Celestron Outland X Binoculars – A review for Bird-Watching
There is a reason that we have always provided our guests on safari with Celestron Outland X binoculars. They are a great start for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike. However, in this article, I will be discussing the limitations of these binoculars as well so you consider these binoculars with the right expectations. But first, a quick overview of binoculars for bird-watching!
Binoculars for Bird-watching
Birds are majestic, but to truly appreciate their glory, you will require quality optics/binoculars. These ensure a closer view of the bird while you remain at a distance ensuring the bird’s comfort. Your binoculars should provide a nice, clear picture and precise shades.
There are many binoculars available today in the market with different features and specifications. The quality of optics continue to improve, taking into account the feedback received from birdwatchers and other users in the field. Even so, the rate of innovation and newer models being released is not at the same pace as say, a mobile phone.
Regardless of whether you’re searching for an upgrade to your old hefty binocular set or you’re looking for your first pair to begin, this review would be of value to you, as I have seen birdwatchers upgrade or even buy these binoculars as their very first ones.
Best Magnification For Bird Watching?
While selecting a binocular for bird-watching, magnification of the optics remains an important aspect for bird-watchers. While a large magnification may be appealing (12x or more), there are reasons why picking up binoculars with such magnifications may not be a good idea for bird watching. I have covered this in my previous article but the three important reasons are – heavier weight, shakier image when handheld and narrower field of view. (For more on this and why the diameter of the objective lens should be a minimum of 40, check out our previous article on the most popular introductory binoculars used for bird watching in India: Bird Watching – Top 6 Introductory Binoculars used for Birdwatching in India).
Thus, the 8x and 10x magnifications tend to be more suitable. When you are starting, we do recommend the 8x magnification because of the reasons we are sharing below, but in case there are any availability issues, you can safely take the binoculars at 10x magnification as the differences are comparatively minor in usability.
The binoculars of Celestron’s mid-range Outland series offer just about the perfect beginning for bird-watchers looking to get quality binoculars available in the market at a reasonable price, especially in India where the range can be somewhat limited. The lenses are designed for the casual bird-watching beginner and the Outland X 8×42 binoculars I have found, offers an excellent viewing experience at an affordable price.
The Celestron Outland X 8×42 are made with excellent glass (BaK-4 prisms), and are multi-coated for clarity and accurate colors. In good lighting conditions and even in slightly lower light conditions, I have found the colour definition and detail to be quite good, and help figure out minute details even on smaller birds, thus helping in correct identification of the birds.
The surface armoring gives a safe and agreeable hold and can withstand tough weather elements (these binoculars can withstand heat and rain, though extreme cold is still something I have to test) and I have also found they are true to their word of being fog-proof and water-proof. There is a good amount of eye relief at 18mm which makes this a great choice for those who wear spectacles. The eye-cups are also adjustable for those without spectacles. The rubbery, deeply grooved focus dial I found has a very comfortable feel, easily letting you adjust focus as you peer through the binoculars.
As shared earlier, 8x is the ideal magnification because it strikes the perfect balance between magnification and field of view. When you are starting out into birdwatching, a wider field of view is especially important, and given the magnification and size of the objective lens, the Celestron Outland 8×42 binoculars is well suited for this. (I won’t be going into more detail with regard to the exit pupil and field of view specifications in this case, can just assure you that both these are sufficient for comfortable bird-watching).
Now, what doesn’t work? These binoculars may run into some trouble with more challenging light conditions, particularly backlit subjects, hazy conditions, darker, shaded areas in forests or vegetation or very late in the evenings which may result in you not getting much detail of the bird including colors and features. Basically, if the bird is in a darker area or against light, you’re in trouble. This predominantly has to do with the coating on the lenses, but in this price range, it is to be expected.
I have seen some models outperform the Outland X in this price range, but of the ones available in India currently, they are not among them, which means the Outland X remains a good choice. The second limitation I have found is the quality of the neck straps supplied for this binocular, for the price and considering the quality offered by other models of Vanguard, Nikon in a similar range, these are nowhere near as comfortable, and are not ideal for long use. If you are a regular birder, I would suggest availing of a third-party binocular strap.
Sharing a quick summary here:
- Nice bright image and good clarity in good lighting conditions
- One of the lighter binoculars in the starting range, even amongst roof-prisms
- Waterproof & Fogproof
- A protective Rubber Covering
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
- Twist-up Eyecups for Quick Adjustment
- Moisture Resistant Neoprene Carrying Case
- Amongst the most affordable branded roof-prism binoculars
- Has brightness and image quality limitations in challenging lighting conditions
- Provided neck strap not comfortable for long use
Check the latest price of the binoculars here: Celestron Outland X 8×42 Binoculars
I won’t go into more detail with regard to the Celestron Outland X 10×42 binoculars because most of what I have shared above applies to these binoculars too, but will share the differences that occur with the changed magnification. While the diameter of the objective lens remains the same, the magnification is at 10x which leads to a few changes.
The plus? You get more reach i.e. higher zoom, and I have found this is particularly important for smaller birds like warblers, sparrows, sunbirds, this extra reach can often make a difference in reliably identifying these smaller birds because you are able to notice more subtle features. Another advantage, is these may often be priced around the same range as the 8×42, so you get the extra reach without spending much more (do check this though as online prices tend to be more driven more by availability).
So what are the cons? The extra reach without the size of the objective lens increasing has a trade-off. The trade-off is less light being gathered by the lens, which leads to a darker image, and in unsuitable lighting conditions, this runs into even more trouble than the 8×42. Also, your field of view becomes narrower which means you will have to more precise in where you are pointing the binocular. The eye relief also shortens from the comfortable 18mm to 14mm, making it somewhat less suitable for spectacle wearers though once you get comfortable, spectacle wearers may be able to use this too.
All in all, thanks to some small adjustments, this remains another reliable option for bird watching as the rest of the specifications remain more or less the same. But I would suggest choose this over the 8x magnification only if you intend to bird more in open areas, alternatively, if the 8X42 and 10X50 are not available or there is a significant price difference in the other models.
Check the latest price of the binoculars here: Celestron Outland X 10×42 binoculars
As you can imagine, with a specification of 10X50, the Outland X offers the best of both worlds from the Outland X 8×42 and 10X42 models. The extra reach now comes with the extra light that is needed to give a similar performance to the 8×42. Keep in mind though that some of the limitations I have mentioned in the 8X42 with regard to unsuitable light conditions continue with this model too. The weight does increase by about a 100g, but if you’d like the extra reach and are comfortable with the narrower field of view, you can go with this one.
Check the latest price of the binoculars here: Celestron Outland X 10×50 binoculars
Depending on your comfort level, the 8X42 or the 10X50 are the model to go with, unless online price and availability is an issue, in which case even the 10X42 is very much an option as well. The other models in the Celestron Outland X series are not as suitable for bird-watching, as the diameter of the objective lens is much smaller (it is 25 as opposed to 42 and 50 on the above mentioned models). These can safely be used for sight-seeing purposes but are not suitable for fast-moving subjects like birds that move in uneven light conditions.
In summary, if we have to look at these models from a sheer value perspective, it makes great sense to get these as your first pair of binoculars or if you have been using the heavier porro prism binoculars in the past. Yes, they have limitations, but considering the price range, you should expect it as well. Ideally if you make birdwatching a consistent hobby, after a few years, you may consider going to the next level and even then, these binoculars can always be a good backup. Celestron is one of the most well-established companies in the optics field, and I have no hesitation recommending these binoculars as you’re starting out.
Based on all these reasons, I have found these to be a good choice for our safari tours, and our guests have been delighted that something so light and convenient to enjoy viewing shy wildlife close-up! You can check out our next safari tours here: Wilderlust Expeditions
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