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|Product Name||Engage X 10x42mm|
|Adapts to Tripod||Yes|
|Close Focus (m)||15 ft|
|Lens Coating||Fully Multi-Coated|
|Magnification x Objective Lens||10x42mm|
|PC-3 Phase Coating||No|
|FOV (ft @1000yd||305 ft|
|Protective Lens Coating||EXO Barrier|
|Dielectric Prism Coating||No|
|Ultrawide Band Coating||No|
|ED Prime Glass||No|
Bushnell is a brand, that over the years managed to establish itself as an authority on high-quality, yet affordable products. Balancing quality and cost is something that many companies aim for, but most often struggle to achieve. The Bushnell Engage X 10×42 binoculars are a great example of this balanced approach to product development. With an RRSP of around $150, you’d be forgiven for expecting mediocre quality. After all, binoculars can cost in excess of $1000 for a pair of Swarovski or Zeiss, for instance.
I’ve been using the Bushnell Engage X 10×42 binoculars for a year now and my experience has been a positive one from start to finish. Sure, they may fall just short of my Vortex Diamondbacks in some ways, but at half the price it’s hard not to appreciate the Bushnell Engage X for what they are; an amazing pair of entry-level binoculars.
Design & Build Quality
When it comes to design, the Bushnell Engage X 10×42 doesn’t stray too far from the tried and tested architecture that is found on the majority of entry to mid-level binoculars. They are wrapped in textured rubber armor, ensuring that you can maintain a solid grip, even in wet conditions, while also being shaped in areas to provide a more ergonomic feel in one’s hands.
Right away when I started using the Bushnell Engage X, they felt familiar in my hands. Having come from the Vortex Diamondback, the very similar weight profile (604g vs 620g) made an easy transition. At 620g, the Engage X is far from the heaviest pair of binoculars you’re going to come across, yet at the same time, you still get the feeling of a well-constructed pair of bins without a hint of that plastic, lightweight feel that some other budget binoculars bring to the table.
Let’s take a closer look at the individual elements of the Bushnell Engage X and see what they offer the user. For many of us optics users, we place value on a particular element of a product, and knowing how those elements respond can assist one in making a more informed purchasing decision.
The Engage X focus wheel has a smooth rotation with moderate resistance that focuses more on forgiveness than it does on being snappy. You’re going to have a fair bit of room to play within your focusing, which could take some getting used to if you’re moving from a pair of binoculars with a faster focus wheel. However, for myself, it didn’t take long to get used to the focus wheel at all, despite being quite a bit slower than my Diamondbacks (at least after a few years of use).
The hinge of the binoculars is near-perfect in my opinion, with a fair bit of resistance ensuring that you don’t constantly move out of the alignment you’ve configured, while at the same time not proving difficult to change on the fly. I’ve used binoculars in the past where the hinge felt either too loose or as though you need to fight with the binoculars just to adjust your alignment. The resistance offered by the central hinge is quite similar to the focus wheel, which also helps in just ensuring that one maintains the correct force while making adjustments.
This is another binocular piece that can be very frustrating if designed poorly. With the Engage X, I have found the diopter ring to be near-perfect. It’s tight enough to hold in place and not get moved during regular usage, while at the same time not proving a challenge to adjust when you need to.
When it comes to the construction, my pair of Engage X have taken more than a few falls without any signs of damage to the optics. The rubber area on top of the hinge, however, did end up with a fairly deep scratch after dropping it. I don’t mind some aesthetic damage in exchange for the reliability of my optics though.
Performance / Optics
When it comes to performance, the Bushnell Engage X is competing with binoculars far above its price range. In fact, this is one of the areas where I was really impressed by how close to the Diamondbacks the Engage X was able to perform. Sure, there’s room for improvement – but you’re not going to feel cheated by the optics quality of these binoculars in the slightest.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Bushnell Engage X 10×42 performs in the real world.
Clarity & Contrast
The Bushnell Engage X 10×42 comes with fully multicoated lenses, as well as Bushnell’s EXO barrier. The EXO barrier is a coating that is added to the external lens elements which repel water, oil, dust, and debris. Basically, it does its best at ensuring your lenses are protected from the elements at all times. Because of this, they become far more viable in otherwise harsh conditions, as well as just not collecting as much dust when they lay around for an extended period.
The clarity and contrast on these binoculars are really some of the highlights when it comes to this pair of binoculars. I historically found that clarity has always been a challenge when purchasing budget binoculars, and for good reason. When it comes to implementing basic features of the general build, these can be replicated by a number of smaller companies. However, it’s not often you find small budget manufacturers able to provide quality optical performance as well.
Now, of course, Bushnell is far from a small company and that is what has given them the edge when it comes to the Engage X. It feels like you’re buying a professional pair of binoculars, but at a very reasonable price point.
There are some situations where the contrast may not be the best pair of binoculars on the market, but it is still quite near to perfect in most scenarios and manages to impress even in lower light.
With that said, however, low light performance is the one area where you may find the Engage X lacking when compared to some of the best bins out there. It doesn’t quite match up to the performance I’ve seen from Zeiss, Leica, and Swarovski – but it does perform better than any other binoculars I’ve used in this price point.
The multicoated lenses pull through again, showing their strengths when it comes to color accuracy and overall vividness. When viewing in the direction of the sun, there are certainly improvements that could be made, as these binoculars aren’t untouchable from glare. In fact, both the color accuracy and the contrast impress when facing away from the sun, but do take a little hit when glare is at its most intense.
The color accuracy is brilliant for the most part though. There are no strange hues that I’ve encountered in regular use and colors are vivid and true in most usage scenarios. This is something that’s important as a birder, where feather tones could be the difference between an accurate and inaccurate identification of the species.
An eye-relief of 16mm is standard for most binoculars in this price range, and eye-relief is one area that I always need to be concerned about, as a glasses-wearer. I can say that with the adjustable eye-cups, I haven’t had any issues using these binoculars with my glasses thanks to the 4 various adjustment settings on the eye-cups.
The Bushnell Engage X 10×42 do particularly well when it comes to chromatic aberration. Nothing is more frustrating than having the edges of your images distorted with chromatic aberration, and thankfully I’ve not had any troubles with that when using the Engage X. The edges of objects, even when strongly lit and light in color, tend to display true to their sharpness. That’s not to say there isn’t a hint of chromatic aberration at all viewing angles and lighting, as I was able to spot a small amount when changing the viewing angle to unnatural positions, but even in this less than optimal viewing angle, the result was minimal.
The Engage X 10×24 has gained quite a reputation for itself over the last few years, becoming one of the top picks for an affordable entry-level pair of binoculars, and an especially popular option of binoculars for kids. If you’re a hunter, birder, or even just someone looking to purchase an affordable but quality pair of binoculars, you can’t go wrong with the Engage X.
I have continued to look for faults in the Bushnell Engage X 10×42, but it’s honestly just been difficult to find areas in which the Engage X lacks.
The coatings aren’t the highest quality coatings in the world, falling short of the glare protection found in high-end products, but it seems unfair to compare apples to oranges.
If you’re looking for the best binoculars out there, these aren’t them as they lack much of the additional bells and whistles that high-end binoculars may carry. But if you’re looking for something affordable that can perform ahead of its price range – I can highly recommend the Bushnell Engage X 10×42.