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Kowa BD II XD 8x32 Opinions? (1 Viewer)

Maives

Member
United States
I have read everything I could find on the Kowa BD II XD 8x32 on Birdforum and unlike the Kowa BD II XD 6.5x32, there appears to be a paucity of reviews on the bigger brother of the 6.5x32. According to the Allbinos.com article, optically the 8x32 seemed to perform better than most of the other sizes except they cryptically refer to image artifacts due to flare or glare. Why is the 8x32 the ugly step sister aside from the reduced FOV?

Is the Hawke Frontier HD-X or ED-X 8x32 superior to the Kowa BD II XD 8x32? Is flare going to be a universal issue with short 32mm binoculars?

 

Maives

Member
United States
Also the Allbinos article discuss the lack of blackening in the pre-production models they reviewed and other members have discussed shiny surfaces and lack of blackening inside the binocular. Has Kowa taken the hint and resolved this in their manufacturing? I emean how hard is that to resolve and with all their experience they didn't know this was going to be a problem?
 

Jessie-66

Germany
Is the Hawke Frontier HD-X or ED-X 8x32 superior to the Kowa BD II XD 8x32? Is flare going to be a universal issue with short 32mm binoculars?
The problem with veiling glare / false light in 8x32 format is rather due to the low price of these series. The 8x32 are more affected by this, as the exit pupil diameter is only 4 mm, the flashes are more likely to occur and more frequent. The cause lies in the exit pupil with so-called secondary pupils because of bad blackening, poor baffles - for instance:
I agree with the "hands on" from allbinos.com. But read also my not so nice evaluations Kowa BDII XD 8x32 vs Hawke Frontier EDX 8x32: https://www.birdforum.net/threads/r...vs-nikon-monarch-hg-8x42.402273/#post-4122184

I would choose a Frontier EDX 8x32 in the intended price range or check a Meopta Meostar 8x32. The Frontier is sharp up to about 80% from radius of FoV, offers very good center sharpness and high contrast, yet natural color representation and is small and light. The little man's Swaro CL with poorer exit pupils and without edge-to-edge sharpness.
From Meopta I know only the Meopro 10x42. Nice part for the price but only briefly tested. The 8x32 will certainly not be worse.

If you want a larger field of view: Opticron Traveller 8x32 or Nikon Monarch 7 8x30 or Maven B3 8x30 or Nikon EII 8x30 (very good wide angle porro, not very water protected, not good with eye glasses). For this binoculars you will find a lot of posts in the forum, I don't know them myself. I think, all the bins are available in USA.

You can also looking for used 800 ... 1000 dollars bins, Nikon Monarch HG, Meopta Meostar, Swaro CL, Kowa Genesis, Zeiss Conquest.

Remember, binoculars must match physiognomy/glasses or you'll have kidney beans - but not to eat: Black shadows or not the whole FOV or or ...
 
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Maives

Member
United States
And is the ED-X a clear winner over the HD-X in the 8x32 format? And just to reiterate there were little to no image defects with the Hawke due to stray light?
 

mpeace

Well-known member
ED-X is noticeably better than HD-X in all the Hawke range. Their use of "HD" would be better termed "standard" as it's just the ED models that have the high grade ED glass. Both are good for the money, but worth paying extra for the EDs.
 

Jessie-66

Germany
And just to reiterate there were little to no image defects with the Hawke due to stray light?
The Kowa's with to me good fitting eyecups shows also extreme veiling glare, false light, flashes under bright but gray overcast sky. (The Hawke's I don't test in this regard because eyecups are not fits to me, a test is meaningless. Both binoculars do not have well-blackened surroundings of the exit pupils. The Hawke's false light traps are more complex and better blackened than those of the Kowa's. View in objectives with flash light.)
Have a look to exit pupils of Hawke Frontier EDX 8x42 (~8x32):
Note: The bright spots do not reach human eye pupils. However, the bright spots bring unnecessary light to the eyepieces, which can be scattered. The photos from allbinos.com should have more angle for light through objectives to the optical axis, for instance picture 4 from me with other bins:
or a photo from Dr. Merlitz (other bins): http://holgermerlitz.de/old_vs_new/images/hg_ep.jpg

My conclusions:
In this price range, it is better to choose an 8x42 to reduce "flashes" of veiling glare. I have therefore chosen the particularly lightweight Nikon MHG 8x42, whose exit puils are not pefekt, but have > 5 mm diameter. I did not choose the Frontier EDX 8x42, because it has only ~ 2/3 sharpness related to field of view radius according to my own tests. (The Hawke Frontier APO 10x42 on the other hand, has about 90% and a impressive large AFOF and not perfect but better (black) surroundings of exit pupils.)
 
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Barbican1987

Active member
Have a look to exit pupils of Hawke Frontier EDX 8x42 (~8x32):
Note: The bright spots do not reach human eye pupils. However, the bright spots bring unnecessary light to the eyepieces, which can be scattered. The photos from allbinos.com should have more angle for light through objectives to the optical axis, for instance picture 4 from me with other bins:
or a photo from Dr. Merlitz (other bins): http://holgermerlitz.de/old_vs_new/images/hg_ep.jpg

My conclusions:
In this price range, it is better to choose an 8x42 to reduce "flashes" of veiling glare. I have therefore chosen the particularly lightweight Nikon MHG 8x42, whose exit puils are not pefekt, but have > 5 mm diameter. I did not choose the Frontier EDX 8x42, because it has only ~ 2/3 sharpness related to field of view radius according to my own tests. (The Hawke Frontier APO 10x42 on the other hand, has about 90% and a impressive large AFOF and not perfect but better (black) surroundings of exit pupils.)
Thank-you Jessie, for taking the time to reply. I am beginning to realise that everyone has different eye sight 'foibles' which affect the view and performance of a particular model of binoculars. It seems an almost impossible task to get a truly objective (rather then subjective) preference!!
 

Barbican1987

Active member
ED-X is noticeably better than HD-X in all the Hawke range. Their use of "HD" would be better termed "standard" as it's just the ED models that have the high grade ED glass. Both are good for the money, but worth paying extra for the EDs.
Yes I been trying to make sense of these prefixes like HD instead of the well known ED term and being cynical I do wonder if it is ploy to confuse buyers regarding the optical qualities of a particular model and or brand.!
 

Jessie-66

Germany
Side note: ED (and HD, VHD, UHD, flat field ...) is not an international, japanese or german standard how DIN/ISO (with definied min. requirements) for bins. ED means some sorts of optical glasses, for bins it's only relative new marketing lyrics for hopefully better series. There are very old porros without "ED" - but with very low CA, very high central and edge sharpness. For objectives and imho also eye pieces one need 2 sorts of optical glasses against optical aberrations.
 
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Barbican1987

Active member
Side note: ED (and HD, VHD, UHD, flat field ...) is not an international, japanese or german standard how DIN/ISO (with definied min. requirements) for bins. ED means some sorts of optical glasses, for bins it's only relative new marketing lyrics for hopefully better series. There are very old porros without "ED" - but with very low CA, very high central and edge sharpness. For objectives and imho also eye pieces one need 2 sorts of optical glasses against optical aberrations.
Yes my older Minolta porro is still quite good. I found a pair of Minolta Classic 7x35W ( says 9.3 deg Fov, not sure I believe that though) in a second hand shop for £20. The other Minolta pocket II 10x25 roof prism is also surprisingly good. My Vortex 7.5x32 I bought for £30 recently is OK but against more modern roof prisms probably doesn't rate. I had a pair of Minox 7x50 marine with compass which I sold recently for £350 as I do not do any sailing which warrants a sophisticated digital compass. I have a bit of cash to spare now and I feel the need to get a better performing pair of binos.
 

Maives

Member
United States
Thank-you Jessie, for taking the time to reply. I am beginning to realise that everyone has different eye sight 'foibles' which affect the view and performance of a particular model of binoculars. It seems an almost impossible task to get a truly objective (rather then subjective) preference!!
Seems to explain the extreme variability in the reviews. The five layers, 1)fundamental design and manufacturing of the optics, 2) fundamental aspects of reviewer's vision, 3) variability of sample to sample, 4) knowledge and expertise of reviewer, and 5) ambient light conditions during review all converge to yield a subjective assessment which then we use to guide our purchasing decision. This makes interpretation difficult and sometimes makes us feel we are going down the rabbit hole.

The Allbinos site shows photos of the BD II XD exit pupils, however they do not indicate what model the photos come from. Can anyone see major flaws in the exit pupils? I still cannot understand why Kowa handicapped the BD II by missing the mark on the blackening of the tube, such a minor and low cost manufacturing consideration. Was this done to hobble the BDII so it would not parasitize Genesis sales?

Thank you Jesse and others for your expertise and commentary...
 
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Jessie-66

Germany
Barbican1987, post 11:
As far as stray light is concerned, let's leave it at that: the Frontier EDX are not perfect, but it's not that bad. I couldn't test stray light (only exit pupils and surroundings) because the little eye cups do not match my eye sockets.
I don't know your porros, but I know some old Soviet and some old Carl Zeiss Jena porros. Modern binoculars are much better in terms of stray light, probably because of the better coating with much higher transmission, lower reflections in the tubes. Don't let my nitpicking drive you crazy, I am a nature observer and technician and @Maives asked ... ;-)
In nature with forests and hills, in daylight with small eye pupil diameter stray light situations are not so often. The crescent glare at the edge of the field of view with "flashes" is more likely to occur in light twilight or bright overcast skies when observing dark forest edges or dark coniferous trees (large eye pupils).
You know your home country, observation area and situations. You are welcome to write about it, I love reading about foreign countries. Jessie
 
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Jessie-66

Germany
The Allbinos site shows photos of the BD II XD exit pupils, however they do not indicate what model the photos come from. Can anyone see major flaws in the exit pupils?
The Kowa BD II XD 8x32 I has ordered and tested has such exit pupils and surroundings. I do not know any other formats of this series. Compare very similar pictures of the Nikon MHG 8x30 and Dr. Merlitz's statements on this:
First exit pupil picture (left, top) significant:
Dr. Merlitz' review with similar but better photographed exit pupil picture and statements to such exit pupils:
With the help of the evaluation of the exit pupils and their surroundings, one can make very good predictions about the crescent-shaped glare at the edge of the field of view ("flashes"), but imho hardly about the veil glare in the opposite sun.

Your further questions require speculations in which I do not like to participate. Hence the short quote of your post. Jessie
 
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Barbican1987

Active member
Seems to explain the extreme variability in the reviews. The five layers, 1)fundamental design and manufacturing of the optics, 2) fundamental aspects of reviewer's vision, 3) variability of sample to sample, 4) knowledge and expertise of reviewer, and 5) ambient light conditions during review all converge to yield a subjective assessment which then we use to guide our purchasing decision. This makes interpretation difficult and sometimes makes us feel we are going down the rabbit hole.

The Allbinos site shows photos of the BD II XD exit pupils, however they do not indicate what model the photos come from. Can anyone see major flaws in the exit pupils? I still cannot understand why Kowa handicapped the BD II by missing the mark on the blackening of the tube, such a minor and low cost manufacturing consideration. Was this done to hobble the BDII so it would not parasitize Genesis sales?

Thank you Jesse and others for your expertise and commentary...
Yes ditto thank you all for spreading some 'light'!!! On the subject. I think I am more enlightened on binos now thank you and a happy New Year
 
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Maives

Member
United States
So I received my Kowa BD II XD and have a few questions. I'm seeing a lot of flare and it's difficult to get any view regardless of angle to the sun that doesn't generate at least some glare. Is that normal, unusual or very unusual for an 8x32? If I view indoors with a bright light off to the side, I am seeing a strange artifact. It is diagonal with a straight dark line and two light lines on either side running from say 10 o'clock to 6 o'clock. Normal? Am I seeing something that is reflected back from my retina? The edges are very soft, almost like the oculars are fogged up. Is that normal? At night looking at a light source a couple miles away, I'm seeing long diagonal spikes. Normal, unusual or very unusual?

The vendor assured me I would be sent a sealed box. Instead I got an opened box, so I don't know if I got someone else's reject most likely. The good news is that the focus wheel works fine, no slop. Tubes seems decently blackened...Seems well made physically.
 

Maives

Member
United States
Also I noticed that the best setting of the ocular eyecups was the first intermediate position. I figured it would be designed so that when not using glasses, you would adjust to the fully out position.
 

Jessie-66

Germany
So I received my Kowa BD II XD and have a few questions. I'm seeing a lot of flare and it's difficult to get any view regardless of angle to the sun that doesn't generate at least some glare. Is that normal, unusual or very unusual for an 8x32? If I view indoors with a bright light off to the side, I am seeing a strange artifact. It is diagonal with a straight dark line and two light lines on either side running from say 10 o'clock to 6 o'clock. Normal? Am I seeing something that is reflected back from my retina? The edges are very soft, almost like the oculars are fogged up. Is that normal? At night looking at a light source a couple miles away, I'm seeing long diagonal spikes. Normal, unusual or very unusual?
 

Maives

Member
United States
After re-reading your reviews, I can put my observations into better perspective. I am assuming that the phantom diagonal lines I observe occur for the same reason "henry link" indicated. The strange thing is that the diagonals are not static, but the orientation changes. Henry's photo is much more extreme than what I am seeing. In the case of my glass, it is very faint. I am unsure if I should send my sample back and try another pair or if it is a fools errand?

1610123069368.png
 

Upland

Well-known member
I’ve owned both and they were ok. I would suggest the Leupold Pro Guide 8x32 in that price range. It is a Japanese made gem with a locking diopter. Much better warranty than the Kowas. Not sure what the Hawke warranty is.
 

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