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Reviewed by Joe on 08/02/12
The Oregon LE WP series are amongst Opticron's 'budget' roof prism binoculars, retailing between £99 for the 8x32 and £119 for the 10x42s (correct as of 8th February 2012). Often you'll find these (and most of Opticron's other binoculars) at lower than the recommended prices, you certainly do at feathers anyway!
I will be looking at the entire range for the purpose of this review. I will focus on each size where applicable and highlight any advantages of one size over another, though the overall scores will apply for all 3.
Looking at the specs, the Oregons instantly impressed me by the simple fact they're fully multi-coated and are nitrogen filled. This simply means high quality optics in a water/ fog proof system, pretty good for around £100 I thought. Unlike many of Opticron's more expensive models, the Oregon series aren't PC phase corrected, however, so produce a marginally softer image than those with phase corrected coatings. Of course, unless you're comparing these side by side with a more expensive pair, such as the Discoveries, you don't notice the difference in sharpness. I was still impressed by the clarity of the picture that all of the Oregon models produced, each one even holding its own at the edges where there was little distortion to be noticed. The field of view on the 8 and 10x42s are 6.5° and 5.8° respectively - a tad narrow for my liking. The 8x32s, however, are way up there at 8.1° (141m at 1000m) which is in fact a lot better than many much more expensive models of a similar size. Though with only a 32mm objective lens you'd expect less light to be able to enter, I found them to be easily as bright as the 42mm models and could still pick up detail in shadowed areas. The minimum focus is stated at 1.8m on the 8x32 and 4m on the 8/10x42. I found this to be about right on the smaller models but the larger pairs were better than stated and I found it to be closer to the 3m mark. This is easily close enough for general wildlife observation and the 8x32s would allow for closer insect/ butterfly watching.
Build Quality is impressive on the Oregons, featuring a 'sandblast' rubber armoured finish. They really do feel like a binocular that will stand the test of time. The 8 and 10x42s are physically big, heavy binoculars which is advantageous to some and not so to others. The 8x32s are built to the same quality but are obviously a much smaller size and weigh in at around the 500g mark, about 200g lighter than their bigger brothers.
I found all of the models to be very comfortable to use and the size and weight was of no issue whatsoever to me, even the larger diameter models feeling well gripped and well balanced. The focus wheel was smooth to use, albeit a little slow. The retractable eyecups are solid and click out nicely, offering good eye relief meaning overall the whole range held well to my eyes and were easy to use. My only gripe was the positioning of the lanyard connectors on the binoculars, which, only on the 42s, sit too far down the barrels, getting in the way of your hands slightly and causing them to hang at an angle.
For the price, I was impressed by the level of accessories you receive with the Oregon LE WPs. The lanyard supplied is a wide, padded strap offering plenty of comfort when wearing these round your neck. The soft case also includes its own strap so you can be sure the binoculars are safe when you need them to be. The objective lens caps supplied simply pop off so you have to be careful not to lose them, though you can (and a lot of people do) get by without. You even get a cleaning cloth thrown in. Opticron offer a 5 year guarantee with the Oregon series which, although is their shortest guarantee, is lengthy enough considering their budget price. So how do they score?
Optical quality: 8/10
Build quality: 8/10
Value for Money: 9/10
All 3 pairs rate very highly for me for a pair of true budget binoculars. Though perhaps not as bright or sharp as more expensive pairs, the Oregons more than make up it in their build quality, comfort and accessories. The 8x32s certainly come out on top because of their incredibly wide field of view & closer focus, which, given they'll cost you under £100, means you get a whole load of binocular for your money. If you're looking to enter the world of binoculars and searching for a pair of entry level optics, the Oregons should certainly be a top contender.
01/01/14: The Oregon series has been upgraded to the Oregon 4, in a new more comfortable, stylish body with stay on lens caps.
20/07/14: The Oregon has once again been upgraded to the Oregon 4 PC, with phase corrected lenses and (finally!) better positioned lanyard rungs on the barrels.