For more than a century, Germany has been associated with the production of a vast array of optical equipment. It is home to some of the more widely recognised innovative brands and some, like Eschenbach, have been in the optics manufacturing business for more than 100 years.
From 11 different binocular ranges, Eschenbach's Arena D+ 8×42 B is an entry-level model with some interesting physical characteristics. Designed to keep weight to a minimum, the body is constructed from PPS, a thermoplastic polymer, and the lightweight theme has also been carried through to the polycarbonate focusing wheel.
The rubber body armour is sleek, unusually smooth and, arguably, slippery. However, this lack of grippiness is somewhat mitigated by sections of ribbing set into the bridge to improve contact between the fingers and the body and by slightly raised rectangular areas of the same material underneath each barrel in the areas of contact with the thumbs. It works, and this is the first binocular I have used which has employed raised sections of bodywork in areas where other binoculars use cutaways.
The eyecups twist out and click-lock positively and firmly in four positions beyond the fully retracted base setting, representing more setting options than those of most binoculars on the market. However, at only 12 mm the eye relief is rather short and may not suit some spectacle-wearers. These eyecups, too, are designed to be lightweight. Formed from PVC with an NBR (nitrile butadiene rubber) covering, this form of synthetic rubber is unusual in being resistant to oil, fuel and other chemicals, although the higher the nitrile content the less flexible the material. This certainly appears to be the case in this instance, although I did not find the eyecups uncomfortable against the eye.
A simple ribbed ring below the right ocular operates the dioptre and the shallow-ribbed focusing wheel turns smoothly through just short of 1.5 anticlockwise rotations between the manufacturer's conservative close focus of 3 m and infinity. Actually, during testing I was able to comfortably focus on objects only 2.7 m away.
There is no ED glass in this model, which is unsurprising given the low price point. However, the optics are fully multicoated and the prisms silver-coated. This helps to produce an image which stays sharp close to the edge of the field and with a surprisingly low level of chromatic aberration. As far as colour tone is concerned, this binocular delivers an image at the 'warm' end of the scale while, at the same time, maintaining a good degree of contrast.
I must confess to being a little disappointed with the field of view which, being 107 m at 1000 m, is unusually narrow for an 8×42 binocular. This, in my opinion, is the only negative point associated with the Arena D+ when the price is taken into consideration. The model comes with a branded, padded neck-strap, soft canvas carry case bag and deep-fitting articulated rainguards for the objectives as well as the oculars.
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