Entry level 8×25 monocular from Hilkinson. Being only 131g and 110mm long , they are perfect for wildlife watching on the go. So lets take a closer look.
The monocular comes in a plain box show the brand name and bar code. Inside we find a very basic nylon soft case with belt loop and a useful leaftet showing how to care for the product and a simple to understand glossary.
Taking the monocular out the case, the wrist strap is already attached. The monocular itself feels very solid and has a rubber covering with finger grips. Looking at the controls, the focus moves very smooth with no tight spots. Unlike some with an internal focus, this one extends outwards from the body as you focus closer. One minor potential issue with this, is that dust may gather on the extended section and risk penetration. But keep dust at bay with a dust blower after use, and this should not be a problem.
The eye cup is twist type. It only quotes as 13mm eye relief, but I found I could easily get full field of view with spectacles on. One thing to note, that with the focus and eye cup twisted out, the monocular will be too long to fit back in the case. So simply return the focus to the start position and it will fit.
At 105 m @ 1000m (6 degrees), it may not be as wide angle as some 8×25 monoculars (The Helios nitrosport for example) . But what you do get is better eye relief and a much flatter field. Edge of field sharpness is outstanding for optics in this price range, with very low levels of barrel distortion. So what you lose in FOV, you gain with the extra eye relief and image sharpness.
Colours and contrast are very good for optics in this price range, with chromatic aberration well within tollerences. Lastly a great feature of the Hilkinson 8×25 monocular is the close focus. On the body it shows as 1.6 metres. Elsewhere I see quotes of under 2m and 1.2m. On testing I actually found I could focus down to 1.1m. This is perfect if you like looking at Butterflies and Bees etc without disturbing them.
The Viking traveller compact binoculars are aimed at the beginner. So lets have a look to see how the build quality and optics perform for such a low price (around £25 – £30 at the time of this review)
First thing you will notice is the plain outer box, showing minimal info such as the logo, name of binoculars , bar code and address of the importer. No tech spec or image is shown.
Opening the box, you are greated with a basic nylon strap and soft case. No surprises here considering the price. The case also has a handy belt loop.
When you take the binoculars out, the first thing you notice is how solid they feel. The slightly textured feel is better than many in this price range. They are a compact double hinged body which stays nicely in place once the IPD is set. A nice feature on a sub £30 set is the twist eye cups. They feel well built and operate smoothly. Does not seem to be much in the way of 2-3 clicks, just in or out. On the subject of eye cups, the eye relief is quoted as 17mm, which in theory should be enough for spectacle wearers. Sadly with the eye cup in a down position I could not get the full field of view with glasses on. But saying that, people wear different types of spectacles, so may differ from one user to the next. Lastly with regards handling, the focus wheel is a little small, so may be tricky to use with large gloves on. But small focus wheels are on most compacts. That`s just the nature of the beast. The right eye dioptre adjustment is very easy to use and smooth in operation.
So to finish things off lets have a look at the optics. These are Bk7 prisms and fully coated optics. So do not expect the same cutting edge sharpness of a £100 set. But what you do get is a clear view considering the price. Compared to some budget binoculars I have tested, there is very little fall off in sharpness towards the edge. Also there is very little evidence of chromatic aberration in the centre, with hardly any purple colour fringing when looking at back lit branches.
Summing up. Very good optics for the price with low levels of CA and better than expected build quality. Slight minus point, the short eye relief for (some) spectacle wearers and the small focus wheel. Very good value for money.
We had a great turn out, including a new face , to watch John Dunthorne give an excellent talk at the February 2020 North Lincs astro society meeting. His talk entitled The challenge of transporting Man to Mars.
This was a well presented talk, lasting over an hour, with some excellent facts and figures, backed up with some stunning images and videos. Who would have thought there were so many barriers to clear, from the effects of radiation, to handling isolation and the mind blowing $$$s needed to fund such a project.
Skies were clear. But the blustery conditions made using the telescope a difficult task. But we got some delightfull views of the Moon.
Thank you as always to Malcolm and Glenys for the refreshments , and the Lincolnshire wild life trust for the use of the venue.
A customer visited the Northern Optics Optics weekend looking for a good quality set of binoculars. And I would imagine they would also need to be lightweight for travels on his bike.
He looked at a couple of 42mm models in 10x and 8x magnification. But when he tried the Olivon PC-3 8×34 binoculars, they were an instant hit. The customer mentioned they gave a brighter and sharper view than the 2 larger sets tested. Just to prove quality can outperform size when it comes to optics.
The buyer liked the lightweight body , long eye relief (for use with cycling glasses) and the handling. Phase coated BaK-4 prisms and FMC optics give excellent contrast and colours, with an acceptable level of chromatic aberration.
I also pointed out the size (width) of the eyepieces, which I would say are wider than the average in this class. This makes them very user friendly. The Olivon PC3 8×34 come with a soft carry case with strap, and a high quality padded neck strap.
They have one of the smoothest focus wheels in binoculars in this price range.
The Olivon PC-3 8×26 binoculars were the optics of choice when a customer visited the Northern Optics display at their Optics weekend at Barton Upon Humber , Lincolnshire.
Their main requirement was a light weight set that was “grab and go” , so could easily be used if needed in a hurry. After looking at some 32/ 34mm options , they decided the compact size was the best way. The sets tried were in the £79 – £119 range, where one set stood out (in their opinion) from the rest. At only 290g the Olivon PC-3 8×26 binoculars were the lightest. Other factors, apart from the clear optics was the handling, extremely smooth focus wheel, and long eye relief , as the buyer liked to keep glasses on.
The Olivon come with a 10 year warranty , which is 2 years parts and labour, with the remaining 8 years parts only. A soft case , lens caps and a standard nylon neck strap is included. But on this occassion we upgraded to a padded strap, without the customer even asking.
The larger eye pieces compared to many 25mm models makes for easy alignment, with the 124m @ 1000m field of view making tracking of moving targets easy.
We had a good turn out of members and guests for the North Lincolnshire astronomy society meeting on Monday 2nd December 2019.
As it was the last meeting before Christmas, Glenys and Malcolm treated us to some mince pies in addition to the usual teas and snacks. All of which went down well.
Paul Money was the speaker on the night, who gave us as excellent (as always) talk called The Vikings at Barsoom part 2. This was a very entertaining talk about the Viking 1 and 2 missions to Mars. This included some impressive images from the red planet, and lots of facts and figures about the missions. Who would have thought that simple human error ended one of the missions, and how close the two Viking landers were to landing on large rocks, that may of ended the missions before they began to gather information.
It was a very dull and damp day at Northern Optics when a customer visited our Optics weekend at Barton`s Waters` edge visitor centre. So you could say it was perfect conditions for a customer looking for a set of high grade binoculars for observing in low light .
They liked the idea of ED glass and a wide field of view. But was open to options from non ED binoculars and 10x versions. After trying the Hawke Frontier HD X 10×42 , 8×42 and the Hawke Frontier ED X 8×42, it was a very close run thing. But in the customers opinion the EDx 8×42 gave the best results, and made the purchase. Other key factors that impressed the customer was how easy they were to handle, wide field of view, quality case and starp , plus the comprehensive Hawke lifetime warranty. But the other Hawke tested all did the job in the awfull conditions.
As always, our customers get the chance to test binoculars looking across a nature reserve lake, and after an initial introduction to the binoculars are left to see which set suits them with no pressure from us. Imahe top right shows the view from our shop window. Hope to see you there.
It`s always nice when a customer visits our Optics Weekends as a result of a recommendation. In this case the buyer needed a good quailty set of binoculars with 8x magnification. But were open to options with 10x.
It was a difficult choice, as they were impressed with all the choices. After trying the Hawke Endurance ED 8×42 , 10×42, EDx 8×42 and HDx 8×42, it was the later set that gave the best spec for the money. The binoculars they went for were the Hawke Frontier HD X 8×42. Despite not being ED glass, they were happy with the very low levels of chromatic aberration. As I often do, I asked the customer to look at some brightly back lit lamp posts to test for CA.
Handling was also a factor, together with the comphrehensive life time warranty. They also asked about waterproofing, which is standard on all Hawke binoculars from the current range, with the EDx and HDx models giving the best weather protection for use in most conditions. Our buyer was also impressed by the wider field of view conpared to the Endurance ED range
The Olivon premium “T” series are a versatile set of 3 spotting scope sizes with different options, subject to availbilty. The T650 (65mm) , T800 (80mm) and T900 (90mm) offer something for many budgets and uses.
Each model comes as standard multi-coated optics with the high end option also having ED glass for extra clarity, less chromatic aberration and improved low light capability. All have rotating tripod mounts , making them ideal for target practice as well as birdwatching and even wide field astronomy.
Also each variant can have a suitable tripod added as a bundle. Ask your dealer about this.
One major advantage of these spotters is that they accept most 1.25″ telescope eyepieces. This makes them easily upgradable should you need extra magnification or an eyepiece with a much wider field of view. There are also choice of Olivon eyepieces (subject to availability) from a HR and SHR zoom eyepiece to high quality ED glass fixed focal lengths.
Each Olivon spotting scope will also accepts a range of Olivon adapters to fit smart phones, compact and DSLR cameras.
A good turn out of regulars were in attendance for the November 2019 North Lincs astro society meeting at Barton Upon Humber, Far ings visitor centre. After discussing unpluging of washing machines and near mishaps with screw drivers, we were treated to two talks.
Firstly Steve gave an update on the LCO (Las Cumbres observatory), which is a network of 23 (as of now) astronomical observatories run by a non profit private operating foundation, and how as a society we can download and edit images from their telescopes.
Secondly, regular speaker Chris Roche gave a very interesting talk about his visit to the New Scientist Live event in London. This included the different talks he attended, and some very interesting and amusing astro facts.
As always thank you to Glenys and Malcolm for keeping us fed and watered, plus my own doggie bag to take home with me.