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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Budget compact 8 x 32 choices (1 Viewer)

Dear all,

I'm a mature Zoology student living and working in Cambridge in England, and as a lurking member on here I've learned a lot from the reviews and community over the past few years. I've been been doing more fieldwork of late and will be travelling a bit soon too. Whilst my current Hawke frontier ED 8 x43's have served me well for 4-5 years, I now find myself constantly frustrated by several points:

Size-too big and bulky to carry/shoulder when carrying rucksack, SLR and rucksack full of survey gear, and too large to stow in pocket for dog walking and grab bag.

Travel of focus wheel-far too long and slow! Many quick birds and inverts missed over the years whilst scrolling to refocus to a different distance (this is the older model, I believe they reduced/improved on later models but can't retrofit, I asked).

Minimum focus distance-whilst there was a time the 6 foot plus was a big improvement and find for me, I now find it frustrating when studying inverts and herps in the field and having to either move back, or forward with the naked eye. Either way, many creatures get spooked and scarper.

having used and borrowed 8 x 32's in the past, I believe a compact decent pair to be my best bet though student funds limit my options. Additionally a good friend of mine is also in the market, albeit with a slightly lower budget. With all this in mind I've been pondering the following options for £130-£240:

Vortex diamondback 8 x 32
Zen Ray ZRS HD 8 x 32
Celestron Trailseeker 8 x 32
Hawke Frontier ED 8 x 32
Nikon Monarch 7 ED 8 x 30

I hoped to hear opinions from those that have tried all or some, and how they compare head to head? Or can think of any options I'm missing?

Thanks in advance for your advice.
 

typo

Well-known member
Welcome to the forum.

I've not seen the ZenRay but I know the others quite well. The Monarch 7 might be a bit more expensive than the others but it is well worth the difference in my opinion. The view is wider and flatter, the colour more neutral, the contrast deeper, the CA better controlled and it's smaller too. The eye relief is a bit tight for some glasses, and some have quibbled about the glare but in my opinion it's an easy winner.

At a step below on the price ladder I thought the Hawke or the Celestron were both good. The Hawke I reviewed was very sharp but the colour presentation on the Celestron was possibly a bit richer. http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=291448

I personally didn't like the Vortex quite as much as the other two, but it has a pretty bombproof reputation and is backed by an excellent warranty.

Good luck,

David

P.S. For those on a tight budget, the Nikon Prostaff 7s is well worth considering at around £125 if you hunt around. It lacks the field of view and some of the technical features of the Monarch 7, but really not bad all the same.
 
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ceasar

Well-known member
In case you wear spectacles the Vortex Diamondback 8x32 has short eye relief of 12mm and might not work well with them.

Bob
 

hawken 12

Well-known member
Welcome To Birdforum, If It were me, I would move up one step to the Vortex Viper HD. It has a much brighter view and a close focus of 3 feet and the best warranty as well. Good Luck!
 
Thanks for the warm welcome all.

Torview that's a good deal on the imagic, never seen that cheap before-has it been discontinued? would it outperform the others?

David much appreciated, that's the sort of experience I was after-I would stretch to £240 if the monarch 7 edges it. So the other Hawke and Celestron seemed fairly matched? And how would they perform better than the pro staff 7 as I thought?

Bob thanks, I wear contacts, as does my friend, but that's worth knowing. The diamondback does seem great value, maybe I could get at some point for the car.

And Hawken 12, yes the viper HD was my initial hope but that's £200 extra I don't have this year sadly, and I need a useable option soon :/ does the viper fair better than the monarch 7, as you'd expect?
 

Torview

Registered User
Supporter
Torview that's a good deal on the imagic, never seen that cheap before-has it been discontinued? would it outperform the others?

I haven`t seen all the others, I can tell you the Bga SE is very good, ( I`v owned the 7x42), Japan made, 30 year warranty, also magnesium alloy body and dielectic prism coatings, I can`t see any of the models you listed matching the quality of this £400+ optic.

Of course its always best to try before you buy, but I have dealt with Uttings, they are a good firm, maybe have a chat with them.
 

cnick6

Well-known member
I'd have to jump in here and suggest checking out the Zeiss Terra ED 8x32. They're incredibly good for the price. They're offering a rebate in the USA -- not sure about the UK but I think they're in your price range. They're high quality binoculars at a great price. I think they may be the highest resolution at that price.
 
Thanks Torview, not one I remember handling so should look at. Agreed Uttings are good to deal with.

CNick6 I did forget about the new Terra ED 8 x 32-not sure how fairs against the above competition?
 

CliveP

Well-known member
I recently got a Kowa 8x32 SV which I think is very good and I have the 10x30 Monarch 7 which is also very good and I have an Hawke 8x43 Sapphire ED so I know what you mean about why you would like something more portable etc.

The SV is a little larger and heavier (and cheaper) than the minute Monarch 7 but has a much better solid build with an even better focus than the already really good M7. SV also has less CA and is basically glare resistant. The SV really has surprised me as I bought it unseen and I now probably plan to use it more than any of my other binoculars mostly to throw into my backpack when out cycling.

It's another option. Very good value. Wish I had a Monarch7 8x to compare it against. Actually I'm amazed at the SV being a Kowa base model. I've owned alfa level 8x32's and it doesn't seem that far off of those but if size and weight are critical it would have to be the Monarch but the Kowa just feels so much sturdier and the colours and contrast are very nice also. I'm surprised it isn't mentioned more. I'm certainly happy with mine and I'm pretty choosy. If I don't like it I return it but I like the SV. Even the design is sort of cool, different and works great for tracking birds in flight so must have a good dof as well as the wide angle.

I was even practising watching Brown Hawker dragon flies in flight and managed it with both my 10x M7 and the 8x SV.

Messing about the other evening I tried both the M7 and SV on a tripod (I was trying to see how they might be with image stabilisation) and I found I liked the view with the SV more (surprise it was so nice on the tripod it only being 8x) but the 10x M7 did pull out more distant detail. I still think for general use I prefer the wider 8x.

The M7 was pretty comical looking on a full size tripod but it was effective as was the SV although I learned that I don't need to be concerned about needing a Canon IS bin.
 
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typo

Well-known member
So the other Hawke and Celestron seemed fairly matched? And how would they perform better than the pro staff 7 as I thought?

The obvious difference is the field of view but the other two do have soft edges so the difference is not as great as you might imagine. There are differences in contrast and colour but they are subtle and most would not notice without direct comparison.

It's always best to try stuff for yourself. I fear the old Campkins shop in Rose Crescent has gone which is very sad but I seem to recall the one on Kings Parade had Nikons and Hawkes. If you have transport Green Witch in Great Gransden looks like it has more choice and isn't too far away. The best opportunity for trying optics and most things natural history is BirdFair if you can get there. www.birdfair.org.uk

David
 

ceasar

Well-known member
I'm surprised that the Sightron 8x32 Blue Sky II hasn't been mentioned!

Here is its legendary thread with all 1174 posts! You will get all the information you need from the 1st post.

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=211793

Seriously, this one is really worth looking at and it is well within your price range. I believe it is made in the Philippines.

Here is more information:

http://info.sightron.com/Binoculars/SII-Blue-Sky-Series-/SIIBL832/

But the FOV given in the specs is wrong. Instead of 420'@1000 yards it is 393'@1000 yards.

Bob
 
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Hmm, guess I should add the terra ED to the comparison list then! And the Kowa SV too, by the sound of it Clive?

Thanks David, Campkins had the Hawke in stock but we're out of the Nikon when I went in. I will however visit them again and Greenwich, forget they exist.
Bird fair could be useful agreed, or just muddy the waters!
 
Bob thanks, I've seen the legendary reviews of the sightron/Vixen/Kenko and would like to see in the flesh-the main reason I struck from the shortlist was its a bit longer than the others I believe?
 

PhilR.

Well-known member
Vortex diamondback 8 x 32
Zen Ray ZRS HD 8 x 32
Celestron Trailseeker 8 x 32
Hawke Frontier ED 8 x 32
Nikon Monarch 7 ED 8 x 30

I hoped to hear opinions from those that have tried all or some, and how they compare head to head? Or can think of any options I'm missing?

The Z-R and the Trailseeker are clones of each other. Both are better than the Diamondback. I have not tried the Hawke.

The Nikon M7 is much better than the rest of your list. Much better than the 8x32 Terra as well, and by quite a margin too. Just be aware that the Nikon is somewhat picky about eye placement.

As for other suggestions - I would agree w/the Sightron Blue Sky. It is not as good as the Nikon M7, but when one considers it's low cost, it is the one that provides the most bang for the buck. Or Pound. Another suggestion, if available where you are, is the Leupold Mojave 8x32. It kinda slots in between the Sightron and the M7, both in performance and in price.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
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