Product Review: Oberwerk Sport ED 8 x 42.

The Oberwerk Sport ED 8 x 42 package.

A Work Commenced August 21 2023

Product: Oberwerk Sport ED 8 x 42

Country of Manufacture: China

Exit Pupil: 5.25mm

Chassis: Rubber Armoured Magnesium Alloy

Field of View: 142m@1000m(8.1 angular degrees)

Close Focus: 2m advertised, 2.36m measured

Eye Relief: 15mm(Useable)

IPD Range: 57-74mm

Coatings: Full Broadband Multicoated, Dielectric coatings on BaK4 prisms

ED Glass: Yes FK-61

Waterproof: Yes

Nitrogen Purged: Yes

Dimensions: L/W: 14/12.5cm

Weight: 671g advertised, 728g measured

Warranty: 2 years

Price: $329.95

In previous reviews I expressed my great admiration for the new Oberwerk SE Porro prism binoculars, which offer exceptional optical performance for their modest price tags. These experiences got me very intrigued about the company’s Sport ED roof prism binoculars, offered in the popular formats of 8 x 42 and 10 x 42. Could these deliver the ‘Wow Factor’ I had experienced while using the SE Porros?

Admittedly, this was going to be a tall order to pull off, especially in light of the many similarly priced models now available to the consumer offering many of the same features, at least on paper. Moreover, my love of high-quality Porro prism binoculars had somewhat dampened my enthusiasm for roof prism binoculars in general. But after putting the 8 x 42 Sport ED model through its paces in a variety of favourable and adverse lighting conditions, I think the answer is a confident Yes!

Ergonomic Features

An exceptionally handsome binocular.

I contacted Oberwerk owner, Kevin Busarow, who agreed to send me a unit for review. The instrument arrived well packed and double-boxed together with its standard accessories. My first impressions were certainly very favourable. While I’m not a fan of garish colours, I have to make an exception for this binocular. This is one handsome instrument, with its very fetching dark green rubber armouring and black, twist-up eyecups complemented by the cherry apple red anodized aluminium focus wheel and right eye dioptre ring.

The textured rubber armouring is exceptionally grippy without being overly thick, keeping its overall weight down. Even in wet weather, your fingers will not slip up. The focus wheel is truly excellent. The deeply knurled edges make it exceptionally easy to turn with one finger, rotating smoothly in both directions with zero free play. Indeed, this is probably the very best focus wheel I’ve personally encountered in a roof prism binocular! 1.75 turns anticlockwise takes you from closest focus to beyond infinity.

Ditto for the right eye dioptre ring. It’s very hard to rotate but you get there in the end. Once set it will stay in place!

Belly side up.

The rubber-clad metal eye cups have two intermediate positions between fully retracted and fully extended. Moreover, after clicking into place, they hold their positions very firmly indeed. And there’s plenty of eye relief for the bespectacled among us too. I was easily able to engage with the entire field while wearing ordinary eyeglasses.

The objective lenses are unusually well recessed(~12mm)  from the end of the barrels, helping to protect the coatings from the vagaries of the weather as well as acting as a protective barrier against stray light. The large(23mm) eye lenses make centring your eyes child’s play.

Note the very deeply recessed objective lenses.
Large eye lenses make for very easy centring of your pupils.

Being very compact at just 14.5cm long and 11cm wide, the Oberwerk Sport ED 8 x 42 feels great in my medium sized hands. My right-hand fingers comfortably fall on the bridge and can wrap around the right barrel, while my left index finger naturally rests on the large focus wheel rendering an exceptionally secure handling experience. All-in-all I would rate the ergonomic features of the Oberwerk Sport ED as superb; easily as good as anything I’ve seen from the top European manufacturers.   

Optical Assessment

I began my optical testing by looking for internal reflections and diffused light around an intensely bright light source. Setting my iPhone torch to its brightest output, and examining the image from across a room, I got an excellent result. I detected only a couple of very feeble reflections, no diffused light around the light source and no diffraction spikes. The same was true when I turned the binocular on a bright sodium streetlamp after dark.

Next, I photographed the images of the exit pupils. As you can see below, the results are very good; perfectly circular with plenty of darkness immediately around them. There is some light leakage set well away from the pupils but even with fully dilated eye pupils, you’re unlikely to be affected by it.

Left Pupil.
Right Pupil.

Now for the juicy bits. When I first set the Sport ED 8 x 42 to my eyes, I assumed the optimal position of the eye cups was in their fully extended position, as they usually are. But that yielded a slight tunnelling effect which prevented me from viewing the field stops clearly, but I quickly found my ideal setting by retracting the eyecups one notch down.

How are the views? In a word; excellent! But to elaborate, the Sport ED served up tack sharp images from centre to edge. Indeed, testing the binocular alongside my Svbony SV 202 8 x 42 ED ‘control’ I was able to resolve finer grain detail on the wooden beams on a climbing frame located about 80 metres in the distance. This instrument has a remarkably large sweet spot, and while the field of view is already generously large(8.1 degrees), it feels even more expansive by virtue of the sharp field edges. This is a remarkable result given that the instrument does not employ field flattening optics! Pin cushion distortion is also very well controlled in this instrument being noticeably milder than that observed in the Svbony control instrument. Colours are bright and true to life with a slightly warm tone which I very much enjoyed.  

Glare control is decent in the Oberwerk Sport ED 8 x 42. Only in the more severe lighting situations did I detect some. Colour correction is also WAY above average, even for its ‘ED’ billing. Indeed, after conducting many hours of testing on a variety of high-contrast targets, I could only detect the merest trace of off-axis chromatic aberration, and only at the extreme edges of the field of view. Those who find colour fringing annoying will find the Oberwerk Sport ED to be a refreshing break from the norm!

Notes from the Field

A wonderful companion in the great outdoors

One of the first tests I performed was to check collimation under the stars. This is easily done by turning the right eye dioptre so that it defocuses a bright star in the right barrel while the left barrel keeps the star tightly focused. The focused star stayed in the centre of the defocused anulus, not only in the centre of the field, but also when the star was moved around the field, checking as I did for possible detachment. The star remained centrally placed, irrespective of where the anulus was positioned inside the field. This confirmed that the instrument was very accurately collimated.

Excellent collimation also explains why I’ve been able to enjoy prolonged panning activities with this binocular, its soft eyecups being very comfortable to place your eyes against. The view is very immersive, almost as if you’re sitting in the image. Contrast and resolution are excellent, especially over longer distances. For example, I could easily pick off the variegated colours of a Goldfinch in flight over 150 metres away. The Sport ED 8x 42 has that crystal clear clarity reminiscent of high-end European binoculars like the Zeiss Conquest HD but with a significantly larger field of view.

Just a half a turn of the ultra-smooth focus wheel covers the vast majority of targets from about 8 metres out to infinity.  Closest focus was measured at 2.36m, a little longer than advertised but plenty close enough for viewing insects or other targets at proximity.

The excellent sharpness of the image was abundantly in evidence when I turned the Oberwerk Sport ED 8 x 42 on the stars. Aiming the binocular on the Alpha Persei star cluster, I immediately noticed the very fine pinpoints of starlight served up by the instrument. The stars making up this celebrated cluster were incredibly fine, with the subtle colour differences among its members easily discernible. The fineness of the stellar images were unquestionably better than any roof prism binocular I’ve tested in this price class.

My subjective impressions of a large sweet spot were also confirmed under the stars. In a sense, the eye can deceive during daylight hours. The ‘trickery’ of visual accommodation and all that….. Centring Altair and moving it across the field, I noted that the image of the star stayed tight and pinpointed most of the way to the field stop. To my eye, it only showed noticeably bloating in the outer 15 per cent of the field, where slight refocusing restored the image to a tight pinpoint of white light. Conventional wisdom has it that field flattening optics are necessary for observing pristine star fields right out to the edges but the very mild field curvature in the Sport ED show that excellent results can be achieved without such optics.

Conclusions & Recommendations


Test driving the Oberwerk Sport ED 8 x 42 has been nothing short of a revelation. Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, along comes an instrument like this that upsets the apple cart. Oberwerk has really hit the ground running with the Sport ED roof prism binoculars, as the many other reviews also attest. This is a seriously good piece of kit. For a very reasonable price you get an extremely well-made instrument that functions beautifully in field use. It has superb resolution, contrast, ergonomics, and engineering, and in my opinion, there’s nothing to touch it in this price class with a fit and finish more reminiscent of a £1k instrument. But that seems to be the siren call of Oberwerk in general. Not only has it made its name in high quality large aperture binoculars, the company’s new lines of compact binoculars are also making heads turn. And that’s great news for the consumer and the hobby in general.

Dr Neil English explores the fascinating world of binoculars in his up-and-coming book, Choosing and Using Binoculars: A Guide for Stargazers, Birders and Outdoor Enthusiasts due out in late 2023/early 2024.

De Fideli.

31 thoughts on “Product Review: Oberwerk Sport ED 8 x 42.

  1. Hi Neil
    Enjoyed your review of these and interested in ordering a pair.
    Do you feel these have now taken the crown over the Svbony sv202 8×42 Ed ?.

  2. Dear Mike,

    Thanks for the heads up on this one!

    In answer to your question; the Oberwerk Sports ED 8 x 42 is a good step up in performance from the SV202. It is more expensive but I still think it’s an exceptional value in today’s market. I would therefeore recommend it to you in confidence.

    With best wishes,


    • Dear Neil,
      I wonder if you would still recommend getting this Oberwerk if I already have a Svbony SV202? Do you think the upgrade is worth it and if so, in which aspects? To be honest, the main thing that bothers me about the SV202 is that the collimation is not quite perfect on either and it tires my eyes, especially when stargazing. I’ve read that the collimation of Oberwerk products is individually checked, so I would hope I could help myself (?). Thanks a lot for the opinion.

      Kind regards,

      • Hi David,

        Having had more time to compare them, the Oberwerk is a step up in performance from the SV202 except with regard to glare, which the Oberwerk is more susceptible to. It also has nicer ergonomics.
        If the SV202s are straining your eyes then there may be a collimation problem. I think the Oberwerk will be better collimated. But they are significantly more expensive and the difference isn’t night and day but they are still great value for money IMO.

        Best wishes,

        • Dear Neil,
          Thank you very much for your prompt reply. That’s sad to hear, as internal glare in backlighting is the other weakness of the entire SV202 series (with the 8×42 probably being the best in this regard). So, it remains to be considered whether it makes sense to invest about 2.5 times the price for OW (when there is not even the possibility to physically test and compare the goods in the store beforehand). I very much dislike buying binoculars over the internet, which is often unfortunately the only option


        • Hello David,

          The Oberwerk SE 8 x 32 ED is well worth trying out. Brilliant Porro prism optics: one of the best 32mm binocular I have personally tested. It has better contrast than the Sport ED, no CA and virtually no glare. Amazing for the price!
          Unfortunately glare does come somewhat with the territory. The worst glare offenders are the Swarovski binoculars and look how much they cost!

          Best wishes,


  3. As always Neil, an excellent review without the fluff and ten paragraphs of stats. Good read. Waiting for that book my friend. I’m sure you’ll post on BF when available , and don’t forget my autographed copy

    Paul W.

  4. Hey Paul,

    Good to hear from you!

    I really like the Sport ED 8 x 42; a very pleasant experience!

    No worries mate, a signed copy will be winging its way to you as soon as it comes out. Might be as late as the end of January though!

    With best wishes,


  5. Hi Vince,

    I’ve not tested these side by side but from experience iI’d say the Oberwerk Sport ED is a little sharper than the Passion EDs.



  6. These are quite similar but the Aurora has field flattening lenses whereas the Sport ED does not.


  7. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for the enjoyable review.

    How does the Oberwork Sport ED compare with the Kowa SV II you tested?

    Have you tested the Kowa BD II yet and do you know how it compares with the Oberwork Sport ED and Kowa SV II?

  8. Hello Miles,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    The Kowa SV II is a fine binocular in its own right but unfortunately I don’t have it to compare with the Oberwerk.. But from memory, I would rate the Oberwerk higher both optically and ergonomically.

    I’ve not tested the Kowa BDIIs.

    With best wishes,


  9. Hi,

    I’ve read in some cases that an eye relief of 16mm or greater is recommended for glasses users. As someone with an astigmatism rather than poor near/far sightedness I would most likely be wearing glasses when viewing (if I’m too lazy to put in contacts!).

    I read that you had no issues with the 15mm(usable) eye relief on these but have commented on other reviews for binos that have greater claimed eye relief (e.g. Hawke EDX & GPO Passion ED) that eye relief is only adequate despite being greater (17/18mm)

    Can you comment on be how these compares to other Binos in this regard. Is is just that the usable relief on all is similar and the specs are not telling the whole story?

  10. Hello Oliver,

    Thanks for your message.

    I think you nailed it in your last sentence. I don’t actually measure eye relief. I just comment on whether or not I can use an instrument with ordinary glasses. Unfortunately those other models you mentioned are no longer with me so I can’t do a direct comparison.

    In general the eye relief values are often not accurate, but I do believe Oberwerk when they use the term ‘useable.’ I have found that 15mm of useable eye relief is enough to see the entire field with glasses on.

    With best wishes,


  11. Hi Oliver,

    Ah yes, I recall reading that some time ago, but it slipped my mind.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    With best wishes,


  12. Dear Neil,
    I am a complete novice here; I truly appreciate a “Country of Origin” is stated; that seems unusual in the binocular reviews I have started reading lately. I imagine you have reviewed other makes and models so I’ll type in your name for your website. It is interesting to note that you read how fine the optics and lenses are and when the reviewer uses the product ‘in the field,’ all those wonderful devices & mechanisms don’t pan out even for very well respected brands. I do wonder why stabilization is not more prominently mentioned: I don’t want to be a statue to keep the image from shaking. Again, thanks for a fine overview. Hope to read more of your reviews.

    • Hi Laurence,

      Thanks for your feedback.
      In general, I’m not enamoured by image stabilised binos as they give me the impression I’m looking through a camcorder. Frequent battery replacement is also a put off for me.



  13. Many thanks for your detailed review of the Oberwerk Sport 8×42. I have a 30+year old pair of Opticron 8×42 porros; it was only when I looked through a modern pair of £300 Opticron that I realised how much mine leave to be desired. I have ordered the Oberwerk today, and am looking forward to seeing just how much better they are than my current pair.

  14. Hello Philip,

    Thanks for chiming in.

    I hope you enjoy the Oberwerk Sport ED 8 x 42.

    With best wishes,


  15. Thank you for this great review, Neil.

    Given the great quality of the mechanics, ergonomics and exceptional optical features that you have praised in this article (usually not found at this price point), I’ve pulled the trigger on the 10×42 version of these binos. I had a super hard time deciding between the 8X or 10X magnifications, but the main purpose for these will be wildlife viewing (from a safe distance) on an upcoming trip to India that will include at least a couple of safaris. Several online sources with experience in African safaris recommend that magnification as optimal. Since I live in Mexico, I hope I can also use them for birding (almost all articles point to 8×42 as the sweet point for that) which is something that has piqued my interest for a few years.

    • Hi Cris,

      Many thanks for your message.

      I think you’ve made the right choice for safari viewing. the 10x model will give you that extra reach allowing you to see finer details. The 8x glass is certainly very nice but better suited to birding


  16. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for that excellent review. I have Oberwerk 8×40 Mariner and I love them.
    [One of the eyecups is coming off if I remove the eyecup protector. I also would like to keep one pair for travels]. I am thinking of getting this ED 8×42 or ED 10×42. But my primary (mostly only) use is star-gazing! I have hard time deciding. Is there a big difference in terms of weight between those models?

    • Hello Muru,

      Thanks for your message and for the thumbs up.

      In answer to your question, the 10 x 42 will go a bit deeper than the 8 x 42 all other things being equal. The extra magnification will bring out fainter stars.

      With best wishes,


  17. An interesting and detailed review. Three points worth mentioning: first, postage etc to UK is about US $90; second, customs duty etc is around £80, and third, eye relief according to Oberwerk’s website is 15mm. I wear spectacles and find the eye relief inadequate as I am only able to see about 50 per cent of the field of view. Most reviewers of whom I am aware regard 17mm as a more realistic eye relief distance for spectacle wearers.

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