at a Sensible Price
I guess like many of us I have a few pairs of binoculars. I have a couple of small pairs of cheap binoculars and a decent pair of 7x50s that is about 40 years old and were my parents before me.
However none of these really suited canoe trips. The small ones were too high a magnification and not bright enough and the 7x50 ones were a bit big to take along on every trip. Worse none of them are waterproof.
I have even looked at a monocular as an option but these are actually more difficult to use one handed than binoculars and too often I need the other hand to keep the paddle in the water.
So from trying out a lot of binoculars I came to the conclusion that a pair of 8 x 32 binoculars was the size for me. This gives an exit pupil size of 4mm. This means that if your pupil is dilated to 4mm or less you are getting as much light as is available. If your pupil was dilated to 6mm then the image would seem darker than when you are looking around without binoculars. As you get older your pupil dilates less and thanks to me now being over 40 it seems my pupil is not going much above 4mm as the 8x32 binoculars seem as bright as normal viewing.
Now it is not my intention for this to be a very technical review as I am not that knowledgeable and I am not that sort of reviewer so i will simply point you to Strathspey's technical page for the required info: http://www.strathspey.co.uk/numbers.html
So now I had worked out that 8x32's suited me and were small enough for carrying on all trips I simply had to pick a pair. If only it were that simple The range of binoculars and the variance in price and quality is astonishing. I very quickly found the binoculars that I wanted but I am unwilling to pay the 1200 price tag. I am sure they are worth every penny but I simply do not use binoculars enough to justify that price tag.
So to cut a long story short I eventually settled on a pair from Strathspey. I actually bought from their Ebay shop.
Here is what they look like along with the case.
I have already explained my reasons for the choice of magnification and also for the objective lens size but there were more factors that led me to choose this precise pair. First off they are waterproof which is an obvious requirement for canoe use. The spec of the lenses and coating also seemed very good although my lack of technical knowledge means I had to take this literally as read. I also liked that the covers for the objective lenses are attached so you can flick the covers off and not lose them. The binoculars also looked well made. This is a hard thing to put your finger on but many cheap binoculars look just that.
Also, even from the ebay shop, you could tell this was a company that believed in their products and were proud of them. And since they had a money back guarantee if you were not happy, what could I lose.
When the binoculars arrived I was very impressed. They do feel like a quality product. Solid and well made. These feel as if they will last forever. They have all the features you expect. Twist out eyecups (as you can see in the photo) so these will suit both those who wear spectacles and those who do not.
They have the threaded hole for attaching to a tripod, although you would need an "L" shaped bracket to use this. There is also a strap, bag, lens cleaning cloth and instructions included.
The binoculars fit well in the hand and as you can see are fairly compact.
Of course all of this will be irrelevant of the quality of the optics is not up to par. Well as I say I am not a technical person so have nothing numeric to fall back on but I am very happy with the quality of the image I get from these. They are very clear in a way you need to see to differentiate from the really cheap binoculars I have tried. I am sure there is a difference with the really high end binoculars but not in any way I notice in general use.
Another feature I find very useful is that the binoculars will focus down to about 1m. Might just be me but it is not always far away things I want to see magnified
When I ordered the binoculars I was accidentally sent a pair of 8x42s. When I phoned to report this they were very apologetic and sent out the correct pair immediately by Special Delivery so I had them next day. As a result I was able to do a bit of a side by side comparison.
The 8x42's are just that bit bigger that I do not think I would carry them all the time. The objective lens covers are also not attached and I am not as keen on the look of them in general. Optic wise they are just as clear and trying both pairs side by side seems to confirm that I find no noticeable difference for me in brightness, maybe when I was younger
Conclusion In keeping with my non technical review my non technical conclusion is I like these binoculars and for about È70 plus delivery they perform well above their price point. So highly recommended