Ace Avian F Magnesium 8x42 binoculars

  • Icy sharp image – very clear
  • Surprisingly wide field of view
  • Outstanding close focus
  • Light weight makes for greater comfort
  • Plenty of eyecup adjustment

The Avian F binoculars established an enviable reputation for quality optics at a very affordable price, but the new Magnesium model promises to be lighter to carry, too. So, do they still punch their weight?

The view is impressively bright, even when put to the test in dim light on a few dawn and dusk expeditions. It’s very sharp, too, all the way up to the edges – in fact, this is one of its big selling points, I think. The image is wider than I expected from the manufacturer’s stated field of view figure – a pleasant surprise. It’s not quite as ‘walk-in’ as some, but it’s really pretty good. There is a slightly blue colour cast (I tend to prefer a warmer, more natural tone), but on the other hand, it probably goes with the icy sharpness of the image, and it was never actually distracting. Contrast is good, and there was little sign of colour fringing. The water repellent lens coatings seemed to work well – I spent less time cleaning them than I might otherwise have done

Focusing is smooth and precise enough to make really tiny adjustments. Accordingly, the chunky, 1.5-finger wide focussing wheel offers a fair bit of resistance, but it’s never hard work. It takes just over 1.5 anti-clockwise turns from close focus to infinity.

More and more, I want binoculars to do a job where dragonflies, butterflies and moths are concerned, as well as birds, and these boast outstanding close focus. The manufacturer’s stated figure of 2m actually probably undersells them a little – my eyes were fine right down to 1.5m.

The design’s what we’ve come to expect from Avian – unfussy, uncluttered and functional. I had one or two initial concerns about the ridges on the top of the barrels, but what do I know? In extended use, they proved very comfortable to use, and I like the grip offered by the rubberised finish. That trimming of roughly 55g in weight, thanks to the magnesium alloy construction, makes a difference. They feel solid, but never heavy. Build quality felt excellent, especially in this price bracket. They’re really robust.

The rubber-covered eyecups twist up and down to four positions, offering a maximum of 19.6mm eye relief. Take the time to experiment – with most bins, I use them at the full-out position, but here, I preferred one of the intermediate stops. Get it right to ensure the best field of view, and to eliminate any halo at the edge of your image. The click-stopped dioptre adjustment on the right barrel works well, and it won’t get accidentally nudged out of place.

There are removable objective lens covers, and a rainguard that fits well – no wasting time struggling to get it on or off. I wouldn’t want to use the pretty basic strap for too long. To feel the full benefit of the new lighter weight around your neck, spend a few quid extra to put a decent neoprene strap on them. The case, with its own strap, is functional.

There’s little to quibble about here – the Avian Fs were always a very good package, and now they’ve been slimmed down (in terms of weight) and yet beefed up optically, thanks to aspherical lens elements and flat field coatings. The result is a really impressive, easy to use pair of binoculars for under £400. You need to take a look at them yourselves.

REVIEWED BY MATT MERRITT


FACTFILE

  • Price: £389
  • Dimensions: 145mm x 125mm
  • Weight: 640g
  • Eye relief: 19.6mm
  • Field of view: 114m@1,000m (6.5 degrees)
  • Also supplied: Rainguard, objective lens covers, strap, vinyl case with strap.
  • Distributed by: Ace Optics, 16 Green Street, Bath BA1 2JZ, tel: 01225 466 364
  • e-mail: optics@acecameras.co.uk
  • website: www.acecameras.co.uk