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Convenience vs performance. What do you choose? (1 Viewer)

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
I’m opening this thread so that we can read all sorts of opinions and points of view. There's no wrong answer :)

There are several very important aspects to take into account when choosing binoculars. One is fit. I’m sure many forum members have been there. You have two (or more) options to choose from. One is “better” but the other “fits better”, this might be related to ergonomics, the tactile feeling of the armour, the size of the eyecups, the way the binoculars “fall” in your hands, etc. Just like in a bicycle, or a pair of shoes, fit is (mostly) everything. It can be very good, but if it doesn’t fit…

However, I’m not interested so much in this notion of "fit" as in a more subtle consideration: the notion of convenience against performance when choosing between binoculars.

Yes, of course, we’d have to define convenience beyond what the dictionary says ("suitable for your purposes and needs and causing the least difficulty”). I’d be glad to know what forum members consider “convenient” and how important this is compared to performance when talking about binoculars (looking at the prevalence of roofs against porros, we could think that aspects such as waterproofness, size and close focus are part of this general idea of convenience... or can we?)

Just an example to set the ball rolling (I’m sure many of you have also been here). You are torn between two devices to fit a particular purpose, let’s take two 10x42 binoculars. In this example let's take two Nikons (so that there's no brand/loyalty-related issues): Nikon Monarch 7 and Nikon SE.

Let’s assume both can be bought for a similar price and both have good fit (no blackouts or the like) so the main considerations like price and fit are out of the equation so we can concentrate on what you value the most.

Following the example (it is just an example, not the goal of this thread, so don't pay too much attention to it) some things to consider:
Nikon SE 10x42
Pros - better overall performance. Sharper, brighter, bigger sweetspot, more “perceived depth of field", although both are 10x42.
Cons - not waterproof, narrower FOV, bulkier, heavier.
Nikon Monarch 7 10x42
Pros - smaller, lighter, waterproof, easier to carry
Cons - not as sharp or bright, noticeable CA, rubber armour and mechanics probably not as good in the long term
In this particular case, on one hand we have the sheer performance, the pure joy when looking*, and on the other hand a more convenient piece of kit, particularly in size/weight/waterproofness, ease of use (to carry and store).

What do you choose? Actually… what have you chosen when faced with similar choices in the past? What’s your experience? Any regrets?



*Yes, I’ve omitted the notion of residual/resale value or the fact that M7 is still in production and SE is a much sought after device. Let’s omit those considerations for the sake of the argument convenience vs performance.
 
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pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
I make this decision repeatedly. My three oft used bins all "fit" me very well, but I very often grab the much more convenient 8x30 instead of the larger but optically superior 8x42 or 10x42. If I'm going somewhere with challenging conditions or distant birds, I might take the better bins. However, for all local birding where I ID 90% by ear and don't expect to spend much time with distant birds or looking at the ocean or waders, I'll take the 8x30.
 

iveljay

Well-known member
I was about to write something similar about 42s. In the end I have got for me the perfect fit for both in a pair of 8x32 FLs. I do have 42s, but convenience and sharpness come in one small package with the Zeiss. There is also the question of whether I get the full benefit from larger objectives as I get older anyway.
As for inconvenient binoculars, most have been disposed of, mainly 10x42s coincidentally. Absolutely no regrets - I just was not using them.
 

edwincjones

Well-known member
It just depends on my observing goals.

If I am going for a causal hike in the woods, then light weight bino are taken,
if looking at shore birds or distant raptors, then bigger binoculars;
but all optics are chosen with some degree of bondings or fit.

I have about a dozen pair. Of those the 8.5x42s are the best all around pair,
but each of the others are better for their nitch in observing--"the right tool for the job"

an example--I was excited when the Nikon WXs came out-these were clearly the best quality binoculars available,
but even if I could have afforded them, the weight and cost made them noncompetitive with what I have.

edj
 
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wllmspd

Well-known member
Performance, my 8x30E2 are great but can fog up (in extreme conditions) and my 30x70mm need a tripod but deliver amazing wide views (those are Nitrogen purged).
Going with convenience.. papilio 6.5x, the view is too narrow!
Peter
 

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
Convenience ultimately always seems to win out for me.
Otherwise, I'd have a top performing 8x42. Instead, I use 8x30 mid-tier level performance binocular for its small size, lighter weight and good all around specs - wide true FOV, close focus, quick focus.
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
I must be a hard task master - because for me, good performance in every parameter on my list does not exist. Every top 'performing' bin yet produced involves some sort of a compromise in one area or another.

As the product offerings get better and better - this mostly comes down to weight, glare performance, focus speed and feel, ergonomics, aesthetics, and price. I haven't been able to bring myself to pay that (excessively) high price when there are so many compromises involved.

I suppose a fair bit of this comes down to my present bin - the Zen 8x43 ED3. It aces central CA control, focus speed, feel, and ergonomics. It is as sharp as anything out there (perhaps only the Zeiss SF gave me more impression of sharpness, and the Swaro's put everything together a bit better to be more clean, or crystalline, across more of the field). The weight is lighter than any alpha, but a noticeable and annoying around the neck ~4 Oz (~100grams) heavier than the delightful in the hand Nikon MHG, it's glare performance only fair (though not the worst I've ever had) , mechanical precision could be better, the optical performance is only 99% of the best in the central third of the view, and pretty wild pincushion (relatively) beginning outside of that. Curiously it gives a very good illusion of 3-D effect. Sharp to the edge - well you just can't beat it - yeah I want that.

If I was to trade 'up' to better optical performance, then there'd still be some optical trade-offs, such as the Zeiss SF'S 'green ham' colour cast (it's not up for discussion - lol - it's what my eyes see - it in no way negates what your eyes see for you ! :) - not to mention the contrived hands forward positioning and 'Slow Focuser'. Swarovski SV's ? - optically very nice - but the focuser size and speed - ugh ! They also don't feel quite as good in the hands to me (10x50 notwithstanding). The only thing close ergonomically is the Nikon MHG - however I find that a bit yellow and it's no sharper. It's 4x the cost that I paid for my bin ...... having such a bargain brings quite a bit of satisfaction.

The Leica NV's are nice - but weight, feel, ~Fov drawbacks. Nikon EDG's - nice, but a bit warm for my liking - and if I'm forking out that kind of money - I'll be honest - I want a fully supported, no questions, lifetime warranty and 'free' service. Not that I ever expect to damage my bins as I handle with care - I just want the peace of mind and retained value that brings.

I'm yet to try the new Swarovski NL's ...... I've got a feeling it will be very dangerous ! I would still grizzle about the weight, I wouldn't enjoy the hands forward positioning, or the tiny, slow focus wheel ..... but maybe (probably) the optics will seduce (I suppose a lot will come down to how they work with my glasses, and what sort of glare I see).

All of that is to say that I'm in the convenience camp - perhaps for my own unique reasons. Will the NL tip me into the performance camp ? Or will it take a full custom ..... ? :cat:






Chosun :gh:
 

Foss

Well-known member
Convenience for me too, mainly because my 8x32s and 8x30 fit in my car console so well that I don't worry about leaving them out on multi-purpose trips. Carrying, I don't mind the added weight and bulk of an 8x42 since I wear a harness.
Jack
 

dries1

Member
Any premium 8X42 over a premium 8X32, performance vs convenience, the 42 EP wins every time. An extra 200 grams of weight is a sacrifice carrying a 8X42 for the performance, need more cowbell. I still love and use the FL in 8 and 10X56 and they are over 1200 grams.
Andy W,
 

PeterPS

MEMBER
Any premium 8X42 over a premium 8X32, performance vs convenience, the 42 EP wins every time. An extra 200 grams of weight is a sacrifice carrying a 8X42 for the performance, need more cowbell. I still love and use the FL in 8 and 10X56 and they are over 1200 grams.
Andy W,

Performance for me too, I often use my Swaros 10x50 and 12x50, rather heavy and bulky but they deliver an excellent optical performance.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
For me, a nice binocular for active birding has to score very high on both counts, but since much birding is done at close range, I find that optical perfection is often of less practical consequence than is (what you call) convenience. In other words, a good active birding bin _must_ have excellent handling qualities to allow getting on birds quickly.

Luckily, many of today's best bins do very well on both counts. I use the Swarovski 8.5x42 EL SV late-production-pre-FP and the Zeiss 8x25 Victory for almost everything to do with birding. My bins with lesser optics but superb handling and my bins with superb optics but clunky handling are still much beloved in my de facto optics collection, but though they may get some nostalgic use, they are obsolete/redundant apart from some specialized applications.

--AP
 

gcole

Well-known member
It’s a no brainer. Convenience .... without this up front no one would want to grab for them.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
That is easy, PERFORMANCE! I use the NL 8x42 for most of my birding because I haven't found anything that will beat it except an IS for detail and higher magnifications. I have several IS binoculars including the new Nikon 10x25 IS which is my compact and three Canons. A 8x20 IS, 12x36 IS III and a 18x50 IS for long distance pelagic birding.
 

bockos

Well-known member
That is easy, PERFORMANCE! I use the NL 8x42 for most of my birding because I haven't found anything that will beat it except an IS for detail and higher magnifications. I have several IS binoculars including the new Nikon 10x25 IS which is my compact and three Canons. A 8x20 IS, 12x36 IS III and a 18x50 IS for long distance pelagic birding.
Wouldn't you take the Canon 10x42L IS as well?
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Wouldn't you take the Canon 10x42L IS as well?
The Canon 10x42 IS-L is the best optically of the Canon IS line optically by a small margin but I have found overall I like the other Canons better because they give me IS without the huge brick shape and uncomfortable hard eye cups of the Canon 10x42 IS-L. No matter how good optically the 10x42 is I just can't tolerate the bad ergonomics. I really like the 12x36 IS III for its higher magnification and smaller size and weight and the new Canon 8x20 which I bought for $375 IS is really nice for the same reasons weighing only 14 oz. and I can see more detail with it than I can with my $3K NL 8x42. I like the big Canon 18x50 IS for long distance Pelagic birding and astronomy. It is like a portable telescope and you don't have to set up a tripod! I also find the Canon 12x36 IS III and the 18x50 IS works better on the night sky than the Canon 10x42 IS-L. The higher magnification shows me more and gives me better views than the Canon 10x42 IS-L
 
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jgraider

Well-known member
Ol' den uses whatever allbinos tells him to. I'll take a combo of convenience/ergos/opitics ever time, not just the ultimate optic.

I also agree with Andy. 8x42 over 8x32 all day long.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Ol' den uses whatever allbinos tells him to. I'll take a combo of convenience/ergos/opitics ever time, not just the ultimate optic.

I also agree with Andy. 8x42 over 8x32 all day long.
I use Canon IS binoculars and I don't think Allbinos even tests them. I use Allbinos as a guide or a starting point because I find them more reliable than a lot of peoples biased opinions. I make the final decision on which binoculars I buy with my own eyes.
 
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