Are you a bird watcher and looking for the best budget binoculars for bird watching that won’t break the bank? Maybe you have just started birdwatching, or looking for an entry-level pair of binoculars for a teenager or for traveling. Look no further! I have selected 2 of the best budget binoculars for birders, and due to their long eye relief, they are perfect if you wear glasses or have perfect vision.

For under $250, my top choices for the best budget binoculars for birding when wearing glasses are the 8×42 Celestron Nature DX ED and the Vortex Diamondback HD. Both feature long eye relief, twist-up eyecups, excellent field of view, ED lenses, Bak4 prism glass, and phase and dielectric coatings.

There are so many variables to consider when choosing binoculars, especially at this price point. In this article, I review my 2 top selections in detail. Read along to learn more about my criteria and all of the factors that went into my assessment.

Woman with binoculars birdwatching in valley area with mountains in distance

My Criteria for the Best Budget Binoculars for Bird Watching

Why am I recommending just two binoculars? Well, honestly, at this budget price point, things get a bit tricky – images tend to be less sharp, and colors tend to look a tad muddier.

In addition, when a light and dark object are next to each other, bright colors can appear along their border (this effect is called chromatic aberration or color fringing). So, in testing different budget binoculars for birding, there were many binoculars I ruled out.

The criteria for what I wanted were high: long eye relief, good quality and value, affordable, and with several of the bells and whistles that more expensive binoculars have.

Whether you’re just starting out or already an experienced birder, if you are looking for the best budget binoculars for bird watching, my recommendations will provide hours of enjoyable viewing, and deliver lots of value and bang for the buck.

Best Budget Binoculars for Bird Watching

My Top Recommendations For Best Budget Binoculars for Bird Watching With Glasses

My recommendations for the best budget binoculars for birding with eyeglasses are based on a combination of specific criteria that will deliver excellent value. They will work for people who wear glasses, as well as those who don’t. The binoculars all have wonderful features and will provide for a great bird-watching experience:

  • 8×42 binoculars – a favorite amongst birders
  • Roof prism binoculars – for great ergonomics
  • Binocular Eye relief of at least 17mm, and twist-up eyecups – for eyeglass wearers
  • A close focus – for close-up viewing of insects and butterflies
  • Great field of view – for easy scanning
  • Full multi-coated lenses – to eliminate internal reflections
  • Roof prism phase coatings – for phase correction
  • Top-notch ED lenses and bak4 prism glass – for excellent optics
  • An excellent experience – my impression during actual use
  • Waterproof and fog proof – for protection
  • Respected binocular manufacturer – for trust

My best budget binoculars for bird watching recommendations are between $170 and $240, as of January 2023. For the budget binoculars for birding that I tested, I could not find anything else within or below this range that met my criteria. Again, this is because, at this price point, the quality of optics starts to decline.

These binoculars are tied for first place. The Celestron Nature DX ED binoculars are a great value – you get so much bang for the buck at this price point. The Vortex Diamondback HD binoculars have better optics but at $100 more. So, it really depends on what is more important to you when buying budget binoculars.

#1 Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42

Why You Should Buy:

  • Perfect for traveling, and new birders 

  • Big bang for the buck

  • Good field of view

  • Longer eye relief

About $132 on sale at Amazon

#2 Vortex Diamondback HD 8x42

Why You Should Buy:

  • Great field of view

  • Impressive depth of field

  • Bright sharp images

  • High contrast

  • Super close focus

  • Locking diopter

  • Super ergonomics

  • Exterior lens coating

About $239 at both Optics Planet and Amazon

Best Budget Binoculars For Bird Watching – Binocular Reviews

1. Celestron Nature DX ED 8×42 Binoculars – Around $170

I love love love these, and I love the company Celestron, as do many other bird watching enthusiasts. In fact, I recommend these budget binoculars in my best bird watching binoculars for eyeglass wearers “Top 4 Recommendations” article.

The Celestron DX Nature line is a fantastic choice in this best budget binoculars for bird watching line-up. They are also popular with both novice and seasoned birders looking for an extra “travel” pair of birding binoculars. At this price point, I am amazed that the Celestrons provide many of the best features of more expensive binoculars.

Optics and Image Quality
For a super price, you get a 393 field of view, ED glass lenses, and BaK4 prism glass with phase and dielectric optical coatings. Images are bright and crisp without noticeable chromatic aberrations.

If in addition to bird watching, getting up close and personal with butterflies and other tiny creatures is your thing, the close focus of 6.5 has you covered.

This means that you get all of the bells and whistles of higher-end binoculars – I have no idea how Celestron pulled this off but it’s fantastic. A truly great value for the price.

There is a slight softening of the image at the edges of the field of view when looking at objects with straight lines. However, this is not obvious when birding. It might be because of the wide field of view – when you are focusing on an object, you are generally not paying attention to the edges of your image.

Binocular Eye Relief and Eyecups
The 17.8mm binocular eye relief and eyecups with 3 stops will work well for the birder who plans to wear glasses with binoculars. However, the eyecups have edges that are a bit flat and so they may be a tad harder against the eyes, especially during hours of bird watching (I am super sensitive so take that into account).

The eyecups also feel just a bit “iffy” – like they could easily break if the binoculars were dropped. They also feel somewhat loose when you twist them (birders who twist them a lot typically like more resistance). This might bug some people, but for me, it’s not a problem since I wear glasses with binoculars: I would fully retract them when birding and leave them in that position.

Additional Features
These binoculars can be mounted on a tripod via a binocular tripod adapter. As for the neck strap, it’s a bit on the flimsy side so you may want to consider getting a more sturdy one or using a shoulder harness.

Holy Gazoly. Love these! All in all, a super pair of budget binoculars for newbies, travelers, and budget-conscious seasoned birders. Really amazing value which is why they are a tie with the Vortex Diamondback HD binoculars.

2. Vortex Diamondback HD 8×42 Binoculars – Around $240

Vortex is another company I love. They provide many fantastic products for bird watching. In fact, I recommend their Viper HD 8×42 binoculars in my “Top 4 Binoculars for Birdwatching” article. They are actually recommended by the Audubon Society for binoculars in the under $300 range. These are definitely one of the best budget-friendly binoculars on the market.

Like Celestron, Vortex has a great rep as a trusted company within the birding community.

Optics and Image quality
Entry-level or not, these binoculars have an impressive array of features.

These have an excellent field of view of 393 at 1000 yards, so you can see a wide expanse from left to right when bird watching. The lenses are fully multi-coated as well which is a big plus. As for prism coatings, fantastic – dielectric phase correction coating corrects for chromatic aberration for more images that are true to color. This kind of coating is the best of its kind.

The HD lenses, combined with the full multicoating, provide beautifully clear and bright images, with clarity competing with even some higher-end best-in-class binoculars. In addition, clarity does not drop off towards the edge of the image, though it does degrade a bit at the far edges. The image is super bright as well. In low light, these binoculars do amazingly well for this price range.

Binocular Eye Relief and Eye Cups
As for eye relief – a healthy 17mm allows for long eye relief when wearing glasses with binoculars. Close focus is *outstanding* and comes in at 5. This is truly above and beyond and is one of the best close-focus numbers I have ever seen. If you love zooming in on small creatures like butterflies and salamanders, you will love these.

The exposed lenses are coated with super hard ArmorTek scratch-resistant coating, so you don’t have to worry about scratching and dirtying them with oil and crud. The binocular housing is coated with rugged rubber armor for added protection and durability.

Additional Features
Weight – As for weight, these are definitely one of the lightest binoculars in this range – only 21.8. Nice and compact. If you are petite like me, or have a tricky back, another big plus.

Focus Wheel Adjustment – The focus wheel on these binoculars is super smooth and easy to turn – it’s not too loose and not too resistant.

Ergonomics – The exterior of the two objective lens barrels is grooved so that you can comfortably grip the binoculars with your thumbs.

Shoulder strap of carrying case – In theory, I love the shoulder strap design of these! The binocular shoulder straps of this GlassPak Vortex binocular harness wrap around your shoulders and your waist, holding the binoculars firmly in place so they don’t bounce around.

In addition, when you remove the binoculars, there are straps that keep them tethered to the carrying case, so you don’t have to worry as much about dropping them. The objective lens covers are connected to the binoculars as well.

However, for a petite person like me, I find them a bit overwhelming for my frame and need something a bit more compact.

Neck strap – I wanted to mention the neck strap since I called out the ones on the Celestron binoculars for being a bit flimsy. In contrast to those, the neck strap on the Vortex Diamondback HD binoculars is very comfy when bird watching and feels more significant.


The Unlimited Lifetime Warranty is a big plus. Vortex will repair or replace these binoculars if they become damaged or defective, and will do so for free. No receipt is needed.

These Vortex Diamondback HD 8×42 binoculars are a wonderful selection as well! All in all, a super pair of binoculars for newbies, travelers, and budget-conscious seasoned birders.

Final Words on Best Budget Binoculars For Bird Watching With Glasses

The Celestron Nature DX ED and Vortex Diamondback HD 8×42 binoculars are great entry-level binoculars at the higher end of the budget binoculars category. These top picks provide excellent value since they have many features of more expensive mid-range binoculars. In their price category, I think they are both pretty exceptional. Just goes to show that you don’t need to spend a lot of money for a super viewing experience. For a relatively cheap price, you can do quite well!