- Very lightweight – class-leaders in fact
- Sharp, bright, easy-on-the-eye view
- ED glass produces good low-light performance
- Quick close focus – useful for bug-watchers?
- Lots of eye relief – good for glasses wearers
Minox HGs have been around since 2006. The current versions have a wider field of view than the original models, and two APO HGs have been added to the range, an 8x43 and a 10x43. These look much like the original HGs, but have a gunmetal grey focussing wheel and dioptre adjuster, rather than silver ones, which weren’t to everyone’s taste. The differences are more than cosmetic however. The APO HGs feature ED glass in the objectives and eyepieces and apochromatic lenses so the view should be even better. They are more expensive too. I got to play with the 8x43 APO HG, currently made in Germany, which has a list price of £1,399, positioning it among top end optics.
Their handling and weight was excellent – they felt good in my hands and two fingers and a thumb found the focussing wheel very easily. They feel like a quality, well-made binocular. The body is made of magnesium which helps bring the weight down – they weigh just 650g which makes them significantly lighter than any obvious competitors in this price range. The view is very good – easy on the eye, sharp and bright. Resolution is impressive and brightness and contrast are very good too. I detected a very slight yellow colour cast, but it wasn’t a problem.
Focussing is very precise and I liked the feel of the 1½ finger-wide gnurled metal focussing wheel. It moves very smoothly and quite stiffly (not too stiffly!) through just under one full turn, anti-clockwise to infinity. Differential gearing has been used to achieve a ‘quick close focus’, and the wheel is calibrated so that it can be used to estimate distance. The 7.2 degree field of view (126m@1000m) puts them in the same ballpark as the competition. Sharpness is very good across most of the field of view, with a little softness at the edges, but nothing to be concerned about. They perform well in low light, picking out the yellow on a distant Blackbird’s beak 25 minutes after sunset. I did sometimes see some colour fringing, even in the centre of the image, but you may be less sensitive to it. Close focus is quoted as 2.5m, which is pretty good, though I managed about 2.3m.
- Price: £1399
- Dimensions: (height x width x depth) approx 153 x 131 x 53mm
- Weight: 650g
- Close focus: 2.5m
- Field of view: 7.2 degrees. 126m@1000m
- Warranty: 30 years
- Distributed by: Minox (GB) Limited, 960 Capability Green, Luton, Beds, LU1 3PE. Tel: 01582 635544. Fax: 01582 635244
- e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- website: www.minox.co.uk
The APO HGs have 19.5mm of eye relief, which should be plenty for glasses wearers. The eyecups are rubber covered and twist up and down to any of four positions, with excellent mechanics. Dioptre adjustment is achieved by pulling up a ring under the right eyepiece, turning it, and pushing it down to lock it in position. They are waterproof and argon filled to stop them fogging, and the objectives are coated with ‘Minotec’, which repels water and makes them easier to clean. They come with an impressive lens cleaning kit, with a lens cloth, lenspen and environmentally friendly ‘anti-fog solution’, all in a nice zip-up leather pouch. Other supplied accessories include a 3cm wide neoprene strap, a rainguard that can be removed from the eyepieces without too much of a fight, and a black leather case.
I wasn’t keen on the superfluous wooden presentation box that the APO HGs are supplied in. It’s an impressive box, but once you’ve taken the binoculars out, what will you use it for? Still, this is an impressive binocular that handles well, is lightweight and well made and delivers some very good views. It gets high marks for resolution, brightness and contrast and has a decent field of view. I did see some chromatic aberration, but try them for yourself and see what you think – your experience could be different to mine. Can they take on the competition? Time will tell.
REVIEWED BY DAVID CHANDLER