While discussing the new Celestron M2 Regal spotting scope over in the spotting scope forum I noted a new poster, Optics Camp, who is a fairly local dealer for Celestron. After checking out the website I found the Bresser Everest. What caught my attention about it was the list of features and the price. Extra low dispersion glass plus all the other usual roof prism bells and whistles (fully multi-coated, phase coated, waterproof, etc…). The least expensive ED glass roof prism model that I remember seeing recently was the Bushnell Legend Ultra. I think that, with the rebate which was briefly offered, the price was around $229. The Bresser was less expensive by $10-$15 and that was the regular price.
I thoroughly enjoy seeing the “trickle down” effect when it comes to optics. Four or five years ago we started seeing ED glass objective designs in binoculars at the $400-$500 price point. Now we have one down at the $200 price point. ED glass is “all well and good” but can be literally worthless if the rest of the binocular’s optical system isn’t designed to take advantage of the benefits that it can offer. I have immediate recollection of one, fairly popular, “ED glass” binocular that actually offered worse performance than similarly priced non-ED models when it came to chromatic aberration control. Thankfully that isn’t really the case here.
So, after some emails were exchange I was given the opportunity to evaluate this model. Similarities are bound to be mentioned between it and the Celestron Granite and the Alpine Wings ED. I have not had the opportunity to try either though they have been on my radar for some time. Based on others’ comments about them there appears to be a second group of open-bridge ED glass binoculars on the market that are markedly different than those offered by Promaster, Zen Ray and Hawke. This second group of models differs from the first basically in their physical length and weight. The first group typically measures about 6.5 inches in length and weighs between 27 and 28 ounces. The second group, which the Bresser falls into, measures about 5.4 inches and weighs between 23-24 ounces. Listed specifications for the Everest include 17 mm of eye relief and a field of view of 142 m at 1000 meters (426 feet at 1000 yards). I can verify that there is plenty of eye relief for my personal preferences. I have not done a comparison/measurement yet on the field of view.
Let me start off by saying that the pics on various websites of this binocular do not do it justice. Based on the pics it appears to be equally long and shaped much like the first group of open-bridge ED glass binoculars mentioned above. It is not. It is considerably shorter…and notably lighter.
Usually I start these reviews off with comments about the optical performance because so many folks prefer to read that first. It is also typically the “make or break” point for binocular acceptance. In this case though, I feel compelled to comment about the ergonomics.
I love them!
I love picking this binocular up and holding it. Much more so than many other models I have recently handled. The ergonomics are excellent in my opinion and for a variety of very obvious and subtle reasons. Let us start out with the obvious one, the open bridge design. As I referenced in another post here on the forum recently I really enjoy several open bridge designs currently available. In my experience it is greatly dependent on barrel diameter and the width of the gap between each of the two bridges. The barrel diameter is dependent on the size of the objective and the thickness of the rubber armoring. This can vary greatly from one open bridge binocular to another. In general I like many of the 32 mm models more so than the 42 mm models for this reason. This 42 mm is one of the exceptions. Despite the 5.5 inch length of this model there is plenty of room for my fingers to fit comfortably between the bridges. My pinky sits easily on the second of the two bridges. Index finger placement on the focusing knob is extremely natural and intuitive.
Speaking of the focusing knob, we come to ergonomic point number two. The texture of the focusing knob is excellent for my preferences. It is completely metal and features a series of raised metal “points” completely over it. This is reminiscent of some Minox models I once owned. The tactile sensation generated by this is very pleasurable. Other focusing related info:
– Focusing direction is counterclockwise from close focus to infinity.
– Focusing speed is fairly fast at just under one turn from close focus to infinity.
– Close focus appears to be approximately 5.5 feet for my eyes.
– There is approximately ½ turn beyond infinity on this unit.
Focusing tension is close to ideal for me. It is exceptionally smooth and very precise. No slop in the focusing feel.
Point number three is the rubber armor. The barrels are completely covered by it though the two hinges are exposed metal which is covered by some type of powder coat finish. The finish of the powder coating feels very much like the texture of the rubber armor….a nice little attention to detail. The rubber itself feels extremely pleasing to the touch. Firm and yet relatively smooth. On the underside of the binocular there are two thumb indents. My thumbs fit effortlessly into them.
Lastly, the feel, or gist, of the binocular is very good. It feels exceptionally “solid” when you pick it up. Many binoculars can feel this way but in their case it can be partially attributed to the weight of the binocular. This binocular feels “light” in comparison to those models and yet still exhibits that exceptionally solid feel typically found on binoculars costing a significantly greater amount of money.
Enough about the ergonomics how does the binocular look? As with any binocular attribute the visual appeal of the design is extremely subjective. I do like the styling of this model. Black rubber armor coupled with brushed silver accents around the eyepiece and a similarly colored focusing knob. The “Bresser Everest” designation is tastefully indented slightly close to objective of the left barrel.
The only nitpick I have on styling, and it is a small one, is the need to put “8×42” in bright red on the underside of the left ocular’s silver accent. Like most binoculars I think it would be more appealing if this was removed and placed on the faceplate of the focusing knob. There is a corresponding reference line, in red for diopter adjustment on the right ocular’s accent. I would prefer black as it would be just as easily seen against the silver accent and yet be classier in overall appearance.
Mechanical impressions/Fit and Finish
It is very hard for me to believe the price point of this binocular. If someone handed you this model and removed the brand name and exterior markings and asked an educated bino-consumer what they thought of the fit and finish I wouldn’t be surprised if they said “very good” to “excellent”. The usual mechanical “trouble areas” are almost all excellent. Central hinge tension is perfect on this unit. As previously mentioned there is no slop in the focusing mechanism. A rudimentary star test of the optics shows good collimation and no noticeable optical issues without boosting the magnification significantly. Speaking of which, I did have the opportunity to slightly boost them via a small 7×18 monocular I have on hand. As would be expected the image is notably dimmer but apparent sharpness was still good at the 56x magnification.
The one mechanical area I found “acceptable” but not very good or excellent was the rotating eyecup feel. I don’t rotate the eyecups out on almost all of my binoculars so this is a moot point for me personally. I still feel the need to check it though for those folks that like/need to extend the eyecups. The eyecups are metal and are typical of most relatively inexpensive roof prism models featuring one intermediate location between fully collapsed and fully extended. The feel, as they are rotated, isn’t sloppy but it isn’t as precise as many of the models I have recently reviewed. For those concerned with this issue a quick trip to the local hardware store to purchase some .30 cent rubber o-rings should remedy. I don’t see this as being a concern if you use them with the eyecups fully extended but if you utilize the intermediate position I think the o-rings would come in handy.
Looking down the objectives with a light source I did not note any quality control issues. Everything seems clean and precise with the objective elements and prisms. I would note two issues during this examination though. For one, there is what appears to be a retention ring behind the objective cell which is not painted black. It is actually silver in coloration. Without getting into the optical performance at this point I will say that it may contribute to some internal reflections.
The second issue of potential concern is the baffling. There is noticeable internal baffling between that retention ring and the prism but there isn’t any baffling between the objective cell and the retention ring…just a smooth flat black surface. On almost all of the binoculars I have looked through recently there is some type of “ribbing”/baffling in this area. This may also lead to stray light issues.
And so we come to everyone’s favorite area, optical performance. So, what type of optical performance does this $200 ED glass binocular provide? Does the ED glass do the job it was intended to do? Let us start off with its strong points.
Chromatic Aberration (color fringing on high contrast objects) is well controlled within the sweet spot. Outside of the sweet it is noticeable and what I would term moderate in nature. When I say “well controlled” I mean practically absent. I am moderately susceptible to CA. I can certainly notice it when it is either excessive or moderate in nature. Using my usual CA test on the nearby mountain ridge I don’t see any inside the sweet spot. Objects look very clean and well detailed. Speaking of detail….
Apparent sharpness, again within the sweet spot, is excellent. I can see the finest detail in any object that I point the binocular at. This past weekend another forum member, Stet, stopped by for a huge binocular comparison. If you read his comments in the other thread he mentioned that he was impressed with the level of detail this binocular appears to render. I have to agree. Within the sweet spot I would rate it as good as any of the other binocular models I had on hand. I will try to take some of the usual pics to help illustrate this.
Apparent contrast is another one of this binocular’s strong points. I would rate it at very good. Looking at any given object it stands out in very good contrast in comparison to its surroundings. I don’t get that flat/lifeless appearance that so many binoculars with average or poor contrast generate. My experience is that this is directly correlated with both light transmission and apparent color bias which brings me to…
Color representation in this model is definitely warm. If you remember from my review of the Sightron Blue Sky 8×32 I rated that model as warm…reddish in comparison to some other models. The Bresser has similar color representation but to a slightly higher degree. I would not rate it at the same level as the Bushnell Excursion in this area but somewhere between the Bushnell and the Sightron. The resulting contrast levels, particularly on red and brown objects, is quite noticeable. Going back to our binocular comparison on Saturday Stet picked up on this immediately. He noted how red the neighbor’s roof looked through this binocular.
Apparent brightness on this model is a bit of a tricky issue. I need to use the word “apparent” here certainly because what our eyes perceive and what a scientific instrument measures can be two totally different things. As I was once educated on light transmission curves, manufacturers can customize, to a large extent, which areas of the light spectrum they want to emphasize by selective application of anti-reflective coatings. In regular daylight usage my eyes tell me that the apparent brightness of this model is good but not very good or excellent. I definitely don’t get the impression of dim but when comparing it directly to other models of the same or smaller aperture the image doesn’t look quite as bright. I believe this is specifically result of the color bias mentioned above. Since reds and browns are very well represented in this binocular other colors at different areas of the light spectrum don’t seem quite as vibrant. We are most sensitive to the green and yellow section of the spectrum. If the coatings on this particular model don’t allow for high light transmission levels in this area of the spectrum but rather focus on the red then overall apparent brightness will not appear as good as other models.
Low light situations are a different matter. This morning before work I was looking at an object in my living room. I was comparing the Bresser to another model I recently reviewed. As I attempted to focus the other model I had a difficult time getting perfect focus. What I realized is that I was focusing right past perfect focus in both directions. In low light conditions the other model didn’t perform at the level I expected though in regular daylight conditions it is notably brighter than the Bresser. The Bresser, on the other hand, had no problem “snapping” that object into perfect focus under low light conditions.
Another issue of potential objection to some may be the apparent sweet spot size. As I referenced in other reviews my use of the term “sweet spot” refers to the size of the field of view that is in focus with the center of the field of view. I would rate the Bresser as average in this area. My estimation as to the size of the sweet spot with this model would be between 65-70% of the field of view. Keep in mind the field of view is advertised at 426 feet so approximately 2/3rds of that appears to be in sharp focus. I reference it as average considering its price point. We are, after all, talking about a $200 binocular here. Other binoculars at this price point may have a larger sweet spot, in comparison to width of the image, but their field of view is notably narrower. In order to achieve an above average or truly large sweet spot and a wide field of view a binocular needs to utilize a fairly sophisticated eyepiece design. The design of that eyepiece and its implementation cost money. Since this is a relatively inexpensive model here there had to be cost-cutting decisions made somewhere in the design. Performance outside of the sweet spot appears to be a mixture of both field curvature and astigmatism. The first 15-20% of the out of focus image appears to be astigmatism with field curvature occurring in the last 15-20% of the field of view.
Lastly, and one of my critical optical areas, is depth of focus. Again, as referenced in other reviews I use the term “depth of focus” to refer to how long the image stays in focus as I rotate the focus knob in either direction. I am glad to report that this model displays very good depth of focus based on my preferences. I have found that focusing speed and tension seem to play the biggest role in my perception of depth of focus. This binocular’s focusing speed is relatively fast at just under 1 full turn and yet I find the focusing tension to be ideal. As a result the apparent depth of focus is entirely to my liking.
So, the question inevitably arises as to whether or not this model is a “keeper”. Based on my preferences I am going to have to say it is. For many the ergonomics alone would make this a desirable model. For me it is that but it is also the excellent apparent sharpness and CA control within the sweet spot. I don’t ever find myself disappointed in the image when I place the binoculars up to my eyes. It certainly isn’t a stellar performer in every optical area and yet I find myself liking this binocular more and more every time I use it. When I rotate through various different binocular models I have on hand I actually find myself looking forward to picking this binocular up. It is truly amazing what $200 can get you in the binocular market these days.