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Hawke Sapphire ED 8/10x42 Review

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Old Friday 28th February 2014, 14:27   #1
JoeRawles
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Hawke Sapphire ED 8/10x42 Review

Hi all,

Having spent a few months getting to grips with these bins, I've finally got round to reviewing them. They recently were awarded 'Best Birding Binocular 2013' by bestbinocularsreviews.com, in my opinion it seems well justified.

http://www.shop.featherswildbirdcare...apphireED.html

I've drawn a few comparisons to Opticron's Countryman models, which are similarly priced.

Please let me know your thoughts on these binos!
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Old Friday 28th February 2014, 15:52   #2
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Joe,

I'm not sure how the forum admin feel about you linking your retail site but I'm sure they will let you know.

Firstly a question about the dual vs. single hinge versions of the Sapphire ED. They originally sold for the same price but there was a price drop on the single hinge a year or so ago. The Richard Carr of Deben told me this was due to a lower specification for the single hinge though optically they had the same configuration. I must admit in the few minutes I had with them I couldn't spot the 'lower specification' and found the single hinge sample I tried had marginally less distortion than the dual hinge and was sharper. Do you know what constitutes the lower specification?

I also understood that the main difference between the Frontier ED and the Sapphires was the coatings, particularly to the prisms, and that was apparent in the colour rendition and contrast. Overall I preferred the single hinge Sapphire ED to the dual hinge and Frontier EDs.

I still think I prefer the Opticron Countryman HD overall. Yes there is a little more CA and much more field curvature than the Hawkes but it's 100g lighter, no magnification distortion, sharper to my eyes and works better for me ergonomically. Both are good choices at the price point but rather different. Very much down to personal preference.

David
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Old Saturday 1st March 2014, 09:18   #3
JoeRawles
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Hi David,

All I gathered from Hawke was that they were the same optically in a different body, but I'm not 100% sure. Certainly for the price difference between the top hinge and open hinge models I couldn't see any difference so the top hinge seemed the obvious choice.

I have admitted openly in the past your optic knowledge is far superior to mine and I like to look at binos through a birders perspective rather than to analyse their coatings etc too heavily. I try to put this across in my reviews so other people will be able to understand them easily and hopefully benefit from them, this is the only time I'll link to my website, never to try to sell anything.

I haven't got round to reviewing the Countryman's on paper yet but we've had them a good time now and although I think the Sapphire's offer slightly more optically, I'd probably still go for the Countryman's if it were my choice! Little things like the locking diopter, firmer eye cups, finer focus wheel and longer guarantee would probably sway my decision - as you said, down to personal preference!

All the best,

Joe
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Old Saturday 1st March 2014, 11:26   #4
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Joe, thanks for the review, and David, for the info. Some months ago looked for an optically v. good wide-angle 8x42, and this Hawke was on the short list - wt., size and appearance were v. attractive. Then read in a Brit. review the double-("open") hinge model rated optically a bit better, and a theoretical comment in Bf. by a respected member that the length of this (single-hinge) model was not enough for the advantage of the ED glass "to assert itself". So, eventually, went for a Zen-Ray ED3, which I think is clones with the Hawke double-hinge. Wonder how the ZR compares with that, or this.
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Old Saturday 1st March 2014, 13:02   #5
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Pomp,

I've not tried either extensively but both looked similar and above average on CA to me. The single hinge appears a few mm shorter than the dual hinge but I didn't check the glass to glass length. Noting the difference in distortion was what prompted me to ask Richard Carr about them. Optically identical, but 'lower spec' for the single hinge was what he told me. Wasn't how it looked to me but I really didn't spend long enough with them to be sure.

David
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Old Saturday 1st March 2014, 15:17   #6
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David, thanks. Seems to be a fortunate case of expectation based on specs. or theory being bettered by the reality! Even the price of the "open-hinge" model is signific. higher (by nearly 20%) than the "top-hinge".

I do remember that review rating the former a bit better optically. Googled just now to find it, failed, but found several other reviews of both models. Surely the difference in length is more than "a few mm"?

Wonder why other brands have not produced their clone or variant of the smaller model. But then overall the world of binocular designing, manufacturing and contracting out for the latter, or both, is still v. baffling to me!
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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 23:03   #7
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Come on Joe where's the Countryman HD review? ;-)
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Old Saturday 8th March 2014, 10:58   #8
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Working on it Rob! Did a comparison a while back of it vs the Frontier ED and ED-X but haven't done the whole thing yet. Actually need to stock up to make sure we have all models first!
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Old Friday 14th March 2014, 10:26   #9
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I agree with David - the single hinge Sapphires that I have tried have been better than the open hinge. What I've noticed is that there's a bit of play in the focussing knob of both models, at least there has been on the models I have tried. I really didn't like the 10x43 Sapphire. However, the 8x42 single hinge was good.
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