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Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 Review

An affordable pair of binoculars that excels in light transmission
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Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 Review
Credit: Abriah Wofford
Price:  $110 List
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Manufacturer:   Nikon
By Benjamin Hickok and Jessica Riconscente  ⋅  Dec 23, 2023
50
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 16
  • Clarity - 35% 3.3
  • Brightness - 20% 8.3
  • Comfort - 15% 4.6
  • Field of View - 10% 8.3
  • Ease of Adjustment - 15% 2.6
  • Close Focus Range - 5% 5.4

Our Verdict

The Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 is an affordable pair of binos that let in a lot of light for a bright viewing experience. That said, its clunky porro-prism design doesn't offer a whole lot of other performance benefits. We found the design could benefit from greater ergonomic considerations, including higher quality rubberized materials, like many of its peers. We enjoyed this model but would have liked to see more in terms of comfort, ease of adjustment, and clarity. Compared to similarly priced models, it offers average performance, and among the test group, other models offered greater overall performance while still being exceptionally budget-friendly.
REASONS TO BUY
Great light transmission
Relatively inexpensive
REASONS TO AVOID
Poor eye cups
Minimal ergonomics
Large porro-prism design
Poor close focus range
Editor's note: We retested and updated the Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 review on December 22, 2023.

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Bottom Line A good choice for someone on a budget and who could use a pair of binoculars that lets in a lot of lightOne of the best overall values on the market, particularly for mid-range price shoppersA great choice for birders on a tight budgetDespite being a crucial factor, this model has horrible clarity, we would recommend looking elsewhereDecent clarity and compactness make these a good budget option for traveling, backpacking and hiking
Rating Categories Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 Vortex Diamondback... Celestron Nature DX... Nikon Prostaff P3 1... Nikon Trailblazer A...
Clarity (35%)
3.3
6.2
5.8
3.9
5.0
Brightness (20%)
8.3
8.1
7.4
5.5
3.5
Comfort (15%)
4.6
6.6
5.4
7.0
7.9
Field of View (10%)
8.3
8.4
6.8
6.2
5.2
Ease of Adjustment (15%)
2.6
7.1
6.6
5.2
4.4
Close Focus Range (5%)
5.4
8.9
7.5
8.0
8.3
Specs Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 Vortex Diamondback... Celestron Nature DX... Nikon Prostaff P3 1... Nikon Trailblazer A...
Measured Weight 27.2 oz 23.1 oz 22.8 oz 20.6 oz 10.5 oz
Measured Interpupillary Distance Range 56mm - 73mm 56mm - 75mm 57mm -74mm 56mm - 75mm 38mm -75mm
Measured Size 6.8" x 5.9" 5.7" x 5.1" 5.4" x 4.5" 5.9" x 4.2" 2.7" x 4.1"
Measured Close Focus 11.9 ft 5.5 ft 8.0 ft 7.1 ft 6.6 ft
Measured Eye Relief 12.0 mm 18.0 mm 18.0 mm 15.5 mm 10.5 mm
Glass Type Eco-Glass HD BAK-4 Not mentioned Eco-Glass
Magnification 8 8 8 10 10
Objective Lens Size 42 42 42 42 25
Claimed Field of View 420 ft 393 ft 388 ft 367 ft 342 ft
Claimed Close Focus 13.0 ft 5.0 ft 6.5 ft 9.8 ft 11.5 ft
Claimed Eye Relief 12 mm 17 mm 17.5 mm 15.7 mm 10 mm
Waterproof/Fog Resistant Not mentioned Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tripod Adapter Yes Yes Yes No No
Measured Lux Reading from Brightness Testing 1236 lux 1163 lux 823 lux 748 lux 237 lux

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


nikon aculon a211 8x42 - the binos failed to impress us across the majority of our testing...
The binos failed to impress us across the majority of our testing metrics.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Clarity


The Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 doesn't provide as clear a picture as the best models 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 in many other models. We 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.

nikon aculon a211 8x42 - clarity testing the aculon a211 resulted in a less than stellar...
Clarity testing the Aculon A211 resulted in a less than stellar performance.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Brightness


During our observed and measured brightness testing, the Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 exhibited a performance more on par with mid tier models, 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.

The Aculons offer impressive brightness and a wide field of view.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Comfort


In our comfort metric, we evaluated the gripping 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.

nikon aculon a211 8x42 - tha aculon a211 isn't quite as comfortable as the best models we...
Tha Aculon A211 isn't quite as comfortable as the best models we tested.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Weighing in at a heavy 27.2 ounces, these binos are actually pretty well balanced. The bulkiness, combined with average ergonomics, and slightly unnatural fitting eye cups, made this model feel foreign in our hands and during use. Additionally, the straps are in a strange location, at the front of the frame versus the center, so it rests strangely and can feel like they're 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 Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 did a surprisingly good job in our field of view test metric. It offers an above-average field of view when measured and compared to other models, and a measured field of view that was a pleasant surprise. In our vertical board fence tests, we were able to observe 62 fence boards. This significantly exceeded the average 54 boards for the test group.

nikon aculon a211 8x42 - an impressive field of view.
An impressive field of view.
Credit: Jessica Riconscente

Ease of Adjustment


The Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 could be a little bit easier to adjust. Ease of adjustment, our fifth test metric, evaluates focus, locking the diopter, and eye relief. Focusing can be a little bit challenging on this pair, as the larger porro-prism design places 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, although that is usually only present on much more expensive models. 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.

nikon aculon a211 8x42 - the aculons are not very comfortable, nor are they the best when it...
The Aculons are not very comfortable, nor are they the best when it comes to adjustments.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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 11.9 feet, the close focus range is still farther 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.

nikon aculon a211 8x42 - more focus, brightness, and clarity testing. as you can see, objects...
More focus, brightness, and clarity testing. As you can see, objects were somewhat blurry and you could almost miss the small bird on the bottom left.
Credit: Jessica Riconscente

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.

nikon aculon a211 8x42 - the larger porro-prism design trades off some ergonomics for great...
The larger porro-prism design trades off some ergonomics for great light transmission.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

What Other Binoculars Should You Consider?


The Celestron Nature DX 8x42 doesn't compete at the level of the top-tier products we tested, but it is a better pair of binoculars than the Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 that also won't break the bank, all while offering great overall performance, and deserves consideration. While it may be outside of the tightest budgets, we also think an even more impressive pair of binos, like the Vortex Diamondback HD 8x42 offer great performance all-around at a very reasonable price, and are worth taking a look at.

Benjamin Hickok and Jessica Riconscente