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Is the housing material of binoculars relevant for you?

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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 11:36   #1
November
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Is the housing material of binoculars relevant for you?

Hello Birdforum,

I have been discovering nature and bird watching for a few weeks now.
So far I had borrowed binoculars from a friend, but it was a question of time until I noticed that I absolutely need my own binoculars.

In order to find the best binoculars for me, I have been searching the internet for a few days and I have some questions.
I would like to know from you experienced nature and bird watchers what you take care of when buying new binoculars.

Since I like to do long hikes the weight is not unimportant to me. Each gram too much makes me slower and each of my steps heavier.
It is also important to me that my binoculars last a long time and that I invest my money sensibly. The housing has to be made of a material that will last a lifetime - even if my hiking backpack falls down.

I can understand that depending on the material used the weight can vary greatly. But now to my concrete questions:
Do you generally pay attention to the housing material?
Would you rather choose binoculars that are from metal that is heavier or from plastic material that is lighter?

Best regards
November
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 11:50   #2
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Hi November. You are late arriving. Its December already!

I had absolutely no problems with my Zeiss FLs with their glass-fibre reinforced plastic bodies and they did not get treated lightly in the 9 years I used and abused them. So I would have no problem in principal with another bino made from the same material. I say no problem 'in principal' because the grade / quality of the material has to be right and also the design. I don't think you absolutely need metal optical tubes to have a good and durable bino.

If weight is of ultimate importance then I would advise downsizing your binos from 42mm to 32mm or even from 32mm to 25mm. And although we roam rugged Scottish islands we would never, ever, put our binos in our backpack. We can use them quickly and take better care of them from knocks and falls by having them around our necks or on a harness.

Good luck.

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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 11:54   #3
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The material itself is a small factor in the weight:

Most modern top binoculars are made from some kind of alloy with e.g. magnesium in the mix. The lower end binoculars will have less time in the CNC machine and thus more material that could have been cut away. top binoculars can be made of reinforced plastics (like the Zeiss Victory FL line) and still be very strong (if not stronger). Those Zeiss Victory were just a bit lighter than the alloy models (of other brands), so it's really comparing apples with pears, but in general, the weight saving in the alloy - to - plastic - body will be minor (I estimate less than 50 grms)

The main weight is the optical glass and prisms. This will be heavier in bins with different configurations (like x56 will be heavier), but also e.g. a wide-angle binocular has bigger prisms and will be heavier.
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 12:59   #4
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Having that bin suspended from your neck and swinging about like a clock pendulum is a bigger cause of fatigue than sheer weight. A binocular harness will keep the bins in one place and redistribute the weight.

Weight is important to me in the sense a bit of heft seems to steady the image.

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Last edited by Roadbike : Thursday 20th December 2018 at 13:02.
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 15:01   #5
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The polycarbonate frame of the Zeiss Victory T*FL was, in my opinion, an ideal. It made for a lighter but still exceptionally durable binocular. I do not understand why people seem to think this material is any less durable; polycarbonate materials are used in firearms, heavy equipment, etc., all of which should be taking much more of a beating than a pair of binoculars.

Additionally, I've seen high quality metal frames (such as the Swarovski Swarovision) bent/damaged if misused, so do no think a metal frame will stand up perfectly if abused.

Justin
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 15:27   #6
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If I'm looking for weight savings, the most important consideration is if the body housing holds a 32 or a 42 mm binocular. If out hiking a lot, and if low light is not a concern then the 32 mm for me.

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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 16:17   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by November View Post
?....
.....
.....
Do you generally pay attention to the housing material?
....
....
No.
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 18:58   #8
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"Plastic" is a tricky word.

Contemporary composites are very good, but they do not duplicate metals in their physical properties.

Which you prefer is an individual decision.
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Old Friday 21st December 2018, 06:55   #9
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I care more about the covering than the tube material itself, i.e. I prefer leather to rubber armoring.
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Old Monday 24th December 2018, 04:34   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadbike View Post
Having that bin suspended from your neck and swinging about like a clock pendulum is a bigger cause of fatigue than sheer weight. A binocular harness will keep the bins in one place and redistribute the weight.

Weight is important to me in the sense a bit of heft seems to steady the image.

Welcome to Birdforum.
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Old Monday 24th December 2018, 12:10   #11
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I prefer metal over plastic as I consider it to be longer lasting and more robust.
Having said that I own and use some Steiner Commander Military/Marine 7x50 with some „plastic“ case for over 30 years now that is still as good as new without any practical problem ever.
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Old Monday 24th December 2018, 13:29   #12
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Really, rarely if ever even consider it. The end result is really what matters to me. If if need a lightweight binocular, I just look at it's weight. Way to GET to a lightweight binocular are mentioned above. Start out with binocular with 30-32mm objective size then compare in that group.
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Old Monday 24th December 2018, 13:49   #13
Gijs van Ginkel
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Sebzwo, post 11,
Some "plastics" are used in bullet proof vests, so they seem to be pretty durable and strong. Plastics are also used in the aviation industry and military equipment, so metals are not necessarily stronger and more durable.
Merry Chrismas and a Happy New Year.
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