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Reviewed by Joe on 31/03/12
Opticron's extensive range of high quality binoculars is further enhanced by an equally impressive selection of compacts pocket binoculars. To quote Opticron's own words, "the size and weight advantages of pocket binoculars make them a popular choice for general wildlife observation, taking to sporting events, travelling on holiday or on hand in the glove box of your car.
Here I will be reviewing their latest Trailfinder models, the T3s, which are available in 8 or 10x25. They retail for £69 and £75 respectively (correct as of 31st March 2012).
Starting with the (in my opinion) most important factor when considering which binoculars to buy, optical quality, I was pleasantly surprised by the more than adequate field of view provided by the T3s. At 6.8° for the 8x25s and 5.5° for the 10x25s, both models are comparable to many more expensive pairs and made for easy viewing. Even the narrower field of view on the 10x25s didn't feel too limiting, with the extra magnification having obvious advantages. The Trailfinders feature a multi-coated optical system and are nitrogen gas filled meaning they are waterproof. With only a 25mm objective lens diameter, the T3s certainly don't allow the same amount of light in as a full size pair but I found them to be none-the-less comfortable for general wildlife watching. I noticed some distortion and a fair bit of edge softening on both models, though the sweet spot in the middle was nice and sharp. Close focus is stated at 1.5m and 1.8m for the 8x25 and 10x25s respectively and, as often is the case, I could get closer than specified with both models. Not just a small amount either, in tests I could get to around 1m with either pair, which would prove more than capable for close-up wildlife watching. Ultimately a good performer for optical quality.
The T3s weigh under 300g and due to their small size (99x108mm) are ideally suited for fitting in a largish pocket. The build quality remains up to Opticrons high standard, feeling solid and robust for such a small pair of binoculars. The single hinge body means they won't fold up as small as some other (double-hinge) pocket binoculars though they do feel a little bit more comfortable in active use. The rubber body gripped well, with the focus wheel running smoothly and the retractable eye cups offering plenty of eye relief. Overall the little Trailfinders score well for build quality and comfort.
T3 Trailfinder compact binoculars are supplied complete in soft case with lanyard and integral objective lens caps. Given pocket binoculars are designed with weight and size in mind, the basic lanyard/ strap provided with the T3s isn't an issue and I wouldn't have expected a padded alternative at this price. The case supplied is of a high quality though and would ensure peace of mind if bouncing about in your backpack on a long trek where you don't need to carry them. The Trailfinders come with a 5 year guarantee too should you ever need it. Let's look at the overall scores:
Optical quality: 8/10
Build quality: 8/10
Value for Money: 8/10
Well if you're in the market for a pair of pocket binoculars that offer good quality in a well built, comfortable to use body, the T3s are a certain match. Often I (any many other birdwatchers) are put off 10x magnification models because of the limited field of view and lack of light that is allowed to enter the binoculars but I was more than impressed by them, with virtually nothing to pick the 2 models apart. On the whole, given their more than affordable price tag, they are a great little pair of compacts.