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Kowa SV II 8×32 Binoculars: Our Review

Lightweight binoculars with very good image quality for the price, but a stiff focus wheel. We rate them as a Solid Choice.

At A Glance

Green binoculars
Kowa SV II 8×32 binoculars. Photo by Hugh Powell.


  • Clear, colorful, and crisp image
  • Lightweight
  • Good field of view and close focus


  • Stiff focus wheel
  • Hard to adjust for close-set eyes


  • Price: $239 MSRP at press time. Prices often fluctuate, so check with retailers
  • Close focus: 6.6 feet (200 cm)
  • Field of view: 7.8° (410 feet at 1,000 yards). More about field of view 
  • Weight: 20.6 oz (585 g)—that’s about 2.9 oz (83 g) lighter than the average for compact binoculars in our review. Compare binocular sizes and weights
  • Eye relief: 15.5 mm

Viewing Experience: The Kowa SV II provides a very pleasing image at an attractive price point. Though the image isn’t quite as good as the higher-priced Kowa BD II (one of our Top Picks), it surprised us with its consistently bright colors and sharp images. While watching a Tufted Titmouse rummaging in a leafy shrub—a mix of bright greens, crisp grays, and snowy white—the SV II brought out a second titmouse that had been hidden deeper in the foliage. On a sunny morning watching a side-lit Blue Jay posturing and scolding, we appreciated the warm glow lighting up the sunlit side of the face and throat. The image was sharp across its whole width, and the field of view helped create a roomy feel to the view. The low-light performance was impressive for an inexpensive binocular, as when watching an Eastern Towhee scratching under bushes on an overcast morning. Several testers noted that the stiff focus wheel made it hard to quickly get a bird into focus.

Feel and Build: For a compact binocular the SV II has a bulky silhouette, though they are noticeably lighter than average. The binoculars have a graceful outline, with a contoured hourglass shape that sets them apart in these times of mostly straight-barreled bins. The rubbery armoring (olive green in our test model) has a soft and grippy feel; the focus wheel has a pattern of recessed ovals to provide grip—though not quite enough to overcome the stiffness of the focus wheel. The eyecups click into four precise, secure settings, and are comfortable against the face. The neck strap is medium width and comfortably padded.

Testers’ Comments:

  • Great image and color
  • Very stiff focus wheel
  • Hard to adjust for close-set eyes

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 compact binoculars.

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