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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 21:19   #1
jaymoynihan
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Unofficial "Alphas"

A question for the fun of it.

What binoculars that are not made by Zeiss/Leica/Swarovski/Nikon EDG II, i.e., "Alphas", do you consider to have a comparable optical quality to the "alphas"?

To answer, you should have actually used (not just looked through) one of more official alpha(s) since the advent of phase coating.

Also, the purpose of the use should be for handheld looking at birds, and they should be current production, and excluding compacts.

My nominees:

Nikon 8x32 SE
Swift Audubon 8.5x44 ED
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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 22:12   #2
FrankD
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Oh boy. You are opening a can o' worms with this one.

I will play it safe.

Kowa Genesis



Beyond that...

Zen Ray ED3
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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 22:58   #3
Alexis Powell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaymoynihan View Post
What binoculars that are not made by Zeiss/Leica/Swarovski/Nikon EDG II, i.e., "Alphas", do you consider to have a comparable optical quality to the "alphas"?
I don't think the Nikon 8x32 SE should qualify as an "unofficial" alpha, it is an alpha porro sold by an alpha label. That said, for me it doesn't cut it as an alpha birding instrument--the focus is too slow, stiffens in the cold, and the hang is no good.

I know you asked about current production only, but I've asked myself the same question you're asking many times and my answer is that I have not found any. If the roof bin comparison is to current top level alpha-brand models, for me, the closest competitors are some of the alpha-brand top models of the recent past (e.g. Leica 8x32 BA/BN and Ultravid nonHD, Zeiss 7x42 Classic, Swarovski 8 and 10x42 EL nonSwarovision). Recent nonalpha roofs (esp. Chinese ED) are sometimes superior to yesteryear's alphas with respect to color neutrality, brightness, and CA control, but I haven't found one yet that in demanding birding situations (chasing sparrows through brush, wood warblers through leafed out trees, focus in cold weather) is as easy as those older alphas on the eyes and operates as smoothly. So if I had a choice between the best Chinese ED roofs I've tried to date versus a used former alpha such as the faster focus version Swarovski 8.5x42 EL, I'd choose the latter.

--AP
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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 23:03   #4
james holdsworth
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Good thread, very timely.

I would say Meopta Meostar, 8 x 32. I just looked through one today and it was alpha all the way. Bright, very contrasty, great apparent sharpness, just a wonderful view.

The only other 8 x 32 I had on hand to compare was an Nikon SE and there was very little in it.

BTW - Ugly as sin though.....
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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 23:05   #5
lilcrazy2
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8x32 Alpen Rainier
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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 23:14   #6
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my swift audubon 8.5x44ED is a very good binocular,
but does not compare to my alphas in quality,
but for the price, a lot of quality glass for the money

edj
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Old Monday 12th December 2011, 00:37   #7
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Steiner Peregrine XP for one.

Less expensive would be ED 3, Caldera, and Theron APO-ED.

Oldie but always a goodie is the Swift Audubon #804 8.5x44

Might rethink this when the Prime shows up.

This ought to be interesting to watch as it develops.

Edit to change ED 2 to ED3 oops.
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Old Monday 12th December 2011, 10:12   #8
BrightIdea
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edited due to edit.

;-)

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Old Monday 12th December 2011, 12:30   #9
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Steve, ED2 > ED3?
Oops I meant ED3. Edited post.
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Old Monday 12th December 2011, 13:29   #10
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Kowa Genesis should be counted with the alphas IMO. The Meostar and Minox HG APO not too far behind and well above the Conquests, CL etc.

David
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Old Monday 12th December 2011, 17:32   #11
Renze de Vries
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Leupold Golden Ring?

Renze

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Old Monday 12th December 2011, 19:06   #12
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Since you only asked for bins that were of "comparable optical quality" to alphas, without regard to mechanical/ergonomic nitpicks like Alexis' on the 8x32 SE, that could include IF EPs bins.

The images through the Fuji 6x30 FMTR-SX (owned two) were as good as any alpha roof or alpha porro that I've actually used for a month or more. Superb resolution, color saturation and contrast, and 3-D effect and depth perception that has to be seen to be appreciated. If you don't get a "eyegasm" after looking through these binoculars, you'd better check your pulse. :-)

The images through my Nikon 8x30 EII are also as good as any alpha roof or porro I've actually used for a month or more. Sharp as a tack, bright for size, excellent color saturation and contrast, and a whopping 8.8* FOV. Differences btwn the 8x EII and current midsized alphas? WP/FP, ED glass, smaller FOV, and $1,600.

To add a 10x to the mix, my third nominee is the Nikon 10x42 Venturer LX. If not for my "rolling ball" allergy, I'd be using these rather than my 10x42 SE as my full sized 10x birding bin. Their coatings were advanced for their time and still hold up well against contemporary roofs. Super sharp, super color, super contrasty, and field flatteners for the sharp edges aficionado. The only thing that makes the current crop of alphas better optically is their ED/HD glass.

Best of all, all three of these bins together cost less than one current alpha roof.

To recap:

Fuji 6x30 FMTR-SX (discontinued)
Nikon 8x30 EII (still produced in the black body version, but hard to find)
Nikon 10x42 Venturer LX (devolved into the HGL)

Brock
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Old Monday 12th December 2011, 19:11   #13
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On optics alone, the 7x50 Fujinon FMT-SX qualifies.

But with its big heavy body and IF focusing, it's a long way from birdwatching.
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Old Monday 12th December 2011, 20:36   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ronh View Post
On optics alone, the 7x50 Fujinon FMT-SX qualifies.

But with its big heavy body and IF focusing, it's a long way from birdwatching.
Ron
That ok. I asked for folks to stick to ones in current production and watching birds. So if folks can ignore current production, suppose we can let the IF in also...
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Old Monday 12th December 2011, 20:38   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renze de Vries View Post
Leupold Golden Ring?

Renze
Not in current production. But as a user of the 8x32 GR HD.... I would certainly agree
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Old Monday 12th December 2011, 22:32   #16
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Comparable to the "Alphas",any of the Eden range.All excellent !. At a fraction of the cost!!

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Old Monday 12th December 2011, 23:58   #17
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Originally Posted by brocknroller View Post
without regard to mechanical/ergonomic nitpicks like Alexis' on the 8x32 SE, that could include IF EPs bins.
:) Surely you jest. Any bin can be used for some sort of birding, but since the original request was for birding alphas, I took that as asking about instruments that are no-compromises birding glass, and for me, functionality in demanding birding situations is as much about mechanical design and ergonomics as it is optics. It's about how quickly I can get on a bird that peeks out momentarily from the leaves and see it well, and then get on to the next one on a different branch at a different distance etc, all the while tromping through the underbrush, dodging between limbs, looking into the sun, being rained on or made wet by dewy vegetation, getting coated with sea-spray, or hit by gusts of wind laden with desert dust and sand, or whatever. There are plenty of fine optics that can be used for birding (e.g. the Nikon 8x32 SE and 8x30 EII, both of which I own and very much appreciate as binoculars), but they don't all cut it as _alpha_ instruments. For me, the point of the alpha designation is to mean that the instrument is as perfect as has yet been achieved for all-around birding use. I'm not saying that the Meoptas and Chinese EDs aren't great bins, but I don't think they actually equal the best models from L/Z/S/N, and even most bins made by L/Z/S/N are not alpha all-around birding bins.

--AP
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 00:20   #18
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This is a difficult post, and that gets back to just what is an Alpha Binocular.

I suppose some here may think about optics first, of course, and then much more
does enter. I do think a top, mid, and lesser level is present in many of the binoculars
mentioned.

What is important here, and this does quickly cut to the what makes an Alpha, is "quality", and I do not think about wondering if the focuser has play or slack, or the eyecups do not want to stay put, and wondering if I got a good sample.

For many an Alpha, means quality and that is a very good compromise of all these features, and would be expected to last for many years. And the warranty and how the company will back the optic.

Some talk of the Chinese made binoculars being considered Alpha, "I don't think so".

Jerry
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 00:42   #19
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This is a difficult post, and that gets back to just what is an Alpha Binocular......................................... ..............

What is important here, and this does quickly cut to the what makes an Alpha, is "quality",...................................

Some talk of the Chinese made binoculars being considered Alpha, "I don't think so".

Jerry

So then-Chinese made binoculars are not officially alpha.

I get it!

Bob
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 00:56   #20
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So then-Chinese made binoculars are not officially alpha.

I get it!

Bob
Bob:

You've got it.

Jerry
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 01:10   #21
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So then-Chinese made binoculars are not officially alpha
And to be not so subtle about the point, for me, they are not unofficially alphas either.

--AP
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 01:43   #22
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And to be not so subtle about the point, for me, they are not unofficially alphas either.

--AP

Alexis:

I do not think anything China made has come close to some standards mentioned above, as being an "Alpha".
Quality comes first, and other things follow.

Tell us more.

Jerry
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 02:00   #23
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I used my first sample 6x30 Fuji as a finder bin for my telescope and for 8.5* WF sweeps of the night sky. With steadily increasing light pollution and clouds and longer and longer trips to dark sites, I sold both scope and bins.

I missed the views of the 6x30 Fuji and when one came up for sale on ebay, I fought a bidding war and won. Paid about $100 more than I did for my first sample, but the first was purchased before the bin was discontinued and became a "cult classic".

I bought the second sample for general use and for feeder birding. So no, I don't jest, surely. When it comes to raw optics, the Fuji FMT series and the 6x30 model in particular stands shoulder to shoulder with much pricey roofs. If you tried one and could overcome your pre-judgement, you might agree about their optical quality.

If not for my waning focus accommodation, which made for more frequent focusing than when I had my first sample 10 years earlier, I'd have kept it for general use, feeder birding, and as a reference standard.

Fuji FMTs are not bins for snobs. Neither are SEs or EIIs, a point which you proved nicely.

Brock
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 02:15   #24
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What binoculars that are not made by Zeiss/Leica/Swarovski/Nikon EDG II, i.e., "Alphas", do you consider to have a comparable optical quality to the "alphas"?
The original question was about optical quality. Not build quality or ergonomics. Other than Alexis's specific comment regarding chasing sparrows in the brush I haven't really seen anything concrete to clarify why some of the higher performing Chinese binoculars don't compare with the Alphas. Stray light control? Off axis performance?

Please clarify this issue.
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 02:49   #25
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The original question was about optical quality. Not build quality or ergonomics. Other than Alexis's specific comment regarding chasing sparrows in the brush I haven't really seen anything concrete to clarify why some of the higher performing Chinese binoculars don't compare with the Alphas. Stray light control? Off axis performance?

Please clarify this issue.
Frank:

I will offer one, and that is the Nikon SE 8x32, and it may not be considered
among the main alphas, as it is an alpha binocular, considering its great
build, and I find the optics to be very good, comparing to some of the
alphas, including stray light handling, it is the equal or better than the Nikon EDG 8x32, and the great edg performance makes it a top performer. I do find it much like the Swaro. 8.5x42 SV, as these all have many great advantages.

I am wondering about any of the Chinese built types that you would think
to be included in this area. I have tried some, and have not found much that
do not get into this area. I do like centerfield performance.

What is there that would be of notice?

Jerry
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