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Which sub-alpha bino

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Old Tuesday 31st July 2018, 09:49   #101
Troubador
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Andy I have both too and I wouldn't say SF is any less well built. Mine have been bashed about a bit when scrambling over slippy rocks and tall fences, not to mention having been subject to the indignity of me lying on them on all kinds of ground including boggy, to take ground-level photos of flowers.
And during the time FL was a current model there was a feeling among some folks that the 'plastic' body meant it was built in a cheap and not durable way. I never agreed with this and it is great that you don't either. But after couple of years use and (almost) abuse in some of Scotland's wildest places I have absolutely no complaints about the durability of SF.

Lee
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Old Wednesday 1st August 2018, 00:58   #102
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Lee,

Each has their own story, I should not have introduced this in the sub-alpha topic. The optics was not a problem they are very nice, they had to make the glass long to get that wide FOV. It is actually as large as some of my 10X50s. But I procured another after my first encounters with it and needless to say it did not go well on a hu..ing excursion. So to me, I have other Zeiss which I really like and other glass that suits me for what I do. So in my own opinion, not as tough. I respect others opinions, and I have mine.

Andy W.
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Old Wednesday 1st August 2018, 05:45   #103
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Lee,

I respect others opinions, and I have mine.

Andy W.
Absolutely. As you rightly point out experiences can differ. Personally I would have been happy for Zeiss to continue with material they used for the FL bodies but it seems the market didn't like it at the FL's price point. Maybe it would be different if they tried carbon fibre as that seems well established in tripods and monopods.

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Old Friday 3rd August 2018, 20:14   #104
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I have some Docter Nobilem 10x50 porro as my sub alpha bino (and top of my line) and I love it. Instrument quality, solid, fantastic view. Not made anymore. Like 600 $ in original package new. I can recommend to get your own stuff not those overpriced overhyped ones where the "top" model seems to change every season. And afterwards you learn about all those teething troubles and QC issues that 2000 $+ bins might still have.

I watched the lunar eclipse over Germany the other day with it and it was breathtaking.

This would be my shot of the day if hadn't my perfect binocular already:
https://www.frankonia.com/p/docter/8...SABEgJJwfD_BwE

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Old Saturday 4th August 2018, 14:53   #105
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Mine have been bashed about a bit when scrambling over slippy rocks and tall fences, not to mention having been subject to the indignity of me lying on them on all kinds of ground including boggy, to take ground-level photos of flowers.

... But after couple of years use and (almost) abuse in some of Scotland's wildest places I have absolutely no complaints about the durability of SF.

Lee
In all fairness - given that satisfied users tend to keep schtum, while those that have found issues are much quicker to raise hell over the internet - we would probably be hearing lots more complaints if the SF (or HT for that matter) was really too fragile for typical birding use. I will admit on handling the 8x and 10x models myself last year they seemed so light (especially for their size) they did make me wonder how they would hold up to really hard use, but there don't seem to be many complaints - thus far anyway - and in reality how many of us truly subject our birding binoculars to really demanding treatment?

Patudo
If you check out the weight of SF 8x compared with Swaro EL 8.5x it is only 50 grams lighter, and some of this comes from deleting one of the big objective lenses. The big difference is in the balance which places the weight within your hands so it feels much lighter.

Lee

Last edited by Troubador : Saturday 4th August 2018 at 20:06.
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Old Saturday 4th August 2018, 15:26   #106
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There are less SF owners than you think, we hear about experiences here because folks have or had them, most do not buy a binocular for $2600 - 2800 and if they do, there are probably more owners of the EL SV 10X42 than SF owners. Birders around the world probably have more Nikons than anything else.

Andy W.
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Old Saturday 4th August 2018, 19:25   #107
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There is a fair amount of discussion of the Noctivid (including CA issues experienced by some users etc) on the Leica forum, and that is just as expensive if not more so...
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Old Saturday 4th August 2018, 21:01   #108
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I take it you own a SF then.

Andy W.
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Old Monday 6th August 2018, 22:55   #109
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I take it you own a SF then.

Andy W.
It's quite telling that you made that assumption, but... no. When or if I do, I'll make sure to post about how its field of view is superior to the previous generation alpha, that it handles better, that the focus wheel falls so instinctively to the hand...

That they may not be sturdy enough for hu..ing - I don't know just how much toughness is necessary for that job, so will venture no opinion. But there are certainly enough of them out there that if they weren't sturdy enough for their target market (birding) we'd know about it by now.
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Old Monday 6th August 2018, 23:00   #110
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They will never sell as many of those telescopes with the toy focus wheel, as the FL. I on the other hand I do not buy a glass purely for birding. Additionally I find many glass made today not up to the standards of 10 years ago.

Andy W.
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Old Wednesday 8th August 2018, 22:35   #111
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Does the number of units sold have much relevance to how good a binocular is? More Dialyts were produced than FLs, but the latter are certainly better optically. For that matter, more Swarovski ELs have probably been sold than FLs, too... And as for "glass" being made better 10 years ago - there are quite a few threads here that make for, shall we say, interesting reading...

Focus wheel position, yeah, that's only a gimmick to those who don't (or seldom) need to focus their binoculars.
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Old Wednesday 8th August 2018, 22:47   #112
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Hey Patido, we agree to disagree leave it at that.

Andy W.
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Old Thursday 9th August 2018, 07:05   #113
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Just to throw in my newbie 2 cents, having gone through something like this choice recently. I decided there's another way to get "sub-alpha" -- buy the alphas from 2-3 generations ago. I picked up some Zeiss 10x42 Victory HT for $1200. That's quite a bit less than the Swaro SLC and the Victory have good FoV (407ft @ 1000 for the 8x42 HT) and minimum focus distance (6.2 ft) [don't have the metric in my spreadsheet]. They are the "alpha" 10x42 from Zeiss 2 generations ago. But, you need to shop around and be patient for the right thing to come up on ebay or astromart. In the sub-$1000 range, I bet the recommendations above for a current model would be the right thing.

For me, it was more about getting great optics (low/no ca, good in shadows, see fine detail) and the gross ergonomics (size and weight). yes, there's been advances and the current models outshine the old ones in certain ways, but at that level a few generations ago are still fantastic.

Marc
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Old Thursday 9th August 2018, 07:07   #114
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Andy is correct to say sales of top alpha binos are low compared with more competitively priced models. Market research conducted by Kiska and mentioned on their website said that in the USA the average hunter would not spend more than $500 on binos. The popularity of Nikon, Leupold, Vortex in the States reflects this. This may not apply to birders so much but for sure there are always going to be more sub-$500 binos being sold than over $2000 ones.

Over here in Europe things are a little different but not so much. Nikon isn't strong over here (I have never seen a Nikon bino in the field anywhere) and in the UK at least this position in the market is occupied by Opticron.

This is my personal perception of the market. Always happy to hear other views.

Lee
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Old Tuesday 20th November 2018, 02:58   #115
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Hi, I'm back! So a few months ago I started this thread about some mid-range 8x42 bins - the SLC, Conquest HD and Monarch HG.

Well now I have manged to look through some and must say, as many of you did, seeing is the only way to go. Unfortunately none of the models of primary interest were there but hopefully there is enough similarities to extrapolate several features.

The first two were Swaro SV and SLC in 10x42. The SLC never agreed with me. I have tried one before and the focuser on them is IMHO a mess. Tough to start, then loose one way, with at least consistent but a different level of resistance the other way. Both pairs have been similar and some months apart. Maybe it is something that would become accustomed to but it was too difficult to get a nice focus. The SV focuser was certainly better, less variable and at least consistent speeds in both directions. I could live without the sharp edges, both views are nice but I can see why some people prefer the flat field. However, a 10x is not for me. One thing I did prefer on the SLC was the feel in the hand.

The other model was a Meopta Meostar 7x50. If i walked in off the street with no preconceived notions and no real preference for magnification/fov etc. this is the one I would buy. The focuser had more resistance than i am used to but smoother than the Swaros. Huge exit pupil so eye placement was very comfortable, very bright, very easy to hold steady despite it being the heaviest. DOF is great. Nice edges even if they aren't flat. Build quality seems to the layman at least as good as the Swaros. AND it is well under half the price of the SV 10x42. Really cracking view for the price and I wish there was more 7x bins around, shame they have fallen out of favour. Easy to see why the Meostars are said to be in the upper tiers.

Not sure where this leaves me. Honestly, I doubt the differences seen when testing between any of the models in this price bracket are going to be deal breakers once in the field and ergonomics and feel will sway it one way or another. A crap focuser will, for my use, lead to more frustration than slightly better optics. All three did look very nice but I will probably rule out the Swaros as I am reluctant to drop twice the money on the SV 8.5 compared to the HG, HD, Meostar.

Last edited by oxygen : Tuesday 20th November 2018 at 04:56.
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Old Tuesday 20th November 2018, 07:47   #116
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Oxygen

As you have discovered, discovering and recommending a 'best bino' at any price level is not simple. The principal idea that 'its all about the optics and nothing else matters' fades when you pick up any pair of binos and start using them or testing them in a practical way.

At the price level you have been looking at there are binos that offer a lot of quality for the money. In my stable favourites for different reasons and different uses include Conquest HD, Meopta MeoStar B1 and Leica Trinovid HD models. And if you step down another price level Opticron's current Imagic and Traveller models offer outstanding value (IMHO) too.
Taking a closer look at my short-list of sub-alphas that I give above, the Conquest 8x32 gives me a fast smooth focus that I use in species-rich environments where I need to focus quickly from nearby butterflies or dragonflies to distant birds then back again, if close distance is a priority then Leica's Trinovid HD 8x32 is my choice as it focuses closer than anything else I have and its focuser is a pleasure to use. The Meoptas are versatile with a very pleasant and accessible view and make a change from Zeiss SFs. They also have very precise-feeling focuser that I enjoy using.
I wish you good luck in exploring binos at this price level and finding the one that 'speaks' to you and appeals the most.

Lee
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Old Tuesday 20th November 2018, 13:09   #117
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Take a look at the Kowa Genesis 8.5x44.
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Old Tuesday 20th November 2018, 13:39   #118
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Take a look at the Kowa Genesis 8.5x44.
I keep hearing great things about those.

So far, my "best" sub-alpha would have to be the Zeiss Conquest HD followed closely by the Monarch HG.

But I agree that buying a used alpha is the way to go if that's what you really want. They come up for sale often enough.

Having said that, I've looked through enough binoculars now to know I'll never own a true top of the heap alpha because I just don't see enough difference to justify the extra $1K
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Old Tuesday 20th November 2018, 15:37   #119
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The other model was a Meopta Meostar 7x50. If i walked in off the street with no preconceived notions and no real preference for magnification/fov etc. this is the one I would buy. The focuser had more resistance than i am used to but smoother than the Swaros. Huge exit pupil so eye placement was very comfortable, very bright, very easy to hold steady despite it being the heaviest. DOF is great. Nice edges even if they aren't flat. Build quality seems to the layman at least as good as the Swaros. AND it is well under half the price of the SV 10x42. Really cracking view for the price and I wish there was more 7x bins around, shame they have fallen out of favour. Easy to see why the Meostars are said to be in the upper tiers.

Not sure where this leaves me. Honestly, I doubt the differences seen when testing between any of the models in this price bracket are going to be deal breakers once in the field and ergonomics and feel will sway it one way or another. A crap focuser will, for my use, lead to more frustration than slightly better optics. All three did look very nice but I will probably rule out the Swaros as I am reluctant to drop twice the money on the SV 8.5 compared to the HG, HD, Meostar.
Hi,

I can understand why you like the Meopta 7x50 - all the good things you mention about it besides the mechanics are at least partly inherent to the 7x50 format.

If you can handle the a hundred grams or two extra, go for it. Or try the 8x42 which will have the same nice mechanics but of course only a 5mm exit pupil instead of 7 and less DoF and a bit more field curvature.

But if you want a pair of 8x40 bins, you really should try a few others mentioned, namely the Monarch HG, the Conquest HD and maybe the Genesis.

Joachim
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Old Thursday 22nd November 2018, 04:35   #120
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Lots of opinions here. I can only share that I love my Conquest 32s and think they are just superb. I have looked through the FL's and honestly don't see much difference. The top end Swaros are a different story, those are the only bins I think are significantly better.
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 11:13   #121
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Hello, speaking from my personal opinion and experience:

-Top level (Alpha) binoculars:Swarovski EL, Zeiss Sf, Leica Noctivid.

Someone may not like rolling ball effect, flare, ergonomics, size, ... , of some of them.
But in my opininion, these 3 binoculars are the best available optics today, not only at the edges but also at the center of field, with better spherical aberration and better overall image as a whole.


-Second level ( Betta) binoculars: Swarovski SLC, Zeiss HT/FL, Leica Ultravid HD+, Nikon EDG.

Alpha and betta binoculars are at the same mechanical level (except SLC).


-Third level ( Gamma) binoculars:Swarovski CL, Zeiss Conquest, Leica Trinovid, Nikon HG, Kowa Genesis, Nikon SE/EII.


-Fourth level (Delta) binoculars:Zeiss Terra, Nikon Monarch, ...

Last edited by AlbertoJ : Friday 21st December 2018 at 10:41.
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 13:18   #122
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Lots of opinions here. I can only share that I love my Conquest 32s and think they are just superb. I have looked through the FL's and honestly don't see much difference. The top end Swaros are a different story, those are the only bins I think are significantly better.
I agree
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 13:43   #123
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlbertoJ View Post
Hello, speaking from my personal opinion and experience:

-Top level (Alpha) binoculars:Swarovski EL, Zeiss Sf, Leica Noctivid.

Someone may not like rolling ball effect, flare, ergonomics, size, ... , of some of them.
But in my opininion, these 3 binoculars are the best available optics today, not only at the edges but also at the center of field, with better spherical aberration and better overall image as a whole.


-Second level ( Betta) binoculars: Swarovski SLC, Zeiss HT/FL, Leica Ultravid HD+, Nikon EDG.

Alpha and betta binoculars are at the same mechanical level (except SLC).


-Third level ( Gamma) binoculars:Swarovski CL, Zeiss Conquest, Leica Trinovid, Nikon HG, Kowa Genesis, Nikon SE/EII.


-Fourth level (Delta) binoculars:Zeiss Terra, Nikon Monarch, ...
Jeez! Third rate ! Don't let Bill see that ! :)




Chosun
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 19:41   #124
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlbertoJ View Post
Hello, speaking from my personal opinion and experience:

-Top level (Alpha) binoculars:Swarovski EL, Zeiss Sf, Leica Noctivid.

Someone may not like rolling ball effect, flare, ergonomics, size, ... , of some of them.
But in my opininion, these 3 binoculars are the best available optics today, not only at the edges but also at the center of field, with better spherical aberration and better overall image as a whole.

-Second level ( Betta) binoculars: Swarovski SLC, Zeiss HT/FL, Leica Ultravid HD+, Nikon EDG.

Alpha and betta binoculars are at the same mechanical level (except SLC).
The SLC 42 could be considered as Beta, but the SLC 56 are Alphas for sure (mechanically and optically).
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 20:45   #125
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Oh well, Nikon not popular in the U.K? Well I’ll just have to keep my 3rd rate bin (E2) to myself,
Cost less than a quarter of an alpha and you always see to get what you pay for ;-) I can spend the money I save on a better spotter or other “sub alpha” stuff!

Peter
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