Spotting and locating game is half art and half science. The art comes from hours spent behind good binoculars, knowing what likely locations game will be found in and tell-tale signs to look for that are animal giveaways: the flash of a horn or antler, a light patch of fur, an odd horizontal shape. The science, in part, is delivered by using quality binoculars that provide great overall light transmission, crisp, clear imaging — and a wide field of view — with ergonomics that make it easy to use and comfortable for hours of glassing.
All things being equal, binoculars with a wide field of view open the opportunity to spot distant game like nothing else. Ever been afield with someone who consistently spots game before you ever pick it out? This lesson was driven home during a week-long hunt by an outfitter friend who would find game nearly every time before I did. His secret? In large part, a quality binocular that had a much wider field of view than what I was using. He was simply able to see more country, and spot more game more effectively and faster.
Since that frustrating experience decades ago, I upgraded my optics arsenal and improved my game spotting abilities considerably. As a general rule, the lower the magnification power, the larger the field of view, e.g., 8X30 binoculars will have a larger field of view than 10X30 models. For low-light performance, larger objective lenses, like a 42 millimeter, provide better dawn and dusk light gathering and transmitting potential. A binocular's exit pupil size, the objective lens size divided by the power, tells you how much light gathering and transmitting potential the binocular has. For example, an 8X42 bino has an exit pupil of 5.3 and a 10X42 equals 4.2 — the higher the exit pupil size, the better the low-light potential (more on this later).
So, which binocular power and size is best? To maximize low-light performance (especially for those with aging eyes), a 42-millimeter objective lens is generally seen as the best available compromise between weight, size, binocular ergonomics and performance. The choice between 8- or 10-power magnifications depends on where you will use your optics most. If you primarily hunt in the East or in much of Midwest, an 8X42 will deliver a wider field of view, and improved low-light performance in the typically shaded forest environments. If you hunt the West or primarily in open expanses, the 10X42 is the ideal compromise of power and field of view. All that being said, I generally prefer the 10X42 for most of my hunting, as I want to be able to critically evaluate the headgear of distant animals and I enjoy the benefits of the extra magnification.
Now let's get back to that word — potential — as it relates to light gathering, light transmission, overall clarity and image accuracy. Truth is, all things are never equal. The quality of the glass, the critical coatings on lenses, manufacturing tolerances, plus other variables, all impact the image quality, accuracy, clarity and brightness. The field of view is impacted primarily by binocular design characteristics.
In the way of an example, I was recently afforded the opportunity to test Nikon's new Monarch HG 10X42 binoculars, and they are a case study blending all the right variables together for a superior hunting optic.
To start, Monarch HG binos feature Nikon's extra-low dispersion ED glass with high-quality multilayer coatings on all lenses and prisms, for brighter, higher-resolution viewing. When you combine this with their Field Flattener Lens System and the extraordinarily wide field of view (435 and 362 feet at 1,000 yards for the 8x42 and 10x42 respectively), the Monarch HGs provide huge optical advantages in the field — and maximize your game spotting ability.
On the ergonomics front, this All Terrain Binocular's foundation is a die-cast magnesium alloy body, providing optimum strength, impact resiliency and weight reduction, with a slim, contoured body and wrap-around rubberized panels for a sure-grip in any weather. Other great enhancements include a slick, locking diopter ring that keeps your focal adjustments set perfectly for you, a wide interpupillary adjustment to fit any face, and very handy turn-and-slide eyecups for optimum eye position. The Monarch HGs also feature the best snap-in-place objective lens cover of any bino I've ever used, further protecting the scratch-proof coatings and lenses.
To top it all off, the waterproof Monarch HGs are covered by Nikon's generous No-Fault Repair/Replacement Policy so you can buy, hunt hard and explore carefree with confidence. To learn more about the Monarch HGs and Nikon's full line of sport optics, visit Nikonsportoptics.com.