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Buying binoculars

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Old Sunday 25th January 2009, 21:50   #1
MrBitsy
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Buying binoculars

My wife and I have just started birding, so we decided this month to buy one pair of binoculars and next month the other.

Like many of us I spent a week or so reading reviews on the web. I came to the conclusion I wanted a pair of Hawke Frontier ED 8x43 at 269. I had never looked through them, but based on what others said, I wanted them! I ordered a pair for next day delivery to the store, which I would visit to pick up and pay. Unfortunately, they were not delivered to the store as promised.

Next day I went to a different store to actually look through some binoculars. The salesman suggested I forgot about price and based my decision to purchase based on how the binoculars felt, and how I liked the image I saw. So, he lined up 15 pairs on the counter, ranging from 100 to 700 and told me to use them at my leisure! Luckily, the store looks over countryside and has some feeders on nearby trees, so I could check out the close and far performance.

I spent an hour testing the binoculars for resolution, contrast, brightness, quality of controls, how they felt in the hand and their look. Some had flat images, stiff controls, lots of chromatic aberation and others had flat colours. I ended up with my favorite three out of the fifteen. I spent another hour testing those three until I had two pairs left.

1. Opticron Explorer 8.43
2. Zeis Conquest 8x40

Before finding out the price, I noted the Nikons had a tad more resolution, contrast and colour. The salesman then told me the Opticron were 169 and the Nikons 569! When I found out the price, I said no way did the Nikons have 400 more of these qualities!!

I ended up buying two pairs Of the Opticron Explorer for 338. They felt good in the hand, had a lovely smooth focus knob. Focusing from far to near was quick. Finding the right focus was also easy, where some of the other models needed a lot of twiddling to get focus. The image had a lot less Chromatic Aberation than many of the others. Colours were bright and the image contrasty. Of all the models tested (apart from the Zeiss), the Opticrons showed me more detail of a group of Radio controlled aircraft enthusiasts about two miles away.

The other models I tested were
Pentax DCF ED
Minox HG
Delta SL
Various other Opticron, Pentax, Delta, Nikon

I was actually amazed with the binoculars I ended up with - I had convinced myself I needed to spend at least 300 to get decent pair! So if you are about to buy binoculars, don't just rely on what others say - spend some time testing them for yourself to get binoculars that suit you!

The Explorers have Fully multi-coated lenses, phase corrected prisms, nitrogen filled and waterproof.

Ray.
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Old Sunday 25th January 2009, 23:01   #2
wiko
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thanks for that advice...i was interested in buying some new binoculars..did you try any viking vistrons..bushnell models..hawke..
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Old Monday 26th January 2009, 18:28   #3
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thanks for that advice...i was interested in buying some new binoculars..did you try any viking vistrons..bushnell models..hawke..
No, I didn't try those models. However, I tested enough of a sample of manufacturers and models to know I have made the right choice for me. Rather than looking for particular models, test a few binoculars as you may be surprised!

Ray.
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Old Monday 26th January 2009, 18:40   #4
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MrBitsy makes a pretty good point. There are few really poor binoculars out there. Technology has made really decent affordable binoculars a much less risky buy. There is however still enough junk to be wary of it.

When can you get several binoculars lined up and can test them out side by side as he did, he is definitely well served to just buy one like he did. He, and his wife both liked them, they could afford them, so why not. Just go forth and use them.

This serves to reinforce the try as many as you can before you buy philosophy. Reviews like are seen here can certainly serve to put a particular glass on the radar, but you won't really know if you like it until you have had it for several months.
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Old Tuesday 27th January 2009, 01:21   #5
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...and this is one of those rare times when I wish I could give a binocular a try but cannot because of where they are sold at. :(

I was digging around a week or so back trying to find some place that sold the Opticron internal focus porros and struck out with anything this side of the pond.

Add the one mentioned to the list of binoculars I would love to give a go.
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Old Tuesday 27th January 2009, 03:43   #6
Kevin Purcell
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FrankD: Opticron do direct sales and accept a credit card for international orders (IIRC). Though for a person used to 'Merican prices the cost is rather steep.

See their web site for details (and I posted on this on a thread in the Opticron forum so a seatch there will reveal a clickable link).
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Old Tuesday 27th January 2009, 04:33   #7
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It seems like the Leupold Cascade porros are the same item as the Opticrons. Why not just get a pair of those, which are easily available in the US?
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Old Tuesday 27th January 2009, 14:06   #8
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The Explorers
http://www.opticron.co.uk/Pages/explorer.htm

I think Frank has the Cascades.

As to the original post and the concept, yes, you can get a really nice pair at midprice or sometimes less with porros. But you learn to see more as you go along. I got a pair of Monarchs a few years ago, it was a quantum leap from what I had before. I happily birded and got some 200 lifers with them. Then came the slow times of 250-300 lifers. I had too much time on hand to mess with binoculars and scopes. Thus, money was spent to improve those.

Lesson: If you want to save money but enjoy the birds, stick to one or two pairs.
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Old Wednesday 28th January 2009, 01:29   #9
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Yes, I have the Cascades and the Minox BD BP porros. I was just looking to do a comparison to see how different the Opticron model was to the other two.

Kevin,

Thanks for the info. I may go ahead and order these once I find out how "steep" the price difference is.
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Old Wednesday 1st April 2009, 20:26   #10
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The Explorers sound impressive, but I note at 750grams they are a bit heavier than most. Do you find them tiring to hold for long periods?
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Old Wednesday 1st April 2009, 23:38   #11
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Originally Posted by Monfrague View Post
The Explorers sound impressive, but I note at 750grams they are a bit heavier than most. Do you find them tiring to hold for long periods?
Not the OP but ...

750 grams = 26.4554715 ounces

That seems about average for a roof these days. There are lighter full size roofs e.g. Bushnell Elite at 23oz something like 650g and quite a few heavier by a ounce or two. So I wouldn't call the Explorer heavy.

900g or more I'd think of as heavy.

Usually with medium or heavier bins (more than 23oz) I find a neck carry is tiring after a day. But holding them is never an issue.
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Old Thursday 2nd April 2009, 09:27   #12
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thanks, I guess a wide, neoprene neck strap would help.
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Old Friday 3rd April 2009, 20:05   #13
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If MrBitsy is still around I would be interested in which shop he went to, or at least the town. I'm in the same area and I don't know of many shops with a good selection of binoculars to try/purchase.
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