10×42 Binoculars – Compact But Powerful

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Binoculars with the specification 10×42 are among the most popular binoculars. The 10x magnification is strong enough to observe distant objects down to the smallest detail, which is of particular interest to bird watchers, wildlife watchers, and anyone who needs a detailed close-up look at things. The 42-millimeter diameter of the objective lens provides excellent light-gathering power, so these size binoculars perform well in low light conditions even though the exit pupil is only 4.2mm.

Despite the good magnification and the strong light-gathering power, most 10×42 binoculars models are still compact and lightweight enough, so that they are easy to handle and most of all, easy to carry along. This is especially true for the increasingly popular roof prism binoculars.

What does 10×42 in binoculars mean?

10×42 in binoculars means the binoculars have a 10 times magnification power and an objective lens diameter of 42mm.

The value 10x indicates the magnification of an object. This means binoculars with 10x magnification let an object that is 1000 yards away appear as if it were only 100 yards away.

The second value x42 stands for the lens opening, which is always specified in millimeters. 10×42 in binoculars means the front lens has an aperture of 42mm.

How much are 10×42 binoculars?

As with all the other binocular sizes, the prices for the 10×42 model vary from low to high. The cheapest models that are made in Asia are already available for less than 100 dollars. Good middle-class models that serve most users cost in the range of a few hundred dollars upwards. Some of those are even assembled in the USA from imported parts. The premium class, the choice of professional users, or anyone demanding the best, costs from 1000 dollars upwards.

Inexpensive Binoculars under 100 dollars

Budget 10×42 binoculars

Budget binoculars are best suited for people who only occasionally use binoculars. They are simply for being able to take a closer look at distant things without the need for perfect optical performance.

Manufacturers of these budget binoculars cut costs mainly on lenses and prisms, which means that standard optical glass is used, and the lens coatings are not particularly complex. As far as the prisms are concerned, these are often made using the cheaper BK7 glass instead of the better BaK4 glass.

The manufacturer can also save on the binocular housings. The focus wheel and diopter compensation mechanism may not be so sensitive and finely adjustable, the barrel hinge may not be that smooth. But it must not be wobbly as this may cause loss of collimation. The eye caps can often only be adjusted to one level and the diopter adjustment often only allows for +/- 2 diopters, which is plenty for most users.

As far as the waterproofness is concerned, cheap binoculars are often not O-ring sealed. A disadvantage as this limits the use in bad weather and increases susceptibility to fogging during sudden temperature changes. Fogging can lead to lense fungus and which will destroy the coating of the lenses.

If you buy binoculars for under $100, you really shouldn’t be too demanding. Factors that drive up the price, such as edge blur, color-true image, and low chromatic aberration are compromised here, in favor of a low price. But most occasional users that have never used a high-end model and have little experience with binoculars, won’t even notice the small, subtle differences that professional users pick up in a flash and will likely be completely happy with a budget model.

Budget Binoculars

Mid-priced 10×42 binoculars

Binoculars in the middle price range are the choice of many bird watchers, hunters, wildlife watchers, and everyone looking for a good compromise between optical performance and value for money.

The binoculars in this price range are usually excellently made and perform very well regarding optical performance and durability. Good design and mechanics, focus wheel, diopter adjustment, and barrel hinge work smoothly and evenly. The eyecups are multi-adjustable and made of soft rubber that fits well to the eye, and can be folded in far enough for wearers of eye-glasses to use the binoculars in comfort.

The binoculars housings are O-ring sealed and optionally gas purged so that the binoculars are completely waterproof and can be used in all weather conditions.

With regard to optical glass, high-quality glass is used throughout, and the different types of glass are well coordinated to assure optical performance. HD and Extra-low Dispersion glass, which increases transmission and reduces spherical and chromatic aberration, are pretty much standard. All glass surfaces are fully multi-coated and prisms are made of phase-corrected baK4 glass.

Mid-priced 10×42 binoculars

Premium Binoculars

The high-end binoculars combine the use of the very best materials, precision manufacturing using complex and advanced technology and, not to forget, decades of experience in the manufacture of glass and the expertise to coordinate the different types of glass perfectly.

After all, the decisive factor for designing premium binoculars that are outperformers is the precise selection and good correction of all the optical parts so that the special properties of the different types of optical glass harmonize with one another.

The premium high-end line of binoculars is all in European hands, namely Germany and Austria. Zeiss, Steiner, Leica, Minox, and Swarowski have one thing in common, they make the best binoculars, there is no compromise on quality.

All this high tech and knowledge is not cheap, so don’t be surprised at the high prices of the best binoculars. But they are just real precision instruments that can be relied on even under the most adverse environmental conditions and in all situations, that you can enjoy for many years.

Premium 10×42 Binoculars

10x42 Binoculars


Advantages of 10×42 binoculars

  • 10x magnification provides detailed viewing
  • Great light-gathering power
  • Good for low light thanks to 42mm collecting lens despite exit pupil 4,2mm
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Great for all-round use

Disadvantages 10×42 binoculars

  • A small field of view
  • A bit on the heavy side to just carry along on hiking tours

What to look for in 10×42 binoculars?

  • Quality workmanship
  • Smooth mechanics
  • Best optical glass, i.e. ED – to reduce aberration and errors
  • Fully multi-coated lenses, for increased light transmission
  • Phase corrected BaK4 prisms
  • Long eye relief, if you wear eyeglasses
  • Adjustable eyecups
  • O-ring sealed – water and fog proof 
  • Nitrogen or Argon filling –  may increase the lifetime of the lubricated mechanics
  • Additional external lens coating –  provide lotus effect and hardened surfaces to prevent scratches

Read in more detail about binoculars’ features and how to evaluate binoculars’ quality.