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Mini review for Kowa BDII 6.5x32 bino

Binoculars Equipment Optics
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#1 carmelien

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 12:13 AM

Hey guys, 

Figured I'd try and do a series of mini reviews about my binoculars in case anybody was considering using models I happen to have. 

First one is the KOWA BDII 6.5x32 binocular! I'm sure there are plenty of better reviews out their but another perspective can always be helpful. 

 

I wrote a little template that I'll try to follow sort of consistently. (Included below)

I'll use a scale that ranges from "poor" to "More than great!"

0-Poor, 1-OK, 2-Good, 3-Very good, 4-great 5-More than great!

Then I'll briefly discuss the following parameters/ opinions: 

On-axis sharpness
Edge-of-field sharpness
Fun factor
Inputs (focus, diopter)
Size/ usefulness
Recommend to a friend?
Would it be my only pair?
Similar to...

Brief account of using in the field.

 

Intro:

The 6.5x32 is a compact little binocular that feels solid when you pick it up. The rubber is nice and grippy, the eye cups adjust nicely and the fit and finish generally gives an impression of quality. I have an 8.5x44 Genesis that feels even classier... the difference is noticed in the rubber casing which feels more solid somehow and the focus wheel, which is very smooth and more precise feeling. The view is narrower on the higher end model but also sharper at the perimeter. Nevertheless, the more budget conscious 6.5x32 is a solidly made tool. 

 

On-axis sharpness: Very Good (crisp, contrasty, punchy). Birds look good. Reach on astro stuff doesn't blow your mind (6.5! It's not for reach!) but it's the big wide view that makes it fun anyway. 

Edge-of-field sharpness: OK. (There is noticeable fuzz on the edge of the image and it doesn't start as far from middle as one might hope. On this pair, the strength of the wide view lies in acquiring swiftly moving targets like birds or getting a great sense of "where the target is" in space... You don't get a crisp-to-the-edge treat of a view like with a Nikon SE but what the Kowa does really well is let you get a sense of where the bird is and what is around it... even if the stuff on the periphery isn't exceptionally crisp, you can still see the periphery in the same view so it really contextualizes the bird your actually aimed at, and the bird itself will be sharp so I can't complain)

Fun factor: Very good (A blast to use for the "contextualizing" ability I mentioned in the last paragraph. It's kinda like a vintage wide field porro, without the limited eye relief! Good size. Nice view. As a bonus, awesome close focus makes it a great all around nature bino). 

Inputs (focus, diopter): Good (The focus wheel seems to have a tiny bit of play/ slush but practically, this causes no real problems. Sometimes I feel like I have to overshoot and then correct back on the focus before view snaps into focus but that might just be A) me or B) cuz the focus wheel is so smooth and easy to turn. However, sometimes the smoothness borders on slippery feeling rather than the confident feedback you get on the Genesis model, but that's to be expected with the price difference. The diopter doesn't lock but has yet to slip against my will)

Size/ usefulness: Great (Small, easy to carry. I use one on a harness every time I caddie and watch birds between golf shots! The lighter magnification is cool and kind of unexpected on a modern, non-vintage bino. It really feels different and unique compared to most other binos I have) 

Recommend to a friend?: Yes, for hiking, observation of scenery, travel when weight is an issue, bird watching, nature observation in general. Small enough to bring when you're officially doing other stuff (ie, photography, carrying golf clubs for other people!)

Would it be my only pair?: For me, probably not.

Similar to...: The wide angle view is similar to the Nikon Eii 8x30, though the view from the Nikon, while not as wide, is better overall. However, it's worth saying I have a bias towards Porros. As I said, it also reminds me of the vintage wide-angle porros but with better eye relief and less charm. 

 

Brief account of using in the field: Crisp view. Fairly good flare control. Good management of CA. The modest magnification is still enough to matter... think of all the old military bins with similar configuration and the fact it's close to 7x used by fishers around the world looking for boats or evidence of fish. I've used it to differentiate birds I could never have ID'd with the naked eye. Gives a cool overall impression of a scene while at the same time enjoying whatever you have mid-axis. Just yesterday I looked at a dead juvenile shark slowly turning in the water off the sixth hole. Without the bins, it just looked like a white streak. 

All in all, a bino I'm glad I have and which I use quite frequently. 

 


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#2 Northern

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 08:00 AM

I have considered this binocular for close to a year... I just haven't been able to pull out the card yet.

 

I think it would work wonderfully as a spotter for my 32x82 Kowa.
Find something interesting to look at, point the 20/32/50x at said spot.



#3 BUDSBOY

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 08:13 AM

Thank you for spending the time/energy for this thorough review.

Have you experienced the Pentax Papilio II 6.5x21? 

That would be an interesting comparison (IMO).



#4 Milos1977

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 01:03 PM

Thank you for your great review. I am waiting for one used unit to arrive and, looking forward to testing it. Im hoping the comfort and decent image will make it a keeper for quick sweeping around the sky when looking for objects and sharing with friends and family. 


Edited by Milos1977, 05 December 2021 - 01:04 PM.


#5 Blue72

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 02:15 PM

Nice review

 

the Kowa 6.5x32 are one of my favorites.

 

I bought them with a bunch of other 30-35mm binoculars and was surprised the Kowa picked up the North American nebula the best out of all of them.

 

 



#6 Milos1977

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 10:10 AM

I received my Kowa BDII 6.5x32. 

No luck with clear sky yet but I tested it around during evening anyway. 

Yes it has some small amount of backlash in the focus wheel. Not bad. The positive side is everything else about the focus wheel. It is large, and for me perfectly placed for ease of one handed operation while holding. It is light to use but not to light. Makes finding and focusing super easy. The backlash is quickly ignored when using it unlike some focus wheel where backlash makes you work harder. 

Views seem bright and apparent field of view seems same as the one in Monarch 7 8x30 which is great. What remains to be seen is the overall image and feel when looking at the stars. 


Edited by Milos1977, 08 December 2021 - 10:11 AM.


#7 Cestus

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 10:55 AM

I love mine.



#8 Fiske

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 11:22 AM

Another Kowa 6.5x32 fan here. grin.gif



#9 jimhoward999

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 05:06 PM

and another



#10 carmelien

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Posted 16 December 2021 - 01:07 AM

Hi BUDSBOY,

You're welcome, my pleasure! We'll see which pair I'll review next...

As for the papilio II... I did have one for about a week. It was a gift for my aunt, who is a botanist and is way into butterflies. A side-by-side comparison is hard cuz I gave her that pair more than a year before I acquired the Kowa. 

 

As I recall, for close focus use, the papilio was AMAZING. It was like walking around with a microscope. It gave psychedelic views of flowers and other small detailed stuff... kind of like walking around in "Honey, I shrunk the kids"!!!! However, I didn't find the papilio as impressive for general viewing. It got the job done but was fairly average as a primary binocular. Nevertheless, as a dedicated instrument for close observation, I would recommend it to anyone into checking out succulents in the yard or details on a snail shell or a flower. 

 

Between the two, I'd see the Kowa has it beat for an all around bino. The Papilio, on the other hand, fills its niche righteously.  


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#11 edwincjones

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Posted 16 December 2021 - 05:43 AM

---------

Have you experienced the Pentax Papilio II 6.5x21? 

That would be an interesting comparison (IMO).

I have the Kowa, had the Papillio 1s but gave it to my grandkids.

The Kowa is just a little bit bigger but much better optics

It is very good value for price and quality,

a companion to bigger optics or car/truck bino.

 

The Kowa competes well with my 8x32s as general purpose,

wider FOV vs higher mag.

 

 

 

edj


Edited by edwincjones, 16 December 2021 - 05:50 AM.

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#12 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 16 December 2021 - 12:39 PM

I remain a 6.5x32 fan even though I sold mine.  They are great daytime binos, the wide TFOV was a revelation, very little CA, and it was especially easy to acquire and track birds on the wing.  After a year of use though, I purchased a Zeiss Conquest 8x32, a good bump in magnification, 8 degree TFOV versus 10, faster focuser and crisper views.  More suited to my "use cases" and the dimensions of the daytime landscapes I typically view, but that's no knock to the little Kowa.  I think it's a great value.

 

Binoculars offer so much variety in configuration and quality that half the fun is the journey to find what suits your needs.


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