Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars Review

Kite 14 x 50 APC Image Stabilized Binoculars
Winner Best Image Stabilization Binoculars 2024
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Price Range: (6/6) Expensive 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
Astronomy Rating as Binoculars for Astronomy
Long Distance Rating as Long Distance Viewing Binoculars

Awards: Winner Best Image Stabilization Binoculars 2024

Taking another look at the Kite APC 16x42 IS binocular review that I wrote a few years back, I have reminded myself just how impressed I was with them, especially since back then, when they were first released, Kite Optics were relatively new to the Image Stabilization binoculars arena.

However, as impressive and indeed effective as they were (and still are), just like many other image stabilized binoculars on the market, there are a number of downsides to an IS binocular:

The main drawbacks to your typical IS binocular when compared to a standard optics only binocular includes:

  • A large and heavy instrument when compared to a standard binoculars with the same or similar size lenses.
  • A high cost compared to standard optics with the same level of optics and image quality
  • A relatively poor level of optics and image quality when compared to standard binoculars at the same price level
  • Relatively poor low light performance due to combining high magnifications with relatively small objective lenses and/or lower quality glass and coatings
  • Narrow fields of view due to high magnifications
  • Often a short battery life, compared to no need for any batteries.
  • Less robust and not as long lasting.

It is for these main reasons that for me at least, I usually only consider using any IS binocular in specific cases where the need for a high magnification and/or a stable image are paramount AND I cannot or do not want to use a tripod.

Kite APC Image Stabilized Binoculars

Thanks to their unique roof prism IS and automatic Angle Power Control (APC) systems, Kite managed to address many of these issues with their APC Stabilized 42mm (12x42 or 16x42) and APC Stabilized 30mm (10x30 or 12x30) binoculars:

They are not substantially bigger or heavier than a standard binocular and with the APC system, the battery life is really a non issue and the image quality in my experience is more in line with their price tag.

But even so, I still found that unless I specifically needed the IS, in most day-to-day general uses I would probably still reach for my favorite standard optics only binocular first.

Kite APC Stabilized 50 Binoculars

With their new second generation APC 50mm binoculars (18x50 or these 14x50), Kite has further worked on and improved their IS system, but most importantly to me, they have also now improved the optics to a level where not only do they compete with standard binoculars at the same price, but in many cases beat them.

So now we potentially have an image stabilizer binocular that for the size of lenses is not overly large or heavy, is long enough lasting so as not to worry about battery life, is tough, waterproof, and has an excellent image quality, image brightness and field of view despite the high magnifications!

Perhaps with the Kite APC 50 we now finally have image stabilising binoculars that will cross the barrier of being a just a specific niche use binocular to an all-round, general use, every-day binocular:

Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars Review

Note: I started this review trying to fit everything into one document, but with this new version, there is just so much to speak about and thus it was just getting rapaciously long.

So I have decided to split my Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars review into two:

In this section as with my standard optics only binocular reviews, I will focus mainly on the main body features, the optics, the quality of the views and the accessories.

For an in-depth review that includes all the details and improvements Kite Optics has made to the dynamic gimbal system, the electronics and the software that runs it all, be sure to also refer to my Technical Review of the KITE APC 50 Binoculars.

Contents:

  • High-End Binoculars - approx $1650 / £1550 / €1650
  • Technical Review of the KITE APC 50 Binoculars
  • Image Stabilisation
    • KDGS-2 (Kite Dynamic Gimbal System)
    • KT-3.0 Processor & software
    • Stabilisation Correction Angle: 2°
    • Auto on/off: Yes
    • Power: Li-Ion (integrated) or 2x AA
    • Battery Life: 38 hours of continuous use
  • Optics:
    • 14x Magnification
    • 50mm Lenses with ED Glass Elements
    • Kite Optics' MHR Advance+ coatings
  • Optical Stats
    • Eye Relief 18mm
    • Field of view: 195ft @ 1000yds / 65m @ 1000m
    • Angle of view: 3.7°
    • Apparent field of view: 49°
    • Close Focus: 5.5m / 18.0ft
  • Image Quality
    • Example Video Footage
  • Body:
    • Waterproof: IPX7
    • Fogproof: Yes
    • Right Eye Diopter: ±3
    • Twist-up Eyecups
    • Interpupillary distance: 57 - 76mm
    • Dimensions: 7.2in (18.4cm) x 5in (12.8cm)
    • Weights: 1009g /35.6oz (lithium) or 1014g / 35.8oz (w/o AA battery)
  • Accessories
    • Carry Case
    • Neck Strap
    • Charging Cable (If applicable)
  • Conclusions & Ideal Uses
  • Video Review

IS Switch & Indicator light on the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

Image Stabilization (IS)

I begin most of my reviews by going over the body of the binocular and it's main features, but seeing that for most, the primary reason for choosing to get an image stabilized binocular (or not) is the actual IS, so I will address this first.

As I mentioned at the start, with all the updates Kite Optics has made and considering how their technology is different to all the others on the market, there is so much for me to say just on this topic and thus I decided to split this review, so for the full details on the Kite IS system, how it works how it differs from the Image stabilized binoculars on the market see the link below:

Technical Review of the KITE APC 50 Binoculars

Kite APC binoculars interior cutaway view

Correction Angles - More than just numbers
When you compare image stabilised binoculars, one of the main specifications to look out for is the amount of movement that they are able to correct, which is represented in degrees.

So taking a look at some examples where I could find the details:

  • Fujinon Techno-Stabi and Stabiscope binoculars correct between 3° and 6° of motion.
  • Nikon StabilEyes: 3° to 5°
  • Opticron Imagic Image-Stabilized Binoculars correct about 3°.
  • Kite APC 50mm binoculars have a stabilization correction angle of 2°.
  • Canon IS binoculars correct between 0.7° and 1.0°.

So just looking at this, you may think that these Kite APC binoculars are not as good as some others. However, in real world terms how effective an IS binocular is, there are many other factors you need to take into account. For example, which planes of motion can be corrected, the speed at which the corrections take place and the size, weight and amount of power needed to run them.

So once again for all this info and more, please refer to the technical review, but in a nutshell, the advantage that the Kite APC binoculars have over the others is that their stabilization system uses roof prisms and not porro prisms, which just as in standard non-IS binoculars means that they have been able to produce a more compact, instrument that is faster-reacting with a more accurate stabilization with a relatively large correction angle.

Negatives to Increasing Magnification on Binoculars

The usual use for binoculars is to provide you with a closer, more detailed view of something in the distance. Thus it is easy to understand why most people assume that the higher the magnification the better, even though this it is often a mistake as there are many downsides to simply adding high magnification eyepieces onto binoculars and doing nothing else to compensate for the resulting downsides.

Image Shake - the nemesis of a highly magnified image
One of the biggest issues with looking at a magnified image through something like a binocular is that any movement made also gets magnified in the view.

Thus it quite quickly gets to the point (usually around 12x - 15x depending on the steadiness of your hands) that unless you do something to prevent the image shake, any potential increase in image detail offered by the higher magnification gets nullified by the tiny vibrations in the view.

Eliminating Image Shake
There are a few ways of reducing or eliminating the vibrations you see in the view, one is to fix the binocular onto a steady platform like a tripod and the other is to have some sort of dampening or image stabilization within the device itself.

Adding a tripod to most binoculars is usually very easy and does not need to be expensive. However, the downside is it turns "the unit" into a far more cumbersome device. This can be perfectly fine for setting up on your porch or in your garden and looking out to sea or at the stars but can get tiresome to carry about on a long walk.

Another less cumbersome option is to use a monopod, which works well, but still requires you to carry an extra piece of gear about.

Another option is an onboard image stabilization method that eliminates the need for a tripod, but as i have discussed there are usually a number of downsides and thus which option you use often depends on your specific needs and budget.

Image Stabilization: Real World Use and Thoughts
All these facts, figures and stats are all well and good in theory, but it is only once you look through image stabilized binoculars and turn the IS on, that you can really appreciate the difference it makes.

The video below is my attempt to demonstrate this for you. I think in terms of the image shake, it is a good example, however please do keep in mind, that I was simply holding the binoculars up to the lens on my camera. Therefore the image quality is nowhere near as good as that which you see with your eyes and so please do not use this video as a guide to image quality.

Example Video Footage

Hand-holding the Kite APC 14x50 Binoculars in front of my camera to demonstrate the IS in action - Click Here to view the video on YouTube

As you can see from the video above, turning on the IS makes a huge difference to image stability and as a result, you are able to take in and appreciate far more detail than without it.

When hand holding standard non-IS binoculars, you will always get some amount of image shake, but the amount of shake increases (or is magnified) with the increase in magnification.

This image shake is one of the main reasons why marine binoculars that are often used on the unstable platforms of boats, ships or yachts on the water usually have a relatively low 7x magnification. Whilst general use "land" binoculars typically keep to an 8x or at maximum 10x power, but even so you still het a slight shake when looking through them.

I can keep a 12x binocular relatively still and at maximum a 14x or 16x binocular is for me on the edge of what I would deem usable from the hands. But even so, I prefer to use the high power binoculars like these fixed onto a monopod or tripod to get the the best out of them.

The difference in the details of an image that you can appreciate with a steady view makes a huge difference and thus unless you have a stable image any increase in magnification is basically wasted.

Apart from not having to carry about the tripod (or monopod) the experience you get with these Kite APC binoculars is different to mounting a normal binocular onto a tripod.

This is because the view is not 100% rock steady as it is on a tripod, instead the image goes from being juddery (with the IS off) to what I would describe as floating in a thick liquid. So all sharp movements and shakes are very much dampened, with the result being you can instantly appreciate the extra image detail that you are able to observe.

On top of this, and for reasons that I am not entirely certain of (I think it because of this slight floating sensation and because of how easy it is to pan the view about in all directions) the effect it has on the view feels more natural and thus better than that which I experience with a binocular fixed onto a tripod.

50mm Objective Lenses on the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

The Optics

Apart from the improvements in their Image Stabilization, another upgrade to the Kite APC 50 over the APC 30 and APC 42mm versions is with their optical system.

50mm Lenses

Whilst using larger lenses results in a bigger instrument, I think Kite has made a good choice here as they don't look or feel that much different to the 42mm ones used on your typical standard sized binocular, yet at the same time the "light gathering" ability on these has definitely and noticeably improved.

ED Glass

The more you increase the magnification the more obvious any level of color fringing (caused by chromatic aberration) becomes on the image.

Thus I was particularly happy to discover that unlike most other IS binoculars on the market, including Kite's other APC models, that use a standard optical class (with a low dispersion factor), the new APC 50 come with a full Extra-low dispersion (ED) glass system that has the potential to improve the correction of chromatic aberrations.

Indeed as you can read about in the Image Quality section below, despite having higher magnifications than "normal", to me, it looks like chromatic aberration (seen as color fringing in the view) has been reduced, to the levels I would expect to see on high-end 10x binoculars, which is impressive.

Optical Coatings

The high quality glass and KITE MHR Advance+ coatings used on the Kite APC 14x50 binoculars reportedly help them achieve an light transmission level of 86% through the system

If true, this is very impressive, even for optical-only binoculars with lower magnifications (thinner glass) less complicated pathways.

This combined with the large 50mm lenses means that despite the high 14x and 18x magnifications, they do well even in low-light conditions (To put this in perspective, to my eyes they look to match quality 10x32s and even 10x42s).

14x50 Configuration

Combining slightly larger 50mm objective lenses with reasonably powerful 14x magnification is interesting and I think makes for a nice compromise between power and low light performance:

Low Light Performance
Increasing the magnification without increasing the size of the objective lenses results in smaller exit pupil diameters (the size of the shaft of light exiting the ocular lenses).

With smaller exit pupils, you not only have to be more precise when lining up your eyes with these shafts of light exiting the oculars to make sure you don't get any black rings forming around the edges of the view.

But in low light conditions when the pupils in your eyes are dilated, you will often perceive a less bright image when compared to an equal quality binocular with larger exit pupils. For more on this, please take a moment to read my complete guide to the exit pupil.

So a "standard" 8x42 binocular that is generally considered a good all-rounder and fairly decent option in low light produces a 5.25mm exit pupil (Objective lens size (42mm) divided by the magnification (8x).

For comparison, these 14x50 binoculars do produce a much smaller 3.6mm exit pupil (50÷14).

However, compare this to a 10x42, with it's 4.2mm exit pupil and the difference is not that massive, yet you gain a much higher image detail with the 14x magnification, which as long as the image is steady can mean that you will see more detail, even in low light.

Image Quality & Brightness
In order to create more powerful magnifications on a binocular, you need to use thicker glass elements within the lenses, this, in turn, means less light is able to pass through them, which results in a less bright image.

True, there are many other factors that come into play here and to be fair the differences we are talking about here are very minimal, especially when when using quality glass, but I feel it is worth pointing out nonetheless.

So whilst I would not describe these as being great or the ideal solution in very low light, to me the performed well enough so as not to worry about it, unless the conditions were very dark.

Optical Components Quality Rating: 8/10

Optical Stats

Field Of View (FOV)
A downside to powerful binoculars is that the more zoomed-in you are, the narrower your field of view becomes.

Depending on how or what you are using the binoculars for this may or may not be that important, but a narrow FOV does make it much more difficult to locate your subject no matter what you use them for.

Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilised binoculars:

  • Field of view: 195ft @ 1000yds / 65m @ 1000m
  • Angle of view: 3.7°
  • Apparent field of view: 49°

What is interesting to me is that Kite Optics also quote the 18x50 APC has a fov that is also 65m wide at 1000m (approx 195ft) - This makes me think the numbers on this version are incorrect as you can certainly see that the FOV is wider than the 18x50 version when comparing the view between the two.

Also, if we compare it to the more powerful Kite APC 16x42 Image Stabilised binoculars, they have a slightly wider field of view that is 68 meters wide at a distance of 1000 meters away (roughly 204ft @ 1000yds).

The Canon 15x50 is 79 meters wide (approx 237ft), whilst the more powerful Canon 18x50 also has field of view at 65 meters wide (approx 195ft). The Fujinon TS 16x28 with the same power is very similar to the Kite at 70 meters wide.

Looking through the binoculars, you do not feel that the view is particularly narrow, but as you can see in the table below, then against other similarly powered binoculars that I have tested the FOV of these is not bad, but it is a little on the low side (assuming these figures are correct).

Minimum Focus Distance
Like most higher powered binoculars, these Kite 14x50 binoculars are not designed with close range observation in mind, however, it is still interesting to compare the minimum focusing distances between these and other similar instruments as it can be really interesting to enjoy the extra detail on things like nearby flowers or even butterflies that the highly magnified but stabilized image provides.

Rated at 5.5m / 18.0ft the minimum focus on these Kite APC 15x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars is certainly not bad considering the magnification, but once again as you can see in the table above and the comparisons below, they are also not the best.

  • Canon 18x50 IS,15x50 IS & 12x36 IS III: 6.0m / 19.7 ft
  • Canon 10x42 L IS WP: 2.5m / 8.2 ft
  • Kite APC 12x42, 16x42: 4m / 13.0ft
  • Fuji TS 16x28: 3.5m

Eye-Relief:
A longer eye-relief is useful to all users, but is of most importance to those who need or even just want to wear glasses or other forms of eye protection when using their binoculars. See How To Use Binoculars With Glasses: Eye-relief & Eye-cups Explained.

As a basic rule, I usually suggest that eyeglass users look for a minimum of 15mm (preferably more) of eye-relief to be sure that you can see the full image without black rings on the edges after you have fully twisted down the cups.

So as you can see at 18mm, these not only easily surpass that requirement, but rank amongst the very best when it comes to powerful binoculars with long eye-relief.

Optical Stats Score (15x-20x Bins): 7/10

Image Quality

I have now had almost 3 full months of using and testing these Kite APC 14x50 and the 18x50 image-stabilized binoculars and so because of this I have been able to use and test them in a wide range of conditions and against a wide selection of other binoculars.

This includes using them against other high powered devices, other IS binoculars, in sunny, very low light, and even complete darkness for astronomy. Below are my thoughts and observations:

Image Stability
I don't want to over egg this point but I do think it is worth emphasizing once again in this section: The Image Stabilization is extremely effective, which in turn really does make the image pop out, look to be of a better quality, brightness and sharpness than when compared to an unstabilized view that is shaking about.

So even when comparing the view through these binoculars - once with the IS off and then again with the IS on: Even though I know the image is technically the same, because it is stable and thus I can see more detail in the view, to me it really does look sharper and perhaps even brighter.

This effect is especially noticeable when using them for something like astronomy and viewing the moon. As soon as you switch the stabilization on you can immediately notice far more of the markings on the moon's surface and to me are every bit as good as my 15x70 astronomy binoculars mounted onto a tripod.

Color Reproduction
Typically, I observe that the intensity of colors is directly proportional to the amount of light present. Hence, on a dreary day, colors may not appear as vivid as they would on a sunny day.

This observation remains consistent whether I'm using binoculars or not. My main focus is to determine if the colors and contrast that I see in the binocular deviate from what I naturally perceive without the use of optics.

Certain binoculars will intentionally tint views to accentuate specific colors (Steiner binoculars used for hunting come to mind). Conversely, others have an undesired tint, usually due to the use of low-quality glass and coatings, particularly at high magnifications.

So in essence, I'm seeking an image that is vibrant yet maintains its natural and lifelike quality.

Fortunately, this is predominantly what I experienced with the Kite APC 14x50 image Stabilised binoculars. Once again, when you consider their higher 14x magnification, it emphasizes the quality of optics used, because remember higher powers require thicker glass, and as such there is more chance of unwanted effects.

In low light conditions, I did perceive a very slight decrease in vibrance and contrast. This I think could be attributed to the smaller exit pupil, resulting in a slightly dimmer image.

Contrast
As with the color reproduction, I thought the contrast from the dark to light areas on these, be that in very sunny or very dull conditions was excellent meaning that you get a good variance between the extremes which adds to the sense of depth to the image you see.

Image Brightness & Quality
With their larger 50mm lenses, and improved quality of glass and coatings (Kite advertises these as having a light transmission level of 86%), I was expecting the image quality and general brightness on these Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized to be at least very good and I was not to be disappointed. Indeed I would go as far as to say that for a binocular with a powerful 14x magnification, the overall brightness and quality of the image is excellent:

In good light conditions, there was no perceivable image brightness difference between these and my alpha-level 8x42 and 10x42 binoculars. Although because of the magnification difference, it does make it quite hard to tell.

I also compared them to my 15x56 binoculars and 15x60 binoculars, which both have similar magnifications and in good light, they all compared similarly to each other. This is to be expected as all use good quality glass and in these conditions all are supplying your eyes with much more light than they need for you to perceive a bright image.

In overcast conditions during the day and then again when using them on rainy days, the image brightness was once again very good to me and once again compared very well against all the instruments I compared them against. This included my alpha 10x42, 8x42 and my 15x56 and 15x70 binoculars.

It's only in conditions of very low light, such as at and after sunset, that there is any sort of notable decline in image brightness becomes apparent and even then because the image is so stable, it is hard to be 100% sure.

Against my low light 8x56 binoculars and the 15x56 and 15x70 binoculars the difference in image brightness does get more pronounced as darkness sets in.

This is completely understandable given the differences in magnifications, lenses and thus exit pupil sizes.

When it comes to astronomy and observing objects like stars, planets, or the moon, things become more complex.

This is because instead of observing a dull object in low light, you're now observing bright objects in the dark: In this context, even with a smaller exit pupil, you can see much more detail when observing the moon with this 14x magnification compared to binoculars with 8x or 10x magnification.

Here the image stabilization also really comes into its own.

Compared to my 15x70 astronomy binoculars mounted on a tripod, objects like the moon and bright stars appear quite similar. So if you do acquire a pair of these Kite APC 14x50 image stabilizing binoculars, I highly recommend pointing them towards the night sky and at the moon in particular as the view is impressive!

Color Fringing
Color FringingThe more an image is magnified, the more pronounced color fringing generally becomes (think of the photos you have seen taken with large telephoto lenses), so yes, when compared to an alpha-level 8x42 binocular, these Kite 14x50 binoculars perhaps show a fraction more, but the difference is so small that it is hard to tell and really of no concern.

When compared to my 15x70 binoculars I use for astronomy, these Kite APC binoculars definitely showed less fringing. For stargazing, especially if you want to take photos through the binocular, this is important.

Image Flatness
Once you have focused on an object the image looks sharp and in 100% in focus from the center for the view, all the way to the edges. For a high-power binocular where image detail is of even greater importance than ever, I feel this is important.

Softening
I was also very impressed with the very small amount of vignetting / softness that I could detect right at the edges of the view (almost non existent), which is another definite strength to these Kite APC 14x50 image stabilising binoculars.

Image Quality Rating: 9/10

Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

The Body

Shape & Design
Very similar in design to the 16x42 version that I previously tested, I must say that I am a big fan of the overall design and shape of the Kite APC binocular range as on the whole they are comfortable in the hands and very easy to operate.

Inter-Pupillary Distance (IPD) Adjustment
Something that takes a little getting used to is not having a central hinge to open and close to make adjustments to the distance between the eyecups.

With these Kite binoculars and indeed most other IS binoculars, the actual eyepieces are adjustable.

Is this method as simple or robust as that on a standard pair of binoculars? Not quite, but the mechanism felt solid, very well made and had a good (if not a little too much) level of resistance to movement.

The actual interpupillary range on these is between 5.7cm and 7.6, which for a full-sized binocular is about the range you would expect to find.

IPD Adjustment on the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

Exterior
The rubber that covers most of the exterior surface is relatively thin and thus will not provide as much impact protection as a softer thicker rubber. However, it is quite tactile and does provide a good level of grip.

Optional Silicone Jacket
available in either a sage green (which I had) or black and costing about 45 euros, if you need more protection, there is the option to purchase a silicone cover that I think looks good and most importantly fits very tightly over the body of the Kite APC 50 binoculars.

Environmental Protection
I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the Kite APC binoculars are fully sealed and have a recognized IPX 7 rating meaning that they can be submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes and remain watertight.

This is impressive as I know that this is certainly not the case on all of the Canon IS binoculars.

This may seem like a small thing, but remember a fully sealed device is also protected from dust in dry weather conditions and the image stabilization feature is ideal for use on a boat as well as in windy conditions by the coat where you are bound to have some sort of rain or sea spray.

Fogproof
As well as being waterproof, Kite has also filled the interior with a moistureless gas (probably nitrogen) that unlike standard air will not condense and form droplets on the internal lens surfaces when you get a rapid temperature change like going outdoors on a cold winter morning.

I may be wrong here (and please feel free to correct me if I am), but I think I am right in stating that only one model within the Canon IS series (the 10x42 L IS WP) is both water and fogproof?

Eye-Cups
Eyecups on the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized BinocularsThe helicoidal screw-up/down eye-cups are very good on these Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilised binoculars:

The mechanism on my sample was very smooth and whilst there was some free play between the cup and the housing underneath, it is only a tiny fraction and then this was only at the mid-click-stop positions, which is typical and nothing at all to worry about.

I do like the way the cups click very positively into each of the stops. Speaking of which there are two mid-position stops, which if you include the maximum and minimum positions makes four in total which is excellent and offers plenty of customizability to suit your shape of face and achieve the ideal fit in terms of eye-relief.

The only downside to me is that unlike very high-end binoculars, they cannot be unscrewed and removed. This is not a huge deal, but it does help with ocular lens cleaning and makes it easier to replace should you need to.

Focusing the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

Focus Wheel & Focusing
The focusing "wheel" (it is more like a barrel) is very different from that which you find on a typical set of binoculars.

Whilst still located along the central line of the binocular (which is good for both left and right-hand use), its position is quite a long way forward which meant that I did find myself often changing the focus with my middle two fingers instead of my index finger. This was neither good nor bad, just different.

Measuring 4cm, it is almost twice as wide as that found on most binoculars and so is very easy to locate.

However, it also has a much smaller radius, and thus has a low profile, which looks great and perfectly fine for most of the time, but whilst wearing my thick woolen gloves was just that bit more difficult to locate and turn.

The fact that it is so long, and the fact that the mechanism itself is extremely smooth, offsets this issue somewhat, but even so I would have preferred a higher profile adjuster.

Focus Wheel on the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

Diopter Adjustment on the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized BinocularsDiopter Adjuster
Located on the right eyepiece, you use the diopter adjustment ring to calibrate your binoculars by off-setting the focus on just one eye.

This works well enough and you get a very respectable +/- 3 points of dioptric compensation and so the only point I would make would be that it would have been even better if Kite had made it lockable, which is a feature you sometimes see on high-end binoculars so as to ensure you don't accidentally move from your setting.

Tripod Adaptable
Attaching the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars onto a tripod headOne aspect to body on the new 50mm APC binoculars, compared to the 42mm version that I previously tested is that they are now tripod adaptable and thus with the thread under the body, easily mountable onto a tripod head without the need of a tripod adapter as you can simply screw them into your tripod head or tripod mounting plate (see image on the right).

Yes, I know there will be many who assume that there is no need to mount an IS binocular onto a tripod, but there are times where it us useful or even necessary:

It is a good way to be able to share a view with someone else (this is useful for astronomy) also target shooters/archers who generally want a high power instrument like this who like to be able to take a shot and then check for positioning without having to re-aim the binocular.

Kite APC 14x50 & 18x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

Body Construction Quality: 8/10

Dimensions
Whilst certainly a different shape/feel to them, the outer dimensions of these Kite APC Image Stabilized binoculars is really not that dissimilar to that of your typical 50mm or even 42mm binocular:

Comparing them to some of the other image stabilising binoculars on the market in the table below, you can see against that they are more compact than the 50mm Cannon IS binoculars and indeed they compare well against many 42 and even 32mm IS binoculars on the market.

Weight
Comparing the sizes and weights between the different Image stabilized binoculars and standard optics only binoculars is interesting because by not using a tripod, you will be taking all the strain in your hands and arms instead.

For brief durations, most people don't find the weight, even of fairly heavy binoculars to be a major issue. However, during extended use, particularly when held at uncomfortable angles such as when stargazing, spotting planes, or observing birds in flight, it can become more than just uncomfortable.

For the onboard lithium battery and indeed the AA batter versions, the 50mm Kite APC binoculars are compare very well to many standard, optics only 50mm binoculars, and even with the two batteries installed, using them did not feel at all different from using a normal pair of high-end binoculars in terms of the weight, which is excellent, because you now also get the added advantage of a more stable view.

As you can see above, the equivalent sized 50mm Canon IS binocular are far heavier, indeed the Kite APC 50 IS binoculars also weigh less the smaller Canon 10x42 L IS WP.

Body Stats Score (Image Stabilized Bins): 9/10

Accessories for the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

Included Accessories:

As per my usual experience with testing binoculars from Kite Optics, the quality of the accessories included with this APC model are very good to outstanding:

Note: The Carry Case is exactly the same as that comes with the Kite APC 16x42 binoculars and that as their top-end Kite Lynx HD+ 10x50 Binoculars:

Inside and Rear of the Carry Case for the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized BinocularsCarry Case

  • Made from excellent quality material and stitching is also excellent
  • Padding is adequate, but for this device, I would have preferred a little more, or perhaps even a semi-rigid case, however, this would make it bulkier and less "carry friendly" when out in the field
  • Extra pocket with a Zip closure on the front is a good place to store cleaning cloths, extra batteries, etc.
  • With the Kite Optics branding and overall style, this bino harness case is far from the generic, mass-produced I now often come across.
  • Binoculars have a good fit inside and so easy to replace, but also don't flop about
  • The included carry strap is good and it can be removed which not always the case.
  • Has a belt loop on the back you would be possible to carry on your hip or use it to attach to a rucksack.
  • Zip closures look well made are secure and reasonably robust, but need to be careful so as not to make too much noise when opening so as not to frighten timid birds/wildlife

Carry Case for the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

Neck Strap for the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

Neck Strap

The Kite neck strap is the same one as which you get with the ACP 42mm binoculars as well as their top-end Kite Lynx HD+ 10x50 Binoculars, which is generally excellent:

In-line with the carry case, the strap is made using high-quality materials and stitching. It's well-padded and slightly curved to naturally fit around your neck and shoulders, enhancing comfort.

The thin, unpadded sections appear to be made of nylon. Without subjecting them to any extreme tests, they seem to me to be securely attached to the padded section. Some of the best straps incorporate a ring for added flexibility of the thin straps when lifting the binoculars to your eyes, keeping the padded section stable. Although it's a minor detail, it's a missing detail worth noting.

Neck Strap for the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

Ocular Lens Covers

The rain-guard (ocular lens cover), is of a common design and among all the accessories, it is the most standard/generic.

However, it serves its purpose effectively and fits snugly onto the eyecup ends, ensuring it doesn't detach to easily unintentionally.

I like the flexible bridge connecting the two cups, which allows attachment regardless of your Interpupillary Distance (IPD) setting. Many overlook this tiny feature, but it can be frustrating to constantly open and close the binoculars each time you want to use or replace it because the rain-guard is in-flexible.

Lens Covers on the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized BinocularsObjective Lens Covers

With such a unique body design, the objective lens cover was never going to be the generic ones I see being supplied on many/most binoculars these days.

I think the solution Kite Optics has come up with is a good one for this particular binocular: There is a single cover that fits over the end of the instrument.

It has cut-outs in it that ensures it fits well and offers an excellent level of protection to the glass.

There are also a number off loops on the cover should you wish to either tether it to the neck strap or you can link it onto the underside of the binocular with the optional silicone jacket that further protects the body of the binocular.

Cleaning Cloth
The set of cleaning cloths provided by Kite Optics, are truly outstanding and a much-appreciated, practical accessory.

Rather than the usual single, often subpar cleaning cloth that comes suppled with many instruments, the Kite binoculars I've tested come with a set of five high-quality microfiber cleaning cloths.

These Kite Optics branded cloths are specifically designed to eliminate greasy fingerprints, oil, dust, and dirt from the lens surfaces.

As good as they are, I would still recommend investing in a comprehensive optical lens cleaning kit for deep cleaning, these cloths are more than sufficient for regular daily use.

Manual
Kite optics includes a chunky instruction manual with the instrument, but this is written in several languages so is not quite as in-depth as you would first have thought when picking it up.

Anyway, it covers all the basics including naming all the parts of the instrument, inserting batteries, using the image stabilization system, IPD settings, and setting up the binocular as well as basic cleaning and storage.

Warranty
Kite Optics offers a 30-year warranty on the APC binocular, with 2 years for the electronics.

Extras Rating: 7/10

Review Conclusions:

I began this review by talking about the previous Kite APC 16x42 IS binocular that I reviewed and that whilst it was excellent, to me, like almost all other Image Stabilized binoculars, there are drawbacks and for me these are enough to mean that I only use a pair of image stabilized binoculars for specific uses and not as my main go-to instrument. So for example when I particularly need the extra magnification or the extra image stability (on a boat, astronomy etc.).

Well, after now using and testing these new Kite APC 50 Image-Stabilized Binoculars for more than three months, I can truly say that they have got so good and that the usual drawbacks to an IS binocular have been either completely eliminated or minimized to such a degree that I now can easily see me using these on a day-to-day basis even when I don't specifically need the extra stability or magnification.

The Future of Binoculars?

I don't think I can overstate this point enough as I now believe that this could be a true turning point in the world of optics and in particular binoculars:

Rightly or wrongly, there has been a definite trend to increase the magnification on binoculars. Now days, it is becoming increasingly rare to find a 7x binocular and more and more common to find brands offering 12x, 15x and even 16x binoculars within their ranges.

Up until now, most of these high-power binoculars are standard optical only instruments and whilst yes, it is possible to use them from the hands, to get the best out of them, you really do need to mount them onto something like a tripod / monopod so that image is stable enough for you to appreciate the extra detail that the higher magnification delivers.

However, with these Kite APC 50mm binoculars the image stability is so effective and the lightweight enough, that there is simply no need for a tripod. Then on top of this, the battery life is no longer an issue, the size and weight of the binoculars are more in-line with a standard instrument with the same size objectives and most importantly the level of optics and the resultant quality of view is as good as good as you will find on some of the best optics only binoculars out there.

I am not sure what copyright protections Kite Optics have on their system, but I am sure that it is only a matter of time before we see more and more brands trying trying their best to copy these. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" and all that.

Strengths:

The level and thus the effectiveness of the image stabilization on the Kite APC 14x50 binoculars is phenomenal. I would even go as far as to say, that for reasons that I am not entirely certain of, the effect it has on the view is even better than when having a totally fixed view that you get when mounting a binocular onto a tripod.

The optics on these new 50mm Kite APC binoculars has seen further improvements and refinements compared to their previous versions and this certainly shows in the view quality and image brightness.

So overall I found the image quality to be truly excellent and the very minor level of color fringing at these higher magnifications very impressive, indeed they do as well in minimizing it as many of the top 8x and 10x binoculars out there.

As with the 16x42 version that I previously tested, the overall build quality on the Kite APC 14x50 and 18x50 binoculars is excellent, so once again, I would compare them to a top of the range SLR camera in terms of feel, but at the same time they feel (and are) more robust.

All this, along with small attentions to detail (like the auto power function) and a well thought out design makes the Kite 14x50 APC binoculars extremely comfortable and easy to use and thus I have no issues about not only recommending them in the obvious situations where an IS binocular excels, but just about any and all typical day-to-day uses where you would normally reach for your standard binocular (8x or 10x42mm or 50mm binocular).

In fact, the only real area where they can't compete is with mid-sized and of course compact binoculars where size and weight are the most important features.

The fact that they are are waterproof is another definite strength especially when you consider this something that you only find on a couple of the more expensive Canon models.

At 18mm the eye relief is excellent and combined with the very good twist-up eyecups, these make an excellent choice if you want or need to wear glasses / eye protection whilst glassing.

The quality level of the included accessories like the carry case, neck strap, cleaning cloth and charging cable is excellent, which for Kite Optics is typical.

Cost Comparisons
The range of Canon IS binoculars will set you back anywhere between $400 and $1500, but to if you want a larger 50mm high-powered IS Canon binocular, you will probably need to spend just over $1300.

These Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized binoculars have a current RRP of approx $1650 / £1550 / €1650 - As they are new to the market, I am sure this will come down and probably line up with the 50mm Canon IS binoculars, which is very interesting as I do believe the IS and optics on these are superior.

For a less expensive options, you could opt for the 30mm or 42mm Kite APC models (Kite APC 16x42 currently retail for around 950 euros, or just over $1000, as good as they are, do keep in mind these models do not come with the improved optics and hence this I assume accounts for the lower cost.

Fuji with their Techno-Stabi and Stabiscope binoculars: if you want a larger device with good low light capabilities, you will either need to spend close to $5500 to get the Fujinon 16x40 S1640D Stabiscope, or the alternative is the Fujinon 14x40 TSX1440 Techno-Stabi that currently costs about $1400.

With 8 degrees of correction, Fraser Optics and their range of Stedi-Eye Gyroscopic Image-Stabilized Binoculars are seriously impressive, but come with an equally impressive price tag as they will cost you almost $4200.

Good Value for Money?
So whilst you couldn't categorize these Kite APC binoculars as budget-friendly, I believe when you consider the level of the optics in particular, they offer a very good value for the money if you're serious about minimizing image shake.

So yes, in my opinion, they provide an excellent level of Image Stabilization (IS) per dollar spent, compared to other alternatives! So the table below is just for a bit of fun, because as we have mentioned and effective IS system is much more than just the amount of degrees that it can counter:

Weaknesses:

In terms of its smooth operation and length, the focus wheel is relatively easy to use and make accurate adjustments to the focus... except when I'm wearing thick winter gloves. While it's not a major issue, I would have preferred a slightly more raised profile for the wheel to make it easier to locate when wearing bulky winter gloves.

The slightly narrower field of view compared to other high powered binoculars is a little disappointing, but I have to say i did not feel the view was excessively narrow not did I find it unreasonably more difficult than expected to locate and follow moving objects.

For almost all users, the APC (angle power control) system on these binoculars will be seen as a great addition,but perhaps there will be a tiny fraction of users who need to use the binocular looking straight down (perhaps search and rescue from a plane where the IS would be useful, or from a cliff top), then perhaps this feature will be a pain and so for me it is just a pity that it can be disabled if needed.

Ideal Uses:

General Mid to Long Range Observation
Be that for looking out in a bay at sailing yachts,out to sea at passing ships, plane spotting, soaring eagles on the wing, or wildlife, if you need a standard-sized binocular to get you close to the action with more image detail then you will struggle to find a more suitable instrument.

  • Birdwatching - especially at longer distances, like at a lake or the coast
  • Hunting / Wildlife Observation
  • Security Surveillance, Border Patrol, etc..
  • Boat, Yacht & Ship Watching
  • Windy Conditions: In blustery and windy areas, the extra stability that the IS gives you will be invaluable.
  • Marine Uses
    The 14x is double what you get on a standard marine binocular, but the image stabilization will once again help and the fact that they are fully waterproof is definite another positive.
  • On a Plane
    Here again, the excellent IS will certainly help with stabilizing the view.
  • Astronomy
    As with my review of the 16x42 version, I compared the views through these Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars against wide range of binoculars, from an 7x50 right up to a 15x70 and would sum it up by saying if you want to use a binocular specifically for astronomy, you are still probably better off going with an instrument with larger objective lenses fixed to a tripod. However, if you want an Astronomy binocular for out in the field, on camping trips or when you simply you don't want to set up or carry about a tripod, then these make an excellent choice.

Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars, Box & Accessories

Reviewed by Jason Whitehead for Best Binocular Reviews

Best Binocular Reviews Ratings:

Body Construction Quality: 8/10 80%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 9/10
Optical Components Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Attention to Detail: 7/10

Compare Prices & Where to Buy the Kite Binoculars

Winner Best Image Stabilization Binoculars 2024Awards:

Winner Best Image Stabilization Binoculars 2024


Main Specifications & Features:

  • Size: Full Size Binoculars
  • [explain prism types]Prism Type: Roof Prism Binoculars
  • Magnification: 14x
  • [explain objective lens]Objective Lens Diameter: 50mm
  • [explain waterproofing]Waterproof: Yes
  • [about fogproofing]Fogproof: Yes

  • [explain exit pupil]Exit Pupil: 3.6
  • [explain twilight factor]Twilight Factor: 26.46
  • [explain eye relief]Eye Relief: 18mm
  • [explain IPD]IPD Max: 7.6cm
  • IPD Min: 5.7cm
  • Close Focus Distance: 18.0ft

  • Weight: 35.6ozs (1009g)
  • Length: 7.2in (18.3cm)
  • Width: 5in (12.7cm)

  • [explain real field of view]Real field of view: 3.7°
  • [explain field of view]Field of View: 65m at 1,000 meters
  • [explain field of view]Field of View: 195ft at 1,000 yards

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

Kite 14x50 APC Image Stabilized Binoculars Video Review

Video review on the Kite APC 50 Image Stabilized Binoculars includes IS sample video and covers the 14x50 and 18x50 models
2023-07-20 https://img.youtube.com/vi/C2MfatWtXAo/mqdefault.jpg

More Information:



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

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Full Size Binoculars | Roof Prism Binoculars | Stabilization Binoculars | General Use Binoculars | Very Top End/Expensive Binoculars


Similar Binoculars:

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

Kite APC 16x42 Image Stabilised Binoculars

An excellent lightweight and compact alternative to a high powered binocular and tripod combination...


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Where to buy the Kite APC 14x50 Image Stabilized Binoculars

General Price Range: (6/6) Expensive Binoculars

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