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$100-$300 Binocular recommendation.

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Old Friday 17th August 2018, 17:36   #26
mskb
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Thank you very much @Upland for your insights.

If the ED2 had designs similar to the Vortex, I would pick it up now. :) I just don't seem to prefer its appearance, but I realize it really is the optics that is important.

You had pointed me to a used 8x42 Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide which seems to also be as good as the Vortex Viper HDs that I was looking at on a slightly-less-optimal(for me) x32 size. You also mentioned the newer Viper HDs are better based on your experience. (I presume by "Vipers" in your posts, you meant the Vortex Viper HDs?).

So right now, I am confused among the used Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide / ED2 despite its appearance / wait until the holiday season for some better offers on the 8x42 Viper HDs.
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Old Friday 17th August 2018, 18:04   #27
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Sorry for the confusion. I just sent you a pm that among other things suggest you check with Vanguard that you can get the rebate if ordered through Amazon if you decide to go that route. I imagine you can if Amazon is advertising it but it''s always good to check before buying. I also understand your not liking the open bridge design as i prefer the single hinge myself but would not make that a big part of your decision. Buy what you think has the best optics and important features like fov and close focus that are most important to you.

Here's a quick rundown on the Vipers: The original Vipers were non ED glass and made in Japan. When Vortex upgraded them to ED glass they became the Viper HD still made in Japan. Eventually production of this model was switched to china. The parts were all the same but assembly was in China. I don't believe any of the 8x32s were made in China though as they were discontinued before production was moved to China. I would double check this with Vortex though if you decide to buy the 8x32s and where they were made is important to you. If you find out some of the 8x32s were made in China please let us know. This past year Vortex upgraded the Vortex HD but did not change the name. the fov was increased in the 10x42 and I believe also in the 8x42? They also changed the eyecup design so it is now like their top of the line Razor model. I also think they upgraded the coatings? but you'll want to check all this out with Vortex if you decide to go with the new model.

When the new Viper HD came out I checked it alongside the Leupold Pro Guide 4 and Monarch 7, all in 10x42 at a local sporting goods store. To MY eyes the Leupolds were better in brightness and sharpness that the new Viper HDs. However I thought new Vipers were quite good and the upgrades had eliminated the internal reflections that i always noticed in the previous Viper HD. I checked them all outside as well. These are only MY impressions though and you and others might see things differently. I also preferred both to the Nikons. I noticed some glare in the Nikons and a friend of mine has a pair that I've noticed the same thing in. Very slight but there to MY eyes none the less. Many others love these and do not see any. I hope that helps. As stated before all of your choices are nice binos and I doubt you'll be unhappy with any of them. I doubt your going to find better prices on any of them so I would make a choice and go with it. The safest route would be to buy the EDII as you can return them easily if you don't like them.
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Old Friday 17th August 2018, 22:22   #28
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Msk,

I've not seen the Athlon, or the latest Chinese made version of the Diamondback so I can't comment on those, but I know the other three/four quite well. Which would work best for you will probably depend on your priorities.

I usually put sharpness top of my list. For me the Terra would be out of the running. I've seen one realy sharp sample, a couple more I could get along with and at least 8 I'd call rubbish. Yet if you check the reviews a large majority seem more than happy with the sharpness.

I've seen fewer Nikon Monarch 5s but they were sharper than most of the Terras. The colour was pretty good and the light weight would take some beating. But, If the field of view is your priority, give it a miss.

The Vanguard ED is pretty sharp and the fov better than the Monarch. It's CA control is probably not the best on the list, but I suspect it's the colour that will divide opinion. It has silver mirrored prisms rather than the dielectric of the others. It means it typically is stronger at the red end of the spectrum than the blue compared to the others. Some might say the contrast is better but doesn't seem as bright. Both comments are slightly misleading technically, but impressions translate as preferences.

If flat views and sharp edges are your thing then the Endeavour EDII is easily the best. It is sharp and the CA control above average but the FoV is average and It still has the silver coatings. Optically I'd rate it as the best performer in the lineup. I actually own one, but it's not amongst my favourite binoculars. At my slightly narrow 63mm IPD I just can't find a comfortable grip. The tension in my hands means I can't hold it as steady as some of the others. Others seem very happy with it.

Apologies if I've just added to your confusion. The best answer is to get to a store and find out for yourself what suites you.
Hello David, and the others reading this. I have found a new "grip" for me that seems to work better, with less hand tension for me, and I'm able to hold steadier most times with it.

All you do is hold the right barrel as you would normally, so focus is comfortable for you (or left barrel if you are left handed), and then with the other hand, just use your fingertips to steady the binoculars. For me it works without using my pinkie or thumb, just the 3 longest fingers, spread out a bit to distribute the weight. It came about just naturally to me, I don't know why. But it certainly makes one thing clear-use what works best for you, and don't be afraid to try new ways of holding them. Especially when you get old like me, and more shakey than you used to be.

It may be more tiresome for long days afield, I don't know, but if you aren't holding your bins and looking most all the time, it may just work for you too. There are other grips that are more "comfortable" for me, but there just seems to be too much tension, or influence maybe, of the other hand if fully gripped like the other hand.

And, by the way, it works just as well with Porros (my preference), as it does with any hinge roof prism bins for me. Steadier, is just that.
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Old Friday 17th August 2018, 22:58   #29
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Barry,

I'm pretty sure I've tried that, and every other conceivable other permutation.

Had another long chat with the Vanguard European manager today. Not much in the way of concrete information, but it seems one model might be on it's way out and something else on the the way in. Not sure if that is tantalising or just irritating.

David
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Old Friday 17th August 2018, 23:08   #30
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Out of curiosity I checked the specs on fov for the 8x42 Viper HDs. The old model which was made in both Japan and China has a fov of 347' at 1000yds. The new model has a fov of 409'. That's a huge difference! so I would definitely recommend buying the new 8x42 even if you can find the an old made in Japan 8x42 model. The 8x32 model has a fov of 400' and close focus of 3 feet which is excellent.
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Old Friday 17th August 2018, 23:23   #31
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Upland,

Had a look at the new Viper HD as well. Only a quick look, but wasn't convinced the wider FoV meant better, but the older one wasn't around for comparison. The new Razor 10x50 still looked pretty fine though.

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Old Friday 17th August 2018, 23:38   #32
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By the way, MSKB, no one has mentioned one I would consider too, as a bargain and certainly one of the best values for money you might spend, the Bushnell Legend M, in 8x42, that was discussed here:

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread...ll+8x42+legend

If you are interested, I might be able to help you out there with a good price, after the rebate that was recently offered. I think they are great bins for the money, but I don't use 8x that often, and I have a ton already. PM me if you want to talk about it. Either way, read about them and see what I mean by mentioning them here.
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Old Friday 17th August 2018, 23:40   #33
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Barry,

I'm pretty sure I've tried that, and every other conceivable other permutation.

Had another long chat with the Vanguard European manager today. Not much in the way of concrete information, but it seems one model might be on it's way out and something else on the the way in. Not sure if that is tantalising or just irritating.

David
Well then, it's a good time to check it again David, and see if it works or not for you. Doesn't cost much to try! ; )
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Old Saturday 18th August 2018, 00:08   #34
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Gentlemen, these are fantastic responses, and oh boy, didn't I learn a lot ( it was tiring to search the internet so much too :) )! All great recommendations, and here is the recap/summary of what I was looking at, and what I am inclined to (but still deliberating) buy given the responses so far.

I wanted good brightness+contrast+sharpness/clarity in dawn/dusk low-light conditions in as small a package as we can get within the budget of $250 ideally, extendable to $300. I also realized "looks" (whatever that may be) is key to me.

Despite the ~5 Star Amazon reviews & $250 price, not much appears to be known about the Midas yet, Nikon's Monarch5 & Zeiss's TerraED lost to Vanguard ED2 straight off the bat. I started off asking about the Vortex Diamondback, not much of a discussion went in for that (hmm, did we miss to do that? Or perhaps it faded in comparison to the ED2) and ended up talking about (used) Vortex Viper HDs. Following @bluespiderweb's recent recommendation, I also checked out the Bushnell Legend M, but it appears to be a little big. Similarly there was Upland's recommendation on a (used) Leupold BX-4, but not sure how much of a bargain it is over a Viper HD & relatively lower angle of views and larger minimum focus distances.

Now for my favorite recommendation so far: When the Viper HD's are bought new, it comes with a hefty ~$400-$450 price tag (dropping to ~$390 with promotions) that is ~$150-$200 more than what I wanted to pay. But I just love its design! So I am just trying to find reasons not to go for it over the ED2 right now (any opinions there would help too!), and wondering if the looks are worth >=$150. :)

Of course, now there is Monarch 7, Leupold Pro Guides, and the Meoptas and a few others to compare against the Vortex HD at that price range. Wow, this is not going to end. I will go to Cabela's tomorrow, check these out in person. Hope they have at least a few in stock.

Thank you very much!

-- Kumar.

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Old Saturday 18th August 2018, 16:52   #35
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Hi Kumar, Iím glad you have a Cabelaís nearby to check out binos as thatís by far the best way to choose. Make sure you take them outside though as in the store you wonít see as much difference in the optics. I imagine they will have the Vipers, Leupold, and Nikons so that will be great for you. They donít carry VAnguards though. They have a new model, Krotos HD. They are out of your price range but if they are there please check them out and let us know what you think. Iíd also be very interested to know what country they are made in. They should also have diamondbacks if youíre interested along with the Cabelaís intensity line which Is lower priced and Iíve heard they are made by Meopta but not sure on that. Also make sure to check the bargain cave as sometimes there are some incredible deals there. This spring I bought a demo, as New, Meopta Spotting Scope from the bargain cave. The retail price was $2,300 and I got it for $935! If you see something you like in the cave ask if itís been there for awhile and if they can give you any additional discount. When I saw the scope it had a price tag if around $1,400. I remarked to the salesperson that it was a great deal but still out of my price range. He then told me it had been there quite awhile and he would give me another 30% off! One final thing: if you fall in love with the Vipers there is hope of getting them at your price range. This weekend a local sporting goods store is having a huge sale with reps from several optics company. They are ran a promo yesterday of the new Vipers in 10x42 for $310! So if you really like them I would find out who the Vortex rep is in your area and give them a call. Who knows they might something similar going on in your area soon! Good luck and let us know what how your visit goes.
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Old Saturday 18th August 2018, 17:31   #36
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I have the Nikon M5 10x42. I was happy with them until I started trying other things, then their limitations became apparent -- blissful ignorance, I guess. The M5s are a narrow FoV and they are only sharp in their center sweetspot. Maybe the 8x are different? They are light and easy to use and comfortable.

I have been testing 8x32s from different manufacturers. The Vanguard Endeavor ED II in 8x32 is really nice in the hand and pretty sharp. It has narrow lens barrels that fit a smaller hand well (and a bigger one too!). It doesn't particularly fit my face and eyes though. What I found worked better is Minox BL 8x33.

In your case for 8x42, Minox makes the BV 8x44, which B&H sells for $269 ($335 is the list price, add it cart for discount). I've not tried those specifically, but based on the BL 8x33, I'd recommend this brand. I have kind of deep eyes and something about the Minox fits me better than the Vanguard. The Vanguard are 7.2* and the Minox are 7.8* FoV.

Personally, I'd pick 4-5 of them and order them all then return what you don't want. Most on-line stores are fine with this (OpticsPlanet, Amazon, B&H, etc.). Definitely check prices beyond Amazon. 3rd party Amazon sellers can have bad pricing.
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Old Sunday 19th August 2018, 05:32   #37
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Hi @Upland and others,

Today's Cabela's visit (2 x 1.5hrs drive to the nearest store) was enticing, confusing, and in certain ways, clarifying. Some subjective thoughts on the visit below.

1. The store did not let me take the binoculars out, so I simply looked at various objects at various distances within the store, in shades / well-lit / high-contrast windows near and far. These illustrated sharpness fall off and CA when present. At the end of the day, I am not convinced I did even a half-decent job in comparing the various models.

2. The store admin brought out a Swarovski EL somethings that cost a whopping $2.8K, and asked us to look through it. Blown away! The grouse statues on the roof of the building looked as if they were alive. Details that my eyes couldn't resolve were crystal clear, sharp, and the colors were contrasty and punchy. At this point, I realized what I can use as my "high" reference. Then, just for fun, I also looked through the Zeiss Conquest HD (~$999), which only served to illustrate Swarovski's awesome-ness.

3. Then a look through the "low" end Vortex Diamondbacks - which revealed a substantially less contrasty look, ok sharpness near the center, all a bit hazy. I had a similar experience looking through the ~$199 Cabelas Intensity lines. @Upland, I didn't get a chance to try out Cabela's other lines, unfortunately. ( The hazy-ness remark in the previous statement makes me think I probably didn't have the diopter correctly adjusted. So now I want to look through the Diamondbacks once again. I think our local REI has these in stock, which I can go and check out in the next few days. ).

4. I then looked through the Viper HDs, Monarch 5, 7, Zeiss Terra ED, Leupold Pro Guide BX-4. My eyes couldn't pick out much differences amongst them all, but with regards to the looks and feel, to me, Monarch5/7 "felt" the best in hands, very closely followed by the Viper HDs for me. So no $150 for the looks alone for the Viper HDs now.

5. Is there a technical term for seeing those "blurry black boundary circles" when viewing through a binocular - like the images from the two barrels come close and overlap, there is mostly one single full circle, but there are also these blurry boundary sort-of-overlapping circles visible too? I really am not sure how to explain these. I didn't find this issue with the Swarovski's / the Zeiss, but I did find them with the Monarchs & Vipers. If you see what I mean, could you point out what causes this issue? Is it something that I need to adjust when looking through the binocular?

6. Finally, I am kicking myself for not having properly read @marcsantacurz's remark above about central sharpness. I totally missed judging this with the Monarchs vs. the others! I really want to try them once again and judge them by the sharpness, but another hike up to the Cabelas is not probably going to happen anytime soon. If any of you have any experiences judging the Monarch5's sharpness, I would greatly appreciate your insights! (On a related note, @marcsantacurz - what did you think are some of the shortcomings about M5 relative these models?)

7. Unfortunately, no Vanguard ED2s to try out.

So in summary, not a 100% satisfied with my visit, probably because of my inexperience in figuring out the the optical issues that arise with binoculars. I also did not want to take too much of their time (all of this got done in <20mins) because I kind of felt bad about not being able to make up my mind to buy a model at the end of it all today. So until the next Cabela's visit, more internet search for me, and that ... I dread.

Thank you all very much!

-- Kumar

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Old Sunday 19th August 2018, 16:52   #38
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Hi Kumar. Iím glad you were able to check out some of your options. Iím surprised they wouldnít let you take them outside. They have always let me, accompanied by a salesperson. If you get up there again Iíd ask them if theyíd do the same. A couple thoughts and observations. When I was at the store comparing the New Leupolds, Viper, and the Monarch 7 I didnít notice much difference until I went outside. Also they had an old model Viper on clearance and I did a direct comparison to the new model. For my eyes there was a noticeable difference in them especially the fov. I also did not see the internal barrel reflections on the new model but as always did on the old. Iíve figured out why I see the reflections. Itís not the width of the eyecups but rather that the rim of the old model Viper is very narrow and the cause of the stray light coming in. All the other binos Iíve owned and and tried have had a noticeably thicker rim and Iím guessing in part it is to keep out stray light. Finally if you like the Monarchs I would wait for LL Bean to have a 25% off sale and order both the 5 and 7. The 7s will come in at about $360 but youíll have a good opportunity to do an in depth comparison and decide if the 7s are worth stretching your budget. The 5s will be a vary affordable $225 and you might find they fit your purposes well. Bean has a no questions asked 1 year return policy (used to be lifetime) that Iíve used several times so you could have a lengthy trial period. If you canít afford to buy both at the same time maybe try the five and see how you like it. Also Bean has been running a promotion of 15% off your first purchase with a LL Bean MasterCard and I think you can use that on sale items so that could make the 7s $306! Check first though as I might be wrong about that. If you want the 25% off promo you should sign up for their emails. They often send me a special code for 25% off that is not on their website. Sometimes too Iíve googled LL Bean 25% off code and found a code that isnít advertised on their website. Iíve always been able to use the codes for Nikons. I actually bought M7 8x30s twice and returned then with no problem at all. The reason I bought twice was I thought the first pair was defective so I returned them. About a year later I ordered another pair but the same flare issue. BTW im quite sure I didnít get the same pair twice as the second time I ordered they were on backorder and I had to wait a month for the new shipment from Nikon to arrive. Hope this helps and good luck.
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Old Monday 20th August 2018, 00:30   #39
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Well, Kumar...first, I don't see the store manager's point in asking you to look at the highest priced binos in the store first-when you were not anywhere near that price range in what you wanted to spend. It sounds irresponsible to me, or like he was just trying to make you bump up your sale to a new level. Of course they are going to look great, and nothing will quite compare after! Binoculars are not perfect, and as someone else said here-Lee, I think, that they are all compromises to some extent, and nothing is perfect. It's up to you to decide what works or doesn't for you-others really have a back seat in telling you that.

And as far as being done in under 20 minutes, that was not right unless you were being hurried, and then it was even worse if you were. They are there to serve you, not the other way around-you are the customer, who helps pay their salaries! I certainly wouldn't drive 3 hours round trip for only a glance at something as difficult to choose as these. I think this is where buying and trying really has the advantage. You never feel rushed, and you can do it outside, inside, and under so many different lighting conditions, that it is just how I prefer to buy, myself. All buying in the store offers you is weeding out some that will not suit you fairly quickly, but with your level of experience, unless you have them all set right from the beginning (IPD, diopter, and eye cups), sometimes you can dismiss perfectly fine bins by not getting one or all of them set exactly right for you.

Look up how to adjust binoculars on the web, and you will find out how to do it properly. The double circles are from not setting the IPD for your eyes (distance between your pupils)-as you should see only 1 circle if it's set right. I do that visually, not technically like some suggest. But even if you know how to set up binoculars properly, you can still mess up sometimes, and be thrown off a bit, depending on your eyesight and lighting conditions, etc. Even heat waves, and looking through windows can mess with your view, and your settings if you set them according to other conditions, and also your day to day eyesight at times too (especially if you are older like me) can alter what you see. Occasionally you will find a binocular that isn't right too-so knowing when it's the binocular and when it's you can help when that happens. You need some kind of reference, and the only way you can do that is to have one binocular on hand to get to know what you like and want and to compare others to, and go from there.

Keep a watch on the binocular bargain thread for best prices and great deals, if you're not in a hurry. Or pick a trusted and recommended bin that you are comfortable buying, and get it from a retailer who allows returns, and then get to know what you like and don't about them, before the return period ends, and go from there. Of course, if you know what you really want most- low light, wide angle, light weight, deal for the money, then use those guidelines to make your first choice. Don't think thath choice will be the end of it, because, likely if you are drawn to binoculars, like most here, they won't be your last, by far. Just like anything else, there is no one best for all uses and users, though you can stretch that a bit if you are careful in buying for your most important attributes. Certainly not easy in the beginning, but you do have to make a choice and learn from it as we all have done, and continue to learn as you go.

Or you could keep going to stores and trying as many as you find, and getting experience setting them up for you if you can find more, like Cabellas, Bass Pro, REI and others as you find them. Doug from CameralandNY.com (one of the sponsor dealers here) is very helpful and trustworthy with good prices, or just order from someone like bhphoto.como on the East coast in NY, another good retailer. It seems 8x32 or 8x42 would be a good starting point for best all- arounders. Of course, the 42's will be better in lower light usually, in comparably priced optics. Compare one or two at most, because the less the better-comparing bins can drive you crazy, if you let it. Better to enjoy one fully and if you think it's a fit from the beginning, then stick with it and learn from it. If not, return them, and start over again.

Like I said before, keep your eye on the binocular bargain page here too, if that is especially a priority to you. Don't feel you have to spend more to have a great bino-there are many out there now that with modern coatings and design are more affordable and deliver better results often from even more expensive bins of just 10-20 years or more ago. Of course, there are some classics that are still able to compete with modern offerings, but they often start at a higher price anyway (one exception being the Sightron Blue Sky II 8x32's), and there are more that aren't highest tech (not HD, ED, dielectric coated, etc). Buy what you are comfortable with spending, as there will always be better ones available if you can afford it, but just by degrees, and if you don't need or want to spend the moon, you really don't have to, to get a top quality view today in most all price ranges even without all the bells and whistles.

Have fun, and remember to enjoy using them-and not being obligated to having to find the best of the best-there are so many good choices today that it is hard to buy bad binos with the little bit of guidance you can find here and the web. But I would trust these guys here mostly, and not just average user reviews just from other retailing websites. We are mostly all bino enthusiasts here-and that makes a difference in opinion usually, from the more experienced users here especially than the general public's opinions elsewhere. I'm not including me as an authority for sure, and far from it. I'm still learning a lot myself along the way. Enjoy the ride and the great views you will see soon!
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 00:10   #40
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Ha Cabela’s did the same thing to me too a month and a half ago when I was shopping binocs. They handed me a pair of Swarovski ELs right off the bat before I tried anything else. I actually tried to turn them down at first as I didn’t want what I saw through them to hinder my decision given they aren’t even in the ballpark of my price range. Still, the guy insisted. The view was great but honestly I tried to not put too much thought into it.

I’m wondering if this is a sales tactic to get a person to either up their price range, or say screw it and drop $2k+ at the counter.

That being said, I was at Bass Pro Shops this weekend and had to have another look at their bins because frankly, I’m an addict.

If I were in the market now for an upgrade over my Vanguard EDs (original model), I’d get the Vortex Vioers no questions asked. No glare, Little almost no CA and sharp as nails images. In fact, if I see them on sale, either 10 or 8x42, I’m pulling the trigger.

I was expecting to prefer the Monarch 7s based on what I’ve read, but it wasn’t even a contest.
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 03:47   #41
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Originally Posted by bluespiderweb View Post
Well, Kumar...first, I don't see the store manager's point in asking you to look at the highest priced binos in the store first-when you were not anywhere near that price range in what you wanted to spend. It sounds irresponsible to me, or like he was just trying to make you bump up your sale to a new level. Of course they are going to look great, and nothing will quite compare after! Binoculars are not perfect, and as someone else said here-Lee, I think, that they are all compromises to some extent, and nothing is perfect. It's up to you to decide what works or doesn't for you-others really have a back seat in telling you that.

And as far as being done in under 20 minutes, that was not right unless you were being hurried, and then it was even worse if you were. They are there to serve you, not the other way around-you are the customer, who helps pay their salaries! I certainly wouldn't drive 3 hours round trip for only a glance at something as difficult to choose as these. I think this is where buying and trying really has the advantage. You never feel rushed, and you can do it outside, inside, and under so many different lighting conditions, that it is just how I prefer to buy, myself. All buying in the store offers you is weeding out some that will not suit you fairly quickly, but with your level of experience, unless you have them all set right from the beginning (IPD, diopter, and eye cups), sometimes you can dismiss perfectly fine bins by not getting one or all of them set exactly right for you.

Look up how to adjust binoculars on the web, and you will find out how to do it properly. The double circles are from not setting the IPD for your eyes (distance between your pupils)-as you should see only 1 circle if it's set right. I do that visually, not technically like some suggest. But even if you know how to set up binoculars properly, you can still mess up sometimes, and be thrown off a bit, depending on your eyesight and lighting conditions, etc. Even heat waves, and looking through windows can mess with your view, and your settings if you set them according to other conditions, and also your day to day eyesight at times too (especially if you are older like me) can alter what you see. Occasionally you will find a binocular that isn't right too-so knowing when it's the binocular and when it's you can help when that happens. You need some kind of reference, and the only way you can do that is to have one binocular on hand to get to know what you like and want and to compare others to, and go from there.

Keep a watch on the binocular bargain thread for best prices and great deals, if you're not in a hurry. Or pick a trusted and recommended bin that you are comfortable buying, and get it from a retailer who allows returns, and then get to know what you like and don't about them, before the return period ends, and go from there. Of course, if you know what you really want most- low light, wide angle, light weight, deal for the money, then use those guidelines to make your first choice. Don't think thath choice will be the end of it, because, likely if you are drawn to binoculars, like most here, they won't be your last, by far. Just like anything else, there is no one best for all uses and users, though you can stretch that a bit if you are careful in buying for your most important attributes. Certainly not easy in the beginning, but you do have to make a choice and learn from it as we all have done, and continue to learn as you go.

Or you could keep going to stores and trying as many as you find, and getting experience setting them up for you if you can find more, like Cabellas, Bass Pro, REI and others as you find them. Doug from CameralandNY.com (one of the sponsor dealers here) is very helpful and trustworthy with good prices, or just order from someone like bhphoto.como on the East coast in NY, another good retailer. It seems 8x32 or 8x42 would be a good starting point for best all- arounders. Of course, the 42's will be better in lower light usually, in comparably priced optics. Compare one or two at most, because the less the better-comparing bins can drive you crazy, if you let it. Better to enjoy one fully and if you think it's a fit from the beginning, then stick with it and learn from it. If not, return them, and start over again.

Like I said before, keep your eye on the binocular bargain page here too, if that is especially a priority to you. Don't feel you have to spend more to have a great bino-there are many out there now that with modern coatings and design are more affordable and deliver better results often from even more expensive bins of just 10-20 years or more ago. Of course, there are some classics that are still able to compete with modern offerings, but they often start at a higher price anyway (one exception being the Sightron Blue Sky II 8x32's), and there are more that aren't highest tech (not HD, ED, dielectric coated, etc). Buy what you are comfortable with spending, as there will always be better ones available if you can afford it, but just by degrees, and if you don't need or want to spend the moon, you really don't have to, to get a top quality view today in most all price ranges even without all the bells and whistles.

Have fun, and remember to enjoy using them-and not being obligated to having to find the best of the best-there are so many good choices today that it is hard to buy bad binos with the little bit of guidance you can find here and the web. But I would trust these guys here mostly, and not just average user reviews just from other retailing websites. We are mostly all bino enthusiasts here-and that makes a difference in opinion usually, from the more experienced users here especially than the general public's opinions elsewhere. I'm not including me as an authority for sure, and far from it. I'm still learning a lot myself along the way. Enjoy the ride and the great views you will see soon!
Hello Barry, splendid advice for any beginner! And thank you for clarifying the IPD stuff. (Cabelas did not really rush me - it was mostly me feeling bad about not going to buy an item ultimately that day)

I ended up following what you and a few others have advised on this thread. I ordered a binocular to get a hang of it in the outdoors for the next two-three months, to realize what we like and don't like. We were looking to buy two binoculars and use them for ~5 years. Based on what we felt and saw in store, we figured one Monarch7 (25% sale at LLBean with a 1year return policy, thanks to @Upland for the link) would be an ideal place to start. During this period, our intention is now try out the ED2/ED4, ViperHD and a few other models mentioned in this thread before making a purchase of the second binocular.

There is absolutely no way I could have made these decisions without your help, so thank you very much!

Happy birding, wildlife-ing, and binocular-ing everyone!

Last edited by mskb : Tuesday 21st August 2018 at 03:51.
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 21:59   #42
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Your're very welcome, but I don't know if it's splendid advice, though it's free at least! But if it helped you a bit, then it's OK. It sounds like you are on a sensible road to discovery now, so that's great. I'm sure there will be lots of enjoyment along the way for you two ahead. Have a blast!
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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 03:13   #43
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Hi @Upland and others,

5. Is there a technical term for seeing those "blurry black boundary circles" when viewing through a binocular - like the images from the two barrels come close and overlap, there is mostly one single full circle, but there are also these blurry boundary sort-of-overlapping circles visible too? I really am not sure how to explain these. I didn't find this issue with the Swarovski's / the Zeiss, but I did find them with the Monarchs & Vipers. If you see what I mean, could you point out what causes this issue? Is it something that I need to adjust when looking through the binocular?

6. Finally, I am kicking myself for not having properly read @marcsantacurz's remark above about central sharpness. I totally missed judging this with the Monarchs vs. the others! I really want to try them once again and judge them by the sharpness, but another hike up to the Cabelas is not probably going to happen anytime soon. If any of you have any experiences judging the Monarch5's sharpness, I would greatly appreciate your insights! (On a related note, @marcsantacurz - what did you think are some of the shortcomings about M5 relative these models?)

So in summary, not a 100% satisfied with my visit, probably because of my inexperience in figuring out the the optical issues that arise with binoculars. I also did not want to take too much of their time (all of this got done in <20mins) because I kind of felt bad about not being able to make up my mind to buy a model at the end of it all today. So until the next Cabela's visit, more internet search for me, and that ... I dread.

Thank you all very much!

-- Kumar
The black circles are usually referred to as "blackout" and it can be either total or partial, occur in both eyes or only one, and come and go with changing light conditions and focus. Basically, your iris (at its current dilation) is not totally aligned down the center and so part of the vision is blacked out. Someone with a more technical bino background could correct me or elaborate more. You can "fix" it in one of several ways: adjust the IPD and maybe readjust time-to-time as your focus distance changes, adjust the eye relief depth (though usually once you find the best setting, it doesn't change), tilt the binos some so they are only on your brow and not cheek, or try a different make/model.

The Nikon M7s 8x30s do not fit my face, so I have blackout problems with it. I think it is pretty sharp side-to-side. I test this by focusing on something then rotating my head some until the subject moves to the side of the lens and I am looking at it out the side of my eye. It is not so easy to do when there are blackout problems, but I felt like I could always focus it and often I only needed to re-focus a small amount if at all.

I did notice that the Nikon M7s were noticeably darker in mixed or poor lighting than other 8x32 or 8x33 binos. I would assume the M5s are even worse.

I think comparing to the swaros is not an entirely bad thing -- though I'm sure the sales person was trying to upsell you, if not on the swaros then on something high-mid tier. In any case, unless you know what the high end view looks like you don't necessarily notice what you're missing.

In regards to sharpness, what I've found is that most modern binos of that price range can be sharp, but the question is at what cost. The Minox BL 8x33 HD, I can usually nail the diopter adjustment and nail the focus in about 1 try (no hunting back and forth). Others, I need to keep wiggling the focuser, or just cannot make out the same level of detail.
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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 18:24   #44
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The black circles are usually referred to as "blackout" and it can be either total or partial, occur in both eyes or only one, and come and go with changing light conditions and focus. Basically, your iris (at its current dilation) is not totally aligned down the center and so part of the vision is blacked out. Someone with a more technical bino background could correct me or elaborate more. You can "fix" it in one of several ways: adjust the IPD and maybe readjust time-to-time as your focus distance changes, adjust the eye relief depth (though usually once you find the best setting, it doesn't change), tilt the binos some so they are only on your brow and not cheek, or try a different make/model.

The Nikon M7s 8x30s do not fit my face, so I have blackout problems with it. I think it is pretty sharp side-to-side. I test this by focusing on something then rotating my head some until the subject moves to the side of the lens and I am looking at it out the side of my eye. It is not so easy to do when there are blackout problems, but I felt like I could always focus it and often I only needed to re-focus a small amount if at all.

I did notice that the Nikon M7s were noticeably darker in mixed or poor lighting than other 8x32 or 8x33 binos. I would assume the M5s are even worse.

I think comparing to the swaros is not an entirely bad thing -- though I'm sure the sales person was trying to upsell you, if not on the swaros then on something high-mid tier. In any case, unless you know what the high end view looks like you don't necessarily notice what you're missing.

In regards to sharpness, what I've found is that most modern binos of that price range can be sharp, but the question is at what cost. The Minox BL 8x33 HD, I can usually nail the diopter adjustment and nail the focus in about 1 try (no hunting back and forth). Others, I need to keep wiggling the focuser, or just cannot make out the same level of detail.
I do get the train of thought that testing the Swaros before anything else helps you make better comparisons. The other side of that though besides someone just not wanting to be tempted to spend that kind of money, is that without the Swaro influence, it may be easier to go with what just feels better to a person overall in their desired price range.

Regardless of the swaros though, this hobby has now hit my OCD button and I'm now shopping around to see what would be in my wheelhouse should I ever choose to upgrade. The Vanguard ED ii's can now be had for $262 with a rebate via Amazon. That being said, I am wondering how they stack up against the Vortex Vipers, which I was EXTREMELY impressed by when I tested them last week. The cheapest I've found the Vipers is around $460 so that's a $200 difference.
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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 21:55   #45
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Seems like you are doing well getting around and testing everything.

My 2 cents.

Stretch your budget or save a bit longer and get what you prefer now. Don't regret it. Buy once.

I have used Monarch 5 & 7 and Vanguard 8x32 edII. I'd go the Monarch 7 without doubt. More neutral colour and nice FOV in that price range. Monarch 5 isnt as bright, not great edge sharpness and the narrow FOV is very hard to go back to. The 7 isn't sharp on the edges either but it has a fair bit bigger area of view that is sharp.

The EDII has a less accurate focuser. Bit of play and rocking back and forward to get things in focus. Very frustrating after using both Monarchs which have a very smooth mechanism and focus that snaps into view and only requires adjustment when your target moves. Might have a poor sample but I definitely wouldn't like this one as a primary binocular.
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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 23:47   #46
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Old Thursday 23rd August 2018, 03:22   #47
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I wanted good brightness+contrast+sharpness/clarity in dawn/dusk low-light conditions in as small a package as we can get within the budget of $250 ideally, extendable to $300. I also realized "looks" (whatever that may be) is key to me.
Hi Kumar,

My 2 cents:
I think you're kinda asking a lot (good brightness + contrast + sharpness/clarity in dawn/dusk low-light conditions) for this price.
Christmas is still far away ;o)

Binos are like camera lenses.

If you want a 500mm lens with this kind of requirements, you will have to pay an hefty price tag for it.

The Best Clarity in dawn/dusk conditions are given by 8x56 Binos (in theory, because it also depends of your age (pupils size) and the light transmission of the Binos).
So it doesn't go well with your small package requirement.

Find and Buy Binos giving you a picture YOU like through YOUR eyes (binos amazing for someone can be awful for someone else, YOUR Brain decides) and binos having ergonomics you like.
Wearing glasses (or sunglasses) or your IPD can turn a "Great" binocular into a shitty one in REAL use.

Some of us went to a shop determined to buy a model of Binos (sometimes with a few thousands to spend) because of reviews or advices, and came back with another one, because we tried them, and didn't like the ergonomics, or because another model was giving a better picture to our eyes/brain.

If you want to buy a matelas for your bed, you're going to try it right? Do the same with Binos, and maybe stop listening to others telling you what's best (unless they tell you there are quality issues).

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Old Thursday 23rd August 2018, 03:41   #48
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Seems like you are doing well getting around and testing everything.

My 2 cents.

Stretch your budget or save a bit longer and get what you prefer now. Don't regret it. Buy once.

I have used Monarch 5 & 7 and Vanguard 8x32 edII. I'd go the Monarch 7 without doubt. More neutral colour and nice FOV in that price range. Monarch 5 isnt as bright, not great edge sharpness and the narrow FOV is very hard to go back to. The 7 isn't sharp on the edges either but it has a fair bit bigger area of view that is sharp.

The EDII has a less accurate focuser. Bit of play and rocking back and forward to get things in focus. Very frustrating after using both Monarchs which have a very smooth mechanism and focus that snaps into view and only requires adjustment when your target moves. Might have a poor sample but I definitely wouldn't like this one as a primary binocular.
Thanks for the advice! The Vortex Vipers so far have given me the wow factor like none of the others Iíve tried - even over the Monarch 7 which I expected to love. Iím just going to keep saving and pull the trigger when Iím ready or when they go on sale.

And yes I have noticed the focuser having some play/backlash in my ED iís. Itís nothing detrimental, but itís be nice to have something more accurate.
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