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Kowa BD II XD 8×42 Binoculars: Our Review

These binoculars have a great feel, excellent image, and a smooth focus wheel. They are one of our Top Picks.

At A Glance

Kowa BDII XD 8x42 binoculars
Kowa BDII XD 8×42 binoculars. Image by Hugh Powell.


  • Bright, crisp, colorful image
  • Excellent feel to the focus wheel
  • Small and lightweight without compromising optics
  • Wide field of view and excellent close focus 


  • Toward the top end of the price range we tested


  • Price: $449 MSRP at press time. Prices often fluctuate, so check with retailers
  • Close focus: 5.9 feet (180 cm). In tests, we could focus these binoculars down to about 4.7 feet (142 cm)
  • Field of view: 8.2° (431 feet at 1,000 yards). More about field of view 
  • Weight: 23.6 oz (668 g)—that’s about 2.2 oz (61 g) lighter than the average for 8×42 binoculars in our review
  • Eye relief: 17 mm

Viewing Experience: These are superbly enjoyable binoculars that during our tests reminded us why we love watching familiar birds. The crisp and detailed image brought out the many delicate shades of gray and buff of a Tufted Titmouse framed against a gray maple trunk. When a Golden-crowned Kinglet peeked around a branch, the brilliant yellow crown flared against the soupy gray October sky without being overwhelmed by the glare. Looking across a field at feeders more than 150 yards away, the image was sharp enough to resolve the spangled wings of Blue Jays and even the buffy sides of titmice. Both the field of view and the close focus are among the best (widest and closest, respectively) of models we tested.

Feel and Build: These binoculars are small and lighter than an average 8×42 despite being equipped with high-quality glass. The focus wheel is a high point in the feel: a fine-textured knob that glides easily, at an even pace, making it easy to follow moving birds while keeping them sharp. The eyecups are stiff and precise, dialing securely into each of 3 positions for non-eyeglass wearers. The olive-green barrels are narrow and grippy, with contoured accents that provide grip for thumbs. Overall the binoculars are compact and lightweight but have a solid and well-built feel to them. The Kowa branded neck strap is one of the best stock straps we’ve seen for binoculars, wide with generous padding.  

More on Binoculars

Comments From Testers: 

  • Very nice feel to focus wheel
  • I like the lightness and size of these
  • Lovely feel to focus wheel, compact size and balanced weight, great feel
  • May be slippery when wet
  • Super easy to focus
  • Easy to use, very comfortable
  • Bright image

This article is one in a series of mini-reviews. To see how these binoculars compare to others we’ve tested, see our full review of affordable 8×42 binoculars.  

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