Originally Posted by black crow
I have a friend who has no money issues at all ever. She loves to go birding now in later life. I have helped her find several good binoculars but have come to the realization that she can do better than what I'm finding because I have cost restraints and I look for something I can afford.
We've been talking about 10x for her for a couple of months now. I want her to have the best and it shouldn't be much trouble to convince her to pay close to top end because frankly why not, she should have the best as she can easily afford it and her birding brings her, her greatest joy.
She wears eyeglasses so that is a top consideration. She is slight of build and older so weight and size might be a small factor. She's actually in pretty good shape so I think the optical view is paramount along with a nice wide FOV.
Anyway what's the best of the best at about 3 grand give or take? I'm guessing a Swarovski and I'm sure she'd love some well known alpha name just to fit in well and give her some cred on her birding trips with strangers. She's a little bit shy and these things count. She'd rather fit in than stand out.
The perk for me is I'll get to look through whatever she gets. She lives only a couple of blocks from me on the creek. Plus I get to do much of the research based on your recommendations and links and dream.
Hey BC, This question is something I've looked quite closely at. I wear glasses too, so all of the following recommendations are suitable for me, and likely your friend also.
1. The best 10x I have seen is the Swarovski 10X50SV, an immersive 3D-like view that seems much wider than its 351ft Fov - it remains my favourite view, though at a fraction under a kilo it's probably too heavy for extended use even with harness for all but the most hairy chested. The ergonomics of grip though are really nice. I have to back the eyecups out a smidge which is very easy and secure to do. Absolutely get your friend to try it though she may prefer something lighter.
For this reason I'd also rule out other binoculars which perform admirably optically - Canon 10x42 IS, Zeiss 10x42 HT, and Leica NoctiVid 10x42. These are, or nearly are as heavy as the big Swaro, have worse ergonomics (perhaps NV excepted), and lesser fields of view (~340ft). A smidge below this is the Swarovski 10x42 SV though I don't find it does much for me ergonomically or optically in comparison to the others (we're talking realtively here and really splitting hairs). If she is going with something that heavy, she may as well get the big mumma 5mm EP, crystalline WOW view 10x50 SV.
2. Next cab down the weight scale is the Zeiss 10x42 SF. A wide 360ft Fov, lightish enough to consider, and OK ergonomics (if a bit contrived), with an ever so (barely noticeable) slight warm side view. I found it more difficult than the others (for me) to set up the eyecups for a satisfactory view. One to try though for sure.
3. Coming in at a very nice light weight, brilliant ergonomics, an equal best 360ft Fov and 99% of the optics of the above mentioned is the Nikon Monarch HG 10x42 for a bit less than a grand. Much smaller in size than any of the above. Definitely one to try - and probably the choice will come down between it and something else.
4. My last recommendation is somewhat of a surprise (well at least it was to me! :) . The Swarovski 10x32 SV ...what a gem of a little binocular. Smallest and lightest of the lot by a comfortable margin, with an equal top 360ft Fov. It performs more like a 10x42 for ease of view. Despite its scant 3.2mm EP it loses virtually nothing in brightness to any of the above even in overcast conditions (something I often run in to with my much younger eyes) .... there's some pretty special voodoo going on in there. Actually most Swarovski's (I just don't see ot to any great degree in other brands - caveat - haven't scrutinized the 10x NV yet) have this kind of punching above your weight 'eyeroamaboutability'
because of the purpose designed 'randpupille' (a generous alignment margin of error capability). The best models in this regard are the 8x32 SV, 10x50 SV, 10x32 SV, and the others not so much. (see more of an explanation here: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=293766&page=2
). Great ergonomics suitable for smaller hands, and has the bonus of coming in a lovely tan colour too.
I recommend that your friend try those 4 bins (even if ruling some out upfront as too big/heavy) just to establish an optical baseline. One of those 4 bins should just jump out at your friend as far as ergonomic feel and optical satisfaction goes.