Product Review: Canon IS 8 x 20.

 

The Canon IS 8 x 20 package.

 

Product: Canon IS 8 x 20

Country of Manufacture: Taiwan

Field of View: 115m@1000m (6.6 angular degrees)

Exit Pupil: 2.5mm

Eye Relief: 13.5mm

Coatings: Fully Broadband Multi-Coated, Super Spectra Coating

Dioptre Compensation: +/- 5.9 

Water Proof: No

Nitrogen Purged: No

ED Glass: No

Close Focus: 2m advertised( 2.02 m measured)

Dimensions: W/H 11.8/14.2cm

Weight: 420g(without battery)

Supplied Accessories: Soft carry case, padded neck strap, instruction manual, 1x CR123A lithium battery, eyepiece covers, warranty card.

Price(UK): £425.70

 

 

 

I bought up the smallest and newest addition to the extensive range of Canon Image Stabilised (IS) binoculars – the 8 x 20 IS – for testing.

 

Tune in soon to see what’s hot, and what’s not……………………..

 

De Fideli.

Product Review: Opticron Discovery WA ED 8 x 32.

The Opticron Discovery WA ED 8 x 32 package.

Rounding off a portfolio of work.

 

This new model from Opticron is featherlight at under 370g, boasts a very wide field of view of 8.0 degrees, and features fully multi-coated optics, phase corrected, dielectrically coated roof prisms, and ED glass…………….. All for under £200.

Tune in soon to see how it performs…………………………………………

 

De Fideli.

Finding My Ideal Birding Binocular.

Starting well in 2022, with a leather-bound ledger and small, high-quality binocular.

A Work Commenced January 7 2022

Earlier in the winter, I tested my very first 10 x 32 compact binocular, a German Precision Optics (GPO) Passion ED 10 x 32. In that review, I began to explore its many virtues, including its great optics and ergonomics. In the weeks over Christmas and on into the new year, I’ve carried still more field tests and, as a result, have come to the conclusion that this particular instrument is to become my main birding binocular, relegating my smaller Leica Ultravid  8 x 20 BR to auxiliary roles, where extreme portability is a necessity, and also while conducting observations of my garden birdfeeders.

The GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 is the perfect form factor for my medium sized hands. I can wrap my fingers round the barrels to enjoy ultra-stable views of my avian targets. The optics on my unit are superb; bright, tack sharp and rich in colour contrast. The sweet spot is enormous, providing excellent, edge-to-edge sharpness across nearly the entire field. The 10x is preferred over the 8x because it provides greater image scale, especially at distance, but it’s excellent close focus (1.9m) is also very welcome for close up views of insects, rocks, fungi, water swirls, and for seeing leaf litter and the contours of tree trunks in glorious, high resolution detail.

I rate the optics on the GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 very highly indeed. It is easily sharper and better colour corrected than my Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32, but costs only half its retail price. I consider it to be the optical equal to a Nikon Monarch HG 8x 30 I tested in the summer of 2021 but without those annoying blackouts and the rolling ball effect. Glare suppression on the little GPO Passion ED is also excellent. It never presents an issue in ordinary field use.

I reasoned that I would take some extra care of the eyepieces and objectives on the instrument, owing to their lack of hydrophobic coatings. In this capacity, I decided to upgrade the objective cover supplied with the instrument with better fitting Opticron-branded tethered objective caps, but still use the supplied rubber rain guard to minimise the amount of dirt and grime building up on the lenses.

I now have better fitting tethered objective covers for the GPO Passion ED 10 x 32.

The GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 has a very smooth and responsive focus wheel that is quite large in comparison to the overall size of the binocular. Because birding targets can move from just a few metres away to several tens of metres in just a few seconds, it’s important that the focus wheel can get from here to there as rapidly as possible. With just over one turn going from one end of its focus travel to the other, the GPO Passion ED 10 x 32  offers the perfect speed to execute those changes.

In my many dealings with many binoculars in the 30mm to 42mm size classes, I’ve come to the conclusion that 42mm is not at all necessary to obtain adequately bright images during the dullest of daylight conditions, even in the dead of winter. The highly efficient light transmission(90 per cent) makes up for the natural advantages of larger objectives too. Only in very low light conditions, such as occurs at dusk or dawn, or during star gazing, are the advantages of larger aperture binoculars abundantly in evidence.

My experiences with many binoculars sporting exit pupils of 4mm and higher, often left me tweaking the focus more than I was doing with high quality instruments with smaller(< 4mm) exit pupils. I became very conscious of myself constantly searching the image plane for tiny improvements in micro contrast and sharpness, my fingers working over time to achieve the absolute best focus in these instruments. I experienced none or substantially less of this ambiguity with small, high quality pocket binoculars like the Leica Trinovid BCAs or my current Ultravid 8 x 20, with exit pupils as small as 2.5mm. I reasoned that choosing a 10 x 32 over a 8 x 32  would allow me to get those same unambiguous focus positions, and I can now report that 3.2mm is a small enough exit pupil to replicate the same excellent results I’ve been getting with the Leica pocket binos. Why is a smaller exit pupil generating sharper images? I attribute it to the small exit pupil, which presents the best part of the human eye with a high quality imaging system – in the case, the GPO Passion ED binocular.

And yet a 3.2mm exit pupil is also large enough to transmit more light to the cones in my retina, producing noticeably richer colours under dull, daylight conditions. Comparing my 8 x 20 to my 10 x 32, it’s not hard to see that colours are significantly more vibrant in the latter. And this is an important parameter when trying to identify small, passerine birds in the distance.

Still one of the greatest advantages of going down from 42mm to 32mm is the substantial reduction in carrying weight. Typically, the downsizing amounts to losing up to 50 per cent of the weight of the binocular. For me, that’s a huge benefit as it’s not fun lugging a 42mm ‘brick’ round your neck over miles of difficult terrain.  Been there, done that!

No Slouch on the Stars Either

The time spent with the very nice Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32 showed me that a smaller binocular like this can garner excellent images of the night sky, with enough light grasp to capture a large number of deep sky objects. But my experiences with the GPO 10 x 32 have been somewhat better. The 10x and almost flat 6 degree field is great for framing star clusters and familiar asterisms against a jet black sky. The smaller exit pupil on the GPO compact binocular presents the same aesthetic beauty of pinpoint stars that I have come to love in the smaller Leica Ultravid 8 x 20, only that the former’s resolution and light gathering power reels in a great deal more.

The GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 is an awesome instrument to watch the changing phases of the Moon. Even on cold January evenings, I’ve enjoyed seeing earthshine on the dark side of the Moon and beautifully sharp crater fields, mountain chains and ray craters. The 10 x 32 stubbornly refuses to throw up false colour on axis and even when the Moon is brought to the edge of the field does it manifest the merest trace of lateral secondary spectrum. Of course, the view is made even more compelling without the annoying internal reflections you get with lesser instruments. The sky immediately around the Moon is lovely and dark, allowing one to resolve quite faint stars very near its face. All these factors render the small 10 x 32 GPO  a very decent, lightweight sky-watching binocular.

The small but highly efficient light gathering capabilities of the GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 serves up surprisingly good views of the heavenly creation.

My ideal birding binocular not only has to have low mass and excellent optics, it must also have excellent build quality. The GPO Passion ED binoculars have a very robust build. And little things really matter to me. For example, the twist up eyecups must lock rigidly into position and stay there throughout glassing exercises. Indeed, I like to keep the eyecups up at all times, except when the instrument is stored away. That means that they have to be tough enough to allow me to attach the rain guard (untethered) on the cups while they’re fully extended. Many lesser binoculars fail in this regard, as they have a tendency to collapse when any pressure is applied to them; not so with the little GPO.  Those beautifully machined eye cups can withstand even the most forceful hand.

Eyecups you can just forget about.

What does that amount to?

Peace of mind!

 

 

To be continued……………………..

 

De Fideli.

Adventures with a “Go Anywhere” Binocular Part II.

The Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 at home in the great outdoors.

Continued from Part 1 

A Work Commenced January 11 2022

 

Writing for Birdwatching Magazine

Now that the darkest days of Winter are behind us, I delight once again in the lengthening of daylight as the Sun begins its advance northwards. Even at the end of the first week in January, I perceive a stretch in the evenings more so than the morning. Throughout the Winter, I’ve continued to use the 8 x 20 Leica pocket glass more or less routinely during the best of the daylight hours, which invariably occurs between about 11 am and 2pm. I have spent much of this time searching out and observing birds popping up at one or more of my local patches. I’ve recently added a most excellent 10 x 32 GPO Passion ED binocular to my birding binocular arsenal, as it provides greater magnification and brighter, richer colours than the smaller Leica pocket glass when I need it. That said, I’ve proven to myself that a high quality 8 x 20 can be used as a stand-alone, all-rounder binocular, serving many useful purposes during daylight hours.

Adventures of a Birding Tyro.

On the morning of January 11, I received the latest (February 2022) issue of the UK’s best-selling birding magazine, Birdwatching, where my debut article has now been published on pages 22-24. Entitled A Fresh Start, it recounts my first year as a birding tyro, where I describe how many of the skills I cultivated as an amateur astronomer can be effectively applied to the hobby of bird watching. Most of the inspiration for this article was gleaned using my Leica Ultravid 8 x 20.

Needless to say I’m chuffed to bits! My next feature article appears later this Spring. Incidentally, in the same issue, editor Matt Merritt, reviewed the newest pocket binocular from Swarovski, the CL Curio 7 x 21. He seems to have concluded the same as I have regarding the suitability of a small binocular like this as a general purpose birding optic:

“The view is very sharp,” Merritt writes, “right to the edges, with good natural colour and impressive brightness considering that the objective lenses are only 21mm. In most birding situations, they did a great job…”

pp 95

I wholeheartedly agree. That said, 7x interests me less than 8x or 10x, but your mileage may vary!

 

To be continued……………………

 

De Fideli.

Product Review: The Canon IS 10 x 30.

The Canon IS 10 x 30.

A Work Commenced December 29 2021

 

I’m fortunate enough to live in a small, rural village, where I can get to know many of my neighbours and learn of their interests. For example, just a stone’s throw away from my home lives a young man who works for the RSPB, and who routinely employs binoculars and a high-end spotting scope. Further up the village, I know a keen deer hunter who’s allowed me to test drive his very impressive Swarovski EL Range 10 x 42 on a number of occasions. And not far from him lives a retired psychiatrist who enjoys using image stabilised binoculars. One day, when I was out for my long daily walk, I met up with him as he walked his dog, and asked if I could borrow one of his Canon IS binoculars for testing. He agreed, and offered me the choice of a 10 x 30 or a smaller 8 x 25. I chose the larger 10 x 30 model, as I wanted to test the image stabilising technology at the higher power of 10x. What follows is a brief review of how it performed, based on a few days of use.

Ergonomics & Handling 

The Canon IS 10 x 30 is an earlier model and is about 8 years old. It has now been replaced with the Canon IS II 10 x 30. I was quite taken aback by the size of this instrument. Weighing in at 660g(without its strap) it is very big and bulky. For a size comparison, the picture below shows it alongside my GPO Passion ED 10 x 32.

The Canon IS 10 x 30( left) alongside the GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 (right).

I found the handling of this binocular to be quite difficult and awkward. It was hard to find a comfortable position in my medium sized hands. The objective lenses are well recessed – a good thing as the unit is not waterproof or dustproof. They do have rather nice, dull greenish antireflection coatings applied which do not show much signs of degrading over the years.

The nicely recessed 30mm objectives on the Canon IS 10 x 30.

The ocular lenses also show nicely applied antireflection coatings but the eye cups are old-school soft rubber – you know the kind that fold down for use with eye glasses.

The ocular lenses also have good antireflection coatings applied but the eyecups are the old style soft, foldable rubber.

The focus wheel is on the small side and I found the turning to be very smooth but somewhat stiff. It takes a bit of getting used to compared with my 10 x 32 ED which is very fast and easy to turn in comparison. Moving from close to far away focus takes a wee while to get there, so maybe not ideal as a birding binocular.

The centrally located focus wheel is accurate, smooth but a bit on the stiff side.

The dioptre setting is conventional. Located under the right ocular; it is very stiff and hard to rotate – just what you want if you don’t have a built-in locking mechanism.

Optics

My first impressions of the Canon IS 10x 30’s optics were very good. The 6 degree field is very sharp, nearly all the way to the edge of the field, thanks to built-in field flattening lenses. Contrast is good, although I did detect some weak internal reflections when I pointed it at a bright waning gibbous Moon and some street lights at night. I experienced no blackouts with this model. The view is very comfortable and quite immersive, with a beautifully defined field stop. The eye relief proved perfect for my needs. Glare suppression is also good. By pressing the small button just ahead of the focus wheel, the gyroscopes are activated and the magic begins. The small shaking movements in your hands are cancelled out and even more details pop into view. It’s quite amazing!

I compared the views of the Canon IS 10 x 30 with my GPO Passion 10 x 32 ED in un-stabilised mode, which has the same size field(6 degrees). Going back and forth between the images for a few minutes revealed the latter to be the superior optic. Chromatic aberration could be clearly seen in the Canon on high contrast targets against a grey, overcast December sky. The GPO displayed virtually none in comparison. Furthermore, the GPO displayed noticeably better contrast and a significantly brighter image to boot.  That said, once the IS button was activated, the Canon showed more than the GPO, with very fine details jumping out of the image! The stabilised image clearly resolved finer details on all the targets I tried it on. I would say that the effect was immediately noticeable and dramatic. To verify that the increase in resolution was attributed to the stabilisation, I placed the GPO 10 x 32 on a tripod and compared the images; sure enough, I could see the same additional details- and a bit more besides –  on the same targets, only that they were brighter, better contrasted, and presenting with a little more colour ‘pop’.

Turning to the Pleaides star cluster well placed in the evening winter sky, I compared the non-stabilised view to the IS-activated view. Just pressing the button showed faint stars popping into view which were quite invisible in the non-stabilised image. Consulting some older literature on the effects of image stabilisation, I read that some observers report a gain as much as one stellar magnitude. I wasn’t able to confirm this but I don’t doubt the claim. Again, very impressive!. I would say that the stabilisation makes the small 10 x 30 optics behave more like a significantly larger un-stabilised instrument, like a 10 x 40 or some such.

Looking at a last quarter Moon also showed me more details than the 10 x 32 ED when the IS button on the Canon was engaged. I could resolve finer crater detail, although it did show up more chromatic aberration than the GPO control binocular.

Concluding Thoughts

So what did I think of the Canon IS 10 x 30?

In a word, Groovy!

Sure, it’s not got the best ergonomics and is big and bulky for its aperture, but there is no doubting the technology behind the instrument!  If you can live with its less than ideal handling and lack of weather proofing, you most certainly will be very impressed with it. The optics are very good but maybe not excellent  but when that stabilisation button is activated it leaves even top-rated 32mm models in the dust. Stabilised images just show you more details!

Overall, my experiences of the older Canon IS 10 x 30 was very favourable. Indeed, it has gotten me curious about two smaller models that were released by Canon just a couple of years ago; the Canon IS 8 x 20 and 10 x 20, both of which are significantly smaller and lighter than the 10 x 30. The small exit pupils on these sub 500g models are no deterrent for me either, as I’ve come to appreciate the coupling of good optics with the best part of the human eye. Stars should be beautiful pinpoints in these models!

 

So, there it is!

Thanks for reading!

 

De Fideli.

Product Review: GPO Passion ED 10 x 32.

The GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 package.

A Work Commenced December 18 2021

Preamble 

 

Instrument: German Precision Optics(GPO) Passion ED 10 x 32

Country of Manufacture: China

Field of View: 105m@1000m(6.0 angular degrees)

Exit Pupil: 3.2mm

Eye Relief: 15mm

Chassis: Rubber armoured magnesium alloy, machined aluminium eyecups

Close Focus: 2.5m advertised, 1.92m measured

Dioptre Compensation: +/- 2.5

Nitrogen Purged: Yes

Waterproof: Yes(1m un-stated time)

Coatings: Fully broadband multi-coated, phase and dielectric coatings applied to Schmidt Pechan roof prisms

ED Glass: Yes

Light Transmission: 90%

Tripod Mountable: Yes

Weight: 500g advertised,  509g measured

Dimensions: L/W 11.8/11.8cm

Accessories: cleaning cloth, hard case, neoprene neck strap, hard case strap, objective covers, ocular covers

Warranty: 10 years

Price: £352.99(UK)

In a previous blog, I reviewed the magnificent GPO Passion HD 10 x 42, one of the flagship models from the relatively new firm, German Precision Optics. For the money, I felt it was an excellent bargain, especially when compared to significantly more expensive models from Zeiss, Leica and Swarovski. Gone are the days when you have to shell out several grand to get a world class binocular, and in my opinion, GPO are definitely leading the way in this regard.

But having enjoyed the instrument for a couple of weeks, reality began to bite. As I’ve remarked before, the 42mm format is not my favourite. It has nothing to do with optics or ergonomics. It’s about weight. You see, I’ve come to strongly favour smaller formats. I already own and frequently use a world-class pocket binocular, the Leica Ultravid BR 8 x 20, but my experiences with larger binoculars convinced me that an optimum size for me would come from the compact class of binoculars, with apertures in the 30-35mm size class. Such instruments are easier to hold, easier to view through, and have more light gathering power. But I was also on the look out for a 10x instrument, to afford greater reach for my glassing targets, especially birds. While I’ve enjoyed some really high quality 10 x 25 pocket glasses in the past, their smaller objectives let in less light – an important parameter when glassing in shady areas during daylight hours, and especially for discerning subtle colour tones.

Unfortunately, GPO did not offer a smaller model in their flagship HD range, but they did have a 10 x 32 model from their more economical Passion ED line. After doing some research on this model(see the Preamble link above), I decided to pull the trigger and ordered one up for testing; enter the GPO Passion ED 10 x 32.

The GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 and its high quality carry case.

First Impressions

Costing less than half the price of the larger 10 x 42 HD model, the GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 package arrived with all of the same great quality accessories that delighted me in the larger HD binocular: I received the same neck strap, a smaller clamshell case, snugly fitting rain guard and objective lens covers, GPO-branded microfibre lens cleaning cloth, instruction manual and warranty card. It arrived in the same high quality presentation box as the larger HD model, with its unique serial number etched into the underside of the binocular and on the outside of the box. Very neat!

The GPO Passion ED 10x 32 has the same excellent build quality as the larger HD models.

Picking up the binocular and holding it in my hands, I was chuffed to see how well it fitted my hands. The narrow, single bridge allowed me to wrap my fingers round the barrels better than any other 30-32mm model I’ve previously handled. And while the instrument has a lovely, solid feel about it, with its sturdy magnesium alloy chassis, I was very reassured by its considerably lower weight; just 500g as opposed to ~ 850g for the larger, HD instrument.

The GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 fits perfectly in my hands!

The central hinge is nice and stiff, making it difficult to change the IPD on the fly. I like that. The binocular has a rather oversized central focus wheel, just like the heavier HD model, and I was relieved to see that it moved very easily and smoothly, with just one finger. The professionally machined aluminium eyecups are, in my opinion, even more impressive on the Passion ED model than the HD, rigidly locking into place with one intermediate click stop. The immaculately applied rubber armouring has two textures, just like the HD, a roughly textured side armouring and a silky smooth substrate covering the inside of the barrels.

All in all, very impressive!

Ergonomics

The GPO Passion ED shares many of the high quality ergonomic features built into the more expensive HD models. The ocular and objective antireflection coatings are immaculately applied and have a fetching magenta hue when observed in broad daylight. Unlike the HD models however, they do not have the hydrophobic coatings – an acceptable sacrifice, and then some.

Ocular lens end of the GPO Passion ED 10 x 32.

The objective lenses are recessed to an extent I’ve not seen before on any other compact model I’ve had the pleasure of using. I measured it at about 9mm! Why so deep? Well, it could be to protect those objectives from the vagaries of the weather; rain, wind, and stray light etc, or maybe partially compensating for the lack of hydrophobic coatings on the glass? Whatever the precise reason, I liked it!

The beautiful magenta coloured antireflection coatings on the Passion ED are immaculately applied, and note the exceptionally deeply recessed objective lenses!

The eyecups are beautifully designed; absolutely world class! They extend upwards with one intermediate position between fully retracted and fully extended, and lock into place rigidly with a reassuring ‘click.’ This is one binocular you can safely store inside its case with the eyecups fully extended for quicker deployment. They ain’t gonna budge!

Eye relief proved perfect for me, as I don’t use eye glasses, but I think the stated value of 15mm might be a bit optimistic, as I was not easily able to observe the full field of view keeping the eyecups down and wearing my varifocals.

The beautifully machined aluminium eyecups are world class, clicking into place with absolute rigidity.

Unlike the more expensive HD models which have a centre-locking dioptre adjustment, the Passion ED presents a more cost-effective solution by returning it to under the right ocular lens. While adjusting it, I noted its excellent rigidity, rendering it very resistant to accidentally moving while in the field. I felt it was a very acceptable compromise. Furthermore, the + and – settings are clearly marked, and so it’s very easy to memorise its optimal positioning should the instrument be used by others.

The oversized focus wheel is very easy to access and manoeuvre using one finger. It has a very grippy, texturized rubber overcoat, identical in fact to the more expensive HD models. Taking just over one complete turn to go from one extreme of its travel to the other, I would rate its speed as very fast; a good thing in my opinion, as it will be used primarily for birding, where big changes in focus position are often required following a mobile avian target. Motions are very smooth though, but I did notice a very small bit of play with it; similar in fact to focus wheel on the Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32 I used and enjoyed a while back. Here the HD model came out better in my opinion, as I was unable to detect any play whatsoever with the 10 x 42.

The GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 has an excellent, oversized centre focusing wheel. It  is very fast, but displays a little bit of unwanted play that I could not detect on the more expensive, HD model.

I was most highly impressed with the way the binocular felt in my hands though. In truth, I don’t recall enjoying wrapping my medium sized hands around the barrels as much as on any other compact binocular I’ve tested. I reckon that this is attributed to the narrow bridge, which exposes those long, slender barrels. It’s simply a joy to hold, perfectly stable and always a thrill to bring to my eyes!

The GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 is an ergonomic delight.

All in all, the build quality and handling of the Passion ED 10 x 32 are absolutely unrivalled in this moderate price class. GPO has clearly gone well beyond the call of duty in the design and execution of these new, highly-advanced compact binoculars!

Optics

The GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 came perfectly collimated. I was able to ascertain this by carefully focusing the binocular on the bright star Capella and then moving the right eye dioptre to the end of its natural travel. The perfectly focused star from the left barrel was found right in the centre of the defocused star diffraction pattern.

The lady reviewing the 10 x 32 in the Preamble to this review stated that the binocular had no issues with internal reflections and stray light and I was able to affirm this in the 10 x 32 I received. The image of an intensely bright beam of light from my IPhone torch was clean and devoid of diffraction spikes.

The exit pupils are nice and round and have little in the way of light leaks immediately around the pupil; a very good result but not quite in the same league as those found on the more expensive Passion HD 10 x 42.

Left eye pupil.

Right eye pupil.

In broad daylight, the images served up by the GPO Passion ED are very impressive! It is bright and very sharp across the entire field, with very little in the way of distortion even at the field stops. Like the Passion HD model, it enjoys a very decisive snap to focus on whatever target I turn it on. The small exit pupil ensures that the best part of your eye does all the imaging. Colours are vivid and natural but to my eye it has a slightly warm tone, with greens and browns coming through very strongly. Contrast is very good but not quite in the same class as the GPO Passion HD 10x 42 I tested it against. Glare suppression was also impressive. Comparing it to my control binocular – a Barr & Stroud Series 5 8x 42 ED – which exhibits excellent control of all types of glare, including veiling glare, the little Passion ED proved to be slightly superior to it. However, it was not quite as good in this capacity as the GPO 10 x 42 HD model, which exhibits the best control of glare that I have personally witnessed in any binocular.

Close focus is considerably better than I had expected. The accompanying user manual claimed 2.5m for this model, but I measured it at only 1.92m!

Colour correction in the GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 is very impressive! Pointing the binocular into the branches of a leafless tree against a bright overcast sky, the centre of the image is completely devoid of it, and even off axis, I could only coax the merest trace and only near the field stops. Returning to testing the binocular under the stars, I was able to verify just how well corrected the field of view is. Stars remain nice pinpoints nearly all the way to the edges. I attribute this excellent result to GPO’s optical engineers’ choice of field size. 6 degrees is not large by modern standards so it’s easier to achieve optical excellence using standard eyepiece designs. More on this a little later.

Venturing out on a freezing, misty December night to observe the full Moon, the GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 threw up a beautiful image. It was clean and sharp and contrasty. Secondary spectrum was non existent over the vast majority of the field, with only the extreme edges showing some weak lateral colour. Field illumination was also excellent, as with the 10 x 42 HD, with very little in the way of brightness drop off as the bright silvery orb was moved from the centre to the edge of the field. I also judged field distortion to be excellent in these tests too. The Moon remains razor sharp across most of the field, and only shows slight defocus at the field stops. Indeed, it was very comparable to the results I got with my optically excellent Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 in this regard.

Complementary instruments.

These are excellent results, and quite in keeping with the comments made by the lady from Optics Trade, as revealed in the Preamble video linked to at the beginning of the review. Indeed, these results place the GPO Passion ED in the top tier optically. Its colour correction was notably better than the Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32, and I felt its sharpness and contrast were perhaps a shade better too. I’m confident that this 10 x 32 ED could hold its own against top-rated compact binoculars up to twice its retail value or more.

Notes from the Field & Concluding Comments

The view through the GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 is very stable and immersive. On paper a field of view of 105m@1000m might seem restrictive but in practice you never get that impression. There are no blackouts, rolling ball effects or any other issues common to compact models sporting wider fields of view with field flatteners. This makes panning observations particularly pleasurable with this instrument. To be honest, I suspected that this would have been the case after I had put the Passion HD 10 x 42 through its paces. Indeed I would hazard a guess that both binocular lines – the HD and ED – have substantially similar optical designs. As an experienced glasser, I have no abiding interest in very large fields of view. Indeed, I tend to think of those wide angle binoculars as rather distracting and more suited to beginners than more seasoned observers. I’m interested in vignettes not vistas.

Goldilocks Binocular.

So there you have it! The GPO Passion ED 10 x 32 is, for me, a Goldilocks binocular, serving my purposes perfectly and fitting my hands like a tailor-made glove. It pays to mention that GPO also market a 8 x 32 with a wider field of view, and two 42mm models with powers of 8x and 10x; so something for everyone! Check them out as soon as you can. You’ll not be disappointed!

 

Dr Neil English has some exciting news to reveal early in the new year. For now, he’d like to wish all his readers a Very Happy Christmas!

 

 

 

De Fideli.

Product Review: Two Economically Priced Monoculars from Barr & Stroud.

The Barr & Stroud Sprite Plus 15 x 50 (top) and Sprite Midi 8 x 42(bottom).

A Work Commenced December 10 2021

 

Product Names: Barr & Stroud Sprite Midi 8 x 42/ Plus 15 x 50

Country of Manufacture: China

Eye Relief: 5.25mm(8×42)/ 3.33mm(15×50)

Field of View: 129m@1000m(8 x 42)/ 66m@1000m(15 x 50)

Eye Relief: 17.5mm(8 x 42)/ 11mm(15 x 50)

Coatings: Fully Multicoated, silvered and phase corrected Bak4 prisms(8 x 42 Midi non phase coated)

Chassis Material: Rubber Armoured Polycarbonate

Waterproof: Yes (1.5m for 3 minutes)

Nitrogen Purged: Yes

Close Focus: 3m(8 x 42)/2.5m(15×50) advertised, 2.9 and 2.2 m measured, respectively

Tripod Mountable: Yes

Weight: 339g(8 x 42)/ 448g(15 x 50)

Dimensions: 139x80x55mm(8 x 42)/165X80X62mm(15 x 50)

Accessories: Soft padded carry case, lens cleaning cloth, carry strap, warranty card & instruction sheet, tethered rubber objective and ocular caps

Warranty: 10 Years

Retail Price(UK): £59.95(8x 42)/ £74.95(15 x 50)

 

In several previous reviews, I’ve showcased a few binoculars made by Barr & Stroud. As I explained before, I cut my first binocular teeth with a modern roof prism binocular by Barr & Stroud just over three years ago, and have always been impressed by their excellent bang for buck. Unlike so many other instruments in the same price range, which showed mis-collimated barrels, too much field curvature, chromatic aberration and sub-standard ergonomics, Barr & Stroud products punched well above their weight in terms both of the quality of the optics they presented and the rugged no-nonsense chassis in which those optics were housed. In this review, I’ll be discussing the optical and ergonomic features of two nifty monoculars from the same company; the Sprite Midi 8 x 42, and the higher power Sprite Plus 15 x 50. But before we get to those details, let’s take some time to go over the reasons why a monocular might suit an individual more than a binocular.

A monocular is, quite simply, half a binocular. Thus, it uses one eye rather than two. Some people have natural deficiencies in one eye, such as severe astigmatism for example, that results in their inability to properly adjust the dioptre setting on a regular binocular leading to a blurred image. Others have one eye damaged in some way and so can’t avail of the natural advantages of using both eyes. Some folk like to use monoculars because they are smaller and lighter than the equivalent binocular and this may prove to be very important if space and weight constraints are very tight. Monoculars are now available in many sizes and magnifications. Low power monoculars have magnification ranges similar to that found in modern compact and full-sized binoculars, but higher powered units function more like mini-spotting scopes, enabling the user to lock in on small targets beyond the range of binoculars or seeing details quite invisible to conventional, hand-held binoculars. Yet another advantage of a monocular is cost; it’s just cheaper to use a monocular than a binocular of the same aperture.

What does one lose in going from a binocular to a monocular? Well, a few things actually. Depth perception for one thing, as our eyes were designed in such a way that they both create the sensation of focus depth, allowing us to gain a sense of the 3-dimensional shape of objects and how far away they are. Many observers enjoy up to a 40 per cent gain in contrast using binoculars compared with the same sized monocular. The reasons for this are not entirely understood but suffice it to say that using two eyes increases the signal to noise  ratio in the electrical impulses that are created in viewing an object. Many observers also report that monoculars are harder to hold steady than binoculars of the same aperture. Despite these drawbacks, most of the main binocular manufacturers also produce monoculars, and Barr & Stroud is no exception.

                                First Impressions & Ergonomics

Both the Barr & Stroud monoculars have a polycarbonate chassis overlaid by a grippy, green rubber armouring. The polycarbonate body cuts down on weight and is perfectly adequate for most observing schedules. Both instruments fit very easily in the palm of your hand. They are both very lightweight; the 8 x 42mm weighing at 350g and the 15 x 50mm just 100g more. In this capacity, both the Sprite Midi 8x 42 and Plus are no heavier than the average compact binocular. Both instruments come with a rubberised rain guard and a tethered objective cover, which means you’ll never lose it in the field.

Both Barr & Stroud Monoculars have a permanently tethered objective cover.

In a previous blog, I commented on my great fondness for the quality of the focusers on a number of Barr & Stroud binoculars. And these binoculars are no exception. Both instruments have silky smooth focus wheels, which are large and easy to negotiate with just one finger.  They do however have slightly different textures; I found that I preferred the less expensive Midi Sprite focus wheel over the larger 15 x 50 Sprite Plus. It was just slightly easier to grip and engage with throughout its travel.

The focus wheel on both Barr & Stroud monoculars are of high quality but I liked the extra grip afforded by the less expensive Midi model.

Both monoculars are equipped with pull-up eyecups that lock rigidly in place. The smaller 8 x 42 Sprite Midi has very generous eye relief. I was easily able to observe the full field with my eye glasses on. The larger Sprite Plus however, has considerably less eye relief, but if push came to shove, I was just able to engage with the full field but it was certainly challenging!

Both monoculars have well made twist up eyecups that lock rigidly in place.

Both Barr & Stroud monoculars come with a screw thread which enables you to mate it to a tripod or monopod for extra visual stability.

Both monoculars can be easily mated to a tripod or monopod.

Both monoculars come with a padded case and a carry strap that you can easily affix to the instrument.

Each monocular is supplied with a padded carry case and strap to carry it from place to place.

Optics

Both Barr & Stroud monoculars feature fully multicoated optics and BaK4 Schmidt Pechan roof prisms. The less expansive Sprite Midi 8x 42 is not phase coated however, unlike the higher power 15 x 50 Sprite Plus. The Sprite Midi 8 x 42 appears to have the same specifications as the 8 x 42 Sahara binocular with a field of view of 129m@1000m or 7.35 angular degrees but has a noticeably longer close focus at 2.59m(as opposed to just 1.98m for the Sahara binocular). Intriguingly, the Sprite Plus 15 x 50 monocular has a significantly better close focus of just 2.2 metres, which is also considerably less than the 2.5m advertised.

The higher power Spite Plus 15 x 50 has phase coated roof prisms unlike the smaller Sprite Midi.

Looking at the exit pupil of both monoculars showed a significantly better result for the larger Sprite Plus 15 x 50. Although both presented with nice round pupils, the 8 x 42 Midi had more stray light close to the pupil, as the images below show.

The exit pupil presented in the Sprite Midi 8 x 42.

The exit pupil presented by the Sprite Plus 15 x 50.

These results were also somewhat reproduced in my tests for internal reflections, by directing a bright beam of my IPhone 7 torch into the monoculars from across a room and inspecting the images visually. The Midi 8 x 42 did show significantly more internal reflections and diffused light around the beam than the larger 15 x 50 Plus unit. That said, these stray light artefacts were not terribly injurious to the image and both gave passable results when directed at a sodium street light after dark, and also on a bright Moon.

The daylight images served up by the 8 x 42 Midi monocular are bright and sharp. Contrast is good and chromatic aberration is very well controlled, with only the outer part of the field showing a trace. The 8 x 42 has a large sweet spot covering perhaps 60 per cent of the field but beyond that astigmatism and pincushion distortion increase gradually towards the field stop. I was also able to confirm these findings under the stars.

I judged the larger Sprite Plus 15 x 50 to be better optically than the smaller 8 x 42. Despite its higher power, the images it served up had higher contrast than the latter, a consequence I suppose of its phase corrected roof prisms. The field of view was flatter and better corrected in the 15 x 50 too. Star testing showed that most of its 3.78 degree true field was very well corrected, with only the outer 15 per cent showing significant distortion. Chromatic aberration was more conspicuous but never to an unacceptable degree. High contrast objects against a bright over cast sky background does show some but that’s just par for the course and most folk can easily ignore it and just get on with observing.

I found the 15 x 50 unit more versatile than the 8 x 42. With its substantial magnification, I enjoyed employing it as a mini spotting scope, either mounted on a monopod or simply by finding a suitable branch or fence post to rest it on. If you’re observing from a car, a small beanbag also works wonders stabilising the view. The 15x is just right for bridging the gap between a standard binocular view and a larger spotting scope. For example, I was able to make out nice, high-resolution details on a Grey Heron that were quite invisible in 8x and 10x binoculars. The 15 x 50 is a nifty instrument for studying the phases of the Moon; all the way from slender crescent to full on full Moon. Crater fields and maria show up sharply and in very high contrast; a true refractor image. The Plus proved to be a rather good, low-power, rich field telescope too, delivering up very impressive views of larger deep sky objects such as the Pleiades, the Beehive Cluster, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Double Cluster.  Views of the Sword Handle of Orion also proved very compelling through the Spite Plus.

In addition to its higher magnification, the better close focus on the Sprite Plus 15 x 50 made it a rather good, long distance microscope, affording crystal clear views of leaf litter, bark, rock formations, fungi and tree branches. Indeed, if coupled to a digi-scoping adapter, it works well as an ultraportable telephoto lens.

In summary, both the Sprite Midi 8 x 42 and Plus 15 x 50 represent excellent value for money. They are well made, small, lightweight, easy to use, weather resistant and serve up very decent optics for their modest price tags.  If your outdoor activities are in need of a magnification boost, give one of these monoculars a try. You won’t be left second guessing!

 

 

Neil English is the author of seven books on amateur and professional astronomy, including Choosing and Using a Refracting Telescope.

 

De Fideli.

Product Review: GPO Passion HD 10 x 42.

GPO Passion HD 10 x 42 package.

A Work Commenced November 29 2021

Preamble 1

Preamble 2

Preamble 3

Preamble 4

 

Product: GPO Passion HD 10 x 42

Country of Manufacture: Japan

Field of View: 112m @1000m (6.4 angular degrees) advertised, 6.24 degrees measured

Exit Pupil: 4.2mm

Eye Relief: 17mm

Chassis: Rubber armoured magnesium alloy, machined aluminium eyecups(removable)

Close Focus: 2m(advertised), 1.9m measured

Dioptre Compensation: +/- 4(integrated central locking dioptre)

Nitrogen Purged: Yes

Waterproof: Yes (5m unknown time)

Coatings: Fully broadband multi-coated, phase and dielectric coatings, PASSIONdrop™ hydrophobic coating

ED Glass: Yes (Two Elements)

Light Transmission: 92%

Tripod Mountable: Yes

Weight: 840g(advertised)848g measured

Dimensions: H/W 15.6/13cm

Accessories: cleaning cloth, hard case, neoprene neck strap, hard case strap, objective covers, ocular covers

Warranty: 10 years

Price (UK): £877.99

 

Introduction

In the Summer of 2021, I hooked up with a fellow binocular enthusiast, Slim Loghmari, who was following my work and became very interested in my review blogs on various instruments. He took the time to test some of the models I showcased, but he also had a number of excellent binoculars from the newly established company, German Precision Optics(GPO), to compare these models to. It soon became apparent that Slim was a very experienced binocular user, with plenty of first-hand knowledge of models from all price categories. But there was one model that stood out from the crowd for him; the GPO Passion HD 10 x 42. He waxed lyrical about this instrument and told me in no uncertain terms that his Passion HD had phenomenal optics and ergonomics that left all of his other 10 x 42s in the dust. He shared his detailed recollections of this instrument with me, including some high quality 4K video footage(see Preamble 1 above) showcasing its many qualities, as well as performing tests that I had asked him to do on various aspects of its optics and ergonomics. Over the weeks and months, I began vicariously ‘reviewing’ his 10 x 42 Passion HD. Meanwhile, I conducted my own extensive research on GPO behind the scenes. Founded in 2015 by ex-CEO and Head of Development of Carl Zeiss Sport Optics, Richard Schmidt (who spearheaded the development of Zeiss’ current line of Terra, Conquest and Victory SF binoculars), he recruited a world class team of chief executives, scientists and optical engineers from Zeiss, Leica, Swarovski, Meopta and other companies, to bring to market products offering top-drawer optical performance at much more reasonable prices to the consumer. All their products are designed at their headquarters at Inning am Ammersee, in the suburbs of Munich, Germany. Their entry level binoculars – the Passion ED – are assembled in China while their flagship HD series is manufactured in Japan. Once assembled, they are shipped back to Munich,  where extensive in-house inspection and quality control takes place, before being dispatched to retailers or individual customers across Europe and North America. GPO now manufacture and sell high-end binoculars, rifle scopes and range finders for the growing sports optics industry.

Reading the opinions of other binocular enthusiasts indicated that GPO binoculars were offering great bang for buck but there was still a degree of buying inertia from people who were reluctant to take the plunge, owing to the fact that they were a relatively new and unknown company. Indeed, all the reports I had read about GPO products were invariably very good to excellent, and had also learned that they had won various awards for their products both in Europe and North America(see Preamble 3). I was fairly confident that the flagship line of binoculars, the Passion HD, was very special indeed. And since Slim trusted my judgement in the past, I figured that it was only fitting that I also trust his judgement regarding the GPO binocular. So, I decided to pull the trigger and order up my own unit for testing. Now, £877.99 is a significant amount of money for almost anyone, but after critically testing the instrument over several weeks, I believe it was indeed justified!

The package arrived double-boxed, with the instrument beautifully presented inside a very thoughtfully styled presentation box as shown above. The binocular was very snugly placed inside a high quality foam frame, with a separate compartment for the custom- designed hard shell case. My immediate impression was “wow!” The care and attention to the presentation of this binocular was second to none: very reminiscent of what I had previously experienced with some high-end Zeiss instruments I encountered in the past! Opening up the choice quality case, I found all the accessories accompanying the binocular, including high-quality ocular and objective covers, a GPO-branded lens cleaning cloth, a very comprehensive instruction manual in several languages, a padded, logoed neck strap and carry strap for the case, and a warranty card. Everything about the package was a quality experience and it was clear to me that GPO had gone to great lengths to make this initial encounter with their product as special as possible. It certainly worked its charm on yours truly!

A Walk Around the Instrument

The GPO Passion HD 10x 42 is a beautiful looking instrument.

Prizing(it took some effort I can tell you!) the immaculately packed instrument from the cut-out foam,  I was instantly taken by its fit and finish. While their less expensive Passion ED lines come in a variety of colours, I was relieved to see that GPO went with a traditional charcoal black chassis for these instruments. I’m just not a fan of garish, migraine-inducing colours like the burnt orange offered by new Swarovski models, for example, and not especially taken by two-tone colour schemes either.

In the hand, the instrument feels extremely solid and well made. The chassis is fashioned from a tough but lightweight magnesium alloy, overlaid by rugged and beautifully textured black rubber armouring.  The company’s attractive logo of an Eagle with an outstretched wing is prominently displayed on the narrow bridge of the instrument. The unique serial number – 22100731- is engraved under the back of the left ocular.

The unique serial number on the GPO Passion HD.

Unlike a few models I’ve tested from companies like Nikon, which are armoured in a rather cheap, easily frayed synthetic rubber substrate, this GPO Passion HD was much more professionally finished, with no obvious weak areas that would start to come away all too quickly after a few months of sustained field use. The armouring has two textures: smooth along the top and bottom, but more grainy and textured at the sides and the near under belly, facilitating steadier gripping in the hands. What’s really cool about this body armouring is that it does not seem to aggressively attract dust and grime- at least so far as I can make out.

The underside of the GPO Passion HD 10x 42. Note the thumb indents just under the eyepieces.

Examining the over-sized focus wheel, I was delighted to see that it was silky smooth and extremely easy to move with just one finger.

The Passion HD focus wheel is oversized, silky smooth and exceptionally responsive.

The beautifully machined, twist up aluminium  eyecups are a real work of art! Fit & finish wise:nothing like them on the market! Overlaid by soft rubber, they are very comfortable when pressed against my eyes. The long, slender barrels were very easy and intuitive to get my hands around,  and on the underside my thumbs naturally settled into the two indents for a sturdy grip. Overall, I got the immediate impression that this instrument exuded quality: it had a fit and feel that is – in this size class at least – quite simply in a different league to anything I’ve had the pleasure of owning and using in the past. Without question, this is an alpha binocular build, just like Slim had been crowing on about for weeks on end.

Ergonomics
The Passion HD 10 x 42 has a substantial (848g) weight to it and feels very solid and robust in my medium sized hands. It has a small, single bridge connecting both barrels. It is noteworthy that some of the leaders in the binocular industry have abandoned the open bridge design in favour of its single hinge counterpart. Just look at the design of Swarovski’s new NL Pure line to see what I mean.

The twist-up eyecups are made from machined aluminium and are quite unlike any I had seen before. They are extremely tough and have one intermediate position between fully extended and fully retracted, with absolutely no wiggle room.  Soft rubber envelopes the cups and are very comfortable to press your eyes against, even after hours of glassing. These oculars have plenty of eye relief too: I was easily able to image the entire field with my varifocals on with no issues. I would rate these eyecups as one of the very best I’ve seen and used: certainly in a different league to anything made by Nikon and Zeiss, for example.

The central focusing wheel is oversized compared with many other binoculars I’ve used but its exceptional quality is in evidence from the second you lay your fingers on it. Running through just 1.5 revolutions from one extreme of travel to the other, its movements are silky smooth and completely backlash free. Only tiny adjustments are needed to bring an object into focus from several tens of yards distant to only a few yards distant, making it especially appealing to birders who often demand the best focusers on the market to sate their demanding schedules.

I found the focus wheel on the Passion HD to be very similar to that found on the Nikon Monarch HG line, with similar levels of tension and smoothness. When considering the dioptre adjustment however, the GPO Passion HD leaves many of its competitors in the starting blocks. To operate it, you simply pull out the focus wheel and adjust the image in the right barrel until it’s as crystal clear as its left ocular. Once completed, you pop it back in and voila, you’re off to the races!

Dioptre compensation is achieved by pulling out the focus wheel and dialling in your preferred setting before pushing it back in to lock.

Compare this to the more cheaply designed locking right eye dioptre on the Monarch HG or Vanguard ED II, for example, and you’ll quickly come to appreciate the sheer sophistication of the Passion HD line, which will never pop loose by accident or budge from its position once it’s set.  In this capacity, the GPO dioptre is right up there with the best engineering designs used by Leica, Zeiss and Swarovski. Very well done GPO!
Looking now at the objectives, they are deeply recessed to minimise stray light, and the encroach of rain and dust. I’m especially impressed by the truly excellent baffling of the objective lenses which really helps mitigate the most damaging effects of stray and intensely bright light sources, minimising glare. But it takes more than good baffling do this well: the layers of coatings applied to each lens and prism surface also plays a crucial role here, as we shall see shortly. The eyecups are larger than on most other binoculars I’ve handled. They measure about 42mm in diameter compared with 37mm in many other models. This makes positioning your eyes that little bit easier in practice, and affords greater comfort for eye glass wearers.

The secret of excellent glare suppression is great baffling and great coatings.

Another important ergonomic feature is the hydrophobic coatings applied to the outer lenses of the instrument. GPO’s proprietary PASSIONdrop coating quickly disperses condensation that invariably occurs when glassing in cold or damp conditions. In a side by side test using a control binocular without these hydrophobic coatings, I was  quite taken by the much shorter times needed to disperse a fogged-over ocular lens on the GPO. Typically, such fogging can take a few minutes to dissipate without such coatings, in contrast to just a few seconds in the case of the Passion HD binocular. I carried such tests out at both room temperature and also outside, where the mercury hovered at or below zero for about an hour. Breathing on the ocular lenses only took a few seconds to clear. Playing the waiting game when this happens during field use can make all the difference between enjoying your subject or missing it entirely.

GPO’s proprietary PassionDrop hydrophobic coatings disperse condensation in seconds. The picture above is a comparison between the GPO Passion HD ocular lens (left) 20 seconds after fogging up a non coated control bino(right) at the same time. The condensation still remains on the latter.

The accessories accompanying the instrument are also of very high quality. The rain guard fits over the eyecups really snugly. The objective cover is very reminiscent of those employed by Zeiss on their flagship Victory SF range. Instead of rubber rings that fit over the barrels, the GPO Passion HDs come with a single cap connecting both objectives by a rubber bridge. You push them into the objectives, where they tightly seal off the encroach of dust, water and other debris.  GPO even included a spare one just in case the other gets lost. Neat!

Very Zeissesque!

A hefty binocular like the GPO Passion HD requires a high-quality padded neoprene neck strap to get the best use out of it, and that’s exactly what one receives in the package. Such a high quality strap helps to lighten the load especially when walking with the instrument over long journeys.

A very high quality neoprene neck strap lightens the load.

Finally, a few words of praise for the accompanying carry case. In a word: Awesome!

But to elaborate, it’s an attractive, green canvass hard shell case, which can be zip-closed. The carrying strap for the case is also padded. You have plenty of room to store the binocular with its strap inside and even has an additional pouch to carry a cleaning cloth(also supplied by GPO) or sachet of desiccant. It rates up there with some of the best cases I’ve had the pleasure of using .

The package comes with a beautifully made, zip-closed hard clamshell case.

Optical Assessment

Now, shall we get down to business?

My first test involved seeing how well the binocular handled a very bright light source. So I turned my IPhone torch on to its highest setting and looked through the binocular to see if I could detect internal reflections, diffraction spikes and diffused light. Such tests showed the GPO Passion HD produced a flawless result: there were no annoying internal reflections, no diffraction spikes and little in the way of diffused light around the intensely bright beam. That’s an excellent result, right up there with my control binocular, which also displays impeccable results in similar tests.
My next test was to check collimation. I did this in two ways. In the first test, I centred a telephone wire located about 60 yards in the distance in the binocular field and slowly pulled my eyes backward away from the eyecups until the images no longer appeared single but in duplicate. The lines stayed perfectly collinear in both barrels. In another test, carried out at night, I centred the bright star Capella, and focused it as tightly as possible. Then I unlocked the dioptre, moving it to the end of its natural travel until the right barrel image was completely de-focused. Looking through the binocular with both eyes showed the focused star right in the centre of the defocused ring. These tests showed that the barrels of the GPO Passion HD were perfectly aligned.
Next, examining the eye pupils when a bright light source was passed through them displayed excellent results! The pupils were perfectly round with no evidence of truncation, and no light leaks around them as shown in the images below. My notes show that these very clean pupils were considerably better than the Nikon Monarch HG I tested in a similar battery of tests.

Left exit pupil.

….and the right exit pupil

Visual Impressions
From the moment I first looked through the GPO Passion HD I was stunned by its amazing sharpness, contrast and lack of glare. Arriving in the late afternoon with the light fading fast, it was a race against time to attach the neck strap and venture out. But even in these less than optimal lighting conditions, the Passion HD threw up stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The sweet spot appeared enormous, indeed it remained impressively sharp right up to the field stops. Field curvature and pincushion distortion are unusually mild, with only slight warping of a vertical telephone pole observed at the field edge. Truly impressive!
Colours really popped in this high-performance glass, especially greens, reds and browns. Micro-contrast details were abundantly in evidence when I imaged some remaining autumn leaves against a bright blue sky. The level of detail I recorded was simply breath taking! I could make out the intricate veins in the leaves and the variegated hues of the secondary pigments now on full display. Taking it off to a favourite birding haunt, the Passion HD effortlessly picked off tiny birds hopping about in bushes some 70 yards distant. The ultra-precise focussing afforded by this binocular made it child’s play to distinguish Blue Tits, Tree Creepers and Goldfinches from this range. Lesser instruments fail miserably in similar tests, as my experiences had found.
The GPO HD 10 x 42 is a glare suppression beast.
Indeed even after trying several difficult back-lit targets, I really struggled to make out any at all! Veiling glare is almost completely eliminated in this instrument. Looking up at the topmost boughs of a conifer tree with a bright overcast sky in the background usually shows an arc of washed out milky light that robs the image of contrast, showing up at the bottom of the field of view. Try as I did to bring it out, I simply couldn’t to any significant degree. I’ve had it as close as 5 degrees away from the Sun and the details still pop! These results were way above what I had come to expect from a binocular in this price class. Indeed, glare can be a significant issue even with the very best binoculars on the market: check out this link for more on this!
Even under dull, overcast conditions the images served up by the GPO Passion HD are bright and full of contrast. This binocular has very high light transmission. I attribute this to excellent baffling, as well the application of state-of-the art multilayer coatings to the prisms and lenses but also to the rather unusual nature of the objective design, which utilises two ED elements as part of a cemented triplet configuration. This is an old school solution to boost light transmission by minimising the number of reflective surfaces the light has to pass through. GPO claim an overall light transmission of 92 per cent for this optic and when you look through them it’s not easy to dismiss!
The boosted light transmission becomes readily apparent in low light conditions, such as on cold, dull winter days, and at dusk and dawn. My tests show the GPO Passion HD really accentuates greens and browns as the light fades. The images remain tack sharp and full of intricate detail well after sunset.
In another test, I compared a very good 8 x 42 ED with the 10 x 42 Passion HD. Though the light transmission of the former is less than the latter, it does have the perceived advantage of having a larger exit pupil(5.25 as opposed to 4.2mm). Comparing both binoculars as the light rapidly faded after sunset in late November, showed that the 10 x 42 produced equally bright images for most of the time, but I could still make out finer details than with the 8 x 42ED even as the last vestiges of light disappeared from the landscape. These tests convinced me that this would be a fine binocular to use at dawn or dusk, for hunting or general surveillance.
The thorny issue of chromatic aberration always comes up in any detailed binocular discussion. My tests show that there is vanishingly low secondary spectrum in the centre of the field, but can be coaxed out of very high contrast targets as the object is moved off axis. I did not find this lateral colour to be distracting in any way. And for the record, all binoculars will show some if you search for it. Check out the video footage in Preamble 1 above to see if you can detect any!
In yet another test, I aimed the binocular at a bright, waxing gibbous Moon. The view was razor sharp and devoid of any false colours on axis. Moving the Moon to the edge of the field does show a little lateral colour; all normal behaviour for any top-tier binocular with these specifications.
My reading of the literature uncovered some discrepancies in the size of the field of view offered up by the Passion HD. Some claimed it was as small as 6.0 degrees while the specifications on the GPO website listed it at 6.4 degrees. Faced with these discrepancies, I decided to perform the most accurate test I could think of to resolve this. Venturing out after midnight, I chose the star Mintaka, which has a declination very close to the celestial equator and well positioned at the time very close to the meridian. I centred it in the field of the binocular and timed how long it would take for it to drift across the field from the centre to the field stop. The result I got was 12 minutes 26.45 seconds. Doubling this value for the entire field gives 24 minutes 52.9 seconds. Plugging these numbers into the astronomical formula yielded a true field of 6.237 angular degrees. I suppose I should have done this a few more times and taken the arithmetic mean, but the uncertainties are small, and I do have a life to live lol.

The set up used to measure the field of view of the GPO Passion HD 10 x 42 binocular.

The stars are also a great way to measure how much distortion there is at the edge of the field. Conducting such tests produced brilliant results. Stars remained beautiful pinpoints across the vast majority of the field, only showing slight distortion at the field stop. That’s an excellent result, agreeing well with my daylight tests and affirming my conviction that the Passion HD is an outstanding binocular for stargazing.
In another test, I moved the Pleiades asterism and the Moon from the centre to the edge of the field, looking to see if there was a drop off in illumination. I was delighted to see that there was very little loss of brightness on either target, indicating that the binocular field is quite flat and evenly illuminated. You’re going to have an absolute ball using this instrument under the starry heaven!
In summary the optical performance of the Passion HD is truly world class, right up there with the best instruments manufactured by Zeiss, Leica and Swarovski, but without the hefty price tag.

Notes from the Field

Engage your passion with the GPO Passion HD

The GPO Passion HD 10 x42 has an excellent close focus. I measured it at only 1.9m,so slightly less than the advertised 2 metres. This greatly increases its versatility in field use, as it enables the user to view close up objects in exquisite detail. You wouldn’t normally associate a 10 x42 with a great butterfly binocular but that’s exactly what it can do if necessary.

Depth of focus is very impressive in this instrument. At infinity I measured its close focus at about 55 yards. But only slight tweaks of the ultra responsive focus wheel brings you much closer still.

The GPO Passion HD is very comfortable to operate, even while wearing thick gloves.

The GPO Passion HD is very easy to use with thick gloves during cold winter days. Smaller instruments, in contrast, are much more challenging to negotiate with gloves on. It’s just one of the many advantages of using a larger sized binocular.

I’m especially glad that GPO did not resort to any “electrickery,”  to borrow a phrase from Catweazle, in going for an overly complex eyepiece design for the Passion HD series, as it is entirely without issues like blackouts and the rolling ball effect you get while panning binoculars with built-in field flatteners.

This instrument really comes into its own when scanning landscapes, as the views are so comfortable and immersive. It’s almost as if you are really sitting in the image. Views of the night sky are spectacular. Pinpoint stars from edge to edge. Because it’s a little on the heavy side, I resorted to using a monopod to get the steadiest views but lengthy spells hand holding the instrument are also eminently possible.

I’ve enjoyed some stunning views with this instrument on dull winter afternoons, when I used it to identify a new bird at one of my local patches: a colourful but somewhat noisy Jay, hiding out among the trees. Though I could not get closer than about 80 yards, I was still able to resolve its beautiful plumage: beige, black, blue and white. The extra reach of the 10x glass really came into its own, as an 8x would have come up a bit short on this occasion.  For me, it’s magical moments like this that really help you bond with a binocular.

Conclusions & Recommendations

A Binocular for all Seasons.

There is little about the GPO Passion HD 10 x 42 that I could fault. Indeed, I cannot recommend this instrument highly enough. Ergonomically and optically it just ticks all the boxes, and will delight anyone who uses it. Its robustness will undoubtedly  guarantee many hassle free years in the field, and the excellent European 10-year warranty will also put your mind at ease in the unlikely event that you hit a snag with it.

Be sure also to check out what this professional ornithologist has stated about the same instrument!

Very highly favoured!

 

 

 

Dr. Neil English is the author of seven books in amateur and professional astronomy. His magnum opus, Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy, highlights four centuries of telescopic observing, from Thomas Harriot to Sir Patrick Moore.

 

 

De Fideli.

Further Thoughts on the Svbony SV 202 10 x 42 ED.

The Svbony 10 x 42 ED on a forest walk.

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:

The laser range finder used to measure the distances quoted in the pictures.

In the image below, a tree trunk at a distance of 23.1 yards is imaged through the binocular:

Unprocessed image of a tree trunk located some 23.1 yards distant from 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.

The venerable Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR(left) pictured next to the Svbony 10 x 42 ED.

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:

Image shot through the Svbony 10 x 42 ED. True field 6.16 angular degrees.

Now here is the same scene as shot through the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20(also tripod mounted):

Image captured through the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20. True field 6.5 angular degrees

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.

The focuser on the Svbony 10 x 42 ED is a real class act.

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.

More Moonwatching!

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

Season of mists and 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.

An awesome, lightweight looking glass.

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!

Source here.

Update: November 28 2021

A rather special little trinket.

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.

Chris

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……………………………..

 

 

De Fideli.