A Work Commenced February 14 2022
Product: Opticron Discovery WA ED 8 x 32
Country of Manufacture: China
Exit Pupil: 4mm
Eye Relief: 18mm
Chassis Material: Rubberised Polycarbonate
Field of View: 140m@1000m(8.0 angular degrees)
Close Focus: 1.2m advertised 1.26m measured
Coatings: Fully Multicoated, phase and dielectrically(Oasis) coated roof prisms
ED Glass; Yes
Dimensions: W/H 10.8×11.7cm
Weight: 390g advertised, 378g measured
Accessories: Rubberised objective and eyepiece covers, soft carry case, instruction manual and warranty card, lens cleaning cloth, logoed padded neck strap.
Warranty: 5 Years(limited)
Price UK: £196.99
Opticron is a familiar name in sports optics, having been established back in 1970 as a British family based business. Since then, Opticron has gone on to command a sizeable chunk of the binocular and spotting scope market, especially here in Europe. Today, Opticron has brought to market a great range of optical devices, ranging from entry-level right up to premium quality instruments, featuring state-of-the-art optical and mechanical features. While most of their most economical models are made in China , Opticron’s top tier instruments are manufactured in Japan. In this review, I’ll be discussing the Opticron Discovery WA ED 8 x 32, arguably one of the lightest compact binoculars on the market today.
The Opticron binocular came double boxed, with all the accessories and paper work neatly packaged away. My immediate impression on removing the binocular from its softcase was, ” Wow, this bino is tiny!” The roughly square-shaped( 12x 12 cm) chassis is made of a lightweight polycarbonate substrate overlaid by a tough black rubber armouring. It’s nicely textured for maximum grip and feels pretty good in the hands.
The focus wheel turns smoothly with no free play and takes about 1.75 rotations to move from one end of focus travel to the other.
The eyecups twist up, with one intermediate stop, and hold their positions securely. Eye relief is generous on this binocular. I was able to see the entire field of view with the eyecups fully retracted with my glasses on.
The objective lenses are averagely recessed and have a magenta hue in broad daylight. There is no provision to mate the binocular to a tripod adapter, unlike many other models, but the unit is so lightweight that it won’t matter in most situations.
The underside of the binocular has no thumb indentations. To be honest, I never really warmed to these anyway, as it is rarely the case that they are positioned to fit my own thumbs comfortably, and so I can live without them.
The dioptre ring is located under the right ocular, and can be adjusted using a small, upraised lever. Moving this to the left or right produces a faint clicking noise, presumably indicating when the next setting is reached. It works well in practice, but I fear that during prolonged use in the field, it may be prone to moving off the optimal setting and so require more frequent adjustment.
In the hand, the Opticron Discovery WA ED 8 x 32 is feather light. I measured its weight without the strap and lens covers to be just 378g; an amazing achievement when you consider all the technologies that are built inside it. That said, I had great difficulty holding the binocular properly, as the central bridge is very broad, leaving little room to wrap my fingers round the barrels. Comparing the Opticron to my GPO Passion ED 10 x 32, you can see the difference easily:
The Opticron Discovery WA ED 8 x 32 was subjected to my iPhone torch test to see how it handled an intensely bright beam of light from across a room. The little Opticron passed this test very well with no sign of significant internal reflections diffused light or diffraction spikes. Testing the binocular after dark on a yellow sodium street lamp showed a nice clean image, not quite as good as my Barr & Stroud Series 5 ED 8 x 42 control binocular but close.
Next I had a look at the exit pupils of the Opticron binocular by examining the light coming through the eyepieces when pointed at a bright, indoor lamp. As you can see below, the results were excellent, with nice round exit pupils and little in the way of light leaks around them;
The images thrown up by the Opticron Discovery WA ED 8 x 32 are bright, contrasty and sharp within its sweet spot, which covers the central 50 per cent or so of the image. Colour correction is very good but it does show some lateral colour in the outer part of the field. Outside of the central sweet spot, the images become progressively more blurred, with the outer 20 per cent of the image being quite distorted. That’s a great pity, as the field of view is very large and expansive, but the poor outer field performance was a deal breaker for me. Indeed, every time I brought the instrument to my eyes, I became acutely conscious of this distorted outer field, which artificially depressed the instrument’s depth of focus to an unacceptable degree.
The binocular also suffers quite a bit from glare. Observing through the Opticron in the open field threw up substantial glare in situations where my other binoculars, such as my GPO Passion ED 10 x 32, simply didn’t show any. Veiling glare control was also quite poor, as evidenced by pointing the binocular at the top of a distant hill near a setting Sun. A bright arc of white light covered the bottom of the field, most of which could be removed by shading with a outstretched hand.
These results were also mirrored under the stars. The inner 50 per cent of the field showed up perfectly sharp and pinpoint stars but as one moves to the outer part of the field, the stars become progressively more distorted, and at the edge of the field, the stars were quite severely bloated from strong field curvature and astigmatism. This is not an instrument that I could enjoy under the stars. Examining a waxing crescent Moon produced a nice sharp image in the centre of the field, with only a trace of purple fringing at the limbs, but moving the slender crescent off axis rendered an unacceptably distorted image at the field edge.
Close focus is very good though. I measured it at 1.27m, quite in keeping with the advertised value of 1.2m.
Conclusions and Recommendations
To be honest, I was expecting better things from this Opticron binocular. I mean, it has all the right ingredients to create a good image; BAK 4 prisms, full multi-coatings, high reflectivity dielectric coatings applied to the prisms(I assume this is what Opticron mean by their Oasis coatings), as well as ED glass. In the end, the execution of these features was not nearly as good as I’ve seen on binoculars of the same format costing half the retail price of the Opticron. For example, the Sybony SV 202 8 x 32 ED is in an entirely different league to the Opticron Discovery WA ED 8 x 32. It has better contrast, less glare and a much bigger sweet spot, despite having substantially the same size field of view. Maybe I got a lemon? I don’t know!
The handling of this binocular was also a bit underwhelming. I found it difficult to get my fingers round the chassis, owing to the overly large central bridge. The GPO Passion ED in comparison was the dream ticket! Indeed, I wanted to test the design of this chassis in light of another 10 x 32 I had my eye on for quite some time; the Leica Ultravid HD Plus 10 x 32. With the same shaped chassis as the Opticron, I don’t think it would feel right in my hands either. Binoculars are highly personal instruments; if they don’t sit right in your hands, you’ll soon tire of them!
So, all in, I can’t in good conscience recommend this binocular, as there are far better options available at significantly lower prices.
Thanks for reading!