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Opticron Explorer WA ED-R 8×42 Binoculars: Our Review

A sharp, colorful image in a comfortable, well-balanced design. We rated these a Solid Choice.

At A Glance

Opticron Explorer WA ED-R 8x42 binoculars
Opticron Explorer WA ED-R binoculars. Image by Hugh Powell.


  • Bright, clear image
  • Comfortable in the hand
  • Good for close-set eyes
  • Good close focus and field of view


  • Somewhat loose eyecups
  • Focus wheel slightly stiffer than average
  • Lost contrast and sharpness in lower light


  • Price: $355 MSRP at press time. Prices often fluctuate, so check with retailers
  • Close focus: 6.6 feet (200 cm). In tests, we could focus these binoculars down to about 6.1 feet (185 cm)
  • Field of view: 7.5° (394 feet at 1,000 yards). More about field of view 
  • Weight: 25.8 oz (732 g)—that’s about 0.1 oz (3 g) heavier than the average for 8×42 binoculars in our review
  • Eye relief: 17 mm

Viewing Experience: The Opticron Explorer is a step up in price from the manufacturer of one of our favorite budget binoculars, the Opticron Oregon 4PC Oasis. They provided a sharp, clear image with a good field of view (just shy of the best binoculars in our review). On a bright sunny day these bins beautifully captured the zebra-striped back and tail of a Red-headed Woodpecker along with the deep purple of a wild grape it was hiding in the thick bark of a cottonwood trunk. However, on an overcast day, they did not perform as well as similarly priced models when we tried to pick up details of a shaded, moss-covered tree stump. The focus wheel was smooth, if slightly stiff, and required only a short spin of the dial to go from distant to close focus. At just over 6 feet, the close focus is very good. While watching Cedar Waxwings fly directly overhead in a blue sky, these bright binoculars easily isolated the yellow tail edges against the glare. In harsher backlighting we detected some slight color distortion.

Feel and Build: These binoculars have a no-nonsense design with a smooth but grippy black covering and a couple of ridges on the underside for your thumbs to find. The eyecups clicked firmly into three positions but felt loose as they moved between the stops. The neck strap was on the narrow side but comfortably padded. As we’ve seen with a few other binoculars in this review, the neck strap attached to the binoculars with plastic Fastek buckles, which are a handy upgrade from the traditional (often fiddly) friction buckles.

More on Binoculars

  • Focus wheel a little stiff; nice bright image
  • Bright image
  • Very quick focus from close to far
  • Comfortable to hold overall
  • Feels short and small in hand  
  • Squishy feel, loose eyecups
  • Comfortable for my close-set eyes   
  • Nice field of view

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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