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Kowa BD 8x42 with XD real compared Zeiss Conquest HD and Nikon Monarch 7

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Old Tuesday 17th March 2015, 19:53   #26
Leviticus Plews
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Thanks much for the explanations of the differences, this is valuable information for me.
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Old Tuesday 17th March 2015, 20:03   #27
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Is the term "CA insensitive" a construct of bird forum members? Or is their academic research to support the condition in humans? I assume anyone can see CA (assuming their visual acuity is sufficient and conditions are conducive to it).
Although we are normally unaware of it, chromatic aberration is part of the normal optics of the eye. It does vary significantly between individuals with the aberrations of the cornea and lens, symmetry of the cornea and pupil diameter. We don't see it because of the neural filtering in the higher visual system removes it from the concious visual experience. So the brains of some individuals need to do more correction than others. I've not been able to track down if and how this ties in with the range of sensitivity to supplementary CA from binoculars etc. but from many, many reports on the forum such differences exist.

The most striking example I've witnessed was went I was trying out various binoculars alongside two first time buyers. I tried a 12x50 which was probably faulty and had the worst CA I've ever seen. A leafless bush in the view was just awash with high intensity fringing. The sales person had just been trying to explain ED glass and CA to the novices so I handed the binocular to them to try. The first just went "Wow! What's with the neon light display" the other guy spent the next ten minutes trying to find it, and failed. It convinced me!

Hope that helps.

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Old Tuesday 17th March 2015, 20:55   #28
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The first just went "Wow! What's with the neon light display" the other guy spent the next ten minutes trying to find it, and failed. It convinced me!
It could have been due to a number of other factors: eye positioning, viewing the target off-center, or even just poor eyesight by the one viewer.

Even reviews by birdforum members must be taken with a grain of salt. There is opinion wheat here, but also opinion chaff.

I think to be a good optics reviewer, one must be highly observant, meticulous, have good eyesight, have access to optics which are comparable, and strive to reduce personal biases. Few people meet all those points.
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Old Tuesday 17th March 2015, 21:33   #29
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It could have been due to a number of other factors: eye positioning, viewing the target off-center, or even just poor eyesight by the one viewer.
I've checked out several hundred binoculars and that had the worst CA I've ever seen.

The full story was rather interesting, it turned out that the first guy also noticed differences in effective resolution, field curvature, pincushion distortion, astigmatism, contrast and colour rendition between different models as well, though he expressed it in different terms. Pretty remarkable for a novice I reckon. The other guy couldn't spot any of those differences. It seems a reasonable representation of the range of binocular users perceptive skills.

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Originally Posted by ads View Post
Even reviews by birdforum members must be taken with a grain of salt. There is opinion wheat here, but also opinion chaff.

I think to be a good optics reviewer, one must be highly observant, meticulous, have good eyesight, have access to optics which are comparable, and strive to reduce personal biases. Few people meet all those points.
Totally agree. That first guy probably had the makings of an excellent reviewer. What ever the other guy thought probably wasn't worth reading. Not so different from the forum.

David

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Old Thursday 26th March 2015, 00:59   #30
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CA reared its ugly head today with the Kowa's. I was looking at a white rope clothes line that went diagonal and away from me against a dark background, and the CA was very noticeable.

At the symphony on Sunday, it wasn't an issue.
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Old Wednesday 15th April 2015, 05:34   #31
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Totally agree. That first guy probably had the makings of an excellent reviewer. What ever the other guy thought probably wasn't worth reading. Not so different from the forum.

David
So which one would be the happier user?
Not necessarily the more critical one.
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Old Wednesday 15th April 2015, 16:40   #32
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So which one would be the happier user?
Not necessarily the more critical one.
True, but at the time he was getting pretty annoyed that he couldn't see the characteristics his buddy was describing, specially reading the small print on a sign about 70m away.

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Old Sunday 3rd May 2015, 01:59   #33
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I'm still liking my Kowa BD Prominar 8x42 XD.

The field of view is the same as the Sightron Blue Sky II 8x32 (7.5 degrees), but the sweet spot extends farther to the edge of the field.

Glare control is not as good as the Blue Sky, but it's still good.

I like the ergonomics.

I can notice an ever-so-slight difference in focus as I approach in-focus from far vs. near. There must be a bit of slop in the focus system that affects one barrel differently.

I would like to compare a Celestron Granite ED 8x42 against the Kowa.
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Old Monday 4th May 2015, 19:47   #34
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Originally Posted by ads View Post
I'm still liking my Kowa BD Prominar 8x42 XD.

The field of view is the same as the Sightron Blue Sky II 8x32 (7.5 degrees), but the sweet spot extends farther to the edge of the field.

Glare control is not as good as the Blue Sky, but it's still good.

I like the ergonomics.

I can notice an ever-so-slight difference in focus as I approach in-focus from far vs. near. There must be a bit of slop in the focus system that affects one barrel differently.

I would like to compare a Celestron Granite ED 8x42 against the Kowa.
Is there ring on the right eyepiece for individual focusing have ratchet mechanism or smoothly on your binoculars?
Celestron Granite ED 8x42 worse than Kowa.

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Old Tuesday 5th May 2015, 01:14   #35
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The diopter adjustment works smoothly.

The slop that I mentioned in the focusing from different directions is extremely small.
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Old Tuesday 5th May 2015, 20:17   #36
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The diopter adjustment works smoothly.

The slop that I mentioned in the focusing from different directions is extremely small.
If binocular diopter adjustment is smooth, then the serial number starts with 1300500. When the serial number is from 130000 to 1300499, the diopter adjustment works ratchet. There are no slops in the focusing from different directions in such binoculars. The serial numbers can be small deviations.
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Old Wednesday 6th May 2015, 00:46   #37
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There are no slops in the focusing from different directions in such binoculars.
A geared, mechanical system without tolerances? That would be quite a feat!
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Old Wednesday 13th May 2015, 20:18   #38
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Hi praise indeed, Alex. I'll have to try to see one of these.

Here's something I can't figure. I have attached a photo of the 8x42 to the left of the 10x42. Look at the difference in the eyepieces! And the 10x42 has LESS eye relief than the 8x42. I can't imagine the 10x42 would work with glasses, so why did Kowa do it? Or have they revised it?

Anybody know?
Not only that the eye lenses of 10x42 are smaller, they are more(way too much) recessed than the eye lenses of 8x42 model. Really bad design. The picture in it self is enough to show that you can forget eyeglasses use with it.
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Old Friday 5th June 2015, 19:20   #39
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If binocular diopter adjustment is smooth, then the serial number starts with 1300500. When the serial number is from 130000 to 1300499, the diopter adjustment works ratchet. There are no slops in the focusing from different directions in such binoculars. The serial numbers can be small deviations.
Do you have any more details about the history of diopter changes in the model? They must have had issues that forced a redesign? The serial number of my 8x42 is 13008xx.

Regarding use with glasses, I don't wear glasses, so I don't know.
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Old Sunday 2nd August 2015, 19:21   #40
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My quick comments on the 10x42: no blackouts without glasses, and the only bin that I can use with the eyecups not fully twisted out but no idea if the set is suitable for those wearing glasses. The bin is usable but not a keeper for a pretentious user: CA even in the sweet spot, visible astigmatism, the eyecups are huge and made of hard rubber and hence rather uncomfortable, and the two copies that I tested had a lot of grease inside the barrels.
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Old Sunday 17th November 2019, 09:35   #41
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This is an old thread that I am reviving and I'm also a new birdforum member so this is actually my first post - but it seems like a good place to start. I recently (a week ago) bought a very lightly-used (almost new) Kowa BD XD 8x42 - and my purchase was, in part, influenced by alexbino's stellar and glowing reviews and comments, some years ago (I'm writing this in 2019) about these binoculars.

Everyone has a different story as to what they like or want or need in binocs; mine starts years ago. I've almost always been nearsighted and worn glasses for distance viewing - and nearly 2 decades ago, I got frustrated when going on bird and nature walks, and trying to track birds with my glasses on, before trying (and usually failing) to view the same flying critters through binocs. Taking the glasses off and trying to use binoculars with my naked eye didn't work much better either. Then, somehow, I found out about a pair of binoculars made by Bushnell - designed for eyeglasses wearers. This must have been in the early 90's. Though I didn't realize it at the time, Bushnell had bought Jason optics and was using-incorporating some of their technology in its models - including the so-called GlassesOn binoculars - which had flat 'eyeglass guard' eyepieces designed for viewing through glasses. They were a revelation, for me at least. The ones I bought - and have owned and used since - were on the larger (semi-chunky) side: 10x50's with what I later found was a porro focusing mechanism. But damn they actually worked and for a near-sighted glasses wearer, they made birding way more fun than it had ever been.

But, damn, did I mention....they were rather large.....and heavy?

So much so that they were never the easiest set of binoculars to take along on hikes or walks or trips. Not lightweight (at all), not semi-pocketable, and pretty much not-very-useful for non-eyeglasses wearers. But my old (armored, heavy as a tank, made in Japan) Bushnells always worked and were cool. And....did I mention....they always were (and still are) on the clunky and heavy side?

Fast forward twenty odd years. A few weeks ago, I was visiting an old friend and an outrageously hardcore and oh-so-damned-wonderfully-knowledgeable-about-all-things-bird birder - on the Oregon coast. For several days we went for walks and he was kind enough to loan me some of his binoculars. Of the modern 8x42 and 8x32 varieties. Some fine glass, too, a Svarovski and a Leitz Trinovid, among others. But it wasn't just the sharpness that was fun - it was the combination of relatively light weight (compared to my GlassesOn 10x50 Bushnells) and semi-portability - which I found myself appreciating - and enjoying - the most. And the concept of eyeglass relief - moveable eyecups which can be adjusted for glasses wearers - was rather a revelation. Maybe there might be hope for me after all?

I decided it was time to upgrade my ancient, venerable and beautifully built (did I mention, they were and are heavy as a tank - and just as solid?) Bushnell's - to something a little lighter. No, actually, to something a lot lighter - and easier to carry around with me, all the time. But I couldn't afford german (or Swedish) glass. (Incidentally, I am a sometimes photographer, who started many years ago, shooting analog film on very old Leicas and, though it may seem like heresy to some, the optics and glass on the modern Pentaxes and Sony's I often shoot with are, sorry to say, truly every bit as fine as the Leitz and Zeiss optics on the old Leica's and Contaxes I once shot with. So....I was and am already a fan of fine, modern, non-German glass.) But I couldn't really afford to splurge and buy the best-of-the best. Nor could I quite make up my mind between the 8x32's and the 8x42's. Both were rather cool though the more compact size of a good 8x32 was really attractive - and conversely the slightly larger (to me at least) images of an 8x42 were....even more pleasing. So--

So I did my homework and read a bunch of binocular posts here on birdforum. And came to the conclusion that the best new portable upgrade for me, to my ancient gigantic Bushnells, would be a Sightron Blue Sky. I ordered one. But, then....still reading other birdnet threads, I ran across alexbino's reviews of the Kowa BD XD 8x42 (not the 2nd generation II version, but the version which I think was released in or around 2014). Which one or two other quite knowledge birders here raved about. But the part which I think appealed to me most is or was the combination of stellar optical quality...with a relatively small size, and weight. Kowa's are pricier than Sightrons, as everyone knows. But I stumbled across what seemed like a good-ish deal on a very lightly used pair....so I bought them.

Both binoculars arrived in the mail on the same day. I tried them both out. And, the Sightrons were rather nice. Very nice, actually. But....(drumroll) for me at least, the Kowa's were (and are) in not only a different league but possibly a different universe. They are bar none the nicest binoculars I think I have ever (to date) used or handled. (Don't forget, I'm a binoc newb and an eccentric to boot, so take this with a grain of salt.) To my ignorant way of seeing the world and handling them, they felt very very close to my hardcore birder friend's Svarovski's. But the best part is or was...they were barely bigger (and not that much heavier) than the Sightrons. So - to make a long story short - the Sightrons went back, unused (to the nice and reputable Optics company I purchased them from) - and the Kowa's have stayed.

I still like my heavy-as-a-tank ancient Bushnells, I'll confess. In a post-Apocalyptic Zombie attack, they are solid enough to be used as a weapon I think. But the Kowa's are....my new 'daily drivers' - they are clear and brilliant and so 'fun' to use that...they have made me start looking at things (not just of the flying variety) and birding again...with a joyful vengeance (maybe not the right word) I haven't felt for ages.

That's my initial two cents on them and I admittedly am one of the more technically ignorant users ever. But they are fine, fine optical instruments in my admittedly prejudiced opinion - and if alexbino is anywhere around, he gets my thanks: you were right about them, Alex. Muchas gracias and merci beacoup. They are great bins.

P.S. Pics (of both the Kowas and my ancient Bushnells) to follow...

Last edited by MiguelATF : Sunday 17th November 2019 at 21:31.
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Old Sunday 17th November 2019, 13:30   #42
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Miguel,

Thanks for the post, makes more optic fans aware that the Kowa prior to the New BD II are still a good glass. There will always be those who will say that it has too much of this, not enough of that (experts only in their own minds), if they are good for your eyes that is what counts.

Andy W.
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Old Sunday 17th November 2019, 18:56   #43
42za
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Miguel and Dries (posts 41 and 42),

I also have the older Kowa 8 x 42 BDXD Prominar and agree that it is a very fine binocular.



Cheers.
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