Our Binocular Selection

Here at Wild Birds Unlimited in Novato, we have one of the best selections of binoculars not just in Marin, but in the whole San Francisco Bay Area. Unlike online or big box retailers, we maintain a curated selection: if we keep it in the store, you can trust that it is a good quality binocular that fills a specific niche of size, price, or function. Read on for an overview of the different categories of binoculars in our shop, but know that this page illustrates only a fraction of the models we carry.

How to Choose Binoculars

If you have never used binoculars, or if you have only used low-quality models, you may be surprised at the bright, clear images and the ease of use offered by even moderately priced optics. $100 worth of bird seed might last for months and attract a dozen species of birds to your yard, but a $100 pair of binoculars will last for many years and will open your eyes to hundreds of species of birds with a level of detail and enjoyment that is otherwise impossible. The best way to choose a pair of binoculars is to try them out for yourself and find what feels right: come into the store and experiment with a few different models. For some basic information on what to look for, see our How to Choose Binoculars.

Entry-level Binoculars (Under $200)

Inexpensive compact models can be had for well under $100, but we encourage beginners to consider mid- and full-size models, which often run in the $100–$200 range. Some of these binoculars, such as the Opticron Savanna or Nikon Prostaff, come with the same lifetime warranties that their manufacturers extend to their more advanced models and are generally more comfortable and easier to use than compact models. We carry inexpensive binoculars from Carson, Vortex, Opticron, and Nikon. 

Opticron Savanna 8x33

Opticron Savanna

Nikon Prostaff 8x30

Nikon Prostaff 7s

Mid-Range Binoculars ($250–$600)

Many consider the sweet spot of quality vs. price to occur in the $250–$500 range. Popular models in this category include the Zeiss Terra and Nikon Monarch 5 and Monarch 7 series. At this level, in additional to steady optical improvements from the "budget" options above, most of the non-optical criteria should be well satisfied: twist-up eyecups make use easy with or without eyeglasses, binoculars are fully waterproof and fog-proof, have a decent close focus (under 10 ft.), and lifetime warranty. We carry models in this price range from Nikon, Opticron, and Carl Zeiss. 

Zeiss Terra 8x32

Zeiss Terra 8x32

Nikon Monarch 7 8x30

Nikon Monarch 7

High-End Binoculars ($900+)

As you move above the mid-range binoculars above, most additional production costs come from enhancements to the lens quality and coatings themselves, with the highest quality lenses providing images of unmatched brightness, sharpness, and resolution. Many consider the best binoculars in the world today to be made by Swarovski of Austria, include their flagship NL Pure, classic EL, and smaller models such as the CL Pocket. Additionally, we highly recommend the Vortex Razor HD and Nikon Monarch HG series, both of which offer fine Japanese lens crafting comparable to the high-end European manufacturers at a lower price and lighter weight. We are also an authorized dealer of Zeiss binoculars and carry select models such as the Conquest HD 8x32, a "mid-price high-end" binocular that offers excellent German optics at a lower cost and lighter weight than full size 42mm models, and their recently revised flagship model, the Victory SF 8x42. 

Vortex Razor HD

Vortex Razor HD

Swarovski EL

Swarovski EL

Compact Binoculars

Compact binoculars offer smaller size, lighter weight, and generally lower cost than full-size models. While these smaller models generally offer similar levels of magnification as full-size binoculars, they have smaller objective lenses, resulting in less light-gathering capacity and darker images under low-light conditions. They are also generally somewhat less easy to hold and use comfortably compared to full size models. We carry compact binoculars from Carson, Vortex, Opticron, and Swarovski.

Vortex Diamondback

Vortex Diamondback

Opticron BGA Oasis 8x24

Opticron BGA T PC Oasis

Optics Accessories

We carry a selection of cleaning accessories, neck straps and harnesses, and spare lens covers. One of our most popular lens cleaning products is the Lens Pen, which contains a soft-bristled brush and felt pad with a dry cleaning solution in a compact, field-portable "pen" container. Harnesses are an upgrade from standard neck straps that help to distribute weight and reduce bouncing while hiking.

Vortex LensPen Vortex Binocular Harness