Best budget binoculars 2024: Cheap but high-quality models

Man holding one of the best budget binoculars in front of the ocean
The best budget binoculars offer great quality optics at an affordable price. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Buying a pair of the best budget binoculars is a great first step if you're thinking of trying out a new hobby like stargazing or wildlife watching. Binoculars have many uses — here at Space.com we're fans of using them for observing the night sky — and buying a good pair can be very costly, but it doesn't have to be. We've rounded up our picks of good-quality binos that won't break the bank, making them perfect for newcomers or youngsters who want to try out a pair for the first time.

If you have a limited budget, knowing what models are worth spending your hard-earned cash on can be difficult. Thankfully, our team of experts has scoured the market for good-quality binoculars that offer seriously great value. The models in this guide all cost under $200, and some even come in below $40, so no matter what sort of budget you're working with, we should have a suggestion to suit. 

Binoculars can be used for amateur astronomy, observing nature, sightseeing, or getting a closer view of sporting events. Our experts have tried and tested the binoculars on this list to assess their quality of view and important features like build quality and comfort, so you can be sure you're buying a quality product.  

If you have a little more money at your disposal and are looking to upgrade, we also have a guide to the best binoculars on the market today, and if you're looking for a lightweight pair for carrying around with you, check out our list of the best compact binoculars to find the most travel-friendly options. Those looking to focus specifically on stargazing may also want to look at our guides to the best telescopes and best budget telescopes.

Amazon Prime Day is happening later this week on the 16th and 17th of July, and Prime members will be treated to hefty discounts across thousands of products. The shopping event is a great time to shop for cheap binoculars, so you might want to hold off buying until Prime Day if you were considering a purchase. 

Last year, the Celestron Cometron 7x50 — our top budget binoculars for stargazing — were reduced to just $23.75, and the Occer 12x25 went as low as $30.39. We don't know what this year's Prime Day offers will be just yet, but we'll be picking out the best space deals, so be sure to check-in regularly.

The quick list

Best budget binoculars we recommend in 2024

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Best overall

Lightweight and affordable, especially good for astronomy — and they're tripod-adaptable too

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 50mm
Angular field of view: 6.8 degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: Bk7
Eye relief: 12 mm
Weight: 27 oz
Guarantee: 2 years

Reasons to buy

+
Great for astronomy
+
Lightweight
+
Tripod-adaptable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not good for spectacle wearers
-
Poor objective lens caps
-
Bk7 glass
Buy if:

You're a beginner astronomer: If you've already owned a pair of binoculars these won't be impressive, but they're great for newcomers.

You want to share views: The UpClose G2 are tripod-adaptable, and you can lock on to your target to share the view with friends or children.

Don't buy if:

You want something mainly for astro: If you want binoculars geared specifically towards astronomy, you'll likely want a better quality pair.

You wear spectacles: The 12mm eye-relief is not suitable for glasses wearers.

The bottom line:

🔎 Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 Binocular: Great for an entry-level pair, they would be a good choice for astronomy groups on a budget ★★★★½

The Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 binoculars have won the top spot on our list of the best budget binoculars thanks to their fantastic optics. It's no surprise coming from Celestron — one of the biggest names in astronomy — but given the low price point, you really are getting a seriously good deal.

The UpClose G2's 10x magnification offers a wide field of view, which is perfect for scanning the star clusters of the Milky Way. The 50mm objective lenses let in just enough light to make viewing at night an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. 

The optical system is made up of Porro prisms and multi-coated lenses, and in our Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 binoculars review we were very impressed by the bright images and lack of chromatic aberration. You'd be hard pressed to find a better pair of binoculars for stargazing at this price point. In our tests, we were able to get excellent views of the Pleiades star cluster, along with Jupiter and its giant moons, and even the planet Uranus. If you've never stargazed through binoculars before, this pair will definitely give you the 'wow' factor.

Of course, as a budget pair, some compromises have been made. They have a fairly basic aluminum build with a matte rubber covering, making them water-resistant and able to withstand light rain showers, but they lack the nitrogen purging that you'll find on more expensive models. The static eyecups also only offer 12mm of eye relief, so they're not ideal for glasses-wearers. But if you're in the market for an entry-level pair, we think these are an excellent option for beginner stargazers.

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AttributesNotes
DesignBasic no-frills design
PerformanceA pleasingly low amount of chromatic aberration
FunctionalityA good entry-level pair for general use

Best for detail

Best for seeing detail: The huge magnification and large objective make them a great choice for astronomy newcomers

Specifications

Magnification: 12x
Objective lens diameter: 60mm
Angular field of view: 5.3-degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: BaK-4
Eye relief: 17mm
Weight: 39.2 oz (1.1 kg)
Guarantee: Limited lifetime

Reasons to buy

+
Great light transmission
+
Deep sky astronomy is possible
+
Suitable for glasses wearers

Reasons to avoid

-
Large and heavy
-
Tripod is required
-
The supplied neckstrap is poor (thin)
Buy if:

You want to stargaze with them: The huge aperture drinks in loads of light and can be used for deep sky astronomy.

You wear spectacles: The generous 17mm eye relief is comfortable for glasses wearers.

Don't buy if:

You don't want to buy a tripod: The 12x magnification will also magnify any wobble by that amount, so you'll need a tripod to enjoy still views.

You want something lightweight: These binos are huge and weigh over 2.2 lb / 1kg.

The bottom line:

🔎 Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 Binocular: A great value pair of astronomy-friendly binoculars. The tripod adapter is especially welcome given the high magnification. ★★★★½

If you have a slightly larger budget, the Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 are a worthy upgrade for anyone looking to enter into the world of stargazing or wildlife watching. 

The optics are made up of high-quality BaK-4 glass, which is an improvement on the BK-7 glass found in many cheaper pairs, and offer clear and bright views thanks to the multi-coating. Glasses-wearers will be pleased to hear they have a generous 17mm of eye relief with fold-up eyecups, so they're easily compatible with spectacles.

In our Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 review, we were very impressed by their build quality: They come with a rubber coating that has pimples where your hands rest to aid with grip. The only downside is that they're very big and heavy, so not great for carrying around with you. That said, you can mount them to a tripod to set yourself up for longer viewing sessions — something we'd strongly advise since the large 12x magnification will increase the effect of shakes when you're using them handheld.

This level of magnification does come with advantages, of course. You'll get much more detailed views, which makes these binoculars a great choice for astronomy. We were able to view Jupiter and the four moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto using the SkyMaster 12x60 binoculars with excellent results.

We found these binoculars to offer great, accurate colors and we've encountered little chromatic aberration, which is always a big plus. The 60mm lenses on these binoculars allow in a great amount of light, which makes them ideal for using at night. If you want detail and don't mind having to use a tripod, these binoculars are well worth considering.

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Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 Binocular
AttributesNotes
DesignExcellent build quality
PerformanceSuitable for astronomy
FunctionalityGenerous 17mm eye relief, tripod mount

Best for stargazing

Best for handheld stargazing: This inexpensive pair of binoculars are great for viewing the stars without a tripod

Specifications

Magnification: 7x
Objective lens diameter: 50mm
Angular field of view: 6.8-degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: BK7
Eye relief: 13mm
Weight: 27.3 oz (774 g)
Guarantee: Limited lifetime

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money
+
Wide exit pupil

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof
-
Less desirable, BK7 glass
-
Just 13mm eye-relief
Buy if:

You're on a tight budget: For a full-sized pair of binos, you won't find much cheaper than this pair.

You don't need anything fancy: These binos will get you closer to the action; if that is all you need them for, they are a perfectly reasonable option.

Don't buy if:

You want the best quality glass: This pair uses the inferior BK7 glass which means the edges will appear more blurred than if BaK-4 glass was used, though for the price, we can't complain.

You want to use them around water: They are water resistant, so fine in light rain, but nothing more.

The bottom line:

🔎 Celestron Cometron 7x50 Binocular: If you are looking for a very inexpensive way to enjoy skywatching, you can't argue with the Celestron's Cometron 7x50. ★★★★

In our Celestron Cometron 7x50 review, we called these binoculars 'remarkable value for money'. Two years on, we still stand by that statement — and we've not found any other models that make these binos any less of a bargain.

As the name suggests, you'll find large, 50mm objective lenses in the Celestron Cometron 7x50 binoculars, along with a 7x magnification. That's not the largest magnification you'll find on the market, but it means you can use these handheld without fearing the effects of shaking, and we've found it more than enough to get excellent views of wildlife or events. 

We've even found the Celestron Cometron 7x50 binoculars a great choice for stargazing. They may not be the most powerful, but their Porro Prism design enables them to offer wide, wobble-free views of the night sky. 

The downside is that the Cometron binoculars use BK7 glass rather than the superior BaK-4. This is not surprising given the budget price point, but it does mean you might get a slightly fuzzier edge on your images rather than a perfectly shaped disk of light.

Still, the glass is multicoated, offering reductions in reflections and sharp images, and the binoculars are water-resistant, which will protect them against the odd splash or light rainfall. (Note however that they are not waterproof, so we wouldn't recommend using these near a body of water in case they fall in). 

Overall, the Celestron Cometron 7x50 binoculars aren't perfect, but their price point makes them the ideal budget pair, whether you're a beginner or just watching the purse strings. 

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Celestron Cometron 7x50
AttributesNotes
DesignBasic, porro-prism
PerformanceGood for celestial and terrestrial viewing
FunctionalityWide FOV, short eye-relief

Best for portability

Best pocketable binos: The Occers offer optics that perform surprisingly well considering their small size and price

Specifications

Magnification: 12x
Objective lens diameter: 25mm
Angular field of view: 273-degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: BaK-4
Eye relief: 15mm
Weight: 8.8 oz (249g)
Guarantee: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Foldable eyecups
+
Wide field of view
+
Feels robust in the hand

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof
-
No lens caps
-
Short eye relief
Buy if:

You want a pocketable pair: This pair only weighs 249g and fits perfectly in your hand, making them easy to carry on walks, to sporting events or to concerts so you never miss a moment.

You want a wide field of view: They're great for covering large areas such as fields or savannas.

Don't buy if:

You need something waterproof: These binoculars are fine for use in light showers but not in heavier rain.

You want something for astro: The 25mm objective lens diameter is half what we'd recommend for astronomy.

The bottom line:

🔎 Occer 12x25 compact binoculars: Ideal for keeping in your pocket day-to-day. They're surprisingly good quality and provide great views given the low price. ★★★½

If you want a pair of small, lightweight binoculars that are easy to slip into a pocket and carry around, the Occer 12x25 binoculars are a fantastic choice. They're super cheap (we've seen them as low as $30 last Amazon Prime Day, so keep your eyes peeled this month for a similar bargain) and despite that price tag, they still offer great views.

You'll find high-quality BaK-4 multi-coated lenses on the Occer 12x25, which provide sharp images and beautifully accurate colors. We've been pleasantly surprised with how little chromatic aberration is visible with these binos, too: Notably, they had less chromatic aberration (i.e. color fringing) than the Celestron Outland X 10x42 which are almost double the price.

The image quality is just one thing we praised in our Occer 12x25 compact binoculars review. We also commented on their ergonomic design, our reviewer stating that they're great to hold thanks to their non-slip rubber coating. We found the focus wheel, neatly positioned in the center of the binoculars, to be very easy to use. Focusing is a breeze, and we were able to find our target quickly and comfortably. The eye cups are very comfortable — they're made of soft rubber and are foldable, allowing you to adjust them to your needs or preferences. 

You get a neck strap bundled with the Occer 12x25 binoculars, adding extra value. As basic as it sounds, it's a very useful addition that protects them when in use, preventing accidental drops. There's also a carry pouch to keep them safe when, but we should note that there are no lens caps included with this model.

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Occer 12x25 compact binoculars
AttributesNotes
Design Lots of grip, portable
PerformanceBright and colorful views, minimal chromatic aberration
FunctionalityWide FOV, pocketable

Best for young observers

Best for young observers: The Opticron Adventurers are tough, durable and waterproof

Specifications

Magnification: 8x
Objective lens diameter: 42mm
Angular field of view: 7.5-degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: BaK-4
Eye relief: 18mm
Weight: 22 oz (623 g)
Guarantee: 2 years

Reasons to buy

+
Great value binoculars
+
BaK-4 glass
+
Waterproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Reasonably heavy
-
Poor close focus
Buy if:

You want top-quality glass: They utilize top-quality BaK-4 glass that is fully multi-coated.

You wear spectacles: These binos have a generous 18mm of eye relief, allowing glasses wearers to enjoy the entire field of view.

Don't buy if:

You want something to use in your garden: The close 5m focus is below par for backyard bird and bug watching.

You want the 'wow' factor: Though there's nothing 'wrong' with them, they are an average pair of binos.

The bottom line:

🔎 Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x42: A good choice as a general-purpose binocular, they perform well for astronomy ★★★

We've chosen the Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x42 binoculars specifically as the best budget binoculars for younger users. Normally, we'd recommend the 10x50 alternatives, but the 8x42 specification makes these binos lighter and smaller while still providing great magnification and a good amount of light-gathering power.

That's not to say they're not worth purchasing if you're an adult: No matter your age, this is a solid pair of binoculars and a great starting point if you're on a budget. In our Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x42 review, we praised the value for money they offer and their versatility, as they're a great model both for spotting wildlife or observing the night sky.

There are numerous impressive features on the Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x42 binoculars considering their budget price point. Their Porro prism design is just one of them, and the fact they make use of high-quality BaK-4 glass which allows for beautifully clear and colorful views. As a bonus, they are dew-resistant, waterproof and have a coating of rubber armor — all things that are very useful in the hands of occasionally clumsy children. You'll also find a neck strap, lens covers and a carrying case in the box to help keep the binoculars protected when not in use.

These binoculars are a particularly good choice for astronomy, although they're versatile enough to be used in the daytime, too. That said, we should point out that the close 5m focus isn't great for watching the fauna in your backyard. Given their price and wealth of features, though, they're a great choice for children — but also great for adult beginners on a budget.

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Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x42 Binocular
AttributesNotes
DesignDurable coating
PerformanceGood for astronomy, not great for nearby subjects
FunctionalityNarrow FOV, long eye-relief

Best for newcomers

Best for newcomers — a great choice if you're starting your stargazing journey

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 50mm
Angular field of view: 6.5 degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: BaK-4
Eye relief: 11.8mm
Weight: 31.7 oz / 899g
Guarantee: Lifetime warranty

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money
+
Good optics
+
Wide field of view

Reasons to avoid

-
Not good for spectacle wearers
-
Some chromatic aberration
-
Not clear across entire field of view
Buy if:

You want an affordable means of stargazing: If you want to get a closer look at the night sky from home without breaking the bank, these will serve you well.

You want to share views: They are tripod-adaptable so more than one person can see the same view without re-finding and focusing.

Don't buy if:

You wear glasses: The eye relief is just 11.8mm so glasses wearers will really struggle to see the entire field of view.

There's very limited space in your backpack: The Porro prism design takes up more room than a roof prism pair.

The bottom line:

🔎 Nikon 10x50 Aculon A211: These are a good option if you're just looking for a basic pair of binoculars that you won't expect too much from ★★★

Best known for making excellent cameras, Nikon also puts its optics mastery into binoculars, and the Nikon Aculon A211 are a great example of fantastic budget binoculars. They're excellent quality and offer amazing value: The perfect pair of binos for a beginner.

If you're planning on taking your binoculars out on hikes, you'll probably want to consider a roof prism pair. The Aculon A211's Porro prism design, despite being better at creating a brighter image, will take up more room in your backpack.

In our Nikon Aculon A211 binoculars review, we praised the bright and sharp views they offer. Using top-quality BaK-4 glass really makes a difference, making colors accurately pop and ensuring your views are crystal clear. The 50mm objective lenses let in a lot of light at night, and the 6.5-degree field of view is ideal for observing starfields and nebula — though you should expect to see some image blur at the outer edge.

The Nikon Aculon A211's10x magnification is ideal for astronomy (as long as you can keep them stable), and with excellent performance, they provide some great views of the night sky.

If you're a regular user of binoculars, you'll likely notice some of the shortfalls of the Nikon Aculon A211s, or at the very least where shortcuts have been made to keep the price down. But if you're fairly new to observing the night sky or wildlife watching through binoculars, you'll find these binoculars very comfortable to use and their views very pleasing.

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Nikon 10x50 Aculon A211
AttributesNotes
DesignNicely designed with a few quality shortcuts
PerformanceFine if you don't expect too much
FunctionalityNo good for glasses wearers

Best for adventurers