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Carson 3D ED 10x42 Binocular Review & Field Test

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Carson 3D 10x42 Review

Brand: Carson
Model: 3D ED 10X42 Binoculars
Magnification: 10X
Objection Lens Diameter: 42mm
Eye Relief: 16mm
Exit Pupil: 4.2mm
Field of View: 314 feet/1000 yards
Close Focus Distance: 9.8 feet
Interpupillary Distance: 58-72mm
Height/Width: 5.6/5.0 Inches
Weight: 23.2 ounces

Price Range: $200-400

“I wanted to see how the binos would perform in low light conditions... Finally, 15 minutes after the sun had set, I spotted a gorgeous buck just hanging around on the edge of the timber. He was about 200 yards away... The binoculars were still performing at optimum levels, and the clarity was usable, detailed, and superb.”

Carson 3D ED 10x42 Binoculars (TD-042EDMO)

Just as the weather has turned, and hunting season has started, Carson sent me a pair of stunning binoculars to give a thorough going over. I was more than happy to get out and give it a test run, and boy was I brutal in my testing methods! Here's my thoughts from start to finish.

Looking through a pair of binoculars.
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Packaging Review

The binoculars came very well-packaged. Upon opening the packaged box, there was scrunched-up paper and another white/black, two-layered box. The unit itself was wrapped in a protective plastic bag inside the binocular case. The binocular case was also wrapped in a plastic bag which was fitted in place inside the 2-layered box. The packaging was impressive, and there's no way any accidental damage could happen during transit.

Carson 3D Binoculars in Box
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

What's In The Box?

For a binocular over $300, I was excited to see that it came with more accessories than I thought. It came with an ingenious "BinoArmor" neoprene case. It has a magnetic system to keep it closed, but it also keeps it quiet, even more so than velcro or zippers, when you're out in the field glassing. The design is made so you can securely attach the binoculars with the elastic strap on the inside of the case. Simply lift the binoculars to your eyes and the rest of the case falls away to allow glassing while still attached to the case.

Carson BinoArmor Neoprene Case
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Does it work? Yeah, it works with a little tweaking. You do have to be a little picky about getting the binoculars in the right position with the elastic strap so the top of the case doesn't bump your nose while glassing. The binoculars also need to be placed within the strap so that the entire case closes as it's designed to. I found I had my binoculars too high up and so it kept interfering with closing the case when I was done glassing. In the end, although the design is ingenious, I found it too bulky and cumbersome to deal with, and ended up leaving the case in the truck.

Binoculars inside BinoArmor neoprene case
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

I'll tell you what I did love - the shoulder harness! It had a quality, thick leather stay that enabled even distribution of weight across my shoulders. Granted, the binoculars aren't that heavy since they're only 23 oz, but I did like the convenience of having them close to my chest when I wanted them.

Shoulder harness and neck strap for Carson 3D binoculars
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Carson also includes a nylon neck strap that had neoprene sides where it touches your neck. Since I was so excited about the harness, and found it more comfortable for my glassing trek for at least 4 hours, I ended up wearing the harness the entire time.

Of course, you're also getting flip-up objective lens caps and one-piece eyecup covers. You might want to keep an eye out on your objective lens caps because I lost one while I was out in the field giving it a test run. You can also expect a warranty slip, easy-to-read user manual, and a lens cloth.

What is inside the box when you buy a Carson 3D binocular
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

The Build

This binocular is obviously made in China. It's right there on the sticker on the box and in the armoring on the underside of the binocular. However, I wasn't ready to make a judgement just yet. The polycarbonate chassis did its job perfectly, keeping weight down to a minimum and increasing durability. It was definitely comfortable to hold because it was lightweight. The thumb indents were a nice touch since my thumbs just kind of naturally fell into place.

The armoring is tough without being too hard, and it had a nice texture that made it feel grippy. But, the Mossy Oak skin is my absolute favorite thing about the look of the binoculars. It's just so darn cool! Now, if at this point, you want to know about its weatherproofability, you'll have to hold on. I've got something special to reveal later.

Carson 10x42 3D binoculars in Mossy Oak
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers


You can bet that this was the first thing I did when I took the binoculars out of the package. I twisted the rubber eye cups out - there's two positions, all the way in with 16 mm of relief, or all the way out that left me with about 9 mm. I had them out, and it was comfortable enough for me, but I have good eyesight and I don't wear glasses. I did have my partner give it a go, and they found it suitable enough to use with spectacles on - no complaints there. Although the eyecups don't lock into place, they were stiff enough to stay out while I glassed.

Picture showing eye relief on a Carson 3D binocular
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

I found my sweet spot IPD range somewhere in the lower end, around 62-64 mm (maybe my eyes are too close together), and it was stiff to adjust, but that's a good thing. I went into focusing the center wheel and I found it smooth as butter, but it was well-controlled. Being able to focus from near to far or vice versa was a breeze. The 3D effect definitely increased the depth of view, and I'd say they can fairly compete against a Porro prism hunting binocular with the same quality. They certainly had more depth than what a typical roof prism binocular offers.

The diopter doesn't have a locking feature, but it was firm to move. Firm enough that I found it a little difficult to focus my right eye with it at first, but once it was done, I could trust I wouldn't have to mess with it again. All in all, the focusing experience left me very pleased and I felt we were off to a great start.

Sitting in a field Glassing through Carson binoculars.
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Photo Disclosure

Before I headed out to field test these binoculars, I wanted to make sure I could take some decent photographs to document the test. I went to a local sports retailer, and to my disappointment, they were out of stock on the phone adapter I wanted.

The Novagrade Phone Adapter is pretty expensive, approximately $150, but it's made out of anodized aluminum so you know it will last, and it won't break like those dinky, plastic ones that you end up spending $70 on anyway. It can fit almost all smartphones, and it comes with compression rings so that you can switch up use to various types of optics with different ocular sizes, like field testing rangefinders, binoculars, and spotting scopes. Since they didn't have any of the dinky adapters that would fit my phone, I had to leave empty-handed. Here's where my disclosure comes in.

I took photos through the binocular with my iPhone camera. Doing it free-hand, without a tripod, proved to be very difficult since I had to align the camera lens with the exit pupil on the binocular. I could never get it perfect, so you will see vignetting as a result. Again - it's not on the binoculars, it's due to using my phone free-hand against the binoculars.

The camera on my phone is not the best, and I definitely got to see how stink it is when it didn't do the image quality on the binocular justice. So, when you look at these off-taken photos, just remember the image quality through the glasses were much more superior than what my phone could deliver.

 Time to Glass Out for Performance

I headed out to an area that has both vast and wide, open spaces and heavy timber in the same location. I thought it would be perfect to test out the Carson 3D binoculars in both terrains. The drive there was absolutely beautiful this time of year, and I was consistently making stops to glass out diving ducks on the ponds, squirrels scurrying up trees, and grazing cows. In fact, I saw so many herds of cattle that I thought this field test might be limited to just scouting out cows. But, we trekked on to our destination.

White Mountains Arizona Landscape Photo
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

I hit up the thick timbers first, found myself a scouting spot, and I glassed and glassed for any sign of herd movement. Maybe a twitch of an ear, an antler, or the back of a deer might give away their location amongst the brush - nothing. It wasn't a fruitless endeavor since I got to see how well they would perform in wooded areas. It was superb. Granted, you've got to know where you want to glass in such a dense area with 10X magnification, but if you did find that grazing or bedded buck, you'd be able to see points, sex, and breed in excruciating detail.

The color fidelity was true, and color fringing was very, very minimal if it was present at all. The lack of chromatic aberration is definitely thanks to the ED glass because it made a difference. My analysis is, the quality is much higher for its price range, and it can certainly keep up with binoculars on the more expensive end. Resolution was on-point. These glasses were proving to be top-notch in quality.

Glassing in wooded area with Carson 3D binoculars
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

After some roaming around in the timber, we decided to head out to the open fields. It's clarity at long-distance ranges was amazing. Being able to get closer views from at least a mile out was stunning. I was able to clearly spot and glass some more cows that were grazing in front of a timber line from about 500 yards away at 5:34 pm - sunset time in the mountains of Arizona. As the light started going down, I did notice a slight bit of color loss on the very edges of the field of view, but that's typical of most optics once you start losing light.

Photo Explanation: The first picture is of a cow with no magnification, the second is seeing the same cow through the binoculars. These were taken at sunset, free-hand and using an iPhone camera (as per my photo disclosure above) so don't do the image quality of the binocular justice.

I wanted to see how the binoculars would perform in low light conditions, so we hung around for a while. Finally, 15 minutes after the sun had set, I spotted a gorgeous buck just hanging around on the edge of the timber. He was about 200 yards away, and he definitely knew I was there. The binoculars were still performing at optimum levels, and the clarity was usable, detailed, and superb. Of course, my camera noticed the light loss, and it was a disappointment that I couldn't get a better picture.

Photograph of a buck taken on iPhone through 10X42 binoculars
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Another 15 minutes later, it's now 1800, the sun has gone down, and I run into a field of does. I count five heading towards the highway, and the glasses are still going strong. I can't reiterate enough how frustrating it was to not have a higher-quality camera on me to give justice to the quality of these 3D binoculars. But, I can promise that I was impressed as to how long the binoculars gave all they had for as long as they could to provide useful and detailed image quality.

Photograph of several doe taken on iPhone through 10X42 binocular
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Nighttime Use in Well-Lit Areas

I recently had the chance to take these Carson binoculars out at night. I headed into town, it's about midnight, so there's very little traffic and people about to stalk - not that I was doing that.

With street lights and neon signs on and up at max brightness, it was enough for the binoculars to pick up usable images with details that that a glasser could depend on. You know, something say, like an undercover cop reading license plates across the road at the Circle K gas station while he loomed under the cover of a dark parking lot.

Again - not that I was doing that. But, I'm just saying, the Carson's worked exceptionally well for nighttime use in well-lit areas. There was very little glare from the street lights, and it performed better than I expected. Maybe it has something to do with the quality glass? I can bet my bottom dollar on it!

Weatherproof Test

It was a personal debate as to whether or not I wanted to be brutal in testing out its waterproof and fogproof capabilities. I thought on it for a day, and decided it was beneficial to test it to its limits. So, what did I do? I submersed the binoculars into a bucket of water for a full five minutes. Granted, I kept the eyecups and the single objective lens cap that I had left on. I figured, all the better if it keeps water out, but if water gets in, it gets in.

After it sat in a bucket, I then put it in the freezer for over an hour. I let it thaw outside and then I got to glassing again. The results? Perfect. Absolutely no condensation, no leaks for water or grit to get in, and no way for fungi to grow within the lens components thanks to the O-ring seal and nitrogen gas. There was some fogging on the external lenses when I took it from a cool climate (inside my house) to outside where it was warm, but that was the extent of "fogging" I experienced. If that's it, I can live with that.

My Verdict on the Carson 3D ED 10x42 Binoculars

I absolutely love these binoculars, and I'm thrilled they survived my weatherproof test. I'm still going to give the BinoArmor case another go at it next time I'm out because the design is genius. While I'm waiting for my Novagrade digiscope to arrive, I'll have to shop for a better camera in the meantime. Would I recommend the Carson 3D ED binoculars? At this price, you'd be a fool to pass them up!

Looking through a set of 10x42 Carson ED binoculars
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Many thanks to Carson Optical for sending us these binoculars to field test. Please note, even though this product was provided by the manufacturer all of the opinions expressed here are our own and are not in any way influenced by any manufacturers.

If you have a product you would like us to field test, please email us.

All photographs remain the property of targettamers.com and are not to be used without attribution. Thanks.

Further Reading

Photo of author

Chris 'The Optics Nut'

Chris is a seasoned hunting enthusiast with several decades of experience. He is deeply knowledgeable about sports optics and spends considerable time researching the latest developments in the optics field. Chris has authored some of the more technical guides and articles on Target Tamers and his work is known for its accuracy and clarity, contributing to his reputation as a trusted figure in the field of sports optics.

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