Sunday, February 15, 2015
Eagle Optics NEW Ranger ED 8x42 Binocular
I purchased Eagle Optics NEW Ranger ED 8x42 Binocular in conjunction with Nikon Monarch 5 8x42s in order to compare the two for my first pair of decent binoculars. Prior to these, I owned two old porro prism binoculars, both 7x35. I use binoculars pretty much only for birding. I tested both of these binoculars side by side in the field in multiple locations with friends, who mostly shared all of my conclusions.
In terms of optics, I would say the Monarch 5 and the Ranger ED are identical in quality. If there was any difference, it was too subjective to describe. The optical quality is amazing and a clear improvement from my old binoculars. I haven't used any binoculars above this price range so I can't comment on the value for quality. As a non-eyeglass-wearer, I didn't think eye relief would matter much for me. However, I found that the Monarch 5's eye relief was a little bit better for my eyes, despite them having the same amount of eye relief. Specifically, I can hold them a bit closer to my eyes without vignetting than the Ranger EDs. The difference isn't very much but it is something to consider.
In terms of build, the Ranger EDs look beautiful and feel great in hand. The rubber armoring on these feels a bit smoother in terms of texture than the Monarch 5s, but not to any degree where they would more easily slip out of your hands. I preferred the rubber armoring of the Ranger EDs. The Monarch 5's rubber seemed like they would more easily accumulate hand grime over time. The shape of the Monarch 5's rubber made them feel a bit substantial in my hands, with the Ranger ED's rubber being shaped more sleek and without indentation. Regardless, I preferred the sleekness of the Ranger EDs.
As for the focus wheel, both felt quite nice and focused smoothly, but in the end I preferred the texture of the Ranger EDs. The Ranger EDs have a locking right-eye diopter and the Monarch 5s do not. At first I felt this feature was essential, but after focusing the Monarch 5s, the diopter is so stiff that it would be unlikely to move by accident. Still, it's a nice feature to have. While I was using the Monarch 5s in the field, the tripod adapter cover somehow came unscrewed without me ever having messed with it. Thankfully, it fell off in a friend's car so I was able to find it.
In terms of accessories, this is where the Ranger EDs really blew away the Monarch 5s. The rainguard for the Monarch 5s seems like it was made for a different pair of binoculars, barely staying on at all. The Ranger ED's rainguard is very nice and fits snugly. The case for the Monarch 5s is decent, but doesn't come with a strap or even hooks to attach a strap. The Ranger ED's case is very nice, featuring an interior pocket which I use to hold a lens cleaning pen and a cleaning cloth. Speaking of which, the Monarch 5s don't come with a cleaning cloth. The Ranger ED case holds the binoculars very snugly. The Monarch 5 case closes with velcro, while the Ranger ED case has a plastic latch. I like the objective lens covers for both binoculars, with the Ranger ED's lens covers being a little bit smoother to put on and take off. The neck straps for both binoculars are good. Both are comfortable and stretchy.
In conclusion, both binoculars are excellent in terms of performance and I would say you can't go wrong with either. However, in terms of aesthetics, feel, and accessories, the Ranger EDs are clearly superior. For this reason I chose to keep the Ranger EDs and return the Monarch 5s. I'm very satisfied with my purchase and would definitely recommend these binoculars.