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Celestron Granite ED Binoculars

Vortex Stokes Broadwing, 8x42, 10x42

The Broadwing is another of the Stokes Birding binocular series made by Vortex Optics. Like the other models in the series, the Broadwings are roof-prism binoculars, made with BaK4 glass and fully sealed and nitrogen-purged to be completely waterproof and internally fogproof, available in 8x42 and 10x42 configurations. We received both models Broadwings and tested them extensively. Here’s what we found.

The Broadwing binoculars are of roughly equal size: both 5.0 inches wide, with the 8x version slightly taller at 6.2 versus 6.0 inches on the 10x. The 8x model is also slightly heavier at 27.3 oz. compared to 26.9 oz. for the 10x model. Both are coated in the same olive green rubber armoring, which is smooth to the touch but somehow sticks to the hands all the same. The upper portion of the barrel flares outward just at the right spot and angle to fall on the hand between forefinger and thumb. This flared point houses the bracket through which the binocular strap is threaded, but because the bracket housing is recessed, it is not uncomfortable. The distribution of weight is very even relative to the fulcrum of the thumbs, so the binocular weight settles naturally and comfortably in the hand. This is nice ergonomic design.

In terms of optical performance, we were quite pleased with the Broadwings, though we noticed a slight difference in several properties that led us to slightly prefer the 8x version to the 10x. The Broadwings are listed as having a minimum close focus of 4.5 feet. We had little trouble getting the 8x model down to this distance though we noted slight collapse of the visual field to the dominant eye below about 5.0 feet. The 10x model had more difficulty, with field collapse starting at about 6.0 feet, and the minimum distance at about 5.0 feet. However, this is better than average performance by both models for this trait relative to similar binoculars. Eye relief is 18 mm on the 8x version and 16 mm on the 10x, roughly average performance for both magnifications, but more likely to be comfortable for eyeglass wearers in the 8x version. The field of view at 1000 yards is 350 feet for the 8x and 330 feet for the 10x. Compared to other 42-mm roof prism binoculars, this is slightly below average performance for the 8x and slightly better than average on the 10x.

Mag x Obj
Eye relief
Field of view
Close focus
Weight
Dimensions
8x42
18 mm
350 ft/1000 yds
4.5 ft
27.3 oz.
5.0" x 6.2"
10x42
16 mm
330 ft/1000 yds
4.5 ft
26.9 oz.
5.0" x 6.0"

One thing we noticed that we liked a lot about the Broadwings was their flat-field performance. The focus stays sharp right to the very edge of the visual field, with only the very slightest tendency for straight lines to bow inward at the edge. There was no chromatic aberration of light at the field edge, even on brightly-lit, high-contrast objects. This is excellent flat-field performance for an optic in this price range. There are far more expensive optics that don’t do as well on these properties. For overall brightness, the Broadwings fall somewhere in the middle of 42-mm roof prisms. We didn’t detect any notable color bias. Broadwings go from minimum close focus to infinity in 2 full turns of the focus knob, which is a bit pokey for modern roof prism binoculars. Compensating somewhat for this is the fact that their depth of field is perceptibly better than some binoculars, which, sort of stands to reason when coupled with the previous observation, if you think about it. Or even if you don’t think about it! Anyway, the focus mechanism was very smooth, even on these brand new binoculars.

There are two things that users can adjust on most roof prism binoculars: the eyecups and the diopter setting. The Broadwings have a garden-variety diopter adjustment mechanism; a knurled twist-ring on the upper right barrel, just below the eyecup. The ring is marked with a single red hash mark flanked by four white ones on either side. Line the red hash mark up with a raised ridge on the ocular tube for the equal position, or twist left or right for minus or plus diopter adjustment. The mechanism was extremely stiff at first, meaning that it won’t slip out of set position too easily. It does not lock in place. The eyecup adjustment we liked a bit better. There is one intermediate position between fully in and fully out, but both extended positions are marked with deep detents, so they never collapse during use. This was well executed.

Several other features that we always examine include the rainguard, objective lens caps, strap and case. The rainguard is fine. It’s the usual flexible rubber caps joined by a pliable bridge region. It has a solid bracket on the right side that the strap fits through, and a gapped bracket on the left, so it can be readily detached from that side at will. Our only complaint with this is that the fit of the rainguard on the eyecups is so loose that it will be easily dislodged inadvertently during use. Vortex did better with the objective lens caps. These are made of the same pliable rubber as the rainguard, but the fit is just snug enough to stay on well, but still easy to put on. Even better, they’re attached to rings that fit over the barrels with short tethers to keep them from getting lost. During testing, these never blew up in front of the lenses, though conceivably, during gale force winds they could. Serves you right for birding under those conditions! The strap is quite good. It’s one of those odd material hybrids with a cordura strap stitched to leather ends of a neoprene rubber neck strap. It’s comfortable on binoculars this lightweight, without being troublingly flexible so that they bounce up and down when you walk. This is a strap worthy of a much more expensive binocular. The case is a simple cordura affair – not much padding to it – with a fold-over flap closure held in place by a plastic pinch-clasp. The case is big enough that the binocular slips easily into it with enough room for the strap itself. Or you can leave the strap out and use that to carry the binocular and case. But there’s a cute little option to that. There’s a short, looped hand strap attached to the inside of the case, so when you pack the binocular with its strap inside, you can carry it by this loop. Actually, this is pretty neat!

The Vortex Stokes Birding Series Broadwings can be found for as little as $329.99 for the 8x and $339.99 for the 10x. This puts them towards the high end of the low cost category of binoculars, while the optical performance puts them solidly in the mid-price range for comparative quality. This is the second optic we’ve reviewed from Vortex, and we’re pleased to say we like them both a lot.

Vortex Stokes Broadwing Binoculars - current price and availability