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8x32 or 8x42?

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Old Saturday 13th October 2007, 15:26   #1
Thomas T.
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8x32 or 8x42?

Hi,
I am a newbie in birding, and I am going to buy binoculars for it, as well as for reptiles and amphibian observations.
I will probably choose the Kite Forster model, only available in Europe I think.
I am pretty sure that I will take a 8x factor, but I still hesitate between 8x32 and 8x42.

My main concerns is the weight, that is greater with the 8x42.
(8x32: 22.4oz, 8x42: 25oz)

Here is my question:
- Which one will you take for general purpose?
- Does it really make a difference at day-time when watching birds (or mammals) in forest?
- Do you think this is a big weight difference? (unfortunately, I cannot try them before buying).
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Old Sunday 14th October 2007, 18:44   #2
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hi Thomas and welcome to BirdForum.

Personally I use 8x32s (though not the ones you're looking at) - I like the smaller, lighter package - they deliver a wide field of view than the 8x42 equivilent and a better close focus (great for insects). I have no problems with the light gathering even when birding at dawn or dusk.
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Old Sunday 14th October 2007, 20:54   #3
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Hi Thomas,

I agree completely with Postcardcv. I have both sizes in my "tool kit", but find that the only advantage in using the 42s is a short window of opportunity prior to dusk; even at that, it isn't a very great difference and the weight and, more noticeably, the bulk do not justify the slight advantage in light gathering (for me). The optics and brightness is so good in today's 32s that given your criteria I would not hesitate to recommend the 8x32 size. Furthermore, for forest ramblings such as you indicated, a more tailored package with great fov will have decisive advantages. They truly are a "compact, full size binocular".

Cheers,
Robert / Seattle

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Old Monday 15th October 2007, 01:56   #4
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Quote:
- Does it really make a difference at day-time when watching birds (or mammals) in forest?
Not really. If you are out in cloudy weather a lot, it might make a difference in winter. 10x42 definitely is a bit dimmer than 8x42, but at 8x you are OK.

There really is almost nothing to look at in woods in winter. I go to lakes and rivers and open fields. And a I do use a 10x in winter, as the sparrow tend to be far away.

Edges of forests are more productive than forests.
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Old Monday 15th October 2007, 18:48   #5
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I would prefer the 8x42 to the 8x32 and the 7x42 to either. The bigger exit pupil not only gives you more light when you need it (not just at dawn and dusk) but makes for more comfortable viewing at all times. It may be because of my aged eyes, but I find an 8x32 has to be positioned exactly to be usable; the slightest shift from the optimum alignment produces eyestrain. 8x42s are much better (in fact I use my 8x42s all the time because they're optically superior to my 7x42s) but in an ideal world I would only have 7x42.

If the reviews on KikkertSpesialisten are to be believed, it seems that for any given make, the bigger the objective, the higher the resolution. So that the Zeiss 8x42 scores higher than the Zeiss 8x32 and the same with Leica and Swarovski.

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Old Monday 15th October 2007, 20:33   #6
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I have similar reservations about 10x32, but I have two pair of 8x32 that get a lot of use. I like them for the wide field.
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Old Monday 15th October 2007, 21:19   #7
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Theoretically I'm fairly sure the 8x42 will distort the light travelling through the binoculars less than the 8x32 resulting in higher definition. In my experience this is most noticeable at the lower end of the market. At the top end of the market the quality of the 8x32's are so good I doubt the human eye can tell the marginal difference in resolution.
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Old Wednesday 17th October 2007, 19:09   #8
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Thanks for all your inputs.
I will probably go for the 8x32, the wider field of view and shorter focus being great advantages for me.
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Old Wednesday 17th October 2007, 19:24   #9
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It takes some training to see differences in good and very good 8x. I have not learned it yet, so I am OK with Bushnell Legend 8x32. I can tell 10x models apart much more easily.

Sweet spot, how much is in focus, is the easiest to the tell. The other differences are small, resolution is difficult to see, but contrast, CA color vary from model to model.
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Old Friday 30th November 2007, 15:47   #10
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I think 8x42 is probably more suitable for general use, especially for low light condition. Under day light use, the brightness benefit from 8x42 will not be visibly appreciated, while 8x32 has flatter field of view. just name few models worthy checking, Nikon Monarch 8x42, Vortex Diamondback 8x42, or less expensive zen-ray Vista 8x42
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Old Friday 30th November 2007, 17:20   #11
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Going to 8x32 is the best thing I've done with bins.
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Old Saturday 1st December 2007, 20:18   #12
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I would also recommend the 8x32 -- lighter matters; better FOV; easier view. I also have 8x42s and I hardly ever use them. Today's good 8x32s are IMHO the perfect bins. Good luck. And welcome.
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Old Saturday 1st December 2007, 20:30   #13
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If you wear glasses you might want to check the long eye relief - in some it is much better on 42 than 32
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Old Sunday 2nd December 2007, 15:06   #14
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You guy's are all missing the boat. The ultimate binoculars are 7x42's. They have a wider FOV than either 8x32 or 8x42. They are brighter than 8x32 or 8x42. They have easier eye placement because of the bigger exit pupil(6mm) than 8x32 or 8x42 which alone makes them way better than 8x32's. Slightly better resolving power and eye relief. It's weird that people consider 8x32 or 8x42 the two ultimate binocular configurations. Take my word for it and try 7x42's. You will not be dissapointed! I use 7x42 Leica BN's and the 3D image is amazing. I had the 8x32BN's and they were good but I will carry the extra weight for that AMAZING view when I put them up to my eyes.

Dennis

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Old Sunday 2nd December 2007, 16:35   #15
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Quote: 'You guy's are all missing the boat. The ultimate binoculars are 7x42's. They have a wider FOV than either 8x32 or 8x42.'

Not necessarily, there are a great many 8X binoculars that have wider fields than 7X binoculars. There are a lot of 8X30 or 8X32 binoculars which have considerably wider fields than many 7X binoculars.

'They are brighter than 8x32 or 8x42.'

Brighter than an 8X32 in low light or dull daylight, not in bright daylight or average daylight. Not brighter than an 8X42 in conditions other than darkness for most people. Those few very young birders - teenagers, might notice a slight difference in near darkness. Apart from that, a higher power is always more useful I think.

'They have easier eye placement because of the bigger exit pupil(6mm) than 8x32 or 8x42 which alone makes them way better than 8x32's.'

Yes, accomodation is easier with large exit pupil binoculars.

'Slightly better resolving power and eye relief.'

Not true. The resolving power of 42mm aperture is the same whether its 7X or 8X. If the eyepupil is smaller than the exit pupil its academic anyway. If not, the potential for realising the resolving power of a 42mm is slightly better realised with an 8X. Either way, it makes no real difference, 7X or 8X or even 10X is much too low to see any resolving limit for a 42mm or even 32mm aperture.
Eye relief is mainly a feature of eyepiece design, plus the requirement of the eyes of the individual, not the aperture of a binocular or its magnification.

If a birder does not enjoy low light birding and hence is a daylight birdwatcher, then why do you need anything more than an 8X32?

'It's weird that people consider 8x32 or 8x42 the two ultimate binocular configurations. Take my word for it and try 7x42's. You will not be dissapointed! I use 7x42 Leica BN's and the 3D image is amazing. I had the 8x32BN's and they were good but I will carry the extra weight for that AMAZING view when I put them up to my eyes.'

I think for most people, they have quite personal and specific likes and dislikes about binocular types. Some like 7X42, some like 8X30, some 10X50. Which ever it is its quite often because of some visual "experience" they find pleasing, or sometimes because an aberration in the eye is "highlighted" by a larger exit pupil, so an individual prefers the image in a smaller exit pupil binocular, without realising why.
From a purely practical viewpoint, an 8X32 is in many ways an ideal aperture/magnification combination for birding. If low light is a consideration then the 8X42 is the better choice.

If you want an impressive 3D image, then choose a porro prism pair because the objectives are usually further apart than on an equivalent roof prism binocular.

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Old Sunday 2nd December 2007, 22:51   #16
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In general when you compare 8x32's,8x42's and 7x42's from the same manufacturer(Leica,Zeiss,Nikon) the 7x42's will have a wider FOV. Of course everybody knows different manufacturers vary when you compare FOV between brands.
I meant the 42's have better resolving power than the 32's because of the bigger aperture. That is a law of physics. Also, the 42's from most manufacturers especially the top brands such as Leica, Zeiss and Swarovski will have more eye relief than the 32's. This is a big consideration if you wear glasses.
The only advantage the 32's have over the 42's is they are more compact and lighter. If you are concerned about easy eye placement, brighter image at dusk and dawn when their can be alot of birds to view, a wider FOV, and eye relief then get the 7x42's. I know from experience that I much prefer the view in 7x42's over 8x42's or 8x32's at least in Leica or Zeiss FL because I have had them in these sizes.

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Old Monday 3rd December 2007, 00:20   #17
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Dennis


Quote: 'In general when you compare 8x32's,8x42's and 7x42's from the same manufacturer(Leica,Zeiss,Nikon) the 7x42's will have a wider FOV. Of course everybody knows different manufacturers vary when you compare FOV between brands.'

Ah yes, but this is simple marketing decisions within their own brand, and not a rule that should be accepted as true for every manufacturer.

E.g.

Swarovski SLC 7X42 has a field of 8 degrees. The Habicht (also Swarovski) 7X42 is 6.5 degrees. The Swarovski EL 8X32 WB is also 8 degrees.

Nikon E and E2 8X30 is 8.8 degrees (70 degree apparent field), wider than any 7X binocular they make.

The old Optolyth Alpins have a 6.3 degree field for both 7X42 and 8X40. The modern Alpins have 6.3 degrees for both the 8X40 and 7X40. The 8X30 is 7.4 degrees.

Leica and Zeiss tend to adopt policies that their binoculars will have slightly wider fields (in the case of the Leica Ultravidis only half a degree) for the 7X over the 8X.

'I meant the 42's have better resolving power than the 32's because of the bigger aperture. That is a law of physics'.

Yes but its academic. You won't see more resolution based on larger aperture, because the magnifications are much too low.

'Also, the 42's from most manufacturers especially the top brands such as Leica, Zeiss and Swarovski will have more eye relief than the 32's. This is a big consideration if you wear glasses'.

Yep.

'I know from experience that I much prefer the view in 7x42's over 8x42's or 8x32's at least in Leica or Zeiss FL because I have had them in these sizes'.

I think, as you say, preference for the view is a big reason why some people like one power over another. I think though that this should be quite a seperate issue from choosing a binocular based on power, aperture and field.

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Old Monday 3rd December 2007, 04:24   #18
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The larger Aperture of the 42's will still show more detail and appear brighter (even in daylight) than a 32 under certain circumstances. Here is an article from "Better View Desired" that explains why:
Objective size: The objective size is the diameter of the objective (light-gathering) lens in millimeters. It is the 35 in 7x35, the 42 in 8x42, etc. The larger the objective lens, the more detail it is capable of delivering to your eye.

Physics dictate that when light passes through a lens, normally distinct points in the object are unavoidably blended together in the image. The process is called diffraction. It is caused by those light rays that pass the edge of an object being diffracted (or bent out of their true course) by that edge, while the path of the light rays passing through the center of the lens is unaffected. When the light rays from the entire lens are recombined in the image, the edge-diffracted rays form small faint halos (or diffraction rings) around the distinct points formed by the undiffracted center rays. This reduces the sharpness of those individual points. When you pass light through a round hole (and a lens is essentially a round hole for the purpose of this discussion), the combined diffraction effects of the continuous edge of the hole amplify each other until you begin to lose the finest details. The smaller the lens, the further apart the points in the object have to be to remain separate in the image. The points that are closer together blur together. You might say that larger lenses simply do less damage to the image than smaller ones, allowing more detail to get through.

Then too, the larger the objective, the more light it is capable of delivering to your eye. The eye is an electro-chemical system that responds to the particular form of energy we call light. The level of energy entering the eye affects our ability to distinguish detail, especially color detail, in complex ways. In general, the more energy the better. Larger objectives collect and deliver more energy to the eye.

More detail, more light . . . when it comes to objectives, bigger is undoubtedly better. Still, high quality objectives as small as 23mm can provide a surprisingly satisfying image of the bird in the field, especially in full daylight and at reasonably close distances. For general field use, objectives in the 30-35mm range will often show you all there is to see, except for the extreme distance and darkness conditions noted below. In fact, at a typical birding distance of 40-60 feet, almost any binoculars will look good and provide a surprisingly satisfying image (at least until you compare them directly to something optically better). However, for binoculars that perform well in any condition, that deliver all there is to see, all the time, you need 40-50mm objectives.

There are three conditions that will clearly show the superiority of larger objectives.

First. whenever the distance gets out over 150 feet, especially on birds of sparrow size, larger objectives will pull out detail that simply is not there in smaller glasses. It is not just a matter of resolving power, though raw resolution has some effect. You will also see more color at those distances. The larger objectives gather enough light to excite the color receptors in our eyes, while smaller objectives leave us seeing some indeterminate shade of gray. Obviously when you combine long distances with low light levels, it only compounds the color problem. To me the lack of color detail in smaller glasses is more limiting, and more obvious, than the lack of raw resolution.

It should be said that the differences in resolution and color detail are there, even at close distances, if you compare binoculars directly in the field on the same birds. However, the limitations of the smaller objective don’t become obvious, or seriously affect your birding experience, until the distances become more extreme.

Second, when looking into deep shadow, especially when portions of the view are brightly lighted, large objectives will penetrate where smaller objectives fail. Again, it is a matter of the amount of energy the larger objectives capture, but this time we are talking about the number of rays (or the width of the wave front) that the objectives intercept from any given point in the object and focus back into the corresponding point in the image. Think of it like this: shadowed points are still reflecting a certain amount of light. The energy radiates outward so that at any given distance the energy from that point could be thought of as being spread over the surface of a hemisphere with the reflecting point at its center. Larger objectives intersect a bigger area of that sphere than smaller objectives do. That greater amount of energy their larger area captures is then focused back into an image of the reflecting point.

Since the larger objective captures more energy, the point appears brighter and we, in effect, see deeper into the shadow. This is why, by the way, larger objectives can appear brighter in all situations, including full daylight, than smaller ones, even though in bright light it should be the contracted diameter of the pupil of our eye that is the limiting factor, and not the binoculars at all. Given a high contrast image, we interpret the full daylight view as brighter through the larger glasses because we see more detail in the shadows, not because there is any more light in the highlights.

The last condition is, surprisingly, the least obvious in actual use. I say surprisingly because it is the only one commonly cited anywhere as a distinct advantage of larger objectives. I am talking, of course, about low light situations: dawn, dusk, twilight, heavy cloud cover, and deep forest. As long as the light is fairly uniform, at moderate distances, a good 23mm objective will perform just about as well as a 50mm objective in dawn, dusk, and overcast . . . right down to darker than you really want to be birding anyway. There is certainly some advantage to a larger objective, but it comes to a matter of minutes or yards. A 50mm glass is useful about 5 to 10 minutes earlier in dawn and later into twilight than a 23mm glass . . . or, to put it another way, will reach 10 to 20 yards further in those same situations. You have to have a certain amount of light to work with for any size objective to work at all. In deep forest, however, the problem is similar to the deep shadow situation above, and larger objectives will give you more evident detail in the shadowed, darker portions of the view.

At the powers common in birding binoculars (7 to 10x) and given the fact that they are generally hand held, you do not gain significant detail or color by going larger than 50mm.

Theory, by the way, would suggest that perfect 8x30 binoculars should be able to deliver all the detail and color the eye can use. In fact, in actual field tests, only two 30mm class binoculars I know of even come close. You can always see a difference by going to a larger objective of similar quality. Is it possible that we need the extra objective size primarily, or perhaps only, to overcome the current limits of real-world manufacturing?

Dennis

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Old Monday 3rd December 2007, 13:01   #19
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Dennis

If your complete post is a quote from one of Better View Desired's collection of "educational" essays, then you need to get back to them and complain that their article is completely ambiguous, makes no sense and is entirely misleading and in many cases incorrect.

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Old Monday 3rd December 2007, 15:09   #20
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Andy,
I guess, by now, you are getting tired of this; but, with all due respect, your response to Dennis is not satisfactory. Who ever gets back to BVD (which I believe is now owned by Astronomics, but I will stand corrected if that is not true) should tell them in terms easily understood by non experts which parts of the cited essay are ambiguous, make no sense, and where they are misleading and incorrect. Many people, myself included, have purchased binoculars based, partly at least, on their essays. Their analysis of birding binoculars has been quite satisfactory in my experience.
Cordially,
Bob
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Old Monday 3rd December 2007, 19:06   #21
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Let's face it, most reviews are subjective field tests. People who have used binoculars for years know what they are for and how to test them for birding. They can see if the image is poor at the edges.

But, the more people there are testing in any trial, the better.
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Old Monday 3rd December 2007, 20:47   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andytyle View Post
Dennis

If your complete post is a quote from one of Better View Desired's collection of "educational" essays, then you need to get back to them and complain that their article is completely ambiguous, makes no sense and is entirely misleading and in many cases incorrect.

andytyle
http://www.betterviewdesired.com/The...-Binocular.php

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Old Monday 3rd December 2007, 22:46   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ceasar View Post
... BVD ...Many people, myself included, have purchased binoculars based, partly at least, on their essays. Their analysis of birding binoculars has been quite satisfactory in my experience.
I've long enjoyed Steve Ingraham's binocular reviews, but his articles that discuss issues related to optical theory (or perhaps more properly, theories about optics) have very often been on the, shall we say, "creative" side. You can see more of the same on his Z-birding site in the discussions of image contrast (and related issues of brightness and color rendition).

--AP
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Old Tuesday 4th December 2007, 08:38   #24
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I assumed that Thomas was just after some basic binocular advice as to which to would be best for his birding needs, without having to go into "quantum physics". Perhaps in depth discussions on the workings and theories of optics could be kept in separate threads. Indeed perhaps, with the current expertise that there is now on this forum, we need a separate section on "Optical Theory" (or to put it another way "The Right Room For An Argument").

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Old Tuesday 4th December 2007, 13:02   #25
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Quote: 'Andy,
I guess, by now, you are getting tired of this; but, with all due respect, your response to Dennis is not satisfactory. Who ever gets back to BVD (which I believe is now owned by Astronomics, but I will stand corrected if that is not true) should tell them in terms easily understood by non experts which parts of the cited essay are ambiguous, make no sense, and where they are misleading and incorrect. Many people, myself included, have purchased binoculars based, partly at least, on their essays. Their analysis of birding binoculars has been quite satisfactory in my experience.
Cordially,
Bob'


Bob, you are quite right about talking to BVD, although in my experience (having done this sort of thing before), from the perspective of the website owners, it is not welcomed, not understood, VERY time consuming, and not corrected by the publisher (for reasons best known to them). I suspect, cynically, that whatever may help sell products is good (regardless of whether it is true or not). This is, after all, what the entire consumer optics industry relies on to continue making sales, that of virtually any marketing fog being "truth" rather than what is actually true, because the truth about optics is complicated, mathematical, raises a question for every answer, and is generally more likely to stay the hand of the consumer, for no other reason than that of their confusion.

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