The best Nikon binoculars in 2024

Best Nikon binoculars
(Image credit: Nikon)

A specialist when it comes to optics, not to mention an internationally renowned decades-old photographic brand, a Nikon-made binocular is always a safe bet.

While that knowledge and reassurance alone should provide a straightforward enough route to purchase, the picture is slightly complicated by there being so many different Nikon binoculars available: around 70 at the last count. 

While specialist and niche Nikon binoculars are available, including its Marine series, the wider use binoculars we’re looking at here can be divided into three families: Aculon, Monarch and Prostaff. 

While some basic specification is shared between the three, in terms of similar magnifications and objective lens sizes, the quality of the build, performance and inevitably price differs depending on which of these three Nikon ranges we’re looking at.

Its ‘sporty’ looking Nikon Aculon binoculars are designed to be as light as possible as well as being as simple to use as possible. They also claim to feature excellent ergonomics and are fabricated with Nikon’s exclusive lead and arsenic-free Eco-Glass. Further qualities of this range include the fact that Aculon binos are they are compact yet high quality while being very cost-effective indeed. This means they’re a good option for anyone on a budget who nevertheless still wants a decent performance from their binocular. Suitable uses include birdwatching and nature observation, while the small size and weight also makes the Aculon series ideal for hiking and watching concerts or spectator sports.

The Nikon Prostaff range, meanwhile, broadly sits in the middle between its good value, pocket-friendly, simple-to-use Aculon family and the manufacturer’s more heavy advanced flagship Monarch offerings. With the Prostaff family, the accent is on value and performance with it. With so many models in the range, it’s easy to get confused between differing options, however. While numerically similar for example, the Nikon Prostaff 3S 10x42 is an entirely different model to the Nikon Prostaff P3 10x42, as we explain further below. 

Next up, as its ‘royal’ name suggests the Nikon Monarch family is the premium-grade flagship option. Expect to find class-leading ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements used in the construction as well as O-ring sealed construction to provide waterproofing as well as nitrogen-purged shells to prevent fogging. We’ll also get a slip-resistant grip to enable firm handling in cold and wet conditions. Engineered for durability and performance and featuring its most advanced technology, Nikon’s Monarch lineup is for those observers who don’t want to compromise on performance. These binoculars pack plenty of visual punch for their size and weight, and the price means they’re very much enthusiast targeted, but still more affordable than alternatives from Leica or Zeiss.

In a nutshell, then, the Nikon Aculon and Prostaff ranges are the ones to seek out if we want to keep our budget low yet want a reliable and simple-to-use binocular – with some Aculon binoculars being a 10th of the price of range-topping Monarch examples – while the aforementioned Monarch family is the one to investigate if we demand the very best and have the cash to invest.

Muddying the waters slightly, one of the models included here is from the Nikon Action’EX series. This porro prism range is described by its maker as being perfect for tracking athletes to the finish line, or the flitting movements of a bird. Thanks to the large objective lens size deployed – typically 50mm – meaning rapid movement is easier to follow.

While it’s obvious there is a Nikon binocular to suit just about any budget, plus a performance to satisfy everyone from casual users to dedicated birders. We have picked our favorites from each range - but to aid your choice, we’ve included mentions of other models in the same range at the end of the specification table for each binocular featured here.

The best Nikon binoculars in 2024

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(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)
Best for a premium high-powered yet compact binocular

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Waterproofing: Yes
Objective diameter: 30mm
Field of view at 1000m: 121 metres
Closest focusing distance: 2 metres/ 6.6ft
Eye relief: 15.2mm
Weight: 450g
Dimensions: 119x126x47mm
Other options in this range: 8x30, 8x42, 10x42

Reasons to buy

+
Sharp and clear observation
+
Well built and should last years of service
+
Compact build yet useful wide angle of view
+
Water proofing and fog proofing

Reasons to avoid

-
A big price despite the compact dimensions

Seeking a small, yet sturdily constructed and powerful premium binocular from Nikon’s line up with a price tag to match? This candidate suggests we’re getting our money’s worth with a robust but still manageably lightweight magnesium alloy build. 

This is the compact 10x30 iteration, with a 10x magnification married to a 30mm objective lens size. There’s also a slightly higher priced 10x42 alternative available too and likewise covered here. The suggestion is that the 10x30 matches the 10x42’s performance – and in a more compact form.

It achieves this via Nikon’s Field Flattener Lens System, which in tandem with the Monarch HG’s 30mm wide field of view helps maintain sharpness right to the lens’ periphery. Also impressing is its water and fog-proofed build, while focusing is achieved via a large centrally located wheel, which makes operation unbelievably smooth, particularly when panning with subjects. This Nikon’s sharpness can be fine tuned for spectacle wearers too, via a dioptric adjustment ring on the right eyepiece. 

The inter-pupillary distance or spacing is helpfully manually adjustable, thanks to the binocular featuring a central folding mechanism that allows us to perfectly line them up with our own eyes. Despite the compact proportions the view delivered is surprisingly crisp; thanks in no small part to class-leading ED glass elements. While not a budget option by any means, this model provides plenty of punch for its proportions.

See our full Nikon Monarch HG 10x30 review

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)
Best for a lightweight build and quality performance at reasonable cost

Specifications

Magnification: 8x
Waterproofing: Yes
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 122 meters
Closest focusing distance: 3 metres/ 10ft
Eye relief: 15.4mm
Weight: 465g
Dimensions: 125x130x52mm
Other options in this range: 8x30, 10x30, 10x42

Reasons to buy

+
Nikon quality for a modest outlay
+
Premium-feel design
+
Compactness makes this a good travel option

Reasons to avoid

-
Accessories betray a budget feel and are easily lost
-
Spongy feel to the binocular’s rubber coating

Perfect for sports fans and bird watchers alike, this entry-level roof prism binocular is considerably more affordable than Nikon’s Monarch series. But it nonetheless possesses high quality optics and a shock-resistant, durable rubber-armoured exterior. Further must-have features include waterproofing to a depth of a metre for 10 minutes, and fog-proofed innards. At 465g it’s manageably lightweight yet commendably sturdy too. 

Multi-layered coatings to the lenses maximise light transmission while a provided dioptre ring allows for fine-tuning beyond use of the large and obvious centrally mounted focus ring. While certain aspects here betray a budget price – and we can imagine the slip-on lens caps and eyepiece protectors getting mislaid over time – that minor gripe comes with the caveat that this is a value-for-money option from a reliable brand. With the Nikon Prostaff P3 8x42 delivering respectably sharp viewing, our conclusion is that for most purposes we really can’t go wrong.

See our full Nikon Prostaff P3 8x42 review

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

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Waterproofing: Yes
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 122 metres
Closest focusing distance: 3 metres
Eye relief: 15.7mm
Weight: 575g
Dimensions: 150x130x52mm
Other options in this range: 8x42

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
Some chromatic aberration

This general-purpose pair of daylight binoculars is both well-constructed and affordable. Feeling well balanced when gripped, the Nikon Prostaff 3S 10x42 is eminently suitable for outdoor use by virtue of it providing O-ring sealing to prevent any ingress of water plus a nitrogen-purged construction to prevent fogging. 

Further notable features include a highly reflective silver alloy mirror coating on the surface of its prism lenses to deliver a bright and clear view. A long eye relief, with eyecups conveniently extendable via a turn anti-clockwise, helps provide comfortable viewing whether we’re wearing spectacles or not. A large ridged focus wheel makes for easy and intuitive operation too.

Once again, construction of this Nikon binocular includes a central folding mechanism that allows us to adjust the set up to comfortably match the distance between our own eyes. While, for us, performance isn’t quite up there with Nikon’s own premium Monarch HG alternatives in terms of clarity and sharpness, and we did notice the odd instance of purple fringing in contrast-y situations, if we’re looking for a good quality, general purpose pair then results are more than good enough. In summary, what we’re getting here is a very good performance at a very fair asking price. 

See our full Nikon ProStaff 3S 10x42 review

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker / Digital Camera World)
Best budget-priced compact binoculars for everyday use

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Waterproofing: No
Objective diameter: 21mm
Field of view at 1000m: 87 metres
Closest focusing distance: 3 metres
Eye relief: 8.3mm
Weight: 195g
Dimensions: 10.4x4.1x11.4cm
Other options in this range: 8x21

Reasons to buy

+
Budget priced option for concert and sports fans
+
Multi coated lenses maximize light transmission
+
Extremely lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
No waterproofing or fog proofing

Looking a little basic compared to other higher priced and higher specification options here, this inexpensive and portable offering for travellers and hikers will also suit concert and theatre-goers, sports fans, or indeed anyone wanting a portable and affordable daily use option. Available in black plus several other colours, a chief selling point is that in weighing just 195g observers will barely notice they’re carrying Nikon’s Aculon T02. 

OK, so this budget binocular is rather light on features too. And while it’s lightweight it’s not foldable. However, users do get adjustable turn-and-slide eyecups, and a familiar central focus knob, as well as multi-coated lenses that maximise light transmission to provide a sharper view. Also catching our eye is its slim and stylish single-hinged design, while a soft case, strap and eyepiece caps are included out of the box. Not the most sophisticated or powerful option here, granted, but a very, very affordable starter binocular for the casual observer.

See our full Nikon Aculon T02 10x21 review

(Image credit: Nikon)

Nikon Aculon A30 10x25

Best folding binoculars for a pocket-friendly price

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 25mm
Field of view at 1000m: 87 metres
Closest focusing distance: 3 metres
Eye relief: 13mm
Weight: 275g
Dimensions: 122x115x44mm
Other options in this range: 8x25 (in black or silver)

Reasons to buy

+
Reasonably priced binoculars from a trusted brand
+
Lightweight and foldable 
+
Rubber-coated surface aids grip
+
Multi-layer coated lenses maximize viewing brightness 

Reasons to avoid

-
No water resistance
-
No zoom function
-
No option for tripod mounting
-
Lens covers are loose and fall off easily

While Nikon’s Aculon rigid build T02 is non-folding, fortunately this alternative is. Likewise available at a budget price, the Aculon A30 comes in regulation black, as well as silver and in camouflage to suit all users. Thanks to being foldable it will also slip easily into a pocket. A centrally located focus knob allows for quick and easy adjustment, while a dioptre control is provided via the right eyepiece to allow the view to be fine-tuned. A 25mm objective lens wedded to a 10x magnification further ensures suitability for a wide variety of subjects, including of course wildlife watching and birding. 

Of course for a cost-of-living-crisis friendly outlay we don’t get features found on higher end binoculars from either Nikon or its competitors, such as water resistance. But undoubtedly many prospective buyers will be prepared to make certain compromises at this price point. Those seeking a lightweight, low cost, yet respectably performing binocular they can take anywhere will discover just that here.

The binoculars against orange foliage

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)
Best for some of the most impressive optics in the business combined with excellent design

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Waterproofing: Yes
Objective diameter: 42mm
Field of view at 1000m: 121 metres / 362ft
Closest focusing distance: 2 metres/ 6.6ft
Eye relief: 17mm
Weight: 680g
Dimensions: 145x131x56mm
Other options in this range: 8x30, 8x42, 10x30

Reasons to buy

+
Razor sharp observation
+
Lightweight build and slender design for this level of spec
+
Waterproof and fog-proofed

Reasons to avoid

-
Small amount of visible colour fringing 
-
We’d like the carry bag to provide neck strap connectivity

This roof prism pair of premium-feel binoculars delivers results that are truly outstanding, albeit for a price. That said they’re slim, lightweight and easy to use, while being fogproof and waterproof too, to depths of five metres for up to 10 minutes. Delivering the sort of sharpness that will satisfy the most demanding of wildlife watchers or birders – thanks in part to its ED glass construction – the 10x magnification wedded to 42mm objective lens provides good views into the twilight hours. Inevitably they’re slightly heavier and bigger than the closest 10x30 model in the same series, though.

This Monarch binocular feels solid in the hand while being soft to the touch thanks to the rubberised armour that encases its magnesium alloy body. Use of the focus wheel is ultra smooth and accurate, with just enough inherent tension to avoid us accidentally shifting focus when panning with the binocular. What we might have liked at this price is some form of built-in image stabilisation, as competitor Canon provides. That said, such a dream feature would have made the set up bulkier still, so there is a degree of compromise involved in anything, even at this price point. We did however very much enjoy the clutch-like mechanism that locks the dioptre ring in place once we’ve made our fine-tuned adjustments.

While this Monarch binocular isn’t a starter option by any means – indeed we feel it’s among the best you can buy – a substantial budget will return an outstanding performance and, we reckon, a lifetime of use for those baulking at the even higher cost of rivals from Leica or Zeiss.

See our full Nikon Monarch HG 10x42 review

Nikon Action EX 12x50

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)
Best for all-terrain, high power, high magnification binos

Specifications

Magnification: 12x
Waterproofing: Yes
Objective diameter: 50mm
Field of view at 1000m: 96 metres
Closest focusing distance: 7 metres / 23ft
Eye relief: 16.1mm
Weight: 1kg
Dimensions: 179x196x68mm
Other options in this range: 7x35, 8x40, 7x50, 10x50, 16x50

Reasons to buy

+
Whopping 12x magnification
+
Good value price given the level of specification
+
Waterproof and fog-proof construction

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy at 1kg to hold for long periods
-
Some visible distortion towards the edges
-
Removable lens caps are easily mislaid

In calling this binocular ‘Action’ rather than ‘Aculon’, Nikon has thrown potential purchasers a further curveball. With the ‘EX’ standing for ‘Extreme’, this high-powered, large objective lens device may be ready for action in the bush, but for such safari watchers it’s inevitably also a little heavy at 1Kg in weight and bulkier than alternatives listed here. This is due in part to its polycarbonate shell and an all-metal chassis. Still, we do get shock-resistant rubber armour providing a firm grip, plus nitrogen-purged fog proofing and waterproofing to a depth of a metre for up to five minutes. 

Utilizing a familiar porro prism design, a thread is provided between the barrels for the binocular to be tripod mounted if so desired. Ease of use comes via a nicely resistant focus knob and dioptre wheel, making for easy adjustment even when wearing gloves. 

While build quality is impressive, with plenty of depth of field provided and images sharp and clear in the main, we did notice a slight drop off in sharpness towards the edges. Despite the extra heft we also feel upgrading to a 12x magnification from a 10x magnification is worth it if long(er) distance observation is desirable.

Read our full Nikon Action EX 12x50 review

Nikon Aculon 10x50 A211

(Image credit: Nikon)

Nikon Aculon 10x50 A211

Best for good value, reliable, multi purpose use

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective diameter: 50mm
Field of view at 1000m: 113.2 metres
Closest focusing distance: 7 metres / 23ft
Eye relief: 11.8mm
Weight: 899g
Dimensions: 19.7x17.9cm
Other options in this range: 7x35, 8x42, 10x42, 7x50, 12x50, 16x50, 8-18x42, 10-22x50

Reasons to buy

+
Wide field of view
+
Easy grip rubber coating
+
Sharp results 
+
Good value

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky size
-
Some chromatic aberration
-
Minimal eye reliefEmpty List

Designed to be as light as possible while offering excellent ergonomics and maximum bang for our buck, this rubber-armored Aculon series binocular from Nikon. That said, given the 10x magnification and large 50mm objective lens, we have a relatively weighty at 899g and bulky porro prism design to go with it. The ideal audience is birdwatchers and astronomy due to its set up letting in plenty of light, its performance enhanced by multi-coated lenses, as usual for this class of binocular, along with class-leading BaK-4 prisms. This gives us bright and clear results in the main, with only a slight fall off in sharpness towards the edges.

The Nikon 10x50 Aculon A211 is an unusual binocular in that while it’s budget-priced, its specification places it higher up than a simple entry-level offering. In offering both versatility and a quality build, this is an excellent first purchase if we’re after something special without crippling our wallet. Look out too for both smaller and larger models in the same Nikon A211 series, including a couple of zoom options, thereby providing something for everyone.

Gavin Stoker

Gavin has over 30 years’ 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 the Rough Guide books.


With his wealth of knowledge, Gavin is well placed to recognize 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 and cameras straps.