Cons: Design makes for curious ergonomics. While It could be argued that the angular shaping of the rubber armour helps grip, it feels odd, and smacks more of an attempt to be different rather than offering any practical utility in the field. Very slight internal reflections visible in some tricky lighting conditions. High-quality neoprene strap is too long, even when adjusted to its shortest length.
Price: c. €405 (GB£360)
The Eschenbach Trophy D 8×42 is a very capable full size binocular that ticks most of the boxes for any discerning wildlife enthusiast or keen birder. It’s well put together, and thanks to ED glass and high-quality phase-corrected prisms with dielectric mirror coatings it delivers a bright, high-contrast image that stays pin sharp across a wide field of view. The ergonomics are a bit odd, but optically it’s hard to fault at this price point. The Trophy D is worth considering if you’re looking for a good all-round mid-range binocular.
View the Trophy D 8×42 ED on the Eschenbach website.
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Eschenbach Trophy D 8×42 ED Full Review
Eschenbach wasn’t a brand that was on my optics radar until earlier this year, when I was contacted through the website by someone at the company asking if I’d like to take a look at one of their binoculars for review. Eschenbach is a well established German based optics company with considerable pedigree in optical instrument manufacture. Based in Nurmberg, Germany the company was established back in 1913, so it actually pre-dates many of the best known optics companies we’re familiar with today. Its original focus was vision enhancement optics and magnification devices, and that remains a big part of the company’s business. However it also produces a wide range of binoculars, some of which are ideally suited to birding and wildlife observation. Top of that list is the Trophy D ED range, sporting high quality materials and cutting edge optical features.
Balance, handling and build quality
The Trophy D arrived in a very neat box that hinted at the quality of the instrument it contained. The binocular itself sports very smart smooth matt black rubber armour with attractive dull grey metal detailing a knurled metal focus knob and dioptre adjustment dial. One thing you notice immediately is the curious shape of the binocular barrels.
The Trophy D has a typical contemporary single-hinge configuration that places the hinge high on the binocular leaving the lower portion of the barrels exposed for a wrap-around grip. This is my preferred roof prism design, and is now widely utilised by a range of high quality optics manufacturers, but what makes the Trophy D different is the shape of the lower half of the barrels. In most binoculars these are circular in cross-section, but in the trophy D a ridge in the rubber armour on the top, and to a lesser extent the bottom of the barrels gives them an angular profile that’s very noticeable.
While it could be argued that this ridge affords some enhancement to grip on the smooth rubber armour, in practice it feels a bit strange, and is perhaps an attempt to stand out from the crowd than to offer any practical advantage for the end user. Design for design’s sake perhaps — but there’s no denying that the Trophy D does look different.
The housing is made from Magnalium — an aluminium alloy containing magnesium — making it light yet very strong, and is covered in quite thick, hard rubber armour that should afford decent protection to the optics from the occasional knocks and bangs that are inevitable in the field. At 785 grams they are around average for a high-quality pair of full-size roof-prism binoculars (high quality optical components tend to weigh more than their lower spec counterparts), and the binocular in general is well balanced and feels very solid and robust, and the build quality of the sample I tested was excellent. I’m not sure if the Eschenbach manufactures its binoculars in Germany, or has them made in the far east — but based on my experience with the Trophy D either way it looks like they apply exacting German quality control to the manufacturing process.
The large central focus wheel is made from a dull grey metal and is deeply knurled to provide a very positive grip. Holding the binoculars normally youIt turns smoothly through one and a quarter anti-clockwise turns from an advertised close focus distance of 2.5 metres (c. 8ft) out to infinity. That close-focus distance is decidedly average for a modern 8×42 roof prism, and could be a problem if you want to use your binoculars for things like butterflies and dragonflies, although in practice I could focus the Trophy D down to less around 2m (6.5ft) which is a much healthier statistic.
The focus ratio of one and a quarter turns is fine, and offers a good balance between being able to shift focus rapidly from a distant subject to something nearby and back again, but also gives fine-grained control of the focus which can be so vital to avoid overshooting the point of focus, particularly at close quarters.
The dioptre adjustment to compensate for differences in vision between your eyes is located in the standard position beneath the right eyepiece. Like the focus wheel the dioptre adjustment dial is made of knurled metal, and while it doesn’t lock into position like some high end binoculars, it is stiff enough to prevent any accidental movement once set. Unusually the markings indicating +/- and the central point are on the upper surface of the rubber armour (you usually find them underneath), but apart from that minor detail the adjustment works in the same way as on any other binocular.
While there is no explicit “scale” marked on the dioptre adjustment to allow you to note your perfect dioptre setting (handy if you share your binoculars with others who may change their setup), in practice you can easily use the knurled ridges in the adjustment dial for this purpose by counting the number of ridges off centre clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Eye cups and eye-relief
The twist up metal eye-cups are covered in the same hard-rubber as the main body, and while solid are also very comfortable when you hold them up to your eyes. There are three click-stop positions (fully down, half-way and fully up) to choose from. I can’t find a quoted eye-relief measurement for the Trophy D 8×42, but I had no problem seeing the full field of view wearing a test pair of sunglasses that I keep in the office for just that reason, which suggests that these should be fine for most people wearing glasses to use with the eyecups twisted down.
As you’d expect from a binocular of this calibre the Eschenbach Trophy D is purged with nitrogen and sealed to make it impervious to water, dust and internal fogging.
You never really know what to expect when you try a binocular from a manufacturer for the first time. There’s no real frame of reference, other than the spec sheet and the price point, to inform your expectations, and in my experience it can be a bit of a lottery. With the Trophy D it seems Eschenbach has a winning ticket though, because the view through the binocular is very good indeed.
Image sharpness and field of view
The combination of high quality phase corrected prisms, dielectric coatings and fully-multi-coated ED glass combine to deliver a bright, highly detailed view that’s exceptionally sharp from the centre right out to practically the full extent of the field of view. That field of view of 136m@1,000m / 7.75°, while not class-leading, is ample and well up there in terms of wide angle 8×42 binoculars. The view feels expansive, and the fact that its sharp almost to the very edge of the field adds to that sense of immersion.
Colour fidelity, contrast and chromatic aberration
To my eyes colours through the Eschenbachs looked vivid and neutral with no obvious colour bias. Contrast is excellent, giving the image plenty of pop but without overdoing it and making things look artificial. Overall the view appears very natural which is exactly what you want when you look through a pair of binoculars.
The use of ED glass in the objective lens elements helps to control chromatic aberration — a phenomenon that causes colour fringing around high contrast objects, and that happens to some degree with all binoculars and spotting scopes. Eschenbach have done a great job of controlling this with the Trophy D, and it was never noticeable in normal use in the field, and was difficult to induce even by concentrating on very high contrast edges towards the periphery of the field of view.
Low light performance and coatings
Thanks to high quality phase corrected prisms with the very best dielectric mirror coatings, and fully-multi-coated lenses incorporating ED glass elements, Eschenbach have done their best to squeeze every bit of available light through the barrels of the Trophy D and into your eyes. It shows. During normal daylight the image is really bright and vivid, but what’s particularly impressive is just how bright it stays as the light fades into twilight and beyond.
On clear nights it’s even possible to use these binoculars by moonlight — they really are impressively bright.
The only slight niggle I have here in terms of coatings and light transmission is that in some light conditions I did notice some bright reflection flashing at the periphery of the field of view. They were minor, and didn’t show themselves very often, but were nonetheless distracting when they did occur. Overall though the optical performance of the Trophy D was excellent.
The Eschenbach Trophy D 8×42 ED comes with a high quality material / cordura-style protective carrying case (although why you’d want to keep your binoculars in a case is beyond me), an eyepiece rain guard that can be attached to the included neoprene padded neck strap, and an objective lens cover that looks like a giant version of a typical eyepiece rain cover and a lens cleaning cloth and a basic instruction manual.
All of these accessories are as good as or better than you would expect in terms of quality for binoculars at this price point. One quibble I have here is with the neck strap. While it is made from high quality materials, and is extremely comfortable around the neck, it’s simply too long, and you can’t adjust it enough. It employs quick-release plastic clips to attach the main strap to shorter lanyards you fix to lugs on the binocular body. The problem is that the adjustable bits (the lanyards) are quite short and the non-adjustable bit (the neck-strap proper) is very long, which means that even adjusted to the shortest possible length the binoculars are swinging irritatingly around my midrift.
If I was using these personally for any length of time I’d either have to cut the strap down to size or use a different strap altogether. Which is a shame, as apart from the length issue it’s a perfectly serviceable strap.
Eschenbach provides a comprehensive 10 year guarantee with the Trophy D binoculars, but in addition when you register your binoculars you’ll also qualify for their additional Warranty Plus programme which basically states that:
Within a period of 2 years from the purchase date, you will receive a pair of replacement binoculars in the event of the following circumstances:
- Theft by burglary (obligation to inform the police)
- Robbery (obligation to inform the police)
And the best bit about this: the warranty is valid worldwide. So regardless of where in the world this damage or loss takes place – you are always guaranteed peace of mind and this means maximum enjoyment when you’re out and about using your binoculars.
The Eschenbach Trophy D 8×42 ED is a very capable mid-range binocular that packs plenty of optical punch for the money. Optically they really are very good indeed, and will meet the needs of the most discerning of wildlife watchers. However they say the devil is in the detail, and for me seemingly trivial details temper the overall appeal of the Trophy D. I’m not sure of the quirky ergonomics. Maybe I’d get used to them in time, but I don’t really want to have to “get used to” a pair of binoculars… I’d rather binoculars be a seamless extension of my viewing experience.
But those are very personal foibles, and are no reflection on the optical performance or overall quality of the Trophy D — both of which are excellent. Overall I was very impressed with the optics and the quality of the Trophy D, and they’re certainly worth a look if you’re in the market for a solid, high-performance mid-range binocular.
From the Eschenbach website:
|Construction type||Roof prism binoculars|
|Diameter of lens||42 mm|
|Near point||2.5 m|
|Field of view m/1000m||136|
|Measures (HxWxD)||143x125x58 mm|
|Pupils focal distance min/max||4/11|
|Exit pupill||5,3 mm|
|Filled with nitrogen||Yes|
|Wide angle optics||Yes|
|Oculars for wearer of glasses||Yes|
I’d like to thank Eschenbach for submitting the Trophy D 8×42 ED for review on Ireland’s Wildlife.
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