New Kahles Helia RF 8x42 binoculars with integrated rangefinder in a practical test

Kahles has given the new Helia RF 8x42 two eye-catching stripes in the signal orange color from the company logo. But this is not the only reason why the new design of the nitrogen-filled aluminum housing armored with brown rubber is sleeker. In keeping with the spirit of the times, Kahles has also made the center bridge of the new Helia RF 8x42 somewhat straighter.  

The “loden look” gives way to a modern, ergonomic design in the new Kahles Helia 8x42 RF

In terms of accessories, Kahles has dispensed with the loden and leather elements of the previous model for protective caps and carrying straps. Technically, the new Helia RF generation features a long-range function for reliable measurements of large, highly reflective targets at distances of up to 4,500 meters. For cloven-hoofed game, Kahles specifies a distance of up to 1,500 meters for the Helia RF 8x42. The new Helia Rangefinder binoculars also go one better in terms of battery life: one CR2 cell is now said to last for up to 4,000 measurements.

Thanks to the new fasteners, the strap of the Kahles Helia RF 8x42 is easy to attach and also quick to adjust.

The eyecups can be rotated out of the zero position into three additional click stops. Both eyepieces can be compensated within a range of +/- 4 diopters by means of an adjustment ring. The position of the hinge of the center bridge determines the pupil distance and focusing is done via center wheel. The two control buttons of the rangefinder are located on the top right of the center bridge. The orange measuring button closer to the eyepiece, which is also used to activate the rangefinder, is somewhat larger and more raised than the gray mode button behind it.

The control buttons can be reached comfortably with the index or middle finger and, if necessary, also with the ring finger. The measuring electronics are located in the right tube. This also houses an OLED display that can be set to five brightness levels. The red display can thus be read very well even in bright backlighting or at dusk. The display turns itself off after five seconds without a button being pressed.

Like its predecessor, the new Helia RF 8x42 also has an angle correction function and an air pressure and temperature sensor in addition to the scan mode for moving targets. Therefore, the hunter can also display the ballistically relevant shooting distance at steeper shooting angles using the so-called EAC function.

The patented Enhanced Angle Compensation of the Kahles Helia RF 8x42 is based on the Rifleman's Rule

The patented Enhanced Angle Compensation (EAC) is also based on the tried and tested Rifleman's Rule. However, it does not merely determine the distance at the same plane (measured distance to the target multiplied by the cosine value of the measurement angle) to be used for steep shooting angles on the basis of this rule of thumb. Rather, the value displayed above the measured distance and the target mark takes other ballistically relevant factors into account.

Kahles Helia RF 8x42
The control buttons on the Kahles Helia RF 8x42, held in the viewing position, are conveniently located on the right part of the center bridge, accessible by index, middle or ring finger.

If you tap the Mode button briefly, the temperature and then the air pressure in hectopascals (hPA, in all caps in the display as HPA) are briefly displayed. If you keep the key pressed longer, you enter the setting mode. There you can select which value appears in the display in addition to the pure distance during a measurement. You can choose between the measuring angle, the EAC distance or that no other value is displayed.

Moreover, with these Kahles binoculars, the user can also switch to the new Long-Range Mode (LRM) of the Kahles Helia RF 8x42, in which several measurement pulses are emitted instead of a single one to provide a reliable measurement result. In the P2 level, you can select whether the distance is displayed in meters (M) or yards (Y). In the P3 level, you select whether the temperature is displayed in degrees Celsius (°C) or Fahrenheit (°F). The selection is made via the measurement key and the change between the levels via the mode key – all in all very simple and intuitive.

Kahles Helia RF 8x42 specs and price

Kahles Helia RF 8x42
Price:1,700 euro


Objective Lens Diameter:42 mm
Exit Pupil:5.3 mm
Eye Relief:18 mm
Twilight Factor:18.3
Field of View at 1000 m:122 m
Diopter Compensation:± 4 dpt
Pupil Distance:58 - 73 mm
Near Focus:5 m
Dimensions (LxWxH, Eyecups Screwed In):169 x 136 x 79 mm
Weight with Battery, w/out Straps and Protective Caps:926 g
5 - 1,500 m
(up to 4,500 m for highly reflective targets)
Angle Measurement:
± 90°
1 CR2 battery, lasts for up to 4,000 measurement processes. EAC function (improved angle correction) provides information on the ballistically relevant distance in relation to the measured angle.

Test conclusion on the Kahles Helia 8x42 RF

When focusing, the center wheel of the Kahles Helia RF 8x42 can be operated well and safely with the thumb and forefinger.

The new Helia RF 8x42 delivers a very true-color, high-contrast image that is sharp right to the edges without any noticeable color fringes. When stalking, you only have about a kilo of weight hanging around your neck, including the protective caps, which is quite comfortable thanks to the well-padded carrying strap. The center wheel of the new binoculars runs smoothly during focusing, but a bit too tight for my taste. A flashing battery symbol in the display sounds an alarm when the capacity is only enough for about 100 measurements. Changing the CR2 cell is easily accomplished with the help of a coin through the wide slot in the battery compartment lid. With its field of view of 122 meters at a distance of 1,000 meters, the Kahles Helia RF 8x42, which costs 1,700 euros and is in the medium price range, does not quite match the "smart" premium models 8x42 EL Range (140 meters at 1,000 meters) from sister company Swarovski or the Leica Geovid 8x42 (138.7 meters at 1,000 meters) or the Zeiss Victory 8x42 RF (135 meters at 1,000 meters). Whether this is worth twice the price is something that everyone must decide for themselves.

Those who value a higher magnification for the Kahles, in order to be able to safely identify game at greater distances, can also opt for the new Kahles Helia RF 10x42 for the same price of 1,700 euros, but must accept an even smaller field of view of around 15 meters at a distance of 1,000 meters. The customer is thus spoiled for choice, but makes a good buy with both models. Quality and price are consistent.

For more information on the Kahles Helia 8x42 RF and other models please visit the  Kahles website.

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