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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 00:05   #1
soloflyfisher
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How practical are the alpha 10X50s for general birding?

About a decade ago, I purchased a pair of Leica 8X32 BAs, which have been my main birding binoculars ever since. Prior to that, I had a pair of Leica 10X42s. Generally, I've been happy with the 8X32s (the light weight makes them far more comfortable to carry around the neck than my old 10X42s), but lately I've been wanting something that gives me a bit bigger (and brighter) image. I wish one of the alphas would make a 9X45, which would be my ideal binocular size, but in the absence of that ideal, I'm wondering if I should try the 10X50s (Leica Ultravids or Swarovski EL Swarovision). Has anyone used these for general birding--i.e., in both forests and more open areas? Are they good all-round binoculars or are they more specialized tools?

Thanks for any opinions.


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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 01:39   #2
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I have a feeling that the use of 10x50s for birding is so rare, that I expect you will get very few experienced responses. No doubt the views are fantastic, but for most folks the size and weight of 50mm is prohibitive.

I used an 8x42 BA for a few years, and although there was much good about it, compared to more recent binoculars, it's outstanding weakness is that it is not very bright. I still wish I had one of the 32s like yours, it is a classic that has stood the test of time.

But, you don't need to go to a 10x50mm, only to a modern 10x42mm, to get what you are looking for. The exit pupil is still only about 4mm, it is true, but the higher transmission alone makes a very noticeable difference in the look of brightness.
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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 02:07   #3
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You will lose much of the field of view that you are used to either way. And a 10 x 50 will weigh close to 3 pounds with all the glass it has in the objectives and prisms. The Leica weighs 35oz to a Leica 8 x 32 Ultravid's 18.9oz.

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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 03:53   #4
walternewton
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I think few birders would consider 10x50's "general purpose" bins, given their size and weight...they might generally have more appeal for stargazers?

But to each their own - what matters is what works for you - no harm in trying them.
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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 04:12   #5
etudiant
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You will be very happy with a good 10x50 glass.
The extra reach is made comfortable by the bigger exit pupils, so it is an excellent birding combination.
Admittedly, it is a bigger item to carry, but decent neoprene straps or harnesses make that a non issue.

You might try the Canon 10x42ISL, which offers a very bright image as well as truly revolutionary image stabilization. They are a worthy successor to my long favored Docter 12x50BGAs, even though I still pine for the extra punch of the 12x.
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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 04:33   #6
brocknroller
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I like 10x50s and prefer them to 10x42s. Most 10x50s (and I'm referring here to porros, I don't have any experience with 10x50 alpha numerics) seem to have a better perception of depth and 3-D effect than 10x42s, even though I was told that defies the laws of physics. I'm also more comfortable with the 5mm exit pupil, which helped when I used the 10x50 ED to view owls and nocturnal flying squirrels at night.

As far as birders using 10x50 alphas, last year I saw a really good documentary about a filmmaker who went to some remote location to watch eagles being born (some place where they had disappeared but were making a comeback, as they are here in Pa, we've got our first eagle's nest in 25 years at Bald Eagle State Park). After the chicks hatched, he watched them from the window of his SUV, and I saw that his bins were Leica Utravid 10x50s.

Ever since then, I've been curious what the view looks like through a pair. I recently saw a pair of 10x50 HD's selling for 1,799.99 on eBay. Seems like a relatively good price, considering. But nobody bought it.

According to the allbino boyz, there is barely any difference in CA between the HD and BR through there is a slight difference in light transmission and their light transmission curves. If so, you might even get the BRs for a better price.

Allbinos rated the 10x50 Ultravid #1 out of the 10x50 binoculars they tested (despite the "high" level of distortion - and that says something, because these guys really don't like pincushion):

http://www.allbinos.com/194-binocula..._10x50_HD.html

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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 08:51   #7
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http://www.betterviewdesired.com/Leu...ver-10x50s.php
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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 09:54   #8
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Although I do not have a modern 10x50 in my collection, I do own a 10x50 Trinnie BA which has been owned since new. It has a nice relaxed view more so than a 10x42 I think, the weight and DOF are no bother to me.
If you get the chance look through one of the latest offerings and you should be impressed.

Chris.
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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 11:26   #9
soloflyfisher
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Thanks for the advice (and keep suggestions coming). I used to believe 10X50 would be way too heavy for general birding use (astronomy binoculars as walternewton said), but I think the new generation 10X50s weigh about the same as my old 10X42 BAs. Those weren't terribly comfortable to carry, but I never had problems holding them up to view birds, and a proper shoulder harness would solve the carrying issue. Field of view is pretty good too, now: just looking at the Leica line-up, the 10X32s have a FOV of 118m, the 10X42s of 112m, and the 10X50s of 117mm. So for the 10 power binoculars, the 10X50s really aren't at any disadvantage there.

I wonder if anyone's used them in the forest--I assume they'd be pretty good in open areas if you don't mind the size, but I'm curious what people think they'd be like in denser cover.

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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 12:34   #10
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The 8 x 32 will have more depth of field available for use in forested conditions than either of the 10's will. The 7 x 42 would be even better there. You will notice the lesser depth of field of the 10s more in the forest than you will in open areas.
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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 16:24   #11
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I use the Pentax DCF SP's 10x50's for my primary birding bins (have gotten used to the narrow FOV). They aren't that much heavier (same weight?) than my ZR ED 8x42's. My complaint isn't weight or narrow FOV, but the slow focus. I do use a harness.

I was looking at the Swarovisions in an ad and was amazed at the weight - they might provide a stunning view, but you'll need a tripod for lengthy viewing I would think!
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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 16:29   #12
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10x50 has much narrower field of view than 10x42. I just cannot get over with this tunnel view effect
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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 16:54   #13
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Over the years I have noticed that the 10x50 alphas seem to be popular amongst migrating hawk counters. I myself would love to have a pair, for a day/night use binocular. For regular daytime bird "watching", other than behavior study at a distance, (or the above) they may be a tad over kill.
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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 17:20   #14
ceasar
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Check here for respective weights, FOV, and eye relief of the Leica 8 x 32, 10 x 42 and 10 x 50.

http://www.eagleoptics.com/binoculars/leica

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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 20:43   #15
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Well, I like 10x50's. I really do. When I got into birding my first decent binocular was a Zeiss Jena 10x50 Jenoptem. Not great by today's standards, but definitely better than any of the roofs around at the time. That was in 1980, and phase coating hadn't been invented yet. But I switched to lighter binoculars pretty soon, because anything over ~ 800 gr. is just too heavy for my style of birding. When I'm out birding I'm often 6-10 or more hours in the field, and I almost always carry a scope as well, so I don't really "need" the little extra a 10x50 may offer over an equally good 10x40 or 10x42. Even for hawk watching I much prefer lighter binoculars because I stay alert and fit for much longer than with heavy 10x50's.

And, realistically, you don't really "see" more with 10x50's than with 10x40's or 10x42's.The larger exit pupil makes viewing a bit easier, you *may* get slightly better views on really dark days, but that's about it.

By the way, the most comfortable 10x50 I ever used was the old Zeiss Oberkochen porro. The most uncomfortable was the Trinovid 10x50. I just couldn't get on with the distribution or weight at all.

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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 21:46   #16
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Hi. There are plenty of others far more experienced to discuss image clarity etc. but I recently tried my father's Leica Ultravids 10x42 (maybe 50?) and weight really wasn't an issue at all. Best try them for yourself though as I'm sure others have advised.

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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 22:16   #17
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[quote=etudiant;2148369]Admittedly, it is a bigger item to carry, but decent neoprene straps or harnesses make that a non issue.

QUOTE]

Sounds kinky! Just kidding. But I mostly dislike neoprene--heavy and sweaty. I recently went back to a stock full-size (8.5 SV) after favoring mid-size for a few years, and I'll say that's worth the weight. I'll put up with it simply because it's so incredibly good. Would I be willing to carry more weight for a 10x50? I seriously doubt it. 10x42? The times I tried that format I didn't see anything more because of handshake--but that might just be me.

For "general birding" my opinion is stick with 8-8.5x42. It just works for everything.

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Old Tuesday 24th May 2011, 02:12   #18
etudiant
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[quote=Kammerdiner;2149271]
Quote:
Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
Admittedly, it is a bigger item to carry, but decent neoprene straps or harnesses make that a non issue.

QUOTE]

Sounds kinky! Just kidding. But I mostly dislike neoprene--heavy and sweaty. I recently went back to a stock full-size (8.5 SV) after favoring mid-size for a few years, and I'll say that's worth the weight. I'll put up with it simply because it's so incredibly good. Would I be willing to carry more weight for a 10x50? I seriously doubt it. 10x42? The times I tried that format I didn't see anything more because of handshake--but that might just be me.

For "general birding" my opinion is stick with 8-8.5x42. It just works for everything.

Mark

Bino bondage with neoprene and harnesses?? Yikes, this site is getting progressive.

Still, if neoprene is not your thing, try the Bino Manager harness. Cheap and it works well.
See: http://www.coleman.com/coleman/Colem...ct_id=COLEH651

It shifts the weight from the neck to the shoulders, without limiting the ability to swing the glass up high if needed.
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Old Tuesday 24th May 2011, 10:36   #19
soloflyfisher
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While we're on the topic of harnesses, do any of them allow you to use your protective eyepiece covers?
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Old Tuesday 24th May 2011, 15:17   #20
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solo,
I can just tell you really want a 10x50 and are prepared to deal with the size and weight issue. We'd love to hear a report on the Swarovision in that size. Do it, man. It's bound to be fantastic!

Henry Link has articulately advocated a harness system that he lugs his 8x56 Zeiss around on. I can't quite remember the name of it now, but it's something like the "Big Dawg Predator Badass"--that kind of ring to it, marketed at hunters, you know.
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Old Tuesday 24th May 2011, 16:18   #21
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Ron, that would be "Mad Dog Gear". It's the Bino-Manager recommended by "etudiant" in post #18. It's now so cheap from Coleman ($8.78) that I just ordered 3 more as a lifetime supply. The thing I like about this harness design is that it uses a sternum strap (you don't have to use the pouch thing) instead of the binding armpit straps that most harnesses use. The binocular handling is just like using a neck strap, but with no weight on the neck.
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Old Wednesday 25th May 2011, 00:35   #22
soloflyfisher
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solo,
I can just tell you really want a 10x50 and are prepared to deal with the size and weight issue. We'd love to hear a report on the Swarovision in that size. Do it, man. It's bound to be fantastic!

Ron
Oh Ron, I'm trying so hard to fight off temptation, but every dozen years or so I just get this insatiable itch to give up my old faithfuls and find something new and exciting to go cavorting around with . . . at 50, I think it's reached mid-life crisis proportions . . .

But really, those good old 8X32s are darn near perfect. If I'm going to justify anything new it needs to be something really different . . . which is why the 10X50s just might be the ticket . . .

At least they're cheaper than a new sports car . . .
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Old Wednesday 25th May 2011, 02:51   #23
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Originally Posted by soloflyfisher View Post
While we're on the topic of harnesses, do any of them allow you to use your protective eyepiece covers?
Here is a common way to use the eyepiece covers. Just use a piece of
shoelace, cut to the proper size to tether them. Then just tie it to a ring or
whatever. It even works well with factory strap. I find they hang better and
less bothersome than through the strap.

Jerry
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Old Wednesday 25th May 2011, 20:55   #24
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Well, no experience on alpha 10x50, since my Nikon 10x50 CF Action EX is not an alpha at all. But after buying it, I have been able to use it in many different environments and climates. I do hike a lot when I am birding (I prefer walking when many take their car). If you think weight could be a problem for you, take a lighter bin, but personally I don't have a problem with that. I also have been able to try some alphas (Leika and Swaro) other birders use, most of which are 8x something. Well, superb view, but my bino's view does not pale in comparison. On the other hand, I have been able to identify some species I would not have been able to see with just 8x. Field of view has been a problem only in some rare occasions (surprisingly, from home with birds on the trees in front of my windows!). I do enjoy the crepuscolar view which the big lenses make possible.

I think 10x50 could be the best "all around" birding bin (for my use), even if for some environments or situations an 8x30 (like the one I used to take with me) would be just fine. Some experienced birders would shun your bino, on the other hand one of the most able birders in my area uses the cheaper non waterproof Nikon Action model. But don't listen to so much advice (including mine), as there is a lot of subjectivity in this issue. Try for your own, and think for your own. What do you miss in your daily birding? In my case, it was that extra bit of magnification and the money to buy an expensive alpha, but that has to do with my birding style and with the country I am from (where flight distance is quite far away and wages low). Plus I was fond of the old Porro design. So my 10x50 works fine for me. Well, just decide on your own, this is my opinion.

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Old Wednesday 25th May 2011, 22:20   #25
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Ron, that would be "Mad Dog Gear". It's the Bino-Manager recommended by "etudiant" in post #18. It's now so cheap from Coleman ($8.78) that I just ordered 3 more as a lifetime supply. The thing I like about this harness design is that it uses a sternum strap (you don't have to use the pouch thing) instead of the binding armpit straps that most harnesses use. The binocular handling is just like using a neck strap, but with no weight on the neck.
The harness also works well as just a set of suspenders for the binocs..
Simply fasten the sternum strap around your belt in the back. That prevents the binocs from gradually pulling up the sternum strap unless it is cinched tight.
The only downside is that the snugging action of the pouch and sternum strap is lost, but unless crawling through the brush that should not be an issue.
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