By Mark and Leslie Degner
It might seem strange to some readers that we’re reviewing binoculars in an outdoor photography magazine, but for many wildlife and outdoor photographers, including ourselves, binoculars are an essential piece of gear. Whenever we head into the field our binoculars are always close at hand. They are indispensible in finding wildlife subjects and helping to identify them, as well as for scouting out landscape locations. So when we were offered the chance to review a pair of binoculars from KITE Optics we jumped at the opportunity.
KITE Optics, a Belgium company, produces a number of different models of binoculars, monoculars and spotting scopes. There are two models in KITE Optics’ Lynx HD series of binoculars: the 8×30 and the 10×30. We received the 8x30s to review. If you aren’t familiar with what these numbers mean, the first is the magnification, which in the case of the Lynx HD series is either 8 times or 10 times. The larger the number, the greater the magnification, so the 10x model will mean that your subject will appear larger than what you’ll see with the 8x version. However, more magnification is not necessarily better, because with the higher magnification the angle of view will be narrower, so it will be harder to find a small subject, like a songbird, in a large tree. Also, as the magnification increases, so does the possibility that any movement of the binoculars, like shaky hands, will also be magnified, causing the view to be blurrier.
The second number is the diameter of the objective lens (DOL). The larger its diameter, the more light that can enter, making for a brighter view, which is an advantage in low light conditions. However, the larger the DOL, the larger and heavier the binoculars will be. The exit pupil value determines the actual brightness that exits out the ocular (eyepiece) lens by taking into account both the binoculars’ magnification and DOL. The 8×30 version has an exit pupil value of 3.75 mm, whereas it’s 3 mm for the 10×30 pair, meaning that the 8×30 model will be brighter, but won’t have as much magnification.
Another important feature to consider when purchasing a pair of binoculars, especially if you wear eyeglasses, is the eye relief value, which is a measure of how far back from the eyepiece lens your eye can be while still being able to see the whole field of view. For many inexpensive binoculars the eye relief values are between 9-13 mm, but both Lynx HD models have an excellent eye relief value of 15 mm, meaning that it’s great for eyeglass wearers like ourselves.
How the binoculars handle and how comfortable they are to hold are other important consideration when choosing a pair of binoculars. The 8×30 Lynx HD binoculars that we tested are relatively compact and lightweight (461 g) and we both found that they are very comfortable to hold. The finish provides a nice gripping surface so our hands didn’t slip while we were holding them. The large, well-placed focus wheel turned smoothly, allowing the binoculars to focus quickly. We especially liked the fact that they have a close focus distance of 1.3 m.
Probably the most important feature of any pair of binoculars is their optics. The optics of the 8×30 Lynx HD binoculars that we tested are very good, providing great resolution, contrast and colour reproduction and they handle flare really well. The outer lens surface feature KITE’s new PermaVision coating that helps repel dirt and water and makes them more resistant to scratches.
At $749.99 for the 8×30 model, Lynx HD binoculars are not inexpensive, but they’re rugged, well-made binoculars with high-quality optics that are compact and comfortable to use and should last a person a lifetime. KITE Optics backs up these binoculars with a 30-year warranty, which means they’re confident in the quality of their binoculars.