Kite Caiman 8x42

(Review from Bird Watching September 2017)

£249

Exit pupil diameter: 5.25mm
Eye relief: 17mm
Field of view: 132m@1000m degrees.
Close-focus: 1.5m
Approx dimensions (h x max. w): 146x128mm
Weight: 699g
RRP: £249
Warranty: 15 years

Supplied accessories: case with strap, neoprene strap, rainguard, tethered objective covers, lens cloth.

Web: kiteoptics.com


main-image.jpg

By David Chandler

A Caiman is a neotropical alligator. There are six in the range with the biggest weighing over 1000kg. It’s also an entry-level binocular from Kite, weighing under 700g and with an RRP of £249. There are two in the Kite range – an 8x42 and a 10x42. I reviewed the 8x42.

In the hand

The Caiman is a well-made binocular with a look and feel that wouldn’t be out of place on a more expensive product. The design is quite simple, with no ‘let me tell you where to put your thumb’ indents, and tasteful branding. I found it quite chunky in the hands – and I liked that. It didn’t feel heavy, the focusing wheel is well-positioned, and the eyecups are comfortable. The chassis is aluminium, and the Caiman is rubber-armoured, and waterproof. 

A knurled ring on the right eyepiece adjusts the dioptre. Once set, it’s unlikely to move, but could be just a bit stiffer. The rubber-covered eyecups twist up and down, with a good, reassuring action, and one intermediate position. At 17mm, eye-relief is pretty good and should be enough for glasses wearers. Note that the 10x have a little less eye-relief (15mm). Unlike some binoculars, the Caiman’s eyecups are made of aluminium and are easily removed for cleaning, or even replacement.

Looking through

Sunset was approaching and hares were up and about. I wanted to test the Caiman’s low-light abilities, so carried on using them after sunset. The image was still good 20 minutes later. I kept going. 

With sunset more than half an hour behind me, I could still see some colour, shades of green, on a distant tree, and an impressive level of detail in the hedge. The Caiman’s low light performance hadn’t disappointed. Don’t forget, this is an entry-level binocular. Its reptilian namesakes do well in low light, too.

The Caiman’s deliver a gentle, natural view. Sharpness is good but don’t expect the punch and pin-sharp quality of a much more expensive bit of kit. Brightness is good and this low-cost binocular coped well against the light. I sometimes saw a bit of colour fringing but overall it seemed pretty well corrected. Field of view is very good – there’s no hint of claustrophobia – and close-focus is better – Kite say 1.5m, I say 1.6m.

The 1.5 finger-wide focusing wheel moves smoothly, with moderate resistance through 1.5 revolutions, anti-clockwise towards infinity. But for most birding less than 0.25 turn is needed, which isn’t much. 

I found the focusing took some getting used to – I had to hunt for best focus sometimes – a gentle touch was required. So don’t rush this binocular – take your time to get the best out of it.

Verdict

It’s nicely made, with good sharpness and brightness, and very good field of view, close-focus and low-light performance. But be gentle with the focusing.