by David Chandler |


Price: £449.99

Eye relief: 18mm

Field of view: 7.5°/131m@1,000m

Close focus: 1.5m

Weight: 670g

Size: 140 x 131 x 53mm

RRP: £449.99

Warranty: 15 years (+10 years if registered on My Olympus)

Supplied with: neoprene strap; rainguard; tethered, removable objective covers; case.

Verdict: It’s good to try a binocular from a different brand. This one is lightweight with very good optics and an exceptional close-focus. I saw my first Painted Lady of the year through them. My main concern is the vignetting/eyecup issue. But your face is different from mine – so try them for yourself.

Olympus is a well-known brand – but most readers will be thinking photography not binoculars. The 8x42 and 10x42 Pro binoculars were launched at the tail end of 2018 and both have an RRP of less than £500. I was sent the 8x42 to review.

This may be a full-size binocular, but at 670g it’s certainly not heavy. The design is fairly clean and simple and there are no thumb indents or ridges. The lens barrels are perhaps a little on the fat side but that wasn’t a problem. Build quality seemed good, and this binocular is waterproof and nitrogen-filled, with an oil-repellent coating on the lenses for ease of cleaning.

The eyecups twist up and down, stayed in position while birding, and have a good positive action and one intermediate setting. There were no problems with the dioptre ring slipping out of place either – it’s a simple twist ring with grooves for basic calibration. The 1.5 finger-wide focus wheel is where you’d expect it to be and moves very smoothly against light resistance clockwise towards infinity. It does have a lot of travel – just over three full revolutions.

I suspect this is necessary to accommodate an impressive close-focus but it does mean you could find yourself doing a lot of focus winding. In typical birding, however, you won’t need to move it more than about half a turn. As is standard these days, this binocular comes with a rainguard but it’s a tight fit – too tight for my liking.

The 8x42 Pro delivers a very good view – sharpness and brightness are very good (with just a little edge softness but nothing of consequence), good colours and a reasonable field of view (131m@1,000m). In low light the image was good 15 minutes beyond sunset, on an evening with a mostly overcast sky. Focus precision is good though a little care was needed when focusing.

The blurb says that “an ED lens means that chromatic aberration… is kept to an absolute minimum”. Chromatic aberration equals colour-fringing and this did seem well corrected – I found very little, and certainly nothing troublesome. A stand-out feature is the close-focus. Olympus say it will focus down to 1.5m. They are wrong, at least for me. I measured it as about 1.25m. For comfortable viewing at this distance close one eye, or pull the eyepieces closer together.

The only significant image issue I found with this binocular was some vignetting (edge shadows). I think this may be linked to the diameter of the eyecups – for me, they were too large, which is not something that I have encountered before. But, when the binoculars are held in a good ‘eye-position’ there is no problem.

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