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Aldi Zoom Binoculars

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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 13:35   #1
Carless
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Aldi Zoom Binoculars

I bought a pair of these on an impulse purchase. They were the 8-24x50 "Traveller" binoculars. My reason for buying them was so that my 9 year old would have a pair of binoculars of his own. He used to have some plastic lensed POS binos that came from .... I don't know where, maybe ToysRUs or whereever.

Before I bought them, I gave them a quick tryout in the store. They seemed to work. We haven't had any sunny mornings or weekend days since then, so I haven't seen what they can really do. But, I gave them a tryout in dim light, and they seem to work fine. In that I could clearly see some woodpigeons at both 8x and 24x magnification. The binos also seem quite comfortable and easy to hold, much more so than our 20x60 Tento binos.

The reviews and comments I've seen about these binos seem very critical. Most saying that cheap zoom binoculars and these ones in particularly should be avoided. But, the images I get through them seem fine. At all magnifications. I have noted that the field of view is not massive and they can't focus too close up. But we usually take our Pentax Papillios out with us as well, which definitely cover this ground. But I thought that my son, being 9, would enjoy having zoom to play around with, and he seems to appreciate that.

So my question is, why do these binoculars get criticised so much? I can't see how they don't justify a price of £12.50. They seem to be reasonably priced, and do a reasonable job. It may say more about me than the binos, but they seem a good option for a child's pair of binos. I would be happy using them myself. Why so much negative comment for them? Does it take time and experience to really appreciate good optics?

Edit: These are the 10-30x60 version of binoculars in question: http://www.aldi.co.uk/uk/html/offers/2867_8256.htm We have the 8-24x50s

Last edited by Carless : Wednesday 18th February 2009 at 13:55.
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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 15:15   #2
Tero
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Typically they will not last very long. The moving parts in the zoom break down. Not even addressing the optics.
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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 15:29   #3
Carless
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Typically they will not last very long. The moving parts in the zoom break down. Not even addressing the optics.
Hmmm..... They did come with a three year guarantee. I wouldn't expect a pair of £12.50 binoculars to last for a decade or more. I'd guess that by the time my son is 12 in three years time when the guarantee expires, he'd probably either not be interested in binos, or have already graduated to a better pair.

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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 16:16   #4
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Well, if Aldi has a piar that does not zoom, they will last the 2 years.

If your son has a real interest in binoculars, £43.46 will buy a Bushnell Natureview. If he is likely to destroy things, a little more rugged and same price, but worse optics, is £44.04 Bushnell H2O 8x25 Waterproof Binoculars.

A little cheaper, Opticron Oregon DCF.GA 10x25 Binoculars, £19.56.

All those will give give the same lousy view for several years. The Aldi zooms might last two weeks in his hands. So throw 12 pounds or 19 pounds or 40 at this project. If you supervise the activity, then 40 pounds would be a good start.
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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 16:18   #5
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I bet they don't last a year. I have had a couple of various zoom binoculars in my younger and dumber days. They more they get zoomed around the magnification range they less time they will last. They might not last past the first bump. It is very hard to make decent and durable zoom adjustments. There is nothing solid holding them at any particular place. Why do you think cheap ones are the only ones you see, and why do we see hardly any from name brands, and even the ones from Nikon are cheap. However maybe yours will prove the exception.
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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 17:16   #6
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I bet they don't last a year. I have had a couple of various zoom binoculars in my younger and dumber days. They more they get zoomed around the magnification range they less time they will last. They might not last past the first bump. It is very hard to make decent and durable zoom adjustments. There is nothing solid holding them at any particular place. Why do you think cheap ones are the only ones you see, and why do we see hardly any from name brands, and even the ones from Nikon are cheap. However maybe yours will prove the exception.
Hmmm.... Could be interesting. Not only do they have a three year guarantee, but in the UK we have the Sale of Goods Act (1974) which says that goods have to last a "reasonable" length of time. If they do break within a short time, particularly within the first six months, I should be able to get my money back (possibly pro-rata).

It would be an ... interesting ... business plan to sell items that have very little chance of lasting to the end of the guarantee period.
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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 17:40   #7
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It would be an ... interesting ... business plan to sell items that have very little chance of lasting to the end of the guarantee period.
And probably a quite successful one, relying on the expectation that most people would write off impulse purchases of inexpensive junk to experience & make no serious attempt to get their money back.
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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 18:59   #8
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Carless, you will now have to keep them. Report back in two weeks, and two months and then in 2 years.

Or report on your refund success.
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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 19:53   #9
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Carless, you will now have to go keep them. Report back in two weeks, and two months and then in 2 years.

Or report on your refund success.
I'll do so.

It wouldn't be unprecedented for me to return after a long while to follow up something like this. In another nature forum we discussed chaffinches in New Zealand, and my surprise at hearing that they were common there after not becoming familiar with them despite growing up in NZ. About 18 months later, I visited New Zealand, established that many people in NZ weren't familiar with them, but found one, actually we shared shelter in a rainstorm with one, at the summit of a volcanic island there. And reported back to the forum :)

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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 20:26   #10
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Carless, you will now have to go keep them. Report back in two weeks, and two months and then in 2 years.

Or report on your refund success.
I have to answer, I have a pair of these cheap binoculars from Aldi I bought over 2 years ago to replace an expensive pair I had in my kitchen which were taken when we had a burglary. They are just as good now as when we bought them and they are used daily. For such cheap Bins they are clear up to 30 times above that they start to get colour fringing and are difficult to hand hold.

For a first pair of bins that you are not frightened to give to a junior you can't go wrong. Enjoy them.
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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 20:47   #11
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I had a pair of reverse porro zooms for maybe 3 years, I hardly used them. But they were good at 7x. eventually I donated them to a nature center. The zooming still worked on the small model.

I have seen assorted big zoom porros in stores as display models. None of them worked.
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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 21:10   #12
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I had a pair of reverse porro zooms for maybe 3 years, I hardly used them. But they were good at 7x. eventually I donated them to a nature center. The zooming still worked on the small model.

I have seen assorted big zoom porros in stores as display models. None of them worked.
Well assuming they actually work (and if they don't then under English law at any rate they are not 'fit for the purpose for which they were sold' and one would be entitled to one's money back), I don't see what you have to lose at £12.50 to be used by a 9 year old.
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Old Wednesday 18th February 2009, 22:18   #13
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To answer the "Why not zooms?" question

Using a zoom lens in the eyepiece means a narrower FOV even at the lowest magnification than non-Zoom bins. Not good for birding. The same effect is seen in spotting scopes too.

More glass in the eyepiece means a darker image especially with poorer AR coatings used in cheap bins or in the older days no coating: it's possible they are FC today. Maybe not!

The general target of zoom bins is the low end of the market so you get everything that comes with very cheap bins: not fully AR coated, poor quality assembly, poor collimation,

I have a pair of cheap plastic enclosure 8x40 bins with real single coated glass optics that if they were collimated would actually be rather decent bins (much better than the junk I grew up with in the 1970s). Unfortunately they aren't collimated.

But as others have said. Perhaps for a child they're no loss and if a new birder emerges perhaps a better pair of non-zoom bins might be of some help in the future.
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Old Thursday 19th February 2009, 17:14   #14
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I have seen a zoom binocular being taken apart a few years ago. I believe some of the internal "lens" is made of synthetic material, instead of lens. It felt like being molded into shape without any AR coating. If you just want to get an inepxensive toy, they are fine. But even for semi-serious birding, one should skip for zoom binoculars and go for some inexpensive fixed power binoculars.
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Old Sunday 1st March 2009, 09:16   #15
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Carless, you will now have to keep them. Report back in two weeks, and two months and then in 2 years.
Two week update. We took them out to Rutland Water last weekend. They worked absolutely fine. For comparison, we had our Tento 20x60 binos, some Pentax Papillio binos, and an Aldi 20-60x60 scope.

The zoom binos seemed absolutely fine. They weren't quite as good as the "made in USSR" Tentos. But for general birdwatching, they seemed fine. Being able to zoom in and out seemed very useful. At one point I was using various optical devices to look at the crest on the mansion/stately home thing which can be seen across the Plover lagoon. The zoom binos seemed as good as anything we had for that. In general, I prefer the zoom binos to the Aldi spotting scope, but maybe that's because I'm not used to scopes.

Yesterday we walked along the public path that goes through Priory Water bird sanctury. But we ended out not getting them out then as my son was more interested in running around, and I was trying to film video from a tripod. But later on about 5:30pm we pointed them at the moon. On full zoom 24x, I got a good look at a whole lot of craters.

So, as of the two week update, I still think they're quite good. Certainly well worth the price and good for kids.

PS: When pointing the binos at the moon (etc.) I find them a lot easier to hold relatively steady than the big heavy Tentos. This applies more for my 9yo, who finds the Tentos quite difficult to hold.

Last edited by Carless : Sunday 1st March 2009 at 09:40.
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Old Saturday 7th March 2009, 22:17   #16
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This is another reason for not going to Aldi's. Grow your own!!
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Old Monday 9th March 2009, 20:45   #17
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Two week update. We took them out to Rutland Water last weekend. They worked absolutely fine. For comparison, we had our Tento 20x60 binos, some Pentax Papillio binos, and an Aldi 20-60x60 scope.

The zoom binos seemed absolutely fine. They weren't quite as good as the "made in USSR" Tentos. But for general birdwatching, they seemed fine. Being able to zoom in and out seemed very useful. At one point I was using various optical devices to look at the crest on the mansion/stately home thing which can be seen across the Plover lagoon. The zoom binos seemed as good as anything we had for that. In general, I prefer the zoom binos to the Aldi spotting scope, but maybe that's because I'm not used to scopes.

Yesterday we walked along the public path that goes through Priory Water bird sanctury. But we ended out not getting them out then as my son was more interested in running around, and I was trying to film video from a tripod. But later on about 5:30pm we pointed them at the moon. On full zoom 24x, I got a good look at a whole lot of craters.

So, as of the two week update, I still think they're quite good. Certainly well worth the price and good for kids.

PS: When pointing the binos at the moon (etc.) I find them a lot easier to hold relatively steady than the big heavy Tentos. This applies more for my 9yo, who finds the Tentos quite difficult to hold.

It is good hear that this one works for you. I might be just too stubborn to accept the idea of zoom binoculars. But your experience proves a point that there is always something for different people for different use.
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Old Monday 29th June 2009, 16:54   #18
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Carless, you will now have to keep them. Report back in two weeks, and two months and then in 2 years.
We still have them. They still work as well as they did when new, but we haven't used them much. We took them on a guided birding walk in a local park, and on both low and high zoom, they produced acceptable pictures. We loaned them to another person when my son became more interested in tree climbing than birdwatching, and she thought they were OK too.
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Old Monday 29th June 2009, 17:03   #19
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PS: When pointing the binos at the moon (etc.) I find them a lot easier to hold relatively steady than the big heavy Tentos. This applies more for my 9yo, who finds the Tentos quite difficult to hold.
You don't get many birds the siz of the moon

And are they called traveller because they come in a big trolly bag

As Kevin Purcell has said zoom binoculars are not very good which is why you won't find many of the big players in the market manufacturing them
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Old Monday 29th June 2009, 17:16   #20
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You don't get many birds the siz of the moon

And are they called traveller because they come in a big trolly bag

As Kevin Purcell has said zoom binoculars are not very good which is why you won't find many of the big players in the market manufacturing them
You don't get many big players selling binos for £12.50. I think the Zoom Aldi binoculars make a very good functional and educational child's toy.
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Old Saturday 23rd April 2011, 04:39   #21
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Follow up on http://birdforum.net/showthread.php?...97#post2122497
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Old Saturday 14th January 2012, 18:34   #22
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Still working fine.
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Old Monday 23rd January 2012, 19:49   #23
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I bought a pair of Traveller 12x32 compact bins a few years back from Aldi for £5. They are used often, they're kept in the car in all weathers, they've had a small knock or two and they're still excellent! A fiver well spent!
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