Hawke’s Frontier binocular range has repeatedly made a very favourable impression in these pages over the last decade or so, offering high-quality optics at a price that won’t make your bank manager wince, so how do the HD X bins compare with their (relatively) pricier ED X relatives?
Verdict: For less than £300, this is a really outstanding binocular.
• Eye relief: 18mm
• Field of view: 142m@1,000m
• Close focus: 2m
• Weight: 692g
• Size (LxWxD): 140x123x50m
• RRP: £299
• Supplied with: Case, rain guard, removable tethered objective lens covers, neoprene strap, lens cloth, harness adaptors.
The design is the same as the ED X range. They’re compact, closed-bridge roof prisms, with sturdy rubber armouring. They’re well balanced, and easy to grip even when wearing thick gloves.
The replaceable eyecups are covered with soft rubber and twist up and down to three distinct positions – they didn’t get dislodged from either of the two higher positions in ordinary use. There’s a maximum of 18mm eye relief, and the viewing experience was a comfortable one, even after hours in the field peering at distant waders.
I liked the focus wheel, which is around 1.25 fingers wide and well ridged, again making for easy grip while wearing gloves (or with really cold hands!). It takes 1.25 anti-clockwise turns from close focus to infinity, and turns slightly stiffly but very smoothly. Focus was easy to find and maintain.
Close focus is quoted as 2m, and that felt pretty much spot-on. That’s not outstanding, but it’s really pretty good, and likely to be equal to anything that most birdwatchers and bug-watchers ask of a binocular. The dioptre adjustment is a twist-ring on the right barrel. It’s not calibrated or click-stopped, but it’s tight enough that it won’t move out of place accidentally once you’ve found the right setting.
Optically, there’s very little to criticise. They performed well in all conditions, including that week of Biblical rain that arrived in June, producing a bright image even in the very low light. The image is sharp, too, with good natural colour tones, and it was difficult to find any colour-fringing except against the strongest sunlight.
Field of view is 142m@1,000m, very good indeed, and the fact that you have sharpness right across the width of the image gives it all the more of a ‘walk-in’ feel. Finally, accessories don’t make or break a product at this price, but it comes with an excellent case – semi-rigid, spacious, and with a useful back pocket.
The optics are very hard to fault in all conditions, the design and build are very good and thoroughly user-friendly, and there are even some thoughtful extras.