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Minox 7.5x44 RAPID reviewed (1 Viewer)

Canip

Well-known member
MINOX 7.5x44 RAPID REVIEWED

Part 1: “Single ocular focusing truly luxurious” – really
?

Can the laws of physics be circumvented? The dream of doing it has been around forever, but so far nobody has been successful in fooling the laws of optics.

Of course, companies such as Steiner have been telling us for a long time that they invented a mechanism which allows you to avoid refocusing your binoculars when observing objects at different distances. You just focus once, and the binoculars will always show a sharp image. Steiner calls it "Sports Auto Focus" and it has never really worked (don't misunderstand me: I am NOT a hater of Steiner, and I love some of their good binoculars, such as the Commander, Nighthunter 2016 or Ranger Xtreme).

Of course, if you are young and use optics with low magnification, you will have to refocus much less than if you are older and/or observe at high mags. But you cannot just increase the depth of field of an optical device ad libitum, it follows strict physical rules. This has been discussed countless times, and all good books on optics are unanimous on the subject (see e.g. Bill Cook's excellent, if sarcastic comment on "Auto-Focus", in: Binoculars: Fallacy and Facts, Lexington KY 2017, p. 12 ss).

Now there is new contender, Minox, who wants you to believe that their binocular only needs focusing once, and after that you will always see sharp, so you are much faster e.g. acquiring a target as a hunter, since after putting the glass in front of your eyes, you don't have to find focus first. That's why that new binocular is not only called "Rapid", it also features individual focusing on each eyepiece, instead of a central focusing wheel. Well, I was not convinced.

But what if I were all wrong? What if Minox DID overcome the barriers of physics laws? After all, they say about the Rapid: "... Single ocular focusing for an especially fast identification of objects... Truly luxurious at low cost: single ocular focusing...The MINOX 7.5x44 RAPID with single ocular focusing is just right for tough hunting situations. Its true strength comes out when objects need to be quickly seen and be in sharp focus at a distance of 20 meters or more. This saves tedious focusing and unnecessary movements for which there is no time at that crucial moment..."

Again, what if Minox has achieved what Steiner's "Auto Focus" didn't, i.e. increasing the depth of field x-fold so that refocusing becomes in fact obsolete?

I had to find out, and so I tried the Minox 7.5x44 Rapid.

A few basic data on the Rapid:

  • Objective diameter: 44 mm
  • Magnification: 7.5 x
  • Exit pupil: 5.9 mm
  • Eye relief (acc. to spec): 18.1 mm
  • Useable eye relief (measured from rim of eyecup): 15.5 mm
  • IPD (spec): 56 – 78 mm
  • RFOV (spec): 7.5 degrees = 132 m
  • Minimum focus distance (measured): 9,5 m (!)
  • Focus type: IF (individual focusing)
  • Range of diopter adjustment (acc. to spec.): -0.4 dpt (!!!, but see below)
  • Prism system: Schmidt-Pechan
  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight (according to spec): 780 g
  • Weight (measured, with eyepiece cover and strap): 868g
  • Binocular body made of: Polycarbonate
  • Made in: ?

The spec that I found most puzzling on Minox' website was the range of dpt adjustment, given as "0.4". Until I checked in the manual that came with the binocular and found that in fact it should read "-2/+5"; (perhaps the marketing person writing Minox' website had everything in an Excel sheet, and the formula function gave him 0.4 (2 : 5 = 0.4)???)
;-)

Another puzzling moment came while reading the manual (which I normally don't, but this time, it proved interesting): The manual says that (tentative translation from German original) "... Your MINOX 7.5x44 RAPID is equipped with individual eyepiece focusing. This has the advantage that all observed objects within a range of approx 20 meters to infinity are in sharp focus without the need to adjust your binoculars to near or far (bold typeface added by me).

Since all my many other binoculars with individual focus mechanism still need refocusing when changing the distance of observation, I was in keen anticipation of using the Rapid outside. And I took a few other 6x and 7x binoculars, three with central (CF) and three with individual focus (IF), with me to check whether, once properly focused, they too would give me a sharp image from 20m to infinity without refocusing, as alleged by Minox:

  • Leica Trinovid 7x35 ("Retrovid" (CF)
  • Leica Ultravid 7x42 HD+ (CF)
  • Kowa BD II 6.5x32 (C)
  • Vixen SG 6.5x32 (IF)
  • Steiner Commander 7x50 (IF)
  • Docter 7x40 (IF)

To be sure I would not mess up anything, I followed the instructions given by Minox to the letter: find sharp focus on an object about 50m away, first on the left tube, then on the right one; this ensures your binocular will provide sharp images from 20m to infinity.

So I found a suitable reference object 50m away and confirmed the distance with a laser rangefinder.

Then I started testing with the Trinovid 7x35.
Disappointing: with sharp focus on a 50 m object, targets both at 20m and at infinity appeared blurry.

No better luck with the Ultravid 7x42 HD+.

So I put my hope on the Steiner Commander 7x50 - after all, this binocular features "Smart Auto Focus".
Failure again.

What about the two 6.5x binoculars, Kowa and Vixen? With lower magnification, depth of field should be bigger.

It "almost" worked with the Vixen. At first glance, the 20m target and the one at infinity looked quite sharp and in focus. But when I tried to confirm by turning the focusing rings on each tube, it become quickly clear that each of the three distances - 20m, 50m and infinity - had its own "sharpest" point of focus. The Kowa confirmed that "in reverse"; focusing on infinity made the 50m target look blurry.

And then, the grand moment: putting the Minox on the tripod and testing it the same way as the others.

Do you really want to hear the result?
I am sure you have all guessed by now that the Minox, with a magnification of 7.5x, would inherently have even less depth of field than the other tested binos at 7x or 6.5x. So when things were sharp at 50m, everything at 20m or at infinity appeared slightly blurred.

Don't get me wrong: 40 years ago, in my mid 20s, I might have confirmed that everything was perfectly sharp form 20m to infinity, since the adaptation of my eyes would have done the job that the Minox doesn't perform. But today, with my 67 years, there is no chance: I have to refocus from 20m to 50m, and again from 50m to infinity. There is no way around.

So once this was settled, I could focus (pun intended) on the other qualities of the Minox Rapid, and I have to say that I found it quite an attractive instrument in a number of ways, and not so great in others.


Part 2: Brief review of The Minox 7.5 x 44

Since the Minox Rapid with its individual focusing is not a “mainstream" birding binocular, I keep this second part of my brief review short and just name some of my likes and dislikes. Happy to expand if anyone is interested.

Things I really like about the RAPID
  • Nicely finished, pleasant haptics, good balance
  • Ample eye relief for spectacle wearers
  • Good central sharpness
  • Quite satisfactory off-axis sharpness
  • Bright image
  • Good color fidelity (only very slight yellowish tint)
  • Comfortable panning, with a bit of pincushion distortion and virtually no globe effect
  • Generally good control of stray-light (but see below under “Things I don't like»)

Things I find okay in a bino of this category
  • FOV not huge, but acceptable
  • Acceptable correction of chromatic aberration (quite low at the center, a bit more pronounced at the edge)
  • Spikes (reflections at the roof edge) on bright light sources a bit too pronounced

Things I don't like
  • Pull-up eyecups with no intermediate click-stops doesn’t make it easy to find individual best position
  • Fully out position of eyecups causes glare at the bottom of the image
  • Objective covers too lose, falling off too easily
  • Close focus of 9.5m (!)

fwiw Canip
 

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CharleyBird

Well-known member
England
Interesting Canip, thanks for this write up on a rather unusual design. Is it aimed at the sailing market do you think?
Searching on the internet the minimum focus distance is given as 1.5m or slightly under 5ft.
Costing about £400 and with no stated provenance we can guess it's made in Guangdong/China.

It does look pretty ugly to me, but how does it feel to use Canip?
Maybe compared to the 7x42 UV+?
 

Canip

Well-known member
Tks Charleybird.

In the sales material online and off-line, the Rapid appears to be mainly aimed at the hunting market. Only there, the alleged advantage of rapid target acquisition without having to refocus would really make sense (the advantage doesn‘t exist, as I wrote in my first post, and my compliments go to the marketing team at Minox for the incredible courage to write such nonsense, probably without even blushing). But of course, the Rapid can also be used for sailing, where you obviously don’t have to refocus much.

Close focus in my sample is a staggering 9.5 m (31 feet) !! I had been warned about that because one optics shop who markets the Rapid has been mentioning in red type on their website that the Rapid cannot be used for targets nearby. I think the 1.5m you found on the internet is a typo.

I agree with your guess that this bino is made in China (Minox mentions that they inspect and quality control it in Germany).

Ugly? If you can live with the slightly odd green armour, I find the design acceptable.

The Rapid handles well and gives satisfactory performance, as I tried to summarize in the list at the end of post # 1. The UVHD 7x42 is ahead in basically every relevant discipline, except eye relief.

Canip
 

CharleyBird

Well-known member
England
I thought the hunting market favours 10x42 centre focus, but let's not dwell on that and wish the 'chinox' good luck with sales. I was thinking of it more as a modern cheap 6x42 dialyt Skipper.
The close focus is staggering. Thanks again for your review.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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