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SVBONY SA205 Review (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
SVBONY is a relative new-comer to the sport optics game having built up their reputation as a direct-to-consumer Chinese telescope gear company. Their SV202 model has been rather polarizing here boasting ED glass and dielectric prisms at a price far below what one would pay for these features. I for one have never been fully satisfied with any of their products I have tried (a handful of eyepieces, an SA405 spotting scope, and the SV202 8x32 binoculars) but when they recently released a new model (SA205) claiming ED glass, dielectric prism coatings and a flat field it certainly piqued my interest. When they went on sale on AliExpress I bit the bullet out of curiosity to see what ~$200 can get you from China these days.

Haptics, Mechanics, and "Feel"
The first impression when handling them is they feel cheap. I think this can mostly be chalked up to their light weight (I am used to my Meostars which are a brick), plasticky feeling armor, and all plastic eyecups with not so solid click stops. I don't really have a problem with any of these characteristics as I have never dropped a binocular but if you like some taction in your armor these have very little. These are a standard closed bridge design with no indents guiding your hands but I nonetheless find the balance and handling quite good. The center hinge tension is good, the diopter stays put, and the focuser tension is just about right but a little on the stiff side for my twirly preferences. The diopter does have click stops of some sort which seem to correspond to about 1/3 dpt adjustments which I enjoy. The focuser is smooth through the full range and has no slack, quite good for this price point. There are ridged baffles in front of the focusing lens and all internals are painted a slightly shiny black. Some dust on one prism and a little stray glue present on the barrel interior but overall pleased with the internals.

The View
-Flat Field?
My first thought when looking through them was "well that was a lie". They boast "FLAT FIELD ED" right on the barrel but there is clear blurring at the edge. The sweet spot is wide with no sharpness degradation until about 75% of the way out but they are not sharp edge-to-edge. However, under the night sky it became obvious that the field was in fact flat in the sense that there was no field curvature...the blurring is caused practically entirely by astigmatism at the edge of the field with a touch of coma. The field is also "flat" in the sense that there is practically no rectilinear distortion (and low AMD). Despite this there is very little rolling ball effect while panning for me.
-Contrast and Color
The central contrast is very good. Color presentation is neutral and pleasing. Chromatic aberration is adequately controlled, very low in the center but higher than I would like on the edge. It starts fairly soon off axis so the CA-free sweet spot is rather small and is also very sensitive to eye placement. It is definitely corrected better than on the SV202 but I am a stickler and I would like it to be lower. This was clearly a small compromise in order to achieve the small size (smaller than my Athlon Ares 8x36) and light weight.
-Ease of View and Glare
The ease of view is very nice on these. No blackouts and I can see the full view with the eyecups at multiple click stop positions. Veiling glare is suprisingly not too bad. It is definitely there and sensitive to eye placement but given the leaky prisms and strong internal reflections seen in the exit pupil it could have (and maybe should have) been a lot worse.

I will follow this up with some photos in the coming days as well as comparisons to other binoculars I have with similar specs and price.

SVBONY SA205 vs. Athlon Ares 8x36​

Despite having 42mm of aperture, the SA205 is shorter and almost as light.

SA205 has a smoother more precise focuser.

Despite both claiming a 7.7 degree FOV, the Ares has a noticeably wider AFOV than the SA205. The Ares also seems to have more magnification which may explain the discrepancy because they seem to show the same TFOV. I may dig into this later if I have the time and desire of if anyone else is curious.

SA205 has slightly better central apparent sharpness and noticeably better edge sharpness.

The SA205 has slightly more CA near the center and much more at the edge (a strong point of the Ares, which obviously has slower objectives given their lower aperture and longer body).

Glare is comparable, maybe a slight edge to the Ares as it is a little harder to wash out.

Included accessories are nicer with the Ares (real flimsy case and caps from SVBONY).

Coatings are slightly lower intensity on the SA205

Armor material is similar on both but the open bridge and bumps on the side make the Ares feel much more secure in the hand.

Much more usable eye relief on the SA205
SVBONY SA205 vs. Nikon Monarch 7
About the same in:
  • Glare suppression
  • Size and weight
  • Eye relief
  • Focus action
Monarch 7:
  • Noticeably wider FOV
  • Better contrast and coatings
  • Slightly less CA
  • Feels a little more robust
  • More comfortable to hold
  • More forgiving eye placement
  • Slightly better apparent sharpness in the center and the edge
  • Better diopter system
Overall I think I slightly prefer the monarch 7 but the SA205 give them a good run for the money at half the cost. I think the SA205 slides in nicely as a good value being better than the SV202/diamondback $100-$200 crowd while being just a little worse than the Monarch 7/Viper $400-$500 crowd.

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