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Old Thursday 26th January 2012, 17:57   #1
black crow
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: ashland oregon
Posts: 1,037
Pentax 8x21UCF R vs Alpen 8x24 wide angle vs Nikon 8x24 travelite

I've been waiting to see if these inexpensive Alpen compacts were anything special. So I'll do a simple comparison review here with two other similar compacts I own.

Cost: Approx.
Alpen $49
Nikon $82
Pentax $48.50

Length: Approx.
Alpen 4.0
Nikon 4.5
Pentax 3.2

Weight:
Alpen 11oz
Nikon 9.3oz
Pentax 7.4oz

Close focus:
Alpen 12ft approx.
Nikon 9.8ft
Pentax9.19ft

Eye relief:
Alpen 12mm
Nikon 11.1mm
Pentax 13mm

FOV:
Alpen 430ft.
Nikon 293ft
Pentax 324ft.

Each of these compacts have strong points and weak points that might make them winners or losers depending on what one deems most important for personal use.

Alpens Strong points were, and outstanding FOV that feels like a full sized binocular, fairly crisp to the edges considering. Also very inexpensive. I actually found them for $45.

Weak points were, ergonomically difficult. Hard hold and when in place the focus nob actually hits your forehead so you have to slightly back away to focus. Even with a 3.1 exit pupil which was the largest they were the hardest to place in position for viewing. The focus nob was slow and difficult to find perfect focus. Once in focus they performed fairly well. They were the darkest of the three and even less bright than the pentax 21mm. Also they placed third in overall optical clarity possibly due to the darker views.

Nikon's Strong points were very nice ergonomically. Very comfortable to hold and easy to center in the eyes. They had the shortest eye relief but it felt like the longest. The brightness was very good. Clarity very good.

Weak points were a very narrow FOV which for me is not good. Very noticeable when compared to the others. They were also the most expensive of the three bins and the longest.

Pentax Strong points. Very small compact size and ergonomically fairly decent to use considering their tiny size. Inexpensive with very bright views (maybe the brightest even though the smallest objective lenses) and very good optics on par with the Nikons. Very light weight. Decent FOV.

Weak points. Compared to the others not much. Maybe too small for those with large hands and faces.

All testing was done at dawn and durning a dark rainy day.


So, if I had to keep only one it would be that little Pentax 8x21. It seemed to be the best compromise of qualities that one wants in a small compact compared to the others. The clincher for me over the Nikon was the FOV. The Nikon just was too narrow to be enjoyable. It (the Pentax) had enough to feel somewhat similar to the Alpen. The optics are very nice and it's a bright little binocular at 21mm.


For me even with all the Travelite's strong points that narrow FOV just won't cut it for me any more. Still they make it to second place.

The Alpens unfortunately had too many weaknesses to make the cut even though they shine in with that very large FOV. I might keep them just for that and the fact that I'm lazy, but they will be a pair that spends there time as bins of last resort. The car glove box most likely. Ergonomically they are a bit of a nightmare although there is a way to cup them with your hands that keeps that focuser out of your forehead but it's not easy to do. Also they are just dark. They might be fine on a bright sunny day but I'm not giving these any kind of recommendation unless you will put up with anything for a very wide FOV.
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