Join Date: May 2011
Location: EAST BAY, CA
I am not a binocular expert. I have used a Bushnell 7x26 custom compact for 23 years as my "go to" binocular. It may be good to get a novice, amateur opinion once in a while however.
I have never had an "alpha" bino, although I looked through a Leitz a few years ago. The Leitz was very impressive, and the visual memory of it is one of the reasons I was interested in getting a hi end bino some day.
I just decided recently to wade into the perplexing mass of confusion known as the binocular world to see if there was any value in high price binos vs. some decent budget samples compared to my custom compacts. I would like to spend some more time hiking and low level birding and ocean watching.
I bought some Dientsglass German military porro 8x30 for $100 delivered, a pair of porro Baigish 10x40 WA for $40 delivered, and the Swarovski 8x30WB MKII for about $609 on bay. All are optically and functionally perfect, with the Baigish being brand new. I gather the Swar is about 18 years old and is the version with the flat glass plate and the phase corrected coating. All of these are a lot better than the very competent Bushnell 7x26 custom compact, with much larger fields of view and general focus etc.
The Baigish is a flat marvel for its price. I cannot understand how a piece of technology like this can be sold for $40 delivered. I guess we can thank the heedless socialist system of Russia for providing these without cost considerations.
The colors are flat brilliant, the field of view huge and the general functioning of the bin seems flawless for a center focus porro. The field starts to blur from about 65% sagittal and 80% horizontal, with a very large central area of extremely sharp focus.
I could see people walking along a beach 4 miles away without any problem, and even see some of their limb gestures. Looking at lights at night shows some ghosting, but not terribly distracting, the moon looks grand with its blueness and craters. It is a wonderful "landscape" binocular. It has a lot of immersion and a lovely, 3D effect.
The Dienstglass is also a remarkable, precision glass. It is less impressive than the Baigish, a very large FOV, but very nice to hold and handle and use. It has a moderately de-saturated color compared to the brilliant Baigish. It is very sharp, but not as sharp as either the Swar or the Baigish. I think because of its ruggedness it would be a good general field porro, it also has a very nice 3D effect.
The Swaro at first blush does not seem all that impressive optically by comparison. However, it also takes a while to sink into the qualities and optics of the Swaro to appreciate them.
I will buy things because I like the looks, and the Swaro is the best looking binocular I have ever seen. It looks like it was hewn from an ingot by a man, whereas the later versions look like they were modeled in clay by a woman. Nothing wrong with being modeled in clay by a woman, but I gravitate toward the teutonic handsomeness of this older model.
The Swaro, as expected, is the sharpest of the three, but only by the barest amount over the Baigish. However, its sharpness extends further out into the FOV. I don't know if this is essential, but it does allow easier and faster recognition of items in the peripheral field if you want to switch over to them.
It is necessary to use the Swaro for a bit to get the feel of its superiority. The color rendition of the Swaro is a teensy bit unsaturated, but much more saturated than the Dienstglass, but less optically colorful and brilliant than the Baigish. However, the teensy desaturation seems to be related to its "mixed media" performance cited below.
Not being optically sophisticated, I would call the characteristics I observed in the Swaro mixed media performance, layering, and texture mapping.
Mixed media performance means that when you go from different lighting conditions such as bright sunlight, to dappled sun and shadow to shaded underbrush, the Swaro lets you see everything easily and at once, wheres the others require a period of accommodation and fiddling.
The porros have a much more luxurious 3D image, but the Swaro has much better ability to distinguish layering, say, in a tree with multiple branches, you can quickly distinguish all the different layers of branches and leaves and their different lighting conditions, and see where they are in relation to each other. The Swaros also allow objects within the mixed layer field to be easily recognized.
The Swaro can distinguish intricate texture mapping that I can't even see with the other bins. For instance, a powder coated metal lamp can be seen with its textured, graded sheen with the Swaros. The other bins show the item sharp, but the texture is more impressionistic and less explicit. A jay that likes to jump around my yard and harass me shows intricate interleaving of feathers and their sheens and shapes. I can kind of see these with the other bins, but the Swaro allows the recognition immediately without effort.
The Swaro is also very fast. I love the forward focus knob, I can't understand how anybody would not like that feature unless the just had hands that didn't work with it. The speed means that the Swaro tracks visualized objects with easy focus as they move, with rapid recognition into different lighting conditions. That means rapid focus and recognition with moving objects like birds into different lighting conditions without a lot of fuss or fumbling. I could easily focus on blowing plant fluffs in the air as they moved away from me in the wind with the Swaro, whereas with the other bins I would herky jerk and miss them a bit while focussing and handling.
I guess that I see that the "value" of the Swaro is in deployment, speed, rapid recognition and textures. You will just get more "seeing" done with them in an allotted period of observation due to their overall efficiencies of handling and visualization. That is something I didn't expect.
I guess I will keep the Baigish for landscape viewing and color pop and because it is so inexpensive for such an amazing device. I will probably sell the Deinstglass, not because it is not a wonderful instrument, I just won't have any use for it. I will keep the Bushnell Custom Compact for my wife because it is cute and small. The Swaro is for "serious" and efficient viewing with its Prussian punctuality and precision.
Last edited by cjfrbw : Friday 20th May 2011 at 23:13.