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Favorite 8x42 non-MIC roof prism binoculars, preferably with locking diopter? (1 Viewer)

baj

Active member
I'm looking for binoculars for my wife and not quite sure what to get. This is for her birthday and I may just get something or may talk to her about options on her birthday and let her help me choose.

Light weight is a priority. I would also prefer fairly close focus and a wide field of view. Not asking for too much. :)

I would like to be in the ~$500 range but that's not a hard limit. I hate wonky focus knobs, poor quality control, etc.; that stuff drives me nuts, which is most of my desire to get something not made in China if possible because my quality control experiences haven't been great. I don't mind buying relatively inexpensive MIC binoculars (I have gotten my kids 6x30 and 8x30 MIC Opticron and Kowa porros and they're fine, but my standards are lower in the ~$100 range). I also have an irrationally strong preference for locking diopters (well maybe not totally irrational as it's based on past annoyance, but maybe I'm letting one particular pair of binoculars with a too-easy-to-accidentally-adjust diopter influence me too much).

My own binoculars are Pentax DCF SP 8x32 (no longer available of course), which meet all my criteria except for the x42 part (just to give you an idea of my personal standards of quality, those with fancy ED binos probably are laughing at me at this point). I ended up with them because I liked the 8x43 model (that I saw in an excellent shop that is unfortunately no longer in business) but it had too much eye relief for me (similar I'm guessing to what I've read about the Zeiss Conquest, except that Pentax didn't supply taller eyecups upon request) and I decided that the 8x32 was the closest thing to what I was looking for in my price range at the time. I think given the passage of time and its effects on eyes, and some casual astronomy interest, 42mm objectives would probably be better for my wife.

Kowa BD II 8x42's look like they check a lot of my boxes, except for the MIC part and locking diopter. Wondering if there's something better I'm missing.

I just found some Vixen models that are hard but maybe not impossible to find here in the US. Vixen 8x42 Artes J DCF ED is MIJ and looks like it might have a locking diopter on the central focus knob. FOV (367.5 ft/1000 yds) and close focus (10 ft) not quite what I was hoping for. Mid-$400 range. Anybody used these or have an opinion, or know if they have a locking diopter? Similar looking Vixen Foresta II 8x42 has better FOV and has a locking diopter but I suspect made in China. I have never handled Vixen binos but know it's an old name in astronomical optics.

Anyway, I thought someone on here might know of something I haven't thought of and could point me in a new direction. Thanks for any help!
 

Nethero

Well-known member
You might want to check out Tract Optics. The Tract Toric by all accounts on here and other forums (and personal experience) competes with the Zeiss Conquest.

It uses Schott HT glass, is made in Japan, and has a locking diopter. It is sturdy, fits well in the hand, and feels great.

While it is listed for $684 USD on Amazon, it might be worth stretching your budget if possible.

Or if you were willing to try a non locking diopter device, the Meopta MeoPro HD is also excellent and about $200 USD less.

Purely speculation on my part here, but both of those binos seem extremely similar to me both in appearance and in hand. Whether they share a common platform I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Anyways, they may be worth a look.
 
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Rob from Texas

Well-known member
I too am a proponent of the Tract Toric. It furnishes a super crisp view with great color definition.
I have the 10x42 and it gives up very little to any other sub-alpha bino out there.

However, for some reason, although the 6.5 degree field of view is slightly above average for 10x42,
the 7.2 degree field of view for the 8x42 model is not ground breaking.
This may or may not be a deal breaker. (It wouldn't bother me,...but to some, the bigger the FOV is a must.)

Just a thought.
Otherwise, I highly recommend the Toric.
 

dries1

Member
I would try the Meopta Meopro. The Tracts are over-rated IMO, had a heck of time getting an 8X42 to focus properly, eventually got my money back. In fact I would go Vortex before I ever used a Tract again. And yes the view in the tract 8X42 is like looking down a keyhole - lets not kid ourselves, do we really know how many parts on the tract is made in Japan or China?
Additionally, if I were in your shoes I would also look for a used Zeiss Conquest, you really cannot go wrong there.

Andy W.
 
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Nethero

Well-known member
Seeing the locking diopter of the Opticron made me realize I forgot a very obvious one- the Leupold BX-4.

Small, lightweight, MIJ, and sub $500 USD.

While they have a narrower FOV, they are fantastic little binoculars.
 
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yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
While reading your post I was going to suggest trying the Vixens... and at the end I find that you mention them. I've just been testing the Vixen Artes J 8x42. I understand they are/were related to the Opticron DBA VHD (the previous version of some of Opticron's top range). To say that I've been amazed is an understatement. The level of contrast and sharpness at the prices you can find those in the US is truly remarkable. If you can't get a good deal or discount price, those would tick many of your boxes, and can be well within your budget.
They're made in Japan, seem pretty robust and built to hight standards, have central dioptre setting locking mechanism and are fairly light for a 8x42 at 700 g (24,7 oz). The only point where they don't excel is FOV, which at 7º is just fine, nothing to write home about, but you can't complain either, because the view makes up for it. I'd be sure to check those out. In my book you can't go much better than these for the money (I understand the Foresta are the lower range, MIC and with lesser performance).
The armouring is really understated (which I like) and the grip is really very nice. These are some serious performers. I'd really love to see them A-B tested against the Conquest HD or the Nikon Monarch HG.
 

Nethero

Well-known member
While reading your post I was going to suggest trying the Vixens... and at the end I find that you mention them. I've just been testing the Vixen Artes J 8x42. I understand they are/were related to the Opticron DBA VHD (the previous version of some of Opticron's top range). To say that I've been amazed is an understatement. The level of contrast and sharpness at the prices you can find those in the US is truly remarkable. If you can't get a good deal or discount price, those would tick many of your boxes, and can be well within your budget.
They're made in Japan, seem pretty robust and built to hight standards, have central dioptre setting locking mechanism and are fairly light for a 8x42 at 700 g (24,7 oz). The only point where they don't excel is FOV, which at 7º is just fine, nothing to write home about, but you can't complain either, because the view makes up for it. I'd be sure to check those out. In my book you can't go much better than these for the money (I understand the Foresta are the lower range, MIC and with lesser performance).
The armouring is really understated (which I like) and the grip is really very nice. These are some serious performers. I'd really love to see them A-B tested against the Conquest HD or the Nikon Monarch HG.
Taking a look at the Vixen Artes J specs and appearances it does appear to be another version of the Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD binoculars but wrapped in a different skin with a different brands name.

I have never had any dealings with Vixen or their CS but I can say Leupold is top notch. Also, with Leupold being a USA based company, it might make it easier on the OP if an issue ever were to arise.
 
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baj

Active member
Thank you all for the very helpful replies!

Nethero, you're right that the Leupold looks a lot like the Vixen. I don't have any insight into optics manufacturing, but given that Leupold is an American brand and Vixen is a Japanese optics manufacturer, and the BX-4 is made in Japan, I wonder if Vixen is making these for Leupold.

pete_gamby, that Opticron model looks very interesting and I didn't know about it. Thank you!

yarrellii, I will look more closely at the Vixen. Thanks for confirming the locking diopter (I eventually found a link to the instructions at Orion Telescopes that confirm the locking diopter on the focus knob). Also saw gcole's favorable thoughts on this model (https://www.birdforum.net/threads/sometimes-alpha-like-quality-hides-in-plain-sight.377419/).

Of course still interested in more suggestions, but thanks again to everyone. The group here helped me focus my thinking and find options I didn't know about, and was worth more than many hours of browsing on my own!
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
My opinion is splurge for the Monarch HG 8x42 and don’t look back.

Let’s look at your wish list:
  • Light weight a priority BUT it has to be a 42mm objective
  • Good close focus
  • Wide FOV
  • Locking diopter
  • Good quality control with good mechanics (ie no wonky focus knobs)
IME the Monarch HG is the cheapest model that truly checks all the boxes.

The real stickler is a light 42mm. There aren’t many options that aren’t inexpensive MiC models with plastic bodies. The MHG is kind of a unique standout in that respect, the only other premium 42mm that comes close in weight is the Vortex Razor HD. But it can’t compete in FOV for the 8x42. Other mid-premium 42mm models like Conquest HD and Tract Toric are considerably heavier. The MHG is only ~650 grams, that’s a heavy 8x32 weight!

Everything else suggested sacrifices at least one of your wish list. You can get a fairly light MiJ bin like the Opticron but you’ll lose the wide FOV. Typical $400-500ish options like the Nikon Monarch 7, Vortex Viper HD, or Kowa BDII will get you almost everything you want, except the “not MiC / good quality control” part. And no locking diopter.

The MHG 8x42 checks every single box on the list. So my recommendation is you get it and call it a day, OR you figure out which items on your wish list are available for compromise.
 
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eitanaltman

Well-known member
I too am a proponent of the Tract Toric. It furnishes a super crisp view with great color definition.
I have the 10x42 and it gives up very little to any other sub-alpha bino out there.
Glad you’re still enjoying it! :) to this day after trying a number of other binoculars in various formats, the Toric UHD still stands out as among the cleanest, most neutral and razor SHARP views I’ve seen. The only binoculars that I’ve felt were clearly a step above are the ones I still own — Leica Ultravid HD and Nikon EDG. In other words >$2K “alpha” studs (not that I paid that much!) and the Toric is 1/3 their price.
 

PhilR.

Well-known member
I would also recommend the Leupold Pro Guide HD that was already mentioned. MIJ, locking diopter, and comes with the excellent customer service that Leupold is known for. They aren’t particularly handsome, but they do work quite well, and you can also find them in several camo colors, if that’s your thing.

I also like the Meopta Meopro HD in this price range, but although it is assembled in the USA, I couldn’t tell you where the individual parts are made. I prefer the Meopro’s appearance, handling, focus wheel (smoother and easier to turn), and ER (a bit more) over that of the Pro Guide. The diopter does not lock however, but I have never had it shift.

The Tract Toric is also MIJ, and I can highly recommend the 10x version, but I haven’t used the 8x42.
 
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baj

Active member
My opinion is splurge for the Monarch HG 8x42 and don’t look back.

Let’s look at your wish list:
  • Light weight a priority BUT it has to be a 42mm objective
  • Good close focus
  • Wide FOV
  • Locking diopter
  • Good quality control with good mechanics (ie no wonky focus knobs)
IME the Monarch HG is the cheapest model that truly checks all the boxes.

The real stickler is a light 42mm. There aren’t many options that aren’t inexpensive MiC models with plastic bodies. The MHG is kind of a unique standout in that respect, the only other premium 42mm that comes close in weight is the Vortex Razor HD. But it can’t compete in FOV for the 8x42. Other mid-premium 42mm models like Conquest HD and Tract Toric are considerably heavier. The MHG is only ~650 grams, that’s a heavy 8x32 weight!

Everything else suggested sacrifices at least one of your wish list. You can get a fairly light MiJ bin like the Opticron but you’ll lose the wide FOV. Typical $400-500ish options like the Nikon Monarch 7, Vortex Viper HD, or Kowa BDII will get you almost everything you want, except the “not MiC / good quality control” part. And no locking diopter.

The MHG 8x42 checks every single box on the list. So my recommendation is you get it and call it a day, OR you figure out which items on your wish list are available for compromise.

Wow, thanks. I hadn't really looked at those but you're right, they do check all the boxes. I've decided to talk to my wife about her priorities rather than just picking something, and if she's ok with the price then I think these would be a great choice (but while we're at it why stop there -- the Zeiss Victories are really nice!). You are absolutely right that I can't meet all of my "requirements" and something will have to give. I appreciate your willingness to tell me I'm doing it wrong. :)

There is no hard limit on the weight, I just don't think she would enjoy a really heavy pair as much as something lighter. I guess 8x32 is a way to get both wider FOV and lighter weight, maybe I should include that in the tradespace. If you (or anyone) have any suggestions in 30-32mm objectives please let me know.

If she doesn't want to go well above $500 and wants full size I do like the Opticron and Vixen models. The FOV is smaller but comparable to the Leica Trinovid, which is hardly junk. Close focus would be nice but probably not the highest priority. She loves butterflies but I'm not sure I see her wanting to use binoculars to look at them a lot.
 

Maljunulo

Well-known member
Since she appears to be the one setting the spending limit, she should understand and accept the necessary compromises.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
I really agree with the advice to look at the Monarch HG if it can be made to fit in your range... if not, there are still excellent options as others have have been suggesting, but none of them quite tick as many boxes.
 

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