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Kite APC 16x42 … gimmick, replacement or addition? (my report) (1 Viewer)

FVG

Active member
Netherlands
Ever since I discovered the Kite APC series on the internet last summer, I couldn't let it go. For my birding trips to the windy coastal areas, I saw a useful role for stabilized binoculars and preferably ones with a slightly longer range. I bought one and took it to the coast for a midweek where it was quite windy (up to wind force 6 from the sea), gray and cloudy, making it an ideal test. Here is my report on my very first steps with the APC 16x42 and its position in relation to my other optics gear. I deliberately chose the 16x because I will mainly use it in wide and open areas. Note: if I had bought them as everyday basic binoculars, I would have taken the 12x42 or even better the smaller 10x30.

Handling
The APC feels solid and fits comfortably in the hand due to its rounded sides and sturdy rubber skin. The weight including 4 batteries is comparable to an average 8x42 binoculars and that is great. I had my doubts about the semi-recessed focus knob beforehand, but it is a fast focusser so very little turning is required and it has a pleasant resistance. The adjustment of the interpupillary distance between the two eyepieces and also the diopter is carried out with a correspondingly strong resistance. The resistance of the round knob for switching on the stabilization is smooth but not too loose and it only needs to be turned a little. It's good that they opted for a rotary knob and not a push button. It is almost impossible to switch it on accidentally, even during storage. The well-fitting eyepiece covers are the kind you see on most binoculars. The wide oval objective hood is a separate item that you will leave at home after a few uses. Because the front glass is recessed enough, I store the APC without the lens hood in the accompanying bag, which in my opinion could have been slightly larger so that the neck strap of the APC fits more easily. Automatically switching off and on from horizontal to vertical is a very useful functionality. In short, the APC is very well put together in terms of design, functionality and operation.

Optical
Due to the small exit pupil of the 16x42, adjusting the eyecups and ocular distance between both eyes requires extra attention. And the eye placement is also always critical and you always have to search a bit. The 12x may be a bit easier in that regard. The sharpness is more than sufficient, but no alpha quality. Personally, I have not really experienced the narrow FOV as a major disadvantage and you certainly do not have the feeling that you are looking through a narrow pipe. The brightness of the 16x42 is good enough, but I sometimes found the contrast a bit substandard. Sometimes some CA is visible but never bothersome and with a very subtle eye shift it disappears immediately. And then... that amazing stabilization... it ensures that all other optical properties do not have to be 100%. Stabilization really gives binoculars added value, I will come back to that later.

Position relative to my other optics
First of all, let me say that both my Zeiss SFL 8x30 and both my Nikon telescopes are better and more attractive in terms of Image Quality than the APC, which is of course not surprising because they are all top optics.
The Zeiss is and will remain my basic everyday binoculars. Due to weight and size, I downsized from the 8x42 to the 8x30/32 size years ago and I have never regretted it.
The large Nikon ED82 telescope with its 30 wide eyepiece has a much greater range than the APC and a beautiful and clear wide image, but in a strong wind at the sea, despite the sturdy carbon tripod, you will still suffer from vibrations. The small Nikon ED50, which I use as a wandering telescope, may have some competition from the APC, but in addition to a better overall IQ, it also has the razor-sharp 13-40 MCII zoom eyepiece with a greater range than the APC. So I think the APC has its own additional position and will mainly be used in very windy conditions in open areas or to quickly scan an area before setting up my large telescope.

Future
You may wonder what can still be improved in the appearance of the well-known brands and what the limited added value is of yet another new model, especially in the top class.
When I exchanged the APC for the Zeiss after half an hour of watching seabirds, I immediately noticed the clear, sharp, high-contrast image of the Zeiss, but I really missed the stabilization. Then you notice how much you shake and move with conventional binoculars, even at 8x. I have noticed that this stabilization makes a contribution to the overall viewing comfort that should not be underestimated. I think that stabilization in a handy binocular could be an attractive added value for many people, even at the usual 8x magnifications. Kite has understood it well with its APC 30 and 42 series ... chapeau, chapeau!
So Swarovski, Zeiss, Leica, Nikon, Kowa and the rest...bring it on!
 
FVG,
I enjoyed the write up, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have a Sig Zulu HDX 16x42 on the way. From what I understand, comparable to the kite. My purposes for it are similar to yours. Scanning bodies of water and open farmland before deciding to get out my scope which takes more time and some farmland locations have no pull offs, so scope isn't even an option. I tried 12x non-stabilized binocular and found it useful but I'm curious to see if 16x stabilized will work better for the purpose even with the decrease in optical quality. My goal is simply to find and identify more species, sometimes only having a minute or 2 from the road in my car. Hoping the 16x42 stabilized platform will be a big jump up from 12x non stabilized.
 
I think the Zig Zulu is closely related to the Kite APC. I read somewhere that it is all produced at Kamakura. Kite has given it a slightly different look, but the technology and optics are probably identical.
I can guarantee that a stabilized 16x will show much more detail and therefore be more useful for your specific purpose than a conventional 12x.
(in addition to the advantage of stabilization, the optics are also in good condition)
I used my Kite together with my ED82 telescope for seabird migration last Sunday. Due to the strong wind, I had set the telescope on my tripod as low as possible, but I still often suffered from fine vibrations, which was very annoying. With the Kite I had a wonderfully calm and usable image. I was there all afternoon and I think about 90% of the viewing time I used the Kite.
Saturday I visited a wetland area inland where I normally use the Zeiss and the ED82. Now I could do it with the Kite and the ED82 was only out of the car for a very short time. I only prefer to hang the Zeiss around my neck for longer walks.
I now think that the Kite APC will become a bigger competitor to my other optics than I initially thought.
 
I think the Zig Zulu is closely related to the Kite APC. I read somewhere that it is all produced at Kamakura. Kite has given it a slightly different look, but the technology and optics are probably identical.
I can guarantee that a stabilized 16x will show much more detail and therefore be more useful for your specific purpose than a conventional 12x.
(in addition to the advantage of stabilization, the optics are also in good condition)
I used my Kite together with my ED82 telescope for seabird migration last Sunday. Due to the strong wind, I had set the telescope on my tripod as low as possible, but I still often suffered from fine vibrations, which was very annoying. With the Kite I had a wonderfully calm and usable image. I was there all afternoon and I think about 90% of the viewing time I used the Kite.
Saturday I visited a wetland area inland where I normally use the Zeiss and the ED82. Now I could do it with the Kite and the ED82 was only out of the car for a very short time. I only prefer to hang the Zeiss around my neck for longer walks.
I now think that the Kite APC will become a bigger competitor to my other optics than I initially thought.
Sound like they are working out well for you. I have read the same thing about the Kite and Sig.
 
Zulu 6 HDX has HD glass in it. I am wondering whether it will make it optically superior to Kite APC. Also they introduced Target mode for their IS. It may potentially be a game changer for this segment of bins.
 
Interesting read, thanks for posting!

I'm really curious about the differences in performance between the Kite, Sig Sauer Zulu and the other relatives of this 16x42 IS.

A quick glance at the outside of the binos...

16x42IS.jpeg

Reveals that brands suche as Bresser or Alpen not only sell pretty much the same model, but they even use the same picture. I wonder if it's simply a render on their marketing material. You can see how the picture is the same and only the colour layer has been changed, along with the logo. If you go to the extent of using the same pictures, I guess you simply sell the same binocular.

Sig and Kite are different, specially the latter; the Kite is the only one that has a noticeable difference (the battery compartments on both sides and the IS lever). The Sig follows on the design cues of Bresser/Alpen, but at least they have ordered a slightly different design (the rubber armour and focus wheel are different), I wonder if one can asume that the innards are also different.

Kite sells mainly in Europe and Sig targets mainly US customers... I wonder how different their proposals are.
 
Major differences in performance between Kite APC 16x42 and Sig Sauer Zulu 6 HDX 16x42

on paper:
a) ED and HT glass elements: Kite doesn't have ED glass vs. Zulu has ED glass
b) IS correction angle: Kite has 2° vs. Zulu has 3° plus new "Target mode"
c) Weight with batteries (AA alkaline 23g or 0.8 oz, Kite needs two, Zulu needs one): Kite 781g or 27.1oz vs. Zulu 621g or 21.9 oz
d) Durability: Kite has optional silicon jacket (retails 60USD plus adds extra weight) vs. Zulu comes with rubberized body and abrasion-resistant lens coatings
e) Kite has strange IS auto-off function when aimed downwards which significantly limits its use during hikes in the mountains, glassing from the roof of building, etc.
f) Warranty: Kite has 2 years warranty on electronic components vs. Zulu has 5 years warranty on electronic components

in real life:
I am planning to bring my Zulu 6 HDX to our local bino store next week and compare it to Kite APC that they sell.
I will keep you posted.
 
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Major differences in performance between Kite APC 16x42 and Sig Sauer Zulu 6 HDX 16x42

on paper:
a) ED and HT glass elements: Kite doesn't have ED glass vs. Zulu has ED glass
b) IS correction angle: Kite has 2° vs. Zulu has 3° plus new "Target mode"
c) Weight with batteries (AA alkaline 23g or 0.8 oz, Kite needs two, Zulu needs one): Kite 781g or 27.1oz vs. Zulu 621g or 21.9 oz
d) Durability: Kite has optional silicon jacket (retails 60USD plus adds extra weight) vs. Zulu comes with rubberized body and abrasion-resistant lens coatings
e) Kite has strange IS auto-off function when aimed downwards which significantly limits its use during hikes in the mountains, glassing from the roof of building, etc.
f) Warranty: Kite has 2 years warranty on electronic components vs. Zulu has 5 years warranty on electronic components

in real life:
I am planning to bring my Zulu 6 HDX to our local bino store next week and compare it to Kite APC that they sell.
I will keep you posted.
Thanks for mentioning the differences:
A, b, c and f are indeed in favor of the Sig, although the question is how important those advantages are.
Of course the Kite can also be used without spare batteries (lighter) and has a much longer action time with 2 active batteries.
Moreover, I think the position of the batteries on the Kite is a more practical and nicer solution and you always have the spare batteries with you.
d) the Kite also has a sturdy rubber housing. I also don't see the point of the separately available silicone jacket.
e) I think that very few users experience any disadvantages from the Kite auto-off system. For most, like me, it is actually a very useful function.
In short, both brands have their pros and cons.
Can someone explain to me what “target mode” is on the Sig?
 
"Target mode" is new Image Stabilization mode that is probably developed in-house by SIG ElectroOptics team.
It made its debute in Zulu 6 HDX model. It improves stability up to 50% compared to regular IS mode.
It performs excellent in situations when there is no need to scan terrain, and when you finally locked your eyes on a target that you want to observe. It gives real "bins on tripode" feel. It may reduce eye fatigue during prolonged glassing.
It also extremely effective when glassing from moving platforms (e.g., from moving car, or from floating boat, or when glassing while walking at the same time). It can be activated only when Image Stabilization "Scan mode" is ON.
I may be wrong, but it possibly speeds up image correction mechanisms, making them more nimble,
and utilizing full vertical 3° image correction by locking reference horizontal angle without doing constant micro-adjustments to it.
Here is the video for you of Zulu 6 HDX "Target mode" in action:
I was holding binos about feet and a half from the floor, I pointed outer lens to my face, I turned on IS "Target mode", and I started shaking binos like crazy. Results speak for themselves.
 

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"Doelmodus" is een nieuwe beeldstabilisatiemodus die waarschijnlijk intern is ontwikkeld door het SIG ElectroOptics-team.
Het maakte zijn debuut in het Zulu 6 HDX-model. Het verbetert de stabiliteit tot 50% vergeleken met de reguliere IS-modus.
Het presteert uitstekend in situaties waarin het niet nodig is om terrein te scannen en wanneer u eindelijk uw ogen op een doel hebt gericht dat u wilt observeren. Het geeft een echt "bakken op statief" gevoel. Het kan oogvermoeidheid tijdens langdurig glasgebruik verminderen.
Het is ook uiterst effectief bij het beglazen vanaf bewegende platforms (bijvoorbeeld vanaf een rijdende auto of vanaf een drijvende boot, of bij het beglazen terwijl u tegelijkertijd loopt). Deze kan alleen worden geactiveerd als de beeldstabilisatie "Scanmodus" AAN is.
Ik kan het mis hebben, maar het versnelt mogelijk de beeldcorrectiemechanismen, waardoor ze wendbaarder worden.
en gebruik te maken van volledige verticale beeldcorrectie van 3 ° door de horizontale referentiehoek te vergrendelen zonder er voortdurend micro-aanpassingen aan uit te voeren.
Hier is de video voor jou van Zulu 6 HDX "Target-modus" in actie:
Ik hield een verrekijker ongeveer anderhalve meter van de vloer, ik richtte de buitenste lens op mijn gezicht, ik zette IS "Target-modus" aan en ik begon de verrekijker als een gek te schudden. Resultaten spreken voor zich.
Wow… that looks impressive. Thank you for your explanation and video. It's a pity that the Sig is not for sale here, but I am also very satisfied with my Kite and hope that the development of IS continues, both at Kite itself but especially at the (top) brands that are not yet active with image stabilization. Once you get used to it, it is difficult to look through normal binoculars, even if they have half the magnification.
 
"Target mode" is new Image Stabilization mode that is probably developed in-house by SIG ElectroOptics team.
Got any evidence supporting that statement? I personally doubt SIG has the capacity to design and develop image stabilization systems. Plus it doesn't make sense, all the technology is already there to be used. I rather think they asked a reputable OEM manufacturer (probably the same that makes the Kites) if they could make a binocular with two stabilization modes.

BTW, different stabilization modes have been commonplace in telephoto lenses for years.
It's a pity that the Sig is not for sale here, but I am also very satisfied with my Kite and hope that the development of IS continues, both at Kite itself but especially at the (top) brands that are not yet active with image stabilization.
Zeiss is the only top brand that has got a stabilized binocular. But admittedly the 20x60S is a special case.

OK, let's ruffle some feathers: I personally think the top brands are still trying to hold on to their old technologies as long as people are prepared to buy their products. Why shouldn't they if people are prepared to pay exorbitant amounts of money for what is - if you're being realistic - outdated technology? Who would nowadays buy a telephoto lens without stabilization?
Once you get used to it, it is difficult to look through normal binoculars, even if they have half the magnification.
"Normal" binoculars (Kimmo likes to call them "muggle binoculars") are the dinosaurs of the optics world.

Hermann
 
Got any evidence supporting that statement? I personally doubt SIG has the capacity to design and develop image stabilization systems. Plus it doesn't make sense, all the technology is already there to be used. I rather think they asked a reputable OEM manufacturer (probably the same that makes the Kites) if they could make a binocular with two stabilization modes.

BTW, different stabilization modes have been commonplace in telephoto lenses for years.

Zeiss is the only top brand that has got a stabilized binocular. But admittedly the 20x60S is a special case.

OK, let's ruffle some feathers: I personally think the top brands are still trying to hold on to their old technologies as long as people are prepared to buy their products. Why shouldn't they if people are prepared to pay exorbitant amounts of money for what is - if you're being realistic - outdated technology? Who would nowadays buy a telephoto lens without stabilization?

"Normal" binoculars (Kimmo likes to call them "muggle binoculars") are the dinosaurs of the optics world.

Hermann
No matter who developed new "Target mode" for Zulu 6 HDX - it is clearly a game changer.
Currently there are no waterproof 15x-20x binoculars on the market that can provide similar level of stabilization in a package that weights less then 625g including batteries.
Canon delivers 0.7-1.0° image correction angles, Kite has 2°, Zulu 6 HDX has 3°.
Only Fuji can do better with 6°, but it has weight of over 1400g with batteries,
which is usually not acceptable for birding, hunting, hiking or surveillance.
Zulu's IS is also almost completely silent.

Here is a video of "Target mode" in action by another blogger (2:30min till end):

Talking about Top brands:
Zeiss 20x60S is 3 times heavier then Zulu 20x42, it has smaller FOV and terrible 11mm Eye Relief. Let's try to do birding with it :)

Yes, Zulu 6 HDX does not have top glass,
but it is 16x, it has almost no visible CAs,
and it can be easily packed in a jacket pocket.

I attached photos of my Zulu 6 16x HDX next to my cheap Samsung cell phone and next to Kite APC.

Zulu 6 HDX is also sharp enough around the edges.
I do not have a good smartphone adaptor for binoculars or latest cell phone model,
plus I had a waterproof plastic case over my cell phone which lowered image quality.
I also forgot to turn on "Target Mode".
This video was done handheld last week in Bahamas using regular "Scan mode".
I will try to do some new videos coming weekend where I will compare both Target and Scan modes for you.
 

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I have the Kite 16x42 APC and just got the Sig Sauer Zulu6 HDX 20x42. The Sig is significantly more stable than the Kite, even in regular scan mode, despite the higher magnification. It's also more compact.
 

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I'm not sure I can add that much to the other reviews on BF. Is there anything specific you had in mind?

I just used a crappy £5 digiscoping adapter to try and show the stabilization effect. Disregard the poor quality of the framing, vignetting and the iPhone 12 camera, and keep in mind our eyes have a built-in stabilization effect so the videos look worse than when you look directly in them. I was focusing on the light yellow house.


The Kite is OK, it does have a tendency to "float" more than I'd like. It's much lighter than my Canon 10x42L IS and the high magnification is very useful.

The Sig-Sauer is simply amazing, and will completely replace my Kite. I don't like the battery bulge at the bottom of the main barrel (not shown in any of the product photos, go figure) as it gets in the way. The supplied accessories are crap, so I am using an OP/Tech USA bino strap with quick-release connectors, and until I find a properly fitting pouch, the Swazi binocular beret.
 
I didn’t use the “reply” button, so you may not have been notified of the post above.
Fvg, thank you.

Seems the stabilizer works adequately on both for the intended purpose. My interest is more about the optics. Edge sharpness , CA control , brightness, and things of that nature. How does the optics compare to the Canon 10x42IS L ? The Canon L was the only IS I’ve tried that I liked and kept.

Paul
 
It's very hard to tell given the huge difference in magnification and brightness. The Canon feels sharper but that could just be because of higher brightness and contrast on the indoor scene I was using (fine print on a box about 8m away). I can't see any CA on the Sig whereas it was very evident on the Kite, supposedly the Sig HDX have ED glass. Edge sharpness on the Sig is good, but there is some curvature of field.

Both have the same nominal apparent FOV of 60º (calculated using the tangent method, not simply multiplying FOV by magnification), but the Canon feels a smidgen bigger. Either is remarkable, considering the Leica Ultravid BL 8x42 have a 57º measured AFOV.

On paper the Canon's 16mm eye relief should be better than the Sig's 15mm, but in real life the Sig is easier to use with eyeglasses, possibly due to the eyecup design.
 
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I still often suffered from fine vibrations, which was very annoying. With the Kite I had a wonderfully calm and usable image. I was there all afternoon and I think about 90% of the viewing time I used the Kite.
Now why can’t we have IS in large objective field scopes? Surely if Zeiss, Swarovski, Kowa (or any other good scope company) made a IS scope, it would be perfect for sea watching!
 
Now why can’t we have IS in large objective field scopes? Surely if Zeiss, Swarovski, Kowa (or any other good scope company) made a IS scope, it would be perfect for sea watching!
Nikon had a very good IS telescope, the Nikon EDG 85 VR. It is now no longer in the range. I suspect that too few were sold. Coincidentally, one is currently offered on a well-known Dutch website for second-hand products, Marktplaats.nl. I hesitated to bid on it, but apart from the fact that I think the asking price of 4250.00 euros is a bit to high, you also run the risk that if problems ever arise with the VR mechanism, Nikon will not be able to solve it because they do not have any more parts. I hope that one of the other brands will come to the market with an IS telescope or maybe even Kite. Swarovski shows that price does not have to be an obstacle. I am often amazed at how many people are now walking around with a very expensive BTX-115 or -95 combination.
 

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