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Review - Minox BL 8x44 HD (1 Viewer)

Petrus82

Well-known member
The Minox BL 8x44 HD is the latest incarnation of the well established BL range, but has significant improvements over its predeccessors. Not only is this model now made in Germany, but it boasts extra low dispersion glass and dielectric coatings to the prisms. Each binocular is hand made in the Minox factory at Wetzlar and undergoes rigorous quality control tests. The 8x44 model retails at £399 in the UK. It is a model I have been keen to review for a while and the nice people at Minox were very obliging in providing a unit to review.

The Minox BL 8x44 HD is an open bridge binocular, made with a lightweight polycarbonate body. It weighs in at 740g, which is impressive for a binocular with an aperture of 44mm. The binocular is covered in black rubber armouring which gives it a very slick and stylish look. The images on the Minox advertising photos give the impression that the focussing wheel and rings just below the eye cups are silver - they are not, they are black. Make no mistake about it, this looks and feels like a high quality piece of equipment. As you would expect with a binocular in this price range, it is waterproof and fogproof.

The focussing knob is large and well positioned. It is wide enough to use with two fingers. I find the grooves to be too spaced out and found it difficult to grip. As a result, my fingers slip off quite often. It focusses from right to left, from close focus to infinity in just over one and a half rotations. My personal preference is for focussing to be a little quicker. The focussing is smooth, with just the right amount of resistance. I find it very easy to obtain a sharp image with these binoculars.

Eye relief, at 19.5mm is excellent for those who wear glasses, although for my tight fitting glasses I found I had to twist the eye cups out ever so slightly. For those who don't wear glasses, the eye pieces extend out very smoothly and have two intermediate stops. The eye pieces stay in place very well at each stop and when fully extended.


The field of view is a very impressive 136m at 1000m. I find the apparent field of view to be very good indeed – the view has a “walk in” feel to it. Close focus is listed as 2.5m, although I find I can focus down to 2m. This is good, but it is not great. I do a lot of butterfly and insect watching and whilst these binoculars would be perfectly adequate for this type of observation, I would probably choose another binocular if I wanted to go out for specifically this purpose.

Image quality is impressive for the price point. The sharpness on the unit I used for this review was just about right for the price point. It is more than a match for other binoculars around this price and appears to be a little better than some Japanese models costing slightly more. There is a little pincushion and a bit of field curvature, but this, along with the wide field of view and good level of sharpness, makes for a very relaxing and pleasant view. I estimate the sweet spot to be around 75-80%.


I found the contrast on the Minox impressive. Colours appear vibrant. The colour balance is slightly warm, which I like, although whites can sometimes appear to be quite creamy. Chromatic Abberation appears to be very well controlled. It's almost non-existent in the centre and still quite negligible out to the edges. I looked at crows and gulls against a bright blue sky and soaring Buzzards against white clouds and could not notice any whatsoever. Stray light management is a real strength. However, on occasions I did see a very faint outer circle on the image, but I have never found this to be distracting.

I found the low light performance of the Minox to be very good, no doubt a result of the larger aperture and exit pupils. When using them in early evening light they performed well. I could easily get a sharp image past sunset.

I have been impressed with the Minox BL 8x44 HD. It is a good looking binocular and its optical performance is impressive, as is the fit, finish and build quality. It comes with a well padded lanyard, case and micro fibre cloth. Owners of this unit will benefit from Minox’s “Comfort Service” warranty. From the date of registration, your product will be protected against manufacturing defects and functional failures for a duration of 30 years. I have no hesitation recommending these binoculars. If you are looking for a good looking pair of binoculars with excellent build quality and very good optics for just under £400, the Minox BL 8x44 HD may just be the binocular for you.
 

typo

Well-known member
Peter,

Nice write-up. Sounds about right. ;-)

Not a particularly important point. In by BirdFair notes I said "I think they may have dropped the MIG claim on this model, and it feels like a modern Kamakura offering... which I think is a positive." Someone pointed out, as you have, that they are made in Germany. Indeed the label in their banner picture says so. The wording does differ a little between the models but for the 8/10x44 they state that it is "hand finished" in Germany. I don't know what that means in practice but it doesn't sound like the same thing to me. Perhaps it could be as little as putting on the focus knob from the MIG model or something?
http://www.minox.de/index.php?id=8658&L=1

I rather liked these when I tried them. You could certainly argue that at the price you could find alternatives that do one thing or another better, but overall I found them very easy to get along with.

David
 
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Petrus82

Well-known member
Peter,

Nice write-up. Sounds about right. ;-)

Not a particularly important point. In by BirdFair notes I said "I think they may have dropped the MIG claim on this model, and it feels like a modern Kamakura offering... which I think is a positive." Someone pointed out, as you have, that they are made in Germany. Indeed the label in their banner picture says so. The wording does differ a little between the models but for the 8/10x44 they state that it is "hand finished" in Germany. I don't know what that means in practice but it doesn't sound like the same thing to me. Perhaps it could be as little as putting on the focus knob from the MIG model or something?
http://www.minox.de/index.php?id=8658&L=1

I rather liked these when I tried them. You could certainly argue that at the price you could find alternatives that do one thing or another better, but overall I found them very easy to get along with.

David

Hi David,

That's an interesting point. The unit I have says "Made in Germany" around the rim under the eye piece and it states MIG on the box too. I had noticed the ambiguous wording and asked Minox directly if Kamakura had had any input. The reply was something along the lines of "Not that I know of". I know they make a big deal of the QC checks that are done at Wetzlar.

This reminds me a little of the claims that the Zeiss Conquest HD are "Made in Germany". There's a strong link to Kamakura there too. I wonder if there's a minimum amount of a work that has to be done in Germany before a company can be permitted to make the claim?
 

Steve C

Well-known member
I also would not place too much faith in any "Made in Germany" claims. ;) Current law only requires only 10% of the actual product be made there (Google is your friend here). At that price point, the best you are going to get is "assembled in Germany". Having said that, the BL is a decent binocular and certainly seems worth the money. I've looked at them but have had no chance to really use one. As far as I can tell, the whole MIG business is a marketers ploy to make us think that us spending our money on their stuff is really our idea.
 

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