Binoculars below $500 are still a great price point. You don’t need to spend thousands to get good bins for your favorite activities. You’re in the mid-range for binoculars when you’re around that price.
There might be a few features you’ll have to give up when you’re not spending thousands. Fortunately, it’s not as many as you would expect. There are bins with multi-coated lenses. Many are lightweight, compact, and high quality. In fact, even if you have the budget for super expensive ones, you’ll want to stick to this price.
Reviews for binoculars are essential to picking the right ones for your activities. It should be able to perform for things like hunting as well as watching sports. Low-light bins are not out of your price range, either. There are some truly decent choices, and we have them all here for you.
Table of Contents
- Best Binoculars Under $500 Comparison Table
- Top 5 Binoculars Under 500 Review
Best Binoculars Under $500 Comparison Table
|Nikon 7548 MONARCH 7||8 x 42||Yes||20.8 Oz|
|Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5||10 x 42||Yes||21.6 Oz|
|Athlon Optics Midas UHD||8 x 42||Yes||25 Oz|
|Upland Optics Perception||10 x 42||Yes||23 Oz|
|Vortex Optics Diamondback||8 x 42||Yes||21.8 Oz|
Top 5 Binoculars Under 500 Review
Nikon is the same company bringing cameras to the public. The lenses that cameras and bins have in common are where the company excels. They have some really great glass to keep dispersion down and make objects clearer and sharper. These bins carry light without distortion unlike some other types of binoculars.
- 8x magnification
- 42 mm objective lens
- Roof prism
- ED glass
- Anti-reflection coated optics
- 420′ field of view
The Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass reduces the aberrations you’d normally see in binoculars. The colors will be true to real life. If you see a red bird with your naked eye, the bird will be a true red in the bins. It’ll also bring you a sharp image with no fuzz around the edges. The magnification is 8x, which is a good amount for viewing.
At 1000 yards, you’ll be able to see across a wide field of view. You’ll be able to see across 420 feet. That’s a wide distance giving you the ability to see objects without missing out. There’s a large center focus wheel for focusing on the fly with precision. The eyecups can be twisted out of the way for glasses.
The distance between the eyes can be adjusted as needed. It ranges from 56 mm to 72 mm. There’s a dioptric adjustment on the right eyepiece. This will help you with any kind of eye adjustments you require. It also has an eye relief of 17.1 mm. That reduces eye strain and makes it more comfortable for long view times.
The Nikon Monarch 7 is a great set of bins much like you’d expect in a model costing hundreds more. It has incredible features like the wide field of view. This can be used for a variety of outdoor activities.
It’s really great for watching birds from your balcony then grabbing them on the go for a trip. They’re letting in a ton of light, so you could even use them at dawn or dusk for hunting. There’s pretty much nothing these bins can’t do.
I’ve taken these with me everywhere. I do a ton of traveling. I haven’t missed the animals on my hikes, whales off the side of a boat, or even birds in my backyard. Friends have borrowed these for sports events and raved about the clear images.
The eye covers don’t fit as snugly as one might expect. The covers are constantly falling off. To fix that problem, I purchased my own covers.
Nikon has such great bins. It’s hard to not add more than one to the list. The Monarch 5 is an earlier model compared to the Monarch 7 reviewed previously. Wondering which you should choose? Hopefully, these reviews will help. First, let’s start with the magnification.
- 10x magnification
- 42 mm lenses
- Roof prism
- Field of view 288′
- Eye relief 18.4 mm
- ED glass
This Monarch 5 has 10x magnification. The lenses are 42 mm. The lenses are fully coated to bring in more light. The coatings stop light from reflecting off the glass, which brings more light into the bins. You’re getting a clearer, bigger image. The ED glass allows all the colors to be true as in real life.
The field of view for the Monarch 5 is 288 feet. While that’s lower than the Monarch 7, you’re still not going to miss anything. The wide field of view will make for great viewing all the way out to 1000 yards. You can narrow down the view to see objects at 10x magnification.
Eye relief is where you’re getting a better deal in the Monarch 5s. It’s higher than the 7s. The rubber eyecups are comfortable for long viewing, and they can be adjusted by turning and sliding. There’s a big focus wheel on top. You can adjust your view even with gloves on.
I’m a great lover of all binoculars. More than one pair goes into my pack for my travel. This one is what I had for years before the upgrade, and still find that I need it in my pack. It’s not a bin that I’d toss.
It’s a waterproof, fogproof, and durable set of bins. The Monarch 5 fits perfectly in my hand and has been with me across the world. It’s often the bin that I’ll share with others. It’s intuitive and works without any knowledge of bins at all.
This is a fantastic binocular with all the features you’d expect from a Nikon. The lenses are clear and don’t have a halo of weird colors around objects. They can be used with or without eyeglasses, too.
There’s no adapter on the bottom of this for use with a tripod. It shouldn’t be a problem since the bins are pretty lightweight for holding long periods of time.
Athlon Optics takes pride in its engineering team. They design all the optics the company uses for binoculars as well as scopes. The reason they can keep their prices low is because they have a good supply chain for their goods. The company passes their savings to the customer.
- 8x magnification
- 42 mm lenses
- BAK4 Roof prism
- FOV: 426′ at 1000 yards
- Eye relief 17.2 mm
- Weight 25 ounces
The bins have 8x magnification and 42 mm lenses. The magnification will bring even the smallest bird into clear focus. The 42 mm lens allows plenty of light into the binos. It’s much like a camera, the more light and the better your image. The bins have ED glass with multiple coatings. That reduces the amount of chromatic aberration. There won’t be weird halos around objects.
These bins are fantastic for low-light situations. The BAK4 roof prisms, lens width, and coatings will ensure there is plenty of light, and it’s fully utilized for the image. The field of view is quite generous at 1000 yards. It’s 426 feet, which is the widest of the bins so far.
Waterproof and fogproof is an important feature – especially if you plan on using these outdoors. It can change temperature between the outdoors and indoors. To go from air conditioned interiors to humid outdoors, leads to condensation. These bins are full of argon gas. The lenses are sealed with o-rings, too.
These bins have a grip on the sides. The textured grip ensures that you won’t drop them even if your hands are wet. If you don’t want to hold them, there is an adapter on the bottom for a tripod.
The coating on the outside of the lenses stop reflections, so you get more light. They have phase-correcting coatings, too. It removes much of the color problem and make images very sharp and clear.
The wide field of view is impressive. I’ve seen it in action, and you really can see a wide view. It’s easy to pick your target then narrow in for a better image. These bins have performed beautifully in the wild as well as a sports stadium.
The center focusing knob tends to feel strange when turning. It has been greased to make the movement smooth. Over time, this will settle and the wheel stays easy to turn.
The company was founded by two men who love to hunt. They wanted optics for that particular activity. They’re serious hunters and created the company for other hunters who are serious about their bins. Optics help hunters be more successful. It doesn’t mean these can’t be used for other activities, though.
- 10x magnification
- 42 mm lens
- Field of view: 330 feet
- Waterproof and fogproof
- Eye relief 15.2 mm
- Weight: 1.44 pounds
- BaK-4 Roof prism
With these Perception bins, it’s 10x magnification with 42 mm lenses. The lenses are ED glass for viewing without losing light to reflections. They have a BaK-4 Roof prism. The prisms have dielectric and phase-correction coatings. There are lens covers built directly into the bins.
Field of view with these bins are quite good. At 1000 yards, you’re getting 330 feet. You can look deep into the trees with this FOV. It’s easy to see a wide plane then narrow in on the target. They’re solid and have a slight texture to the casing. It’s on the heavy side for bins, but they are compact.
The casing is also waterproof and fogproof. The lenses won’t get condensation in them. Even if you’re sitting in a blind waiting for hours in a drizzly rain, water won’t get into the casing. A rugged case ensures a durable set of bins for years to come.
These hunting bins have great optics. They’re clear and the object of viewing has crisp outlines. There are no fuzzy edges or a halo of red or green. There’s definitely plenty of light getting into this bin.
That’s going to be a definite plus if you want to use these at dusk or dawn. It takes the existing light and really uses it for image clarity. Under the canopy of trees, it’s the difference between finding a target or waiting longer.
It’s a surprise that more binocular manufacturers don’t attach the lens covers directly to the case. You don’t have to keep track of the rubber pieces or worry that they’re going to fall off. A definite plus.
Advertised as a hunting bin, there is really nothing to set it apart from all-purpose bins. It’s not really a concern, but just to make note of that fact.
Vortex Optics is a company bringing you riflescopes, mounts, rangefinders, and spotting scopes. They’re dedicated to the world of hunting. This is another set of bins that are made for hunters, but can be used by anyone. Don’t let the fact it’s for hunters cause confusion.
- 8x magnification
- 42 mm lens
- Field of view: 393 feet at 1000 yards
- Close focus distance 5 feet
- Eye relief 17 mm
- Interpupillary distance 55 to 75 mm
- Roof prism
The features making it good for hunting also make it good for other activities. It’s 8x magnification and lens diameter of 42 mm are quite good. It has the ability to turn low light into bright, crisp images. That’s one of the reasons it’s so good for hunting. It’s also great for birdwatching, safaris, and cruise trips.
Sports events and concerts are other events where these will be an asset, too. They have a wide field of view. At 1000 yards, you’ll be able to see 393 feet across. That’s the entire stage at a concert or play. You won’t need the big television they provide when you have bins like these.
For outdoor use, the bins are waterproof and fogproof. You won’t get any moisture inside the lenses because they are protected with o-rings. It was purged with nitrogen gas to remove moisture. There won’t be any condensation. The case itself is made of a durable, non-slip armored rubber.
One of the biggest pluses for these bins is the close view of 5 feet. You might be surprised at what you’ll need to see at a distance of 5 feet. It’s a great asset for birdwatching. You can narrow in on any bird in your backyard.
It’s also good for hunting. You’ll be able to see anything from 5 feet towards 1000 yards out, which is a huge distance. It’s likely more than you even need for shooting. The knob is easy to use one handed while you look for a target.
The eyecups can be adjusted as you need them. They’ll accommodate eyeglasses and give you a long eyerelief. The bins are compact and able to fit in any bag for travel, hiking, or hunting.
These bins weigh 1.57 pounds, which is heavier than others on this list. Over time, it can begin to feel like you’re holding 5 pound weights up to your eyes. It’s easier for hunters since they can lay prone and hold the bins using their elbows for balance.
What to Consider Before Purchasing the Best Binoculars Under $500
It seems like a lot of money, but there are some binoculars that range in the thousands. You’ll need to think about what you need for your money. There are some features you absolutely can’t live without. Consider where you’ll use these the most when making your decision.
You might be thinking the more magnification you have, the better your image. There’s more in play here than the magnification. It comes down to the lens width, coatings, and exit pupil, too. The combination is what gives you the best image.
All of those features will determine how much light you’ll get in your bins. Like a camera, the amount of light you let into the lens is what will help you get a crisp, sharp image. Magnification power matters, but not as much as you might think. Stick to 8x or 10x. You’ll see everything you want.
Lens and Coatings
As mentioned, the lenses allow light into the bins for clarity of the image. The type of prism will influence that, too. When there’s glare and reflection on the lens, you’re not getting as much light into the bins.
In this price range, you’re going to be able to find many bins with multiple coatings. One of them should take care of the glare from reflections. It allows better light transmission into the bins. It helps with low-light situations, too.
Field of View
Binoculars have a standard distance where they’re measured to see what the FOV is. It refers to the width of the area you can see through the lens. At 1000 yards, the bins are measured.
The magnification can actually lower the field of view. Keep that in mind when checking out the binoculars under 500. An 8×42 is going to have a wider FOV than a 10×42.
The size and weight usually go hand-in-hand. You’ll want to think about the weight when it comes to packing the binos on trips. If you’re hiking, it’s an important consideration, too. You’ll be holding it in a backpack that grows heavier as you walk longer.
Usually at this price point, bins can be full size or mid size. The activity is what will influence your decision here. If you’re hunting, the weight won’t really matter as much as if you’re hiking.
Eye Relief for Glasses
Even if you don’t wear glasses, you’re likely wearing sunglasses outside. The term eye relief is the distance between your eye and the eyepiece. You want a long distance to keep your eyes comfortable while viewing.
If you wear glasses, you definitely want to have a long eye relief. They usually range from 15 mm to 17 mm. You can place your glasses right against the eyecup and still see through the lens.
Waterproof and Fogproof
Most bins are waterproof and fogproof, but some are not. It’s a feature that you definitely want if you’re going to be outside. If you don’t pay attention to waterproofing versus water resistant, you could end up with bins that don’t work.
Fogproof means they’ve been sealed with nitrogen to eliminate water and oxygen inside them. They should have o-rings to keep water out, too. Condensation can be a real issue, which make the lenses useless.
There can be a real gap between good bins and bad ones under 500. You want to make sure you’re getting the best binoculars under 500 without missing the needed features. Think about what you’ll be doing with the bins.
Birdwatching, hunting, hiking, and sports events all need a variety of features. Birdwatching needs a lower close distance for viewing. Hunting bins should be compact. Hiking and sports events might need a lighter set of binoculars.
Overall, there are some really good bins in this price range. You should be able to find really great bins that are not going to break the bank. It would be hard to enjoy the activity if you have a bad set of bins.