Optisan 8×34 LR ED Binoculars initial review and first impressions

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Initial review Optisan 8x34 LR ED binoculars

This is my Optisan 8×34 LR ED Binoculars initial review and first impressions, for birdwatching. Keep in mind that the information presented below is based on only a handful of birdwatching sessions. The final review will follow after I’ve had the chance to use it fully. 

Optisan 8×34 LR ED Binoculars initial review and first impressions 

I’m always on the lookout for new birdwatching gear, especially binoculars. Enter the Optisan 8×34 LR ED. Optisan first caught my attention during the 2023 Asian Bird Fair in Kota Kinabalu, where they had a promotional booth. There, their eye-catching birdwatching optics attracted much attention.

This family-owned Taiwanese company is relatively unknown within the Malaysian (and Southeast Asian) birdwatching community. The Optisan representatives were aware of this themselves and thus were keen to expand their footprint to Malaysia. Subsequently, Optisan has graciously sent us a pair of their mid-range 8×34 LR ED binoculars for review.

What’s in the box?

  • Optisan 8×34 LR ED binoculars 
  • Carrying case (black, water resistant)
  • Objective and ocular lens caps (attached to the binoculars)
  • Neoprene neck strap with rotatable clip-on connectors
  • Warranty information card (10 years limited warranty; registration online)
  • User manual (leaflet)
  • Microfibre lens cleaning cloth
  • Thank you  card with a photo of the Silver-breasted Broadbill. Nice touch, especially since the broadbill is one of my favourite birds!

Specifications

Specifications obtained from the product’s page on Optisan’s official website:

  • Magnification: 8x
  • Objective lens diameter: 34 mm
  • Closest focusing distance: 2 m
  • Field of view: 7.1 degrees
  • Eye relief: 17.4 mm
  • ED glass: yes (ED = Extra-low Dispersion. Reduces colour fringing/chromatic aberration)
  • Prism: Bak4 w/Phase coating+Dielectric coating
  • IPX-7 waterproofing
  • Weight: 480 g
  • Dimensions (mm): 123 x 133 x 45
  • RRP:  MYR 1680 / EUR 419.99

Optisan 8×34 LR ED Binoculars initial review – out of the box:

Design of the Optisan 8x34 LR ED binoculars
The Optisan 8×34 LR ED looks stylish with its olive-green and black colour scheme. Notice how the ocular lens covers are attached to the neck strap.
Design 

One thing becomes immediately apparent after taking the binoculars out of the box – the sharp, eye-catching design. The stylish combination of olive-green and black recalls certain other, much more expensive binocular brands. A birder friend immediately remarked on the binocular’s attractiveness as soon as she saw it. 

Size and build

The binoculars have a compact and lightweight design, at only 480g. Nevertheless, the build feels solid and has a premium feel to it. The rubber armour feels firm and adds to its overall appeal. The rotating eyecups feel firm and turn with satisfying clicks while providing generous eye relief.

Lens covers

The binoculars come with protective caps for both the objective and ocular lenses. For the objective lens, the rubber lens caps are attached to the underside, and flip down before use. The ocular lenses are protected by a flexible rubber cap that comes attached to the binoculars via a short fastening strap.

Focusing dial

The focusing dial is smooth, responsive, and ergonomically placed in the centre.

Neck strap

The neoprene neck strap is of an ergonomic design. Installing the strap on the binoculars is very simple as it uses clip-on rotatable connectors (I love this feature). Moreover, this design also means changing to a harness is very easy.

Clip-on fasteners for neck strap
The metal clip-on fasteners make attaching the neck strap to the binoculars easy!

Optisan 8×34 LR ED Binoculars initial review – field performance

Initial impressions after using it for a few birding sessions.

Testing locations:

  1. Bukit Tinggi – sub-montane forest, with open areas and dim understory.
  2. Valencia, Sungai Buloh – open country with wetlands.
  3. Sungai Congkak – riverine forest with dark understory and open forest edges.
  4. Fraser’s Hill – Lower montane forest, with plenty of dimly lit paths and roads.
Optisan 8x34 LR ED binoculars testing
Testing the binoculars in the field at Fraser’s Hill
Performance

Images are sharp and crisp. I did not observe any colour fringing or other distracting optical effects befitting its ED designation. 

Despite its 34mm objective lens diameter, the binoculars performed admirably in certain low-light situations. They worked very well when birding in the dimly lit forest understory, which is something I do a lot. I haven’t noticed any significant difference compared to my previous 8×42 binoculars. 

The close focusing distance (2m) and responsive focusing dial proved to be quite helpful in identifying close subjects. This feature is especially useful when birding in jungles, where the birds move fast and are often quite close. 

compact and lightweight binoculars
The binoculars are compact and lightweight.
Handling

It’s comfortable to hold with both hands, although I personally find the size slightly small for my hands. Having said that, I’ve been using larger (and heavier) 8×42 binoculars for more than 10 years. Thus, it’s likely the size difference simply just takes some time to get used to. The lighter weight is instantly a welcome change, though. I walk a lot and often carry a heavy camera when birding; therefore, any weight reduction is very appreciated!

I love how the ocular lens cover securely attaches to the binoculars via a short fastening strap. This is important as lens covers protect against the elements and are easily dropped (and lost) inadvertently while birding.

One nitpick: the objective lens covers. The covers are attached to the bottom of the barrel and flip down before use. However, in the field, these hanging covers often wobble and obstruct the view, especially when I tilt upwards. I’m uncertain if this will be a recurring issue or will simply disappear as the rubber becomes less stiff. Note that the objective lens covers are detachable.

Summary of my Optisan 8×34 LR ED binoculars initial review:

Binoculars Optisan 8x34 LR ED
Optisan 8×34 LR ED Binoculars
Pros:
  • Excellent performance, even in relatively low light. Images are razor sharp, with no distracting optical effects.
  • Excellent build quality – no cheap-feeling plastics here!
  • Stylish, premium-looking design
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Lens covers seem to be securely attached to the binoculars.
  • The carrying strap comes pre-installed and uses a rotatable clip-on fastener. 
Cons:
  • The objective lens covers often wobble and obstruct the view, especially when tilting upwards.

Conclusion

One word handily summarises my Optisan 8×34 LR ED binoculars initial review—sharp. Not only are the images razor sharp, but the design is also sharp and eye-catching. Overall, first impressions of this binocular model are very positive, with only one relatively minor nitpick.

I’m genuinely looking forward to testing these binoculars during more birding sessions in the near future. Look out for my final review in the coming months!

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