The Bushnell H2O 8×42 roof prisms have a very versatile magnification for many applications: hiking, bird watching, going to sea, or spotting animals.
The lens diameter of 42 millimeters is a good compromise between brightness and weight. In addition, the H2Os are designed for robustness and water resistance regardless of the weather or the environment.
For Less than 100 Dollars, is the Bushnell H2O 8×42 worth the cost?
This is what we will see in this test and opinion file.
Bushnell H2O 8×42 Binoculars Review
- Magnification: 8
- Lens diameter (mm): 42
- Perceived linear field at 1000 meters (m): 136
- Brightness index: 25
- Exit Pupil (mm): 5.2
- Eye Relief (mm): 17
- Minimum focusing distance (m): 5.5
- Dimensions (mm): 178 x 152 x 76
- Weight (g): 708
- Interpupillary distance (mm): 53 – 76
- Type of prisms: Roof
- Highly consistent sharpness across the entire image
- Well-controlled chromatic aberrations
- Good light during the day
- Fast-focusing and satisfying ergonomics
- Robust, dustproof and shockproof
- Wide field of view as high-end binoculars
- Minimum focus distance too high
- Perceptible horizontal vignetting at the edge of the image
- Lanyard attachments interfere a bit with hand positioning
- A bit too heavy for some people
- The distortion is quite pronounced at the periphery of the field of vision
Good image sharpness despite some distortion
Sharpness is the essential point of a pair of binoculars. The Bushnell H2O 8×42 offers good image quality. We immediately notice that chromatic aberrations are well controlled. They appear less intense in the center and increase slightly at the edge of the visual field.
The lenses have almost no astigmatism which allows you to benefit from an equivalent development in all directions. In addition, the curvature of the field is minimal: the sharpness hardly decreases at the periphery of the image, which makes it possible to benefit from a good overall resolution.
However, some flaws are visible. Comas are easily perceptible, especially on the edges of the image. This is a defect that can be disturbing especially for astronomy. But the magnification of 8 is not the most suitable for observing the stars.
Distortion is the drawback that affects image quality the most. It appears on the entire outer half of the visual field, and it gives a curvature effect to straight lines outside the center. It is mainly due to the wide viewing angle offered by the lenses.
The 8×42 H2Os generally have good image definition and you will enjoy many details. Consistent sharpness and low chromatic aberration are characteristics that often require more complex lenses, and are therefore more expensive.
Multi-coated lens treatment
The Bushnell H2O 8×42 benefits from a multi-coated coating applied to the lenses. It reduces the loss of light when the rays pass through the different optical glasses.
The maximum transmittance is around 85%, which is a good score. The prisms are made from BaK-4 glasses that have been coated with a high-reflectivity aluminum-based coating.
The color rendering has a slight cream-colored tint, but this does not noticeably affect the image quality. Nevertheless, horizontal vignetting is observed at the periphery of the visual field, and the exit pupil has minimal truncation. These last two defects are not always noticeable in practice.
When it is dark like dusk, the image becomes less contrasty. Although the size of the exit pupil of 5.2mm facilitates observations in this condition. In cloudy weather, there is no problem.
Simple setup and fast focusing
Setting the H2O 8×42 is simple. Focusing is done with a wheel located between the two eyecups of the binoculars. It pivots using only the index finger over a range of approximately one and a half turns.
It’s a good balance between accuracy and speed. The diopter correction is done with a ring placed under the right eyecup. It makes it possible to compensate for any lack of visual acuity between each eye. Its inertia is quite high which prevents it from being disturbed involuntarily.
It is possible to manage the gap between the eyes and the eyepieces with the eyecups which are extendable. Their “Twist-Up” operation allows them to translate by turning them.
Thus, the Bushnell H2Os adapt well to wearing glasses. The interpupillary distance between the two eyepieces varies from 53 to 76 millimeters, which is sufficient for the vast majority of people.
Ergonomics but a bit heavy
The Bushnell H2O 8×42 is very comfortable to use in their roof version. Their dimensions are quite compact, which is useful for transporting them in a backpack or with additional equipment. It is an ideal pair for hiking for example.
The use of a tripod is possible. You purchase a compatible Bushnell adapter, which is not included in the basic set.
The frame of the binoculars is coated with rubber whose texture has a non-slip effect. Even when it rains, the H2O 8×42 adhere well in the hands without the risk of accidentally dropping them. The eyecups are also made of rubber. Their great flexibility makes them very comfortable in contact with the face.
The only downside here is the weights of the Bushnell H2O 8x42s. Indeed, they weigh 709 grams, which will be a bit heavy to handle for a whole day.
Fortunately, fixing notches are present on the edges of the tubes to allow the fixing of a lanyard. It is supplied with the set, and its quilted appearance at the level of the neck reduces any friction that may occur. Small flat, the notches of fixings are perhaps too close to the place where one places his hands.
Robust build quality
The H2O series meets the need to offer binoculars resistant to all environments. Manufacturing quality and robustness are then two important criteria to achieve this objective.
Here, the components are well assembled together and the finishes are very neat. The rubber coating has a large thickness. It protects the optical components well against shocks and falls.
Waterproofing is essential: the H2O 8×42 are IPX7 certified, which ensures resistance to immersion up to 1 meter deep for a maximum of 30 minutes. The tubes are filled with nitrogen, which prevents internal fogging.
Bushnell has incorporated another unique feature: the Exo Barrier Coating, which imparts a water-repellent effect to the objectives and eyepieces. This is a significant asset when the weather is unfavorable. The tubes are not too sensitive to internal reflections, their appearance is quite matt.
The set includes a microfiber cleaning cloth for the lenses, a neoprene strap, a nylon storage case, protective covers, instructions, and a warranty card. All these accessories are very standard and have nothing special.
Minimum focus distance
With a magnification of 8 and roof prisms, one would have thought that the Bushnell H2O 8×42 would be able to focus quickly. Alas, impossible to have a clear image at less than 5.5 meters. This is a much higher value than any other pair of 8×42 binoculars.
It’s a real shame since the quality of the image would have made it possible to look at a lot of animals and objects at a very close range.
The field of view
The range of the visual field is excellent. With a horizontal range of 136 meters at 1000 meters away, you will enjoy a very wide panorama that will make you miss nothing of what is happening around you.
The field of view of the Bushnell H2O 8×42 is as wide as that of some high-end binoculars.
What uses for Bushnell H2O 8×42?
The Bushnell H2O 8×42 is suitable for difficult weather and harsh environments. If you want binoculars that will withstand rain and mud while maintaining ergonomics and image quality, then this is a consistent choice.
This pair is ideal for hiking due to its reduced dimensions. The 8 magnification is versatile for birdwatching, hunting, navigation or simply observing the landscape thanks to the very wide field of view.
To practice astronomy, we recommend at least a magnification of 10.
The Bushnell H2O 8×42 in their roof prism version is satisfactory to use. Thanks to consistent sharpness and high brightness, the image quality is high. The field of vision is exceptionally wide for a pair of binoculars sold for around $100. It will offer a significant angle of view. Ergonomics and manufacturing quality are not left out either.
What we will criticize this model for is above all the image distortion that emerges and the minimum focus distance which is much too great.
Our review of the Bushnell Powerview 2 10×42 may interest you if you are looking for a similar alternative to the H2Os.