Why are Binoculars so Expensive: Cheap vs Expensive Binos

  • By: Michaela King

When you start researching binoculars in order to buy yourself a decent pair of optics, one thing that comes to your mind is why are binoculars so expensive.

And you start wondering why there is so much disparity between the prices of different binoculars. Are more expensive brands really worth it? Is the technology used in high-priced binoculars justify the price tag?

Are the Binoculars at lower end of the market really that terrible compared to the higher-priced ones? In this guide, I am going to discuss these questions and shed some light on the reasons that contribute to a higher price tag.

Before diving deep into how much a good pair of binoculars cost, you can read my detailed guide on factors to consider before choosing a binocular. It’s a detailed guide tailored specifically towards beginners.

How much to spend on binoculars?

Binoculars are not always very expensive but you get what you pay for. You will get binoculars at a cheap price in Walmart but the quality of those optics is directly proportional to their price.

Then there are some binocular brands such as Vortex and Bushnell that fall in the mid-range price category. Usually, $100 to $500 is considered a reasonable budget to get you a decent pair of optics.

Then comes binoculars at a higher price which includes brands like Swarovski, Zeiss, Nikon etc. Prices of high-end binoculars can easily go up to $3000 and so you are forced to think why are binoculars so expensive.

In case you are interested in buying a pair of binoculars, here is a list of my personal favourite binoculars;

5 reasons binoculars are so expensive

#1 Innovative technology

Technology is getting transformed day by day. In the past when binoculars were in their initial phase, the design and technology used were totally different from what we now have.

Now binoculars are more compact, durable, high performing and easy to use. Many manufacturers are known for using cutting edge technologies in their binoculars.

Innovation is what makes their product stand out from standard binoculars. Companies like Zeiss, Swarovski and Steiner focus on developing technologies that offer the buyer a great viewing experience and detail.

Developing cutting edge technologies requires high skill and expertise which is also why binoculars are so expensive.

I have also reviewed the best compact binoculars for birdwatching. It’s a must read.

#2 High-quality material

You can easily tell a high-quality binocular and cheap binoculars apart by just holding them in your hand. The contrast between the two is very prominent and hard to ignore. Go to a store that sells binos and you can do this experiment yourself.

The complexity level of optical design, quality of lenses used in binoculars, the precision and most importantly optical coatings are some of the factors that determine the price tag of a binocular.

Housing material and the finishing also matter a lot to give the binocular that refined look which is a trademark of good quality binoculars.

In addition to that, experiencing the world through a pair of good-quality lens is a treat itself.

#3 Lens coatings

Lens coating is very essential for brighter and clearer images. Without high-quality lens coatings, a pair of binoculars is pretty useless. The view generated is blurry, hazy, and dim.

You can read more details on lens coatings and how they work here.

Suffice it to say, that high-quality coatings definitely raise up the price of binoculars to some extent. Good optical coatings let the maximum amount of light pass through the lens thus giving us an enhanced view in every aspect.

Binoculars with B-grade coatings waste most of the light while transmitting it which results in dim and hazy pictures.

#4 Selling the name

The truth of the matter is that many brands just use their name to sell their products at a higher price. It is not always necessary that an expensive product from a well-known brand will be worth the money spent.

I will suggest you always research beforehand by comparing binoculars from different brands with similar features. Often time with a lesser-known brand you will be able to find a good deal.

Do not fall for this marketing gimmick and save yourself from being ripped off.

#5 Prism designs

Binocular designs are based on two types of prisms: Porro prism and roof prism. Usually, Porro prism binoculars fall in the reasonably priced category.

Roof prism binoculars are more complicated to make and require a higher skill level that is why manufacturers who make roof prism binoculars are bound to raise their prices.

Are expensive binoculars really worth it?

After understanding why binoculars are so expensive one would naturally think are they really worth it?

Before investing a huge amount of money, it is always good to look into each and every aspect. Of course, everything depends on your budget and your priorities.

But one piece of advice I can offer you is to stretch your budget to a maximum if you want to buy a good pair of optics. As the saying goes, the cheaper buyer gets the bad meat which also stands true for binoculars.

Make up your mind about how you are going to use your binoculars. If you intend to use them for light and casual watching where they are not exposed to natural elements then a cheap binocular can do the job.

But if you want a sturdy pair of optics that is going to withstand wear and tear of rough surroundings than investing in a good pair of binoculars is a must. You can also read my guides on cleaning and fixing binoculars at home.

Let’s look at this from another perspective. Cheap binoculars are going to cause eye fatigue and headache along with poor image quality and most probably will break off the first time you drop it.

So you will end up buying another cheap pair and the cycle will continue. At the end of the day, you will realize that you have spent a fortune on cheap binoculars.

With good-quality binoculars, you don’t have to worry about these problems.

Good binoculars are long-lasting and often come with life warranties too. They are sturdy enough to bear any blows that are inevitable while hunting or traveling.


Understanding the factors responsible for why binoculars are so expensive and if they are worth the money or not plays a crucial role in buying binoculars that provide you with good value for money.

binoculars lens types

Previous Post

Why do Binoculars have Red Lenses: Is it Good or Bad?

Next Post

Can I Bring A Rifle Scope To Canada?

Canada flag