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10 x 42 verses 8.5 x 42 and are cameras the new must have?

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Old Friday 7th May 2010, 12:03   #1
Patrick3
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10 x 42 verses 8.5 x 42 and are cameras the new must have?

Hi guys,
The endless 10 x42 verses 8.5 x 42 debate is quite interesting in Australia. I asked for advice from the top Australian birder who recommended 8 x 42. Since then I have yet to find in the field any other fans for the 8.5 x 42. When I went into a birding shop here in Melbourne, the owner informed me that the 10 x 42 is the standard Australian birdwatching binocular. Everywhere I go I find this to be true. At a recent Birds Australia meeting I spoke with another top birder, he uses 10 x 42, spoke to the author of the Big Twitch, also a fan of the 10 x 42. I was out on a wading trip organised by 2 female birders, both use 10 x 42s. A couple of weeks ago I was out on a spotlighting trip with a professional birder seeking the Plains-wanderer. The English born guide uses 10 x 42 swarovskis. Interestingly, another Australian birder was on the trip wiith a wizz bang camera and had put his money into camera stuff rather than high-end binoculars and had the older model Nikon Monarch 10 x 42s. Interestingly enough, the next day, I stopped the car and there happened to be a new bird sittting close by on a fence, while I was fumbling around trying to get my top end Bushnell 10 x 42s into focus, my wife handed me the Swarovski 8.5 x 42s and instant result. The ease at close range was great. By the way, I have got my 8.5 x 42s back after the small focus problem and fell in love with the replacement ones that were kindly lent to me by the wonderful Swarovski Australian agent. We took these to Lord Howe Island and they were just amazing. They were about a 9 year old model, but they kept great focus and it wasa delight to watch the seabirds on the wing, such as the soaring Black-winged Terns. My wife and I were very sad to have to give them back. To be honest, I would rate them as a bit better than my 2009 8.5 x 42s. So if any of you still have this model, I would strongly advise you to keep them. When I returned to the binocular shop the sales staff raved about them being a great model. Getting back to the Palins-wanderer trip, here is a link to his photos if anyone is interested in seeing a Plains-wanderer: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrtroy/ . About a week later my wife and I were out chasing a recent sighting of Swift parrots and it was amazing just how many birders were walking around with cameras. We had great trouble spotting the Swift Parrots in the trees and Deb wondered if we were also seeing White-naped Honeyeaters or the Black-chinned that had been reported and a bloke came along with his camera with a longish lens, pointed it at the bird and bang, took the photo, checked the image and sure enough, it was a White-naped Honeyeater. I'm wondering if the camera will take over from top end binoculars. I'm thinking that in the future, it will be a must have for me. What do you think?
Happy birding,
Pat
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Old Friday 7th May 2010, 12:34   #2
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Hi Patrick,

Over the years, and reading from your post, I have three experiences/thoughts I would like to share:
1. I don't mind other people sticking to their 10x42. As long as they are happy and I am.
2. Australia is a rather 'savannah' country: lots of birds on the bushes and far away in the (open) fields. So I can see the added value of 10's for most of the time.
3. I have a camera myself with a 300mm F4. A lot of the times I can't ID a bird high in the tree with back light (or just a raptor flying overhead), I take the camera, overlighten the image and bang. I got the ID. Another trick is to buy a good, light scope. No need for big hefty lenses that hamper your walking ability. But that's a personal choice.
So maybe the question is: do you want to WATCH birds in real life or look some kind of human technology (camera screen, computer) to enjoy a bird? I personally enjoy the (bare-naked/binocular/scope) eye-to-eye views of a bird most, even if I can't ID them.
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Old Friday 7th May 2010, 13:12   #3
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Hi Patrick
I have a pair of 10 x 42 Leica Trinovids and a pair of 8 x 32 Zeiss FL's. I prefer the magnification of the 10 x 42's and find that I have to do a lot less re-focussing with these. I'm seriously considering a Swarovision 10 x 42 but I must say I'd never considered the 8.5

I enjoy the extra magnification for sea watching and watching waders on a lake.

Richard
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Old Saturday 8th May 2010, 00:03   #4
Kevin Purcell
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Quote:
spoke to the author of the Big Twitch, also a fan of the 10 x 42
Ah, Sean Dooley. I just finished the book (strongly recommended!)

I'm curious which brand he uses. I notice he did mention that he prefers 10x42 in the book but not the make. Not that it makes any difference, of course. Just curious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Temmie
2. Australia is a rather 'savannah' country: lots of birds on the bushes and far away in the (open) fields. So I can see the added value of 10's for most of the time.
That's a huge generalization. A continent with only one habitat.

There are quite a lot of different habitats in Australia including dense rainforest in the subtropical North to other interesting mediteranean woodland in the South and South a lot of it specific to Australia. It's not all Great Sandy Desert, Nullarbor Plain, and Uluru. Only 40% of it is and most of the people don't live there

http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/...bra/index.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecoregions_in_Australia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Australia

OK, back to the topic on hand ...

I've commented on this effect before but quite a few twitchers do use only a 10x42 which always struck me as a bit odd. I rationalize it as they're generally looking for a short time to find specific field marks to check the bird on the list. Possibly at maximum ID range (hence the 10x). I mean imagine dipping out on a bloody difficult one, like the Grey Falcon, or even a once in a century bird like a Night Parrot because it's just too far away to see the field marks in your 7x. I'm sure that's the rationalization. In the same way (to use another Australian analogy) that the Holden and Ford fans think more grunt is the only possible answer.

Actually bird watching (for bird behavior) I prefer to do at lower magnifications and you see a similar pattern amongst field biologists/ornithologists who watch behavior too.

I am surprised that more of these twitchers don't use more than one bin with the choice depending on habitat. A narrow 10x in a forest is easily trounced by a wide 7x (as Temmie or perhaps another poster added to a recent 7x thread based on his rainforest experineces). You can get on a bird more quickly with the wide FOV and if it's too far away there are trees and shrubs in the way so the 10x just doesn't help.

I have 6x, 7x, 8x and 10x in my collection and I like to choose the appropriate bin for the habitat and task. The problem is if one goes out for the day and walks through a bunch of different habitats what do you take with you: 7x? 8x? 10x? scope? Perhaps this is why most only use one bin plus a scope

The comment about the Monarch also popped up on another recent thread. There are a lot of serious twitchers that still use the Monarch (probably the 10x42 though I've not checked). Perhaps because they're not interested in upgrades or perhaps they feel the upgrade isn't worth the money. And I've noticed the same thing some of them are carrying decent camera gear too. So I think the reason for this is: it's good enough and it's light (21oz) and perhaps they'ed rather spend the money on either camera gear or traveling to see more birds. Moving to better optics (if they're so inclined) means a (much) heavier bin so that may be part of the decision.

Another thing to note is some very experienced birders (especially those that started in the Eastern US with it's second growth woodlands) like 7x e.g. Pete Dunne and David Sibley come to mind. Perhaps as they depend less of field marks and more on GISS and other patterns they recognize more birds than needing to "ID" them from field marks.

A final point: the variation in acuity or vision correction between say 20/20 and 20/15 or 20/15 and 20/10 is about the same as the difference in "enhancement" between 7x and 10x bins. Perhaps folks with really excellent vision don't mind the trade off for wide FOV for finding the birds or the reduction in shake when out all day looking for birds. But the scatter in vision covers the acuity difference between 7x and 10x.

All of that said the new SLC HD range has dropped the 7x from the top of the Swaro roofs so it seems some makers (but not Zeiss, Leica and Nikon at the top end ... yet) have decided that 7x is perhaps old hat or perhaps just too small a market. Perhaps the twitchers are getting what they asked for but perhaps not what they need?

On the other hand the new superzoom cameras are now looking like useful tools for twichers (for documentation) or more casual birders rather than the hardcore big (and expensive lensed) SLR cameras.

Last edited by Kevin Purcell : Saturday 8th May 2010 at 01:37.
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Old Saturday 8th May 2010, 01:28   #5
NDhunter
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Kevin:

You have given a very nice rundown on what seems to be a quest for the perfect power in a binocular. So it seems, there is no correct answer. Now if we are talking birding,
and positive ID's to add to the tally, then for those who want to quickly get a glance, and then click away with the powerful digital camera, then the binocular is not an important tool.

It seems then that the discussions here about optical quality, and the value of those at various pricepoints then does become the main consideration. Most birders do not carry
a camera or a scope, but are just interested in the hobby, and that is getting in the great outdoors, and getting a look at what is out there.

You are like some here who have a large array of choices to view with, and so that is kind of nice too, and would it not be boring if there was only one brand, one power, etc!!

I think it was brought out by a Swaro. rep. on a recent post who said the 7x sales have
not been very good, and so they have dropped them. And you know the market does
determine what is in the marketplace. Another example is on premium porros, some have have on the wishlist, WP, twistup eyecups, etc. For many here, just think, right now this is the golden age of binoculars. The Alphas are giving some nice new choices, and the Chinese clones are looking for market share, aided by govt. subsidies and cheap labor.

Jerry
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Old Saturday 8th May 2010, 01:45   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDHunter
You have given a very nice rundown on what seems to be a quest for the perfect power in a binocular. So it seems, there is no correct answer.
And that is the perfect elevator summary: pick the right bin at the right price point that makes the right compromises for you.

That could be the motto of this forum. If it were more pithy or in Latin.
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Old Saturday 8th May 2010, 02:35   #7
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Suum cuique pulchrum est.
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Old Saturday 8th May 2010, 03:10   #8
NDhunter
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Originally Posted by elkcub View Post
Suum cuique pulchrum est.
Huh, what?
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Old Saturday 8th May 2010, 04:20   #9
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Originally Posted by NDhunter View Post
Huh, what?
To each his own is beautiful (Cicero).

Or for the more quantitative minded:

1 Cicero = 4.51166667 millimeters :-)
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Old Saturday 8th May 2010, 18:07   #10
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Suum cuique pulchrum est.
Excellent, elkcub!
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Old Saturday 8th May 2010, 20:55   #11
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The short of it is that 8.5x is most like 8x. So I use 8x and 10x both. Lots of models, no alphas, my one Zeiss is gone.
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Old Monday 10th May 2010, 02:14   #12
Patrick3
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Kevin,
Your insightful comments are great and so is your reading choice. Sean Dooley's book is one of my favourates. as to what which brand of bin his 10 x 42 he uses, I'm guessing Zeiss from photos and the fact that his mentor, Mike Carter is a Zeiss fan (8x42). I met Sean a couple of times this year and didn't want to pester him with too many questions. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I bumped into him in the local cafe strip and he sat with us on the train into town with a sad demeanor because of an announment that the Orange-bellied Parrot is expected to be extinct within a few years. I asked Sean if he would guide us to see it and if it happens I will then post his bin brand. This is a link to an article he wrote about the OBP in the newspaper : http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/soc...0504-u71g.html
Kevin, you're so right about taking a photo to ID later. The Grey Falcon you mentioned is a case in point. Troy, who took photos on th Plains-wanderer trip, while on his way back to Sydneyhad stopped at a biridng spot and photographed a falcon that he was a little unsure about and it was later confirmed by an expert to be the Grey Falcon. His sighting was a first for the area. He emailed that it was the happiest birding highlight of his life. Not something to be sneezed at. I myself have ticked it, not knowing at the time that it was difficult to find but have added a question mark due to its rarity, but if I'd had a camera, I would have the proof.
Thanks to others for your comments.

Last edited by Patrick3 : Monday 10th May 2010 at 02:34.
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Old Monday 10th May 2010, 02:55   #13
Patrick3
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[quote=Patrick3;1817142]Kevin,
Your insightful comments are great and so is your reading choice. Sean Dooley's book is one of my favourates. as to what which brand of bin his 10 x 42 he uses, I'm guessing Zeiss from photos and the fact that his mentor, Mike Carter is a Zeiss fan (8x42). I met Sean a couple of times this year and didn't want to pester him with too many questions. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I bumped into him in the local cafe strip and he sat with us on the train into town with a sad demeanor because of an announment that the Orange-bellied Parrot is expected to be extinct within a few years. I asked Sean if he would guide us to see it and if it happens I will then post his bin brand. This is a link to an article he wrote about the OBP in the newspaper : http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/soc...0504-u71g.html
Kevin, you're so right about taking a photo to ID later. The Grey Falcon you mentioned is a case in point. Troy, who took photos on th Plains-wanderer trip, while on his way back to Sydneyhad stopped at a biridng spot and photographed a falcon that he was a little unsure about and it was later confirmed by an expert to be the Grey Falcon. His sighting was a first for the area. He emailed that it was the happiest birding highlight of his life. Not something to be sneezed at. I myself have ticked it, not knowing at the time that it was difficult to find but have added a question mark due to its rarity, but if I'd had a camera, I would have the proof.
Thanks to others for your comments.
Jerry, love your comment, "You are like some here who have a large array of choices to view with, and so that is kind of nice too, and would it not be boring if there was only one brand, one power, etc!!"
I will bear this in mind, it is a perfect antidote to wondereing, "what if" etc,
Patrick
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Old Monday 10th May 2010, 04:11   #14
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A few comments:

Regarding the option of having more than one pair of bins in different mags, I have chosen to have one pair of alpha bins, and as I used to live in areas where open area birding was the most important for me, they are 10x42. I feel that it would be excessive to have a second pair at alpha price (and I am sure my wife would rather spend the money on a vacation instead), and if the second pair was poorer quality, they would probably not get much use. I would consider 8x today if I had to buy from new, but the pair I recently tried were just not good enough to tempt me.

Regarding the Plains wanderer trip: I am envious. They were just not there the one night I was out looking for them.

Also regarding Plains wanderer: there are only two images in the gallery, please consider uploading one here in as well.

Finally: I think for the birders first, photos second crop of us, the superzooms offer portability and a "good enough" image quality, that is what I carry myself (Panasonic FZ18).

Niels
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Old Friday 14th May 2010, 02:47   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
A few comments:

Regarding the option of having more than one pair of bins in different mags, I have chosen to have one pair of alpha bins, and as I used to live in areas where open area birding was the most important for me, they are 10x42. I feel that it would be excessive to have a second pair at alpha price (and I am sure my wife would rather spend the money on a vacation instead), and if the second pair was poorer quality, they would probably not get much use. I would consider 8x today if I had to buy from new, but the pair I recently tried were just not good enough to tempt me.

Regarding the Plains wanderer trip: I am envious. They were just not there the one night I was out looking for them.

Also regarding Plains wanderer: there are only two images in the gallery, please consider uploading one here in as well.

Finally: I think for the birders first, photos second crop of us, the superzooms offer portability and a "good enough" image quality, that is what I carry myself (Panasonic FZ18).

Niels
Hi Niels,
Sorry that you missed out on seeing the Plains Wanderer. Were you out with Simon Starr? It must have been a big disappointment after going to so much trouble. But that's birding for you. The other bloke, Troy, on the trip was was telling us that he went out 100 times before finally seeing the Ground Parrot.
I'll check out your camera tip. I'm hoping maybe for the impossible that cameras with high powered zooms and also light-weight will be developed in the future.
Best wishes,
Patrick
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