Steiner Observer 10x42 Binoculars
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- Last updated: 27/04/2018
The range of binoculars available on the market is truly enormous, as is the price range they can command. From £20 to over £2000, there is something out there to suit everyone’s pocket. In my view, though, although a £2000 pair of binoculars might be nice to own, I’m not sure if I’d want to take them outside the house for fear of damaging or losing such a large investment! So, there is a balance to be struck between quality and price, and to me the Steiner Observer binoculars, on review here, represent a good compromise. Steiner, based in Germany, have been producing optics for over 70-years and their products certainly look to have benefited from all those years of development. They back their products with a 10-year warranty, which is always a good indicator of a manufacturer’s confidence in the product. Externally, the binoculars sport a long-life rubber armour, which does look and feel extremely tough and should give them many years of durability and weather resistance. It wraps around the front edges of the objective ends and so gives great protection to the lenses.
The Observer is available in two sizes, 10x42mm and 8x42mm and it is the former size that I had on test. Weighing in at just 706g, they are relatively lightweight but are still a full-sized unit. They sit well in the hands and all the controls are easily accessed and operated. They are no great burden to carry, either in the back-pack or the hand, and looking through them for extended periods is no great stress either. The 10x power is more than enough for most sporting uses and the 42mm objective lenses gather all the light you need, even when autumn approaches and the light quality dwindles. This model also has Steiner’s ‘Fast Focus’ system, which really does get you quick and absolute clarity. For readers with an interest in the more technical stuff, the exit pupil is 4.2mm, the closest focus distance is 2-metres and the field of view at 1000-metres is 100-metres. The twilight factor is 20.5.
In the box, you get a good quality lens cleaning cloth, in a very handy little plastic case, a strap, objective lens covers and a rain protection cover for the eye cups. I found the strap a little short, particularly as the rain cover is attached to the strap at either side. When not in place, the cover is slid up the straps, where it felt rather restrictive and a longer strap would allow it to fall lower and stay out of the way. The objective lens covers are excellent, made of a neoprene type material, they fit securely in place with a reassuring click. They are easily released and then hang down on individual links to the binocular’s body, so no dropped or lost covers. The rain cover is a rigid plastic unit that sits well down on the eye cups, giving them full protection. It fits securely whatever eye spacing you have the glasses set to and stays put. Overall, the accessories are good, although a slightly longer strap would be a great addition.
The central hinge glides very smoothly, and once you have the binoculars adjusted to the correct eye spacing, they stay there with no slippage. The eye cups are adjustable for use by spectacle wearers and there are very distinct, if a little clunky, click stops through the range of adjustment. Focusing is pretty much standard, with the right eye being focused first using the central focusing wheel and then the left eye can be ‘fine tuned’ using the dioptre setting on the left ocular. The dioptre adjuster is rather stiff, but this is a good thing, as once set, it isn’t going to shift out of adjustment and need resetting. The binoculars are quick and easy to adjust and you very quickly have them set up and ready to use.
I have used the Steiners in all types of light, from first thing in the morning to late evening when the light is just about starting to go. This time of year, the light doesn’t seem to be very good at any time of day, but these binoculars demonstrated an amazing ability to gather up and deliver whatever light there is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking top-end £2000-glasses quality images, but I did have to remind myself a few times that these are only a relatively inexpensive piece of kit. Picking out movement of birds and the occasional fox was no problem at all. The clarity of the images is well above expectation and testimony to the quality of the lenses used. The fast focus system is indeed very fast, and took a bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of it then you can reap the benefits of super-fast focus on any target that presents itself.
These binoculars are very robust; the heavy duty rubber coat is great and the dust covers on the objective end are very well designed and hopefully unlosable. The clarity of the images and the light gathering qualities are well above what I would expect in this price range. They represent extremely good value for money and are ideally suited to those of us who don’t want to invest their life savings in a pair of binoculars. The 10x power gives good clear images and long range detail. Both out in the countryside and down on the shooting range these are a great piece of kit and easily the best all round binoculars I have used.
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