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Battle of the $400 x30/32's - what's your pick?

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Old Thursday 14th November 2019, 15:13   #1
justabirdwatcher
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Battle of the $400 x30/32's - what's your pick?

The more I look in this category, the more confused I get. So I thought I'd throw the question out here - what is your preference?

I've been rockin' my little Sightron Blue Sky II 8x32's for about 5 years now, and although I still have much love for the little guys (still unbelievable center sharpness for a $175 optic), I find myself grabbing for my 8x42's more often because of their low-light performance.

But here I am wondering if there isn't something in the $400+/- price range that would be compact and lightweight, with low light performance that beats my Sightrons, and optical quality at least on par with them.

What I'm considering:

Kowa BDII 8x32's

Opticron Traveller BGA ED 8x32

Vanguard Endeavor II 8x32

Leupold BX-4 Pro guide 8x32

Styrka S7 8x30

Or, just hold out and pay a little more for a used pair of Swaro SLC or CL 8x30's (usually around $600-650 if you can find them).

Any recommendations? Are there binoculars missing from that list that should be on it?

Thanks for your input.

Last edited by justabirdwatcher : Thursday 14th November 2019 at 16:43.
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Old Thursday 14th November 2019, 15:39   #2
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You already have two pretty good 8x's. Why would you want another 8x that isn't going to be that much better unless you spend at least $1K. None of those you are considering are going to be a big step up from what you have including the Swaro SLC or CL. I would buy the Kowa BDII 6.5x32. It will give you a wider FOV, greater DOF, it will be easier to hold and it will be brighter than your 8x32's and it is small and compact. It will give you something different than what you already have.

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Old Thursday 14th November 2019, 16:43   #3
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I thought I explained why, but maybe I didn't do a very good job.

I like the size/weight of my Sightrons, but would be willing to pay more for additional brightness and a larger sweet spot.

There are places where my full sized 8x42's are the logical choice, but many times I am "stuck" between the two for day to day work.

I would need to spend some time with 6.5's before I really knew whether those were a valid option.
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Old Thursday 14th November 2019, 16:47   #4
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sounds like you have 400 burning a hole in your pocket....take the wife/girlfriend out to a play/concert and a nice dinner....she will smile ..you will smile....like [buy them all] Denny said you don't really need another bin....
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Old Thursday 14th November 2019, 17:16   #5
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For brightness, given a fully irradiated pupil, this is governed by the optical transmission of the instrument. Of the binos you mention only the Vanguard has been tested by allbinos.com. It had 82% transmission, so you can get a brighter binocular at this price point. I own the bdii, which is brighter than my 8x30 m7, which allbinos tested at 85.7%. I would guess that the bdii approaches 90% transmission, which is about as bright as you could hope for in his class. The new model of the 8x30 cl tested at 90% so it is probably about the same brightness at the bdii, and definitely worse when the pupil is dilated beyond 3.75 mm.
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Old Thursday 14th November 2019, 17:26   #6
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For brightness, given a fully irradiated pupil, this is governed by the optical transmission of the instrument. Of the binos you mention only the Vanguard has been tested by allbinos.com. It had 82% transmission, so you can get a brighter binocular at this price point. I own the bdii, which is brighter than my 8x30 m7, which allbinos tested at 85.7%. I would guess that the bdii approaches 90% transmission, which is about as bright as you could hope for in his class. The new model of the 8x30 cl tested at 90% so it is probably about the same brightness at the bdii, and definitely worse when the pupil is dilated beyond 3.75 mm.
Brink, thank you. Your BDii is an 8 or a 6.5?
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Old Thursday 14th November 2019, 17:27   #7
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sounds like you have 400 burning a hole in your pocket....take the wife/girlfriend out to a play/concert and a nice dinner....she will smile ..you will smile....like [buy them all] Denny said you don't really need another bin....
Nah, that's not really it. Actually, I have a much larger budget for this if I want it. I have a very specific niche I'm trying to fill. I'm tired of vascillating between the two pairs I have every time I head out the door. I'm also not willing to spend much more than $550-600 on this particular optic because I know the conditions through which I'll drag it aren't often ideal.

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Old Thursday 14th November 2019, 18:47   #8
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Mine is the 8. I just got it and haven't used it too much yet but I like it. I've posted about it on her in a few other threads. The only downfall is CA becomes increasingly visible as you go toward the edge of the field, though it is absent in the sweet spot. It annoyed me when I was really scrutinizing them, but it hasn't bothered me at all during actual field use.
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Old Thursday 14th November 2019, 19:07   #9
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Mine is the 8. I just got it and haven't used it too much yet but I like it. I've posted about it on her in a few other threads. The only downfall is CA becomes increasingly visible as you go toward the edge of the field, though it is absent in the sweet spot. It annoyed me when I was really scrutinizing them, but it hasn't bothered me at all during actual field use.
Alright. thanks. I'm not sensitive to CA at all so that doesn't concern me. I think I'll order a pair of those and see how they work out. I don't know that anything else short of waiting to find a late model SLC 8x30 and re-learning how to focus, will fill the gap any better.
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Old Thursday 14th November 2019, 19:21   #10
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I tried the Opticron Traveller BGA ED 8x32 for the second time in a shop last week and was again really impressed especially for the price. I have the Nikon Monarch 8x30 HG and while I didn't have them there to compare I didn't really notice any difference in the view. So I reckon they're great value and well worth trying.

Lee's trying some Kowa's at the moment I believe and I know he's a big fan of the Opticron, so it'd be interesting to get his take on these. I think it's an interesting question you pose because this size is so handy and some really great value, high quality options around.
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Old Thursday 14th November 2019, 20:05   #11
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I tried the Opticron Traveller BGA ED 8x32 for the second time in a shop last week and was again really impressed especially for the price. I have the Nikon Monarch 8x30 HG and while I didn't have them there to compare I didn't really notice any difference in the view. So I reckon they're great value and well worth trying.

Lee's trying some Kowa's at the moment I believe and I know he's a big fan of the Opticron, so it'd be interesting to get his take on these. I think it's an interesting question you pose because this size is so handy and some really great value, high quality options around.
I'm very interested in hearing about any experiences with the above list, or others that should be on that list. Thanks!
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Old Friday 15th November 2019, 04:17   #12
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If you want a bright compact binocular you should consider a Swarovski Habicht 8x30 W. With 95% transmission they are brighter than anything you have and they are brighter than an 8x30 CL or SLC. Also, there is nothing sharper on-axis than a Habicht. Here they are for $775.00 from Bushwear. From the Holger Merlitz review of the Swarovski Habicht 8x30 W and Swarovski 8x30 CL (New Model).

"Low light performance: The Habicht displays a clearly brighter image, especially after sunset in twilight conditions. The difference of 6% in transmission between both binoculars does not appear huge, but it may be amplified a little bit under low light, given the case that the Habicht should have a higher spectral transmission towards the blue side of the spectrum. The transmission difference between both binoculars may result from the choice of prisms (roof-prisms of Schmidt-Pechan type transmit slightly lower than Porro-prisms of comparable size) and, of course, from the rather complex optical design of the CL, which certainly contains a higher number of lens elements."

https://global.bushwear.co.uk/produc...f9204965&_ss=r
http://www.holgermerlitz.de/old_vs_n...t_cl_8x30.html

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Old Friday 15th November 2019, 14:28   #13
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If you want a bright compact binocular you should consider a Swarovski Habicht 8x30 W. With 95% transmission they are brighter than anything you have and they are brighter than an 8x30 CL or SLC. Also, there is nothing sharper on-axis than a Habicht. Here they are for $775.00 from Bushwear. From the Holger Merlitz review of the Swarovski Habicht 8x30 W and Swarovski 8x30 CL (New Model).

"Low light performance: The Habicht displays a clearly brighter image, especially after sunset in twilight conditions. The difference of 6% in transmission between both binoculars does not appear huge, but it may be amplified a little bit under low light, given the case that the Habicht should have a higher spectral transmission towards the blue side of the spectrum. The transmission difference between both binoculars may result from the choice of prisms (roof-prisms of Schmidt-Pechan type transmit slightly lower than Porro-prisms of comparable size) and, of course, from the rather complex optical design of the CL, which certainly contains a higher number of lens elements."

https://global.bushwear.co.uk/produc...f9204965&_ss=r
http://www.holgermerlitz.de/old_vs_n...t_cl_8x30.html
Thank you for that idea. I had actually intended to put the Nikon 8x30 EII porro on that list, as they are also in the $400 range. But I am not sure they are waterproof, and that would be a requirement for me.
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Old Saturday 16th November 2019, 02:44   #14
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I think you would want to add the Meopta Meostar 8x32 to your list. With careful search they can be had in the $5-600 range, particularly the Cabelas branded model. Much better view than any on your initial list plus, a tank like build - so no fear in challenging circumstances.

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Old Saturday 16th November 2019, 03:04   #15
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I really liked the Minox 8x33 BL HD. About $440. My main issue with it is the focuser is backwards from what I am used to, but I thought it handled well and controlled flare and ghosts well.

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Old Saturday 16th November 2019, 04:12   #16
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I think you would want to add the Meopta Meostar 8x32 to your list. With careful search they can be had in the $5-600 range, particularly the Cabelas branded model. Much better view than any on your initial list plus, a tank like build - so no fear in challenging circumstances.

Best,
Jerry
Those were not on my list because I've already owned (and sold) a pair. I did not get along with the handling of the body. Hard to explain, but they got lost in my hands. Not having full round barrels toward the objective proved problematic for me. The eyecups were quite small too. Optics were very good however.
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Old Saturday 16th November 2019, 04:14   #17
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I really liked the Minox 8x33 BL HD. About $440. My main issue with it is the focuser is backwards from what I am used to, but I thought it handled well and controlled flare and ghosts well.

Marc
Thank you Marc. I'll keep an eye out for those. I just ordered a used pair of Minox BD BR 8x32's and I look forward to seeing those soon. I've always heard good things about Minox binoculars but have never owned one!
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Old Saturday 16th November 2019, 11:12   #18
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The EII are not sealed and so can fog up, though as I’ve only had this once when I came in from a cold trip up a hill. Views are nice and wider than the rest, depends on your needs.

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Old Saturday 16th November 2019, 14:45   #19
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wllmspd, that's my main concern for the intended use. I could be out in the rain or dragging them through wet brush. Probably not the best place for a pair of EII's.
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Old Saturday 16th November 2019, 15:24   #20
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My wife has a pair of Travellers I bought her and she loves them. Nice wide fov and bright. the eyecups don't extend out far enough for me but she wears glasses and they work well for her.

I've owned the newest version of the Minox 8x33 BL HD as well. For me it was just ok optically, not particularly sharp or bright. Nice build quality though. I also owned the previous version of the new Kowas in 8x32. They were quite nice but i had a very bright halo effect on the outside edge. Sounds like the new ones are getting good reviews though. I liked the Maven 8x30s a lot and found them to be much better optically than the M7 8x30. Smaller than what you are looking for though.

Had the Endeavors as well and the build quality was horrible and the optics so so. Had the Styrka S7 in 8x42 and the CA was horrible and I don't usually notice it. I'd suggest adding one of the older Leica Trinovids in 8x32. I've never owned a pair but have checked out a friends and they are very nice. A little on the heavy side though.
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Old Monday 18th November 2019, 00:18   #21
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My wife has a pair of Travellers I bought her and she loves them. Nice wide fov and bright. the eyecups don't extend out far enough for me but she wears glasses and they work well for her.

I've owned the newest version of the Minox 8x33 BL HD as well. For me it was just ok optically, not particularly sharp or bright. Nice build quality though. I also owned the previous version of the new Kowas in 8x32. They were quite nice but i had a very bright halo effect on the outside edge. Sounds like the new ones are getting good reviews though. I liked the Maven 8x30s a lot and found them to be much better optically than the M7 8x30. Smaller than what you are looking for though.

Had the Endeavors as well and the build quality was horrible and the optics so so. Had the Styrka S7 in 8x42 and the CA was horrible and I don't usually notice it. I'd suggest adding one of the older Leica Trinovids in 8x32. I've never owned a pair but have checked out a friends and they are very nice. A little on the heavy side though.
Funny how different people's eyes can see things. I compared the Maven 8x30's to the M7's and was not impressed with the Mavens at all. The fellow who owned them sure was though. I guess that's all that matters!

I do like how robust those older Trinovids are but I'm trying to downsize a little from my full size 8x42's for those quick and light trips.
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Old Monday 18th November 2019, 15:38   #22
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Loved my Mavens. Eyecups were a little short. Talked with Maven recently and they are planning to get longer replacements like Zeiss does with the Conquest.

The M7s I had had so much glare they looked like Vaseline was smeared over them. Had them at a BBQ and about a dozen people who checked them out said the same thing. Thought they were defective and tried another pair and the same thing. Everyone’s eyes are different. Wish I had ones that could cut through glare.
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Old Monday 18th November 2019, 16:29   #23
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Of those models on the list I am familiar with the Opticron Traveller 8x32 and like this a lot. How it stacks up in brightness compared with the Sightron, I couldn't say, but I would be surprised if it wasn't better in this regard. The trouble is I really wonder whether you can possibly find any improvement in light transmission that would actually be of practical value.

Maybe you should be looking for a small and light 42mm.

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Old Monday 18th November 2019, 18:49   #24
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Loved my Mavens. Eyecups were a little short. Talked with Maven recently and they are planning to get longer replacements like Zeiss does with the Conquest.

The M7s I had had so much glare they looked like Vaseline was smeared over them. Had them at a BBQ and about a dozen people who checked them out said the same thing. Thought they were defective and tried another pair and the same thing. Everyone’s eyes are different. Wish I had ones that could cut through glare.
Mine were the latest and I didn't see glare issues, but I did think the eyecups were short on the M7 8x30's as well. It annoyed me.
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Old Monday 18th November 2019, 18:51   #25
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Of those models on the list I am familiar with the Opticron Traveller 8x32 and like this a lot. How it stacks up in brightness compared with the Sightron, I couldn't say, but I would be surprised if it wasn't better in this regard. The trouble is I really wonder whether you can possibly find any improvement in light transmission that would actually be of practical value.

Maybe you should be looking for a small and light 42mm.

Lee
You may be right. Or looking at the 6.5x32 Kowas and just accept the 1.5x less magnification. Those Sightrons got awfully dim in a dense canopy on a cloudy day.
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