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Old Friday 18th September 2015, 17:25   #1
jremmons
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Where to go from the 8.5x44 Kowa Genesis

Hello All,

I have been a fan of my Kowa Genesis 8.5x44 binoculars for some time now. I have heaped praise upon them and continue to find little to fault. However, with my new job, I am required to be very mobile and often wade/hike for hours at a time with my binos on. As such, the bulk of the Genesis seems a bit excessive, and at times will start to tire my neck.

Where would you suggest looking for an upgrade? The most positive aspects of the Genesis that I can list are 1) Control of CA 2) Sharp centerfield performance 3) neutral color rendition 4) excellent mechanics. I'm considering something like a Zeiss HT or FL as they are a fair bit lighter, but I dunno' if it would be worth it and some have suggested they don't have quite the same level of performance (mostly in terms of weak edge performance and poor color fidelity - I think the HT is better in some of these regards but is quite a bit more than the Genesis or a used FL).

Justin

Last edited by jremmons : Saturday 19th September 2015 at 00:38.
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 14:35   #2
Kammerdiner
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Have you thought about Vortex Razor HD 8x42? It's the same price as your Kowa and weighs 9 ounces less!

Mark

PS: another possibility. Minox MIG HG 8x43. That one is only 23 ounces. The Black Edition is at Cameraland for $950 right now.

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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 14:45   #3
Torview
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Why not get an 8x33 Kowa to use when mobile and keep the 44mm for the rest of the time.
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 14:49   #4
jremmons
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Originally Posted by Kammerdiner View Post
Have you thought about Vortex Razor HD 8x42? It's the same price as your Kowa and weighs 9 ounces less!

Mark
Hey Mark,

I've definitely considered the Razor HD 8x42 (as well as 10x42), but it has a narrower field than I would prefer, and I'm not sure how it will handle CA (I've only seen it in store).

Though the warranty/customer service of Vortex is phenomenal, which means a fair bit to me.

Price really isn't as much of an issue as it has been in the past - while I am always a value hunter, I've decided that this purchase will be something of a "life bin" and so can push in a little more money, particularly because my employer is footing a portion of the bill... Plus I've decided that I no longer need different bins for different situations and would prefer to just have a one size fits all pair of binos, so I can splurge a bit.

Thanks for the recommendation!

Justin

EDIT: Torview,
The 8x33 has insufficient eye-relief for my eyeglasses, unfortunately. The only x30ish I've found with truly sufficient eye-relief has been the SV EL, but I didn't like its performance in strong glare inducing situations.

Last edited by jremmons : Saturday 19th September 2015 at 14:51.
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 15:10   #5
Torview
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Justin, if the price is not an obstacle I`d get a 42mm SV or SF.

John.

P.S.

I also see the flare glare with thE 32mm SV, I can`t say I was`nt disappointed but I am learning to live with it as in every other respect it is superb, it has made a 42mm not worth the extra weight and bulk for me, and carrying it all day is liberating, I reckon it`d be about half the weight of your Genesis.

Last edited by Torview : Saturday 19th September 2015 at 15:21.
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 15:38   #6
jremmons
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John,

The ergonomics of the little SV were awesome, but flare/glare/stray light is one of those optical qualities that bug me, similarly to CA suppression. The Genesis is an unfortunate beast, as the optics are so darn amazing and I do love the mechanics.

I did not like the SF - the ergos were awkward for me and it had a color cast I was unhappy with, very much unlike the FL*T and HT*.

I have strongly been considering a 8.5x42 SV EL since it seems that the high degree of angular momentum disorder has been rectified in later units, but the very slow focuser (2.5 revs) is too much like the 10x42 EL WB I had previously, and I was not a fan of that. I've also been considering the SLC WB.

My prime options right now seem to be: Zeiss FL*T(used), Zeiss HT*, Swarovski SLC WB, Leica Ultravid HD (not plus - I'm not willing to spend over about $2000 max, and the Plus are in the $2500 range). I guess I'm mostly looking for hidden gems or comparisons between these top dogs, or between them and the Kowa Genesis.

I'm unfortunately very picky, and nothing yet seems to tick all the boxes... the SLC and HT are certainly close to doing so, though...

Justin
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 15:49   #7
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Ok, I see where you`re coming from, I `m hoping to try this very soon when I`m up in Norfolk, may be one you`re unaware of, the Kite Bonelli 2.0.

http://kiteoptics.com/en/products/type/101/Bonelli-20

John.
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 16:13   #8
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Ok, I see where you`re coming from, I `m hoping to try this very soon when I`m up in Norfolk, may be one you`re unaware of, the Kite Bonelli 2.0.

http://kiteoptics.com/en/products/type/101/Bonelli-20

John.
I have one on loan at the moment and sould post something in a week or two.

David
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 16:36   #9
jremmons
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I have one on loan at the moment and sould post something in a week or two.

David
The Bonelli 2.0 sure does look interesting. Considering that you and I have similar optical nitpicks, David, I look forward to your review.

By the way, do you have experience with the Zeiss FL*T/HT or Ultravid HD (not plus) models? I know you are a big fan of the HD Plus, but I'm not sure how much different the standard HD is and have not been able to look through the standard HD often in field conditions...

Justin
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 17:14   #10
LanceSaintPaul
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Justin:

Note where the Kowa's fall in the allbinos ranking of 8x32's. http://www.allbinos.com/allbinos_ran...king-8x32.html. Thinking that result over...
Take a look at the Kowa BD XD line. I am finding I like the 10x32 BD XD more than the 10x33 Genesis (I have the Genesis 10.5x44's and want a more compact alternative at times). Eagle Optics has recently lowered the price on that one. At a great savings over the Genesis it is the better value of the Kowa line. This if only you can use a 32-33mm. Smaller, lighter. Great image quality, just shy of the Genesis in color correction and build quality. Just barely shy, and not commensurate with the large reduction in price.
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 17:25   #11
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I see the vortex razor mentioned as a contender in the big arena..what happened with the nikon EDG ?..Is it far below the same level of performance?
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 17:34   #12
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Justin,

There are others here that have spent much more time than I have and give a more accurate answer than I can. For what it's worth, I think the HT has has much improved colour rendition than the FL. Generally that's a good thing but I suspect the FL might be better at long range, particularly in hazy condition. I can't say I've seen the brightness difference in the true sense but the increase in blue is helpful at twilight.

I'm afraid I never warmed to the pre-plus Ultravid colour rendition. Although the transmission profiles on Allbinos look very respectable, the colours always seemed muddy when compared to the Zeiss and Swarovski. On reflection I seem to recall the conditions were often overcast when I tried them. Perhaps they would look better in different conditions.

David

Last edited by typo : Saturday 19th September 2015 at 18:19.
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 18:25   #13
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Justin,

If you are spending hours in rough terrain, having to be ever ready to quickly and accurately identify anything that you spot, then comfort and ease of view would be more important than ultimate optical quality. It makes me think that if you really like your Kowa, getting a better carrying strap or a harness for it may do most of what you need to make it comfortable. I'm saying this as one who has been using > 1kg binoculars for the past dozen years or so, and found that with a wide and soft strap they are comfortable enough to carry.

If you have just been hiking and wading and freezing and shivering for the last five hours, you are not going to ID a bird through the brightest and sharpest binoculars but through the ones that you can still keep steady over your eyes and the ones that give you their best image instantly, with no fiddling or adjusting.

Focus speed is something you need to test for yourself and with a consistent protocol. Just checking how many turns of the wheel there are between the extremes tells you nothing useful. Check focus wheel travel between two distances that remain (more or less) constant, such as 20 ft - approximately half a mile. To illustrate, I just tried out the latest version Swaro 10x42 SV EL, and the (re-designed?) focuser travelled 2.5 turns between the two extremes. This sounds very slow, no? Well, a full 180 degrees of that was from infinity focus (for my eyes) to beyond infinity, so would never be used by me. Of the remaining two full turns, a majority goes to get from about 10 ft to the minimum focus which is somewhere between 5-6 feet, so for actual day-to-day field use there's not that much wheel turning required. I haven't checked this properly, but my educated guess is that the 8.5x42 SV actually has faster focus from let's say 10m-1km than the 8x42 SLC. On the other hand, the 42mm SV is not going to be much lighter than your Kowa.

If I were in your situation, I'd either try to make the Kowa work for me anyway, or, as you get your employer to partly pay for the binocular, get something a lot lighter than the Kowa. The 32mm Swarovision would be an obvious recommendation, but you don't like it due to the flare issues. Then you need to be able to view with your glasses on. That does not really leave many alpha options available. The Leica HD+ 8x32 would be sharp, light and durable, but not the best as far as CA and has a somewhat skimpy ER. Otherwise, that would be a sure choice for hardcore professional use.

Honestly, I don't think there is one single best for everything binocular, and unless you absolutely have to sell the Kowa you like, why don't you just get something to complement it as well as possible and keep picking the most suitable of the two for each outing?

In conclusion, what I'd do for myself if I were to have two binoculars for full-time use, one of them would be the 10x42 L IS Canon I use all the time now (though I'm not a professional like you) and the other one would be the most comfortable and best 8x32 I could find, probably either the Leica or the Swaro since Zeiss does not have a current premium model in this category. Knowing myself and my preferences, the 8x32 would end up getting very little use.

Kimmo
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 19:25   #14
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I have one on loan at the moment and sould post something in a week or two.

David
Look forward to it David.

Any teaser trailer to add ?
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 21:39   #15
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If I were in your situation, I'd either try to make the Kowa work for me anyway, or, as you get your employer to partly pay for the binocular, get something a lot lighter than the Kowa. The 32mm Swarovision would be an obvious recommendation, but you don't like it due to the flare issues. Then you need to be able to view with your glasses on. That does not really leave many alpha options available. The Leica HD+ 8x32 would be sharp, light and durable, but not the best as far as CA and has a somewhat skimpy ER. Otherwise, that would be a sure choice for hardcore professional use.
Thaht's exactly what I would do - get an 8x32. I find the weight difference makes quite a difference, especially when using a binocular for long hours and on long hikes. Unfortunately there isn't much choice at the moment if you want an alpha, just the SV8x32 and the Leica Ultravid Plus. I'd go for the Leica because I find the flare issues of the SV 8x32 far too distracting. I also think the Leica is probably tougher for the kind of use you mentioned.

As to the ER of the Leica: Two family members who wear glasses both use the old Leica Trinovid BA which has the same ER as the Ultravid. Works for them alright. Might be worth a try, even though 13.3mm ER doesn't sound very generous.

Hermann
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Old Saturday 19th September 2015, 21:56   #16
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Look forward to it David.

Any teaser trailer to add ?
You know what makes me happy. I'm very, very happy! But that's not the whole story. Enough of a tease? Say hello to the guys at Burnham Deepdale for me.

David
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Old Sunday 20th September 2015, 13:37   #17
jremmons
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David - as always, thanks for your insights, however brief they may or may not be.

Kimmo - I appreciate your comments, and I have typically utilized several different sets of binoculars, including the 6,7,8,8.5,&10X magnifications as well as 32-50mm objective lenses. However I've found from my experience that I typically gravitate towards using only 1 of them. I was not aware that the SVs new focuser was like that; I found my old 10x42 WB EL (as well as a volunteer's 8.5x42 WB EL) quite slow to locate the bird.

Hermann - I've not tried the 8x32, only the 7x42 and 8x42. I have heard before that the ER specs are misleading, however. Unfortunately, no one nearby stocks Leica, with only 1 store stocking a decent number of optics (mostly hunting based, with lots of 10x42 SVs, SLCs, HTs, and Conquest HDs)...

Justin
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Old Sunday 20th September 2015, 19:13   #18
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Smaller/lighter---> The Vortex Razor HD makes pretty good sense to me. DEFINITELY a notch lighter and maybe a little more compact. Don't personally know a thing about it optically so I won't comment. Now the Leica Ultravid HD Plus....a good bit smaller and somewhat lighter with great optics combined with mechanics and build quality second to none....easy to see the direction I'd go. The Leica is a good bit smaller in stature than the HT....about the size of a Vortex Viper HD which is even smaller than a Razor HD...

http://photos.imageevent.com/chill6x...ze/image_3.jpg

Viper HD/Ultravid HD Plus/HT/Endeavor ED II
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Old Tuesday 1st March 2016, 20:27   #19
Stephen Mark
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A bit late to the party but I love my Kowas. Unfortunately the only bins that I could see the slightest bit of improvement in were the two Zeiss, the HT's and SF's. The Razors were too light and shook especially if I was the least bit tired. I don't care for the Swaros but that's personal. I simply couldn't see nearly the improvement that the money would call for. A good harness is essential however with the Kowas.
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