Opticron’s Savanna R 8×33 binoculars
By Opticron | Field: 122m | Minimum Focus: 3.5m | Eye Relief: 20mm | IPD: 52mm-76mm | 116mm Tall x 160mm Wide | Weight: 428 Grams | Price: £119
Maker’s Description: The all-new Opticron Savanna R shares many of the features of it’s sister porro prism packaged into a single axis roof prism body. Designed as a 32mm from the bottom up, the overriding feel is “slimline-compact” while the dual hinge assembly provides plenty of room for fingers of all sizes. Images are bright and clear and the optical system delivers a favourable field of view 7.0° (8×33), 6.1° (10×33) so locating and tracking objects is achieved with the minimum of fuss. Like their sister models, the Savanna R close in to just 52mm making them suitable for children as young as 7.
Other features include;
Compact roof prism optical design finished in textured rubber armour, Nitrogen waterproof construction, Fully multi-coated optical system, Lightweight polycarbonate & alloy body, Long eye-relief for spectacle wearers, 3-stage twist type retractable eyecups, Close focus to 3.5m, 10 year guarantee
What’s in the box: Savanna R binoculars are supplied in neoprene case with carrying strap, a rain guard and neoprene lanyard and rubber objective lens covers, cleaning cloth, and a user guide with the guarantee.
Fatbirder View: Its clear to me that these binoculars have been designed very much for the young birder offering affordable quality with a light binocular that makes it easy to track a bird and find with your bins what your eyes just noticed. It was a toss-up which bins got their review first, the Savanna WP 8×30 or these Savanna R 8×33, regular readers will have seen my review of the WPs so know which came first. You will also know I was on the lookout for bins to suit my 11 year-old grandson, already a keen observer of wildlife. Suffice it to say he helped me review those and I could not prize them from his grasp so I’m not in a perfect position to compare them from his point of view, only my on.
Although I’ve used roof-prisms for more years than I care to divulge, I still prefer the look and feel of porro prisms, and I think the general public, and therefore newbies, probably see them as ‘proper binoculars’. But looks are totally subjective and the feel is really no different. That the Savanna R’s, despite their semi compact form, still fit my chunky fingers as well as those more slender ones of my wife or a youngster is all one needs. Of course, the major advantage immediately becomes apparent, as these are super light coming in at 60 grams less than the WP’s. I’ve read elsewhere that the focus wheel is large and stiff, but I cannot say that is my experience and a certain resistance always makes focus setting easier, in the past I’ve been annoyed by over light focusing that means no sooner are they clear than they lose focus at the slightest movement. So I found that aspect spot on.
Fully extended the cups were fine too, but when I tried them with my glasses on and turn them flat I found it hard to get totally comfortable. It might be me, but I was a little worried that the seemingly hard cups might scratch my spectacle lenses so I used them gingerly. The truth is I probably ought to use my glasses when using binoculars but never find it feels natural and so I tend to tyr to go without and therefore have to fiddle a lot to get the dioptre right to compensate for my weaker eye. The good news (for me) is that this adjustment is quite stiff, which means once you get where you want to be they don’t slip… harder to get to the right place but once set they stayed put during a mornings birding. I think my grandson would have found it easy enough. I asked him if he knew how to adjust the dioptre on the WPs and he looked at me with distain and explained the science behind them to my shame I actually learnt a bit.
To sum up they feel, look and handling all seem good at the price. Perhaps the strap is a bit flimsy but I’m not going to carp, one could always replace them anyway and I’d rather the cost cutting was done there than on the optics!
The one problem I found was to seat the binoculars comfortably to my eyes and at the same time get the two barrels to adjust perfectly… at times I was distracted by a view inside the barrels. If I adjusted them to fit with comfort the image did not overlap sufficiently, and if I got the image spot on they were not 100% comfortable. Now many readers will already think I’ve a big head, so maybe my eyes are further apart than the average or too close together or whatever, but I’ve noticed in the past that the longer you use a binocular the more comfortable it becomes… so this might just be a case of not giving them enough time.
At the end of the day its optical performance that counts most and there is no doubt that these score highly compared to similar priced models I’ve used… my ageing ‘spare car’ bins are nowhere near as good and cost as much years ago so clearly Opticron are giving value for money.
The image was always clear and crisp right to the edge of the lens and in good sunlight, even when overcast the colour seemed as close to true as one needs. On a wet day looking out of the window at my feeders they certainly did not perform as well as my usual binoculars but with a price tag almost 12 times as much that is hardly surprising. There is too a bit of ‘interference’ when you are looking at, say, a dark side of a hedge with bright sunlight behind. When a blackcap moved to the top of an elder to eat the berries I found the half tree/half sky view rather pale from the glare.
The actual field of view was not what I am used to either. I generally use 10×42 for most purposes and 8×42 when bashing the bushes for fidgety migrants and I found these binoculars did not make it easy to re-find a flitting warbler. On the other hand I was impressed with how well they would focus down to switch to watching a Migrant Hawker on a hawthorn twig, from four or five yards, but less impressed when I tried creeping closer.
Overall I am impressed with value for money. Just as with the WPs these will be the compromise one needs when buying a youngster their first pair. Affordable, but good quality. One can pay almost 20 times as much for the very best… and if you can afford it then go for it. But the truth is the hike in price from cheap to middle to best is way larger than the quality gap. Moreover, Opticron offer a 10 year guarantee which given the price is quite something.
Buying your first pair of binoculars is not unlike buying your first car. If you go for the Lamborghini right after you pass your test you are a fool. As most of us know the first year of driving sees a few scrapes and scratches as you get used to backing up and driving down narrow lanes, so sensible novices get a roadworthy vehicle that won’t cost a fortune to replace. Opticron’s low-priced range offers the novice wildwatcher the same comfort; they are roadworthy but affordable too!