A Work Commenced September 19 2021
In a recent review blog I put the Svbony SV 202 10 x 42 ED binocular through its paces. In that blog I explained why I thought it offered exceptional ergonomic and optical performance for the very modest price I paid for it. Here I wish to offer further evidence concerning its optical quality and notes concerning my continued use of this instrument in the field.
I set up my IPhone 7 to take some images I shot through the SVbony 10 x 42 ED while tripod mounted. The IPhone 7 was set on a three second timer to avoid vibrations being introduced into the images and all images are a composite of 10 photo bursts. The reader will note that none of the images presented have been modified in any way; they’re all raw images taken straight from the phone. All distances were measured using a laser range finder shown below:
In the image below, a tree trunk at a distance of 23.1 yards is imaged through the binocular:
Note the sharpness of the tree trunk from the top of the field to near the bottom. Closer inspection shows some distortion at the field edges, but I hope you can see just how much of the field is tack sharp, with very nice contrast and natural colour fidelity.
In the next set of images, I compared the depth of focus of the Svbony 10 x 42 ED with my Leica Ultravid 8 x 20. In both images, the tip of the post in the foreground of the image (seen at the bottom) is located at a distance of 32.3 yards. In addition, for both images, the IPhone 7 camera was focused on the middle fence located at a distance of 43.8 yards, while the park bench seen in the background is located at a distance of 97.7 yards.
First up, the Svbony 10 x 42 ED image:
Now here is the same scene as shot through the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20(also tripod mounted):
The reader will note the greater depth of focus and edge-of-field sharpness of the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20. The Svbony 10 x 42 ED shows some distortion at the edges of the field in the background, but not in the foreground.
Now, if one compares the sharpness of the first image featuring the tree trunk at 23.1 yards with the sharpness of the tip of the post seen in the foreground(32.1 yards) of the Svbony 10 x 42 ED park scene image, one can see that the foreground post is sharper than that of the background. This suggests that over closer ranges of focus, the Svbony has a better corrected field. Only when the focus is shifted to longer distances and extended out to infinity, can one see the greater edge-of-field distortion of the Svbony 10 x 42 ED image.
This is good news for birders or those wanting to image sources within a few tens of yards, as the evidence seems to suggest that the sweet spot will be greater than at larger distances.
Note the richer colours in the Svbony 10 x 42 ED compared with the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20. This may be attributed to the greater light grasp, as well as the ED glass element in the Svbony as compared with the Leica Ultravid, which has a smaller aperture and does not feature ED glass.
These results demonstrate the very nice optical quality of the Svbony 10 x 42 ED, which features a large sweet spot and excellent centre of field sharpness that is so important to any binocular image.
It must also be noted that the actual views garnered through both binoculars with one’s eyes are far more compelling than the above IPhone 7 images suggest.
Further Notes from the Field
At 10.15pm local time on the night of September 19 2021, I examined the face of a near full Harvest Moon, located low in the south southeast. The image was razor sharp, with beautiful details of the lunar maria and ray craters. Contrast was excellent, with no internal reflections, ghost images or diffused light round about it. A thin sliver of blue and yellow fringes was seen at the south and north lunar edges, respectively, a consequence mainly of atmospheric refraction. No signs of diffraction spikes were seen emanating outward from the lunar orb.
Moving the Moon to the edge of the field revealed some darkening of the maria. This reveals some illumination drop off near the field edge, as mentioned earlier in connection to the Pleiades.
Just after local midnight on September 20, I once again examined the near full Moon as it crossed the meridian, and so at its highest altitude in the sky. Nearly all of the atmospheric refraction had disappeared and the lunar south and north edges were, to all intents and purposes, completely colour free. The view was simply magnificent! This is what I would expect in a high-quality 10x ED model.
I’m really enjoying the focus wheel on the Svbony 10 x 42 ED. Although I would class it as slow, it is extremely smooth and backlash free. It’s ideal for looking at slowly moving or stationary targets, which is more suited to 10x than to 8x. Images snap to extremely fine focus with none of the ambiguity I often encounter with binoculars having larger exit pupils.
Right on schedule, as if heralding the onset of the fall, the evening of the autumnal equinox brought with it the first gales of the new season. In the wee small hours of September 22 I enjoyed watching the bright harvest Moon as clouds swept by it at breakneck speed, on the wings of a strong westerly wind off the Atlantic. I’ve never enjoyed looking at the full Moon as much as I do with binoculars, and especially when clouds roll across its surface. The light shows I enjoyed with the Svbony 10 x 42 ED were simply spell binding. The field of view was filled with some of the most amazing colours nature displays, as water droplets interact in various ways with Moonshine. The structure of those cloud formations, as seen in moonlight, is always fascinating and rewarding to watch. More on this here.
What Pictures Reveal
I’ve been thinking some more about what the camera reveals about some of the photos I’ve been capturing with my binoculars. It seems to me that if all the variables are normalised apart from aperture and magnification, one can use those images to determine answers to questions I’ve asked myself in the past. How does aperture and magnification affect resolution, colour saturation and other parameters in daytime glassing? If any one has access to the one or more of the Svbony SV 202 series of ED binoculars, they could objectively answer some of these these questions by comparing the 10 x 42 ED to the 10 x 50 ED, for example, on carefully selected daytime targets.
From some of my preliminary experiments, it seems aperture definitely affects colour saturation and resolution positively. But the unblinking eye of the camera may not accurately reflect perceived image brightness, as I seem to perceive the images through the little Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 and the 10 x 42 Svbony as much more alike in good light. I have noticed however, that colours ‘pop’ that little bit more in the larger glass. Certainly more investigation in this area is warranted.
Identifying the Nature of the Outer Field Aberrations
By examining some of the brighter stars in Aquila at about 12.30 am on September 24, I was able to establish that the off axis aberration is mostly attributed to field curvature. This was ascertained by bringing the stars to the edge of the field and attempting to focus out those aberrations. The result was fairly clear; much of those off axis aberrations could indeed be focused out, making the stars much smaller and almost pinpoint; a clear sign of field curvature.
A Great Astronomical Tool
At about 1:00 am on the morning of September 26, I enjoyed a partially clear sky and a waning gibbous Moon now approaching third quarter. It was well up in the east and I enjoyed razor sharp images of the vast southern crater fields with the 10 x 42, the magnificent ray craters, Tycho and Copernicus, the Apennine Mountains and Mare Imbrium, Nubium and Humorum. The crater fields were marble white against the steely grey of the lunar seas. Moonlight illuminated some of the clouds surrounding it and I watched the stars winking in and out of view as they raced past on a still gusty westerly wind. Imaging clouds moving through the field with the fixed stars so far away behind them gave a haunting sense of perspective. The Svbony is turning out to be a magnificent star gazing binocular, bringing Heaven and Earth together in wonderful harmony.
In the wee small hours of Sunday, October 3 2021, I arose at about 5.30am and took a peek out my back door to see if it was clear. The entire night was very unsettled, with frequent showers rolling in off the Atlantic, but interspersed by some fairly lengthy clear spells. To my delight, it was clear – magnificently so! The Pleaides had already crossed the meridian and was still very high up in the south southwest. Orion wasn’t far behind it and very well placed for observation. So I rushed inside to fetch a warm coat to cover my pyjamas, slipped on my fur-lined boots and fetched my Svbony 10 x 42 ED before venturing outside to observe the heavens. The Svbony showed me a glorious view of the Pleaides – the best I’ve seen this season. Many more stars were coming through as I was peering at it through a much thinner column of air, and though I observe from a Bortle 4 region, it seemed more like Bortle 3 on this exceptionally transparent night. The 10x glass frames this celebrated open cluster beautifully, the sheer brilliance of its constituent hot white and blue- white stars etched into my eyeball. Lovely too are the sparkling jewels which adorn the Hyades. In the Svbony, they reveal a riot of colour and the entire V shaped asterism fits snugly within a single binocular field.
Then I turned to mighty Orion, now near the meridian and enjoyed a magnificent view of the Sword handle, with the Great Nebula dominating the field. Stars remained lovely tight pinpoints of light across most of the field against a sky that appeared unusually dark. Perhaps it was the diminished light from the slumbering city of Glasgow some 25 miles as the crow flies south from here that made them appear so brilliant. Whatever it was, the beauty of the images I was sweeping up with this magnificent instrument almost brought a tear to my eye. I moved up to the brilliant belt stars and drank up the view of a blizzard of myriad faint stars – Collinder 70 – surrounding the trio This very special 10 x 42 binocular showed me one of the best views of this oft overlooked star cluster I’ve enjoyed in years. It reaches significantly deeper than a 8 x 42, the extra bit of magnifying power helping to pull fainter luminaries out of the cosmic dark
Usually, I hit the hay early on Saturday nights for Church on Sunday morning, but I’m now looking for a new Church that teaches proper Biblical Christianity, but haven’t found any one suitable just yet. Watching the glory of God’s celestial creation seemed the next best thing for me to do, and as the minutes raced by I knew I did the right thing, rising early before the sunrise.
Imposing Auriga was very high up, allowing the 10 x 42 to drink up excellent views of the Messier trio spanning its mid-section -M 37,38 and 39 – which stood out beautifully like bioluminescent jelly fish swimming in the shallows. Perseus and Cassiopeia were very near the zenith affording splendid views of the Milky Way coursing through them. Very were placed too was the great Galaxy in Andromeda, M31, and its two satellites, M110 and M32. Looking through such clear and dust free air made M31 stand out far better than it does early in the evening at the beginning of October, its vast lenticular form coming out beautifully in the 10 x 42. The Double Cluster was also a real sight for sore eyes at these lofty heights!
Over in the east, Gemini’s Castor and Pollux heralded the dawn, with both stars easily fitting in the same field. And just a few fields away I picked up the ever lovely M35, that loosely aggregated communion of middle aged suns shining though the darkness.
The Svbony is such a lightweight binocular; it’s ideal for hand-held astronomical observations, and though I could enjoy even better views if I were to place it on a tripod or monopod, there’s something very liberating about just keeping it simple. You, your binocular and your thoughts – nothing more, nothing less.
Enjoying the Season of Mellow Fruitfulness
My admiration for the Svbony 10 x 42 ED grows day by day. I’m still pinching myself about its exceptional optical performance. As autumn is progressing, we’re getting many unsettled spells, with sunshine and rain showers. These moody autumnal days provide excellent light for a binocular user, and on my walks through woods, fields and along river banks, the 10 x 42 ED is proving itself to be a real champion glass. On one afternoon, I was glassing some bright red Rowan berries drenched in fresh rain and glistening in weak fall sunlight. The crispness of the images this binocular delivers just takes your breath away! I really don’t know how this company has pulled this off, but it is practically indistinguishable from the best binoculars now available on the market. Contrast and colour fidelity are outstanding and the build quality of the instrument leaves nothing to be desired. I want to tell the whole world about this phenomenal optic. I would even encourage those who have a number of top tier binos to take the plunge and acquire this Svbony. They would surely learn a lot!
The eyecups on the Svbony 10 x 42 ED are amongst the best I’ve encountered on any binocular. Period. They click into place with all the reassurance of an alpha glass. Never will it cross your mind to worry about whether they will loosen or fail. They are excellently engineered.
Watching sunlight penetrate golden autumn leaves is a real visual treat with the Svbony, especially when glassing against a cobalt blue sky. Its resolving power is magnificent, showing lovely, intricate details of the veins running through them and the splendid geometries of their edges. I’ve logged several new bird species with the Svbony, including a dusky Dunnock scurrying through forest leaf litter and a maiden sighting of graceful Waxwing, proudly displaying its head crest. The extra reach of the 10x over the 8x is very welcome. Despite having a smaller field of view than its 8x counterpart, 10x is proving far more versatile than I previously envisaged. Its low weight and excellent handling make it a real joy as a prime birding glass.
Some Encouraging Updates
Interest in the Svbony 10 x 42 ED is gaining momentum. Here is an ongoing thread on Cloudynights Binocular Forum discussing my original review of this instrument. You’ll see that there have been some very positive comments from folk who have actually bought the binocular and taken the time to test drive it, but as usual on that forum, there are the naysayers, those who dismiss the instrument out of hand, having never looked through it, because of its low price, not to mention some ridiculous comments about warranty etc that have no relevance to the vast majority of consumers . I would strongly encourage anyone who has experience of the Svbony to please leave some feedback on it. There will always be destructive trolls of course, but it’s easy to see through their lying narratives. It will help to raise awareness of the product so that more people can enjoy it. The optics snobs are also watching it from the sidelines(I have ways of finding out who they are!) waiting for me to trip up. Drawn to conflict, they lurk in the murky shadows, waiting for a boxing match to well up. I give them no oxygen.
Others have as much as accused me of working for Svbony lol! Let me make something patently clear: I have given permission to Svbony to use my review to promote this binocular, and a link to it is now on their website, together with some commentary made by another knowledgeable gentleman who has real experience with binoculars and who, after finding my reviews, purchased the instrument and took the time to capture some video footage on his smartphone. What is more, if you look back on some of the comments on these binoculars in the comments section, you will see my response to Svbony, who contacted me directly via this website. I make no apologies for promoting an excellent product that a lot of prospective buyers can benefit from. I would do the same for any economically priced product that represents excellent value for money. Indeed, as a tester of optical equipment, I have a duty to do so!
One gentleman, going by the name of Pinac on Cloudynights and Canip (Pinac backwards)on Birdforum runs a website dedicated to testing binoculars. He kindly performed a few days testing of the 10 x 42 ED and posted his preliminary comments on his website. You can see those comments here.
Of equal merit, one Spanish purchaser posted a recent review of the 10 x 42 ED on Amazon, dated October 12 2021. Here is the English translation, which is surprisingly rich on details, and which attests to its authenticity. However, I’m not sure what the reviewer was talking about in regard to the colours of the binocular’s anti-reflection coatings:
After the fiasco of the Svbony SV40 10×42 (not ED) with roof prism (€39.99 on Amazon), I bought these Svbony SV202 10×42 ED animated by a dithyrambic review by an amateur with pedigree I read on the internet; for my trust in the brand, from which I have other completely satisfactory products (for example an excellent O-III filter), and because I wanted a decent roof prism binocular (I have several, all with a Porro prism). These are advertised as having magnesium alloy body, Bak-4 glass prisms, low dispersion (ED) glass lenses, phase correcting coating and are nitrogen purged. I found the price very attractive for what they offer.
Just out of the box I was amazed by the build quality, the solidity and robustness, the smoothness of the focus wheel. And also, negatively, the reddish tint of the anti-reflective coating. It has always been said that one should avoid coatings with a reddish tint, preferring bluish, greenish or violet ones. Its weight, just under 700 g, allows you to use them hand-held for quite a long time without getting tired and without a shaking image, which is appreciated.
My unit arrived without collimation problems. By day, I liked the impeccable focus. Unlike the defective Svbony SV40 10×42 (not ED, Bk-7, not nitrogen purged, €39.99 on Amazon) that I received, the diopter corrector works perfectly and allows for very precise focusing with both eyes. The image was very sharp and bright and does not pale at the edges (the prisms are Bak-4). I noticed very little chromatic aberration, barely noticeable, and only off-axis. As with all low- and mid-range binoculars, the image degrades as we move away from the center of the visual field, but in these 10×42 ED’s it’s pretty decent up to, say, 70% of the center. You can’t get more for 150€. By day they passed the exam with a note.
Under the stars they also behaved very well. I tried them in a location in which one could see stars at least of magnitude 5 naked-eye. The SV202 10×42 ED has very little chromatic aberration, even when observing very bright bodies, such as bright stars or Jupiter (all four Galilean satellites were seen perfectly). There are no colour rims or annoying glitter. Internal reflections are very well controlled, better than in some mid-high range (and larger aperture) binoculars. Color rendition is quite natural. Mu-Cefei, for example, showed a nice deep orange, indistinguishable from my high-end 20x80s that I had next to me. They resolved Albireo (beta Cygni), a beautiful double (I see them pale yellow and turquoise blue), without difficulty even hand-held. The 35 arc-seconds separation should not be a problem for 10x, unless the image is not stable.
The 6º field of view is slightly narrower than in other 10x (6.5°) binoculars, except for the stupendous Pentax WP or the Opticron Adventurer. The Persei Double Cluster, quite high in the sky in October, enters comfortably the field of view along with Stock 2, and there is hardly any degradation at the edges of the image, perfect, sharp, spectacular. The focus this 10×42 is wonderful: stars are point-like. With a pair of slightly cheaper 10×50, by focusing the Double Cluster in the center of the field of view you can see how the image of the star loop that starts in the Double Cluster degrades as it moves away from the center. The spiral configuration of the stars in the open cluster M34 (Perseus) could be appreciated.
The Pleiades (M45) offered a spectacular image, with a multitude of stars (up to magnitude 8.6 without problems, with the Pleiades 50º above the horizon). M31 offered an attractive image, with differences in brightness between the galactic center and the spiral arms; with this opening (42 mm) and in visual, the arms are not visible, but the oval loses luminosity towards the edges. I was able to distinguish M32, but not M110, Andromeda’s companions. Although at this time of year the Big Dipper is very low in the sky, I easily located M81 with direct vision. With averted vision “I guessed” M82. I was liking these Svbony SV202 10×42 ED so much that I couldn’t stop!
I saw perfectly Auriga’s three open clusters (M36, M37 and M38) and M35 in Gemini, although, of course, larger openings allow more stars to be resolved. The M2, M15 and M20 globulars, the M11 open cluster and the planetary nebula M27 were easy targets for these superb 10×42. I ended with a general tour of the Milky Way and Orion’s belt and sword areas, still low above the horizon (10º-30º). I observed M42, its spectacular nebulosity, its shape, with subtle intensity gradations… and then I decided to end the test and move on to my 20×80:).
Summing up: a fantastic roof-prism binocular, lightweight, elegant, with more than decent optics for the 150 € they cost. They are versatile, excellent by day and surprisingly good by night. It is clear that anti-reflective coatings and phase correction work optimally. And, to top it off, purged with nitrogen, watertight, so that they do not get tarnish by dew in cold nights. I know not better binoculars, just even comparable, for this price; with roof prism or with Porro prism (always cheaper than models with roof prism of equal optical quality). Without a doubt, the Svbony SV202 10×42 ED are very satisfying binoculars, which will serve both hikers, birders and stargazers. And at an unbeatable price.
Dithyrabic? Moi? Never lol!
Update: November 28 2021
The Svbony SV 202 ED thread on Cloudynights forums is going from strength to strength with over 5,500 views. Despite the efforts of a few trolls to derail it, injecting their hatred and ridiculous accusations about this inexpensive binocular that is clearly breaking any previous norms in regard to price to performance ratio, more and more people are chiming in with positive feedback. Some thoughtful folk have also contacted me behind the scenes in PMs to say that they were very happy with their purchase and to personally thank me for the reviews. My pleasure!
I found this post by Chris Charen from New Zealand to be particularly insightful:
Received a pair 3 days ago and on brief usage of them, yes they are remarkable binos for the price. Superior optically to my Terra EDs and my Orion Otter EDs. They display less global CA then my Trinovid HDs and my 12 year old Minox BD 10×58 EDs. Light transmission is excellent, superior to the ‘older’ BN Leica 12×50’s. Field curvature is well controlled with no overt optical aberrations and secondary reflections / ghosting are very well controlled as is lateral CA. There is no play in the focus unit and the eye cups are firm. The Q. an A. and build quality on mine is excellent. I have had over a 100 binos over a decade or so, mostly on sold now and these would be in the top 5, which includes several ‘Alphas’. They are still inferior to my Maven B.2 9×45’s but not by a large margin. The only con is I am still trying to find the best eye cup position to avoid blackouts, but I am sure I will over come this. All this for $160 USD [!!!] landed in New Zealand, remarkable really.
Yes indeed! Did you get that? He rated his Svbony in the top five from over a hundred models he’s personally used and tested!
While most have received these binoculars in good alignment, another gentleman from Australia reported that his was out of collimation. That said, he still commented on how remarkably good the optics were on the 10 x 42 unit.
I decided to send my Svbony 10 x 42 ED across the pond to rural Massachusetts to my ex-student, Joe Stearn. I couldn’t think of a better person to use it, as he is really enjoying his Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 I gifted him earlier this year. I know that he will perform his own tests on it and use it productively for many years to come! He has also promised to send me his thoughts on it. Watch this space!
I hope to acquire another 10 x 42 ED Sybony in the future, at least for posterity, because it convinced me that a 10 x 42 will fill a very important niche in my own glassing activities. I thus decided to buy, test and keep another 10 x 42; the GPO Passion HD 10 x 42, a detailed review of which is in the pipeline.
I would encourage anyone who’s interested in getting a great binocular at a phenomenal price to consider the Svbony SV 202 series. Don’t listen to the trolls.
They’re just jealous killjoys lol.
To be continued……………………………..