Hawke Vantage 8x42 binocular
In terms of 'performance per pound', it appears that Hawke is bang on the money with the release on to the market of its recently upgraded Vantage 8x and 10x magnification, 42 mm binoculars.
This low-cost binocular sits at the bottom of Hawke's price range for 42 mm models and is marketed as being 'perfect for new nature enthusiasts or when shopping on a budget' and I was pleasantly surprised to discover just what the 8x42 delivered in the field.
During initial use, the first thing that impressed me was just how little it weighed. Barely tipping the scales at 555 g, it's right down there at the low end of the weight range for any 42 mm binocular. This is principally the result of its polycarbonate chassis and trim rubber armouring – the latter lightly textured so as to render it non-slip. Two shallow thumb-rests are perfectly positioned below each ocular.
Another, although small, contributing factor to shedding those grams is the lean rubber covering on the eyecups, the ends of which it only narrowly clears to produce a thin, bevelled edge, which I found reasonably comfortable against the eye. The eyecups themselves twist out to very firmly click-lock in three positions above the fully retracted setting. These are among the most positive positional eyecup locking mechanisms I have encountered and they are not easily displaced – neither accidentally during use nor when applying, or removing, the soft, articulated rain guard.
The full field of view is visible when the eyecups are fully retracted or when they are locked in the first position above the latter setting, but not in the two further extended positions. While the 122 m at 1,000 m field of view won't win any prizes for being extensive, it does score in its breadth of sharpness and low level of curvature.
Mounted on the right ocular, the ribbed dioptre ring allows easy single-eye focusing adjustment and remains in position once set, without the need for a locking mechanism. It can be adjusted without the requirement to raise the eyecup.
Turning freely and smoothly through approximately two-and-a-quarter anti-clockwise rotations between close focus and infinity, I found the milled, rubber-coated central focusing wheel comfortable and easy to use. Squeezing the close focus distance down to just 2 m, I was able to beat the manufacturer's quoted figure of 2.5 m, although from this point it takes approximately one-and-a-half rotations to hit the 10-m range before a further third of a turn moves the image in focus swiftly on to approximately 500 m.
BAK-4 prisms and multi-coated optical components are incorporated in the design and an assessment of the image itself reveals a well-balanced representation of colours backed by a nice level of contrast and detail. Whether the latter related to my close-up view of a House Fly on a brick wall or a distant Peregrine Falcon on a pylon, the Vantage undoubtedly delivered more than satisfactorily. There is, of course, chromatic aberration to contend with and while it is clearly most noticeable in the outer quarters of the image, its presence in the middle section is within acceptable limits.
Consistent with other models in the Hawke range, the Vantage comes with a comfortable stretchy, padded lanyard, a soft, zip-up carry case, stretchy drawstring bag, objective lens covers and an articulated rain guard as already described. Hawke has also gone plastic-free in its supply of optics so no internal polythene/plastic bags are used in the packing of the product when it is supplied.
For the suggested retail price of £129, the Vantage 8x42 represents incredibly good value.
- Price: £129
- Size: 146 x 128 mm
- Weight: 555 g
- Field of view: 122 m at 1,000 m
- Light transmission: n/a
- Close focus: 2.5 m
- Gas-filled: yes
- Waterproof: yes
- Guarantee: lifetime
+ Remarkably lightweight and well made
+ Sharp image and low level of curvature
- Some chromatic aberration in outer quarters of image