Hawke Vantage 8×25 binoculars review #34201

The Hawke Vantage range of binoculars replaced the discontinued premier range. These are designed to be affordable to most users, while retaining the Hawke build quality and back up service.

If I were to sum up the Hawke vantage 8×25 binoculars in 3 words, it would be better than expected. So lets have a look in more detail. The outer box is the same simple design white box that is very strong in construction. On opening, we find a very nice soft case with belt loop and Velcro fastening . The Hawke logo is showing. No shoulder strap for the case is included, or attachments to fit one. You get a simple un-padded  neck strap for the binoculars and a non micro-fibre cleaning cloth. But we always upgrade the cloth to a better one for those who buy at our optics weekends.

Removing the binoculars from the case, I found one thing that stood out straight away. For a budget set, these feel very solid and nicely put together. I actually prefer the grey finish, which is less loud  than the green. The twist eye cups move freely, and stay in place once fully out. These are a single stage movement, and not 3 stages as quoted.

Texture Grip

On the subject of the twist eye cups, the eye relief is quoted as only 10mm. Yet on testing with them twisted down, I could (just) get the full field of view with my glasses on. If eye relief was only 10mm, this would not be possible. So I estimate it to be nearer to 12-13mm. This is a massive plus point.

Handling is very easy, with a ribbed rubber covering aiding grip. The strap connectors are nicely tucked away on the inside and do not catch on your hands like some so. The focus wheel is very responsive, if a little small. On the other hand, the dioptre adjustment wheel is a little stiff. But this means it stays in place once set.

Optics are quoted as fully coated. An inspection does show the eye pieces as fully coated, but I believe the objectives are multi-coated. The difference in anti-reflection compared the the eyepieces is obvious. As with the eye relief, another plus point here. Prisms are BaK-4. These are aluminium coated, rather than silver coatings on the higher spec Hawke binoculars. End result is a pleasant end result with colours and contrast adequate for this price range. Not quite the cutting edge sharpness and the Nature Trek or Endurance ED models, but priced accordingly. Field of view is excellent at 119m @ 1000m . But regarding the optics, I am saving the best till last. For such a low priced on ED set, the low level of chromatic aberration is quite remarkable. For example, red colour fringing only starts to appear around 80 percent from centre, and at very low levels. I have seen more CA through some so called ED glass compact binoculars. Edge of field sharpness is also very good.

Other thing to take note. Close focus is 6m (I tested this). Fine for back garden observations, but not for extreme close up

Summing up.

Plus point. Solid build quality and low levels of chromatic aberration.

Minus point. Poor cleaning cloth and restricted close focus

Recommended, and available to purchase from Northern Optics

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North Lincs astro meeting 13th May 2019

16 of the regulars turned up for the May 2019 North Lincs astro society monthly meeting. We were instantly rewarded with some glorious evening Sunshine, which meant one thing – get the solar scope out. Together with the club solar scope + a pair of Helios 25×100 binoculars with a solar filter courtesy of Northern Optics we got some great views of a grouping of 3 sun spots. Plus a little gosling photo shoot alongside going on.

Once in the building, we discussed further ideas for future meetings.  By closing time the skies were still clear, so a few of us gathered outside with the club short tube ED skywatcher refractor, Charles with his excellent camera set up, and minus the solar filter the Helios 25×100 binoculars came out once more.

Thank you as always to Glenys and Malcolm for the teas and biscuits and the wild life trust for the use of the venue.

For more info on the society visit the North Lincs astro society website

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Hawke Nature trek 8×32 binoculars #35100 Blog post May 2019

Sometimes you simply want a bright and clear image, and are not too concerned about small amounts of chromatic aberration. This is why a customer at the our Optics weekend at the Waters` edge visitor centre, Barton upon Humber went for the Hawke Nature Trek 8×32 binoculars.

I did explain that for a little over budget the optical performance of the Endurance range would give a better end result. But the customer was not put off by the small amounts of colour fringing (hardly noticeable in the centre of view), and opted for the nature treks. The clear and bright image is excellent for such a low priced set. Capped off with great handling and a quality strap.

The main object other than the optics, were that they could be used in a wide range of temperatures without internal fogging. The nitrogen gas filled Nature Trek range put the customers mind at rest, with the back up of a life time warranty.

Other than the warranty, the Hawke Nature Trek 8×32 binoculars come with a soft case, padded neck strap, small cleaning cloth, lens covers , and a booklet.

Hawke Binoculars can be purchased from Northern Optics

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Hawke Endurance ED 8×42 monocular #36320 Blog post May 2019

A customer visited the Northern Optics Optics weekend at Barton Upon Humber looking for a monocular for general use. Reason being, due to a large difference between his eyes, most binoculars do not have enough dioptre adjustment to handle his eye sight. After trying 3 options, he went for the Hawke Endurance ED 8×42 monocular.

As well as the crystal clear optics, the customer commented on how easy they were to use. Other factors were the integrated tripod thread and a much more grippy body compared to the non ED glass nature trek version.

A twist eye cup and long eye relief makes them suitable for spectacle wearers. Also included is a soft case, wrist strap, cleaning cloth, case and instructions.

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Hawke Frontier HD X 8×32 binoculars. Blog post April 2019

A customer visited the Northern Optics stand Optics weekend at the Waters` Edge visitor centre in North Lincolnshire with around £250 to spend on binoculars as a gift idea.  Optically the Hawke Sapphire 42mm models ticked all the boxes, but were slightly to large. Once they were introduced to the Hawke HD X 8×32 binoculars , the customer was instantly impressed with the optics.

Despite not being ED glass, the brightness and clarity the fully multi-coated optics and dielectric coated prisms gave was a game changer. The customer found them much better than standard quality options. Given the low weight, they commented on how solid they felt. The lifetime warranty gave the customer additional confidence in the product.

Other plus points from the customer, was the wide field of view and being very easy to handle.



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Helios Nitrosport 10×26 binoculars review

Very good spec for the money. That would some up the Helios Nitrosport 10×26 binoculars in one short line. At the time of this review, the retail price was under £50, making them remarkable value considering them boasting multi-coated optics, BaK-4 prisms and nitrogen waterproofing.

Optics wise, it would be unfair to compare them with other models with fully multi-coated optics and phase coated prisms. But for compact sets in this price range they are up with the best. There is some colour fringing (chromatic aberration), even in the centre. But levels are low, and do not degrade to a large amount towards the edge. On the subject of the edge of field, excellent internal baffling helps gives good contrast and reduces internal reflection.

The twist eye cups are easy to adjust, yet stay in position once set. But be aware eye relief is only 14mm , so may not suit all spectacle wearers. Handling is very easy, with the IPD easy to set (distance between each eye piece) and the focus wheel is large and easy to turn. Which brings us on to one minor gripe. The close focus is 5 metres, which may not be close enough for all users who like to observe insects etc on plants.

The case is a basic nylon with Velcro fastener, but comes with an excellent padded strap that you would expect to find on higher grade binoculars. All the nitrosport range come with these padded straps.

Summing up, the Helios nitrosport 10×26 binoculars are about as good as you will get for under £50. Great value for money, easy to use with better than expected optics. Minor down side is the close focus (the 8x version focuses closer)

Click HERE to purchase from Northern Optics


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Is binocular collimation covered by warranty

So what happens if my binoculars go out of collimation ?. What happens if I drop or bang my binoculars against a wall ?. Believe it or not, these questions often get asked when customers purchase from our Optics weekends at Barton Upon Humber.

Sorry to sound like a politician, but there is no simple yes or no, because different brands have different T&Cs.  So whenever you purchase a set, it is best advised to buy from a retailer face to face instead of on-line, so they can run through in detail the full terms and conditions from each brand, as we do.

With some high end brands, they do give warranty repairs when a set go out of collimation. But only if they have obviously not been misused or mistreated. Where some other brands simply do not cover collimation under warranty. An example from one brands T&Cs is as follows “Optical misalignment (image distortion or double-image caused by dislodging of prisms) is also not covered under the warranty as this will only happen if the product has been subject to a shock or has been dropped.”  So in other words, look after your binoculars and avoid dropping, they will stay in perfect collimation for many years. Just to repeat, ask the dealer about the full T&Cs at the point of sale. If they are a knowledgeable and reputable dealer, they should know the answer.

Which brings us onto the 2nd question. What happens if I drop them , or bang them against a wall. Why would you do this ?. I have had a set of Hilkin 8×40 for over 40 years (giving my age away), and never dropped them once. One key rule of thumb is to check the neck strap for any sign of wear and slippage before every use.

So I hope this helps. Summing up, look after the binoculars and they will look after you by giving many years of enjoyment.

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Hawke binoculars near Hull

Trying to find the right Hawke binoculars on-line can be a minefield. Whether its being confused by the specifications, size and which handle the best. By far the best way to know which binoculars are best suited to you is to find a place where you can try before you buy.

Although based in Lincolnshire, here at Northern Optics , we get a number of customers from Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. The Optics weekends are based at a nature reserve visitor centre , with a view overlooking a lake filled with wildlife (see image) . The usual comment is “no one else stocks what you do” , or similar.

In stock are a number of binoculars ranging from budget to £200+ with dielectric coated prisms and / or ED glass for discerning birdwatcher. As with all our customers, we have a no hard sell policy, and after introducing the choice of products within the customers specs and budget, we leave them to decide, unless they ask for an opinion.

For more info on the Northern Optics , Optics weekends, click HERE

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North Lincs astro meeting . 1st April 2019

Around 18 members and regulars turned up for the April 1st meeting 2019 at the Far ings nature reserve , Barton Upon Humber. After an alarming  start to the evening, we all enjoyed the teas and and biscuits provided by Malcolm and Glenys , and settled down to an excellent talk by our regular in house speaker Chris Roche.

Chris,s talk “meteorites, our messengers from distant past” was very easy to follow with a little humour thrown in. He went through the formation of the early Solar system to the composition of meteorites. Regular member John had some of his meteorites with him to share with the group.

As with most meetings, we discussed ideas for future dates.

As often is the case ,Northern Optics was in attendance with some goodies for sale on the night. See the North Lincs astro society web site for more info on meetings , location etc.

Thank you to the Lincolnshire wildlife trust for the use of the venue.

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Helios Nitrosport 10×34 binoculars review #30213

The Helios Nitrosport 10×34 binoculars at first glance offer amazing value for money considering the specs. So lets take a closer look.

Packaging. Often with lower priced binoculars , you ten to get generic outer packaging to help keep the price down. Not so with the Nitrosport range. You get a very nice box, showing images for the contents + full specification of the full range. This box is fairly solid for storage when not in use

Case, straps and lend covers. As with all the current Helios nitrosport range, you get a very nice padded neck strap, which is extremely comfortable to use. To help keep the price down, the case is soft nylon with a Velcro fastener and an internal pouch. A soft nylon strap clips onto the case, and there is a rear belt loop. Objective lens covers are drop – down and can be removed. Eye piece lens caps is a single but flexible unit.

Handling. No issue here. An extremely lightweight 412g body, is much lighter than many 10x32s. The attractive open hinge design allows for a comfortable and secure grip. The neck strap connections do not protrude as far out as some others, meaning they do not push into the hands. The focuser wheel is large , an moves very freely, as does the right eye adjustment. Eye relief is quoted as 16mm, so is just long enough for most spectacle wearers. Eye cups are twist type, and stay in place with each click stop.

Optics. Multi-coated with silver coated BaK-4 prisms. Note that some dealers say they are phase coated. But this applies only to the larger 42mm and 50mm versions. Should not compare these with binoculars in the £129+ range. However, considering the low price, you get a crisp and clear view. Good internal baffling gives no internal reflection , and non of the orange glow you get with some on the edge of field. You get a slight blue tint instead, which is much easier on the eye.

Yes there is some chromatic aberration, even in the centre. But providing you are not looking at high contrast subjects, such as Swans against a dark background, or back lit branches, you hardly notice it. Plus there is not much increase in colour fringing as you go towards the edge.

Compared to the 8x version, field of view is narrower at 106m @ 1000m, but is still a comfortable view if you are not using for tracking fast moving objects too much.  For the low price, colours and contrast are very good.  Close focus at 4m is not as close as many that can focus down to 2m. So maybe not suitable for viewers of small wildlife in the back garden.

Another bonus is they are nitrogen waterproof, and come with a 5 year warranty (check with the dealer for full T&Cs)

Summing up. Great value for money with a very clear image, easy to handle and lightweight. Minor down side is the close focus. But if that is not an issue, these come highly recommended. Click HERE to purchase from Northern Optics




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