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Opticron Traveler 8x32 BGA ED (1 Viewer)

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Well....I just had to give these Opticron Traveler 8x32's a shot after reading earlier positive reviews by Steve, Trobadour, PB Josh......I ditto just about all they have to say. All around, a very nice binocular for the money / price point.

I must say, these are impressive pairs of $400 dollars. Unlike what Harris had in a posting, the fit / finish on this pair in front of me are really great. I feel that Opticron paid extra attention to getting a good ergonomic feel in a small package with nice body armor, so it just feels good in the hands. I get a sense that binocular companies such as GPO, these Opticron Travelers, Frontier ED models, Nikon Monarchs HG's (I haven't held a pair of Monarch 7's), Maven, Zeiss, Leica, Ultravid...are trying to make sure that the armor is pleasing to the touch. Part of birding watching with binoculars stems to the tactile feel you get while actually birding, so beyond the optics. I found this out years ago with the HT's. I see this here with these Travelers.

I don't get a sense that the exterior of these binoculars will wear badly, such as pockets of air in body armor (as I have heard the Monarch 7's suffer from as well as focus wheel issues and armor air pockets in Monarch 5's etc. The build quality just appears solid, which is something I have not seen in some of the $200-500 binoculars. This is a good thing. I know I talked to Pete Gamby and he mentioned 'quality' and yes, I believe him. Quality is what I sense and something I must admit I am surprised at. Usually when I pick up a pair of $200-500 pairs of binoculars I get this cheap tacky feel,..or I see potential focus wheel issues, or the eye-cups don't stay up, the bridge collapses too easily etc. Now, sure...it might occur here but the thing is, that when you pick up this pair of Travelers', that sense of cheapness doesn't come thru. Oh, the pupil adjustment has a range of 51-73mm so for us with closer eyes, this is nice. Eye relief is 19mm...so those where wear glasses shouldn't have to worry here.

The focus wheel is smooth....the more I used it the more it became smoother. In fact the wheel on this beats the Leica Ultravid which is 4-5x the dollar cost. Not as smooth as the Trinovid but close to the Nikon HG and Maven. Being that the wheel is nicely padded and large, it surpasses the Maven which for some reason has an unpadded focus wheel.

Optically....it competes or beats the Meostar in short range of 20-30', and when you get upwards of 80 feet or so, the Meostar is sharper. But, Optically this Traveler is competing against the Mavens, GPO's, Frontiers, Monarch 7's etc... So from what I see, this is equal to or better than the Mavens/ Frontiers and beats the GPO"s ....I haven't tried the Monarch 7's.

Close focus is fine....sitting in my patio chair staring at the bugs in the tomato plants it easily picked up on close focus of the leaves and bugs as well as the Meostar I was comparing it to. So better than the CL, ...better than the Ultravid...but on a par with others. There is a point in my thinking, where too much close focus is not needed (Trinovid) and too far (CL) is undoable. Edge to Edge is not what the Meostar is, but does beat the GPO and Frontier and on a par with the Maven. It doesn't beat the HG and I am not sure what the Monarch is like as I haven't compared it. Contrast wise it is better that the GPO and Frontier and I would say equal to Maven although I am not comparing side by side on this. Color wise there appears to be true to colors. Not yellow like some Kowa's...or greenish like the Meostar. The diopter is a bit stiff and not quite as easy to pinpoint in as some of the other bins I have used in this class such as the Mavens or Frontiers and surely not the Meostar of the HG. It is not nearly as difficult as the CL though (what a mess that binocular has in my thinking with that diopter). I love the Meostar or Ultravid diopter!

For practical birding (in the Field)....the Opticron is very good. Very little turn of the focus wheel, easy to shift back and forth from near to far. No double clutching with two hands/ fingers to get from far to near etc (like the CL)...

For a negative....LIke the Mavens and Frontiers, and GPO's ....there is considerable glare during sunlit days, .... while the higher priced units such as Meostars, the HG, Conquest, CL, Kowa...are not as predominate although still there.
I imagine the coatings are not on a par with the HG's or Meostars, Conquests etc...but again, they are not in that category.

For the money....this 8x32 is a nice, compact pair....weighing in at 15.9 ounces (listed), and about the same size as the Maven. My pair of bins even came with cleaning Calocoat anti-static spray, a sponge applicator / brush tool and a Screwdriver set (not sure what the point of this keyring/ screwdriver set is). The case is just a case with 'velcro' so not sure what the velcro thing is. You also get a 'double' set of eye-piece covers. Individual covers can be placed on for each eye=-piece or you can put the usual eye-cover on and it fits loose enough so it is easily placed on/off quickly. If you want to have full coverage with both the individual and regular eye covers, you can, and when you do, they are really snug so great for travel I suppose. So some extra little amenities to boot.

Overall.....the Traveler 8x32's are a plus....If I had to rank some of the binoculars I have tried they might go in this order: GPO Passions would be last, Frontier ED's, Maven's, Opticron Travelers would be first. (Haven't tested the Monarch 7's). But to move even further, if it wouldn't be for the 'heavy glare'...this price point seems to have, and even with a reduced edge to edge, these bins compete well against higher priced models. Size, weight...quality....(all perfect for Traveling or everyday birding), close focus, ergonomics/armor...focus wheel adjustment, practical birding situations...all Plus with edge to edge being an 'even' within this price point . Minus's are glare, & diopter stiffness, ...One important thing that I forgot to mention is the Company itself. While not as well known in the US (Swaro's own the US), Opticron has impressed me for years with their service. The HR66 spotting scope (while a bit bulky) is very good quality but on occasion I have had to talk with Opticron USA, they have been very prompt, willing to help. On this site Pete Gamby is excellent as a source and you can ask him any question and he is honest and upfront. How many companies have this type of Service?

jim
 
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pete_gamby

Birds? What Birds?!
Thanks for the positive feedback Jim - always happy to help. I'll pass on the comments re glare - the Traveller is probably due a refresh/upgrade once we are past the worst of Covid-19.

By the way, dioptre adjustment should free up with a sharp/fast turn/tweak to the full extent of rotation each way a couple of times - kind of loosening/warming up the grease if that makes sense!

Cheers, Pete
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
My take on the Opticron Traveller ED 8x32

Simple design, extraordinary performer in a sleek package. A winner.

Here are some thoughts and personal experiences with the Traveller ED 8x32. I must say that I agree with mostly everything Jim said, even in some amazing details (that I discovered after re-reading his findings).

A bit of background: I am a big fan of the 8x32 configuration, using it as my main birding tool (although since several months my SE 10x42 has made me appreciate the many charms of this format). The current range of 8x32 (even more so 8x30) usually allows for small size and weight and a great FOV. I’ve tried many, from top dogs to more affordable options and there always seems to be a small nagging, be it the mighty FL, the powerful EL or the very nice UVHD. After using them all, I've discovered the sad true that many around here know: the perfect binocular doesn't exist (and if you've found it, oh, boy how lucky you are :D ).

As a side note I must say that I am extremely familiar with this particular setup, because I’ve had two different units of its cousin, the Monarch 7 8x30 which I’ve used extensively, from treks through snowy mountains to kayaking on the sea (let’s say I’m familiar with its pros and cons). I ended up selling both M7 in search of something “better” (note the quotation marks ;) ). My two M7 behave differently: one suffered more from veiling under difficult circumstances, while the other one handled it better, but had diagonal “flashes” (for lack of a better term) and a look at the exit pupil showed a very bright crescent of light probably being the cause (just guessing here).

So, how does the Traveller ED compares to the M7 (and generally to other 8x32)?
I don’t have any M7 with me, and I’m aware that comparing by memory is useless as it is easy, so I’ll refer to my memories of the M7 as well as using other binoculars as a reference.

Short verdict: really, really, really nice.

The rubber armour on the Traveller takes a very different approach to the one on the Nikon: it is firmer and the look and feel is more function-function-function-and-more-function. I have not used it long or hard enough, but it looks as if it could stand serious abuse better than the soft rubber in the Nikon. However, I think I prefer the tactile properties of the Nikon, even if it’s an almost certain guarantee of poorer aging. Anyway, after using the Traveller for a while, I’ve got used to it and I don’t even think about it anymore (I must say I find the rubber on the M5 and M7 really comfy and nice to hold; slick and plain rubber like the one on Leica Ultravid does not appeal to me particularly, and the one on the Traveller seems to be inspired by the one on Leicas).

The handling is superb, so comfortable, so nimble (just like the M7). This is a perfect binocular to "single-hand". Whether walking with a stick on the other hand, or a camera. Just great. Your pinky and ring finger rest comfortably on the further bit of the tube, while the middle finger rests on the bridge and the index finger effortlessly turns the focus wheel. Ace.
The focus wheel itself is also a major plus. Basically 360º end to end. 15 m to infinity is less than a quarter of turn. A light and fast binocular with a fast focus. No play, no backslash, very “nikony”, if I’m allow to say this. Again, perfect to my taste.
Only minor complain for the eyecups, the rubber is on the firm side there too. Their size is fantastic for me (I find the eyecups on many 8x32 too small: Meostar B1, SW CL 8x30, SW Habicht 8x30, etc.), but I think they'd be more comfortable if the rubber was softer or had a little more give.

And now for the optical bit: very sharp, or should I say “more than sharp enough”. The field is wide and (surprisingly for me) I am able to see the entire FOV. Although I don't use glasses, I usually struggle with wide-angle binoculars (I'm unable to see the field stop in the E2 and binoculars with more than 60º AFOV). The image looks clean, crisp and sharp regardless of the light conditions. Compared to the EL the performance is obviously weaker, but if you didn’t have it by hand, you would be more than satisfied. Compared to the E2, again, no complains. I’ve mentioned I don’t have an M7 anymore, but going by "memory of feelings”, I don’t think I recall this level of “pop” in the M7. Yes I loved how sharp the M7 was, but I’d leave it in: this is at least as sharp as I recall the M7, if not more.
Compared to the KOWA BD XD 8x32 (first gen), a close call, the Opticron could have a small lead under certain circumstances, but this is not a demerit of the Opticron, just goes to show how nice the Kowa is (this is something that amazes me every single time I use it). A bigger surprise was the Vixen Foresta 8x32 porro. I was comparing the Traveller with the E2 and Kowa and I happened to have the Vixen at hand. As I mentioned in a small review some months ago, the Foresta is just a “sharpness machine”, with such a rich contrast, it simply trounces the Opticron in sharpness (and is a little brighter too). Again, no demerit for the Opticron, just a huge praise for the Vixen.

The combination of sharp image and fast focus makes it a joy to “slice” through the landscape. Around here the stone curlews hide in the almond trees orchards, their plumage blends with the ochre tones of the soil. The Traveller makes scanning through the lines of trees a pure joy, they reveal every aspect, every texture, and every hidden creature. Relaxing and fun.

Being very picky, i’d say that sharpness and focus is excellent in the short-mid distance, but it loses accuracy on long distance observations (which is something Jim seemed to notice too). This is a little difficult to explain, but compared to the SE, the latter keeps a higher level of definition (mind you, all my observations are handheld and don’t aim to have any scientific value, just subjective observations). In these situations I find I have to play with the focus a little more than what I'd like to. The same goes for IPD. I don't think I recall having to change IPD with the M7, while I have found that, a bit like with porros, sometimes I get a better performance by slightly altering the IPD.

The big question: what about the glare issue? Is there glare? Yes, there is.
Does it suffer as badly as the M7?
Short: no, it doesn’t.
Long: My two copies of the M7 handled veiling differently, one was more prone to getting that terrible “milky-silky” veil while the other one preserved contrast better, but suffered from sudden diagonal flashes of light, which made it quite annoying. The Traveller behaves like the latter (although with an even better suppression of glare) but no flashes. I’d say that it is a little worse than the EL in this respect. I find it is one of the cons, but not particularly bad for a 8x32. For me it is a thumbs up.

The biggest con: carrying strap.
The Opticron usually retails for a little more than the M7, but surprisingly the accessories seem better in the Nikon, especially the carrying strap. The one on the Opticron is my main complain (see pictures). OK, I understand that it is thin so that it matches the binocular’s aspirations for lightness, but the problem is that, it is SO thin that what you feel on your neck makes you actually think that the Traveller is way heavier than it is, thus ruining its sheer lightness. The strap on the M7 is probably a bit overkill (check the picture for comparison) but it makes carrying the M7 just a breeze, you simply don’t notice it, even after a 5 hour walk. This is a great minus for the Opticron, particularly in a binocular you buy for its weight. The neoprene part of the strap is not bad, I mean the quality, texture and feeling is OK, it is just too thin, it should be at least an inch wider IMHO. Then the woven part of the strap is a real concern: it is thin, dodgy and curls. It looks really cheap, like in a 75 € binocular. This is really a pity.

As for the rest of the accessories, the tethered covers are nice, they don’t pop directly into the lens housing (like the M7, which I know many people hate), but are the usual lid that covers all the tip of the tube. The rain guard is a single piece, a little old school looking but effective either way, and the case is (IMHO) another missed opportunity. One of the reasons for buying such a small and light binocular is to carry it with me in times when birding is not my main goal, and a belt loop is an essential part of the case of a small binocular. Unfortunately, there is none. Compared to the case of the M7 (my all-time favourite), the case of the Traveller is smaller and overall thinner which should be a good thing (although I prefer the fabric and padding on the Nikon case), but the fact that it lacks a loop is a deal-breaker for me, and I just don’t use it: I use the Nikon instead I love the case of the M7 8x30. It is somehow like the magical bag of Sport Billy (*), and I’ve used it to carry anything from small devices like the M7 8x30 or the Traveller, to larger binoculars like the 8x32 EL and, surprisingly, 42 mm binoculars like the 7x42 UVHD or the 10x42 Monarch 7 from Nikon itself (which funnily enough comes with a larger case when in reality it fits perfectly the case of the 8x30, don’t ask me why).

Conclusion.
I simply like the 8x32 Opticron Traveller. A lot. So much so that I find it hard to find any serious flaw.
There are sharper binoculars. Well, yes, obviously, but it is sharp enough for me.
There are more compact binoculars. Yes, but it is compact enough for me.
It has some issues with accessories (mainly strap, but also case) that I can easily replace.
It is, to my memory at least, very similar to the M7 if not a little better, or to put it in other words, equally good but less flawed by veiling and glare. It does everything well and takes very little space. The handling is perfect for my middle-sized hands and it looks like the armour can outlast the M7 in the long term.
Maybe the biggest compliment I can pay to the Traveller is that I’m seriously considering selling my 8x32 EL SV. Yes, every single time I use it (even for stargazing) I have to take my jaw from the ground, and I’m left speechless, in awe… but the sad fact is that I take the Traveller with me more often.
I think this is the perfect format for me (which makes me consider the 8x30 MHG again, although the two times I tried it on a shop I simply couldn't use it, since blackouts were unbearable.).
 

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pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Nice review! I'm also a big fan of the form factor and this group of bins.

Re: the MHG 8x30 and blackouts, I take it you are not a glasses wearer? It seems that everyone with glasses has no problems, but people without glasses frequently find the eye-cups too short on the little MHG?
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Yes, you are correct: I'm not a glass wearer. And, to my surprise (and disappointment) could simply not use the 8x30 MHG the two times I tried it on a shop. Those were short tests, obviously, but enough to see that something was wrong. No matter how I tried, in anything but complete stillness I got terrible blackouts, regardless of everything I tried (changing the grip position, trying to fine-tune IPD, etc.). To add to the jeer, I tried it side by side with both a sibling 8x30, the Kite Lynx, and a sibling MHG, the 8x42, and both of them showed no problem, neither did my M7 (both copies I've had) or this Opticron. I have not found blackouts to be an issue. Yes maybe the 8x30 M7 was a little finnicky at times with eye position, but once you got your IPD right, the view was relaxed and natural, and the Traveller are at least like the M7 in this respect too, if not a tad better. So my conclusion is that it must be the 8x30 MHG.

This was really a pity, since I had been anticipating that binocular for a long time, and I was ready to spend the hefty sum they ask for it here in Spain (near 1000 €, you can find the 8x42 for less money).

I must say that I have a notion that my face features or eyebrows are a bit special, because I'm unable to see the full field on most wide field binoculars. I opened a thread about that, it's here: https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=381496
As you can read there, I cannot see the field stop on a Nikon E2 8x30, but neither can I see it (this is, looking in a relaxed and natural way) on a 8x30 Nikon M7. However (surprisingly), I can see it on the Opticron, which is weird, given the similarities with the M7. Okay, the M7 is 8,3º and the Traveller 8,2º, but I don't think the difference lies there, honestly.
 

Ries

Well-known member
Great reviews, thanks guys! My interest in these bins is growing.

Yarrelli, I read you still have the Kite Lynx as well? How does that compare to the Opticron to your eyes?
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Yarrellii,

Just a fine point but I think the Kite Lynx 8x30 is the same optical design as the M7, but not as the MHG. At least that is the way people here seem to think - the Opticron, Kite, Maven, and Nikon M7 are all the same binocular design, and the MHG is distinct. Based on my experience with the Opticron and owning the M7 and MHG, it seems correct.

Obviously eye cups will differ from model to model which will change this. And it is certainly the case that smaller exit pupils and larger fields of view are both complicating factors for easily seeing the full FOV. So a small exit pupil and a wide field will be more challenging for some people or require a good fit to the face, whereas a large exit pupil and a smaller FOV should be easier for more people to just pop up to their eyes and see everything.

I'm planning on having laser eye surgery again at some point to touch my eyes back up and not need glasses. This makes me realize that my beloved MHGs will be less easy to use - when I put the eyecups up and take off my glasses, I still have to rest them only against my upper brow and not settle them into my eye socket or else the eye cups are too short for my face and I get blackouts as well!
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
... I think the Kite Lynx 8x30 is the same optical design as the M7, but not as the MHG.

Yes, you are right. The MHG appears to be a different to the previous litter of 8x30 (M7, Traveller, Lynx, etc.). I chose a wrong wording. What I meant is that in both opportunities I've had to try the 8x30 MHG I've had a terrible problem with blackouts, which could not be due to "having a bad day", because I tried them along other similar 8x30 and other similar model (the very same MHG in 8x42, with a stunning view, btw). That was such a pity and also a bit weird.

I owned the 8x30 SW CL (new model) and found the view very comfortable (narrower FOV) but the eyecups too small, and this Traveller with a pretty wide FOV (8,2º) allows me to see the entire FOV to the very field stop (something remarkable for me). And the thing about huge exit pupils and smaller FOV (like in a 7x50 with some 7,1 - 7,3º) is so true: the most comfy view ever. However, on the other hand some 7x binoculars with a wide field, something like the 8,5º FL or BGA do offer some of the most relaxing views. In any case, they're still binoculars with a very respectable 6 mm EP.

Ease of view is probably one of the less spoken things, or at least the least publisized (compared to coatings, % of brightness, m/1000, etc.), when in fact it can be THE deal-breaker (I was thinking of opening a thread about convenience vs performance). For example, take the 8x30 E2. With a quite modest 3,75 mm EP delivers a really relaxed view (at least for me, and I think for many others). How does it work? Is it the combination of wide field and porro 3D view? For the layman in optics (like myself) it is still one of the biggest mysteries :D :D
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
First, you need to define what you mean by a 'relaxed' view, as this (like so many things) can mean different things to different people, perhaps especially to those who wear, or don't wear, spectacles.

Lee
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Well, I used the term "relaxed" regarding the discussion about "ease of view" that some binoculars offer. As pbjosh mentioned (and I have to agree), binoculars with big exit pupils and modest FOV give you an instant view of the whole FOV, plus a certain "relaxed view", but I could also refer to it as "easy", "natural". The 8x30 E2 has an intermediate-smallish EP, but they provide a very easy/relaxed view, although, as pbjosh mentions, watching the whole FOV can be challenging for some.
 

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