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Hawke Sapphire ED or Frontier ED-X ?

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Old Saturday 29th December 2018, 16:32   #1
justabirdwatcher
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Hawke Sapphire ED or Frontier ED-X ?

I have some store credit at B&H right now, and am trying to choose between these two Hawke models. The Sapphire ED's are discontinued, and are selling for $10 more than the new Frontier ED-X.

Have any of you tried both and if so, which did you prefer? Thanks.
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Old Saturday 29th December 2018, 21:47   #2
Canip
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Originally Posted by justabirdwatcher View Post
I have some store credit at B&H right now, and am trying to choose between these two Hawke models. The Sapphire ED's are discontinued, and are selling for $10 more than the new Frontier ED-X.

Have any of you tried both and if so, which did you prefer? Thanks.
I do have the Sapphire 8x43 ED (double hinge version) and the Frontier ED X 8x42, so I can only talk about the 8x version of both binos.

Looking at the spec, the optics of the two binoculars are basically identical, and for my eyes, this is confirmed when comparing them side by side. Shape and haptics are different, the Sapphire is about 60g heavier. For the price, I find both very good, and I think you can‘t go wrong with either (I bought the Sapphire before it was discontinued, and it came with a fabulous real leather hard case similar to those that came with expensive premium binoculars 50 years ago, my entire cupboard smells wonderfully since the purchase.The Frontier is supplied just with an ordinary soft bag).

I have never bought anything at B+H. Can you order both and return the one that seems less good for your eyes?

Happy to answer specific questions if any.

Canip

Last edited by Canip : Saturday 29th December 2018 at 21:56.
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Old Sunday 30th December 2018, 03:54   #3
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B&H has an excellent return policy and that is not a bad idea to be honest. Thanks for the feedback.

The Sapphire they show is the single hinge version if that makes any difference.
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Old Sunday 30th December 2018, 08:05   #4
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Originally Posted by justabirdwatcher View Post
B&H has an excellent return policy and that is not a bad idea to be honest. Thanks for the feedback.

The Sapphire they show is the single hinge version if that makes any difference.
I think there isnt much of a difference (thats a guess, not knowledge).
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Old Sunday 30th December 2018, 08:10   #5
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The outgoing dual hinge Sapphire ED appeared to have slightly less peripheral distortion than the single hinge version, but the latter was shorter and lighter and more to my taste ergonomically. IPD might make a difference. The ED-X seems to be a simpler optical design with more field curvature than the Sapphire ED, though closer to the single hinge than the dual hinge version. My initial impression was it lacked some of the colour rendition and contrast of the old Sapphire ED, but then realised the samples I tried suffered from glare, which at times could be quite intrusive. The cause appeared to be an unpainted surface in front of the focussing lens. You can find many glowing reports for the model online, so maybe I was just unlucky. Rogue samples or a bad batch or something? A real shame, because otherwise I'd rate it as really very good. The effective resolution results were impressive.

David

Last edited by typo : Sunday 30th December 2018 at 09:03.
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Old Monday 31st December 2018, 01:00   #6
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Thank you David.
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2019, 13:43   #7
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Just pulled the trigger on some Sapphire ED's so I'll report back once they arrive.
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2019, 18:20   #8
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I wish you much fun and satisfaction with it!!!
Looking forward to your report how you find it.
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Old Thursday 10th January 2019, 21:48   #9
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Love my Hawke Sapphire ED 8x42.

I cannot fault it in any way. The view is bright, wide and crystal clear to my eyes. The sharpness is clear out to about 85% from the centre. The edges as you would expect are less sharp but with the wide field of view this does not cause me any issues.
I just find the viewing experience from these binoculars "immersive".
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Old Friday 11th January 2019, 09:53   #10
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Due to the open hinge Sapphires being at less than 300 I bought my second pair of 10 x 42 from the birders store in Worcester. Due to illness I have spent much time away from the desk and in hides around the country. This gave me chance to compare the two binoculars I currently own side by side, the Sapphires and the Swaro Field Pro 10 x 32. Yes, the Swaro gives edge to edge clarity and all in a compact package and overall a incredible image quality. However, where the Sapphires impressed me was when I was viewing greylags at around 400 yards. The resolution at centre was slightly better than the Swaro, pretty pointless at that distance but nevertheless impressive to me at least. If ever these Chinese manufacturers nail field flattening lenses then I'll be first in the queue for a pair. Remarkable value.
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Old Saturday 12th January 2019, 03:51   #11
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I both received, and sadly returned, my Saphhire ED's today. :( Maybe my expectations were just too high. The body ergonomics were good, but the image... oh wow. Distortionville galore. And not even that bright.

Maybe I got a bad sample, but regardless, I'm done with my Hawke experiment.
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Old Saturday 12th January 2019, 13:11   #12
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Same here

Really liked the focus--but the fish-bowl view...
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Old Saturday 12th January 2019, 16:26   #13
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Really liked the focus--but the fish-bowl view...
I agree. Focuser was pretty good. Overall size and shape was nice. Eyecups didn't cover the whole eye relief, so that was annoying, but I'm finding these days that it's the norm for the eyecups to be too short for non-eyeglass wearers.

But yea, that fish bowl... no thanks.
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Old Saturday 12th January 2019, 19:13   #14
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I think you may have got a bad example.

Mine are perfect, and brilliant value. I got mine for 300 second hand, unused. I come from a photographic background and am extremely fussy.

I would say, i bought my wife a pair of Hawke Endurance 8x32 and could not get to grips with them at all ( I wear spectacles). I did get a chance to try out a pair of your Sapphires in a shop and they fitted perfectly and am well pleased.
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Old Saturday 12th January 2019, 21:04   #15
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Sat next to what is possibly the finest bino's on the planet my Sapphires perform within a small percentage on an optical level. I don't understand the fish-bowl reference; can anyone elaborate.
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Old Sunday 13th January 2019, 10:16   #16
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...... I don't understand the fish-bowl reference; can anyone elaborate.
I'm unclear myself, but I'll offer a bit of speculation.

At various time on the forum I've seen "fish-bowl" or similar terms to describe too much pincushion, too little pincushion, and quite frequently, high levels of field curvature. I wouldn't have said the Sapphire ED or indeed the Frontier ED were guilty of any on those.
However, it might be something else again? I first tried the Frontier ED many years ago outside a small shop in Cambridge with a view across square to a large, stone clad Victorian building. As I scanned across the face of the building the stone blocks appeard to ripple backwards and forwards in a really quite a disturbing way. A radiating magnification distortion. I also tried an early ELSV 8x32 at the same time. Perhaps less dramatic, but the bouncing effect was still there all the same. I didn't experience a comparable illusion with the Kowa Genesis and a couple of others I tried. I subjected the Sappire ED to the same test when it was launched. I've subsequently tried the models many times in more natural surroundings and, on the whole, I've not found it readily ignored and normally not a problem for me.

Perhaps the comments reflect the subject being viewed, or maybe a difference in user sensitivity to magnification distortion?

David
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Old Sunday 13th January 2019, 12:01   #17
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Thanks David. I think I understand what you are describing having seen similar to a very small degree but never in any of the very many pairs of Frontiers or Sapphires I have owned. Using the Swaro's as a yardstick my Sapphires are not producing anything other than a very bright, clear and distinct image. I can't say I do much scanning across a view, 99% of my viewing at a stationary point due to the setup of my feeders. Going to experiment a bit.
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Old Monday 14th January 2019, 03:42   #18
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Originally Posted by irishweather View Post
I think you may have got a bad example.

Mine are perfect, and brilliant value. I got mine for 300 second hand, unused. I come from a photographic background and am extremely fussy.

I would say, i bought my wife a pair of Hawke Endurance 8x32 and could not get to grips with them at all ( I wear spectacles). I did get a chance to try out a pair of your Sapphires in a shop and they fitted perfectly and am well pleased.
Perhaps, but I could barely stand to look through them. I just don't get it. My $175 Sightrons are distortion-free and offer such a crisp, relaxed view. Those Sapphires were nearly impossible to focus because of the amount of distortion and my eyes could never get settled.
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