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Old Thursday 24th March 2011, 19:28   #1
BrightIdea
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Cheap Compact question (carson, brunton, bushnell...)

I'd really like to pick up a pair of very small compacts- I am utterly addicted to using my binocs when I am out and about (coaching, biking, with the kids at the playground, etc) and find that even small binocs are a bit too big for around the neck or pocket binocs.

(I have bushnell 7x36ex and yosemite 6x that I think are both keepers for different reasons, surel;y not large at all, but neither disappears when not in use.)

I was looking at the bushnell powerview 8 or 10x25 for under $15. I tried a friends and they are really pretty crappy optics. HUGE compromise.

Can i find something significantly better than these $20 walmart clamshell compacts. I dont expect the quality or ease of use of my Yosemite's, but want better than the dim rough image of the cheap bushnell.

I read some reviews regarding the Brunton Echo 8 or 10x25, the Carson Raven 8x26. At just under $50 I can swing it. Is it a clear step up?

(Budgetarily I cannot swing anything north of about $70 on this. That is about as high as I am willing to go. "Get the nikon/zeiss/leica you'll be happy comments" not an option. I am saving real funds for a real set of 8 or 10 x42's. )

So, any experience with the Carson Raven, Brunton Echo, or similar for about 40-70 bucks that will be a worthwhile improvement over the $15 toys?

Thanks much.
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Old Thursday 24th March 2011, 19:45   #2
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I believe the general consensus is that in the lower price range, reverse porro compacts are a better choice than roofs...what about something like the Eagle Optics Triumphs at $50(8x)-$60(10x)?
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Old Thursday 24th March 2011, 20:23   #3
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Yes, I read that optically they seem to be the way to go.

However, arent the reverse porros, even the small ones, a little bulky? Do they hang smoothly under a shirt? Fit in a light jacket pocket? How much smaller and more sleek are they than 6x30 Leupold yosemite's (which I already have and really like) ?

I guess I'll have to get a pair in my hand and see.

Maybe a monocular would be better...
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Old Thursday 24th March 2011, 22:27   #4
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Originally Posted by BrightIdea View Post
I'd really like to pick up a pair of very small compacts- I am utterly addicted to using my binocs when I am out and about (coaching, biking, with the kids at the playground, etc) and find that even small binocs are a bit too big for around the neck or pocket binocs.

(I have bushnell 7x36ex and yosemite 6x that I think are both keepers for different reasons, surel;y not large at all, but neither disappears when not in use.)

I was looking at the bushnell powerview 8 or 10x25 for under $15. I tried a friends and they are really pretty crappy optics. HUGE compromise.

Can i find something significantly better than these $20 walmart clamshell compacts. I dont expect the quality or ease of use of my Yosemite's, but want better than the dim rough image of the cheap bushnell.

I read some reviews regarding the Brunton Echo 8 or 10x25, the Carson Raven 8x26. At just under $50 I can swing it. Is it a clear step up?

(Budgetarily I cannot swing anything north of about $70 on this. That is about as high as I am willing to go. "Get the nikon/zeiss/leica you'll be happy comments" not an option. I am saving real funds for a real set of 8 or 10 x42's. )

So, any experience with the Carson Raven, Brunton Echo, or similar for about 40-70 bucks that will be a worthwhile improvement over the $15 toys?

Thanks much.

I have the Brunton Echo 8x25, and they are OK. Lacking in eye relief and a little dim, but they are built great.
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Old Thursday 24th March 2011, 23:38   #5
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The Carson Ravens are a pretty decent view, but the build quality is not all that great.

In my opinion, the best small compact for the $$ is the 8x25 Olympus Tracker PCI reverse porro for around $60. They are simply an outstanding little bino, but are not waterproof and cant out from the top slightly when hanging from the strap. They are small enough to easily put in a jacket pocket.

For a small roof, the Nikon 8x25 Trailblazer is a nice little double hinge roof with a very good view. These are the same bino that Nikon Canada calls the 8x25 Sportstar EX.
The regular double hinge Sportstars sold in the USA are fairly boring and not that good. Don't ask me why Nikon would market them under different names in the US and Canada.

I think the view from the Nikon is slightly better than the Carson Ravens, but the Olympus Tracker PCI eats both their lunches optically.

http://www.nikonbirding.com/binoculars-compact.html

http://www.nikon.ca/en/Sportoptics.aspx#
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Old Friday 25th March 2011, 00:11   #6
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great, thanks for the info. I am going to have to get to a store and try to find some reverse porros to see if they are as cumbersome as they appear. i dont think I ever held one in "real" life. While I value waterproof, size is probably the #1 criterion, followed by image.

Hopefully one of the local stores has a few smaller rev porros, so I can take a look this weekend.
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Old Friday 25th March 2011, 01:10   #7
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here are a few pics showing the 6x30 Yosemite, 8x25 Nikon Sportstar EX/Trailblazer and 8x25 Olympus Tracker PCI to give you an idea on size.
Click image for larger version

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Old Friday 25th March 2011, 01:14   #8
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Originally Posted by BrightIdea View Post
I'd really like to pick up a pair of very small compacts- I am utterly addicted to using my binocs when I am out and about (coaching, biking, with the kids at the playground, etc) and find that even small binocs are a bit too big for around the neck or pocket binocs.

(I have bushnell 7x36ex and yosemite 6x that I think are both keepers for different reasons, surel;y not large at all, but neither disappears when not in use.)

I was looking at the bushnell powerview 8 or 10x25 for under $15. I tried a friends and they are really pretty crappy optics. HUGE compromise.

Can i find something significantly better than these $20 walmart clamshell compacts. I dont expect the quality or ease of use of my Yosemite's, but want better than the dim rough image of the cheap bushnell.

I read some reviews regarding the Brunton Echo 8 or 10x25, the Carson Raven 8x26. At just under $50 I can swing it. Is it a clear step up?

(Budgetarily I cannot swing anything north of about $70 on this. That is about as high as I am willing to go. "Get the nikon/zeiss/leica you'll be happy comments" not an option. I am saving real funds for a real set of 8 or 10 x42's. )

So, any experience with the Carson Raven, Brunton Echo, or similar for about 40-70 bucks that will be a worthwhile improvement over the $15 toys?

Thanks much.
I wouldn't even recommend cheap compacts. Even the expensive compacts are not that good! The cheap ones are really bad.
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Old Friday 25th March 2011, 01:20   #9
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Lilcrazy:
Nice of you to post the pics, and I would rate them in best to least with the Leupold,
the Nikon and the Olympus. The poor Yosemite must be blushing though, it has
turned pink ! Ha, Ha.

What is true here about compacts, and more importantly "pockets" which are smaller, is
that cheap, compact and quality do not often go together.

Things are just hard to engineer in these small ones.

Jerry

Last edited by NDhunter : Friday 25th March 2011 at 01:42.
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Old Friday 25th March 2011, 04:06   #10
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Jerry
I had to look long and hard for that pink beauty after they were discontinued. But they sure are easy to spot where you left them sitting last.

However, I would rate the Olympus after the Yosemite as it is a very good little reverse porro, and certainly better optically than the Nikon Trailblazer/Sportstar EX. I got one of those 8x25 Columbia/Krugers roofs that were so highly touted here on the forum, but after comparing them to the Olympus Trackers, I sent the Columbias back. Only reason I have the 8x25 Sportstar EX's is that I picked them up off a recent auction out of Canada for $23 shipped and couldn't pass them up at that price. Guess most bidders thought they were the cheap USA Sportstars.

With the exception of some 7x26 Customs and the 8x25 Trackers, I have gotten rid of all my compacts including the 9x25 Legends and 10x25 Zeiss Victorys. Guess I am not a big fan of compacts.

I was merely responding to the OP's question on cheap compacts, and based on his stated price range, gave him my 2 cents on the 2 best.

tom
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Old Friday 25th March 2011, 11:48   #11
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Get the Olympus and don't look back. I've tried lots of compacts and intend to keep only two: the Olympus and a Leica 8x20 UV.

Last summer on a two week backpacking trip I took...the Olympus. They are that good. In the case they weigh 10 grams more than the Leica in its case. The Olympus is a little bulkier. The larger exit pupil of the Olympus makes for an easier view. The Leica handles glare better, but mostly you won't notice any difference.

And don't listen to the naysayers. Good compacts are out there and have their place. Are they as good as a top-notch full-size? Nope. But I'm not going backpacking with a 28oz Swarovision strapped to my pack either.

Mark

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Old Friday 25th March 2011, 15:06   #12
BrightIdea
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Lilcrazy, thanks a ton for the pics. That's what i need (aside from getting some in my hands and trying them). I looked online for 30 minutes the other day and couldn't find a good comparative picture. Birdforum is a wealth of info and resources!
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Old Saturday 26th March 2011, 20:30   #13
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Jerry
I had to look long and hard for that pink beauty after they were discontinued. But they sure are easy to spot where you left them sitting last.

However, I would rate the Olympus after the Yosemite as it is a very good little reverse porro, and certainly better optically than the Nikon Trailblazer/Sportstar EX. I got one of those 8x25 Columbia/Krugers roofs that were so highly touted here on the forum, but after comparing them to the Olympus Trackers, I sent the Columbias back. Only reason I have the 8x25 Sportstar EX's is that I picked them up off a recent auction out of Canada for $23 shipped and couldn't pass them up at that price. Guess most bidders thought they were the cheap USA Sportstars.

With the exception of some 7x26 Customs and the 8x25 Trackers, I have gotten rid of all my compacts including the 9x25 Legends and 10x25 Zeiss Victorys. Guess I am not a big fan of compacts.

I was merely responding to the OP's question on cheap compacts, and based on his stated price range, gave him my 2 cents on the 2 best.

tom
My view on compacts is you save maybe 10oz. of weight over a good 32mm like a Leica BN or Zeiss FL and your going to tell me a Leica 8x32 BN won't fit in your backpack. The Leica is almost as small as the cheap compact and you can use the Leica for serious birding and wildlife observation and concert going and when you do use it you are going to enjoy it. 10 oz. more in your backpack is not going to break your back. Compacts are a PIA. I had tons of them. All sold. I had the Olympus and IMO it was awful.
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Old Saturday 26th March 2011, 20:50   #14
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My view on compacts is you save maybe 10oz. of weight over a good 32mm like a Leica BN or Zeiss FL and your going to tell me a Leica 8x32 BN won't fit in your backpack. The Leica is almost as small as the cheap compact and you can use the Leica for serious birding and wildlife observation and concert going and when you do use it you are going to enjoy it. 10 oz. more in your backpack is not going to break your back. Compacts are a PIA. I had tons of them. All sold. I had the Olympus and IMO it was awful.

Denco, thanks for the input, but I think that you are viewing things from a completely different disposable $$ income position than what is my reality.

There honestly is no way I am going to scrounge up the $ to buy anything with Leica, zeiss or Swaro etc on the label save for maybe a t-shirt. At least not in this decade. If I could, it would be put to use elsewhere, not on binocs.

For example, the binocs I have and plan to probably keep (6xyosemite, 7x36bushnellEx, 12x50Nikon Action Fieldmaster) were all obtained at VERY deep discount to even retail sale prices. Well under $200 for the 3 of them. If not for that, someone else would own them!

I am very new to this hobby, and have merely found that there is an unfilled niche in my binoc collection. In my job and lifestyle, I would get a lot of occasional use out of something smaller than I currently have. The order of priorities are: small (pocket or, even better, under shirt on a strap), inexpensive (under $75ish), and THEN the best view I can afford (close to the yosemite would be MORE than adequate...)

I suppose its a matter of perspective, and while I do appreciate others insight and read every old post on this forum with glee, I am looking for a great deal on a used Corolla... not the newest BMW 5 series. (unless you have a nice compact from the big 3 on sale for $80 bucks, that is!!)
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Old Saturday 26th March 2011, 21:14   #15
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Why don't you see if this little gem can still be purchased at the Demo price listed?

http://www.cameralandny.com/optics/p...taxpapilio6x21

Bob

PS: These 6.5X have a nice wide field of view too.

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Old Saturday 26th March 2011, 21:30   #16
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Why don't you see if this little gem can still be purchased at the Demo price listed?

http://www.cameralandny.com/optics/p...taxpapilio6x21

Bob

PS: These 6.5X have a nice wide field of view too.
That's a good price on that Papillo! Wow! $69.00. Those have pretty good optics.
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Old Saturday 26th March 2011, 22:09   #17
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My view on compacts is you save maybe 10oz. of weight over a good 32mm like a Leica BN or Zeiss FL and your going to tell me a Leica 8x32 BN won't fit in your backpack... Compacts are a PIA. I had tons of them. All sold. I had the Olympus and IMO it was awful.
The Olympus are not "awful." They are about 99% of the Leica. I go back and forth.

As for 10oz., well you have to weigh that one for yourself. I'm on the fence right now. The Zeiss 8x32 FL is much nicer than the Olympus and the Leica, I confess. But if you have to haul them over 14k mountain passes you might be singing a different tune (in the key of "H," for hernia, which, unfortunately, I know something about). It's the same for stoves, sleeping bags, tents, you name it. It adds up! Not all of us just look at the backyard from the porch and then return stuff. Some of us actually use these things.

Dennis, god love ya', don't take this personally. It's just an observation.

Mark
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Old Saturday 26th March 2011, 23:22   #18
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The Olympus are not "awful." They are about 99% of the Leica. I go back and forth.

As for 10oz., well you have to weigh that one for yourself. I'm on the fence right now. The Zeiss 8x32 FL is much nicer than the Olympus and the Leica, I confess. But if you have to haul them over 14k mountain passes you might be singing a different tune (in the key of "H," for hernia, which, unfortunately, I know something about). It's the same for stoves, sleeping bags, tents, you name it. It adds up! Not all of us just look at the backyard from the porch and then return stuff. Some of us actually use these things.

Dennis, god love ya', don't take this personally. It's just an observation.

Mark
Where did you come up with I use my binoculars on the back porch and return them! That's quite an assumption. I would venture to say I have used my binoculars in more remote places than you have. We have 14K foot mountains in Colorado here too! Just in the last year I have went on two remote birding expeditions to Costa Rica(including remote areas of Monteverde) and the Yucatan Pennisula and I would venture to say I have used my binoculars in more rugged areas than you have. I have had them all over Wyoming and Colorado camping and backpacking. Not to long ago I backpacked in Yellowstone National Park for two weeks. I have slept in the open with a sleeping bag in the open on a ledge just big enough to support myself in remote area where you don't see a person for weeks. Guess what I had my Zeiss 8x32 FL's with me weighing in at 20 oz. I know about weight when hiking and backpacking. I don't think 10 oz. is too much to carry to have quality optics IMO.
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Old Sunday 27th March 2011, 00:31   #19
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If the topic is still being considered, two models which are quite serviceable:

Olympus 8x25 Magellan - very serviceable, great views. Not phase coated (at last check) but very decent. They can often be had for $79. They are available at Sport Chalet (if you have them out your way). Get 'em on a "friends and family" coupon day and there's your target price - usually 25% off!

Nikon Trailblazer - they have these at Wally World but only in 10x25. I consider them significantly inferior to Oly but very serviceable. (find the 8x25 TB as 10x just doesn't work).

Both of these models have sufficient ER for glasses and especially the Oly doesn't have any serious shortcomings for your intended use.
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Old Sunday 27th March 2011, 14:51   #20
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Dennis:

Gonna take those 56mm's backpacking this year?

Didn't think so.

I was responding to the OP about compacts. They have their place and some are pretty good. The 10/20 oz question is a good one. 20oz midsize will get you a better view. You'll have to weigh that for yourself. I still like the little 10oz Olympus/Leica.

Actually the 10/20/30 oz question is a good one. What do you really get at each weight and is it worth it for weight-conscious folks?

As for the "I'm more rugged than you are" thing. I ain't going there.

Mark
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Old Sunday 27th March 2011, 20:34   #21
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Dennis

It never ceases to amaze me that when someone states that they want a bino in a certain price range (in this case $70 max), that you recommend an alpha bino that costs 10 to 15 times what they want or can afford. I often wonder what part of the English language you don't understand. Not everyone wants an 8x30 EII, Canon IS, Zeiss 8x56 or whatever else your Baskin Robbins flavor of the month is. Contrary to your viewpoint, for many people cheap compacts have a place both optically and pricewise.

Cameraland has been selling the little 6.5 Papilio demos for $69.99 for the past 8 months on their site as well as ebay, but other than the close focus, I don't think the optics are as good as the 8x25 Olympus Tracker. In the past 10 months I have never read a negative review on the little Tracker for what it is - other than yours. As most have stated, they are not far behind the 7x26 Customs ( which you also don't like), and some of the 8x20 Alphas.


BrightIdea

For your original question about binos in the $70 and under range, you have some good recommendations. A single hinge roof such as the 8x25 Olympus Magellan will not fold up smaller than the 8x25 reverse porros. The only one of these small binos that will fit in your shirt breast pocket is a double hinge roof such as the Nikon Trailblazer/Sportstar EX. All of them will fit in a jacket pocket. Optically, the 8x25 Olympus Tracker reverse porro is the best, and beats the view from any of the small roofs mentioned - except the $1200 8x32 Zeiss FL mentioned by Dennis.

Find a few of the ones mentioned and try them.

tom
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Old Monday 28th March 2011, 01:46   #22
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Dennis

It never ceases to amaze me that when someone states that they want a bino in a certain price range (in this case $70 max), that you recommend an alpha bino that costs 10 to 15 times what they want or can afford. I often wonder what part of the English language you don't understand. Not everyone wants an 8x30 EII, Canon IS, Zeiss 8x56 or whatever else your Baskin Robbins flavor of the month is. Contrary to your viewpoint, for many people cheap compacts have a place both optically and pricewise.

Cameraland has been selling the little 6.5 Papilio demos for $69.99 for the past 8 months on their site as well as ebay, but other than the close focus, I don't think the optics are as good as the 8x25 Olympus Tracker. In the past 10 months I have never read a negative review on the little Tracker for what it is - other than yours. As most have stated, they are not far behind the 7x26 Customs ( which you also don't like), and some of the 8x20 Alphas.


BrightIdea

For your original question about binos in the $70 and under range, you have some good recommendations. A single hinge roof such as the 8x25 Olympus Magellan will not fold up smaller than the 8x25 reverse porros. The only one of these small binos that will fit in your shirt breast pocket is a double hinge roof such as the Nikon Trailblazer/Sportstar EX. All of them will fit in a jacket pocket. Optically, the 8x25 Olympus Tracker reverse porro is the best, and beats the view from any of the small roofs mentioned - except the $1200 8x32 Zeiss FL mentioned by Dennis.

Find a few of the ones mentioned and try them.

tom
Yes. I tried several samples of the Olympus Tracker back when there was E-bay seller selling them for $10.00 to $15.00 shipped. For that price I guess they were OK. I sold them all for about $30.00 so I did make a profit on them. I guess just for surveying the surroundings they are satisfactory but I could not recommend them as a serious birding binocular as I would be doing that person an injustice. Aren't the lenses plastic?
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Old Monday 28th March 2011, 14:57   #23
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...Aren't the lenses plastic?
Since you got them for such a discount and you are the only one dissatisfied with the optics, might you have purchased couterfeit?
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Old Monday 28th March 2011, 15:31   #24
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I seem to recall that the Olympus uses an aspheric plastic element. Not sure where I heard that, though. An aspheric reduces field curvature and sharpens the edges.

Whatever it is, it works, and pretty much everyone except Dennis agrees. For the price, or even three times the price, I don't think you'll see anything better--in terms of the view. They are amazingly sharp, and also very light.

Mark
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Old Monday 28th March 2011, 21:17   #25
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I seem to recall that the Olympus uses an aspheric plastic element. Not sure where I heard that, though. An aspheric reduces field curvature and sharpens the edges.

Whatever it is, it works, and pretty much everyone except Dennis agrees. For the price, or even three times the price, I don't think you'll see anything better--in terms of the view. They are amazingly sharp, and also very light.

Mark
I guess they were pretty good for $15.00. At first I thought they were pretty good and then I compared them to an alpha compact and I decided to sell them. Heh, for $15.00 they weren't bad at all. There was alot of talk about them on Bird Forum when you could get them for $10.00 plus $5.00 for shipping. They were calling them the disposable binocular I believe. I had about a half dozen pair of different magnifications and colors. Yes, you could get them in blue and red I believe. Pretty snazzy little binoculars. Heck, they get scratched up and dirty just toss em in the trash.
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