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First half of 2019

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Old Tuesday 25th June 2019, 04:47   #1
Kevin Conville
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First half of 2019

The first half of 2019 found me buying and trying some new optics, which I’m usually not inclined to do much as I’m not a “grass is always greener” kind of guy and I have pretty good stuff. I am not, alas, immune to the bino bug and visiting these pages doesn’t improve my chances of not succumbing. At times I was surprised, delighted, and disappointed.
Here’s what I found:

Nikon 8x30 HG
Very nice bin that just wasn’t perfect enough.
I like most things about this bin but it did have a propensity for flare and glare, and didn’t come to focus as quickly as I like. I was attracted, as many are, to this genre for it’s promise of good optics in a very compact form. But, there was a spoiler…

Zeiss 8x25 Victory
I bought this shortly after the acquisition of the little Monarch. It’s a very trendy bin that gets praise beyond what’s usually lavished upon minis and it seemed logical to A-B them against the Nikon 8x30s, in spite of my skepticism of minis generally. Well knock me over with a feather! These are what many have said they were and overall a better bin than the Monarchs. I kept them and return the Nikons. I used these recently on a trip to the mountains and enjoyed using them quite a lot while hiking. The light weight is freeing and the optics really do compare well with mid sized, high quality bins. I have a new attitude towards (these anyway) 25mm bins.

Kowa 883 w/25-60
I’ve looked for a while for a Nikon ED82A scope to compliment my existing straight ED82 and ED50A. Thinking the angled version of the larger scope would save me pounds of carrying weight by using a much smaller tripod of which I already have several high quality carbon versions with different heads. Not finding one that agreed with me, I decided to plunk down for a Kowa 883. This seemed a no brainer for all the positive reviews and accolades, though it turned out mine wasn’t too good.

First, the “fast” focus wheel felt gritty and just wasn’t pleasant to use. The fine focus was just that, fine, and I wound up using it all the time. Not a good start.
The deal breaker however was it’s optical performance. Frankly, it wasn’t what I expected. Up to about 45x or so it seemed to hold it’s own with the Nikon ED82. But the image quality fell off sharply at 60x. I couldn’t believe it initially as my Nikon holds up great at 75x. I made an artificial star from aluminum foil stretched over a small flashlight with a pin hole in it. I never got concentric circles with the Kowa. In fact it looked a mess and I thought I was doing something wrong until I tested the ED82 and resolved beautiful concentric rings, both short of focus and beyond focus. With this I concluded this particular copy of 883 wasn’t good and back it went. Though the next copy of the big Kowa might prove to be fine, the fire kind of left me about owning one.

Nikon ED82 Fieldscope
I’ve had this scope for 8 or 9 years now and have always thought highly of it for it’s optics, focus, and build quality. After my recent Kowa endeavor I have an even greater appreciation for it and I don’t see myself ever parting with it or my little ED50. Both are truly great field optics. The one addition I’m considering now is the Nikon Monarch ED82A. After Henry’s glowing review, and some other very good reports, this is the 80mm-ish angled scope I am most likely to try next. I’ve had good luck with Nikon I must say.

Nikon 8x42 Monarch HG
This is probably my biggest surprise this year. I’ll just say it- I love this binocular! This is a much better bin than it’s little 8x30 brother and though it has it’s fans and followers, is rather undersung IMO.
Every time I use it it surprises me a bit. What a beautiful view. It most closely reminds me of an Ultravid 7x42 with it’s brightness and color rendition, but with a wider FOV! Sharpness is fantastic and it comes to focus easily and immediately. The eye relief is perfectly dialed in for me with and without glasses and may be the friendliest bin I’ve ever used. Comparable to my Leica 8x32 BNs in this regard. Immediate and comfortable full field w/o blackouts or vignetting. I find their handling excellent as well with their small diameter barrels, nice balance, and excellent focuser. Most of this would be enough to garner it a lofty position in my stable but when one considers it only weighs 23 oz and I paid under $900 for it, well…what more can be said?

Hope you enjoyed these musings. Cheers.
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Last edited by Kevin Conville : Wednesday 26th June 2019 at 02:44.
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Old Tuesday 25th June 2019, 10:41   #2
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"Nikon ED82 Fieldscope
I’ve had this scope for 8 or 9 years now and have always thought highly of it for it’s optics, focus, and build quality. After my recent Kowa endeavor I have an even greater appreciation for it and I don’t see myself ever parting with it or my little ED50. Both are truly great field optics. The one addition I’m considering now is the Nikon Monarch ED82A. After Henry’s glowing review, and some other very good reports, this is the 80mm-ish angled scope I am most likely to try next. I’ve had good luck with Nikon I must say."

Hi Kevin, I am right with you on both the Nikon 82ED A and the little Nikon 50 ED, both are keepers!! The Zeiss 8x25 Victory sounds like a binocular I would really like!
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Old Tuesday 25th June 2019, 12:52   #3
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I've bought and tried quite a few this year as well, including the 8x25 Victory Pocket and I agree completely that it punches above its weight (and size!) and competes more with the 8x30-8x32s than a typical 'pocket' binocular.

I'd really like to try an 8x42 Monarch HG some time for more than cursory views in store, I just haven't gotten the opportunity.

Justin
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Old Tuesday 25th June 2019, 13:32   #4
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Really enjoyed your comments Kevin. Thanks for posting them. My sentiments exactly on the Kowa 884 that I had, which is why I replaced mine with the Meopta S2 that goes to 70x quite well. I'd love to get those HG's out in the field to try out as well.
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Old Tuesday 25th June 2019, 21:59   #5
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Kevin,

Have you tried the Nikon 10x42 HG's? How about the Swarovski 8x25 CL-P? They are very good also.

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Old Tuesday 25th June 2019, 22:51   #6
Kevin Conville
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Kevin,

Have you tried the Nikon 10x42 HG's? How about the Swarovski 8x25 CL-P? They are very good also.
If I had a need for a 10x42 bin I'd certainly try the 10x42 MHGs. I'm guessing I'd be pleased with them as well.
I'm tempted to buy them anyway as much as I dig the 8x42s.

The Swaro CLs look interesting but I'm pretty well pleased with the Zeiss version now.
The Swaros have two hinges rather than one, and I prefer one.
The Zeiss have a FOV that is in line with many 8x30/32 bins and the Swaros have a narrower view more in keeping with other minis.
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Old Tuesday 25th June 2019, 22:54   #7
Kevin Conville
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgraider View Post
Really enjoyed your comments Kevin. Thanks for posting them. My sentiments exactly on the Kowa 884 that I had, which is why I replaced mine with the Meopta S2 that goes to 70x quite well. I'd love to get those HG's out in the field to try out as well.
The Meopta is another scope I've been looking at and has a loyal following, but now that Henry's review has surfaced, the Monarch scope is compelling me more.
I'd like to try both.
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Old Wednesday 26th June 2019, 13:39   #8
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Hey Kevin,

I enjoyed reading that. You are a good writer.

I never got around to trying the MHG 8X30. I probably won't either. It really didn't seem to do anything the 8X42 I have didn't do, maybe a little less.

I'm not surprised about Victory 8X25. Everyone that has one seems to really like it. I may end up getting one or the Swarovski CL Pocket 8X25 B. I waded into unknown 25mm waters with the Zeiss Terra ED 8X25. Turns out I like it so much more than I ever imagined. So much so that I don't know if I NEED a Victory or the Swarovski.

Now the Kowa 883, I AM surprised you didn't like it. Mine has been a really nice scope. I put it aside while I was using the Meopta S2 and the STX 95mm. I got it back out the other night while looking at Jupiter. Beautiful image. Of course the focus on mine is perfect.

Of course I completely agree with your MHG 8X42 comments. It's extremely user-friendly. The eye relief IS about perfect for eyeglass wearers and also for those that don't. You just put that binocular up to your eyes and it just works. I am always pleased with the image presentation.

It will be hard for you to top the first part of 2019 with the half to follow!
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Old Wednesday 26th June 2019, 18:53   #9
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It will be hard for you to top the first part of 2019 with the half to follow!
Sounds like a challenge to me
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Old Wednesday 26th June 2019, 19:43   #10
Kevin Conville
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chill6x6 View Post
Now the Kowa 883, I AM surprised you didn't like it. Mine has been a really nice scope.
Thanks for your comments, Chuck.

It's not really a matter of not liking it. It's about this particular scope being defective, to a degree, in two areas.

I have no doubt the big Kowas are great scopes, if you get a good one. Apparently many (most?) people do and that's why I bought one.

If I didn't have an 82mm scope already and felt more of a compulsion to fill that niche I would order another Kowa 883 in the spirit of the one I received being an aberration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chill6x6 View Post
Of course I completely agree with your MHG 8X42 comments. It's extremely user-friendly. The eye relief IS about perfect for eyeglass wearers and also for those that don't. You just put that binocular up to your eyes and it just works. I am always pleased with the image presentation.
Regarding the 8x42 MHG:
If the ideal binocular is one that requires as little adjustment to accommodate it as possible, amplifies what your are looking at without adding artifacts to distract, and seemingly disappear other than the physical act of holding them,
all while delivering a highly aesthetic image, then the 8x42 MHG is certainly one of those rare binoculars.
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Old Thursday 27th June 2019, 01:21   #11
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Just as a trivial fact I was just in Yellowstone National Park and I saw a lot of spotting scopes in use and every one was a Swarovski. Swarovski just has good marketing with the outdoor folks.
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Old Monday 1st July 2019, 05:00   #12
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Just as a trivial fact I was just in Yellowstone National Park and I saw a lot of spotting scopes in use and every one was a Swarovski. Swarovski just has good marketing with the outdoor folks.
They have good products and EXCELLENT marketing.

BTW, if I had to get a new scope today, it would be the ATS 65mm, NOT the ATX. However, my Nikon Fieldscopes are still going pretty strong.

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Old Saturday 6th July 2019, 13:15   #13
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They have good products and EXCELLENT marketing.

BTW, if I had to get a new scope today, it would be the ATS 65mm, NOT the ATX. However, my Nikon Fieldscopes are still going pretty strong.

Hermann
Sounds like you put weight as the most important factor for you, or is my assumption wrong?
I've compared both next to eachother and for me the atx performed better (bear in mind I wear glasses)
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