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Optical Quality

From Mid-Priced Binoculars Review
Bird Watcher's Digest, November, 2007

by Michael and Diane Porter

INTRO

We compared the binoculars for resolution, brightness, contrast, color fidelity, detail in shadowed areas, and freedom from chromatic aberration. Each tester rated the binoculars' optical quality on a scale of 5 (best score among our mid-priced binoculars) to 1 (worst). We also had top-end reference binoculars available for comparison -- Zeiss FL 8x 42 and 10x42, a Swarovski EL 8.5x42, and a Leica Ultravid 8x42.

A word of caution on interpreting the optical quality numbers. The combined scores are rated to the tenth of a point, but the spread is tight, with most of the binoculars scoring within one point of each other. It's wise not to regard the scores as absolutes. Every score on the chart is composed of the ratings of multiple testers, each of whom doubtless brought his or her own preferences and particularities to the test. This doesn't mean subjective comparisons are meaningless. But there is a tendency, when seeing something reduced to a number such as 4.3, to put undue credence in its specificity.

Among the standouts for optical quality were the Leica Ultravid Compacts, amazingly sharp, clear binoculars. (See review of Leica Ultravid Compacts, below.) The Vortex Razor 8x42 shared the highest optical score with them. 

Here are the elements we tested for and included on the chart.

OPTICAL QUALITY

ERGONOMICS

  • Fit and Feel
  • Diopter Adjustment
  • Focus knob
  • Eyecups
  • Eye Relief
  • Close Focus
  • Field of View

THE MAIN CHART

THE WARRANTIES CHART

BINOCULARS OF PARTICULAR NOTE

-- Michael and Diane Porter

This article appears in the November, 2007, issue of Bird Watcher's Digest.

Text copyright 2007 by Michael and Diane Porter.

 

 


And if you want to see the birds up close...

Triumph

For specific help choosing binoculars...

The Binocular Advisor