You probably need new binoculars or a scope. If so, we’ve got you covered. Just call.
by Andy Griswold, EcoTravel Director
May 7, 2020 — Time to upgrade those binoculars? Need a spotting scope? Need a gift? The birds are here, with more on their way. No time like the present!
Call at 860-767-0660 to discuss or to place an order.
It is important to know that the old adage of “you get what you pay for” is completely true with purchasing optics. Establish a budget that reflects the most you can afford and it will be money well spent.
Connecticut Audubon is a dealer for Swarovski and Vortex, whose equipment ranges widely in price. Both companies offer great warranties. Swarovski makes the best optics in the world and are what most serious birders are using (and the last binocular or scope you will ever need to buy). If Swarovski fits your budget, this is the route to go. You’ll not regret your purchase for a second.
For adult beginning birders, we don’t recommend spending anything less than about $500 for a binocular, since it won’t stand the test of time and the quality of the image will not be up to basic standards.
Binocular magnifications recommended for birding and nature viewing are the 8 or 8.5 powers. The objective lens size, the lens closest to the object at which you are looking, should be 40mm or 42mm. These two factors, magnification and objective lens size, determine the best balance of magnification, light transmission, depth of field, width of field, and the ability to hold the binocular steady (a function of size and weight).
Magnifications of 10 or more are too hard to hold steady because of reduced width and depth of field. Objective lenses of 50mm or larger will bring more light to your eye, but a binocular of this size is large, heavy, and cumbersome.
Other big variables are the quality of the glass and the coatings on the glass. Swarovski has the best. The difference in glass between quality and lesser optics is like the difference between a regular color TV and an HD color TV. Significant.
Below are binocular recommendations in the following price categories. Prices reflect a 10% or better discount.
Swarovski EL 8.5×42 $2,659 Highest Recommendation! Very bright! Nothing better! No regrets!
Swarovski EL 8×32 $2,199 Great quality. More compact and lighter than the 42s.
Swarovski SLC 8x42WB $1,549 Nice price alternative! A bit heavier than the ELs.
Swarovski CL Companion 8×30 $1,189 Smaller, more compact, and less weight than the ELs. Not quite as bright.
Vortex Razor UHD 8×42 $1,450 Their top of the line. Best in this price category.
Vortex Razor HD 8×42 $980 Best binocular dollar-for-dollar!
Vortex Viper HD 8×42 $490 Best in its price category.
Vortex Diamondback 8×42 $220 Entry level. Good for kids.
The best scopes available are made by Swarovski. Their top to the line is the ATX 95mm. If this fits your budget, you’ll be forever grateful for having such a wonderful piece of equipment. It will allow you to take great digital images, too, even with just your smart phone.
Here is our list of scope suggestions. Prices reflect a 10% or better discount.
Swarovski ATX 95mm $4,428. No better! Great for digital imaging with your camera or cell phone.
Swarovski ATX 85mm $4,088. If you are this close, go with the 95mm! Lighter in weight than the 95mm.
Swarovski ATS 80mm $2,978. Great at the price!
Vortex Razor 85mm $1,600. Very good for the price!
Vortex Viper 85mm $900. Nice price point!
Vortex Diamondback 80mm. $500 For a tight budget.
The Vortex Razor 85mm is a fine scope in its price category, but if you can invest for one of the Swarovski scopes, it will be well worth it for better image clarity. Again, the difference is in the quality of the glass and coatings.
Swarovski tripods range from $1,348 to $1,578 with carbon fiber legs. A tripod from Vortex is $200. It’s an excellent value, and in all honesty, works well.
Please, be in touch with questions or to place your order. We can drop ship the order to your location and have it in your hands usually within two or three business days.
All proceeds from our optics sales help to support Connecticut Audubon Society and our mission of environmental education.