Binocular advice needed (1 Viewer)

QuantumTiger

Well-known member
Many years ago, before I started birding, I bought a pair of Pentax 16x25 bins. Mostly I love them - they're small, light, easy to carry and relatively clear. I don't generally find them too hard to hold steady either. However, now gradually getting more into birding I find the high magnifcation relative to the small objective size makes it pretty difficult to find a bird in a cluttered area. Was trying to find a kingfisher in the bushes on saturday and took me several attempts to find the right bush! The light pickup is pretty poor too, so am thinking about getting a decent pair of birding bins.

A friend of mine had a pair of Swarovski's SLCs which I liked - but having looked at warehouseexpress I'm rather gobsmacked at the prices. So looking to spend not more than £4-500 I'm wondering if I'd be better off going for a pair of quality compacts (eg the Zeis Conquest 10x30, the Swarovski 10x25B or the Leica Ultravid 10x25) or holding out for a larger objective and going for a cheaper brand (eg Pentax 10x42 DCF Hrc or the Nikon Monarch 10x42).

Any advice welcome!
 

James Bean

Well-known member
My advice is 'try before you buy'. Go to one or two camera/optics shops in London and have a look through as many binoculars as possible; all shapes/sizes/prices. Soon you'll begin to get a 'feel' for what suits you: compact/midsize/large, 7x/8x/10x, porro or roof (porro's are better optical quality per £), ergonomics (weight/handling/focus/eyecups). Do not assume larger magnification will give a 'better' view. Indeed, most people find 8x to be just about right: wide enough field to find a bird, and sufficient power to identify it. Some birders swear by 10x, which is probably the practical limit for hand-held viewing if you can 'hold it steady'; any higher magnification really does need a tripod, even if you think otherwise; many wiser birdwatchers reckon 7x is better, especially 7x42, for broad field of view, brightness, most comfort, and least shake. Only you can decide which one suits YOU best. You may even be surprised by the outcome. Remember, birders tend to spend a long time viewing a scene, so the paramount consideration is 'comfort', for your eyes, hands, arms, neck (even fingers on the focus wheel; is it too stiff, fast/slow?) so it's not just a matter of sharp optics, but how relaxing and enjoyable the view is, with a binocular you are hardly aware of using because it's become 'second nature' and doesn't intrude upon the primary function you bought it for: to get the 'best' possible view of whatever you're looking at, as if standing closer to it...
 
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Tero

Retired
I would go for a standard 10x42, since you are coming from 16x. Many brands are avalable, pay at least $400-500 if you insist on 10x. At 8x, cheaper deals work, they are all pretty good these days.

There are some 12x pairs out there, but most are junk. Worst pair I owned was a Bushnell 16x50 porro.

However, if you are looking for a not too big not too small...the 10x25s are quite an art to make, the best deals and most models will be in 8x32. I have this pair, which is marked down most places
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pentax-8x32...2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1271794585&sr=8-2

They have a ED glass 8x43 and 10x43 as well
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hawke-Front...8?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1271794746&sr=1-8

It is not quite the alpha glass, and with a slower focus wheel, I think...correct me if it is not...the 8x43 will be handier.
 
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etudiant

Well-known member
Hi Quantum,

You might consider a low cost set of Nikon Action Extreme or Leupold Yosemite porro binoculars.
For under $150, you'll get excellent optics in a waterproof package. After you've had a chance to enjoy birding with the more expansive view these provide, you can then decide at leisure whether to supplement them with a more costly set.
 

Sancho

Well-known member
Like a lot of lost souls on here, I´ve been through more binoculars than I care to remember. If I were in your position (and I haven´t quite been, never had a pair of 16x25!!!:eek!:), I´d throw them in the bin, and order a pair of Zen-Ray 7x36 ED2 online. I had a pair for a short while, and reckon they´re the best reasonably-priced deal on the planet. Superb wide field-of-view, lovely to hold, razor-sharp, bright. You´ll be halving your magnification, but you will find birds more easily, see them more clearly, and enjoy them more, for less than 300 sterling (I think). Check the Zen-Ray threads. They´re one brand you can´t "try before you buy", unfortunately, because they can only be had online, but they have a great returns policy in the unlikely event of you not liking them. (I don´t work for Zen-Ray, I´ve never even been to Portland Oregon;)).
 

QuantumTiger

Well-known member
I second the Zen Ray suggestion. I am very pleased with my Zen 8x43 purchase

Thanks for the comments so far. Sadly there I can't find a Zen Ray outlet in the UK and am reluctant to order from the US having been stung by UK Import duties and Parcelforce's habit of charging commission for the privilage of charging you the duty all of which rapidly turn a bargain buy into an expense. Plus I do like to try before I buy.

However, I'm getting the feeling that given the choice between an expensive compact and a mid priced large binocular, the large seems to be the way to go.
 

Sancho

Well-known member
Keep an eye on the Classifieds section here on BF. Zen-Ray ED 8x43, or 10x43, turn up quite regularly. I traded mine because I got the new Swarovisons (for a small fortune), and once had both in the field (the Zen 7x36 and the SV 8.5x42). There genuinely wasn´t a lot in the difference, and a part of me preferred the ZRs. (The part that feld it had to justify the expense of the SVs won.....;))
 

falcondude

Well-known member
Like a lot of lost souls on here, I´ve been through more binoculars than I care to remember. If I were in your position (and I haven´t quite been, never had a pair of 16x25!!!:eek!:), I´d throw them in the bin, and order a pair of Zen-Ray 7x36 ED2 online. I had a pair for a short while, and reckon they´re the best reasonably-priced deal on the planet. Superb wide field-of-view, lovely to hold, razor-sharp, bright. You´ll be halving your magnification, but you will find birds more easily, see them more clearly, and enjoy them more, for less than 300 sterling (I think). Check the Zen-Ray threads. They´re one brand you can´t "try before you buy", unfortunately, because they can only be had online, but they have a great returns policy in the unlikely event of you not liking them. (I don´t work for Zen-Ray, I´ve never even been to Portland Oregon;)).

I have 7x36 ED2 and 8x43 ED. The combined cost is less than half of the other pair I own. For steady and wide field of view, the 7x is my go-to binoculars.
 

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