The Opticron Imagic BGA SE series are said by themselves to offer a high level of performance at a reasonable price. They are available in six different specifications including a compact 8x32, a 7x42 and 8.5x50 for excellent low light capability and large depth of field, a 10x50 for high magnification and brightness, Then there are the general purpose birdwatching and wildlife observation models: The 8x42 Imagic and the 10x42 which I was lucky enough to get my hands on to review:
Weighing 25oz (706g) they are not the lightest, but better than average for a quality full sized pair of 10x42 binoculars. You always have to be a little careful if you just look at the weight and not be put off if a binocular is not very light as it can sometimes be misleading. A little weight can give you a nice feeling of substance and can help with balance. Also there are cases where a binocular is very light just because they are made from much lighter, but inferior materials (like plastic). However this is not the case with these (see build quality below).
The dimensions of this 10x42 Imagic binocular is 6.0in (15.2cm) x 4.9in (12.4cm), which again makes them about average for a full sized binocular with objective lenses of about 42mm. I thought that they felt very comfortable to hold and for me they felt well balanced. Like most other roof prism binoculars this size, the large focussing wheel is easy to get to as well as easy to adjust when you hold them up to your eyes.
Best Binocular Rating for Body Stats: 8/10
The body has a nice streamlined look to them and overall they seem to be well made. Opticron have used a new lightweight magnesium body on these Imagic's that does help to keep the weight down, without sacrificing strength and I must say that they do feel solid and robust.
Like most binoculars, the outer has been covered with a rubber coating which will help protect them from scratches and small bumps, help with grip when wet, or if you are using thick gloves in cold weather. It makes them dampen down sounds and also makes the pair of optics less reflective than if the bare metal was exposed. This helps as bright sunlight reflecting off a metal object could frighten away wildlife.
Fog and Waterproof
These Imagic binoculars are fully sealed and are waterproof to a depth of 3m. They have also had all the air inside them replaced with dry nitrogen gas, which helps to prevent internal fogging up of the lenses in areas of high humidity or when you get rapid temperature changes.
This dry interior also has another benefit in that it will protect the inside from corrosion and the fact that they have been fully sealed will also protect the optics from small debris and dust entering them in dry environments.
The Eye Cups The twist-up eyecups are made from aluminium and have a thin soft rubber coating on them. This combined with their large diameter makes them feel fairly comfortable even when pushed quite firmly against your face.
The 10x42 Imagic BGA SE has an excellent 21mm of eye relief which should easily be enough for most eyeglass wearers to use the bins without the need to take off their glasses.
The twist-up mechanism on the eyecups works well and they have one intermediate stop between fully extended and fully retracted. This will help people who wear glasses to get the right amount of eye relief in order to get the full field of view without any vignetting. Non-eyeglass wearers will just use the eyecups in the fully extended position.
The Opticron Imagic has a hard rubber coating with contoured ribs on the fairly large central focussing wheel. On the pair that I was testing it turned very smoothly, but was possibly a little tight for my personal preferences but was easily reachable from the standard grip when you hold them up to your face and so focusing was no problem.
It takes just over 1 full turn to go from infinity to it's minimum focusing distance of 2m (6.6 feet). What this means is that focusing from near to far (or vise versa) is fairly quick, but not as quick as ones that takes less amount of turning (some take as little as half a turn), but this does have the advantage of making fine tuning your focus to get it exactly right, much easier.
Located on the left barrel, between the eyecup and the barrel is the diopter adjustment ring that is used to correctly set up and focus the binoculars to your particular eyesight and only needs to be done once. There are markings on both the barrel and diopter ring so you can easily see where the middle point is. It was tight enough on the pair that I tested and so should not easily being moved accidentally, yet not so tight as to make adjusting it difficult.
Best Binoculars Rating for Body Construction Quality: 7/10
These Imagic's use Opticron's own Oasis coatings on these roof prism binoculars. This according to Opticron is a 64 layer coating process that is applied to the reflective surface of each roof prism, which improves light emission to 99% over a broader spectrum at the reflective face. This is a huge improvement when compared to cheaper binoculars that often use an aluminum mirror coating that has a reflectivity of between 87% to 93% and even improves on the silver coatings used on many high quality roof prism binoculars that have a reflectivity of between 95% to 98%.
The result of this is a measurable increase in light transmission and overall image clarity. I have not been able to find out any more information on the Oasis coatings as they like to keep a few trade secrets, but my guess is that they are the same or very similar to the dielectric coatings found on high end binoculars.
Roof prisms have a small issue in that when light waves are reflected at the opposite faces, phase shift occurs which results in a marginal deterioration in sharpness. To get around this, Opticron's use phase correction coatings on the prism glass, which correct this phase shift and therefore produce images that have better overall clarity, contrast and definition in comparison to cheaper roof prism binoculars that don't use these coatings.
Opticron also use what they call their F-type multi-coating on all air to glass surfaces, meaning that they are fully multi-coated. These F-type coatings will include anti-reflective coatings and are said to "maximise colour contrast in poor light so often associated wildlife observation in N. Europe". Once again I have not been able to find out much more about the F-type coating, but Opticron say that this kind of like their "secret sauce" and don't want to pass on everything to their competition.
Best Binoculars Rating for Optical Components Quality: 8/10
Field Of View
The field of view for these 10x42 Opticron Imagic BGA SE binoculars is 113m at 100m / 339ft at 1000 yards (6.45°) - which, for a full sized binocular with a 10x magnification is well above average. For example the very good Minox 10x42 BV's have a field of view of 342ft at 1000 yards (6.5°) and the top of the range Swarovski 10x42 EL have a FOV of 330ft at 1000 yards (6.4°).
Close Focusing Distance
The minimum distance that you can focus on an object is a pretty good 2m (6.6ft) away. I consider anything under 6ft to be very good.
Their maximum eye-relief of 21mm is very good and they easily make it onto my list of long eye relief binoculars and so this should be more than enough for most people who wear glasses.
Best Binoculars Rating for Optical Stats: 9/10
Judging and commenting on the quality of the image is always very difficult as in many cases the differences between quality binoculars like these is so small that they can be unnoticeable to the naked eye. But to make it as objective as possible and as I do with all my reviews, I compared the view through these Opticron binoculars with that of a pair of control binoculars with the same configuration (10x42):
Like all 10x42 binoculars, these have an Exit Pupil of 4.2, which indicates that they should be fine for most poor light conditions, although something like an 8x42 or a binocular with larger objective lenses would obviously be better. But unless you are planning to use your binoculars in very dark conditions, I would not worry about this too much. Their Twilight Factor of 20.5 also indicates that you should be able to see a fair amount of detail in low light (a twilight factor of about 17 or more is usually required for reasonable low light use.)
I must stress that these figures should be just used as a guide as they do not take into account the quality of the lenses, prisms and their coatings. The Transmittance is actually more important as I have seen many cases where this can make all the difference and where a high quality binocular with small objective lenses with a high transmittance level actually outperforms a poor quality binocular with a low transmittance level in low light even though they have larger objective lenses. But as we have already mentioned these Opticron's do use pretty good quality coatings that will produce a brighter image than inferior binoculars of the same configuration.
So comparing them to my control 10x42's on a dull and overcast day I could just notice that the image produced with these Imagic's was slightly brighter. This means that I rate them as very good, well above average, but possibly not quite as good as the very best.
Considering that these do not have any extra low dispersion glass, I was really impressed by the very minimal amount of color fringing (chromatic aberration), which is only very slightly noticeable if you are really looking for it.
I also rate the contrast of the image as good to very good and once you are correctly focussed on an objet the image is sharp. Colour reproduction is also very good and does feel natural and you cant see any artificial tinting of the image as you sometimes find on cheaper optics, especially those with ruby coatings that often have an unnatural greenish tint.
Another thing I look for is the amount of softening of the image on the periphery of the view, where high quality optics have almost none. Whist there is a little softening on the edge it is very minimal and so I also rate them highly in this area.
Best Binoculars Rating for Image Quality: 8/10
Below is a table comparing this Opticron Imagic with a selection of other full size roof prism binoculars with magnifications of 10x. The Minox 10x42 BV's, the Swarovski 10x42 EL's, the Steiner 10x42 SkyHawk's and the Zeiss 10x42 Victory FL Binoculars.
|Opticron 10x42 Imagic||Minox 10x42 BV||Steiner 10x42 SkyHawk||Swarovski 10x42 EL||Zeiss 10x42 FL|
|Price (approx):||£390 - £400||$250 (£220)||£390||$2480 (£1650)||$2000 (£1400)|
|Weight:||25oz (706g)||27.5oz (780g)||25.4oz (720g)||27.5ozs (780g)||26.8ozs (760g)|
|Length:||6.0in (15.2cm)||5.5in (14cm)||5.9in (15.1cm)||6.2in (15.7cm)||6.81in (17.3cm)|
|Width:||4.9in (12.4cm)||5in (12.7cm)||4.9in (12.5cm)||4.8in (12.2cm)||5.43in (13.8cm)|
|Eye Relief:||21mm||18mm||8mm (approx)||15mm||16mm|
|Close Focusing Distance:||2m (6.6ft)||1.2m (3.94ft)||2m (6.6ft)||2.4m (8.0ft)||2m (6.6ft)|
|Field of View at 1000yds:||339ft||342ft||315ft||330ft||330ft|
|Field of View at 1000m:||113m||114m||105m||110m||110m|
|Phase Correction||Yes||Yes||Don't Think So||Yes||Yes|
|Lens Coatings||Fully Multi-Coated||Fully Multi-Coated||Fully Multi-Coated||Fully Multi-Coated||Fully Multi-Coated|
Comparing a mid-high value binocular like these Opticron Imagic 10x42 binoculars with some that are far more expensive may seem a little unfair at first, but as long as you keep in mind the price difference, it does throw up a few interesting points and can highlight a few of their relative strengths and weaknesses.
What the table above does highlight is their very good amount of eye-relief as well as for a 10x42 binocular they really do have a pretty impressive field of view.
I really like the very soft and comfortable neoprene next strap used on these, which is just like the one used on their 8x42 DBA Oasis S-Coat Binoculars. The quality of it's manufacture is very high and it is wide enough with more than enough padding to make it very comfortable. To increase comfort even further, the part of the strap that fits behind your neck is also slightly curved making them sit just that little bit better. I also liked the fact they come with quick release clips near to where you thread them through the body of the binocular. This enables you to quickly remove and replace the neck strap from your optics without having to un-thread it from the looped attachments which can be a little fiddly. These quick release clips also mean that you can remove the longer part of the neck strap and then click the shorter pieces that are still attached to the binocular together to create a short hand strap. This is something that I had only previously seen on Vanguard binoculars like the Vanguard 8x42 Spirit ED, it is a small feature, but one that I really like.
The high-quality soft leather carry case is also looks and feels very well made. It is kept closed with a magnetic clip and the binoculars fit well inside of them, but because it is only lightly padded it may not be suitable for really rough use. Unfortunately the case has no extra internal or external pockets that can be useful for carrying personal items like keys or money. Also Included is a high quality leather carrying strap that can be attached to the case in two locations.
These Opticron Imagic BGA SE binoculars come with a set lens caps as well as an eye-piece raincover. The first set that is attached to the eye-pieces and the objective lenses are fairly basic and comprise of 4 separate fairly soft plastic covers. These fit well over the lenses, but cannot be attached to the binocular or the neck strap and so I would suggest that they are ideal for using when storing your optics.
The eye-piece cover (rainguard) is made from a fairly soft plastic and covers both eyepieces, it fits fairly well and should not easily fall off accidentally. Because it made all in one piece, this "fit" works best when the binoculars are opened fully, but they still will fit over the eyepieces after you have adjusted the binoculars to allow for the different distances between the your eyes (inter-pupillary adjustment), but is not quite as tight a fit. This rainguard has loops in it that allow you to connect it to the neck strap.
Out in the field I would suggest using the rainguard to protect the eye-pieces, but as they don't come with objective lens caps that can be attached to the binocular, you will either have to not use any which is risky, or use the basic plastic caps, that fit well, but could easily be misplaced. Some people don't like to have their lens caps hanging down from their optics and so this won't be an issue for them.
These Opticron Imagic binoculars also come with an excellent quality ultra-fine microfiber cleaning cloth that has it's own soft case to keep it clean as well as some basic cleaning instructions. This cloth is one of, if not the best cleaning cloths that comes included with the binoculars that I have reviewed and shows some excellent attention to detail.
A basic user instruction card is also included. It contains basic and generic instructions on how to adjusting the eyecups, the inter-pupillary adjustment, how to properly focus your binoculars, lens care and cleaning. Also contained on this card is the Opticron registration and contact details as well as information on the very impressive 30 year Guarantee.
These Opticron binoculars can be attached to a tripod using a binocular tripod adapter (not included) that uses the standard ¼-inch threading. All you have to do is screw off the small cap on the front of the central pivoting point. On the pair that I tested, this cap was very hard to remove the first time and I did wonder if it was possible, but I did eventually get it off and did test it using my standard adapter.
31022 or 31012 Binocular Tripod Mount
Opticron have their own tripod adapters that will fit these optics that cost between £10 and £22. As they use the standard ¼-inch threading, most standard adapters will also work.
40940 2.5x Universal Tele-adapter UTA
The Opticron Universal Tele-Adapter enables you to increase the magnification of your Opticron binocular or telescope eyepiece combination by a factor of 2.5x. Easily fitted to this binocular using the 40943 connection ring, the UTA converts one half of your binocular into a higher powered long eye-relief monocular.
The 40940 2.5x body complete with lens assembly & soft case costs around £89.00 and the connector ring about £10
|Naked eye||8x Binocular||>8x Binocular with 2.5x UTA giving 20x magnification|
Best Binoculars Rating for Extras & Attention to Detail: 8/10
For their price I would say that overall you are getting a very good binocular and whilst it is true that you can get binoculars at this price point with features like extra low dispersion glass, I feel that these easily make up for that in other areas:
Strong Points: The standout features of these Opticron Binoculars binoculars is their impressive field of view, long eye-relief and the quality of the included accessories and their attention to detail. Quality coatings are used on the prisms and the lenses to ensure a high quality image is produced and the overall toughness and quality of the body is also very good.
Weak points? I can't think of anything that is really bad about these bins, but a closer minimum focusing distance may be needed for those interested in observing things like butterflies. To improve the Imagic, Opticron could have used extra low dispersion glass to reduce what little colour fringing there was, but this of course would see the price of them increase.
Ideal Uses: These 10x42's are ideal general wildlife observation optics, and whilst their field of view is narrower than the 8x42 version, it is still pretty good and so they would still make pretty good birding binoculars, especially if a lot of your birding is done in wide open areas and over longer distances. Hunting is another ideal use especially considering their tough waterproof body and I would say that they are light and adaptable enough so as to be considered great general use optics.
If luggage weight and size don't concern you, then the Imagic would be a great binocular on safari or to take camping, otherwise you may wish to consider a slightly more compact binocular.
Reviewed by Jason Whitehead
Main Specifications & Features:
Below are similar pairs of Binoculars that you may also want to have a look at:
Very lightweight 10x42 binoculars, with quality optics at a great price
General Price Range: (4/6) Mid-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 Opticron 10x42 Imagic BGA SE Binoculars this page makes it easy to compare prices and then to buy from your preferred option:
Buy & Compare Prices for the Opticron 10x42 Imagic BGA SE 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 Imagic BGA SE Binoculars? If so please let us know what you think of them giving both the good and the bad points: