Best budget binoculars 2024: Cheap but high-quality models

The best budget binoculars make hobbies like astronomy and birdwatching more accessible because, let's face it, investing in optics can get expensive quickly.

Not everyone can afford to buy top-of-the-line products, but that doesn't mean we should be deprived of hobbies and experiences. Inexpensive binoculars can be a more economical solution for those who want to use them occasionally.

It's not a bad idea to try it with a more affordable pair to start, then upgrade if you're sticking with it. You're budget pair can then become your backup pair. It might also be that you only need binoculars for a short excursion like a stargazing event or one-time wildlife-watching trip, which makes a cheap binocular a more attractive prospect.

Though some of the choices we've made on this list are suitable for kids to use, we have a dedicated guide to the best binoculars for kids, where all of the models are suitable for smaller hands and faces. Alternatively, our guide to the guide to the best binoculars overall will help you find a superior model that might be right for you.

Below, we've rounded up the best binoculars under $200 that we've tested, rated and reviewed and would recommend to anyone that needs to get started observing without breaking the bank. However, many of the models are also binoculars under $100 so no matter the budget there should be something for you here.

So, whatever the reason you're looking for one of the best binoculars on a budget, we've tested, rated and reviewed multiple models so you don't have to.

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 are 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, lock on to your target and share the view with friends or children.

Don't buy if:

You want something mainly for astro: If you want something for astronomy specifically, you'll likely want a better quality pair that will give better views.

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

The bottom line:

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

We think the Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 binoculars which we previously reviewed are the best binocular under $100 but also the best overall. They boast 10x magnification, which is perfect for a wide-field view of the night sky. The 50 mm diameter is big enough to let in enough light for occasional skywatching. They would be good for someone starting out, who isn't sure astronomy will be a long-term hobby, or just as a pair to keep handy for causal observing at home or camping trips.

Though these are an affordable pair of binoculars from Celestron, the build quality can only be described as 'average'. If you want a pair of binoculars that will last a lifetime, you'd probably want to look elsewhere. As we review so many binoculars, we're constantly exposed to top-quality binoculars with amazing build quality and glass, so we are probably the harshest critics.  In reality, if it's just a pair of binos to get closer views then these are a perfectly reasonable option.

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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, 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

This powerful and capable set of quality binoculars makes viewing deep-sky objects such as the Andromeda Galaxy a joy, which is impressive for a pair that typically costs around $70.

The Celestron Skymaster 12x60 is built around a Porro Prism design and features the preferred BaK-4 glass rather than the BK7, which is often used in cheaper pairs. The multi-coated optics provide bright and detailed views, while the objective lenses of 60mm allow in a large amount of light. Thanks to the 12x magnification, these binoculars are perfect for spotting moon craters and resolving individual stars in clusters like the Pleiades and Hyades. 

Remember though, any amount of wobble will also be magnified 12x. While this would make for a very frustrating viewing experience, Celestron has thankfully included a tripod mount. You'll need to buy a tripod adapter and a tripod separately. Another perk of having a tripod is that views can be shared — more than one person can see the same view without refinding the target.

The build quality of the Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 binoculars is fantastic; they feel like a premium pair. They are covered in a non-slip rubber, enhanced by textured pimples for added grip (handy if you use them without a tripod). The rubber makes them water resistant but not waterproof or nitrogen purged, although we didn't experience fogging during our hands-on Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 review. They come with lens caps and a simple carry case to aid portability.

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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 that means the edges will appear more blurred than if BaK-4 glass was used, though for the price, we can't complain.

You will 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 bill these binoculars as 'remarkable value for money'. The price fluctuates between $40 and $55 (sometimes less during sales events). You are very unlikely to get binos of this quality for any less. 

They have large 50mm objective lenses and a 7x magnification, enough to provide users with a fantastic introduction to stargazing, and you won't need to use a tripod to get steady views.

The Porro Prism design is ideal for astronomy, though you can, of course, use them in the daytime too — an affordable way to get closer to sporting action or closer to the stage at festivals.

The optics are multicoated, although the glass is BK7, not the more desirable BAK4. This means that instead of a perfectly defined disk of light, you'll see a fuzzier edge. 

Although the Celestron Cometron 7x50 are water-resistant, they are not waterproof or fogproof, and they don't feel particularly 'nice', but we struggle to complain about this given the price of these binoculars.

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

You want a wide field of view: 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 for 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

The Occer 12x25 binoculars are an excellent choice for beginners who want a high-quality yet affordable pair. They are lightweight and compact, making them highly portable. The binoculars are designed with non-slip rubber armor and stippling to provide a comfortable grip, even for small hands.

With BaK-4 multi-coated lenses, sharp images and accurate colors are assured (enough for a pair of binos at this price point, anyway). We were pleasantly surprised throughout our Occer 12x25 compact binoculars review — there was less chromatic aberration (color fringing) than the Celestron Outland X 10x42, which cost almost double.

The center focus wheel is easy to use, enabling quick and comfortable focusing and the soft rubber foldable eyecups further enhance the comfort of use.

The Occer 12x25 binoculars include a handy neck strap to prevent accidental drops and a carrying pouch that protects them from being damaged during transportation. It is important to note that the binoculars do not come with lens caps, so be cautious when sliding them into pockets with sharp objects.

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