Best Binoculars Under $200: We Reveal Our 7 Favorite Budget Bino's in 2020
Last Updated: October 23, 2020
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We know why you're here.
You're after something a little better than an entry-level binocular, but not quite enough that prices can get out of hand.
Lucky for you, we've filtered out all those that don't apply.
If you've got $200 or less to spend on binoculars, put your money where your mouth is and trap a quality binocular for a deal!
Below we showcase the best binoculars under $200 that are value for money.
Comparison Table: Best Hunting Binoculars Under $200
|Vortex Crossfire HD 12X50||CHECK PRICE|
|Bushnell Legend L Series 10x42||CHECK PRICE|
|Wingspan Phoenix Ultra HD 8X42||CHECK PRICE|
|Nikon Action Extreme 10X50 ATB||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold BX-1 McKenzie 10X42||CHECK PRICE|
|Vortex Diamondback HD 8X32||CHECK PRICE|
|Carson VP 8X42||CHECK PRICE|
Two hundred dollars is a lot of money, and it's even more so if it's your first-time buy. In this price range, you'll want to look for dependable binoculars that can get the job done, plus some.
Beginners and even intermediate hunters and Glasser’s will trap a great buy in this budget range. You don't have to spend more than this to ensnare something worth keeping for longer than you may anticipate.
A great new pair of binoculars by Vanguard just came out and are worth a mention. They are the VEO ED 10x42 binoculars and are worth taking a look at.
Expect to get "extra mile" quality when it comes to brands like Leupold, Nikon, and Bushnell. If this sounds good to you, let's dig right in!
The 7 Best Binoculars Under $200
1. Vortex Crossfire HD 12X50 Binoculars - Best Overall
If you didn't already know, the Crossfire line of binos were recently improved and released as the Crossfire HD series. What's the difference? We lay it out for you here.
- HD optics
- High power
- 50 mm apertures
- Same look to old model
If you thought you could pick out the new model against the old one, you might have a difficult time doing so. They look the same because essentially it is the same binocular. Few changes have been made, but it's the changes on the inside that counts.
The obvious and key upgrade is the optics from standard glass to Vortex's HD Optical System. This new tech must include fluoride elements in the glass that provides high-def image quality, reduced chromatic aberration, and improved resolution and color fidelity.
Getting a glass upgrade of this caliber isn't often seen in this price range, and Vortex kept it real by tagging the new Crossfire with the same retail price the old one sold for.
Any other upgrades? You bet. The HD model sports a slightly slimmer body with a 6.6 x 5.3 in size and 29.5 oz weight. With large 50 mm apertures and 12x magnification zoom, it's not bad at all.
The Crossfire series of optics has always been an affordable and yet high quality line. The old series were incredibly popular, and with the new one at the same old price, it's bound to be just as favored. This Vortex will be your affordable low-light champ, far-reaching sleuth, and lightweight hunting optical system.
2. Bushnell Legend L 10x42 Binoculars
The Legend L binocular is part of the Legend Ultra Collection, and the L series has a lot to boast about. In fact, with all its high-end features, it should cost more.
- ED Prime glass
- RainGuard HD
- Loose eyecups
It seems the Legend L binoculars exhibits a flaw - loose eyecups. The rubber cups around the eyepieces are prone to coming off when you remove the eye caps. It hasn't affected performance since you can simply attach them back on. Unfortunately, it's a common issue with many binoculars - not necessarily singular to Bushnell.
So, what's the good? Everything else! The very cheap binoculars not only have FMC optics, it also has ED Prime glass which consists of extra-low dispersion elements used to provide HD quality and reduce color fringing. It also allows for sharp resolution and true color fidelity to see the world better.
The objective lenses also feature a protective coating, RainGuard HD. Used to repel rain drops, snow, and sleet, you should always have a reasonable sight picture even in the harshest weather conditions.
But, it wouldn't be able to stay out in that type of weather if it wasn't fog and waterproof which it is. Only 5.5" in length and 23.5 oz, it's right in line with compact and lightweight full-size binoculars of the day.
With a decent field of view of 340 yards and long eye relief of 18 mm, eye glass wearers, bird watchers, hunters, and professionals can find plenty of use for them. With such a low price for high-end features in the Bushnell binoculars, you'll be left feeling like you've ripped them off!
3. Wingspan Phoenix Ultra HD 8X42 Binoculars - Best Value
- Everything You Desire In Bird Watching Binoculars - Durable, Fully Multi-Coated Lenses, ED glass, Waterproof, Fog Proof, Phase Correction Coated Prism, Close Focus and a...
Wingspan Optics caters to the avid birdwatcher, and the popular Phoenix Ultra HD binoculars are the pick of the day - not just by us, but by the masses.
- ED Glass
- Close focus
- Eye relief
It seems birdwatchers are after a very lightweight pair of birding binoculars, but when you go up in aperture to 42 mm VS 32 mm, you're accepting the trade off in weight. This pair is slightly lighter than other 8X42 models but can be heavy at 1 lb 6 oz to carry around for prolonged glassing sessions.
However, you might be willing to tote the weight once you've seen through the glass. It has ED glass elements for HD image quality and phase correction coating on the prisms. What does this amount to? Reduced chromatic aberration and the brighter image that you'll need to study the plumage to identify bird species.
If you have a bird feeder in the garden, you'll be able to focus down to 2 m to watch the hummingbirds enjoy their sugar water. It's not the most impressive close focus distance, but it doesn't cost 3x the price either.
With eye relief of 17.8 mm, it might be just enough for eye glass wearers to use with their specs on. The wide field of view is right on par for its 8x42 configuration with 393 ft/1000 yards.
While the binoculars come with a seemingly attractive Premium No Fault No Hassle Lifetime Warranty, we feel a little deceived. It's non-transferable, you must provide proof of purchase, and you're responsible for shipping costs. It seems it's no different to any other standard limited warranty - so much for the fancy, silver medal promoting its warranty coverage.
For the price, the binoculars are a good buy if you know the value in ED glass and specialized coatings that enhance image quality to the demands required for avid bird watchers. At under $200, it's a top buy.
4. Nikon Action Extreme 10x50 ATB Binoculars
Many binocular collections within the Nikon brand have come and gone, but these binoculars under $200 have withstood the test of time. Still in trend, the Porro design of the Action Extreme proves to be a selling point for the brand.
- Porro prism
- BaK4 glass
Porro prism binoculars have the offset eyepieces and objective lenses with the eyepieces closer together and the objectives set wider apart. It's all due to how the prisms are assembled, and believe it or not, in its assembly alone, it's optically superior to entry-level and basic roof prism binos. All internal prism surfaces are reflective, so light loss is kept to a minimum.
Porro binos of ancient days were traditionally made with BK7 glass, but this model sports BaK4 glass. The Porro bino also allows for greater depth perception, and with the 6.5-degree angular field of view, you'll have plenty of sight image to follow and track birds on land and on shore.
But, Porros have a reputation of being heavy and larger than their roof prism counterparts. It remains true with the Action Extreme weighing in at 36 oz and is 7 x 7.7" in size. In the past, they were difficult to waterproof, and so a roof prism was invented to provide a compact, lightweight, and waterproof binocular. However, Nikon has been able to fill the binocular with nitrogen and waterproof it to withstand the weather realities of all your outdoor adventures.
After all this, the Action Extreme truly is ready for action. To bird watch, explore the seas, and sightsee, the Porro binocular is ready for adventure.
5. Leupold BX-1 McKenzie 10x42 Binoculars
The best binoculars under $200 are the ones with features that set them apart from the rest. In this case, the BX-1 McKenzie is a high-performing optic with a specialized prism coating that makes all the difference - and it is actually under $150!
- Phase coatings
- Excellent IPD
- Eye relief
Cheap roof prism binoculars may brag about high performance, but without the specialized coatings necessary to boost light transmission in a prism assembly that does not have internally reflective surfaces, all you're left with is just a cheap bino.
Fortunately, Leupold understands this and equipped their affordable line of BX-1s with phase coated prisms. This enhances light transmission to make up for light loss, and it provides sharper resolution with edge-to-edge clarity.
The McKenzie is lightweight at 22 oz and is 5.8" long. With its rubberized body for better hand grip and compact build, it's an ergonomic binocular comfortable and light enough to use for prolonged glassing sessions.
While eye strain isn't caused by the FMC optics or even the very wide IPD range of 56-74 mm that can come down for narrow faces, it may be caused from struggling with the short eye relief of only 13.7 mm on the high end. This is no good for eye glass wearers, and we can only imagine how unforgiving it will be with eyecups all the way out.
Speaking of eyecups, they are twist-up, multi-position cups. For the low price, we would have expected even cheaper fold-up types, but fortunately it's not the case. Other features include its fog and waterproof construction, smooth focusing for fine adjustments, and a heavily knurled center focus wheel you can use with gloves on.
The McKenzie may be simple and affordable, but it's no "cheap" binocular as that word is often associated with junk. With quality in its fundamental features to provide benefits that a hunter, bird watcher, or recreational outdoorsman will need, the BX-1 is a high-quality, bargain buy.
6. Vortex Diamondback HD 8X32 Binocular
What do you need in a lightweight pair of binoculars for bird watching? Excellent glass and image quality, usable magnification, and a wide field of view. With the HD upgrade in the Diamondback series, the 8x32 model is now better suited for bird watching. The low price under $200 makes the buy even sweeter.
- HD optical system
- Wide FOV
- Tripod adaptable
- No aesthetic changes from old model
There are no flaws on the upgraded and new Diamondback HD binoculars. They are the improved version of the recently discontinued Diamondback series which had image quality issues. But, Vortex listened and equipped the new line with many new features.
But, it's hard to tell the difference between the short-hinge binoculars since the only apparent change is the branding on the barrel from "Diamondback" to "Vortex." The lack of change in its physical and aesthetic appeal is not necessarily a bad thing. Why fix it if there's nothing wrong with it in the first place?
So, what are the upgrades? The new Diamondback HD has an HD optical system to reduce chromatic aberration and enhance resolution and color rendition. This is an excellent feature for birders who want to examine and view a bird's plumage as close to its true form as possible.
It also has dielectric coatings on the prisms and an external ArmorTek coating that protects the objectives with an ultra-hard, scratch-proof surface. For a smaller configuration, it has an excellent field of view of 426 ft/1000 yards. Following those fast-flying flocks is a non-issue if you can keep up. Mount it to a tripod and you'll have the steadiest image to follow, inspect, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Although not expected, if you have any issues with your new pair of binos, rest assured it's covered by the best warranty in the industry, the Vortex VIP Warranty. Heard rumors about how good it is? It's all true.
7. Carson VP 8X42 Binoculars
Are you a recreational binocular user? Do plan on using your binos for everything from hunting, bird watching, and surveillance? The VP series is your multi-functional line of binos. Stick with the 8x42 to get the best benefits and the best price.
- Wide FOV
- FMC optics
- Phase coating
For a pair of 8x42 binoculars, they're somewhat on the heavy end weighing 24.6 oz (1.54 lbs). However, it's comparable in weight to a pair of full-size 10x42s, so it's not bad at all.
The larger 42 mm objectives allow for a lot of light to pass through the tubes than 32 mm apertures, and with 8x magnification, the field of view is a wide 393 ft/1000 yards. With FMC optics and prisms layered with a phase coating, the binoculars allow for a high rate of light transmission for a bright and clear sight picture.
The VP is fog and waterproof, has 17 mm of eye relief, and a minimum focusing distance of 6.6 feet. It has the its basic features covered with a knurled center focus wheel, adjustable IPD, multi-position eyecups, and adjustable diopter. They come with a neoprene neck strap, carry/storage case, rainguard, and tethered objective lens caps.
As an entry-level, easy to use bino with some upgrades to the optics, it's impressive to see it priced so low at well under $200. All its features work together to make it a versatile optic for everyday use whether you're watching wildlife, hiking, hunting, or fishing.
Even though this is one of the most affordable binoculars in the VP line, it's still backed by Carson's No Fault, No Hassle Warranty.
What to Look for in the Binoculars Under $200
It's almost not fair, but in this price range, you can see a huge quality jump from $100 to $200. You're getting a lot more bang for your buck with that extra hundo. However, it's too bad that a lot of the time, you might think you're getting a quality binocular just because of the brand name. When it face-slams the dirt, you're out of luck.
Don't be ignorant and settle for the first brand that you think has their stuff together. Do a little digging and you might be surprised. But, what are you digging for? Let's help you shovel out the crud from the gold by sifting through the features you want to see on the best binoculars under 200 dollars.
Glass sources will vary between manufacturers, and this may be the entry-level market for many big-name brands. By being brand specific, you'll be able to depend on quality glass for clear, sharp, and bright images.
However, to reduce aberrations such as fish-eye lens, blurriness at the edges, dark edges in the field of view, and color fringing, additional glass elements may be needed. You may start seeing technologies in this price range that market ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass, HD (High Definition) optical systems, and wide broadband and field-flattener lenses to improve image quality.
But, these technologies do not have industry standard specs, so one brand may produce better results than another with the same glass elements or marketed terms of glass products.
It wasn't long ago that coatings in this price range were only multi-coated. Now, as the market gets even more competitive, you should be seeing FMC (Fully Multi-coated) optics. Since this quality of coating is now being layered on binoculars for less than 200 bucks, don't consider anything less than FMC.
If binoculars have a roof prism design, look for additional prism coatings such as phase correction coatings and dielectric coatings. This helps to make up for the internal glass surfaces in the roof prism where the most light loss occurs.
Fortunately, as glass elements are being introduced with binos in this budget, we're also seeing these specialized coatings enter this price range too. With the availability of binos with this tech, demand the best coatings.
Generally, the higher in power you go, the higher the price tag jumps. Fortunately, there are many available magnification ranges in this price range. If you're being brand specific, authoritative brands may offer a higher-powered binocular for under $200 in their price-attractive collections, usually considered entry-level.
Some generic brands will top out their "high-end" binoculars in this price range, but you must consider glass and coating quality. If the optics can't keep up with the demands of high power, magnification benefits will be made invalid.
Very high-powered binoculars must be tripod compatible since it can be difficult to steady your hands and the optic at 10x and above - be on the lookout for its ability to be mounted.
On the other end, low powered binoculars often have small apertures. The upside is it's lightweight and compact package. The downside is it doesn't allow enough light in to provide clear, bright sight picture quality. The same is true for high powered binos with small apertures such as a 10x25. 8-10x magnification is considered the most versatile, short to long-ranging power range for most applications.
The short of it is, most binoculars will work for users that don't have vision problems and don't wear glasses. But, if it has less than 13 mm of eye relief, it's going to get uncomfortable to glass with as you may have to press the cups to your brows.
Eye glass wearers mustn't compromise on binoculars with less than 15 mm at the very least. Longer is better in this case, and 20 is excellent and provides a lot of room. Of course, this rule can be applied to those who wear sunglasses.
As the quality in the optics are getting better, expect the same in build construction. There are still binoculars out there that are not fog or waterproof, and this is unacceptable for hunters whose seasons are usually in the cold months. To prevent moisture from seeping into the optics and introducing bacteria and condensation problems, you must demand fog and waterproof durability.
Not all binoculars will be built strong enough to withstand the rigors of a hunt. Take a recreational daytime binocular - it's good enough to handle some light sprinkling, but a drop from a tree stand? No way. Shockproof builds are vital to provide a long-lasting binocular where you can trust that optic assemblies and parts stay in place as they're supposed to.
The best warranties are going to be from the big-name brands like Leupold and Vortex. Binoculars can fail, and when they do, you want it to be backed by a quality warranty so you can keep on glassing without out of pocket expenses. Unlimited, transferable, and no receipt required are the hallmarks of the best warranties.
Unfortunately, in this price range, most warranties will be limited lifetime, non-transferable, and will require that you keep your original proof of purchase. Don't forget, you may need to register your binocular within a certain window of time.
Extra Quality for an Extra $100!
Just upping the game with an extra $100 more can buy you a ton of extra quality. Keep your eyes peeled for luxury perks that may present themselves in the durability of the binocular, the quality of the glass, or the optical features for an optimal buy.
Going for that extra mile will cost you, but a pair of $200 binoculars can be a lifetime buy with the right brand and the right know-how. Get up to date on our full reviews and guide if you plan on making the most of your dollar!