Goodbye Eagle Optics Rangers. Hello Barska Level ED
One of the most popular low-cost binocular series in the history of Optics4Birding has been the Eagle Optics Rangers. The Ranger went through several incarnations and improved each time. So, when Eagle Optics closed, we were disappointed to lose the Rangers, and we started looking for a good replacement. In January 2018, we found the Barska Level ED Open Bridge binoculars. Even without a head-to-head comparison, we knew had found our replacement. So, we arranged an evaluation piece from Barska to try them out. Read on to find out why we feel so strongly about the Barska Level ED binoculars.
Barska Level ED Optical Test
We borrowed a Ranger ED 10×42 and went outside to test it against the Level ED 10×42. We tested for brightness by comparing mid-tones in deep shadow. Tiny spikes on plants provided an excellent target for comparing sharpness and contrast. We measured close focus and made relative comparisons of depth of field, field of view, and chromatic aberration. We saw a noticeable difference in field of view (which the Barska won handily at 341′ at 1000 yards to 315′ at 1000 yards). The Rangers won the close focus comparison at 5.2′ to 6′. The Rangers had an 0.5mm advantage in eye relief, which was barely noticeable. Every other optical aspect tested was indistinguishable.
Barska Level ED Ergonomic Test
The Level and Ranger differ from each other physically in a few minor ways. The Level ED Open Bridge is a bit longer and therefore weighs about 2 ounces more. But, the size is there to accommodate the open bridge design, which makes for a better grip and balance. The gap between bridges allows all three fingers to wrap around the barrels. The Eagle Optics Ranger had a locking diopter ring, which prevents the diopter from drifting on the user when the ring gets bumped or rubs against the body. That would be a nice addition to the Levels, however, the diopter ring is stiff enough to prevent drift.
The Barska Level Series
As were the Eagle Optics Rangers, the Barska Levels include 1042, 8×42, and 8×32. Because of their size, The Level 8×32 is not open bridge. Fear not: the 8×32 uses the same glass and quality of build.
Recommending the Barska Level ED Open Bridge Binoculars
We know there are many birders who love their Eagle Optics Rangers and frequently recommend them to new birders. If you have received such a recommendation, only to learn the Rangers aren’t available, then take our advice. We are happy to say the Barska Level ED Open Bridge binoculars are our choice for the best replacement. Read our complete review.