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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 04:05   #1
lilcrazy2
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Alpen Wings ED 10x25 Binos - Review

For awhile I have been predicting that by the end of the year some manufacturers will introduce Alpha quality binos for 1/4 to 1/3 the cost. Well, the future is now, and little did I suspect that the first one to the gate would be in such a small package, as I was counting more on an 8x42 or 10x42. I chose the 10x25 over the 8x20 because I like a little more punch in these small binos and am willing to give up some FOV for the extra magnification, and I figured the ED glass would benefit the 10x more. Besides, I still have one of the 8x20 Nikon LXL's, although I got rid of my 10x25 Zeiss Victory's. The street price on these 10x25 Wings ED's are about $170.

The specs on the 10x25 Wings ED are actually a little better than most of the Alphas, being a little smaller, lighter and having a better close focus. In addition to the ED glass they are phase coated and have silver coated prisms. In the folded position they are 4-1/4" L x 2-3/8" W x 1-5/8" H, weigh 8.5 oz, FOV is 285 ft, CF is 7 ft, ER is 16mm, and the occular lenses are 17mm wide. Lifetime warranty. They come with a nice cordura carry case w/strap and a 1-1/2" wide bino strap, but have no lens caps or rainguard. You would think in introducing a new bino of this caliber that they could have included some tethered caps and a rainguard, or even put a belt loop on the case.

The binos are the typical alpha double hinge type, and the build quality is excellent, with perfect hinge tensioning. In nearly 5 days of testing and sitting them down countless times, the hinges stayed put where I had set them. It is possible to adjust the IPD one handed, but not real easy. The rubber armoring is only as wide as the hinge and does not extend down the last 1-1/4" of the barrels, nor does it cover the top of the hinge. I found the armoring to be excellent and had no problems with grip. Strap hinges are mounted at the rear in the 6:00 position and look a little small and fragile, but hey - a lifetime warranty. Surely they knew what they were doing when they designed them.

The focuser is ala Nikon LXL with the focus knob at the bottom end of the hinge, and depending on your grip can be focused with either the ring or middle finger. Focusing is clockwise from near to infinity with the knob turning 1-1/2 turns. There is no overplay at close focus, so when it stops you are at close focus. Focusing is smooth and precise with no play at all, and has a great feel. If I had one wish, it would be that the focus knob was slightly taller, as I could see where one might have difficulty if wearing heavy gloves. The eyecups are twist up 3 position with an intermediate and a full up position and they stay exactly where you put them with no play or looseness. I tried them in the down position with my computer and bifocal eyeglasses and had no problems with ER or getting a good view.

Now for the fun stuff.

Brightness, sharpness, resolution, contrast, color fidelity and CA control are absolutely top shelf. They have a little pincushion distortion built in and some very mild field curvature at the outer edges. The sweetspot approaches 90% and at first glance these appear to be sharp edge to edge. Due to the small EP it is difficult to glance at the extreme edges, but after repeated observations you do notice some very, very minor field curvature at the edge - but you have to look hard for it. I was able to easily read a utility nameplate in my neighbors yard about 150 yards away that I had difficulty reading and resolving with the 10x25 Victory's. Color fidelity and rendition were spot on, and surprisingly these had a better 3d effect than I am used to in the mini compacts. CA is virtually non existent and it is hard to believe the ED glass could do such a good job. I have never tested any bino where I couldn't induce at least a little CA toward the outer edges - until now. No matter which of my test areas I used or the time of day, I couldn't get these to show any CA, even at the extreme edges which I found to be simply amazing. CA doesn't bother me much, but I do always look and test for it. Control of glare was also very well controlled, and was never a problem in back lit situations or front lit. The only time I could get them to exhibit any glare was with the sun in front at about a 45 degree angle or less, and also about 10-15 degrees or so off center. A very small glare oval would appear at the bottom down around the 5 to 7 oclock position. Never could get them to exhibit what I call the veiling glare fog at the sides which I can typically see on other binos with the sun up and off to one side. Since these are so sharp edge/edge, I did quite a bit of panning and more testing today to see if there was any problem with the big RB - I found no problems.

Needless to say, I am totally impressed with the 10x25 Alpen Wings ED, and feel they are superior to the 10x25 Zeiss Victory's I had. The only gripes I have are the lack of lens caps and a belt loop on the case, other than that, there is absolutely nothing not to love about these if mini compacts are your pleasure. I can only hope that the 8x20 Wings ED little brother is as good as the 10x25. Where else could you buy a matched pair for less than the price of one alpha mini?

Let the naysayers and doubting Thomas's have at it.

Tom

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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 07:50   #2
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Thanks a lot for the excellent review, Tom!
And for mentioning the focusing direction too
Feel that I have to give these a try.

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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 13:40   #3
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Feel that I have to give these a try.
+1 except I will try the 8x20.
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 15:00   #4
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Ditto on Surveyor's comments.

Thank you for checking these out. Finally, an affordable, high performance compact roof prism binocular. I would have preferred a single hinge design similar to the Zeiss but you know what they say about beggars and choosers.... ;-)
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 15:43   #5
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Ditto on Surveyor's comments.

Thank you for checking these out. Finally, an affordable, high performance compact roof prism binocular. I would have preferred a single hinge design similar to the Zeiss but you know what they say about beggars and choosers.... ;-)
Frank
I hope the 8x20's with their wider FOV offer the same excellent resolution and sharpness edge/edge as the 10x25's. The outward appearance is almost identical to the Swaro minis rather than the Nikons, even down to the armoring pattern.

I have spent the morning calling around to some shoe repair shops to see how much they would charge to sew a belt loop onto the back of the case

Tom
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 15:47   #6
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Even cheaper!

Amazon has the 8x20 for $140 and the 10x25 for $150 with free shipping.

Thanks for the review, Tom! I've been waiting for it.

What kind of strap do they use? You mentioned lugs, so I assume it is a removable/replacable one. Does it use a strap or a cord?

I happened to be in the library yesterday and looked at the current copy of Outdoor Life. They have a gear review this issue and they tested the 10x25s. They rated the optical quality as excellent. Their only complaint was that "the diopter ran out of travel". I'm not sure if they meant that there was something wrong with the diopter on their sample or if it didn't have enough adjustment to compensate for the tester's eye. Anyway, the review was pretty favorable.

Thanks,
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 16:20   #7
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These are Chinese, right?
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 16:23   #8
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These are Chinese, right?
Yes - they are made in China.
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 16:33   #9
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I saw the OL review online. It wasn't all that glowing:

Optics: B-
Image: C+
Design: B
Price / Value: B

http://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/...wings-ed-10x25
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 16:35   #10
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Amazon has the 8x20 for $140 and the 10x25 for $150 with free shipping.

Thanks for the review, Tom! I've been waiting for it.

What kind of strap do they use? You mentioned lugs, so I assume it is a removable/replacable one. Does it use a strap or a cord?

I happened to be in the library yesterday and looked at the current copy of Outdoor Life. They have a gear review this issue and they tested the 10x25s. They rated the optical quality as excellent. Their only complaint was that "the diopter ran out of travel". I'm not sure if they meant that there was something wrong with the diopter on their sample or if it didn't have enough adjustment to compensate for the tester's eye. Anyway, the review was pretty favorable.

Thanks,
Mark
Mark
Alpen calls it a premium extra wide strap. It is 1-1/2" wide around the neck, nicely padded, and tapers down to a 3/8" nylon strap with a quck release buckle that attaches via a nylon loop onto the bino.

I don't know how many diopters of adjustment there are but my right eye is about 1-1/2 worse than my left. The bino has 4 indents on the diopter knob in each direction and I see I have it set at about 1-1/4, so I guess there is 4 diopters worth of adjustment in each direction.

Tom
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 16:40   #11
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I saw the OL review online. It wasn't all that glowing:

Optics: B-
Image: C+
Design: B
Price / Value: B

http://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/...wings-ed-10x25
I would have bet money that you along with one or two others would have posted something negative. Do you fully understand what goes into each of those categories? You are becoming a little too predictable.

Have a great day and enjoy your Victory's
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 16:54   #12
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The Optics value is half objective (resolution and low light performance, etc) and half subjective. They gave them high marks for resolution, but down graded them on low light performance (which of course, is unavoidable for a 10x25). The review is aimed at hunters. They also complained about using the focusing wheel with gloves on. The review was very positive for normal use for a compact.
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 16:56   #13
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No, I'm just a bit skeptical of glowing reviews from a person who's making claims and doesn't have the 10x25 Victorys any longer to do a side by side comparison. You are espousing opinion (which is fine) but I've been on the net long enough to take all reviews, especially such glowing ones, with a bit of salt.

And thank you, I will have a nice day and I will enjoy my Victorys along with my Chinese Furys.

I will also continue to make comments whether or not you approve of them.
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 16:57   #14
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Mark
Alpen calls it a premium extra wide strap. It is 1-1/2" wide around the neck, nicely padded, and tapers down to a 3/8" nylon strap with a quck release buckle that attaches via a nylon loop onto the bino.

Tom
I'm pleasantly surprised that they have actual 3/8"" strap lugs. They gives you a lot of possibilities, although it sounds like the included strap is all you would need. I like the disconnects. Its a much better setup than my Zeiss 8x20B.
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 17:01   #15
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Tom,

Thanks for that review, the Alpen Wings ED sound like a "best buy" in compact roofs. Now if I could find some Grinch saliva and shrink my hands 3x smaller, I might be able to use one!

Regardiing your statement, "I have never tested any bino where I couldn't induce at least a little CA toward the outer edges - until now."

Have ever tried an ED bin with 52 AFOV? Seems like it would be easier to control CA with a small AFOV. The best CA control I've seen in a 10x bin was with the Celestron 10x50 ED I owned. The FOV was 5*. I watched crows on tree limbs against a dismal, cloudy wintery sky, and there was no CA on the bird or tree limb. Quite impressive, but a bit clasutrophic with 50* AFOV.

The ZR 7x36 ED2 doesn't show CA until about 75% from the center, laterally, and then only minimally at that point. That's around 6.5* FOV out of 9* without CA, more degrees than the entire FOV of the 8x43/10x43 Pentax ED bins!

Of course, it's 7x, so that also makes the CA easier to control, not sure how well the 10x43 ED2 does in comparison.

I've read good things about Alpen's customer service and repairs, so that's another plus for these bins.

My one concern would be over QC like the diopter knob adjustment problem mentioned in the magazine review, which could be due to sample variation. I had a similar problem with a Chinese-made bin. The diopter started out fine but with use, lost its adjustment. Of course, I read this happened with an 8x32 EDG, so there are "lemons" at all price points, but apparently enough to make lemonade at the lower price points.

China still hasn't caught up to the Japanese or Euros in QC. But for the low price, you could order three, keep the best, and send the other two back.

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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 17:21   #16
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No, I'm just a bit skeptical of glowing reviews from a person who's making claims and doesn't have the 10x25 Victorys any longer to do a side by side comparison. You are espousing opinion (which is fine) but I've been on the net long enough to take all reviews, especially such glowing ones, with a bit of salt.

And thank you, I will have a nice day and I will enjoy my Victorys along with my Chinese Furys.

I will also continue to make comments whether or not you approve of them.
On all the binos I have owned, I keep a very detailed Microsoft Access database recording all my observations and testing data, so not all my comments are based on my fading memory.

I can certainly understand your sketicism but I did test them alongside of another good single hinge 10x25, 8x20 Nikons LXL's and several other larger binos. I, like many others, was just as skeptical of your recent review of the Zeiss FLs, Nikon EDG and Swaro SV's when you claimed the FL's had the best sharpness and edge/edge performance. Obviously, to each his own.

As far as the OL test, it is not very informative and was done many months ago using a pre production sample. The production models did not arrive in the USA until a couple of weeks ago, and I got one of the first ones directly from Alpen when they arrived.

Feel free to post all you want as I got a chuckle out of your Zeiss FL comparison, and BF is definitely in need of a lighter side. Obviously you read the last line of my orignal post.

Tom
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 17:28   #17
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Ah, I see, your MO is that if someone posts a differing opinion than, say, yours, be dismissive and derisive. Very classy. Welcome to ignore...
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 17:29   #18
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I'm pleasantly surprised that they have actual 3/8"" strap lugs. They gives you a lot of possibilities, although it sounds like the included strap is all you would need. I like the disconnects. Its a much better setup than my Zeiss 8x20B.
The id of the lugs on the bino is 1/4". The strap to which the cord end loop is attached to the quick disconnect is 3/8"
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 17:49   #19
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These look very similar to the new RSPB HD compacts apart from some cometic details. Also available in 10x25 and 8x20. Details here.

It will be interesting to see how the QC holds up on these.
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 19:03   #20
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Thanks for the review, Tom. They sound quite good.

Two questions though. Based on photos I somewhat doubt I'd like that tiny focus knob on the back end. My Leica 8x20's focus is bigger and easier to get at. Any further thoughts on that? It seems like something you'd either get used to, or just grow to dislike.

Also, although they are 10x, how would you compare them to the Olympus 8x25 Tracker, which for me still trumps just about everything out there?

If indeed the OL review put them up against full-size bins that would easily explain the lower scores. I'd consider that an unfair comparison, and kind of useless.

Mark
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 19:24   #21
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If indeed the OL review put them up against full-size bins that would easily explain the lower scores. I'd consider that an unfair comparison, and kind of useless.

Mark
Here is a link to a portion of the OL review. I found no mention of how the tests were done and how objective/subjective they may be.

They rated the Alpen 10x25 3rd out of four of mid sized binoculars, below a Pentax 9x32 and a Minox 8x33.

http://www.outdoorlife.com/photos/ga...ode-1001345786

Use the "Previous" button above table to scroll back through binos.
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 21:55   #22
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Do you know if they are going to make single hinge compact binoculars? From previous experience, even with alpha, I had a hard time to control the IPD of the binoculars while using it.
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 23:12   #23
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Here is a link to a portion of the OL review. I found no mention of how the tests were done and how objective/subjective they may be.

They rated the Alpen 10x25 3rd out of four of mid sized binoculars, below a Pentax 9x32 and a Minox 8x33.

http://www.outdoorlife.com/photos/ga...ode-1001345786

Use the "Previous" button above table to scroll back through binos.
Ron
When I first read the OL article over a month ago, I printed the chart and tried to make sense of the categories by going back and reading the review and comparing to the chart. Not much of it makes much sense. The most confounding one was the Minox BL 8x33's when you read the review and compare to the chart. Plus I have still have the 10x42 Zen Zrs HD and got rid of the 10x42 Excursion EX's. Anyone who would rate the Excursion EX above the Zen is either blind or has rocks in their head IMO.

Tom
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2011, 23:29   #24
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Here is a link to a portion of the OL review. I found no mention of how the tests were done and how objective/subjective they may be.

They rated the Alpen 10x25 3rd out of four of mid sized binoculars, below a Pentax 9x32 and a Minox 8x33.

http://www.outdoorlife.com/photos/ga...ode-1001345786

Use the "Previous" button above table to scroll back through binos.
Ron in the past when Bill McRae was testing optics he used a 3x booster and on some of the reviews he posted the boosted resolution, this is not saying 3x was enough power. The 2001 issue is one they did post the resolution, Pentax 10x50 DCF WP 3.7 SOA, Nikon 10x35EII 3.9 SOA and the "Editors Choice" Zeiss 8x56 BT*P* 3.7 SOA. Low Light test was conducted under natural light in the evening using a 10 inch dia. disk covered with alternating white and black stripes and they rotated this every few seconds until the person couldn't say what direction the stripes where facing and how many min. after sunset this was. Supposed to check for flare, workmanship, aesthetics[beauty,ugly etc.], applicability [intended purpose] and price value. Example spotting scope the EC was the Nikon Sky&Earth 20-60x80mm with 1.8 arcsec
I think they do the same thing now that Bill McRae retired, but I am not impressed sometimes.
I had my mother buy my boy the 2001"great buy" Alpen 8x25 reverse porro for him at Christmas time and it is decent. Well this was quite a while ago.

Tom, Thanks for the excellent review!
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Old Friday 24th June 2011, 00:08   #25
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Thanks for the review, Tom. They sound quite good.

Two questions though. Based on photos I somewhat doubt I'd like that tiny focus knob on the back end. My Leica 8x20's focus is bigger and easier to get at. Any further thoughts on that? It seems like something you'd either get used to, or just grow to dislike.

Also, although they are 10x, how would you compare them to the Olympus 8x25 Tracker, which for me still trumps just about everything out there?

If indeed the OL review put them up against full-size bins that would easily explain the lower scores. I'd consider that an unfair comparison, and kind of useless.

Mark
Mark

These are almost an identical design to the newer Swaros and similar to the Nikon LXL's and all three focus at the bottom with your ring finger. I find I prefer the bottom focus on these lightweight minis as it allows me to lock my index fingers against my forehead and cuts down more on movement. Due to the small occular lenses and eyecups on the alphas I have a harder time holding them still because you can't get the eyesocket rest like many of the single hinge 25's with the much larger occulars and wider eyecups.

Back during our previous Tracker go round, I got the 10x25's as well but sent them back after a couple of days as they weren't close to the 8x25 in performance. The Alpens outdo the 8x25 Trackers in CA and glare control, and are a little sharper. I would suppose the Trackers would have the edge in brightness, and are definetly easier to use. I say I suppose because I got rid of the 8x25's as well several weeks back when I was paring my collection down and decided to keep my 7x26 Customs and Elites as my non waterproof reverse porros and decided to get another pair of 8x28 Excursion roofs. I was never quite as enthusiastic as you and Dennis on them, but I still think they are the best around for the money.

Tom
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