Orion is often mentioned in astronomy circles but I cannot honestly say I have heard much about their binocular selection in birding or the hunting arenas. I started receiving their catalogs after ordering one of the Orion Stratus eyepieces for my Pentax scope. I have glanced through their catalogs but since I have not been into astronomy for many years I have rarely looked “hard” at any of their offerings.
Well, this last catalog I noticed one of their binoculars, the Ultraview 8×42. It caught my eye for several reasons including the specs….
430 foot field of view
All metal body
Japanese in origin
…but also because of the price…$150. I am always in the market for an inexpensive, but high performing porro prism binocular. I have several in my current selection (Bushnell Legend, Nikon Action, Nikon E, Leupold Yosemite, Leupold Cascade, Celestron Ultima DX, etc…). The overall specs reminded my instantly of the Bushnell Legend as it seems to share almost all of them…minus the country of origin (and without the Legend’s waterproofing). I left the Legends at work yesterday though so a direct comparison is going to have to wait until Monday.
On the other hand I am able to compare them directly to the other porros I currently have in my selection. Before doing that though I want to just comment on them in general.
Overall build quality seem very good. There is not any noticeable issues with any of the usual “moving parts” or functions (diopter, central hinge, rotating eyecups, etc…). Strangely they actually feel much lighter than their listed weight and almost “plasticky” in nature. They aren’t though…trust me. They do share some similarities in terms of both the focusing mechanism and the eyecup design with that of the Celestron Ultima DX. The difference is that the focusing is significantly smoother (like butter) on the Ultraviews. I would chalk that up to the lack of o-ring seals on this model.
…are the usual conventional porro in nature. I can get a very steady grip on these as the barrels do extend out a good part away from the prism housing. Overall balance is very good and I do not have any issue with them in this regard.
As was hoped for these binoculars perform quite admirably. They have all of the normal porro prism binocular benefits….3D image representation, tack sharp resolution, superb clarity. What they also display though is excellent contrast and a brighter than average image with practically no color bias that I can detect.
The image is exceptionally wide for an 8×42 mm binocular and the sweet spot of the image is also quite respectable. There is noticeable field curvature in the outer 20-25% of the image but it not as significant as the Celestron. Overall I would call it quite comparable in this regard to the Legend.
After noticing the similarities with the Celestron I decide to do a side by side comparison of the two to see if the Ultraview really was just a “big brother” to the Celestron as they share some very obvious components/designs. Optically they both show noticeable field curvature but the Orion’s level is not quite as severe nor does it cover quite the same percentage of the field of view of the Celestron. That is pretty much where the similarities end. The Orion’s image is noticeably brighter, a hair sharper and very color correct. The contrast level is what really catches my eye though. The blacks are very black and the image seems much more “alive” because of it.
There is noticeable color fringing in the outer percentage of the image that displays the field curvature but the rest of the image seems to be fairly free from it.
Excellent contrast, apparent sharpness and brightness
Wide field of view
Noticeable field curvature
Despite the last two areas I am impressed with this binocular for the price and plan on adding it to my current selection of bins. They have been around for a few years so I am genuinely surprised this model hasn’t found its way into more birders’ hands.