10x42 vs 10x50 Binoculars: Which Option Is The Best?

Man in field using 10x42 binoculars

There are a wide range of factors to consider when deciding on which binoculars are the best choice for you. Factors such as the build design and lens quality are certainly important points to consider. However, choosing the right magnification and objective lens size is essential. This will dictate how effective the binoculars are at a certain range. Both the magnification and the objective lens size will impact how effectively you can use the binoculars.

I have recently spent some time reviewing the Viking Badger 10x50 Binoculars. These 10x50 binoculars were exceptional and introduced a wider objective lens to the product range. However, this brought up the question of which option is best between the 10x42 and the 10x50 binoculars. Whilst these binoculars share many similarities, there are certainly some differences that help to separate them.

This guide aims to explore both binoculars and decide which is the best option for you. Both sizes of binoculars will certainly deliver fantastic results - though they may be more suited to different activities.

Size and Weight

The first noticeable difference between the 10x42 binoculars and 10x50 binoculars is the size and weight. Due to the increase in objective lens diameter, you can expect the 10x50 binoculars to be bigger in comparison. This results in these binoculars being both taller and wider than any 10x42 binoculars.

For example, the Viking Badger 10x42 binoculars measure in at a length of 14cm with a weight of 590 grams. In comparison, the Viking Badger 10x50 has a total length of 17.2 cm and weighs in at 820 grams. As previously mentioned, this increase in size helps to accommodate the wider objective lens size. This ultimately allows for these binoculars to increase the amount of light which can pass through the lenses. This allows for the 10x50 binoculars to deliver images which are much brighter and more defined.

The comparison between weight is certainly the most noticeable difference here. Binoculars which increase in size will naturally require more glass for the lenses. Whilst this does not look like a big difference, it can certainly impact how accessible these binoculars are. This is especially true for long-term use of the binoculars. If you are looking for binoculars which are easier to carry around, then the 10x42 option is the best choice.

Viking Badger 10x42 Binoculars

Deciding on which option is the best for you really comes down to personal preference. If you are planning on using these binoculars during a hike, then perhaps the 10x42 binoculars are the right choice. This strikes a fine balance between the overall weight and the quality that they can offer. However, the 10x50 binoculars would flourish with activities such as bird watching and stargazing.

The larger objective lens diameter opens up more opportunities for the 10x50 binoculars. Being able to participate in activities such as stargazing is a prime example of this. This is still available with 10x42 binoculars - though you can certainly expect better results with the 10x50 option. This leads us perfectly on to the next important factor to consider.

Quality of Optics

As previously mentioned, the larger objective lens size on the 10x50 binoculars allows for them to offer brighter images. Even in low-light conditions you can expect these binoculars to perform exceptionally well. However, this does not necessarily mean that they offer the highest possible quality. This is largely dependent on the model of binoculars and the glass that they use.

For example, the Viking Badger 10x50 binoculars offer a superior quality over the 10x42 version due to the larger lenses. These binoculars offer the same build design and glass for the optics. Therefore, the only real difference that can be found is with how much light is taken in. Even with this increase in light, there are no guarantees that the difference would even be noticeable. Despite this, there are some scenarios where the 10x50 binoculars really do shine. If you were to use these binoculars in low-light conditions then the extra light transmission would certainly be beneficial.

However, if you were to compare this to the Viking Kestrel ED 10x42 then the results would be different. This is due to the Viking Kestrel ED binoculars utilising Extra-low Dispersion glass. The use of this glass guarantees the highest possible results - regardless of the size. This results in these binoculars being available at a higher price in comparison to standard binoculars. Therefore, if you wish to maximise the overall quality, then opting for ED binoculars is the way to go.

Viking Kestrel ED 10x42 Binoculars

The quality of the optics on the 10x50 binoculars really shines when using them for activities such as stargazing. The combination of the powerful magnification with the large lenses ensures that the viewable image is always clear. This makes them the optimal choice if you plan on participating in long-range observation. Yes, the 10x42 binoculars are still capable of doing this to some extent and performing well. However, the 10x50 binoculars are just the far better option for this.

Field-of-view (FOV) is another important point to consider when deciding which option is best. As both models provide a 10x magnification zoom, this will limit how wide the FOV can be. The Viking Badger 10x50 binoculars provide a FOV of 5.2°. This is a fairly narrow FOV though balanced out with the 10x magnification zoom available.  In comparison, the Viking Badger 10x42 offers an FOV of 6.44° which is considerably wider. This ideally makes them more suitable for bird watching by making it easier to follow the target.

Finally, the last point to consider is the eye-relief that each option offers. The Viking Badger 10x50 binoculars deliver a fantastic rate of comfort for the user with an eye-relief of 18.2mm. To compare, the Viking Badger 10x42 only provides 13.3mm which is a considerable difference. Whilst both will provide a great deal of comfort, it is clear that the Viking 10x50 binoculars are superior here.

Verdict: Which Is Best?

Both the 10x42 and 10x50 binoculars will deliver fantastic results and are suitable for all occasions. Deciding which option is the right choice for you comes down to what you plan on using these binoculars for. The two different binoculars provide the same design features and general performance providing they are from the same product range.

The 10x42 binoculars are certainly the most cost-effective option and provide a more convenient build design. When using these binoculars in a good light conditions, they will match the quality output of the 10x50 binoculars. Whilst there may be some colour fringing, this really is not noticeable - especially in bright environments. These binoculars are perfectly suitable for birdwatching and general observations. If you are looking for a pair of binoculars for general use, then the 10x42 binoculars are a great choice.

The 10x50 binoculars are the next step up in terms of quality and versatility. The wider lenses provide a brighter image in comparison and will perform better in low-light conditions. This does increase the overall size and weight of the binoculars, but certainly provides a boost to the quality. In addition to this, the 10x50 binoculars are perfect for activities such as stargazing. The wide lenses allow for bright and clear viewable images at all times - even at night. Therefore, it is clear that these binoculars are most suitable for long-range activities that require an in-depth focus.

Viking Badger 10x50 Binoculars

It is important to note that there is no single best option. To get the best results possible, you need to decide on which range of binoculars suits your needs. Both the 10x42 and the 10x50 binoculars are suitable for a wide range of activities. Most people will get the results that they need with the use of the 10x42 binoculars. These binoculars provide clear images and provide an affordable approach to this.

However, the 10x50 binoculars are perfect for those long distance observations. This is likely more suitable for intermediate users due to the size and power of the binoculars. Models such as the Viking Badger 10x50 binoculars are a fantastic introduction to the 10x50 range. These provide an affordable approach to achieving fantastic results.

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