The best 10x42 binoculars in 2023

Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars being held against the body in the rain
(Image credit: Canon)

If we want the maximum magnification possible while still being able to enjoy a compact and portable binocular that will provide us with judder-free views when used handheld, then choosing the option of a 10x42 specification makes perfect sense. Denoting a 10x magnification and a large-ish 42mm diameter lens, they’re a pretty standard choice for an every day or entry-level binocular and offer the chance to get just that little bit closer to our observed subject than the less high-powered, but equally popular 8x42 binoculars

Typically designed to be used handheld, some 10x42 binoculars include a tripod thread for additional support should we get weary holding them for extended periods, or simply want added support to achieve the clearest, steadiest view possible. Although fairly rare, some 10x42 binos additionally feature a built-in battery-operated image stabilizer that can be activated or left switched off as desired. Typically switching this on transforms a slightly shaky handheld view into one that’s as smooth and steady. The caveat is that this brilliant feature often adds to the bulk, weight and price of the binoculars, and might not be needed by most users. 

So without further ado, let’s try and provide you with the answer to the question: which are the best 10x42 binoculars we can buy, and for a range of budgets?

The best 10x42 binoculars in 2023

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(Image credit: Jamie Carter)
A stabilized view makes these our favorite 10x42 binoculars

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Waterproofing: Yes
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 114 metres
Closest focusing distance: 2.5 metres / 8.2ft
Eye relief: 16mm
Design: Porro prism
Weight: 1.1kg
Dimensions: 8.5x13.7x17.6cm

Reasons to buy

+
Built in image stabilization makes this one stand out from the crowd 
+
Excellent optical quality and performance 
+
Tough waterproof design

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavier than most

Perfect for wildlife watching and stargazing, this porro prism 10x42 binocular differs from the norm in that we get image stabilization built in. The feature is activated with a button press, thereby helping to ensure a smooth view at all times when used handheld. That said, ironically there’s the facility to tripod mount this Canon option too should our arms get weary. 

A further advantage here is a waterproof build denoted by the ‘WP’ in the model name, plus nitrogen-purged optics to prevent fogging. If being picky, we felt the focus knob a little slow to adjust and found the slip-on lens caps a little easy to mislay. We do however rate the twist-up eyecups, which aid comfort for spectacle wearers. Multi-layered anti-reflective lens coatings further improve the view provided, while the glass used in the construction gives rise to some quality viewing in abroad range of observational scenarios.

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)
Best for a high quality multi-purpose bino

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Waterproofing: Yes
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 122 metres
Closest focusing distance: 3 metres
Eye relief: 15.7mm
Design: Roof prism
Weight: 575g
Dimensions: 150x130x52mm

Reasons to buy

+
Rugged rubber armor construction
+
O-ring sealed for waterproofing
+
Crisp and clear viewing

Reasons to avoid

-
Some chromatic aberration
-
Not the cheapest or lightest

A well-constructed and affordable general-purpose pair of daylight binoculars that feel just right in the hand, this offering is eminently suitable for outdoor use by virtue of providing O-ring seals and a nitrogen purged construction to prevent fogging. Other notable features include a highly reflective silver alloy mirror coating on the surface of its prism lenses to deliver a bright and clear view, while comfortable viewing is enabled by a long eye relief, with eyecups conveniently extendable via a turn anti-clockwise. 

A central folding mechanism allows us to adjust the binocular to best suit the distance between our own eyes, with a large ridged focus wheel making for easy and intuitive operation. While performance isn’t quite up there with Nikon’s own premium Monarch HG range in terms of clarity and sharpness, and we did notice the odd instance of purple fringing in contrast-y situations, it’s certainly ‘good enough’. In conclusion this is a versatile and well performing device offering very fair value for money.

[URLs for stockists in UK and USA inc Amazon]

https://www.amazon.com/Nikon-10x42-ProStaff-Binoculars-Black/dp/B01B6FBG0K/ref=sr_1_3?crid=2KBMFZ9XKV6P1&keywords=Nikon+ProStaff+3S+10x42&qid=1688049501&sprefix=nikon+prostaff+3s+10x42%2Caps%2C723&sr=8-3

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nikon-Prostaff-3S-10X42-Binoculars/dp/B01H88N9FE/ref=sr_1_3?crid=2ZXHA2EBEC3S&keywords=nikon+prostaff+3S+10x42&qid=1688053675&sprefix=nikon+prostaff+3s+10x42%2Caps%2C80&sr=8-3

(Image credit: Celestron)

3: Celestron Trailseeker 10x42

Best for good value outdoor binoculars

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Waterproofing: Yes
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 113m
Closest focusing distance: 2 metres / 6.5 ft
Eye relief: 15mm
Design: Roof prism
Weight: 635g
Dimensions: 141 x 130 x 51mm

Reasons to buy

+
Good value for money
+
Lightweight yet waterproof option

Seeking a pair of good value ‘bins’ for outdoor use when birding? California-based Celestron has a reputation for well-constructed yet affordable binoculars and this roof prism pair is no exception, in offering a wide field of view and being lightweight yet tough thanks to a magnesium alloy build, plus nitrogen filled to prevent fogging and waterproof with it. 

In a point of differentiation it offers metal eyecups rather than plastic ones and, in being twist-up, features a multi-stop function to allow for adjustable positioning. In terms of light transmission, we get class-leading premium BaK-4 prisms utilized in the construction allied to fully multi-coated lenses. A tripod adapter is available as an optional extra for anyone seeking to use these for longer viewing periods without wanting them to weigh heavy on the arms. A solid and reliable purchase, what we get here is a mid-range performance at a close to an entry-level price.

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)
Best for a broad variety of uses

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Waterproofing: Yes
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 108 metres
Closest focusing distance: 1.5 metres
Eye relief: 16mm
Design: Roof prism
Weight: 665g
Dimensions: 131x140x53mm

Reasons to buy

+
Decent all rounder
+
Water-resistant and nitrogen purged
+
Adjusting focus is quick and easy

Reasons to avoid

-
Higher-end optics push up the price

Nature lovers seeking to bring skittish wildlife just that bit closer while saving ourselves a small fortune compared with alternatives from Zeiss and Leica are directed to this rock-solid Olympus branded binocular. It features high-performance Zuiko optics as used for its digital camera system lenses. OK, so detail and resolving power might not be up there with the finest glass from higher-priced rivals if compared side-by-side, but viewed standalone this is more than ‘good enough’ for daytime viewing and onwards, into the hours of dusk. 

A minimalist design aids fuss-free usage, a large focus wheel provides just the right amount of ‘give’, while a rubberized exterior prevents fingers slipping.  Should we drop it in water, the claim is that it will survive a depth of one metre for up to five minutes, while like most competitors this product is nitrogen purged to prevent fogging obscuring our view. Extendable eye relief provides comfort for those wearing glasses, while provided accessories include flip down lens caps and padded strap for transportation. A good all round option.

(Image credit: Leica )

5: Leica Trinovid 10x42 HD

Best premium binocular suitable for a lifetime’s use

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Waterproofing: Yes
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 113 metres
Closest focusing distance: 5.3ft
Eye relief: 15mm
Type: Roof prism
Weight: 730g
Dimensions: 26.9x21.1x17cm

Reasons to buy

+
Class leading, tank-like construction 
+
Razor sharp viewing 

Reasons to avoid

-
Premium features mean a premium price tag four times that of others here

These premium roof prism construction binos are ideal for those only looking to buy the one general-purpose 10x42 binocular in their lifetime. Compact, fog-proof and O-ring sealed waterproofed, when buying Leica we do so in the confidence that we’re getting optimum optical quality, though this particular product is actually its maker’s entry-level option.

A close focus distance of just under 6ft ensures we’re able to get our subjects sharp, whether they’re near or far, with clarity of view here a significant step up compared with others here. With this manufacturer we’re getting razor sharp observation matched to a tank-like, rubber armoured build, which ensures a steady grip. If properly looked after, the Leica Trinovid 10x42 HD should deliver a lifetime of faithful use.

Leica Noctivid 10x42

(Image credit: Leica )

6: Leica Noctivid 10x42

The Rolls Royce of 10x42 binoculars

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Waterproofing: Yes
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 112 metres
Closest focusing distance: 1.5 metres
Eye relief: 19mm
Design: Roof prism
Weight: 1.47Kg
B:
Dimensions: 20.83x17.78x26.92cm

Reasons to buy

+
Best in class image quality
+
Top class optical construction 
+
Waterproofed to depths of five metres 

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive in present company
-
Weightier than less well specified options

High priced this particular option may be, but then high quality is the build and performance for bird watchers who need optimal clarity. The Leica 10x42 Noctivid binoculars offer up Schott HT (High Transmission) glass, 12 lens elements and P40 phase-corrected roof prisms, along with anti-reflective multi-coatings to both maximize light transmission and prevent water or any other nasties sticking to the lenses. 

While there’s not actually any image stabilization built in, a wide 64° apparent angle of view is also said to minimize any effects of visible hand wobble, while the inter-pupillary distance is manually adjustable as are the 4-position eye cups. For added peace of mind the device can be submerged to depths of five metres and survive, thanks to O-ring seals and anti-corrosive varnishing to its metal parts. In short, this is basically the Rolls Royce of 10x42 binos, in boasting both high-end form and function with it.

Gavin Stoker

Gavin has over 30 year experience of writing about photography and television. He is currently the editor of British Photographic Industry News, and previously served as editor of Which Digital Camera and deputy editor of Total Digital Photography


He has also written for a wide range of publications including T3, BBC Focus, Empire, NME, Radio Times, MacWorld, Computer Active, What Digital Camera and Rough Guide books.


With his wealth of knowledge he is well placed to recognise great camera deals and recommend the best products in Digital Camera World’s buying guides. He also writes on a number of specialist subjects including binoculars and monoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes, trail cameras, action cameras, body cameras, filters, cameras straps and more.