With its new compact design, the Merlin Pro binocular appeals to anyone on the move.
Premium, multi-coated optics enhance light transmission to deliver high-resolution views in a variety of lighting conditions. The fast, center focus knob lets you quickly focus and fine-tune the details of your view. Strong, polycarbonate housing covered in rubber armoring add extra strenght to the waterproof Merlin Pro. Steiner provides a 10-year limited warranty.
Increase light transmission with multiple anti-reflective coatings on one or more air-to-glass surfaces.
Enhances resolution and contrast through roof prisms.
Appreciated for a streamlined shape and durability.
Provides a secure, non-slip grip.
Twist up and down for comfortable viewing with or without eyeglasses.
Center Focus Wheel
Adjusts both binocular barrels at the same time.
Optics are sealed with O-rings to prevent moisture, dust, and debris from getting inside the binocular.
Barrels are filled with nitrogen gas to inhibit internal fogging.
I'm very picky when it comes to binoculars and I've returned 2 pair already for what I perceived as flaws, even though others rated them five stars.
I can compare the Merlin Pro 8x42 to a recent pair of Pentax DCF SP 8x42's that I had that cost about $150.00 more (returned). I also had a pair of 9x28 Pentax DCF LV (returned) and I borrowed a pair of used Steiner Peregrine Pro 8x42's from a local store to compare. And I own a pair of Pentax Papilio 6x21, which are excellent by the way.
The Merlin Pro is as good as it gets for the price in my opinion, and I've been using various types of binoculars for decades. The view is clear and sharp and colors are crisp. That's pretty much a given once you start spending over $400 bucks on binocs though.
The body feels and handles smaller and lighter than the Pentax, which I found too heavy and a bit bulky and unwieldy. The Steiners are covered in a special dark brown rubber, supposedly designed to be the least visible to birds. It's not as grippy as other types but it works fine.
A few ribs along the side add some grip, but the shape and size of the binoculars is what works here, plus there are very slight thumb indents on the bottom that you don't really notice but which really help for holding the binocs.
The built-in, fold-down objective lens covers are excellent and one of the big selling points for me on Steiner. The eye cup shields make a real difference in blocking out light and they put my eyes the correct distance from the lens (I wear eyeglasses but always take them off when using binocs).
The ocular lens cover is a loose fit on the very nice neck strap. It's designed to be loose, to quickly slide off the ocular side for viewing. By the way, they're designed that way, so the reviewers who rant about loose-fitting ocular covers apparently don't know why the cover is loose.
The center focus wheel was stiff at first but quickly loosened up. The diopter adjuster is on the left ocular side and it works fine and I can get a very even view through both eyes. I could not get either Pentax binoculars to even out using the focus wheel and the diopter adjustment, which was a real problem with those binocs.
My only complaint is that there is a slight chromatic aberration when viewing very high contrast objects, but you really have to be looking for it (and know what you're looking for) to see it.
I only notice it when looking at something unusual, like a white roof against a blue sky. It's almost non-existent looking through the center of the lens and completely non-existent in normal lower-contrast viewing, but if you look up or down you may see a red (up) or green (down) slight outline against the high-contrast object. But for the price, it's very minimal and better than the more expensive Pentax binocs, which had it bad even in low contrast views.
Chromatic aberrations are very difficult to engineer around, even in very expensive camera lenses. Most of the digital cameras correct for this in the camera CPU or the photographer does it in post-processing. Even some $2k or so binocs have it.
But one of the best features is that there is no lens flare I can see in the Merlin Pros. They are better than any other binoculars I have tried in that regard. I can point them directly near the sun and not see any lens flare. This is the big difference between these and other binoculars and the Pentax pair I tried (the 9x28 had terrible lens flare).
Bottom line is that the new Merlin Pro 8x42's are outstanding binoculars for the money and they're as good as or better than binoculars I've used costing as much as three times the price. They are equal to or better than the older Steiner Perigrine Pros, which were their top of the line costing around $1200.00 I think.
By the way, Steiner currently has a $50.00 rebate going, making the Merlin Pro 8x42 binoculars just under $400.00, an absolute bargain in anyone's book.