding!

$69.99 Vortex Bantam HD 6.5x32  Vortex has a new "Youth" binocular forn smaller kids (or adults wanting a low power, inexpensive option). 

$99.95 to $104.95  Celestron Outland X (8x42, 10x42)  These contain the same optics as the Nature DX, but in a lower-cost body and eyecups. A very good optical entry point but treat them gently. 

$99.99  Vortex Raptor (8.5x32, 10.5x32)  Making a good quality Porro prism binocular is easier and less costly than the same quality in a roof prism. With several 30 mm Porro prism models on the market, Vortex opted for 32 mm objectives and slightly higher powers.  A great choice for those seeking higher power at an affordable price point, and the Vortex VIP warranty adds value.

Product Image 1

$119.99  Kowa YF (6x30, 8x30)   The lower magnification of the 6x30 provides nearly the same brightness as an 8x42, a super -wide field of view, and is easy to hold steady.  With a 50 mm minimum IPD (inter-pupillary distance), these are our top choices for children (as well as adults with a narrow IPD) and provide unexpectedly good viewing at the price.

$129.95 to $149.95 Nikon Prostaff P3 (8x30, 8x42, 10x42) While not the optical equal of the Monarch line, Nikon's Prostaff P3 offer a nicely built glass with good ergonomics. A great value!

product photo of PROSTAFF P3 10X42 binoculars

$139.99 to $149.99  Vortex Crossfire HD (8x42, 10x42) The Crossfire already offered value for the price, and now Vortex has added HD glass.  The 58 mm minimum IPD may not work for younger children or some adults, but if your IPD is average or larger it's a great option. 

$149.95 to $179.95  Celestron Nature DX (8x32, 8x42, 10x42)  Celestron's popular entry-level binocular offers a better chassis than the Outland X and comes in three different formats to suit a range of users. 

$179.95 to $199.95  Nikon Prostaff P7 (8x30, 8x42, 10x42)  Nikon's Prostaff P7 series offer a locking diopter, quite rare at this price point. Add in light weight, good ergonomics and surprising optical quality and you have some real contenders in the under $200 range optics.

PROSTAFF P7 8x42 binoculars product shot