Tested: Are 10 x 42 Binoculars Good for Bird Watching?

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Binoculars are an essential piece of equipment that every bird watcher needs. There are several different types of binoculars that come in different sizes, magnifications, and fields of view. Binoculars also come in many different shapes, colors, and added features. It can be tricky to decide what type of binoculars would suit your situation best.

10 x 42 binoculars are good for birdwatching. These binoculars provide a good balance of magnification and field of view; 10-times magnification makes it very easy to identify birds from a distance, and the wide lenses let in good light for birding in low light or cloudy days. 

The 10 x 42 binoculars are a good option for many bird watchers. The ten times power offers good magnification while the 42 mm diameter lenses allow in enough light to allow birding in lower light conditions. It is easier to find the bird using these binoculars compared with smaller-diameter pairs.

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Are 10 X 42 Binoculars Good For Bird Watching?

Are 10 X 42 Binoculars Good For Bird Watching?
Are 10 X 42 Binoculars Good For Bird Watching?

I personally prefer the 10 x 42 binoculars over all other types of binoculars that are currently available. The 10 x 42 binoculars are a good choice in terms of both the magnification and the diameter of the field of view. 

The advantage of the ten times is that it magnifies that much more so that you can use the binoculars to see and identify difficult birds like shorebirds more easily. Shorebirds, like other birds, can be identified based on their unique field marks. 

The reason shorebirds are difficult is that the colors are drab, and many of the smaller species look very similar, making it very challenging to see the distinct species-specific field marks. The eight times magnification is not quite as powerful as the ten times. 

Being able to magnify ten times rather than eight times may give you a bit of an advantage when spotting and trying to identify shorebirds.

The higher field of view makes it easier to find birds while scanning an area, and it lets in more light. The ability to let in more light becomes more important on days when light levels are lower. This means that the 10 x 42 are, overall, a good bet for bird watching.

A drawback of such binoculars with higher magnifications is that any shaking of your hands will be seen and amplified when looking at the image. This is not too bad at ten times but will be worse if you decide to choose binoculars that have 12 times or higher magnifications. 

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How Far Can You See With 10 X 42 Binoculars?

How Far Can You See With 10 X 42 Binoculars?
How Far Can You See With 10 X 42 Binoculars?

At 1000 meters, you can see a field of view of about 100 m with a 10 x 42 pair of binoculars. As to how much detail you can see at a distance, this depends on what you are looking at. Smaller birds will still be harder to see details on than larger birds at greater distances. 

You need other optical equipment for seeing details and field marks on birds that are very far away. For these situations, a spotting scope is what is usually needed.

You can see more details at a distance using a spotting scope with 20 times or higher magnification, but the problem here is that you need to stabilize the image. Once again, the higher the magnification, the more the image will shake. This is why spotting scopes need to be mounted on tripods, which is inconvenient for general-purpose bird watchers. 

When Using A Spotting Scope Is A Good Idea

Spotting scopes are needed if you want to see and identify species at very long distances. These scopes are like telescopes that allow you to see objects at an even greater distance away. 

They are helpful in some types of bird watching. A spotting scope is a good option if you are looking at birds that are some distance away. 

For instance, waterfowl that are far out on a lake may not be recognizable without the very high magnification found with a spotting scope. Shorebirds may also be difficult, again depending on the distance they are viewed from. 

Many shorebirds are challenging to identify because the field marks are not always easy to see. You need the magnification, especially when looking at the smaller species.

Some people choose the 12 x 50 binoculars instead of a spotting scope as a cheaper alternative. Birders may need to mount these binoculars on a tripod as well because at 12 times magnification, the shaking of the image is increased.

10 X 42 Vs. 8 X 42 Binoculars For Birding

10 X 42 Vs. 8 X 42 Binoculars For Birding
10 X 42 Vs. 8 X 42 Binoculars For Birding

Both the 10 x 42 and 8 x 42 binoculars work very well for bird watching. In the past, the 8 x 42 were most often recommended for bird watching. However, today, many bird watchers prefer the 10 x 42 binoculars. The 10 x 42 do magnify to a greater extent than the 8 x 42 binoculars

It may come down to personal preferences as to whether or not you choose the 8 x 42 or 10 x 42 pair for bird watching. The 10 x 42 does magnify more which may be an advantage if you are trying to identify shorebirds. 

We know that shorebirds are often the more difficult birds to identify, with many having hard-to-see diagnostic features. Identifying shorebirds is difficult, particularly for the species that are small in size and look very similar.

The 10 x 42 does have a disadvantage when it comes to minimum focusing distance. A lower magnification pair, like an 8 x 42, will allow magnification of closer objects. This is not the case with a 10 x 42 pair of binoculars, where you cannot focus as closely.

Best 10 X 42 Binoculars For Bird Watching

Best 10 X 42 Binoculars For Bird Watching
Best 10 X 42 Binoculars For Bird Watching

There are several different brands of binoculars you can choose from. You may be limited by your budget. Most birders would recommend buying the most expensive pair that you can afford. It can still be difficult, though, even if you can afford high-end binoculars, to know which brand to choose.

Binoculars also have several features, such as how the optics are coated, what sort of warranty they have, and if they are waterproof or fogproof. Bird watchers will often find themselves in conditions of inclement weather, such as mist and rain. This is why having waterproof and fogproof binoculars is a smart move. 

It is also best to get binoculars with multicoated optics in addition to those that are both fogproof and waterproof. Multicoated optics are the better type of binoculars that should last longer over time and give you a good-quality image.

The best binoculars I have found are those by Bushnell. The Bushnell H2O 10x42mm Binoculars, Waterproof and Fog proof Binoculars for Boating, Hiking, and Camping, Multi (Amazon link) are a good bet. 

These are fog proof, waterproof, and have multi-coated optics. They are also often constructed to be lightweight, which is advisable if you are walking around outside for a long time while bird watching. 

Heavy binoculars are unpleasant to carry around with you. You can imagine what it would be like walking for several hours with heavy binoculars dangling from your neck. 

There Are A Few Approaches You Can Take To Choosing Binoculars:

Personal recommendations from family, friends, and other bird watchers can be very helpful in selecting your pair of binoculars.

Online reviews from people who have purchased the binoculars you are interested in also give insight into the pros and cons of each pair of binoculars.

Checking with other bird watchers is a good way to evaluate different types of binoculars, as they can tell you what types they have and what they have found to be the best. You can even test drive their binoculars to help you decide on a pair if you are in the same bird club or area as the birders. 

This is one of the many advantages of joining a bird club and getting to know other bird watchers in your area.

Although I like the Bushnell brand, it is worth noting that there are several other brands of binoculars to choose from. Other well-known brands of binoculars among bird watchers include Nikon, Canon, and Vortex. 

This does not mean that lesser-known brands of binoculars are necessarily bad. It depends to some extent on how much you can afford to spend and what type of bird watching you plan on doing.


The 10 x 42 binoculars are definitely a good investment for anyone who is a bird watcher, whether a novice or an expert.

The price ranges are based on the brand and what features are included. It is a good idea, if possible, to buy a pair that is fogproof, waterproof, and has multi-coated optics, as these will last longer. 

The 10 x 42 are an excellent choice of binoculars for most bird watchers since they give you the chance to magnify images ten times, and they allow for better results in low light levels. In the past, birders mainly opted for eight times magnification and a 40- to 42-diameter lens. 

This viewpoint has changed, and now most bird watchers actually recommend that you choose a 10 x 42 pair of binoculars instead.

Rae Osborn

Rae Osborn is an avid bird watcher and holds a doctorate in Biology. Her interests in birds began as a child growing up in South Africa. She has continued to study birds and has bird watched in the United States and South Africa.

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