Which is Better, 8×42 or 10×42 Binoculars?

When searching for binoculars, your primary focus should be on the objective lens size. If you are eyeing a full-size binocular, it’s a battle between 8×42 vs 10×42 binoculars. Even if they may look somewhat identical, the characteristics that distinguish them make it easier for you to choose.

For bird watchers, hunters, and others who love outdoor adventure, binoculars are essential. The question is, which is better, 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars? Compared to 10×42 and 8×42 binocular can provide a wider field of view, a larger exit pupil, and better image stability. But this is not the only thing you should be on the lookout for. You have to also focus on other factors.

To help you decide, we have compared the two sizes based on appearance, features, price, pros and cons, and others. By the end of this post, you will know which size will fit your purpose.

Physical Appearance Differences

Binoculars may differ in objective lens size, but their size and weight are almost the same and are not worth mentioning. Most brands would list their 8 x 42 and 10 x 42 binoculars as having the same weight and size.

Regarding the binocular body, they are almost identical, except for their colors and the materials they are made of. Some users feel that the 10 x 42 is heavier than the 8 x 42 because it has thicker glass to provide higher power. The difference in weight is relatively minimal, so it is not worth considering as a deciding factor.

Specific Feature Differences

You are incorrect if you believe that 10×42 binoculars are more powerful and would suit you better than 8×42 binoculars. Compared to larger binoculars, the 8×42 binoculars have various advantages that may be extremely beneficial to you. Check out the specific feature differences, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each size, below.

Optical Differences

Binoculars are often built for certain purposes. These various designs necessitate specific optical characteristics, which may be found on the prism cover plate of the binoculars. These are the parameters:

It is best to define what these numbers indicate to effectively differentiate 8 x 42 and 10 x 42 binoculars. Binocular sizes are denoted by two numerals. The first number is always followed by an X to signify lens magnification, while the second number represents the objective lens size in millimeters.

Magnification

Magnification refers to how much closer an item appears when seen through a certain lens. An 8X magnification, for example, indicates that the things you’re looking at seem eight times closer via the lens than they do with the human eye.

Similarly, 10X implies that the objects you’re looking at will appear ten times closer than if the lens were not used. This means a higher magnification enables you to see more detail in distant objects.

Size of the Lens

The second set of numerals in binocular sizes represents the objective lens. It means that 8X42 and 10X42 binoculars both feature 42mm lenses. Larger lenses let more light in, providing a better vision and a more detailed image.

They do, however, result in larger, thicker, and heavier binoculars. On the other hand, smaller lenses provide a lower-quality viewing experience but are much easier to use and carry.

Field of View (FOV)

With higher magnification, you can see the object in detail but less of the larger image. It is the opposite when it comes to the field of view (FOV). 8×42 binoculars have a wider field of view, making it easier to focus on your target.

If you want to acquire a pair of highly magnified binoculars, you will be able to see a smaller area, making it difficult to spot a bird amid the trees or other small objects in a broad area.

Eye Relief

If you need to wear sunglasses in the field, the best choice is 8×42 binoculars.

The distance from the eyepiece at which your eye will get an entire field of view and a vivid image is referred to as eye relief. In general, 10X binoculars usually have shorter eye relief compared to 8X.

Anyone who does not use glasses will not be concerned about eye relief. However, if you wear glasses, you should pay close attention to this. You’ll need at least 16mm of eye relief for glasses, though greater is preferable.

Exit Pupil Size

The difference between 8×42 and 10×42 binoculars can be explained clearly by stating the relationship between the eye pupil size and the shaft size of light exiting the binocular ocular lenses:

  • 8×42 binoculars make an exit pupil of 5.25mm (42/8).
  • 10×42 binoculars make an exit pupil of 4.2mm (42/10).

The eye’s pupil usually constricts to a size lower or equal to 4mm under good or average light conditions. Thus, both 8×42 and 10×42 binoculars will provide your eyes with enough light to work with and thus perceive a vivid image.

Thus, it is hard to determine the difference in brightness between the two sizes of the same quality.

In a place where the lighting is low, such as in a forest, or just before sunrise or during sunset, the pupils’ eyes expand to enable them to take in more light. The 8×42 binoculars create a larger exit pupil and have a better advantage over the 10×42.

In other words, low magnification binoculars will provide a brighter image than 10 x 42 binoculars. Thus, even if they both capture the same amount of light and the 10x power has the potential to provide more visual detail, you cannot see it.

Transmittance & Glass Thickness

Less light will be allowed to pass through binoculars with higher magnifications since they require thicker lenses. Although the difference in transmittance between 8×42 and 10×42 binoculars is very low, it remains an essential factor, mainly if you use them in low light conditions.

Ease of Use

When it comes to ease of use, 8×42 has the edge over 10×42. Lining up 8×42 is easier because it has a wider exit pupil/shaft of light exiting the binocular. The design is more forgiving and produces an image without black rings on the borders of the view.

Price Differences      

For some, the price is an essential factor to consider when buying binoculars.  People would normally think that higher magnification is more costly than the one with lesser magnification. This is not true 100%, but it is close enough to be considered a general rule.

While this is not always the case and varies by brand, 10×42 binoculars might be slightly more expensive than the 8×42 model from the same brand and series.

Then, while it is true that they require somewhat more glass to produce the thicker eyepiece lenses for the greater magnification, this is not the primary reason for the price difference, so what is?

Since 8×42 is the most popular compact binocular configuration, manufacturers frequently make/order more parts for them, thus lowering the total manufacturing costs.

Specific Activity

When deciding which of the 8×42 and 10×42 binoculars to buy, you need to consider your purpose. Let’s go through some of the specific activities to assist you in deciding which binoculars are best for you.

Rifle Hunting

If you have plans of rifle hunting, you are most likely to be traveling in wide and open areas where you will require maximum reach. A 10×42 binocular with added reach can help you detect your target before they spot you and flee. For this activity, a 10×42 binocular is recommended.

Even if you are near your target, proper handling of a high-powered optic can still be of great importance because of its capability to collect details and identity specifics of your prey. For rifle hunting, foregoing some of its FOV is worth it.

Bow Hunting

We all know that the arrow does not travel far like the bullet, so the additional reach is not required, unlike rifle hunting. In bow hunting, your target should not be able to detect you, which means you need a high-powered binocular to help you locate your target before you are seen or heard. The added reach of a 10x binocular will not help you that much in bow hunting.

A pair of 8×42 binoculars is more helpful. It will be easier for you to identify and follow a fast-moving target, particularly in the forest, because 8×42 has a larger FOV.  As a side note, you might be better off using a lesser-powered binocular, such as an 8X, for bow hunting in forested areas.

Birding

For many birders, using 8×42 binoculars for birding is the best option. It has a wider field of view and a larger exit pupil, making it easier to spot fast-moving, flying, and camouflaged birds than higher magnification.

But, if you are aiming for bigger, slower-moving birds, such as shorebirds and raptors, you don’t need the added FOV. You can follow and locate them easily. You need to focus more on details and identifying them, and higher magnification 10x binoculars are what you need.

Pros & Cons of 8X42 Binoculars

Here are the pros and cons of 8×42 binoculars to help you decide:

The Pros

  • Wider field of view (FOV)
  • Recommended for those who wear glasses.
  • Better low-light performance
  • The image is steadier than at higher magnifications.
  • Priced reasonably.
  • Finding the target is much easier.

The Cons

  • You might see a less detailed image.
  • Not recommended for far targets

Pros & Cons of 10X42 Binoculars

Here are the pros and cons of 10×42 binoculars:

The Pros

  • Can view a more detailed object.
  • Recommended for aiming things from a long distance.

The Cons

  • The smaller exit pupil is worse in low-light conditions.
  • Locating a small subject is not easy.
  • It has shorter eye-relief

Conclusion

Let’s face it, there is no such thing as perfect binoculars. Every person has their own preferences. As a result, there is no clear winner between 8×42 vs 10×42 because both are useful for a specific activity. The 8×42 binoculars are recommended for rifle hunting, while the 10×42 is ideal for bow hunting. You can use either of the two in birding.

8×42 binoculars are easier to hold and are best used even in low-light conditions. It also has a larger field of view, making it easier to locate the target through the lens. You can also buy this one at a better price compared to the one with higher magnification. You will never go wrong with 8×42, as it excels in most categories.

With 10×42, you can see the object in detail and can view subjects farther away. This is quite advantageous for birders, hunters and others who require the added detail that higher magnification can provide.

If you want to share your thoughts or have questions about the topic, feel free to comment below.

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