Introduction

In this article, I will make a comparison between two 8×42 binoculars, Noblex (Docter) 8×42 ED and Kahles Helia 8×42. Both binoculars are the mid-price range products of European manufacturers, quality-designed, suitable for all-around use and have a very compact and convenient open bridge design.
Kahles company was established in 1898. Their series of Helia binoculars were introduced in 2016. Before that, they were mainly specialized in the production of rifle scopes with the same name.
Noblex, until recently, Docter, hopes to continue the tradition of manufacturing premium optical devices, which were once also known under the name Carl Zeiss Jena, by changing and refreshing the management and naming. The company has a successful, but turbulent history.
When Kahles imagined a series of Helia binoculars, it is obvious that it was essential to create binoculars that will not only have good optical properties but also a special and aesthetic appearance.
Noblex claims for their binoculars they will always be reliable, especially when hunting, and will work well in all conditions, thanks to their optical properties and ergonomic design.

Kahles Helia 8x42 and Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED

Kahles Helia 8×42 and Noblex/ Docter 8×42 ED

Size & Weight

 Kahles Helia 8x42Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED
Weight:750 g670 g
Width:127 mm129 mm
Length:150 mm145 mm
Max interpupillary distance:73 mm72 mm

Kahles Helia binoculars have a very solid casing, however, the binoculars are slim and elegant. Their armoring is made of durable earth-brown rubber and black plastic details. The binoculars weigh slightly more than the Noblex model, while the other proportions are more or less the same. An excellent advantage of both binoculars is the open bridge design, which is especially important when hunting, as they can be easily handled with one hand. The armoring on Noblex ED is made of softer black rubber. Their barrels are covered with rubber bars, which serve for better grip. The rubber the binoculars are coated in has a sticky surface so they do not slip out of hands in bad weather conditions. Unfortunately, this kind of material gathers particles of dust easily and that is why the armoring gets stained quickly. Helia is covered in a combination of smooth and rough rubber with various notches and lines that look like an aesthetic addition when their primary purpose is actually a better grip. On the bottom side, there are also oval-shaped thumb rests.

Kahles Helia 8x42

Kahles Helia 8×42

Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED

Noblex/ Docter 8×42 ED

 

Optical Properties

 Kahles Helia 8x42Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED
Prism type:Roof -Schmidt/PechanRoof -Schmidt/Pechan
Lens Diameter:42 mm42 mm
Magnification:8x8x
Variable Magnification:NoNo
Coatings:Fully multi-coatedFully multi-coated
Close focus:2.1 m 2.5 m
Field of View:126 m /1000 m115 m / 1000 m

8×42 is the most suitable for everyday observations and is also a configuration for binoculars that are produced by almost all manufacturers, so in this case, you can get a really good product for a reasonable price. The competition is very big in this field. 8×42 is perfect for all first-time buyers, hunters, bird watchers, hikers, travelers, etc. It is the most popular in almost all areas, offering a bigger field of view than binoculars with higher magnifications do, and also the shaking is less noticeable. These kind of binoculars are also more suitable for use in low light conditions, compared to those with higher magnifications.
Both binoculars have a phase corrected, Roof – Schmidt/Pechan prism type and are fully multicoated. Noblex (Docter) ED has a superb ED optical system with special ED lenses (ED= Extra-low Dispersion Glass) that reduce chromatic aberration and provide true-to-life, high-contrast image. These binoculars also have specific DOCTER coatings on their glass.
Kahles offers a very limited data on the lenses and coatings they use for their binoculars. Their fully multicoated system combined with special coatings on the glass provide sharp images without inner reflections and distortions. Helia has a much wider field of view and a shorter close focusing distance than Noblex ED. Also the colors that we see through the binoculars are much more vivid and natural.

Kahles Helia 8x42 and Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED

Kahles Helia 8×42 and Noblex/ Docter 8×42 ED

Kahles Helia 8x42 and Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED

Kahles Helia 8×42 and Noblex/ Docter 8×42 ED

Focus Properties

 Kahles Helia 8x42Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED
Focusing System:CentralCentral
Central Wheel Grasp:8/107/10
Central Wheel Rotation:8/107/10
Diopter Setting:Right-eye Right-eye
Diopter Range:- 4.0 / + 4.0 - 3.0 / + 3.0
Central Wheel Diameter:30 mm30 mm
Central Wheel Length:22 mm22 mm
Total Revolution: 520°540°
Bridge Length (open bridge)41-60-17 mm41-60-17 mm

Both, Kahles Helia and Noblex ED, have a central focusing system and a diopter setting placed under the right eyecup. Helia‘s range of diopter is -4.0 / + 4.0 and Noblex ED‘s is – 3.0 / + 3.0. Both have the same proportions of the central knob and the size of an open bridge.
Focusing knob on Helia is covered in black rubber with small bars for the grip. The rotation is sturdy and slow, producing an annoying sound of trapped air inside. Its grip could be better, since the rotation is harder, especially when focusing and holding the binoculars with one hand.
Noblex ED’s knob looks simple with less details and has a poorer grip. The rotation is smooth and easy, which is comfortable when focusing with one hand and a bit worse if we do not want the focus settings to change too fast. Easier rotation sometimes means less precise focusing.
I have evaluated both, the grasp and rotation of the central wheel/knob on Helia with a good 8/10 and with a 7/10 on Noblex ED.
The thickness and size of the diopter ring on Helia is fine and so is its rotation, but as far as the cursor showing the setting of the diopter is concerned, it is absolutely too large and insufficiently precise.
Noblex ED’s diopter ring has a worse, loose rotation, but the cursor is much more accurate, narrow and therefore, better.

Kahles Helia 8x42 and Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED

Kahles Helia 8×42 and Noblex/ Docter 8×42 ED

Kahles Helia 8x42 and Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED

Kahles Helia 8×42 and Noblex/ Docter 8×42 ED

Eyepiece Properties

 Kahles Helia 8x42Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED
Eyepiece type:MultipositionedMultipositioned
Number of Click-stops:23
Eye relief:20 mm19.5 mm
Exit pupil:5 mm5.3 mm
Firmness:7/107/10
Quality:7/108/10
Suitable for Eye Glass Wearers:YesYes
External Diameter:43 mm40 mm
Internal Diameter:23 mm21 mm

These two binoculars are both offering multi-positioned eyecups with turn and slide mechanism and a different number of click-stops; 3 on Noblex ED and 2 on Helia.
Helia’s eyecups are made of rigid rubber that feels less comfortable when pressed to the face. They are very big and wide. Their rotation is hard and loud. The eye-relief they offer is sufficient, but considering the size of the eyecups, it could be even better. I was not fascinated by the eyecups of Helia, and that is why I only rated them (their quality and firmness) with a bad 7/10.
Noblex ED’s eyecups are softer, more flexible and feel more comfortable. The rotation is, unfortunately, bad. It is much too fast and unstable. I have evaluated their firmness with a 7/10 and their quality with an 8/10.

 

Kahles Helia 8x42 (above) and Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED (below) Eyepieces

Kahles Helia 8×42 (above) and Noblex/ Docter 8×42 ED (below) Eyepieces

General Properties

 Kahles Helia 8x42Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED
Housing Material:Plastic/ RubberPlastic/ Rubber
Armoring:RubberRubber
Quality of Armoring:8/108/10
Build in Rangefinder:NoNo
Waterproof:YesYes
Submersible:Yes Yes
Filled With:NitrogenNitrogen
Number of Colors:11
Tripod Adaptable:YesYes
Made in:JapanGermany
Introduced in:20162013
Warranty period: 11 years30 years
MRSP Price:1000.00 EUR890.00 EUR

Both binoculars have a plastic housing covered in strong and durable rubber. Helia’s armoring is much more appealing and suitable for outdoor activities and observations, since it fits better into the surrounding area, due to its natural brown color. Noblex ED’s armoring does not have a special appearance, nor shape, but the rubber used on it is very permanent and made to withstand difficult conditions. (Evaluation of the armoring on both is 8/10).
Both binoculars are filled with Nitrogen and O-ring sealed so they are water and fog resistant. Both are submersible. Helia‘s external lenses are also protected with special oil repellent and scratch resistant coating.
Noblex ED is made in Germany, and for Helia, we presume that it is made in Japan.
The warranty period for Noblex ED is 30 years with excellent first-class service. Kahles offers 11-year warranty period for its Helia. The price is approximately 100 EUR higher for the latter.

Kahles Helia 8x42 and Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED

Kahles Helia 8×42 and Noblex/ Docter 8×42 ED

Group Test

How we made a test

We made a test with a group of 6 people with very diverse knowledge about sports optics. Some had previous experiences with binoculars and other almost none. We compared central and edge sharpness, glare, real FOV, eye-box and overall impression. Everyone in the test group tested binoculars individually without being influenced by other people. We also covered down any brand signs on binoculars, so no one was influenced by knowing which company manufactured which.

 Kahles Helia 8x42Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED
Central sharpness:2/64/6
Edge sharpness:1/65/6
Glare:4/62/6
Real FOV:5/61/6
Eye-box:1/65/6
Overall impression:0/66/6

When testing the binoculars, the participants have come up with very different conclusions. Despite the excellent field of view, good sharpness and vivid colors of Helia, all 6 people who tested the binoculars would prefer to buy Noblex ED. Kahles Helia was badly defeated in the Edge Sharpness category, and almost no one liked its Eye-box. The chromatic aberration was also noticeable on the edge. They won in the Glare and Real FOV category because the latter is much smaller/ narrower on the Noblex ED.

Conclusion

All those who tested the binoculars said that the comparison was extremely difficult and that it was hard to decide between them. Helia definitely has a wonderful design with a nice line of accessories included and good optical properties. Noblex ED was nevertheless more convincing with its sharpness and more refined image.
When buying Kahles Helia, you will receive them carefully packed in a large white box. The binoculars also have beautiful, handmade Waldkauz® accessories included. They are made of natural materials, leather and wool felt.
Noblex ED comes with a fashionable black purse. Despite the fact that the company is now called Noblex, the Docter logos are still stamped on the binoculars, their covers, bag and all over the box.

Kahles Helia 8x42 Kit

Kahles Helia 8×42 Kit

Noblex/ Docter 8x42 ED Kit

Noblex/ Docter 8×42 ED Kit

Disclaimer

This test wasn’t financed and is unbiased. As a wildlife enthusiast interested in sports optics I made this tests because I would like to see how binoculars perform and if they meet the advertised expectations. With this test, I also hope that it will help people choose the right binoculars for their personal use. I am not in any way connected with the manufacturers of sports optics and I’m not personally in favor of particular brand.
In the end, I would like to thank Optics-trade.eu to lend me these binoculars for this test. I also thank them for letting me use their videos.

 

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Hunting Binoculars

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