The Steiner Predator 8x42 offers decent all-around performance, but there are better binoculars available in the same price range. The Predator is able to provide fairly bright and clear images, but comparable clarity and brightness is offered by others that cost much less. If you already have a pair of these binoculars we see no reason to upgrade, but if you're getting a new pair there are some better bins out there.Editor's Note: This review was updated on January 11, 2022 with info on updates to the Steiner Predator.
Steiner Predator 8x42 Review
Cons: Don't like the funky eyepiece that extends to the side
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Steiner Predator 8x42
$453.56 at Amazon
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|Pros||Above-average performance across the board||Very clear and bright, easy to adjust, comfortable, high-quality construction||Excellent brightness, great clarity, comfortable||Inexpensive, good clarity and brightness||Good clarity, small and lightweight, relatively comfortable|
|Cons||Don't like the funky eyepiece that extends to the side||A bit heavy for the backcountry||Slightly heavy for backpacking||Average construction quality, mediocre low-light performance||Poor low-light performance|
|Bottom Line||Good image quality, but we've seen similar image quality in much less expensive products||This model is our first choice and offers just about the best clarity and brightness you can get from a binocular without a quadruple-digit price tag||An excellent balance of price and all-around performance with particularly impressive brightness||The most budget-friendly option we've found that offers a good introduction to birdwatching||An inexpensive, small, and packable model that offers surprisingly good optics|
|Rating Categories||Steiner Predator 8x42||Vortex Viper HD 8x42||Vortex Diamondback...||Celestron Nature DX...||Vortex Diamondback...|
|Ease of Adjustment (15%)|
|Construction Quality (15%)|
|Close Focus Range (7.5%)|
|Field of View (7.5%)|
|Specs||Steiner Predator 8x42||Vortex Viper HD 8x42||Vortex Diamondback...||Celestron Nature DX...||Vortex Diamondback...|
|Multi - Coating||Predator Diamond Coating||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC|
|Field of View (at 1000 yards)||375 ft||409 ft||393 ft||388 ft||332 ft|
|Close Focus||6.6 ft||6.5 ft||5.0 ft||6.5 ft||6.0 ft|
|Eye Relief||17.25 mm||18 mm||17 mm||17.5 mm||18 mm|
|Size (Length x Width)||6.9 x 4.7 in||5.8 x 5.3 in||5.7 x 5.1 in||5.3 x 4.9 in||4.6 x 4.5 in|
|Weight||26.6 oz||24.2 oz||21.8 oz||22.2 oz||14.0 oz|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Steiner Predator 8x42 has been updated since our test period. The minimum focus decreased from 6 feet to 6.6 feet, and the field of view narrowed slightly from 381/1000 to 375/1000. The aesthetics have changed, too, as you can see in the comparison photos below. The image on the left is the Predator we tested, followed by the updated version on the right.
Marketed toward hunters, the Steiner Predator earns mid-range scores for clarity and brightness. It supposedly has a coating on the lenses to make wildlife easier to see, but we didn't notice a difference.
The optical clarity of the Steiner Predator 8x42 is good, which could be due in part to the CAT coating. In our clarity test, on Zone 9 of the ISO 12233 chart, the center was clean, but we could see defocusing around the very far edges. No chromatic aberrations or purple fringing was noticeable in backgrounds, nor was there any noticeable distortion in horizontal or vertical lines.
The Steiner Predator 8x42 binoculars have what the company calls a CAT coating, or Color Adjusted Transmission coating, which is supposed to make animals easy to see by filtering out blue and green light. As for the brightness of the scene, the CAT coating helps provide decent performance that scores in the middle of our test group. The Steiner Predator is not as bright as the Nikon Monarch 5 8x56, Swarovski EL 8.5x42, or Vortex Viper HD 8x42, but did do a good job overall. While out birding, we didn't notice that wildlife stood out more with the Steiner Predator versus the Nikon, Swarovski, Vanguard, or Vortex Viper binoculars.
Ease of Adjustment
The hinge for adjusting the interpupillary distance operates smoothly and easily. The focus adjustment knob moves easily and quickly, allowing for quick close focusing. The diopter on the left eyepiece was stiff and hard to adjust. The diopter has no locking mechanism, so it's possible to move it by accident.
Steiner Optics components are produced in Germany and then assembled in Monterey, California. The Predator 8x42 has a quality feel, and we saw no noticeable alignment issues. Steiner states that this pair of bins can survive an impact of 11G. The caps all fit nicely, and the quick-lock straps work smoothly.
The Steiner Predator 8x42 has a good thick rubber coating with a spot to rest your thumb, and different nubs and ridges for the fingers. This makes the Steiner Predator easy and comfortable to hold. The eyepieces extend out on the sides to help keep light out of the eyepiece, which can affect a scene's brightness. This seems like a good idea in theory, but most testers found it annoying and uncomfortable. It also makes the eyecups more difficult to adjust and causes issues for those with glasses.
Field of View and Close Focus Range
The Steiner Predator has a good field of view with 381 feet visible at 1000 yards. The close focus range of the Steiner Predator is 6ft, which is good but the Zeiss, Swarovski, and Vortex Viper have better close range.
Should You Buy the Steiner Predator 8x42?
The Steiner Predator 8x42 is a good pair of binoculars at a decent price point, if you can deal with the funky eyepiece. As with most of the binoculars tested, we are amazed at the quality you can get at the different price points, and the Steiner Predator 8x42 is a good pair to keep around the house or in the car.
What Other Binoculars Should You Consider?
These are great for hunting or birding, but there are a lot of other top contenders in a similar price range that perform better, like the Vortex Viper HD 8x42. There are even more affordable models we'd recommend over these, like the Vortex Diamondback HD 8x42, which best this pair in nearly every metric. If you'd like an extremely lightweight pair with great optics to take out into the field, the Leica 10x25 Ultravid BR is our recommendation.
— Max Mutter
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