Friday, June 29, 2012

Product Review: KOWA SV 10x50 binoculars

Staring into the shadows of an overgrown brushy hillside or down into a steep canyon, you look for an ear twitch, or a shape standing out differently than the rest of the scenery. In order to step up your game and be an effective hunter, you must use quality optics that are crisp, clear and powerful. As part of my scouting, and utilizing them on the Spring CA Bighorn Sheep Survey, I have been reviewing a pair of the KOWA SV50-10 binoculars from their new product line. I was also able to utilize them when I went hog hunting in different terrain and while shooting at the archery range.

Image © kymberli q. photography


Included in the box are:
  • Case
  • Strap
  • Rainguard
  • Objective Lens Covers
  • Kowa Lifetime Warranty

SV50-10 Specifications:
  • Model SV50-10
  • Magnification     10X
  • Objective Lens Diameter     50mm
  • Real Field of View     5.0°
  • Exit Pupil     5.0mm
  • Relative Brightness     25.0
  • Twilight Factor     22.4
  • Eye Relief     19.5mm
  • Field of View at 1000m/yds     87m/yds
  • Dimensions (Length x Width x Height)     178x133x60mm (7x5.2x2.4in)
  • Weight     740g (26.1oz)
  • Warranty: Lifetime of the product from manufacturer's defects

Right out of the box the binoculars felt great in my hands. They are lightweight (only 26.1 oz) and easy to maneuver.  The grip was smooth, non-slipping and well designed. Plus, they looked really cool!

My daughter loves helping me test out binoculars! Image © kymberli q. photography

COST EFFECTIVE WITH SUPERIOR OPTICAL PERFORMANCE
All lenses and prisms of the YF and SV Series are fully multi-coated. In addition, the roof prism (SV Series) is phase coated and has a highly reflective coating that minimizes the loss of light and produces a clear visual range and sharp image. Even though costs were reduced through simultaneous product development and the implementation of an objective focus mechanism (SV 32/42), the superior optical performance was maintained without sacrificing important features like being waterproof and dry nitrogen gas filled.

For a 'cost effective' item from KOWA, the lens clarity on these is excellent. They are very sharp, not at all cloudy and easy to clean. The focus was sharp in all conditions whether is be sunny, cloudy or at dawn or dusk. The view is crystal clear. Did I mention no graying around the edges and no fogginess?

The diopter (focus adjustment) on these binoculars is very smooth. The right-eye focus allows you to pinpoint exactly where you need to have it. Everything holds true and stays where it needs to be. It will hold your settings even if bumped around a bit. Still, even if you did bump it, you can find your settings very quickly. Recently, I took these on a two mile run where I had them loosely in my bino pack while I ran and they bounced around quite a bit. I stopped halfway through my run, and at the very end to use them. My settings were right on and I was able to observe a family of coyotes I would not have seen clearly with the naked eye.  My setting never moved on the run. I had my daughter adjust them and when she gave them back I was able to find my focus smoothly and quickly.

Image © kymberli q. photography


One of the main features I test with binoculars is the interpupillary distance.
My eyes are set narrow on my rather large head and I have had difficulty finding a high-quality pair of binoculars that will adjust to fit my needs. The SV50-10s adjust in tight for me and open wide for someone who might have a greater eye spacing. My eyes couldn't be happier! I was able to adjust them accordingly and am truly happy with the result.

The unique neck strap that
comes with the binoculars is padded neoprene covered in soft cloth. It seats comfortably on the back of your neck and doesn't rub. Like many hunters in the West, I am using a binocular chest pack to house my binoculars. If I was not using a chest pack, I would be using one of these padded straps. It is well constructed and very comfortable.

The KOWA
SV50-10s have the ability to mount them to a tripod using standard ¼-inch threading. Having the ability to mount these to a tripod, especially out here in Southern California where you are constantly glassing is a necessity. My tripod always goes with me and the 10x50s mount easily and are a pleasure to use. I had these on my tripod many times.

These are longer binoculars, but they're very well balanced in your hand. The grip is very nice as it is smooth and it has a nice contour to it. My hands did not did not slip on it when they got sweaty in the high desert of Southern California.

Image © kymberli q. photography

These binoculars fit very well in some chest packs and not so well in others. Some of the full enclosure cases house the 10x50s perfectly. While some of the flip top cases do not. So you have to figure out which case will work well with these. Personally, I would recommend the Badlands binocular case because it'll fit just about any size binoculars, including the KOWA
SV50-10s. I really like the way they fit in the Badlands case. They don't bounce around too much, fit well and stay protected.

One of the things I recommend is reading the fine print in the specs on these website. When KOWA says that they are fog proof they mean is that they are fog proof on the inside of the lenses. They're nitrogen filled so that they won't get foggy on the inside. That does not mean that they won't be foggy on the outside. In cooler weather, they may fog up on you on the outside. Just clean your binoculars from time to time with the optics cloth that comes with the binos or the comes with your binoculars case.

I really like the way that these are built and I like the weight of these binoculars. They work very well for spotting and stalking wild game. One slight difference between the KOWA BD 10x42s and the
SV50-10s is the fact that the 10x50s weigh slightly less. For me, the weight difference was noticeable in the field, but that was probably all mental (we are talking a 0.2 oz difference). It really seemed like the 10x50s were lighter weight. I think that anyone purchasing the 10x50s especially DIY hunters or on budget hunters would be very happy with these. I honestly like these better than the brand-name binoculars I have purchased in the past (which were even higher priced, for less magnification).

KOWA is known for high-end optics and I really think they're onto something with making a high
quality binocular at this price point. If I'm not mistaken, KOWA has never made of binoculars at this price point before. They usually have a higher price point (due to high-end glass), but I think that with the SV50-10s they are really going to surprise the budget hunter and the do-it-yourself hunter. Personally, I think that the optic quality of these binoculars is just as good as the 10x42s. These function and feel like high-end binoculars to me and most of you know how picky I am about my gear.

The KOWA SV50-10s retail for $305, but you can find them as low as $275. For your hard-earned dollar I highly recommend the KOWA SV50-10s for any hunter out there. These are also a great pair for those on a budget who want quality optics in the field. You get a quality product that you can always rely on. I assure you, these will be my go-to binoculars for glassing from a tripod this season.

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