Binoculars: 8x or 10x?

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Mar 18, 2012
Thinking of buying some decent binos for when in the woods. 8x and 10x seem the common magnification. Is there a reason you would choose 8x rather than the higher mag 10x? Isn't 10x better for seeing wildlife?

The wisdom of the collective will be gratefully received


Feb 18, 2010
- have been a twitcher for many years and always had bins on hand, also do a fair bit of safariing in SA.

It's not just the 8x and the 10x you may possibly be interested in, but also the objective lens.

My current big bins are 10x42 and because the objective lens is 42 not 30, it lets in much more light.

Not everyone is the same, and a good friend of mine who has bird-watched more years than I prefers 8x........but they're still x42 to allow more light, and, they're lighter to carry.

Perhaps there aren't any hard and fast rules here, instead, see if you can borrow a pair of different magnifications and see what suits you personally.

I use a pair of mini 10x25 from the same maker and find them utterly brilliant, as am so used to the magnification even though the low light ability isn't as good.

At some bird reserves, where they have bins and scope shops, they'll let you try out various ones....


Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
I have both and find that I need to support my hands while using the 10x.
I am fine using the 8x freehand.

Most binoculars of old were 8x, maybe for this reason?
( my hands are extremely steady btw)

As Chui writes, the objective lens is very important. The bigger the more light it gathers. Most wildlife is active in the early mornings ( low light) so you might want one with as large objective as possible.
8 x 50 ?
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May 16, 2009
Binoculars are a very personal thing. I've found over the years that the feel of the bins is as important for me as the practicality of carrying + image quality.
I prefer a 30 or 42 lens to a 50.

I've also found that as I get older (I'm 58) my eyes have deteriorated and I prefer to be able to have individual diopter focusing. I'm using Steiner Wildlife 8x30's which have this facility, plus a fast focus control.

Try different styles + shapes, magnifications and see what suits you the best


Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
also the quality of the optics is important. I was tought many moons ago to do a quick check by holding the binoculars against a light, half a meter away from the eyes.
The visible light area in the eyepieces should appear completely round.
Not sure if this is an 'old woman's tale' or not!
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Jan 11, 2012
I tend to prefer the 8x since I can hold them still. I'd go for the largest objective you feel comfortable with to get the most out of them in low light conditions.

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
McBride, BC
I'm still using a pair of 7x50 Pentax from decades ago. Bigger objectives collect more light.
The other thing to consider is the size of the exit pupil of concentrated light. Neeed to all go into your eyes.
I can't hold 10X steady, never could.

Image stabilizing optics (eg Canon?) really do work to the point that 15X is practical if you've won the lotto.

For country game spotting with company, I have a big old wooden surveyor's tripod.
On top is a Nikon Prostaff 82mm spotting scope. It does go 20X - 60X but 20X - 40X is the practical range.
Zeiss or Leitz, it is not but the entertainment value is all there.


Full Member
Jun 20, 2016
The op suggests the bino's are for use in a woodland environment.
for me, the important features would be; good light gathering quality, light in hand (quick to get on target) and a wide field of view.

To cover all these requirements, much testing of individual bins may be necessary. To begin with, I would look in the range between 8x42- 7x32.
Eventually you will come to a decision that suits all your needs.
Good luck:)

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
McBride, BC
Calculate the lens areas for the diameters of 32mm, 42mm and 50mm. That's the light gathering.
32mm = 804mm^2
42mm = 1,385mm^2
50mm = 1,963mm^2

I see that 42mm is something like 50% better than 32mm. Better in a gloomy forest.
8X would work as you can stabilize the binocs against a convenient tree trunk.


Jan 6, 2017
Here There & Everywhere
It depends on what you want them for.
As others have said, the larger the objective lens the more light is let in so the better the image. But the bigger the lens then the bigger the binoculars and the heavier they get.
Magnification depends on how far away you intend on viewing objects. Lower magnification will give you a larger field of view (making it easier to spot things), should give you greater depth, and therefore won't be so affected by hand shake.
In woods you want more light (so bigger objective lens) but won't need such a large magnification since you'll be looking at things not so far away.
Therefore I would suggest 8x42. Thing with a 42mm lens is that it is really too big to keep on your belt, so you'll have to keep them around your neck. So you may want to consider 8x25 but if you do then get some specially treated lens for low light. That will cost you more money.
What I would caution about is the likelihood that you'll want to use the binoculars for other tasks - maybe viewing subjects in more open areas (coastal or marshland, for example).
Therefore maybe 10x42 would do you better. It will give you more versatility with the slightly larger magnification being useful outside the woods but still giving you enough field of view when inside the woods.
If you really aren't bothered about carrying a larger set of bins then 10x50 would be good. If you get a set with roof prisms then that will bring the size and weight down, but good roof prism bins are harder to make then traditional porro prism, so a good roof prism will cost you more than porro.
Like others have said, you really should try before you buy. But I think that 8x42 or 10x42 would be best, giving you versatility and performance.


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 25, 2005
Greensand Ridge
Not sure what your budget is but if you want the best look no further than the new Leica Noctovid 8X42.

I've had a pair of 10-15 X 50 Duvid for 14 years and with a single stick for support have watched many species of wildlife with amazing clarity at the higher power. However, at 58 my eyes are no longer what they were so was considering selling to buy a classic 8x56 model until I compared, under identical low light conditions, the Leica 8×56HDB and the 8x42 Noctovid. They are also lighter!



Apr 21, 2014
Cornwall UK
Thinking of buying some decent binos for when in the woods.

The wisdom of the collective will be gratefully received
magnification is overrated, quality of image is far more important.
for use in woodland a porro binocular with give a better 3d image helping you to see through foliage due to the wider spacing of the objectives.
with the possible lower light in woodland 40 or 42mm objectives and lower magnification with give a brighter clearer image with less strain on the eye.

a favorite of mine for hand held use in wooded areas or dusk and dawn is the 7x40 porro, i have two military sets though tend to use the smaller black set on the left as they are a little lighter... Romanian military 7x40's with a claimed light transmission of 98%, 8.3 degree field of view, with a center field as sharp as any of the alpha binoculars. the anti reflective coatings are biased for dawn and dusk so tend to give a warm cast during the day. the others on the right 'serbian military' get used during the day as give a neutral image cast... both are heavy at around a kilo but worth it for the stunning image they present. i should also add that the weight coupled with the low magnification makes them incredibly steady when used hand held aiding resolution and giving the impression of much greater magnification.

quality plays a large part ie optics, anti reflective coatings, internal baffling, stray light control, distortion but for woodland use consider a 7x binocular for a brighter image and reduced hand shake. this alone will likely give you better resolution than a shaky higher magnification image, as said it is always advisable to try before you buy

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Full Member
Apr 9, 2013
I have a 8x40 Zeiss Conquest and a 8x32 Kowa BD32-8X. My neck hates the Zeiss, it's just too heavy to carry it around my neck (and if it's in my backpack I won't use it). The Kowa is lighter and the image quality is surprisingly good (better than the Zeiss, and close to the Swarovski my father uses!), plus it's cheaper. Good optics are expensive, but if you have the chance to compare different models you can decide how good is good enough for you. Leica, Zeiss and Swarovski are considered excellent, but I would add Kowa to that list. Don't forget that a good pair of binoculars lasts for ages.

The best one is the one you have with you, and I find for normal use a 8x32 is fine even for wildlife in the early and late hours. It's easy to carry and easy to hold.

And if you can find a used one you can save some money! My brother got a Swarovski for a bargain because the focus wheel didn't work anymore. In that case it's good to know that Swarovski has a lifetime warranty, so my brother bought it, sent it to Swarovski and a week later he had an excellent pair of binoculars for a really low price!
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Sep 16, 2013
Rochester, Kent
As has already been alluded to in the responses. 8x42 is generally recommended for use outdoors/viewing wildlife as they're less susceptible to image shake. You also get the wider field of view which is great when you're scanning the landscape.

I use a budget pair of Nikon the 8x42 bins for when I'm exploring nature reserves. I switch to a pair of Nikon 10x21 bins for when I'm out wild camping as they're light, water/fog proof and pocket friendly. The field of view drops quite dramatically but they serve their purpose for me.


Aug 30, 2016
I use 8x30 zeiss binos for active out-and-about.
They are light enough for me not to hesitate when deciding whether to lug them around or not.
Its a compromise to have lenses less than 40 diameter, but I didn't want ones that were heavy so you decide not to take them.

8x is much much much nicer than 1x :D
I have an elderly pair of Opticron 8x42 porros, which have served me well for many years. However, when I'm travelling really light I use a small Opticron monocular which cost me the princely sum of £40. Light, very good image quality especially for the money, and slip in a cag pocket. I'm even using it now for birdwatching, not in preference to the binos but purely for convenience. But, the binos win every time in low light because of the size of the objectives.


Apr 9, 2012
8 x give a more stable view then 10X
I one wants more then 8 times better take a scope and have lots of fun


Full Member
Dec 3, 2014
United Kingdom
Aye Up,

How far away from your subject(s) do you expect to be? (magnification/clarity).
How much detail do you want/require to see? (mag/light transmission).
At what times of the clock (light conditions) do you require to use them? (light transmission).
Will they be hand held or stabilised? (Weight/monopod/tripod mount facility).
Do you want to use them on the move or from a static location? (size/weight/robustness/rear lens guard).
Will you use them in the open or from a hide? (Robustness/weather protection).
Will your subject come to you or you to them! (How close will you/it get to each other! :lmao:)
How much are you prepared to spend? (Quality costs!).

Like for like by (lens) quality - more magnification = more glass = less light transmission (and potentially image stability), so if you go up in mag and don't want to loose brightness go up in objective lens diameter too.

Eschenback 8 x 56.

I've been using a set of these for about 5 years now - dawn/dusk/day and night - well worth a look (hoho) if you have the brass.

They're not pocket binos (unless you have large combat jacket sized ones) but they are plenty light enough for neck carriage.

Eschenback 1.jpg