Here's our best 8x42 binoculars buying guide and review for 2023 in four price ranges for birding and hunting.
We don't recommend getting 8x42 binoculars that are under $100.
Because they will be a waste of your money. The cheap optics will frustrate you and instead of identifying birds or locating wildlife, you will end up with a headache. Period.
We have divided our reviews into four price ranges:
The Celestron Nature DX binoculars are a great choice if you can't spend over $200.
They don't have the highest quality prisms and glass like a $3,000 pair of Swarovskis, but you will be able to identify birds and spot wildlife with them.
The National Audubon Society listed the Nature DX as one of their top-scoring binoculars in the $150-$300 range, scoring just as high as the more expensive binoculars in this category with just as equally bright, sharp images and color as the others.
Celestron Nature DX at Optics Planet
Celestron 8x42 Binoculars - Manufacturer product page.
We love the Monarchs and have used them professionally for bird surveys as well as for recreational birding.
We have a more in-depth review of them here: Nikon Monarch M5 review.
The Monarch M5 8x42 binoculars are known for exceptional clarity in this price range as well as sharp images.
They're comfortable to hold, are waterproof and fogproof, and because of the light-gathering capacity, do well in low-light conditions, such as at dawn and dusk, and on cloudy days.
Nikon Monarch M5 at Optics Planet
We also like the Vortex Viper HD 8x42 binoculars in this category, but they are more expensive than the Monarchs, in the upper $400 range.
The field of view is wider than the Monarchs at 409 feet vs 335 feet, and the Vipers have a better high density optical system and XR anti-relfective lens coatings for even better clarity and edge-to-edge resolution.
If you have another $200 to spend in your budget, they would be worth it, but the Monarchs are a great pair as well at the lower price point.
Bumping up to the over $500 range, you get higher quality HD glass. With the Steiner Predator diamond coating, images are even brighter and with more contrast.
Steiner Predator at Optics Planet
For about $300 more than the Steiner Predators, the Vortex Razor HD binoculars will provide a little more clarity and brightness with better glass and prism optics via their APO (apochromatic) Optical System which uses premium HD (High Density) and ED (extra-low dispersion) glass .
Best Under $2,000
We always liked the Vortex Razor HD binoculars, but the UHD model offers even more with optic quality and resulting clarity and brightness.
Also, the new 8x42 UHD model has an impressive wide field of view at 420 feet (vs 388 ft on the HD model) which is up there with some of the best wide angle binoculars available on the market, aside from the Swarovski's below that have a FOV of 477 feet.
The only con I see is the weight. They are a little heavy at 32.4 ounces vs the Swavorski NL Pure (below) at 29.5 ounces in this category.
Vortex Razor UHD at Optics Planet
Best Over $2,000
Swarovski NL Pure 8x42 Binoculars
If you want to splurge, the Swarovski NL Pure won't disappoint you.
These have the widest field of view of any binocular with a 42mm objective lens - 477 feet at 1,000 yards!
That's more than 100 feet than other binoculars in our reviews above, aside from the Vortex Razor which has a FOV of 420 feet..
We like the feel of the slimmer, ergonomic barrels for comfortable gripping.
The NL Pure has a unique optional forehead rest accessory that can help you with holding the binoculars more steady.
The first number is the magnification. The second number is the objective lens size in millimeters (mm).
So 8x42 binoculars have a magnification of 8 times your normal vision with an objective lens size of 42 mm.
The larger the objective lens, the wider the field of view and the brighter the image will be since it allows more light to enter the lens. But larger objective lenses also adds more weight as well as more bulk to the binoculars.
The 10x42 binoculars will have 2x more magnification than the 8x42s, however with the same objective lens size of 42 mm, the 10x42 will have a smaller field of view.
Comparatively, brightness also decreases with magnification if the objective lens size remains the same.
That depends. If you are viewing birds in from a long distance where you may want more magnification and in well-lighted conditions where a larger objective lens size isn't as important such as in open areas like wetlands, deserts, savannas, beaches, open valleys or mountaintops during hawk migrations, etc.., then you may want to use 10x42 binoculars.
If you are viewing birds in more challenging conditions such as at dawn or dusk or in shaded thick forests where you're trying to follow quick moving songbirds in the trees, then you're probably better off with 8x42 binoculars which have a wider field of view and have a larger exit pupil (diameter of light in millimeters visible through the eyepiece) for brighter images.
If you really want 10x magnification for those conditions, you're better off buying 10x50 binoculars. They will be a little larger and less compact than 8x42s as well as a bit heavier, but the larger objective lens will allow more light to enter and give you a wider field of view.
Best Binoculars for Bird Watching - and hunting, in 4 price ranges.
How to Choose Binoculars - What features to look for according to your needs
Best 7x50 Binoculars - Good choice as marine binoculars for use on a boat, low light conditions, astronomy. Easier to hold steady with less hand shake magnification as in higher magnification binoculars.
Best 10x50 binoculars - If you need more magnification and don't mind a little more weight, try 10x50s.
Yes, 8x42 binoculars are good for hunting with a good combination of magnification, objective lens size, and weight, which we have used on deer and elk hunts. If you want more magnification to spot animals from a further distance, such as in open areas (valleys, above tree line in the mountains, open deserts, etc.), then try 10x50 binoculars as opposed to 10x42s.
Because the 50 mm objective lens will provide a wider field of view for spotting animals as well as allowing more light to enter the lens which will help during your hunt in low light conditions such as at dusk and dawn.
But keep in mind the 10x50s will weigh more than 8x42s. Good to use them with a binocular harness to alleviate some the weight pressure on your neck.
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Bird Watching Binoculars, Squirrel-Proof Feeder & Hummingbird Feeder
Read Our Reviews:
Nikon Monarch M5
Best mid-priced bird watching binoculars. Waterproof, shockproof, multi-coated ED-Glass.
No batteries, adjustable, easy to clean...and no squirrels!
"Best New Product" Award.
Bird Bath Heater
Keeps your bird baths ice-free down to -20 F. Low-operating costs ~$1/mo
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