Nikon Sports and Marine 7x50 Binoculars
Sports and Marine 7x50 Binoculars (courtesy, Nikon)

Which binoculars work best in low-light conditions?

I’m in the market for new binoculars that are waterproof, rubber coated, and show excellent contrast and light-gathering ability in low-light conditions (like when viewing sbur deer in the Victorian high country in winter). I have considered Browning 8x42s and Nikon Monarch 8x42s. Any advice? Bryan Point Cook, Victoria, Australia

Nikon Sports and Marine 7x50 Binoculars

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I think you’re in the right ballpark, Bryan. Nikon’s 8×42 Monarch ATBs (US$340, A$450; and Browning’s 8x42s (US$260, A$345; are lightweight, durable, waterproof, and have above-average optics for clarity and good performance in moderately low light. I’d probably give the Nikon a slight nod for optical quality, but I’m not sure you’d notice that much difference unless you were trying to count nose hairs on said sambur deer. For the uninitiated, sambur are large deer with a three-point antler introduced into Australia and similar areas by settlers.

Nikon Sports and Marine 7x50 Binoculars

Nikon Sports and Marine 7x50 Binoculars Sports and Marine 7×50 Binoculars

You might benefit from either a little more pull or better light-gathering. For the former, Nikon’s 10×42 Monarch ATBs (US$380, A$505) are only a few dollars more and offer 25 percent better magnification than the 8×42 model. Browning makes a similar binocular, again for only slightly more dough. And, interestingly, the 8×42 models actually are slightly heavier. Binoculars with a 50mm objective diameter will gather a bit more light than those with 42mm, so Nikon’s 7×50 Sports and Marine binocular (US$368, A$489) offers that attribute in a waterproof set. I’d also look at the new 10×40 Predator Pro by Steiner (US$400, A$532;, which are waterproof and have optics designed to make wildlife stand out against green backgrounds. I really like Steiners—they’re well-made, with excellent glass.

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From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021 Lead Photo: courtesy, Nikon