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Kowa BD II 8×32 Binoculars: Our Review

A rugged 8x32 binocular with great optical quality—one of our Top Picks.

At A Glance

Green and black binoculars
Kowa BD II binoculars. Photo by Hugh Powell.


  • Crisp, bright image rivals that of 8×42-style binoculars
  • Sturdy and well constructed
  • Squat design is well balanced and easy to pack


  • Heavier than other compact binoculars


  • Price: $400 MSRP at press time. Prices often fluctuate, so check with retailers
  • Close focus: 4.3 feet (130 cm)
  • Field of view: 8.8° (462 feet at 1,000 yards). More about field of view 
  • Weight: 21.0 oz (595 g)—that’s about 3.3 oz (93 g) heavier than the average for compact binoculars in our review. Compare binocular sizes and weights
  • Eye relief: 16.5 mm

Viewing Experience: The Kowa BD II binoculars provide a very crisp and clear image with nice edge to edge clarity. In a shaded understory, we were able to appreciate all the subtle shades on a Gray Catbird. In open pine-woods they provided plenty of detail to separate Pine Warblers from nearby Yellow-throated Vireos. It was easier to stay on moving birds with these binoculars—in a flock of Barn Swallows over a lake they picked out a few crisp Tree Swallows and one slim-winged Bank Swallow. On a distant Eastern Kingbird in bright light, we enjoyed detailed looks at the white feather margins of an Eastern Kingbird. The field of view of 8.8° is among the widest of any binocular we’ve tested.

Feel and Build: These binoculars are rugged and feel like they are built to last. The outside exterior is rubberized and slightly grippy, with a metal-like focus wheel that has small raised dots for grip. The eyecups dial up and down easily and have three stops for easy customization. At their farthest extent, the eyecups may be too far out for some viewers; we found the first stop was the best position for non-glasses wearers. As with other Kowa binoculars, the stock neck strap is luxuriously wide and well-padded. The Kowa BD II is heavier than most of the 8x32s we tested, so it doesn’t provide a lot of weight savings. But with its rugged design, moderate price, and excellent optical quality, it’s a great choice as a go-to binocular.

This article is one in a series of mini-reviews. To see how these binoculars compare to others we’ve tested, see our full review of affordable compact binoculars.  

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