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Levenhuk Sherman Pro 8x42 & Vixen Foresta ZR 8x32 WP (1 Viewer)

chris6

Well-known member
I have an old stock Vixen Foresta ZR 8x32 WP which was my favourite, so I got the Sherman Pro 8x42 which looks like it except for the larger barrels and objectives, to see if it might be even better. The two brands do indeed appear very similar but on a closer look the parts are different. On the Sherman 8x42 the eyepiece glass has a greenish hue and is 2.5mm in diameter, while the Foresta 8x32 eyepiece looks purplish and is 2.4mm. I guess the difference in diameter might be to match the size of the objectives, which are greenish on both.

In the summary of the Sherman Pro 8x32 review at Allbinos it is only in respect of light transmission that it was favourably compared the to the Action EX, which is said to be in the same category. Instead I found Foresta 8x32 and Sherman Pro 8x42 to be most remarkable for their sharpness, for maintaing focus nearly to the edge, and for relatively minor pincushion distortions.

They are indeed at the bottom end but my examples have decent focus snap, contrast, and colour, and good brightness for the price. The porro configuration probably helps and also makes for a comfortable and stable grip, along with their 750gms and 850gms, neither feeling at all heavy. Maybe it's the large and fancy '5 element' click up eyepieces, Sherman 4 positions, Foresta 3 positions, which help to make them so easy to line up and use, especially Sherman which needs one click up for me with glasses, while Foresta needs to be right down.

All else being equal, 8x42 usually seems to give the impression of a bigger 'overall picture' than with an 8x32, which is also the case here. Also, although they are both quoted as having f.o.v. 8.1 degrees, the view of Sherman 8x42 seems to be noticeably wider than that of the Foresta 8x32. That is the opposite of what might be expected but may still not quite be 8.1 degrees. The view with Sherman 8x42 is a little brighter than Foresta 8x32, but in addition it does not seem to darken towards the circumference. In performance terms they both stick with it until higher in the general price range. Then sharpness is still every bit as good, although clarity and contrast begin to lag behind, but there is no dramatic difference.

Build and quality control are another matter. The Foresta only has plain objective caps and the linked rain guards were too tight. The Sherman has rain guards and push in drop down objective covers which all fit perfectly. The Foresta was poorly aligned and the Sherman nearly right, but its dioptre adjustment had barely enough '+' to suit, where it should have been near zero for me. The Foresta could have been on the shelf for years and had impossibly stiff focus, with 15 degrees of free play. The Sherman has firm but acceptable focus action but no free play (yet!). Closest focus is as long as 18ft with the Sherman, much less with the Foresta until the porro barrel separation makes it pointless.

I still enjoy using the Foresta 8x32 but think the Sherman Pro 8x42 is significantly better. Highly recommended, if you can get a good one :)
 

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Jessie-66

Germany
Hi porrosaurus :) Chris,
you have made an informative report, thank you very much.
On the Sherman 8x42 the eyepiece glass has a greenish hue and is 2.5mm in diameter, while the Foresta 8x32 eyepiece looks purplish and is 2.4mm. I guess the difference in diameter might be to match the size of the objectives, which are greenish on both.
This I don't understand. You mean 25 and 24 mm diameter of outer eyepiece lenses?

The Foresta was poorly aligned and the Sherman nearly right, but its dioptre adjustment had barely enough '+' to suit, where it should have been near zero for me.
It's a pity. We in Germany can return things bought on the WWW within 14 days according to the "Distance Selling Act". Is this also the case in UK?
For Germans at least, this means a low risk when buying inexpensive (Chinese) porros. Complaints are of course also possible.
I wish you much pleasure with your porros and many interesting observations. Do you have a nice female neighbor? :)
porrosaurus Jessie
 
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chris6

Well-known member
...This I don't understand. You mean 25 and 24 mm diameter of outer eyepiece lenses?

... We in Germany can return things bought on the WWW within 14 days according to the "Distance Selling Act". Is this also the case in UK?...
Right, I did mean 25 and 24mm, thanks. Yes we can return things in the same way but otherwise the Levenhuk Sherman Pro 8x42 is OK so I shall probably keep it as a pretty good example and use it instead of the Vixen Foresta 8x32. It is supposed to carry a lifetime warranty which I could try out if it gets worse and becomes unusable.
Do you have a nice female neighbor? :)
Yes there are several but no porrosauri so if you were ever to be in the area please drop in :)
 

Jessie-66

Germany
Yes there are several but no porrosauri so if you were ever to be in the area please drop in
Ha, ha, I love the (black) British humor, understatements, Tom Sharpe, Monty Python ... and porros, porrosaurs. In the CN forum graze quite a lot of this species, happy and satisfied. In the Birdforum this species is slowly dying out, but some specimens still exist and write good reports. Good, light water protected wide-angle porros with CF are unfortunately rare.
 
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chris6

Well-known member
I had not heard of Tom Sharpe, so looked him up. My teenage days were two decades earlier in the era of 'Lucky Jim' by Kingsley Amis. That could have been in the same vein but was not as indecent as 'Wilt'. When commuting to London, reading it in the train made me laugh out loud when the times were even more po faced than they are now 😁
 

Patudo

Well-known member
Thanks for your observations chris6 - interesting stuff. How would you say these two compare image-wise to say Nikon's Monarch 5/Monarch 7, or other roof binoculars that folks would be familiar with?

When the subject of porros comes up, it tends to be remarked upon that a porro binocular offering an alpha quality view could be produced and sold for less money. I wonder though if the real sweet spot might be to offer something optically and mechanically competitive with the sub-alpha class (Monarch HG, Meopta HD, Conquest HD and so on) for maybe two thirds the price. I thought Opticron's HR WP porro compared well with their (roof) equivalent of the Tract Toric, which to my eyes seemed not too far off that sub-alpha category, except that its field of view (112m vs 126m) definitely felt more confined.
 

chris6

Well-known member
Patudo, I was interested in Opticron HR WP too but was put off by other reports of the relatively narrow field of view which you mentioned. In that way the Levenhuk Sherman Pro scored very well. It may seem absurd to have compared it to Nikon EDG 8x42 but that is the only roof binocular I now have and it did ok. It provides a rather similar, easy, distortion free, view which could be the result of its big, perhaps 'field flattener' type, eyepieces. If anything it was a bit sharper but less clear, less contrasty, and less bright but not by much, and the field of view was a little less.

Cf. Opticron SR.GA 8x32 porro without glasses, with glasses it offered similar sharpness and field of view, with greater ease of viewing and a larger seeming image (maybe some of those factors being down to 8x42 instead of 8x32) and was easier to hold steady. I don't have Meopta 8x32 now but guess it would have compared in the same way as did the SR.GA.

Sherman Pro 8x42's Sharpness, colours, and contrast seemed excellent on their own but would not reach the levels of e.g. Meopta HD 12x50, although there was less focus slop, and the focus action is quite stiff instead of being perfect. The wide, forward, focus drum mitigates this because it can be rolled with a finger from each hand at once. One could probably get used to it and it might loosen up.

Following Jessie-66's remarks I returned the Levenhuk and am waiting for another, but expect that might confirm unreliable QC, which has so far been the main downside. I also tried Sherman Pro 12x50 which was disappointing and at par with Nikon EX and Pentax SP WP of the same sizes and similar prices.
 
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chris6

Well-known member
The problems with Vixen 8x32, which were very stiff focus (near unusable) action and poor alignment, have been fixed thanks to Tony Kay of Optrep near Chichester. Just as before, it is wonderfully sharp with little tail off across the big field, and low distortion. Focus is now medium light and ultra smooth, now without free play, and the Vixen is truly a pleasure to use. The largest Opticron rain covers '45.5 BGA' and drop down objective covers size 'M' for outer diameter 42-44mm (also for Opticron SR.GA 8x32) fit nicely and all the palaver was worthwhile.

The replacement for Levenhuk Sherman Pro 8x42 should be even better and, again don't laugh, I had to order Visionking Military SL 8x42 Hunting/Birding Binoculars at £40 from Amazon because again they look much the same. Come to think about it the cheapo Celestron Landscout 7x35 looks to be from the same mould, and I posted some impressions a few years ago, generally with some of the same conclusions. I got a couple of them but in the end it was focus wheel stiffness and free play which were their downsides, although I am puzzled that I did not go back to report that :rolleyes:
 

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Patudo

Well-known member
The problems with Vixen 8x32, which were very stiff focus (near unusable) action and poor alignment, have been fixed thanks to Tony Kay of Optrep near Chichester. Just as before, it is wonderfully sharp with little tail off across the big field, and low distortion. Focus is now medium light and ultra smooth, now without free play, and the Vixen is truly a pleasure to use. The largest Opticron rain covers '45.5 BGA' and drop down objective covers size 'M' for outer diameter 42-44mm (also for Opticron SR.GA 8x32) fit nicely and all the palaver was worthwhile.

That's great. It's a shame these binoculars that would appear to offer very good optical performance are let down by mechanical issues (see also the thread on the Opticron forum in which one owner of the SR.GA porro executed what looks like an excellent fix for focus slop). The question is - how much would improving them mechanically add to the cost price? Do you think the cost of service + what you paid for the binocular still represents decent value?
 

chris6

Well-known member
Yes the Vixen was 'only' £165 inc. p&p, which to me made it worth the bother. In view of all the nitpicking and trial and error needed to find the right thing, it might be more sensible to spend a small fortune in the first place as often advised. However that's not much fun and I guess that the nonsense might not really be put to bed.

It seems strange that, whatever the price bracket, alignment and especially focus action are pot luck, and the sensible solution would usually be a return to seller. 'Strange' because those constitute most of the main functions of binoculars. At the medium/high end would not seem like rocket science to check before selling, although I suppose at the lower end it might be thought that the customer would not notice or fuss so much about whether their new toy worked properly!

In this case that would have meant back to Japan. The seller could then have either sent a replacement from old stock, possibly also with problems, or tried their supplier, probably only to find that the binocular was obsolete/unobtainable - a balance of 'uncertainties' but that's life :)
I suppose it is this question which limits what might be charged for refurbishment. Last time I thought about it a 'service' was around £70 and 10 years later it seems not to have changed, but it must depend. For collimation on its own that seems fair considering the specialist equipment used and the expertise required to use it. It was worth it because I liked the Vixen, and a bonus that more than one problem could be fixed at the same time.
 
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yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
This is really very interesting. I think the Vixen Foresta 8x32 Porro is a hidden gem (for that sort of money; I got it for the same price). I wrote a small review comparing it to the almighty Nikon EII 8x30 and found the Foresta to be not only sharper, but to have more contrast and also maintain it during difficult conditions such as sunset. Optically is very impressive; I think you have to spend more than 500 € in a roof to get that level of sharpness and that general vivid image, seriously. However, just like Chris, I think that build quality with these is a real gamble.

Regarding the focus wheel. Oddly enough, my unit of 8x32 Foresta had a perfectly soft focus, unlike my 7x50 which is very hard, rock hard, Habicht hard. However, no play in either of those.
So if you find the 8x42 Levenhuk Sherman Pro to be equal or even better than the 8x32 Foresta I think I'm getting one straight away as a loaner/glovebox/leave-in-the-balcony bino. Thanks for the report!
 

chris6

Well-known member
Yarrelli, there's no excuse for buying yet more binoculars :) It was your comments (also some time ago about another size of Foresta?) which led me to look out for it and then to Sherman Pro, which turned out to be a bit brighter (42mm vs. 32mm) and without darkening from the the edges, things unremarkable on their own, and the wider field. The Visionking Military SL 8x42 has similar design and strengths. It's v.cheap but sharp and relatively undistorted, an unusual combination. Not as good all round, as would be expected, and even has a sort of cord instead of a carrying strap.

Maybe it shows that almost anything might seem ok until compared, but agree this particular Far East formula of big (complex?) eyepieces and porro prism probably does work better than that for most cheap roofs. Yosemite clones seemed not so sharp or colourful and the Blue Sky II ones had smaller field, out of focus away from the central area, with distortion. The Foresta 8x32 is nice and short too, heavy though and the 8x42 Sherman 100gms more. What do I know but yes, if it's glare control looking near the sun that seems amazing. Looking into the business end, particularly in one tube, mine has a bright violet blue glowing pinpoint, hope its not plutonium.
 
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chris6

Well-known member
The replacement Sherman Pro 8x42 arrived and turned out to be black instead of green, softer rubber on lens caps, and 'USA' with a code number on the QC slip, so perhaps it was a later edition. Alignment is unusually good, there is no fault with the Dioptre adjustment, and everything else is as above, except that this one has some play in the focus action.

Closest focus is 12ft so I was able to appreciate the character and attitude of a familiar, a tame hedge sparrow pecking around in the gravel at close range. With glasses, the Vixen 8x32 has barely enough eye relief but Sherman Pro 8x42 has more than enough, so it needed some O rings to keep the eye cups just short of the second click.

All up weight is the same as Nikon EDG 8x42 and this time it is hard to discern any differences in their views, with exactly the same immersively wide ("7.7") degrees, the same killer sharpness, much the same contrast, and flat field. Indeed the manual states "...produce(s) a perfect flat image..." and on the box is "Refined 5 element eyepieces". The Sherman might have the slightest yellow cast and not quite such good edges contrast or clarity but none of this was convincing and may have been down to prejudice. Obviously quite an accolade, while there is not much to complain about.
 
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yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Chris, interesting about the new (old?) one being black. Never seen a black Sherman Pro (in any picture, I mean). Really keen to try a Sherman Pro. I'm still deciding whether to go for the big 10x50 or one of the smaller siblings. Thanks for the update, really interesting binoculars.
 

chris6

Well-known member
Yes the new one is black. I have always suffered the usual quandaries over magnification and objective size, while the physical size comes into it too. I like the size of 32mm but get a much easier view with 42mm and have decided that 8x is indeed the happy medium. No surprise there then...but to me, whatever the definition, it never quite seems enough, so maybe that is the nub of it.
 
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