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Old Tuesday 13th February 2018, 13:45   #1
Troubador
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Sheffield
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Review of 10x42 Opticron Imagic BGA VHD

I greatly enjoyed taking a close look at the Imagic 8x42 and Traveller 8x32 last November and so it seemed natural to follow up with a review of the Imagic’s 10x version.

As usual, we’ll first take a look at competitor models to put the Imagic in some context. Selling at 459 in the UK, just like the 8x it neatly splits Zeiss’s Terra ED 10x42 at 405 and their Conquest HD 10x42 at 890 and does the same job with its field of view of 113 metres at 1,000m compared with their 110 and 115 metres respectively. In the USA the prices are $629 for the Imagic and for the Terra $450 and the Conquest $1,000. The fields of view in feet at 1,000 yards figures are: Imagic 339ft, Terra 330 and Conquest 345. The field of view makes the Imagic competitive with Tract Toric’s 114m/341ft and way better than Vortex’s Viper at 107m/319ft. Getting up close and personal, the Imagic measures 6 inches long which is about the same as Zeiss’s Conquest and Tract’s Toric but a bit longer than the Viper’s 5.8 inches and at 705 grams / 25 ozs it is lighter than the Terra, significantly lighter than the Conquest but slightly heavier than the Viper which comes in at 697 grams / 24.2 ozs.

The eyecups were absolutely reliable in their positions during all field work including being tucked inside my jacket and then pulled out again several times, and while the published eye relief figure is 21mm, I measured it at a still very generous 19.5mm. Opticron have checked the ER themselves and are satisfied it is within the tolerance of +5mm to -0.5mm allowed by ISO 14133 Pt 2, but more importantly, the eyecups delivered my eyes comfortably to the right place whether I was wearing spectacles or not, and with no kidney beans or blackouts The dioptre adjustment is on the right-hand optical tube, was easy to set, and the setting remained reliable throughout the test.

I had the same problems with the rainguard as I did with the 8x42 version. The guard is so stiff that it was very difficult to quickly fit onto the eyecups due to my relatively narrow IPD of 58.5mm. The more I struggled to squeeze the two cups of the guard closer together to fit over the eyecups, the more the rainguard cups distorted and refused to slip over the eyecups. I always managed it in the end but when wearing gloves this was even trickier. The whole process was made harder than it need be by the rainguard attaching to the neck strap at only one side. If the guard had loops at each end, not only would folks be able to choose a left-handed or right-handed attachment, but folks who like to attach both sides could do this, and those with narrower IPDs would find that as they slide the guard down the straps, the guard would automatically be guided down onto the eyecups. However there are plenty of aftermarket rainguards to choose from and those with wider IPDs will find the rainguard works just fine for them anyway.

The Imagic 10x42 has exactly the same exterior appearance as the 8x version, with comfortable armour offering a reliable grip even in our recent winter downpours. This grim weather was shrugged off by the Imagic even if it provoked curses from me, but the sun has broken out a few times in recent weeks and being low in the sky gave a good test of the Imagic’s glare resistance which I found allowed as close an approach to the sun as I would ever wish to get.

One thing I noticed straightaway when the weather eventually allowed me to start field work, is that these 10s have rather less pin-cushion distortion than the 8x version, not that this was in any way a problem with the latter, and I only notice this because we have so many utility poles in our neighbourhood. Vigorous panning did not reveal any rolling ball effect although I am not very sensitive to this.

From the top floor of our house we get a commanding view of a suburban valley and checking out the different coloured roofs and parked cars provides a good test of a bino’s colour reproduction. The Imagic has a nice, neutral colour balance, a little stronger in the red than my Terras but not as much as Troubadoris’s Ultravids, although you would only notice this in a side-by-side comparison.


At this time of year the plumage of our local male Chaffinches is gradually abrading and slowly acquiring their mating colours. This results in a subtle shift in the intensity of their colours over time and the Imagics rendered this accurately. Male Bullfinches are spectacular with red/pink breast, smooth grey mantle and black cap, but the females are more subtle with a brownish-buffish colour on the breast that is tinged with pink, and on the mantle it cools to a more brownish tinge and on the nape blends into a pale grey. All of this was rendered accurately. Endlessly fascinating, as was the female Blackbird that ventured near and regarded me with some curiosity and allowed me to examine her breast plumage, which looks uniform brown at a distance but through the Imagics had dark brown spots underneath.

A compact shape hidden deep in a Hawthorn turned a little, and the silhouette with a forked tail was definitely a small finch. Shifting positions and helped by the bird coming closer, the Imagics picked out a delightful female Siskin, a regular winter visitor. The Imagics coped nicely with the subtle wash of yellow in some of the greyish plumage and the tips of the wing coverts formed a beautifully fresh yellow-cream wing-bar.

The Imagic’s super-smooth and back-lash free focus wheel began life rather stiffly and as a result was too slow to focus on fast moving subjects, but with use this has eased, settled down, and is now perfect. This was amply demonstrated by a visit to the River Wye in north Derbyshire. As I approached the river, struggling to ease the binos out from inside my jacket, two Dippers came flying up the river fast and low. Motivated by this I got the binos out and focused in no more than a couple of heartbeats and followed the zooming Dippers upstream to where they landed. I nearly unscrewed my head from my neck following them with the binos but it was worth it to catch the white throat-patch, the chestnut band and the curious white eyelid when they blink. The Dippers landed on the water and then dived, presumably to forage for insect larvae, and bobbed to the surface only to dive again almost immediately. This activity was watched closely by the local Mallards and the males looked splendid with their green heads flickering to blue as they turned in the winter sunlight.

Returning to my car, a flash of white moving jerkily up the trunk of a distant tree could only be one thing: Treecreeper. Amazingly it stayed where it was and didn’t, as expected, disappear behind the trunk. The Imagics imaged it beautifully, lovely down-curved bill and bright supercilium.

What do these observations and the many others I made add up to? Simply that, as with the 8x Imagic, this 10x model produces life-like and accurate images that are a pleasure to experience, and is a capable companion whether you are simply spotting birds or observing behaviour. They are fine value for money and although at the beginning I hinted that they slot in between Zeiss’s Terra and Conquest, they are far closer in performance to Conquest than their price would suggest. If you have a budget anywhere near its price I recommend that you go out of your way to audition it.

Lee
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Last edited by Troubador : Sunday 18th February 2018 at 11:24.
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