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Websites with Binocular Tests and Reviews

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Old Saturday 12th January 2019, 11:01   #1
Canip
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Websites with Binocular Tests and Reviews

I am trying to put together a short list of non-commercial websites where you can find reliable tests and reviews of binoculars, and I am addressing both forum members on BF and CN.

Beside the many excellent reviews and tests published by members in forums like the Birdforum, CloudyNights and others, and beside trade journals for hunters, hobby astronomers, birders and the like, which regularly publish instrument reviews (of varying quality!!), there are a few knowledgeable institutions and individuals who run their own websites and regularly report on instrument tests performed by them.

The caveat in all this: such websites are only really useful if their tests are of a non-commercial nature.

In my search, I came across websites such as the “Best Binoculars & Binocular Reviews Website”:

https://www.bestbinocularsreviews.com/

and was at first positively impressed. However, reading further in some of their reviews, I got the impression that many seems overly positive in their results, and when I then discovered at the very, very bottom of the website, far down where you usually don’t scroll to, the innocent-looking little phrase

“Exclusive Member of Mediavine Home”

this made me suspicious – rightfully so, because if you google the term “Madiavine”, this is what you get:

“Mediavine offers full service ad management including …. sponsored influencer marketing”

“Sponsored influencer marketing” – not exactly what I am after when looking for reliable, non-commercial tests of binoculars.

The following is a brief commented list of websites which I have come across and where I found reliable info on binos. I am not saying that I would always agree with the findings on such websites, but I would trust the information as being “honestly” put together substantially without “sponsored influencer marketing” :-) - I hope!

Binomania (http://www.binomania.it/category/1-recensioni/ )
Regularly brings information about new instruments becoming available, and publishes reviews and tests of binoculars and spotting scopes. I find it generally worth reading!! In Italian, but a convenient “translate” button is provided at the top of the website

allbinos (https://www.allbinos.com/binoculars_reviews.html )
A Polish organization providing a large database with specifications of almost 2000 binoculars, and relatively detailed tests of over 200. Well worth reading. I am not convinced that the points they add to come to an overall total rating give always a sensible result, and I also take some of the results, including seemingly scientific data – e.g transmission test results, with a “grain of salt”. But I find this nevertheless a very useful site.

House of Outdoor and Optics
( http://www.houseofoutdoor.com/verrek...n-vergelijken/ )
Here, you not only find some of the most detailed and sophisticated tests and comparisons of binoculars, but also lots of useful information on technology, optics, history (Swarovski) etc. Some of the tests and other information are in Dutch (so you may need to “google translate”), but many are in English.

Binocular Sky (http://www.binocularsky.com/ )
Dedicated to binocular astronomy. Stephen Tonkin, who runs this website, is also the author of the book “Binocular Astronomy” (which I can only recommend). Lots of useful tips, instrument reviews, links and other information for hobby astronomers

Holger Merlitz (http://www.holgermerlitz.de/ )
Prof. Dr. Holger Merlitz of the Leibniz-Institute of Polymer Research in Dresden, Germany, is well-known here as one of the foremost experts on optical instruments in general and binoculars in particular. He wrote the leading book on binoculars in German. On his website, you can find a plethora of interesting articles on the optics of binoculars, e.g. on distortion, as well as many detailed and highly rated instrument tests and reviews.

Scope Views (http://www.scopeviews.co.uk/ )
Roger Vine, the owner of this site, mostly writes about the good and very good segment of the binocular world, but also brings detailed reviews about scopes, astronomical telescopes, binoculars, and how to choose an instrument. Very nice website. Probably known by many here.

Greatest binoculars (http://www.greatestbinoculars.com/ )
Tobias Mennle, a biologist with the trained eye of the avid photographer, presents some of the most critical reviews and articles on optics and binoculars that you can find. You may or may not always share his views, but Tobias’ devotion to the subject, his competence and independent judgment are beyond doubt. His website features superb images.

Dear BF / CN forum members, kindly add to this list further websites that you find useful in this context – many thanks in advance.

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Old Saturday 12th January 2019, 13:27   #2
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Very nice post, Canip!

Lee

Last edited by Troubador : Saturday 12th January 2019 at 19:28.
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Old Saturday 12th January 2019, 17:35   #3
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Sky and Telescope binocular tests.
These are independent and are conducted by skilled testers.
However, they are from an astronomy perspective.
Also astronomers do not need some of the features that bird watchers value, such as being waterproof or having very good colour fidelity.
Astronomy binoculars are often lower price than bird watchers binoculars.

There are probably independent binocular tests in major magazines in Germany, France and elsewhere.

Again, some magazines only test lower priced binoculars, which are not much used by bird watchers, and good marks are given, whereas bird watchers would mark them low.

The top magazines also test scopes, again for astronomers, either for visual use or for imaging.
Some scopes are really high quality but not waterproof.
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Old Saturday 12th January 2019, 20:30   #4
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Stephen Ingraham’s ‘Better View Desired’ (the original site is now hosted by Cloudy Nights): https://www.cloudynights.com/BVD/reviews.php
This is ’a blast from the past’. Stephen was a premier reviewer in the 1990’s through to the early 2000’s, and BVD is his work from then
It includes individual reviews, comparative reviews and a whole lot more from a birding viewpoint. Spotting scopes are also included
Great stuff for those wanting a then contemporary perspective

John

Last edited by John A Roberts : Saturday 12th January 2019 at 20:49.
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Old Saturday 12th January 2019, 21:37   #5
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Twentse Vogelwerkgroep
Tests by Jan Meijerink
http://www.tvwg.nl/ovz-kijkers.shtml
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Old Saturday 12th January 2019, 21:44   #6
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Thank you, John, and thank you, Binastro.

I have regularly been reading reviews in:

- Astronomy journals
Sky and Telescope (http://www.skyandtelescope.com/ )
Sky at Night (http://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/ )
Astronomy (http://www.astronomy.com/ )
Astronomy Now (https://astronomynow.com/ )
Sterne und Weltraum (http://www.spektrum.de/magazin/sterne-und-weltraum/ ), in German

- Birding Journals
Vögel (http://www.voegel-magazin.de/ ), in German
Birdwatching Magazine (https://www.birdwatching.co.uk/ )
The Audubon Society Guide to Binoculars (http://www.audubon.org/gear/binocular-guide )

The crux with the reviews in journals in my view: their quality tends to vary quite a bit and depends a lot on who writes them.

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Old Saturday 12th January 2019, 22:45   #7
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Kimmo's reviews are available though they have not been updated recently

https://www.suomenlintuvaruste.com/p...eviews-fi.html

Older reviews in English are still available on the wayback machine searching for alula.


This topic comes up now and again and there is older thread somewhere listing sites.

Last edited by dipped : Sunday 13th January 2019 at 16:36. Reason: Grammar
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Old Sunday 13th January 2019, 02:35   #8
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Originally Posted by John A Roberts View Post
Stephen Ingraham’s ‘Better View Desired’ (the original site is now hosted by Cloudy Nights): https://www.cloudynights.com/BVD/reviews.php
This is ’a blast from the past’. Stephen was a premier reviewer in the 1990’s through to the early 2000’s, and BVD is his work from then
It includes individual reviews, comparative reviews and a whole lot more from a birding viewpoint. Spotting scopes are also included
Great stuff for those wanting a then contemporary perspective

John
They were responsible for a couple of my purchasing decisions.

I wish they were still around.
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Old Sunday 13th January 2019, 07:36   #9
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Thank you, dipped (post #7).
Kimmo’s reviews are certainly worth reading.
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Old Sunday 13th January 2019, 13:57   #10
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Canip,

Thanks for the link info, much appreciated.
Additionally, thanks to Goudvink, John and dipped (who provided some great info regarding the original Nikon HG models from the early 2000s) for the additional sources.

Andy W.
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Old Sunday 13th January 2019, 16:31   #11
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The problem with magazine reviews is that some are clearly influenced by suppliers and advertisers.
Also the reviewers sometimes don't have much knowledge of optics, although this does not mean their reviews are not accurate reflections as to how the binocular performs its task.

In addition, if a supplier supplies a binocular, it will probably be cherry picked, whereas one bought anonymously may or may not represent an average example.
The situation is never ideal.
So it is better to have several independent reviews.

As to the difference between astronomy binoculars and bird watchers binoculars.
Astronomy binoculars are used at 'infinity', so the focus mechanism is of little concern, so long as the binocular will actually focus on the stars.
Colour fidelity is also not high up the list.
Planetary astronomers use filters to reveal detail. The Wratten numbers are given on the drawing.
Double stars with different colours are enhanced by each other. Separately they may look quite different.
Red Mars and Betelgeuse aren't red.
Compare them with a red aircraft navigation light. They are red.
Incidentally the red LED traffic lights are orange to my digital cameras. I don't know what colour they really are, if any.
Astronomy binoculars don't have to be waterproof.

When I observed with groups I never saw one high end binocular in use by an astronomer.
They were usually around 10x50 and £100, less or slightly more.
Now that bird watchers binoculars are often high end this may have changed.

Canon IS binoculars are used by astronomers so these are more expensive than the standard binoculars.

Last edited by Binastro : Sunday 13th January 2019 at 17:09.
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Old Monday 14th January 2019, 10:48   #12
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@canip - I don't see BBRs use of Mediavine to place ads on its site as any different to Binomania's use of banner ads paid for by distributors/vendors or Allbinos use of paid for banner ads also paid for by distributors/vendors (nor indeed Birdforum's use of paid for sponsor banners and Google syndication to place ads).
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Old Monday 14th January 2019, 17:49   #13
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You are absolutely right, Pete.
Ideally, we should exclude all websites which have ads and all those linked with an organisation that also sells binoculars.
Then we would also have to exclude places like House of Outdoor and others, although that would be a pity since their reviews are clearly very, very useful.
Which means that we will still have to use our judgment and try to separate the wheat from the chaff, which is not easy, and we may get it wrong sometimes.
But have you ever read an allbinos review, or one from Gjis, and gotten the impression that they are trying to sell you something? I haven‘t, in contrast to BBR, where I get a completey different feeling.
Am I right? I hope, but I don‘t know for sure.
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Old Monday 14th January 2019, 18:35   #14
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Canip, post 13,
Our reviews on the WEB-site of House of Outdoor are fully independent of any producer or binocular shop, we are not paid by anybody also not by House of Outdoor, it is only a platform for publishing our reviews. That is to ensure that we can work completely independent from any brand or commercial party. Works fine for everybody in our opinion.
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Old Monday 14th January 2019, 21:40   #15
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Thank you, Gijs.
I couldn‘t agree more.
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2019, 08:35   #16
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But I guess Jan doesn't host and run his website nor his business on hot air and hope... :-)
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2019, 10:44   #17
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pete_gamby, post 16,
Every time I enter Jan's shop, it strikes me how nice and warm it is in there, so customers must like the temperature. Sometimes it becomes even hottter when a company is furieus because of our test data and Jan generally tells them: it is not my business if you do not like it it is your problem and you have to sort it out with the tester and that is how it has to be.
I have written in the past for a number of different journals : photography, historical optical, hunting and that could also be taken as advertising for these journals since they do not live on hot air alone.
If I would run a WEB-site by myself every click of a customer could yield me money as just as BF, since every click on BF results in a small amount of money for the WEB-site organiser. Life is complicated.....
Anyhow, I do not earn a penny with my tests the only thing that keeps me going is the fun of it.
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Old Monday 21st January 2019, 23:59   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gijs van Ginkel View Post
Canip, post 13,
Our reviews on the WEB-site of House of Outdoor are fully independent of any producer or binocular shop, we are not paid by anybody also not by House of Outdoor, it is only a platform for publishing our reviews. That is to ensure that we can work completely independent from any brand or commercial party. Works fine for everybody in our opinion.
Gijs van Ginkel
Gijs:

I have found your reviews to be very well done and independent. Your history
of Swarovski is a very good resource.

Keep up the good work, the only issue I have is getting an English translation,
but there are some members on here who help with that, and it is appreciated.

Jerry
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Old Tuesday 22nd January 2019, 08:08   #19
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Jerry, post 18,
Thank you for the appreciation of my work, it is fun to do. With regard to translation in English: there are only 24 hours in a day, I have tried in vain to make it more, but did not succeed, one of my many failures.Moreover there are also some other activities which keep me quite busy.
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Old Monday 11th February 2019, 04:10   #20
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Kimmo Absetz - earlier reviews to 2006

In post #7, Dipped gives a link to currently available reviews by Kimmo

Earlier reviews can be found here: http://web.archive.org/web/200812142...i/GB/index.htm
A) click on the button ‘Published reviews of optics’ (located at the bottom of the year column on the left side of the page)
this will take you to the main listing - see the attached copy

B) to go to an additional review of compact binoculars, click on the button below A)

n.b. all these reviews are in English


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Old Monday 11th February 2019, 22:19   #21
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Thank you, John!!
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Old Tuesday 12th February 2019, 02:10   #22
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Being a curmudgeon, I have to ask what make these reviews any more significant than the reviews of a third of the members of BirdForum? Presenting what they like can be a good thing. But, most of our members are pretty sharp.

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Old Tuesday 12th February 2019, 08:00   #23
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Being a curmudgeon, I have to ask what make these reviews any more significant than the reviews of a third of the members of BirdForum? Presenting what they like can be a good thing. But, most of our members are pretty sharp.

Bill
Bill

You may be correct that these reviews aren't necessarily any more significant but they do provide additional opinions and this is especially useful to folks who are at an early stage in learning about binos and how to choose between them.

When you say that most of our members are sharp I suspect what you have in mind are the folks that post here and in that you are right, but Birdforum has over 157,000 members so it is only a tiny fraction of this membership that actually post. The other members visit for many reasons and among those reasons is a desire to find opinions about binos and signposting additional places where they can find them is helpful and in the spirit of Birdforum.

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Old Tuesday 12th February 2019, 17:51   #24
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.....
.....
..... But, most of our members are pretty sharp.

Bill
Being a curmudgeon myself, I have to say that this was not my point.

If you look at the first post of this thread, I wasn‘t after „sharpness“ (pun not intended ) but instead after „reliable reviews and tests“ - of course, a big word!

These get usually written by people who
- know a thing or two about optics and the machine-human interface
- have quite a bit of experience
- know how to work and write systematically (or even scientifically).

Of course, there are many members here who fit that description. Nevertheless, most reviews I am reading on BF or CN (including those I have written myself!!!) are rather something like „user reports“, giving a more or less personal account of what was experienced with this or that binocular.

An then there are the more systematic reviews such as e.g. the current one on the Canon 10x32 here on BF by Henry Link, or others outside BF by people like Kimmo Absetz, or Holger Merlitz, or Gjis, or others who have unfortunately stopped writing reviews such as Ed Zarenski (to just name those that come spontaneously to my mind, but there are of course many others to which I apologize for not naming them here).

Please don‘t misunderstand me. I am not disqualifying the many nice and interesting user reports here on BF; I spend myself A LOT of time reading and enjoying those. It‘s just that from time to time, I like either a slightly more systematic analysis of what‘s going on, or an in-depth description of one or comparison of several binoculars.
And such write-ups are usually too big for a forum post, and therefore I was looking for websites where they are easily accessible (I will have to print out the many posts here from Henry on the Canon in order to have them as easily accessible as I like).

And I admit that I had to look up in the Collins what curmudgeon means ....

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Old Tuesday 12th February 2019, 23:23   #25
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Dear European Curmudgeon:

I think (nay, hope) you will agree we are all products of our experiences and environment. If so, then my time in optics allows me a different perspective than those who have had different careers. Elkcub has rattled my cage for being too preachy or braggadocio. But, that too, has had—based on experience—a valid and useful reason.

Everyone coming to a binoculars forum has an equal right to share their opinions. However, that does not mean all those opinions are equally accurate. My whole schtick is to provide—from experience—data that might help someone. Do I make mistakes? Yep. Do I mind being corrected when wrong? Absolutely not! It gives me better information to proffer my neighbor the next time the subject arises. I didn’t worship binoculars. I just used them to feed my family and put the kids through school.

The over the top behavior is used in an effort to get through to the one or two percent who MAY be listening and care. Sadly, most people believe ALL these forums are just chat sessions. And, if that’s what they believe ... that’s what they get. (see attachment)

Example: Over on Cloudy Nights a fellow stated that nobody had ever addressed a certain point about binocular collimation. I referenced 3 sources that would have answered his question. Not only that, I gave him my email address and invited him to contact me. Did he check any of the sources I offered? He did not. Did he call me as requested? He did not. Did he miss a beat in continuing to spread inaccurate information? What do you think?

In my previous post on BF, I was just trying to point out that so many revered “experts” ... aren’t—no more than a large number of members of this forum, some of whom you have already mentioned. As Lee points out, opinions from all quarters matter. But I’ve known some of these experts, been in their shops, and if I revealed all I know, I would be in court the rest of my life. In general, let me say that some still know nothing about binocular alignment and some of those who do, learned it through Cory or myself.

“No Brag; just fact.”— Walter Brennan, The Guns of Will Sonnett, 1967-1969

I will mention one example. Based on the success I was having at Captain’s in Seattle, the manager of Captain’s sister store in Portland hired a Navy Opticalman for his store. This “Opticalman” was a Corpsman who walked behind an F-14 Tomcat that was testing its engines and was blown— unceremoniously—off a flight deck, getting pretty banged up in the process.

Rather than lose a warm body, the Navy put a sword on his shoulder and said: “Thou art now an Opticalman.” So, what did this fellow know about optics? Does the term “ZERO” mean anything to you? Of course, the manager, not knowing anything about optics himself, hired him based on the rating he had when he left the Navy. A valid choice? He was a nice enough fellow; I liked him and spent hours teaching him what the Navy didn’t.

One day, while visiting the Portland store, I saw this fellow out in the pouring rain trying to collimate a sextant by looking at a flag atop a nearby bridge. When he came in, wet from head to toe, and leaned against his Mk 5 collimator to discuss his ordeal (At least it was warm. Portland can’t always get rain like that), I asked him why on earth he chose standing in the rain as opposed to using the collimator.

He replied: “You mean you can use this thing for that?” ‘Nuff said.

Most of the things in binocular repair require little more than a few hand tools, manual dexterity, and a modicum of common sense. Other things require a knowledge of the operation of the particular instrument and the whys and wherefores of 3-axis collimation, none of which are currently revealed on the Internet. Good intentions never equal technical accuracy. The same is true of sales, as well. If the bar of understanding is going to be raised, the salesperson must know more than what’s on the side of the box.

Accurate or not, all opinions are useful to someone. But as long as I see articles, ostensibly written by people some see as experts, stating waterproof “just means rubber armored,” people confusing distortion with curvature of field, think aberrations can be corrected independently, collimation (Columnation, Colluation, Kolimation, Kolimation, Kullmination, etc.) error seen as the inability to “focus,” why the left side of their binocular CAN’T be focused, or calling Bk7 “BAK7” (which is not made by any leading glass company), please forgive me, but I am going to be leery of experts. I have seen way too much bad information put out by them. The main reason being too many people take the first piece of research they see and run with it.

“So, you have enemies? Good, that means you have stood up for something sometime in your life.” — Winston Churchill

I’ll end by asking for your forgiveness if not your indulgence.

Bill

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canip View Post
Being a curmudgeon myself, I have to say that this was not my point.

If you look at the first post of this thread, I wasn‘t after „sharpness“ (pun not intended ) but instead after „reliable reviews and tests“ - of course, a big word!

These get usually written by people who
- know a thing or two about optics and the machine-human interface
- have quite a bit of experience
- know how to work and write systematically (or even scientifically).

Of course, there are many members here who fit that description. Nevertheless, most reviews I am reading on BF or CN (including those I have written myself!!!) are rather something like „user reports“, giving a more or less personal account of what was experienced with this or that binocular.

An then there are the more systematic reviews such as e.g. the current one on the Canon 10x32 here on BF by Henry Link, or others outside BF by people like Kimmo Absetz, or Holger Merlitz, or Gjis, or others who have unfortunately stopped writing reviews such as Ed Zarenski (to just name those that come spontaneously to my mind, but there are of course many others to which I apologize for not naming them here).

Please don‘t misunderstand me. I am not disqualifying the many nice and interesting user reports here on BF; I spend myself A LOT of time reading and enjoying those. It‘s just that from time to time, I like either a slightly more systematic analysis of what‘s going on, or an in-depth description of one or comparison of several binoculars.
And such write-ups are usually too big for a forum post, and therefore I was looking for websites where they are easily accessible (I will have to print out the many posts here from Henry on the Canon in order to have them as easily accessible as I like).

And I admit that I had to look up in the Collins what curmudgeon means ....

Canip
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