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A thread to discuss Alphas where all opinions are considered equal. (1 Viewer)

Torview

Registered User
Supporter
I rather liked the idea of a thread where we can post our opinions about the finest optics, where every opinion will be considered equally valid, and where no body will be made to feel that what they see is "wrong" because others see differently. A thread free of personal jibes or put downs.

Hopefully the idea of this thread will not offend anyone either.

So a few months back I bought a Swarovski 8.5x42SVFP, I was somewhat late to the Swaro party, I can`t put my finger on it but I just thought they were`nt quite as good as everyone said they were, and annoyingly my first SV, an 8x32 was plagued by stray light issues, so I bought a Leica.

Well when I tried my current SV I was blown away, never had I seen quite such a crystalline clarity in a binocular, and I still have`nt, even the SF and NV don`t quite match the SV for me.

The last I tried was the NV, and I was really excited to be trying one, but it just left me unmoved, I`m up in Norfolk soon so I am looking forward to trying another pair and hoping my first experience was untypical. Leica have always been my favourite brand, I just love the red dot, whether cameras or binoculars.

Maybe I need SV optics in an SF`s ergonomic dream of a body with the NV`s baffling, (which I`m taking on faith as I have`nt been in a situation to test it yet).

John.
 

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
Hello John,

I have often posted about what I considered shortcomings of a certain high quality binocular to be met with complaints about my negativity. Of course, my problems were real and they were shared by some users of the binocular. Any student of psychology knows that there are differences in perception among individuals. Beyond that there are "deal breakers" for some which mean nothing to others.

I am reminded of a quote on the Guardian web site: "Comment is free, but facts are sacred." When we write about binoculars, our experiences are real; whether they amount to facts, certainly facts for all, is another story.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood
 

Sandy Leng

Well-known member
A couple of years ago I was lucky enough that I was in a position to be able to buy any of the top alpha's of the time. I went along to a very good optics outlet nearby that has all the latest and greatest bins, and spent a good time making my decision.

My decision was biased by the fact that I really, really, don't like green binoculars! No matter how good swaro's are, I will never buy one as long as it's green.

A lot of people might think that's silly, and on my local patch most of the birders use Swarovski. To me though, black is the only colour. I laid my hard earned down for a Zeiss Victory HT 8X42, and two and a half years on I still love them as much as when I bought them.

I still think that Leicas are by far the best looking binoculars ever made though, although they're not for me. My HT's are superb optically, and in my opinion look great!!

The new black SF's look superb, I haven't had the chance to look through one yet, they weren't out when I bought my HT's

Sandy
 

SuperDuty

Well-known member
I own the Gray SF, but to me the SV is the best looking binocular ever. IMO, optics always trump color or style, ergonomics, that's another story.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
I'm a big fan of the Swarovski 8.5x42 ELSV too, but mine is nonFP (I don't like strap lugs that allow 360 degree rotation and that interfere with my hand position). The view, ergonomics, and build/design are everything I've always wanted in a birding binocular. If the focus were variable-ratio it would be great for butterflies too. My unit has perfectly smooth and low-resistance focus unlike any previous Swarovski that I've owned or used (they've all been stiff or had asymmetrical moderate resistance).

--AP
 

edwincjones

Well-known member
my alphas or once considered alphas are older with
zeiss 8x32 FL, SW 8.5x42 EL (non SW), leica 10+15x50, zeiss dialyt 8x56.
I like then all and each stand out for specific tasks;
-8x32 for walks and hiking
-8.5x42 all around
-10+15x50 for distant shore birds and raptors
-8x56 for night sky
but I cannot say one is better than another.

edj
 
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John Frink

Well-known member
my alphas or once considered alphas are older with
zeiss 8x32 FL, SW 8.5x42 EL (non SW), leica 10+15x50, zeiss dialyt 8x56.
I like then all and each stand out for specific tasks;
-8x32 for walks and hiking
-8.5x42 all around
-10+15x50 for distant shore birds and raptors
-8x56 for night sky
but I cannot say one is better than another.

edj
My favorite set is similar to yours -
SW 10x32SV, SW 8.5x42SV, SW 12x50SV, Fuji 7x50 FMTR-SX
-10x32 for walks, hiking, casual birding
-8.5x42 for "serious" birding
-12x50 for shore birds and raptors
-7x50 for night sky

John
 

JerryLogan

Well-known member
There are many heated discussions re the alpha class. A distressing proportion (although certainly not all) of the contention issues from sample variation, limits of the observers vision and, purely personal preferences (how stiff is too stiff, how quick is too quick). In this situation it's silly to be outraged by someone's opinion because whatever they say may well be perfectly true - for them with their particular binoculars.

A true story! A very experienced and skilled birder and I toured a very nice optics shop. My friend was moving soon and wanted to find some good binoculars since he was moving from his home bordering marshland/open fields to a much denser woodland setting. He'd used spotting scopes for years and made many remarkable photos and identifications.

Surprisingly, in his expert opinion, every binocular in the shop wasn't really sharp.!!! Bad collimation? We are in an earthquake zone so perhaps the entire stock had been shaken to the floor and not properly repaired. Of course, the real problem was the astigmatism in his left eye that had gone unnoticed for ???? because he is a right-eyed scope user.

Suppose he'd gone to a shop that only carried one alpha brand. He's a seasoned observer. Suddenly, in his strongly held opinion, Leica isn't particularly sharp and kind of disappointing. That was, in fact, his very reaction in the shop until we realized that Swaro, Zeiss were also disappointing.

Very few of us have the opportunity to compare and the energy to really test. So relax, enjoy the show and maybe only take a half-grain of salt when someone like Henry (and several notable others) take a stand.
 
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Stanbo

Well-known member
I rather liked the idea of a thread where we can post our opinions about the finest optics, where every opinion will be considered equally valid, and where no body will be made to feel that what they see is "wrong" because others see differently. A thread free of personal jibes or put downs.

Hopefully the idea of this thread will not offend anyone either.

So a few months back I bought a Swarovski 8.5x42SVFP, I was somewhat late to the Swaro party, I can`t put my finger on it but I just thought they were`nt quite as good as everyone said they were, and annoyingly my first SV, an 8x32 was plagued by stray light issues, so I bought a Leica.

Well when I tried my current SV I was blown away, never had I seen quite such a crystalline clarity in a binocular, and I still have`nt, even the SF and NV don`t quite match the SV for me.

The last I tried was the NV, and I was really excited to be trying one, but it just left me unmoved, I`m up in Norfolk soon so I am looking forward to trying another pair and hoping my first experience was untypical. Leica have always been my favourite brand, I just love the red dot, whether cameras or binoculars.

Maybe I need SV optics in an SF`s ergonomic dream of a body with the NV`s baffling, (which I`m taking on faith as I have`nt been in a situation to test it yet).

John.


Evening John,

Before the thread progresses, perhaps you can set out what you mean by Alpha? (I could be naughty and suggest bling factor)

Stan
 

Torview

Registered User
Supporter
Evening John,

Before the thread progresses, perhaps you can set out what you mean by Alpha? (I could be naughty and suggest bling factor)

Stan

Hi Stan,

I suppose I`v read more contention about opinions in the top tier than any other sector, I`m all for reasoned disagreement, but very often when a dispute about the performance of an optic arises, someone gets personal and I find this rather tiresome.

I`n really interested in what someone tells me they see in an optic, not what they tell me we should all see.

Alpha for me starts with the SLC.
 

David Swain

Well-known member
Not long ago I considered my Nikon 8x32 SEs to be a stop-gap until I could get some very good bins. While they are idiosyncratic and a bit fussy about eye position, I no longer feel envious of "alpha" users. They are (well, were) alphas. Then again, occasionally I allow myself to look through some 8x42 SLCs ...
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
There are many heated discussions re the alpha class. A distressing proportion (although certainly not all) of the contention issues from sample variation, limits of the observers vision and, purely personal preferences (how stiff is too stiff, how quick is too quick). In this situation it's silly to be outraged by someone's opinion because whatever they say may well be perfectly true - for them with their particular binoculars.

A true story! A very experienced and skilled birder and I toured a very nice optics shop. My friend was moving soon and wanted to find some good binoculars since he was moving from his home bordering marshland/open fields to a much denser woodland setting. He'd used spotting scopes for years and made many remarkable photos and identifications.

Surprisingly, in his expert opinion, every binocular in the shop wasn't really sharp.!!! Bad collimation? We are in an earthquake zone so perhaps the entire stock had been shaken to the floor and not properly repaired. Of course, the real problem was the astigmatism in his left eye that had gone unnoticed for ???? because he is a right-eyed scope user.

Suppose he'd gone to a shop that only carried one alpha brand. He's a seasoned observer. Suddenly, in his strongly held opinion, Leica isn't particularly sharp and kind of disappointing. That was, in fact, his very reaction in the shop until we realized that Swaro, Zeiss were also disappointing.

Very few of us have the opportunity to compare and the energy to really test. So relax, enjoy the show and maybe only take a half-grain of salt when someone like Henry (and several notable others) take a stand.
Yes, personal preference, and sample variations play large parts (as too do sneaky unannounced 'fixes' - design or component quality, that trickle through on the quiet after umpteen customers have been unwittingly used as beta testers - all on the customers coin too! ).

The other big variable as you have alluded too, is the viewer themselves. Despite our common DNA, there are quite substantial differences in the characteristics of our eyesight (correction devices or not, dilation response and limits, focus accommodation, distortion profiles, colour rendition, acuity, just to name a few, ... ) , even more in our physiological functioning, neural processing (no comment! :) and ensuing perceptions.

Importantly, this includes the sub-conscious adjustment over time to minor foibles, and even glaring omissions (sometimes literally :) in the performance of a bin. This goes far beyond mere rose-coloured glasses opinion reinforcement, to which Pileatus* linked, but to the "owner", the very real disappearance of things that would drive other people completely batty!!

This is why I value a thorough evaluation in all conditions by fresh sets of eyes, brains, fingers, and hands etc -- not to mention wallets! That we have some on here who continually poo-poo and denigrate this fact, just so that they can look down their noses at second class BF citizens is a sad indictment of their ongoing cyber legacy, should they ever one day get older and wiser ......

I rather liked the idea of a thread where we can post our opinions about the finest optics, where every opinion will be considered equally valid, and where no body will be made to feel that what they see is "wrong" because others see differently. A thread free of personal jibes or put downs.

Hopefully the idea of this thread will not offend anyone either......

Maybe I need SV optics in an SF`s ergonomic dream of a body with the NV`s baffling, (which I`m taking on faith as I have`nt been in a situation to test it yet).

John.

Great topic John. The thing I find most annoying (even in muggles tech bins) is that even though various makers lead the way in one area or another, no-one has yet managed to put it all together in a way that would compel me to lighten the wallet ....

ie. There isn't one lightweight (<650 gram 42mm, let alone a <800 gram 50mm), 100% reflecting prism, bright, CA free, 70° Afov wide angle, good eye relief (18mm + to accommodate all glasses wearers), sensibly distorted and quasi 3D and dof enhancing (NV style) , sharp to the edge, completely neutrally colour rendered, totally glare controlled bin that well exceeds resolution standards. This would need to be presented in an ergonomic package that exceeds current leaders, and built from CFRP, Titanium etc, and using all the best glass - not just some of it. Most annoying! :brains: :scribe:


Chosun :gh:
 
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Canip

Well-known member
......
....
....
Great topic John. The thing I find most annoying (even in muggles tech bins) is that even though various makers lead the way in one area or another, no-one has yet managed to put it all together in a way that would compel me to lighten the wallet ....

ie. There isn't one lightweight (<650 gram 42mm, let alone a <800 gram 50mm), 100% reflecting prism, bright, CA free, 70° Afov wide angle, good eye relief (18mm + to accommodate all glasses wearers), sensibly distorted and quasi 3D and dof enhancing (NV style) , sharp to the edge, completely neutrally colour rendered, totally glare controlled bin that well exceeds resolution standards. This would need to be presented in an ergonomic package that exceeds current leaders, and built from CFRP, Titanium etc, and using all the best glass - not just some of it. Most annoying! :brains: :scribe:


Chosun :gh:

Exactly - as you say, no one has so far managed to put it all together, but several producers have tried to convince us that they actually have !!!

@ the question what an "alpha" is: since this expression has probably been first used in biology to identify the leader of a pack of e.g. wolves ("alpha male", "alpha female"), we in principle can't really talk about alphaS (in the plural) since by definition there is only one alpha [[the others being beta, gamma etc.]]
That's why I prefer to talk about premium binoculars, premium producers etc. (this also indicates that we usually talk about something quite expensive) ;)
 

Canip

Well-known member
.... and, not only talking about definitions, but to add a little "substance", here is a list of binoculars which I consider truly outstanding - "alpha-alpha", if you will - and which represent excellence in mechanics and optics which is sometimes so hard to achieve. I have used all the instruments hereafter numerous times and think I know them well.
So, in the order of decreasing size:
- Docter Aspectem 80/500 UWA
- Swarovski EL SV 10x50
- Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 (black)
- Swarovski EL SV 10x42
- Zeiss Victory FL 8x56 T
- Leica Ultravid 8x50 HD
- Zeiss Victory FL 7x42
The new Leica Noctivid is certainly a possible candidate for that list. I just haven't used it sufficiently long to be certain.
There are a number of other excellent binos that I also like very much and find impressive but for some reason would not place into the above list:
Nikon 18x70 IF WP WF / Meopta MeoStar 15x56 HD / Zeiss Victory HT 10x54 / Leica Ultravid 10x50 HD+ / Kowa Genesis 8.5x44 / Swarovski EL SV 8.5x42 / Minox APO HG 8x43 / Leica Geovid 8x42 HD-R (Typ 402) / Nikon EDG 8x42 / Swarovski SLC 8x42 (new) / Zeiss Victory SF 8x42 / Swarovski Habicht 7x42.

This is all very personal, of course, so I expect many not to agree with my choices, but that is the fascinating thing about visual observing with optical instruments (instead of photography): the interaction machine - eye can produce individually quite different results.

For what it's worth.
Canip
 

edwincjones

Well-known member
The 8X32 SE has a few ergonomic issues but, once mastered, the view is stunning. No matter how many "alphas" I look through, or own, my SE has qualities I cannot describe. The level of minute detail that is immediately available to my eye is often humbling and always addictive. In the winter I use mine everyday as everyone comes to the feeders. It's almost 0730, time for woody (Pileated woodpecker) to show up with his mate! Where's my SE...


I think our "real" definition of alpha is the binocular/binoculars we each like best.

edj

see "Have we reached the point" thread
 
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Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
alpha = top of the line SW ,Zeiss, Leica, maybe Nikon
?

edj

My interpretation is on two levels: first there are alpha brands namely Leica, Zeiss and Swarovski. If someone puts Nikon on their personal alpha brand list I have no objection but Nikon doesn't feature on mine due to their lack of binoculars heritage (cue mountains of posts to put me right on this :-O).

Second there is the more contentious issue of alpha models and which is much more subject to personal preferences and prejudices not to mention arguments about whether an alpha model (Dialyt 7x42, Leica BA/BN??) remains an alpha forever or slips gradually down the list and falls off it at some stage. And thats before we consider how a bins model might qualify to be 'near-alpha'.

Lee
 
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