The question is which of the market leaders in the field of optics can lay claim to having produced the world's best binoculars?It's not too hard to identify those that deserve a place in a directory for the world's best binoculars, optics are specialist bits of kit and there is a clear divide between the basically poor, the reasonable to good quality and the exceptional. However to single out one of the exceptional as the out and out best binoculars isn't so easy given that personal taste and binocular application both have a strong influence in the decision.
What can be said is that for any pair of binoculars to feature in a world's best binoculars list they must create a passion, excite you when you pick them up and make you never want to put them down. An exceptional pair of binoculars should not only have outstanding quality optics but be so well balanced that you don't even know they are in your hand allowing you to observe for extended periods of time in perfect comfort.
Unless you have experienced the difference between good and absolutely superb you won't ever understand how the world's best feels, so, if you really want to know just test a pair of Swarovski 8.5 x 42 EL's against perhaps a Pentax DCF SP 8 x 43. The Pentax is good, very good but the Swarovski is special. One word of warning, don't do this unless you can afford to upgrade as lesser priced binoculars will never seem the same again!!
As I said personal taste is important and there will often be disagreements with one user believing that Swarovski are the world's best binoculars while another will swear by Leica (for example) but what the top binoculars have in common is the manufacturers absolute attention to detail in regards to design, weight, size and balance and the exceptional quality of the optics and optical coatings.
Application is really important because the world's best binoculars for birding would be absolutely useless for astronomy or for the marine environment and binoculars that work well for sports, travel or theatre wouldn't be so good for observing nature or hunting.
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Binoculars at sea?
For marine use the Steiner Commander binoculars are hard to beat. They are the only marine binoculars to come with Steiner's Nano protection against the environment, they are salt water resistant, waterproof to 10mtrs, have long life NBR rubber armouring, high performance optics, interchangeable eyecup system with a specific eyecup for spectacle wearers and a 30 year guarantee. These are truly professional marine binoculars which deliver an amazing performance in all light conditions, a strong contender for the world's best binoculars in a marine environment. Other options are the Nikon Stabileyes which are twice the price but offer image stabilizing technology or Canon IS binoculars although these are specifically designed for marine use.
If you are after image stabilizing binoculars take a look at the Canon 10x42 WP IS binoculars. Users absolutely rave about them. They are the first binoculars with lenses which carry the red L-series ring only previously found on Canon professional camera lenses, are fully waterproof and have unrivalled IS capabilities (in any moving environment).
For the world's best binoculars for birding you might want to try the Swarovski EL 8.5 x 42's, a truly outstanding bit of kit which delivers a user experience you will never forget. Another great bird binocular is the Leica Ultravid 42 series, absolutely stunning binos, compact (for their class) and yet exceptionally bright.
The best giant binoculars can deliver some stunning views of sky objects and the right ones make an excellent addition to the astronomer's toolbox. Fujinon produce top quality astronomy binoculars (up to 150mm objective diameter) although at a price which is beyond the reach of the average user. The Nikon 10 x 70 IF SP WP's are more affordable and make an excellent pair of astronomy binoculars.
How about binoculars for night vision?
Fujinon also make some of the world's best night vision binoculars but they come with a very high price tag!
For every application there is often a different short list for the 'world's best binoculars' in that class so as a starting point you need to decide exactly what you want to use your binoculars for. This will then enable you to narrow down your search in regard to magnification, size of objective lens etc. and manufacturers generally indicate suitable applications for their binoculars. Always check out the quality of the lenses and lens coatings, don't settle for anything less than fully multi-coated optics and Bak-4 prisms (unless price is an issue for you). Price isn't always an indication as to how good a pair of binoculars is so birding / astronomy forums etc are a good place to find those little gems that perform as well as the known top performers but for a lesser price tag.