Kite Lynx HD+ 8x42 - A Brief Look
Among its roughly a dozen lines of binoculars, Kite Optics had for years had a compact and lightweight “Lynx HD” in two configurations on the market, 8x30 and 10x30.
This summer, Kite has added a new line of Lynx “HD+” binoculars, this time in 8x30, 10x30, 8x42, 10x42 and 10x50.
Whether the new “HD+” will replace the Lynx HD in size 8x30 and 10x30, or whether the two will be sold in parallel with their HD+ brothers, I don’t know.
Kite Optics have not been shy about the performance of their new binocular line. They are advertising the HD+ as “the world’s leading combo in optical and ergonomical performance” and go on with statements like “revolutionary optical system”, maintain that “the optical characteristics … are truly unique” and assure that “this instrument goes beyond the limits of any other binocular”.
No small claims, so I thought I should get my own impression and had a brief look at the 8x42 model.
Objective diameter: 42mm
True aperture: 42mm (measured)
Field of view: 8.6 degrees RFOV = 151m / 1000m
Close focus: 2m
Eye relief: 17mm
Effective eye relief: 13mm (measured from rim of eyecup)
Weight acc. to manuf: 690g
Weight (w. strap + eyecaps): 797g (measured)
Warranty: 30 years
Price (acc. to Kite Optics): € 795
GENERAL FIRST IMPRESSION
The first impression: a compact, very well built and finished instrument; feels solid in my hands; a substantial layer of rubber armour with pleasant haptics, giving good grip both dry and wet.
The instrument appears light but not too light, well balanced, with good ergonomics, the index fingers rest easily on the focus wheel.
Diopter adjustment is on the right eyepiece.
The instrument comes with a sensible bag, neckstrap, eyepiece covers and objective covers, everything in decent quality.
There is no indication of origin, but Kite Optics have in the past always maintained that their binoculars were made in Japan.
The central hinge is easy to adjust but stiff enough to keep its position.
The eyecups can be extended with 4 clickstops at “fully in”, 2 intermediate stops, and “fully out”; clickstops are a bit too soft for my taste, but do hold chosen position. The rubbery eyecups are soft and comfortable. Observation with glasses: there is just sufficient eye relief to overlook the entire field of view.
The metal focus wheel works smoothly and precisely, there is no play. 390 degrees turn from close focus to infinity, with sufficient extra travel beyond infinity (ca. 100 degrees).
Diopter adjustment: the “0” mark corresponds almost precisely to the true zero diopter adjustment. There is no lock on the adjustment, but it works sufficiently stiff to keep its position.
OPTICS IN GENERAL
Judging from the amount and brightness of reflections, coatings appear high quality.
The exit pupils appear perfectly round, the area around them shows various bright structures and reflections, but sufficiently distant from the pupils. However, what looks like a small false pupil (at 4 o’clock on the right eyepiece and at 8 o’clock on the left one) becomes visible on both sides. I found very little vignetting.
The tubes appear equipped with well structured baffles, but some metal surfaces seem not perfectly blackened.
Collimation is impeccable.
“Einblickverhalten” (ease of comfortably viewing the entire field of view): Using the 4 positions of the eyecups, and trying out different viewing positions, I could always find a comfortable placement of the eyepieces against my eye sockets, with no kidney-beaning or other disturbing effects.
The very first impression when looking through the Kite Lynx HD+:
wonderfully wide field of view, a bright image, high color fidelity.
With 151m, the Lynx HD+ probably features currently the widest field of view of all 8x42s. The next widest is probably the Zeiss Victory SF 8x42 with 148m, followed by a number of others in the 135-140m range. This is a big plus for the Kite.
Looking at various objects and structured surfaces, central sharpness and contrast appear as high. The sweet spot, however, is not extremely wide, and off-axis sharpness appears form about 70% outwards from the center of the FOV. Blurring increases further out (more on that later), but stays within “usable limits”.
There is a fair amount of angular distortion, not too bad though, and on the other hand there is only very little “rolling ball” effect (which I expected to be more pronounced with such a wide field of view) when panning.
Chromatic aberration appears well controlled, almost none of it in the center of the image, a bit more further out, but overall, I was surprised not to see more, given the short build of the binocular.
Stray-light suppression: to be further tested. The only initial impression I got is that direct sunlight on the objective lenses doesn’t cause any noticeable glare. To be confirmed and more widely reviewed, together with testing for flares, spikes, ghosting etc. I anticipate completing such tests within the next two weeks.
As mentioned earlier, color fidelity is good, and the “paper test acc. to Walter Schön confirms that impression.
INITIAL COMPARISONS WITH OTHER 8X42S
Of particular interest to me was of course how the Lynx HD+ performs when compared with Kite’s current top 8x42 binocular lines, the Ibis and Bonelli 2.0, and I also briefly compared it to binos like the similarly priced Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 or Nikon Monarch HG 8x42, which for many have sort of a reference status for the “subprime” 8x42 market, as well as to an alpha glass like the Victory SF 8x42.
The Kite Ibis ED has a field of view of 126m, the Bonelli 2.0 132m. In both, the image appears clearly less wide than in the Lynx HD+, and both exhibit a slightly warmer color tone. Central sharpness appears comparable, edge sharpness slightly better in the Ibis and the Bonelli than in the Lynx (which, of course, has the larger field). Also, the sweet spot appears wider in the Ibis and Bonelli than in the Lynx, but that needs to be further confirmed. CA appears somewhat better controlled in the Lynx HD+ than in the others.
For my eyes, the Zeiss Conquest HD beats the Lynx HD+ in central sharpness. Off-axis, the case isn’t that clear anymore, the Zeiss seems to exhibit a more “constant” pattern of increasing blurriness towards the image edge, whereas in the Lynx HD+, the “border area” of the sweet spot appears less well defined (anybody understands what I am trying to say here?). Again, the Lynx features the much wider field of view (151m) than the Conquest (128m), which needs to be taken into account. Edge sharpness is clearly better in the Monarch HG, which, with its 145m field of view, is perhaps more easily comparable with the Lynx.
Comparison with the Victory SF, which costs 3x as much as the Lynx, wasn’t fair of course. It outperformed the Lynx in most aspects, particularly in edge sharpness (with a comparable width of the FOV), but that was to be expected, and everything else would have been a total surprise.
Whether the Kite Lynx HD+ “… goes beyond the limits of any other binocular …”, as Kite claims, can fairly be debated. But I would agree that it is a very nice addition to the 8x42 market, which is dominated by binoculars with fields of view between 125 und 135m. The Lynx’ 151m field is really pleasant, and even if edge sharpness is not the strongest point of the Lynx, for handheld use, esp. birding, its wide field with good central sharpness is very welcome. Further strong points of the Lynx are good color rendition and brightness, a compact design, nice finish and excellent ergonomics. Kite’s 30 years warranty is also not bad.
To be followed up with results from stray-light testing etc.