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Kowa BD II HD 10x42 & Vortex Viper 10x42 (1 Viewer)

aix123

Well-known member
I usually use 8x binoculars for birding, but decided to also buy some 10x. I'm an amateur, btw, with relatively little experience compared with many here.

I bought a Viper 10x42 a few weeks ago, which I can still return. I really like it, but was slightly surprised by the pretty firm focus wheel. I asked Vortex about this and whether it can be loosened slightly. They said yes, but the impression I got was that it wouldn't make too much of a difference. Baffled why they've made it so firm. I have a ten-year-old Vortex Crossfire II and the wheel is fairly firm, but nowhere near as firm as the Viper.

So I thought I'd try the Kowa BD II 10x42. I've seen it mentioned quite a lot here (the 8x models too), so thought I'd give it a go. The upshot is that I've decided to stick with the Viper and I think the focus wheel is something I'll get used to. It's bothering me less and less - and it's perhaps a minor negative alongside the superb optical image. Really clear, sharp, fairly flat.

I don't get on with the Kowa, for the following reasons. The image is not as neutral, it's warmer-looking. And at long distances (about 300 yards) I struggle to get things in focus (not because of shake). Or maybe things are in focus, but the image quality is not as good as the Viper. Also, while the eye relief is almost the same as the Viper, the eye-cups on the Kowa are slightly less deep and I occasionally see black areas. The Viper is also of a higher build quality, I think - reflected in the slightly higher price.

The field of view is a little wider on the Kowa, but not much, and I enjoy using the Viper far, far more. (I'm trying them at home. I live overlooking fields, hedgerows and hills.)

But perhaps most disappointingly with the Kowa, for me, considering my expectations and the reason for trying it, is the focus wheel. It's barely any looser than the Viper. It's a nicer wheel in a way because fingers grip more easily to the metal, compared with the Viper. But why Kowa and Viper make the wheels so firm is beyond me. Many don't seem to find the Kowa BD II's wheel too firm, so personal preference plays a part, of course.
 
I usually use 8x binoculars for birding, but decided to also buy some 10x. I'm an amateur, btw, with relatively little experience compared with many here.

I bought a Viper 10x42 a few weeks ago, which I can still return. I really like it, but was slightly surprised by the pretty firm focus wheel. I asked Vortex about this and whether it can be loosened slightly. They said yes, but the impression I got was that it wouldn't make too much of a difference. Baffled why they've made it so firm. I have a ten-year-old Vortex Crossfire II and the wheel is fairly firm, but nowhere near as firm as the Viper.

So I thought I'd try the Kowa BD II 10x42. I've seen it mentioned quite a lot here (the 8x models too), so thought I'd give it a go. The upshot is that I've decided to stick with the Viper and I think the focus wheel is something I'll get used to. It's bothering me less and less - and it's perhaps a minor negative alongside the superb optical image. Really clear, sharp, fairly flat.

I don't get on with the Kowa, for the following reasons. The image is not as neutral, it's warmer-looking. And at long distances (about 300 yards) I struggle to get things in focus (not because of shake). Or maybe things are in focus, but the image quality is not as good as the Viper. Also, while the eye relief is almost the same as the Viper, the eye-cups on the Kowa are slightly less deep and I occasionally see black areas. The Viper is also of a higher build quality, I think - reflected in the slightly higher price.

The field of view is a little wider on the Kowa, but not much, and I enjoy using the Viper far, far more. (I'm trying them at home. I live overlooking fields, hedgerows and hills.)

But perhaps most disappointingly with the Kowa, for me, considering my expectations and the reason for trying it, is the focus wheel. It's barely any looser than the Viper. It's a nicer wheel in a way because fingers grip more easily to the metal, compared with the Viper. But why Kowa and Viper make the wheels so firm is beyond me. Many don't seem to find the Kowa BD II's wheel too firm, so personal preference plays a part, of course.
I’ve used numerous Vortex Vipers, and own two right now. The focusers should not be overly stiff. Send them in to Vortex and let them know the focuser is too stiff. They will either replace them with a better unit or make the needed adjustments. They may even send you a free shipping label.

Good luck

Paul
 
I’ve used numerous Vortex Vipers, and own two right now. The focusers should not be overly stiff. Send them in to Vortex and let them know the focuser is too stiff. They will either replace them with a better unit or make the needed adjustments.
Accurate information and also, proper course of action. I only have two Vipers, both with good focusers, and one of them is your same 10x42.
 
I’ve used numerous Vortex Vipers, and own two right now. The focusers should not be overly stiff. Send them in to Vortex and let them know the focuser is too stiff. They will either replace them with a better unit or make the needed adjustments. They may even send you a free shipping label.

Good luck

Paul
It's hard to judge what is overly stiff. I think some people, such as me, think they're too stiff, while others might just think yep stiffer than some binocular focus wheels, but not an issue. I emailed Vortex several weeks ago and it confirmed they are, by design, quite stiff. It even provided me with what unfortunately turned out to be quite an opaque reason as to why the wheel is supposed to be stiff.

It's bothering me less and less and it's such a great binocular overall.
 
It's hard to judge what is overly stiff. I think some people, such as me, think they're too stiff, while others might just think yep stiffer than some binocular focus wheels, but not an issue. I emailed Vortex several weeks ago and it confirmed they are, by design, quite stiff. It even provided me with what unfortunately turned out to be quite an opaque reason as to why the wheel is supposed to be stiff.

It's bothering me less and less and it's such a great binocular overall.
I’m just trying give you my opinion and relay my experiences that Ive had with many in the Viper line, as well as few other Vortex offerings, and none had an overly stiff focuser. Overly stiff to me is a Swarovski Habicht or a Kowa Genesis. It’s very possible that the rep on the phone might have a different idea than you of what stiff is. I wouldn’t call the focusers light, but certainly not overly stiff in any of the ones I used. But if it’s not bothering you, then there’s nothing to worry about, but if you wanna get them right, my advice, send them in and let them fix it.
 
Interesting -- the Kowa BDII 6.5x32 I own has a very smooth focuser. I think the 6.5x32 is probably also the most interesting model of the BDII-line.
 

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