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Which sub-alpha bino

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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 00:05   #1
oxygen
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Which sub-alpha bino

Wanting to buy a very nice bino. Options above this group are mostly close to or exceeding 2x the cost which as much as would be nice, is hard to justify and i'd prefer the difference go to a birding trip.

Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 - biggest FOV, lightest
Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 - cheapest, smallest FOV (approx 60ft less than the HG!)
Swarovski SLC WB 8x42 - most expensive, good FOV, worried about the minimum focus distance

Thanks
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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 02:08   #2
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I would buy alpha glass and save up for the trip.

I would not go on an expensive trip with sub-alpha glass, but that's just me.
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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 02:10   #3
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Wanting to buy a very nice bino. Options above this group are mostly close to or exceeding 2x the cost which as much as would be nice, is hard to justify and i'd prefer the difference go to a birding trip.

Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 - biggest FOV, lightest
Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 - cheapest, smallest FOV (approx 60ft less than the HG!)
Swarovski SLC WB 8x42 - most expensive, good FOV, worried about the minimum focus distance

Thanks
The Swarovski SLC WB is easily the best of the three but it is also quite a bit more expensive than the other two. The Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 and the Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 are good medium priced binoculars. The SLC is really an alpha and very close to the best Swarovski makes which is the SV except the SLC doesn't have the sharp edges of the SV.

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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 02:20   #4
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You should try all three of them and then decide. But if you can't, get the Swarovski. Unless you are into examining up close bugs like Dragon Flies and such.

Bob
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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 03:31   #5
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It seems rather clear that Bob's statements,

"But if you can't, get the Swarovski. Unless you are into examining up close bugs like Dragon Flies and such."

when held against Oxy's original query, seem to settle the matter (at least as far as the Swaro).
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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 05:01   #6
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Of the 3 bins you've listed as candidates:

The SLCs, as others have noted, are really more "near-alpha" than "sub-alpha" and that's reflected in both quality and price. If you're prepared to pay the freight, and don't mind the long-ish nearest focus distance, then they'd probably be the pick of the litter you've offered.

The MGs are "new kids on the block" so there's been little or no time for them to be extensively tested by a range of reviewers. The specs look good, and Nikon is certainly a well-regarded brand. But, still, they'd be a bit of a gamble. (Yet, hey, if you want to gamble there are worse things to back than Nikon.)

The Conquest HDs are well-known and well-regarded as mid-range bins. They'd certainly be a safe choice. (As would Leica Trinovid HDs, at similar quality and price, but with an even narrower FOV.) Maven B1s are reputed to also match up well as to quality and price.

Another alternative to the Conquest HDs would be the Tract Toric. As it happens, I have some of these (the old model, which is being replaced) and they're very nice binoculars. They easily compete with the Conquests and Trinovids. I couldn't tell you which of the three (or the Maven B1s) I'd think "best" as I've only looked through Conquests and Trinovids a couple of times and not been able to directly compare with my Torics. But quality levels do seem similar, both optical and mechanical.

And, as it happens, if you look here:

https://www.birdforum.net/showpost.p...postcount=3592

...the old model is available at a pretty attractive price right now. You might be able to get a good deal and extend that birding trip. I'd say it's worth considering, anyway.

...Mike
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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 07:43   #7
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There are good reasons to choose a 42mm for ease of eye placement and significant extra viewing time at dusk. But if these reasons aren't critical for you I would consider Conquest HD 8x32 with its big fov, good close focus and fast focus speed it is very versatile at getting you on nearby butterflies and dragonflies (and warblers) and then onto a distant hawk or heron and then back onto a nearby dragonfly and all without massive finger-pumping on the focus wheel.

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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 08:13   #8
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Consider also the Meopta Meostar B1.
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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 08:26   #9
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There are good reasons to choose a 42mm for ease of eye placement and significant extra viewing time at dusk. But if these reasons aren't critical for you I would consider Conquest HD 8x32 with its big fov, good close focus and fast focus speed it is very versatile at getting you on nearby butterflies and dragonflies (and warblers) and then onto a distant hawk or heron and then back onto a nearby dragonfly and all without massive finger-pumping on the focus wheel.

Lee
I have used an 8x32 and prefer the size and weight of a 42. The Conquest is interesting though as it is only weighs 30 grams less than the HG. But still not sure how it will feel in the hand as placement of the 42 to me seems more natural. Unfortunately the only one I can find nearby will be if a hunting shop gets in a SLC, they only seem to stock 10x.

Mike,
The Tract had interested me some time ago and that is a very good price.


Seems the Swaro SLC is the clear favourite of the options presented. Thanks for all the thoughts.
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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 12:48   #10
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Wanting to buy a very nice bino. Options above this group are mostly close to or exceeding 2x the cost which as much as would be nice, is hard to justify and i'd prefer the difference go to a birding trip.

Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 - biggest FOV, lightest
Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 - cheapest, smallest FOV (approx 60ft less than the HG!)
Swarovski SLC WB 8x42 - most expensive, good FOV, worried about the minimum focus distance

Thanks
Given the metrics you are looking at, the Zeiss SF would have a wider FOV and focuses closer than all of the above!

You can also check out the Leica 7x42 Ultravid HD+ which is supposedly very good.

From your list I have tried the Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 and Swarovski SLC 8x42. The zeiss conquest gives you a bright and sharp image, but the FOV is narrow as you said. The Swarovski SLC is built like a tank (certainly better than the conquest), but my arms got tired pretty quickly while using them as they are quite front-heavy.

I wouldnt worry too much about the focusing distance, unless you are looking at insects or something. You can always get another bin for close up stuff (eg Pentax Papilio) or use a camera + macro lens!

At the end of the day, you have to look through the bins and make your own judgement on what looks better to you for the money. There are some factors that can make or break a pair of bins for you, for example
1) Ability to use them without glasses
1a) Is the diopter correction enough for you?
1b) Is there enough leeway for focusing at infinity without glasses? "focus beyond infinity"
2) How easy is the eye-placement for you?
3) Can you easily get warranty service if necessary?
4) How long can you hold them up without getting tired?

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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 13:40   #11
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Given the metrics you are looking at, the Zeiss SF would have a wider FOV and focuses closer than all of the above!

You can also check out the Leica 7x42 Ultravid HD+ which is supposedly very good. [...]
But not really sub-alpha - especially as regards price.

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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 16:05   #12
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Originally Posted by oxygen View Post
Wanting to buy a very nice bino. Options above this group are mostly close to or exceeding 2x the cost which as much as would be nice, is hard to justify and i'd prefer the difference go to a birding trip.

Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 - biggest FOV, lightest
Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 - cheapest, smallest FOV (approx 60ft less than the HG!)
Swarovski SLC WB 8x42 - most expensive, good FOV, worried about the minimum focus distance

Thanks
Hi, Oxy:

The “Alpha” concept did not originate with manufactures. It started with serious observers and rank newbies who want to appear as more than rank newbies. Although the term is easily recognized and—more importantly—UNDERSTOOD by most observers, it walks upon shifting sand. Not only do we all have varying wants, needs, and understanding, the manufacturing process is always in flux. Thus, today’s Alpha may be next week’s sub-Alpha or a bino that some people never looked at as an “Alpha” to start with.

My birding binocular is an Alpha, the 8x32 Nikon SE. It was not called an “Alpha” at the time because the designation had yet to be coined. It was just a very good bino that was an incredible instrument for the money. I created the Precision Instruments & Optics department at Seattle’s Captain’s Nautical Supplies (now under new ownership and direction) and filled it with models from Zeiss, Leica, Swarovski, Kowa, Nikon, Kahles, and other fine instruments. I observed through each several times a day and—had I been made of money—I would have possibly chosen the Swarovski EL. ‘Not because of optics, but rather mechanics; I appreciated surefire grip. But wanting to be seen as a fellow with more common sense than money, I chose the Nikon.

We all have varying things that “floats our boat,” and bragging rights is one of them. AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I just bought a good binocular that OTHERS have come to call an “Alpha.”

Richard said: “I would not go on an expensive trip with sub-alpha glass, but that's just me.” For the serious birder, that’s good advice. But it might not tell the whole story. The part I would add is:

You can spend more than $2,500 on a fine Alpha binocular. Or, you can spend less than $1,000 on one that has 95% to 97% of its performance and longevity and, unless you’re a super-nitnoid won’t be able to perceive the difference. OPD plots, Sterhl ratios, and ray fans can tell a convincing story. The REAL story, however, is the one that’s told when YOUR eyes, YOUR brain, and YOUR wallet get together to talk it over. I have extensively used the prior but think you will be happier using the latter.

The second part of the advice is to keep your hand on your wallet while trying several binoculars. Binocular forums are home to many fine, honest people AND those who want you to spend YOUR money buying what THEY would like to have ... and don’t.

Just a thought,

Bill
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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 16:11   #13
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Consider also the Meopta Meostar B1.

Good point although one could convincingly argue that these are alphas.

Lee
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Old Thursday 19th July 2018, 21:17   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oxygen View Post
Wanting to buy a very nice bino. Options above this group are mostly close to or exceeding 2x the cost which as much as would be nice, is hard to justify and i'd prefer the difference go to a birding trip.

Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 - biggest FOV, lightest
Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 - cheapest, smallest FOV (approx 60ft less than the HG!)
Swarovski SLC WB 8x42 - most expensive, good FOV, worried about the minimum focus distance

Thanks
These IMO are all solid choices. I have all three except my Conquest HD is a 10X42...

For me in 8X42, it would come down to the Monarch HG and the SLC. Not that the Conquest HD 8X42 isn't a nice binocular but it just doesn't have the FOV of the other two. I realize the added benefit of more FOV as my birding experience evolves.

I stuck all three on the digital scale just for fun....all without any type of lens cover and a harness snap ON. I even weighed in grams for you!

Monarch HD 8X42- 661gm
Conquest HD 10X42- 797gm
SLC 8X42- 796gm

I have used the SLC 8X42 a LOT this year, the Monarch HG a good bit. Several times I had the SLC bottomed out on close focus during normal use. But let's face it....any closer than about 10ft while looking at birds and you can just put your binoculars down.

The SLC is probably a better binocular optically, maybe one of the best BUT...I'm not so sure you'll ever notice it in normal birding usage. The Monarch HG is a really nice birding binocular....nice ergonomics, smooth focus, extra wide FOV, good overall design. ALSO in actuality it's over 100gm lighter.

This would be a hard decision between these two for me to make and I have them both sitting on the shelf! That in itself says a lot about the Monarch HG. I'd have no hesitations with going birding with either, anywhere. Probably would just come down to how much I was willing to spend.
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Old Friday 20th July 2018, 00:49   #15
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Nice picture Chuck. It is very nice to see pictures of binoculars next to each other like that and you are one of the few that have the capability of doing it because of your large binocular collection. You can really compare the size. What is interesting is the Nikon looks as big as the other two but yet it is considerably lighter. I believe all three are magnesium also. Less glass in the Nikon? I like the rubber part of the eye cups on the Swarovski the best. I don't understand why so many manufacturers feel they have to make the rubber part of the eye cup so big when only a small part of it actually touches your eye socket. The Swarovski's eye cup rubber is nicely rounded to fit your eye socket also.

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Old Friday 20th July 2018, 04:48   #16
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Dennis,

The Monarch HG has a Magnesium alloy frame that is lighter than the SLC and the Conquests. There is a cutaway photo of its magnesium alloy skeleton of the Monarch HG body in the link below.

http://www.nikonsportoptics.com/en/n...-hg-10x42.html

As for the big eyecups:

I think they make the rubber part of the eye cups big because lots of people, like me, brace them up against their brow ridge when they use the binocular. I get blackouts if I put them back in my eye sockets. Also, I don't like the rubber ring rounded off. I like them squared off because it is easier to brace them against my brow ridge. Before I had my cataract surgery I wore glasses and I liked big rubber rimmed eye cups because I had big eye glasses.

There is one exception. I can put the eye cups of my Swarovski CL Companion 8x30B back into my eye sockets without getting blackouts because of the "Optical Box" design of its oculars

Bob

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Old Friday 20th July 2018, 05:59   #17
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Couldn‘t say it any better than Chuck (post #14).
These are all three very fine binoculars, and I like them all, but I particularly enjoy the SLC, which is probably one of the most underestimated binos around.
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Old Friday 20th July 2018, 09:31   #18
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This would be a hard decision between these two for me to make and I have them both sitting on the shelf! That in itself says a lot about the Monarch HG. I'd have no hesitations with going birding with either, anywhere. Probably would just come down to how much I was willing to spend.
Thank you for the photo and weighing them (in grams! ). A great help to see them side by side like that. I will take your advice and decide whether the extra money will be worth spending. The SLC is certainly firming as the top option though.

With the close focus I did some more research on the measurements of other binos. The Ultravid HD+ and EDG come in at 3 meters minimum focus however it was never mentioned as a potential problem in the reviews of these I have seen.

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Old Friday 20th July 2018, 11:26   #19
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Talking

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..... The second part of the advice is to keep your hand on your wallet while trying several binoculars. Binocular forums are home to many fine, honest people AND those who want you to spend YOUR money buying what THEY would like to have ... and don’t.

Just a thought,

Bill
LOL !

Oxy - I would spend YOUR money on the Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 ......

Seriously though, get the two in hand (MHG and SLC) , put 'em up to yer eyes and see which one 'feels' the best, and then 'see' which one is the better view for you - tell your wallet both results and SEE what it decides !



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Old Friday 20th July 2018, 13:39   #20
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Oxy - I would spend YOUR money on the Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 ......

Chosun
See? ... toldja! .......

Bill
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Old Friday 20th July 2018, 14:50   #21
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Dennis,

The Monarch HG has a Magnesium alloy frame that is lighter than the SLC and the Conquests. There is a cutaway photo of its magnesium alloy skeleton of the Monarch HG body in the link below.

http://www.nikonsportoptics.com/en/n...-hg-10x42.html

As for the big eyecups:

I think they make the rubber part of the eye cups big because lots of people, like me, brace them up against their brow ridge when they use the binocular. I get blackouts if I put them back in my eye sockets. Also, I don't like the rubber ring rounded off. I like them squared off because it is easier to brace them against my brow ridge. Before I had my cataract surgery I wore glasses and I liked big rubber rimmed eye cups because I had big eye glasses.

There is one exception. I can put the eye cups of my Swarovski CL Companion 8x30B back into my eye sockets without getting blackouts because of the "Optical Box" design of its oculars

Bob
Ceasar. Thanks, for the explanation. Very helpful.
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Old Saturday 21st July 2018, 03:46   #22
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In what way/s is the SLC considered to be less than "alpha"?
Thanks. A question, seeking information, not a criticism.
(If close focus is an issue we can consider the previous model.)
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Old Saturday 21st July 2018, 06:43   #23
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adhoc (post #22),

Tobias Mennle wrote this about the SLC:
„I suspect the SLC has been downgraded a bit compared to its predecessor to conquer a new niche below the premium model Swarovision. The SLC looks a bit softer than the others, especially below 10 meters, and does not quite achieve the wowing view of an alpha bin. That´s annoying because the design is well balanced, the view is very comfortable, and the price and brand suggest premium quality....“

For the rest of his review, see
http://www.greatestbinoculars.com/al...2shootout.html

This is one (serious) view, and I am sure Tobias is not alone with his opinion.

I for myself think a bit more highly of the SLC 8x42 and 10x42 and rate them among the alphas, so the debate could go on (well, at least the x56 models of the SLC series seem almost universally recognized as alpha).

But then, didn‘t we have a very looooong debate here recently about what is „alpha“ and what not?

Canip

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Old Saturday 21st July 2018, 07:33   #24
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Quote:
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[..]Tobias Mennle wrote this about the SLC:
[..]
For the rest of his review, see
http://www.greatestbinoculars.com/al...2shootout.html
[...]
Tobias certainly knows lots about binoculars (and holds strong opinions as well, which isn't a bad thing at all). And he has the distinct advantage, in the above-referenced article, of actually looking through the SLCs (which is more than I've done) and directly comparing them with others.

And while I certainly don't want to go here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canip View Post
[..]didn‘t we have a very looooong debate here recently about what is "alpha" and what not?
...I do think its worth re-emphasising something Bill said earlier in this thread:
Quote:
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You can spend more than $2,500 on a fine Alpha binocular. Or, you can spend less than $1,000 on one that has 95% to 97% of its performance and longevity and, unless you’re a super-nitnoid won’t be able to perceive the difference.
I own some very nice binoculars, some of which might be considered "alpha", or might be old enough that they might only be considered "near-alpha". Those are Zeiss FLs in 8x32 and 10x56. I also own some bins which might be considered "sub-alpha": Tract Toric 8x42s, and Nikon EIIs in 8x30 and 10x35. I find the views from those more than adequate for my purposes and hardly notice the difference, in practice, when using them rather than comparing them.

For me (others may differ, and almost certainly will) I am very happy with the quality of view I get from my "sub-alpha" bins and wouldn't pay a cent extra for the somewhat improved views through an "alpha". I own those Zeiss FL 8x32s (for which, at least, I paid an "alpha"-level price) for reasons of physical size, ergonomics, etc. etc. and not for the better view, as such (although I do appreciate it). If I'd been able to meet those non-optical requirements in a "sub-alpha" bin with slightly lower optical performance for half the price or less then I would have done so in a heartbeat. I could easily have used the $1,000 or more saved for something else. (Note: I own the Zeiss FL 10x56s simply because I stumbled across an exceptionally good deal where I paid a less than "sub-alpha" price for pristine 2nd-hand bins, which I do get good use from.)

As I say, others may differ from my approach here. But for me, and for my purposes, chasing diminishing returns to purchase the last few available percentage points of performance from a binocular isn't really my thing. If it is yours then: great! I just think it is worth pausing to consider, before paying tip-top dollar, whether the cost of the absolute best is worth it when near-enough might, as it is for me, be good enough for you too.

...Mike
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Old Saturday 21st July 2018, 16:45   #25
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Mike
You speak with wisdom and are very close to the way I consider binos these days but the reasons why different folks buy binos are as varied as the numbers of people buying them.

I know folks who want a WOW experience every time they look through their binos while others seek only comfort in use, others want a total lack of chromatic aberration or astigmatism while others want the closest possible close-focus or technical excellence. Others can't resist the appearance and style of their favourite binos while others (me) can discover that a bino that they at first thought ugly (Meopta MeoStar B1 8x32) has now become an all-time favourite because of its blend of quality and accessible price and its appearance has now magically transformed it one that is handsome and neat. Folks who only have one bino can understandably want this instrument to be the absolute best available for the price they can afford and this can lead to lust-anxiety when a new model comes out and becomes a must-have.

As you and Bill (and others) have pointed out, there are great nature observations and enjoyment lurking in many a bino priced at less than top dollar but some folks get pleasure from owning the latest top dollar models while other folks spend their top dollars on cars, dining out or safaris or hi-fi or, well, you name it.

There is room for all shades of bino-obsession on Birdforum, which is just as well.....

Lee
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