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Entry - Midrange Binocular Recommendation ($500) (4 Viewers)

airbears

New member
United States
I am planning to treat myself to something nice as a graduation gift. I'm thinking of putting aside around $500 to buy a nice pair of binoculars to get better views when I go visit the national parks and the bay. I have been doing some shopping and I have tried the Diamondback 10x42 (returned because 10x was too shaky, and chromatic aberration was noticeable in the middle), Nikon M5 8x42 (FOV is a bit too low, also some vignetting when I try to look at the edges of the image), Oberwerk Sport ED 8x42 (wobbly focus wheel), Nikon M7 8x42 (Really nice FOV, but more vignetting than the Overwork)

I found that the way I wear glasses really demands good eye relief. Binos with small eye relief creates a really uncomfortable vignette. I also do like jamming my eyes into the eyecups if I want to try to see the full FOV. For very large FOV's (more than 8 degrees like the Oberwerk), I can't see the full edges when I'm using my glasses so I think I'm okay with a smaller FOV if there are improvements in other aspects. I have been primarily been testing these at home, but I think if I want to hike with them they should be a tad bit lighter, so 8x32’s might be nice for me.

I have tried 4 models so far and none of them have been extremely satisfying. I understand that you get what you pay for in optics, but it seems that my problems have been with the weight and construction of it. To be honest I did not see a lot of difference in terms of image quality between the M7 and the Oberwerks (Obies might be slightly sharper).

I have been doing some research and this seems to be a great forum. My budget has been going up as I do more research but I think $500 should be enough to get me a pair that has reasonably good optics and can go with me on trips for a long time. Please let me know what you suggest that I try next, I think I might stick with the Obies, but it’s a shame they don’t have a nice 8x32 pair of roofs.
 
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Why not send the Oberwerks back for service on the focus wheel. Can't suggest anything new, I prefer the Nikon Monarch 7s in that category, however I do not wear glasses.
 
@airbears

Some general input. First, if $500 is your budget, spend it. Don't invest time evaluating $250 -$350 models. Second, given your preferences and issues with ER and vignetting you might also consider Opticron and GPO options based on my experience with the former and the generally good reviews on BF on the latter. Third, as you are probably aware, sub par examples of otherwise "good" bins tend to wind up on certain online sites. YMMV and good luck with the Quest.

Mike
 
If you can find the old Meopta Meopro HD (assembled in the USA) in 8x32. It used to cost exactly 500€ so should be around 500$. Bought mine used for 270€ and it is excellent.
But sometimes you can find the Fujinon HC 8x42 for around that price. I paid 530€ for mine as a "display item" which looked completely new. If you can find one for that price, I'd suggest getting that one.
Other than those -- a Kowa BDII 8x32 might be nice, too. I got the 6.5x32 but the 8x32 has an even larger AFoV and less field curvature so less blurring at the edge.
 
No offense but....you are going to be kinda hard to please in the $500 range. ALL binoculars have issues. I think generally speaking that a $500 binocular is a good enough binocular. I think the M7s, Oberwork Sport ED, GPO Passion ED....All are good enough for me. I've been very impressed by the Oberwork. For the money, you probably can't beat it. I'd have to flip a coin between those three.

Your best best might be to save up $1500 and get a Zeiss SFL.

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IMG_1883.jpeg
 
No offense but....you are going to be kinda hard to please in the $500 range. ALL binoculars have issues. I think generally speaking that a $500 binocular is a good enough binocular. I think the M7s, Oberwork Sport ED, GPO Passion ED....All are good enough for me. I've been very impressed by the Oberwork. For the money, you probably can't beat it. I'd have to flip a coin between those three.

Your best best might be to save up $1500 and get a Zeiss SFL.

9BA688B6-EF7B-4297-9CDE-814573E39946_1_201_a.jpeg

IMG_1883.jpeg
These are wise words.
 
Have you seen the Leica Trinovid 8x42 for sale in the classifieds from chill6x6?

I'm not sure of its eye relief but for the $500 price range its a steal.
Not to toot my own horn...but the Trinovid HDs DO have ER galore. And certainly a step up from anything the OP has tried.
 
@airbears if you can lay out the $$ you should JUMP on that Leica Trinovid in the classifieds as others are suggesting.

For a little over $500 you will get a binocular that is MUCH MUCH better than anything you've been looking at, with build quality that will last decades (and resale value that will allow you to recoup most of your investment if you change your mind later).

People with tight budgets should be shopping used, optics do not "go bad" or become obsolete like smartphones and other tech. The best $500 binocular is a (list price) $1000 binocular you buy used for 1/2 price.
 
I agree that he should jump on the Trinovid that is for sale on the classifieds!

But if you're still wanting to go another route, maybe give the Kowa BDII XD 8x42 a try. I have one and it's pretty good. IMO they are small and light for an 8x42 and they seem to have good build quality. Check 'em out.
 
I own the Oberwerk 10x42 Sport ED and the focus wheel is not “wobbly” as in no play. Mine is actually quite firm in its movement and nicely stays in place. I would seriously call Oberwerk to speak with them about the issue you’re experiencing. I am sure they will either fix it or send you another new unit. I feel that for the price, the optics on the Obie are top notch. I concur with chill6x6 that, unless you find a steal in the pre-owned market for something that you know for sure you will enjoy, you may have to make a big jump in your budget for brand new binos that will beat the Obies optically and mechanically.
 
I concur that you are better off buying a more costly binocular used than a new, less expensive binocular.

They are often identical or similar in price, as in the example above.
 
Hi,

another vote for the Trinis from the classifieds, which are a steal.

Just no comparison between a $500 MiC pair and a MiEU 2nd tier offering from a teutonic trinity brand. Try them and you will most probably not want to buy another pair for a very long time. And in the improbable case that they don't suit you, you will have no problems to sell them on without a loss.

Joachim, who really has to think a minute the last time he bought a new pair vs many used ones... probably the E2 from Chiba... must be 8 years...
 
Depends on how old a bino we're talking about. Coatings definitely did improve over time.
Not that much, more about tuning the coating to optimise the colour balance… the Leica/zeiss/etc look. Unless you go back beyond the 80s, then the coatings would definitely not be up to the modern day, both in performance and robustness.

Peter
 
Not that much, more about tuning the coating to optimise the colour balance… the Leica/zeiss/etc look. Unless you go back beyond the 80s, then the coatings would definitely not be up to the modern day, both in performance and robustness.

Peter
We're not talking about Zeiss or Leica here though. And even for the Swarovski Habicht, people always recommend to get the one with the newest coatings. I'm pretty certain those weren't last updated before the 80's. And when we're talking about binos below 500$, we're mostly talking made in China. The Chinese coatings made some huge leaps in the last few years. They just started making binos on a large scale for foreign markets in the 80's.
Even a Chinese made Nikon Action has coatings that remind me of the single layer coatings of the 70's. So, yeah, coatings are absolutely something to look out for, even in binos made after the 80's.
The cheapo Svbony SV202 for example uses something that the Chinese manufacturers call "Super multicoating 4" but eyeskey optics for instance had a model with a higher grade of SMC. I think it was the "Hyperion" which is no longer made and has been replaced by a model with AK-prisms and field-flattening as their flagship model.
I mean, I think light transmission is overrated anyway. I still quite often use my older German or Japanese binos from the 70's even. Just something worth mentioning.
 
Thank you for all your suggestions! After some more research, I think a smaller and more portable 8x32 might be best for me. Right now I'm eyeing the Opticron Verano and Traveller 8x32's. Does anyone have any experience with them?
 
Thank you for all your suggestions! After some more research, I think a smaller and more portable 8x32 might be best for me. Right now I'm eyeing the Opticron Verano and Traveller 8x32's. Does anyone have any experience with them?

I have the Traveler BGA ED 8x32 and they have been my most-used binoculars over the past five years, including extended backcountry trips and plenty of rough travel carrying them on the outside. They aren't quite as sharp or contrasty as the $1K+ models, but they don't give up much, and you won't "see" anything in 25-32mm alphas that you can't see in the Travelers. They are nicely light and compact as well. Eye relief is a comfortable 19mm.
 
"Super multicoating 4", LOL. I always seem to laugh when I hear SVBony, sort of like the chinese name usogood binoculars.
Not sure what is funny about it. From what I gathered it is simply different levels of coating. Eyeskey used a different type. The color tint of the coatings is slightly different. No need to "LOL" at all. It's not even like they are advertising this anywhere so you couldn't even "hear" it from SVbony. I only found out after a bit of digging on the interwebs. Feel free to do that work yourself and come up with better info.
 

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