Home Tech Celestron’s TrailSeeker Binoculars Offer High Quality Without the High Price

Celestron’s TrailSeeker Binoculars Offer High Quality Without the High Price

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Open palm holding a pair of black binoculars neatly folded with a weathered wooden surface in the background

I started bird watching around the age of 0 years. That’s what happens when your parents are bird watchers. I started using binoculars when I was five, ancient binoculars Bushnell 10x50s I grabbed when my father wasn’t looking. They were huge – so heavy I could barely lift them – but the world they opened up was well worth the neck strain. Forty-five years later, I am less arrogant about the neck problems.

When I leave the house these days, my binoculars of choice are 8×32. (I explain what these numbers mean in my best binoculars guide.) Celestron’s TrailSeeker 8×32 ED binoculars offer the best combination of image, quality, durability, and price I’ve found. I’ve looked at these many times and thought, I can’t believe these only cost $324. They perform well above their price and match the performance of models costing twice as much.

Optical performance

Photo: Scott Gilbertson

Celestron’s TrailSeeker 8×32 ED binoculars feature BaK-4 prisms with phase and dielectric coating, which are rare in binoculars of this size at this price. You may also see them listed as ‘roof prism binoculars with multi-coated optics’. What all this means is that the air-glass surfaces have multiple layers of anti-reflective coatings, meaning very little light is lost into the prism. Because more light is reflected by the prism and enters your eye, you get a brighter, sharper and more contrasty image.

In practice, the TrailSeeker binoculars provide an excellent image with a ‘sweet spot’ (where the image is sharpest and has the most contrast) that is absolutely pin-sharp and covers about 60 percent of the image and extends from the center. That’s very good for a $320 pair of binoculars. The image softens towards the edges, but not to the extent that I notice it unless I start looking for it.

The edges are still sharp enough to pick up movement, then I can move the binoculars to center the bird, or whatever subject it is, in the sharper center. Additionally, based on my testing, most of the minimal distortion near the edge can be corrected by focusing on the edges. I’ve never felt the need to do this in the real world, but for the sake of testing I discovered it is possible (with a corresponding loss of sharpness in the center as you adjust for curvature distortion at the edges).

Side view of a pair of black binoculars with the lens caps partially loose, sitting on a wooden surface with dry leaves in the background

Photo: Scott Gilbertson

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