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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Best Binocular for... (2 Viewers)

oldtimer88

Well-known member
United States
Hi - I am wondering if there are binoculars that are known to be better in certain areas or in certain conditions vs. peers as opposed to a $2500 binocular is a better choice for all conditions and all use cases as opposed to a $1000 binocular? When comparing 8x42 bins is the relationship between glass quality or clarity and viewing distance consistent at any distance or do some binoculars do well vs. peers at 100 yards but are equally as good at 50 yards?

Of course I am assuming binoculars in comparison are the same objective and magnification. Let assume 8s or 10s in a 42mm config.
By "best" I am referring to clarity and mainly at the center or sweet spot. forget the edge.


Here is an example of what I am trying to find out...
-When viewing wildlife on a sunny/hot day at a distance of 200-400 yards, is there a binocular in the 8x42 category that is known for handling glare and mirage very well vs. peers?
-When viewing plants and birds within 50 yards is the binocular that performed best in the above scenario also the best performing binocular for this scenario?

My experience with the conquest is that it is magnificent for the close distance, ideal lighting or vibrant color viewing situations. It is less impressive when viewing a hillside at 200 yards.

Apologies if this does not make much sense - I guess I just want to know what's the best tool for the job

Thanks in advance.
 
Here is an example of what I am trying to find out...
-When viewing wildlife on a sunny/hot day at a distance of 200-400 yards, is there a binocular in the 8x42 category that is known for handling glare and mirage very well vs. peers?
The "glare and mirage" you're mentioning seems me to refer to atmospheric conditions. No binocular can do anything about atmospheric conditions.
My experience with the conquest is that it is magnificent for the close distance, ideal lighting or vibrant color viewing situations. It is less impressive when viewing a hillside at 200 yards.
See above: When the "seeing" is bad, there's nothing any binocular can do about that.

Hermann
 
The "glare and mirage" you're mentioning seems me to refer to atmospheric conditions. No binocular can do anything about atmospheric conditions.

See above: When the "seeing" is bad, there's nothing any binocular can do about that.

Hermann
I am asking if one is better than the other, despite suboptimal conditions, the question is related to relative performance in various conditions.
 
I am asking if one is better than the other, despite suboptimal conditions, the question is related to relative performance in various conditions.
No. Not as far a I can see. when the seeing is bad, it's bad.

The only exception is misty or foggy weather: In such conditions binoculars with a yellow image may look better, for instance some military binoculars.

Hermann
 
Hello Oldtimer88,

Yes roof prism binoculars with internal focussing are optimised for a certain distance. A floating element, available on a few photography lenses, would allow the minimisation of chromatic aberrations throughout the focussing range. My guess is that all roof binoculars are optimised for a certain distance, perhaps 8 metres for the lower power binoculars.

@Hermann,

I think yellow filters may help with haze but not mist.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur
 
Resistance to glare does vary, with Swarovski being a bit notorious... but AFAIK your Conquest handles it well. With poor atmospheric conditions, distant views can suffer in any binocular. None can eliminate mirage.

Some brands (Leica, Nikon, Meopta) have a warmer look with a bit more contrast, while others (Swaro, Zeiss) are more neutral; one may look prettier on a sunny day, the other will do better in low light. These are rather subtle differences. No binocular is perfect.
 
I may get dog piled, but I think the answer to most of your questions is “no”.

Swarovski has an apparent reputation as a bit of a “glare monster” under some conditions, but others swear that they never see it. I did, in mine.

In general, better is still better, and always more expensive, because it costs more to manufacture.

Perhaps I misunderstood.
 
I disagree. I think there is a difference between less expensive binoculars and more expensive binoculars in suboptimal conditions. A $2500 binocular like the Zeiss SF or Swarovski NL is going to perform slightly better than a $1000 binocular like the Zeiss Conquest HD or Nikon HG under all conditions, and that goes for less than perfect conditions also.

A lot of times, what really separates an alpha level binocular from a mid-tiered binocular is how they perform in low light, foggy conditions, cold weather, extremely sunny conditions with a lot of glare or mirage and long range viewing. The alpha level binoculars have better coatings, better glass, usually higher transmission and often times they are better blackened internally better to combat glare and tough viewing conditions.

I have noticed in the many binoculars I have had that many of the cheaper binoculars look close optically to the more expensive binoculars when you look through them inside a store, but it is when you get outside and use them under varying conditions that the quality differences become more noticeable.

A more expensive binocular will perform better under any condition, but the performance difference diminishes as you move up in price. So a $2000 binocular might be 10% better than a $1000 binocular, but it is 10% better in every way, meaning optically and build quality wise. There is a big difference in build quality and optics between a Nikon M7 and a Nikon MHG, and a lesser difference in build quality and optics between a Nikon MHG and a Swarovski NL.

I feel the binoculars at the $1000 price point like the Nikon MHG 8x42 give you the most "Bang for Your Buck" of any binoculars. They are like the Mustang GT of the binocular world. The Zeiss SF and Swarovski NL are like the Lamborghini's and Ferrari's. The Mustang GT will do the 1/4 mile almost as fast, but they don't quite have the build quality or panache of the Italian exotic cars. Same with the Nikon MHG 8x42 when compared with the alpha's.
 
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Another discussion that could go on for long pages ! 😉
Each point of view will also depend on each person’s perception, etc etc etc etc...
From my point of view, and to be brief and precise, the NL's give me extraordinary visions at all distances !!! 5 yards, 20 yards, 100, 200, 500 or 1000 yards, the same enchantment all the time !!
 
Imo both Dennis and Tehri are hitting it on the nail. I’ve been buying and trying out just about everything available the last 3-4 years, from $150 to $3500 , from vintage to the newest offerings. I get a great deal of pleasure enjoying the differences and subtleties of all the options. I get a kick out of seeing how my opinions compare to the reviews here, and all the other review sites.

You really can’t see much of a difference in a store between a $500 and a $3000 binocular. After I spend some time, for a couple of days with a specific binocular in the field under different conditions, I’ll bring out a few others to do some side by sides to see how the optics compare in different areas. After my initial comparisons and taking notes , I like to get some friends ( other optics nerds , no offense to anybody 😉) together and get other opinions to see if there’s consensus and/or disagreement.

I’m talking about people from eight to eighty , from newbie to more experienced than I, and it seems what Dennis says holds up most of the time. Under blind tests where some don’t know the cost of the optics they usually will pick out the better (more expensive optic) 75+% of the time. Here’s where it gets interesting, the biases come out in a few different ways, one is if someone is in the market to buy a binocular and they have a budget, suddenly opinions change as to how much one is better than other, or if they can see the bump in quality at all. It’s almost like the cost is effecting opinions. Another bias comes out if they are brand loyalists. And of course some have eyesight shortfalls that affect their ability to see differences.

I would say if you want the best for most conditions, buy the best or spend as much as your budget allows. That doesn’t necessary mean to pick one of the top brand over the other in high end category , but that’s the group you probably want to choose from.
 
I’m talking about people from eight to eighty , from newbie to more experienced than I, and it seems what Dennis says holds up most of the time. Under blind tests where some don’t know the cost of the optics they usually will pick out the better (more expensive optic) 75+% of the time. Here’s where it gets interesting, the biases come out in a few different ways, one is if someone is in the market to buy a binocular and they have a budget, suddenly opinions change as to how much one is better than other, or if they can see the bump in quality at all. It’s almost like the cost is effecting opinions. Another bias comes out if they are brand loyalists. And of course some have eyesight shortfalls that affect their ability to see differences.

I would say if you want the best for most conditions, buy the best or spend as much as your budget allows. That doesn’t necessary mean to pick one of the top brand over the other in high end category , but that’s the group you probably want to choose from.

Bingo!
 
The "glare and mirage" you're mentioning seems me to refer to atmospheric conditions. No binocular can do anything about atmospheric conditions.

See above: When the "seeing" is bad, there's nothing any binocular can do about that.

Hermann
I agree with this.

No optic that I have ever seen “handles” mirage/bad seeing.

The only thing you can do is use as little magnification as possible. (I think)
 
Thank you for the responses...

The question I am trying to answer may have gotten away from some or I just did not communicate it well.

Mirage was an example of a condition, not the only condition and not one that I care much about.

Maybe the questions below will better illustrate what I am trying to understand.

Assume you can only choose from 8x42 configurations and weight is not a factor. Glass quality and performance is the only consideration.
What bin are you bringing for each scenario?
You are going to a sporting event in a small arena similar to a high school football field.
You are going bird watching at a nature preserve during the middle of a sunny day and expect the birds to be within 50 yards.
You are going bird watching on the coast with overcast or gray but bright conditions, expect birds to be within 50 yards.
You are going wildlife viewing in Yellowstone NP and expect sunny conditions and subjects to be beyond 100 yards.
 
Another discussion that could go on for long pages ! 😉
Each point of view will also depend on each person’s perception, etc etc etc etc...
From my point of view, and to be brief and precise, the NL's give me extraordinary visions at all distances !!! 5 yards, 20 yards, 100, 200, 500 or 1000 yards, the same enchantment all the time !!
Okay thats great - it's fine if people give their point of view. there is no right or wrong answer here. I just wanted to rule out the potential that someone may enjoy an NL pure on a sunny day at 100 yards but choose a victory sf on a gloomy gray day at 300 yards...
 
Thank you for the responses...

The question I am trying to answer may have gotten away from some or I just did not communicate it well.

Mirage was an example of a condition, not the only condition and not one that I care much about.

Maybe the questions below will better illustrate what I am trying to understand.

Assume you can only choose from 8x42 configurations and weight is not a factor. Glass quality and performance is the only consideration.
What bin are you bringing for each scenario?
You are going to a sporting event in a small arena similar to a high school football field.
You are going bird watching at a nature preserve during the middle of a sunny day and expect the birds to be within 50 yards.
You are going bird watching on the coast with overcast or gray but bright conditions, expect birds to be within 50 yards.
You are going wildlife viewing in Yellowstone NP and expect sunny conditions and subjects to be beyond 100 yards.
What bin are you bringing for each scenario?
You are going to a sporting event in a small arena similar to a high school football field.
NL 8x32
You are going bird watching at a nature preserve during the middle of a sunny day and expect the birds to be within 50 yards.
NL 8x32
You are going bird watching on the coast with overcast or gray but bright conditions, expect birds to be within 50 yards.
NL 8x32
You are going wildlife viewing in Yellowstone NP and expect sunny conditions and subjects to be beyond 100 yards.
NL 8x32

A 8x32 will perform as well as a 8x42 in all conditions except low light like at dusk or dawn because your pupils only open at most 3mm to 4mm during the day, so if you bird mostly in the daytime a 8x32 will perform as well optically, and it will be lighter and smaller making it more convenient to carry. Ease of eye placement on an NL 8x32 is as easy as many less expensive 8x42's because it has a large eye box.
 
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I just wanted to rule out the potential that someone may enjoy an NL pure on a sunny day at 100 yards but choose a victory sf on a gloomy gray day at 300 yards...
More likely the other way around, at least as far as sun goes; 100 vs 300 yds isn't going to matter. And a $3500 price tag doesn't make NL perfect.
So you want to rule out the possibility that the best binocular for different conditions can vary to some degree? That's not realistic.
 
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There will be no visible difference in the performance of any one binocular at various distances.
A typical 42mm binocular would have a focal length of around 150 mm.
At a moderate 15 m that is still one hundred focal lengths!

John
 
For marine use a 7x50 with an integrated compass is the best choice and no reason to spend no more than $400 on one. For travel use a $900 10x25 or 8x25 are the least likely to get left at home or in your hotel room. For wide open spaces I use a 12x50 binocular and it is the greatest level of magnification that I can easily use without a tripod. With a tripod I use a 20x60 pair of binoculars for star gazing.

I have 4 Swarovski binoculars but only the 8x25 and 10x25 ones have distinct advantages. I have compared the Vortex mid and upper level binoculars and found them to be no better than my Swarovski and preferable to the Zeiss and Leica binoculars I have used. There is a lot of subjectivity involved in choosing binoculars and also people need different amount of eye relief and different sized barrels depending on hand size and arm strength.

We are all benefiting from computer aided lens design as it has both improved optics and reduced the cost to do so. Manufactures may claim to have superior coatings and magical glass but the reality is that nothing of visible significance has changed over the years.
 
Mirage can usually be reduced by viewing from an elevated position.

As far as mirage with binoculars, I almost never see this.
People must be viewing in awful conditions close to the ground.

Mornings or late afternoon mirage is usually less.

With telescopes, yes I see it, but usually don't bother to observe in such conditions.
Here 100x is usually no problem during the day, but I view from an elevated position.

With scopes, part of the problem is thermal effects from the scope.
With 8x binoculars, unlikely.

If you have a choice, observe in good conditions rather than fight poor conditions.

So far as astro observations, Patrick Moore used to say 'One good observation is worth one thousand bad observations'.
He was right.

Regards,
B
 

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