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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 00:10   #1
denco@comcast.n
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Once you have Alpha you can never Backa?

I have just made a profound observation and I wonder if any of you have ever experienced it. Once you have birded and used alpha binoculars for any length of time do you find it hard to use lesser binoculars in the field? I have Swarovision 8.5 x 42's now and I have used them extensively in the field. From time to time I have tried using lesser binoculars and I just don't enjoy birding as much as with the Swarovision's. I don't mean cheap junk binoculars either I mean $1000.00 and up binoculars. My memory retains the view I had with the Swarovision's and when the view is not as good it dissapoints me and actually bores me. You know everybody says the alpha's give small incremental improvements in your view but when it comes down to it that small difference makes a big difference in your birding enjoyment. Just an observation and I wondered if any of you have experienced it.
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 00:53   #2
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No, I do not personally find that to be evevn remotely close to the case. While I will say the alpha is better, $2k for an alpha simply does not, in my view, justify the price. I have spent quite a bit of time with Swaro and Zeiss, and have a Razor HD, I simply don't think the difference is there. Others will undoubtedly disagree and that's fine.
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 01:14   #3
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Sadly I don't believe that I will ever own a set of Alpha binoculars. Still I don't think that makes me any less of a birder for not having them. You just have to make the best of what you have, which of cause you do. It do's make you wonder how people coped before Swarovision's came along, or indeed binoculars!

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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 01:26   #4
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Absolutely nothing wrong with owning an Alpha. They would stretch my budget. And I could not spend that kind of money on optics and carry them around in my truck, carry them hunting,fishing, backpacking,etc.
A good example; another one of hobbies is metal detecting. I started with a cheap one, graduated to a mid range one. Then a couple of years ago I took the plunge and bought the best of the best metal detector. And paid dearly for it. Now with my old ones, I would haul them around with me a lot. Be somewhere with a little time to kill and drag it out and play awhile. But my 1700 dollar rig? Nope. And I don't metal detect near as much because of it. Optics would be the same way for me. I had a Monarch that went nearly everywhere I did and my new Theron Wapiti will do the same.
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 01:32   #5
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Well, my 8x32 SE's are equal to any alpha 8x32's on the market and probably better than most but I'm completely enjoying my recently acquired Vortex Furys and don't feel like I'm getting a terrible image out in the field.
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 04:11   #6
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Well, my 8x32 SE's are equal to any alpha 8x32's on the market and probably better than most but I'm completely enjoying my recently acquired Vortex Furys and don't feel like I'm getting a terrible image out in the field.
I would say a Nikon 8x32 SE is an alpha optically. So is a Nikon 8x30 EII, 10x35 EII or any top porro prism. There is a long list of binoculars that I would classify as alpha. Zeiss FL's, Leica HD's and Nikon EDG's. When you are using your Vortex Fury's don't you feel you are missing something after using your SE's for awhile in the field. You don't miss that little extra sharpness or transparency of image. I do and I notice it. You don't have to spend $2K for an alpha image. For $400.00 a Nikon 8x30 EII will give an alpha image and I think if you really into birding it is worth it to spend at least that amount of money to enjoy the hobby. I feel really exceptional optics are important to enjoy the hobby fully and my main point is once you get used to that great view it is hard to go back.

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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 04:40   #7
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I swing both ways. The view is certainly the #1 thing. I can see the difference in the image with the best optics that I have used(don't own the SV actually), but the more experienced I become, actually the more tolerant I become of any binocular's foibles, as long as it has some aspect of greatness that interests me.

For example, some older binoculars were of superb mechanical build, lightweight yet with a very precise feel, and the views very well designed to be wide, comfortable (free from any blackout, etc.), and sharp in the center, but they suffer from the poor transmission of their older coatings. Very fine designs have been lost, just through changes in style I suppose, and possibly to the demands of mass production, and that is a bit of a shame. I can still get off on these old things, about one or two days a week. How can we fully appreciate where we are, without understanding where we have been?

Then, reality hits, it's back to the "state of the art", and I totally see it your way again!
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 04:45   #8
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I swing both ways. The view is certainly the #1 thing. I can see the difference in the image with the best optics that I have used(don't own the SV actually), but the more experienced I become, actually the more tolerant I become of any binocular's foibles, as long as it has some aspect of greatness that interests me.

For example, some older binoculars were of superb mechanical build, lightweight yet with a very precise feel, and the views very well designed to be wide, comfortable (free from any blackout, etc.), and sharp in the center, but they suffer from the poor transmission of their older coatings. Very fine designs have been lost, just through changes in style I suppose, and possibly to the demands of mass production, and that is a bit of a shame. I can still get off on these old things, about one or two days a week. How can we fully appreciate where we are, without understanding where we have been?

Then, reality hits, it's back to the "state of the art", and I totally see it your way again!
Ron
Interesting point. I understand what you mean about wide and comfortable. Some of the newer optical designs like the SE are a bit touchy for some people with blackouts and such even though they are superb optically. Sometimes it is nice to relax and enjoy the view of the bird without worrying about blackouts and such. What older binoculars do you have that you like?
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 05:15   #9
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Not at all! I'm practically immune to CA so as long as they handle glare reasonably well, have a long enough eye relief for me and a reasonably sized center field of sharpness I can be happy with most any binocular. I sure do like my EDG, SEs, EIIs and Trinovids (Leitz and Leica both) also!

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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 05:18   #10
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A Hensoldt DF 8x30, from about 1960. If it was only possible to get this done up with today's coatings, I'd pay $1000 in a flash.

Much more recently, there was the Leica Trinovid, which I believe you have owned. So much of modern roof design was first realized with this landmark: internal focusing, waterproofing in a center focus binocular, eyecups that quickly slid up and down, the first generation of phase coating (although Zeiss beat Leica by by a year or so), diopter adjust combined with the central focus control (and the Leica diopter adjust is still superior in my opinion), and resolution approaching that of a similar sized simple telsecope. Sooooooo..., it had silver not dielectric prism coatings, there you go. I feel very fortunate to have spent today birding all around southern Colorado with a 12x50 BN. I am shot to pieces but man we saw the birds, and I did not regret the silver coating once.

I've also seen WWII vintage military 7x50s that did it for me. But these things are getting way too pricey.

But, it's like, you can't really appreciate Eric Clapton, without knowing who Muddy Waters is. Eric did not make up every lick he ever played. He did not render Muddy Waters obsolete and useless. But some of the licks that he did make up, are very nice. Similarly, the Swarovision is brilliant, but does not stand alone.

I know that you do not collect binoculars Dennis, and that is admirable. So for you, the SV has gotta be the one, enjoy it!
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 05:39   #11
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I have a set of Vortex Fury's and they are just fine. You know, some of the best country men I ever met never owned a set of binoculars!
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 11:47   #12
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I have a set of Vortex Fury's and they are just fine. You know, some of the best country men I ever met never owned a set of binoculars!
I was almost going to buy a Vortex Fury 6.5 x32 on Astromart because a guy was selling a pair for $90.00 new and then I read this review that they were not as good as a Monarch. You can get a Monarch for $180.00 on E-bay so it stopped me. Have you ever compared your Vortex to a Monarch 8x42? Here is the review that stopped me.

"I recently purchased and then returned the Vortex Fury 6.5x32's. I found it's optics to be very good. It's resolution and depth of field are both very good; actually, for an inexpensive binocular they are both excellent. The 6.5x magnification was usefull and not a significant drop off from 8x. Their field of view is wide, important to some, but not to me. They are brighter than my 28's. Focus was smooth and precise; these are not difficult to focus; no issues due to shallow depth of field or too fast focus. In regard to optics and functioning these 6.5x32 Fury's are very pleasent to use.
Why then did I return them? Too heavy and too bulky. Where gripped, their barrel diameters are larger then Nikon Monarch 8x42's. They weigh noticably more then Nikon Monarch 8x42's and they are not as bright as Nikon Monarch 8x42's, nor do they match Nikon Monarch 8x42's in resolution. Thus, as they are bulkier, heavier and offer no advantage over my Nikon Monarch 8x42's - I would never use them. Handling is of supreme importance to me. If handling is not as important to you, then these are very servicable binoculars with very good optics."
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 12:18   #13
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I think once you've used a binocular with a great image ("alpha" or not), it's hard to settle for something with less of an image. Sure you can be a great birder with any binoculars (in fact, I birded for about five or six years as a child without any binoculars at all and it probably made me a better birder), but once you're used to a really bright, sharp image, it's hard to go back to something with a lesser image. Same thing is true with any equipment, for any purpose, I think. You can often do great work with lesser equipment, but once you've used the good stuff, you really don't want to settle for inferior equipment if you don't have to. This doesn't mean you can't do great work with average tools, but why give up the advantages of the better tools if you don't have to?
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 13:50   #14
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I have just made a profound observation and I wonder if any of you have ever experienced it. Once you have birded and used alpha binoculars for any length of time do you find it hard to use lesser binoculars in the field? I have Swarovision 8.5 x 42's now and I have used them extensively in the field. From time to time I have tried using lesser binoculars and I just don't enjoy birding as much as with the Swarovision's. I don't mean cheap junk binoculars either I mean $1000.00 and up binoculars. My memory retains the view I had with the Swarovision's and when the view is not as good it dissapoints me and actually bores me. You know everybody says the alpha's give small incremental improvements in your view but when it comes down to it that small difference makes a big difference in your birding enjoyment. Just an observation and I wondered if any of you have experienced it.

I'm with SteveC. There is no binocular worth $2000+ when there are so many sub $1000 glass that shows you everything the so called alpha glass does. I've personally used 5 pair or so that qualify, and I currently own a SLC HD for comparison sake. If you aren't looking at them side by side, back and forth, you won't even remember what you're missing, if anything.
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 14:25   #15
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I'm with SteveC. There is no binocular worth $2000+ when there are so many sub $1000 glass that shows you everything the so called alpha glass does. I've personally used 5 pair or so that qualify, and I currently own a SLC HD for comparison sake. If you aren't looking at them side by side, back and forth, you won't even remember what you're missing, if anything.
This.
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 18:04   #16
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I think once you've used a binocular with a great image ("alpha" or not), it's hard to settle for something with less of an image. Sure you can be a great birder with any binoculars (in fact, I birded for about five or six years as a child without any binoculars at all and it probably made me a better birder), but once you're used to a really bright, sharp image, it's hard to go back to something with a lesser image. Same thing is true with any equipment, for any purpose, I think. You can often do great work with lesser equipment, but once you've used the good stuff, you really don't want to settle for inferior equipment if you don't have to. This doesn't mean you can't do great work with average tools, but why give up the advantages of the better tools if you don't have to?
"I think once you've used a binocular with a great image ("alpha" or not), it's hard to settle for something with less of an image"

That's really my point of this whole thread and you said it well.
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 18:10   #17
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I'm with SteveC. There is no binocular worth $2000+ when there are so many sub $1000 glass that shows you everything the so called alpha glass does. I've personally used 5 pair or so that qualify, and I currently own a SLC HD for comparison sake. If you aren't looking at them side by side, back and forth, you won't even remember what you're missing, if anything.
"If you aren't looking at them side by side, back and forth, you won't even remember what you're missing, if anything."

I disagree with that statement and that is the point of this thread. I DO notice and I REMEMBER the difference between my Swarovision's and sub $1000 glass. Maybe some people discern more in the image. Maybe I have become spoiled by the image the Swarovision's gives me but I don't like birding with lesser binoculars anymore. I notice the inferior transparency and other optical qualities such as a smaller FOV of the cheaper binoculars and I don't like it. Sorry but I DO! There is a difference between $1000 binoculars and $2000 binoculars. The $2000 binoculars are BETTER and to those who see the difference they are worth the difference.

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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 18:14   #18
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Some people can switch binoculars and be happy and some people can't. Some people are more versatile than others. Some are less critical than others. But it can be done if you have to do it and some will even do it without complaining.

A better question is: How many people here will quit using binoculars if they cannot use alphas? Now that is REAL commitment! With a follow up question: And if you do, will you do it without "b.......g" about it?

I'll lead off: To the first, I won't. And to the second, I will.

Bob

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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 19:11   #19
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Dennis,

I picked up some of the Vortex Razor HD's. After comparing them to my 8x32SE's I could see a difference. When I really looked at fine detail, the Vortex was just not as sharp. I hated to pay $1000 + for something that did not perform to the same level as my Nikons, so the Vortex went back.

Interesting that everyone in the sporting store said either I was the only one who felt that way or that there was "something wrong with your eyes". There was no way that I had binos that could be better than the Vortex Razors. None of them knew what the Nikon SE's were, but they knew that there are no Nikon binoculars out there that could approach the Vortex binos.

I guess there must be something wrong with my eyes!

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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 20:00   #20
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Just to be able to go birding should be a joy and a privilege. I don't understand the use of "it bores me"? So if you don't have an alpha set you would not go out birding? I guess I don't miss what I have never had! So I will carry on birding in blissful ignorance and enjoy every privileged minute of it! And steer clear of alphs's!
The Fury's are fine and so are the Monarch's. The trick is not to get to hung-up on binoculars, they all do a job. No doubt Swarovision's are the best but I have to look at from the 'pound to pound' prospective and then for me the Fury and the like win hands down, only my thought's!
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 20:28   #21
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I'm not *that* critical when it comes to binoculars. Sure, I like alphas, and my Nikon 10x42 SE is nowadays my favourite pair, not least because it's a porro. But I can bird all day with one of yesteryear's alphas without feeling I'm missing something. Last week I used my sister's Zeiss 10x40 BGATP for a couple of hours - that's still a very nice pair indeed. My most used pair in the winter is the much maligned Zeiss Victory II 10x40. Sure, there's some CA, but it doesn't bother me much and other than that the view is fine, with very high resolution, a nice sweet spot and good ergonomics. And once in a while I use my Zeiss West 8x30 Porro for a short birding trip. That pair is almost 50 years old, and whenever I use it I think what a shame it is Zeiss don't make these with modern coatings. Perfect ergonomics, a very wide field of view, and a build quality that's far better than that of any modern binocular.

I'm far more critical when it comes to scopes. The scopes I've got at the moment (cherry Nikon EDIIIA and Nikon ED50) are good, but I'd be prepared to pay a lot of money for a 60mm or 65mm scope that's optically clearly better than my cherry Nikon EDIIIA. So far I haven't found any. With scopes the optical quality is far more critical than with binoculars in my opinion, especially when you use higher magnifications quite a lot.

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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 20:52   #22
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Dennis,

I picked up some of the Vortex Razor HD's. After comparing them to my 8x32SE's I could see a difference. When I really looked at fine detail, the Vortex was just not as sharp. I hated to pay $1000 + for something that did not perform to the same level as my Nikons, so the Vortex went back.

Interesting that everyone in the sporting store said either I was the only one who felt that way or that there was "something wrong with your eyes". There was no way that I had binos that could be better than the Vortex Razors. None of them knew what the Nikon SE's were, but they knew that there are no Nikon binoculars out there that could approach the Vortex binos.

I guess there must be something wrong with my eyes!

Mike
It is a shame you have to pay $2k to get a roof prism binocular that is as good as an SE. If you are a birder and you don't get them too wet get an SE or an EII for $500.00. Alpha view for not too much money.
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 20:57   #23
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Just to be able to go birding should be a joy and a privilege. I don't understand the use of "it bores me"? So if you don't have an alpha set you would not go out birding? I guess I don't miss what I have never had! So I will carry on birding in blissful ignorance and enjoy every privileged minute of it! And steer clear of alphs's!
The Fury's are fine and so are the Monarch's. The trick is not to get to hung-up on binoculars, they all do a job. No doubt Swarovision's are the best but I have to look at from the 'pound to pound' prospective and then for me the Fury and the like win hands down, only my thought's!
"I don't understand the use of "it bores me"? " They are so good and you get USE to it so lesser glass just dissapoints me when I use them. My point is the quality of binoculars in birding makes a big difference in my enjoyment of the hobby. Take my advice and steer clear of alpha's because you will be forever spoiled. I was happy with my Monarch's too until I started using Alpha's. But my point is you can't go back to Monarch's say after having a Zeiss FL.
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 21:02   #24
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In 2004 I bought my wife an 8X32 SE along with a Nikon HG 8X42 for myself. A few weeks earlier I'd looked at an SE and summarily dismissed it as "impossible to use" due to blackouts. The HG, in contrast to the SE, had great eyecups, perfect eye relief and was bombproof.

As we birded together, I regularly compared the two binoculars. When I studied details carefully it was obvious the SE was something special. Still, I refused to admit what my eyes were telling me. Ownership is a powerful bias.

After a few weeks of intermittent use, I adapted to my wife's SE and it to me. Blackouts became a thing of the past. I returned the 8X42 HG, purchased an 8X32 SE for myself and never looked back. I simply got tired of asking myself "I wonder what this would look like in her SE?

Within a few months I also purchased an Ultravid 7X42 because, like many, I bird in the rain. I spent nearly two relaxing hours comparing the Ultravid to my SE. The salesman I dealt with commented that, "the SE was as good as the Ultravid". This was surprising considering there were SE's and E2's sitting in the glass case where we stood. Admittedly, he didn't know how good the porro bins were though he commented, "birders do like them". Yes, it's the same store that recently flushed it's remaining supply of E2's/SE's.

The Ultravid was great but I never adapted to its soft edges. Argue, if you want, but the edges are not sharp. As much as I used and enjoyed the Ultravid I knew I'd buy the first "SE-like" roof bin I could find, regardless of cost. The first time I picked up the 8.5X42 Swarovision I said, "That's the SE view I'm looking for". My wife, a die-hard SE user, agreed. Other SE users on BF have said the same thing about the Swarovision. There's a reason we say what we say.
Exactly my feelings! The SV is a waterproof SE. Maybe a little better because it has the sharper edges. But if you can get them wet get the SE or the EII(if you like the bigger FOV).
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 21:05   #25
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I'm not *that* critical when it comes to binoculars. Sure, I like alphas, and my Nikon 10x42 SE is nowadays my favourite pair, not least because it's a porro. But I can bird all day with one of yesteryear's alphas without feeling I'm missing something. Last week I used my sister's Zeiss 10x40 BGATP for a couple of hours - that's still a very nice pair indeed. My most used pair in the winter is the much maligned Zeiss Victory II 10x40. Sure, there's some CA, but it doesn't bother me much and other than that the view is fine, with very high resolution, a nice sweet spot and good ergonomics. And once in a while I use my Zeiss West 8x30 Porro for a short birding trip. That pair is almost 50 years old, and whenever I use it I think what a shame it is Zeiss don't make these with modern coatings. Perfect ergonomics, a very wide field of view, and a build quality that's far better than that of any modern binocular.

I'm far more critical when it comes to scopes. The scopes I've got at the moment (cherry Nikon EDIIIA and Nikon ED50) are good, but I'd be prepared to pay a lot of money for a 60mm or 65mm scope that's optically clearly better than my cherry Nikon EDIIIA. So far I haven't found any. With scopes the optical quality is far more critical than with binoculars in my opinion, especially when you use higher magnifications quite a lot.

Hermann
"With scopes the optical quality is far more critical than with binoculars in my opinion, especially when you use higher magnifications quite a lot." Definitely agree with that. It's hard to beat that Nikon Scope you have.
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