Opticron Imagic IS 16×42 Binoculars Review
Review Date – January 2024
Price as reviewed – Our price £849
- Incredible value for money
- Exceptionally lightweight and compact
- Very good image quality
- Image stabilisation is very effective
- Image stabilisation won’t be for everyone
- Neither will the shape
Opticron are one of the world’s leading binocular and spotting scope manufacturers. Operating for over 40 years they now offer a range of optics to suit every price point.
After a few years of entry level image stabilised binoculars Opticron have now progressed to the brand new Imagic IS 16×42. This new high end model goes up against the highly regarded Kite Optics APC 16×42 (You can read our review of that binocular here) but undercuts it in price by £200.
So lets see if Opticron’s offering is lower in price for a reason, or is now the best value image stabilised binocular on the market.
We will get the negatives out of the way first, because they are far fewer than the positives.
The most controversial part here is the shape of the Imagic IS 16×42. Image stabilised binoculars tend to be an odd shape compared to traditional binoculars. Below we have lined up the Opticron Imagic IS (Left) with the Kite APC (Centre) and a typical 8×42 binocular (Right).
Where as the body of the Kite APC is wider and bulkier than a typical 42mm binocular the Opticron is narrower and this can make holding it seem awkward at first. We would recommend trying the Imagic IS 16×42 extensively before you purchase to ensure it is comfortable for you to hold.
Now on to the positives. The Opticron Imagic IS 16×42 is impressively lightweight at just 640 grams. This means that holding the binocular steady is very easy and this makes the image stabilisation even more effective. It is also compact compared to many image stabilised binoculars.
The focusing is also a particular highlight. Despite the high magnification the depth of field is not too critical which makes focusing easy to manage and the focus wheel’s action is smooth and precise.
For a high magnification binocular the eye relief is also very good, aided by comfortable eyecups. The diopter adjustment works well and there is enough positive/negative adjustment to suit most eyes.
The build quality is excellent overall with all parts feeling well made and the rubber armouring feeling like it won’t wear out quickly. Unlike other image stabilised binoculars the Imagic IS 16×42 is IPX-4 splashproof, making this a great companion for pelagic trips.
First off, the image stabilisation is really well judged. Cheaper image stabilised binoculars can often struggle to stabilise the image at all. This isn’t the case here with the stabilisation working really well even in windy conditions. Another nice feature is the ability to pan with this binocular which is usually something image stabilised binoculars struggle with.
The optical quality is where the Opticron Imagic IS 16×42 really shines. The presence of ED objective lenses means that despite the high magnification the image quality is excellent. Brightness is very good and there is no real sign of any colour fringing.
Sharpness in the centre of the frame is also excellent with a slight sweet spot which causes sharpness to drop off nearer the edges of the field of view.
Considering the high magnification the field of view is also excellent and makes this binocular very usable for general birding.
Colours are also generally neutral with no strong lean towards enhanced warmer tones. When you look at the colours on a bird they are in line with how they would appear with the naked eye.
Overall, Opticron have really got the optical and image stabilisation quality spot on.
As time moves on technology which cost a high amount to implement will inevitably trickle down and become cheaper and easier to manufacture.
That is exactly what has happened with the Opticron Imagic IS 16×42. While in many aspects it doesn’t massively improve over the Kite APC 16×42 it does at least match it, and better it a little, in many areas.
However, it has managed to do this at a £200 cheaper price point. This is by far the most impressive thing about this binocular.
Like the Kite APC 16×42 the design will be a very marmite thing. They are quirky in their own way and take a bit of getting used to compared to a traditional 42mm binocular but given patience you soon learn what is the most comfortable way of using them.
Personally we don’t have an issue with either binocular, although for many people image stabilisation just won’t work so it is worth trying both binoculars before purchasing.
However if you do like the idea of image stabilised binoculars the biggest win really here is for you, the customers. You now have another fantastic option of image stabilised optics for a reasonable price. Gone are the days of excellent 16x image stabilised binoculars costing £1500.
If you want a lightweight, compact but quirky design with great optics and stabilisation, you have the Opticron Imagic IS 16×42 at £849. If the design doesn’t work for you and you don’t mind paying a bit more to get a binocular which feels better to you in the hand and comes with a 30 year warranty, you have the Kite APC 16×42 at £1049.
The choice ultimately is yours.
We hope you’ve found this review useful, if you’d like to find out more or purchase this binocular you can do so by clicking the arrow below, contacting us, or by popping into our Norfolk shop.
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