Binoculars, besides being a boring but reliable conservation topic for socially awkward birders, are also famous for being associated with creeps, birders, or both.
What not to do:
1. It is crucial that you stay away from Swarovski or Leica binoculars, unless you are Bill Gates. Maintain a distance of at least 10 miles, and every time you hear the word "Swarovski" or "Leica" make sure you immediately yell the safe word, "NO."
In fact, practice it right now. Read this paragraph in your head, yelling "NO," every time you hit the word Swarovski or Leica.
2. Lugging and using heavy binoculars into the field is one of the best known bodybuilding techniques known in the present day. For bonus exercise, make sure that wherever you're going has a hyper abundance of waterfowl, shorebirds, and gulls.
3. The second most tragic thing that can happen for any birder is to purchase a pair of binoculars that doesn't "fit" their hands properly. The first is to pick up a pair of Swaros, and realize how crap your own pair is. (Did you yell "NO!" when skimming over the word Swaros? Good, good)
4. It may seem like a brilliant idea at first, but after a month, you'll want to return your zoom binoculars at the nearest chance you get.
Affordable and quality (recommended by multiple birders) :Any pair of high quality Eagle Optics 8X42 binoculars will last the average birder a satisfying lifetime, literally: Eagle Optics lifetime warranty covers a huge array of damages. Cons: Purchasers of Eagle/Ego Optics usually develop a deep and convoluted sense of superiority and arrogance, especially in the presence of birders with other optics.
Tutorial: Knowledge of binoculars is a must, as a piece of conservation topic for the basic birder. In any desperately awkward social situation, this is a foolproof topic to turn to.
Three must-know facts about binoculars:
1. The first number in the description of a binocular stands for the magnification.
Unless you have the eyes of a hawk or the hands of a saint, you'll want to go for the middle magnification, usually 7,8 or 9. The second number stands for the light capacity of the binoculars. The higher the number, the better--usually, a good light admittance is 42.
2. A wide field of view is crucial. The wider the field of view, the easier it is to find a bird. This does not depend on size, at all. Usually the field of view is put in degrees.
3. Features like watertightness, waterproofing, quick focus knobs, and eyeglass adjustments are immensely useful.
What price you can get a good pair at: $150. Unless you didn't heed my warnings and touched a Leica. I warned you for a reason.
And always remember: the ultimate goal of birders is a solid pair of Zeiss or Leica binoculars. If you ever hear a group of birders talking about their new Leica binoculars, scream "no" and know that at least you're not broke.