Gear Test: Minox BD 10X44 BP Binoculars
A good set of binoculars is a camper’s best friend. Whether you’re an avid birder stalking the woods or a casual observer of roadside wildlife, binoculars are hardly an accessory when spending time outdoors. They also prove themselves worthy as tools for any number of other uses, such as scanning the terrain to identify landmarks, or to look far ahead to see where the road or trail goes.
When shopping for a binocular that fits your specific needs and activities, a broad spectrum of choices is available, but there are some things that all good binoculars will share. A larger diameter objective (front) lens and exit pupil help bring in more light and boost low-light visibility, but a larger diameter objective lens also means more weight. That’s a decision you must weigh: lightweight and compact is best for long-distance hikers; weight is not really a concern on short hikes or when a monopod can be deployed. Binoculars with greater eye relief offer more comfortable viewing, especially for those who wear eyeglasses. High quality, multi-coated glass lenses are a must, too. Easy functionality, focus and diopter settings also top the list.
We decided to take a long look through the Minox BD 10×44 BP binoculars, and this is what we found: This high-end product is a Porro prism design, a less popular construction due to its typically higher expense and weight, but Porro offers enhanced light-transmission quality characteristics. Less light is lost in the optical path through reflection on the way to the eye with a Porro design. Porro prism designs are also said to have better “three-dimensional” viewing of an object due to the inherently increased objective lens spacing.
The Minox BD 10×44 BP is a good example of the company’s history of miniaturization and quality. It has good upper-end magnification (10x) with a large (44 mm diameter) objective lens, in a relatively compact (5.0 x 7.25 x 2.0 inches) size. The exit pupil is generous (5.5 mm diameter), passing large helpings of light; and it will focus down to 13.12 feet, good for scoping butterflies. It is neither an anchor nor a feather, but at 24.3 ounces, the Minox 10×44 BP ended up in my daypack, not around my neck on the trail.
The design of the sturdy metal housing is sleek and comfortable in the hand. The highlight in case design, however, is the focusing system. Instead of the usual individual eyepiece diopter adjustment, the main focusing wheel in the center is used for diopter adjustments. The center focusing wheel cap is lifted and turned to change functions. Once the focus is adjusted to the user’s eye and the center wheel cap set back in the proper position, the correction is protected from unintentional changes.
Another nice feature are the twist-up eyecups with click stops. This makes it easy to find and set just the right extended eye relief so you can enjoy the full field of view offered by the Minox 10×44 BP when wearing eye glasses.
Sealed and protected against water up to a depth of five meters, the Minox 10×44 BP binoculars are also filled with a noble argon gas to protect the inside against corrosion and fogging. The housing has a rubberized outer coating that makes it easy to grip. Its lenses are top-quality German glass and feature multicoated surfaces for enhanced color and light transmission.
We were impressed by the Minox 10×44 BP’s sturdiness and durability. It offered a sophisticated diopter focusing system, was easy and quick to use once we made our initial one-time focusing corrections, and allowed viewing of low-light-level shadow detail with clarity and detail. MSRP: $549. Minox USA: 603/469-3080; /minox.com/.
For more binoculars check out our 2011 Binocular Buyer’s Guide!