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Do you like the VIEW better through a Porro or a Roof prism binocular? (1 Viewer)

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
I know Roof prism binoculars are more popular than Porros for birding for a lot of reasons like handling, waterproofing, ergonomics, weight, size, focuser, close focus and more comfortable eye cups but which one do you prefer the VIEW through? Porros are known for having a more 3D or stereoscopic view, whereas, a great majority of modern roofs have a flatter field view with often times very little distortion. Which VIEW do you prefer and if you could have a Porro with all the advantages of a Roof prism would you buy it over a Roof? To take it a little further if you do prefer the view through a Roof prism do you like the very flat field designs like the Swarovski SV and Zeiss SF or the more classical designs like the Leica Noctivid or Swarovski SLC.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
In my opinion, this is such a broad question that cannot be answered in a single word or sentence (if at all).
I really like Porro prism binoculars, some of my favourite binoculars are porros. However, there are Porro prism binoculars with a lovely view as there are S-P prism binoculars with a lovely view, A-K binoculars with a lovely view, etc. I think it boils down to devices in particular.
You have mentioned some of the characteristics of Porro prism binoculars, but "the view" as such is made up of many small things, and the view through a particular device is the result of that sum, which, to my eyes, goes beyond the choice of prisms, and has to do with many other choices made in the design and manufacture process. I love the SE and E, but I also adore the 7x42 FL (A-K) or the EL (S-P) for different reasons, all of which could be called "the view"; so much for the prism type.

If a brand (I don't actually mind if it's one of the "top" ones or any other for that matter) could come up with a 450 g Porro prism 8x32 (even better, 7x32) with the size and shape of the Leupold Yosemite/Kowa YF, but with the ruggedness of a Conquest HD/EL/BA-BN, the optical quality of an SE (or an UVHD+, ELSV, etc.) and the small details and accessories to match (really smooth and bomb proof focus, comfortable eyecups, quality strap, etc.) I'd buy one with my eyes closed. Some modern Porro prism binoculars, like the Vixen Foresta series are just mind-blowingly sharp and full of contrast, but fall short on other departments (like behaviour under difficult light conditions and rugedness/build quality).

However, as you say, modern roofs offer really a lot and their weight and shape are hard to beat (take the Opticron Traveler/Maven B3/Nikon MHG/M7, etc.), there are 8x30 roofs at around 450 g/1 pound which offer amazing performance in different price classes in a format that is very convenient.
 

iveljay

Well-known member
For me it starts with my hands.
Which binoculars can I hold steadiest for long periods. Typically those that fit my hands most compfortably and balance nicely.
Secondly, which binoculars fit my eyes most comfortably without ruining the comfort and balance achieved by relaxed hands and wrists.

If these basic criteria are not met all the quality built into any non-IS optical device not mounted on a tripod is largely wasted as I will not be able to hold the binoculars steady enough when tired say for their optical qualities to be relevant.

I do get on well with my 8x32 FLs, but while I really like the view through the 7x42s I simply do not enjoy using them as much, so these 8x32 roofs are currently my most used bins.
The Nikon 10x35 EII balances better than the 8x30 - it is accordingly more heavily used of the two, though for relaxing trips where the bins will be used occasionally the 8x win out.

Once I get some binoculars I like using, I then take note of their optical qualities.

At the end of the day its the equipment that you can use instinctively, without thinking, without stress and never lets you down.

I have both porros and roofs of various manufacture and price that I use based on the above, their weights vary, but again a well balanced (for me) heavy will beat a badly balanced lightweight.

I do have tripod mounts for a few bins which I hate hand held but otherwise have brilliant optics.

My views are simply right for me, I have no expectation or desire that they are right for anyone else, but I do believe that its a bit like making friends, you have friends because you can relax with them and have many happy moments, other friends can help you move on in life and achieve your lifes goals. Sometimes they are the same people - sometimes you have to choose, or balance your life with both. Only you can choose what is right for you.

So if you think a modern flat field roof really makes a difference - go for it - but at least do a comparative test first to make sure that you, personally, are gaining the overall improvement you were looking for, I have been badly let down by some manufacturers 'improvements' in the past. (The same with cameras, lenses, microscopes, cars, kettles .............)
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
In my opinion, this is such a broad question that cannot be answered in a single word or sentence (if at all).
I really like Porro prism binoculars, some of my favourite binoculars are porros. However, there are Porro prism binoculars with a lovely view as there are S-P prism binoculars with a lovely view, A-K binoculars with a lovely view, etc. I think it boils down to devices in particular.
You have mentioned some of the characteristics of Porro prism binoculars, but "the view" as such is made up of many small things, and the view through a particular device is the result of that sum, which, to my eyes, goes beyond the choice of prisms, and has to do with many other choices made in the design and manufacture process. I love the SE and E, but I also adore the 7x42 FL (A-K) or the EL (S-P) for different reasons, all of which could be called "the view"; so much for the prism type.

If a brand (I don't actually mind if it's one of the "top" ones or any other for that matter) could come up with a 450 g Porro prism 8x32 (even better, 7x32) with the size and shape of the Leupold Yosemite/Kowa YF, but with the ruggedness of a Conquest HD/EL/BA-BN, the optical quality of an SE (or an UVHD+, ELSV, etc.) and the small details and accessories to match (really smooth and bomb proof focus, comfortable eyecups, quality strap, etc.) I'd buy one with my eyes closed. Some modern Porro prism binoculars, like the Vixen Foresta series are just mind-blowingly sharp and full of contrast, but fall short on other departments (like behaviour under difficult light conditions and rugedness/build quality).

However, as you say, modern roofs offer really a lot and their weight and shape are hard to beat (take the Opticron Traveler/Maven B3/Nikon MHG/M7, etc.), there are 8x30 roofs at around 450 g/1 pound which offer amazing performance in different price classes in a format that is very convenient.
Do you prefer the 3D of your Porros versus the flatter field view of your roofs?
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
For me it starts with my hands.
Which binoculars can I hold steadiest for long periods. Typically those that fit my hands most compfortably and balance nicely.
Secondly, which binoculars fit my eyes most comfortably without ruining the comfort and balance achieved by relaxed hands and wrists.

If these basic criteria are not met all the quality built into any non-IS optical device not mounted on a tripod is largely wasted as I will not be able to hold the binoculars steady enough when tired say for their optical qualities to be relevant.

I do get on well with my 8x32 FLs, but while I really like the view through the 7x42s I simply do not enjoy using them as much, so these 8x32 roofs are currently my most used bins.
The Nikon 10x35 EII balances better than the 8x30 - it is accordingly more heavily used of the two, though for relaxing trips where the bins will be used occasionally the 8x win out.

Once I get some binoculars I like using, I then take note of their optical qualities.

At the end of the day its the equipment that you can use instinctively, without thinking, without stress and never lets you down.

I have both porros and roofs of various manufacture and price that I use based on the above, their weights vary, but again a well balanced (for me) heavy will beat a badly balanced lightweight.

I do have tripod mounts for a few bins which I hate hand held but otherwise have brilliant optics.

My views are simply right for me, I have no expectation or desire that they are right for anyone else, but I do believe that its a bit like making friends, you have friends because you can relax with them and have many happy moments, other friends can help you move on in life and achieve your lifes goals. Sometimes they are the same people - sometimes you have to choose, or balance your life with both. Only you can choose what is right for you.

So if you think a modern flat field roof really makes a difference - go for it - but at least do a comparative test first to make sure that you, personally, are gaining the overall improvement you were looking for, I have been badly let down by some manufacturers 'improvements' in the past. (The same with cameras, lenses, microscopes, cars, kettles .............)
If you like the view through your 7x42 why do you prefer using your 8x32? Weight and size? Will you give up a slightly better view for less weight and bulk if you are not hiking?
 

iveljay

Well-known member
The external ribbing of the 7x42 irritates me, I am acutely concious of it, wheras that of the 8x32 doesn't intrude into my conciousness for several reasons, hence my preference. In addition the 7x42 is not as well balanced in my hands - the weight of the 7x42s has no bearing on my feelings for it.

I have some Minox BP porros which are by no means lightweight, but love them dearly. Before anyone brings up their limited angle of view I don't have a problem, my natural sight relaxed is near 180 with a narrow sharp focus zone in the centre, by concentrating on a point the sharp zone increases in width and I lose peripheral vision. All binoculars are to some extent are like viewing through tunnels. The BPs have very low geared focussing which makes them unsuitable for some uses, as does the narrow angle of view. However their internal focus does make them waterproof, without the additional drag from seals on each eyepiece.

To differentiate between the 3D image of porros with the image of roofs is very limited as is my normal spacial awareness without binoculars.

My final bugbear are large eyecups, I need to be able to sink the eyecups close to my eyes to avoid having a beautiful view of the world at normal magnification with a small magnified area in the middle. My eyesockets are too small for the bigger eyecups, physical fact, regrettable but its down to genetics and I have to live with it and only buy binoculars that do fit.

I am being very self centred about this (I may even be in a minority of one) - but if I part with good money I want something that actually works for me. It is immaterial if it has the potential to be better than what I am already using if I don't feel I am actually getting the benefits. At the end of the day, whether a binocular is a porro or a roof is a lot less important to me than several other considerations.

I am also sure that for some people porros may suit them more than roofs or vice versa. However until we all get cloned there is sufficient variation between us all so that what is hateful to one of us is perfect for someone else. Even worse would be a world 'standard' binocular as it is very clear we all place different values on different design aspects of what is a relatively simple device - a pair of binoculars.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
For me it starts with my hands.
Which binoculars can I hold steadiest for long periods. Typically those that fit my hands most compfortably and balance nicely.
Secondly, which binoculars fit my eyes most comfortably without ruining the comfort and balance achieved by relaxed hands and wrists.

If these basic criteria are not met all the quality built into any non-IS optical device not mounted on a tripod is largely wasted as I will not be able to hold the binoculars steady enough when tired say for their optical qualities to be relevant.

I do get on well with my 8x32 FLs, but while I really like the view through the 7x42s I simply do not enjoy using them as much, so these 8x32 roofs are currently my most used bins.
The Nikon 10x35 EII balances better than the 8x30 - it is accordingly more heavily used of the two, though for relaxing trips where the bins will be used occasionally the 8x win out.

Once I get some binoculars I like using, I then take note of their optical qualities.

At the end of the day its the equipment that you can use instinctively, without thinking, without stress and never lets you down.

I have both porros and roofs of various manufacture and price that I use based on the above, their weights vary, but again a well balanced (for me) heavy will beat a badly balanced lightweight.

I do have tripod mounts for a few bins which I hate hand held but otherwise have brilliant optics.

My views are simply right for me, I have no expectation or desire that they are right for anyone else, but I do believe that its a bit like making friends, you have friends because you can relax with them and have many happy moments, other friends can help you move on in life and achieve your lifes goals. Sometimes they are the same people - sometimes you have to choose, or balance your life with both. Only you can choose what is right for you.

So if you think a modern flat field roof really makes a difference - go for it - but at least do a comparative test first to make sure that you, personally, are gaining the overall improvement you were looking for, I have been badly let down by some manufacturers 'improvements' in the past. (The same with cameras, lenses, microscopes, cars, kettles .............)
Do you like a 3D Porro prism view or a flat Roof prism view better?
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
The external ribbing of the 7x42 irritates me, I am acutely concious of it, wheras that of the 8x32 doesn't intrude into my conciousness for several reasons, hence my preference. In addition the 7x42 is not as well balanced in my hands - the weight of the 7x42s has no bearing on my feelings for it.

I have some Minox BP porros which are by no means lightweight, but love them dearly. Before anyone brings up their limited angle of view I don't have a problem, my natural sight relaxed is near 180 with a narrow sharp focus zone in the centre, by concentrating on a point the sharp zone increases in width and I lose peripheral vision. All binoculars are to some extent are like viewing through tunnels. The BPs have very low geared focussing which makes them unsuitable for some uses, as does the narrow angle of view. However their internal focus does make them waterproof, without the additional drag from seals on each eyepiece.

To differentiate between the 3D image of porros with the image of roofs is very limited as is my normal spacial awareness without binoculars.

My final bugbear are large eyecups, I need to be able to sink the eyecups close to my eyes to avoid having a beautiful view of the world at normal magnification with a small magnified area in the middle. My eyesockets are too small for the bigger eyecups, physical fact, regrettable but its down to genetics and I have to live with it and only buy binoculars that do fit.

I am being very self centred about this (I may even be in a minority of one) - but if I part with good money I want something that actually works for me. It is immaterial if it has the potential to be better than what I am already using if I don't feel I am actually getting the benefits. At the end of the day, whether a binocular is a porro or a roof is a lot less important to me than several other considerations.

I am also sure that for some people porros may suit them more than roofs or vice versa. However until we all get cloned there is sufficient variation between us all so that what is hateful to one of us is perfect for someone else. Even worse would be a world 'standard' binocular as it is very clear we all place different values on different design aspects of what is a relatively simple device - a pair of binoculars.
I agree. You have to decide for yourself what binoculars work for you. It all comes down to personal preference really. I have changed my mind on big FOV after having the NL. I think now I would rather have a higher quality smaller FOV with fewer aberrations and I get that from a Porro. On the NL it is actually hard to take the whole FOV in at once. I see a big difference in the 3D image of the Porro versus the roofs, so I have gone to all Porros now. I agree on large eye cups. The Canon 10x42 IS-L has particularly large eye cups that are quite uncomfortable especially if your eye sockets are smaller.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Do you prefer the 3D of your Porros versus the flatter field view of your roofs?
Again, "the view" as you say is made up of many many different things. The 3D effect of a Porro prism binocular with wider spaced objectives is just one of them. But there are many other things that make for "the view": the sharpness, the contrast, the perception of depth, the amount of aberrations or lack thereof. Hence, as I stated in my earlier post, to say "the view through a Porro prism binocular is better than through a roof" is just too simplistic and comes down to particular devices, because there are Porro prism binoculars with dim and poor view and plenty of aberrations (as there are roofs) and the other way round.
Just an example, take a very nice Porro: the 7x42 Habicht. Nice 3D effect, impressive sharpness... what's not to like? Well, many things, the narrow FOV, to begin with. Then take two other 7x roof devices: the 7x42 FL (AK prisms) and the 7x35 Retrovid (SP). Personally I prefer both the FL and the Retrovid over the Porro prism Habicht (by a huge margin). Why? Because in spite of having its objectives spaced wide apart and thus creating a pronounced 3D effect, the sum of the parts that make up for "the view" in my personal opinion is way way better in both the FL and the Retrovid than in the Habicht, even if the latter is a Porro prism device. So, the 3D effect created in Porro prism binoculars is just a part of many parts: 7x binoculars usually have an enhanced sensation of depth, 8x32 usually have a wide FOV, different coatings make for improved sharpness and contrast, baffling makes for a glare free view, etc. There are so many parts that make "the view" that pretending that one of those parts (the fact that Porros have more 3D) can simply obliterate the rest is too simplistic in my opinion, sorry.

Following the same logic. What is better? A front wheel drive car, a rear wheel drive car or an all-wheel drive car? Well, there are endless examples of any of the three categories, with both excellent and terrible cases, and then there are many applications where any of those three categories may shine or actually not be of much interest. Ditto for binoculars regarding Porro vs Roof.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Again, "the view" as you say is made up of many many different things. The 3D effect of a Porro prism binocular with wider spaced objectives is just one of them. But there are many other things that make for "the view": the sharpness, the contrast, the perception of depth, the amount of aberrations or lack thereof. Hence, as I stated in my earlier post, to say "the view through a Porro prism binocular is better than through a roof" is just too simplistic and comes down to particular devices, because there are Porro prism binoculars with dim and poor view and plenty of aberrations (as there are roofs) and the other way round.
Just an example, take a very nice Porro: the 7x42 Habicht. Nice 3D effect, impressive sharpness... what's not to like? Well, many things, the narrow FOV, to begin with. Then take two other 7x roof devices: the 7x42 FL (AK prisms) and the 7x35 Retrovid (SP). Personally I prefer both the FL and the Retrovid over the Porro prism Habicht (by a huge margin). Why? Because in spite of having its objectives spaced wide apart and thus creating a pronounced 3D effect, the sum of the parts that make up for "the view" in my personal opinion is way way better in both the FL and the Retrovid than in the Habicht, even if the latter is a Porro prism device. So, the 3D effect created in Porro prism binoculars is just a part of many parts: 7x binoculars usually have an enhanced sensation of depth, 8x32 usually have a wide FOV, different coatings make for improved sharpness and contrast, baffling makes for a glare free view, etc. There are so many parts that make "the view" that pretending that one of those parts (the fact that Porros have more 3D) can simply obliterate the rest is too simplistic in my opinion, sorry.

Following the same logic. What is better? A front wheel drive car, a rear wheel drive car or an all-wheel drive car? Well, there are endless examples of any of the three categories, with both excellent and terrible cases, and then there are many applications where any of those three categories may shine or actually not be of much interest. Ditto for binoculars regarding Porro vs Roof.
Ok. Let me change the question around. If you had a Porro prism binocular and a Roof prism binocular with an identical view in every respect EXCEPT the Porro had a 3D view and the Roof prism was a flat field which would you prefer?
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Again, "the view" as you say is made up of many many different things. The 3D effect of a Porro prism binocular with wider spaced objectives is just one of them. But there are many other things that make for "the view": the sharpness, the contrast, the perception of depth, the amount of aberrations or lack thereof. Hence, as I stated in my earlier post, to say "the view through a Porro prism binocular is better than through a roof" is just too simplistic and comes down to particular devices, because there are Porro prism binoculars with dim and poor view and plenty of aberrations (as there are roofs) and the other way round.
Just an example, take a very nice Porro: the 7x42 Habicht. Nice 3D effect, impressive sharpness... what's not to like? Well, many things, the narrow FOV, to begin with. Then take two other 7x roof devices: the 7x42 FL (AK prisms) and the 7x35 Retrovid (SP). Personally I prefer both the FL and the Retrovid over the Porro prism Habicht (by a huge margin). Why? Because in spite of having its objectives spaced wide apart and thus creating a pronounced 3D effect, the sum of the parts that make up for "the view" in my personal opinion is way way better in both the FL and the Retrovid than in the Habicht, even if the latter is a Porro prism device. So, the 3D effect created in Porro prism binoculars is just a part of many parts: 7x binoculars usually have an enhanced sensation of depth, 8x32 usually have a wide FOV, different coatings make for improved sharpness and contrast, baffling makes for a glare free view, etc. There are so many parts that make "the view" that pretending that one of those parts (the fact that Porros have more 3D) can simply obliterate the rest is too simplistic in my opinion, sorry.

Following the same logic. What is better? A front wheel drive car, a rear wheel drive car or an all-wheel drive car? Well, there are endless examples of any of the three categories, with both excellent and terrible cases, and then there are many applications where any of those three categories may shine or actually not be of much interest. Ditto for binoculars regarding Porro vs Roof.
I absolutely agree with this. For several years in a row I couldn't walk past the 7x42 Habichts at the British Bird Fair without picking them up and trying them out. They look so classic despite being that strange Porro shape, but the poor fov was always a disappointment and when observing a bird flying by or perched on the nearby islands the 3D effect was no advantage when studying its shape or plumage. I cannot imagine it being any advantage when studying foraging Otters or checking out high flying raptors in Scotland. If I want a good 3D depth in the view to look at landscapes a 7x42 MeoStar roof does this very nicely.

Lee
 

fazalmajid

Well-known member
Supporter
United Kingdom
I tried the Nikon SEII but couldn’t handle the exaggerated perspective at close to medium distances. i don’t have this problem with reverse Porros.
 

henry link

Well-known member
I long ago came around to the view that the extra stereopsis of Porros with wide objective spacing is in balance a negative feature. I don't see anything more natural or more useful about what I see as a fairly modest increase in stereopsis at mid distances before the effect fades away at long distance and it's a distinct disadvantage at close range where it hinders the centering of an object of interest in both telescopes simultaneously.

As for "flat fields" and distortion, I much prefer flat fields, at least when properly defined simply as fields well corrected for astigmatism and field curvature. I can personally tolerate any of the forms of distortion I've seen in binoculars, but I prefer mild to moderate pincushion, a bit less than is strictly required to completely correct angular magnification distortion. Of course, neither of those things has anything to do with prisms.
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
I absolutely agree with this. For several years in a row I couldn't walk past the 7x42 Habichts at the British Bird Fair without picking them up and trying them out. They look so classic despite being that strange Porro shape, but the poor fov was always a disappointment and when observing a bird flying by or perched on the nearby islands the 3D effect was no advantage when studying its shape or plumage. I cannot imagine it being any advantage when studying foraging Otters or checking out high flying raptors in Scotland. If I want a good 3D depth in the view to look at landscapes a 7x42 MeoStar roof does this very nicely.

Lee
You would be surprised what an advantage the 3D of a Porro brings to your bird watching. When I was in Yellowstone National Park I had My Habicht 10x40 and it made it easier to spot Grizzly Bears moving along the edge of the forest because the 3D image "popped" the bear out from the back round trees. If the image isn't flat like a lot of roofs it almost pulls the bird or animal you are looking at out from the foliage. The 3D you get from a Porro is different from the DOF you get from the low magnification in a 7x. But I agree they both help. With my 7x50 Porro the view is amazingly real and relaxed.
 

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