|My old Opticron Imagic 8x42|
|The bent barrel|
Before I go any further, I should say that my eyesight is decidedly not of the best! I am 64 and, in 2003 suffered a rather quickly forming and severe cataract in my right eye. This was operated on and I have had an artificial lens since. More recently, a cataract has been steadily forming in my other eye and it is now quite perceptible - putting a slightly yellowish, foggy cast over my vision on that side - although not yet severe enough to operate. So someone younger with perfect vision may definitely be able to perceive differences between optics that are lost on me!
The optics pavilion at the Bird Fair allowed me to try out a range of high end bins: Leica, Zeiss, Swarvoski, Kowa and Opticron (at the In Focus stand) next to each other and on the same subjects - a couple of Little Egrets fishing in Lagoon 1. I found that the current, top end binoculars clearly gave a better image than my old Opticron Imagics - brighter, more contrasty - but I could not see any difference between the top brands costing well over £1000 (or over £2000 in a few cases!) and the top end Opticrons costing £300-600. There is not a lot to distinguish them on things like weight, field of view (pretty much identical in all the ones I looked at) or closes focus distance (1.8-2m in all of them with the Opticrons at the low end of this range). So the upshot was - I bought a pair of Opticron DBA VHD+ 8x42. I did also look at the 10x option, but my hands are too shaky these days and I cannot hold them steady enough.
|Opticron DBA VHD+ 8x42|
Fist, let us consider the case. The old Opticron case was a soft leather affair with a zip and its own strap. It has survived 18 years of use with no problems. About the only sign of wear is that the gold-coloured lettering of the Opticron logo has worn off!
Secondly, consider the strap. The old strap was simple - just a broad neck strap with two narrower, nylon webbing pieces at each end to loop through the lugs on the binoculars. The new "neoprene bungee strap" is more complicated. It has a broad neoprene neck strap with narrow nylon webbing pieces at each end as before, but these are terminated in quick release buckles. The other end of the quick release has another narrow nylon webbing strap which goes through the binocular lugs.
|Fastening the "Neoprene bungee strap" to the binoculars|
I really do not understand why Opticron decided to put the quick release buckle in this strap! What function does it serve? All it does it make three points of failure into each end of the strap instead of just one in the old style strap. Opticron do a harness which has a quick release system. It seemed logical to assume that the quick-release on the bungee strap would be compatible with that on the harness so the bins can be quickly switched between them. But this is not so! The quick release buckle on the harness is much wider than that on the bungee strap. So why they put a quick release system on the bungee strap remains a mystery!
|Opticron Harness quick-release on the left and bungee strap quick-release on the right|