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Review, test in nature: Hawke Frontier APO 10x42 vs Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 (1 Viewer)

Jessie-66

Germany
I have already published a technical-dry comparison report here:

I live in Germany in a legal so-called „Flora-Fauna-Habitat-Area“ (German official language "FFH-Gebiet"), in a little village, in the middle of a hilly landscape, close to a river and directly at a creek. I have been using binoculars for about 45 years, I bought my first wide-angle porro-bins Jenoptem 10x50 from Carl Zeiss Jena (CZJ)immediately after my apprenticeship. The most impressive because biggest birds here are migrating, flying storks, foraging grey herons, black egrets, buzzards, red kites, different kinds of falcons, spotted woodpecker, black woodpecker and green woodpecker, magpies and my special friends, jaybirds. This birds are speaking with me. ;-)
There are also still unnamed, rare and inconspicuous birds, animals and plants. In autumn I saw a "airfight": 3 buzzards flew around each other, 1 buzzard attacked another one, the attacked buzzard made an impressive loop (salto mortale?) and caught itself right away. I often see the buzzards in the area of a disused factory with a high brick chimney. For the observation of the large birds of prey (raptors) in the air the light Hawke APO 10x42 was purchased in addition to the Nikon MHG 8x42. Also for the observation of the night sky without tripod (hand hold), by means of a deck chair, zero gravity chair.

After some weeks of using the new Hawke APO and comparing both binoculars in nature under different light conditions (days with bright sunshine and days with cloudy but bright sky) I write down what I noticed. On some days I was out and about with both binoculars but also only with the Hawke APO and only with the Nikon MHG, which I have been using for 1 year. I am neither a professional astronomer nor a professional birdwatcher - but an enthusiastic nature observer. There are also bats here in summer, probably they live in the old, empty factory buildings. One clung to the facade of a neighboring house during the day, one I found on our entrance stairs to the house. I didn't know how to help and I put some water in direct near. At some point she was gone, either the water helped her or as live food she helped the far too many house cats of the neighbors. During the vacation of the neighbors I feed their house cat and remove some dead birds on their terrace, in front of the front door, in the hall. An old, nature-experienced man told me, however, that house cats rarely catch healthy birds, he said, the prey of the house cats are mostly birds, which have too few, too late reactions due to symptoms of poisoning by chemicals of the here intensive agriculture in the near. However, I do not know.

Now to experiences with the comparison of the binoculars. On sunny days the Nikon MHG has weaknesses in two places during my regular hiking and observation tours in my home/living area:
In summer, when I scan green fields with some tree cover on the slope of a hill with bright sunshine, I detect veil glare over the entire field of view. Now the fields have been tilled, are currently medium to dark brown when the bright midday sun has defrosted the light ground frost. The Hawke APO 10x42 with a smaller real angle of view than the Nikon MHG 8x42 shows the beginning of veil glare in relation to the angle to the bright midday sun later. The highest position of the sun is about 20 degrees due to the season and geography, the observation angle is much larger, I check against the slope of a hill below and far away from the overlying sun.
On cloudy, grey days with a bright, completely overcast sky as backlight, the Nikon MHG shows me too much lateral chromatic aberration (CA) when searching under bare deciduous trees in autumn and winter. I find the picture unpleasant, the branches at the upper edge of the field of view are violet. The Hawke APO is significantly better at this point. A comparison of binoculars with different magnifications regarding my beloved slow circling foraging buzzards is difficult, at least I recognize less violet edges in the flight image of the birds of prey.
In the close range < 100 m in nature observations the difference in magnification is practically irrelevant, only in wide field observations of surrounding fields and observation of circling birds of prey the 10x42 shows advantages. Also during the observation of moon craters. The light-polluted night sky is darker because of the smaller exit pupil, shows more contrast to observed stars. Due to the good fit of the large eyecups from Hawke APO to my physiognomy (better alignment at the eye sockets) I can hold the Hawke APO 10x42 as steady as the Nikon MHG 8x42 with alignment only under the eyebrows, i.e. with more distance and less contact area to the eye sockets. This may be different for users with deep eye sockets, deep lying eyes. An observation of details concerning the eyes and their surroundings of my neighbors' chickens and horses at distances of 20 to 100 m shows no practically relevant differences in detail.
I could not resist a new "generic" test. Here is a high voltage power line parallel to the road, where swallows gather in autumn and pigeons, blackbirds and other birds sit in summer. In sunshine you can see the stranding of the single wires of the high voltage line very well with bins. On a cloudy, grey day with a bright, completely overcast sky as backlight I placed myself under the wires with both binoculars and compared how far I could see the stranding. The Hawke APO 10x42 shows less lateral CA than the Nikon MHG 8x42 and the stranding of the single wires can be seen some meters further. However, binoculars with different magnification, apples with oranges were compared.

Enough adulation, now to the criticism:
The fast focusing of the Hawke APO needs getting used to, at least when used alternately with other binoculars with slower and reverse focusing binoculars. You have to get used to it, literally forcing yourself to turn the focus roller of the Hawke APO very slowly to avoid overshots. During astronomical observations the focusing is easily misaligned by mistake.
The eyelets for the carrying strap ("elephant ears") are disturbing not only because of their unusual size and edges but also because of the slightly lower height of the mount and less favourable position regarding circumference. People with small hands will probably get along better than people with large hands.

What are my goals with the new binoculars?
I sold my Carl Zeiss Jena (CZJ) Jenoptem 10x50, which was too big and too heavy for me, in order to finance smaller and modern binoculars with it. The CZJ Jenoptem 10x50 was simply too heavy, too bulky for observing nature. After reading enthusiastic reports from astronomers I regretted the sale. I would like to intensify my observations of nature, including the night sky, and further my education. A childhood memory: I grew up next to a small but functioning farm, a cow barn with many flies, under the roof overhang many swallow's nests. The small, old farms were given up, there are only large industrial farmers left. Under the eaves of the old, abandoned farms I search for swallow's nests in vain. I have seen photos in which owls and eagle owls were well camouflaged but looked out of crevices and windows of abandoned, abandoned houses in broad daylight. I have already spoken with older villagers where owls and eagle owls used to be: According to their youthful memories in the attics of dwellings, old farmhouses. When they were young, some of them were probably justifiably afraid to enter certain attics of old, then functioning farmhouses. Childhood memories are often more impressive - and more imaginative than adult experiences.

The English language is not my mother tongue / native language, for questions simply "write as the beak has grown". Then I try to express myself differently, hopefully better, but I can read English much better than I can write. School English, Oxford-English learned in my youth. I hope you enjoy reading and I will use the advantages of 2 different binoculars in different observation situations. I think, also astronomers observe the whole nature and use their small binoculars also for nature observations, therefore the same report in 2 forums - for all nature friends. Photos follow, I need a little break … a little breakfast.

Best regards from Jessie.
 

Jessie-66

Germany
Now photos ... with best regards - stay safe, healthy.
 

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Jessie-66

Germany
I would like to add a little story about people with binoculars: Yesterday I spoke with the husband and wife of an old-established family (80 years old/young) in the village, in my village, they told me stories, I told stories. I brought binoculars with me and put them on their kitchen table. The outer lenses of the new Hawke APO had tarnished as expected, fogged over with moisture. The man "cleaned" them with his bare fingers, I was not very pleased. He told me that he also had an old pair of binoculars in garage. I prudently turned a deaf ear to remarks about the correct cleaning of binoculars, we talked about more important things - the experiences of older people. I like to learn more from other, more experienced people. ;-)
Jessie.
 
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Ratal

Well-known member
Great write up - Glad to see someone having a look and using these new binoculars in the field. They sound really nice.

Thank you for your time and effort!
 

Jessie-66

Germany
Great write up - Glad to see someone having a look and using these new binoculars in the field. They sound really nice. Thank you for your time and effort!
Thank you very much for the compliment. If only one person liked my contribution, time and effort have already paid off for me. Stay healthy and curious. Jessie.
 

Ratal

Well-known member
I love a fast focusing binocular, for me it is a joyous thing indeed especially with fast moving sea ducks and king fishers on the river.
 

Markkuli

Member
Great to read first review of this binocular! I'm thinking of buying sometimes near future new binocular and Nikon MHG is what I was thinking, but new Hawke is interesting indeed. Is It made in China, first binoculars made in China with field flatteners? Now I own Hawke Sapphire 8x43 and it's quite good for the price. Birding with it is pleasure, but always can get better!
 

Jessie-66

Germany
I love a fast focusing binocular, for me it is a joyous thing indeed especially with fast moving sea ducks and king fishers on the river.
What focus speed do you prefer? Please include magnification and most frequent observation distance. I find it interesting to ask a person who prefers fast focus.
I like about 1.5 rotations over the entire rotation range (end-to-end) at 8x and 10x magnification. Especially for observations < 100 metres, where you have to rotate more often. Sometimes I observe dragonflies and fishes by/in the river and in the millrace of the old factory. 5 to 20 m observation distance.
 

Jessie-66

Germany
Great to read first review of this binocular! I'm thinking of buying sometimes near future new binocular and Nikon MHG is what I was thinking, but new Hawke is interesting indeed. Is It made in China, first binoculars made in China with field flatteners? Now I own Hawke Sapphire 8x43 and it's quite good for the price. Birding with it is pleasure, but always can get better!
I don't know who the OEM of the Hawke APO binoculars is, I can't find "Made in ..." or "Assembled in ..." in the documentation, on the binoculars or on Hawke websites. I don't like to speculate, but some things are obvious ;-)
I think the Hawke APO is the cheapest binocular with field flatteners (about 90 per cent edge sharpness) and a wide angle of view. It has less lateral CA than the Nikon MHG with about the same realistic colour reproduction. I am particularly impressed by the large apparent field of view. Mechanically, the Nilon MHG is better - and significantly more expensive. For that, trudge through my technically dry review. What bothers me most is the fast focus (a little less than 1 turn). Meanwhile I get used to it, others may like the fast focus. Optically, the Hawke Fronteir APO is a step up from the Hawke Frontier EDX (less edge sharpness, only about 2/3 of the field of view radius, CA and colour representation similar good, surroundings/environment of the exit pupils darkened worse, still good overall). The Hawke Frontier EDX 8x32 has better edge sharpness than the EDX 8x42, unfortunately only 131 m field of view (Swaro CL 8x30 is not better).
I find the colour representation of the Frontier EDX and APO very good: I like realistic, neither dull nor artificially colourful.
Shading (kidney beans) and eye cups are something everyone has to check for themselves. Fortunately, people's physiognomies/faces are different. But there's a lid for every pot ;-)
 

Markkuli

Member
Finally we have it in Finland too, sold in Fotofennica.fi. They have mention there that it is made in China. I believe that it is true, it's well respected shop I think.
 

Markkuli

Member
What can you say about ergonomics in real use? Nikon is about 75 grams lighter, how much it counts when you walk around for hours watching birds? If you had to choose which one you would take? Which one from those two are more "fun" to use for long periods.
 

Jessie-66

Germany
I bought the Hawke APO Frontier 10x42 in cold autumn, now it is winter and cold. I don't notice the difference in weight with thick jackets and collars. The weight of the Nikon MHG 8x42 bothers me in summer with a T-shirt. I therefore use a contoured strap and will get a lightweight 8x30. I prefer the Nikon MHG because of its better ergonomics, feel, slower and more accurate focus and 8x magnification (with more depth of field because lower mag.) for my frequently short distance observations (Minimum 4 m for fishes and dragonflies, up to 100 m for birds).

Optically, only small differences are noticeable in the field, especially the magnification when observing flying birds of prey (buzzard, red kite). However, I am observing in a hilly landscape with no particular distance vision. In the surrounding fields with distant views there is very little activity during the day, so observing there is boring. Perching birds of prey are usually far away, mostly too small to observe any details or make ID with bins. In twilight I see more details with the Hawke, especially because of more magnification.

Sometimes I drive up a hill and observe the surrounding villages, forests and hills, 1 to 10 km away. I just have to focus once. The Hawke APO is great, observations take about 1 hour, but views with bins are very long with many panning over the nice hilly landscape with villages, cows and sometimes some horses on fields. Thanks to the large eyecups that fit my eye sockets well, I can hold the Hawke APO 10x42 just as steady as the Nikon MHG 8x42, which is only attached under the eyebrows.

To "fun" or better joy: The Hawke's large apparent field of view always delights me, which is why I sometimes use it also for short distances instead of the Nikon 8x42; the small weaknesses of the quite inexpensive Hawke binoculars don't matter. Long birdwatching is to be distinguished: Many hours with frequent short observations or several, very long observations. For the latter, I find the Nikon more practical because it is more ergonomic. For the former, both binoculars are quite equally suitable. If you like fast focusing. I like ~ 1.5 rotations over the hole range with Nikon MHG.

If I could only have 1 pair of binoculars, I would choose the Nikon MHG 8x42. The Hawke Frontier APO 10x42 I would only give away with a heavy, sad heart and tears in my eyes, it is bright, almost edge sharp, has very little CA and the impressively large apparent field of view. In another thread I wrote:
"I have had to deal with imperfect technology all my professional life, sometimes struggling. I love some people with obvious weaknesses, maybe that's why? I also like things with imperfections, modern mid-range binoculars, porro prism binoculars. Just by having a particularly nice feature that makes them stand out from the gray crowd, different from the mainstream, they must have. Look, my new Hawke APO has a particularly wide field of view, the focus is too smooth, too fast for my taste. I call it "my little Sensibelchen" for that reason. The german word "Sensibelchen" can not be correct translated, means something like "extremely sensitive, mentally very easily hurt person". During my nature observations, optical flaws hardly bother me, rather ergonomic weaknesses. The beauty of nature wins over every optical nitpicking, even makes it ridiculous."
And you can have a look at the Cloudynights forum, how some people are attached to their old, classic wide-angle porros, collect them.

And another advantage of the low price: you can use the Hawke as an optical tool for real nature watching - and don't start baby-pampering it. After 10 years it will have earned its bread, you buy a contemporary pair of new binoculars on the then current state of the art, you don't have to hope for a good sale of abused and technically outdatet binoculars - you just give it away to a poorer or loved people. That's also joy for you. I think, in 10 years most people will be using compared today strongly improved image-stabilised binoculars, today's "alphas" without IS are optically obsolete, outdated and difficult, only to a few collectors to resell - even if labeled with Zeiss, Leica or Swarovski. ;-)
 
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Markkuli

Member
Thanks for very detailed answer once again. I found Hawke here in Finland costing 690 euros and nikon monarch MHG 1000 euros. From Ebay there is cheapest Nikon about 800 in Germany. I have to think about all you have written and of course it would be best to go and try myself. I live in small town and to try binoculars I have to travel to Helsinki about 300 kilometres away. Thank you very much and merry christmas!
 

Jessie-66

Germany
I found Hawke here in Finland costing 690 euros and nikon monarch MHG 1000 euros. From Ebay there is cheapest Nikon about 800 in Germany.
In a German sales portal, a used Hawke APO is offered for 580 euros + shipping. Use an online translator:
I think, shipping to Finland costs about 20 euros. If you want, I ask the seller if he ships to Finland, ask him for his email address, and write it to you via PN. The Hawke APOs can't be worn out, they are newly released. With used purchases one has rarely and if, then only small losses with repeated sales. ;-)
However, I do not assume any responsibility. In the offer I do not recognize any indications that point to fraud.
Merry Christmas to you and all readers. Jessie.
 
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Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
What focus speed do you prefer? Please include magnification and most frequent observation distance. I find it interesting to ask a person who prefers fast focus.
I like about 1.5 rotations over the entire rotation range (end-to-end) at 8x and 10x magnification. Especially for observations < 100 metres, where you have to rotate more often. Sometimes I observe dragonflies and fishes by/in the river and in the millrace of the old factory. 5 to 20 m observation distance.
Jessie, the best binocular I know for places like marshes and lakes where you can have a dragonfly as close as 2metres in one moment and then a Marsh Harrier or Heron in the distance, and then a butterfly or small bird nearby is Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32 it focuses from 4km to 2m in 0.5 of one turn.

Lee
 

Markkuli

Member
I have only two binoculars Hawke Sapphire 8x43 and Zeiss terra 8x25, which is nice to have always on pocket so I can be checking birds where ever I might go. People here talks very much about focus speed and slack or slop. Now I checked that with those two in my bird feeding and understood how much it counts in use. Hawke has slower focusing and has that slack or slop, it won't response immediately when I turn focusing wheel and Terra don't have that slack or slop. Terra feels more quality product, it is made in japan. Hawke feels like big rubbery and plasticy thing, not so refined. I paid 300 for Terra and 380 for Hawke, so in that comparison both binoculars is what is to be expected for that price. If Apo is same kind of build quality or slightly better, but it costs double than my Sapphire. Then I don't know is it good investment. Of course picture quality is most important, but if I pay lot's of money maybe I wan't something that feels good in use too. Just thinking...

Next thing that I was wondering is transmission. If APO and MHG were about same brightness, so I believe about same transmission. APO should be brighter than Hawke ED X, if that is true what they tested in Allbinos. Hawke ED X 8x42 got transmission 84,5% and MHG 10x42 got 88,3%. If MHG 10x42 got 88,3% transmission, 8x42 should be over 90% maybe. When you compared APO and ED X you did'nt mention differences in brightness, that equals transmission. I'm not sure how easy or hard is that to test, but that is one thing that came to my mind. Sorry, I'm not asking answer all to my questions, only telling things what I'm thinking about these binoculars. I'm not an expert in binoculars, or in english language! 😊.
P.S. In some reviews they say that ED X and Sapphire is optically very much same, so that gives me some idea of these binoculars we are talking about.
 
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Jessie-66

Germany
Next thing that I was wondering is transmission. If APO and MHG were about same brightness, so I believe about same transmission. APO should be brighter than Hawke ED X, if that is true what they tested in Allbinos. Hawke ED X 8x42 got transmission 84,5% and MHG 10x42 got 88,3%. If MHG 10x42 got 88,3% transmission, 8x42 should be over 90% maybe. When you compared APO and ED X you did'nt mention differences in brightness, that equals transmission. I'm not sure how easy or hard is that to test, but that is one thing that came to my mind. Sorry, I'm not asking answer all to my questions, only telling things what I'm thinking about these binoculars. I'm not an expert in binoculars, or in english language! 😊.
P.S. In some reviews they say that ED X and Sapphire is optically very much same, so that gives me some idea of these binoculars we are talking about.
Differences in brightness
Comparisons were made at very advanced twilight, therefore only in the range up to 100 m. Both binoculars show no practically relevant differences. A little bit better I recognized a trellis for climbing plants as well as details of a small, bright multicolored watering can (decoration with picture) in front of a dark hedge in 50 m distance with the Hawke APO 10x42, which could identify the decoration. I don't consider the difference in brightness of both 42 mm binoculars to be of practical relevance even in far advanced twilight. If you observe in such advanced twilight, it is better to choose binoculars with a lens diameter of 50 mm or more.
Source: (Twilight tests repeated in the meantime with other observation objects show me the same result as quoted.)

The comparison was made in twilight with 2 binoculars of different magnification. Imho the results (resolution advantage for the Hawke Frontier APO 10x42 vs Nikon MHG 8x42 in twilight) come about because of the higher magnification. Such small transmission differences as you mention can hardly be distinguished by the human eye. Read the following post and see also Dr. Merlitz's diagrams (document [1], Fig. 5, page 5 and Fig. 6, page 6). Note the exponents or square root (exp 1/2) of T in formulas.
In low-light conditions (moonlight, residual light at night), the resolution gain E is approximated by Köhler and Leinhos [1], [2]:
E ~ D * sqrt T
sqrt ... square root
D ... light effective diameter of the objective lenses in mm
T ... transmission in twilight (~ 510 nm wave length, T in % / 100 %)
More accurate and for wider ranges is the use of Dr. Merlitz's diagrams/nomograms [2]. One can simply read off but the calculation is very complex.
I like quick and dirty rules of thumb's for praxis, therefore Mr. Köhler and Mr. Leinhos (formula 4, page 2) and Dr. Merlitz's diagrams (Fig. 5, page 5 and Fig. 6, page 6) for Mr. Berek's results [2].

I have simplified the formula of Köhler and Leinhaus for the special case twilight (x = 1/4):
E ~ sqrt (m * D / de) * T exp 1/4
m ... magnification
de ... diameter of the eye pupil, I think one can use for twilight 4 ... 5 mm (maximum: exit pupil diameter).
T exp 1/4 is also the mathematical 4th root of the transmission T.

Thus, we now have 2 simple formulas that are practically quick and easy to calculate - in addition to Dr. Merlitz's nomograms for Berek's model.

The well known twilight factor TF does not take transmission into account:
TF = sqrt (m * D)
Correlation with binoculars performance - but without consideration of transmission; please use an online translator:

[1) Merlitz: Performance of binoculars: Berek’s model of target detection

[2] German Wikipedia: Fernrohrleistung (Please use an online translator.)

I leave the calculation for comparison of 2 bins with the ratio E1 / E2 * 100 % to the OP, I am not a primary/basic/elementary school teacher. ;-)

Edit: Text changed and corrected several times.
We don't know the twilight transmission value of the Hawke APO, but you can still calculate with the transmission values from Hawke Frontier EDX you mentioned (allbinos.com). Transmission values from ~ 510 nm (twilight) and eye pupil diameter de = 4.2 mm (in twilight = exit pupil diameter of bins).
I hope this helps you. The OP was Dennis. ;-) Jessie

Edit: Text (suggestion) added.
 
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Jessie-66

Germany
Jessie, the best binocular I know for places like marshes and lakes where you can have a dragonfly as close as 2metres in one moment and then a Marsh Harrier or Heron in the distance, and then a butterfly or small bird nearby is Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32 it focuses from 4km to 2m in 0.5 of one turn.

Lee
Hi Lee, thanks for the answer. Maybe in the course of time I will also learn to appreciate a quick focus, at least in certain observation situations. That was the point of my question. Jessie
 

Jessie-66

Germany
APO should be brighter than Hawke ED X, if that is true what they tested in Allbinos. Hawke ED X 8x42 got transmission 84,5% and MHG 10x42 got 88,3%. If MHG 10x42 got 88,3% transmission, 8x42 should be over 90% maybe.
I think you worry too much about the transmission values. They are already good enough in modern mid-range binoculars. I'll tell you a little story I've experienced myself: I ordered the Hawke Frontier EDX 8x32 (FoV = 135 m) and the Kowa BDII XD 8x32 (FoV = 154 m) at the same time and tested both binoculars immediately one after the other. Then I wanted to know how the binoculars would fit my husband because of shadows, kidney beans. First I gave him the Kowa's, then the Hawke's: "What kind of tube is that?!" Because of the relatively smaller field of view from Hawke's. "And which binoculars show the better image?"; "The Hawke's, the tube." (Tube means here a view how in a toilet paper roll). It was a grey day with overcast skies, ideal for testing the colour representation. Kowa's image in our garden was dull, sad with low color saturation and low contrasts. Further research revealed that another forum member (German forum) also reported a dull, sad image from the same Kowa BDII XD series, but 10x42 format. At street lights at night, the Kowa's shows extreme spikes, the Hawke's almost none. Both binoculars were returned, the Hawke's with relative small eye cups only because of shadowing due to my individual physiognomy. Bigger eye cups of Kowa's fits better to me. Too bad.

And now let's look at the transmission curve of the Kowa BDII XD 6.5x32 with high transmission values of 90% (pages 7 and 11)
versus Hawke Frontier EDX 8x42 with ~ 85 % transmission and far better optics of this serie:
What do I conclude from this? Besides the already sufficiently high transmission of modern mid-range binoculars, there are more essential quality criteria for optics in praxis: Quality of the grinding of the lens surfaces, glass quality, uniform and appropriate thickness of coatings, quality of prisms, good false light traps, blackening, surrounding of exit pupils etc. With the test for spikes, I can at least check the quality of the roof prisms. I also look carefully in the objectives under different angles of illumination against brown and green backgrounds in front of oculars. Without flash light. Visible roof edges also indicate poor roof prism quality. I really wanted the Kowa's because of its impressive field of view and tested and returned 3 units. I found visible roof edges on 2 of them. The Kowa's with to me good fitting eyecups shows also extreme veiling glare, false light, flashes under bright but gray overcast sky. (The Hawke's I don't test in this regard because eyecups are not fits to me, a test is meaningless. Both binoculars do not have well-blackened surroundings of the exit pupils. The Hawke's false light traps are more complex and better blackened than those of the Kowa's. View in objectives with flash light.)

And now read carefully my technical-dry review again. I also assessed the mechanics. ;-)
Best wishes and good night. Jessie
 
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