Steiner’s new XC binoculars put wallet-friendly German optics in the hands of outdoor adventure enthusiasts.
by the Outside Daily staff
Our quiet wilderness journeys bring rewards far richer than anything we could enjoy in the land of steel and concrete. Whether watching elk feed across an alpine meadow or observing a heron silently stalk a riverbank, a vigorous hike off the beaten path offers sights and experiences that profit both the body and the soul. Of course, those sights and experiences multiply when you have a good set of binoculars with you!
If you know quality optics and have recently window-shopped for premium binoculars, you may still be suffering from a bout of sticker shock. Good glass doesn’t come cheap, but there is good news. Earlier this year the folks at Steiner Optics introduced a new line of binoculars that stand on the company’s 67-year reputation of producing some of the best sporting optics in the world, yet does so at a price point that work-a-day hiking and nature enthusiasts like us can manage. In short, precision, German-engineered optics for a blue-collar budget.
The Steiner XC-series binoculars are ideal for hikers, backpackers, and all outdoor enthusiasts who want to bring the beauty and mysteries of the natural world as close as possible. There are four models to choose from, ranging from the compact XC 10×32 and XC 8×32 to the mid-size XC 8×42 and XC 10×42.
Because there is only a minor price differential between the compact XC 8×32 and the mid-size XC 10×42 (around $46), we wanted to test the larger 10×42 version, knowing that the optical quality and features would be the same across the series, but that the bigger model would reveal any “comfort challenges” in the field.
Right out of the box, the XC earned our first gold star for its sleek design. The smooth profile gives the XC an excellent feel in the hand, with the focusing wheel fitting discreetly and comfortably between the barrels. Both the focus wheel and diopter adjustment (left ocular) are easy to rotate, but not so loose as to inadvertently lose their settings.
The other “gold star” feature that jumps out is the NBR Long Life rubber armor. This coating not only gives the binoculars a soft, comfortable feel, it ensures a positive, no-slip grip in all climate conditions.
We found the XC binoculars easy to focus, and the long eye relief provides full-frame viewing for those who wear glasses. Simply keep the eyecups turned in for viewing with corrective lenses or sunglasses, or extend the twist-up eyecups if you have non-corrective vision or are not wearing sunglasses. Either way, you can enjoy the XC’s full 354-foot viewing angle. Furthermore, you can fold the molded rubber eyecups flat if you are wearing glasses, or extend them to block side- or back-lighting.
The XC’s biggest gold star, of course, comes courtesy of the glass inside its rugged Makrolon polycarbonate housing. Whether viewing in the dim light of dawn or dusk, or the high-UV conditions of a humid summer afternoon, the XC delivers remarkable clarity, definition, and brightness. The fact that it is all pressure-sealed with nitrogen, making the unit waterproof to 10 feet and fogproof no matter the temperature or environment, delivers confidence that these binoculars can perform anywhere our travels take us…any time.
After giving the XC a thorough shake-down, we asked a friend who is also a serious wildlife watcher and birder to do the same. His report backed our own findings:
“I took the binoculars out for some birding, and also to see how they performed on close-focus viewing of butterflies and dragonflies. Overall, the performance was excellent. I was particularly impressed by their close-focus performance. I viewed several butterflies at minimum distance and was highly impressed by the bright, razor-sharp images. Resolution was very high. The segments on the antennae were clearly delineated. My key observations:
- High resolution at minimum focus with only a minor adjustment of interpupillary distance (this is typical when focusing down to very close range).
- No chromatic aberration…absolute color fidelity.
- Images had superior contrast. Even dull-colored objects stand out well.
- The image is very sharp from one edge to the other, no distortion at any range. This also makes it quick to acquire and stay on target.
- Ergonomics are very well thought out…very comfortable to hold
- Very fast and solid focus. There was no need to keep tweaking, and no overtravel.
- The neckstrap is easy to attach and detach, and it distributes the weight of the binos quite nicely. No neck fatigue even after two hours.
- Fold-down side shields are an excellent feature for those of us who wear glasses.”
Good glass can significantly amplify your outdoor experience. Fortunately, the new Steiner XC-series binoculars puts that quality in your hands for a price that still leaves money for the gas and grub to get you there!
- Magnification: 10x
- Objective Lens: 42mm
- Field of View: 354 ft.
- Focus System: Fast-Close-Focus™
- Optics Systems: High Contrast CAT™
- Close Focus: 6 ft.
- Exit Pupil: 4.2 mm
- Luminosity: 17.6
- Twilight Factor: 20.5
- Eyecups: Ergonomic
- Rubber Armoring: NBR Long Life
- Waterproof: Submersion to 10 ft.
- Weight: 26.5 oz.
- Dimension (HxWxL): 5.8 x 5.0 x 2.4
- Neck Strap: Neoprene
- Neck Strap Attachment: ClicLoc®
- Warranty: Heritage™ Warranty
- Objective Cover: Yes
- Rain Protection Cap: Yes
- Carry Case: Yes
- MSRP: $574.99
Article copyright 2015 by OutsideDaily.com; promoted by Steiner Optics