The HG-Line binoculars have been designed to compete with the very best and according to Minox, these High-Grade-Sport optics were created with the best possible performance in every area that defines a quality binocular. This includes a high level of light transmission, a sleek body design that covers a magnesium housing to ensure that the HG-binoculars are real lightweights combined with the beautiful cosmetics and ergonomics. The HG binoculars from Minox also feature the innovative Quick-Close- Focusing (QCF) that makes it possible to take distance readings from a scale on the focusing wheel.
The body of the binocular was designed by Volkswagen-Design specifically with feel and absolute comfort in use in mind and I must say that they not only look great but feel well balanced and comfortable to hold. They are also covered in a very tactile rubberized armour that I really love. Whilst most binoculars come with rubber armoring these days, the armour on this Minox feels more "grippy" than most which means that you not only have a tough binocular but one that also provides a good non slip surface even in wet or damp conditions. The armour has the added benefit in that it helps to dampen down any sounds that may be made by knocking them against anything. For example a watch or what often happens in my case, my wedding ring can make a rather loud metallic sound if I brush it against another metal object, which could easily frighten away timid wildlife or birds. Much of the body is constructed using a magnesium alloy which goes a long way to explaining it's very light weight:
At 650g (22.9oz), these are some of, if not THE lightest full sized binoculars in their class as you can see from the list below:
Focusing - Quick-Close-Focus
Whilst there are many great features on this model in the HG-Line form Minox, the focusing wheel and it's mechanism really catches the eye. The wheel itself looks like it is made from brushed aluminum with a cross-knurl etched into it for grip, which not only looks great but Minox have added a graduated scale of distance on the focus knob which allows you to estimate the distance to the object being viewed. Little silver numbers line up with a silver dot on a scale from 2.5 to 50 meters, and then infinity.
On my test pair, focusing was very smooth and takes you from it's minimum close focus of 2.5m (8.2ft) to infinity in just one full turn of the focus knob. This aggressive mechanism is great for quickly going from a near focus to infinity, but usually makes it harder to fine tune your focus. Minox have got around this with their ingenious Quick-Close-Focus (QCF) that uses a differential focus mechanism that shifts the focal plane at a variable speed depending upon your distance from the object in view. So the one turn allows for fast focusing close-up, and a more precise focusing for longer distances. Brilliant.
Diopter Locking System
The lockable diopter control is a nice touch. It is located on the right barrel of the binoculars and is adjusted by lifting it and then turing the ring, clicking it back in place locks it in place and prevents it from being accidentally moved (see video below).
Eye-Cups & Eye Relief
The Minox 8x43 HG binoculars have comfortable twist up eye-cups that are rubber coated and provide you with an excellent 19.5mm of eye-relief, which means that they easily make it onto the Best Binocular Reviews list of "Long Eye Relief binoculars", and should easily be enough for most people who wear glasses and want to use their binoculars without having to remove them.
The eye-cups have 4 click stops - flush against the eyepiece, two intermediate stops or fully extended. Non-eyeglass wearers will just use the eyecups in the fully extended position, whilst eyeglass wearers can adjust them to the stop that works best for them.
Water & Fog Proof
This Minox 8x43 binocular is 100% waterproof and are filled with argon gas which acts as protection against internal corrosion and stops the optics suffering from internal fogging in adverse or weather conditions. Waterproofing also has the added advantage of preventing any dust or dirt from entering the body in dry and dusty areas.
There is a small cover or cap on the front of the central pivoting point of theses binoculars that screws off and allows you to then screw on a binocular tripod adapter (not included) that uses the standard ¼-inch threading, which you can then attach to your tripod.
HG Series binoculars use a special optical glass which is said to provide a very high level of light transmission with excellent brightness and contrast qualities. It is produced for Minox by SCHOTT AG, a German glass specialist who are also well known for manufacturing the glass components of Zeiss optics.
It must be said that looking through the 8x43's for the first time my first thought was wow these are really bright! Which is exactly the reaction you want when you splash out on a quality pair of optics but it is not very objective. So as with all the Best Binocular Reviews, I also compared the view through them with my standard benchmark binoculars, this enables me to guage just how good or bad a pair of binoculars are:
It is interesting that Minox have decided to use very slightly larger 43mm objective lenses than the more common 42mm ones. 8x43 binoculars like these have an Exit Pupil of 5.38mm and a Twilight Factor of 18.5, whilst 8x42 binoculars have an Exit Pupil of 5.25mm and a Twilight Factor of 18.3. This suggests that these Minox 8x43's should perform slightly better in poor light conditions and therfore that should make them ideal for general wildlife observation and for bird watching. This is because most birds and animals are more active in the early mornings and late afternoons when light conditions are not at their best.
It is important to remember that whilst these figures make it possible to compare the performance of different configurations of binoculars in low light conditions, they do not take into account the quality of the prisms, lenses and their coatings. But as you will see below these Minox HG 8x43 binoculars feature some excellent quality optics and coatings that help to produce an image that is brighter (as well as sharper and with better contrast) than an inferior full size binocular with cheaper or lower quality optics.
Comparing the brightness of these with my 42mm benchmark, you immediately notice the difference, which was even more obvious when I compared the view between them just before sunrise. I would thus describe these as being very bright and are much brighter than the average 42mm binoculars. I would even go as far to say that they are as good as the very best.
As well as bright I thought the image produced was crystal clear and very sharp. One area where I could really notice the difference between these and the benchmarks was in the contrast, which was especially noticable in low light conditions. This may seem like a small thing, but it does really make objects stand out that much better, objects feel more three dimensional and helps with being able to spot things like a small bird within the dark canopy of a tree for example. The colour reproduction is also very good and I could not see any colour fringing (chromatic aberration) around the edges of objects that you often find with cheaper optics. The amount of softening of the image on the periphery of the view is extremely minimal and is as good as or better than any binocular in this class. Again comparing them to my mid range benchmark binoculars, you can really start to understand and appreciate why binoculars like these cost more.
Prisms and their Coatings
As you would expect with any binocular in this price range they use BAK-4 prisms that are made of superior optical glass to produce clearer images, but Minox have gone a step further in the mirroring of the roof prisms through what they call their MinoBright technology. This silver-based coating is said by Minox to improve the amount of the light reflected at the mirror surface and is up to 99.8% efficient.
The roof prisms on these Minox HG binoculars have also been phase coated which helps to prevent colour fringing (chromatic aberration), the loss of contrast and resolution. To go into a little more detail, Phase-correction coatings help to reduce the phase shift of light caused by phase differences arising from total light reflection on a roof surface! This all sounds a little complicated, but basically it helps keep the light in correct color phases and has the result of reducing the loss of image resolution to maintain high-contrast images as well as preventing any colour fringing. It is something that is only really found on high end roof prism binoculars.
The HG-Line feature aspherical lenses to enhance the contrast and sharpness of the image from centre to edge.
Fully Multi-Coated Optics
Lens coatings are often overlooked by many, but it is important to remember that top quality light transmission is an essential part of ensuring that the image produced by your binoculars is of the highest quality. In regards to this model, all air to glass surfaces have received multiple layers of antireflection coatings (fully multi-coated) which will ensure that more light gets to your eyes by reducing the light loss and glare due to reflection for a brighter, higher-contrast image.
Minox call their multicoating "M*-coating" which consists of up to 21 different layers on the glass surfaces that adapt the various wavelengths of the visible light which they say increase the overall light transmission to an impressive 92 percent, while improving brightness, contrast, detail and colour rendering significantly.
Internally their optical system also contains anti-reflection and anti- glare coatings to help improve contrast and again light transmission.
Field of View
The field of view at 1000 meters is 126 meters (379ft @ 1000yds) with a real field of view of 7.2° which is pretty good, but falls a little short when compared to some of the very best. For example the Swarovski 8.5x42 EL's view is 133m wide at 1000 meters with a real field of view of 7.6° and the Swift 8.5x44 Audubon ED Binoculars have a view that is 143m wide at 1000m (8.2°).
Close Focusing Distance
At 8.2ft (2.5m), I would say that they have a decent minimum close focusing distance without being special. Anything under 6ft is excellent. So whilst you probably would not choose these binoculars specifically for something like viewing butterflies, thir minimum focusing distance should be close enough for the average user.
These Minox binoculars come with a good quality soft carry bag that is pretty well padded on the inside. The neck stap is also well made and well padded, not the best I have seen, but also very far from the worst.
The eye piece lens caps (sometimes refered to as rainguards) on my pair of 8x43 binoculars were made of soft rubber and fitted well and should not accidentally fall off. What is interesting is that in the past these did not come with objective lens covers, Minox have listend to the customer feedback and now all new HG line binoculars are shipped including objective lens covers.
Minox 8x43 HG Comparisons
Below is a table comparing some of the main features of the Minox 8x43 HG binoculars with one of the best 42mm binocular that money can buy the Swarovski 8.5x42 EL and the Leica 8x42 Ultravid HD Binoculars.
|Minox 8x43 HG||Leica 8x42 Ultravid HD||Swarovski 8.5x42 EL|
|Price (approx):||$1200 (£649)||$2100 (£1500)||$2339 (£1600)|
|Weight:||22.9oz (650g)||27.9ozs (791g)||28.9ozs (819g)|
|Length:||6.0in (14.5cm)||5.63in (14.3cm)||6.5in (16.5cm)|
|Width:||5.1in (12.8cm)||4.72in (12cm)||4.8in (12.2cm)|
|Close Focusing Distance:||2.5m (8.2ft)||9.9ft||8.0ft|
|Field of View at 1000yds:||379ft||389ft||399ft|
|Field of View at 1000m:||126m||130m||133m|
So as you can see all three binoculars have their strong and weak points. Strong points for the Minox is it's incredibly low weight and in comparison to other high grade optics relatively low cost. It's field of view does fall a little short when compared to some of the best like the Swarovski's and the Leica's above, but is still pretty good and should be fine for most people.
Highlights include the fully multicoated optics and the phase correction coatings on the prisms that do help to produce the very bright and sharp image that is as good as any binocular that I have tested in this class and in my experience you usually have to spend a great deal more money than this to find a brighter binocular.
I also really like the distance scale on the focusing wheel that with that turns your binoculars into a kind of short distance rangefinder. The quality of the metal wheel as well as the focusing ring that locks in place are also just a few of the quality components that all come together to ensure that you feel that you have a quality pair of optics in your hands.
Considering that these binoculars are around half of the price of something like a Swarovski 8.5x42 or a Leica 8x42 Ultravid HD, I would say that these make incredible value for money. One feature that is missing from these is ED (Extra Low Dispersion) glass that you will find on optics like the Swarovski's, but does this make the Swarovski's twice as good? I personally don't think so. Don't get me wrong, if money is no object, you cannot beat something like a very top of the range Swarovski binocular. But if you are looking for a very high spec binocular and don't want to spend the $2000/£1500+ it takes to get something like a Swarovski, then I highly recommend the Minox 8x43 HG. It is a great binocular at an excellent price that almost anyone would be proud to own.
They make ideal general use binoculars that will excel in nature observation and as birdwatching binoculars. They are also great optics for hunting due to their rugged design and neutral coloring. They very tactile armour covering feels great in your hands, are very lightweight in comparison to other high quality full size binoculars and are well balanced.
Weak points? It is a small thing and I am probably being over picky, but I guess it would have been nicer if they had a slightly wider field of view.
I would like to thank Minox Germany for providing me with these Minox HG-Line Binoculars to review.
Reviewed by Jason Whitehead
Main Specifications & Features:
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Large objective lenses and 8.5x magnification makes these Eschenbach's ideal birding binoculars and great for wildlife observation.
General Price Range: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
Below is a link that will take you to a page with online retailers in both the US and UK that sell Minox 8x43 HG Binoculars this page makes it easy to compare prices and then to buy from your preferred option:
Buy & Compare Prices for the Minox 8x43 HG Binoculars
I would love to get your comments and well as your opinions on these optics. Do you want to or do you already own one of these HG Binoculars? If so please let us know what you think of them giving both the good and the bad points: