|We are going to have to grow a lot before we can afford to carry binoculars and stuff. Meanwhile, we'll just give you our recommendations. Our best experience has been with Bausch and Lomb (or, really, their less expensive line, Bushnell) binoculars. Keep a pair of binoculars handy by your chair on the back porch. The enjoyment is magnified with the view!
We had a friend who made the mistake of buying some fixed focus binoculars. Don't fall into that trap. The fixed focus ones are focused at more than 50 yards away so they are not appropriate for backyard birding. All binoculars are classified by their magnification power and their "field of view" or "angle of view." A typical pair of binoculars for backyard birding, for example, might be "8x40." This means that they can magnify up to 8 times what you see with your naked eye and the scene widens from your eye at an angle of 40 degrees. Pretty simple. Higher is better on both numbers. Note that the angle of view also is an indicator of the amount of light that will be gathered. Binoculars with high angle of view will show a brighter scene, in addition to wider.
To learn even more about binoculars, go to Bushnell's binocular information page.
You can pay anywhere from $30 to almost $2000 for a pair of binoculars. We recommend the Bushnell "Birder" model 11-8400 as a basic good pair of binoculars for birding and all around use. They are 8x40. These binoculars include a close near focus feature. The suggested retail price is $74.95, but you can order them on-line from Smile Photo for much less.