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Kowa BD ii XD 8 x 42 review

Kowa BD ii XD 8 x 42

Item details

Hello everyone, please forgive my use or not of proper words and phrases for description of the above binoculars.

I'm new to this and this is my first ever review.

My wife and I have approximately 20 years of experience in bird and wildlife watching. We have owned several pairs of binoculars in the 200 to 400 pounds region.

Wanted to upgrade my binoculars. And took several weeks obsessively reading reviews and forum for information.
Managed to narrow it down to 8 pairs.

So arrived at our Norfolk seller at door opening time. And set about comparing our choice.
Hawke frontier edx
Hawke frontier APO. ( This is the model I had chosen in my mind)
Opticron Verano ( new release)
Opticron Aurora.
Leica Trinovid
Zeiss Conquest.
And the kowa BD ii XD 8 x 42.

Now the kowa was last on my list, I was underwhelmed by the remarks and reviews on this binocular.
But I was at the store and thought I would try them out.

The store has a lovely outdoor viewing area of hedgerow and field and wood.

So we had been there about half hour trying and both of us swapping. When another couple turned up and also started to look at the same range of binoculars as us.
We were not together. And they were few metres away from us.
Anyway we looked through all of the above and couple more models.
I really wanted to like the Hawke frontier APO. But didn't.
And we both kept coming back to the kowa BD ii XD 8 x 42.
It was silky smooth to focus and nice and bright and clear.
In fact we went over and over looking and the only model that came close was the opticron Aurora.
They were very close indeed.
Perhaps the aurora being a tad brighter but not for an extra 400 pounds.
So I chose the Kowa BD ii XD.

Now the other couple also trying out various models also favoured the Kowa BD ii XD.

Which is incredible. We are none glasses and they both wore glasses.

So I quickly purchased the kowa because the chap also wanted them, believing that they were the last pair.

But when we met up outside, accidentally, they had both purchased Kowa BD ii XD binoculars.
Now surely that says something, 4 people all trying out various models of binoculars end up choosing the Kowa !!

Seriously these are really good.

The eyecups are thick rubber and fit very smoothly, not overtight, like my old pair.
You can whip them off really easy.

The strap is above average, well made, well stitched, and passed my strong pull test.
Fed up of below par straps with binoculars.
So this is very good.

The rubber armour is well made and very good.

The focus wheel, is beyond anything I've experienced before, silky smooth, and exact and precise.
Brilliant !!

The image is again above average, very good quality.
Clear, sharp. Colours neutral.

Now for the depth of view !!

This is again, superp. Absolutely brilliant. Never experienced anything like that before. It makes watching a moving bird so easy.
And add the silky smooth focus wheel that is precise and accurate, I'm telling you, it's incredible.

Fov.. good.

And this is coming from a place that I didn't think these were going to be up to much.
Going on what I had read.

But believe me, I'm well happy and impressed.

As is said repeatedly, the best way to choose binoculars is to physically actually try them out ! And if like me, you try a good decent pair, purchase that one.

Again, 4 out of 4 people trying various models choose the Kowa. It must of been a good batch off the factory line.

Oh . believe it or not, and I know im putting my head on the block saying this.

The worst pair on the day.

Zeiss Conquest !

Just really didn't like them.

Cheers. Enjoy life. By

Latest reviews

Nikon Monarch M7 (2021) 8x30
  • Premium focus wheel.
  • Contoured strap.
  • Wimpy diopter lock
I am a complete amateur when it comes to birdwatching and optics, but having the previous generation of these 8x30’s I figured I would do a quick review. My main binoculars I use when I go out birdwatching are Swarovski 8.5 x 42 EL field pros so I am pretty spoiled when it comes to what I’m used to for optical qualities. I’ve kept the previous generation Nikon monarch 7 8x30 on my desk at work for a few years, and sometimes take them on my lunch break when the weather is nice to do quick birdwatching. These new updated versions are not too far different, but a couple things really stand out to me.

First off, the neck strap is very comfortable, as it is contoured and has almost the same rubberized texture underneath it just like my Swarovski‘s. The binoculars are so light that you barely notice they are on.

The focus wheel on these feels superior than the previous generation. The depth of field is so much greater in these as well that you barely have to move the focus, and if you need to snap to something close up, the focus is very fast and buttery smooth. I’ve never used the Nikon EDG optics, but people always talk about that focus wheel as being the best ever, and perhaps this one is close to that level? I’m not sure.

One thing I was looking forward to was the locking diopter adjustment ring. Yes, it locks. Does it stay locked? I’m not sure in normal to heavy usage, but I would wager a guess that it would be coming unlocked quite often as it is very weak. On the other hand, the resistance while adjusting it is very firm so I would be very surprised if the diopter setting became knocked out of adjustment. Again, I am pretty spoiled with my Swarovski diopter adjustment/lock.

In use I find myself constantly searching for the perfect eye positioning just like I do with the previous generations. These new ones seem to be slightly even more temperamental with position. I do not wear glasses and have a great vision but it just seems frustrating to me. If these are going to be somebody’s main binoculars I would advise against that. I get a ton of blackouts, kidney beans, white fuzziness around the edges etc. Once I get the IPD set properly it’s just a matter of placing them up to your eyes exactly where they need to be. I know that this is to be expected with lower eye relief, smaller exit pupils etc. but again, different strokes. I wish that I got the 8 x 42 for this reason.

The rubber armoring is much different than the previous gen. It is tighter fitting and almost feels like Swarovski rubber. Not as tacky but the thinness and texture of it.

The eye cups must be identical to the previous generation as well. No improvements there but none were needed. Great eye cups.

Overall I would recommend getting the previous generation if you were looking to save some money or find a deal. The neck strap and focus wheel to me are worth justify and getting the newer generation. I think these new ones have some kind of scratch resistant and water resistant coatings if I’m not mistaken? Not sure about that 100%.



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One member found this helpful.
Peregrine Took
I tried these last Saturday and was disappointed, as I wanted to love one of the M7's. Any of the M7's... I also tried the M7 8x42 and 10x42, to see if there was a winner in the M7 line-up - there wasn't. As for the focus wheel (since it's mentioned above), I found the M7's too close to the forehead in comparison to several other bins I tried on the same day.

Sadly, the M7's were no better optically than the Hawke ED X for £350.00 and certainly worse, for false colours (CA's) than the Kowa BD II XD. I'll be buying either the Kowa or jumping a price band to the Zeiss Conquest.

Just my experience, of course - and I'm no expert either!
Optics field test
Optics field test
Hey, before you jump to the conquest, I highly suggest you check out GPO passion ED line or HD. Really great quality binos for a fair price. There is a highly detailed review by Neil English posted few days ago reviewing the 10x42 HD
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Peregrine Took
I bought the Conquest's. The GPO 8x42 HD has too narrow a field of view, so I wouldn't have been interested, but thanks anyway.

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Large Binoculars
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Dyslexic birdbrain
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