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Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Binoculars > Bushnell NatureView binoculars > Test Report by Ralph Ditton
Bushnell NatureView Binocular
Test Series by Ralph Ditton
Initial Report: 21st August, 2013
Field Report:31stOctober, 2013
Long Term Report: 5th January, 2014
My playgrounds are the Bibbulmun Track, the Coastal Plain Trail, Darling Scarp and Cape to Cape Track. I lead walks for my bushwalking club and they consist of day walks and overnighters. My pack weight for multi-day trips including food and water, tends to hover around 18 kg (40 lb) but I am trying to get lighter. My trips range from overnighters to six days duration.
On day walks my pack weight is around 5 kg (11 lb) including water.
Snapshot Specifications for 6 x 30 mm
The binoculars are a compact unit measuring 120 mm (4.72 in) long x 134 mm (5.27 in) across the front lenses when closed up and a height of 80 mm (3.14 in) in the same configuration when the lenses are pushed up as close as possible together.
Protecting the front and rear lenses are lens caps. The front lenses have individual plastic caps and the eyepiece lenses have a joined cap arrangement that is flexible so that when the lenses are pushed apart or together the centre of the lens attachment flexes. The caps can be seen in the top photo.
The eye cap lens have a twist up arrangement. To activate I twist each surround in an anticlockwise direction. This position is best suited for people who do not wear glasses and cuts out side light. As I wear glasses I use the binoculars with the cap lens down. To achieve this, I twist the surround in a clockwise direction.
There is an excellent handbook written in five languages, English, French, Spanish, German and Italian.
The most important section is headed "Focusing". The instructions give good instructions in how to adjust each lens for each eye using the diopter ring and the -/+ scale. I found it very easy to understand and use.
There is a neckstrap provided with the binoculars but they are not attached to the unit. I had the greatest difficulty in trying to pass the end of the strap through the strap lug on the side of the binocular because they are just a fraction too wide for the slot. In the end I used the needlepoint pliers on my Leatherman to pull it through.
This model is not compatible with a tripod. Also provided were a cleaning cloth and a carry case. The photo below shows the contents of the packaging.
When I opened up the box I had no surprises as the binoculars were as I expected from the photo on the web site.
Needless to say, I was very keen to go outside and try them out.
The first thing that I did was adjust each lens to each of my eyes so that I had the best clarification available. As I wear glasses, I made sure that the eye caps were down.
I was truly amazed at the clarity of the objects that I was observing. I looked at homes being built across the highway, traffic stopping at an intersection and I was able to read their number plates, a bus stop information board and magpies in trees a block away in the tops of trees.
For close up viewing of insects and flowers I found that anything under about 3 metres (9.8 ft) was a bit blurry, so the manufacturer's claim of close focus of 2.74 m /9 ft to be about correct.
Following birds in flight I had both of my middle fingers on the centre focus knob rotating it like mad, back and forth to try and keep focus on the birds. I need more practice to lock on to birds in flight.
The caps are a bit loose on the lenses. Not a snug fit, so I'll have to be careful and not lose them when I take the binoculars out of its carry case.
Things I like
During the Field Report stage I have been out in the bush for four days broken down to a one day and a three-day stint.
On the one day, I led a group of Newbies who were thinking about joining our bushwalking club and I was giving them an Introductory Walk around Mt. Randall and Mt. Cuthbert which consisted of approximately 80% off track. The map below shows the terrain. However, we altered the route and traversed down the south ridge of Mt. Randall which brought us opposite Mt. Cuthbert.
Temperatures were between 8 C to 14 C (46 F to 57 F) and elevation ranged between 300 metres to 500 metres (984 ft -1640 ft).
It was during our breaks that I took the binoculars out to look around at the terrain and try to spot wildlife. As it had been a very wet week and it rained the day before I was anxious about climbing up a very steep granite face on the side of Mt. Cuthbert which lay across the valley about a kilometer (5/8th mile) from the south ridge we were on. The binoculars showed a very wet surface with running water in parts on it. This fact was relayed to the helpers in my group and they in turn had a look through the binoculars. It was decided based on what we saw to pick an alternate route up the mountain away from exposed granite. When we got closer to the exposed granite rock face we confirmed our earlier decision to go an alternative route as there was also a lot of black wet moss on the rock which is deadly to walk on. It is like walking on ice, very slippery.
At the lunch break I again had the binoculars out and spotted an eagle circling beyond the tree tops, so initially I was only getting glimpses through the foliage. The eagle did the right thing by me and changed its search pattern closer to me where I had an excellent view of it through the binoculars. I was then able to identify the species. It was a Wedge-tailed Eagle which is the largest Australian raptor. The other people in the group also ceased what they were doing and looked at the eagle. I was able to observe it for many minutes.
Wedge-tailed Eagle (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
The temperature ranged from a low of 12 C to a high of 30 C (54 F to 86 F).
I used the binoculars in the camp area to spot the Grey Currawong in the trees as they were making such a screeching noise. I was successful in locating some of them and was able to see them very clearly through the lenses. The other animals that I used the binoculars on were three kangaroos that bounded along the road near my tent.
Out in the field I pulled the binoculars out when we had rest stops, which were frequent. There was sadly a dearth of animals and birds on our walk. I did get lucky and spot a kookaburra sitting in a tree. The other items that I trained the binoculars on were flowering trees with the attendant bees, mistletoe growing on trees and the river water to see if I could spot any fish. The water was very clear. I did spot some little Red Finn fingerlings.
As the bush was very dense Jarrah country, the only navigation aspect that I could use the binoculars for was to try and see if a safe crossing of the river was available where the vegetation thinned out to scrubby bushes and wild Blackberry bushes. I did see some promising locations but as we got closer we could see that a river crossing was going to be very dangerous due to the fast flowing waist deepish water. We never did get our feet wet as we took an alternate route of many kilometers (miles) and crossed a bridge.
looking for birds
According to our GPS we walked a total of 20.8 km (12.9 mi).
When I am in dense vegetation the binoculars are of little use in navigation in that trying to spot routes. They are really helpful when standing on an elevated area looking out to an intended route be it a lowland or a distant ridge/hill and the vegetation is sparse.
Looking at animals, insects, flowers and tree foliage is a delight as the detail is superb.
I have no trouble focusing on an item/object as the central adjustment knob turns easily.
None to date
Long Term Report
I was only able to get out into the bush twice during this phase due to work commitments and the extreme heat wave when I had planned further walks. The heat wave was in excess of 37 C (100 F) for five days and there was a high fire danger warning.
That said, I walked in the Mt. Cooke region where the elevation ranged from a low of 200 m (656 ft) to the highest point of 583 m (1,913 ft). Temperatures were between 26 C to 33 C (79 F to 91 F).
Mt. Cooke is a large granite monolith that has a length of approximately 2 kms (1.3 mi).
The country was dry as a chip. All of the little creeks were parched and the usual gnamma holes (weathered depressions in the granite that collect water) were devoid of moisture.
Due to the lack of water, this made spotting animals difficult as they tend to hide away till the cool of the evening.
I was fortunate to come across a kangaroo (roo) on my last walk, that was about 5 metres (16 ft) from me. I quickly put the glasses on it. Seeing me do this, the roo took off for a short distance then propped to see what I was doing. I continued to observe him (could not see a pouch on the roo through the glasses) noting how healthy he looked. The roo got bored with looking at me and took off.
I continued to my destination. Everywhere I looked I could see snake tracks. Fat ones, thin ones and some very interesting switchback tracks where the snakes found something of interest. I was hoping to see one up the track from me so that I could put the glasses on it. Sadly, I had no luck.
Due to the heat, there was no interesting bird life apart from the ubiquitous Raven. I have looked at a number of them at my home through the glasses, so I did not bother with them.
When I reached the Mt. Cooke campsite on both occasions I had a look around with the glasses at the mountain and across the dry creek bed to see what was around. I was able to observe some flying insects and honey bees that were attracted to the slightly dripping tap on the water tank.
Nothing much of real interest was located. Although, I did focus on the flowers growing on the trees.
Mt. Cooke hut
fat snake track
I had a look around but could not see where it had gone. I returned to the table and commenced to have my lunch. As I was nearing the end of my lunch I heard a lot of rustling of leaves behind the hut. Beauty, I thought, the snake is back, so I grabbed the glasses to observe it and took a good sideways walk out into the open so that I could see behind the hut. Lo and behold it was a Lace Monitor roughly 1 metre (3.2 ft) long, not a snake. They kill and eat snakes. I quickly put the glasses onto it as it was no more than six metres (20 ft) away. Gosh it was beautiful to see the lace pattern up close. I felt that I could reach out to touch it. My next thought was to get a photo of it so I went and got my camera as it did not appear to be bothered by my presence. Sadly it had disappeared when I got back 20 seconds later.
I found a photo of it on the internet.
Lace Monitor (Courtesy of Bibbulmun Track Foundation)I never did find any snakes. I guess that they were being preyed upon by the Lace Monitor around the hut.
At home I used the glasses to look at birds and planes flying overhead.
Focusing on objects and moving fauna was very easy. It was just a simple action of twisting the centre Focus System. They eye pieces have been set for my eyes so I had no further adjustments to make during its use.
Some nights when there is a half moon I look at it through the glasses to observe the craters and mountains along the divide between night and day. They stand out crisply. We are fortunate that our air is relatively clean.
The "Pro" still remain the same. I have no "Cons".
The glasses are ideal to observe flora and fauna up close. Large birds of prey are good to view up to about 200 metres (656 ft) out. After that it involves a lot of focusing when they are doing wide circles when hunting.
I did not find the glasses to be heavy nor bulky to put in my pack.
When I was walking on relatively level ground, I hung the glasses around my neck so that they were ready to hand. The glasses became a tad awkward when climbing up steep windy mountain tracks as they hang down swinging about and banging into my knees or stomach. Other times they bang against rocks/ground. In those circumstances I put the glasses back into my pack.
This concludes my report on the Bushnell NatureView Binocular.
Many thanks to Bushnell and BackpackGearTest to allow me to test this product.
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Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Binoculars > Bushnell NatureView binoculars > Test Report by Ralph Ditton
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