8×42 vs 10×42 and 10×50: Which one to Choose!

Choosing binoculars is a personal decision. The type of binoculars you use would determine whether you would enjoy using them or not. Their suitability depends on the kind of activity you wish to use them for. So, today, we will talk about 8×42 vs 10×42 and 10×50 binoculars and when to choose which one for your adventure..

8×42 vs 10×42 and 10×50

But before we dealt more into that, let’s first talk about some of the features of binoculars and how they affect your choice.

Binocular Terms and How They Affect Your Choice

Magnification and Objective Lens

Numbers are what differentiate one binocular from another. Numbers such as 10×42 and 8×32, represent the magnification and objective lens size respectively.

The magnification in binoculars simply tells you how many times closer the object or your target is brought closer to you other than your naked eye. For the examples given above, the magnifications are the 10x and 8x.

The magnification you choose will depend on what you intend to use it for. Choosing binoculars for general outdoor activities don’t usually require high power but would vary anywhere from 7x to 10x. Indoor activities might require you to go for power even lower than that. Lower magnifying power makes the image appear brighter while higher magnification presents your more details.

8x42 vs 10x42 and 10x50 binoculars

However, big game hunters would require magnification of 10x and higher. This is because this range is good for long distance viewing. But you need to keep in mind that holding in your hands binoculars of higher magnification can be a bit difficult to keep steady. To keep them steady, you would need a tripod.

The objective lenses are the farthest lenses on the binoculars when you look through the binoculars and they are the biggest. From the examples above the objective lens sizes are the 42 mm and 32 mm respectively. These are the diameter of the binoculars objective lens and are measured in millimeters.

The bigger this number, the bulkier and heavier the binoculars will be. hence you have to make compromises and tradeoffs depending on what you want to use it for.

Since the objectives will often be the largest portion of the optic, it will affect the overall size and weight of the binocular, and how much light it can gather. In basic terms: larger objectives allow more light to pass through them than smaller lenses, which means images will appear brighter, sharper, and clearer.

Objective Lenses –  42 vs 50 mm Binoculars

When it comes to objective lens diameters, hunters and birders who explore or hunt at dusk or dawn know the importance of a full size binocular. So whether you choose a 42 vs 50 mm binoculars is personal. lets use this example 10×42 and 10×50 binoculars.

If you wish to know which is better, I will say if you should compare the same brand binoculars that have the same magnification, for low light conditions, then the 50 mm binoculars will allow you extra minutes over the 42 mm binoculars.

You might think those extra minutes are not important. But those few minutes could be critical to actually spotting animals that are on the move that won’t be there a few minutes later. The only downside is the extra weight that the 50mm binoculars will come with.

Now, let’s say you were to compare binoculars of different brands, a Zeiss or Swarovski 10×42 binoculars will outperform mid-class binoculars like Vortex Viper 10×50 binoculars even though the Vortex Viper has a bigger objective lens.

Exit pupil, also come to play here. The higher the exit pupil the better. as the extra light that comes through the eyes will be utilized.

That brings me to another binocular term – the exit pupil.

Exit Pupil

The other thing you need to understand is the exit pupil. Let’s use the examples above – 10×42 and 10×50. They have exit pupil of 4.2 mm and 5.0 mm respectively.

Exit pupil size of your optics is important because on average, the human eye pupil opens to a max average diameter of approx. 5 mm when your eye is trying to adapt to darkening environments (varies from person to person).

Younger people perhaps need exit pupil of 4-9mm max in total darkness, but the older you are, the smaller your max pupil and this is partially why older people often don’t see as well at night.

A 15×56 has an exit pupil of 3.73 (56 divided by 15). A 10×42 has an exit pupil of 4.2. The higher the exit pupil, the more your eyes will be able to use the available light.

So you have to look at both the objective size and the power. So if you’re comparing the same powers with different objectives that are going to be a fair comparison. So a 10×50 versus a 10×42. But a 12×50 and 10×42 would probably be comparable as far as the ability to transfer that light.

The smaller the exit pupil of your optics, the less light transmitted to your eye and the more the image will degrade.

Field of View

The field of view of every binocular is either expressed as an angle (7°) or as the width in feet of the image at 1000 yards (368 ft).

Angular field of view can be used to calculate the linear field of view: just multiply the angular field by 52.5 The field of view is the area under which you can see the entire image through your binoculars.

Field of view is a matter of eyepiece design. The higher you go in power the narrower the field of view.  A large field of view is especially desirable in situations involving motion, such as birds in flight or when you are on a boat or in a car.

Comparing the 8X42 VS 10X42 binos of the same brand, series, and model, the 8X42 binocular will have a wider field of view compared to the 10X42 binos. Whereas if you were to compare a 10X42 against 10X50 binocular of the same brands and series, they would have the same field of view.

8×42 vs 10×42 vs 10×50 for Birding

For bird watching binoculars, experts say the best range of magnification is from 7x  to 10x. With the optimum been 8x.

This is because of wider field of view and larger exit pupil that makes it better spotting fast-flying and camouflaged birds much easier than when using a 10X42. The 8×42 binoculars offer more brightness than the 10×42 binoculars as well.

8x42 vs 10x42 and 10x50, 8x42 vs 10x42 and 10x50 for birding, hunting

However, if you were to choose between the 8x and 10x for slower-moving birds like shorebirds, you wouldn’t need all that extra field of view, as details and identification might be more important to you. In that case, you would find the 10×42 or 10×50 binoculars better suited for that purpose.

8×42 Binocular for fast-flying and camouflaged birds.

10×42 or 10×50 for slow-moving birds.

8×42 vs 10×42 vs 10×50 for Hunting

The choice will depend on the type of hunting you are embarking on. Whether it is a rifle or bow hunting. lets look at both and see which one would be suitable for each condition.

Bow Hunting

Every hunting knows that an arrow cant goes as far as a bullet would reach. For that reason, bowhunters know that it is necessary to do bowhunting undetected as it might scare their target away.

Which means having a binocular that is high powered enough to spot their target without been seen or heard. Bowhunting can also take you into blinds in trees or stalking in the woods where the extra reach of a 10X binocular doesn’t help you much.

Hence 8x binocular would be ideal.

Rifle Hunting

When you are confronted with choosing 8×42 vs 10×42 vs 10×50 for rifle hunting, it is always better to go for one that would give you maximum reach. In that case, the 10×42 or 10×50 binocular would be a better choice.

A 10×42 or 10×50 binocular would be a better choice as it would provide you with the extra reach you would need in helping you sport your target before they leap away.

Anything from 10x or higher would make sense, as it will help you in identifying your target or getting more details from your target. Even though you might lose a little bit on the field of view or brightness, you will gain on details spotting.

Hence 10x or higher magnification will be ideal

8×42 vs 10×42 vs 10×50 for Safari,Wildlife and Events

8×42 vs 10×42 vs 10×50 for Safari and Wildlife

Whether you are holidaying in the iciest tundras of the North or exploring African plains, animals like hippos, lions, tigers, zebras and they like are not animals you want to be right under your nose. Because they are untamed and can be dangerous.

So, spotting them from a safe distance is necessary. Hence having binoculars that will help you see more details yet keeping a safe distance without putting yourself in danger is needed.

having a little be of power will be helpful. A pair that you can hold with your hands without requiring a tripod.

Hence the best option for Safari and wildlife is either 10×42 or 10×50.

8×42 vs 10×42 vs 10×50 for Events Observation

Events like sports or concerts can help relieve stress from our tired bodies. But nothing is more exhausting and annoying than craning your neck to see what is happening on stage or in the field. For that reason having binoculars that will help you see more details is necessary.

So if you are faced with choosing 8×42 vs 10×42 vs 10×50 for Events Observation, which one would you choose?. I guess you would prefer to capture more action at once with more clarity. Plus you wouldn’t want the extra weight and unsteady images.

That is why choosing a 8×42 binocular will be ideal for events.

8×42 VS 10×42 Binoculars – Pros & Cons

8Х42  Binocular – Pros and Cons


  • Сhеареr thаn 10Х
  • Іnсrеаѕеd іmаgе ѕtаbіlіtу
  • Wіdеr fіеld оf vіеw
  • Lаrgеr ехіt рuріl Fоr сlоѕе dіѕtаnсе glаѕѕіng


  • Lеѕѕ рrасtісаl fоr ореn fіеld glаѕѕіng
  • Lоwеr роwеrеd fоr dеtаіlѕ/іdеntіfісаtіоn

10Х42 Віnосulаr Pros and Cons


  • Ніgh роwеrеd
  • Веttеr іmаgе quаlіtу fоr dеtаіlѕ/іdеntіfісаtіоn


  • Nаrrоwеr fіеld оf vіеw
  • Ѕmаllеr ехіt рuріl

It’s not Just about Magnification

When choosing binoculars, it is not only the magnification you have to look at. Other factors come into play as well to make a binocular either excellent or just good enough. Factors such as the binocular coatings, the glass, and the build would determine the quality.

All these factors differentiate one binocular from another.

Which is Better 8×42 vs10x50 vs 10×42 binoculars?

If you are asking yourself which is better, this decision will have to come from you. Having an 8×42 and either 10×42 or 10×50 binocular among your gear is nice. But if you cant afford both. Then it will boil down to activity-specific.

What activity do you undertake the most?. Then choosing your binocular with that in mind would be helpful.

Аn 8Х42 bіnосulаr іѕ fоr уоu іf уоu’rе рlаnnіng оn ѕсаnnіng аnd fоllоwіng fаѕt-mоvіng аnd ѕmаll tаrgеtѕ. Yоu’ll nееd thе lоw lіght реrfоrmаnсе аnd wіdеr fіеld оf vіеw whеrе vаѕt, ореn аrеаѕ аrеn’t tоо muсh оf а соnсеrn.

Otherwise, if you need more details, extra reach or you are in an area that is open with long distance under good light, then you will need a 10Х42  or a full-size higher-powered bіnосulаr.

Final Thoughts

So, as mentioned above the comparison of 8×42 vs 10×42 and 10×50 binoculars will give you more insights on which one to choose. Knowing which binocular is the best fit for which activity is important in having a better outdoor experience.

Before you choose make sure to check for other factors such as brand, glass, coatings and build before making a purchase. High premium brands offer excellent images than the mid-class to economy brands. Depending on your pocket size, you will be able to find a binocular that is ideal for you.

Elderly people would even need something more portable like a 8×32 or 10×32.

Have you got more to add? let me know in the comment box.

Happy Shopping!

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