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Using Binoculars to see at distances

Nikon Premier 10x42 Binoculars

Nikon Premier LXL 10x42 The Premier LX was Nikon’s best binocular line, first released only a few years ago. The new Premier binoculars come in 3 different configurations: 8x32, 8x42 and 10x42, all of which should be excellent birding binoculars. This review covers only the 10x42 model. Optically, the old Premiers were a fine binocular; the new version is better still. The 8x32 Premier costs $1,199.95, the 8x42 Premier is priced at $1,529.95 and the 10x42 model runs $1,599.95.

Like their predecessors, the new Premiers are fully sealed, nitrogen-purged roof prism binoculars, so they are completely fogproof, dustproof and waterproof. In many ways, the Premiers are much the same as the old LX model, which is good because Nikon did a pretty job of design. We noted two really significant improvements to the Premiers: Nikon reduced the weight significantly and they improved the eyecup adjustment mechanism. The 8x42 Premier LX that we reviewed previously weighed 34.2 oz, which is a lot by today’s standards. The 10x42 Premier we tested weighed 28.2 oz, which is average for a 42-mm optic, but significantly better than before. The other improvement is in the graduated eyecup settings. Instead of the all-or-nothing mechanism that was stabilized only in the fully-out or fully-in positions, the new Premiers have two intermediate eyecup settings held by nice, firm detents that don’t collapse in the field. It’s an excellent mechanism, a good improvement. One other trait is worthy of special mention: minimum close focus. Nikon bills the 10x42 Premier at a minimum close focus of 9.8 feet, but when we measured it, we easily got down to 7 feet with no detectable collapse of field, so in this, the Premier is better than advertised.

As it happened, the old Premier LX review was one of the first we did, and in it, we didn’t fully appreciate a feature of those binoculars that remains unchanged in the new version: the flat field performance. As soon as we looked at the new Premier, it became our new benchmark binocular for this trait. This binocular has the best flat field performance of any we’ve reviewed so far and while the list isn’t comprehensive, we have seen a fair few! Simply put, this binocular maintains sharpness and lack of color aberration right to the very edge of the field in a manner that is extraordinary. Coupled to its overall brightness and color fidelity, optically, the 10x42 Premier is a fine binocular!

In other critical properties, the 10x42 Premier has a 315-foot field of view at 1000 yards, which is average for a 10x binocular. Eye relief is 19 mm on the 10x model, which is quite good. The interpupilary distance ranges from 56-76 mm, a slightly larger than average spread which will benefit users with broader faces.

Mag x Obj Eye relief Field of view Close focus Weight Dimensions
10x42 19 mm 314 ft/1000 yds 9.8 ft 27.8 oz. 6.1" x 5.4"
8x42 20 mm 367 ft/1000 yds 9.8 ft 27.8 oz. 6.1" x 5.4"

Another feature that we didn’t fully appreciate the last time we looked at these is the focusing mechanism. As noted then, the Premier goes from minimum close focus to infinity in just under one full turn of the knob. This is distinctly better than average for most binocular types. The 8x model we reviewed before had rather a stiff focus mechanism. Not so these 10x42s. On these, the mechanism was supple and smooth, and a delight to handle generally. As a result, focusing was precise and easy, despite the fact that the Premier is about average in terms of its depth of field. Overall, it’s an excellent focus mechanism

premier-diopter The new Premier features the same diopter adjustment mechanism that we liked before on the old Premier LX. Its ±4 stops on a locking ring on the right ocular, fully graduated but able to lock at any intermediate position. One can adjust the focus at the same time as the diopter setting. This is the best diopter adjustment mechanism that we’ve seen, and while other manufacturers offer the functional equivalent, you still have to credit Nikon for doing this just right.

A few comments on the ergonomics of this binocular are warranted. We like the black rubber armoring with its slightly tacky surface on the barrels. The shape is good too, with the gentle swell to the barrels toward the objective end, and the flared ridge up by the oculars, so that it fits naturally and comfortably in the hand. This could have been improved by some sort of thumb groove, but overall, Nikon did a good job with this aspect of the design. The size is unchanged at 6.2 inches tall by 5.5 inches wide.

The eyecups are rather pliable rubber so they conform slightly when pressed against the eye sockets, helping to minimize glare and stray light problems. The rainguard remains unchanged from before: two deep cups of soft rubber joined by a flexible bridge segment. These could be slightly smaller so that they stay in place better, but it’s a minor point. As usual, the rainguard attaches to the binocular strap through brackets on the sides, a solid one on the left, and a gapped bracket on the right. The gapped bracket is angled, to render it easier to slip onto or off the strap. The hard rubber lens caps fit snugly on the ends of the barrels, and were not easily dislodged, even when shaken.

Nikon changed the case a little, but the strap is essentially the same as before, which was pretty minimal as such things go. On the whole, we liked the old Nikon Premier LX, and the new Premier is significantly better in a number of important ways. In the end, selecting a high-performance binocular is a very personal choice, and it comes down to what any particular person really likes. We think a lot of people are really going to like these.

Nikon Premier Binoculars - current price and availability