Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 Review
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|Pros||Great light transmission, relatively inexpensive||Good clarity and brightness, smooth focus knob||Inexpensive, good clarity and brightness||Good clarity, compact, light||Light, good grip, very comfortable|
|Cons||Poor eye cups, minimal ergonomics, large porro-prism design, poor close focus range||Mediocre close focus range, mediocre field of view||Average construction quality, mediocre low-light performance||Below average light transmission, eye covers fall off easily||Poor light transmission, poor close range focus, no eye covers|
|Bottom Line||An affordable pair of binoculars that excels in light transmission||These perform well for the price, offering a smooth focus knob and decent brightness and clarity||The most budget-friendly option we've found that offers a good introduction to birdwatching||Compact with decent clarity for budget-tier optics, and a good option for backpackers||Budget friendly, with high scores in comfort and above average in field of view, but otherwise a below-average performer|
|Rating Categories||Nikon Aculon A211 8x42||Nikon Monarch M5 8x42||Celestron Nature DX...||Nikon Trailblazer A...||Nocs Provisions 8x2...|
|Field of View (10%)|
|Ease of Adjustment (5%)|
|Close Focus Range (5%)|
|Specs||Nikon Aculon A211 8x42||Nikon Monarch M5 8x42||Celestron Nature DX...||Nikon Trailblazer A...||Nocs Provisions 8x2...|
|Multi - Coating||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC|
|Field of View (at 1000 yards)||420 ft||335 ft||388 ft||342 ft||357 ft|
|Close Focus||16.4 ft||8.2 ft||6.5 ft||11.5 ft||13.0 ft|
|Eye Relief||12 mm||19.5 mm||17.5 mm||10 mm||10 mm|
|Measured Size (Length x Width)||7 x 5.9 in||5.7 x 5.1 in||5.3 x 4.9 in||4.1 x 2.9 in||4.3 x 4.0 in|
|Measured Weight||26 oz||22 oz||22 oz||12 oz||12 oz|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 doesn't provide as clear a picture as the best models that we tested, although many of those models cost significantly more. In our clarity testing, we observed minor, but distinct distortion at the edges, a little more than many other models. Our team also observed color fringing and different hues creeping in at the edge of the lens, as well as a haze.
The distortion, combined with color fringing and a general haze, made it more difficult to use when moving around while scanning for objects. Across the clarity sub-metrics, our team didn't measure or observe an exceptional performance. As such, it earned a commensurate score.
During our observed and measured brightness testing, the Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 exhibited a performance more on par with more expensive models, easily out-competing many similarly priced models for the amount of light it can transmit.
While the 5.25mm exit pupil does a great job of transmitting light, the lens quality, as mentioned in our clarity section above, is not great and adds hues to the transmitted light. So while very bright, some colors seemed less than true to life.
In our comfort metric, we evaluated the griping and holding ergonomics of each model, the eye cups, and straps. The Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 did not do as well as some of the other really ergonomic models we tested. The Nikon uses a porro-prism design to transmit large amounts of light, but by the nature of that design, the binos are a little bit larger, wider, and clunkier than models using a more compact roof-prism design.
The bulkiness, combined with average ergonomics, and slightly unnatural fitting eye cups, made this model feel foreign in hand and during use. Additionally, the straps are located in a strange location, at the front of the frame versus the center, so it rests strangely and can feel like it is in the way of your hands. It was unclear what benefit the strap mounting location that Nikon chose is supposed to have, but we've come to prefer the more normal mounting location, and believe most users would as well.
Field of View
With such impressive competition from the rest of our test group, the Aculon A211 had a difficult time keeping up in our field of view test metric. It offers an average field of view when measured and compared to other models, and a measured field of view that was significantly less than the manufacturer's specifications. While that sounds bad, it's worth mentioning that almost no model measured what the manufacturer specified, and again, after all the measuring and averaging was done, the Aculon fell in the middle.
Ease of Adjustment
The Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 could be a little bit easier to adjust. Ease of adjustment, our fifth test metric, evaluated focus, locking the diopter, and eye relief. Focusing can be a little bit challenging on this pair, as the larger porro-prism design placed the focus dial farther away from the finger than more compact models, and adjusting focus moves the actual eyepiece. The eyepiece also moves when adjusting eye relief, and we wish it had some sort of tactile increments. The diopter could also benefit from a lock. You'll get by just fine using the Aculon A211, but Nikon has left itself a little bit of room for improvement in the next iteration of this model.
Close Focus Range
The close focus range of the Nikon Aculon actually measured at a shorter distance than the manufacturer's specification, by nearly 2 feet. However, at 11.8 feet, the close focus range is still larger than some of the best-performing models. However, to keep things in context, many of those other better-performing models cost significantly more, and most other models underperformed the manufacturer's specifications.
Should You Buy the Nikon Aculon A211 8x42?
The Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 is a clunky pair of binos with poor clarity, a less than ergonomic design, poor ease of adjustment, and an average field of view. Its main redeeming quality is its good ability to transmit light, but there are a number of other great values, with better performance, that should be considered over this model.
What Other Binoculars Should You Consider?
The Celestron Nature DX 8x42 doesn't compete at the level of the top-tier products our team tested, but it is a better pair of binoculars than the Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 that won't break the bank while offering great overall performanceWhile it may be outside of the tightest budgets, the Nikon Monarch M5 8x42 is a great overall value, that offers great performance all around at a very reasonable price. It is the essence of a pair of binoculars, that is only outperformed by more premium and expensive models.
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