Steiner 10x42mm Peregrine
To the best of my
knowledge, it was an ancient philosopher of oriental persuasion who said, Enforced
inactivity can often be remarkably productive. When that quote first came to my
attention a long, long time ago, it was dismissed as pure hogwash which is why no
attention was paid to the name of the sage responsible for it. Too bad, because Id
like to give credit where credit is due. As I discovered recently, the old boy was 100
percent correct. Let me explain:
My right foot was
injured last week. Thankfully, the damage wasnt serious, but it left the foot
extremely painful. So much so that putting any kind of weight on it was completely out of
the question. As a result, when the following Monday rolled around, I found myself
chair-bound and plans for the week in complete disarray.
Only a couple days
previously, one of Steiners new 10x42mm Peregrines arrived. For those who may not be
familiar with the firm, a brief company profile seems to be in order at this point.
Steiner is the largest
manufacturer of binoculars in Europe, located in Bayreuth, Germany. At last count, it was
producing 43 different models. In addition to its sporting series, it supplies binoculars
to military and law enforcement agencies around the globe, including the U.S. Army and
But to get back to the
Peregrines: According to company literature, they're designed with hunters and
bird-watchers in mind and feature multiple lens coatings to enhance detail and color
transmission. To put those claims to the test, my intent had been to spend a day with the
binocular in the deep woods and take it down to the Sonoran desert the following day and
see how it performed there. So much for good intentions. It looked as though I
wouldnt be going anywhere for some time.
Thoroughly disgusted, I
limped out on the back deck that afternoon, found a chair and rested the hurting foot on a
cushion. The 10x42 had been brought along almost as an afterthought: might as well put it
to work checking out local landmarks. That should give me an idea of the long-range
capabilities and find out how it handled.
Letters on some
Caution signs near a construction site 437 yards away were sharply defined and
easy to read. Door numbers, 438 yards off, were easily distinÂguishable. A red For
Sale sign in front of a house 502 yards distant seemed a lot closer, and its colors
were vivid, even under a dull, gray sky. Those yardages, by the way, were all measured
with the aid of a Bushnell electronic rangefinder.
At that point, it was
obvious the Steiners optical quality was first-class. Everything appearing in the
lenses was bright and well defined. In addition, the focusing knob was geared high so it
required very little rotation to bring a new target into focus when switching from one to
another. Of course, the Peregrines generous depth of field helped too.
How would the Steiners
do up in ponderosa country, I wondered? There, visibility is often cluttered and shadows
deep and dark. What would the glasses be like down where the saguaro and thornbushes
flourished where the landscape is a kaleidoscope of dusty, faded greens and lightly
toasted browns, where everything tends to blend into everything else and picking out
details can challenge the best binocular made?
So I sat there, the
binocular hanging from its neck strap, feeling sorry for myself and ticked off at
everything in general, when a flicker of motion in a tree to the right caught my eye.
Lifting the Steiners, I panned along a massive tree limb about 20 yards away,
instinctively refocusing until a small woodpecker came into view walking upside
down underneath the limb! Thats what I said: upside down so help me!
Although always aware of
songbirds presence around our home, I've never paid a whole lot of attention to
them. We live near the edge of town, in the midst of a ponderosa grove with a few aspens
and a scattering of scrub oak. We're regularly visited by javelina and skunks at
night, see an occasional bobcat, squirrels, of course, and every now and then, a few mulie
does or young bucks tiptoe through our backyard. Theyre always interesting to watch
but birds? For some reason, theyve never excited my curiosity at
least, they never did until I spotted that woodpecker walking upside down.
That's the first
time I realized birds ignore the law of gravity. Needless to say, after that incident, I
began glassing the surrounding forest for signs of life. That quickly became a learning
First of all, the local
bird population always seems to be in a hurry. They operate at two speeds: stop and go
and go is wide open. Most of their time and energy is devoted to searching for
food: insects, seeds and whatever else attracts their palates. As soon as they land on
twig, limb or trunk, they begin prodding, pecking or prying, leaping or diving from one
part of a tree to another, finally launching into open air, heading for a more promising
So I sat there all
afternoon, Steiners at the ready. Whenever a new bird knifed into view, the binocular was
raised while I kept an eye on the creatures movements so he or she would be in the
field of view the instant the binocular was clapped to my eyes. As the hours passed, the
birds antics were so intriguing I had completely overlooked how the binocular
handled, how comfortable it was to use and how responsive and easily controllable it had
proved to be. Pointing, focus-ing and tracking the often spastic movements of the
woodpeckers, jays and other species that claimed the nearby trees as their territory had
become so effortless, I never
gave the Steiners a second thought. It simply became an
extension of my curiosity. In retrospect, its obvious that shadows seldom presented
much of a problem either.
There was a
70-foot ponderosa located about 20 yards from where I sat. Beyond it and slightly to its left was another, almost as tall. Distance between
the two was approximately 15 yards. Several times, a bird would fly to the closest tree,
pause briefly on one of its branches, then dive into the far tree. To follow its progress, I had to peer through a tangle of
branches, twigs and pine needles on the closest tree to focus on the bird, now half hidden
in the shadowy bowels of the far tree. A slight nudge on the focusing knob was usually all
that was necessary to bring the bird into view, and despite the gloom, its coloring, markings and silhouette were clearly visible. The light-gathering
ability of the Steiners was impressive, to say the least.
That characteristic was
demonstrated again as the sun began to sink over the western hills. Around me, in the
forest, the shadows began to gather and thicken. Most of the birds disappeared homeward,
but there were a couple jays that stuck around for quite awhile. Their feathers are a
pale, dull gray, which makes them difficult to spot under the best of conditions. As the
light dimmed, the Steiners allowed me to follow their movements, but whenever they stopped
and became motionless, they were almost impossible to pick out. Under those conditions,
however, no binocular Im familiar with could have done any better.
The Peregrines are the
lightest 10x binocular Ive ever held. Nonetheless, as noted, it proved surprisingly
steady holding. Up to now, whenever my hands wrapped themselves around glasses with higher
magnification than 8x, it has been necessary to find additional support for arms or
elbows, otherwise, whatever appears in the field of view quivers and even jumps around at
times. Not so with the Steiner 10x42mm. When in use, it gave as steady a view as any 8x I
ever looked through.
Some of the credit for
that must be given to the lens tubes contours. On their undersides are two mildly
concave, slightly off-center depressions in the rubber coating. As though directed, both
my thumbs rested there whenever the glasses were raised to my eyes. When I first spotted
those rests, I concluded they were window-dressing or built for show, if you prefer. I was
wrong. Those small indentations are located precisely where theyre needed to help
anchor the hands in the same place every time the glasses are picked up.
Some very useful
accessories are included with the Peregrines. Probably the most obvious are the covers attached to
each of the objective lens rims. Secured by Steiners Clic-Loc system, they can be
removed simply by pressing a small button on the locking attachment. That releases the
strap insert, and the cover can be pulled free. Reinstalling the covers is simply a matter
of sliding the covers clip into the locking slit on the lens rim.
Other covers (Steiner
calls them rain guards) can be slipped over the ocular lenses to protect them from dust,
snow or whatever. If they're installed, the neoprene neck strap, also supplied with the glasses, should be threaded through
slits on the sides of the rain guards first.
That neck strap, by the
way, can also be attached and detached from the binocular via the Clic-Loc system. It has
a very soft, 1-inch wide pad that bears against the back of the neck when the
glasses are hung from that part of the anatomy. Regardless how long they're left
there, discomfort is minimal thanks to that pad.
Like all Steiner
binoculars, the Peregrines are completely rubber-armored. They also feature contoured
eyecups on each ocular lens to eliminate annoying sidelight. Those who must wear
spectacles can fold the cups flat.
A stout nylon carrying
case, equipped with its own carrying strap, is also included with each Peregrine. It
offers extra protection when the binocular is transported or carried in a backpack or
Peregrines are more than just impressive performers. They are light, extremely responsive,
quick-focusing, steady-holding and a delight to carry. Optically, they're hard to
fault. Lens images are bright, clear and distortion-free even when the light isn't
the best. Judging from the variety of birds glassed from our back deck, color transmission
is spot-on too. Though not indestructible, Peregrines come close. Tubes and frames are
made of space-age synthetics, light and practically shockproof, then coated with a thick
layer of dark, gray rubber that is not only non-reflective but silent as well: no
clinking, rasping or rattling should the glasses come in contact with metal, brush or
Anyone in the market for
a new or more powerful binocular will do themselves a favor if they take a long, hard look
at Steiner's Peregrine. Al Miller