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Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Birdfair 2017 August 18th to August 20th (1 Viewer)

The-Wanderer

Well-known member
Amelia,

Perhaps Nikon is revealing to you, and thanks to your post, to a wider audience its U.K. corporate attitude to the optics market and its customers.

Of course it may be that Nikon has gone further green and that their staff were limited as to what they could carry on their bikes or perhaps it is just a few days out for them!

But we, have been warned.

If you are committed to this well reviewed binocular, I have found it advertised by focusoptics.eu at closer to what you intended to pay. I have no affiliation nor experience of them but, with Internet purchases, you have 14 days to return the good, and you only risk the return shipment charge. Whether the advertised price is real or not, I have no idea.

I wonder why Nikon fell out with At Infocus?

I suspect you have done many of us a service by posting. Thank you.
 

amelia1730

Well-known member
Amelia,

Perhaps Nikon is revealing to you, and thanks to your post, to a wider audience its U.K. corporate attitude to the optics market and its customers.

Of course it may be that Nikon has gone further green and that their staff were limited as to what they could carry on their bikes or perhaps it is just a few days out for them!

But we, have been warned.

If you are committed to this well reviewed binocular, I have found it advertised by focusoptics.eu at closer to what you intended to pay. I have no affiliation nor experience of them but, with Internet purchases, you have 14 days to return the good, and you only risk the return shipment charge. Whether the advertised price is real or not, I have no idea.

I wonder why Nikon fell out with At Infocus?

I suspect you have done many of us a service by posting. Thank you.

Hi there

Thanks for your reply. I have just ordered through focusoptics.eu!

Having trawled the Internet following my disappointment yesterday I only found a couple of places with any stock left. I hadn't found this particular company. You have certainly done me a service by posting so thanks to you too! The price on the website is incorrect but Tim honoured it. Unsurprisingly he also said that Nikon are tricky to deal with and he will not be stocking any more binoculars. From what he said, they have a very strange attitude. A bit of "our way or no way". I hope Nikon treat their customers better than their retailers should they need after sales help! I've been spoiled by Zeiss who certainly seem to value their customers. I am sad that my Zeiss Conquests didn't suit my eyes for some reason but hopefully will be able to sell them and put something towards the Nikons. Once again thanks for taking the trouble to post.
Kind regards
Amelia
 

The-Wanderer

Well-known member
Amelia,

I hope they work out well for you.

I recently bought a used Zeiss FL 8x32 and like it a lot so bought the 10x32 Conquest. The color rendition appeals to me, but more so on the FL than the C.

Best
 

NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
I see a freelance wildlife sound recordist, who works a lot with our spokesperson Chris (Packham) and the BBC, is asking those attending this wonderful event to consider boycotting what we of late refer to as "Alpha" optics suppliers due to their production of hunting related products.

Not sure if this chap is a BF member but its almost as if he read my post that suggested this might be the very reason the RSPB was no longer selling the Big Three.

Given I'm looking forward to asking those exhibitors who do offer hunting related kit what their take is on this development it would be good to know if you guys are prepared to cast off the "little red" badge; to name but one, in the interest of the Hen Harrier and the like?

LGM

LGM:

You raised this point, and so you should know how many optics mfrs. and sellers, that market to all users, and that includes hunters.
The answer is that it includes most of them.

This is nothing new, and in many markets, hunters are the largest and
most important customer.

Jerry
 

Loud Green Man

Well-known member
LGM:

You raised this point, and so you should know how many optics mfrs. and sellers, that market to all users, and that includes hunters.
The answer is that it includes most of them.

This is nothing new, and in many markets, hunters are the largest and
most important customer.

Jerry

|:x|

LGM
 

BruceH

Avatar: Harris Hawk
Supporter
Amelia ....... Thanks for sharing your experiences at Birdfair. It is good to hear you were ultimately able to get the EDG 8X32. I have one and it is an excellent binocular. It is a little larger than some in the class but noticeably smaller and lighter than the top tier 42 mm models. The focus is very smooth, you get a near flat beautiful view and likely no rolling ball and it has great handling and deals well with glare. Please let us know how it works out.

------------------------

Ziess did indeed introduce their new high end Victory line scope called the Harpia. It will come in 85mm and a 95 mm versions. Different is the focus, which is in the body rather than the eye piece. There is an active thread about it in the Scope sub-forum.

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=348662

-------------------------

Birdfair for 2017 ended a couple of hours ago so hopefully some of those that were able to attend will post highlights of their visit.

Birdfair for 2017 ended
 
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Patudo

Well-known member
Birdfair / Thoughts on the Tracticron

Attended with my brother Duncan between 11.00am and 5.30pm Saturday - my first visit to this event. The extensive selection of binoculars that could be picked up and looked through in a real world setting made the trip very well worth the time spent. Particularly memorable for me were two or three good sightings of great egret and Eurasian hobby, and one of the resident ospreys hunting over the lake right in front of the optics marquee, making two dives and succeeding on the second try - I'm pretty sure by then every binocular in the big tent must have been pointed at it. Simon King's very well attended presentation gave the large audience the opportunity to view some exceptional footage and I regret not having had the time to attend the talks given by other very interesting speakers. Although I find it difficult to imagine travelling all the way to places like Bolivia just to go birding, it was very interesting speaking to representatives from destinations closer to home - might just visit Mallorca once the crowds of my fellow countrymen intent on re-enacting Love Island 2017 have thinned out...

I took particular time to have a careful look through:

Opticron BGA VHD 8x42
Canon IS 10x42L
Zeiss SF 8x42 and later 10x42
Zeiss HT 8x42, 8x54 and 10x54
Zeiss Conquest 8x42HD (Duncan also looked through the 8x56)
Swarovski 8x56 SLC, 8x42 SLC
Swarovski 10x50SV (Duncan also looked through the 12x50)
Swarovski 8x30 Habicht
Leica Noctivid 8x42

plus briefer looks through:

Canon IS 18x50
Opticron SRGA 8x30 and HRWP 8x42 porros
Swarovski 15x56 SLC
Nikon 8x42 Monarch HG and 8x42 EDG
Nikon 8x30 EII (100th anniversary edition)

All in all a most rewarding selection. We brought along our own 8.5x42SV (Duncan's), 8x30SLC Mark II and Dialyt 10x40BGAT*P*, all of which we are very familiar with, as benchmarks. Alternating overcast and sunny conditions made it possible to compare performance in different light levels. The main aspect of performance that could not really be checked were performance in very low light and against glare.

I'll note down my impressions of the Opticron BGA VHD 8x42 first as this was one of the binoculars I had most wanted to try thanks to the various Tract Toric 8x42 reviews and threads like the infamous "Death of the Alpha". These are, of course, my own personal impressions - please take them with the requisite pinch of salt.

- My first impression upon initial handling was how lightweight and handy this binocular is, easily more so than my SLC 8x30 mark II. Light weight and general handiness were noticeable aspects of virtually every offering.

- Image quality I found very good, especially given its price point. I would say when fully tweaked (IPD, diopter etc) it seems, to my eyes anyway, competitive with the Monarch HG, Conquest in definition and colour rendition. I had a quick look through Opticron's DBA VHD which was a little brighter but otherwise very similar in image quality. It seems the tradeoff required to deliver this level of image quality for that price is a smaller field of view which to me was just about adequate but only just. I appreciate though that the large field of view so important to me when following fast-flying raptors is far less critical for other birding situations.

- Fittings and fixtures wise: Eyecups were adequate, as were focus tension and speed. (I personally prefer focus wheel tension to be stiffer than most current offerings.) The focus did seem to be fussier than other 8x42s I tried, requiring more tweaking to get things just perfect, and on the second sample I tried later in the day the diopter was fussy too.

- Build quality: I would say the Monarch and Conquest give the impression of being better built, but both are of course priced significantly higher. Probably the better comparison would be with the Terra (which unfortunately I didn't try). All in all I'd have to say Steve C's recent review of the Toric is very accurate, in particular the statement that to better the view offered by this binocular you will need to pay a good bit more.

I took quite careful notes of the others I tried and cross referenced my impressions extensively with Duncan's. I could make some follow-up posts if these would be of interest to anyone?
 
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Hermann

Well-known member
I took quite careful notes of the others I tried and cross referenced my impressions extensively with Duncan's. I could make some follow-up posts if these would be of interest to anyone?

YES! They're definitely of interest. Very much so, in fact.

Hermann
 

Binoscoper

Also a spotting scoper
@patudo.
I could make some follow-up posts if these would be of interest to anyone?

Yes please. In particular your observations on both the opticron porros would be of interest.

I have my eye on something full size Porro, particularly opticron for my next purchase. Providing I can shake the piggy bank hard enough :'D
 

Patudo

Well-known member
Hi Binoscoper: I only picked up both Opticron porros for quite a short time compared to the more extensive look over I did the BGA VHD (aka Tracticron), so my impressions of these two are very much impressions.

Some aspects of both models I really liked: both were remarkably lightweight and small in the hand, even the 8x42 WP (once again I have to note how light and handy virtually every binocular I tried seemed to be). The SRGA gives the impression of being a bit like a poor man's Habicht and the WP body felt very good in the hand. I also liked the WP's focuser and I prefer the twist style eyecups it has to rubber eyecups. If I remember rightly (should have taken better notes) the eyecups on the WP were also solid all the way through as opposed to having a folded over metal edge as in the Tracticron. Very clear images, sharp almost to the edge and bright - what I saw through the WP in particular was really not that far off, image quality wise, to the Tracticron - maybe a tad less bright but that was all.

The main shortcoming of the WP to me was its field of view which I found very limiting for the type of birding I do. I tried using the binocular without glasses to wring out as much field of view as possible, but found that without glasses the focus travel could not deliver a sharp image to my left eye at distant targets. The SRGA could not either (note: I have had the same issue with other binoculars including the Nikon EII and a recently acquired Minolta 7x35 and have become a little concerned how out of focus my left eye seems to be - I did not, however, have this issue with older porros such as the 8x30 Jenoptem and Oberkochen), and with only 13mm eye relief I found it difficult to use with glasses.

All in all there was a lot I really liked about both Opticron porros and the aspects I had difficulty with were specific to me rather than more general issues. In general it really did seem to me - although I must confess that I did not look at the offerings from Bushnell, Hawke etc which might be said to be the main competition to Opticron - that Opticron's design philosophy of trying to deliver as much pure image quality for the price as possible has resulted in binoculars that deliver excellent images, even when compared to pricier binoculars. The main limitation is field of view which matters to me but a lot of folks would probably give up some field of view for a superior image.

(Other brands I would really like to have spent time with were Meopta and Kowa, which hosted an excellent presentation on digiscoping at their stand. Maybe next year...)
 
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Robert Wallace

Well-known member
I see a freelance wildlife sound recordist, who works a lot with our spokesperson Chris (Packham) and the BBC, is asking those attending this wonderful event to consider boycotting what we of late refer to as "Alpha" optics suppliers due to their production of hunting related products.

Not sure if this chap is a BF member but its almost as if he read my post that suggested this might be the very reason the RSPB was no longer selling the Big Three.

Given I'm looking forward to asking those exhibitors who do offer hunting related kit what their take is on this development it would be good to know if you guys are prepared to cast off the "little red" badge; to name but one, in the interest of the Hen Harrier and the like?

LGM

I think I saw the sound recordist , or the guy that regularly appears on the BBC Springwatch programmes. Interesting how people have very black and white views on hunting. I signed the petition supporting the banning of driven grouse shooting but am ambivalent regarding fox hunting and am positive about deer hunting in Scotland.
I now feel quite smug about buying some Zeiss SFs recently aimed at birders rather than the HTs which are marketed for hunters8-P.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
We are not supposed to discuss hunting on Bird Forum but Blue Steve has allowed this to some extent so I will risk it.

I support hunting of deer for environmental reasons and also because the venison gets eaten. I feel I cannot ignore the fact that large tracts of land where pheasants are raised for shooting also supports whole ecosystems to the benefit of many other species and if it were not for hunting this land may be under dismal spruce trees or ploughed up. I abhor trophy hunting and cannot understand the mindset behind it. I have spoken to wildfowlers who get up before dawn and wade out into wet environments and wait to shoot 3 or 4 ducks or geese in season and take them home to eat. I think these are different people from the folks who think it is wonderful to shoot as many grouse or pheasants as possible after they have been driven towards their guns.

Stopping selling alpha binos to deerstalkers will do nothing to stop the mindless idiots shooting Hen Harriers or the songbird slaughter happening around the Mediterranean.

Lee
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
A Tale of Two Telescopes

This year’s Bird Fair was as well attended as ever. On the first day (Friday 18th August) by 11:00 previous year’s total for the whole of Friday had been exceeded.

Armed with my curiosity about the new Zeiss scope and a pocketful of questions to clear up from Bird Forum members I circulated around over 2.5 days meeting old friends and making new ones. Here is what attracted my attention and tucked in at the end are the answers to questions folks on here asked me to clear up.

Zeiss
The newly announced Harpia scope was available in 85mm and 95mm objective sizes and will be priced in the UK at around £3000 and £3500 respectively, so very much in the same price league as Swarovski’s ATX. It is only available as an angled version which is by far the most popular format, and folks who prefer straight versions to make aiming easier should read further to find out how Zeiss has worked to help them out too.

What does it bring to the table that is new? Well curiously enough it borrows the optical concept of the Zeiss Photoscope which flopped in the market due to its built-in camera being out of date before the scope was released. But the optical train that used an objective-group zoom rather than a zoom eyepiece captured a lot of attention among scope aficionados due to the angle of view remaining constant all the way from the lowest to highest magnification.

So Zeiss took this concept and redesigned the system having in mind two targets: a low magnification to allow a wide field of view to make target acquisition easier (helped also by the ridge-and-groove ‘rifle sight’ on top of the retractable sun hood) and ultimate sharpness at high magnifications.

Whenever I went to try the Harpias out, there was a crush of folks queueing up to see them so evaluating them in detail wasn’t possible. What I can say is that the constant angle of view all the way to 70x magnification on the 95 and the consequent lack of the ‘tunnel vision’ effect was stunning. It made viewing at all magnifications such a pleasure, and with the low magnification of 23x on the 95 it made finding targets easy. Anyone who, like my wife, hates scope tunnel vision should have a look through a Harpia.

Kowa
Believe it or not there was another new scope at Bird Fair: Kowa’s TSN-550 Prominar. Kowa has taken the optical concept of their legendary TSN-883 complete with its Fluorite crystal objective lens and have shrunken it down to almost pocket proportions and created a fabulous travel scope. Available in angled or straight versions it has a 55mm objective lens and superb image quality and is price around £1500/1600. This has got to be the ultimate travel scope. The one small disappointment is that is attaches to the tripod by a base plate attached directly to the body and not a tripod ring. Fans of sneaking up on birds and animals by squatting among vegetation and rocks with their tripods set low and swivelling the scope around so that the angled eyepiece is parallel with the ground and can be looked through from a sitting position will be disappointed. But this technique is by no means common and I rarely see it. Anyone looking for a premium travel scope should take a look.

Opticron
This brand has always been a master of value for money and having taken a look through their Discovery WP PC binoculars I can see they are keen to maintain this reputation. The range consists of 8x32, then 42s in 8x and 10x and 50s in 8x and 10x with prices ranging from £169 to £209. Their 8x42 comes in at £189 and for less than £200 you get a far better image quality than you have any right to expect, a close focus of 1.5m, eye relief of 22mm and an IPD range of 53-75mm (the 8x32 IPD goes down to 52mm), making them usable by all the family and at an affordable price. Well done Opticron.

I also enjoyed using Opticron’s Imagic BGA VHD which again represents excellent value at £449 for the 8x42 although the minimum IPD of 58mm was disappointing. They are hardly alone with this though and the bino deserves to sell well.

Miscellaneous

Meopta
Meopta was showing nothing new but rumours abound that next year there will be new products launched. Their MeoStar binos are criminally underrated so when they get replaced I expect the new models to be challenging the alpha brands. I also asked if they might ever issue a 6.5x bino again and the answer was no. In addition although the 7x50 continues for now it will not be replaced and will follow the 7x42 into oblivion. Meopta’s explanation was the same as every other brands: folks say they like these low magnifications but too few people actually buy them.

Nikon
There have been rumours that the Monarch HGs were altered in some way before being launched in the USA. Speculation has revolved around possible optical tweaks but according to sources at Bird Fair, there have been no changes to the optics but there may have been changes to the accessories such as eyecups, neck straps, objective covers and rainguards, which are often tailored to different markets’ preferences.

Leica
Anyone with a curious mind will have noticed that when the eyecups of Noctivid are screwed out to the ‘non-spectacles’ position, if you rotate the eyecup one more time, it drops down a notch or two’s distance, back towards the spectacle’s position. And the reason for this? In this ‘dropped down’ position the eyecup can be dismounted for cleaning. Note that it does not easily come away and requires a judicious and firm hand to achieve it. Another little mystery solved.

Canon
There have been rumours that Canon’s 10x42 L IS binos were discontinued but Canon staff on the stand at Bird Fair said that it is still available and they have no plans to replace it at the moment.

Here are a few pics. The first one shows Bobby Perry of Zeiss Customer Service hard at work on the Zeiss stand cleaning and adjusting binos of all ages for hours. The second pic show the view from the Zeiss product area with a bustle of visitors, the next two show the Meopta stand and finally there is a view of the Kowa telescope array. I would have posted more but we are allowed a maximum of 5 pics.

Lee
 

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Patudo

Well-known member
I really enjoyed the viewing tower set up by Swarovski which offered an excellent vantage point over the lakes, and wish I had taken some photos. (It would be interesting to know if any birds of particular interest were spotted over the weekend.) It would have been a great place to test binoculars as well as the tripod-mounted BTX and other scopes they had set up, as the high position, fully exposed to wind buffet, more reflected real world conditions than viewing from the optics marquee.

Moving on from the Opticron stand my next stop was Canon. The IS 10x42L had been one of the binoculars I'd most wanted to try as the only outlet selling these near me is in the basement of a department store in an environment completely different to anything resembling field conditions. I took a bit of time to get a feel for the optics and handling before trying the IS function, on the basis that if using this in the field I would probably only hit the IS button after a target had been identified.

Handling - quite different to anything I'd used before in terms of adjusting IPD, the feel of the binocular in your hands (if you grip the binocular further forward it does feel like a small brick) and so on. The handling, while initially somewhat awkward, is something I suspect one could get used to fairly quickly; the weight is more of a potential issue. It's fine if you are able to brace your elbows but I think its weight would be quickly felt if you were pointing the unit above horizontal for any length of time. Its dimensions are also quite large, although this was not an issue as far as I was concerned. Eye relief and eyecups were fine (I do prefer the twist style eyecups over the rubber ones that the other IS binoculars seemed to have); focus knob maybe a little small but in practice, perfectly adequate.

Optics - I must mention I only tried this binocular for one session just before noon when it was quite cloudy and I should have returned later in the day for a second try in brighter conditions. Based on that one session I would have to say Canon's L glass did not (to my eyes at least) have the breathtaking combination of clarity, brightness, sharpness, definition and contrast I was to see from the makers in marquee 4. That said, image quality is objectively pretty good, and one must take into account that this binocular can also be purchased for a lot less than something like a Zeiss SF or a Noctivid.

The magic button - The big party trick of the Canon IS series is of course their ability to control vibration/hand shake. Duncan had praised this binocular's image stabilization very highly and after trying it at the stand he felt as impressed with it in a more natural setting as he had been in the store. It's undeniably impressive to activate the button and literally see the image steady itself and settle down before your eyes. I spent a fair bit of time tracking distant birds in flight - the biggest challenge of all the binoculars I have - and no doubt IS makes it easier to follow them, especially when having to contend with wind buffet (not a factor in the stand which was quite enclosed but certainly a factor out in the field). I tried the 18x50 briefly and the improvement from hitting the IS button was as one might expect, even more pronounced. I'd have to say Canon's IS designers have certainly succeeded in their design aim of counteracting shake and movement, to the point where the main constraints in following distant birds with this binocular become its optics and handling (which is probably the sacrifice required to fit in the undeniably impressive IS). Duncan's verdict had been that the IS was a game changer for the type of birding we do. I am very impressed with what the IS can do, but taking the binocular as a whole package I cannot say I would rather have it than anything else.

I wonder whether the rumours that this binocular is going to be discontinued might stem from an improved version with Canon's very latest coatings, glass, IS tech and better ergonomics being in the works - or is that just wishful thinking on my part?
 
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Binoscoper

Also a spotting scoper
@ patudo.

Thank you for your informative reply. For me it comes down to the imagic tga and the hr wp. Both of which I shall try when I get a chance. Again, thank you for your time.
 

Hermann

Well-known member
Lee:

What your report clearly shows is that not a lot happened at the Birdfair. At least not when it comes to optics. Two new scopes, one of them not available until next year. Some new Opticron binoculars. Rumours that there may be new Meopta binoculars next year and that Meopta may well be the next maker to drop 7x binoculars due to a lack of demand. And that's it, there apparently weren't even the first prototypes of the new Canon IS binoculars.

Now, I think it's pretty clear that modern roofs have reached a level where it becomes increasingly difficult to justify developing any new products, given that they aren't likely to offer any immediately obvious advantages over what's already available. Still, I find it surprising that weren't at least one or two new products - like stabilised binoculars by one of the other makers, or a new 8x32 from Leica or Zeiss. Quite amazing, I think.

Hermann
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
So why are you (and others) when I was so clearly told to zip my lips??

LGM

Read the quote of me that you posted and the answer is there.

Blue Steve has allowed some discussion of hunting ethics but he doesn't want hunters coming on here and recounting tales of their hunting exploits and so on, although hunters are welcome to bring their knowledge of optics here.

Lee
 

dogfish

Well-known member
Lee:


Now, I think it's pretty clear that modern roofs have reached a level where it becomes increasingly difficult to justify developing any new products, given that they aren't likely to offer any immediately obvious advantages over what's already available.
Hermann

Indeed. I tried all the top end bins at the Birdfair and, as usual found it hard to separate them on image quality. But it is difficult to make an informed judgement on individual models without taking them away and using them for a couple of weeks.

Again, the Zeiss SFs 'felt' best because of the excellent balance and wide field of view.

Sean
 

Malcolm Stewart

Well-known member
Marketing - hardly!

After a few year's interval, I visited Birdfair last Saturday. The weather was good and my attention was grabbed by the red of the Meopta stand. I quickly found their 8x42 and 10x42 binoculars and liked what I saw, but which model were they? I particularly liked that with the eye-cups down, the view through my specs was "perfect" without me having to do any fiddling, which I have found with the otherwise excellent pair I've had for a few years. I couldn't find any indication of model or price. The helpful sales lady said they were Meostar B1. So I asked how much, the saleslady suggests £999 which seems OK-ish for a good easy view. Next question - where can I buy them? Saleslady goes away, and comes back with a visitors card giving me the UK agent. I get home, check the website and find that the UK agent doesn't sell direct to the public, but there are 10 outlets listed on the website. Obviously I check the 10 outlets. One returns a 404 error. Can't find any mention of Meopta as a brand at six of the remaining outlets, and "out of stock" at another; which leaves just two outlets offering what I was searching for.

I don't get it. Attendance at Birdfair can't be cheap, so why make it difficult for us to buy their kit?
 
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