Opticron Aurora BGA 8x42
With the price of the top-of-the-range binoculars now costing around, or even over, £1,000, I was intrigued by Opticon’s new 8x42 Aurora BGA model, priced at around £300 less, which I received for a prolonged test and review. Opticron have established an enviable reputation as a leader in the production of low- to mid-priced quality binoculars, which give excellent results. It would be interesting to see how these top-priced models fared.
My immediate impression was of a very comfortable to hold pair of binoculars with a solid feel to them, yet still lightweight for the specifications. They felt good in the hand due to the nicely finished rubber protective armouring, looked good (my review pair were the black version), with a well-positioned focusing wheel that was easy to use. Rotating click-stop eyecups were ideal, and there was a click-stop dioptre setting for precise focusing.
According to the press release, these binoculars “ … achieve the highest possible clarity and colour contrast … stunning resolution … handle like compact 8x32s …” Now, I’m not a great one for publicity blurbs as no manufacturer is going to say their binoculars are rubbish, so only a lengthy field test would prove to me the binoculars’ worth. However, I must admit that they did appear to look the part, and after fitting the very comfortable bungee strap I went out to put them to the test.
On a dull wet day in January I had a short walk around my local park to see if any Redwings were still around. They were, and the colour, contrast and sharpness of the birds through these binoculars were excellent; the raindrops stood out sharp and clear on the bird’s feathers, while colours were bright and true, before I retreated to the comfort of my car as the rain got heavier.
When it rains the first thing I usually do is cover up my binoculars no matter how waterproof they are supposed to be; I don’t like getting optical equipment wet. But with claims that the “nitrogen gas filled waterproof construction works to a depth of five metres”, I thought a rain test was in order, and they were only a review pair after all, not my own! I had no intention of diving underwater with them to the claimed depth, but I moved the rainguard out of the way and held the binoculars out of the car window until they were well and truly soaked, droplets of water running everywhere. A quick wipe and they were fine with no damage done, but as I had them on a three-month trial I would put them to the rain test again!
Throughout the next three months I used these binoculars constantly, leaving my regular pair behind so that I gave them a fair and lengthy test; I also treated them as my own, which, if I am honest, isn’t very carefully. They were used at dawn, dusk, in sun, in dull conditions and in the pouring rain on a number of occasions. They were used in parks and farmland, out on estuaries and along the beach with sand blowing in gale force winds. They came through all the weather conditions and habitats that I could find and worked perfectly every time. After being blasted with sand I was glad to see that none had managed to work its way inside the mechanism, and after a wipe with a damp cloth everything looked fine; despite being soaked on a number of occasions no rain seeped inside.
In all situations colour rendition was spot on, even in the dullest of light. Light-gathering power was excellent and at dawn or dusk birds looked clear and sharp. Tawny Owl, Grasshopper Warbler, Black-winged Stilt, Red-footed Falcon and Wilson’s Phalarope were just a few of the species I enjoyed in differing weather conditions.
Field of view was superb, even wearing spectacles there was no loss when the rotating eyecups were completely down. In the early spring when the first butterflies and dragonflies appeared I was able to get very close views thanks to the excellent close focusing of just under two metres.
All in all these are an impressive pair of binoculars that I don’t think will let you down. With an RRP of £739, they are not cheap, but when compared to the others in the same range you could buy a pair of these and still have around £300 left for a nice weekend away birding.
Weight: 654 g