Product Review: The Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 ED Binocular.

The Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 ED.

A Work Commenced August 27 2021


Product Name: Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 ED

Country of Manufacture: China

Field of View: 142m@ 1000m (8.14 angular degrees)

Eye Relief: 17.2mm

Close focus: 2m advertised[1.79m measured)

Exit Pupil: 5.25mm

Chassis: rubber armoured magnesium

Coatings: fully multi-coated,  BAK 4 phase corrected roof prisms, water repelling coatings on outer lenses.

Dioptre range: +/- 4

Waterproof: Yes (1.5m for 3 minutes)

ED Glass: Yes

Nitrogen Purged: Yes

Weight: 710g

Tripod Attachable: Yes

Dimensions H/W: 15.4/12.6cm

Warranty: 10 years

Accessories: Hard clamshell case, lens cleaning cloth, rain guard and objective lens covers, quality padded neck strap, generic instruction sheet, warranty card.

Retail Price: £220-£250UK


Just to warn you: this will be a long review.

There’s something in a name!


Just three years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about modern binoculars, having no experience with all the technological developments that had occurred in the last few decades. But that changed when a fellow villager recommended a relatively inexpensive instrument, the Barr & Stroud Sahara 8 x 42. My first look through that binocular blew me away, as I was completely astonished at how good the image was through a binocular that cost substantially less than £100. It was bright and sharp and contrasty, with a wide, well-corrected field of view. Since then, I’ve sampled many more Barr & Stroud binoculars and can vouch for their excellent quality and value for money. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that I’m now a dyed-in-the-wool fanboy of Barr & Stroud(B & S) binos, because I believe they produce a variety of quality products and clearly know something about how a good binocular ought to perform.

Three years later, I finally got around to test driving their most sophisticated binocular range, the Series 5 ED, which comes in two models, a 10 x 42 and 8 x 42. These models are not to be confused with the other Series 5 binos from B & S, which offer the same two instruments as non-ED versions. In a previous blog I test drove the Series 5 8 x 42 non-ED version, where I reported that it offered excellent bang for buck. But I became very curious about the ED version of the same series, so decided to order the instrument up for review and to compare it critically with its non-ED counterpart. The reader will note that the instrument was purchased with my own money; I have no affiliations with any binocular company, and that the results I show here are entirely my own.

First Impressions

I purchased the B & S Series 5 8x 42 ED from the very reputable Rother Valley Optics, Sheffield, who were offering the instrument at a great price. I secured it for £209 plus another £15 to get expedited delivery of the instrument to me within 24 hours of purchase. So £224 all in. I left a message with the sales assistant to check the eyecups on the binocular prior to dispatching, as I have developed quite a disliking for eye cups that are too loose or collapse downward after being fully extended, with just a little pressure. They honoured that request!

The binocular was well packaged inside its fetching white box. The first thing I noted was that it was precisely the same box as the non-ED Series 5, only that the company put an additional ED sticker on it. While that may alarm some customers I thought it to be an ingenious cost-cutting move. Indeed, if I were marketing these binoculars, I would have done exactly the same thing lol! Everything was packed away securely, including the padded logoed neck strap, a lens cleaning cloth, rubber ocular and objective covers, generic instruction sheet, an excellent zip-lockable hard clamshell case, and warranty card. If you want to see those accessories and the box they came in, have a look at the link above to the non-ED version.

Removing the binocular from the inside the case, the first thing I checked was the eye cups, and to my great relief they were firm and locked rigidly in place when fully extended. Why fret over eye cups? Well, the non-ED Series 5 had a slightly loose left eye cup, which did niggle me a little, so seeing that both were more or less equally tensioned put a smile on my face. Good job!

The Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 ED astride its hard clamshell case.


Just like the non-ED Series 5 8 x42, the instrument felt very solid in my medium sized hands. The magnesium alloy chassis and not overly thick green rubber overcoat helps keep the weight down. Indeed, I measured its weight at 710g, as opposed to just 690g for its non-ED  counterpart. That made sense to me as ED glass elements tend to be a little heavier than regular crown and flint glass.

The machined metal twist up eye cups are easy to adjust and click rigidly into place.

















As mentioned above, the rubber-clad metal eye cups twist up with two intermediary positions. They were easy to extend and held their positions securely, with very little wiggle room. Eye relief is a very generous 17.2mm, large enough to see nearly the entire field with my eye glasses on.

The centrally placed focus wheel is large, very nicely tensioned and very smooth to operate, both clockwise and anti-clockwise. If anything, I thought it was a shade over tight compared to its non-ED counterpart but to be fair, all focusers need a bit of breaking in time to get them moving as smoothly as possible. That said, I have spoken before about the care B & S put into their focusers. They are much better tuned than the majority of other binoculars I’ve tested in this price range. Taking just over two full revolutions to go from one extreme of travel to the other, I would describe it as being intermediate between the super fast focusers birders seek after, and the slower focusers hunters prefer.

The metal dioptre ring is located under the right ocular, and while not lockable, is quite stiff and easy to adjust. Moreover, it stays in position very well.

The Series 5 ED has a really smooth and easy to use focus wheel that is head and shoulders above those found on many other models in the same price range. The objective lenses are very deeply recessed, just like the non-ED incarnation, protecting the glass from stray light, dust and rain.

The B & S Series 5 ED has nicely recessed objective lenses.

Handling this binocular is a joy. While not the grippiest substrate I’ve encountered, the green rubber armouring provides a very adequate level of friction with your hands. There are no thumb indentations on the belly of this binocular but I’ve never really found them to be that advantageous to the overall ergonomics compared with several other binoculars that did have them. The rubber armouring is a little thinner than other models, such as the Nikon Prostaff and Monarch  5 & 7 lines, but this does cut down the weight of the binocular, which makes transporting it that little bit easier.

The Series 5 ED binocular I received did not have the ED labelling under the left ocular, as I was expecting from the images I’d seen on a few retailers’ websites. Instead, this model presents the ED moniker on the focus wheel, which might possibly indicate that this instrument was manufactured more recently.

I’ve always been more than satisfied with the padded neck strap accompanying the more expensive B & S binoculars. It’s very comfortable to wear ’round your neck without much in the way of chafing after a long walk on level ground on a hot summer day. The hard clam shell case is another great accessory. It zips closed and there is a little storage area inside to carry a lens cloth or a sachet of silica gel desiccant to keep the interior as dry as possible when not in active use.

Examining the exit pupils on the binocular showed nice circular openings, with a nice rim of dark around them.

Left eye exit pupil.

Right eye exit pupil.

All in all, I was very pleased with the overall fit and feel of the Series 5 ED 8 x 42. Elegant and understated, it has very nice mechanics that should hold up in field use for a long time to come.

Optical Assessment

One of the control binoculars I used to assess the optical quality of the Barr& Stroud Series 5 8x 42 ED. Seen at right is the Leica Ultravid BR 8x 20.

The first thing I checked was how well a bright beam of light behaved as it was directed into the binocular from across a room. I simply set my phone torch on to its brightest setting, focused the binocular, and examined the image. To be honest, I was expecting excellent results based on what I had previously experienced with both the non-ED Series 5  and their Savannah range of instruments. As a control, I was using my Leica Ultravid. The results were very much in keeping with my previous tests on the better Barr & Stroud binoculars, that is, the instrument was exceptionally clean and sharp, with only the faintest hint of internal reflections, no diffraction spikes and no diffused light, indicative of the use of very high quality optical components. Indeed, it was that little bit better than the Leica Ultravid in this regard. Leica are well known for their excellent suppression of internal reflections so obtaining an even better result from the Series 5 ED 8 x 42 was music to my ears.

Taking the binocular outside in the open air on a warm and bright August afternoon, I was immediately impressed with the image from the Series 5 ED. The binocular served up a beautiful, sharp and high contrast image. Reds and oranges really pop in this glass and overall I would describe the colour tone as slightly warm. The focusing was smooth and responsive, with the 8x providing a very stable image. The sweet spot is very large but begins to gradually deteriorate as one moves the target to the edge of the field. I also noted a small drop in image brightness at the edge of the field. Nothing dramatic here but certainly noticeable if you look for it. There is some field curvature as one moves off axis – considerably stronger than in the Leica Ultravid – as evidenced by looking at a telephone pole about 30 yards distant, but I don’t find this aberration to be especially annoying in field use.  I measured the close focus to be an impressive 1.79m, making it a very good choice for those who enjoy using their binoculars as long-range microscopes.

Comparing the Series 5 ED with the Leica Ultravid, I judged the former to be clearly superior to the latter in suppressing glare, as evidenced by examining a brightly backlit scene near sunset. Furthermore, the Series 5 exhibited far superior control of veiling glare than the Leica pocket glass. This was easy to ascertain by homing in on the leaves of a tree lying immediately below a mid-afternoon Sun( local time 3.30pm in late August). The entire bottom half of the Leica image was washed out to a much greater degree than the Leica. I attribute this result to the very shallow recession of Ultravid’s objective lenses making it more prone to picking up stray light. This test wasn’t even close, the Series 5 ED was far superior.

Comparing the Series 5 ED to the Nikon Monarch HG 8 x 30(left).

In another test, I compared the glare suppressing capabilities of the B & S Series 5 8 x 42 ED to a top-tier 8 x 30 binocular, the Nikon Monarch HG, costing four times the price. My target was a hill top about 800 yards distant with the Sun immediately above it.  The Monarch HG binocular handles glare exceptionally well, better than the Series 5 ED in fact. But it was only marginally inferior. I consider that an excellent result for a binocular that evidently has no portfolio.

I also conducted some night time viewing with both the B & S Series 5 8 x 42 ED and the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20, testing to see how they would perform on a bright yellow sodium street light placed in the centre of the field at a distance of 50 yards. Both binoculars, as expected, delivered excellent results here. The images in both binoculars were clean and crisp, with no annoying internal reflections, no diffused light around the lamp, and zero evidence of diffraction spikes.

On another afternoon, I enlisted the help of my math student, Alexander, to compare and contrast the image in both the Leica Ultravid and Series 5 ED. After a few minutes of going back and forth between the two instruments, he said that they were equally sharp with better colours coming through in the Series 5. I thought the Leica was that bit sharper overall though. I asked him to see if the sharpness fell off as he moved his target(a tree trunk in this case) to the edge of the field in both binoculars. He noted, as I did, that the Leica served up a tack sharp image all across the field but that the extreme edges of the Series 5 field was less sharp. He also noted that the 8 x 42 ED was easier to handle than the 8 x 20. Finally, he  mentioned that the background was in sharper focus in the Leica than the Series 5. He was, of course, referring to depth of focus here; the little Leica has exceptional focus depth, but the Series 5 is still very decent in this regard.

Alexander, enjoying the views through the B & S Series 5  8  x 42 ED .


Tests for Chromatic Aberration; Comparing the ED to the non-ED Series 5

The Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42(left) and the 8 x 42 ED(right).

On one overcast August afternoon, I hooked up with a former student of mine, Joe, who was keen to do a blind A/B test comparing the B & S Series 5 8 x 42 ED and the otherwise identical non-ED version. Before we carried out the tests I contacted OVL asking them a simple question: would I see a difference between the ED and non-ED Series 5?  They got back to me within minutes with this response:

“Most people wouldn’t notice much difference between the ED and non-ED versions unless they know what to look for. Standard optical performance is similar, you just don’t get the pronounced colour fringing with the ED glass, when viewing an object with a high contrasting background.”

That was a good answer, and that’s precisely what we found.

Superficially, both images were good and sharp with excellent contrast, but when we viewed a telephone pole against a bright overcast sky, the fringing was more apparent at the edges of our target in the non-ED binocular compared with its ED counterpart. Testing on another target – some leaves at the top of a Horse Chestnut tree some 40 yards in the distance, I was only able to detect chromatic aberration off axis in the non-ED, in the outer half of the field, but Joe claimed to see that little bit more towards the centre of the image. After looking through both binoculars for several minutes, we conducted a blind test – Joe handed me one binocular while closing my eyes, being only allowed to open them again once the instrument was deployed in front of my face. Then we switched roles, with Joe conducting the optical tests. The results were unanimous; we could see a small but perceptible improvement in the image using the ED binocular. In another test, Joe felt the intricate details of flowers were slightly crisper and had richer colours than the non-ED version, but I found it harder to verify this.

What about light transmission?

The previous evening, I emerged with both binoculars – the ED and non-ED Series 5 – at sunset and conducted a low light test, looking into the shadows of a bush located some 100 yards away as the light continued to fail. Try as I could to see a difference, it simply was too small to notice. Again, I would maybe give the nod to the ED binocular, but only just!

The Virtues of Testing Binoculars Under the Stars 

I’ve noticed that many binocular reviews published in birding magazines seem a tad over generic. Indeed, in many cases one could simply remove the name of one binocular and replace it with another, and hardly anyone would be the wiser. And in some reviews I’ve come across, the sense I get is that the writing is so contrived as to be almost fictional. Quite often, reviewers report of  ‘peripheral softness’ in the outer part of the field or some such. Others report that the field is either too restrictive or is wide and expansive. And still others report some drop off in illumination towards the edge of the field.

The trouble with this kind of reporting is that it is rather too subjective. Many birders might be interested to learn that one can get a much better handle on the extent of those properties simply by looking at the Moon in the sky or a bright star field. For example, one can use a pair of stars of known angular separation to accurately measure the field of view of any binocular. Off axis aberrations can also be more accurately ascertained by moving a bright star from the centre to the edge of the field  and noting how and where the stellar images begin to morph significantly. Furthermore, moving the Moon to the outer edge of the field will easily show reduced brightness if indeed, it exists at all. What’s more, the Moon can also be used to more easily differentiate non-ED from ED binoculars at the same power by looking at the extent of fringing observed on the lunar limb.

So how did the Series 5 8 x 42 ED  fare under the starry heaven? How did it look on the Moon?

Ad Astra

After a very overcast day on August 31, the clouds dispersed very late in the evening, leaving a clear and tranquil sky to verify the many properties of a binocular that can be ascertained simply by examining the images of bright stars in a binocular field. Assisting me this evening was Joe, who kindly gave me about 90 minutes of his time testing out a number of binoculars in comparison to the Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 ED. Starting shortly after midnight, we continued our tests on various objects until about 1:30 am, September 1.

The first thing we verified was the size of the field. As stated before, if you happen to know the angular separation of two bright stars in the sky, you can use that information to measure field size. As usual, I chose the two stars in the Ploughshare asterism in Ursa Major. We were just about able to fit Phecda and Merak into the field of view of the binocular. These are separated by 754′ or 7.9 angular degrees, so I’m confident that the stated field size(8.1 angular degrees) for this binocular is fairly accurate. As an additional control, we employed the Nikon Monarch  HG 8 x 30, with an advertised field of view of 8.3 angular degrees, to show that it too was able to frame these two stars but with a little more room to spare.

Next we tested how well corrected the field was in both the Barr & Stroud Series 5  ED and the Nikon Monarch HG 8 x 30. Focusing on bright yellow Capella, now fairly low down in the northeast, we took our turns moving the star from the centre to the edge of the fields in both binoculars, making mental notes of the experience and later committing those notes to pen and paper. Here’s what we found: first off, the Nikon Monarch HG, despite having a field flattener built-in, did not have an entirely flat field. Furthermore, its lateral flatness was noticeably superior to its vertical flatness. To make that even clearer, side-to-side flatness was much better than up-and-down flatness. Furthermore, we observed the same phenomenon in several other binoculars including the Barr & Stroud Series 5 non-ED, the Celestron Trailseeker 8 x 32, a Carson VP 10 x 42 and a Leica Ultravid 8 x 20.

This asymmetry is a very real phenomenon that is unreported in the binocular literature

The little Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 exhibited by far the flattest, best corrected field of all the instruments tested.

The next best corrected field was the Nikon Monarch HG 8 x 30, where stars began to morph in shape at about 75 per cent out from the centre, getting gradually worse as it reached the field stop. The Barr & Stroud Series 5s were pretty much identical, with distortions occurring from about 70 per cent out from the centre. What is more, apart from the extreme top and bottom of the binocular field, both Barr & Stroud Series 5s offered up acceptably small stellar images over pretty much the rest of the field, making them excellent star gazing binoculars.

We were both quite shocked to see the Nikon Monarch HG behave in this way, as our daylight tests didn’t show this field curvature nearly as acutely as the star tests did. All we could say is that the Monarch HG had a flatter field than the Barr & Stroud  Series 5s.

By 1.00 am local time, a last quarter Moon was rising over the hills to the northeast  and we were able to test for chromatic aberration in both the Series 5 ED and non-ED binoculars. We both detected a small amount of secondary spectrum on the lunar limb in the non-ED which was all but absent in the ED, in full accordance with our expectations.

Finally, by moving the Moon laterally off axis, from the centre to the edges of the field, we noted how the lunar maria darkened a little near the field stop showing clear evidence of edge of field illumination drop off. That said, the same phenomenon was noted with the Monarch HG and the Leica Ultravid, although to a lesser extent.

Overall Conclusions

A binocular that will get the job done!

The Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 ED proved to be an improvement over the Series 5 non-ED. It does have better colour correction, slightly better contrast and slightly crisper images. Having tested many binoculars in the same price range as the Series 5 ED, I believe it has noticeably superior glare control, which keeps contrast levels high, even in fairly harsh lighting conditions. While certainly not in the same league as an alpha binocular, it does offer up very satisfying optics and ergonomics punching well above its modest price tag. I would unhesitatingly recommend this binocular as a very capable general use binocular that will sate the demands of the majority of birders, nature watchers and stargazers alike. It just does many things well and has a very wide and well corrected field.

I gifted the Series 5 8 x 42 non-ED to Joe for his enthusiastic services and will be keeping the ED version for my own personal use. He is delighted with it and I’m confident that Joe, who returns to the United States on September 3, will make maximal use of it.


Thanks for reading.



Dr. Neil English is the author of several hundred magazine articles on visual astronomy, astrophotography, telescope testing, origin science and birdwatching, which have appeared on both sides of the Atlantic. He is also  the author of seven books including his lauded, Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy, detailing the lives and work of several dozen astronomers over four centuries of telescopic history. 



De Fideli.

19 thoughts on “Product Review: The Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 ED Binocular.

  1. Hey Neil, glad to see this review is underway!

    I am still testing my Kestrel Ed 8×42 with regards to the glare at the bottom of the fov and to my surprise your explanation about different type of light and sky condition influencing the glare was bang on. I spoke with the supplier and had Joe test a pair outside of the shop and then he reported back that there was no glare issue.

    I am baffled by this as I am sure there is glare issue! I think I am going to send them to Viking to investigate. I also popped to my local Bino store and tried the Hawke endurance Ed and I was pleasantly surprised by the sharpness and depth of field. They are warmer than Kestrel and perhaps not as bright but great immersive views

    I look forward to the Barr&Stroud review

  2. Hello Ajaja,

    I think the only way you can be personally satisfied is to try before you buy. Binoculars, to some degree, involve highly personal, subjective judgements. I am reluctant to rely heavily on many reviews, especially when they don’t adequately address basic issues like glare, internal reflections and how well corrected the field is. And I’ve seen glowing reviews of items that are very suspect indeed. If there is excessive glare, it will very difficult to fix and indeed may involve the complete redesign of the binocular.

    I hope to complete the review of the Barr & Stroud by tomorrow.

    Best wishes,


  3. I completely agree with your analogy Neil. Binocular are a like a shoe

    The Barr&Stroud seems like a strong contender but does it best the Kestrel in the brightness and sharpness department?!

    The more I look through my Kestrel and when the conditions are right ie no apparent glare and blue sky above the picture is just sensational with immense brightness and true to colour tone.. reminds me of my old Vortex viper sparkling optics! Hard to decide as per your review they are the best optics for £200 hands down

  4. Afternoon Ajaja,

    Alas I can’t do a side by side as I no longer have the Kestrel 8x 42 ED. That said, I’m confident the Series 5 B&S has better glare control than the two Viking ED binoculars I reviewed in the past.
    In regard to the Kestrel – it has dielectric coatings on the prisms which should, in theory, give a brighter image in low light conditions than the B&S. Whether or not that translates into to a noticeably brighter image, I’m not so sure.
    As an example, when I reviewed the Practika Marquis ED recently and compared its low light performance to the non-ED 8x 42 Series 5 I could not see a significant difference between them. The Marquis ED has dielectrically coated prisms;

    Kind Regards,

    • Very interesting Neil

      I am going to try and test the Barr&Stroud at my local shop. Btw you always mention the flash alight test which is something I always wanted to makes sense of what I am looking for. I know by shining the light at the objective lens I can see if the inside if it’s well blacked out and if these is any internal dust of finger prints. What else do you look for to estimate if the optics can be good in low light and if they might have glare issue and loss of contrast please? I would like to know how you score these areas based on what you look for and see. Cheers mate.

  5. Hello Ajaja,

    Thanks for your kind donation! Every little helps!

    Just a quick update; I spent the afternoon comparing the Series 5 Barr & Stroud 8 x 42 ED to a top-tier 8 x 30 Nikon Monarch HG. The glare suppression of the Nikon is formidable but when tested against the Series 5 the HG was only marginally better. I’d say that’s a great result for the B & S binocular! I added an extra paragraph and picture of the two instruments placed side by side.

    With best wishes,


    • No wireless at all Neil, your work and dedication to providing honest unbiased reviews is incredible! The Barr&Stroud sound like a good Bino. What’s the brightness like under low light? When I went to my local shop I tried the Hawke endurance ed 8×42 and then I picked up a pair of Opticron Oregon 4 PC 8 x 42 which blew me away by their sparkling optics they were incredibly bright with some much contrast that I couldn’t believe the price tag of £109. Having said that they did suffer from some bad CA on the edge of the fov. Back to the Kestrel and after further examination I noticed that the exist pupil are rounded however, there is a gap letting light on both ep?! This looks like a bright sword. I wonder if this is a fault which could be causing the glare issue. I have a photo that I share with you if you don’t mind. Cheers

  6. Hello Ajaja,

    Even though Barr & Stroud do not explicitly state that their roof prisms are dielectrically coated (giving the highest light transmission), they didn’t seem any dimmer than another 10 x 42 ED binocular which did have these coatings, as showcased in my link above. Having a large exit pupil and good light transmission, they should be very useful at dawn or dusk; certainly better than any 32mm instruments irrespective of pedigree.

    You are fortunate enough to be able to go to a local dealer and test out various makes and models before making up your mind. And, as you say, there are really good bargains out there if you have the skills to test them and the patience to take your time.
    Hawke has a good reputation as do Opticron (both originally British owned), so I’m not surprised that you found some of their budget models quite good.

    I wonder if your dealer could order up a Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 ED for you to test? The company that own and distribute them are Optical Vision Limited(OVL). He/she could contact them on:

    That is probably the only sure way to see how well it performs.



    • Very interesting Neil

      I am going to try and test the Barr&Stroud at my local shop. Btw you always mention the flash alight test which is something I always wanted to makes sense of what I am looking for. I know by shining the light at the objective lens I can see if the inside if it’s well blacked out and if these is any internal dust of finger prints. What else do you look for to estimate if the optics can be good in low light and if they might have glare issue and loss of contrast please? I would like to know how you score these areas based on what you look for and see. Cheers mate.

  7. Good afternoon Ajaja,

    The torch test just involves shining a very bright beam of light into the binocular. from across a room. Focus the binocular on the beam and look for internal reflections floating around in the image. If the reflections are very subdued or not present, then you know that it will not show up reflections when you’re observing very bright targets such as the Moon or street lights at night etc.

    Is the image of the beam crisp and clean? Or is it surrounded by a diffused haze which cuts down contrast? Good glass should show minimum diffusion.
    Finally, does the focused beam have a diffraction spike? If so, how strong is it? If it’s strong it will show up at night when looking at street lights etc.

    It’s a simple first step to seeing how any binocular will behave.



    • Thanks Neil, top man

      Really great insight diving in to the heart of the optics

      Does any of the following test can tell us anything about the optics for day time viewing & performance of the binocular albeit positive or negative ? Seem to me like the torch test is great to ascertain performance for visual astronomy. Day time testing is what you see is what you get

    • Thanks Neil, top man

      Really great insight diving in to the heart of the optics

      Does any of the following test can tell us anything about the optics for day time viewing & performance of the binocular ?

  8. Yeah I think they can to some degree. For example, imagine looking down at a river or out to sea on a bright sunny day. If the binocular has pronounced internal reflections they will show up in the image as annoying glints. If one or more components inside the binocular has poor quality glass then it might be enough to introduce a thin haze in the image which would cut down contrast etc.

    On one occasion, while I was looking through a binocular in a bright light test, I could clearly make out a finger print lol on one of the components. It was shocking but these things sometimes happen.


    • Makes perfect sense Neil

      Or more thing to add, I like the pin holes in a cling film on top of a torche creating stars and checking for collimating issues

  9. Yep, there’s lot of little tests one can do at home. Focusing on the glint off a silvered object like tinfoil would be like creating an artificial star. Placed at a distance from you, one could check to see how the image changes from centre to edge.

    I do most of my collimation tests by mounting my binos on a tripod and looking at a scene in the far distance. If the collimation is spot on, both barrels will present the same view laterally as well as at the top and bottom of the field. You’ll probably be OK if there is a small difference in the views but a large difference spells trouble, which may result in headaches after prolonged use because your brain and eye are working over time to merge the images together.


  10. Hi Neil,
    I feel fortunate that I came across your reviews! I know nothing about binoculars and nor does my wife who has just joined a bird watching group. I’ve been looking at binoculars for her and was totally confused by the numerous manufacturers and models!
    I saw your review of the Viking Kestrel ED 6 x 42 binocular and was about to order it when I noticed a chat at the end of your review regarding glare and a subsequent review of the Barr and Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 ED binoculars.
    On reading it I am now of the opinion that the Barr and Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 would be a better option at a similar price. I’d appreciate if you would confirm my conclusion. Thanks. Your advice is appreciated as it will save me getting more headaches trying to decide what to get!

  11. Hello Bill,

    Thanks for your message.

    The Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 ED is a real gem of a binocular; my favourite in fact. It has exceptional control of glare and is superior to the Kestrel in this regard. The field of view is larger too and very well corrected to boot.

    I think she will love it! So comfortable and easy to use!

    I would recommend you give Rother Valley Optics a call. They have it in stock for £219 plus postage. Just ask them to check the eyecups are firm and lock securely.

    Another option I would recommend is the Svbony SV 202 10 x 42 ED. It retails for only 126.99, but it has gone up by £20 since I purchased mine. It has truly phenomenal optics! It has tighter eye relief than the Barr & Stroud and the 10x is a little harder to hold steady but if you get a good one it will knock your socks off!

    Good luck with your purchase!

    With best wishes,


  12. Neil,

    Thanks for your response. Extremely helpful as I was getting totally lost in the minefield of so many different brands, models and reviews so can now go ahead and have a look at both these above and choose one,

    Thanks for your advise and assistance.

    Brest wishes to your for the festive season.



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