Oberwerk 8x42 ED
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These inexpensive binoculars stand out for their ultra-close focussing and their freedom from color fringes due to their use of ED glass.
They also stand out because every sample is 100% hand-tested and adjusted by the owner of Oberwerk in Ohio to ensure that they are in perfect alignment.
Made with extra-low dispersion glass for reduced secondary (green-magenta) chromatic aberration.
Field of View
8x42: 8.1º actual, 65º apparent, 141 meters at 1,000 meters.
10x42: 6.5º actual, 65º apparent, 113 meters at 1,000 meters.
6 feet (1.8 meters), measured.
6.6 feet (2 meters) rated.
Oberwerk 8x42 ED case. bigger.
A padded velcro-closing case is included.
Made in China.
100% hand-tested in USA.
24.665 oz. (699.3 g) actual measured.
32 oz. (907g) rated.
The most important part of binocular performance is collimation. Collimation is whether or not the left and right sides are aligned to each other. To check for this, once you set the distance between the two sides and set the focus for each eye, the two images in each should merge into one 3-D image.
While most binoculars give a merged image, the test for proper collimation is simply to look at something far away, and then slowly pull the binoculars away from your eyes and be sure that the images from the two sides remain as one image. They should remain merged at least until the binoculars are a foot (30 cm) away from your eyes; if the images separate before that, your binoculars are out of adjustment.
The reason collimation is critical is because while our eyes and brain can usually compensate for minor misadjustment, this stresses our eyes and leads to fatigue over time.
It drives me crazy how many expensive binoculars I see or buy that can't pass this test. Collimation is critical, and it's not always right on sub-$1,000 binoculars.
The great news is that both pairs of these I've tried have been perfect. Hallelujah!
Proper alignment is the most important thing there is when it comes to binoculars, and these pass with flying colors.
Rear, Oberwerk 8x42 ED. bigger.
These focus extremely close, almost right up to my feet!
The focus knob is metal.
My pair's focus knob turns ¼ turn past infinity.
They really do focus as close as 6 feet from my eyes, or 5½ feet from the objectives, which is better than specified.
There is some rotational play (a small dead zone) in the focus knob, but no wobble.
Better than some of my older LEICAs that will vary from side-to-side, the two sides of this Oberwerk stay tightly in focus as focussed to different distances. Bravo!
Chromatic Aberration (color fringes)
There is nearly no secondary (magenta/green) lateral (side) chromatic aberration, and no visible spherochromatism.
Spherochromatism is when out-of-focus highlights take on green (background) or magenta (foreground) color fringes.
While my TRINOVIDs put color fringes on out-of-focus highlights, these Oberwerk 8x42 ED do not; their images stay neutral regardless of where you're focussed.
These are much better than my LEICA TRINOVID 8x42 BN and LEICA TRINOVID 10x50 BN, which have minor (8x42) to strong (10x50) spherochromatism
When it comes to chromatic aberration, these ED binoculars are much better than my LEICAs.
Of course they're sharp, but manufacturing tolerances for centering means that both samples had some visible astigmatism on one side. They're sharp, but not as sharp as $1,000 LEICAs.
These have huge eyepieces, and presuming all is adjusted properly, there's no problem with blackouts as you look around.
These have nearly 100% light transmission.
As you can see here, the view through the glass has no visible dimming:
Photon's eye view, Oberwerk 8x42 ED from about 10 feet.
The only thing that more exotic binoculars can offer is more contrast, which gives detail to the shadows, but you can't get any 8x42 visibly brighter than these.
Oberwerk 8x42 ED with caps. Bigger.
They're covered in green rubber.
The interocular adjustment is nice and firm. It should stay set.
The adjustable eyecups are always a little loose and rattly when extended. They screw in and out.
Nice is that the focus knob is made of metal. The focus knobs of my TRINIVID BNs are made of plastic!
The eyepiece cover has two slots so you can attach it to your strap.
Each flop-down front cover has a friction-fit keeper attached to each objective. They come off if you prefer.
Oberwerk 8x42 ED and LEICA TRINOVID 8x42 BN. bigger.
* actual measured values for the Oberwerk and LEICA.
Versus the LEICA TRINOVID 8x42 BN
I was hoping that manufacturing efficiencies would let a $300 Chinese-made binocular easily outperform my classic LEICAs. Unfortunately the LEICA is still many times more expensive to buy used, and feels, looks and works that way. The LEICA's plastic focus knob turns with much less rotational play and less damping than the Oberwerk.
The LEICA 8x42 BN feel much tighter, like a rock. The LEICA feels as if everything, including its retractable eyecups, are all hewn from a single solid block of alloy, and that its rubber covering is somehow molecularly bonded to it.
I prefer the locking central dioptometic adjustment of the LEICA over the right-side adjustment on the Oberwerk.
The LEICA has perfect centering, and is devoid of any related astigmatism, making it sharper.
The LEICA sees better in the dark, with more details in shadows. For astronomy I can see dimmer stars more clearly.
While the LEICAs rule the night, by day these Oberwerk focus closer, weigh less, and have none of the chromatic aberrations of the LEICAs.
These Oberwerk have no spherochromatism (color fringes on out-of-focus highlights), but they have astigmatism. The LEICA are sharper day or night, but what are you expecting from binoculars that sell for three times the price, used?
Versus the Nikon 8x42 Monarch 5
The Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 sell for about the same price and also use ED glass, but they don't focus as close (7.8'/2.4m) and have a much narrower field (6.3º/47.5º).
I haven't tried them.
Versus other $300 8x42 binoculars
I'll admit that I have no experience with other $300 binoculars.
The biggest problem in binoculars is sloppy collimation, which varies from sample to sample. I'm happy to report that both samples of the Oberwerk I've tried were perfect, which says a lot. Oberwerk's founder personally checks each one, and the two I tried were better collimated than some of my old LEICAs.
These are ideal if you need to focus very closely, need a wide field, and if you're concerned about color fringes. These have much less color fringes than my classic LEICAs.
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Thanks for helping me help you!
© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
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06 October 2015