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Optics for<br />

BIRD WATCHING<br />

THE BEST BUYS<br />

● Binoculars ● Scopes ● Night vision ● and more...


GET A CLOSE<br />

UP VIEW OF<br />

THE ACTION<br />

Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Objective<br />

Lenses Provide High Resolution<br />

Wide Field of View<br />

BaK-4 Prisms and Fully<br />

Multi-coated Optics Deliver<br />

Maximum Light Transmission<br />

42mm to 50mm Objective Lenses<br />

6.5ft to 8.2ft Close Focus<br />

Celestron’s award-winning Nature DX binocular gets a<br />

major upgrade with the addition of ED objective lenses.<br />

Nature DX ED’s optical performance rivals that of more<br />

expensive binoculars, at a price to fit your budget.<br />

This versatile, all-around binocular is a great choice for<br />

the countryside, the stadium, the theatre, or just about<br />

anywhere you want a close-up view of the action without<br />

sacrificing brightness or detail. It’s an especially great<br />

companion for nature observation and bird watching, with<br />

ED glass that helps you spot the subtlest field markings<br />

and a close focus of just 6.5 feet.<br />

Model shown: Nature DX ED 8X42 Binoculars<br />

RRP £199.99<br />

Other models available Nature DX 12x50 ED £239.99, Nature DX 10x50 ED<br />

£239.99, Nature DX 10x42 ED and Nature DX 8x42 ED £199.99<br />

For more information visit www.celestron.com<br />

Contact Celestron at enquiries@celestron.com


Welcome<br />

TOM BAILEY<br />

Buying binoculars, spotting<br />

scopes, or other optics such<br />

as night-vision scopes can be<br />

a daunting business – there are<br />

always plenty of options on the market,<br />

and if you’re new to birding, in particular,<br />

it’s hard to know exactly what to look for.<br />

In this special gear guide, we show you<br />

how to find optics that will suit you and<br />

the sort of birdwatching that you do, and<br />

then take a look back at the products we’ve<br />

reviewed in the last five years (as well as a<br />

few that will appear in the next few issues).<br />

There are mini-reviews of 40 models<br />

of binocular, 14 scopes, and a number<br />

of other products that could enhance<br />

your birding enjoyment.<br />

Read it, keep it handy for the next time<br />

you’re in the market for optics, and<br />

remember that they’re all<br />

about helping you to<br />

enjoy birdwatching.<br />

MATT MERRITT,<br />

Editor<br />

Bird Watching<br />

Magazine<br />

TOM BAILEY<br />

TOM BAILEY<br />

Contents<br />

4 – How to buy optics<br />

Top tips on finding the product that suits you<br />

7 – Binoculars<br />

Mini-reviews of 40 of the best current models<br />

21 – Spotting scopes<br />

Weigh up your options for longer-range birding<br />

29 – Other products:<br />

Night vision, image-stabilised bins, monoculars – they’re all here<br />

COVER IMAGES: MAIN: DAVID CHAPMAN/ALAMY; RIGHT: SIMON DACK/ALAMY*; LEFT: TOM BAILEY<br />

birdwatching.co.uk 3


How to buy<br />

OPTICS<br />

We could go into enough technical detail to fill<br />

every page of this magazine, but you might end<br />

up even more confused than when you began.<br />

So, instead, here’s six of the best tips to bear<br />

in mind when buying…<br />

1<br />

Try before you buy<br />

The internet has made it easy to get<br />

everything you need sent to your door, but<br />

optics are one of those things that it really pays<br />

to have in your hands before you part with cash.<br />

Largely, this is because no matter what the<br />

technical data, or the review, you need optics<br />

(and especially binoculars) that you’ll be<br />

comfortable using for long days in the field.<br />

That means you need to think about their<br />

weight, how they hang against your chest, and<br />

how comfortably they fit to your eye socket.<br />

Go to a dealer – most will be able to let you<br />

try them on real life targets. And always buy<br />

the actual optics you’ve tried – while production<br />

standards everywhere are generally very good<br />

these days, there can be slight variations between<br />

individual examples of the same model,<br />

especially in lower price ranges.<br />

2<br />

Get the right tool<br />

for the job<br />

It helps if you have a good idea of exactly<br />

what you want the optics for. If, for example,<br />

you do most of your birding fairly casually while<br />

walking the dog, or yomping up mountains, then<br />

smaller, lighter binoculars or scopes might be<br />

a good idea. If you do a lot of birding, in varied<br />

conditions, you might look for more premium<br />

optics in an ‘all-rounder’ size – 8x42 bins. Or you<br />

might want extra magnification, either because<br />

most of your birding is long range (sea-watching,<br />

say), or to help you read bird rings.<br />

3<br />

Avoid the<br />

magnification trap<br />

A lot of people, when they first start<br />

birding, assume more magnification is better.<br />

But remember, higher magnification also means<br />

Your kit is only as good as<br />

the tripod you use it with<br />

GEOGPHOTOS/ALAMY*<br />

SIMON DACK/ALAMY*<br />

Greater magnification will<br />

mean a narrower field of view<br />

that your field of view will be narrowed,<br />

and every shake and wobble of your optics is<br />

magnified too. The same applies with scopes,<br />

although there you have got a tripod to help<br />

eliminate any unsteadiness.<br />

4<br />

Don’t skimp on tripods<br />

Which brings us neatly onto this simple,<br />

but often overlooked advice – your scope<br />

is only as good as the tripod you use it with. Find<br />

one that’s steady under the weight of your chosen<br />

scope (and there are increasingly some absolute<br />

monsters out there), but that you can also carry<br />

around with relative comfort (remember, there<br />

are some good scope harnesses and carrying<br />

packs available).<br />

5<br />

Think long term<br />

If you’re buying a pair of binoculars that<br />

you hope will last you a lifetime, or at least<br />

15-20 years, you’re going to have to pay a high<br />

price – build quality and even after-sales service<br />

4 Bird Watching Gear Guide 2021


GEAR GUIDE HOW TO BUY OPTICS<br />

Glossary<br />

MAGNIFICATION<br />

How much bigger the optics will make<br />

your target appear. So, 10x50 binoculars<br />

will magnify everything by 10 times.<br />

OBJECTIVE LENS<br />

The business end of your bins or scope.<br />

It’s size, in mm, is the second figure in<br />

the model’s specification. So, 8x42<br />

means a 42mm objective lens, with<br />

everything magnified by eight times.<br />

The bigger it is, the more light it will<br />

gather, resulting in a brighter image<br />

(especially in low light conditions).<br />

ED GLASS<br />

Also sometimes called HD. The ED<br />

stands for extra-low dispersion, and<br />

means that you should get a crisper,<br />

brighter image, with more true to life<br />

colour. It will be more expensive, though.<br />

COLOUR FRINGING<br />

A halo of colour that can appear around<br />

the edges of objects, especially dark<br />

objects viewed against strong light.<br />

CLOSE FOCUS<br />

The closest that the optics can be made<br />

to focus absolutely sharply – a low figure<br />

(2m or under) will make the optics very<br />

useful for bug-watching, too.<br />

are part of what you’re paying for. You might<br />

well, to start, prefer something cheaper, as you<br />

can always upgrade later when birdwatching<br />

addiction has well and truly set in.<br />

6<br />

It’s not all about new<br />

The birdwatching optics market is the<br />

diametric opposite of the photography<br />

market, where new technology comes along all<br />

the time, and your year-old camera can suddenly<br />

be rendered obsolete. With binoculars and<br />

scopes, new models take a long time to develop,<br />

and improvements are also generally<br />

incremental. That means dealers often have stock<br />

of older models available, including some that<br />

have been officially superseded. So, a five-yearold<br />

mid-range model, now reduced in price,<br />

might prove a better fit for you than a justreleased<br />

model at the top of the budget range.<br />

Consider second-hand, too – most dealers stock<br />

some, and especially with premium optics, they<br />

can be a terrific bargain.<br />

BW<br />

Maybe smaller kit<br />

will suit you better?<br />

JUICE IMAGES/ALAMY*<br />

FIELD OF VIEW<br />

Usually expressed as a certain<br />

number of metres at 1000m, the key<br />

things to bear in mind are that higher<br />

magnification reduces it (especially<br />

noticeable when you’re using a zoom on<br />

a scope), and that you also need to look<br />

at how sharp the image is to the edges.<br />

Softness at the edges can make even<br />

a wide field of view seem narrow.<br />

ZOOM<br />

Most scopes these days come with<br />

a zoom eyepiece attached, typically<br />

15-45x magnification with smaller<br />

scopes, or 20-60x for larger. Remember<br />

that fixed eyepieces (usually around 30x)<br />

are often available, and that in practice<br />

you might not use a zoom at much higher<br />

magnification anyway, as field of view<br />

and quality fall off as you zoom in.<br />

ANGLED/STRAIGHT<br />

‘Straight’ scopes are easier to use when<br />

following flying targets, as you effectively<br />

look straight down the line of the scope.<br />

Angled (by far the more common type)<br />

can be harder to use initially, but offer<br />

greater flexibility (if they have a rotating<br />

collar). Many models offer both options.<br />

birdwatching.co.uk 5


LEICA TRINOVID 8 x 20 BCA<br />

LEICA TRINOVID 10 x 25 BCA<br />

LEICA ULTRAVID 8 x 20 BR<br />

LEICA ULTRAVID 10 x 25 BR<br />

LEICA COMPACT BINOCULARS<br />

Small, but uncompromisingly powerful.<br />

Watchful observers need to be ready at a moment’s notice and the compact Trinovid BCA and Ultravid BR<br />

binoculars are up to the task. Able to successfully compete with much larger optics, these pocket-sized Leica<br />

binoculars perform with brightness and clarity, providing brilliant and high-contrast images. Water-resistant<br />

and robust, Leica compact binoculars enable long-term, fatigue-free observation in all weather conditions,<br />

so you never miss a thing.<br />

Find out more at www.leica-sportoptics.com<br />

Available at Leica Stores and selected Leica dealers.


GEAR GUIDE BINOCULARS<br />

Which binoculars<br />

are right for you?<br />

There’s a great deal to consider before<br />

splashing out on a new pair of bins<br />

CULTURA RM/ALAMY<br />

HAWKE ENDURANCE ED<br />

8X42 £189.99<br />

Excellent all-rounders that will suit beginners<br />

perfectly, as well as any birder who wants a decent<br />

pair of spare bins to keep in the car. The image has a<br />

good, natural colour, and is sharp, with little softness<br />

around the edges, meaning you feel you’re getting<br />

full value for the 129m@1000m field of view. Their<br />

light-gathering ability come into their own at dawn<br />

and dusk. Focusing is precise, and easy, and close<br />

focus, at 2m, is more than adequate for most<br />

bug-watching uses. There’s a maximum of 18mm<br />

eye relief, and the body is compact,<br />

well-balanced, and has<br />

plenty of easy-to-grip<br />

textured<br />

armour.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view (@1000<br />

m): 129m<br />

Close focus: 2m<br />

Eye relief: 18mm<br />

Dimensions:<br />

143mm x 124mm<br />

Weight: 652g<br />

RRP: £189.99<br />

Warranty: Hawke<br />

Worldwide Warranty<br />

Accessories: Semi-rigid<br />

case with shoulder<br />

strap, removable<br />

tethered objective lens<br />

covers, rainguard,<br />

neoprene strap.<br />

Website:<br />

hawkeoptics.co.uk<br />

August 2015<br />

LEICA 12X50 HD-PLUS<br />

£1,850<br />

There are still good reasons to choose 50mm<br />

objective lenses, for some birders, and these are<br />

a very good option. The 12x magnification gives<br />

extra reach, but the great thing is they’re very bright,<br />

performing very well in low light, and the image is<br />

clean, very sharp, and has a very natural colour. The<br />

image’s ‘sweet spot’ is substantial, meaning the<br />

100m@1000m field of view feels wider than it is.<br />

Focusing is very precise, and build quality is really<br />

excellent. There’s black<br />

rubber armour over the<br />

main body, and the<br />

balance is excellent<br />

– you really don’t<br />

feel like you’re<br />

holding<br />

1,050g of<br />

binocular.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view (@1000m):<br />

100m@1000m<br />

Close focus: 3.2m<br />

Dimensions:<br />

125x70x183mm<br />

Weight: 1,040g<br />

RRP: £1,850<br />

Warranty: 10-year.<br />

Accessories: Neoprene<br />

strap, fabric carry case<br />

with strap, removable<br />

tethered objective lens<br />

covers, rainguard,<br />

cleaning cloth.<br />

Contact: Leica Camera<br />

AG, Am Leitz-Park 5,<br />

D-35578 Wetzlar,<br />

info@leica-camera.com<br />

September 2015<br />

VANGUARD ENDEAVOR<br />

EDII 8X32 £329<br />

With an open-bridge design and high-quality glass,<br />

these are a highly affordable and excellent compact<br />

option for bird- and bug-watchers, as a main pair if<br />

you like to travel light, or as a back-up to be kept in<br />

the car. The image is sharp and crisp, right to the<br />

edges of the 126m@1000m field of view. It’s bright,<br />

too, with a slightly warm tone, and chromatic<br />

aberration minimised by the ED glass. The focusing<br />

did take some getting used to, but close focus is<br />

excellent, at under 2m.<br />

They’re light at 540g,<br />

making them a great<br />

option for a country<br />

walk, but they’re<br />

tripod-mountable,<br />

too, and sturdy<br />

enough to resist<br />

most wear<br />

and tear.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view<br />

(@1000 m): 126m<br />

Close focus: 1.8m<br />

Eye relief: 17.5mm<br />

Dimensions:<br />

132mm x 128mm<br />

Weight: 540g<br />

RRP: £329<br />

Warranty: Lifetime<br />

limited warranty<br />

Accessories: Fabric<br />

case, rainguard,<br />

tethered objective<br />

lens covers.<br />

Contact:<br />

Vanguard World UK,<br />

01202 651281,<br />

vanguardworld.co.uk<br />

Autumn 2015<br />

BUSHNELL FORGE 10X42<br />

£539<br />

Quality binoculars at a very reasonable price point.<br />

They have a no-nonsense, robust design that’s easy to<br />

use, and they offer a wide range of other sizes (8x42,<br />

10x30 and 15x56 sizes). The image produced by the<br />

ED Prime glass is generally excellent, feeling bright<br />

and very natural in colour, even in low light, and<br />

although there’s a little bit of<br />

edge softness, the<br />

view never feels<br />

cramped as is<br />

sometimes the<br />

case with higher<br />

magnification<br />

binoculars. Well<br />

worth a look.<br />

SPECS<br />

Weight: 860g<br />

Length: 170mm<br />

Eye relief: 18mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

113m@1000m<br />

Website: bushnell.com<br />

December 2021<br />

birdwatching.co.uk 7


LEICA ULTRAVID HD-PLUS<br />

8X32 £1,350<br />

The view is natural, with excellent sharpness and<br />

very good brightness and contrast. It’s pretty wide,<br />

too, and the close-focus, quoted at 2.2m, is fine.<br />

Low-light performance is very, very good. They have<br />

a great feel in the hand, with excellent build. This is a<br />

very compact, lightweight binocular – some may find<br />

it too small, but the wide focusing wheel is ridged,<br />

nicely grippy, and delivers very good focusing<br />

precision. Eye relief,<br />

at 13.3mm, could<br />

be a problem for<br />

some. There’s very<br />

little to fault, and<br />

it’s a little cheaper<br />

than some of its<br />

obvious<br />

competitors.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view (@1000<br />

m): 135m (7.7 degrees)<br />

Close focus: 2.2m<br />

Eye relief: 13.3mm<br />

Dimensions:<br />

117 x 55 x 119mm<br />

Weight: 560g<br />

RRP: £1,350<br />

Warranty: 10 years<br />

Accessories: Contoured<br />

neoprene strap,<br />

rainguard; lens cloth,<br />

tethered removable<br />

objective covers,<br />

cordura case.<br />

Contact:<br />

0207 629 1351,<br />

leica-sportoptics.co.uk<br />

November 2015<br />

HAWKE FRONTIER ED<br />

8X42 £249.99<br />

This closed-hinge update of the original Frontier<br />

EDs, which set something of a new standard for the<br />

quality of optics you could expect for under £300,<br />

is actually noticeably lighter than the original, and<br />

compact, too. They have Hawke’s usual chunky,<br />

well-ridged focus wheel, making focus easy to find<br />

and maintain. Brightness, sharpness to the edges<br />

and a very true-to-life colour were the hallmarks of<br />

the original Frontier EDs,<br />

and that’s all present and<br />

correct here, too. You feel<br />

like you’re getting the<br />

full benefit of the<br />

142m@1000m field<br />

of view. Excellent<br />

all-round binoculars<br />

for anyone out there<br />

wanting to take the<br />

next step up from<br />

their beginner pair.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view<br />

(@1000 m): 142m<br />

Close focus: 2m<br />

Eye relief: 18mm<br />

Dimensions: 144mm x<br />

135mm x 58mm<br />

Weight: 680g<br />

RRP: £249.99<br />

Warranty: 10-year<br />

Contact: Hawke Sport<br />

Optics, 01394 387<br />

762, sales@<br />

hawkeoptics.co.uk,<br />

hawkeoptics.co.uk<br />

December 2015<br />

HELIOS MISTRAL WP6<br />

8X42 £109.95<br />

They’re solid and robust in the hand, light, at 682g,<br />

and well-balanced, with user-friendly design. The<br />

colour of the image feels very natural, and contrast is<br />

good, while the 42mm objective lenses gather plenty<br />

of light (there’s an ED version available, for £155).<br />

The image is sharp and clean, with relatively little<br />

fall-off in that towards its edges, and the field of view<br />

(129m@1000m) feels more expansive than the figures<br />

suggest. Chromatic aberration was hard to find. For<br />

£110, they cover all the bases that any<br />

beginner birder could want,<br />

offering excellent all-round<br />

optical performance<br />

and a design and<br />

build that<br />

should cope<br />

with most<br />

eventualities.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view<br />

(@1000 m): 129m<br />

Close focus: 2m<br />

Eye relief: 17.5mm<br />

Dimensions: 140mm x<br />

105mm x 58mm<br />

Weight: 682g<br />

RRP: £109.95<br />

Contact: Optical Vision<br />

Ltd, Unit 3, Woolpit<br />

Business Park,<br />

Woolpit, Bury St.<br />

Edmunds, Suffolk IP30<br />

9UP; info@<br />

opticalvision.co.uk<br />

January 2016<br />

OPTICRON DBA VHD<br />

8X42 £579<br />

If you’re looking to buy high-quality bins for well<br />

under £1,000, take a good look at these. Great optics,<br />

and a user-friendly design. The image produced by<br />

the HD glass is very bright, and performs extremely<br />

well in low light, and it’s sharp, too, with very<br />

true-to-life colour. Best of all, the image remains<br />

sharp to the edge of the field of view (122m@1000m),<br />

and colour-fringing is negligible. The ergonomics are<br />

excellent. The eyecups twist up and down to<br />

three distinct positions, offering an<br />

exceptional 22mm of eye relief,<br />

and there’s plenty of rubber<br />

armour, but the<br />

open-bridge design<br />

keeps weight down<br />

and they feel light,<br />

compact and<br />

well-balanced<br />

in the hand.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view<br />

(@1000m): 122m<br />

Close focus: 2.5m<br />

Eye relief: 22mm<br />

Dimensions: 145mm x<br />

126mm<br />

Weight: 696g<br />

RRP: £579<br />

Contact: opticron.co.uk<br />

April 2016<br />

SWAROVSKI EL FIELDPRO<br />

8.5X42 FROM £2,000<br />

A subtle but effective evolution of outstanding<br />

binoculars – the optics are the same, but the design<br />

even more user-friendly. The image is still very bright<br />

and very sharp right to the edges, giving a ‘walk-in’<br />

feel that brings a wide panorama into precise focus.<br />

The rubber armour has a more ‘grippy’ feel, and<br />

the focus wheel is easier to grip and move (very<br />

smoothly). The objective lens covers are more secure,<br />

and the neoprene strap is easier to attach, enabling<br />

you to switch rapidly and easily to<br />

accessories such as a floating strap<br />

(seawatchers might like this),<br />

a harness or a<br />

bino-guard in the<br />

field.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view:<br />

133m@1000m<br />

Close focus: 1.5m<br />

Eye relief: 20mm<br />

Dimensions: 160mm x<br />

131mm x 61mm<br />

Weight: 835g<br />

RRP: £2,000<br />

Contact:<br />

uk.swarovskioptik.<br />

com June 2016<br />

STEINER OBSERVER 8X42<br />

FROM £199<br />

The Observers are versatile all-rounders. They give a<br />

bright image with excellent contrast. The colours feel<br />

natural, with perhaps a slightly warm, yellowish cast.<br />

The field of view feels wide, with the image staying<br />

crisp up to the edges, and focus was precise and easy<br />

to find. Close focus, at 2m, is good for anyone<br />

wanting an all-round wildlife binocular. Build<br />

quality is generally<br />

excellent, and they’re<br />

lightweight and well<br />

balanced. The have some<br />

rather indeterminate<br />

intermediate positions,<br />

but when fully extended<br />

eye relief was fine.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view:<br />

116m@1000m<br />

Close focus: 2m<br />

Dimensions: 148mm x<br />

128mm x 65mm<br />

Weight: 696g<br />

RRP: £199<br />

Contact: steinerbinoculars.co.uk<br />

August 2016<br />

8 Bird Watching Gear Guide 2021


GEAR GUIDE BINOCULARS<br />

HELIOS LIGHTWING HR<br />

FROM £159<br />

Excellent all-round optics at a very affordable price,<br />

and the ED version is only £40 more if you want even<br />

more optical punch. Great for beginners, or anyone<br />

looking for a reliable second pair for the car. There’s<br />

good natural colour and contrast, and a crisp image<br />

with very little edge softness, giving you the full<br />

benefit of a field of view of 141m@1000m. Colour<br />

fringing only showed slightly when following a<br />

moving bird against strong sunlight. The image is<br />

bright, too – even at dusk they performed<br />

remarkably well. Most impressive,<br />

perhaps, was the design and build<br />

quality. The textured armour<br />

is easy to grip, and<br />

they’re compact,<br />

well-balanced and, at<br />

710g, lightweight.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view:<br />

141m@1000m<br />

Close focus: 2m<br />

Dimensions: 140mm x<br />

121mm x 51mm<br />

Weight: 710g<br />

RRP: £159<br />

Contact:<br />

opticalvision.co.uk<br />

September 2016<br />

MINOX BL 8X44HD<br />

£459<br />

Excellent build quality, and outstanding value for<br />

money, from a brand which consistently produces<br />

great optics. The image is very impressive indeed –<br />

bright, sharp, wide and with no discernible edge<br />

softness, or colour-fringing, even against bright<br />

sunshine. You might get a little extraneous light<br />

getting in from the sides, so it’s worth taking the time<br />

to get your eye position right – the eyecups twist up<br />

to four distinct positions,<br />

offering an excellent 19.5mm<br />

of eye relief. The focus wheel<br />

takes 1.5 anti-clockwise<br />

turns from close focus to<br />

infinity, and moves<br />

smoothly and moderately<br />

stiffly. Close focus is below<br />

2.5m.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view:<br />

136m@1000m<br />

Eye relief: 19.5mm<br />

Close focus: 2.5m<br />

Dimensions: 150mm x<br />

130mm x 53mm<br />

Weight: 740g<br />

RRP: £459<br />

Contact: minox.com<br />

November 2016<br />

MINOX BF8X42<br />

£139<br />

An excellent option for any birdwatching beginner,<br />

offering very good build quality and optics at a very<br />

affordable price. The image is bright and sharp in all<br />

conditions, with only a little softness towards the<br />

edge, although field of view feels rather cramped.<br />

Colour-fringing is hard to find, even against bright<br />

light. Focus is easy to<br />

find. Close focus is a very<br />

impressive 1.2m, making<br />

these perfect for any<br />

birdwatcher with an<br />

interest in bug-watching.<br />

The eyecups twist up to<br />

four positions, and stay<br />

in place well, offering a<br />

very good 18mm of eye<br />

relief.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view:<br />

105m@1000m<br />

Eye relief: 18mm<br />

Close focus: 1.2m<br />

Dimensions: 140mm x<br />

127mm x 51mm<br />

Weight: 660g<br />

RRP: £139<br />

Contact:<br />

minox.com<br />

November 2016<br />

LEICA NOCTIVID 8X42<br />

FROM £2,130<br />

Leica’s best ever binoculars? We wouldn’t argue.<br />

Small and very well put together, these are<br />

open-bridge binoculars of a simple, elegant design. At<br />

860g they are not light, but the balance is very good.<br />

There’s a maximum 19mm of eye relief, which is<br />

good, and the view is easy on the eyes, natural,<br />

comfortable and relaxed, with<br />

excellent focusing<br />

precision. Sharpness<br />

is excellent across<br />

the field of view,<br />

with just a very<br />

small amount of<br />

fall-off at the edges.<br />

They’re very<br />

impressive in low<br />

light, and field of<br />

view is good but<br />

not excellent.<br />

SPECS<br />

Exit pupil diameter:<br />

5.25mm<br />

Eye relief: 19mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

135m@1000m. 7.7<br />

degrees<br />

Close-focus: 1.9m<br />

Approx dimensions:<br />

124x150x68mm<br />

Weight: 860g<br />

RRP: £2,130<br />

(£2,210 for 10x)<br />

Warranty: 10 years<br />

Supplied accessories:<br />

Case, strap, rainguard,<br />

tethered removable<br />

objective covers<br />

See: uk.leica-camera.<br />

com/Sport-Optics<br />

December 2016<br />

ZEISS VICTORY SF<br />

£2,129<br />

If you’re in the market for a top-range binocular, put<br />

these on your short list. There’s an open bridge<br />

design, which feels natural and very comfortable, as<br />

does the grippy, lightly textured rubber. Focusing is<br />

easy and precise, and there’s an easy, relaxing, sharp<br />

and natural image, which is outstandingly bright,<br />

even in low light conditions. They excel in field of<br />

view, too, which adds to<br />

the natural feel, and stay<br />

sharp right to the edges.<br />

That word ‘natural’<br />

keeps cropping up –<br />

that’s the biggest<br />

compliment we can pay<br />

the outstanding view<br />

these deliver.<br />

SPECS<br />

Magnification: 8x<br />

Field of view:<br />

(m@1000m) 148<br />

Close focus: 1.5m<br />

Weight: 780g<br />

RRP: £ 2,129.99 (inc<br />

VAT)<br />

Contact: zeiss.com<br />

March 2017<br />

LEICA TRINOVID HD<br />

£920<br />

A workhorse of a binocular (Portuguese-made) that<br />

delivers a good view, albeit with some edge softness,<br />

does well in low light, and has very good close focus.<br />

But don’t expect top-end Leica performance for 40%<br />

of the normal price. Build quality is good, and they’re<br />

well-balanced, light and unfussy in their design. The<br />

view’s sharp, bright and impressive in low light, but<br />

there is some edge softness, and occasional<br />

colour-fringing. Close focus, on the other hand, is<br />

outstanding and makes them suitable for all sorts of<br />

wildlife watching.<br />

SPECS<br />

Exit pupil diameter:<br />

4.2mm<br />

Eye relief: 15.5mm<br />

Field of view: 113m@<br />

1000m (6.5 degrees)<br />

Close-focus: 1.6m<br />

Weight: 761g RRP:<br />

£920 (£880 for 8x)<br />

Warranty: 10 years<br />

Supplied accessories:<br />

Adventure strap,<br />

regular strap,<br />

rainguard, tethered<br />

removable objective<br />

covers, lens cloth<br />

See: uk.leica-camera.<br />

com/Sport-Optics<br />

August 2017<br />

birdwatching.co.uk 9


Experience the clearest of<br />

views through extra-low<br />

dispersion glass<br />

Arise, the new MONARCHS<br />

Birdwatching just got a little clearer, thanks to exciting<br />

new additions to Nikon’s Sport Optics binocular range.<br />

Nikon has announced two<br />

binoculars to be added<br />

to its Sport Optics range;<br />

the MONARCH M7 and<br />

the MONARCH M5.<br />

Designed for those with a passion for nature<br />

and the outdoors, both models project a clear<br />

and natural view of the outside world via<br />

their redesigned, durable and stylish bodies.<br />

Combining optical excellence with superb<br />

handling, the products are available in a<br />

variety of different configurations to ensure<br />

there is a MONARCH for all outdoor pursuits.<br />

With either the MONARCH M5 or M7,<br />

users can expect to visualise rich images in<br />

high-resolution, resulting in the magnificence<br />

of nature’s colours being brought to life.<br />

Both these MONARCH models feature a<br />

Dielectric high-reflective multilayer prism<br />

coating, to guarantee superior transmittance<br />

uniformity across the visible range.<br />

Understanding that comfort is key<br />

when waiting for wildlife to appear, both<br />

new additions to the MONARCH range<br />

are easy to hold, thanks to a firm grip and<br />

rubber armouring for shock resistance.<br />

Durable too, the MONARCH M7 and<br />

MONARCH M5 are waterproof for up to<br />

one metre for 10 minutes and are also fog-free.<br />

The turn-and-slide rubber eyecups, with<br />

multi-click support, enable simple positioning<br />

of eyes at the correct eyepoint.<br />

Although compact and lightweight, both<br />

the MONARCH M7 and MONARCH M5<br />

are also tripod mountable, permitting users<br />

to go hands-free. This is particularly useful<br />

10 Bird Watching Gear Guide 2021


GEAR GUIDE ADVERTORIAL<br />

Get closer to wildlife<br />

with a class-leading 60°<br />

field of view<br />

The M5 is a great general outdoor<br />

binocular, and is available in 8x42,<br />

10x42 and 12x42 variations.<br />

when in a static position for a lengthy period<br />

of time, for example when you are in a hide<br />

hoping to catch a glimpse of that elusive rare<br />

bird you’ve been waiting for.<br />

The impressive MONARCH M5 is just<br />

as suitable for high-energy hobbies, such as<br />

mountain climbing and hiking, as more<br />

relaxing activities like camping. All models are<br />

equipped with extra-low dispersion (ED) glass<br />

which corrects chromatic aberration that causes<br />

colour fringing, offering a clear view, always.<br />

Perfect for birdwatching and wildlife spotting,<br />

the MONARCH M7 binoculars are a great<br />

companion. With a smudge-proof coating,<br />

and a dioptre adjustment ring locking system,<br />

Lightweight and compact;<br />

you can take the<br />

Monarchs anywhere<br />

they’re ultra practical, and they deliver<br />

an apparent field of view of over 60˚ –<br />

unprecedented for this class of binocular –<br />

all MONARCH M7 models offer spectacular<br />

viewing. From locating birds taking flight<br />

quickly, or searching for wildlife nestled-away,<br />

it delivers solid image quality every time,<br />

meaning you’ll never miss an eye-catching<br />

moment when you’re out and about.<br />

More info<br />

www.nikon.co.uk/monarch<br />

BW<br />

The Monarch M7 is especially suitable<br />

for birding, and comes in 8x30, 10x30,<br />

8x42, 10x42 variations.<br />

birdwatching.co.uk 11


GEAR GUIDE BINOCULARS<br />

KITE CAIMAN 8X42<br />

£249<br />

A well-made binocular with a look and feel that<br />

wouldn’t be out of place on a more expensive<br />

product. The design is quite simple, with no ‘let me<br />

tell you where to put your thumb’ indents, and a little<br />

chunky in the hands, but not heavy. At 17mm,<br />

eye-relief is pretty good and should be enough for<br />

glasses wearers. Low-light performance is excellent,<br />

And the Caimans deliver a gentle, natural view.<br />

Sharpness and brightness are good, colour-fringing<br />

rare, field of view very good, and close focus better,<br />

at 1.6m. The focusing can<br />

take some getting used<br />

to so a gentle touch<br />

is required.<br />

SPECS<br />

Exit pupil diameter:<br />

5.25mm<br />

Eye relief: 17mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

132m@1000m<br />

degrees.<br />

Close-focus: 1.5m<br />

Approx dimensions (h x<br />

max. w): 146x128mm<br />

Weight: 699g<br />

RRP: £249<br />

Warranty: 15 years<br />

Supplied accessories:<br />

case with strap,<br />

neoprene strap,<br />

rainguard, tethered<br />

objective covers, lens<br />

cloth.<br />

Website:<br />

kiteoptics.com<br />

BUSHNELL PRIME 8X32<br />

£140<br />

We don’t see too many budget-priced 8x32<br />

binoculars, but if you’re looking for something<br />

smaller and lighter but still capable of doing a good<br />

all-round job, look no further. The optics perform<br />

solidly rather than spectacularly (although they’re<br />

still impressive for the price) but as we’ve come to<br />

expect with Bushnell, they’re very robust and well<br />

built, and pleasant and easy to use.<br />

SPECS<br />

Weight: 479g<br />

Length: 122mm<br />

Eye relief: 18mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

122m@1000m<br />

Website: bushnell.com<br />

KITE BONELLI 2.0 8X42<br />

£999<br />

Built to last, handles well and has great focusing<br />

which is an absolute pleasure to use, while its glass<br />

mostly delivers a high quality, relaxing view with<br />

excellent low light performance – the view is crisp,<br />

punchy and very easy on the eyes, with very good<br />

brightness. Its field of view is comparable to most<br />

top-end competition and its quoted close-focus<br />

(1.55m) is excellent, but there was some rather<br />

unexpected colour-fringing at times. Adjusting your<br />

eye position can help, though.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 18.5mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

132m@1000m<br />

Close focus: 1.55m<br />

Weight: 820g<br />

Size: 156x110-127mm<br />

RRP: £999<br />

Warranty: 30 years<br />

Supplied with: strap;<br />

rainguard; tethered,<br />

removable objective<br />

covers; case; lens<br />

cloth.<br />

Website:<br />

kiteoptics.com<br />

December 2017<br />

LEICA TRINOVID 8X32 HD<br />

£825<br />

Build quality is very good, and with 17mm of<br />

eye-relief this Trinovid HD should work well for<br />

glasses-wearers. Image quality is very good, with little<br />

peripheral softness, and sharpness and brightness are<br />

both very good, as is low-light performance. Focusing<br />

precision is good, but a gentle touch helps. Close<br />

focus is a stand-out feature, at an incredible 1m.<br />

Field of view is a bit narrow (124m@1,000m)<br />

and there is a little<br />

colour-fringing, but<br />

neither is necessarily<br />

a problem in the<br />

field.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 17mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

124m@1,000m<br />

Close focus:


More innovations<br />

for birdwatchers.<br />

ZEISS Victory SF<br />

The SmartFocus Concept ensures optimum<br />

positioning of the focusing wheel,<br />

and it takes only 1.6 turns to focus<br />

between the closest focusing distance<br />

DQGLQΜQLW\ Fast and precise focusing is<br />

assured, even after hours of observation.<br />

The ZLGHΜHOGRIYLHZ increases<br />

the observable area of interest by<br />

up to 20 % in comparison to other<br />

ELQRFXODUV7KLVRΘHUV\RXWKHEHVW<br />

possible overview for exactly locating<br />

the bird your are looking for.<br />

than<br />

comparable<br />

competitors<br />

20%<br />

more<br />

observable<br />

terrain<br />

with UFL<br />

UFL<br />

without<br />

The improved UFL Concept<br />

guarantees highest resolution and<br />

FRORXUΜGHOLW\ to allow recognition<br />

RIWKHΜQHVWGHWDLOVLQVHFRQGVDQG<br />

FHUWDLQLGHQWLΜFDWLRQRIELUGVSHFLHV<br />

Thanks to the ErgoBalance<br />

Concept, the centre of gravity of<br />

the binoculars is shifted closer<br />

to the eyepieces. This allows for<br />

hours of fatigue-free observation.<br />

To learn more visit: www.zeiss.ly/SF-Binos


GEAR GUIDE BINOCULARS<br />

AVIAN EVO 8X42 HR-ED<br />

£449<br />

An open-bridge design that feels good in the hands.<br />

Focus precision is very good. At 700g it is not a heavy<br />

binocular, and certainly didn’t feel overweight in the<br />

field. Overall, build quality is good, and the EVO<br />

HR-ED is rubber-armoured and waterproof, with<br />

water-repellent lens coating. The image is crisp,<br />

clean, very sharp and very bright, with just a little<br />

edge softness. They cope well with extraneous light,<br />

and perform very well against the light. Low light<br />

performance was good, too. Field of view<br />

and close focus are unremarkable.<br />

A very good binocular at this<br />

price.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 19mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

7.0°/122m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: c3m<br />

Weight: 700g<br />

Size: 146x130x53mm<br />

RRP: £449<br />

Warranty: 10 years<br />

Supplied with: case;<br />

strap; tethered,<br />

removable<br />

objective covers;<br />

rainguard<br />

Website:<br />

aceoptics.<br />

co.uk<br />

May 2018<br />

BRESSER CONDOR 8X42<br />

£139.99<br />

For less than £150, these are really a very impressive<br />

pair of binoculars all-round. Optically very good,<br />

with good natural colour and a crisp, sharp image,<br />

they have an unfussy, well-built feel that makes them<br />

a pleasure to use for long periods. We liked the large,<br />

well-ridged focus wheel, which made precise focus<br />

easy to find, and there’s little to criticise about the<br />

image – only in really low light do you notice the<br />

absence of ED glass. Close focus is a<br />

very respectable 2m, too,<br />

making them an excellent<br />

model for anyone<br />

starting in bird<br />

and bug<br />

watching.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 17.1mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

118m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 2m<br />

Weight: 696g<br />

Size: 156mm x<br />

133mm<br />

RRP: £139.99<br />

Supplied with:<br />

Removable rainguard<br />

and objective lens<br />

covers, fabric case,<br />

neoprene strap<br />

Website:<br />

bresseruk.com<br />

Autumn 2018<br />

OPTICRON AURORA BGA<br />

VHD 8X42 £799<br />

A solid, well-built, workhorse binocular that delivers<br />

a view that is hard to fault – wide, bright, and with<br />

excellent low light performance. Close focus is a more<br />

than respectable 1.7m or so. They’re not heavy for a<br />

full-size binocular, either, and they’re very well made<br />

(in Japan), offering plenty of eye relief for glasses<br />

wearers. Be gentle with the focus, though – it can<br />

take some getting used to.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 20mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

8.1°/141m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 1.9m<br />

(quoted)<br />

Weight: 725g<br />

Length x width x depth:<br />

152x132x51.5mm<br />

Website: opticron.co.uk<br />

September 2021<br />

BRESSER PIRSCH 8X34<br />

£192<br />

Hard to beat for ease of use and solid optics at a very<br />

good price. They sit in the hand very comfortably,<br />

courtesy of an open-bridge design that also helps<br />

reduce weight to an outstandingly low 442g. The<br />

rest of the design is similarly straightforward and<br />

uncluttered. Sharp focus is easy to find, although<br />

close focus is rather disappointing at 3.5m. Optically,<br />

they do a really good all-round<br />

job, even in low light –<br />

despite the lack of ED<br />

glass, there’s very little<br />

to find fault with,<br />

and all-round<br />

build quality<br />

feels good.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 17.15mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

122m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 4m<br />

Weight: 442g<br />

Size: 133mm x 124mm<br />

x 43mm<br />

RRP: £192<br />

Supplied with:<br />

Removable tethered<br />

objective lens covers,<br />

rainguard, fabric<br />

case, neoprene<br />

strap<br />

Website:<br />

bresseruk.com<br />

November 2018<br />

NIKON MONARCH HG<br />

8X30 £899<br />

This binocular has a feel of quality. At just 450g,<br />

they’re really light, but well built and robust.<br />

Focusing precision is good but needs quite a gentle<br />

touch. They deliver a very good view – wide, crisp<br />

and bright with impressive, natural colours.<br />

Sharpness is excellent, and though there’s a little edge<br />

softness and colour fringing, neither intrude a great<br />

deal. The 145m field of view (at 1,000m) is hard to<br />

beat and while the close<br />

focus is 2m or less.<br />

Low-light<br />

performance is<br />

impressive,<br />

too.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 16.2mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

8.3°/145m@1000m<br />

Close focus: 2m<br />

Weight: 450g<br />

Size (LxWxD):<br />

119x126x47mm<br />

RRP: £899<br />

(£949 for 10x)<br />

Warranty:<br />

10 years (limited)<br />

Supplied with: case;<br />

strap; rainguard;<br />

tethered,<br />

removable<br />

objective covers.<br />

Website: nikon.co.uk<br />

December 2018<br />

EDEN XP 10X42<br />

£245<br />

Excellent all-rounders at a very affordable price, and<br />

especially worth looking at if you’re into dragonflies,<br />

butterflies, etc, as well as birds. They’re nicely<br />

compact, for 10x42s, and sturdy and well made.<br />

Focus is easy to find and maintain, and the image is<br />

natural, and more than bright enough, including at<br />

dawn and dusk. Sharpness is excellent, going right to<br />

the edge of the image, so you get the full benefit of<br />

the 114m@1,000m field of view. Close focus came in<br />

at around 1.2m, making them a very versatile option<br />

indeed.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 18mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

114m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 1.2m<br />

Weight: 650g<br />

Size (LxWxD):<br />

145x120x55mm<br />

RRP: £245<br />

Supplied with: Case;<br />

strap; rainguard;<br />

tethered, removable<br />

objective lens covers,<br />

lens cloth<br />

Website:<br />

knivesandtools.co.uk<br />

April 2019<br />

14 Bird Watching Gear Guide 2021


BY APPOINTMENT TO<br />

HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II<br />

SWAROVSKI OPTIK<br />

SUPPLIER OF BINOCULARS<br />

NL PURE 32<br />

ONE WITH<br />

NATURE<br />

SEE THE UNSEEN


GEAR GUIDE BINOCULARS<br />

VIKING PEREGRINE £329<br />

A lot of binocular for not very much money –<br />

excellent optically, well put together, and with<br />

something there for bug-watchers and casual birders<br />

(their lightness, at 600g, makes them easy to take on<br />

a hike). The focus mechanism scores highly, although<br />

the wheel could be a bit grippier, and close focus, at<br />

around 2m, is good. The image is bright and sharp,<br />

maintaining that brightness most of the way to the<br />

edge, and also<br />

performing well in low<br />

light conditions. Field<br />

of view is 117m@<br />

1,000m, with a<br />

‘walk-in’ feel that’s<br />

very impressive.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 20mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

117m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 2m<br />

Weight: 600g<br />

Size (LxWxD): 151mm<br />

x 127mm x 48mm<br />

RRP: £329<br />

Website:<br />

vikingoptical.co.uk<br />

July 2019<br />

HAWKE FRONTIER HD X<br />

8X42 £289<br />

For less than £300, this is a really outstanding<br />

binocular – the optics are very hard to fault in all<br />

conditions, the design and build are very good and<br />

thoroughly user-friendly, and there are even some<br />

thoughtful extras. Focus (including close focus of<br />

2m) is easy to find and maintain, and they produce<br />

a bright image in all conditions, with natural colour<br />

tones and an excellent field of view that gives<br />

a ‘walk-in’ feel. The<br />

accessories are<br />

really pretty<br />

good, too.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 18mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

142m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 2m<br />

Weight: 692g<br />

Size (LxWxD):<br />

140x123x50m<br />

RRP: £289<br />

Supplied with: Case,<br />

rainguard, removable<br />

tethered objective lens<br />

covers, neoprene<br />

strap, lens cloth,<br />

harness adaptors.<br />

Website:<br />

uk.hawkeoptics.com<br />

August 2019<br />

VIKING KESTREL 8X42<br />

£219<br />

Very impressive all-round performers in all<br />

conditions – for £220, unbelievably good, in fact.<br />

They’re well balanced and robust, focus is easy to<br />

find and maintain, and close focus is around 2m.<br />

ED glass means the field of view (142m@1,000m)<br />

feels wide, staying sharp very close to the edges, and<br />

it produces a bright image, with impressively natural<br />

colours, even in low light. A few years ago,<br />

we wouldn’t have<br />

believed you could<br />

have got this sort<br />

of low-light<br />

performance for<br />

under £250. If you’re<br />

in the market for<br />

a pair of beginner<br />

binoculars, try them.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 17.2mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

142m/1,000m<br />

Close focus: 2m<br />

Weight: 692g<br />

Size (LxWxD):<br />

140x125x45mm<br />

RRP: £219<br />

Supplied with:<br />

Neoprene strap, fabric<br />

case, rainguard,<br />

removable tethered<br />

objective lens covers<br />

Website:<br />

vikingoptical.co.uk<br />

September 2019<br />

LEICA ULTRAVID HD PLUS<br />

10X42 £2,000<br />

Well-made, with a classy, understated design, and<br />

at 750g, not heavy for its size. It’s a good low-light<br />

binocular with a very good image – sharp and bright<br />

with no field-of-view induced claustrophobia. The<br />

build quality, as you would expect, is very good.<br />

Focus precision is very good. It delivers a very good<br />

image – impressively bright and clear. The viewing<br />

circle feels big and the view is, for the most part,<br />

clean and crisp with good<br />

colours. Brightness is very<br />

good and sharpness is<br />

excellent – with a little<br />

fall off at the very<br />

edges. Low light<br />

performance is<br />

impressive.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 16mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

6.4°/112m@1000m<br />

Close focus: 2.9m<br />

Weight: 750g<br />

Size: 120x147x68mm<br />

RRP: £2,000<br />

Warranty: 10 years<br />

Supplied with:<br />

Neoprene strap,<br />

eyepiece cover, front<br />

lens cover, cordura<br />

case<br />

Website:<br />

uk.leica-camera.com<br />

Autumn 2019<br />

OLYMPUS 8X42 PRO<br />

£449.99<br />

Lightweight, with very good optics and an<br />

exceptional close-focus of 1.25m. The design is clean<br />

and build quality good. The focus wheel does have a<br />

lot of travel, presumably because of that close focus.<br />

They deliver a very good view – sharpness and<br />

brightness are very good, good colours and a<br />

reasonable field of view (131m@1,000m). ED glass<br />

produces good low-light performance and restricts<br />

colour-fringing to the minimum. You do need to get<br />

your eye position right to get<br />

best results, though.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 18mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

7.5°/131m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 1.5m<br />

Weight: 670g<br />

Size: 140 x 131 x<br />

53mm<br />

RRP: £449.99<br />

Warranty: 15 years<br />

(+10 years if registered<br />

on My Olympus)<br />

Supplied with:<br />

neoprene strap;<br />

rainguard; tethered,<br />

removable objective<br />

covers; case.<br />

Website:<br />

olympus.co.uk<br />

October 2019<br />

KITE LYNX HD+ 10X50<br />

£769<br />

Good in low light and has good sharpness, and its<br />

real standout features are its size and weight (it’s no<br />

bigger or heavier than many 8x42s) and the field of<br />

view. The focus wheel needs a gentle touch, but build<br />

quality is very good. The image feels big and wide<br />

and has good, natural colours. Sharpness is good –<br />

less so at very close range – and brightness is very<br />

good. There’s a little colour-fringing, but nothing<br />

distracting.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 17.8mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

6.9°/120m@1000m<br />

Close focus: 2.6m<br />

Weight: 815g<br />

Height: 163mm<br />

RRP: £769<br />

Warranty: 30 years<br />

Supplied with:<br />

contoured, neoprene<br />

strap; rainguard;<br />

tethered, removable<br />

objective covers; case;<br />

lens cloth<br />

Website:<br />

kiteoptics.co.uk<br />

December 2019<br />

16 Bird Watching Gear Guide 2021


The ultimate long telephoto zoom for<br />

L-Mount and Sony E-mount systems.<br />

Available mounts: L-Mount, Sony E-mount<br />

Case, Cover Hood (LH1034-01), Cover Lens Cap (LC-747E), Shoulder Strap,<br />

Tripod Socket (TS-121, replaceable lens foot type) supplied.<br />

*L-Mount is a registered trademark of Leica Camera AG<br />

Made in Aizu.<br />

Teleconverters TC-1411 (1.4x) and TC-2011 (2x)<br />

SIGMA 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports is compatible with<br />

teleconverters TC-1411 and TC-2011 (L-Mount only). Sold separately.<br />

Sigma Imaging (UK) Ltd, 1 Little Mundells, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire AL7 1EW | 01707 329999 | sales@sigma-imaging-uk.com | sigma-imaging-uk.com


GEAR GUIDE BINOCULARS<br />

KOWA BDII 6.5X32 XD<br />

£359<br />

An unusual specification, and light and compact<br />

with it. They’re very well put together, close focus is<br />

excellent at under 1.2m, and the image is bright and<br />

sharp, with excellent contrast and a very natural<br />

colour. The field of view – 175m@1,000m – is<br />

absolutely exceptional, and compensates for the<br />

smaller magnification, as you’re far more often able<br />

to see your subject in a wider, fuller context.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 17mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

175m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 1.3m<br />

Weight: 535g<br />

Size: 116mm x 124mm<br />

x 51mm<br />

Website:<br />

kowaoptic.com<br />

July 2021<br />

LEICA TRINOVID 7X35<br />

£1,250<br />

Lightweight, compact and very good in the hands.<br />

If you want a quality view, like the retro-look, aren’t<br />

wanting a binocular for very wet or humid places,<br />

and aren’t an insect-watcher, try these. The image is<br />

very, very good. It’s clear and clean and makes for<br />

easy viewing. Sharpness is excellent, brightness is<br />

very good, and focus<br />

precision is very<br />

good. There is a<br />

very small amount<br />

of peripheral<br />

softness but<br />

nothing that<br />

distracts. The<br />

140m field of view<br />

is plenty enough.<br />

Low light<br />

performance<br />

is impressive.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 16mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

8.0°/140m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 4m (8x40<br />

and 10x40 are 5.5m)<br />

Weight: 590g<br />

Width x height x depth:<br />

107x132x52mm<br />

RRP: £1,250<br />

Warranty: 10 years<br />

Supplied with: strap,<br />

leather pouch,<br />

rainguard, lens cloth,<br />

instructions.<br />

Website:<br />

store.leica-camera.com<br />

April 2020<br />

KITE URSUS 8X32<br />

£199<br />

A good, entry-level binocular, that is lightweight and<br />

easy enough to handle. Mostly, it delivers a very good<br />

view. It has an impressive field of view and seems to<br />

manage colour-fringing well. The field of view is very<br />

good and focus-precision is good, with sometimes<br />

just a bit of ‘searching for sharpest’, although close<br />

focus is rather disappointing. The Ursus performs<br />

pretty well in low light, too<br />

making it an excellent,<br />

affordable option for<br />

beginners.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 16.8mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

7.8°/136m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 2.8m<br />

Weight: 520g<br />

Width x height:<br />

120x126 mm<br />

RRP: £199<br />

Warranty: 30 years<br />

Supplied with: zip-up,<br />

padded case;<br />

neoprene strap;<br />

objective covers;<br />

rainguard<br />

Website: kiteoptics.<br />

co.uk<br />

July 2020<br />

SWAROVSKI NL PURE<br />

10X42 £2,410<br />

The open-bridge design of the ELs has been<br />

abandoned in favour of something more traditional,<br />

except that the barrels are contoured for comfort.<br />

They’re well balanced, so don’t feel like 850g.<br />

Otherwise there’s the very high design and build<br />

quality you expect from Swarovski, and the true to<br />

life colour, brightness even in low light, and excellent<br />

contrast and sharpness will be familiar from the ELs.<br />

You might still give a little gasp of<br />

amazement when you see just how<br />

wide the image is – a hugely<br />

impressive<br />

139m@1,000m.<br />

A pleasure for<br />

the eyes and<br />

hands<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 18mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

139m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 2m<br />

Weight: 850g<br />

Size (LxWxD): 158 x<br />

131 x 71 mm<br />

RRP: £2,410<br />

Supplied with: Padded<br />

case, neoprene strap,<br />

rainguard, detachable<br />

tethered<br />

objective lens<br />

covers<br />

Website:<br />

uk.swarovski<br />

optik.com<br />

Autumn 2020<br />

ZEISS SF 8X32<br />

£2,065<br />

These are ‘forget you are wearing them’ smaller<br />

binoculars which feel brilliant in the hand and have<br />

exceptional optical performance. Zeiss have somehow<br />

squeezed all the good things that make the bigger SFs<br />

such amazing binoculars into what feels and looks<br />

like a half-size package. Focusing is smooth, easy and<br />

precise, close focus is under 2m, and the image at all<br />

times is excellent – bright, crisp and very ‘real-life’ in<br />

colour. Field of view is outstanding, too.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 19mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

155m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 1.95m<br />

Weight: 600g<br />

Size (LxW):<br />

152mm x 112 mm<br />

RRP: £2,065<br />

Supplied with:<br />

Neoprene strap,<br />

rainguards, fabric case<br />

Website: zeiss.co.uk<br />

December 2020<br />

STEINER SKYHAWK<br />

4.0 8X32 £340<br />

The 8x32 Skyhawk 4.0 feels tough without being too<br />

heavy. Its focusing is fast and precise and it delivers a<br />

very good view. There is a narrow, soft peripheral<br />

ring, which can be fairly obvious, and the black edge<br />

is not totally crisp, but sharpness and brightness are<br />

both very good and low light performance is good. At<br />

133m@1,000m the field of view is good. Close focus<br />

is under 2m, and focus precision<br />

is both very good and fast,<br />

though a gentle touch is<br />

required.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 17mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

7.6°/133m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 2m<br />

Weight: 582g<br />

Width x height x depth:<br />

115 x 154 x 60mm<br />

RRP: £370<br />

Warranty: 10 years<br />

Supplied with:<br />

Neoprene strap,<br />

tethered objective<br />

covers (not<br />

removable),<br />

rainguard, padded<br />

case, lens cloth<br />

Website:<br />

holdan.co.uk<br />

January 2021<br />

BW<br />

18 Bird Watching Gear Guide 2021


The Best Birdwatching Optics since 1970<br />

New Verano BGA VHD<br />

Named after the Spanish for summer, the Verano BGA<br />

VHD offers the serious wildlife observer the highest<br />

levels of comfort and performance needed for accurate<br />

and immersive observation. Available to test at retailers<br />

nationwide. 8x32 8x42, 10x42. Prices from £399<br />

Traveller BGA ED<br />

Super-compact HD 32mm series<br />

designed to offer a serious<br />

alternative to premium brands<br />

at a competitive price.<br />

8x32, 10x32 Prices from £349<br />

Natura BGA ED<br />

Wide-field optics, ED objectives<br />

and a micro hinge body<br />

combine to give benchmark<br />

feel & performance.<br />

8x42, 10x42 Prices from £329<br />

MM4 77 Fieldscopes<br />

Designed and manufactured in Japan, the MM4 77 delivers<br />

80mm HD class performance in a body just 320mm long and<br />

weighing only 1260g. 30 year guarantee.<br />

Bodies (Str or 45°): MM4 77 GA ED £649<br />

Recommended eyepieces:<br />

SDLv3 18-54x £349, HDF T 18-54x £229<br />

MM4 50/60 Travelscopes<br />

Outstanding performance in a compact form, the MM4 is<br />

the natural choice for anyone wanting a high quality takeanywhere<br />

travelscope to accurately observe and record nature<br />

from a distance.<br />

Bodies (Str or 45˚): MM4 50 GA ED £329, MM4 60 GA ED £429<br />

Recommended eyepieces: SDLv3 12-36x/15-45x £349,<br />

HDF T 12-36x/15-45x £229<br />

www.opticron.co.uk 01582 726522<br />

Opticron. Unit 21, Titan Court, Laporte Way, Luton, Beds, LU4 8EF UK Email: sales@opticron.co.uk


VEO ED<br />

640g Binoculars<br />

with ED Glass and<br />

Carbon Body<br />

VEO HD2<br />

Binoculars with<br />

HOYA ED Glass and<br />

Carbon Body<br />

VEO HD2 1042M<br />

10x42 Monocular with<br />

HOYA ED Glass and<br />

Digiscope Adaptor<br />

VEO PA-65<br />

Universal<br />

Digiscope<br />

Adaptor<br />

www.vanguardworld.co.uk


GEAR GUIDE SCOPES<br />

Which scope<br />

is right for you?<br />

If you want to get even closer to your birding<br />

targets, you might want to consider investing<br />

in some specialist glass.<br />

Once you start birdwatching beyond the confines of your back<br />

garden, or park, you will probably start thinking about buying<br />

a spotting scope – they offer greater magnification than a pair<br />

of binoculars (generally from around 15x up to 75x), as well<br />

as greater light-gathering capability thanks to objective lenses<br />

of 50mm plus. But there are a lot of sizes, price points and types to choose from<br />

– here are some of the best that we’ve seen in the last few years…<br />

TOM BAILEY<br />

CELESTRON TRAILSEEKER<br />

80MM £375<br />

Easy to use, and for the price, an impressive piece<br />

of kit. The design is functional and robust, focusing<br />

is pleasantly precise, and the 80mm objective lens<br />

gathers plenty of light and produces an image that is<br />

bright and true to life in terms of colour, with good<br />

sharpness to the edges. As with all zoom eyepieces,<br />

you lose some<br />

brightness and<br />

field of view at<br />

higher magnifications,<br />

and there is some<br />

chromatic aberration<br />

against very bright light,<br />

mainly when tracking<br />

moving birds, and in twilight<br />

I did start to find things a bit murky<br />

at higher magnifications, but as always<br />

generally this scope offers great value for money.<br />

SPECS<br />

Magnification: 20x-60x<br />

Field of view:<br />

(m@1000m) 35 (20x)<br />

– 17 (60x)<br />

Close focus: 7.5m<br />

Weight: 1,547g (with<br />

eyepiece)<br />

RRP: £375<br />

Website: celestron.com<br />

March 2016<br />

HAWKE ENDURANCE<br />

50MM FROM £330<br />

A good optical all-rounder, it’s so light and<br />

compact you could even use it handheld at a<br />

pinch. The image is sharp and bright, with good<br />

colour reproduction. Field of view is adequate for<br />

most situations, and there’s very little colourfringing,<br />

even against direct sunlight. Design<br />

is straightforward and easy to use, and at 714g,<br />

it’s lighter than some binoculars, and fits easily<br />

into the inside and main cargo pockets of<br />

many coats. It could be an ideal scope for<br />

hillwalkers and other outdoor enthusiasts<br />

to stash in their rucksacks.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view<br />

(@1000m): 58m-30m<br />

Close focus: 2.5m<br />

Eye relief: 16mm<br />

Dimensions: 255mm x<br />

77mm x 131mm<br />

Weight: 714g<br />

RRP: £330<br />

Website: hawkeoptics.<br />

co.uk<br />

July 2016<br />

birdwatching.co.uk 21


GEAR GUIDE SCOPES<br />

MINOX MD 60 Z SCOPE<br />

£829<br />

The straight design takes some getting used to,<br />

but it does make following flying birds much<br />

easier. The focus wheel is on the eyecup barrel,<br />

along with the zoom, but they’re well separated<br />

and easy to distinguish, and move smoothly and<br />

effectively. Eye relief is an outstanding 30mm, but<br />

it can be tricky to find and maintain the right eye<br />

position. The image is bright, sharp and natural,<br />

with very little<br />

colour-fringing<br />

or edge softness,<br />

and field of<br />

view is fine for<br />

most needs,<br />

although<br />

inevitably<br />

restricted around<br />

maximum zoom.<br />

SPECS<br />

Field of view:<br />

59m@1000m (12x) to<br />

19m@1000m (40x)<br />

Eye relief: 30mm<br />

Dimensions: 138mm x<br />

78mm x 310mm<br />

Weight: 1,620g<br />

RRP: £829<br />

Website: minox.com<br />

November 2016<br />

ZEISS CONQUEST GAVIA<br />

85 £1,595<br />

It produces a very impressive image, even at high<br />

magnification, with no noticeable colour cast,<br />

sharpness right to the edge of its impressive field<br />

of view, and very little colour fringing. Focusing<br />

is precise, it’s easy and very comfortable to use<br />

for long periods, and as you’d expect, the build<br />

quality is superb.<br />

Its user-friendliness<br />

is as impressive as<br />

its optics – at as little<br />

as half the cost of<br />

absolute top-end<br />

scopes, this is an<br />

outstanding piece of kit.<br />

SPECS<br />

Magnification: 30x-60x<br />

Field of view:<br />

(m@1000m) 33 (30x)<br />

– 23 (60x)<br />

Close focus: 3.3m<br />

Weight: 1,700g<br />

(with eyepiece)<br />

RRP: £1,595<br />

Website: zeiss.co.uk<br />

January 2017<br />

CELESTRON REGAL M2<br />

100ED £949<br />

A 100mm objective lens and ED glass means a<br />

really bright image, although with a slight yellow<br />

cast. The 22-67x zoom does a good job and there’s<br />

not too much of a fall-off in image quality as you<br />

zoom right in, and it’s a sturdy piece of kit, like all<br />

of Celestron’s bins and scopes, with good rubber<br />

armouring. You will need a good, solid tripod and<br />

head – don’t scrimp on it. As so often with<br />

Celestron, you can also use astronomical<br />

eyepieces, and there’s a T-adapter ring to enable<br />

you to use it with a DSLR camera. At under<br />

£1,000, it’s an attractive option if<br />

you’re looking for<br />

an ED scope to<br />

use for<br />

digiscoping.<br />

SPECS<br />

Magnification: 22x-67x<br />

Field of view:<br />

(m@1000m) 33 (22x)<br />

– 16 (67x)<br />

Close focus: 8m<br />

Weight: 2,084g (with<br />

eyepiece)<br />

RRP: £949<br />

Website:<br />

celestron.com<br />

May 2017<br />

HAWKE NATURE TREK<br />

80MM £250<br />

Can you really get a decent all-round 80mm scope<br />

for less than £300? Well, the image is sharp and<br />

contrasty, right to the edges, and there’s pleasingly<br />

little fall-off, even when you take the zoom up to<br />

60x. The image does feel slightly on the yellow<br />

side of natural, and there’s some colour fringing<br />

against strong light or when following a moving<br />

target, but the field of view, at all magnifications,<br />

doesn’t feel restrictive. Build quality is good,<br />

although the main body doesn’t have soft<br />

rubber armour. Whether birding in your<br />

garden or further afield, this is a scope<br />

that performs<br />

very solidly<br />

whatever<br />

challenge<br />

it faces.<br />

SPECS<br />

Magnification: 20x-60x<br />

Field of view:<br />

(m@1000m) 36 (20x)<br />

– 20 (60x)<br />

Close focus: 3.5m<br />

Weight: 1,310g (with<br />

eyepiece)<br />

RRP:<br />

£249.99<br />

Website:<br />

uk.hawkeoptics.<br />

com<br />

June 2017<br />

ZEISS HARPIA<br />

FROM £2,995<br />

The Harpias – one with an 85mm objective and<br />

22-65x zoom, and one with a 95mm and 23-70x<br />

– are different. The glass that does the zooming is<br />

in the objective, not the eyepiece, and among<br />

other things, that means that when you zoom<br />

there’s no claustrophobic narrowing of the view.<br />

The one focusing wheel delivers two focusing<br />

speeds, too. They take a little getting used to, but<br />

these scopes can deliver very impressive images<br />

even at maximum magnification.<br />

SPECS<br />

Magnification: 22-65<br />

(85mm) / 23-70<br />

(95mm)<br />

Field of view: 63.2-21m<br />

(85mm) / 58.8-19.5m<br />

(95mm)<br />

Close focus: 3.5m<br />

(85mm) / 4.5m<br />

(95mm)<br />

Weight: 1934g (85mm)<br />

/ 2078g (95mm)<br />

RRP: £2,995 (85mm) /<br />

£3,395 (95mm)<br />

Website: zeiss.co.uk<br />

October 2017<br />

LEICA APO TELEVID 82<br />

FROM £2000<br />

Looking remarkably small for a scope with an<br />

82mm objective lens, it’s light, too. The 25-50x<br />

wide angle zoom eyepiece produces a bright, very<br />

sharp and natural-looking image, field of view at<br />

41m@1,000m (using 25x magnification), is very<br />

wide indeed, and the zoom is excellent. Very much<br />

a traditional scope in design, but what a scope! It<br />

seems to have been designed with ease and<br />

pleasure of use in mind, because the dinky size<br />

and low weight make it easy to carry around all<br />

day, while that eyepiece produces great results<br />

without putting undue strain on the<br />

eye.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 19mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

41m@1,000m (25x)<br />

28m@1,000m (50x)<br />

Close focus: 3.8m<br />

Weight: 1,469g<br />

(including eyepiece)<br />

Size:<br />

328x108x101mm<br />

RRP: £2,000<br />

(scope only);<br />

£2,675 (scope<br />

and eyepiece)<br />

Website: leicastoremayfair.co.uk<br />

January 2018<br />

22 Bird Watching Gear Guide 2021


TAKE A WIDER POINT OF VIEW<br />

BD II XD<br />

THE STUNNING WIDE ANGLE BINOCULAR<br />

One of the stand-out optical features of the BDII-XD series is their enviable large field of view,<br />

boasting class leading wide angle performance. Locate your subject rapidly with a wider view of your<br />

surroundings and sharpness right in to the corners of the image. With additional features including<br />

Kowa XD (high grade ED) lenses and close focus down to just 1.3m* The BDII-XD range sets a standard<br />

of binocular in its price point. Affordable without compromise.<br />

WIDE ANGLE<br />

ISO 14132-2 International Standard<br />

10<br />

YEAR<br />

WARRANTY<br />

6.5 x 32<br />

8 x 32<br />

10 x 32<br />

8 x 42<br />

10 x 42<br />

Kowa Optimed Deutschland GmbH | Fichtenstrasse 123, 40233 Düsseldorf | Germany | T: +49 (0) 211-542184-00 | E-mail: scope@kowaoptimed.com | www.kowaoptic.com<br />

Video<br />

Brochure<br />

*32mm models 1.3m. 42mm models 1.8m


GEAR GUIDE SCOPES<br />

HAWKE ENDURANCE ED<br />

50MM £399.99<br />

Weighing just 745g with the 12x-36x eyepiece<br />

included, it really is pretty dinky – you can stash<br />

it in your coat and save yourself some serious hand<br />

luggage space if you’re flying. Solidly put-together,<br />

it’s easy to use, and close focus of under 2.5m<br />

is excellent. There’s a bright, sharp image, with<br />

good natural colours, and while there’s some<br />

fall-off at higher magnifications, it does very<br />

well in low light. At £400, the price tag<br />

isn’t weighty, so team this up with a good<br />

travel tripod, and you’ll have lightweight<br />

optics that can cope with<br />

anything your birding<br />

throws at them.<br />

SPECS<br />

Magnification: 20x-60x<br />

Field of view:<br />

(m@1000m) 35 (20x)<br />

– 17 (60x)<br />

Close focus: 7.5m<br />

Weight: 1,547g (with<br />

eyepiece)<br />

RRP: £375<br />

Website:<br />

uk.hawkeoptics.<br />

com<br />

March 2016<br />

SWAROVSKI BTX EYEPIECE<br />

MODULE £2,070<br />

You can team it up with the 65mm, 85mm and<br />

95mm objective lens modules from the ATX scope<br />

range. You’ll need a good tripod, and a long lens<br />

plate (at least) or even a video-style head are an<br />

advantage in compensating for the inevitably<br />

back-heavy design. The main advantage conferred<br />

by the binocular eyepiece module is comfort of<br />

viewing – twin eyepieces put far less strain<br />

on your eyes than one. It’s fully<br />

adjustable, and has an adjustable<br />

forehead rest, and a very useful<br />

sighting device (both of them<br />

removable). The image feels<br />

a little deeper, and more 3D,<br />

than with the single<br />

eyepiece module, but is<br />

very slightly dimmer<br />

than the ATX equivalent.<br />

SPECS<br />

Magnification is a fixed<br />

35x.<br />

Eye relief: 21mm<br />

Exit pupil diameter:<br />

2.7mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

32m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 5m<br />

Weight: 1,420g<br />

Size: 174mm long<br />

RRP: £2,070<br />

Supplied with:<br />

Tethered removable<br />

rainguard<br />

Website: uk.swarovski<br />

optik.com<br />

July 2018<br />

CELESTRON HUMMINGBIRD<br />

9-27X56 MICRO SPOTTING<br />

SCOPE £199.99<br />

Well-made and good to handle, it’s light enough<br />

to be used hand-held (although we wouldn’t<br />

recommend that) but can of course be attached<br />

to a tripod. Focus and magnification are easy to<br />

adjust, there’s 15mm of eye relief, and overall build<br />

quality is very good. At 9x the view is<br />

good – sharp enough, bright enough, with<br />

no distracting edge softness and easy<br />

enough to focus. At 27x it’s trickier to<br />

use, but pull the magnification back<br />

a bit – to about 2/3 of the way<br />

up the range, and the<br />

image is much<br />

more usable,<br />

although there<br />

is of course still<br />

some fall-off.<br />

SPECS<br />

Magnification: 9-27x<br />

Objective diameter:<br />

56mm<br />

Exit pupil: 6.2-2mm<br />

Field of view (m@1,000<br />

m): 73-32<br />

Close focus: 3m<br />

Eye relief: 15mm<br />

Size: 208x127x68mm.<br />

Weight: 590g<br />

RRP: £199.99<br />

Warranty: limited<br />

lifetime<br />

Website: celestron.com<br />

November 2019<br />

HAWKE ENDURANCE ED<br />

15-45 X 60 £499<br />

Impressively small (895g, not much heavier than<br />

some binoculars) and nicely put together, with<br />

a simple design including a maximum 20mm<br />

of eye relief and twin focus wheels. At the lowest<br />

magnification, 15x, the image is very sharp, with<br />

only a tiny bit of softness at the very edges, bright<br />

and with a very natural colour. At 25x-30x, the<br />

magnification at which I’d expect to use the scope<br />

most of the time, it’s similarly good. Field of<br />

view ranges from 49m@1,000m at 15x, to<br />

26m@1,000m at 45x. The ED glass means it does<br />

well at dawn and dusk, and there’s a<br />

distinct lack of colour-fringing.<br />

Finally, close focus<br />

is 2.5m, so<br />

bug-watchers<br />

should be<br />

pleased.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 20mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

49m-26m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 2.5m<br />

Weight: 895g<br />

Length: 308mm<br />

RRP: £499<br />

Supplied with: Stay-on<br />

case, removable<br />

tethered<br />

objective<br />

lens cover,<br />

eyepiece<br />

cover<br />

Website:<br />

uk.hawkeoptics.<br />

com<br />

October 2020<br />

SWAROVSKI 115MM<br />

OBJECTIVE MODULE<br />

£2,370<br />

You can team the STX, ATX or BTX eyepiece<br />

modules up with this super-size objective, to get<br />

a very bright, natural image, even when using<br />

the eyepiece zoomed right in (to 70x). You really<br />

see the benefit in low light, when it’s hugely<br />

impressive. Colour fringing is nigh on impossible<br />

to find, and the image feels sharp right to the<br />

edge. It does make for a seriously hefty scope –<br />

you’ll need a good sturdy tripod to bear its 2,100g,<br />

and probably a balance plate<br />

and carrying harness too.<br />

It has a sturdy price tag,<br />

too. But it does perform<br />

superbly, and if you<br />

generally do a lot of birding<br />

from a fairly fixed position,<br />

you need to take a look.<br />

SPECS<br />

Weight: 2,100g<br />

Length: 307mm<br />

Accessories: Clip on<br />

objective lens cover<br />

Website:<br />

swarovskioptik.com<br />

April 2021<br />

OPTICRON MM4 77 GA<br />

ED/45 FIELDSCOPE<br />

£649 (BODY ONLY)<br />

A large diameter scope (77mm) that is relatively<br />

small and lightweight, and can be paired with<br />

various Opticron eyepieces. It weighs 1,259g,<br />

which, for a ‘full-size’ scope, isn’t heavy. It’s<br />

well-made, has good ‘mechanics’ and isn’t too big.<br />

With the SDLv3 eyepiece it delivers sharp, bright<br />

images, with some understandable drop-off at<br />

the highest magnifications, but good low-light<br />

performance. The dual-focusing mechanism is<br />

very good, with focus precision good to very good,<br />

but trickier, as you<br />

would expect, with<br />

distant subjects at<br />

high magnification.<br />

The fine-focuser is nine<br />

times more sensitive than the<br />

fast-focuser, and is very useful.<br />

BW<br />

SPECS<br />

Close focus: 5.5m<br />

(quoted)<br />

Weight: 1,259g<br />

Length x width x depth<br />

(body):<br />

320x107x95mm<br />

RRP: £649 (body only)<br />

Guarantee: 30 years<br />

Website: opticron.co.uk<br />

Autumn 2021<br />

BW<br />

24 Bird Watching Gear Guide 2021


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birdwatching.co.uk 25


GEAR GUIDE OTHER GEAR<br />

Other gear<br />

Want to be covered for<br />

all eventualities? Want to<br />

birdwatch 24 hours a day,<br />

in all conditions? Read on…<br />

TOM BAILEY<br />

LEICA 1.8X EXTENDER<br />

£320<br />

If you own an angled Televid, then this is a<br />

relatively affordable way of turning your 25-50x<br />

eyepiece into a 45-90x. Don’t expect miracles<br />

when the light isn’t too good, but when it’s<br />

reasonable or better, the extender does a very good<br />

job, with good brightness, colour and contrast,<br />

and a decent field of view. You will need a good<br />

stable tripod to get best value<br />

from it, because of course it<br />

also magnifies wobbles and<br />

movements, and<br />

focusing becomes<br />

trickier (but that’s<br />

where the Televids’<br />

dual wheel comes<br />

in).<br />

SPECS<br />

Magnification: 1.8x<br />

(25-50x becomes a<br />

45-90x)<br />

Field of view (m@1000<br />

m): 21.6 – 14<br />

Close focus: 3.8m<br />

(quoted)<br />

Weight: 92g<br />

RRP: £320<br />

Warranty: 5 years.<br />

Contact:<br />

uk.leica-camera.<br />

com –<br />

February 2016<br />

BUSHNELL EQUINOX<br />

X650 DIGITAL NIGHT<br />

VISION £249.99<br />

This night-vision monocular offers good optical<br />

clarity and illumination, with a viewing range<br />

extending out to 650 feet (200m) in the dark,<br />

hence the name. There’s a built-in infrared<br />

illuminator, a tripod-mounting adaptor, micro<br />

SD card recording, 5x magnification and a<br />

3x digital zoom to help you get closer<br />

to the wildlife. The objective lens<br />

is 32mm, and you can also<br />

use it in daylight<br />

effectively. It’s<br />

lightweight and<br />

easy to use, and<br />

three AA<br />

batteries should<br />

give six hours of<br />

running time.<br />

SPECS<br />

Magnification: 5x (plus<br />

3x digital zoom)<br />

Objective lens: 32mm<br />

Viewing range: Up to<br />

200m<br />

Website: www.<br />

bushnell.com<br />

SWAROVSKI dG £1,650<br />

Genuinely innovative, and potentially gamechanging<br />

– it effectively combines the roles of<br />

binocular and camera, with a built-in wi-fi link to<br />

nearby phones. That means it will appeal to tour<br />

guides, or even to large families! Train the dG on<br />

the wildlife, and everybody can then view the<br />

images or video from it. Lightweight and<br />

well-balanced, and the optics are essentially those<br />

of the CL Companion range, so it performs very<br />

well when used simply as a monocular. There<br />

are limitations to the camera, but<br />

the close focus is good, too,<br />

meaning bugwatchers<br />

might<br />

find it very<br />

useful too.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 17mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

119m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 2.5m<br />

Weight: 550g<br />

Size: 146mm x 112mm<br />

x 60mm<br />

RRP: £1,650<br />

Supplied with: Strap,<br />

fabric carrying case<br />

with strap, eyepiece<br />

cover, cleaning cloth<br />

Website:<br />

uk.swarovski<br />

optik.com –<br />

September 2020<br />

KITE OPTICS APC<br />

STABILIZED 12X30 £789<br />

The best image-stabilised binoculars that we’ve<br />

tested, and crucially, really pretty excellent in<br />

normal use too. Impressively compact and light,<br />

they produce a very good image – natural, bright<br />

enough, and reasonably wide, although you might<br />

miss your usual bins in low light. The imagestabiliser<br />

is more effective than any other we’ve<br />

used, and crucially it’s also easily operated and has<br />

excellent battery life. There’s good close focus,<br />

and excellent attention to detail<br />

in the design – these were<br />

a pleasure to use for an<br />

extended period for<br />

birdwatching<br />

in all<br />

situations.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 17mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

91m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 2.6m<br />

Weight: 620g<br />

Size (LxW):<br />

165mm x 133mm<br />

RRP: £789<br />

Supplied with:<br />

Neoprene strap,<br />

rainguard, fabric case<br />

Web: www.<br />

kiteoptics.<br />

com –<br />

November<br />

2020<br />

birdwatching.co.uk 29


GEAR GUIDE OTHER GEAR<br />

CANON IS II 10X30 & IS III 12X30<br />

£480 & £700<br />

An image-stabiliser button on top of the bins eliminates much of the pitching<br />

and swaying you get when birding from a moving car or boat, and the image<br />

is sharp and pretty bright right up close to the edges. Contrast is good, colour<br />

natural, and the field of view far from claustrophobic. There are downsides –<br />

it’s hard to adjust the bins to suit your eyes, for example, and although both<br />

are reasonably compact, and not heavy (600g and 660g), they’re not as well<br />

balanced as many bins. But if you do a lot of birdwatching from a boat, on<br />

pelagic trips, for example, these are an invaluable addition to the rucksack –<br />

try them and you might well be converted.<br />

CELESTRON NV-2 NIGHT<br />

VISION MONOCULAR<br />

£270<br />

If you want to give nocturnal wildlife-watching<br />

a try, this is a great piece of starter kit. Very<br />

lightweight and easy to use (it has a rechargeable<br />

battery), it has a 40mm objective lens, and there’s<br />

4.5x optical magnification plus a 5x digital zoom,<br />

controlled by two buttons on the top of the scope,<br />

and you view a digital image on the integral VGA<br />

640x480 screen. That means it’s not the same<br />

quality as a purely optical image, but it can be<br />

captured as a photo or a video on the 8GB micro<br />

SD memory card provided.<br />

SPECS<br />

Magnification: 4.5x<br />

(plus 5x digital zoom)<br />

Objective lens: 40mm<br />

Eye relief: 12mm<br />

Viewing range: Up to<br />

200m<br />

Dimensions: 160mm x<br />

77mm x 57mm<br />

Weight: 274.5g<br />

Website: celestron.com<br />

March 2021<br />

KITE APC STABILIZED<br />

12X42 £949<br />

They produce a very good (though narrow) image<br />

– brightness is good, and sharpness is good at<br />

distance. Sometimes, there was some colour<br />

fringing, and low light performance was good.<br />

The electronics don’t remove all traces of<br />

movement, but they make the view usable,<br />

and are impressive tracking birds in flight.<br />

The stabiliser is easy to operate and has good<br />

battery life thanks to a sleep mode. Remarkably,<br />

even with all the electronics, without the batteries<br />

this binocular only weighs 720g.<br />

SPECS<br />

Eye relief: 17mm<br />

Field of view:<br />

3.8°/67m@1,000m<br />

Close focus: 4m<br />

Weight: 720g (without<br />

batteries)<br />

Height x width:<br />

184x128mm<br />

RRP: £949<br />

Warranty: 30 years<br />

optics and chassis, 2<br />

years electronics.<br />

Supplied with: wide<br />

neoprene strap,<br />

rainguard, zip-up<br />

padded case.<br />

Web: kiteoptics.com<br />

February 2021<br />

BUSHNELL CORE DS-4K £269.99<br />

The Dual Sensors (DS) give you sharper, richer daytime images and higher<br />

contrast, and more detailed, high-contrast images at night, when there’s a<br />

range of 80 feet (25m). Ruggedly weatherproof, it emits no light while<br />

capturing photos and video (making it suitable for security use too). The<br />

sensors are 30 MP, there’s a 0.2 second trigger speed and 0.6 second recovery<br />

rate, an in-camera colour review LCD, 1080p at 60 fps video with audio,<br />

1-year battery life, and a two-year limited warranty. See what your garden gets<br />

up to at night.<br />

BW<br />

30 Bird Watching Gear Guide 2021


GET CLOSER TO<br />

THE ACTION<br />

ENDURANCE ED SYSTEM H5<br />

Endurance ED spotting scopes provide the<br />

performance to get close to the action and<br />

the durability you demand.<br />

New eyepieces boast higher magnification<br />

range and wider angle viewing than before.<br />

20–60x68 | £669<br />

NEW HIGHER MAGNIFICATION<br />

All models are constructed with ED<br />

glass reducing the potential for chromatic<br />

aberration. ED glass controls colour<br />

fringing and allows an improvement in<br />

clarity and crispness of the image, highly<br />

recommended by nature enthusiasts.<br />

All lenses are Fully Multi-Coated and prisms<br />

Dielectric Coated for increased reflectivity.<br />

Endurance scopes feature a dual focus knob<br />

(coarse and fine), 3x ratio eyepieces with<br />

twist-up eye cups and retractable sunshades.<br />

All scopes are supplied with lens covers and<br />

stay-on soft cases.<br />

25–75x85 | £779<br />

13–39x50 | £449<br />

COMPACT<br />

15–45x60 | £549<br />

COMPACT<br />

VISION<br />

ACCOMPLISHED

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