8X32 vs 8X42 Binoculars — Which One is Better for You?

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If you’re on the hunt for the perfect pair of binoculars, navigating through the vast market options can be a daunting task. But fear not, I’m here to make your decision easier with an in-depth comparison of 8×32 and 8×42 binoculars.

8×32 binoculars are lighter and more compact, while 8×42 binoculars have a slightly higher weight and size, but provide brighter visuals in low light conditions due to their larger objective lens. 8×32 binoculars are good for birding in daylight whereas 8×42 binoculars are ideal for low-light hunting.

This was a brief answer. At the end of this guide, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision and finally say goodbye to any lingering questions or doubts. Without wasting any more time, let’s get started!

Related Article: Zoom In or Zoom Out? Comparing 10×50 and 16×50 Optics

What is the difference between 8×32 and 8×42 binoculars?

In this guide, I won’t talk about those factors that are common in both binoculars and don’t distinguish them in any way. For example, both 8×32 and 8×42 binoculars have the same magnification power of 8x which means you’ll be able to see equally magnified images with both binoculars.

Instead, our decision will revolve around those factors which differentiate both of these binoculars. For example, the objective lens is different in both of these binoculars i.e., 32 mm and 42 mm. I will aim to give you useful information that proves to be helpful. So, let’s dive into the main part of this article.

Also Read: 8x vs 10x Binoculars – Which Magnification is Good for You?

1- Physical Differences (Weight & Size)

First and the most important factor that many people count as the decision-making or breaking is the size and weight. The good thing is that both of these binoculars are very compact and you can carry them in your pocket. 

But when it comes to two comparisons, then the small differences matter. 8×32 have a lower objective lens size which makes them compact and lightweight. You’ll be able to use them while holding them in one hand.

On the other hand, 8×42 binoculars are also lightweight but their weight is slightly higher than the 8×32 binoculars as their objective lens is greater than the 8×32 binoculars. One thing that I would love to mention here is that the difference in their weight and size is small and carrying them in a pocket is not a big deal.

Winner: Although they are quite similar 8×32 are slightly ahead due to lesser weight. 

2- Optical Performance

Both are good in daylight conditions and their optical performance is quite similar when you use them in the daytime. But you’ll see a massive difference in lowlight conditions. Most of the time, hunters stay in the field before dawn or after dusk. At this time, the light goes dim and the functionality of 8×32 gets restricted. 

On the other hand, 8×42 binoculars have a bigger objective lens size which helps them capture light from the surroundings when the overall light condition is poor. So, these binoculars give you brighter visuals in lowlight conditions.

Because of their smaller objective lens size, 8×32 binoculars have less ability to gather light and provide brighter visuals. While their optical performance may be similar during the day when there is plenty of light, 8×42 binoculars will outperform 8×32 binoculars in low-light conditions.

Winner: 8×42 is better due to better objective lens size.

3- Exit Pupil Size

The exit pupil is another important factor that impacts the performance of binoculars if it has a smaller-sized pupil. It is the small circle-like spot that is present on the eyepiece of binoculars. It indicates the size of the beam of light that the binoculars enter into your eyes.

Binoculars that have a higher exit pupil size provide better visual quality as compared to those having smaller-sized exit pupil sizes. It is calculated by dividing the objective lens size by the magnification power of binoculars.

Exit Pupil of 8×32 binoculars

Divide the objective lens size by the magnification power.

32/8 = 4 mm

Exit Pupil of 8×42 binoculars

Similarly, you can find the exit pupil by dividing the objective lens by the magnification power.

42/8 = 5.2 mm

The exit pupil of 8×42 binoculars is better than 8×32 binoculars and you’ll get better visual quality from 8×42 binoculars as a bigger, better well converged beam of light will enter into your eyes which will be pleasing to your eyes.

Winner: 8×42 is the winner with 5.2 mm of exit pupil size.

You Might Also like to Read: Field of View Showdown: 7×50 vs. 10×50 Binoculars

4- Visual Stability

Both of these binoculars have a magnification power of 8x and there is no visual stability difference in terms of magnification power. 

Point to Ponder: Those binos that have higher magnification power give you shaky visuals due to the slight movement of your hands. 

“Despite having the same magnification power, the visual stability of 8×42 binoculars is slightly better than that of 8×32 binoculars. The visuals produced by 8×42 binoculars are more stable, even if you keep walking. One possible reason for this is that the slightly higher weight of 8×42 binoculars may contribute to their improved stability.

Winner: 8×42 binoculars have slightly better visual stability

5- Price Differences

Budget is one of the most important factors that control the buying decision. 8×32 binoculars are cheaper and easily affordable to everyone. But when it comes to 8×42 binoculars, you’ll have to spend slightly more money to buy them. The bigger-sized objective lens of 42 mm makes them slightly expensive. 

Winner: If you have a tight budget, then 8×42 can be a hard pill to swallow. So, 8×32 has a slight edge.

Which One Should You Choose: 8×32 or 8×42 binoculars?

It’s difficult to say that one of these binoculars is superior to the other, as both have their strengths. The right choice for you will depend on your personal preferences and the outdoor activities you’ll be using the binoculars for.

If you are going to use binoculars in daylight, then I suggest you choose 8×32 binoculars as they are lightweight and provide decent visuals with excellent zooming power.

On the other hand, if you are a hunter who remains in the field even when the sun goes down, then I would highly recommend you go with 8×42 binoculars as they have better low-light usability. The bigger objective lens will give you brighter visuals. 

Takeaways: Both of these binoculars are equally good and your personal preferences decide which optic is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can 8×32 binoculars be used at night?

No, 8×32 binoculars cannot be used at night. Those binoculars which have bigger objective lenses can be used in low light conditions like 8×42 binoculars.

What is the difference in weight and size between 8×32 and 8×42 binoculars?

8×32 binoculars are slightly lighter and more compact than 8×42 binoculars due to their smaller objective lens size.

Do 8×32 and 8×42 binoculars have the same field of view?

The field of view of both 8×32 and 8×42 binoculars is similar, as they have the same magnification power of 8x. Keep in mind that the field of view of a pair of binoculars is directly related to its magnification power.


8×32 and 8×42 binoculars have their strengths and which one is the better choice for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Choosing any of them will not disappoint you at all. If you’re a passionate hunter who remains in the field for more time, then 8×42 binoculars should be your choice. However, 8×32 binoculars are good for mild usage. I hope this guide will answer all of your questions.

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