Editor Matt Merritt tests the Bresser Pirsch 8x34 binoculars
While I’d never be without a pair of ‘full size’ bins (8x42 or thereabouts) for serious, dedicated birding, I’ve gradually come to appreciate the attractions of smaller models, too. They’re great for slipping into a coat pocket for casual birding at lunchtime, say, and they’re also easy to hold steady with one hand while the other holds the leads of two excitable dogs who find a tennis ball a great deal more interesting than a Spotted Flycatcher. While 8x32 is probably the more common smaller size, 8x34 promises just that bit more light in the image, so we took a look at this interesting new offering from Bresser. Well, the first thing to say is that they sit in the hand very comfortably, courtesy of an open-bridge design that also helps reduce weight to an outstandingly low 442g. At times, I forgot I was holding them (don’t worry, I had them on a strap). The rest of the design is similarly straightforward and uncluttered. The hard plastic eyecups twist up and down to three distinct positions, offering a maximum of a claimed 17.15mm of eye relief. They stay in place well, and are comfortable in extended use.
The dioptre adjustment, on the right barrel, is not calibrated but stays in place in use, and the focus wheel is wide (around 1.5 fingers), and reasonably well textured for grip. It turns smoothly and very slightly stiffly, and takes 1.75 anti-clockwise turns from close focus to infinity. I found it easy to achieve really sharp focus, thanks to that slight stiffness, although close focus is not all that impressive, at a quoted 4m (although it felt more like 3.5m). That might put off people who might otherwise see these as a good option for bug-watching, but for most birdwatching needs, it’s unlikely to make much difference. Optically, they do a really good all-round job. The image is bright, impressively so even in low light at dusk, or on a couple of misty mornings. The colour is very natural, too. Colour fringing was very hard to find, again impressive for non-ed optics. I did pick some up when following fast-moving targets against strong light, but as with so
THE IMAGE IS BRIGHT, EVEN IN LOW LIGHT AT DUSK, OR ON MISTY MORNINGS
many binoculars these days, you really have to go looking for it; in normal use you’re unlikely to notice anything much or find it distracting. Field of view is 122m@1,000m, and you really do feel like you’re getting full value here; there’s little appreciable fall-off in quality towards the edge of the image, although inevitably there is some. Build quality They come with a neoprene strap, a rainguard, removable tethered objective lens covers, and a decent fabric case with its own strap; all pretty standard these days, but well done nonetheless. Finally, build quality feels good by any standards, let alone a pair of binoculars at this price. They feel as though they’d stand up to plenty of daily wear and tear in the field.
Above & below There’s a wide focus wheel, for easy grip, and ample eye relief from twist-up eyecups