• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Having 2 pairs of binoculars. Which would you choose? (4 Viewers)

Good question! I’ve been completely happy with two bins plus a spotting scope for almost 20 years. A pocket (formerly an Ultravid 8x20, recently a Curio 7x21), a Swaro 8x32 EL, and a Zeiss 15-45/65. In order of most use it is the pocket, 8x32 and scope. Most lifers were seen with the 8x32, followed by the scope, and finally the pockets but I would not give up a good pocket bin for anything. If I was looking to add one more binocular, it would probably be a 10x42 or 10x50 just to get a little more reach and low light capability. I’m not really in the market but if I were to move someplace near the shore or with more open vistas, maybe. Some of the new wide, flat field are very impressive, but of course, expensive.
Nice to read your comments. Sometimes it's good to revalue what you already have. I also think that there is something like "bonding" with your binoculars. The adventures you had with them, the lifers you have seen, etc.
I have four hand held binoculars and two large ones:
Leica Trinovid BCA 8x20
Nikon MHG 8x30
Swarovski Habicht 7x42
Zeiss SF 10x42

APM 70mm SemiApo 45deg. with many eyepieces from 12.5x to 67x
APM 28x110

If I could choose only one pair of hand held binoculars, I would choose Zeiss SF 10x42. This covers almost the entire spectrum of situations in observing birds and nature.
For the second pair of binoculars I would choose a much more compact one, but without sacrificing too much brightness, so I choose Nikon MHG 8x30

Pictograma Verificată de Comunitate
Last edited:
The ones I am using now are:

NL pure 12x42
Noctivid 8x42
APM 100/90 ED with various eyepieces

The NL pure 12x42 and Noctivid 8x42 I think is a good combo for me. I wear glasses and they work very well.
Of the three binoculars I have, I alternate use between 8x32 and 12x42. The EL10x42 are not being used. I have no desire to try others, or own more.
Firstly: perish the thought!

I am not doing this. Ever.

Secondly: based on binoculars I currently have, and which are my most-used, a real-world answer would be:

1. Zeiss 8x32 FL
2. Nikon 10x35 EII (this might change now I have my 10x40 SFLs, but for now...)

[I'd supplement this with my dirt-cheap and optically nasty-ish Carson 7x18s. They're so tiny they fit in the bum-bag I use for cycling without any kind of fuss, and are better than having no bins at all. Maybe some would say "not much better" - but I'd say "considerably better than nothing". Take these "as read" for any of the other combinations below).

But that's rationality. Irrationally, I might pick:

1. Zeiss 7x42 FL
2. Zeiss 10x56 FL

...for love, and to cover daytime, low-light and astronomical observing.


1. Nikon 8x30 EII
2. Nikon 10x35 EII

...for pure Porro goodness of big 3D views.


1. Maven B.3 6x30
2. Zeiss 8x32 FL

For general birding and bird-photography (with the Mavens mostly to help in close-bushland photography).


1. Pentax Papillo 6.5x21
2. Zeiss 10x40 SFL

For insects, close-up and further away.


1. Zeiss 8x32 FL
2. Sightron SII "Blue Sky" 8x32

The Zeiss for me, and the Sightrons to lend to a friend.

..or ..or ..or ..or .....

Yes, maybe I do have "too many" binoculars. But maybe I don't.

As per the specific parameters of the opening post: here are the two that cover my own needs and a justification for a third.

1. Swarovski NL Pure 12x42. It's just an astoundingly good all-rounder that returns extraordinary detail in the vast majority of lighting conditions across the vast majority of habitats.

2. Zeiss Victory Pocket 10x25. I use mine strapless and carry it in a small neoprene pouch when I'm out on training rides / touring on my pushbike. It easily slips into any pocket and - a bit like the NL 12x42 - is just astoundingly good optically and rarely defeated when it comes to making an ID.

Sometimes, the above two meet their match when trying to follow fast-flying dragonflies etc, so for my indulgent third: a high quality bin (possibly 8x32) with a very wide FoV, a very good focuser and ideally an extensive depth of view, too. Currently open to suggestions on this thread !
Last edited:
The ones I am using now are:

NL pure 12x42
Noctivid 8x42
Interesting selection, Robert!

Can I ask: what do you think the Noctivid provides that the NL 12 doesn’t? Aside from their compatibility with glasses, what makes this combo work for you?

I’d imagine that the NL12/Victory Pocket combo mentioned by Crinklystarfish might be the way I’d go, if I added a second bino. But that’s just an assumption.
My choice depends a bit on the season

Swaro 7x21 Curio or Swaro 8x25
Zeiss SF 10x32

Swaro 7x21 Curio or Swaro 8x25
Swaro 8x30 CL or Leica 7x35 Retrovid
My choice depends a bit on the season

Swaro 7x21 Curio or Swaro 8x25
Zeiss SF 10x32

Swaro 7x21 Curio or Swaro 8x25
Swaro 8x30 CL or Leica 7x35 Retrovid
Good point to differentiate choice of bino for a specific season (or geographical locatIon).
While i found my Habicht 10x40 often too bright in the Cretan summers in daytime, they shine (pun intended) in the West-European foggy winters.
If I could only have one it would be my most used pair, the 8x20 Ultravid, but it could also be my Curio 7x21.

Adding in a second pair would be either the 10x32 or 7x42 Ultravid HD+, I can't decide.
Difficult but interesting question for a lazy Sunday. I have put most of my binoculars (10+) on the kitchen table and I’m still testing and contemplating what is the best combo. Well, there is no final answer 😂.

The 7x are so relaxed, so now i think: if only two, it has to include a 7x. But then i think, i need also maximum magnification: so than i need the 15x also. But what about portability? Of course it has to include the Duovid because it has two magnifications etc. Etc. Nice to have choices.
I've felt that Leica doesn't get much love around here (and I'm a fan), so this has been quite interesting to see well known forum members who in fact own/use/like their Leicas...

If limited to two I would have to say one 'power' bino and one light/compact bino.

10x42 NV
7x35 retro or 8x40SFL or maybe a pocket 8x20UV/BCA
10 x 42 Noctivid, and a smaller bin....
8 x 32 EL or 8 x 25 Zeiss VP. Both very good with eyeglasses. 8x25 is 'fiddly', but useful.
And, of course a scope.
But then that leaves out the Canon IS 15x50 for astro...
If only 1, I would go for an 8x32. Maybe the NL, or maybe the EL, even though it has more propensity for glare. Its the smaller size I'd be after for travel.
Experience is time spent using tools and devices one is comfortable and familiar with. Not specs on paper.

Users who are viewing this thread