RSPB HD 8×42 Binoculars
One of the perks of blogging I’ve found is getting into some interesting sidelines in birding. One of the things I’ve become involved in is the Talking Naturally ‘Conference Calls’ podcast with Charlie Moores, if you haven’t listened yet, please do. There are some excellent and informative interviews alongside our silliness. Anyway another off-shoot from this was the chance to get a pair of binoculars to review.
The binoculars in question are from the recently released HD range. I got a pair of 8x42s which allowed me to test them alongside my Leica Ultravids but also to test them against 10x42s, my personal favourite. On opening the box I was immediately impressed, they certainly are stylish. A quick look out in the back garden and I was very impressed. I then encountered a bit of a problem… how to fit the straps. They feature a quick release system and I have to admit that attaching the straps wasn’t at all obvious, there’s no help in the box so I had to check with my co-conspirators revealed similar frustrations. A quick email to the manufacturer Viking Optics and I was away and a little embarrassed I hadn’t worked it out for myself.
Once you’re using them it is obvious that these are very well made binoculars. They are pretty light and I suffered no neck strain even after a day in the field. Focusing is by a large wheel and the operation is very smooth, requiring one and a half turns to go from close focus to infinity.
The image though is what counts and I found a large, bright image with just a little colour fringing against a white sky but given the price this was really not a problem for me. I didn’t detect any chromatic aberration either. The image appears sharp with very little in the way of softening on the edges of the image. Low light performance was also excellent.
It took me a little getting used to the lack of power with the 8x42s as against my 10x42s as I often go out without a telescope but I soon got used to this. In terms of close focus, this is where the RSPB HDs really shine as close focus is fantastic and knocks spots of my Leica’s. As I do a lot of insect watching in summer I really wish I could keep these as they are fantastic for the job.
Overall, I have to say the RSPB HD Binoculars are a superb bit of kit, you wouldn’t feel out of place at a twitch with them that’s for sure. They are really well built with the exception of the eye cups which are a little bit flimsy and could certainly be improved. As for the price, well for a mid-range binocular they are, in my opinion market leaders. £499 is a lot of money to pay out but if I ever needed a new pair of bins or a second pair for insects I would not hesitate to buy them. I would also recommend them to anyone thinking of stepping up their level of birding and getting a bit more serious.
For a better review see here!