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8×32 VS 8×42 Binoculars | Optics Trade Debates

Hello and welcome back to another Optics Trade Debate. Today, we will talk about the differences between two configurations: 8×32 and 8×42.

8×42 binoculars are the most common on the market, while 8×32 are compact binoculars, and a lot of people are asking the question of why they should pay more and buy a bigger product if everything else is so similar. That is where our two buying guides for those two configurations come in handy. For those of you who cannot decide on one, you can check out those videos.

In today’s video, we will help you to decide on which buying guide to watch. Now, let us summarize the general features of both configurations. If we take into account the size, there is approximately 20-30 % of the difference. 8×42 binoculars are usually 20 % bigger and roughly 30 % heavier, due to the bigger objective lens.

The general constructive features are very similar, most of them come either with a single bridge design or with an open bridge design. The materials used in both vary from cheap plastic on more affordable models to magnesium housing and the best technology on more expensive models.

Prisms used with compact binoculars are mostly Schmidt-Pechan, Roof type prisms. There are also some Porro prism examples. With compact binoculars, we have Nikon and Swarovski – both of them are 8×30 and 10×30, but if we look at the majority of all the binoculars, most are Schmidt-Pechan. The Abbe König prism can be found on the 8×42 mm construction. They can be found with some Zeiss models, and even with the new Vortex Razor Ultra HD. However, they cannot be found with compact binoculars.

Regarding the price ranges, 8×42 binoculars go all the way from €100 to €3000 – which is a very wide price range. With compact binoculars, it is a bit simplified. They start at around €60 and end at around €2000.

For the optical performance, all of these binoculars have the same magnification (8x). If we take a look at the field of view, compact binoculars have a wider field of view in general. With full-size binoculars, the usual field of view 8×42 is roughly 130 m – there are some that have more, and also less. With compact binoculars, the field of view is 150 m.

Hands down, the 8×42 is much better in low-light conditions because of the objective lens. It is bigger and more light goes through. The exit pupil is also much bigger (5.5 mm on the 8×42, and a lot less on 8×32 – around 4 mm).

Regarding comfort, the 8×42 are more comfortable to look through, because they have a bigger eye box and are less sensitive to the eye position. They usually also have longer eye relief than compact models. This means that users with glasses use the 8×42 more easily than the smaller compact model. However, it is true that comfort goes two ways: how comfortable it is to look through them, and how comfortable it is to hold and carry them. If you are going to carry them around in the mountains for a day or two, then the compact binoculars are a better choice.

In terms of build quality, they are very similar. They are also made out of similar materials – magnesium for the pricey models, and plastic for the more affordable ones. There is roughly 10 % of difference concerning the price on the same level of quality.

To summarize, the 8×42 model is recommended for hunters, bird watchers; overall general use, and for those who wear glasses. We would recommend the 8×32 smaller, compact binoculars for travelers and hikers who wish to have smaller binoculars to put them in a bag and carry around for longer periods of time. They are also better for children as they are smaller and easier to use. If you are into optics, and if your prime interest is to get the best optical performance, then 8×42 would be the better choice. However, in day-time conditions, the difference in optics is not as noticeable.

We hope we covered most of your questions, but if you think we forgot something, use the comment box below, check out our buying guides, and if you like our videos, please subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Products mentioned in the 8×32 VS 8×42 Binoculars debate:

8×32 binoculars:

8×42 binoculars:×42-binoculars.html

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