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Review: Opticron Traveller BGA ED 10x32 (1 Viewer)

Rotherbirder

Well-known member
After much deliberation I decided to supplement my first-generation Swarovski 8x32EL with a 10x32 instrument, primarily to give a bit more reach when I don’t fancy carrying a scope and tripod. I opted to try a ‘real world’ alternative to the alpha 10x32s currently on the market as I find it difficult to justify shelling out an eye-watering £2k+ on a second binocular, and finally went with the Opticron Traveller ED.

Out of the box, the first thing that struck me was how physically tiny this binocular is! Its perhaps about as small as a 32mm binocular can be but, saying that, it feels ‘chunky’ and well made in the hand with a reassuring solidity and ‘heft’ that belies its polycarbonate chassis. Ergonomics are excellent with the focus wheel falling naturally under the index finger in ‘normal’ grip, the middle finger falling across the bridge and the third finger and ‘pinky’ gripping the barrel. The stated weight of 453g, achieved in part by using polycarbonate in its construction, means that carrying and using the binocular for long periods is neither uncomfortable nor a problem, though prospective users with large hands may find their small size difficult to handle comfortably.

The internals look to be well blackened/matted but, on my example, there are already more than a few motes of dust apparent in both barrels, though these don’t affect the view; disappointing but not a worry for the moment.

The untextured natural rubber armour seems tightly and securely fitted to the body and offers a comfortable, soft, non-slip grip. Shallow indents beneath each barrel are purely cosmetic as they offer no advantage whatsoever grip-wise. The simple, elegant appearance of the binocular is marred only by the prominent seams in the armour, running full-length, down the inside and outside of each barrel which is a shame, but doesn’t affect handling in any way.

Eyecups are plastic, covered with the same soft rubber and are comfortable in use. Between the down and fully extended positions there are two firm, intermediate detents where the eyecups snap quite definitely into place; however, there is a tiny bit of play in one of them which may indicate a possible problem in the future.

The rubberised focus wheel is large and moves smoothly and evenly in both directions; a bit ‘tight’ at first, this has now eased with use. Dioptre adjustment is via the customary ring below the right eyepiece, which is typical of many binoculars at this price point. It turns smoothly and with enough resistance not to worry about unintentional movement.

Hinge tension is spot on, making IPD setting easy and reliable.

Optically, the 10x32 Traveller is a delight. The image is bright, clear and sharp across the FOV with only the slightest discernible drop-off at the periphery and the large sweet-spot makes it virtually ‘flat field’. Colours are clean and neutral; CA is well-controlled and what little is visible takes some looking for – though I’m not particularly sensitive to it. In some conditions it can be pushed to show glare in the form of a slight ‘milkiness’ across the lower half of the FOV, but nothing too intrusive. Contrast, colour saturation and focus ‘snap’ are excellent but not quite as good as my trusty first-generation EL, despite boasting ED elements in the objectives. Depth of field is decent enough at distance but at closer range it is noticeably shallow and I find the need for frequent ‘tweaking’ to keep close, moving subjects such as insects in sharp focus. Stated FOV is 6.5 degrees/113m at 1000m which is average or a little below for a 10x32, but a huge FOV is not crucial for my needs. Despite its small size and 10x magnification, I find the Traveller surprisingly easy to hold to facilitate steady viewing.

The switch from 8x32 to 10x32 does take a little getting used to, with the smaller exit pupil making for more critical eye placement. Persistence with IPD and eye-cup settings (best at one notch in from fully extended for me to see the full FOV) is essential, so don’t give up on it too quickly as some experimentation will be necessary. The smaller FOV was the most apparent difference, though as I said earlier, this wasn’t a deal-breaker for me and I now find myself not really noticing it at all.

The supplied accessories - case, straps, lens-cloth, tethered objective covers & rainguard - are generally of very good quality though the latter offers such a tight fit that it can’t be removed in a hurry, leading to missed birds! I would recommend opting for the next size up which fits more loosely but still securely and largely solves this issue. The fact that the rainguard attaches to the neck-strap at only one end is also a bit quirky, and it may be worth considering a suitable alternative OEM rainguard if this is inconvenient for you.

In summary, the Traveller 10x32 is an excellent no-frills binocular which is an ideal choice as a second/back-up instrument. Fit and finish is very good and commensurate with its cost but optically it performs above its price point. Apart from a few minor quibbles and quirks – which no binocular is ever free from, even alpha models selling at many times the price – it should be high on the list of those looking for a small, high quality, reasonably priced, ‘serious’ binocular.

(With thanks to Pete Gamby for his help and advice).

Thanks for reading.

Paul
 
Last edited:

Sc0tty

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Great review.

Tight fitting rainguards seems to be a common problem these days. I had to ditch the rainguard on my Zeiss FL and replace it with a Zeiss classic rainguard. Also with my Zeiss SF I’ve had to shave off the raised ridges inside the rainguard so it doesn’t grip so tightly. Its like the accessories don’t get tested in the field.
 

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