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For those of us for whom Swarovski, Zeiss, etc are not in our field of view, what?

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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 10:54   #1
sbarnhardt
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Smile For those of us for whom Swarovski, Zeiss, etc are not in our field of view, what?

I'm reading over a few bin/binocular threads this morning and would like to pose a question?

I would never quibble the "nicety" and "desirability" of a really nice pair of binoculars from either Swarovski or Zeiss. The Zeiss name is, to me at least, legendary in the world of optics. And Swarovski.....well I never knew before landing here on Bird Forum that they made such a thing as binocular, etc. But they are legendary insofar as quality in other fields, so I'll give it to them in optics as well. But......

I know there is no way under the sun I could ever justify dropping $2-$3 thousand US dollars on a pair of either Not in this lifetime. Are they nice? I'm sure, but I just can't.

So, I'm left with the question in mind.....What can a "poor boy/lady" do to afford themselves good capability while still not breaking the bank. I realize this concept means different things to different people when it comes to affordable. But I'd like to hear all levels of affordability "and" still receive a good level of performance.

Let me hear from you? You may influence what I do in this regard down the road.

Thanks!
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 11:50   #2
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There are a multitude of good binoculars at $300, there are lots of excellent binoculars at $600. There has long been a section of birding community who have to have the best of the best.

I don't really get it. My pair of Opticrons were £300 15 years ago, they provide great views. I would rather spend my money on going to places to see birds.
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 11:56   #3
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There are a multitude of good binoculars at $300, there are lots of excellent binoculars at $600. There has long been a section of birding community who have to have the best of the best.

I don't really get it. My pair of Opticrons were £300 15 years ago, they provide great views. I would rather spend my money on going to places to see birds.
Maybe it's my concept that's way "off base", so to speak, but I'd prefer to be lower than that. I'm probably unrealistic, but to use an often-used cliche, at least here in the US..."It is what it is."
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 12:23   #4
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Maybe it's my concept that's way "off base", so to speak, but I'd prefer to be lower than that. I'm probably unrealistic, but to use an often-used cliche, at least here in the US..."It is what it is."
At all ends of the spectrum in price you need to try before you buy, but I would suggest trying Opticron’s range - they have perfectly useable binoculars at the £100 mark, but spend say £300 and you do get a big jump in quality in their range - I own a pair.

Spending larger and larger amounts the increases become finer, i.e. budget increases lower down see bigger jumps in quality, that then tail off the more you spend. But if a £100 binocular suits your specific needs, there is no need on Earth to spend more at all.

For reference I use a Zeiss 7x42FL, an Opticron Traveller BGA ED 10x32 and a Zen-Ray 7x36 ED2 - all of which serve a different purpose for me, but each could easily be anyone’s only binocular. If you want a do it all binocular I would suggest an 8x32 and to try some and see what suits your eyes and budget best.
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 12:32   #5
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I don't know how possible it is these days, but when I visited a large town I used to wander into any shop with binoculars on display and just try them. It didn't matter what the price was or if I knew anything about them. Every now and then I found something that really worked for me. That way I bought a number of relatively inexpensive porros! Several are still around and get used despite a an 8x32 and 7x42 FL joining them when I had the money.

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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 12:42   #6
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https://www.amazon.com/Opticron-Adve...074WH3GVB?th=1

Hard to beat whats on offer here for the money.
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 12:49   #7
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sbarnhardt, for sure you can have great experiences at reasonable prices.
Think about it the way you can think about cars. As you say, driving a Ferrari is obviously a great experience, but you can have indeleble experiences crossing the USA coast to coast in a Ford Fiesta. It's about the birds, not the binos :-)
You can get amazing performance from small an inexpensive devices like the Leupold Yosemite 8x30 (or its sibling Kowa YF), in the 100 $ mark. If you climb one step and get close to the 200 $ mark you can get a Sightron Blue Sky 8x32. I think you can be satisfied with any of those.
What you might read here very often is people who not only use binos to watch birds, but people who (like in my case) have discovered that binoculars themselvesare great fun and make a lovely hobby, the same way many people use a reliable car for years to go successfully form point a to point b, but then there are car aficionados, there are even niche sectors: old binoculars, military binoculars, porro binoculars, etc. (Insert cars here). But that doesn't change the fact that for something between 100 and 200 $ you can get impressive value, even for way less than that if you get lucky or look second hand (a great piece of advice). 😊
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 15:09   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbarnhardt View Post
Maybe it's my concept that's way "off base", so to speak, but I'd prefer to be lower than that. I'm probably unrealistic, but to use an often-used cliche, at least here in the US..."It is what it is."
I think the first thing you need to do is establish your priorities. Are you a “serious birdwatcher” who will be using the binoculars for hours a day? Are you just a nature enthusiast who likes to hike and occasionally look at a bird or a squirrel up close?

These priorities (and your budget!) will help determine what you need. The more “serious” you are the more you will want to try and maximize your investment (since you are more likely to be bothered by optical and mechanical flaws!).

There are many excellent, inexpensive binoculars out there. Once you get to the $200-300 price point you are already hitting “diminishing returns” optically thanks to Chinese production and trickle down technology. I see plenty of really good birders using $200-300 binoculars. When I bought my first “real pair” ~15 years ago it was basically Eagle Optics Ranger or Nikon Monarch as the best decent $300 and under options. These days there are so many options.

Don’t be shy about buying used from a company with a great warranty (Vortex, Alpen, Minox, Meopta, etc) either. There was just a pair of Zeiss Terra 8x42 you unfortunately missed out on for only $250 in the classifieds here. Watch the binocular bargain thread too.

Here’s a few solid options for well under $300:

- Kowa YF / Leupold Yosemite / Vortex Raptor run around $100 and are excellent glass for the money, small porros are a super value optically

- The Sightron / Kenko / Fujinon family of 8x32 clones produced by Ricoh in the Philippines, which have already been mentioned and have achieved cult status. The Sightron 8x32 is $184 on Amazon, and by poking around amazon and eBay you can find it cheaper. I see several Fujinon KF 8x32 on eBay now for under $150. These could literally be all you ever need.

- The Vortex Diamondback is a solid, proven option around $200 with a bulletproof Vortex warranty. Can be had around $150 used (and again the warranty is unconditional so safe to buy used) just try to get the newer “HD” version. Several other big brand options like Nikon Monarch 5, and options from Celestron, Athlon, Opticron, etc

If you are a “serious birder” however I would recommend trying to get the best you can get now since they will get used heavily, even if it means spending $300 when you really want to spend $150-200. If you’ll use it for years the extra $50-100 isn’t going to matter. $300ish used can get you to binoculars that cost $500+ new, like a used Vortex Viper HD or Nikon Monarch 7 or Kowa BD or Meopta Meopro or Minos 8x33 which are a significant step up from the $200 types.

I will say that IF you can spend $300 and IF you are looking for something with the optical and build quality that can literally last you decades, the Leupold McKinley 8x42 in the classifieds for $300 is a smoking deal. That binocular has optics competitive with $1000 binoculars and Leupold has a solid warranty. There is also a Styrka S7 10x42 which is basically a Vortex Viper HD clone, won’t be as bright and solid as the McKinley but lighter and more compact.
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 15:17   #9
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Another excellent deal in the classifieds here, Leupold Hawthorne 8x42 for only $115 shipped: https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=390500

Japanese made, solid optics and build quality, great warranty. If you just want to drop $100 and be done, snap those up and then stop reading this forum! :p
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 15:22   #10
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Nikon 8x30 EII.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Nikon-8...-/252931646955
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 16:38   #11
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Originally Posted by eitanaltman View Post
Another excellent deal in the classifieds here, Leupold Hawthorne 8x42 for only $115 shipped: https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=390500

Japanese made, solid optics and build quality, great warranty. If you just want to drop $100 and be done, snap those up and then stop reading this forum! :p
I absolutely agree. The seller is completely reliable, I had bought from him twice in the past and recommend him wholeheartedly.
Second hand (from a trustworthy seller) is one of the best pieces of advice I wish someone would have told me to begin with
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 16:45   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbarnhardt View Post
I'm reading over a few bin/binocular threads this morning and would like to pose a question?

I would never quibble the "nicety" and "desirability" of a really nice pair of binoculars from either Swarovski or Zeiss. The Zeiss name is, to me at least, legendary in the world of optics. And Swarovski.....well I never knew before landing here on Bird Forum that they made such a thing as binocular, etc. But they are legendary insofar as quality in other fields, so I'll give it to them in optics as well. But......

I know there is no way under the sun I could ever justify dropping $2-$3 thousand US dollars on a pair of either Not in this lifetime. Are they nice? I'm sure, but I just can't.

So, I'm left with the question in mind.....What can a "poor boy/lady" do to afford themselves good capability while still not breaking the bank. I realize this concept means different things to different people when it comes to affordable. But I'd like to hear all levels of affordability "and" still receive a good level of performance.

Let me hear from you? You may influence what I do in this regard down the road.

Thanks!
The thing that is often lacking in the cheaper 'Chin bins' etc is a level of mechanical sophistication /quality /durability /precision, etc.

You can get some outstanding binoculars in the mid range. Two that I would recommend would be the Nikon MHG 8x42, and the more expensive Swarovski SLC 8x42.

The MHG is the best value package on the market I feel. The Swaro while not quite measuring up in some metrics (weight, Fov) and more expensive, at least gets you into the famous Swarovski 'service' fold. Of course another less expensive way to get into that fold is with an older 2nd hand Swaro - such as the EL (whatever they are now going for). Another more affordable new purchase option would be the new Companion 8x30 CL (could be suitable if you are older and do not need such a large exit pupil).

At a similar mid range vein, you could search for suitable 2nd hand 'alpha' binoculars within your budget such as:- Zeiss 8x42 FL, or Zeiss 8x42 HT, or the Leica 8x42 UtlraVid HD or UVHD+, or the Swarovski 8x42 SLC 'Neu' , or HD, or 8x42 EL, or the Minox 8x43 APO (MIG) or Steiner Peregrine XP 8x44 . All of those are pretty darn good, and you never know, you might get lucky on a used price. The new 'RetroVid 7x35 is also getting good wraps if that format appeals to you.

If your budget doesn't stretch as far as the quality bins mentioned so far (~ $1K - ~$1.5K) , then you are starting to enter the realms of more compromises. Two bins that come to mind are the Tract Toric HT 8x42, and the Maven 9x45.

You could also check CameraLandNY for their 'demo' sale units for anything I have already mentioned. They are reputable, and their 'demo' condition grading can be relied upon - you might snag a bargain ....
Zeiss Conquest 8x32 HD could be one to look out for.

The Nikon 8x32 SE porro is superb optically, though will need care with weather.

At lower prices than this it really becomes a bit of a cr*p shoot, with often greater variability of 'looser' mechanical tolerances, and you could even question the long term economics of this level if you are unlucky. More reputable bins are the Nikon Monarch 7 8x42 (though not a patch on the MHG) , or the Vanguard Endeavour IV 8x42.

I myself have a bin of this level - the decade old Zen-Ray ED3 8x43. It has the best ergonomics of any bin I have ever handled, a centre third view that is 99% the equal of Swarovski's best, and a nice wider 140m field. I'm not changing anytime soon, though as the company is now defunct, it's not something I can recommend.

Hope this helps a bit.







Chosun

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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 16:58   #13
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Read my mind... add some binobandits and Get immersed in the view.

Peter

PS just don’t take them swimming ;-)
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 17:52   #14
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For a really cheap binocular with more than decent optics: Nikon Action EX 7x35 CF. Not sure they're still in production but they're still readily available in Germany.

IMO the best of the Action EX series, waterproof, good field of view. Only make sure you check it carefully for the collimation issues some cheaper (and some not so cheap) binoculars have occasionally.

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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 17:52   #15
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We went outside for a long walk this afternoon and I happened this week to find a Kite 8x30, (not very expensive, large field of view, very comfortable close focus, good handling comfort, compact ) so I took it with me. For its price an excellent binocular (500 euros or even less I think) and that could be a good choice if you can not spend lots of money. Personally I prefer it more than the Nikon EII.
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 18:19   #16
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The "Sub alphas" such as the Zeiss Conquest HD, Nikon Monarch HG, and Meopta Meostar series are probably all anyone but the most nitpicky would ever need.
Even these models are far more expensive than most everyday birders use; the $400-600 range presents a ton of amazing options such as the Leupold BX-4 and Kowa BD II XD series that offer exceptional views backed by solid warranties. Even some of the 300$ models such as the Zeiss Tera and Vanguard Endeavor are also great optics for the price.

It's really hard to pick a pair of binoculars that won't do the job, I think.

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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 18:25   #17
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Still for sale!
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 18:48   #18
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SBARNHARD, POST 1,
I looked again for the Kite Lynx 8x30HD and its specifications:
Weight: 495 g
FOV 151m/1000m
Eyerelief: 15 mm
Close focus; 1,35 m
Light transmission: around 89% (I have measured that a couple of years ago and it seems even to be a little better now 89-90%).
Very compact.
Price around 575 euros.
In my view certainly more convenient to use as the Nikon EII
The same binoculars are also sold under the brand name Ddoptics in Germany.
For its price it is really a very good instrument.
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 19:30   #19
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If you can support birdforum with a donation, and you log in on your own computer which cost on average 500 dollar, you should have, after saving some time, have enough money to at least buy a second hand Trinovid, SLC, Zeiss FL or whatever that doesn't break the bank for anything below 1000 dollar.

High quality optics are, most of the time, not necessary, but people mainly buy them because they like to enjoy what they are viewing to the fullest. You can perfectly get most jobs done (as a bird guide, researcher,...) with a cheap porro but it's all about viewing comfort and joy.
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Old Sunday 12th July 2020, 22:57   #20
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I think most of us have our favorite cheapies. The Sightron Sky Blue II 8x32 is a favorite of mine. Optics Planet will run them at $168 every few weeks. You can also call them anytime and they will probably honor that price.

https://www.opticsplanet.com/sightro...r-armored.html


Another cheap Binocular that I had good luck with is the Celestron Granite. The Celestron site is having a close out on their Granites. I bought the 7x33 Granite for $189. This particular unit turned out to be a wonderful pair. All the 7x33 are gone, but they still have the 8x42, 10x42 and 12x50 on close out.

https://www.celestron.com/products/g...x42-binoculars


Last, but not least, the Carson ED is a well mannered binocular for under $300.

https://www.opticsplanet.com/carson-...-ed-glass.html
https://www.opticsplanet.com/carson-...-ed-glass.html

good luck !

Rob

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Old Monday 13th July 2020, 01:12   #21
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Go to Amazon and for $120.00 get a Celestron 8X42.

https://www.bestbinocularsreviews.co...tureDX-119.htm

If you don't like it return them, rinse and repeat (keep looking for that diamond in the rough for less than $150,00).
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Old Monday 13th July 2020, 04:40   #22
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For what it's worth, I think I'll head in the direction of something Vortex. That warranty appeals to me. Not that I'm rough on such things, I'm not, but you never know. I'll make the rounds locally for new and otherwise and see what comes up.

Thanks, everyone for your thoughts and suggestions! It is appreciated.
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Old Monday 13th July 2020, 07:10   #23
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My Zeiss Terra 8x25 are quite a bit cheaper and are really good.

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Old Monday 13th July 2020, 09:12   #24
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Just buy one of these and be happy. Brilliant binoculars for the money

https://www.opticronusa.com/Pages/traveller_bga_ed.html
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Old Monday 13th July 2020, 15:38   #25
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Meopta MeoStar, Zeiss Conquest, Opticron Imagic or Traveller.

All excellent.

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