We asked a long-time customer and fellow optics enthusiast to write an independent review of the 8x42 Sky King from Eagle Optics' new Atlas line of binoculars.
From Frank in Pennsylvania:
"I tend to always find myself splitting any reviews into two parts: the optical performance and the physical design/handling of the binocular. When I read reviews I often dig through them intensely looking for what I want to read-the positives and negatives of the binocular in question. It is with those thoughts in mind that I make the following comments.
The Sky King has some extremely redeeming optical qualities. Upon lifting them to my eyes the first optical characteristic that strikes my senses is the size of the binoculars’ sweet spot. The sweet spot is the area in the field of view that is relatively free of any type of distortion or aberration. The sweet spot in the Sky King is very generous, covering a significant percentage of the field of view. The image also presents itself as being very flat with very little field curvature around the outer edge of the image. Putting these two optical characteristics together provides one with the impression of a very natural and easy to use type of image.
The image brightness and contrast levels are also very good. I would attribute this to the use of dielectric prism coatings on the roof prisms. The image provided is very sharp and relatively free from any type of color fringing over a large percentage of the image. That is impressive performance for any binocular, not to mention one at this price point.
Other optical performance characteristics worthy of mentioning are the binoculars’ approximate 6 foot close focus and generous 17 mm eye relief. The close focusing ability should make this binocular popular among the butterfly and nature observation crowd.
The physical design of this binocular is very similar to many of the other moderately priced roof prisms currently on the market. The physical length is between 5 and 6 inches and the weight is in the 20-25 ounce range. The eyecup design is modern with multiple click-stop adjustments between fully extended and fully collapsed. The binocular also features objective covers that are tethered to the tripod socket cap. I always liked this design and am surprised not to have seen it on more binoculars.
The physical texture of the rubber armoring is very comfortable in my hands. The focusing tension is very fluid and easily controlled. Going from close focus to infinity requires 1.75 turns of the focusing wheel in a counterclockwise direction.
The interesting aspect of this binocular is not necessarily its surprisingly good optical performance or its ergonomic design but rather that both of these characteristics are now available in a binocular that retails right at the $200 price point. Optically I would rate it above many of the $300 roof prism binoculars that have served as reference standard material for the last five or six years. The brightness, contrast, and lack of significant distortion certainly places the bar significantly higher for roof prism binoculars under $300."