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Theron Optics Questa 8x42

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/28/2015 at 12:29
FrankD View Drop Down
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I have been meaning to sit down and type up a review of the new Theron  Questa 8x42 for a few days  but just haven’t had the time until now. The Questa is a new model which has just been added to the Theron lineup and is available in both the 8x42 and 10x42 configurations. Theron Optics has been in existence for the last 7 or 8 years and has been known for providing very good optical optical performance for the price (value). Prior to the introduction of the Questa their highest performing model was the Wapiti ED-APO. The Wapiti ED-APO, introduced several years ago, has many of the high end features such as dielectric prism coating and ED glass lenses. The Questa has the same features but takes performance to another level by introducing field flatteners in the eyepiece design.

 

 

 

                Looking at the entire binocular market a potential buyer will find very few consume- grade binoculars that utilize field flatteners. For many years only one or two companies, such as Nikon, utilized field flatteners in any of their binoculars. That small group got a little bigger several years ago when Swarovski introduced their Swarovision models.  Since then one or two other models utilizing field flatteners have been introduced, the latest being the Theron Questa.

 

So, what makes the use of a field flattener so important? Well, what it does allow for is to have more of the field of view in focus. We often hear the phrase “edge to edge” sharpness. Field flattened binoculars often come the closest to being able to produce this level of performance. This then begs the question as to why more companies aren’t using them in their designs. As with any optical design there are drawbacks. The most often mentioned in this case is AMD (Angular Magnification Distortion) or “rolling ball” as it has been affectionately called as of late. AMD refers to a phenomenon where the image appears to roll as if across the surface of a ball when panning with the binocular. To counteract this to some extent manufacturers introduced some percentage of pincushion distortion. Such is the case with the Theron Questa.  As someone that can notice AMD but is not bothered by it unless it is excessive I can happily report that the Questa displays very little of it.

So before we go into my impressions of optical performance, ergonomics, etc… let’s look at the basic features/specifications of the binocular.

8x42 model

-          22.6 mm of eye relief

-          425 foot (8.1 degree) field of view

-          822 grams (28.9 ounces)

-          6.2 inches tall

-          Dielectric/phase coated,  prisms

-          Broadband Fully multicoated lenses

-          ED glass objective design

-          Nitrogren filled / waterproof

-          4 foot close focus

-          1.25 rotations from close focus to infinity counterclockwise (with an additional .25 rotation past infinity)

10x42

-          Same overall specs and features as the 8x but with a 336 foot (6.4 degree) field of view, 18.5 mm of eye relief and an 812 gram (28.6 ounce) weight

 

Optical Performance:

As mentioned above the most prominent advertising feature with this model is the edge to edge sharpness. Does it really deliver edge to edge sharpness? Yes and no. As I have mentioned when describing various field flattener models in the past the image is sharp across more of the field of view than non-field flattened models. Is it edge to edge? Yes, in a sense it is however there is a small zone where the image loses a very small amount of sharpness. I would estimate the inner 3/4ths of the field of view is sharp and then there is about 10% of the field of view is slightly less sharp followed by the remaining 15% of outer edge of the image being as sharp as the central 75%. As has been discussed previously this “ring” is possibly where the AMD and pincushion distortion overlap within the image.

Apparent sharpness inside the sweetspot and at the edge is excellent. I have no difficulty pulling out the finest detail both at close focus and out on distant targets. CA control is excellent in the central 75% with a gradual worsening outwards. I would call it moderate at the very outer edge.

Apparent contrast is very good but a slightly warm to neutral color bias does influence this area to some extent. Apparent brightness is excellent and in comparison to just about every other binocular I have on hand it is notably brighter in challenging conditions.

When you combine all of these attributes then the resulting experience is truly extraordinary. The field of view is wide, so much of the image is in focus with the center, colors are accurately represented, CA is well controlled and the image is bright. I would use the term “panoramic” to describe the experience. Only a few of the binoculars I have owned in the past gave me a similar experience. The Meopta Meostar and Nikon Premier LX/HG/Venturer are the two that immediately come to mind because of the field flattener elements with the understanding that the Questas is a bit better because of the effective use of ED glass and the notably wider field of view. Definitely an “immersive” experience.

Ergonomics:

                The largest objections to previous versions of this design was that the large oculars forced the eyecup diameter to be larger than average. This in turn forced consumers to use wider IPD settings to compensate to some extent. This created a less than ideal viewing comfort level for many individuals.

That issue has now been resolved with the Questa design. The eyecups are notably narrower at both the base and end which allows for narrower IPD settings and a much more appreciable comfort level. The eyecups have one intermediate setting between fully collapsed and fully extended and have a solid feel to their design.

                The rubber armoring is smooth in texture and very pleasing to the touch. Unlike one of the previous versions of this design this model has narrower overall feel as a result. The texture of the rubber in combination with the thumb indents provides a similar feeling to that of the original Swarovski EL 8x32.

                Both the focusing speed and tension of the Questa are close to ideal. As mentioned in the specs above it takes 1.25 revolutions to go from a close focus of about 4 feet all the way out to infinity. I tend to find binoculars with 1.25-1.5 revolutions to be ideal as they provide a nice compromise between too fast and too slow so long as the focusing tension is sufficient enough not overshoot “perfect focus” on any given object. This is the case with this model.

                I have not noted any fit and finish issues with this model. Every component performs as intended (eyecups, central hinge, diopter, focuser, etc…). The diopter adjustment is located in the classic position around the right eyepiece. It does not lock but does have enough resistance to keep it locked in place.

Accessories include carrying case, neckstrap, objective covers and rainguard. The Questas carry a one year no-fault warranty and a lifetime manufacturer defect warranty. They have a listed retail price of $499 but are currently on an introductory sale price of $425.

Nitpicks?

                Not really as my concerns with the previous versions have all been addressed. Some individuals might find the listed 28.9 ounce weight objectionable It is an ounce or so heavier than the premium models offered…

 

Swarovski SV 8.5 x43 – 28 ounces

Zeiss SF 8x42 – 27.5 ounces

Leica Ultravid Plus 8x42 – 27.9 ounces

Nikon EDG 8x42 – 27.7 ounces

 

Compared to some other popular mid-high priced models….

Leica Trinovid 8x42 – 28.6 ounces

Meopta Meostar HD 10x42 – 27 ounces

Zeiss Conquest HD – 28 ounces

 

I often find it interesting to compare specs on paper with various models. Keeping that in mind the Questa compares very favorably with models costing 4-5 times the price. Obviously, as fun as that might be, the real test is in actual use. I would encourage anyone to compare the Questa with any of the models listed above and report your experiences. There might not be as big of a gap as the price would dictate.

In summary, I find the Questa to be a bit of a game-changer for a variety of reasons. Yes, there were two models based on the same design from other companies but the eyecup size made “ease of use” much more difficult for me at least. This binocular has all of their benefits and none of their concerns. Optically this binocular has everything going for it…wide field of view, very good CA control, a huge sweet spot, excellent brightness and color and ergonomically I find it a pleasure to use in all areas.

The real question, as with many optics coming out of China, is whether or not the quality control is going to be good from unit to unit. With a sample of one in my possession I cannot comment on that issue but would be interested in others’ comments once more of these are purchased.

Two big thumbs up from me on this binocular!

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2015 at 13:35
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Thanks for the review Frank.
Looks like it might be a winner.

How extreme is the rolling ball/globe effect when panning?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2015 at 14:21
FrankD View Drop Down
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Timberbuck,

Thank you. Rolling ball is minimal. I don't notice it unless I pan fairly quickly and only in certain scenarios.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/01/2015 at 19:03
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Wow, what a review. Fantastic detail D, the kind of detail a gent needs to make an informed decision. Thanks kind sir.
Wf
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2015 at 19:42
anweis View Drop Down
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Frank, you may want to revisit the binoculars that you made famous (Sightron 8x32). They no longer have a warm color bias, they are very bright and color neutral now The coatings must have changed. 
These Theron seem to be really nice. Their flat field of view matches my perception of the latest Swarovisions. 


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2015 at 19:45
FrankD View Drop Down
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Anweis,

Sorry. I saw your PM but couldn't respond when I read it. Did you recently buy the Sightrons and/or try the Questas?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2015 at 19:46
FrankD View Drop Down
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White fire,

Thank you. :-)
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2015 at 20:34
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I did not try the Questa, but your review and description of them made me think of the initial impression i had of the 8x32 Swarovision. 
Me and a friend purchased Sightrons recently and were very surprised to notice that they had a different color balance and representation compared to identical binoculars purchased several years ago. 
The improved Sightrons have a color neutral image and very pleasant wide sweet spot. They are not quite as sharp as a great top quality binocular, but are very nice and very usable. If i had a plane ticket to Patagonia, i would take them. They are an even greater value now than in the past, with their resistance to flare, wide sweet spot, neutral colors, and excellent brightness.   
Somehow, my old 8x32 EL is all i need and want these days, i care more about what kind of beer and barbeque i will find at my next birding or hunting destination than what new binoculars anyone will come up with.
 


Edited by anweis - September/02/2015 at 20:40
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2015 at 20:56
FrankD View Drop Down
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Hmm, I may have to order a new unit and compare it to my original from four years ago. Thanks for the tip.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/28/2015 at 21:00
burfurd View Drop Down
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Frank, I want to thank you for that review. It was direct and without focus on anything catering to snob-appeal. I have been researching for a good optic and what you did was a blessing. I ordered the 8x42 today. I'll let you know when I have a chance to play with it. Thank you again. Russ. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2015 at 09:40
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burfurd,
 
Glad to hear it Russ. I greatly look forward to hearing your thoughts on it once it arrives. This is a true gem and I have received countless hours of enjoyment using them recently. Once more folks catch on then I think they will really become popular.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2015 at 13:32
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I'm certain you are right. Boy did they have fast service. I paid yesterday around 2pm Mountain time, and they emailed that they went out 4 hour later! Wow. Be here on the second. 
Now the only hole I have is the 8x32 area. To keep it inexpensive (retired guy) I've been considering the
Sightron Blue Sky; Hawke Frontier and Endurance ED's; ZR ZRS; Vangard Spirit ED; Celestron Trailblazer; 
last but not least Theron's Wapiti - huge FOV!
You have any thoughts about that?  Cool
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2015 at 22:49
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I have the Wapiti 8x32. I picked it over Frank's Sightron.   Tough bugger and has very good optics.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/30/2015 at 07:51
burfurd View Drop Down
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Yes, their specs show a very interesting piece. And what a price. Hard to see how I'd go wrong. Thanks.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/30/2015 at 18:35
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The Theron Wapiti LT is a steal at the price they sell for. I chose the Sightron over it but I could easily have gone either way. They are both excellent values for the money.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/30/2015 at 20:32
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Looks like this time next month I will have achieved official Theron-Fan-Boy status. Who woulda thought? Big Grin
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/13/2015 at 17:19
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Well, I've had the glass for long enough to have an opinion. Take it for what it's worth--an untrained eye but an inherent favoring of quality.  In a word; Wow.  The brightness, clarity, sharpness and so on.  I have a hard time understanding how they can do this for that price!?  Thanks again for your recommendation.

I got the 8x32 Theron also. They are nice, and solid, with a good image...but nowhere near the image I see in the Questa.  More than can be explained by simply 32mm vs. 42mm.  Still, extremely nice for just a third of the price.  Excellent

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