Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binocular Review
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If you’re new to the world of binoculars, the Celestron Nature DX 8x42 set is aimed directly for you. Celestron’s purpose was a set of affordable binoculars aimed at new and intermediate users without sacrificing functionality. Were they able to do it? Let’s take a look in our Celestron Nature DX 8x42 review.
Things To Consider Before Buying Binoculars
Binoculars can get expensive. You want a quality pair, but sometimes, more significant investments are too much to handle. It’s a tightrope, right? Balancing a beginner’s budget with investing in a product that makes you want to use it.
Keep in mind that these aren’t toys. If your binoculars feel like Fisher Price plastic, you aren’t going to use them. Similarly with view and adjustments. You’ll never learn on a cheap, barely functional pair. Pay close attention to magnification level (seven is a reasonable minimum number) versus field of view. The higher your magnification level, the narrower your field of view. Balance the two carefully.
If you’re using your binoculars outdoors (and who isn’t?), pay attention to the weatherproofing. Dust and water resistant casings keep your binoculars free of things that can affect the focus and prevent a clear line of sight.
Prism type (the part that flips the image right side up) may not be as big of a deal for beginners. Porro prisms are typically bigger and bulkier, but easier to make. If you’re on a budget, this style is more affordable. Roof style prisms are sleek and suitable for shaving off ounces, but they’re a more expensive investment.
Features of the Celestron Nature DX 8x42
The following are the features that you should know:
This model is aimed at beginner and intermediate users who want functionality, but don’t want to invest right away in the most expensive pair they can find. They’re affordable and user-friendly. When you operate the focus knob, it’s surprisingly smooth for an entry level pair of binoculars.
It uses a roof prism, specifically BaK-4 Prism lenses with phase coating. Both of these features are premium, making this Celestron one of the better budget buys you can find.
- Color: Dark Green
- Item Dimensions: 5.3 x 2 x 4.9 inches
- Item Weight: 1.75 pounds
- Magnification Maximum: 8x
- Field of view (degrees): 7.4"
- Field of view (@ 1000 yds): 388
- Close focus distance (feet): 6.5
- Eye Relief (mm): 18
- IPD (mm): 56-74
- Lens Coating: Fully Multi-coated
- Prism Material: BaK4
- Environmental Protection: Waterproof
- Tripod Adaptable: Yes
- Sport Type: Hunting, Birding
- Style Name: Nature DX 8x24
- Model number: 71332
Let’s take a closer look at what you’re getting with the Celestron Nature DX.
Low light and cloudy conditions are tough when you’re getting a target in view at max magnification. If you’re birding or game watching, you don’t want to lose your target just because your max magnification fails when the light isn’t perfect. Since a lot of your serious bird and game watching happens in the early morning or twilight hours anyway, don’t get cheap here.
It’s tough to find binoculars in a roof prism style for less than $250. It just doesn’t usually happen. Here, the company chose to use the sleeker, lighter roof prism style with their beginner model. They feel higher quality without hitting your wallet.
Roof prisms have better contrast and better depth of field because they’re aligned directly with the eye bins. Your viewing is more comfortable and more natural to fine tune. They do a better job of magnifying light, so if you’re birdwatching in the early morning, the mist shouldn’t keep you from finding that bird you can hear ahead of you.
BaK-4 prisms have a particularly high refractive index. The accompanying lens coatings prevent light from getting lost while bouncing through the lenses. The maximum amount of light makes it through the lenses here, so even on overcast or muggy days, images still appear crisp with good contrast.
A not so great aspect of these lenses? They’re set at a much shallower depth inside the barrels than other comparable models. You’re more likely to touch or scratch them as you use them. Typical models have lenses set around 8mm or so, but these are 4mm in. You’d prefer a lot more depth so that you don’t keep smudging your lenses, but stay mindful and keep a cleaning cloth nearby.
Ease of focus is a common complaint, especially with lower-priced models. Manufacturers struggle to create an intuitive focus knob that’s smooth and doesn’t jerk from one focus to the next in the field. Struggling to get a target in view, particularly at max magnification, ruins an experience faster than anything.
The central focus knob is intuitive for beginners. Even if you’re moving around outside trying to find your target, focusing doesn’t jump around or get glitchy. If you’re a bird watcher, this pair makes it easy for you to focus on a moving target instead of getting stuck. Moving targets are some of the most difficult to track as a beginner, so you get a professional style pair right away for that kind of practice.
I mentioned Fisher Price above, but I'm serious about getting durable materials. Even budget binoculars are an investment, so cheap plastic isn’t going to cut it.
The housing of the binoculars should be water and dust resistant so that you don’t gum up the focus gears or risk damaging your lenses. Also, coatings that prevent fog are pretty critical for all but the driest outdoor conditions.
The Celestron housing can withstand some water impacts, so you won’t have to be so ginger while you’re wading through wet conditions. The housing is also moderately dust resistant. Lens caps keep all the lenses clean when not in use.
They’re also impact-resistant. Rubber armored coatings keep them from taking impact during minor drops and falls from a couple of feet or so. It’s not stellar, but it will protect you from basic fumble fingers.
The lenses are nitrogen purged and sealed so that they don’t fog. That alone makes them some of the best beginner’s binoculars around. Imagine you’re walking through some wet, hot weather, and your dream bird is up ahead. The only problem? Your lenses keep fogging. These will never put you in that position.
The main chassis is polycarbonate, a durable housing that cuts down on cost. Higher end binoculars often use aluminum blends, which are stronger, but a lot more expensive. That impact resistant coating on the outside makes grip easier, too, with textured areas around the thumbs. Thumb indents along the central hinge keep your hands in proper position for less fatigue.
All the materials dampen sound and reduce light reflection, so you’re less likely to give your position away (from your binoculars at least. they can't help you if you’re heavy footed).
The twist-up eyecups are designed both for bare eyes and eyeglass wearers. They’re straightforward to position in both cases, but they can be somewhat annoying to get the positioning just right.
The eye relief dial is trigger happy. It’s way too loose to stay in position while you’re maneuvering the binoculars around, so you might find yourself adjusting them more than you’d like. The cups themselves are pretty comfortable, but make sure you test them out first if you can because they stick out a little far.
Pay attention to the screws in the eyepieces. One of the screws that holds them firmly in place can get knocked loose by the constant rotation, so make sure you pay attention to those little details. If you lose the screw, contact the company to see about a replacement.
Weight And Size
They aren’t going to be the sveltest on the market. This is one area where you have to balance your budget requirements with the size and weight.
For budget model binoculars, they aren’t bad. They use a roof prism, so you do shave some ounces there. Overall, they’re going to be a little bulkier than significantly more expensive binoculars.
The inter-pupillary distances (IPD) has a good range, between 5.6cm and 7.4cm. Wide-set and close-set eyes should have enough range to find a comfortable position. If you’ve got close-set eyes and have struggled with budget binoculars in the past, you’ll get some relief here.
The diopter adjustment is smooth as well, but there aren’t any markings for your personal settings other than a simple plus and minus sign. It’s not lockable, and you won’t hear an audible click, but it stays in place pretty well. If you lend your binoculars out, or you have an impact of some kind, you’ll have to adjust from scratch again.
Their actual dimensions are 5.3 inches in length and a weight of just over 22 ounces. Widest open width is 4.9 inches, and if you close them to the narrowest width, it’s 4.2 inches. It makes them officially in the compact range (barely), but comfort depends a lot on your hand size.
Let’s take a look at a few different alternatives for this model.
Celestron Nature DX 8x42 Binocular vs Nikon Monarch
Nikon Monarch is still considered affordable, but it’s going to run about twice the amount of the average Celestron. In exchange, it has an extra-low dispersion glass and a dielectric multilayer prism coating. Both minimize color fringing and really sharpens those images. If you’re looking at a blue or green tinged bird ahead in the distance surrounded by more green and blue, the Monarch might get you the image where the Celestron will have trouble.
It’s a model suited for intermediate to slightly more advanced users. Absolute beginners can safely err on the side of the budget, but if this isn’t your first rodeo, you’ll be happier with the Monarch.
Get Celestron if:
-you’re a beginner.
-budget is more important than high-end features.
Get the Monarch if:
-you’re intermediate or more advanced.
-you spend a lot of time in situations where you need the most significant contrast possible.
Celestron Nature DX 8x42 Binocular vs Trailseeker
Trailseekers are a lighter bodied model with better overall contrast. It’s going to cost you a bit more, but let’s see if it’s worth it. The magnesium significantly reduces the likelihood you’ll damage your binoculars through impact without adding too much overall weight.
The Trailseekers have a dielectric multilayer prism coating. Though both models use the same BaK-4 lenses, the coatings are better with the Trailseeker, which improves contrast and light absorption. Again, you’ll spend a little more but have an easier time getting your target clear sight.
The Trailseekers are better for someone who’s a little harder on binoculars. If you’re going way out to find your bird or wildlife, these give you a bit more peace with the housing than the Nature DX model.
Get the Trailseekers if:
-you go way out for hard to find birds or wildlife.
-you’re an intermediate user, so the higher image resolution is worth the extra.
Get the Nature DX if:
-budget is still important.
-your primary targets are closer with less need for contrast.
Celestron Nature DX 8x42 Binocular vs Olympus 10x50 DSPI
This Olympus model has a broader range for a still budget price. Here, you’ll want to consider the reason you need binoculars. If you’re bird or game watching, the Celestron model is a better choice with a slightly narrower but crisper field of view.
If you need farther distance and better contrast with light (such as stargazing), Olympus’s model works better. They use a Porro prism which is a little bulkier, but the extra large field of view helps you get those stars or fast moving targets in view.
Get Olympus if:
-you track sports or fast moving targets
-you need a wider field of view and more significant magnification for stargazing
Get Celestron if:
-you primarily watch birds or game.
-you’re unsure of what you want and need an all-purpose beginner set.
You can’t get much better balancing your budget with features than the Celestron Nature DX model. It has a few higher-end features, such as the roof prism, balanced well with money saving ones like the polycarbonate body. Overall, as you learn to use your binoculars, these should get you started and carry you through your intermediate period without an enormous strain on your wallet.
What are you planning to track with your new pair of binoculars? Let me know in the comments below!