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AllBinos.com

Binoculars reviews

Endurance test of 8x42 binoculars

30 April 2013
Arkadiusz Olech

2. Testing procedure

We were sent overall twenty pairs of binoculars produced by 17 different companies. We decided to test them in the following categories:


Low temperature

Low temperature test was the first category we thought about. Undoubtedly frost can feature in practically all of possible uses of binoculars: observing birds early in the morning, hunting at night, astronomical observations which can last all night long, forestry or military uses. You can be practically sure there will be such situations in which your piece of equipment will have to be exposed to low temperature for several or even more than a dozen hours at a stretch. As in the climates of Europe temperatures below -20 degrees Centigrade are nothing unusual a good pair of binoculars should deal with them without any problems.


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Firstly we were planning to take all the instruments out for all-night observation session during a frosty, winter night. Still in field conditions it would be difficult to ensure equal control over all the binoculars as the minute examination of every model would take several hours. That’s why we decided to test them in a more controlled environment of a freezer in which the temperature was set at -22 C (and it was checked using a laboratory thermometer). Every pair of binoculars spent 24 hours inside and, after taking it out, we tested its basic functions such as the movements of the central wheel, the focus ring and the dioptre adjustment joystick/ring, the mobility of the tubes gauge, the regulation of eyecups and the functioning of the tripod mounting blockade.

In this category a perfect set of binoculars could be given 10 points at maximum.


High temperature

You don’t have to imagine extreme treks in the middle of the Sahara Desert or to the Death Valley to understand that the casing of any pairs of binoculars might be subjected to temperatures of several dozen degrees Centigrade. An ordinary trip to a Mediterranean region, where, during the summer, the temperatures reach 30-40 degrees C, might mean that the casing of our instrument, (often being black or green) in a sunny day can heat up to 50-70 degrees C. That’s why the reputable producers state in their specifications that their binoculars withstand temperatures of 80 degrees C. We decided not to get to such extremes but we assumed a high quality product should at least withstand a temperature of 60° C. We heated the oven to such a temperature exactly (controlling it with a laboratory thermometer) and we ensured the hot air was spread evenly. Every pair of binoculars had to stay there for four hours.

After taking it out of the oven we checked every device’s basic functions like the movements of the central wheel, the focus ring and the dioptre adjustment joystick/ring, the tubes gauge mobility, the regulation of eyecups and the functioning of the tripod mounting blockade. We were also looking for any grease leakage or other damage.

In this category a perfect pair of binoculars could get maximally 10 points.


Waterproof qualities

The best pairs of binoculars in our test are supposed to be fully submersible up to a depth of 5 meters. The producers of some cheaper devices don’t guarantee any waterproofness at all. Still testing conditions had to be the same so we decided to submerge all the binoculars for an hour in a bath at the depth of 50 cm. After half an hour we checked very shortly the state of the binoculars for the first time and after the whole hour – we examined them very closely for the second time.

Endurance test of 8x42 binoculars - Testing procedure

Endurance test of 8x42 binoculars - Testing procedure

Endurance test of 8x42 binoculars - Testing procedure


Of course we don’t recommend testing your own pair of binoculars using that method. Even if the producer informs in the specifications that the equipment is fully waterproof we advise you to check what they really meant. In many cases the device might be simply splash-resistant, not fully submersible.

In this category a perfect pair of binoculars could get 10 points at most.


Falls

Binoculars are known for falling or hitting a tree in a forest. A good piece of equipment has to endure such accidents without any major damages or decolimation. In order to check the performance in this category we decided to drop each of the tested devices on a paneled floor. The first fall was from a height of 0.5 of a meter and the binoculars were dropped in such a way that it hit the floor with the eyecups maximally extended. The second fall was from a height of 0.75 of a meter and that time the binoculars were made to hit the floor with its flat side.

After doing that test we checked whether the casing was damaged, how the eyecups worked and whether the binoculars remained properly colimated.

In this category a perfect pair of binoculars could get 10 points at most.


Optics cleaning

Nowadays more and more producers boast of hydrophobic coatings, an enhancement which repels water and dirt. How easily, or difficult, the binoculars can be cleaned is very important and we couldn’t omit checking it in our test. We tested how ordinary water dribbles down the elements, how easy it is to clean fingerprints and grease stains, made by smearing lard on the objectives. Additionally, before we put the binoculars into the oven, their objectives we sprinkled with water. High temperature made those damp patches dry up and get stuck so providing an additional difficulty.

In this category a perfect pair of binoculars could get 5 points at maximum.


Other damages

All pairs of binoculars have been used for a year – perhaps not as intensely as we would wish, because it would be difficult to go for a walk every day carrying twenty pairs of binoculars at once but still. It allowed us to check how particular binoculars fare in a long-term usage and whether any additional problems, unnoticed in other endurance categories, occur.

In this category a perfect pair of binoculars could get 5 points at most.


As you can notice perfect binoculars could get 50 points. Does such a device exist? Was it tested by us this time? Check the following chapters and find out – happy reading!

Of course our scoring is nothing but a suggestion. Not everybody has to agree with the importance of particular categories and, as always, we encourage you to create your own rankings which reflect your own preferences better.