Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 Binoculars Review

Helios 8 x 42 Mistral WP6 Binoculars
Best Low Cost Binocular 2016
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Price Range: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars       

Ideal Uses:

General Use Rating for General Use Binoculars
Birdwatching Rating as Birdwatching Binoculars
Outdoor Sports Rating asOutdoor Sports Binoculars
Safari & Travel Rating as Safari Binoculars
General Wildlife Rating as Wildlife Observation Binoculars
Hunting Rating as Hunting Binoculars
Marine Use Rating as Marine Binoculars

Awards: Best Low Cost Binocular 2016

About Helios Optics
Whilst in the US, I think it is true to say that the Helios brand fairly unknown and is actually quite hard to get hold of their products, but in the UK they have been around for over 50 years now and have a sizable and loyal following. If you are new to the brand, you can read more about Helios binoculars and their products here.

Helios Mistral WP6 Binoculars

The Helios Mistral WP6 series is a low costing range that currently consists of 10 models, with sizes starting at mid-sized 32mm bins, right up to large 50mm bins and all available in a selection of magnifications.

Aimed at birders and general use, all Helios Mistral WP6 binoculars come equipped with BaK-4 roof prisms, fully multi-coated optics, with water and fog proof bodies and there are a few premium models that also incorporate an ED element into their lenses.

I was sent the standard 8x42 version to test and below you can read my full Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 binocular review that I wrote after thoroughly researching and testing it:

Main Features

  • Low Cost Bins (approx £110)
  • Polycarbonate Chassis
    • Sealed & Nitrogen filled for water & fog proofing
    • Tripod Adaptable
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • BaK-4 Silver Coated Roof Prisms
  • Field of View: 387ft @ 1000yds
  • Close Focus: 2m (6.6ft)
  • Twist-Up Eyecups
    • Eye Relief: 17.5mm

Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 Binoculars

The Body

Body Shape
Rear of the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 BinocularsAt first glance these look to have your very typical and standard modern roof prism shape, however on closer inspection you will notice that there is a slight twist in that the bridge that connects the two barrels is positioned closer to the eye-pieces than the objectives and not at the center as is most typical.

This top hinge design has become more and more popular of late. The main reasoning behind this is that it positions the focus wheel at a more accessible distance and more importantly frees up more of the ends of the barrels to clasp hold of for a more dependable grip. Be that whilst you are glassing or when you are simply carrying them about.

Rubber Armouring
Most of the exterior body surface is covered in a dark rubber cover (apart from a few details and the central bridge). This cover is fitted to very tightly to the chassis which is good as I sometimes find that they can come away and even move about a bit, especially on cheaper binoculars.

The rubber is very hard: The good side to this is that it most likely has less chance of falling apart or perishing than the softer rubber covers that you also sometimes get. On the down side, this hardness and the fact that it is almost completely smooth makes it far from the grippiest exterior that I have held onto.

Objective Lenses on the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 BinocularsSet at a distance of approximately 11mm in from the ends of the barrels, the objective lenses are very well protected on the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 binoculars.

Chassis
Whilst Magnesium is currently considered to be the best chassis material, it is also expensive to produce and so is usually only the reserve are higher end instruments.

As with all models within the WP6 series, these have a Polycarbonate chassis under the rubber exterior. This is nothing to worry about, as at this price range this is the most commonly used material as it provides a good combination between weight, strength and price.

Tripod adapter thread on the Nature-Trek 8x42 BinocularsTripod Adaptable
By unscrewing the cap on the central pivot, you expose a thread that will accept almost all standard tripod adapters with ease and which is why these are described as being tripod adaptable.

Weatherproofing
Advertised as being waterproof, Helios Optics do not go on to quantify it in their marketing. However I have found out from the distributors that they are rated as being completely watertight for 3 minutes at a depth of 1.5m of water.

Helios also mention that their Mistral WP6 binoculars are filled with nitrogen gas to inhibit fog from forming on the interior glass surfaces, it means that the chassis is obviously air (gas) tight and thus also be water tight to at least shallow depths. So I wouldn't take them scuba diving, but they will be more than fine in most normal wet weather conditions!

Eyecups on the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 BinocularsEye-cups
The twist-up eye-cups work really well, which is nice to see as in my experience are better than most at this price point. When I say work really well, I mean that the actual action of twisting them up and down was nice and smooth and there was no free play or movement on the sample that I was testing.

Like the chassis, the housing has a rubber covering which is very typical and adds a level of comfort that you normally expect to find on most bins, but which is not quite on a par with the very best high end models. However this really is nothing to be overly concerned with and is move of an observation as to the small differences between normal and high end products.

Focus Wheel on the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 Binoculars

Focusing
As with the eye-cups, I thought that the focus wheel was better than what you typically find at this price range and for similar reasons as well: My sample had a perfectly smooth action from one end of the focusing range to the other and there was zero free play or unwanted movement.

Focusing with gloves - the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 BinocularsFocusing the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 Binoculars


The wheel is nicely placed and easy to reach and unlike the perfectly smooth body, the exterior of the focus wheel has a good etched surface that increases grip. This small detail is good, but is actually very important if you ever get to use your bins in the winter with gloves on, making it far painless to accurately and quickly change the focus.

Focusing from one end of the place to the other takes two entire turns of the wheel. This is more than most bins, but not an excessive amount. On the plus side it makes it easier to make small adjustments, but on the negative it takes more turning and thus time to make big changes.

Diopter Adjustment on the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 BinocularsDiopter
A with the vast majority of bins, you turn the diopter ring which is placed just under the right eyepiece in order to calibrate your binoculars to your personal vision.

This diopter ring is not lockable as some of the best are, but there is a good level of resistance so that unwanted movement should not occur that often.

IPD (Inter-Pupillary Distance)
The main reason for the central hinge is enable you to position the eye-cups at the same distance apart as your eyes.

On the Helios Mistral 8x42 binoculars, this IPD setting goes from a minimum of 5.5cm right up to 7.5cm, which is pretty typical for a full sized bin.

Body Quality Score: 7/10

Weight
Measuring in at 24.1oz / 683g you can see from the table below their weight is about average for a 42mm binocular:

8x42 Binoculars - Weights & Dimensions:
  Weight Length Width Height
Celestron Nature 8x42 DX 22.2oz (629g) 5.3in (13.5cm) 4.9in (12.4cm) 2in (5.2cm)
Vanguard Spirit ED 8x42 22.6oz (641g) 5.7in (14.5cm) 4.9in (12.4cm) ?
Hawke Nature-Trek 8x42 23.5oz (665g) 5.6in (14.1cm) 5in (12.7cm) 2.2in (5.5cm)
Celestron 8x42 Granite 24oz (680g) 5.8in (14.7cm) 4.0in (10.3cm) 2.1in (5.3cm)
Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 24.1oz (683g) 5.7in (14.5cm) 5.12in (13cm) 2.17in (5.5cm)
Vortex 8x42 Viper HD 24.2oz (686g) 5.8in (14.7cm) 5.3in (13.5cm) ?
Meade Rainforest Pro 8x42 25.6oz (726g) 5.8in (14.7cm) 5.0in (12.7cm) 2.05 (5.2cm)
Hawke 8x42 Sapphire ED 25.7oz (730g) 5.5in (14cm) 5.1in (13cm) 2in (5.1cm)
Kowa 8x42 BD 25.7oz (729g) 5.7in (14.5cm) 5.0in (12.7cm) 2.0in (5.1cm)
Snypex Knight ED 8x42 26.8ozs (760g) 5.5in (14cm) 5.2in (13.2cm) 2in (5.1cm)
Celestron Nature 8x42 27 oz (765 g) 5.7in (14.4cm) 4.3in (11cm) 2.1in (5.3cm)
Eagle Optics ED 8x42 Ranger 27.4oz (777g) 6.7in (17cm) 5.0in (12.7cm) ?

Dimensions
As with their weight, their outer dimensions with the central hinge fully opened are easily within what I would call normal for a 42mm bin.

Body Stats Score: 7/10

42mm Objective Lenses on the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 Binoculars

Optical Components

Objective Lenses on the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 BinocularsLenses

Obviously the objectives are 42mm in diameter and I measured the oculars to 21mm. However other than that I cannot really expand as no other details are supplied.

Prisms

What I can say is that the roof prisms within the Mistral WP6 are made from BaK-4 glass, which at this price is not always a given and so is nice to see.

Coatings

Lens CoatingsAlmost all modern bins have some sort of 'anti-reflection coatings' applied to at least some of the glass surfaces within the optical system to prevent unwanted reflections that can affect the view. These coatings also ensure that more light gets through the surfaces that they are added to as less is reflected away - the result is a higher transmittance level and thus hopefully a brighter image.

To reduce production costs and keep prices down, cheap binoculars and even low costing ones within this class often have fewer of these coatings applied to each surface or even have only a few of the surfaces treated.

This is not the case with the Helios Mistral WP6 binoculars as their optics are marketed as being Fully Multicoated which implies that every surface has had multiple coatings of this material - good stuff.

Reflectivity of Prism CoatingsMirror Coatings
To get as much light to reflect off the roof prisms as possible and thus increase the amount that gets to your eyes, manufacturers will add a highly reflective material to the prism. There are a number of commonly used mirror coatings, the best are Dielectric that can reflect over 99% of the light, however this process is very expensive and thus is usually only found on high end optics.

The cheapest option is an aluminium coating (between 87% and 93% reflectivity), which is fairly commonly used amongst cheap binoculars.

However these Helios Mistrals have Silver coatings which usually can reflect between 95% and 98% of the light that hits them.

Phase Coated
Whilst the ED version of the Mistral WP6 is confirmed as using phase correction coatings, this non ED version does not which whilst is not unusual at this price level (see comparison table below), it is a bit of a shame.

Optical Comparisons

  Approx Cost: Prism Glass ED Glass Anti-Reflection Coatings Prism Coatings Phase Corrected
Orion 8x42 ShoreView $80 BAK-4 No Multi-Coated ? No
Braun WP 8x42 Binoculars $100 / £90 BAK-4 No Fully Multi-Coated ? No
Celestron Nature 8x42 $100 / £100 BAK-4 No Fully Multi-Coated ? Yes
Tom Lock Series 2 8x42 £100 BAK-4 No Fully Multi-Coated Silver Yes
Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 £110 BAK-4 No Fully Multi-Coated Silver No
Meade Rainforest Pro 8x42 $100 / £140 BAK-4 No Fully Multi-Coated Silver Yes
Hawke 8x42 Nature-Trek $120 / £110 BAK-4 No Fully Multi-Coated Silver Yes
Bushnell 8x42 NatureView $130 / £130 BAK-4 No Multi-Coated ? No
Celestron 8x42 Nature DX $140 / £145 BAK-4 No Fully Multi-Coated ? Yes
Hawke Sapphire 8x42 ED $450 / £340 BAK-4 Yes Fully Multi-Coated Dielectric Yes

Optical Features Score: 6/10

Optics - Stats

The Field Of View (FOV)

Measured at 387ft wide at a distance of 1000 yards away, the field of view on the Mistral WP6 8x42, whilst a little off the very widest, it is perfectly acceptable for a pair of 8x42 binoculars:

  FOV at 1000yds Near Focus Eye-Relief
Celestron 8x42 Granite 426ft 6.5ft 17mm
Hawke 8x42 Sapphire ED 426ft 6.6ft 18mm
Swarovski 8.5x42 EL 399ft 8.0ft 18mm
Meade Rainforest Pro 8x42 395ft 6.6ft 17mm
Tom Lock Series 2 8x42 388ft 6.6ft ?
Hawke 8x42 Nature-Trek 388ft 6.6ft 18mm
Celestron 8x42 Nature DX 388ft 6.5ft 17.5mm
Levenhuk Monaco 8x42 387ft 4ft 18mm
Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 387ft 6.6ft 17.5mm
Celestron 8x42 Nature 369ft 9.2ft 18mm
Vortex 8x42 Viper HD 347ft 5.1ft 20mm
Kowa 8x42 BD 330ft 6.5ft 18.3mm
Vanguard Spirit 8x42 ED 330ft 8.2ft 19mm

Eye-Relief:
Eye-ReliefThe 17.5mm of eye-relief along with more than decent twist-up eyecups means that these Helios binoculars should be fine for those who need or want to use their bins whilst wearing glasses.

Near Focus
At about 2 meters (6.6ft), the minimum close focusing distance is pretty standard for a full sized 8x bin and thus fine for occasionally viewing objects at closer ranges. However if you often do this often, say for example you have a particular interest in butterflies, you may decide to opt for a closer focussing instrument.

Optical Stats Score: 8/10

Image Quality

The overall image quality was one area where I was very impressed with the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 binoculars. I will go as far as to say I may have (only very rarely) used binos in this class that are as good as these, but never any better. Indeed in my experience the image quality on this bin is every bit as good the better mid-range instruments out there.

Considering that they don't have features like ED glass and are not phase corrected, this is very impressive and it goes to show that a well designed optical system can sometimes outperform an average one with all the bells and whistles.

To get to this conclusion, I put the Helios 8x42 Mistral binoculars through my usual tests and compared them as usual to my benchmark binoculars, which have to be say are way more expensive than this pair.

Image Brightness
I could not observe any major difference is in the brightness between these and my high end 8x42 benchmarks in normal light during the day. In poor light they were perhaps a fraction less bright in my eyes, but the difference was miniscule.

Contrast & Colors
Both the level of contrast and just how vivid the colors were looked to be normal to me. No issues at all.

Color Fringing
Color FringingFeatures like ED (Extra low dispersion glass) can help reduce the amount of color fringing that you see by reducing the relevant distortions.

These don't have ED glass, but even so I would say that the level of color fringing was more than acceptable and only really notably more than high quality bins if you really look for it.

Image Softening & Flatness
Softening around the edges is extremely minimal and at this level as little as I have ever seen.

I also was never aware of any distortions that can make the image look like it is not flat.

Score for Image Quality: 8/10

Carry Case for the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 Binoculars

Included Accessories:

Carry Case
Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 Binoculars inside their carry caseThe black, rather generic and unbranded soft carry case is fairly typical at this price level. Made from what looks to me like a woven nylon material, it is reasonably wether protected, tough, long lasting and looks to have good quality stitching along the edges.

The lid folds over the top of the case and is held closed using a small strip of Velcro. This works reasonably well and is quick to access, however it is not as secure as a Zip for example and in certain circumstances, you have to be careful not to make too much noise when opening it that could either give your position away or startle whatever it is you want to observe.

The case comes with it's own permanently fixed carry strap, which is un-padded, but it's length can be adjusted. On the rear of the case there is also a large belt loop.

Inside thee is a separate pocket and a reasonable amount of padding to protect your optics.

The bins fit easily into the case and can be stored with their eye-cups extended and the lens covers in place - something that is not always the case!

Carry Case & Neck Strap for the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 Binoculars

Neck Strap
Meade Instruments NeckstrapThe included black neck strap is very basic. Completely un-padded, it is mostly made from woven nylon and attaches to the instrument in the standard way using a couple of sliders so that you can change the length to suit your preferences.

So whilst it is not uncommon for binos at this price range to have equally simple straps, there some which are much better.

Objective Lens Covers
Lens Covers on the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 BinocularsThe tethered objective lens covers are very typical. They have a good fit over the ends of the barrels and are also connected to them with a separate rubber loop, so that the cover can hang down below the instrument when you are glassing.

Ocular Lens Cover
As with the objective lens covers, the rain-guard (ocular lens cover) is very typical and also has a good fit making it easy to take on/off, but will not come away too easily by accident.

Lens Cloth
Whilst it is good to see that there is an included cleaning cloth, like most at this price range, it is fairly basic and I would only suggest that you use it to clean the body with or perhaps very lightly on your lenses when out in the field.

For properly cleaning the lenses I highly recommend that you get a decent lens cleaning kit.

Instructions & Warranty
The included instruction sheet is extremely basic and very generic.

As with all other Helios Mistral WP6 binoculars, this 8x42 version comes with the Helios 5 Year Limited Warranty.

Extras Score: 5/10

Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 Comparisons

Review Conclusions:

Strong Points: The image quality is impressive for a bin at this price and I thought that the overall look and build quality of the exterior is excellent. Indeed it is as good as many far more expensive optics and for me is about as good as it gets within this price range.

I really like the etched metal focus wheel that turns nice and smoothly and has a great feel and action. Similarly the twist-up eyecups are also very good, which combined with their 17.5mm of eye-relief makes them an ideal choice for most eyeglass wearers.

Whilst not chart topping, both the field of view and close focus are also good.

Weak points? Compared to the best binoculars in this price class, it has to be said the level of the extras, especially the neck strap is a little low. This is a shame, but to be fair they all work, but are just not as luxurious and lack a little in terms of the finer details as the better ones.

The lack of phase correction coatings on the roof prisms is a little bit of a shame as most of the best roof prism bins within this price class will have been treated.

Overall
When you combine their field of view and close focus specifications with their higher than usual specification body (at this price) and the more than acceptable image quality, the Helios Mistral makes for very competitive low costing 8x42 binocular and one which you won't go far wrong with in a range of normal uses.

Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 Binoculars with neck strap, carry case and rain-guard

Reviewed by

Best Binocular Reviews Ratings:

Body Construction Quality: 7/10 68%
Very Good
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Components Quality: 6/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Attention to Detail: 5/10

Compare Prices & Where to Buy the Helios Binoculars

Best Low Cost Binocular 2016Awards:

Best Low Cost Binocular 2016


Main Specifications & Features:

  • Size: Full Size Binoculars
  • [explain prism types]Prism Type: Roof Prism Binoculars
  • Magnification: 8x
  • [explain objective lens]Objective Lens Diameter: 42mm
  • [explain waterproofing]Waterproof: Yes
  • [about fogproofing]Fogproof: Yes

  • [explain exit pupil]Exit Pupil: 5.3
  • [explain twilight factor]Twilight Factor: 18.33
  • [explain eye relief]Eye Relief: 17.5mm
  • Close Focus Distance: 6.6ft

  • Weight: 24.1ozs (683g)
  • Length: 5.7in (14.5cm)
  • Height: 2.17in (5.5cm)
  • Width: 5.12in (13cm)
  • Ocular Lens Diameter: 21mm
  • Focus from Near to Far, focus wheel rotates: 720°

  • [explain real field of view]Real field of view: 7.4°
  • [explain apparent field of view]Apparent field of view: 59.2°
  • [explain field of view]Field of View: 129m at 1,000 meters
  • [explain field of view]Field of View: 387ft at 1,000 yards

  • Chassis Material: Polycarbonate
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • [about Lens Coatings]Lens Coatings: Fully Multi-Coated
  • [about Phase Correction]Phase Correction Coatings: No
  • [about Prism Coatings]High Reflective Prism Coatings: Silver
  • [about ED Glass]Extra Low Dispersion Glass: No
  • Locking Diopter: No
  • [about tripod adapters]Tripod Adaptable: Yes
  • Auto Focus: No
 

More Information:



About Helios | View all Helios products I have written reviews on

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Full Size Binoculars | Roof Prism Binoculars | General Use Binoculars | Birdwatching Binoculars | Low Cost Binoculars


Similar Binoculars:

Below are similar pairs of Binoculars that you may also want to have a look at:

Meade 8x42 Rainforest Pro Binoculars

Low cost binoculars with features that those in the mid level would be proud to have. These include phase corrected and silver coated BaK-4 roof prism


Binocular Price Comparison
Where to buy the Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 Binoculars

General Price Range: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars

Below is a link that will take you to a page with online retailers in both the US and UK that sell Helios 8x42 Mistral WP6 Binoculars this page makes it easy to compare prices and then to buy from your preferred option:

 
 
 
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