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Reviews by SteveTS

Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Class leading product, an essential addition to the binocular rack
Cons
  • None
These are very useful, everyone should own a pair :t:

My work involves using binoculars and I am always looking for opportunities to match specific practical purposes with particular binocular specifications. Rather than looking to buy a standard specification, be it an 8x42 or a 10x42, and making it fit the purpose for want of having a dedicated binocular to hand I prefer to start with looking at the particular use and matching a specific unit to it.

This Spring I was out regularly at day break sitting up over the fox dens on our neighbour's land doing a head count in preparation for some management work to protect threatened nesting Lapwings. Those who enjoy fox watching will know that they have a canny knack of just materialising right in front of you, usually when you are looking at something else ! Close in and in heavy cover the primary requirement for a pair of binoculars is width and depth of field, being able to ascertain the smallest movement certainly helps.

Here high magnification is not your friend, it overly reduces the field of view if you are close in and the depth of field can be shallow. My choice for this sort of work is a quality 6x32, if you can find one. Yes, the view through a 6x binocular at longer distances may not seem as sharp or well defined as through a higher magnification and the colour may look a bit subdued. However where the 6x shines is at moderate to close viewing in low light. Here the main reasons for choosing a 6x over an 8x or 10x binocular are for the inherently wider field of view, greatly increased depth of field, the easier more relaxed view with noticeably less hand shake (the significant weight savings are noticeable particularly if used with one hand), and if you are sensitive to chromatic aberration it has to be said that with a smaller objective lens there will be less apparent colour fringing. Magnification has very little effect on image quality, it just brings the image closer in view.

Looking at lower magnification (wide angle) binoculars for close range work there are comparatively few useful choices on the market. Enter Vortex then with the Vortex Viper HD 6x32. I am sure that many are familiar with the name Vortex Optics ; the company, founded barely ten years ago, is based in Middleton, Wisconsin, USA and produces binoculars, spotting scopes, rifle scopes and accessories. The Vortex Viper 6x32 first came on the market over five years ago in 2009, it was Japanese made, with extra low-dispersion ED glass, and was widely hailed as the best 6x32 binocular available. It has been recently upgraded with high density HD glass, and is still made in Japan, the original version being discontinued. In theory the higher the density of the glass the lower its refractivity ; the less refraction as light passes through the sharper and less distorted the image, and in practise with these the image is beautifully sharp across almost the entire field of view.

In addition the Vortex Viper HD 6x32 offers great contrast perfect for sit up and wait at daybreak. The HD glass shows subtle shades and hues of colour and allows you to distinguish between those at close range. It's all in the detail, none of those 'what's that then ?' moments with these. Good contrast is also important to me in viewing animals that have a tendency to freeze if they spot you (some deer, definitely not wild pigs but certainly wild dogs), or those that are occasionally daytime static (foxes can be frequently be found 'sleeping out' in warm weather), especially where they are a seamless camouflage match to their habitat. In this respect the Vortex Viper HD 6x32 excels, the contrast is excellent.

These binoculars have a wide linear field of view of 140 metres at 1000 metres (or 420 feet at 1000 yards), a generous 19.5mm of available eye relief and weigh 585 grams. Spectacle wearers will be able to see the entire field of view with ease. If like me you cannot divide 32 by 6 by mental arithmetic the exit pupil (the size of the image from the objective as produced by the eyepiece) is 5.33mm and for me is more than sufficient for viewing from daybreak in increasing light. The binocular barrels are very well blackened internally presenting the exit pupils on a good dark background free of glare and internal reflections. The binoculars are waterproof, have excellent sub-zero focus performance (good smooth focus, no internal fogging), are shock proof and argon gas filled. For the technically minded the lens prisms are the Schmidt-Pechan roof prism construction, BaK-4 glass with phase correction coatings and all air-to-glass surfaces fully multi-coated with Vortex's XR multilayer coatings. The lockable dioptre is very useful. The lenses have an ultra hard exterior scratch resistant and stain proof coating protecting the optical glass from dust, dirt and smudges. The rubber armour and slick handling makes them completely silent in use. A great binocular more than fit for purpose. Try them in thick brush and see what you think.

Although these are handy, compact, very solid with a big, ribbed and smooth action focus wheel rather than detail the many factors of ease of use and handling that are a good fit for me, I would offer the advice then, for what it's worth, to always try before you buy or if buying mail order then use a retailer with a customer focused return policy. It is only by handling a particular model that you will find if the balance of the unit works for you. You wouldn't buy a pair of hiking boots or ballet pumps without trying them on now, would you ? It is worth pointing out that the accessories are good : objective lens and eyepiece covers that fit and are easily handled, good quality strap and a case with belt hoops wide enough for a 2 belt, all to the good. To those who may be looking for a starter pair and to quickly return to magnification I wouldn't immediately plumb for a 10x42 with the view that the higher magnification is better. If you have little experience of buying binoculars a low quality 10x42 can be one of the worst first choices you can make.

I am a fairly new customer for Vortex and was initially attracted by the universally positive comments regarding their client care and warranty. Last year I misplaced a binocular rain guard and ordered a replacement from Vortex with absolutely no hassle whatsoever ; direct response to my inquiry, address confirmation, immediate despatch, correct part sent, well packed, timely delivery, no fuss, no charge. Vortex even have a dedicated client care rep for international customers and it's refreshing to have the support of a company that does not charge for after sales spare parts or service items, compared to those that charge something, or those that overcharge. The Vortex VIP lifetime warranty is just as stated, you can look it up. They own the ground in this respect. One thing that you can be absolutely sure about with Vortex is that they have got your back.

This review is published in print elsewhere. Thanks are due to the Vortex team, especially Stephanie at Vortex Optics for all the friendly consideration, and for arranging the sample units.
One member found this helpful.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Ultra lightweight, high QC standard, wide sweet spot, first class CA control, great contrast
Cons
  • Case lacks belt hoops
Super lightweight, grab and go anywhere quality birding 8x32. :t:

Perhaps there is a tendency among binocular users and reviewers to be really positive about the first new binocular of Spring and I am sure that I am not the only person to have experienced a feeling of Spring euphoria this year when taking an excursion to appraise a new optic.

So here is another 8x32 binocular from Kenko-Tokina, the long established Japanese optical manufacturer and OEM giant operating with a very high degree of corporate integrity and credibility.

The Kenko Ultraview EX OP DH II is available in two specifications : 8x32 and 10x32. Both are open bridge, ultra lightweight, compact birding binoculars, phase and fully multi-coated, waterproof and part of Kenko's astonishingly successful Premium Birding Binoculars range. These are manufactured in the Philippines and each bears a serial number.

Yes the 8x32 is truly a light binocular, at a bare weight of 455g (16.05 ounces) a very light binocular indeed. That is the weight of the binocular only, without the eye-piece and objective lens covers and without the strap. These have to be amongst the lightest binoculars of this class on the market, and they are just as comfortable to carry as they are to hold.

The body is a gram pinching glass fibre reinforced polycarbonate with a hard and slick high impact black rubber exterior. This binocular is very similar to the highly regarded Sightron BS II 8x32, down to the 'full stop' in the focus a short distance after infinity and the same basic case and accessories. But it is lighter. They are both made by the same company in the Philippines.

The other physical specifications of these are readily available online and suffice to say the field of view at 1000m is 131m and that the stated eye relief is 14.8mm.

Internally these are well baffled and very well blackened, the finish is excellent with no post machining scratches, dust or glue to spoil it. Consequentially ghosting, glare and internal reflections are absent from the view.

The focus is smooth, if a little firm for my flash focus preference but then who am I to say what would suit you ? This binocular focuses easily and there is a good depth to the field. Observing Reed buntings squabbling over their patch has been a real treat, at this time of year they don't stay still for long, and this a good binocular for this type of viewing.

The rest of the package it is just first class. Wide sweet spot, non-ED glass yet good, really good CA control, easily equal my reference Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32. Natural colour and a relaxed, natural view.

Great contrast. Good contrast is important to me in viewing birds that are either generally daytime static (some owls) or have a tendency to freeze if they spot you (our native Bittern), especially where their plumage is a seamless camouflage match to their habitat. In this respect the Kenko Ultraview EX OP DH II 8x32 excels, the contrast is excellent.

In the manufacturer's own words the Kenko Ultraview EX OP DH II 8x32 and 10x32 are very good and most popular with our customers. It because **the quality is pretty good** and they are very very light weight and compact in size. We bring this model to the trade shows and bird watching shows and everybody like these models.

This was genuine comment, a tacit admission that they know that this binocular offers very good optics indeed at it's price point. 'A diamond in the rough' placed there for you to find.

As an aside, all I can say to those who would venture a forlorn 'well they would say that wouldn't they', is that with three decades of direct personal experience with Japanese clients, both institutional, corporate, business and private individuals, I can tell the difference, thanks.

The Kenko Ultraview EX OP DH II 8x32 is nice little package of performance, ergonomics and quality control.

Value is what you think it is and I'll leave it to you to have a look and hope that you may enjoy it as much as I have.

My interest just as an independent reviewer and I would like to offer my sincere thanks the directors of Kenko-Tokina for despatching their birding binoculars from East to West for review. Once again a particular thank you to Tom for the friendly correspondence, special consideration and personal attention in arranging and shipping the samples.
One member found this helpful.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Totally unique market leading polarised binocular
Cons
  • A floatation strap or bino harness would be useful
Ergonomic and technical specifications for the Byfield Tracker 8x56 are available here :

http://www.byfieldoptics.com/index.php/polarised-binoculars

Byfield Optics exhibit at marine, sports fishing, outdoors, hunting, and military expos all over Australia, the Middle and Far East, you can keep up on FB :

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Byfield-Optics/425144990856852?sk=timeline&ref=page_internal

Manufacturers and importers with sports and marine optics for review can contact me through the messaging function on this forum, many thanks.

Have you landed here looking for a specialist marine 7x50 ? Well, I guess the traditional Porro format could be said to be looking a little outdated. Virtually everyone does them, the market is totally saturated and trending downwards in quality and price. It is time for something new.

Marine 8x56 ? Well now you are talking, an extra wide objective, a sharp 7mm exit pupil, a cool, fashionable, modern roof body, and no appreciable difference in weight.

Here is a very smart new product the Byfield Tracker 8x56, a big view afloat binocular, and with a good field of view for an 8x56. It is a polarised binocular and if you enjoy a consistently high level of light intensity in your birding and sporting year then these are worth very serious consideration.

For controlling glare they will do the job for you in hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades.

I really enjoy using these, for sea birds and waterfowl, for horizon viewing and big sky sunsets they are just excellent, and rather than the usual point by point review reflecting my personal opinion Im offering a few direct quotes from other practical users. They speak for themselves :

Michelle, a competition sports shooter : The binos have good magnification that also allow me to recognise mirage easily. I often sit and assess wind and mirage prior to taking up my shooting position, the Byfield Binoculars allow me to do this with ease, rather than through my spotting scope and with less stress on my eyes prior to my shooting match. I would highly recommend these binoculars to any long range shooter, the polarisation reduces the stress on the eyes and makes scoring easy.

Missing aircraft MH370 search observer team leader : We received many positive comments from our volunteer Air Search Observers. I am not aware of any negative comments. The positive comments included: High quality product Light to handle Easy to use Quick to get onto a sighting and focussed Reduced / no glare was particularly useful at times in the conditions experienced during MH370 search operations.

Byfield Optics donated ten pairs of Byfield Tracker 8x56 polarised binoculars to the search team in the search for the missing airliner MH370.

Captain Luke Fallon, Kekoa Sports Fishing : Late season we are looking for the tuna aggregation as the water temperatures rise and the fish move offshore. One sure sign is bird activity and the binoculars not only help us to find the birds but to identify the tuna beneath them (yellowfin busting vs skipjacks). They have been a great tool and have helped to put us onto some great quality fish - marlin and yellowfin alike !

Another direct quote from Luke Fallon : "Yet another great tool to add to the fish finding tool box. The polarising works wonders reducing glare off the water over distances. We've used them to spot birds working, tuna feeding on the surface and even the odd tailing marlin. They are also great to help identify coral bombies behind the reef!"

These binoculars have been very well received in the sports fishing community to universally good reviews. Here is another :

Brownie, a sports fisher : A few months ago, I was given a pair of Byfield Optics Polarised Binoculars to test on Megumi, the 44ft custom built Assegai game fishing boat I run.

A good pair of binoculars is a very handy and necessary tool on a boat, particularly if you are running in areas where there are narrow channels and beacons. They are also very handy to scan for birds and bait beyond your normal field of vision.

I used the Polarised Byfields in navigating through Sandy Straits on our trip north to fish for blue marlin east of Sandy Cape and Indian Head on Fraser Island.

Although I have a GPS/Chart Plotter on the boat, I still like to have visual contact with beacons when navigating in such areas.

The Byfield Polarised Binoculars were really good, as there was greatly reduced glare without any loss of clarity and I was able to easily see the beacons and sandbanks I was looking for.

When you think about it, we all use polarised sun glasses to reduce glare so we can see better on the water, so to me it is a natural step to have polarised binoculars.

The Byfields were also very good in offshore situations and I was able spot birds from a long way away and ascertain whether they were working over bait, or just travelling.

Another great feature is their rubber skin, which makes them resistant to water damage and very easy to hold on to on a moving boat.

The carry case is made of the same material and the binoculars fit neatly into a shaped foam recess inside the case, so there is no chance of damage to the binoculars or your boat when travelling in rough conditions.

Overall, I was very impressed with them and they are now a permanent fixture on Megumi.

For anyone buying a good pair of binoculars for their boat, I believe Byfield Polarised Binoculars are the logical choice based on their ease of use, performance, sturdy weather proof construction and carry case.

Best of all, Byfield is a wholly owned Australian company and supporting local business is what we should all be about.

Finally a quote from a regular participant on this forum, OPTIC_NUT, There are ironies to consumer demand, from an opthalmic perspective ... Many would see the obsession with brightness as marketing. I think it's mostly a consumer pull, and a matter of "you asked for it, you got it". At the very least, those "UV" prefilters should make a comeback ... .

These polarised binoculars are unique, a genuine game changer. The alpha brand ber light transmitters have nothing on them, nothing on them at all.

As ever value is what you think it is. The price for these is currently around AUD$900.00 including GST., and for those that view in places of high environmental glare they are a very serious addition to the binocular rack. Its great to have a binocular to hand just for a specific job. With the sun in your face they would be hard to beat and you can never have too much practical kit.

Byfield polarised binoculars are designed and engineered in Australia and manufactured and distributed by Byfield Optics, Queensland. Two specifications are available ; the big view Byfield Tracker 8x56 overviewed here, and the essential and bestselling Byfield Recon 10x42.

My interest is purely as a practical user and once again I would like to give a sincere thank you to Ian Winkworth and his team at Byfield Optics for generously sending samples of their unique polarised binoculars from one side of the world to the other for review.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Genuinely small and easily handled 8x32, very well constructed, very nice optics
Cons
  • None
Good quality, inexpensive, all purpose and super compact 8x32.

Kenko-Tokina, originally established as Kenko Co. Ltd in 1957, is a first flight independent optics development and manufacturing company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan with development engineers, mechanics and production facilities in Japan, China, Philippines and Thailand. The company has over fifty years experience of developing and marketing optics and has long experience of OEM (original equipment manufacturer) supply of sports optics to familiar major brands in the global industry. Current sales are in excess of USD$250 million annually.

Amongst a wide range of optical products Kenko offer a suite of 'ultimate' birding binoculars, the Kenko DH MS range. These are available in 8x25 & 10x25 ; 8x32 & 10x32 ; 8x42 & 10x42 and are the highest quality binoculars that the company manufactures.

The smaller 25mm and 32mm objectives are in 'compact' format, the 8x42 and 10x42 come in both open bridge and 'compact' format.

This brief review looks at the ergonomics and practicalities of the Kenko DH MS 8x32 in general use and there is certainly a lot to like about them.

The smooth easy-grip black rubber armour free of protuberances encloses a genuinely compact die-cast magnesium alloy body. By any standards this is a small binocular, easy to handle and comfortable to hold and use, and they look very well made. The dimensions are : length 115mm 125mm (maximum length with eye-cups fully extended) ; body width 118mm rising to 126mm over the strap lugs ; height 42mm ; bare weight 537g (without the eye-piece and objective covers, and without the strap).

This is a great knockabout, take anywhere birding and general purpose binocular that should handle a high degree of use over a long period of time.

Do looks count ? Well, Sightron aficionados may notice the striking similarity between these and the Sightron SIII Magnesium 8x32. Sightron is wholly owned by Kenko.

The optics are manufactured from environmentally friendly lead and arsenic free glass and are fully multi-coated on all glass-to-air surfaces. The typical BaK-4 Schmidt-Pechan roof prisms are phase coated and SHR (super-high reflective) sliver coated. The binocular is dry nitrogen purged and filled, and waterproof (certificated to JIS Class 6).

These offer a field of view of 7.5, giving 131 metres at 1000 metres, or 394 feet at 1000 yards. Each binocular has a serial number (this is a successful binocular, over eleven thousand have been manufactured and sold), they are made in Japan.

Eye relief is stated at 15.3mm. I use binoculars both with and without glasses, and with contacts, and have found easy viewing with these in all situations.

The ocular lens diameter is 20mm, the inner diameter of the eye-cup is 27mm. The twist-up eye-cups, without stops, operate smoothly and stay in position. For the students of minutiae the eye-cup edges are ridged rather than rounded which for those with deep set facial features could leave a feeling of suction when using these, not that you may ever notice it unless it is pointed out to you. My preference would be for a more rounded eye-cup edge.

There is a standard non-locking right hand dioptre, this is respectably stiff and does not migrate in use although some may find the high position of the strap lug an inconvenience when adjusting the dioptre.

The almost two finger width ribbed focus wheel operates very smoothly with no free play and is fairly heavily damped which may appeal to those who are not keen on 'fast focus' ! Personally I would like to see this binocular with a slightly faster focus and a longer focus wheel incorporating a central locking dioptre, this would enable easier handling with gloved hands in cold weather. The focus is anti-clockwise to infinity and has a noticeable stop when focusing to the end of the range in either direction. Depth of focus is excellent. There is a small amount of travel past infinity in the focus which may be useful for certain users.

Close focus measured to just under 2 metres.

I often carry a small binocular in a belt case in preference to carrying a standard compact. The binocular case for the Kenko DH MX 8x32 has good belt hoops and for me this bino is compact enough and just about lightweight enough to be used as a conventional strapless grab and glass compact. If you are thinking of replacing a mid-market compact with a small binocular with much better optics then these are well worth consideration.

Many people buy this class of binocular for home & garden use, watching the birds come and go from feeders from the comfort of indoors. I've done just this with these and found no striking issues in viewing through glass, no intrusive glare and that's nice. Yes being outside always brings you a better view, but let's be realistic, people do what they do.

To my eyes the 'sweet spot' occupies about 60% of the field, and stray light control is excellent. Conditions have been perfect for testing this recently. The view is noticeably clear to the edge with no apparent darkening of the field at the periphery. Contrast is good, I enjoyed excellent views of a Robin picking her way through a dense bed of nettle stalks, a cock pheasant skulking deep in cover and a Muntjac fawn, a glimpse of russet in a sea of dead foliage resolved to form, all on a dull afternoon and pleased with all of that.

Chromatic aberration invariably raises it's head in bino reviews despite the phenomenon being universally user specific. I am sensitive to CA and for me its control in this binocular is first class (given the price point, its short barrel design and non-ED glass), eye position being the critical factor. There is more apparent CA in the outer field. Lateral field curvature is evident, more noticeable in the lower field than the upper, and likely to be more apparent to older eyes. This can be refocused almost to the extreme edge, not that anyone really ever manipulates their binoculars like this in real life, only in reviews !

Thinking of comparisons I'm not one for conjuring comparative views from memory or pointing out the subtleties of he-said-she-said observations from other peoples' views. You are highly unlikely to see it exactly as I do and the advice for what it's worth is always to try for yourself if you can. I'm fortunate in having the Kenko Ultraview OP DH II 8x32 available for direct comparison, which is much different ergonomically being of open bridge format.

Back to the Kenko DH MS 8x32, the case is black, soft with heavily piped well stitched edging, an under-wired front panel, soft interior and a velcro closure flap. Does anyone actually like velcro ? It's use is virtually universal but I find it intrusively noisy and would appeal to manufacturers and importers to gear up and use silent magnetic flap closures. The case has doubled 5.5cm / 2.5 belt hoops giving a choice of belt heights and are more than adequate for a wide belt. This is a good case, it is deep enough to hold the binoculars with the eye-cups fully extended.

The eye-piece and objective covers come in 3mm flexible soft black rubber matching the body armour. The one piece eye-piece covers are over barrel, good quality and fit very well. These can be tethered all in one with the bino strap, although you can just as easily use a compact camera black nylon wrist strap to tether them to the strap lug. The objective lens covers have a looser fit and are ribbed to accommodate the interpupillary distance (IPD). The IPD for this binocular is 56-76mm. As always with binocular choices, optical quality aside, it is a balance of ergonomics to suit personal preference.

Being an active user I'm all for heavy duty binocular straps. Above a certain price point bino straps are invariably neoprene, I guess not because customers want neoprene straps, I certainly don't (I find they don't bring anything useful to the party) but because they are inexpensive to manufacture. Below a certain price point bino straps can be more of a challenge, for me it's usually either mix and match, replace or just discard completely. The Kenko strap is what it is, inexpensive, functional, easy to fit, a slim 2.5cm black poly with leather end tabs, well fitting slide adjusters but very loose sliding strap end guides.

In the box there is a standard multi-lingual instruction sheet, a manufacturer's guarantee (in Japanese), and a black Teijin lens cloth (every birder and wildlife watcher in the world will prefer a black lens cloth to a white one, thanks, that is one of the nice touches that count).

As I said there is a lot to like about these. Above all they are an easy handling and attractive binocular, very well armoured with good glass and a nice clear view. I have enjoyed some excellent views with them. At this time of year it is possible to take in sunrise and sunset in the same day here with little effort and last weekend's homeward flight of a clamour of rooks set against the vibrant oranges and reds of a clear sky sunset was well worth the viewing despite the cold. Even the product box is really striking : classy, elegant and understated, it creates a very good first impression, buy one and find out what it looks like !

It has to be said that this compact 32mm format is ideally suited to low magnification and it would be very interesting to see a Kenko DH MS 6x32 or 6.5x32 at a later date.

As always value is what you think it is.

Current pricing is around USD$270.00 in the US.

Customers in the UK / EU can expect to pay about GBP275.00 delivered from one of the camera sellers in Germany.

Kenko exhibit at birding events in the tropics everywhere from Thailand to Brasil, you can keep up on FB. Their binoculars, monoculars and scopes are widely distributed. The Kenko company profile and sports optics catalogue are available on request ; please just shoot me a PM.

My interest is as an impartial reviewer, opinion is entirely my own, all other content is factual not conjectural and has been either provided by or verified with the manufacturer.

I would like to offer my sincere thanks the directors of Kenko-Tokina for despatching their birding binoculars from East to West for review. A particular thank you to Tom for the special consideration and personal attention in arranging and shipping the samples.

An expanded illustrated comparative review of the Kenko DH MS 8x32 and Kenko Ultraview EX OP DH II 8x32 is published in print elsewhere.

Manufacturers and importers with sports and marine optics for review can contact me through the messaging function on this forum, thanks.
One member found this helpful.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • These are unique, no doubt about it.
Cons
  • The units have no serial numbers ; a label with Engineered / Designed in Australia and the unit serial number might be a good idea.
I've really very much enjoyed reviewing these and having handled them for only a week or so am pleased to give them a designated place in the binocular rack.

It's true ; you can never have too much practical kit.

You can find the manufacturer here : http://www.byfieldoptics.com

Manufacturers with kit for appraisal can contact me via the messaging system on this forum, thanks.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Lightweight, easy handling, absence of CA, good size sweet spot
Cons
  • None apparent considering the very low price paid
Bought a couple of these as stocking fillers and on first impressions a good buy. I guess these may be the last binoculars we will see from Burris, surely a nice little collector's item. I'll return to the appraisal in use as time allows.
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