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|» Number of reviews : 8 - viewing 10 Per Page|
|Last Review Posted by typo - posted: Fri February 3, 2017 7:47am||[ Post a Review ]|
|Iíll be referring to this binocular the Fujinon KF8x32W, as thatís the name on moulded on the body, but I believe the company has now renamed itself Fujifilm, and that might be used by some retailers. The headlines for this review is that this is amongst the highest resolving binoculars Iíve tested, but it does have one or two little niggles that potential owners need to look out for. Firstly, my thanks to Monk Optics for the loan of their demo sample for two weeks for this evaluation and to Mr Monk in particular for also sharing his knowledge of the history of Fujinon and their sports optics products with me. In the two weeks Iíve had the binocular itís accompanied me on several walks round my local fields and woods and also on visits to nearby nature reserves to give me a good idea of how it behaves in a wide range of real life condition. It has also been subjected to several backyard tests which I normally reserve for review purposes to benchmark itís performance. What you get The binocular arrived in just a soft, black, lightly padded cordura case with a velcro fastener. There is no separate strap or belt loop so probably intended to be left in the car. Iíve not fitted the binocular strap, but itís narrow with little padding, though probably adequate for such a lightweight binocular. The objective covers fit internally and seems to be a relatively tight, but an owner would need to devise some some sort of tethering as the protruding flanges means it likely to be easily knocked off. The rain guard is just a basic trough type design with no grip at all on the eyepieces. Awful in my opinion, but easily replaced. In the hand It is lightweight for an 8x32. Itís listed at 470g or 16.5oz, though not particularly compact at 137mm or 5.4Ē long and the elaborate patterning of the armour adding significantly to the girth of the barrels. The armour design is certainly distinctive, but Iíve found the grip comfortable and provides a good grippy hold. There is plenty of space to distribute my fingers, which isnít always the case with dual hinge designs. As itís a loan sample I havenít fitted a strap, and generally carried it in the hand everywhere Iíve been without problems. Some might prefer to use a wrist strap on occasions. The tension of the hinges and dioptre adjustment are firm, resisting accidental change which I like. I find the focus nicely weighted with no slack when changing direction. Itís a fast 340į anticlockwise turn from the 2.5m close focus to infinity. About 220į from 2m to 5m and 120į from 5m to infinity. I like that I can cover all the normal birding range with one movement of the finger. There is about an extra 90į turn beyond infinity which should be useful for nearsighted users who choose not to wear their glasses. I make the interpupillary distance range to be 55mm to 75mm which is a little better than the published 58mm to 72mm. I know some spectacle wearers will be alarmed at the listed 14.5mm eye relief. Fujinon have chosen to give the available ER. The actual ER that most companies use I estimated at 17.5mm. Iím still able to see the full field of view with the eyecup twisted out one stop, so I guess many will find it quite adequate. Without glasses the fully extended eyecups fitted my face nicely, but I might have a preferred a softer, less angular design. The view It was a bright, sunny winterís morning when the binoculars arrived, with a very slight mist softening the view of the distant trees. The first glance through them took me by surprise. The 5mm thick twigs on the skyline 200m away jumped into sharp focus was quite remarkable. I just didnít expect such detail in the hazy view. It bettered the more expensive models I own. Over the course of the two weeks Iíve had them they certainly havenít always had the upper hand in comparisons, but there have been many moments when Iíve marveled at the crispness of the detail. The field of view is listed as a respectable 7.5į or 131.1m@1000m (393ft/1000yds). The sweet spot seems generous at first glance. However, there is a slight softening from fairly close in, but it only becomes obvious in the margins of the view. The best focus for the edges is closer than the centre which can seem to improve the depth of field. There is a hint of magnification distortion which might bother a few, but itís less than most flat field designs. Most binoculars will shift the colour balance of the view slightly, but users seem to vary in whether they notice it or not. Even the prestige brands tailor the colour spectrum to enhance one colour contrast and suppress another. To my eyes, these Fujinons favour the red end of the spectrum, which explains the slight increase in contrast in misty conditions, but maybe decreases it a little in the warm glow of sunset compared to others I own. They do make a male Bullfinch look quite splendid, and Wigeon really gleam out on the water,on a gloomy day by the lakes which is a definitely a plus. CA or colour fringing, is quite well controlled in this model, and has never been distracting for me in the time Iíve had it, but others may be more sensitive than I am. Itís something that varies from model to model, but I would say that the Fujinon had lower levels of CA than is typical of the cheapest models that do feature ED glass. Late, on a sunny January afternoon I did encounter a problem with glare which really did interfere with the view for a time. A bit of home diagnostics suggested that it was most caused by an internal reflections when the sun was about 25į away from the viewing axis. As a percentage of the time Iíve used this binocular, the duration of the problem was small, but rather irritating when it happened. It looks like one of the internal components might have been more shiny than intended and might just have been a production blip. All the lens surfaces appear fully multicoated, but the surface reflectivity seems a little high and probably contributes to occasional rear reflection when using glasses. You often read comments about one binocular or another being sharp, but really itís quite meaningless to another user with different visual acuity, or indeed, using them in different light conditions or looking at a different target. I prefer to estimate the optical resolution which is independent of those variables. These Fujinons gave quite remarkable results that would at least match the most expensive binoculars on the market. It genuinely is a very sharp binocular that would certainly satisfy even the most demanding eyesight in optical terms. Of course those top mark binoculars do other things better as you would expect particularly in more testing light conditions. Conclusion Iím fortunate to have a choice of binoculars at my disposal, some, particularly the more expensive ones, handle the tricky light better than these, but most of the time would be more than happy to use this Fujinon in their place. Not the least because they are 350g lighter and a lot easier on the neck. Is it good value? Of course the market is price sensitive and individuals also will rank various characteristics differently than I do, but Iím a real fan of high resolution binoculars, so in that sense they might be called a bargain. If you were to explore this forum, you would quickly find suggestions that this binocular is closely related to a number of other popular binoculars under different brand names. We know they are all produced by the same factory, but as we understand it, the different companies are able to select different options and design features as suite their markets. The Funjinon seems priced higher than most of the others in the European and American markets. Is that due to a different specification, or some other reason? I donít have that answer, but high resolution isnít cheap if it is genuinely a selected option. I donít know if my results might just be the luck of the draw with this particular sample and another might be quite different. David http://www.monkoptics.co.uk/Birdwatching/fujinon8x32w.html https://www.fujifilm.eu/eu/products/optical-devices/binoculars/kf-series#kf-8x32w|
|Product Details: "KF 8x32W" by typo - posted: Fri February 3, 2017 - Rating:|
|Last Review Posted by typo - posted: Wed September 30, 2015 1:53am||[ Post a Review ]|
The Bonelli 2.0 is the latest, top of the range model from Kite Optics based in Belgium. Like much of their range it's made by Kamakura Japan who are responsible for many of the better binoculars from the more familiar brands.
It's been out a few months now, but has been in short supply and I didn't get to see it until the UK birding show in August. I liked what I saw and the company has been kind enough to loan me the 8x42 for a couple of weeks for evaluation. I've given it a full workout and tried to be as objective as I can be in my observations but some conclusions are a matter of personal taste and not necessarily rational.
I imagine Kite Optics will be unfamiliar to many here from outside mainland Europe. It is a family company based in Belgium that has been sourcing and commissioning optics, primarily for the birdwatching community, since 1984. In recent years the company appears to have been expanding rapidly on the mainland and now has 15 outlets in the UK as well, and at least a toe hold in the US through Eagle Optics.
The Bonelli 2.0 is currently listed alongside the original, and still very good Bonelli and shares a very similar specification. Unfortunately I didn't compare them directly at BirdFair when I had the opportunity but I believe the optical configuration is the same, but my reaction to the ergonomics and viewing are quite different and I've found the new version offers a much more rewarding experience.
The most striking visual thing about the design is the squarish cross section to the armour and the sort of hunched shoulders look. The armour has a fine surface texture and a certain amount of give, but perhaps perhaps not the the most grippy compound around. I think it looks smart though with the black anodised metalwork and grey armour. The indents for the thumbs are unusually in the right place for me and it actually doesn't feel quite as bulky in the hand as it looks and I thought offered a very balance and stable grip. Overall the Bonelli 2.0 gives the impression that there is a high quality solidity about the design and construction unlike some possible alternatives.
I found it sat very comfortably in the eye sockets leaving plenty of room for my nose which can occasionally be a problem with my IPD.... and nose! The eyecups extend in three stages.The listed 18.5mm ER is rather more than I would normally need using glasses and I expect to need the first stop, but even fully down there was no sign of blackouts. Ease of eye positioning seems to be one of the particularly appealing features of the Bonelli 2.0.
The focus is particularly smooth and light with no backlash I could detect. From close focus to 5m was about 1.1 clockwise rotations and from there to infinity another 0.6 turns. Perhaps a bit more leisurely than some binoculars I'm used to but with the fingertip control no problems at all. The dioptre adjustment is in the usual place on the right eyepiece. No fancy locking or anything, just a rather stiff (maybe too stiff for some), viscous movement. I thought the hinge well tensioned.
The rainguard is quite a reasonable fit, but the mismatch of the squarish profile of the barrels and a round objective cover is a bit annoying. They do work, but it takes far too long to fit and remove them for my liking.
At 820g or 29 ounces the Bonelli 2.0 is about the same as a couple of my other binoculars and probably as much as I'd want hanging on a neck strap all day. I haven't fitted the supplied strap for the review but it's 38mm wide and relatively soft so should be fine but some might be more comfortable with a harness for long periods.
A fairly trivial point but I'm personally not particularly keen on the case supplied. It seems a bit utilitarian and the green panels are a bit too green for me but there is plenty of padding in places and generous room inside.
As usual, it's the optical performance that really interests me. The Bonelli really is very good indeed but it also appears to buck the current trends in current optical design and may well give some pause for thought.
Kite told me the transmission has improved 4% from the previous version and the values for 450, 550 and 650nm were 84, 93 and 90% respectively. Not quite a flat transmission but the colours look clean, bright, vibrant and entirely natural to me. 93% transmission at 550nm puts it up with the very best Schmidt-Pechan roof prism designs and it shows in low light comparisons. By moonlight, or across a field lit by a distant street light, the Bonelli 2.0 view is quite noticeably brighter and the detail crisper compared to the others I have.
The field of view at 7.5į (60į afov) is not exceptional these days and there is more field curvature than I was probably expecting. The view is actually sharp to the edge with refocusing, but in poorer light the sweetspot does start to shrink, though this is probably less obvious to younger eyes than mine. I'm generally happy with both flat and curved field design, finding the latter offers better depth perception and spatial positioning. The Bonelli does that extremely well. I know the centre DOF and stereopsis should be the same for all 8x SP prism binoculars but the Bonelli does an excellent job of trying to convince you it does it better. Somehow it seems to conjure up a more three dimensional experience than my other roofs can manage.
Glare handling is very good indeed. All the visible surfaces appear well engineered and blackened. From the rear there are a couple of bright spots about two millimetres outside the exit pupils but those are rear reflections and would normally be blocked by the eyecup. I've tried all kinds of light conditions and and I've struggled to find any weakness at all. If the sun is literally just a dangerous degree or two outside the fov there is a veiling milkiness but overall this counts as really one of the very best I've seen. The Kite description refers to "large format prisms" which I imagine help in this regard.
The Bonelli 2.0 does not have ED glass in the design which some will see as a serious omission in a binocular at this price. It means that both longitudinal and lateral CA are present, but in practice I found it really only apparent when the eye positioning strayed off centre. It's an area where other binoculars do better but do feel much more forgiving than perhaps I have been in the past. The Bonelli offers much more than most of those in the way of other redeeming virtues.
Those who regularly read my reports will know I'm in the habit of estimating both full aperture binocular resolution and effective resolution for the centre 20mm of the objective which is most crucial in optimum viewing conditions for an 8x binocular. The effective resolution result was really exceptional, quite the best I've tested. This binocular delivers detail far beyond what what the eye can see, but it's real benefit is to offer amongst the cleanest, most pristine views I seen with any binocular. There is a naturalness, a lack of distortion, a richness in detail and clarity that I feel is inexplicably rare. It really is a bit special and, on balance, I think I might put up with a little bit of colour fringing occasionally.
The Bonelli 2.0 is quite an expensive binocular and I'm sure some will expect all the bells and whistles that often go with the price tag. However if you prize top quality engineering and exceptional optical performance first and foremost, then the Bonelli 2.0 might be the one for you.
There is a slightly more detailed report and discussion in the binocular section.
|Product Details: "Bonelli 2.0 8x42" by typo - posted: Wed September 30, 2015 - Rating: 9.00|
|Last Review Posted by typo - posted: Mon September 1, 2014 3:35pm||[ Post a Review ]|
I first should apologise for the lack of photos. For some reason the upload function is't working so please refer to the manufacture's web site: http://www.vanguardworld.co.uk/index.php/pv/products/detail-3-21-274-1150.html
The Vanguard Endeavour ED II was launched in Europe this August at the UK BirdFair and I happened to be there on the first day. I really liked what I saw, spoke to the team on the stand and after exchanging a few emails I've had an 8x42 for about 10 days now to review. If optical performance is your priority, then in my own opinion the ED II offers something rather special for the price.
The original Endeavour ED has been well regarded on the forum and regularly recommended by myself and others. I understand it will continue to be offered alongside the new ED II. The most notable feature of the pre-publicity for the new model was the change to Hoya glass. It's hard to imagine that, that alone would merit an additional product listing but it's very clear there has been a significant optical redesign and quite a transformation in the characteristics and the quality of the view. They now offer an 8x32 in addition to the 8 and 10x42.
Cosmetically there seems to be little difference between the two models. The give-away is that the two bridges have changed from silver/grey to black. Really the only clue that there has been a more radical change is the increase in weight from 730g to 770g which I'll come back to later. The relatively firm armour compound has a leather like texture. The finely studded rubber surface on the focus I thought nice and the objective covers worked well, but I'd definitely look to change the rain-guard which doesn't want to fit at my IPD. The case is lightly padded and a good fit, but curiously the single strap supplied needs to be either clipped to the case or the binocular. I've had a few plastic clips fail and would want to replace the binocular strap as well. The gold Vanguard badge and logo, lime green band round the eyepieces and general styling are not particularly to my taste but I've seen much worse.
The individual barrels are well profiled and comfortable but it might be a quirk of my IPD that I did find the grip a little awkward with the dual hinges. Not uncomfortable or a real problem, I just I found myself frequently moving my fingers about to try to find an arrangement that felt better. It's happened with other dual hinge designs so it might just be me as this style is very popular. I did like the 'shoulder' moulding for the strap lug which was a nice little detail.
The 19.5mm eye relief should satisfy most spectacle wearers. The eyecups twist up in three 4mm stages. The first notch worked well for my glasses but I found the maximum extension a little short for my facial features. It was easy to remedy by resting the rims against my brow. It's worth noting that I thought the design was much more forgiving on eye positioning than many I've tried recently.
The focus speed is unusually fast with about 0.6 turns from a close focus of 2m to infinity (in an anti-clockwise direction). I know some criticised the focus on the original Endeavour. It did take me a little while to adjust. I found the resistance firm but acceptable, the positioning very precise, and I liked how a single finger action covered most of the focal range. I've not had problems with over-shoot or the need to fine tune the focus position like others I've tried in this price range. I found it worked well, but I doubt it will get universal approval.
The dioptre setting control is found in the usual place on the right eyepiece but it's locking mechanism is a little unusual. The ring slides up about 1mm with a slight click to allow the adjustment and down again to lock. It worked very well.
For those in colder countries, I did put them in the freezer for an hour and though a little stiffer the hinge and focus were both quite usable.
Of course what really matters is the view. From the moment I picked those samples at BirdFair they really stood out as something rather special. Using the 8x42 daily for over a week has only reinforced that opinion.
When I pick up a binocular the first thing I look for is sharpness. At this price level it's normally getting quite good but in the Endeavour ED II's case, I feel it's quite exceptional. It shows a level of detail and contrast that I've not seen in this price category before and is not assured in binoculars at multiples of the price. I'd tried quite a few binoculars that day that probably offered more resolution than my eyes could see but with the Endeavour ED II the smallest features appeared better defined and etched more precisely than most. On the binocular section of the forum we sometimes argue over which models have the ďWow-factorĒ. This gets my vote. I might play around with test charts and the like when I'm reviewing a model but this kind of difference was most apparent when picking out the feather structure, patterning and iridescence at relatively close range. Lovely! The sample I have to review did exceptionally well in my resolution test but I'll go into this and other technical stuff in a bit more detail in the Binoculars section of the forum.
The field of view looks rather unremarkable on paper at 122m@1000m or 7.2 degrees but there really is 'edge-to-edge clarity' like the product description claims. Binocular optical designs are a set of compromises and the engineers make different choices for different applications and price points. In the majority of models the edge of the view will focus at a closer distance than the middle and might be subject to more optical distortions. A relatively small number of usually more expensive models have a flat field design. The image will be sharp at a given distance across the full width of the view. The consequence of a flat field is a magnification distortion which a few find disturbing. Which type of design suites the individual or particular application is very much down to personal preference. The ED II is a flat view design and one of the better implementations I've seen. You really have to look very closely to detect any softening at the edges. It may not be the widest flat-field on the market but it's a very good one which seems to be free of any magnification ripples I can spot which can afflict some models. When I pan across a view I do see just a little magnification distortion but I've not found it troublesome unlike some others on the market I've tried. Creating a flat view normally requires additional lenses which most likely accounts for the increase in weight over the previous model though I've not been able to confirm this.
Vanguard decided to use Hoya glass for the ED II and in particular, mention the use of Vd>94 ED glass. ED glass is used with others to reduce chromatic aberration or colour fringing. The 'ED' term actually covers quite a broad spectrum of performance and quality. Vd>94 means it's amongst the most highly specified glasses on the market and it could be the Endeavour ED II is the first binocular to use it. Complete elimination of CA is virtually impossible to achieve but the Endeavour ED II does deliver a high degree of control, though there is a little narrow fringing in the most challenging light conditions. I suspect there is a technical difference though which is less obvious and possibly contributes to the excellent level of contrast.
Roof prism designs need mirror coating on certain surfaces of their prisms to work. A number of materials are available which can impart subtly different colour characteristics to the view. The EDII has silver coated prisms which give a slightly warmer, richer colour palate to the view, and again may well contribute to the excellent contrast.
I hope in reviewing the different elements of the binocular's performance you will have got some sense of how impressed I am with this model. I really do think that it has set a standard for optical performance that is normally only found in models costing several times the price. Of course different users will have different priorities and might find the elements like the weight, focus speed or field of view are more to their tastes elsewhere but, based on the three I've tried, if the quality of the view is the top of your wish list you will need to look very, very hard to find better in my opinion.
It's priced at £399 for the x42 models and £329 for the 8x32 in the UK and has a Limited Lifetime
|Product Details: "Endeavour ED II 8x42" by typo - posted: Mon September 1, 2014 - Rating: 10.00|
|Last Review Posted by typo - posted: Wed December 18, 2013 4:46pm||[ Post a Review ]|
|While I've been aware of Docter binoculars for a long time, it's a brand that I've never seen at optics shops or birding shows. I've arranged to borrow the B/CF 8x42 for a couple of weeks to compare to two other models from the upper mid-price bracket which are are also reported here and discussed in the binocular section of the forum. The B/CF was recently replace as their top of the range roof design by the ED-Series but still widely available, often at a discount. For those who don't know the company's history, Bernhard Docter acquired the Eisfeld plant of the largely dismantled Zeiss Jena in 1991. After a troubled few years it became part of Analytik Jena in 1997 and production continues from new facilities in Eisfeld Germany. The B/CF is a relatively short, stubby design in a dark shade of grey and bold patterning on the barrels and I think, an almost industrial look. It's listed as 860g on some sites but was just over 800g on my kitchen scale, a bit heavier than average for 8x42s but not unusual for high quality binoculars. The barrels are relatively thick but still a comfortable hold for my medium sized hands and well balanced. The focus is a little stiffer than I prefer, but with no free play and a fairly fast action I found it nicely precise to use. The dioptre adjustment is just below the focus with a small protruding flange. There is a reasonable resistance to turning with click stops and was easy to set, but it's position and the stiffness of the focus, there were occasional accidental changes. The 131m/1000m or 60į apparent field of view is quite respectable but not exceptional these days. It does have more field curvature than many binoculars in this category but with focus adjustment is still quite sharp at the edges, unlike some wider view designs I've tried. On the plus side I feel it offers a greater perceived depth of field than flatter designs which I find useful particularly for closer observation. However the sweet spot is not as broad as flatter view designs, but even when viewing a flat object like a fence, the defocus at the edges is still reasonably mild. Both types of design have have pros and cons and choice is down to personal preferences. This a very sharp binocular, in my opinion better than most mid-priced models and some samples of premium models I've tried as well. I've confirmed this by boosted resolution testing. I'm very fussy on sharpness and I'd be very happy to use this one. The white balance and colour rendition is very good too with a very pleasing naturalness to the view. Perhaps only a tiny step behind the vibrancy of the very best on the market. Controlling chromatic aberration (colour fringing) is quite challenging in shorter binocular designs. The relatively recent inclusion of extraordinary dispersion (ED) glass into some models has improved performance significantly. This model does not have ED glass and the difference is evident. Unlike some cheaper models I generally found this to be fine but occasionally in high contrast situations colour fringing is quite significant. With careful eye positioning it could be limited to the out half of the view keeping the centre of view essentially free. In the spectrum of models I've tried this is actually does quite well, but not as well as the better ED designs. I thought it quite acceptable but users vary in their sensitivity to CA and this will be more of an issue for some than others. We've not had much sunshine this last couple of weeks but the glare control is very good as far as I've been able to test. At angles very close to the sun there is a little flare at the edges but I've not found any situation where glare has reduced contrast. Very good in my opinion. In low light the performance was almost indistinguishable from the other models I have to hand, only lagging marginally behind the best in unusual illumination. I'd speculate that at 500nm and 550nm the wavelengths usually quoted for transmission performance they very similar to the others I've been trying but perhaps didn't quite match the transmission at the extremes of the visible spectrum of the best. I think this is a very good binocular. Technically very well made but perhaps a rather conservative design, lacking some of the more fashionable features of the latest models. Now it's been discontinued it looks like it can be found for very attractive prices. If sharpness is your priority, based on this sample I've had, this might be a bit of a bargain. I have checked out this model only to satisfy my own curiosity and there has been no incentive from any source to do so, though I do need to thank the person who generously loaned this model. David Link to comparison:http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=272946|
|Product Details: "B/CF 8x42" by typo - posted: Wed December 18, 2013 - Rating: 8.00|
|Last Review Posted by typo - posted: Wed December 18, 2013 4:42pm||[ Post a Review ]|
|I imagine Bynolyt is a familiar name to our Dutch readers but I suspect almost unknown elsewhere. I understand Technolyt owns the brand and distributes it along with other makes. Otherwise a company and brand that I know nothing about but the names crop up every now and I was curious to see what they have to offer. I've borrowed the Albatross for a couple of weeks for evaluation along with two other rarities (in the UK) for comparison which are subject to other reports here and a more detailed comparison in the binocular section of the forum. The Albatross II SHR ED is top of the Bynolyt range, obviously featuring ED glass for chromatic aberration reduction and a 60 layer SHR (dielectric?) prism coating and also claims a hard, hydrophobic 'plasma' coating to the objective. It's made in Japan. In addition to the 8.5x45 tested here, there are 8x32, 10.5x45 and the website suggests a compact version but they don't seem to be listed. This model appears to advertised for 750Ä/£630 or less. There is no warranty information on the Technolyt website, but retailer information indicates 25years. Looks are very much a matter of taste. I don't know if there is a name for the colour, but I suppose I'd call it a fairly dark olive green. The armour has a slight texture but other than smallish thumb indents on the underside, totally plain. It's surface is decorated with rather more information than I would personally prefer and the mould seams and joins are not the tidiest either. In short, few clues to suggest it's actually a very good binocular. It's probably unfair to this very good binocular to start with a negative but the first thing you notice when you pick up it up is the weight; mostly because 940g is a little unexpected if not particularly unusual for x44+ models. It hardly looks bigger than many much lighter x42s and much more compact than most x50 and x56 which can be this kind of weight or more. Having said that, it is comfortable in the hand, well balanced and rather pleasant to use, but I might prefer a harness for this one rather than just a neck strap for more prolonged use. The focus knob is quite wide with room for two fingers. Unfortunately the strap lug position mean it's usually only practical to use one, but never the less the hand position is good and well balanced as mentioned. The focus is light and very fast with a little free play, but because of the finger-tip operation I found it very quick to find sharp focus and quite satisfactory overall. The eye relief is listed as 18mm, but I'd guess 16-17mm was available. I found both, fully turned in with glasses and fully turned out without, worked quite well for me. There is also and intermediate position which isn't ratcheted. The soft eye cup material with a 29mm aperture I thought it reasonably comfortable but the overall width of 44mm caused it to pinch my nose slightly and might be problem for those with smaller IPDs. I suspect using the intermediate position and resting the eye cups against the brow would work better for some. The dioptre control on the right eyepiece has a nice tension, relatively easy to alter but because of the ergonomics unlikely to be accidentally changed. I tend to prioritise binocular sharpness and the sample I have does not disappoint. It's very good indeed, and confirmed by the boosted resolution tests I've done putting it in the same league as premium models and much better than most at this price level. I couldn't say if all samples would meet this level of performance. The colour rendition and white balance are very good in my opinion without any hint of bias that I can see. I think a keen eye might detect that it doesn't quite match the very best on the market for colour vibrancy but I find no cause for complaint. I've struggled to find any chromatic aberration (colour fringing) in other than the most extreme high contrast conditions, and then very little near the edges. Very good indeed. Glare control was also very good as well. As much as I've tried to catch it out in the limited sunshine we've had I can only get slight arcs at flare near the edges very close to the sun and couldn't detect any contrast reduction in the centre of the view. I wouldn't quite call it a flat field design but it's pretty close. The field curvature is very mild, the pin-cushion distortion less than usual, and although the edges aren't pin sharp I think few would find fault. I think in normal use most users, particularly those with younger eyes, would consider it sharp edge to edge. There is a hint of angular magnification distortion but very few are likely to notice. The 7į, 123m/1000 view gives a very respectable 59.5 AFOV which will satisfy most. Being super-critical, in specific test situations I could see that perhaps is didn't have the depth of contrast or quite the level of colour vibrancy of some of the most expensive models but I thought it very good for the price. Overall I think this binocular is very good indeed and offers plenty of latest technical features. It's possibly only a few extra glass coatings away from being exceptional optically. With the Bynolyt Albatross you get a lot of very good glass for your money. There are some models at the price level that might do one thing or another a shade better but I can't think of a alternative that ticks so many boxes optically. However, the weight will certainly bother some and the plain-Jane looks and minor build issues might influence others. Well worth considering in my opinion if view is your priority. I have checked out this model only to satisfy my own curiosity and there has been no incentive from any source to do so, though I do need to thank the person who generously loaned this model. David Link to comparison: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=272946|
|Product Details: "Albatross II 8,5 X 45 SHR ED" by typo - posted: Wed December 18, 2013 - Rating:|
|Last Review Posted by typo - posted: Wed December 18, 2013 4:36pm||[ Post a Review ]|
|Kahles is an Austrian optics manufacturer that's been around since 1896, but in the bird watching world it seems virtually unknown. The company had been owned by Swarovski since the '70s but apparently operates independently. Their website makes great claims for their in-house capabilities, but for the binoculars at least, I suspect there might be some common ground. I've been been curious about this make for some time but never seen them at usual optics shops I visit or birding shows. I've been fortunate to borrow a 8x42s for a couple of weeks for evaluation along with two comparably priced models from other brands which are also generally hard to find in the UK. Individual reports on those are also in the review section but a more detailed comparison will be posted in the general binoculars forum. Kahles produce only three binoculars, an 8x32 and both 8x and 10x42. There is nothing on the Kahles website to indicate it, but it looks like the range was revamped around 2012, reducing weight, increasing transmission and adding 'oliphobic' coatings. I've no information on what oliphobic means but imagine it's something to do with keeping the lenses clean. There is nothing on the binocular either to indicate a version but from it's weight it is the latest model I have. I've not found a recommended retail price either but it looks like the x42s are around the £800 mark but advertised prices vary quite a bit, but it's not always clear if it's for the pre or post 2012 update. The 8x42 looks quite a classy binocular in 'Loden Green' with grey rubber eyecups and focus covering. Apparently Loden is the the colour of a traditional Bavarian fabric, but looks very similar to the colour Barbour uses for it's jackets The design is reasonably compact and light for a binocular of this class and very much in line with my personal tastes. The slim tapered barrel design is a particularly good fit for my hands, with plenty of finger overlap, specially on the focus, which is important as I'll explain later. The strap lugs are well positioned and did not interfere with the grip like they can on some models. The surface design on the armour is low profile and simple and I imagine the sculpted indents on the underside might be useful for thumb positioning for some, but didn't quite work with my hands and settings. The armour material has a fine textured finish has a good secure feel to it but I've avoided trying it in the wet. There is probably going to be a lot of composite plastic in the construction at this weight but still has a very robust feel. The eye relief is listed as 19mm and I think all of that is available. That's more than I need with my glasses. There are no intermediate steps on the twist up eye cups, but there is enough resistance to hold position so far, though I'd probably fix the correct position with an O-ring. Not unusual as I generally need to do this with most binoculars. Without glasses the fully extended standard eye cups are too short but still sit comfortably on the edge of my brow feeling secure and stable. Alternative winged eye cups are supplied which might provide a better fit and light shielding for some but I didn't find them particularly comfortable. My main ergonomic niggle is, out of the box, the focus tension was far too stiff. It makes what should be a reasonably fast focus seem slow and hard work. It fact it was a two finger job to start with. It has eased up a lot with a few days of use, and seems likely to get better still but still has a way to go to satisfy me. Other samples may be better. The dioptre adjustment, on the other hand might be more secure if it was a little stiffer. Now the really good point. I particularly value binocular sharpness, and this is where the Kahles does shine. It really is at least as good and probably better than a number of examples of premium models I've tried and certainly their second tier offerings. There are candidates from other brands what might match it, (as my other reports show), but clearly better than the majority of mid-priced models I've tried. My resolution testing confirms it's in the top league. The colour neutrality and vibrancy is also very good. Perhaps this is where the relationship to it's Austrian parent is most evident. In common with their models it did make certain straw coloured subjects in particular appear whiter than the other models compared and very reminiscent of the Swarovski EL and SLC I've tried, but I've not done a direst comparison so take that with a pinch of salt. Some might describe it as brighter but I suspect it's just due to differences across the transmission spectrum, although it did seem to do marginally better than other pairs in my possession in one low light comparisons, but in others it was indistinguishable. Their literature claims over 90% transmission, optimised for 500 to 550nm. I don't have access to spectroscopy but there are indications that the coatings are very good indeed. The field of view is listed as 6.3į, 110m/1000m though my estimate was a fraction better. This is a narrower apparent field of view than the 8x32 and 10x42 they offer. With many 8į, 140m 8x binoculars on the market this does sound unusually narrow for a binocular at this price level. In practice there is little field curvature and the view retains good sharpness to the edges. As a consequence the view didn't feel particularly narrow at all, in contrast to several cheaper models I've tried with similar specifications. They also have a very good resistance to glare. I could get a little veiling at the edges of the view at angles very close to the sun, but I really couldn't detect any contrast reduction. Stray light control appears very good. Although the Kahles doesn't feature ED glass I would still have expected lower chromatic aberration (colour fringing) in a binocular at this price. The great majority of the time it was not evident at all but in a occasional high contrast conditions it could occasionally be a bit troublesome. Careful eye positioning would keep the centre fringing free but it could be quite pronounced in the periphery. I should emphasise that I only found this noticeable at specific occasions. Users do vary in their sensitivity to CA and some users might find it more acceptable than other. I estimated the near focus on this sample to be 2.06m, a bit better than listed, and it takes about 1.1 turns anticlockwise to infinity. This would normally equate to a fast focus, but it didn't fee that way with stiff focus on this sample. Kahles offer an 11 year warranty with both parts and labour covered for the first five years It's tempting to consider comparisons to the Swarovski models. I've not been able to look at them side by side but there are clearly a number of design decision intended to place the Kahles at a lower price point than the EL and SLC. A set of compromises that I personally think are well judged, keeping a couple of the best bits. At the price, some will expect the technical bell and whistles claimed by some competitors, but It's sharpness, size, weight and colour rendition are very much to my liking. However, for birdwatching, I'd certainly want a lighter focus and ideally lower CA than I found on this sample. In spite of the niggles, overall I found this binocular very appealing and desirable binocular. Obviously there are other candidates at this price level, particularly from Germany and Japan, that are worthy of consideration as well. I'm posting reports on a couple of them. I have checked out this model only to satisfy my own curiosity and there has been no incentive from any source to do so, though I do need to thank the person who generously loaned this model. David Link to comparison: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=272946|
|Product Details: "B/CF 8x42" by typo - posted: Wed December 18, 2013 - Rating:|
|Last Review Posted by typo - posted: Sat May 19, 2012 10:07am||[ Post a Review ]|
|I guess not many will know of the Eden binocular brand. Indeed I knew nothing about it until Renze de Vries wrote a review of 8x42HD here in the reviews section and KorHaan reported on the 8x42 XP in the Binocular forum. I've been happy to point quite a number of members asking for binocular recommendations in the direction of such glowing reviews. With the permission of the BirdForum administrators the company contacted me asking if I'd be prepared to look at another in their XP range. The 8x42 had already been reviewed and I suggested they send me their XP 10x56 and the 10x42 (which is the subject of another review). The XP is one of three models offered which also include the entry level HD and the ED priced just below the XP. The XP range offers 8x and 10x42, and 8x and 10x56 which currently sell for £245 and £325 respectively (Ä270 and Ä389). There is little doubt that the XP 10x56 are big and heavy binoculars, and probably wouldn't be a first choice for many birders. Unfortunately my hand shake is a little high for a light weight 10x and I would normally use a heavy porro when visiting sites that need a bit more magnification. I was rather pleased when Eden agreed to send me this pair to evaluate as well to see how they compared to the 10x42s. At 180mm tall, 1170g and quite nose heavy I found it best held quite far forward near it's balance point. Though an unfamiliar grip it was still comfortable and easy to reach the focus. For me a steady view, but I'm not the biggest bloke around and for extended viewing it might not be too long before I'd be looking for somewhere to rest my elbows. There is not much room between the barrels for a standard tripod mounting bracket and it might be a problem for those with a narrow IPD though I'm sure there are other solutions. There is a nicely grippy feel to the armour coating. I guess the decorative patterning is a matter of taste that I'll leave others to judge. The rubber inserts on the focus wheel and dioptre adjuster provide a nice non-slip feel. The anticlockwise focus (close to far) is a very nice, comfortably fast pace, right from the close focus of about 2.5m to infinity and surprisingly light for such a large pair. The dioptre ring was fairly stiff and unlikely to be moved accidentally. It seemed to be perfect set on zero which I take a take as an indication of good QC. The firm rubber eyecups extend 10mm in three stages and are nicely profiled and feel comfortable. The eye relief is listed as 18.5mm. It is perfect with my close fitting glasses, but may be a problem for some spectacle wearers. The lens covers are a soft rubber and fit very well with the objective ones being tethered and easily slipped off. The case is nothing special, but perfectly functional with modest padding. The strap is OK, but some might want to look for something wider if they are planning to hang it round their necks for any length of time. I liked the view enormously. The 6* field of view is quite respectable for a 10x56, and actually feels wider and much more involving than the 6.5* of it's little brother. The sweet spot is larger as well at about 75% of the field with a very mild field curvature that can be focussed out to sharp edges. Those with younger eyes I'm sure will find the view even wider and flatter. The contrast is very good, holding up better than my other pairs under challenging light conditions. However there is some flare when viewing angles close to the sun, but this can mostly be controlled by repositioning the eyes. There appears to be good transmission throughout the visible spectrum as you might expect with dielectric prism coatings. There seems to be a modest green bias to the overall view. The result is that colours are rich and vibrant. This is somewhat different from my other pairs and took a bit of getting used to but after a few days use I'm rather liking it. The CA or colour fringing is reasonably well controlled, but some narrow fringing is visible in high contrast situation. It is important to centre the view properly to minimise it. The view is very sharp on this binocular, hardly distinguishable from my very best pair when on a stand and using a test chart, but appear really top notch in the hand. I rarely have occasion to use binoculars at very low light levels. Indeed I'm not sure my pupils will dilate to 5.6mm these days but these seems very good. By twilight factor, my 12x50 should be better than a 10x56, but looking into shadows in near darkness this clearly beats it by a margin. I'm not a star watcher and with the light pollution where I live I presumed there wouldn't be much to see. I was wrong. Masses of them, round and sharp across about 75% of the field. All in all it does seem a very versatile pair suited to a variety of activities. I've rarely seen an x56 at any retailer I've visited so have no baseline for comparison, but I can't help but think that it should stack up very well against most competition. I've certainly enjoyed the view much more than many pricier 10x42s I've tried. I've spent a week comparing them to the XP 10x42 and my other pairs, and I must admit they have really grown on me. The view is really quite addictive, but it's left me with quite a dilemma. Because of the weight they could never be my first choice for longer walks, and they don't quite show the detail of my 12x porro, (though it would make quite a good stand in) why do I need one? Perhaps if I was more dedicated and did more dawn or dusk birding it would be a more obvious choice. I've not managed to spot the Bitterns that winter near here yet, maybe this is the perfect instrument for those dark winter days. There must be a good reason to justify owning one. I took these along with the XP 10x42 to the local lake and nature reserve and asked a few regulars their opinion. They all thought the 10x42 was pretty good, in many cases better than the ones they owned, but everyone thought the view at least of the 10x56 was better still. Unsurprisingly at least half thought the size and weight totally unacceptable, but some were clearly tempted. One Swarovski binocular and scope owner commented ďwith one of these I'd leave the scope at homeĒ. Perhaps he wasn't quite ready to swap his 8x Swaros though. A novice with a borrowed pair of Leica's was very reluctant to hand them back and was amazed that the Eden was about 1/4 the price. One guy with big hands that normally uses a big porro would have bought them off me on the spot. The size is certainly not for everyone, but there is little doubt they rated the view very highly and they were a bit of a revelation to some. For me, I'd really never actually considered owning an 10x56 roof, but I feel I've been seduced. Maybe I can squeeze just one more pair on the shelf. Now where are those owls?!! The Eden binoculars are only available online through the following websites. http://www.edenwebshops.co.uk/en/ct/eden-quality-binoculars.htm For the UK and US. http://www.knivesandtools.nl/nl/ct/eden-quality-verrekijkers.htm Most of Europe. http://www.edenwebshops.de/de/ct/eden-quality-fernglaser.htm Most of Europe. http://www.edenwebshops.fr/fr/ct/eden-quality-jumelles.htm Mostly France.|
|Product Details: "Eden XP 10x56" by typo - posted: Sat May 19, 2012 - Rating:|
|Last Review Posted by typo - posted: Sat May 19, 2012 9:55am||[ Post a Review ]|
|I guess not many will know of the Eden binocular brand. Indeed I knew nothing about it until Renze de Vries wrote a review of 8x42HD here in the reviews section and KorHaan reported on the 8x42 XP in the Binocular forum. I've been happy to point quite a number asking for binocular recommendations in the direction of such positive reviews. With the permission of the BirdForum administrators the company contacted me asking if I'd be prepared to look at another in their XP range. The 8x42 had already been reviewed and I suggested they send me their XP 10x42 and the 10x56 (which is the subject of another review). The XP is one of three models offered which also include the entry level HD and the ED priced just below the XP. The XP range offers 8x and 10x42, and 8x and 10x56 which currently sell for £245 and £325 respectively (Ä270 and Ä389). At 140mm tall with tapered barrels the first thing that strikes you is it's compact size. At 650g it's pretty light too, and sits very nicely in the hand with a nicely grippy feel to the armour coating without feeling sticky. I guess the decorative patterning is a matter of taste that I'll leave others to judge. The rubber inserts on the focus wheel and dioptre adjuster provide a nice non-slip feel. The anticlockwise focus (close to distance) is fairly light and smooth, but from 5m to infinity is definitely on the fast side, which took a bit of getting used to. The close focus was 1.3m. The dioptre ring was fairly stiff and unlikely to be moved accidentally. It seemed to be perfect set on zero which I take a take as an indication of good QC. The firm rubber eyecups extend 10mm in three stages, and are nicely profiled and feel comfortable. The eye relief is listed as 18mm. In practice it's perfect with my close fitting glasses, but may be a problem for some users. The lens covers are a soft rubber and fit very well with the objective ones being tethered and easily slipped off. The strap and case are nothing special, but perfectly functional with modest padding. And the view? Very nice. The FOV is listed at 114m at 1000m or 6.5*, so fairly wide. The sweet spot is quite reasonable but decreases slightly with distance to about 60%. The remaining field is a fairly mild field curvature which focusses out to sharp edges. This is likely to be less evident with younger eyes which are likely to finder it flatter and quite satisfactory. I really like the level of contrast, much better than many I've seen at this price point. There appears to be good light transmission throughout the visible spectrum as you might expect with dielectric prism coatings. There seems to be a modest green bias to the overall view. The result is that colours are rich and vibrant. This is somewhat different from my other pairs and took a bit of getting used to but after a few days use I'm rather liking it. The CA or colour fringing is reasonably well controlled, but narrow coloured bands are visible in high contrast situation. It is important to centre the view properly to minimise it, and once done it's better controlled than many lower priced ED pairs I've tried. It could be a little better on stray light control, particularly with the sun in your face, but again I've seen much worse. Under test conditions, in poorer light, I can see that the sharpness is a little behind my best pairs, but in brighter conditions it sharpens up nicely and I think few could complain. Perhaps it won't challenge the alpha brands, but in my opinion definitely punches well above it's weight. Down at the lake, it was a delight to use, whether picking out the warblers flitting through the reeds and willow saplings on the shore, the sandpipers amongst the ducks and geese on the gravel islands or the buzzard soaring a mile away. I really enjoyed them, but what do others think? I tried them out on a number of regulars down the reserve including several who currently use binoculars up to the XP's price point. Almost everyone agreed they were much better than their existing pairs though some understandably felt they would prefer the 8x. The one exception was one guy with monster hands who couldn't get on with the compact size. He was bowled over by the 10x56 though! A Swarovski user didn't think it quite matched his own pair, (understandably) but never the less thought it amazing what you could get for the money. Another with quite a pricey but ageing pair, realised it might be time for an update. There is plenty of choice for roofs in the £200-300 range in the UK and I must have tried a good proportion of them. There are clearly a couple you could argue do one thing or another better than the Eden XP. Indeed I've got close to buying a Nikon Monarch and a Hawke Frontier ED in the past but ultimately didn't like them enough. I can honestly say that I've enjoyed using the Eden XP 10x42 rather more as an overall package. I should confess that my hands are not really steady enough to get the best out of a light weight 10x and I normally use a lower power pair. However appealing a light weight pair might be I really need more weight to steady the view. Have a look at my review of the XP 10x56 for a comparison. HorHaan review of the XP 8x42: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=209395 Renze de Vries' review of the HD 8x42: http://www.birdforum.net/reviews/showproduct.php/product/339/cat/9/limit/recent/date/1067107700 The Eden are only available online in Europe through the following websites. http://www.edenwebshops.co.uk/en/ct/eden-quality-binoculars.htm For the UK and US. http://www.knivesandtools.nl/nl/ct/eden-quality-verrekijkers.htm Most of Europe. http://www.edenwebshops.de/de/ct/eden-quality-fernglaser.htm Most of Europe. http://www.edenwebshops.fr/fr/ct/eden-quality-jumelles.htm Mostly France.|
|Product Details: "Eden XP 10x42" by typo - posted: Sat May 19, 2012 - Rating:|