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Old Sunday 8th March 2015, 18:37   #1
JasIA
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Hawke Sapphire ED 8x25 thoughts

I wasn't going to buy these for a few months but, couldn't resist, I've had them for almost a week and have been using them daily. I'm sure some of you can relate

I've had the Sightron bs ii 8x32 and Opticron Oregon 4 8x32 to compare them to. In normal daylight the brightness is the same. Dawn/dusk still about the same, Hawkes start to fall behind here by a negligible amount, hardly worth mentioning. Only when it is approaching dark does the difference truly start to become noticeable. Even then it's a small difference. Out of the three the Sightrons were best in very low light. I was very curious about the brightness difference among these three, for me at least they are close enough it is a non issue. I rarely use bins at near dark.

Sharpness/resolution - The Hawkes nudge the Oregons out here by a very small margin and both are sharper then my Sightrons by a small margin. During casual viewing the difference really isn't noticeable but when I zeroed in on signs right at the limit of viewing I could tell a difference.

The Hawkes have really nice clarity, slightly better then but very similar to the Sightrons and both are better then the Oregons. Maybe its glare or internal reflection but in many situations the Oregons had what I would describe as a very very slightly fogged view when compared to the Hawkes. This 'glare'? was the single biggest difference between the three optically. Possibly due to the lack of phase correction? It is the only one of the three that lack it.

The field of view is a little narrower with the Hawkes and its noticeable but not objectionable. While their size and weight are wonderful from a convenience standpoint I found their light weight to be a hindrance to holding them still during viewing. I did find that a little objectionable but I've gotten better at it I guess, it's not quite as bad as it was at first. I have not found the exit pupil to be finicky at all. Isn't hard at all for my eyes to find the entire FOV. The hinges on the barrels of the Hawkes are a little loose for my taste. They sometimes move when I don't want them to. Is there a way to tighten these? Not bad enough to be a big deal but I would tighten them if I could.

While overall I slightly prefer the general use of the 8x32's because of ergonomics and FOV I do believe I'll keep the Hawkes becasue of their convenience, not to mention their beautiful view :)
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Old Sunday 8th March 2015, 20:01   #2
typo
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Jas,

A very nice write-up.

I know there was a description for tightening the hinge but I can't find it at the moment. I seem to recall it was just removing the covers at the end of the hinges and tightening with a jewler's screwdriver but there was more detail that. Anyone bookmark it?

David
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Old Thursday 12th March 2015, 05:40   #3
peatmoss
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I've also owned the Hawke's for a few months ($159 Black Friday special), and have found them to be a very pleasant surprise. As much sharpness as I could hope to expect for the price and configuration, and glare control better than many larger binoculars. All this in a binocular that, when folded, is barely larger than a compact digital camera. For me, it's what I will pack when I'm not expecting to use binoculars, but want something "good" available just in case.
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Old Thursday 12th March 2015, 07:46   #4
typo
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This is the post I was referring to about tightening the hinge. As Crinkly points out doing this may invalidate the warranty, so it might be wise to contact Hawke before doing so.

http://www.birdforum.net/showpost.ph...&postcount=107
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Old Thursday 2nd July 2015, 23:19   #5
CliveP
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I just bought a pair of these on sale and now today I notice there is a new rebadged version at a higher price.

I commented to the sales person that I found the colour and contrast very nice which is what stood out to me most about the 8x25 but it does make the view look a little darker than my old Frontier PC but it's still worth it plus the better edges and no glare. My 8x43 Sapphire have a lot of contrast and are obviously much brighter and feel so relaxing on the eyes but not the same rich colour and the sales person told me that Hawke had recently updated it's coatings and I see there is also a newer 8x43 Sapphire open hinge version and various others on Clifton Cameras. Seems the newer versions have the Sapphire logo in a straight font whereas the previous model is italic. Also they seem to have switched the name around from Sapphire 8x25 ED to putting the ED before the numbers as a way of differentiating them.

The new 8x25 also has a nicer new Hawke logo which seems basically to be an arty type of H. Looks good.

Seems my 8x25 must have these recent coatings but still has the old logo so doesn't bother me as they were a little cheaper but the new colour and contrast I find very appealing and hope to get one of the newer larger versions with these new coatings some day.
Definitely seems Hawke have come up with something good here and I bet the newest models will gain very favourable ratings and cost more of course.

I still love my old 8x43. It's still mind blowing after looking through my new 8x25 first and then the 8x43 afterwards and my old Hawke Frontier PC actually is sharper in the centre than my new Sapphire 8x25 but the Sapphire has a nicer wide field and seems to have better 3d view and dof and the focus snaps (once I got the thing loosened).

Still to take it out for a proper test but I think it's going to be quite good mainly as the eye relief is much better than my old Frontier so should be a less eye straining time plus it seems to be great for following birds in flight probably due to the wider fov and better dof than my Frontier PC. I actually think I prefer this new Hawke colour/contrast combination over my recently bought Monarch 7 10x32. Think the clarity with the new Sapphire is also better than the Monarch but my 10x30 is way better in lower light, actually surprisingly so which is sure to be handy and has been already. It almost seems like a 10x42 in that regard so excellent.

Go Hawke (& Nikon)

Last edited by CliveP : Thursday 2nd July 2015 at 23:27.
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Old Friday 3rd July 2015, 18:50   #6
CliveP
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Today is another day.

Was told today by another different rep from Clifton that there is no coating change and it's just a rebadge which seems strange as they've upped the price a lot for a rebadge on the 8x43 but strangely some of the other models have not increased. So one of them is right/wrong as they both say the opposite of one another.

Was just about to go out to try the Sapphire properly when it started to feel like rain coming and it is forecast for heavy rain later so I'll wait until some nice sun again maybe tomorrow morning. No, just checked the weather report and heavy rain tonight and lovely thunderstorms tomorrow morning. Maybe tomorrow evening?

See a lot of posts about loose hinges etc and I just thought I would add the list of "things" that could be better with my Sapphire 8x25. Maybe Hawke should supply tools and an instruction manual on how to manufacture them yourself. Yes I am a bit peeved with them just now.

Focus still stiff mostly exactly at the infinity point where most focussing is needed. Have to use finger on top and thumb underneath to turn the focus wheel. Seems this isn't going to go away after all. Very very very annoying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Loose hinge. Just about tight enough to hold position if you don't touch it to hard. Pretty annoying.

Diopter needs setting to about 9 o'clock hour position. My other 3 bins I use at zero diopter. Not really important but doesn't seem right. Would be an issue for anyone who needs the use of the full dioptre range because obviously this one only provides 1/4 range in one direction and 3/4 in the other.

Also some silver metal shards sparkling in the barrels but this doesn't annoy me as much as the other things in fact doesn't bother me at all but it's easily noticeable and I'd prefer them not to be there and the leather could be attached without the lumps underneath which I assume are glue or something.

These irritations may lead to me requesting a replacement but would I get anything different? or maybe something worse with bad optics and inaccurate focus.

I asked the guy at Clifton to check the bins before sending them to me for any silly issues so he checked these and sent them to me. I don't really know what he checked but he did say he tried the focus near and far and then he sent them to me and I had to force the focus wheel to turn until it loosened after a while, but it is still crap. I initially thought it had seized and I was going to break it by forcing it to turn due to the amount of resistance it gave. To his credit he has said to get back to him for a replacement if any problems continue or arise.

The only reason I didn't send them back immediately is because the optics seem good and after you've forced the focus about they do actually focus accurately from either direction both close up and at distance and this is very good but the other things are starting to properly annoy me.

Still I do want to get out with them to see how that goes. Maybe they will be so nice that I will forget about all these things above?

Such a difference from my M7 Monarch which was basically absolute perfection straight out of the box. Even the E2 I returned was perfect except I just didn't like the CA and low porro perceived magnification.

Still, not as bad as that Minox 8x25 BV which just did not focus accurately at all and it had a watery hinge too. Message to manufacturers. Hinges need to be tight enough to hold the setting and over tight is definitely better than under. They should time stamp their bins as these are all probably just made before lunch or Friday afternoon or something or Monday morning with a severe hangover.

The main message is, it's lovely when you receive a new binocular with no silly faults or poor operation and the opposite applies when you don't and still there are so many silly issues with all brands.

Edit:

The problem is trying to hold the binocular firmly to stop shake due to it's small size and light weight, while trying to keep a weak hinge from moving, while trying to push hard on a stiff lumpy focus, while trying to get a good eye position. They should have called it the Hawke Circus instead of Sapphire. I think if I could do the hinge tighten thing then that might help stop the domino effect of everything so I might even suggest to Clifton that I do this and they provide the ok and instruction and I have jewel screwdrivers. If I can do that in a few minutes and save all the returning etc then they should go along with it I would have thought and I'd still keep the good optics and accurate focus and I could maybe put up with this focus stiffness or if I don't like them out tomorrow as I brave the thunderstorms then just get a refund or swop for something completely different.

Sometimes, like now, I think it's just to much stress and hassle to buy a binocular online and untried, since it's so difficult to get one that works or that I like. This could be my 3rd return of the last 4 I've ordered. I just can't seem to win except with the Monarch 7 recently.

Last edited by CliveP : Friday 3rd July 2015 at 21:09.
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Old Saturday 4th July 2015, 08:00   #7
typo
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Clive,

I tried the Sapphire ED 8x25 when it was first launched and a few times since and though it very good for the money. However I tried one a couple of weeks ago and the hinge was loose and I couldn't set the dioptre. I assumed it was a well used and abused shop demo but wasn't aware that there might have been any changes or rebadging. Sounds like a new batch anyway.

David
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Old Saturday 4th July 2015, 08:16   #8
CliveP
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Morning report.

I'm not obsessed. Ok yes I am but I want to get this sorted.

Good opportunity to check how the Sapphire fare against my Frontier looking out on a wet dull raining early morning through this window.
Using two wood pigeons on a fir tree about 150 meters away and the Frontier clearly shows better sharpness especially on the bird edges and brightness while the Sapphire has better contrast and possibly more colour.

The Frontier is much easier to get a quick eye position and the extra rubber covering makes it easier to grip and hold steady plus it is a little heavier and the hinges are properly on the tight side and the focus smooth although it can get sticky and jittery on a cooler day. If I remember correctly this Frontier was actually a replacement from Hawke due to a sticking focus issue with my original Frontier.

Sapphire focus still sometimes ok and then stiffens up and on and on. Hinge possibly loosening more.

Just looking around and the Sapphire seems to show the leaves etc on one of the trees much better due the better contrast and deeper colour and the wider angle helps and the 3d effect is more noticeable. The Hawke shows glare and since it's field of view is narrower to start with this is taking a lot of the image away whereas the Sapphire is unaffected which is a big positive in favour of the Sapphire. I think possibly because of this the Sapphire has a less eye straining view but I'll only be able to tell if this is true by getting out properly with them.

No doubt I will have something more to add later. I really want to try today and decide where I'm at with these Sapphire. I doubt if there is any much better 8x25 compact out there so if I don't get on with these outside then I never will with any compact and might as well just make do with the Frontier and use my large bins otherwise

Will go out later and hopefully get some sun. Forecast maybe sun by afternoon. Should probably also bring the Frontier for comparison.

Looking forward to it now I've got some energy back since my last cycle outing. I'll do my usual same 10 mile plus walk round trip and check the bins at the same places I usually view at so that should do it.

It's just stopped raining and the light level is rising and the Sapphire are already starting to look much better than the Frontier so that's a good sign.

Just another thing I remember from yesterday and that is I was sitting at the back door in the sun and looking around the garden and the Sapphire almost seemed like a 10x magnification as they seemed to bring things up very close at this few meters short range or maybe this is just something to do with the clarity. Either way I found it very good and was impressed. This should show up again as I visit my favourite bog walk. Definitely a keeper if they can repeat that.

Can't stop adding things. Just looking out again and checking out 3 blackbird young on a tv arial about 100m away and I am surprised but I cannot deny that the Frontier shows them brighter and the shades of brown more clearly but the Sapphire overall view is nicer in terms of colour and contrast, less greyish. They then flew off and 3 starlings replaced them and the same thing. Frontier better for bird detail. This is actually quite bad as I wanted the Sapphire to impress here also. There isn't a whole lot in it but the Sapphire contrast definitely darkens the birds.

Last edited by CliveP : Saturday 4th July 2015 at 17:51.
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Old Saturday 4th July 2015, 17:44   #9
CliveP
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Ok that's basically it.

Just didn't get on with the Sapphire on my try out today.

Focus worked just fine which I can't explain after all the bother it gave me.

Found they were to difficult to obtain and maintain a good eye position whereas it was always easy with the Frontier PC. I think the Sapphire actually gave me more eye strain and blackouts with my right eye.

So I am basically returning them and intend to direct exchange them for a newish Kowa SV 8x32 which is light and apparently has quite good optics and should be of more use to me.

Today showed me to basically forget about compacts. I still have the Frontier PC if I ever need one for some reason.

If you can get on with compacts then the Sapphire 8x25 is very good. Great 3d view however it manages that. Not as much sparkle to the view as the Frontier PC and not just as good over distance for detail or similar if you take more time or are more used to them but then hardly any glare.

I noticed the Sapphire makes birds in flight seem larger than you would expect if they are about 100m away which is a nice trick. They are pretty good for close up stuff also and generally they have a less distorted view than my Frontier PC but I definitely found the Frontier less fussy with eye positioning so if like me you are on a walk and occasionally lift the bins to your eyes then the Frontier works better for me like this. if you have time to sit and look at the same view as from a hide then the Sapphire probably would be better.

Generally I was disappointed that they were not a clear improvement over the Frontier or pleasurable to use due to the critical eye positioning with basically no margin for any error so in the end it was a straightforward decision that I have to return them and they are already packed to go.

If I didn't already have a pretty good compact then I probably would have kept them and got the hinge tightened. For a compact it is pretty good but there is just no getting away from that compact compressed view that I just can't stand for very long. Actually the Frontier didn't seem as bad in this regard and I had expected it to be the other way around.

Now hoping I get these Kowa SV and that they are good. They get an "excellent" rating on Best Binocular Reviews and will be my relatively cheap bash around bin so to speak.

Last edited by CliveP : Saturday 4th July 2015 at 17:55.
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Old Monday 6th July 2015, 20:00   #10
CliveP
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In interest of balance I should add that I remember 4 or 5 occasions when the Sapphire 8x25 showed promise and this is generally how binoculars stand out to me as in any memorable sort of wow moments that can just make you stop and stare or using good test objects.

One was rain drops on reed leaves. I'd have to describe the colour and non distorted sort of high clarity view as very nice. One of the nicest I've seen if I'm honest. The Frontier was brighter with more sparkle but just not the same quality or photographic beauty if you like.

Along a leafy path and along a river from a bridge the Sapphire gave wide non distorted nice 3D views and finally looking at a bunch of multicolour signs at a rail crossing the Sapphire view was wider and colours much better than with the Frontier.

Weren't many birds about to test on but I did manage to catch a swallow feeding one of it's young mid air about 50m away but still obvious to see what was happening. Saw a Kestrel I think but it looked much bigger -almost Hen Harrier size- than with the more realistic Frontier. Same for Hooded Crows. This sort of size distortion would make details easier to view. I don't know how this happens but it's a feature I like. I see it also with my 8x43 Sapphire on occasion but not quite to the same extent.

I'd really love one of these Sapphire in a 32mm version. Exactly the same with the bare metal and leather to keep the size and weight down just scaled up with single centre hinge and with the larger exit pupil hopefully allowing relaxed easy eye positioning.

Please make this Hawke. I feel it would be very popular.

Last edited by CliveP : Monday 6th July 2015 at 20:25.
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Old Wednesday 8th July 2015, 12:41   #11
CliveP
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Just got the Kowa SV 8x32 in exchange for the Sapphire 8x25.

Maximum happiness. Expectations exceeded immediately.

At 150 these are such a bargain, normally around 200 which is still top value. In fact a pair of these is all anyone would ever really need. I could see me taking these everywhere but first have to get out and give them the full test but I will be shocked if they don't pass easily. No CA and everything else great. My Sapphire 8x43 have a bit more brightness (higher light transmission) so these may not be the best in low light and that might be the only weakness but I expect they will still be fairly good. All else is very impressive indeed. More so than I expected, so very well pleased. Very impressed with the sharp crisp edges to things. The first thing they reminded me of was the El's I used to own and by rights they shouldn't come anywhere near those but these do. Zero glare also as far as I can tell.

Unfortunately no way a compact could compare but then these are twice the weight and size but definitely a proper binocular. These get the "love them" award. Even a simple thing like the eyecups just fit me perfectly and are really comfortable and the click stops are firm and solid. Way better than the Nikon M7 and the rubber way more durable also with no slackness in it. Focus also perfect, smooth, precise and zero dioptre accurate. I could go on but I'll spare you.

Ok best be off out with these....

Last edited by CliveP : Wednesday 8th July 2015 at 12:47.
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Old Sunday 9th August 2015, 19:54   #12
PeterPS
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I bought the Hawke 8x25 almost 2 years ago, and I had the same problem as mentioned here---- a very loose hinge. Moreover I could not see they were better in any way than Alpen Wings 8x20, so back they went (Hawke US charged a 30% restocking fee, so be warned...).
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