Following on from my review of the Minox BL HD 8x44 Minox sent me the BV BR 8x42 model to try out. This binocular has a SRP of £209 but retails at around £165. Made in China, it sits just above the bottom of the range BF.
Although made in China, the binocular chassis is designed by Volkswagen and is engineered to "german quality". The body is aluminium and is covered in black rubber armouring which gives it a very slick and stylish look. It is fully multi-coated, phase corrected and is waterproof and fogproof. Eye Relief on the 8x42 is an excellent 18mm. I often struggle with eye relief as I wear glasses and like the binoculars to sit right on the glass. 18mm is usually perfect for me, but I found it a little bit too much on this binocular and had to hold them slightly away from my glasses to avoid blackouts. Field of view is an impressive 129m.
I have to say that the binoculars look great and feel great in the hand. At 780g they aren't particularly light, but this gives a reassuring feel of quality. They feel extraordinarily well made. I know Minox take great pride in the build quality of their binoculars and subject them to stringent quality control inspections. Clearly, this contributes to the high build quality and offers the customer reassurance.
The focussing on the model I tried was very smooth, except for a small section near the close focus which felt like the focus wheel was scraping off the side of the binocular. I must say, I am ultra critical of focusing and this anomaly wouldn't have stopped me from buying the binoculars. The focusing wheel is large enough to use two fingers and take about one and half turns anticlockwise from close focus to infinity.
Close focus is listed as 1.2m. I do a lot of insect and butterfly watching and these binoculars should be ideal for this. However, tricky eye positioning made it difficult to achieve a sharp, comfortable image at close focus.
So, they look good, they feel good but what's the view like? Sharpness is quite impressive for the price, but compared to a similar priced binocular, it did lack something in sharpness. Although these binoculars do not have ED glass, chromatic aberration is well controlled and quite acceptable, even in strong sunlight.
The binoculars are bright and contrast is good for the price point. The colour rendition seemed quite warm to me and reds, oranges, browns and blacks really stand out. However, whites look a little creamy to my eyes and greens look a little washed out. What I will say is stray light can be slightly problematic under certain conditions. I stood under the canopy of Scots' Pine trees looking at a roosting Tawny Owl and the stray light was quite distracting.
I did notice a strange anomaly with these binoculars. Compared to several other 8x binoculars with a similar field of view, objects in the image looked smaller through the Minox. This has left me wondering if they truly have 8x magnification.
As I mentioned earlier, I am very critical when it comes to binoculars. Things that I notice might not be noticeable to others. These binoculars have recently been on sale for as low as £149. For this price, they are very good value for money. The highlight for me has to be the impressive build quality. Along side the perfectly acceptable optics, these could be a good choice for those on a budget. Many thanks to Rob Spicer at Minox for providing the model for review.