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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 15:46   #1
J Moss
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Bin upgrade

Hi all.

I have finally got myself a proper job (start in a month) that pays an ok wage! Horrah!!! First thing I'm going to do with my first pay-check (or second...) is upgrade my bins. I currently own Bushnell Powerview 8x42s. There ok, but they're coming up to their last legs.

Basically, I've obviously had my eyes on the big 3 (Leica, Swaro and Nikon HGL), looking for good used deals (wouldn't really want to pay much more than 500-600) All very tempting, but before I take the plunge, I've got a Q.

What are the options regarding new bins at c500 that ARENT in the big 3? Is there anything really good out there that wouldn't make me think, once I'd bought and used them, "I wish I'd gotten a pair of *insert big 3*"

Thanks

Jason
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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 16:17   #2
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What are the options regarding new bins at c500 that ARENT in the big 3? Is there anything really good out there that wouldn't make me think, once I'd bought and used them, "I wish I'd gotten a pair of *insert big 3*"
Hi Jason,

Congratulations on the new job! I would recommend you take a look at the very well reviewed Vortex Vipers. I recently compared them side by side with some Zeiss Victory FLs. If I concentrated, I could see some minor differences. But, to my mind, no way was it worth paying more than 200% more!

And think about all the other things you could do with the money rather than spending so much for such small optical improvements. The difference is enough to buy a new computer, DSLR, top end scope or tripod, or overseas birding trip, for example. (Or even donate to a worthy cause). You will not get the prestige or bragging rights that comes with a big three name, but you will get some great optics for the money.

My two cents,
Jim
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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 16:34   #3
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Thanks very much Jim, good advice. They look like good bins. I found a thread on this forum reviewing this pair and it got good comments. Also, they sell them at Cleyspy, so I'll be able to try them, which is what I want. I'd like to test them against some 'better' (more expensive, basically) bins and see if I can tell the difference. I often bird in bad weather, and also at dusk, watching LEO's, so low light performance is important to me. However, absolute marginal differences between bins wont worry me too much, especially if the difference means a massive hike in the price! Just as long as they're an improvement on the Bushnels, I'll be happy!

Jason

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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 16:34   #4
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Jason,

I agree with Jim on the Vipers. I have a Swift Eaglet 7x36 and Vortex Viper 10x42 which are very good binoculars, the Swift especially if you like a compact design. For that Price range for full size glass, look at the Viper, Swift Eaglet, the Eaglet 8x42 has a better than average 374' FOV (same as the 7x36), or the Pentax SP series. These aren't alpha glass, but they are 95-98% of the way there. I think the "wow" image factor now resides in the mid-priced glass; "wow look how good these are for the price". You will need a suitcase of cash to better these much. Even then the difference may not be noticeable without a sise by side comparison.

Steve

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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 16:36   #5
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I often bird in bad weather, and also at dusk, watching LEO's, so low light performance is important to me.
Brightness is one of the Vipers' biggest strengths, so I would definitely check them out.

Best,
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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 16:49   #6
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Quality. I'll let you know how I get on.
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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 16:56   #7
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I don't know if postcardcv still has his Swarovski 8x32 ELs for sale, as you are going to Cley Spy. They were around the 600 mark.

Ron
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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 19:38   #8
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As a user of Nikon HG 8x32's, I can certainly recommend them. I bought mine a couple of years ago when they were 399. At that price there was nothing to touch them for price/performance ratio. If you can find a used pair in good condition you should consider them. I tried lots of other slightly cheaper bins (Opticrons, RSPB etc) that weren't quite as good, and in the end I was glad I spent a bit more and got myself one of the 'Big 3/4'.

A little more pricey are the Swaro SLC's. I looked at a pair of 8x30's last week, and couldn't see much/any difference between them and the EL's, except a couple of metres more on the close focus distance.

There was a review of the Kowa BD 8x32 on BF recently, in which the owner said they came close to the SLC's in performance and build quality, but no-one seems to use them. A case of popularity breeds popularity perhaps? so they are never considered. They might be worth a look if you can find a store that has them. At around 300 they seem reasonable, but don't take my word for it.

For my money I would try to push for a pair of the big three if you can-even if it means used. (Especially if you only want to do it once and get it right-every time you use them you'll be glad you did!). I would consider other brands as a second pair, but for me the SLC's would be worth stretching to if you can't find a bargain on anything more expensive-in fact I would have already done so if I hadn't already got the Nikons. Their reputation for customer care is legendary, and you would always have a 'new' pair of bins for the rest of your birding days.

Steve

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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 20:05   #9
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I third the Vipers! Another that I like is the Leupold 8x42 Pinnacles, tack sharp in the center well built. I like the Pentax DCF SP very good in all aspects. For a little more and I think personally the best under $1000.00 U.S. is the Pentax DCF ED. Excellent in all respects compare very well with costlier brands, and yes some might say, lack the field of view but, considering every thing these have to offer including a very good warranty one would have to consider these? No buyers remorse!!! Good Luck!
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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 21:22   #10
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I have the SLC's (10x42) which I'm sure you could pick up used for about 500. Used Trinovids are also worth a look, should be able to get x32's for around the same price.

I would recommend you find a dealer with a good range of new and used in your price range and spend a couple of hours having a play. You'll find the ones for you that way.

Perry
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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 21:44   #11
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DOn't compromise - you'll regret it and yearn for one of the big three.

Get an ex demo Leica Trinovid for 500-600 easily. Shop around online and you'll end up with a decent pair.

Nikon HG are superb but don't have the badge appeal - something that may be important to you in addition to the optics.

Good luck!
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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 23:25   #12
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Thanks all.

I'm going to hit CleySpy tomorrow hopefully, to test drive their stock. I will try the Vipers; as I said, they look like a good set of bins. However, the fact that I'll also be handling the 'big three' means that it will probably be hard to compromise, and I'll end up wanting a pair (not tomorrow though!) The thing is I'm becoming a firm believer in the 'compromise now, regret later' adage. I've already experienced it with my first scope (Hawke endurance) and wish I'd paid a little more for a better one, and not wasted the money.

I'm not willing to pay 1000 for a pair of bins (not now anyway!), so second hand would be the road I'd take if I were to opt for a top pair. However, We'll see what these Vipers are like first!

Jason
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Old Wednesday 5th March 2008, 23:29   #13
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Hi Tim. Must say that the Nikon HG Ls are, so far, my favorite option. They're cheap (ish) and apparently compete big-time with the other top end bins (look forward to seeing for myself though). I've got a lot of respect for the Nikon brand anyway, so badge appeal is up there with Swaro and Leica for me.

Thanks

Jason


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DOn't compromise - you'll regret it and yearn for one of the big three.

Get an ex demo Leica Trinovid for 500-600 easily. Shop around online and you'll end up with a decent pair.

Nikon HG are superb but don't have the badge appeal - something that may be important to you in addition to the optics.

Good luck!
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 18:30   #14
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Thanks all.

I'm going to hit CleySpy tomorrow hopefully, to test drive their stock. I will try the Vipers; as I said, they look like a good set of bins. However, the fact that I'll also be handling the 'big three' means that it will probably be hard to compromise, and I'll end up wanting a pair (not tomorrow though!) The thing is I'm becoming a firm believer in the 'compromise now, regret later' adage. I've already experienced it with my first scope (Hawke endurance) and wish I'd paid a little more for a better one, and not wasted the money.

I'm not willing to pay 1000 for a pair of bins (not now anyway!), so second hand would be the road I'd take if I were to opt for a top pair. However, We'll see what these Vipers are like first!

Jason
How did you get on?
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 18:41   #15
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The thing is I'm becoming a firm believer in the 'compromise now, regret later' adage. I've already experienced it with my first scope (Hawke endurance) and wish I'd paid a little more for a better one, and not wasted the money.

I'm not willing to pay 1000 for a pair of bins (not now anyway!), so second hand would be the road I'd take if I were to opt for a top pair. However, We'll see what these Vipers are like first!
I agree with you regarding scopes. I started out with a budget scope, and wound up going all the way to the top and got a Kowa 883. But the optical differences between midpriced binoculars and elite binoculars are much much smaller than the difference between budget and elite scopes.

But on the other hand, if you can find an elite binocular secondhand for around the same price as the vipers or something similar, that would obviously be a good deal also. And of course you could simply be a budding optics fanatic who just enjoys optical excellence for its own sake, regardless of whether the differences are barely noticeable. ;-)

Cheers,
Jim
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 20:11   #16
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Hello all. Again, thanks for the good advice.

I did visit CleySpy and had a play with Nikon HGL 8x42s (799), Zeiss Conquest 8x40s (569) and Vortex Vipers 8X42 (299). I also had a glance through some Leica BL 8x42s; 899, ex-demo.

Looking through each pair, I found that I could see obvious differences between every pair. I was hoping I'd get there and find that differences in sharpness wouldn't be evident to me and that I'd be happy with a mid-range pair (around 300ish). Sadly wasn't the case. Having used the Nikons and Zeiss', the Vortex' would just dissapoint me everytime I used them. They weren't as bright as any of the other bins tested, and notably less sharp. The sharpness would possibly have been ignorable if I hadn't tested the other bins, but having looked through the others, I would never forgive myself if I settled for these. They were also a bit light for my liking.

The Zeiss Conquests were absolutely stunning to look through. As good as the Nikons, and not much different to the Leicas. Near-perfectly sharp and bright. However, the focus wheel is awful! Very juddery and not smooth like all other bin wheels I've ever used. Also, the build quality didn't seem to be a good as the others. The build quality I could probably live with, so long as they dont fall apart (I'm sure they wouldn't!) but the focus wheel issue might be a problem. Shame, as the optics are amazing. I will give them another chance next time I think, as they are cheaper than the rest.

The Nikon HGL were brilliant. Sharp enough and bright enough to keep me from moaning. Also had a smoother black edge to the view than the Zeiss', which is a bonus (both images were super sharp around the edge, btw). Good chunk of a bin to hold onto as well, which I like. The old model is too heavy for me, so the weight reduction on these new ones is perfect.

The Leicas were best image-wize, but didn't have the big improvement like that from the Vortex' to the Nikons, so didn't leave me thinking "I cant have less than this quality". They're good, but not 200 better (plus. These were ex-demo, and so probably wont be available when I want them). Also, and most importantly, they were too petit for my liking, and also were leather armoured, which looked great, but I like the grip of rubber armour. So no conscience battle going on with this pair (thank god I didn't try the Ultravids! I'd be in massive debt before i start! Dont think I will try them either, untill they start going for 500, or someone wants to give me a pair!)

So, Nikon HG Ls pleased me most, but I will have a few more viewing sessions if I can before I buy.

The guys at CleySpy were very helpful also. Thanks to them.

Jason

Last edited by J Moss : Thursday 6th March 2008 at 20:26.
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 20:19   #17
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I admire your patience - I would have done the stupid thing and bought a pair, just so I didn't go home empty handed!
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 20:30   #18
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If you liked the HGLs then try the 8x32s, they're 'only' 599 and are probably the best value roof prisms around.
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 20:34   #19
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Looking through each pair, I found that I could see obvious differences between every pair. I was hoping I'd get there and find that differences in sharpness wouldn't be evident to me and that I'd be happy with a mid-range pair (around 300ish). Sadly wasn't the case.
Well I am glad to see you answered your question. I am at something of a loss to explain your reaction, which differs from mine and several others who have posted here. Perhaps we had different expectations. I went into my experience expecting to see a significant difference, and found differences but none that I considered significant, or at least worth paying much money for. Perhaps also you are more of an optical perfectionist (I personally try to make an effort not to try to see imperfections in optics to avoid this). Hope you find something you are happy with in any event.

Cheers,
Jim
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 20:35   #20
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Hi Perry.

How are the SLC's, compared to the bins I've mentioned? Must say they are the most asthetically pleasing bins I've seen anywhere so far. Not on the excessively expensive side either, although I haven't seen a pair for 500 anywhere. That would be descision made already if I had! (well, wont jump the gun, as I haven't looked through a pair!)

My current bins are 8x, and I've never used 10x. Shame they dont do 8x.

Would it be easy to get used to the change? (thats directed at anyone, btw!)

Thanks


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I have the SLC's (10x42) which I'm sure you could pick up used for about 500. Used Trinovids are also worth a look, should be able to get x32's for around the same price.

I would recommend you find a dealer with a good range of new and used in your price range and spend a couple of hours having a play. You'll find the ones for you that way.

Perry

Last edited by J Moss : Thursday 6th March 2008 at 20:48.
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 20:47   #21
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I'm sorry Jim, I feel bad that I've dissed your bins now!

It was purely the sharpness aspect that I felt let them down, compared to the more expensive pairs. It's not just the Vipers either. I'd never thought about it when using my current Bushnell, and have never found myself thinking "these aren't very sharp! I wish they were sharper!". However, now I do, and I dont think I can go back now! I did find the difference in sharpness to be significant between the pairs, for me.

I'm sure that if I hadn't had access to the Zeiss' or the Nikons, I would have been more impressed.

Thanks for your help though. Really very much appreciated.


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Well I am glad to see you answered your question. I am at something of a loss to explain your reaction, which differs from mine and several others who have posted here. Perhaps we had different expectations. I went into my experience expecting to see a significant difference, and found differences but none that I considered significant, or at least worth paying much money for. Perhaps also you are more of an optical perfectionist (I personally try to make an effort not to try to see imperfections in optics to avoid this). Hope you find something you are happy with in any event.

Cheers,
Jim

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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 20:48   #22
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Lol wish I could have!


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I admire your patience - I would have done the stupid thing and bought a pair, just so I didn't go home empty handed!
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 20:52   #23
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Hey Pete.

Gutting that all these bins become more comfortably within my price-range when thed drop to x32! However, I would rather keep the light gathering ability of x42, and just hunt for a bargain. Maybe have to save a bit longer, but I'll stick with x42 if I can.

Jason


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If you liked the HGLs then try the 8x32s, they're 'only' 599 and are probably the best value roof prisms around.
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 21:13   #24
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Suprised no mention of the Minox HG within your price range and gets top reviews.

http://www.minoxuk.co.uk/HGs.htm
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 22:05   #25
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When I bought the SLC's I didn't get the chance to compare with any of the units that you tried so I can't really comment.

I did compare them to the Trinovids in a variety of configurations (8x, 10x, 42, 32), some top end Opticrons (can't remember which) and the RSPB top end bins. I did want to try the Nikons as well, but these weren't in stock at the time.

The SLC's and Trinovids were easily the best of the bunch. The Trinovids had a very slight edge in terms of brightness and sharpness but I went for the SLC's in the end for purely subjective reasons, they felt more comfortable in the hand, the eye cups fitted my face better and the view seemed somewhat 'easier' (very woolly I know!). Also they were closer to my 500 budget!

After a few outings with them I did notice a slight flare around the very outer edge when looking at a bright, light background but after discussing it on this forum decided to stick with them and I don't regret it.

As for 8x against 10x, I've only ever used 10x, but when I have looked through 8x I've not really seen a difference if I'm honest. However, many on this forum find that 8x is much more comfortable to use - wider FOV, brighter, easier to keep steady. I'm sure its another personal thing, but maybe I don't look critically enough!

Anyway, good luck with your hunt, you are definitely doing the right thing trying as many as possible and taking your time.

Perry

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Hi Perry.

How are the SLC's, compared to the bins I've mentioned? Must say they are the most asthetically pleasing bins I've seen anywhere so far. Not on the excessively expensive side either, although I haven't seen a pair for 500 anywhere. That would be descision made already if I had! (well, wont jump the gun, as I haven't looked through a pair!)

My current bins are 8x, and I've never used 10x. Shame they dont do 8x.

Would it be easy to get used to the change? (thats directed at anyone, btw!)

Thanks
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