- Impressive edge to edge sharpness
- ED glass lights up the dawn and dusk landscape
- Excellent close focus makes for great versatility
- Compact and lightweight, despite the high-quality glass
- Easy and pleasurable to handle
Any optics watcher will have noticed that more and more binoculars are coming onto the market with low dispersion glass and an ‘open bridge’ design. The high prices of top-end binoculars won’t have escaped their attention either. Viking Optical’s Chinese-made ED models, an 8x42 and a 10x42, are the top of their range. These are described by Viking as ‘premium quality, affordable price’ and ‘a binocular of the highest standard’. They have ED glass, for ‘brighter, sharper images, free of colour aberration’, an ergonomic open bridge, and a price tag with just three digits. The ED42s are supplied with a wide neoprene strap, a hard zip-up case, and a rainguard.
I spent some time with the 8x42s and my initial impressions were very favourable, in terms of image quality, build quality and ergonomics. This binocular looks the business, and is very nice to handle. The open bridge worked well for me – two or three fingers found the gap quite naturally with the other hand ready for focussing. For a 42 mm binocular, this is a pretty compact tool. It is fully waterproof and has a magnesium alloy body, and at 710 g is not a heavy binocular.
The view is wide and colours are natural, with a slight yellow colour cast, but nothing problematic. Sharpness is very good, and impressive edge to edge, with a hint of softness around the periphery. The image is bright and the EDs did well in low light, even an hour after a June sunset. The close-focus is quoted as 1.5 metres – I managed perhaps a little under 1.8 metres, but I was impressed. I did see a bit of colour fringing, but nothing to get worked up about and there wasn’t a problem when I watched Swifts against an off-white cloud.
- Price: £559
- Dimensions: (height x width) 136x129mm
- Weight: 710g
- Close focus: 1.5m
- Field of view: 7.8 degrees. 137m @1000m
- Distributed by: Viking Optical Ltd. Blyth Road, Halesworth, Suffolk, IP19 8EN Tel: 01986 875315
- website: www.vikingoptical.co.uk
There were times when I struggled to find the best focus, though this may improve with practice, and times when I felt like I had to turn the focus wheel a lot to focus. It has about 1.75 turns in it, turning reasonably smoothly and quite stiffly, anti-clockwise towards infinity. I did find it tricky to find the best dioptre position, and holding in the button while adjusting the dioptre was a bit awkward. This is something that you don’t do often of course, and once it is set, it locks in place and there is no danger of it being accidentally moved.
The eyecups twist up and down with a light action and have three set positions. I found the rainguard a bit fiddly to use – I prefer a sloppier fit – and found that using it sometimes inadvertently lowered an eyecup. For me, the central hinge was a little too loose too, though this could be tightened and may be different on a different sample. Perhaps some of these things could be looked at if there is a Mk. II in the future.
For less than £600 you get an ED binocular that is really nice to handle, not too heavy and not too big. It provides a bright, sharp, wide-angle view with good colours and a decent close-focus. If their spec and price fits your needs check them out.
REVIEWED BY DAVID CHANDLER.