Nikon Premier 10x42 Binoculars
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
and the 10x42 model runs
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
||Field of view
||314 ft/1000 yds
||6.1" x 5.4"
||367 ft/1000 yds
||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
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.