Choosing Binoculars: Price vs. Quality Index
Binoculars have a big price range—but some of today's lower-priced binoculars perform amazingly well. Optical quality in particular can be great among many of our Top Picks in the lower price ranges. Bear in mind that materials and workmanship also improve with price. Think about your intended use: a pair of binoculars for next to your feeder window doesn't need to be as durable as a pair you plan to take on long hikes or in bad weather.
This graph shows the Quality Index rating from our 2013 binocular review compared with a binocular's price (reported as MSRP; many retailers will offer lower prices). Quality Index is the grand average of four subjective scores, averaged across 60+ reviewers: Overall Performance; Overall Feel; Clarity/Crispness; and Eyeglass Friendliness.
The gray lines in the graph mark the five price ranges in our review. Blue and orange dots mark our Top Picks and Best in Class, respectively. (We did not choose a Best in Class for the Top-of-the-Line price class.) Hover over each dot to see the binocular model, manufacturer, power, and price. Note that our top picks tended toward 8x binoculars, but the corresponding 10x models were generally of comparable quality.