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Bushnell Infinity 8.5x45 Binoculars

Bushnell Infinity Binoculars
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Bushnell Infinity binoculars are a relatively low-priced line of full-sized roof prism binoculars from a very well-known name in optics manufacturing. The Infinity binoculars come in two basic models: 8.5x45 and 10.5x45 and an 8-16x45 zoom version. We received the 8.5x45 version for review and put it through its paces. Before we leave the subject, what exactly do we mean by “relatively low-priced”? Well, the 8.5x45 Bushnell Infinity has a minimum advertised price (MAP) of $379.95, the 10.5x45 model sells for $399.95 and the zoom version can be had for $499.95. On one hand, $380 is a lot of money, so it’s not low-priced. On the other hand, high-end binoculars can sell for as much as $2400 these days, and relative to that, it is low-priced. So the cost of the Infinity binoculars is in the lower 20% of available binoculars. With the Infinity, you get decent optical quality for under $400.

One look at the stylish new Bushnell Infinity binoculars shows these aren’t your average binoculars. For one thing, they’re big at 6.4 inches tall by 5.1 inches wide. Bushnell has again opted for the double-bridge design, something they’re doing a lot lately (see the Elite and Excursion EX lines). This allows at least two fingers of one hand to wrap all the way around the tube for a nice steady grip. Infinity binoculars have fairly large ocular tubes, to some extent necessary to accommodate the 45-mm objective lenses, but also really a style choice by Bushnell. We would have given them extra credit for some sort of thumb groove here, but there is a pliable ridge of rubber on the upper inside portion of the tubes that provides a better grip while also cushioning it, so the Infinity is not altogether without ergonomic refinements. The solid feel is more than style, being a function of the durable magnesium chassis covered with the black rubber armoring. Our postal scale rendered a verdict of about 28 oz. for the Bushnell Infinity 8.5x45 binocular. Based on that alone, we recommend the use of a harness-type strap for this binocular.

The real revelation was when we lifted up the Infinity next to another binocular supposedly in its class under limiting light conditions. It was surprising how much that other binocular wasn’t in the same class! It wasn’t so much a difference in total image brightness as it was in contrast and clarity. The 8.5x45 Infinity produced an image that was much sharper across the entire grayscale; the blacks were blacker, the whites whiter, and there was more detail between those extremes. Overall, the image quality was significantly better in the Infinity. The Infinity stacks up well in other properties as well. We measured a minimum close focus of almost exactly 5.5 feet with some field collapse seen at less than 6.5 feet. This is well below the 6.7 feet cited in Bushnell’s literature. Field collapse is a term for how the field of view to breaks down when focused on near objects – instead of a round field of view, you see a figure-8 shape or one ocular tends to black out. With the 8.5x45 Infinity, it was a figure-8 field that was dominated by the user’s dominant eye. Still, 5.5 feet is an excellent minimum close focus. The 314-foot field of view at 1000 yards offered by the Infinities is a bit on the smallish side, but there is that extra 0.5x of magnification to account for, and we don’t have very many 8.5x binoculars in our database to compare it to so we can’t be too critical of this. The 19 mm of eye relief is excellent, meaning users will be comfortable with an Infinity, whether or not they wear glasses. The 10.5x version has only 15.5 mm of eye relief, which might not be enough for some folks who wear glasses. The Infinity has a very good eyecup adjustment mechanism: the eyecups extend by twisting helically, and have two fully stable positions between fully in and fully out. You have to tap these fairly hard to get them to collapse, which is a sign of good design. And as long as user comfort is the discussion point, Infinity binoculars have an interpupillary distance range of 58-74 mm. This is a fairly narrow range for this character, so the Infinity may not fit people with very narrow faces and/or closely-set eyes.

Bushnell Infinity Diopter Mechanism
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As long as minimum close focus is on the table, it’s worth noting that the Bushnell Infinity goes from minimum close focus to its namesake in about 1.6 turns of the focus knob. The majority of binoculars these days fall between 1.2 and 1.5 turns of the focus knob for this. At 1.6 turns, you have very fine control when zeroing in on something you want to see and you won’t blow past the focal point and have to adjust back. Part of the 1.6 turns is actually beyond infinity, meaning that the effective focal range is under 1.5 turns. The focus mechanism itself is smooth and effortless, and the knob is large and covered with strips of soft rubber that provide traction. Like many binoculars these days, the Infinity focus knob also houses the diopter adjustment mechanism. Regular readers of these pages will know that we are not real big on this design concept and sadly, the Infinity is a good example of why. The diopter adjustment mechanism is accessed by pulling the focus knob directly up towards the ocular lenses to reveal a red dial marked with hash marks and a “+” sign to left side and “-” sign to the right. The central hash mark is a bit longer and it lines up with a white line painted on the upper hinge to mark the position for equal eyes. Twisting the focus knob now reveals that different diopter positions are marked with micro-detents. This makes it easier to set a discreet diopter position, and it also lets you know if you’ve accidentally switched from focus mode to diopter adjustment mode. The focus knob can pop up at inopportune moments in the field, meaning that you lose the ability to focus, and you may have to reset your diopter. If your eyes require an unequal diopter setting, we recommend marking the setting with an indelible marker so you can recover it quickly.

In the coatings and materials department, Bushnell Infinity binoculars are made with BaK-4 glass prisms along with their proprietary PC-3 phase-coating, and full multi-coating of all air-glass interfaces. To this they add the new SHR (super high resolution) prism coating for enhanced image resolution. Bushnell also coats the exterior glass surfaces with their Rainguard® water-shedding coating to improve the view under inclement conditions. Of course, the Infinity binoculars are also sealed and nitrogen-purged to be completely waterproof and internally fog-proof. Bushnell Infinity binoculars come with the standard pliable rubber rainguard that fits well over the eyecups. Simple, efficient and very functional! The objective lens covers are very rudimentary, being hard plastic disks that fit somewhat firmly into the rubber armoring around the objective lenses. These can and do fall off in the field so you might just as well leave them home. Bushnell also includes a micro-fiber lens cloth to aid in cleaning. The binocular arrives stuffed inside a faux-silk drawstring bag. We’re not sure what the purpose the bag serves, but it’s kind of nice.

Bushnell Infinity Binocular
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Bushnell also did two things that we really like. First, they supplied a great soft case, which has an innovative feature. In addition to a dual zipper closure (in itself, a nice convenience!), it also has a Velcro closure over the end for fast-action deployment so you don’t have to take the time to zip it. This means you can close the case with a single movement. Another nice feature of the case is the netting down at the hinge end that prevents things from falling out when you open the case.  Between the soft case and the rainguard, your optic is fully protected by the case even without objective lens covers. The strap is fairly average except for the way in which it attaches onto the binocular. The strap comes with hard plastic attachments that snap into grommets recessed in the ocular tubes of the binocular. In anticipation that users might wish to use their own straps, Bushnell provides an additional pair of these attachments that can be placed on another strap without the need to detach them from the original Infinity strap. This is quite thoughtful of Bushnell, and we applaud that spirit.

So in summary, what are you getting with the Bushnell Infinity? You get a solid, durable, reliable binocular with surprisingly strong optical performance, and your bank account won’t need a transfusion after you’ve bought it. You can’t beat that!

Bushnell Infinity Binoculars - current price and availability