Having a pair of binoculars handy can give you access to different sceneries that you could not witness with the naked eye. This would be particularly helpful for photographers who need to settle upon a certain spot in order to get a formidable shot, for this we’ve chosen the best binoculars under 100.
Of course, anybody can use binoculars for various purposes, from star and sky-gazing and photography to going hunting, bird watching or simply having fun by looking around.
There’s a slight chance that, if you search for binoculars on the Internet, you’ll be pointed toward the most expensive pieces ever created. Here’s a secret: binoculars don’t have to cost hundreds of dollars to be high-quality.
You can get a more-than-decent pair for less than $100 and you’d end up with a great product. We’ve compiled this guide for you, in case you don’t know what brands and models you should go for.
We will also provide a selection of 5 binoculars you should take into consideration, including our top pick, the Nikon 8217 Trailblazer. All these binoculars we’re about to introduce you to can be purchased with a minimal expenditure. The ultimate purchasing decision is totally yours, though.
Our Top Choices
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Nikon 8217 Trailblazer 8×25 ATB Binocular
When it comes to optics and related products, there’s no better manufacturer than Nikon. These are fully waterproof, as well as fog proof thanks to the multicoated lenses that also account for the unbelievable clarity of the image.
With an 8x magnification and an objective diameter of 25 mm, you can rest assured they’ll allow you to see a lot of things. The problem with many binoculars is that they are very heavy, thus it can get very uncomfortable to wear them for prolonged periods of time.
The Trailblazer weighs just 0.75 pounds. The FOV on this pair is absolutely exceptional: a whopping 429 feet, more than the FOV of binoculars that cost twice as much as these. If you want a pair of binos with a wide field of view but you don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend, these are a perfect choice.
The body is armored with rugged rubber, so the risk of having them slip from your hands, even if it’s raining, is almost inexistent. The binoculars feature a roof prism system and turn-and-slide type eyecups.
If you want to store them in your backpack, you can easily fold them, and you won’t even feel like they’re there since they are so lightweight. All things considered, these are undoubtedly the best binoculars you can get for less than $100.
The fact that they’re Nikon kind of says it all, given that this brand never lets customers down. You won’t find a better pair of binos with the same price-quality ratio, that’s a guarantee.
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Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 8×42 Binocular (Black)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that our second top choice for the best binoculars under 100 is a Nikon, too. You can’t help but see that the objective lens on this pair is bigger than that on the Trailblazer, clocking at 42 mm. The resolution, subsequently, is greater, as well.
This pair features aspherical lenses – these clear out the image by removing that annoying image distortion that occurs at the periphery of the lenses. Just like the Trailblazer, these are also protected by a tough, rugged armor made of rubber.
You can drop them accidentally and they wouldn’t get a scratch. They are somehow bulgy but manage to remain comfortable. With such great objective lens, the A2111 are ideal for watching wildlife.
Hunters would definitely enjoy having these. One downside of the ACULON is the weight: 2.38 pounds. They are a lot heavier than the previous model, but it’s a natural consequence of being equipped with such large objectives.
The images they provide are crystal-clear and the FOV is pretty generous, too: 140 m (roughly 459 feet). They’re not HD by definition, but they’re certainly inching towards that.
The Nikon ACULON is a great pair of binoculars, albeit it comes with a few shortcomings. It is suitable for bird and wildlife watching, but it can so happen that some models are difficult to focus, especially with only one finger. However, this is not a generality.
All in all, this is a good purchase, as long as you don’t mind them being so heavy and a tad pricier than the Trailblazer.
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Celestron 71198 Cometron 7×50 Binoculars
With a 7x magnification capability and objective lens size of 50 mm, the Celestron Cometron is that kind of product that sells for such a price that many people will think it’s too good to be true.
Fortunately, they are as fantastic as they look. Since they have a Porro type of prism and multicoated lenses, they’re easy to use and provide an astonishing image. Their lenses recommend them as ideal for stargazing or looking at meteor showers, whenever those occur.
The Cometron have an apparent FOV of 6,80 & a FOV of 357 feet + a close focus of 8 meters. They are water-resistant – do not mistake this for “waterproof”, which is an entirely different thing. Let’s assume that a few raindrops fall on it. In this case, they’ll be just fine.
Drop them in a pool of water, however, and you might damage them forever. The outer shell of the binoculars is made of aluminum, which is a quite unique feature to have on binos that cost somewhere in the range of $35.
The price and the objective lens size of the Cometron are its two main strongest points. If you’re into astronomy and can’t afford a much more expensive pair of binoculars, the Cometron aren’t half bad.
They are very efficient in low light conditions and even if their FOV isn’t that satisfying, you’ll still be able to see a great deal with them. They weigh 2 pounds, so they’re pretty sizeable. If that’s not a problem for you, then get them by all means.
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Celestron SkyMaster 25×70 Binoculars
Let’s start this by asking you a question: would you believe us if we told you that you can get a pair of binos with 25x magnification for less than $100. Probably not. The answer is “Yes, yes you can”.
These are called “SkyMaster” for very good reasons. Right off the bat, they’ve got an objective lens of 70 mm. No matter if you use them during the day or at night, the image will stay sharp and clear.
By having an eye relief of 13 mm and a close focus of 75 feet, the SkyMaster will be comfortable for glass-wearers. The amount of light that the multicoated lens can capture is impressive and has a huge impact on the brightness of the image, even during the night.
To some extent, this is more of a compact spotting scope than a pair of binoculars, since the optical quality they’re endowed with is simply mind-blowing, especially when you go back and look at the price.
You will have observed that a pair of binos with a Porro prism instead of a roof prism is usually more high-performance, but this comes at the cost of them being lightweight. A Porro prism almost automatically increases the weight of the product.
At least the SkyMaster have such astonishing features that they’re still worth it in spite of the fact that they weigh 3.25 pounds. This pair is wholeheartedly recommended to both casual and professional stargazers, provided they don’t mind its weight.
You cannot purchase binoculars with more features than these in this price range.
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Nikon 8252 ACULON A211 10-22×50 Zoom Binocular
These, too, come with a Porro prism and multicoated lenses, like all the other best binoculars under 100 we’ve presented until now. They have huge 50 mm objectives and – this is perhaps their best trait yet – an adjustable magnification that can go from 10x to 22x with the turn of a knob.
The eye relief is adjustable as well and the rubber eyecups feel very comfortable. It doesn’t matter if the environment in which you’re using these is quite dark; the image will always stay as bright as possible.
The rubber armor ensures that the binoculars stay “grippy” and are protected against all sorts of shocks. If you’re into wildlife photography or you just like to watch animals from a safe distance, the A211 are the perfect binoculars for that.
Sure, you can watch just about anything you want with the A211, there are no limits to it. If you want, you can mount the A211 on a tripod, in order to have a more stable image. These ACULON binoculars have a 66 m angular FOV at 1.000 m and a close focus distance of 15 m.
Once again, the Porro prism accounts for their weight: 52 ounces (about 3 pounds) – they’re relatively heavy so using them for a long time or even wearing them around your neck for long is kind of out of the question.
The ACULON 10-22×50 Zoom are a good purchase as long as you don’t have a bone to pick with their size and weight. We daresay that their incredible Zoom feature is well-worth every dime.
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What Can We See?
Nikon’s 8217 Trailblazer is a quite compact binocular, but this doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. Thanks to the 8x magnification power and 25 mm objectives, they allow you to enjoy distant landscapes that you might not be able to see with the naked eye.
For instance, you could bring a mountain range closer to your view, even if you’re theoretically very far away from it.
They were purposefully created for traveling but can be used for hunting, too. The specs are just about enough to provide a clear image of far-flung prey. The Nikon A2111 8×42, on the other hand, have 42mm objectives, so they’re a tad more proficient than the Trailblazer.
These are perfect for photographers because they make it easier to find the subjects. Let’s suppose you’re out for photographing birds. Needless to say, they won’t come out of a tree’s crown for you.
In this case, you can use the A211 to spot them and then take your photo. These are suitable for watching wildlife in general, due to the huge aperture, as well as for birding and hiking. As mentioned previously, they’re almost HD.
The Celestron Cometron have been built for watching comets, meteorites and other space objects. With an outstanding objective size of 50mm and a large exit pupil, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to see deep into the sky, no matter if it’s day or night. You can even see the craters on the Moon with them.
If you’re into stargazing, the Cometron will definitely serve you well. The Celestron SkyMaster feature a 25X magnification power and 70mm objectives, the largest specs of all the binoculars in our guide.
It’s precisely these specifications that recommend them as binoculars for casual or pro astronomers. Mount them on a tripod for extra stability and you can watch planets like Mars and Jupiter, the rings around Saturn and a high-detailed Moon. Just make sure the night is clear.
The Nikon ACULON 10-22×50 is basically a portable telescope, just like the SkyMaster. With these on, you can spot nebulae, star clusters, and constellations; coming down to Earth, their huge magnification power will come in handy for hikers who want to look at mountains and landscapes, in general. They can be used for birding, as well.
Winner: Each product is a winner in its own category. Each of these has its own exclusive application and that is why one cannot simply say “This is better than the other”. The bottom line is that they are all great at what they’re supposed to offer.
The Nikon Trailblazer are the most comfortable binoculars you can get your hands on at this point. Because they weigh only 12 ounces, you can wear them around your neck all day long without feeling like you’re carrying a gravestone.
Their eye relief is 10, which is decent enough to make the Trailblazer suitable for people who wear glasses or contact lenses. The twisting eye-caps are a nice addition, as well, and will prevent eye-strain.
When it comes to the Nikon A2111 8×42, they’ve got turn-and-slide type rubber eyecups that feel very comfortable. The problem with these is that they are quite heavy, at 2.38 pounds, so wearing them all day long might be difficult.
Even though they’re a little bulky (at least from our point of view), they are designed in such a fashion that they simply feel good in one’s hands. The zooming and focus knob work like a charm and can easily be adjusted with only one finger.
The Celestron Cometron are humongous but surprisingly easy to use and comfortable. They’ve got a 13mm eye relief, which is somewhat short, so glass-wearers might have a hard time seeing the entire field.
You can correct this by staying at a distance from the thing you want to look at. These are far from being binoculars for close objects. If you find their 2 lbs. weight annoying, you can mount them on a tripod.
When it comes to the Celestron Skymaster, we could say that their eye relief is 13mm – ideal for glass-wearers. Getting them to focus properly is a piece of cake thanks to the large focus knob.
The Skymaster are impressively heavy (3.25 pounds) but once again, you can just mount them on a tripod for an enhanced degree of comfort and ease of use.
The Nikon ACULON 10-22×50 feature turn-and-slide eyecups that stay in place, unlike those on other cheaper models. The eye relief on this pair is 11.5mm, which isn’t ideal but not the worst, either.
They weigh somewhere around 1 kilo so we daresay they’re decently lightweight.
Winner of Comfort: Nikon Trailblazer, given that it is extremely lightweight and compact
Field of View
The FOV is a crucial factor. The rule of thumb is that the larger the FOV, the better. The Nikon Trailblazer have an outstanding FOV of 429 feet, which is almost unbelievable considering that they are so very compact.
Couple that with the 8x25mm specs and you’ve got yourself a top-notch pair of binos for a more than justified price. Moving on to the A211 8×42, their FOV is just behind that of the Trailblazer: 420 feet.
However, they make up for the relatively short FOV with their huge, 42 mm objectives. Celestron Cometron’s FOV is underwhelming for a pair of binoculars of this size: only 357 feet.
Again, their insane 50 mm objectives dilute the bittersweet taste left in our mouths by the short FOV. The Celestron SkyMaster get on the right track, featuring a pleasant FOV of 141 feet, more than enough for a great viewing session.
Pair that FOV with the large objective lenses of 70 mm and rest assured that the SkyMaster will become your favorite binoculars. The last pair in our guide, the ACULON A2111 10-22×50 are quite weak when it comes to their FOV: only 199 feet.
Winner of FOV: Nikon Trailblazer tops all other binoculars with a 429 feet FOV.
When it comes down to features, each of these 5 pairs of binoculars excels. They are built for different purposes and are all high-brow. The Nikon Trailblazer, for instance, are the best compact binos for traveling.
This pair has an 8x magnification that goes hand in hand with the 25mm objectives and the 8.2 FOV. Just take a quick look at how small they are, and these features automatically become jaw-dropping. Add the 10mm eye-relief and forget about it – they’re in a league of their own.
On top of all these, they are waterproof, an aspect that adds even more to their value. Their roof prism is by no means unsuitable for the purpose they’ve been made for. In fact, it’s this type of prism that grants them the almost unnoticeable weight.
Other features of interest are: exit pupil (3.1mm), close focus distance (8.2 ft.) and interpupillary distance (56-72 mm).
The Nikon A211 8×42 are made for watching wildlife. Endowed with an 8x magnification power and generous 42 mm objectives, they are definitely better than other models and brands. The eye-relief of 12mm is a fantastic feature and will mean the world to glass-wearers.
Sure, the Porro prism makes them heavier than your run-of-the-mill binoculars, but they’re totally worth it regardless. Like all other binos in our guide, they sport multicoated lenses. Their exit pupil is 5.3 mm and the close focus distance is 16.4 ft.
You can’t find a better wildlife-purposed pair in this price range; subsequently, the features they’re equipped with are more than pleasing. The Celestron Cometron are a steal, there’s no doubt about that.
They cost less than $50 and are no less effective than binos that would sell for thrice that price. They have gigantic 50mm objectives and a magnification power of 7x, plus a 13mm eye-relief. Their lenses are multicoated, of course, and their prism is a Porro-type.
The Celestron Skymaster boasts a 25x magnification power and top-par 70mm objectives. Their eye relief is 13mm and they are water resistant. The prism is BaK-4 glass and the twilight factor is 41.83.
Getting such phenomenal features from a pair that costs less than $100 is certainly a dream come true for many casual lookers. The Nikon A211 10-22×50 sport 50mm objectives and a total magnification power of 22x.
Not bad at all. Their eye relief is 11.5mm and they have a minimum 10x magnification. Wildlife can’t get any closer to you than it does by using these.
Winner of Specs: All the models are winners within the categories of binoculars they are representative of.
The Nikon 8217 Trailblazer will cost you approximately $90. Put this price on one column and its features on another one and you’ll see that the Trailblazer could cost $150 and they would still be a fantastic deal.
The Nikon ACULON A211 8×42 fall into the very same price category, as they sell for $90, give or take. Celestron’s Cometron model is priced at somewhere around $40, which makes it the cheapest pair of binoculars in our guide.
If you ever thought that a low price will return low quality, the Cometron are sure to change your standpoint. Yes, these are unbelievably cheap, and this is obviously one of the reasons why they are purchased left and right.
The other one is represented by its variety of features; you don’t usually find these on a pair that costs less than $50. Celestron makes the most affordable binoculars in the industry at the moment. If you need more proof, let us provide it:
The SkyMaster model sells for roughly $60. We’ve seen that these have the largest objectives and magnification power of all other pairs we’ve introduced you to. Hard to believe you get all those for that investment, isn’t it?
While that might be the case, the thing is that you certainly can purchase an honestly formidable pair of binos for that price. All throughout our guide, the Nikon 8252 A211 10-22×50 has been in the last position, for obvious reasons.
One of those reasons is its price: at times, they can be purchased for less than $100, but at others, they go over $120. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not badmouthing them in the least bit: the features they boast with are certainly worth the $120 price tag.
If you want them, we recommend you keep an eye on Amazon and hit the bulls-eye when the price is lowered again.
Winner of Price Range: Definitely the Nikon Trailblazer, because it returns unprecedented quality for the investment from all points of view.
The in-depth analysis of the 5 binoculars reviewed in this guide was done according to the most vital factors that people are looking for when they’re about to purchase their binos: their viewing capability, the comfort they provide when used, their field of view, which is absolutely essential, the overall features and specifications and, of course, the price.
Many people are perfectly willing to sacrifice unimaginable sums of money for binoculars. There’s no problem with that – it’s their money and they can do whatever they want with it.
However, if you’ve read our analysis carefully, you will have observed that all of these binoculars are 100% fantastic when it comes to the quality of the build and the features they offer to the buyers.
We think we have tackled every topic of interest so that you can make a fully informed decision and get the binoculars you deserve. If one goes too deeply into analyzing a product against another similar one, things would get more difficult than they ought to.
We’ve kept it short and on point, as an analysis should be at all times.
Thinking that an overpriced pair of binoculars is exponentially better than one that sells for under $100 is a practice that is sure to compel you to make a very poor decision; a product’s price matters, no one can say it doesn’t, but it’s not everything.
No one can say that these binoculars we’ve presented in this guide are low-quality, either, because that’s clearly not the case. Our top choice is the Nikon 8217 Trailblazer 8×25 ATB Binocular.
It’s got everything a premium pair of binoculars should have and it’s a lot cheaper than other brands and models: generous magnification power, large objective, a large field of view, it’s impressively lightweight and tastefully designed and is waterproof. On top of all these, it provides a fabulous image quality.
Customarily, a pair of binos with these features will tear a deep hole in your budget. Nikon, fortunately, went against the grain and created excellent binoculars that pretty much anybody can afford.
The other pairs are superior in their own way, so you can always consider purchasing one of them without thinking twice. Hopefully, you’ll leave this page with a valuable piece of knowledge: binoculars don’t have to cost $500 to serve you well.
That applies to all sorts of products you might want to purchase from the Internet. You don’t need a full-sized Zeiss Victory (it costs approximately $3,000) or a Nikon Monarch ($300) to enjoy a view.
$100, although it’s a relatively small amount of money, can get you a pair of binoculars that will last you for years to come and will need little to no maintenance at all.
Make the right call and spare yourself of spending hundreds of dollars on binoculars whose features you might actually never use.
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You are not compelled to do as we say, but here’s some advice: think about getting your binoculars from Amazon. Not only that you will benefit from free shipping in 99.9% of the cases, but you can also be fortunate enough to get them on a sale.
This way, you can easily cut $20-30 from the initial price. Other online stores have a tendency of pumping the prices and charging unrealistic shipping fees. Let us give you an example: the Nikon 8217 Trailblazer costs around $90 on Amazon.
On eBay, the same pair is sold for $100 + shipping fees. Another seller commercializes this for $188.44 + additional costs! That’s just robbing people blindly without even hiding it. This is what we’re talking about – many online stores make their own rules.
Incidentally, those made-up rules can easily work against the buyer. You can rest assured that many people have purchased a Nikon Trailblazer from Amazon instead of eBay, for instance.
Amazon usually has the best offers. There are clear-cut reasons why it has become the largest company in this industry: free shipping with Prime, the very best deals one can get, lightning fast, secure shipping and no hidden fees, among others.
Again, you are free to choose the website on which you’ll hit “Order”, but if you want a nice set of advantages, you should at least consider giving Amazon – and your budget, at the same time – a chance.