Are 8x42 binoculars good for birders?
Binoculars numbers indicate their strength (magnification power) and size (objective lens diameter). For instance, in 8x42 binoculars, “8” is the magnification power and “42” is the diameter (in millimeters) of the objective lenses (the lenses closest to the object the user is observing).
Objective lens size tells the actual physical size of the binoculars and the amount of light they can collect. Once you figure out in what way they influence viewing, you will pick the best 8x42 binoculars for birding, observing stars or while being on a moving vehicle faster.
If you are deeply involved in observing wildlife or birds on the trees in the park, you should better use 8x42 binoculars. Are you going to venture into the unknown looking for rare animals/birds and you require remarkable optics? Or are you after more compact binoculars that can be carried around on a daily basis?
8x42 binoculars (they are often listed as 8x42s) are a perfect pair for the majority of needs. Since the objective lens is quite large (42 mm), it will collect a greater amount of light and users will be able to view a brighter picture.
Magnification: 8x | Objective diameter: 42mm | Field of view at 1000m: 357ft | Closest focusing distance: 12ft | Eye relief: 19.5mm | Weight: 650g
⊕ Rubber-armored coating
⊕ Tripod adaptable
⊕ Smooth central focus eyecups
⊖ Noticeable chromatic aberration
⊖ Loose eyepieces
Due to Phase-Correction Coated Roof Prisms, the PROSTAFF 7S binoculars produce a high-resolution picture with incredibly precise color rendering. Multilayer coatings are applied to all of the lens and prism surfaces that transfer light. Therefore, these coatings offer increased light transfer across the entire visible light spectrum. Since the body design is ergonomic and lightweight, the PROSTAFF 7S won’t cause you any inconvenience while you are holding them for long time periods. The use of the central focus knob is hassle-free. With the rubber-armored coating, the binoculars are able to endure rough conditions. The non-slip grip provides comfortable use even if it is very wet outside.
Turn-and-slide rubber eyecups with the adjustable eye-relief offer a full field of view and enhanced comfort even if you are using these 8 by 42 binoculars for too long.
The model is Nitrogen filled and O-Ring sealed to achieve excellent fog- and waterproof properties. The Nikon binoculars are under Nikon's Lifetime Warranty. So, if you notice that your binocular is faulty in terms of materials or manufacture, the company will replace or fix it without you having to pay anything.
Magnification: 8x | Objective diameter: 42mm | Field of view at 1000m: 384ft | Closest focusing distance: 2.5metres | Eye relief: 18mm | Weight: 630g
⊕ Almost perfect quality
⊕ Qualitative materials overall
⊕ Reliable build and top-grade finish
⊕ Zeiss badge
⊖ Focus may seem a bit critical for some
⊖ Slightly heavyweight
According to these 8x42 binoculars reviews, you will definitely enjoy using the model. For their price of $1000, the bins will please you with the remarkable optical quality, which Zeiss never fails to provide. The picture has sufficient brightness, sharpness and almost no chromatic aberration. I haven’t seen the model with better optics in this price category.
The Zeiss Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars will appeal to those like watching sports, observing nature, hunting regardless of the climate, weather and lighting conditions.
Since the Zeiss binoculars always come with a high price tag, they won’t be a perfect fit for amateurs and regular users. In this case, I suggest investing in a more affordable model.
Magnification: 8x | Objective diameter: 42mm | Field of view at 1000m: 140.4metres | Closest focusing distance: 1.4metres | Eye relief: 18.0mm | Weight: 714g
⊕ Decent clarity
⊕ Sufficient brightness
⊕ Excellent close focus range
⊖ Stiff middle hinge
⊖ A bit heavyweight
The Vortex Diamondbacks feature a roof prism design. It boasts the light weight and reliability in terms of the focus wheel and the hinge. The binoculars offer decent resolution in poor light conditions, which can compete with the resolution of other bins that cost $70-100 more.
In case the cost and weight are highly relevant to you, you will appreciate the Vortex Diamondback HD 8x28 for their compact size, reasonable price, as well as magnificent optical quality. It is possible due to the combination of small lenses and decent glass. These bins are a go-to option for backpackers and novice birders. But be ready to deal with one drawback – the model is unable to collect a sufficient amount of light in dark surroundings because of the small size. So, if you are a fan of observing nature at early dawn or late dusk, you should pay attention to a different model. For those who need bins to go on a hike in daylight when it is unlikely to get dark, the Vortex Diamondback HD are the best 8x42 binoculars.
Magnification: 8x | Objective diameter: 42mm | Field of view at 1000m: 136metres | Closest focusing distance: 1.9metres | Eye relief: 18.5mm | Weight: 810g
⊕ Decent overall contrast
⊕ Resist to flare and ghosting
⊕ Nice tripod adapter
⊕ Vibrant colors
⊖ Doubtful rough focusing
⊖ Close focus of only 3.2 meters
For 10 years, Swarovski hasn’t been releasing any new binoculars and then came out with two upgraded models practically at once. Shortly after the company’s well-known EL II Swarovision binoculars (see Birdwatch 214: 44), the modernized SLC series follows with its 8x42 and 10x42 models. Since I was testing the new ELs not long ago, I was eager to try SLCs as well and compare them.
The older binoculars were impressive while the new HD Swarovski SLC ones exceeded all my expectations. The decision to incorporate the HD glass and more sophisticated coatings makes this second line of Swarovski one of the best 8x42 binoculars on the nowadays’ market.
Magnification: 8x | Objective diameter: 42mm | Field of view at 1000m: 124metres | Closest focusing distance: 1.8metres | Eye relief: 17mm | Weight: 730g
⊕ Allow watching stars
⊕ Could be used for self-defense
⊕ Diopter locking mechanisms
⊕ Some signs of chromatic aberration
⊖ Low-quality accessories
Leica has released the newest addition to the line of high-quality binoculars. The 8x42 Trinovid HD comes with phase-corrected prisms coated with several special layers that allow them to reflect more light. Thanks to it, the fully multi-coated optics boasts high light-gathering capabilities. This pair of the best 8x42 binoculars delivers high-contrast images with great color accuracy and little distortion. It boasts powerful performance with impressive 8x magnification. The wide exit pupil and comfortable eye relief account for the most immersive experience.
Magnification: 10x | Objective diameter: 42mm | Field of view at 1000m: 418ft | Closest focusing distance: metres/ ft | Eye relief: 99mm | Weight: 773g
⊕ Comes with fully multi-coated lenses
⊕ Doesn’t weigh much compared to others
⊕ A wide field of view
⊕ Has a long eye relief
⊖ A long close focus distance
The Ares 10X42 has a lightweight body, so you can easily carry it around for several hours straight, without experiencing any signs of muscle strain. The high-quality option accounts for impressive image clarity and allows you to use these binoculars under poor light conditions. The body is rugged and made of durable materials.
The Ares 10X42 comes with extra features that are quite helpful for different types of activities. You can use them for birdwatching, hunting, watching sports events, camping or hiking. They will make your sightseeing experience more enjoyable as well.
To make them even more comfortable to use, the manufacturer has equipped these best 8x42 binoculars with eye relief and an exit pupil with a 65-degree apparent viewing angle. It significantly reduces hand shake which is a problem shared by many powerful-optics devices. This pair of binoculars also has a wide field of view.
Magnification: 8x | Objective diameter: 42mm | Field of view at 1000m: 393ft | Closest focusing distance: 1.8metres | Eye relief: 17.8mm | Weight: 705g
⊕ 42mm objective lens, 8x magnification
⊕ 393-feet field of view at 1,000 yards
⊕ 17.8mm eye relief
⊕ XLD lens
Celestron significantly upgraded its series by releasing the 8x42 Nature DX ED Binocular equipped with extra-low dispersion glass. This model boasts high color accuracy and delivers high-quality images with perfect brightness, clarity and contrast even if you observe your subjects from a long distance. To enhance its performance even further, manufacturers added fully multi-coated ED glass lenses with impressive light-gathering and anti-reflective capabilities. Besides, the Celestron 72332 features phase-corrected BAK4 roof prisms.
Thanks to the extremely wide apparent view angle, you can enjoy immersive birdwatching experience or easily spot any animal without moving your head too much. These 8 by 42 binoculars are perfect both for hunters and sports enthusiasts who visit mass events. The Celestron 72332 is equipped with long eye relief and wide exit pupil, which accounts for reduced eye strain and makes your experience more enjoyable if you spend long hours outside.
Magnification: 10x | Objective diameter:42mm | Field of view at 1000m: 142metres | Closest focusing distance: 6.5ft | Eye relief: 18 mm | Weight: 666g
⊕ UWB coating
⊕ Lead-free optics
⊕ Long eye relief
⊖ Low-quality materials
The Legend Ultra HD E-Series Binocular comes with a high-end rubber-coated chassis made of magnesium and is equipped with Bushnell’s signature optics. Its rugged body has a seamless design. If you read 8x42 binoculars reviews, you will learn that this model delivers stable performance regardless of weather conditions. All in all, this is a top-notch option in the market.
The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD E-Series binocular delivers perfect brightness, sharp details and high color accuracy thanks to its high-end optics and anti-reflective fully multi-coated lenses. On top of that, the pair of binoculars comes with phase-coated BaK-4 prisms and lead-free lenses made of premium-quality glass. Besides being eco-friendly, this option delivers a dynamic viewing experience.
Magnification: 10x | Objective diameter: 42mm | Field of view at 1000m: 388ft | Closest focusing distance:6.6ft | Eye relief: 17.5mm | Weight: 1100g
⊕ Eyepiece and objective lens caps
⊕ BaK-4 glass
⊕ Roof prism
⊖ Weighs too much
While this pair of the best 8x42 binoculars is pretty solid and well put together, it’s quite portable and can easily fit in your hand. The diopter adjustment wheel is handily located on the right barrel and can’t be shifted incidentally. You can also twist the eyecups up and down.
Thanks to the rubber coating, this pair of binoculars is comfortable to grip. If you enjoy hiking, you can easily take it with you wherever you go, as they weigh only 1 lb 14oz. The Levenhuk Karma PRO also comes with large objective lenses for better light gathering. They are multi-coated to reduce flare and glare.
Nikon 16002 PROSTAFFOur choice
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Vortex Optics DiamondbackProfessional
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Manufacturers offer a lot of 8×42 binoculars striking the best balance between powerful optics and portability, so it might be quite difficult to decide which option to purchase. To help you make an informed choice, I’ve put together this guide to let you know what features you should be looking for.
First, I will give you the full lowdown on the general specifications. Then, I will tell you more about the differences between the binoculars from different price ranges. Here, you will find the information about their main advantages and disadvantages as well.
8×42 is the most widely used configuration in binoculars. They are considered to be the best all-rounders as they have impressive fields of view and exit pupils, which is perfect for observing various subjects in poor light conditions. With them, all handshake disappears leaving you with a perfectly clear image. They have better image stabilization that high-magnification binoculars. This configuration is a standard one, which makes such binoculars easy to use for beginners and experienced users alike. This model is offered by every manufacturer on the market, so you will have plenty of options to choose from.
As it’s often mentioned in 8 x 42 binocular reviews, their most important feature is the field of view. Nowadays, the 8x and 10x magnification binoculars enjoy wide popularity. If the magnification if low, the field of view will be wider. The best 8×42 binoculars come with the field of view of 150 m on 1000 m, while lower quality models offer 120–140 m on 1000 m. Budget options come with a narrow field of view of 120 m on 1000 m.
Most 8×42 binoculars are equipped with Schmidt-Pechan roof prisms. Some models come with Abbe-Koenig roof prisms that can be used only in the binoculars with at least 54mm lenses. You will rarely see Porro prisms in the binoculars of this type.
The 8x42 waterproof binoculars that cost more than $120 are usually filled with Nitrogen or Argon to prevent them from fogging up at low temperatures. They are also perfect for glass wearers. Before such models flooded the market, there were a lot of options equipped with Porro prisms that came without adjustable eyecups.
The 8×42 binoculars come in handy in different situations when you need to observe your subject from the long distance. If you enjoy hunting, you will appreciate this option for its practicality. Thanks to the 8x magnification, the field of view is sufficiently wide, which allows you to spot animals easily. If you go hunting in the mountains, then, the 10×42 models will be a perfect choice as they are better for longer distances. For poor light conditions, choose the 8×42 option as it has the bigger exit pupil.
Nowadays, binoculars come with a special prism element which allows you to rotate the image to make it easier to see it upright. The size of a pair of binoculars, its shape and optical capabilities heavily depend on a prism. However, most people don’t pay attention to this feature while making a purchase.
Beware, that there are different prism types available on the market, each of them is perfect for a specific purpose, be it hunting, bird watching or getting closer to the sporting action.