Avian EVO 8x42 HR-ED

  • Eye relief: 19mm
  • Field of view: 7.0°/122m@1,000m
  • Close focus: c3m
  • Weight: 700g
  • Size: 146x130x53mm
  • RRP: £449
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Supplied with: case; strap; tethered, removable objective covers; rainguard

Ace Optics are based in Bath – you may well have noticed their ads. The Avian brand is theirs, and the EVO HR-EDs are their top-end products. There are two of them – an 8x42 and a 10x42. The prices are reasonable, but just how good are they? I spent some time with the 8x to find out.

This is an open-bridge binocular with no thumb indents. It feels good in the hands, with my two smallest fingers on each hand slotting into the open-bridge, leaving my first and middle fingers free to focus. Focus precision is very good, with a 1.5 finger-wide wheel moving smoothly against a nice amount of resistance. There is quite a lot of focus wheel travel – two full turns anti-clockwise towards infinity, but for regular birding you won’t need to move it more than about half a turn.

Dioptre adjustment is via a pull-up wheel. I found it a bit ‘plasticy’ but it does the job. The rubber-coated eyecups twist up and down with one intermediate position. I used them fully up and they stayed in place. At 700g it is not a heavy binocular, and certainly didn’t feel overweight in the field. Overall, build quality is good, and the EVO HR-ED is rubber-armoured and waterproof, with water-repellent lens coating.

The image is crisp, clean, very sharp and very bright, showing good Fieldfare speckling detail on an Ash tree loaded with winter thrushes – and that was through the car windscreen! I did see some edge softness when I scanned, but on a settled view there was perhaps just a smidgeon, which, in real world use you’re unlikely to notice. Colour-fringing seems well managed, with no sign of it on Rooks and gulls against a clear, fading January sky – the ED glass seems to be doing its job.

The EVO coped well with extraneous light, and performed very well against the light. Low light performance was good, with the glass pulling detail out of close shadows 10 minutes after sunset on an overcast day. There is much that is very good about this binocular. But there are things that could be a bit better. The field of view is narrower than some, but you get used to a binocular, and I didn’t find it a problem. At three metres, the quoted close-focus is unremarkable, but for me, three metres is a lie! I measured it at just under 2.4 metres, still not remarkable, but better.

I liked the snug, leather-look case, but sometimes struggled with the rainguard – it was too hard to get off, and stopped me clinching a probable flyover Goosander, which would have been new for #My200BirdYear. But the EVO did help me boost the list – I saw
a local Scaup with them, not bad for Cambridgeshire.

Avian EVO 8x42 HR-ED Verdict

The blurb says “unbeatable value without compromising performance” and it’s not a bad description. If you don’t need more close-focus, and are OK with the field of view, then the optical performance, and handling, are hard to criticise at this price. The EVO 8x42 HR-ED is a very good binocular.