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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Review: Opticron Verano BGA VHD 8x32 (1 Viewer)

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I am on the Isle of Islay off the south-west coast of Scotland and have been using Opticron’s new Verano 8x32 intensively during our time here. Today the Atlantic is delivering winds of 45mph (72kph), so it feels like a good time to stay indoors, admire the view and go through my field notes detailing sightings I have made using these binoculars and my comments on how they performed.

First, a few basic facts. Verano 8x32 is listed by Opticron at £399 and looking around the market I am struggling to find an obvious competitor at this price level. Opticron seem to have a talent for finding gaps in the market, and if questions from various Birdforum members are anything to go by, then it may be that Opticron’s own Traveller BGA ED 8x32 could be its closest rival. Members with exceptional stamina may recall that a few years ago I was fond of ‘shootout’ style reviews pitting two models against each other and declaring a winner. However, the more binoculars I have tried and reviewed, the more unsatisfactory this format has seemed to me and while I won’t claim this is due to any accumulation of wisdom, I will certainly claim more caution these days. So, while I will respond to those members who have asked how Verano 32 compares with Traveller 32 I will not be declaring a winner and loser, simply because neither of these models is in any way a loser.

Verano 8x32

Fov 131m 393ft
Close focus 2.0m 6.6ft
Weight 531g 18.7ozs
Length 124mm 4.88in
List Price £399

Traveller 8x32

Fov 143m 429ft
Close focus 1.8m 5.9ft
Weight 451g 15.9ozs
Length 119mm 4.70in
List Price £349

In the hand Verano feels chunky with a pleasant texture to the rubber armour. The eyecups at their lowest setting worked well with my spectacles, the dioptre was easy to adjust, the setting was reliable, and the focus action was smooth and agreeable. What was not agreeable, at all, was the rainguard/ocular guard whose cups were simply too tight a fit over the eyecups. The guard was a devil of job to fit over the eyecups and even worse to remove because they gripped the eyecups so tightly that they lifted the eyecups out of position every time. This made them a pain at all times and worse than useless in the rain. For the duration of the main review period, I therefore used a different brand of rainguard.

My adventures with the Verano got off to a flying start even before we arrived on Islay. Not far away from the mainland ferry terminal we stopped to admire the seascape and the Veranos soon found two Great Northern Divers Gavia immer preening in the lively surf. They were rolling onto their backs to preen their bellies which shone whiter than snow in the autumn sunshine. These two looked like an adult and a youngster, and dwarfed the male and female Red-breasted Mergansers that splashed down within the Verano’s ample field of view. The male Mergie made a flamboyant fuss over his preening while the female seemed satisfied with her plumage and made only gentle and detailed adjustments of her wing feathers. This sighting of the Mergansers was a timely refresher of their overall appearance and outline that proved useful when, a little later, a flock of flame-headed ducks rocketed into my field of view. The flock appeared to entirely consist of female and/or young sawbills, but which species? The muscular neck (compared with the relatively lighter neck of the Mergansers) gave the game away: Goosander Mergus merganser! But before I could utter this to Troubadoris a male Goosander came swooping in to join the flock, displaying its wing plumage beautifully. Despite the sawbills and divers having areas of high contrast on their plumage I had noticed no chromatic aberration and some days later, checking this by looking at overhead wires and poles against a white sky confirmed that there was only a tiny amount at the extreme edge of the field of view.

Even after only these sightings I was impressed by the sheer crispness of the Verano’s imaging, the contrast in particular made detail stand out and easy to see. Moreover, refocusing from nearby to far distant subjects and back again reminded me that when I tested the Verano’s focusing speed it came out pretty fast, more or less the same speed as Traveller ED and Zeiss FL 8x32, so a bit faster than a Leica Trinovid HD or Kowa Genesis and significantly faster than a Leica Ultravid or Meopta MeoStar (all in 8x32/33). So Verano would easily manage those situations where you are viewing a nearby bird or butterfly and then need a quick view of a distant bird before refocusing once more on a subject nearby without time-wasting and tedious pumping of the focus wheel.

Later, as the ferry sailed away from the mainland, we passed a few skerries (small rocky reefs or islets) and in the fading light I was startled by the Veranos picking out what looked at first like a Halloween figure wearing a dark cloak. A couple of seconds later the ‘cloak’ unfolded into two huge wings as a White-tailed Sea Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla launched into the air. I never fail to gasp at the shear expanse of their wings and the brevity of their small, pointed tails, which give them such a different ‘jizz’ from Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, and despite the failing light the Veranos captured not only the size and shear menace of this mega-raptor, but also the droplets of sea-water falling from its talons.

The land to the west of our rented cottage on Islay is farmed for sheep by a very knowledgeable farmer/conservationist with a huge interest and commitment to Islay’s population of Choughs (Red-billed Choughs) Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax, and feeds a flock of mostly immatures to help them through the winter. This meant we had the sheer joy and delight of hearing their calls all through the day, every day. Their common name of Chough is pronounced ‘chuff’, but I am sure that when they were originally named it was intended that their name should rhyme with ‘plough’ and be pronounced ‘chow’, because this is precisely what their call sounds like: a joyful and playful CHOW! If you don’t smile when you hear this call, then you really do have a heart of stone. Through the Veranos these characterful Corvids have plumage that is darker and blacker than the extreme galleries of a coal mine with the lights turned off. They are deeply, gorgeously, black and the Veranos really brought out this and the red of their legs, feet and bill. In fact, I am sure that the Veranos have more saturated colours than the Travellers. The difference isn’t huge, but it is there.

The area where we stay on Islay has a healthy population of Brown Hares (see pic) and as long as you are quiet and don’t approach them directly, they can be surprisingly confiding. We were nevertheless surprised (to say the least) to sit down one day in the shelter of a rock to have a cup of tea out of the strong wind blowing at the time, and after about half an hour of enjoying the view of the Atlantic in turmoil, realised we were not alone. About 10 metres away, half hidden underneath an upper-shore boulder was a hare and at the precise moment we saw it, the sun came out and the hare eased itself out from under the rock and settled down with the sun on its flanks. Through the Veranos I could see not only its familiar slightly mottled sandy brown fur, but also the warmer chestnut brown under its flanks and the startlingly white of its belly. Its nose and whiskers were twitching with a gentle regularity and its eyes were half-closed in the warm sunlight. I really couldn’t have asked for a better reproduction than the Veranos were giving me.

A regular visitor to our local shores here is Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, known to us by its Shetland name of Haigrie. For such a big bird Haigrie has a remarkable talent for landing among shore-line rocks and disappearing. Or rather, it is so endowed with shades of white, grey and black that it can simply merge into the background of boulders. Flying by on those large, curiously arched wings, it is easy to spot and usually flies at such a leisurely pace that a good view can be had of it. Watching it cruise by on several occasions I enjoyed the Verano’s reproduction of the black stripe over the eye, looking rather like a pen shoved behind an ear, and further back its legs trailing behind, tipped by its huge feet with its hind toes stuck straight upwards looking for all the world like two huge Thumbs-Up.

We had two excellent sightings of otter during our visit, one of which was captured by the Veranos. We had parked ourselves on a rocky shelf overlooking a small bay on the west coast where a nearby freshwater washing site indicated the regular presence of otters, since they need to frequently wash the salt from their fur to maintain its insulating properties while they forage in the chilly Atlantic. We had been there for almost an hour having seen nothing more remarkable than an admittedly smart-looking Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus, when an otter briefly broke the surface of the bay as it swam away from the shore towards open water. However, it tarried for a while and foraged in the bay, surfacing to eat the fish it captured. Holding its head up vertically to avoid the sea pouring into its mouth it twisted and turned in the water and it occasionally used its front paws to push the food into its mouth. During this aquatic ballet, through the Veranos I could clearly see its whiskers and its teeth as it consumed its prey. No sooner had I settled down to enjoy this show than it headed purposefully out of the bay and disappeared towards the west leaving us exhilarated at having been so lucky and perhaps slightly disappointed that the sighting was curtailed so soon.

Despite many of my observations being made over the sea, with a low autumn sun sending reflections off the water, the Veranos had no problems with glare.

I hope you have by now gathered that I enjoyed the Veranos and for all those folks who absolutely prioritise optical quality then this model stands above the Traveller ED. But it would be a mistake to dismiss the Traveller as now being outclassed. Traveller has a significantly bigger field of view that has an area (not just a width) 19% bigger, has a shorter close focus, weighs less and is slightly shorter. It’s a compelling combination and Traveller is no slouch in the optics department even if the Verano is the higher achiever. Still, I would not argue with anyone who chooses Verano and says the differences in weight, length and close focus are not important to them. These are two fine instruments at affordable prices and Opticron is to be congratulated on offering them.

Lee

IMG_5211.JPG IMG_3403.JPG
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Good review Lee...You place your 'reviews' in context of real world birding; the practical point of view. I can see from your review that the quickness of the Verano is keen (birds to butterfly and beyond), low light, looking into the sun...detail/sharpness etc...It also appears that distortion is not much of a problem. I wonder if because of the decrease in FOV, they get around distortion and yet still a FOV of 393 still beats out many. If going into the 420's or 30's implies distortion, then does that extra FOV really matter? It will be interesting to get my hands on a pair and see. The Traveler is indeed a nice bin but optically the Verano appears to take it up a notch. The shot you have of the Verano with the coast in the background is lovely...One can just gauge the bitter wind against your face, .....well done. In regards to ergonomics, how does the 'chunky' feel get in the way or does it just all fit well with the armor? I know the Meostar is what I would call chunky but fits well into the hand, so the same holds true here too? And another question to do with the armor.... I know Steve described it as 'rough'.... what are your impressions and how did they hold up with the salt air and effect upon?

Again, well done, nice read..... jim
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Good review Lee...You place your 'reviews' in context of real world birding; the practical point of view. I can see from your review that the quickness of the Verano is keen (birds to butterfly and beyond), low light, looking into the sun...detail/sharpness etc...It also appears that distortion is not much of a problem. I wonder if because of the decrease in FOV, they get around distortion and yet still a FOV of 393 still beats out many. If going into the 420's or 30's implies distortion, then does that extra FOV really matter? It will be interesting to get my hands on a pair and see. The Traveler is indeed a nice bin but optically the Verano appears to take it up a notch. The shot you have of the Verano with the coast in the background is lovely...One can just gauge the bitter wind against your face, .....well done. In regards to ergonomics, how does the 'chunky' feel get in the way or does it just all fit well with the armor? I know the Meostar is what I would call chunky but fits well into the hand, so the same holds true here too? And another question to do with the armor.... I know Steve described it as 'rough'.... what are your impressions and how did they hold up with the salt air and effect upon?

Again, well done, nice read..... jim
Thank you for your kind words Jim. The chunkiness of Verano never imposed itself on my experience of it during use and the focus wheel was easy to use even wearing the heavy gloves or mittens that were mandatory in those chilly winds coming in off the Atlantic. Using the Veranos indoors with bare hands the texture of the armour, 'rough' as Steve put it, but a fine roughness not a coarse roughness in my opinion, felt nice to me, but maybe I am easy to please since I also like the smoothness of Zeiss's Conquest HD. Does Verano fit the hands as neatly as a MeoStar? No, it does not have an organic shape like a MeoStar, but it still felt comfortable and effective in my hands.

As for fields of view: I like wide fields simply because we spend so much time by the ocean and you can cover more sea more quickly with a wide field of view. I am thinking here of the times we have seen an otter or seal or diver (loon) or dolphin or whale or duck etc etc dive and then have been searching for it to get another look at it when it surfaces and a big fov is so helpful in these circumstances. Take Zeiss's SF 8x32, it has a field of view of 465ft at 1,000yds and landscapes and seascapes all are the right shape when looking through it as are the birds, seals and deer and other wild creatures. Neither is there any weird shifting of shapes when panning, so for me a wide field doesn't automatically imply an unacceptable distortion of the image.

When there are high winds causing big rollers to come in off the Atlantic the same wind tears of the tops of the breaking waves (we call these waves 'white horses') and when the wave hits the shore the wind really goes to town in fanning the spay out into a fine mist that covers everything near the sea including yours truly and his binos. The Veranos just took it in their stride and the spray simply wiped off or on some days got washed off by the rain.

Lee
 

PYRTLE

Old Berkshire Boy
Those huge eyecups do indeed make it look solid and chunky, like those monster Kitkats....and parallel like two toilet rolls. I've always thought Opticron made good quality mid range binoculars, particularly the Verano range.
 
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Boogieshrew

Well-known member
Those huge eyecups do indeed make it look solid and chunky, like those monster Kitkats....and parallel like two toilet rolls. I've always thought Opticron made good quality mid range binoculars, particularly the Verano range.
I really like the chunky look of the Veranos. Not looked through them yet but they are aesthetically pleasing to my eye.
The monster kitkat is a good comparison and a funny one too 😂
 

Allen

Well-known member
Out of interest, do the eye cups have the same thick rims as the original Verano? I found the thickness of those quite uncomfortable in the original model I tried.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Out of interest, do the eye cups have the same thick rims as the original Verano? I found the thickness of those quite uncomfortable in the original model I tried.
I haven't tried the original Verano. The Verano I reviewed has quite thick rims but I have just tried them out without my spectacles and I found the eyecups very comfortable.

Lee
 

ZDHart

Registered User
Supporter
United States
Thanks Lee for the report. I would imagine that the chunky barrels and meaty textured armor would be very nicely hand-filling and offer a very secure hand hold.

Nice to hear that the colors have a pleasing degree of saturation and that glare seems to be well controlled.

Does the field of view seem any flatter than Traveller?

Is the "sweet spot" any larger than Traveller?
 

MandoBear

Well-known member
Nice write-up, Lee. The trouble is, the wonderful way you write, and the interesting places you visit, make using almost any kind of binoculars seem really exciting... 😁😁

However, these Veranos do sound rather excellent for the money. Just as well I'm really not in the market at the moment (tells himself most sternly...). 😁
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Nice write-up, Lee. The trouble is, the wonderful way you write, and the interesting places you visit, make using almost any kind of binoculars seem really exciting... 😁😁

However, these Veranos do sound rather excellent for the money. Just as well I'm really not in the market at the moment (tells himself most sternly...). 😁
Thank you Mando, and when you have good things to look at, almost any kind of binos are way better than nothing! On Islay I had with me in addition to the Verano, Zeiss SF8x32, SF10x32 and Conquest HD 8x32 and I thoroughly enjoyed using all of them. This was a bit of a Zeiss-fest and normally as well as a review unit I would have been using my Leica Trinovid HD 8x32 for its ultra-close focus but Troubadoris's got damaged in an accident so I have donated mine to her (she is a Leica-girl!).

Lee
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Thanks Lee for the report. I would imagine that the chunky barrels and meaty textured armor would be very nicely hand-filling and offer a very secure hand hold.

Nice to hear that the colors have a pleasing degree of saturation and that glare seems to be well controlled.

Does the field of view seem any flatter than Traveller?

Is the "sweet spot" any larger than Traveller?
Hi ZD
Sorry for the delay in responding. I have double checked the binos to be sure of answering your questions and they are very similar in both field curvature, with soft sharpness at the field edge that can be sharpened with a nudge of the focus wheel and they have a similar-sized sweet spot. So the answer to both of your questions is 'no'.

Lee
 
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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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