Low Cost 10x42 Binoculars for Birding & Safaris

On Safari with Vanguard Spirit ED Binoculars

The question today is from a reader looking for low cost 10x42 binoculars for safaris and birding:

Have A Question For Me?Question:

I was about to buy Barr and Stroud Sahara 10x42 binoculars when I saw your website and started to have some doubts.

My boyfriend and I, we use binoculars for bid watching and Safaris. We love animals and use binoculars every time we can.

He has a good 8x42 binocular but we would like to buy other binoculars for me now. So we thought about 10x42 in order to have 2 different sizes.

As we have limited budget we thought about Barr and Stroud Sahara 10x42 but when I looked into your website I thought maybe it was better to pay little bit more for a Bushnell 10x42 NatureView or a Barr and Stroud Savannah. I am little bit confuse on difference between, Sahara, Savannah and Series in Barr and Stroud could you explain me what is the main difference.

We are also interested in lightness (image brightness) as we often stay out until sun goes down to see the owls.


Answer

Hi there, many thanks for the question and I think that your idea to get a 10x42 to compliment the 8x42 that your boyfriend already has is a great idea, so we will restrict this search to lower cost 10x42 binoculars:

Comparisons

Whilst I have reviewed quite a few Barr & Stroud binoculars, I actually have not tested many of their 10x42’s so I can’t really make too many comments in regards to the actual image they produce, but as with the advice I give on my article on how to choose between binoculars, I can make a few assumptions based on the tests and reviews I have done on the same series of binoculars, but in different configurations (for example I have not tested the Barr & Stroud Savannah 10x42, I have fully reviewed the 8x42 Savannah etc.).

To begin, and as I do whenever I want to make a choice, let’s compare the main features and specifications of the models that you are interested in:

  Barr & Stroud Sahara 10x42 Barr & Stroud Savannah 10x42 Barr & Stroud Series 4 10x42 Barr & Stroud Series 4 ED 10x42 Bushnell NatureView 10x42
Approx Price: £105 £150 £120 £200 $150 / £110
Weight: 23.7oz (673g) 27.3oz (774g) 23oz (650 g) 23oz (650 g) 23oz (652g)
Length: 5.3in (13.6cm) 5.9in (15cm) 5.9in (15cm) 6in (15.4cm)  
Width: 5.2in (13.3cm) 5.1in (13cm) 5in (12.6cm) 5in (12.6cm)  
Height: 2in (5.2cm) 2.2in (5.7cm) 2in (5.2cm) 2in (5.2cm)  
Eye Relief: 14mm 15.5mm 15.2mm 15.2mm 17mm
Min Focusing Dist: 6.6ft (2m) 6.6ft (2m) 14.7ft (4.5m) 14.7ft (4.5m) 12ft (3.6m)
FOV at 1000yds: 303ft 342ft 282ft 282ft 315ft
Prism Glass BAK-4 BAK-4 BAK-4 BAK-4 BAK-4
ED Glass No No No Yes No
Phase Correction No Yes Yes Yes No
Lens Coatings Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated
Waterproof Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fogproof Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

As you can see from above all the binoculars are fairly evenly matched, but each have their strong and weak points.

Barr & Stroud Binoculars
You asked about the main differences between the Sahara, Savannah and Series 4 binoculars from Bar & Stroud:

As you can see from above, all use roof prisms made from Bak-4 glass which is good, but the Sahara’s don’t have Phase Correction Coatings added to their prisms, meaning that the uncorrected "phase shift" that occurs on the roof prism will produce an image with a little less contrast and a slightly lower resolution than the others that have these coatings to correct it.

Field of View (FOV)
As long as the image remains sharp and in focus over the whole width of the image, a wide FOV is preferable for most wildlife and birding uses. This is because looking at a larger area at any given time, lets you see more of the whole picture and makes it easier to find and track what you are looking for. In the case of small fast moving birds, this can be really important.

Most 10x binoculars have narrower FOV than 8x binoculars, so it makes sense, especially as your interests are in birding as well as wildlife observation, to look for 10x bins that have as wide a FOV as possible to make the "hit" you take by choosing a more powerful binocular as small as possible.

So as you can see from above, whilst the Series 4 ED may have Extra Low Dispersion Glass that should improve the image a little further by reducing or eliminating color fringing, their narrow field of view of 282ft wide at 1000 yards away would be a concern for me in this case and I would try to look for wins with a FOV wider than 300ft.

So as long as size and weight are not too critical for you, my favorite of the Barr & Stroud’s above for use as a Birding and Safari binocular would be the Savannah 10x42.

Comparing them to the Bushnell Nature view, they are about the same price, yet the Bushnell does not have Phase Correction Coatings. They are however lighter and come with more eye-relief. I am not sure if you wear glasses or not, if you do this may be a factor. So once again unless size and weight is important, I would still go for the Savannah 10x42.

Recommended Birding & Safari 10x42 Binoculars

Below are a few other lower cost 10x42 binoculars ideal for Safaris & birdwatching that I think you should also really consider:

  Carson 3D Series 10x42 Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Vanguard 10x42 Spirit ED Binoculars Vanguard 10x42 Spirit XF
Approx Price: $200 $250 / £200 $250 / £190 $290 / £150
Weight: 23.2ozs (658g) 23oz (650 g) 22.6ozs (641g) 23.5oz (665g)
Length: 5.5in (14cm) 5.9in (15cm) 5.7in (14.5cm) 5.9in (15cm)
Width: 5.0in (12.7cm) 5in (12.6cm) 4.9in (12.4cm) 5.1in (13cm)
Height: 2.0in (5.1cm) 2in (5.2cm)   2.4in (6.1cm)
Eye Relief: 16mm 15.2mm 16mm 16mm
Min Focusing Dist: 6.2ft 9.8ft (3m) 9.2ft (2.8m) 6.9ft (2.1m)
FOV at 1000yds: 314ft 299ft 315ft 332ft
Prism Glass BAK-4 BAK-4 BAK-4 BAK-4
ED Glass Yes No Yes No
Phase Correction Yes Yes Yes No
Lens Coatings Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated
Waterproof Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fogproof Yes Yes Yes Yes

 

Carson 3D Series 10x42 BinocularsCarson 3D Series 10x42 Binoculars

These Carson Binocular are really interesting in that they tick most of the right boxes and for around $200 you get a binocular with both ED Glass and phase correction coatings on the prisms.

Their FOV at 314ft@1000yds is not bad and they have a reasonable amount of eye-relief.

Also included with these binoculars is a good quality binocular harness and their wrap around BinoArmor carry case, which is one of the best I have ever used.

The main issue for you may be that I have not as yet seen them for sale in the UK, which is a real shame, but have listed them here for any of my US readers.

 

Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 BinocularsNikon Monarch 3 10x42 Binoculars

Whilst I have not used these Nikon Monarch binoculars, I thought that they worth including as I thought at their asking price, they look like a more than decent binocular.

Fully multi-coated optics are complimented by Bak-4 phase corrected roof prisms, however unlike the Carson 3D or the Vanguard Spirit ED, they do not have ED glass.

For me their weakest aspect is the FOV which is 299ft wide at 1000yards and just on the cusp of what I have as my minimum.

 

Vanguard 10x42 Spirit ED BinocularsVanguard 10x42 Spirit ED Binoculars

Past winners of my Best Value for Money binocular, these Vanguard binoculars may be at the top end of your budget, but they are currently available at a great price, especially here in the UK and are in many ways very similar to the Carson’s above.

They are fully multi-coated and the roof prisms have also had phase correction coatings applied to them and they come with ED glass elements in the lenses.

What I do also really like is that they have a nice wide FOV of 332ft@1000yds, which for a 10x binocular is not bad at all and the 16mm of eye-relief should just be enough for most people to get the full view if you wear glasses.

At 22.6ozs (641g) they are also the lightest of those listed on this page.

 

Vanguard 10x42 Spirit XF BinocularsVanguard 10x42 Spirit XF Binoculars

These are another pair of 10x42 Vanguards that I have fully reviewed that I think would really suit your needs at your budget.

They are cheaper than the Spirit ED’s above, but they don’t have ED glass or phase correction coatings, but I still thought that they produced an excellent image for a binocular in this class when I tested them.

They do come with fully multi-coated optics and roof prisms made Bak-4 glass, which in most cases is regarded as superior to BK7 glass ones.

What I do also really like is that they have a nice wide FOV of 332ft@1000yds, which as I have already mentioned is desirable for most types of birdwatching.

 

Further Reading:

Hopefully some of my advice and my recommendations will be of use to you and that you are able to get the perfect binocular for your needs and within your budget. If you or anyone else has any more questions related to this topic, please don’t hesitate to ask it in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Have A Question For Me?Have a Question?

If you need some advice about a particular binocular or are unsure as what binocular to get for your specific interests and needs, I would love to try and help. You can Submit your question here. Please just make sure that I have not already covered a similar topic already.

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