Zoom makes short work of some long-distance ID tests
Olivon are one of those optics brands that, over the years, have quietly built up a good reputation without any great fanfare. You frequently come across their binoculars and scopes being used out in the field, and their users have good things to say about them. So, the chance to try out their new, top-of-the-range ED scope was an opportunity not to be missed.
First impressions last, they say, and this is a scope that scrubs up well, with a look that manages to be both streamlined and robust. I tested it with a 20x-60x zoom eyepiece, as zooms seem to have massively outstripped fixed magnification eyepieces in popularity over recent years. Ive talked before about my reservations about this, but its fair to say there are an increasing number of models out there that are tackling my preconceptions. I can add the T-84 EDO to that list. The image, at all magnifications, boasts a good natural colour and is impressively bright, the latter having been something that, in the past, zoom eyepieces sacrificed.
The other trade-off comes where field of view is concerned. Its inevitably narrower on zoom eyepieces than on fixed, but here I never found it oppressively so, with the tunnel-effect that you sometimes find. Thats no doubt down to the ED glass, which helps ensure that the image is sharp right up to the edges. Even at the maximum magnification, 60x, this holds true. The eyepiece resolves to a sharp, crisp image, and although, as youd expect, that falls off to a certain extent towards the top end of the magnification range, its really not a problem. Throughout a day of watching waders and wildfowl at some really considerable distances, it again and again came up trumps. Theres little or no chromatic aberration (or colour fringing), even against strong sunlight. In low light, too, the ED glass really comes into its own, cutting through the gloom in impressive fashion.
Focussing is excellent. It can take a bit of finesse to find it exactly, but once you do, its satisfyingly spot-on, and the mechanism makes searching for it a doddle, rather than a chore. Thats because movement of the helical focus wheel (just over fingers wide) is moderately stiff, but very smooth, and its easily gripped, even in cold conditions. It takes around 1.75 anti-clockwise turns from close focus to infinity. Close focus was good, too its increasingly important these days, when dragonflies and other insects come into the equation.
The eyepiece itself is excellent, with the rubber-covered twist-up, twist-down eyecup comfortable in extended use. Although there are only two set positions (fully out and fully down), in practice I found that it stayed in position well at any spot in between. Theres a rotating collar, and one of my few reservations was that the locking nut on it looked a little fragile. Otherwise, as I mentioned earlier, build quality is excellent, with reassuring rubber armour.
Weighed in the hand, it might feel a little on the heavy side, but in practice, I dont think youd notice, as its very well balanced. It came with a good stay-on case, and as youd expect its waterproof and nitrogen-filled. By unscrewing the eyecup on the eyepiece, you can attach Olivons own universal camera adapter ring.
So, all things considered, the ED glass goes a long way towards allaying my reservations about zooms, providing good low-light performance, maintaining sharpness at all magnification levels, and making the most of the field of view. At £1,100, its not cheap, but thats a price that compares very well with the big boys, making this a major contender if youre looking for a quality, ED glass zoom. Try it for yourself.