Celestron Nature DX 8x42 Review
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Celestron Nature DX 8x42
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|Pros||Inexpensive, good clarity and brightness||Good clarity and brightness, smooth focus knob||Good clarity, small and lightweight, relatively comfortable||Good clarity, compact, light||Great light transmission, relatively inexpensive|
|Cons||Average construction quality, mediocre low-light performance||Mediocre close focus range, mediocre field of view||Poor low-light performance||Below average light transmission, eye covers fall off easily||Poor eye cups, minimal ergonomics, large porro-prism design, poor close focus range|
|Bottom Line||The most budget-friendly option we've found that offers a good introduction to birdwatching||These perform well for the price, offering a smooth focus knob and decent brightness and clarity||An inexpensive, small, and packable model that offers surprisingly good optics||Compact with decent clarity for budget-tier optics, and a good option for backpackers||An affordable pair of binoculars that excels in light transmission|
|Rating Categories||Celestron Nature DX...||Nikon Monarch M5 8x42||Vortex Diamondback...||Nikon Trailblazer A...||Nikon Aculon A211 8x42|
|Field of View (10%)|
|Ease of Adjustment (5%)|
|Close Focus Range (5%)|
|Specs||Celestron Nature DX...||Nikon Monarch M5 8x42||Vortex Diamondback...||Nikon Trailblazer A...||Nikon Aculon A211 8x42|
|Multi - Coating||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC|
|Field of View (at 1000 yards)||388 ft||335 ft||332 ft||342 ft||420 ft|
|Close Focus||6.5 ft||8.2 ft||6.0 ft||11.5 ft||16.4 ft|
|Eye Relief||17.5 mm||19.5 mm||18 mm||10 mm||12 mm|
|Measured Size (Length x Width)||5.3 x 4.9 in||5.7 x 5.1 in||4.6 x 4.5 in||4.1 x 2.9 in||7 x 5.9 in|
|Measured Weight||22 oz||22 oz||14 oz||12 oz||26 oz|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Celestron Nature DX 8x42 really impressed us in our testing, especially considering the relatively low list price. With good clarity and smooth focus, these binos certainly punch above their weight class.
The Celestron Nature DX put in an impressive performance in our clarity testing, staying within a respectable distance of the top-performing binoculars. The Nature DX was consistently able to get the main subject looking quite sharp, with small details clearly discernable, like the small black cap of Garry the Goldfinch, one of our test birds. This is why we think these bins are great for beginner birders; they can display the small but significant identification traits of small birds.
The downside of the Nature DX's clarity, when compared to more expensive models, is the image gets a bit blurrier the farther away you move from the center. You can see in the image below that most of the branches are in focus in the competitor image, but the ones towards the edge of the Nature DX image are blurrier. You can't really tell this from a still photo, but that edge blurriness makes the image feel less immersive. It's the difference between feeling like you're actually sitting right next to the birds versus feeling like you're looking at a picture of the bird. That feeling of immersion is the main advantage you get from spending more on a higher-quality pair of bins, but the Nature DX still provides a good birding experience.
Here again, the Nature DX impressed us by staying within spitting distance of the higher-end models. In bright light, we honestly had some trouble telling the difference between the Nature DX and other higher-priced models in terms of brightness. In these situations, the Nature DX produced exceptionally bright images.
It was when the light got a bit dimmer that we noticed differences. For example, the side-by-side photos below were taken within minutes of one another on a cloudy day. You can see that the other pair produced a noticeably brighter image than the Nature DX. In this cloudy situation, the difference is noticeable but not limiting, as the Nature DX image is still bright enough to display good detail on the birds. However, in the very early morning and very late dusk, the difference becomes greater, with the Viper HD still able to display some features and color patterns of the birds, while the Nature DX produces images more akin to silhouettes with comparatively little detail. Again, this is a clear drawback, but one that wouldn't ruin the experience of a new bird watcher.
The Nature DX weighs only 22.2 ounces, quite light for a full-sized pair of binoculars. This generally makes them comfortable to hold. However, they are somewhat small in stature, so those with larger hands may feel like there isn't much space for their thumbs.
The Nature DX also lacks any sort of ergonomic grooves in the bottom of the barrels, something that many higher-end models have and that makes for a slightly more comfortable hold.
Field of View
Our test team measured the actual field of view of the Nature DX at 331 feet, which is a relatively wide field of view. While it is above the average field of view measured across our entire test group, it's actually considerably less than the manufacturer specified 388 feet at 1000 yards. We felt this was still wide enough to enjoy looking at distant landscapes and to give enough wiggle room to try and get the binoculars on a small bird hopping around in a nearby tree.
Ease of Adjustment
Here the Nature DX was able to hang with the big dogs, earning a very high score.
We really love the Nature DX's focus knob, which is supple and smooth yet solidly locks in place once you stop moving it. One of the biggest frustrations for new birders is learning to quickly get their bins focused on a bird before it decides to flit away, and the Nature DX's focus knob is great for learning that skill. The eyecups are also easy to adjust and have a couple of settings where they solidly lock in place. More than two options would be nice, but none of our testers felt this kept them from getting the proper eye relief. The only adjustment that is a bit finicky is the diopter, which is adjusted with a separate knob that is quite stiff. This does make minor adjustments a bit difficult, but this is something you'll only have to adjust once when you first get the binoculars, and then maybe again every few months as you jostle the binoculars around and knock things loose. Unfortunately, the diopter does not lock, and leaves a little to be desired.
Close Focus Range
We measure the close focus range at 7.8 feet, which is 1.3 feet further than the manufacturer stated, but still better than the average calculated for the entire test group. The Nature DX's close focus range of 7.8 feet means you'll be able to get all but the closest objects in focus. That butterfly, or small finch that lands on the branch in front of you will look spectacular through your binoculars.
The closest focus range we've encountered is 4.9 feet, which would let most people focus on a butterfly that landed on their feet. While the Nature DX can't do that, it is our expert opinion that it gets close enough. We don't envision any user missing out on an experience due to the close, but not exceptionally close, close focus range, and our team still thinks this is great pair of binoculars in terms of performance across this metric, as well as others, at this price point.
Should You Buy the Celestron Nature DX 8x42?
Honestly, we can't believe that the Celestron Nature DX 8x42 is so affordable considering its overall performance., but there are some areas where the relatively low price of this model shows a bit. They certainly aren't poorly constructed, but some of the materials are of a slightly lesser quality than those found on the most premium models. The major noticeable difference between the construction of the Nature and higher-priced models is the rubberized coating feels slightly plasticky and somewhat less grippy.
Apart from a slightly lower-quality rubber coating and some slight blurriness at the edge of the image, these binoculars really feel like a more expensive pair. After many rounds of testing and retesting, as well as comparing to other updated models, our team continues to think the Nature is a great option for anyone seeking good enough optics to start identifying small birds without making a big investment.
What Other Binoculars Should You Consider?
The Celestron Nature DX 8x42 offers good performance at an impressively low price. However, for a slight step up in price, you can pick up the Vortex Diamondback HD 8x42, which offers excellent glass at an approachable price. If you have a bit more to spend, check out the Vortex Viper HD 8x42, which is one of our favorite pairs with exceptional performance across the board.
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