We reviewed the Nikon 10×50 Aculon A211 binoculars last year and still consider them great value for money binoculars; in fact, in fact, we even used the term ‘impossibly affordable’. That was when they were full price, but now you can get your hands on them for $20 less at B&H Photo (not all the best deals are on Amazon!). They’ll even throw in a small LED key chain worth $9.99 too.
The binoculars feature top-quality BaK-4 glass, unlike the less favorable BK-7, which you’d often find in binos at this price. The porro prism design maximizes the brightness of the image, which means that as well as wildlife spotting and bird watching, they are also good enough for entry-level astronomy.
The design is sleek and they are comfortable to hold — the textured thumb pads make them easier to grip with cold hands. The focus wheel is smooth, though you can hear the lubricant in action inside, something you wouldn’t on a more premium pair.
As expected at this price point, there is some noticeable chromatic aberration (false color — typically a purple or blue halo around bright objects). Despite that, the 50mm objective lenses let a lot of light in, and the wild field of view means they are great for studying star fields in dark skies, helped by the fact they are pretty lightweight too. In our review, we could explore the starfields and nebula around the constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius.
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Nikon 10×50 Aculon A221:
was $136.95, now $116.95 at B&H Photo.
Save $20 on what we already consider to be an excellent value-for-money pair of binos that are great for studying constellations and star clusters. B&H Photo is throwing in a keychain LED flashlight worth $9.99 too.
Key Specs: The Nikon Aculon A221 has a 10x magnification, suitable for astronomy if you have a steady hand. The objective lens diameter is 50mm to let in a reasonable amount of light, and the angular field of view is a wide 6.5 degrees. See many stars in the frame at once. The eye relief is short at 0.46-inch/11.8mm, so this pair is not advisable for spectacle wearers. They weigh 31.7 oz/899g, though the porro prism designs mean they will take up more room in your bag than the more compact roof prisms on the market.
Consensus: For the price, we couldn’t be happier to recommend these binos, especially when there is a further saving to be made. The sale price of $116.95 for top-quality glass, from a trusted and reputable optical supplier is a bargain.
Buy if: You’re starting your stargazing career. Their performance is surprisingly and seriously impressive for the price. If you want to be able to explore constellations and star clusters occasionally and will use them for bird watching and wildlife spotting too, they are an excellent starting point that won’t break the bank.
Don’t buy if: You want something for backyard bird watching. The closest you can get to plants, birds and other objects of interest is 23 feet / 7 meters before losing focus. You’d be better off choosing a pair with close focus like the Celestron Nature DX 12×56. You’ll also want to steer clear from this pair if you plan on using them when wearing glasses as there is only 0.46-inch/11.8mm of eye relief; you’d need something with at least 15mm.
Alternative models: The Celestron Nature DX 12×56 will allow you to focus on subjects that are closer than 7m to you. The weight (36.2 oz/1028g) and the high 12x magnification means you’d best pair them with a tripod, which is possible thanks to the built-in mount. For an even more affordable pair, the Celestron UpClose G2 20×50 could be worth a look — especially if you are buying for more than one person at a time (e.g., for astronomy workshops or star parties). Obvious sacrifices have been made to keep the price so low (sub $50) but they still perform surprisingly well.