The Hawke Sapphire ED 10x42 Top Hinge Bins Arrived
I'll most likely spread things over a couple of posts.
First, the binoculars.
Hawke Optics Sapphire ED 10x42. Like these:
I'm very happy with them. I can't really do a proper review, as they are the first set of binoculars I've looked through since being a kid.
What I can say is that when I look through them, I see a big, bright image, in which I can (personally) detect no distortion, and no chromatic aberration. Well, no CA at focus. A white bird on black water shows some delightful extra colour when out of focus, but this disappears entirely when in focus.
They are around £400, so maybe if I looked through some 'alpha' bins, I'd see the difference, and come back to these a little deflated. But without that comparison to be made, I can't fins any fault with these at all.
Also, they feel very robust in the hand. A good weight to give some confidence in quality, but not heavy enough to cause any discomfort. The finish is excellent, with no sign of lifting anywhere. The focus action is very smooth, and fast enough for my needs so far. I can operate them one handed quite comfortably.
In all, I would recommend them very highly for someone in a similar position to me (i.e. a complete novice).
So far, they've had an outing to Brockholes Nature Reserve in Preston (which I also seriously highly recommend), and an outing to the Lake district. At Brockholes they were mostly around my neck, and in the Lakes, were in a large outside pocket in my Berghaus shell. They suited both modes of transport very well. The hinge is form enough that the IPD stays put as they are pushed into, and pulled out of, a pocket.
My only minor gripe is that the right eye dioptre adjustment doesn't lock in any way. This means it can be (and it has been) inadvertently adjusted when handling the bins. The problem is that, when using the bins, you then adjust the focus for the dominant eye, and the non-dominant eye will be out of focus. Because it's the non-dominant eye that's out of focus, if the adjustment was not large, rather than noticing there is a lack of focus in one eye, it manifests as just a low level feeling of discomfort.
Mrs Newbie today bought some Bushnell bins for just over half the price of these, and they have this feature, so that's a bit of a shame. Also, the Hawkes only have one click on the eyecups, for three set positions (down-click-up). The Bushnells have about 5 click positions (I haven't counted yet, that's the impression I got when showing Mrs Newbie how to adjust them.)
I'll talk about these Bushnells briefly once we've been out with them a couple of times. One other thing I can mention for now, is that when threading the strap, I had difficulty on one side, as the plastic coating was slightly lifting from the body, and obstructing the strap feeding through. It's only a tine area, and once the strap is affixed, it'll probably never need not be removed again...but it is perhaps a first indication of the difference between £260 for the Bushnells and £410 for the Hawkes?
We did go out today with the new set of bins, but I didn't spend any time looking through them, for two reasons. First, Mrs Newbie has never owned binoculars (even as a kid), so she needed to spend time getting them setup, and wouldn't have been fair for me to change the IPD and dioptre etc.
Secondly, I was much interested in playing with other new toy...more of which in the next post!