- Open bridge makes them very comfortable
- Bright, sharp image
- ED glass eliminates most colour fringing
- Good, wide ‘sweet spot’
- Under £300 – great value
You’re probably sick of hearing us say that advances in optical technology and binocular design have started to have a major impact at the budget end of the market.
It’s absolutely true, though. Features such as ED glass, which start off as the exclusive preserve of the pricier models, quickly become common and then even standard right through the ranges. The delay between that first unveiling and general adoption has grown shorter and shorter, too, so the trickle-down effect is even more pronounced.
Visionary’s ED model in their new Fieldtracker range is a handsome-looking binocular, with an open-bridge design that makes it extremely comfortable in the hand. It feels good, too, with green rubber armour that’s reassuringly solid yet compact and lightweight, something that could be said about this model more generally.
That impression of excellent build quality extends to the eyepieces, which are rubberised, nicely moulded, and twist up and down to three different positions.
The same applies to the focus wheel, which is around 1.25 fingers wide, and with prominent enough ridges to make getting a grip easy even with the coldest fingers.
It moves beautifully smoothly, too, taking almost two anti-clockwise turns from close focus to infinity, with a little above average resistance. Best of all, it’s quick and easy to find exactly the right position.
The dioptre adjustment, a ridged twist-ring on the right barrel, is fine. It’s not calibrated, but it refuses to move accidentally when in use in the field, which is pretty much all that I ask.
So, they look good, feel good, but how do they perform optically? Well, initially, I had one or two concerns about a slight halo around the outside of the image, but this soon disappeared, so I suspect it had more to do with my eye position than the binoculars themselves. With that sorted, I was able to get on with enjoying that ED glass, which produces a bright, sharp image with excellent contrast. It tested them in all sorts of conditions, including some very murky evenings with drizzle and hail, and they came through very impressively (the lenses clean very easily, too).
There’s perhaps a very slight warm, yellowish cast, but basically the view you get is very natural. Colour fringing, too, was notable by its absence, no matter how hard I looked for it in a variety of different situations. As with pretty much any binoculars, you can find it if you really try, but I think you’d struggle to notice anything while you’re actually watching birds.
Field of view was slightly enigmatic. On the one hand, it doesn’t feel quite as wide or ‘walk-in’ as one or two other 8x42 EDs out there. On the other, sharpness to the edge of the image is really excellent, and that large ‘sweet spot’ means that you get full value for what FOV there is. In short, it feels more than wide enough for everyday birdwatching.
Close focus is somewhere between 1.5 and 2m (or was for me), which along with their lack of bulk makes these an excellent option for more general wildlife watching.
That brings me to the price. At £280, these represent a real bargain, meaning not only that a relative beginner can sample the pleasures of ED glass without breaking the bank, but also that these are potentially a good second pair for someone who already has a more expensive pair of bins. Their all-round solidity and effectiveness makes them perfect for stashing in a rucksack, for example, when out hiking, or in the glove compartment, for a bit of birding on the daily commute.
The accessories include objective lens covers, a slightly flimsy-looking but actually very useable rainguard, a fabric case, and a decent neoprene strap.
In conclusion, it’s hard to fault these for value. The optics are excellent, they’re nicely put together, and above all they’re easy and very enjoyable to use. Give them some serious thought if you’re in the market for some ED glass.