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B/CF 8x42

Docter B/FC 8x42 Binoculars

Item details

FOV 131/1000m
Close focus 3m
Eye relief 16mm
IPD 56/72mm
Length 139mm
Weight 860g

Latest reviews

  • great optics, comfortable easy viewing, sharp, bright, good eye relief
  • somewhat stiff focusing--esp in cold weather, non-locking eye cups or diopter
I've owned my 10x42's that I bought used for a bargain ($350 in exc condition 7 yrs ago or so). My pair have been used and abused, and the eye cups have taken a beating and don't work as well or as smoothly as they once did--I tightened the screws on the inner cups--they work ok again. Only real problem is that the focus knob has become quite stiff over time. This is especially noticeable in cold weather--but they still work. I don't fault the binos, as I have not babied them. These are well constructed and solidly made German Binoculars. They have spent most of their years on the passenger seat, kid booster seat, or on the floor of my truck--depending on where my kids tossed them (I used eagle optics rain and lens covers to protect glass). Diopter setting does not lock, but is very quick to adjust and placed so you can use both focus knob and diopter together easily and quickly. I use glasses occasionally, but mostly wear contacts and have felt the eyecups work very comfortably with or without glasses. I have not used the top shelf Victory or Ultravids, or EDG's, so can't compare, and don't want to--I'm scared I'll fall in love with the image improvement produced by the additional $1000.

But, focus knob has become stiff enough that I've missed a few birds this spring, so I've just replaced them with 8x42 Zeiss Conquest HD's. I chose an 8X for the wider field of view. In side by side comparison it seems to me that the Docter's are just a tad less bright and sharp--pretty good considering that the Docters are a 10x and older non-ED glass. And they're great in low light. That's some quality German glass, and it will remain the pair I keep in the truck. If you're on a budget and can find a used one then I'd highly recommend them.
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 60 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.


Link to comparison:http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=272946

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Large Binoculars
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