I had some time on my hands the other day so I took the opportunity to do a little websurfing. I consider myself fairly well versed on the variety of binocular models currently on the market. Still I always feel the need to find a model or two that isn’t widely recognized or discussed.
I must readily admit that I find myself increasingly preferential towards binoculars that offer ED glass in their design. The decrease in color fringing on high contrast objects really appeals to my love for incredibly sharp images. The vibrant colors and better apparent brightness also certainly have their appeal.
Lo’ and behold there was an inexpensive, ED glass roof prism glass advertised on their site…the Pro Optic (8×42 and 10×42) binocular. After finding the Pro Optic I did do my research to determine if this binocular had been discussed previously here and on other optics messageboards. I only found two references to it and both of them were on here and from about a year ago. So, with that information in hand, I decided to order one. When you consider the binocular’s specs/design and its price range I found it hard not to want to give this binocular a thorough review. Speaking of specifications, they are listed below….
ED Glass objective
Open Hinge Roof System
Center Focus, Center Diopter
Water Repellent Coater
8.3 Degree Angle of View
There isn’t any listing for height, width, weight, eye relief or close focus. It arrived two days ago and I have been tinkering with it ever since.
This is the one area that most users focus on more so than any other…and for good reason. What use is a binocular with wonderful ergonomics and a butter-smooth focus if the image quality is sub-par? Of course, the answer is “none”.
The ED objective certainly delivers. Color fringing is very well controlled in the sweet spot. Apparent sharpness, brightness and color representation are all excellent and entirely comparable with the Zen ED2 that I have on hand. The ED2 might have a very slight edge in terms of brightness but I had to focus extremely hard to pick up on it in regular use. Without doing a “side by side” between the two models I doubt anyone would notice it.
Close focusing distance is a very respectable 5.5 feet. Not as close as one or two binoculars on the market but certainly as good as most models…in any price range.
The field of view is certainly addicting. The 8.3 angular field of view translates into over 430 feet. I love a wide field of view because I feel it gives a more relaxing view and definitely makes it easier for the user to scan large areas or follow fast moving objects. Eye relief seems to be in the 17-18 mm range as I have no problem seeing the field stop at the edge of the image with the eyecups fully depressed into the binocular body.
So, you are probably asking, what isn’t to like about this binocular’s optical performance. Well, if I had to pick one area that might be this binocular’s optical “weak spot” then it would be the edge performance. Noticeable field curvature is present in the outer 1/3rd of the image. Illumination appears to be even across the full field of view but field curvature is present and can be seen readily if one focuses on it.
The focusing speed of this binocular seems fairly fast. I have not measured it at this point but I would not be surprised if it takes approximately 1 to 1.25 turns to go from close focus to infinity with this binocular. Even though the focusing speed is fairly quick I have not had a problem overshooting “perfect focus” on any given object because the focusing tension is excellent. “Butter smooth” is a term often coined in this area and it certainly applies here. I have no complaints whatsoever in terms of focusing speed or tension. In fact I find it ideal!
The diopter design is an interesting one. The diopter is located in the second most common area for binoculars..in between both eyepieces on the central hinge. It does feature a locking mechanism. A small, metal “button” must be depressed in order for the diopter to be adjusted in either direction. It is extended just enough to be easily accessible while still recessed enough not to be accidentally bumped or caught while pulling the binocular out of the case.
The eyecups fully extend and collapse with the typical twist and pull method. They do lock in the fully extended position. I did not notice any problems with the design or construction of this particular feature. Keep in mind that the serial number on this particular unit was fairly high (unlike the unit mentioned in an earlier review).
Central hinge tension is very good on this unit. It just tight enough to keep the IPD constant and yet adjustable enough to move it should you decide to lend the binocular to another consumer.
Size and ergonomics:
This a very compact full-sized binocular. Though not as small as the Zhumell Short Barrel model that I reviewed recently it is very close. Putting the two side by side the Pro Optic is only about a quarter inch longer overall. The physical weight of the binocular is not listed but I would estimate somewhere in the 22-24 oz range. It certainly isn’t heavy and feels very solid when handling.
Ergonomics are an extremely individualistic area. In other words every person has their preferences. I seem to be comfortable with a variety of designs provided basic functions are easily met (being able to comfortably reach the focusing knob with comfortable finger placement for example). The open-hinge design on this particular model is very easy to use even with my larger than average hands. There are two, shallow thumb indents on the underside of the binocular to also aid in hand placement.
I like this binocular. I like it alot. Why? Well the optical performance is certainly way above the price point that they are selling it for. The sweet spot performance is certainly comparable to anything short of the European models. Apparent sharpness, color representation and brightness are all extremely satisfying. The field of view is wonderfully wide. Add those characteristics together and you certainly have a comfortable and enjoyable image. Throw in the ergonomics and the mechanical properties of this model and you definitely have a winner. I strongly encourage others to try this model. It easily is a “best value” and high performer at this price point ($150) and beyond.