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Review: Steiner 8x22 Safari "Ultrasharp" (1 Viewer)

Patriot222

Well-known member
I just wanted to post something about a couple models of 8x22 Steiner that I recently tried. This first post will be about the 8x22 Safari "Ultrasharp" models, (quotations mine).

I quick history, so that others will have an idea of my experiences with Steiner. When I was a teenager in the 80's my Uncle introduced me to some model of the 7x50, with compass and I believe it might have been the Military or Military Marine model. At the time, I had never looked through such impressive glass and I knew that some day, when I was able to afford them, I'd get my own. I purchased what I could afford at the time which was a Tasco 7x50 Offshore model with compass. I guess I was about 20 when I saved enough to purchase a 7x50 Military (no compass). I was very impressed and of course it made any less expensive model at the local sporting good stores seem pretty junky. A few years later, I got into archery hunting and wanted something small and light, so I purchased a Steiner 8x30. It might have been the Safari model but I'm not positive. Back then, I was trusting of name brands and didn't even look through it, I just took it home and started using it. From the standpoint of image quality, it was one of the worst binoculars that I've ever owned in my life. The image was dull, grey, blurry on the edges and I figured this was the sacrifice made, going to smaller glass. The information that's available to us today, didn't exist back then, or if it did, it wasn't easily attained without personally knowing an expert. Shortly after, one of my friends showed me their 8x30 with a funny Austrian name, my optics perceptions were wrecked thereafter. After trying some Zeiss Porro's, I realized that my Steiner 7x50 was pretty unimpressive as well. I let both of them go and put the money toward a 10x50 Trinovid BA, which was a fairly new model at the time. It served me very through many years of hunting and shooting.

Throughout the years, most of my Steiner experiences have been very similar. They were a fairly well recognized hunting binocular and so many of my friends owned them. Almost every Steiner that cost less than $400 back then was terrible. Although some of the more expensive Porro's did provide a decent view, now that I had experience binoculars from Swarovski and Leica, and a Zeiss 15x60BGA, I had little use for the Steiner. For a short time, I owned a 20x80 model which might have been the "Military" model but the more I used it, the more unacceptable I had perceived it's performance. I've ignored the brand ever since however, I understand that there are happy Steiner owners and that some models are actually still made in Germany. Not that the place of manufacter means much, today. They're either acceptable quality at a given price point or they are not. In some ways, it seems as if there are two Steiner regimes. One sells professional instruments and the other "markets" to the uniformed masses. By the way, I was never duped by Steiner's advertising rhetoric. I understood and experienced the realities of parallax, as a teenager due to my rifle shooting. Rather I purchased those first Steiner's because I was exposed to them and trusted the name.

Recently, I've been trying out various 8x20 and 8x22 class binoculars, trying to see if there's something out there that can give reasonable images at say, 1/4 to 1/2 of what the 8x20 Ultravid costs. When I purchased this (8x22 Safari Ultrasharp model) they were $115. The same model in 10x26 was $247 during the same period of time. As most are aware, binocular models of the same class don't usually vary in price this much and typically we see a 5-10% difference between 8x and 10x versions of the same model. I'm mentioning this because it was the $247 price point of the 10x25 Ultrasharp, that I suspected the 8x22 model might just be a really good deal and "under priced" in its category. Thus, I was hoping it would be $250 worth of optics. It's my understanding that this model has been discontinued as it's not currently on Steiner's website at time of posting. As a price point example on a current model, the Steiner 8x22 and 10x26 Blue Horizon models are $194 and $199 respectively. Again, I was keeping my fingers crossed that perhaps this was a $250 class optic, that was on close-out or perhaps wasn't a popular seller, so I took a chance. Unfortunately, it just doesn't deliver optically.

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On the positive side, they are fairly light at 242grams or 8.5oz (not including neck strap). Also, the hinge tension between the two barrels is just about perfect and leaning toward the firm side. This is nice on a pocket binocular because it's not uncommon that compact binoculars loosen a bit with extended use. The focus is smooth but not very linear and different amounts of resistance are felt throughout the focus range. Overall, the appearance, fit and finish is quite nice. Reasonably sharp for a roof prism at this price point but only in the middle of the FOV (Field of View). Lastly, the nylon case was fantastic! It wasn't overly large or small, it was sturdy and had a very usable belt loop. Even the color was pleasing and it kind of reminded me of the 8x25CL case.

On the neutral side, the two barrels don't come all the way together in the folded position and leave about 12mm gap in the center, at the fully closed position. This isn't uncommon in its category but some models do fold fully together, making them even more compact. The diopter adjustment ring, which is placed on the left barrel, is far to loose and moves around too easily. The slightest touch or movement against your shirt while hanging from your neck, shifts the adjustment. This might be tolerable by some but it was a bit disappointing considering how nice the barrel hinge tension was. The tint was fairly neutral but leaning slightly to the warm side. Greens and yellows appear a touch amplified but not bad at all compared to other optics in this class.

The negatives points are all in the area of the optics but at least one deficiency was inexcusable, maybe two but you decide. The sharpness in the center of the FOV (field of view) is reasonable but probably behind most inexpensive, compact porro's from Nikon and Pentax. The images don't pop in and out of focus with any snappiness. You sort of turn the focus wheel past the point of focus and then have to back it up a few degrees, hunting back and forth with the focus while your brain figures out exactly where the image is sharpest. Most Nikon Trailblazer's (for example) at $75 have a less ambiguous point of focus. Next, the blurring at the edge of FOV is really noticeable. I'd estimate the blurring begins at 50-60% from the center of the FOV and rapidly deteriorates. The blurring at the last 15% of the edge of FOV is positively horrendous and completely unusable. Because of this, you really need to steer objects to the center of the FOV in order to get satisfactory view. Some moderately price roof prism binoculars will allow some wandering of your eye within the FOV but not these. Lastly, is the major issue of internal reflections. In fact, they're so distracting that it makes this binocular a chore to enjoy, despite it's nice size, fit and finish. It's most noticeable past the edge of FOV, in what would normally be the blackened area of the image. In the black, directly adjacent to the actual FOV, there are all kinds of bronze colored reflections that dance around as you pan or tilt the binocular while viewing. These internal reflections sweep, dance and swim around the edge of the black circle like a reflection from a bulb or glass. The only binocular I've used that's ever come close to this level reflection problem was a $60 Simmon, 7-12x25 porro. That's right, a variable! The average or inexperienced binocular user might not even notice this type of thing initially, but once you know it's there, it's really difficult to ignore. The exit pupils might be a visual evidence to this issue. When you hold the binocular are arms length, instead of one small dot of light coming from each occular, asymmetrical waves of reflections are present. Additionally, the exit pupils are slightly truncated. Perhaps the prisms are too small for the eye piece they've chosen. To top things off, there are some fine glue or polymer strands visible in the right barrel when shinning a flashlight through the objective side. They don't appear to be loose or floating however, they are in the optical path between the objective an prism. Also, there were several area between the objectives and prisms with shiny spots and it was obvious that no care was taken to fully blacken the internals.

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At the $115 (current price point) it's not the worst binocular that I ever experienced but if the 10x26 suffers from the same optical properties at $247 (current pricing) then this just reaffirms the issues with Steiner's perceived quality vs. reality. If forced to chose between this and a $70 Nikon TrailBlazer 8x25, I'd take the TrailBlazer every time.

When I get some time, I'll post my findings on the more expensive $195 8x22 Blue Horizon model.
 

Patriot222

Well-known member
Apologies for the duplicate thread. Please delete the first thread as I'm not sure if I'm able too. This is the correct version.

Thank in advance to the moderators for the help!
 
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chill6x6

Well-known member
I enjoyed reading your review!

I've been "tempted" by a few Steiner binoculars here and there but similar to you...I tried a Steiner binocular some time ago, a Predator 8X30. Similar to you I was like...WOW a Steiner for $250! Well I didn't even get $250 worth with that thing and that experience has soured me from getting another one any time soon!
 

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PhilR.

Well-known member
Well I didn't even get $250 worth with that thing and that experience has soured me from getting another one any time soon!

I’ve tried four Steiners, and for different reasons, they all performed poorly. So, no more for me....
 

mwhogue

Registered User
Supporter
Agreed. IME The build quality, fit and finish, looks, all great but the optics lag behind at the price point. The 8x22 Safari US is such a good looking binocular and the sturdy build adds weight and stability. I can hold them steadier than any 8x20 or 25 and love the soft winged eye cups. Too bad about the optics.

Mike
 

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
Hello all,

Steiner had three things going for it:
A German name and origin.
Use by American military and sales at Army post exchanges. The purchasers thought they were military specification and were priced right for enlisted men who wanted them for hunting.
Very aggressive marketing.

The United States military dropped them from service but the marketing continued.

Stay safe,
Arthur Pinewood :hi:
 

Patriot222

Well-known member
I enjoyed reading your review!

I've been "tempted" by a few Steiner binoculars here and there but similar to you...I tried a Steiner binocular some time ago, a Predator 8X30. Similar to you I was like...WOW a Steiner for $250! Well I didn't even get $250 worth with that thing and that experience has soured me from getting another one any time soon!

I'm so familiar the disappointment that you shared. If you had gotten $250 worth, you'd have been happy and perhaps an advocate for brand! Instead, Steiner markets a product to us, that in many ways falls behind a Nikon Action EX. In the grand scheme of things, the current state of Steiner and it's advertising practices hardly causes me to lose any sleep. It's only when I thoughtfully dwell upon their lack of quality, in some non-premium models, do I find myself slightly disgusted.
 

Patriot222

Well-known member
Agreed. IME The build quality, fit and finish, looks, all great but the optics lag behind at the price point. The 8x22 Safari US is such a good looking binocular and the sturdy build adds weight and stability. I can hold them steadier than any 8x20 or 25 and love the soft winged eye cups. Too bad about the optics.

Mike


You know, it's interesting that you mentioned the looks. I find many of Steiner's armor wraps almost as ugly as the term "auto focus." I even thought the 8x22 US was kind of ugly when I ordered it. Then, when I got it in hand and started noticing the ergonomics and clean, smooth lines from the eyecups to the tubes, to the objectives and the efficiency of the front hinge covers, I completely did a 180° in my thinking. Seeing pictures of it and having it in had was truly a dual experience, which usually doesn't happen to me. By the time I got ready to box them up and send them back, I was reluctant to do so because of the style and feel. As soon as I would recall the "golden ring" or "solar eclipse" effect however, it was pretty easy to tape that box shut.
 

Patriot222

Well-known member
I’ve tried four Steiners, and for different reasons, they all performed poorly. So, no more for me....

Further evidence that most binocular enthusiasts aren't automatically bias and quite willing to give things a try. Now if Steiner would just start trying, specifically in the area upping their value and performance across the whole product line, while simultaneously downing their shady marketing rhetoric.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
I've had two Steiner binoculars. I tried the 8x30 Wildlife Pro because it had a rare feature, a combination of individual focus plus a central focus wheel. I was disappointed both by the fit/feeling. It was a bit... how to say... toy-ish, it felt plasticky and not very rugged, plus the eyecups were absolutely not of my liking. The FOV was narrow (less than 7º for a 8x30) and the overall view was disappointing.
After a while, while looking for a nighttime pair of binoculars I came across a screaming deal on a 8x56 Nighthunter (the last version). Now this was altogether another animal. The device simply oozed quality. The fit and finish, the grip, every single square cm seemed to have been thought out carfefully. The view was crisp and as bright as you can imagine for a top-notch 8x56 porro with an advertised 96 % light transmission. Furthermore, I got the device without objective caps, I wrote to Steiner and they sent them for free all the way from Germany. And those caps were things to behold, really: no less than three different types of plastic had been used (with a remarkable rigid central part and a rubberized exterior), plus a fabric strap so they could hang freely. I mean, they could have charged 30 - 40 € for those and now one would have complained. So, my experienced is mixed and seems to match what has been said. On the base and medium range (the Wildlifepro retailed for +300 €, which is a fair amount of money) what I have seen has left me ice cold, but their top of the range deserves all my praise. Those Nighthunters were really remarkable. I finally sold them because the IF was a bit limiting for daytime use.
 
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Steve C

Well-known member
Like Chuck, I had a Steiner 8x30 Predator. That was probably five years or so prior to joining BF. Like Chuck, mine were pretty bad. I got fooled by the name and the association with German quality. I also fell for the "sports auto focus" marketing garbage as well. One problem Steiner has is producing something in every price class imaginable. Maybe not a problem, because I bet they sell a lot of cheap stuff based on name only.

I once reviewed a Steiner Wildlife 8x44. It was every bit the equal of anything else of any other brand you could purchase, including price. About that time I began to get suspicious that even though some brands said "Made in Germany" on the box I was beginning to understand that was a lot less then the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I also ran across a publication which Steiner stated they had been getting glass from Malaysia since 2007 or so.

Better edit this. What I had for review was the Steiner Peregrine and the Peregrine XP (not the Wildlife). This was 2009 and I have not had the opportunity to see many Steiners since then.
 
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Patriot222

Well-known member
I've had two Steiner binoculars. I tried the 8x30 Wildlife Pro because it had a rare feature, a combination of individual focus plus a central focus wheel. I was disappointed both by the fit/feeling. It was a bit... how to say... toy-ish, it felt plasticky and not very rugged, plus the eyecups were absolutely not of my liking. The FOV was narrow (less than 7º for a 8x30) and the overall view was disappointing.
After a while, while looking for a nighttime pair of binoculars I came across a screaming deal on a 8x56 Nighthunter (the last version). Now this was altogether another animal. The device simply oozed quality. The fit and finish, the grip, every single square cm seemed to have been thought out carfefully. The view was crisp and as bright as you can imagine for a top-notch 8x56 porro with an advertised 96 % light transmission. Furthermore, I got the device without objective caps, I wrote to Steiner and they sent them for free all the way from Germany. And those caps were things to behold, really: no less than three different types of plastic had been used (with a remarkable rigid central part and a rubberized exterior), plus a fabric strap so they could hang freely. I mean, they could have charged 30 - 40 € for those and now one would have complained. So, my experienced is mixed and seems to match what has been said. On the base and medium range (the Wildlifepro retailed for +300 €, which is a fair amount of money) what I have seen has left me ice cold, but their top of the range deserves all my praise. Those Nighthunters were really remarkable. I finally sold them because the IF was a bit limiting for daytime use.

Yes, Steiner is very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I've heard and read nothing but good things about the NightHunters and Peregrine XP's... and I've not had the chance to look at either of them. I have no local retailers to try them and would have to buy it to try it, which isn't my preferred method when it comes to optics.
 

Patriot222

Well-known member
Better edit this. What I had for review was the Steiner Peregrine and the Peregrine XP (not the Wildlife). This was 2009 and I have not had the opportunity to see many Steiners since then.

Yes, I had just replied to yarrellii, about the Peregrine XP and generally how pleased people are with them. I've never had the opportunity to try one.

I just looked at pricing and it's about $1000. I'm with you though, if it was possible to get, SLC performance but at 2/3's the cost, I could definitely be persuaded to give it a shot. On the other hand, I look at the pictures and see "Nano Protected" and "High Definition" printed on the inside of the barrels, directly in front of the objectives and think to myself, "what is the matter with these guys?" They apparently produce a high quality model like the Peregrine XP but then just can't resist placing big, brightly colored advertising bollocks, directly next to the objectives. *sigh* Steiner could really benefit from a design team with contemporary ideas. I don't think they actually realize how tacky and inelegant some of their ideas are.
 

Patriot222

Well-known member
Agreed. IME The build quality, fit and finish, looks, all great but the optics lag behind at the price point. The 8x22 Safari US is such a good looking binocular and the sturdy build adds weight and stability. I can hold them steadier than any 8x20 or 25 and love the soft winged eye cups. Too bad about the optics.

Mike



I think I figured out my feelings about the esthetics. Normally the pictures shown of this model are with the hinges open all of the way. When I set them to my IPD, the barrels are somewhat closed. I know that probably sounds a bit silly and shallow but to me, this binocular just looks a little sleeker when it's closed down a bit.

Hopefully I can get a similar review up on Steiner 8x22 Blue Horizon. I've had it for about a week and I hope to post something on Saturday.
 

Bramberg

Active member
I've had two Steiner binoculars. I tried the 8x30 Wildlife Pro because it had a rare feature, a combination of individual focus plus a central focus wheel. I was disappointed both by the fit/feeling. It was a bit... how to say... toy-ish, it felt plasticky and not very rugged, plus the eyecups were absolutely not of my liking. The FOV was narrow (less than 7º for a 8x30) and the overall view was disappointing.
After a while, while looking for a nighttime pair of binoculars I came across a screaming deal on a 8x56 Nighthunter (the last version). Now this was altogether another animal. The device simply oozed quality. The fit and finish, the grip, every single square cm seemed to have been thought out carfefully. The view was crisp and as bright as you can imagine for a top-notch 8x56 porro with an advertised 96 % light transmission. Furthermore, I got the device without objective caps, I wrote to Steiner and they sent them for free all the way from Germany. And those caps were things to behold, really: no less than three different types of plastic had been used (with a remarkable rigid central part and a rubberized exterior), plus a fabric strap so they could hang freely. I mean, they could have charged 30 - 40 € for those and now one would have complained. So, my experienced is mixed and seems to match what has been said. On the base and medium range (the Wildlifepro retailed for +300 €, which is a fair amount of money) what I have seen has left me ice cold, but their top of the range deserves all my praise. Those Nighthunters were really remarkable. I finally sold them because the IF was a bit limiting for daytime use.

I am so puzzled that it's hard to where to even start. I bought a pair of second hand Steiner Wildlife PRO 8x30 porros with CF last year. The price was right and I figured that I would keep them in my car, lending them out to people with greasy fingers and little binocular experience instead of handing over my precious Swarovski Habicht 8x30 W.
These Steiners' are so good in fact that most of the time when I leave home I don't even bring my Habichts' because I'm thinking, I got the Steiners in the car so I'm good.
No! They are not as good as the Swarovskis of course. But they are really good! Apart from the apparent narrower FOV the image is very bright and sharp. When doing the indoor "text test" (reading small printed text from a distance) in some cases it actually did rival the Habicht!
The CF wheel goes smooth and light and goes fast from near to infinity. Observing close objects is strenuous though, not sure why that is.

There is some minor color fringing but this is only noticeable under extremem viewing conditions, such as watching a group of male common eider mid day at great distance over a sun drenched lake with lots of reflections. Under those conditions the white back and black sides of the bird were distorted by chromatic aberration. I pulled out the Habicht and could immediately identify the bird and also confirm the difference in these two optics.
Other than that I think that the tethered lens caps that attaches to the center hinge knob on the Steiners is a great design. They stay on securely until you want them to come off. Just give them a flick with respective pinky finger as you are lifting the binoculars to your eyes. They will pop out and hang on securely and out of the way, never flapping up in front of the lenses from wind or when pointing the binoculars straigt up like some others do.

These were bought in Europe. They should be the same as the ones you get in the States so I dont know why these are so good. Maybe there's something wrong with them?
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Bramberg, I bought them in Germany. I don't know, maybe I got a lemon, who knows. But both the fit/feel and the performance left me really cold. I could compare them directly with other 8x30 binoculars of a relatively similar price-range, the Nikon EII and the Nikon M7 8x30 as well as with other binoculars I had at home, and the performance wasn't very impressive for me (and I found IF+CF a bit fuzzy), I'm sorry to say. It was the first Steiner I ever tried and I remember being quite disappointed.
Too high expectations? Sample variation? Personal variation? A mix of all? It's hard to tell.
It always goes to show how different we all are and how differently we see things.
 

Bramberg

Active member
Bramberg, I bought them in Germany. I don't know, maybe I got a lemon, who knows. But both the fit/feel and the performance left me really cold. I could compare them directly with other 8x30 binoculars of a relatively similar price-range, the Nikon EII and the Nikon M7 8x30 as well as with other binoculars I had at home, and the performance wasn't very impressive for me (and I found IF+CF a bit fuzzy), I'm sorry to say. It was the first Steiner I ever tried and I remember being quite disappointed.
Too high expectations? Sample variation? Personal variation? A mix of all? It's hard to tell.
It always goes to show how different we all are and how differently we see things.

Maybe they did different runs as many companies do?
Some yers back I bought a pair of Scarpa gore tex hiking boots that were the best I've ever had. Superb fit and great sole with good grip. Never got wet or sweaty in those. Unfortunately I put them on the woodstove in a dim lit loghouse and someone went in there, made a fire and the shoes burned up. I didn't hesitate on ordering a new pair, exact same model. They look identical but this second pair suck. The fit is bad and the sole is different rubber blend, real slippery. I've struggled with them for two years now but they are just getting worse.

This is how I think many companies do it. They release a product using great materials and craftmanship. When this first batch has git the market and gotten good reviews they then lower the quality to make more money. I don't know if this is the case with the Steiner Wildlife PRO 8x30, it could be. It could also be just wild swings in quality control.
 

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