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

Binotele.com is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More

Which is better 10×42 or 8×42 Binoculars?

Magnification is one of the most important factors you need to consider when choosing your ideal pair of binoculars. 10×42 and 8×42 are the most popular binocular sizes available on the market today. Though these two sizes are closely related, each size has unique features that set it apart from the other.

If you are in the market for the first time, choosing between 10×42 and 8×42 can be a little overwhelming. To help you choose right, we will take you through the main differences between the two binoculars as well as list down the pros and drawbacks of each.  Let’s get started.

10×42 or 8×42 Binoculars -Terminology

For starters, let’s understand what these numbers on the binoculars mean. The first number represents the magnification strength, while the second number is the size of the objective lens. In this case, both sizes have the same objective lens size which is 42mm.

However, the magnification strength is different. For the 8×42 binoculars, the images will appear 8 times closer when you look through the lens than with the naked eye. On the other hand, 10×42 size means that the images will appear 10 times closer than when you use your naked eyes/

8×42 Overview

8×42 binoculars are ideal for viewing close to mid-range targets. Unlike the 10x lens that brings distant targets closer, 8x magnification might make it difficult for you to see every detail of long-range targets.

Nevertheless, 8×42 binoculars provide a wider field of view compared with their 10×42 counterparts. Field of view refers to the maximum area you can see through the lens without moving the binoculars upwards or sideways. A wide field of view means you’ll have an easier time identifying your targets and tracking them down.

If you wear eyeglasses while out in the field, you might find the 8×42 pair more comfortable for you. Eye relief is the distance between your eyes and the binocular lens. Lower magnification provides a longer eye relief which is essential for comfortable glassing with or without your eyeglasses.

When it comes to optical performance, both binoculars have an exit pupil that’s smaller than 7mm which is the largest that your pupils dilate. This means that the image will appear darker when you are using the binoculars in low light conditions. However, the exit pupil in the 8×42 pair is bigger. Therefore, your images will appear brighter in low-light situations compared with the 10×42 set.

Lastly, if you are looking for the best budget binoculars, you’ll find that most 8×42 binoculars are cheaper. Typically, binoculars with higher magnification tend to cost more than their lower magnification cousins. Plus, you can get a better-quality pair of 8×42 binoculars at a similar cost as a lower-quality pair of 10×42 binoculars.

Pros of 8×42 Binoculars

  • Wider field of view
  • Less expensive
  • Longer eye relief
  • Steadier images
  • Ideal for viewing moving targets
  • Better low-light performance


  • Suitable for close-range viewing only
  • Might not provide the best detail

Check out: The Best 8×42 Binoculars

10×42 Overview

The 10×42 pair has a higher magnification than the 8x counterpart. When you look through the binocular’s lens, the binoculars will appear ten times closer than with your naked eye. This makes the pair suitable for viewing objects at a distance. While higher magnification strength is ideal for viewing targets at longer distances, there are some drawbacks to this.

For starters, higher magnification means a smaller field of view. At long distances, a smaller field of view is not much of a factor. However, at close quarters, you’ll have a hard time seeing the whole image and this can make you miss some essential details.

A smaller field of view is also ideal for viewing targets that are stationary. If you are viewing mobile targets such as birds or wildlife, it can be harder to spot and keep track of them since you’ll be seeing a smaller area.

When it comes to optical performance, the image brightness is similar in both sets of binoculars if you are using them in good and average light conditions. But, when the ambient light levels decrease, like at dusk and dawn, or when operating in thick woodlands, your pupils expand to take in more light.

Since the 10×42 set has a smaller exit pupil, the binoculars will give you dull image views compared with the 8×42 counterparts. Besides, binoculars with higher magnification use thicker glass, which means less light passes through them.

The eye relief in 10×42 binoculars is shorter than that in 8×42 binoculars. But the eye relief differs from one model to the other. If you put on eyeglasses, look for a pair whose eye relief is long enough to provide snug viewing even with your eyeglasses on.

When it comes to cost, the best 10×42 binoculars carry higher price tags. Comparatively, you can find higher-quality 8×42 binoculars for an equal price as a lower-quality 10×42 pair. The price of the binoculars increases with an increase in magnification strength. But you can still get quality yet cost-effective 10×42 pair.

Pros of 10×42 Binoculars

  • Ideal for viewing distant objects
  • Sees more detail on objects
  • Suitable for multiple outdoor applications


  • More expensive
  • Smaller eye relief
  • Smaller exit pupil
  • More difficult to spot small targets and keep track of moving targets

Check Out: The Best 10×42 Binoculars

10×42 and 8×42 Binoculars Similarities 

  • Same light gathering ability. Given that both 10×42 and 8×42 have the same 42 objective lens size, their light-gathering ability is similar in good to average light conditions assuming they use the quality of glass and lens coating is the same.
  • Similar size and weight. Most manufactures will list their 8×42 and 10×42 models which are in the same series as having the same size and weight.

Final Thoughts

We hope that after going through this post, you now know the difference between 10×42 and 8×42 binoculars. Your ideal size will largely depend on your preference as well as the outdoor activity you’ll be engaged in. If you are looking for a good, all-around pair, then you should go with the 8×42 size. Go for the 10×42 size if you are looking to see more image detail even in subjects that are far away.

See Also