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Newbie questions.....Monarch ATB or X or LX L

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Old Monday 21st February 2011, 01:38   #1
butlerkid
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Newbie questions.....Monarch ATB or X or LX L

I am about to buy my first binocular set to use for birding.

I've done a ton of research and have decided I probably want a new or used 8x42 with medium to very good optical quality with FOV of around 350, eye relief of at least 17, and costs no more than $700 - preferably less. Well - I can HOPE! LOL!

Any recommendations between the Monarch ATB, Monarch X or LX L?

Also - today is the first time I've been able to actually HOLD any bins! When I held the Nikon Monarch ATB the tubes (? right term?) were so close together that it felt awkard to hold. Same with other roofs that were in the case.

Then I held a porro - and it felt wonderful!

Is holding a roof bin something that will eventually feel more comfortable?

Thanks!

Karen

Last edited by butlerkid : Monday 21st February 2011 at 02:06. Reason: typo
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Old Monday 21st February 2011, 03:08   #2
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Karen,
Welcome to the forum. Count on us to help spend your money.

I can't tell you which style should feel best to you, but I think with just a little time you would be comfortable with either. It's easier to reach the focus knob on a roof, because you don't have to hold your elbows out to get your finger around there, and many folks think its more comfortable that way, with elbows more relaxed directly underneath the binocular. Some roofs, however, are short of real estate, and you don't know quite what to do with your thumbs. That is all very personal and depends on you and the particular binocular in question.

If you happen to like Porros, Nikon makes probably the world's best Porro, which is the optical equal of any binocular period, the SE. There's no 8x42, unfortunately, the only 8x is 8x32. Like most of the breed, however, the SE is not strictly waterproof, its eyecups are the slow to adjust old time flexible rubber cylinders, and focusing gets stiff in very cold weather. Some find the eye relief is excessive and call this a deal breaker. Many reams of e-paper have been filled here, discussing this bino. Do a search. Quality notwithstanding, I feel that 8x32 is limited, and prefer 42mm for do-it-all birding duty. Nikon also makes the Action EX, a waterproof Porro said to offer a very bright clear view for only about $150, it is available in 8x40.

I once looked through an LXL and it rather knocked me out. But that is the limit of my experience with Nikon roofs. Nikon fans say the Monarchs are reliable and good for the money, but love their LXLs and claim they are equal to the more expensive German brands. There are occasional complaints of color fringing, and much praise for the impressive sharpness across the field.

Eagle Optics happens to have LXL factory refurbs with full as-new warranty for an excellent price right now. I have no affiliation, sorry to seem to be advertising, just sharing something I turned up: http://www.eagleoptics.com/binocular...8x42-binocular.

Good luck in your search.
Ron

Last edited by ronh : Monday 21st February 2011 at 03:31.
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Old Monday 21st February 2011, 03:22   #3
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Thanks so much for your repsonse!

My husband is more of a "meats and potatoes" kinda guy so the Action EX may be just fine for him. I'm more of a "want it all for a great price" kinda gal so I'm leaning toward the Monarch X.....!

And I'm not locked in to Nikon.....
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Old Monday 21st February 2011, 05:21   #4
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Bushnell Legend HD is another current forum darling for about that money. Not much traffic here on weekends, you'll get more responders in a day or two.
Ron
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Old Monday 21st February 2011, 11:27   #5
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I'll second the bushnell legend ultra after much research and hand to hand comparisons. While I liked the nikon monarch, side by side under normal and very low light, the ultras outperformed. They were brighter, sharper and more vivid in my opinion. Not by a large margin, but enough that I could tell. I like the Nikon brand more than the name bushnell but in the end, i ordered the one with the better visual and that was bushnell.
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Old Monday 21st February 2011, 18:12   #6
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Thanks so much for your repsonse!

My husband is more of a "meats and potatoes" kinda guy so the Action EX may be just fine for him. I'm more of a "want it all for a great price" kinda gal so I'm leaning toward the Monarch X.....!

And I'm not locked in to Nikon.....
Karen,

It's refreshing to hear a woman say she likes porros better. Most women prefer the narrow roofs because they fit their hands better. You must have supermodel hands!

About the Monarch X... while it lacks of closed bridge, it basically has the same shape as the regular Monarchs, and you can't use the "open bridge" because it's obstructed by the centerpost so you may find it's also "short of real estate," to use Ed's colorful terminology.

The field of view in the 8.5x X is stingy (6.3*) for its price point, IMO. That translates to a 53.5* apparent field of view, which is somewhat tight compared to the much more "open" 65.6* apparent field of view of your husband's 8x40 Action EX.

IMO, you won't "get it all for a great price" with the "X". The Zen Ray 7x36 ED2 is a better buy for under $400, and it has a real open bridge roof, 9* FOV, and ED glass to boot.

http://www.zen-ray.com/shop/zened2-7x36.html

If you like 8.5 power, and prefer porro ergonomics, check out the new Swift 820 Audubon, which review Stephen Ingraham called the "Poor Man's EL" since it has the same magnification and tested the same in a resolution test, but cost about $1,500 less.

I can't attest to the quality of the mechanics since I haven't tried the new model, which has an entirely different body, but assuming Swift used the previous 820's optics, which is a safe bet, you get a wide field view (8.2*) in a large parcel porro prism package, with premium optics at a non-premium price ($349).

If you are willing to shell out 500 clams on the Monarch X, consider buying the Audubon ED model (the "ED" glass reduces false color around birds and other targets and makes the colors look more vivid).

Eagle Optics has a 30-day return period so if you don't like them you can return them and get the "X" or something else.

http://www.eagleoptics.com/binocular...rism-binocular

Brock

Last edited by brocknroller : Monday 21st February 2011 at 18:20.
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Old Monday 21st February 2011, 20:21   #7
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Ron and rdfish1 - I looked into the Bushnell Ultra's. They do indeed seem like very nice bins.. However, I've found a pair of Monarch X's for only a few money dollars. If the Monarch's don't work out, I'll have to re-think the Bushnell Ultras. These bins are for my husband.

Brock - Finding a bin for me was more about optical quality than price.

I don't know about models hands! LOL! I think the problem is that when bins are adjusted to my pupillary distance, they are pretty well closed up and my fingers are meeting in the middle. However, I handled several pairs of roofs today and I'm finding that they are becoming a little more user-friendly!

I checked out the Swift's but the eye cups don't appear to have detents and the eye relief is a little skimpy. The ZenRay's are "only" 7 power and I'd like to get 8 power.

So....I have taken a chance an ordered a pair of refurb Monarch Premier LX L's.... I've heard really good things about Eagle Optics and they assure me there is a 30 day money back return policy. The price seemed very, very good - but maybe folks more knowledgeable than I know a reason why????
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Old Monday 21st February 2011, 21:00   #8
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Ron and rdfish1 - I looked into the Bushnell Ultra's. They do indeed seem like very nice bins.. However, I've found a pair of Monarch X's for only a few money dollars. If the Monarch's don't work out, I'll have to re-think the Bushnell Ultras. These bins are for my husband.

Brock - Finding a bin for me was more about optical quality than price.

I don't know about models hands! LOL! I think the problem is that when bins are adjusted to my pupillary distance, they are pretty well closed up and my fingers are meeting in the middle. However, I handled several pairs of roofs today and I'm finding that they are becoming a little more user-friendly!

I checked out the Swift's but the eye cups don't appear to have detents and the eye relief is a little skimpy. The ZenRay's are "only" 7 power and I'd like to get 8 power.

So....I have taken a chance an ordered a pair of refurb Monarch Premier LX L's.... I've heard really good things about Eagle Optics and they assure me there is a 30 day money back return policy. The price seemed very, very good - but maybe folks more knowledgeable than I know a reason why????
Wait a minute! Monarch Premier LX L? Did Nikon come out with another new model besides the Prostaff 7 when I wasn't looking? :-)

The Nikon 8x42 Premier LXL would be very nice, indeed, with a wider (though still not wide) 7* FOV, and they are "fatter" (more "real estate") than the Monarchs and better built, but they will cost you at least $1,000 new. The Premier has 19mm ER.

Now I understand what you meant about not fitting your hands, they actually don't fit your eyes. With roofs, the eyepieces line up with the objectives, so if you have a small IPD (interpupillary distance), that is, either close set eyes or a pinhead, the barrels will be very close together. With porros, the objectives are wider than the EPs, so even if you have a small IPD, there will be sufficient "real estate" to use for your hands.

Or if a person has freakishly large hands like me, he will also experience overlapping thumbs with roofs, particularly midsized roofs. I had to cross my thumbs over the opposite barrels with the Nikon 8x32 "Premier" and that midsized roof is larger than most others.

Where you can also run into problems with a small IPD is "nose fit". The twist up eyecups on a WF bin are usually fairly wide and do not leave much room in between the eyecups for a high bridged nose. So if you have a high bridged nose like me, you will have to hold your breath while birdwatching. Good training for Olympic swimming.

Thumb indents can help with the roof IPD issue. They are grooves on the bottom of the prism housings for your thumbs. I think Nikon only has thumb indents on their top of the line EDG, and then, rather shallow, just gel pads to dig your thumbs into.

If you need groovy bins, nobody does it better than Swarovski (at least in their pre-HD SLCs and ELs). Also good for hiding Tootsie Rolls in. :-)

For Mike F., what happened to the Prostaff models 1-6? Did they all go back to the drawing board? Or is "Prostaff 7" like the "Chicago 7" and named after the seven Nikon Prostaffers that "perpetrated" this design? :-)

Brock

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Old Monday 21st February 2011, 22:34   #9
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Hey - don't listen to me! I'm the newbie - remember? LOL!

I'm hoping YOU guys can keep me out of trouble and help me spend my money wisely - i.e. great product for good price! LOL!

The Premier LX L's I bought are refurb'd #7502 which are the earlier model of the 2010 Premier LX L's 7535. (I THINK!)

Mu husband bought Monarch X 8.5x45 demos from Camerland NY. I think folks from here have dealt with them and they are a good company to do business with. Right??

"The twist up eyecups on a WF ..." What is WF ?

I don't know what Pro Staff's are.....
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Old Monday 21st February 2011, 22:36   #10
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and I'm not a pinhead .....!!!!
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Old Monday 21st February 2011, 23:38   #11
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Butlerkid:

Welcome to the Birdforum, you are certainly not a pinhead. I think your choices in these
new binoculars are very good, and you have done a fine job of bargain shopping. I have
some experience with Nikon refurb. or demos. and they are usually as new or are new.

Tell us how you like these, once you get a chance to use them. You will get many offers
of advice on how to pick out a new binocular here. The ones you've picked are much better
than the Bushnells, as I have handled them all. Much better warranty with the Nikon also.

Jerry
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Old Tuesday 22nd February 2011, 02:52   #12
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Hey - don't listen to me! I'm the newbie - remember? LOL!

I'm hoping YOU guys can keep me out of trouble and help me spend my money wisely - i.e. great product for good price! LOL!

The Premier LX L's I bought are refurb'd #7502 which are the earlier model of the 2010 Premier LX L's 7535. (I THINK!)

Mu husband bought Monarch X 8.5x45 demos from Camerland NY. I think folks from here have dealt with them and they are a good company to do business with. Right??

"The twist up eyecups on a WF ..." What is WF ?

I don't know what Pro Staff's are.....
Karen:

Back again, I believe the WF means widefield, so that is all. And just to confirm,
you have dealt with Cameraland, and Eagle Optics, and I have dealt with both.

They are both very good, in fact, I would place them both at the top of the optics
dealers on the net. And that is for experienced sales people, and they will stand
behind you with any issues.

The Prostaff 7, mentioned here is a brand new Nikon entry level binocular, that
is just starting to enter the marketplace. The binoculars you have chosen are
better than those.

Jerry
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Old Tuesday 22nd February 2011, 05:45   #13
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Hey - don't listen to me! I'm the newbie - remember? LOL!

I'm hoping YOU guys can keep me out of trouble and help me spend my money wisely - i.e. great product for good price! LOL!

The Premier LX L's I bought are refurb'd #7502 which are the earlier model of the 2010 Premier LX L's 7535. (I THINK!)

Mu husband bought Monarch X 8.5x45 demos from Camerland NY. I think folks from here have dealt with them and they are a good company to do business with. Right??

"The twist up eyecups on a WF ..." What is WF ?

I don't know what Pro Staff's are.....
Karen,

I couldn't tell you about the serial numbers on the LXL, I specialize in Nikon SE serial numbers, just ask anyone. :-) An inside joke, but if you keep reading BF, you will catch on.

Whew! I'm glad you cleared up the designations, I thought Nikon made some new hybrid with the body of a Monarch and the head of a social worker!

So SHE got the LXLs and HE got the Monarch X?

All I can say is BEWARE OF THE "ROLLING BALL," and I will say no more. If you can adjust to it, you will have the bin "designed to be the best roof prism binoculars ever made" (I kid you not, that was their description before the Nikon EDG came along). The views are stunning.

The LXL has good ergonomics for a closed bridge roof, though I would still like to see Nikon add shallow thumb indents. I had the 10x42 and the 8x32 models. The barrel shape curves outward at the end so you will probably find ample "real estate" for your hands with the 8x42 even with your narrow IPD, which I'm sure is from being petite rather than being a "pinhead" like some Irish guy I know, whose name I cannot mention!

Yes, WF = wide field, thanks, Jerry. I recently sold my Nikon 8x35 WF bin (8.2* FOV), which is the actual designation on the binoculars rather than shorthand. You hardly ever see these porros, they were unbelievably good for their time and still hold up well, but they have only 12mm ER. There's one for sale on Astromart for only $45 (not mine). If it's properly collimated, it's a bargain. The views are similar to my 8x32 SE. I only sold mine because I have long eyelashes. If I were a glam rocker, I wouldn't need Maybelline.

You made a very good choice, Karen and probably got a good price to boot with it being a refurb. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Not as sure about the "X," let's see what the hubby has to say. Just don't let him try the LXL, or he may not want to give it back!

As far as what a Pro Staff is, here's one:

http://www.nikonbirding.com/staff-mike-freiberg.html

Update us when the bins arrive, and thanks for being such a good sport.

Brock
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Old Tuesday 22nd February 2011, 14:51   #14
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Thanks, Jerry for the reassurance on CamerlandNY and Eagle Optics!


Brock,

And SHE has the 200-400 Nikon camera lens! (HE has the newest Canon HD video camera....)

Oh NO! Not the dreaded "rolling ball"! I DO hope the LX L doesn't have that problem. If so, it's going back. Has that been an issue with the LX L's?????

Hubby tried out the Monarch X and liked it - compared to the Bushnell Natureview, Nikon Action EX and Monarch ATB or his 40+ year old Manon 7x50 he bought in Viet Nam in '68!


Karen
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Old Tuesday 22nd February 2011, 15:38   #15
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Thanks, Jerry for the reassurance on CamerlandNY and Eagle Optics!


Brock,

And SHE has the 200-400 Nikon camera lens! (HE has the newest Canon HD video camera....)

Oh NO! Not the dreaded "rolling ball"! I DO hope the LX L doesn't have that problem. If so, it's going back. Has that been an issue with the LX L's?????

Hubby tried out the Monarch X and liked it - compared to the Bushnell Natureview, Nikon Action EX and Monarch ATB or his 40+ year old Manon 7x50 he bought in Viet Nam in '68!


Karen
Glad that "X" marked the spot for HE.

Wow! A Manon 7x50 bought in Viet Nam, now that's a collectible. Could fetch a nice price on the Bay for war memorabilia collectors, with the right marketing pitch.

Yes, the LX and LXL have the dreaded "rolling ball" due to lack of pincushion in the optics, but its only dreaded by those of us who can see it and can't adapt to it. It appears that the majority of users either don't see it or see it and quickly adapt to it. So the odds are on your side. It depends on how much "pincushion" your eyeballs have to compensate for the lack of it in the LXL.

My eyes don't have enough pincushion, so when I pan the landscape with the bin the image appears to scroll over the surface of a ball. Even the night sky looked like a dome. This effect is most pronounced in the full sized models, the midsized models have some pincushion to compensate for the "rolling ball". Thus, I kept the 8x32 and sold the 10x42 even though the 10x42 was easier for me to hold.

The plus side is that the image is sharp to the edge, more than 95% from the center (horizontally). There's some astigmatism at the very edge. When Nikon states the Premier has "edge-to-edge" sharpness, it's one of the few honest ads about that attribute in binoculars.

No harm in telling you about the "rolling ball," because it won't make you more likely to see it, either you will or you won't, and either you will adapt to it or you won't. It's not a perceptual issue, but a physiological one like your IPD setting.

I'm not sure how long your return period is, but if it will allow, try them for a week even if you see the "rolling ball". Some people take a week to adapt to it, others, like my friend Steve (mooreorless), saw it when he first looked through the binoculars and adapted to it in only three seconds (he's in the book of Uncle Tonooose World Records for that feat).

If the "rolling ball" is not an issue and you are not overly sensitive to chromatic aberration (what? another issue? yes, they do have a bit more than some, but the upside is that red and yellows are extremely vivid through the LXL), then you will be in "shock and awe" at the very sharp image and the supersaturated colors. I have yet to try a binocular that has more color saturation.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Brock

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Old Tuesday 22nd February 2011, 16:00   #16
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This information is really helpful! If I had noticed the effect - I would have wondered if it was me or the bins, due to my inexperience. Also, I didn't realize that people can adapt to the rolling ball effect. So I would have given up on the bins right away if I noticed it! Thanks!

I believe I have 30 days to return the LX L for full refund... They are already with Fed Ex on their way to me!

I'm familiar with CA from my photography pursuits. But in photography, I can fix the CA with software! I guess, like photography, CA is worst when there is strong back lighting?

Any other tips on how to check out the Monarch X (trade demos) and the LX L's (refurb) when they arrive?

Karen
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Old Tuesday 22nd February 2011, 16:10   #17
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I am beginning to think that most of the people who suffer from the CA allergic reaction end up here in the forum at some time in their life looking for a cure!

The cure in Nikon's case seems to be their new EDG which replaced the LX-L/Premier as their flagship binocular. It has ED glass which is reputed to help. I don't see it in either-I have the 10 x 32 version of both. I speak as a sympathetic observer of people with this malady, which may indeed be inherited, and no longer view them as chronic whiners.
Bob

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Old Tuesday 22nd February 2011, 16:34   #18
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Karen,
Since you are new to binocular observing, it would probably be a mistake to go off the deep end performing unnatural optical stunts designed to magnify small errors. It is easy to detect insignificant errors with some of these tests, but it takes experience to know when it is worth worrying about. Your experience with photography will help you judge it, as you are already accustomed to looking through stuff.

Not everybody here would agree, but I would advise, given the very high quality standard of the LXL, and the recent factory tune up, to start your experience with an attitude of trust. Use the binocular in a normal way, just go out and look at birds and stuff. If you start to notice anything that bothers you, ask us, and we will try to help you to understand it. If anything proves out of whack, which is very unlikely, just lean on Nikon.

CA is present in many otherwise wonderful binoculars, and if you can only forgive some color fringing in views which, by and large, due to their harsh backlit nature, would still be very poor views even with no color error, you will be among the happy majority of binocular users.

Rolling ball has been presented as an evil here, but in my mind, it's not that simple. With rolling ball there comes a very nice feature of the field correction: the absence of distortion at the edge of the view. In other words straight lines will appear as straight. This cannot be, if rolling ball is eliminated. Anybody would rather have it both ways, of course, but you can't. I have binoculars that are corrected both ways, and have no problem enjoying the advantage, and ignoring the necessary oddity, of either style.

I hope you like your LXL.
Ron
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Old Tuesday 22nd February 2011, 16:49   #19
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I think I would prefer a bin that has the center viewing area appear "flat" with a nice depth of field (DOF). How does this relate to rolling ball?
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Old Tuesday 22nd February 2011, 19:00   #20
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The way I understand flatness and DOF, there is no relationship to the rolling ball. These terms, unfortunately, are on the frontier of our abilities to describe what we see. "The View" is a complicated working together of many things, and it is very hard to break out one variable alone and critique it. Moreover, many of the terms we use here border on slang, without universal agreement as to their precise meaning. Birders have a tremendous amount of valuable knowledge to share from their observing experience, but rarely speak quite the same language as the optics heads, even though they use the same words.

Don't pre-dislike your LXL because of things somebody said. There's enough cussing and discussing here, that you could easily do the same with any binocular made. You made a great choice, and got a killer deal. Be cool, wait and see. I'm betting you'll love it. If you don't, send it back!
Ron
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Old Tuesday 22nd February 2011, 19:12   #21
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Ronh,

It's scheduled to arrive .... TOMORROW!

Actually, I'm so excited I think I'm pre-disposed to LOVE it!

Thanks, I thought my question about a flat view, DOF and rolling ball might be a dummy question - but figured as a newbie I could get away with it! LOL!

BTW - I was born in Albuquerque and still have relatives there. Love NM. You're lucky to live there!
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Old Tuesday 22nd February 2011, 21:05   #22
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I think I would prefer a bin that has the center viewing area appear "flat" with a nice depth of field (DOF). How does this relate to rolling ball?
DOF is pretty much fixed by the magnification. Perceived DOF seems to be related to focusing speed.

Rolling ball is controlled by the amount of pincushion distortion (deliberately) added in the optical design. It is independent of flatness of the field.
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2011, 00:20   #23
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DOF is pretty much fixed by the magnification. Perceived DOF seems to be related to focusing speed.

Rolling ball is controlled by the amount of pincushion distortion (deliberately) added in the optical design. It is independent of flatness of the field.


Good to know. Thanks for clarifying this for me!
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2011, 04:50   #24
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This information is really helpful! If I had noticed the effect - I would have wondered if it was me or the bins, due to my inexperience. Also, I didn't realize that people can adapt to the rolling ball effect. So I would have given up on the bins right away if I noticed it! Thanks!

I believe I have 30 days to return the LX L for full refund... They are already with Fed Ex on their way to me!

I'm familiar with CA from my photography pursuits. But in photography, I can fix the CA with software! I guess, like photography, CA is worst when there is strong back lighting?

Any other tips on how to check out the Monarch X (trade demos) and the LX L's (refurb) when they arrive?

Karen
Hi Karen,

I've used an 8x32 LX L (refurb) for two years and find it to be absolutely exquisite. The "globe effect," which is the perception that the view is rolling over, has been shown to result from an insufficient amount of pincushion distortion. The LX L, however, has a sufficient amount, which can easily be seen by viewing a vertical object and moving it to the periphery, where it gently bends outward at the top and bottom. Your fortunate selection is being disparaged for no good reason along these lines.

I can't help but adding, for those who incessantly refer to "rolling ball" as a property of the binocular, that it is not. It is a unwelcome perception that some observers sometimes experience under some circumstances — namely visual panning. Unfortunately, the pejorative term "rolling ball" has been applied indiscriminately to any nausea inducing visual-motion scenario, of which there are many, and most of which have nothing to do with the globe effect.

Some folks also accuse the LX L of having excessive CA, which is a basic color aberration. Actually I seriously doubt that it does, unless we can believe that for some strange reason Nikon failed to minimize chromatic aberration in the basic design of its top optic (at the time). No, the fact that only a few people consistently report seeing serious color fringing, suggests that the fault probably lies with their atypical color perception or how it interacts with the coatings. Hopefully, like me, you are not one of them.

Anyway, in my opinion you made an excellent choice, and I hope that you enjoy the LX L as much as I do. Incidentally, optics that have been refurbished at the Nikon factory have the added advantage of being hand-tuned to perfection.

Happy birding,
Ed

PS. Just noticed ronh and Kevin's posts, which are right on!
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Last edited by elkcub : Wednesday 23rd February 2011 at 07:41.
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2011, 05:36   #25
Kevin Purcell
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Rolling ball is a property of both the bin and the user. It depends on how much pincushion distortion the bin adds and the how much (intrinsic) barrel distortion the human observer has. The real issue is when the bin is undercorrected with respect to the user (in bins that go for a low K value in their design).

But it is a property of the bin. If you get a k=0 (or even a k=0.5 bin) bin you will see rolling ball effects even though the astronomers will be delighted that all the angles are exactly as they expect.

Though in most cases bin makers over-correct (add too much pincushion) to make sure the maximum number of people don't experience rolling ball but those that don't have much barrel distortion will complain of too much pincushion but it isn't as objectionable as rolling ball.

Try searching for Holger Merlitz and rolling globe both on the forum and on the web for more details.

That said it is another example of trying bins out and finding the match to you: either ergonomically or visually. Especially as you get closer to the top end things like focus rate, amount of pincushion, amount of lateral and longitudinal CA, balance and feel of the bin matter more than brand.

Bins are really personal tools and should be selected as such. The problem for the new bin user is often not quite knowing what to look for and how to trust their feelings: I suspect either intuitive folks ("Oh no, I don't like that one") or those that build up a lot of experience have the best time with their choices.

I suspect (from seeing folks in the field and knowing some good birders) that some people get to Nikon Monarch level and are very happy with that price/performance trade off.
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