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Old Saturday 22nd April 2006, 04:28   #1
ksbird/foxranch
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Kansas
Posts: 277
review of Baigish 8x30

Today as our regular group sat around waiting for another glimpse of the Red Bellied Woodpeckers (see my member's gallery for an accidental shot of these furtive, fenetic little beasts when I was testing out some digiscoping rigs), that forage in some trees near our viewing deck (we only see these woodies about twice a month), we had the chance to test a new pair of Baigish (Kazan Optical Mechanical Plant - KOMZ) 8x30 binoculars. They had a black pebble finish and weighed about 22 oz. The eyepieces are 6 element Erfle designs in 4 groups, fully multicoated and air-spaced. In fact all the surfaces of every lens and prism were multicoated.

The model we checked out was the version sold on binocularsmart.com for $47 + $20 shipping, called the BPC commander. They are not described as waterproof, and for an extra charge they can be had with rubber armouring, reticles, etc. I had heard that the binoculars made by this company were poorly constructed and finished. But the actual unit we reviewed was pretty nice. We compared it to my Hensoldt/Zeiss DF 8x30 and Steiner Huntng coated 8x30 porros, plus the Nikon Premier LX 8x32 and Burris 8x32 Landmark roofs.

The first thing you notice is that the Baigish 8x30s can't really be used with eyeglasses. The eye lenses are huge, but the hard rubber eyecups don't go flat and even without eyeglasses, you need o have your eyes touching the eyecups to get the full 11 degree field in view. The focusing was smooth and easy (quick), but it was tight enough to hold when you touched the eyecups to see the impressive field. The diopter adjustment worked well.

Optically the image is amazingly sharp all across the field right to the edge. With such a super-wide field of view, only the military Hensoldt DF could compare, and as sharp as the Hensoldts are in the center of the field, the last 10-20% was definitely not as sharp as the Baigish view. The Nikons, Burris and Steiners were also very sharp in the center of the field, but the outer 10-20% of the Nikon field was "softer", and the outer 20-30% of the Steiner's and Burris' FoV were less sharp. None of these other 3 bins had really wide fields so the Baigish and Hensoldt bins were in a class by themselves with the Baigishs being best.

As far as the ability to keep straight lines straight near the edges, the Baigishs were again astounding. All 4 of the other bins had a bit of pincushion effect visible using the vertical lines on a storage container parked on the ranch to our north, but the Baigish was "spooky" flat right to the edge. In this respect the Hensoldts and Nikons were 2nd best and the Steiners were next followed by the Burris'. This is unfair to the Hensoldts because they have a field about 10-20% wider than the Nikons, so their "edge" is out of the Nikon's field of view, but the test has to describe whatever is visible on the edge.

The image color is where the Hensoldt is best. The color rendition of white paper is very white in the Hensoldts. The Burris 8x32 roofs were definitely the next best for color neutrality and almost as good as the Hensoldts. The Nikons showed a tiny bit of green/purple color (very slight like there was a flourescent light on somewhere nearby), the Steiners showed a peculair minus green kind of brown color (again very slight). The Baigishs showed a very obvious kind of "wheat" tinge, that was just slightly visible, but definite on a photo-white and photo-gray placard with midday sunlight. This is very bizarre because it should be easy to make the one lens that has yellow glass, out of clear white glass. So the slight but obvious yellow tint must be there to enhance sharpness when the dawn and dusk light has more yellow/orange/red light or to combat the over-strong blue light that shows through cloudy skies. Like a photographer who uses a warming filter to take the blue pallor off of faces in photos, this tan/yellow/wheat tinge may help balance colors better on foggy or cloudy days.

The sky was helpful because we had both bright sunshine and gray cloudy skies today. In sunshine, the vegetation and trees have a color richness with the Baigish bins that is almost cartoonish. But bird colors don't seem to suffer except that the Blue Jays seemed a bit more dull looking than normal in bright sunshine, and the yellow chevrons on red-winged blackbirds really jumped out at the viewer. With the other 4 bins the bird colors were what they were except that the Steiners allowed viewers to pick brown and/or black birds (like male cowbirds and female northern cardinals) out of the green vegetation backgrounds easier, by making the browns more obvious and the greens more "subtle".

With cloudy skies the Baigishs seemed to get sharper, while all the other bins got duller. The Steiners were next best in cloudy conditions. These two bins seemed to be providing "natural" views of birds when the skies were gray, which was great if you were always looking through the bins, but if the sun came out briefly, then the view became "super-normal and looking through the bins and then with your eyes alone, the "warmth" became obvious. Even people looked "healthier" through the Baigishs and Steiners because humans have yellowish skin and so a slight "tan" adds a healthy "glow". The Nikons were the next best bins for true color with gray skies, although there is a bit too much blue and extra red in these conditions. The Burris and Hensoldt bins both looked washed out compared to the other three under cloudy skies.

The color contrast capabilities of the bins didn't follow their color trueness. The Nikons were clearly superior in terms of color contrast, but the Baigishs were very nearly as good. The Steiners were also excellent. With those 3 bins the sharp edges of the colors just jumped right out at the viewer. Grackles often sat in trees above our viewing station and they would spread their feathers to cool off. Their underfeathers have white and gray specks. This was obvious if the color contrast was good. The Nikons and Baigish bins showed the tiny details best. The Steiners were good along with the Hensoldts. But the Burris bins weren't in the same league for color contrast (probably because not all the Burris surfaces were multicoated, although the Hensoldt DFs were also not fully multicoated, so go figure!).

As dusk and then night descended, the ghosting and stray light capabilities of the bins were tested. For stray light the Hensoldts were amazing , the Steiners were very good, the Baigishs and Burris were okay and the Nikons had an annoying multiple set of problems with ghost light. When the sky is very bright at dusk, but the valleys are nearly pitch black, what seems to be haze, forms in the middle of the lens obscuring the details in the shadowed valley areas. The Hensoldts had literally no ghosting at all. The Steiners (which replaced the Hensoldts as Germany's main military binocular) had nearly no haze. The Baigish and Burris bins had a definite haze obscuring details in the center of the view. The Nikons had this and also tiny prismatic flares when the sunset angle was just right (or just wrong). It looked like bits of gold dust sprinkled into the view and was quite irritating.

Finally when darkenss descended a neighbor's bug zapper light provided a superb stray light test. About 700 yards from our viewing deck across a valley, there is a single barn visible on my neighbor's 200 acre ranch, and his 500 watt mercury beacon faces my viewing deck directly. The zapping cage is widely spaced and the power is enormous. I can sometimes see the bugs flash when they are zapped, falling like fireflies to the ground. Crows, cowbirds, robins, blackbirds and grackles seem to love these fried bugs and they forage for them on the ground. But this one bright light on a black field is a tough test for a binocular. The Hensoldt is amazing on this test. There is no stray light really visible at all. The Steiners are good and the Nikons almost as good as the Steiners, with the Burris bins nearly as good as the Nikons. The Baigish bins are poorest on this test. In the daytime this characteristic and the anti-ghost capability of a binocular are severly tested when bright sunlight is reflected off of water ripples. Having a kaliedescope of lights dancing around in your view can be disconcerting especially of there are hazy "flashes/ghosts" thrown in.

All in all the Baigish bins were astounding for the price. The Burris bins gave a good showing since they often sell for $50 + tax in the USA. The other 3 bins are quite a bit more expensive although used military surplus Hensoldts are coming on the market now for $100-150 depending on condition.The owner of the Baigishs didn't like the fact that he couldn't see the full view with his glasses and so he's going to trade those bins to me. They are sharp and in even lighting they are as good as any view I've ever seen. There are drawbacks to them, and I wouldn't trust them in inclement conditions (so I'm not sure what their -40C to +50C rating means, because this would have to make a non-water-resistant bin "breathe" in dust and moisture), but for the price these bins offer amazing views. For sports and during migration months when huge flocks of birds express interesting behaviors as a group, the Baigish bins will be my choice, because of their weight being lower than the Hensoldts, their sharpness being superior to the Steiners and their field being vastly wider than the Nikons. A year or two from now, I'll add more comments about how well they held up.

Last edited by ksbird/foxranch : Saturday 22nd April 2006 at 04:36.
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