Nikon Prostaff 3s 10×42 (& 8×42) review: Blind buy choice in 2023

Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 has always been in our top suggestion list for binoculars, in many requirements list. We used it a lot from 2015-2023, even though we had to test many other binoculars as well. There are pros and even cons as well, but overall, it’s a real bargain for the price. Now, let’s jump into this deep break-down binoculars review for this Nikon Prostaff 3S.

Nikon Prostaff 3S 10x42 & Alternatives review
Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 & Alternatives review

Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 overview and specs


Nikon is a Japanese brand, who are brilliant in balancing price factors and quality contributors to make perfect combinations. Indeed, Nikon Prostaff 3S is at around $100, but it’s rated as a super star in the low-price segment.

Nikon Prostaff 3S 10x42

Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 binoculars

Overall, these Nikon binoculars are used for outdoor activities: sightseeing, birding, hunting, sports spectating… To our experience and many other binoculars reviews, the key highlight of Nikon Prostaff 3S is optics features. Furthermore, waterproof ability is also a prominent highlight.

Please note that these models are not in the Nikon image stabilized binoculars category of Prostaff series. Have a glance at Prostaff 5 10×50 binoculars if that’s what you are looking for.



Here’s a quick tip to define YOUR choice (10×42 binoculars vs 8×42) in this binoculars reviews. Remember, the larger the magnification is, the less viewing distance ability you would get. Hence, think of what you prefer for your own demand or activity to make the right choice. To our personal experience, usually hunters prefer larger images viewed. 

What Makes Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 binoculars Worth Your Money?

Nikon Prostaff 3S 10x42 full package
Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 full package
Optics features

We had a rich brightness and clean, clear experience with this Nikon binoculars. In brief, the silver alloy mirror coating makes a huge difference to all other low, even mid segment options in the market. That’s why Nikon Prostaff 3s only uses multi-layer coating (not fully one), but still ensure perfect light transmission.

Built with multi-coated lenses and arsenic-free glass, the prism allows the light to transfer almost completely through the glass. As a result, you can expect a visible light spectrum and brighter images.

Image quality

This Nikon binoculars perform with much more than fine clarity, very high-resolution details received. Furthermore, we witnessed no distortion at all. Meanwhile, we were so surprised about the color fringing results. We used this Nikon Prostaff 3s so many times and only a few times we saw chromatic aberration.

To be honest, it’s still can be noticed, we’re not going to hide it in any binoculars reviews. However, it’s not easy enough for everyone to recognize, so it’s not a big deal at all. There’s the tiniest chromatic aberration amount you could see.

Nikon Prostaff 3S 10x42 image quality
Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 image quality

In reality, this is how it looks like. If you look at the upper black edge, you will realize a tiny bit of blue/ cyan color fringe. However, it doesn’t affect the main viewing area as at all. In fact, it doesn’t make any impact at all!

Last but not least, color fidelity is also a plus, very natural.

Wide and comfort field of view

Generally, the larger magnification means the narrower field of view.

Excitingly, Nikon Prostaff 3S features both high magnification and large view ranges: 122m out of 1,000m (10×42) and 126m out of 1,000m (8×42.). In comparison, the Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 offers wider angular field of view than that of Celestron ED Trailseeker 10×42 (7 vs 6.5).

This is mostly thanks to the 42-mm objectives lens; wide apparent angle; and the smart construction of Nikon Prostaff 3s.

Compact and durable bodies

So far, Japanese products are famous for their high-quality and built-to-last construction. This pair of Nikon Prostaff 3S binoculars are no exception.

Coming at standard size for multiple purposes from spectator sports to nature observation, the unit is as light as 565g for Nikon Prostaff 3S 8×42 and 575g for Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42.

You can easily put the binoculars inside your bag for picnics or hunting games, or carry them around your neck without causing any neck strain or inconvenience.

We know we’ve been in this binoculars review journey for a long while, but hardly can we make nice unboxing videos. So, if you really want to have clear imagination about how the Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 product looks like, watch this:

Watch more product video here!

Eye Relief

15.7 mm is not among the largest eye relief in binocu

lars world. However, it’s still good enough to ensure comfortable experience to many eyeglasses wearers.

Waterproof and fog proof

The Nikon Prostaff 3S is feature-rich. Not to mention, it enhances the optical performance in case of outdoor activities.

This optical has a nitrogen gas-filled system and O-ring seals, helping to resist to fog or mold. Moreover, the whole body of Nikon Prostaff 3S is rubber-armored to prevent slips and water from damaging the body.

Now you can take the binoculars along for sports events, outdoor games, hiking, or bird-watching at any weather!


There Are Still Things to Think Twice …

Diopter Adjustment

Almost all features are good. However, we would not very appreciate its standard diopter adjustment, to be specific, the center focus.

During our tests on Nikon Prostaff 3S, we found it hard to adjust the lens and rotate the wheel to get a sharper vision. Even worse, the eyecups might retract prematurely upon twisting and against your eyes whilst.

Eye cups

We don’t know if it’s because we’ve been using this Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 binoculars for so long, but the eyecups started to feel a bit loose gradually. 

Low-Light Performance

After testing so many binoculars, we realized a certain amount of better performance for low-light category. After all, this Nikon binoculars still perform decently, but it’s not up to our higher expectation criteria.

Maybe in sunset, you would still be pleased. But at night, the Nikon Prostaff 3S start to show some issues. Specifically, we could witness some halos effect and lens flare while watching the moon. If you say that it’s not a bad experience in terms of enjoying the night wide nature, we won’t be against that. However, in terms of image quality, it’s certainly not there yet.

Even though, we still think Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 is decent in this criterion. But if you’re keen on finding a suitable alternative with similar price range: read our Vortex Crossfire binoculars review!


Another thing to consider is the accessories. This is not such a significant problem, but if it is a concern, you could check other brands that really perform well like Swarovski, Carl Zeiss, Vortex,…


Nikon Prostaff 3S binoculars vs. Vortex Diamondback: Who’s Winner?

Vortex Diamondback 10x42
Vortex Diamondback 10×42

Below, we give a quick comparison between the Nikon Prostaff 3S 8×42 and Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42.

Now, we introduce you to another alternative pair of binoculars . It is the Vortex Diamondback 10×42.

At a glance, The Vortex Diamondback takes the lead for most criteria in the comparison table, comparing to the Nikon Prostaff 3S

On the one hand, Nikon Prostaff 3S and Vortex Diamondback binoculars share many similar features and specifications such as magnification, the objective lens diameter, a system of roof prism and multi-coated lenses.

However, the Vortex Diamondback is somewhat more advanced than the Nikon Prostaff 3S.

  • Performance: Vortex Diamondback vs. Nikon Prostaff 3S: 1-0

The Vortex binoculars offer a wider field of view since its angle of view is larger than that of the Nikon binoculars. Moreover, the image quality of the Vortex Diamondback is also better. It uses the high-end phrase-corrected roof prism rather than the standard roof prism like the Nikon.

  • Compact construction: Vortex Diamondback vs. Nikon Prostaff 3S: 0-1.

Despite having the similar magnification and diameter of the objectives lens, Nikon Prostaff 3S is a bit smaller than its counterpart. Such small pros do matter when you need to bring the binoculars for outdoor activities.

  • Price:  Vortex Diamondback vs. Nikon Prostaff 3S: 0-1.

To your surprise, the Nikon Prostaff 3S is three times cheaper than the Vortex. The features are just a bit fewer.

  • Brand:  Vortex Diamondback vs. Nikon Prostaff 3S: 0-1.

Nikon is the older brand than Vortex. Hence, you can expect that this vendor features more prestige and experiences in terms of optics. The quality and warranty of Japanese brands are a no-brainer.

So, all in all, Nikon Prostaff 3S is the best choice in terms of the price and features-in-need.

Update more alternatives of Nikon Prostaff 3S binoculars

Nikon Prostaff 3 vs Nikon Prostaff 5 vs Nikon Prostaff 7

It’s an indispensable part not to compare the other 2 lines of the Prostaff series. We would focus on only the prominent features and data, and let the decision up to your feelings.

Besides being Nikon waterproof binoculars and having long eye relief (which bring quite comfortable experience for eyeglasses people), these are key things to compare:

  • Field of view: the Prostaff 3s have the largest one. If your consideration is about choosing the best far ability viewing binoculars, Nikon Prostaff 3s 10×42 is the choice. Also, that is the product with nearest focus distance ability.
  • Optics quality: Nikon Prostaff 7 shows the best result. This line has the phase correction technique, which allows better light transmission and clearance of the image. The performance in low light conditions of Nikon Prostaff 7 10×42 is also better of all. Prostaff 3 and Prostaff 5 don’t show much differentiation in this category.
  • Construction: Nikon Prostaff 3 is relatively lighter of all. However, in terms of size, Nikon Prostaff 5 10×42 is the most ergonomic one (although Nikon Prostaff 5 only shows a tiny bit of difference in size with Nikon prostaff 7 binoculars). They are all very durable.  

Prostaff vs Monarch vs Aculon vs Trailblazer

Nikon Monarch 3, Nikon Aculon 10×42 and Nikon Trailblazer 10×42 are 3 other alternatives for your decision. Hence, here goes the technical table:

nikon aculon a211 10x42 bestbuybinoculars
nikon aculon a211 10×42 bestbuybinoculars

In general, we would summary the most prominent features for your decision:

  • Field of view: Once again Nikon Prostaff 3s 10×42 is the best in terms of both far and near viewing ability. However, the close focus distance of Nikon Monarch 3 is also very impressive.
  • Optics quality: With phase correction, Nikon Monarch 3 takes the lead, which means the brightness and resolution are better. The other 3 don’t differentiate much, however, Nikon Prostaff 3s 10×42 is slightly better. On the other hand, we want to bring some notes if you want to consider Nikon Aculon 10×42. Its prism is porro prism, therefore, the image would have a slight vintage effect, though optics quality is still very decent.
  • Eye relief: If you’re eyeglasses people, Nikon Monarch 3 has the most comfortable experience. We usually rate Nikon Monarch 3 as long eye relief binoculars. As you could see from our table, the order is Nikon Monarch 3 > Nikon Prostaff 3s 10×42 > Nikon Trailblazer 10×42 > Nikon Aculon 10×42.
  • Construction: Nikon Trailblazer is known among the most compact of Nikon binoculars, and you could see from the table the size is best in ergonomic features. However, Nikon Prostaff 3 has the lightest weight.
nikon trailblazer 10x42 binoculars bestbuybinoculars
nikon trailblazer 10×42 binoculars bestbuybinoculars

Which to consider?

The answer is always: up to your decision. Please recheck our brand battle above, especially, recheck and compare carefully the technical figures. We have also listed which are the key features to consider, just keep on the track and decide which is the experience you want to go with, remember to see if it worths the price to you as well. Don’t find the best Nikon binoculars, find the one that suits you best!

However, we can leave some personal suggestion after some specific requirements here. Firstly, if your priority is birding, then Nikon Prostaff 3S might be the right choice. The linear and angular field of view is quite fit. Also, if your demand is about compactness, then we would prefer Prostaff 3S as well.

On the other hand, if we’re beginning hunters, we would be more into Nikon Monarch 3 or Nikon Aculon. The fine details are quite impressive.

Meanwhile, for low light performance, we suggest the Nikon Aculon and the Nikon Prostaff 7s. Porro prism is something we always prefer in terms of low light performance. However, if you find Nikon Aculon 10×42 a bit heavy, then Nikon Prostaff 7s is still a fine choice.

Who Should Buy Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 or 8×42 binoculars?

As the Nikon Prostaff 3S binoculars are well-built and compact, along with only-necessary features, we strongly recommend you to give it a try. Without advanced bells and whistles, the binoculars are also easy to use, even when you are beginners or general users.






  1. I am puzzled by your comment: “Please note that these models are not in the Nikon image stabilized binoculars category of Prostaff series.” Specifically, what is meant by “image stabilized binoculars” versus those that do not have “stabilizing”?. Thank you, Jack

  2. agree that the pro staff are lighter and more economic in terms of price walking and long distance hikes any thing that reduces weight is a good thing pack friendly bird obervation ok diffirent light levels effect optics and heat and contrast haze image gauge can be out side the spectrum softer light early morning and late noon will show how good they are.

    1. Yeah we think what you have said about the late noon conditions was agreeable, we ourselves tested it again several more times (it’s one of our favorite from Nikon anyway), and actually the low light performance, in review, is not so impressive

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