Opticron HR WP 8×42

I recently had the opportunity to pick up one of the Opticron binocular models recently…the HR WP 8×42. This particular binocular has been on my “radar” for well over a year now for a very specific reason. It is one of only two internal focus porro prism binoculars currently available for the consumer market. I had difficulty until recently getting my hands on a pair of these simply because Opticron products were not available to those of us living on “this side of the pond”.

That changed recently and Opticron is now available at three dealers/retailers here in states….

http://www.opticronusa.com/Pages/dealers.html

I have owned the two other versions of the internal focus porro prism design in the past (Leupold Cascade and Minox BD BP). All three of the models share practically identical optical performance characteristics with some differences externally especially in reference to the Minox. Let me break it down in the usual review format…..

Optical Performance:

The HR WP has many positive optical performance characteristics that users will find appealing. For one the size of the sweet spot of image in focus and free of distortions is very large. I would estimate that roughly 85-90% of the field of view is as sharp as the geometric center of the image. Chromatic aberration, color fringing on high contrast objects, is relatively well controlled within that sweet spot and only marginally noticeable in that outer 10-15%. The image also displays only a small percentage of field curvature in that outer portion of the image.

In addition, the image is bright and filled with contrast. Porro prism lovers can appreciate the wonderfully bright image that many binoculars of this design can provide. Comparing it directly to several 8×42 roof prism models that I currently have on hand reveals an image that is brighter in all lighting conditions. Color representation appears to be very neutral. I detect no bias towards either the warm or cold side of the color spectrum.

Most notably the binocular displays a very pronounced “3D effect” common with the porro prism design. The difference with this binocular though is that the effect seems more pronounced than other porro prism models I currently have on hand. I believe this to be the result of two other key optical qualities of note. For one, the previously mentioned sweet spot size. The larger than average sweet spot means that more objects are in focus and, therefore, the 3D effect is evident across a larger portion of the image. Second, and probably the only optical area where this model is lower than average, is the narrow field of view. At approximately 336 feet it is definitely on the “narrow side” of what is currently available. Five or six years ago it was common to find many 8×42 binoculars, especially roof prism models, with a field of view in this range. Since that time though I would estimate the average field of view for binoculars of this configuration, and at a similar price point, to be closer to 390 feet with some even reaching into the 420 foot plus range.

The question in my mind then is whether or not this is detrimental to the overall viewing experience provided to the user. In general I would say “no” it is not. My reasoning is fairly simple. Though the difference in field of view at 1000 yards could be as much as 90 feet the difference is not as substantial at distances that most of us tend to use the binoculars for. Using simple division the difference at 30 or so yards would only be about 9 feet. At closer distances the difference shrinks even further.

That would seem like a fairly minor difference with some notable understandings. One, with the true field of view being narrower, the apparent field of view is also on the smaller side…around 51 degrees. Second, with the narrow field of view and the porro prism design there is a bit of an issue with the close focusing distance. You can focus down to about 8 feet with this particular unit but the image overlap isn’t great enough to not receive a bit of a double image with the design. Translation: If you are looking for a butterfly binocular or to examine insects at close distances then I would probably suggest a roof prism model.

Ergonomics

I have to say that I really enjoy the ergonomics of this model. Ergonomically it appears to be identical to that of the Leupold Cascade porro and I love the ergonomics of that model as well. There are three issues I want to comment on when expanding on my favorable comments with this model. One is the contouring of the housing. Unlike many porro prism models the “bend” of the housing where the base of your fingers typically fall is very curved and the rubber armor is well textured. It feels natural and relaxed to have your hands fall upon it. It is somewhat similar to the Nikon SE 8×32 in this regard.

Second, though the length of the barrels is not “long”, it does appear to be the perfect length for your fingers to wrap around and still have a bit of room beyond that. Because of this you get a very firm purchase on the body of the binocular without having your last finger fall, accidentally, over the objective lens.

Third, the focusing mechanism is butter smooth. There is no “play” in the feel of it and it turns exceptionally smoothly without any bumps in either direction. Probably the only negative in this area is the fact that it is a fairly slow focus. I have to check the focusing speed but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is close to two full turns from close focus to infinity. The difference with this model though is that because of the excellent depth of field and the pronounced 3D effect I don’t seem to be as objectionable to the slower focus.

Fit and Finish

I have no objections to the fit and finish of this particular unit. Everything functions smoothly….diopter, focusing feel, central hinge, etc… The armoring appears to be well applied with no signs of bubbling or pealing. Speaking of the diopter though….I forgot to mention…as with the other internal focus models…the diopter adjusts the left eyepiece and not the right. I wish I had known that bit of information long ago when I first purchased the Leupold Cascade version. I cannot tell you the amount of frustration the first time that I attempted to adjust the diopter for my eyes.

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