Theron Wapiti APO Binocular review and comparisons
First, a little history. I am always on the lookout for a good deal, or maybe I should say the best bargain I can find for my hard earned money. This is true for anything I buy. I can be impulsive at times but when it comes to higher dollar items I will research it till my wife is ready to pack up and leave town because she is sick of hearing about it. She just doesnít understand I am only trying to expand her already vast knowledge. Women....no appreciation.
In the last 4 years or so I have found I really enjoy the world of optics and it has been an experience in seeing how much using quality optics has changed the success of our hunts. That latest being a Bull Elk that my Dad got last year scoring 341 5/8 B&C. My family and I hunt as a family, If one of us draws we all go. If we get more tags than that, well now it gets fun. We share the meat between the familyís so we all get to enjoy the rewards of wild game. It is about family time and enjoying the great world the good Lord created for us. We usually spend many days before the hunt splitting up and covering as much territory as we can to find where the game is hid out. I think I enjoy this as much if not more than the actual hunt itself. If we have a Bull Elk tag, which is our true passion, then we try to find where the big boys are.
Anyone that has hunted Elk knows, the big boys donít get big by being stupid. They show up, if they show up when there is little light to be had. This requires optics that are in the upper class of performance. Sorry, the plastic vacuum wrapped Tasco on the end cap at Wally World for $15 is NOT going to cut the mustard here.
Three years ago, after over a year of searching and evaluating my Dad and I went in together and purchased a Kowa TSN-884 Prominar Florite lens spotting scope. This scope has absolutely, single handedly changed the way we hunt and how successful we have have been. Well now it is time to upgrade our binoculars and hopefully take our hunting to another level. So begins our journey.....
A few weeks back, I seen an opportunity to product test some of the Theron Optics products. After a great conversation with Pat, the Owner of Theron, it was decided I was going to test their Wapiti APO HD 8x42 binoculars and their Spotting scope. The main objective was to see how well they stacked up against others and just how good is the bang for your buck??
The day the binís showed up, I had but 5 minutes to run out on the back porch and take a quick look before I had to go to work. They showed up in a rather basic box and were inside a nice storage/carry bag. Included is a really nice neck strap as well. In that short time, I could already tell, these were not your ordinary binoculars. It was a dark stormy day with terrible light conditions so getting a good idea of itís color abilities was just going to have to wait. I was very anxious to spend some real time behind these binís.
That weekend I planned a trip to Wendover NV. with my wife and my parents. I took along my other binoculars as my Dad and I planned to go spend some time evaluating and comparing the various models. I had a older pair of 8x32 Zeiss Diafun binoculars, a pair of 10x42 Vortex Viper binoculars, and my new pair of 15x50 Canon Image Stabilizing Binoculars (more on them later). We took them all outside and sat on the fake lawn at the Montego Bay Casino for about 2 hours and looked at some really cool rocky, mountainous terrain that was excellent for comparing the various models. A few weeks later I had planned to take the Theronís down to my local Sporting Goodís store and compare them with whatever they had on the shelf and I did. So the following is how the Theronís compared with the rest:
Theron Wapiti APO 8x42HD
I will start by saying my opinions on these. Flat out, these are fantastic binoculars! Fit and finish on these are very good and I could find no real flaws anywhere. They feel very well built and you can really tell your holding quality in your hands. They have a good heft to them that is about right. The weight actually helps you hold them more steady. The rubberized body has some tiny raised nipples that give a very secure feeling in your hands and they donít slip around when you have gloves on, even when your gloves are wet. I really like that about these binís. They come with 2 objective lens covers that are attached via the screw cap for the tripod mount and they work very well. When ready for use you simply pop them out and they fall out of the way. the ocular cover is a one piece design that works well and can be attached via the strap when itís attached.
The main focus adjuster is in the center and is a large round dial that is nicely done and has positive feel that allows for easy adjustment. The right eye focus has a pull out lock ring that adjusts smoothly and then it locks it in place when you push the ring back in. I found that focusing the Theronís takes a little getting used to at first. It seams to take a good amount of movement to bring something that is way out of focus from being at a different diastance, into focus. This may sound like a negative, but itís not. Actually I found that it allows for very fine adjustments that can be the difference in being able to resolve some things, that other, faster adjusters, could not do without the most delicate of touches. The focus adjustment is firm but not to firm to require alot of effort but yet firm enough that they wont easily get knocked out of adjustment. As for adjusting them to fit you (distance between your eyes), it again is firm but not to firm to require alot of effort but yet firm enough that they wont easily get knocked out of adjustment
The eye cups are of a twist in and out variety not much different than you see on many otherís on the market. This is probably my only real gripe with the Theronís as the eye cups have a flattened outer edge that my eyelashes hit on when they are turned out. I found if I turn them in and just rest the bins against my eyebrows, that annoyance goes away. I donít wear glasses but my Dad does and he really loved how the eyecups worked with his glasses. Eye relief on these is outstanding and Dad said they were by far the easiest for him to throw up and get full view without adjustments that he has ever used. They just fit him perfectly and worked great with his glasses. This has been a constant struggle for him and he was very pleased.
So how are they to look through? After all that is what really matters. Like I said before, adjusting these binís takes a little getting used to. It is hard to explain but itís like you get glimpses of absolute clarity and so you try and try to adjust them to achieve that. It can be done and once it is done, you will be very happy with what you are seeing. The images are very 3D, much like that of watching a very well done HD movie on a very good HD TV. The objects you focus on are very sharp and clear while the rest seam to be faded out. when looking at farther distances, these Bins really do have a good bright picture and a very decent field of view. Theron states these were designed with a narrower F.O.V. but I really didnít see much difference between these and any other comparable powered/sized bin.
Color. Well I was NOT disappointed in any way with these Binís. I didnít really find any color that they made jump out or overpower the rest. Nor did I find any they faded. They were very true in color and all colors were nice and vivid but not overpowering. The color stayed true all the way out to the very last little bit of the edge. Speaking of edges, the bins have one of the best edge to edge clarity I have seen in anything but the most expensive Binís of this style (my Canonís have the best I have ever seen period).
How do they work in the twilight? Extremely good! I could definitely see well past legal shooting hours and could see very far on a full moon night. You will not be disappointed in this respect.
With that being said, there are a ton of other optics out there and I wanted to see how these stacked up. So lets bring in the players......
Vortex Viper and Viper HD 10x42ís
Really, there was not as much difference between the regular Vipers and the HD model as I expected. The HDís did have a better edge to edge and were slightly sharper than the standard Vipers. Color wise and such, I didnít really see much difference. So how did they compare to the Theronís? They didnít really. I was actually quite disappointed in the edge to edge clarity of the Vipers, even the HDís. they clearly had distortion around the edges and even some purplish tinting around the edgeís. I could not quite get them to the level of sharpness of the Theronís no matter how hard and slowly I tried to adjust them. I could just tell I was at the limits of the glass. The Vipers are a great Bin, as anyone who has them well knows. Great color, good clarity, great quality build and the best warranty in the biz. Thing is, they simply were not quite as good as the much cheaper Theronís.
10x42 Nikon Monarch ATB
My brother owns these. When he bought these he went through the whole stock that the store had. Reason being there was some that were good and not so good and one pair that was really good and that was the pair he bought. SO if you are looking at these, I would do the same. These are very close to the standard Vortex Vipers. During the bright of the day they are every bit as good. In twilight hours though the Vortex is better. The price is very good on these bins and if you watch you can at times pick them up on sales for a even better price. Thing is for just a smidge more you can get a far better bin with the Theron.
10x42 Pentax DCF WP 10x42
When I first looked at these and didnt have any others to compare with I liked them. Once I had others there with me though, they were the worst out of the bunch even though they had a $499 price tag at my local store. They were simply out leagued by all. I am not even really going to get into reviewing them. Waste of time IMHO.
So I know this is probably sounding like a add for Theron. It isn't I promise. So all in all, what did it take to put the Theron's in their place? The answer:
Swarovski SLC 8x42 HD
With a very healthy price tag localy of $1975 these puppies are not for the average joe working man. Simply an outstanding optic as anyone who knows optics will already know. My only real complaint with these is the lack of real good grip. I would be nervous with wet hands or gloves of dropping them. The Therons have some really nice grip on them that I like much better. For the most part The Theron's actually compared very well with these. For general viewing it was hard to see any difference at farther distances (like scanning a hillside) and dont see any real advantage. It wasnt until I started trying to read license plates with them that the Swaro's pulled ahead. At a pretty good distance, 100+ yards it was real test for a 8x bin. I could read the large numbers with both easily. I could barely with some concentration and steady rest read the state with the Swaro's. I just could not quite get the Theron's to pull the lettering out clear enough to read if I didn't know what it already said. I guess if you were hunting and trying to study a critters rack for field judging, you may have a slight advantage with the Swaro's. But really, I would have my spotter out by that time as without a tripod you are not going to be able to see anything more with these over the Theron's. Yes, the Theron's really are that good.
SO all in all to an average hard core hunter that uses his optics religiously, the Theron Wapiti APO Bins are fantastic optics with an even more fantastic price tag. Looking at Optics and price tags like the Swaro's I no longer could justify it. If I was to outfit a new person to hunting, I would outfit them with these Theron Binoculars and a good quality mid level spotter for the same price as the Swaro's. I would be ok with any of the others I reviewed but would not waste my money on the Pentax. Take it for what it is worth to you and take a look for yourself. You will not disappointed. I also want to add that Pat with Theron has been very good to deal with. I was supposed to send these back to him. Instead they are now added to my collection and I have ordered a set of the 10X Wapiti APO's as well and they are on their way to my house right now. When they get here I will add to this as to how they stack up. I am very much looking forward to them getting here!
Never pass up a kool-aid stand or lemonade stand. Remember it is a young American learning the American dream.