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Help deciding which pair to buy (1 Viewer)

Hi. This is the continuation of a previous thread (https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=367935).

I'm a total rookie in the binocular world. I want to buy a pair of binoculars that I can use on my outdoor activities - that includes visiting national or state parks, forests, camping, etc. I will soon go on a backpacking trip to India and Southeast Asia and I intend to use the binoculars there. Thus, I need something that is compact and lightweight (I thought 500g would be my threshold). I wear glasses, so the eye relief component is important. I intend to mostly use them with good light conditions, but would like to have something that could also work in dimmer light. I was thinking to get something like 8x25 or 8x32. My budget is approx $150 and I'm fine with used items. I understand that for $150 or less I'm still in the "not-so-really-good-quality" level, but I would like, of course, to buy something that is of good build quality for the price. I might be able to find an used pair for $150 that new costs more than that and hence could potentially be in a higher quality level. Or I could spend $150 or less for a pair of new binoculars that suit well my needs. I compiled a list of choices that I have been gathering from here and there and I'm posting it below.

I was initially thinking about vintage (or vintage-looking; idk how to exactly define it) binoculars but comments from other users made me think that probably a more modern pair could be better.

I appreciate your help narrowing down this list. Thanks.


<$100
Kowa YF30 YF30-8 8x30
Leupold BX-1 Yosemite 8x30mm
Wingspan Optics Spectator 8X32
Celestron 71330 Nature DX 8x32
Celestron 71328 Nature DX 8x25

$100-$200
Pentax 9x28 A-Series AD WP
NIKON 8x30 Prostaff 7s
Vortex 8x28 Diamondback
Opticron Aspheric LE WP 8x25
MEOPTA Binoculars meosport 8 x 25
Sightron Blue Sky SII 8x32

>$200
Zeiss 8x25 Terra ED
MINOX BV II 62030 8 x 25 BR

Vintage
Steiner Safari II 8x30
Steiner 8X30 Military Marine
 
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marcsantacurz

Well-known member
As I posted https://www.birdforum.net/showpost.php?p=3771128&postcount=20, I'd pick say 1 from each of your price groups, order them from an on-line retailer with good return policy (amazon, b&h, opticeplanet) and try them [1]. Or, find an optics store with good selection go in and then buy a pair there (but there are very few of those left).

Stats and other peoples recommendations can help you eliminate, but it cannot select for you.

I'd skip the steiner 8x30 military/marine, they are specialist.

[1] My opinion is on-line retailers make money by not having storefronts. They expect returns. Use that to your advantage.
 
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Roadbike

Well-known member
These binoculars have similar basic specifications and yet when you hold and view through them the experience will differ. There was a lot of good advice given in the other thread. At this point I think you would be best served by trying some binoculars at outdoor stores like REI, Dicks Sporting, etc. That way you can test the fit, control placement and eye relief. You are in a major metro area so there should be plenty of shops to choose from. If you focus on finding a new binocular that will meet your needs for backpacking in Asia you will have an instrument that will be useful for birding and other wildlife observation afterward.
 

marcsantacurz

Well-known member
Or, find an optics store with good selection go in and then buy a pair there (but there are very few of those left).

I see you're in Oakland, CA. There's a Wild Birds Unlimited in Novato, and a Bass Pro in Manteca and San Jose. Samy's Camera in SF has a very limited selection, mostly on the low end or image stabilized. Los Gatos Birdwatcher has a few, but I think more on the higher-end. Google and call them if you want to try the old-school in-store approach.

Unfortunately, there's very few places even in the San Francisco bay area that will have a decent selection. Some gun stores will have a selection, but mostly on the longer (10x - 12x) side for hunting.

Out of this world Optics in Mendocino (http://outofthisworldshop.com/optics) and Optics4Birding (https://www.optics4birding.com) are the two big ones in California, AFAIK, but not really close by to San Francisco. There's also the Leica store in SF, but that does not help in your price range :(

Marc
 

WJC

Well-known member
Hi. This is the continuation of a previous thread (https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=367935).

I'm a total rookie in the binocular world. I want to buy a pair of binoculars that I can use on my outdoor activities - that includes visiting national or state parks, forests, camping, etc. I will soon go on a backpacking trip to India and Southeast Asia and I intend to use the binoculars there. Thus, I need something that is compact and lightweight (I thought 500g would be my threshold). I wear glasses, so the eye relief component is important. I intend to mostly use them with good light conditions, but would like to have something that could also work in dimmer light. I was thinking to get something like 8x25 or 8x32. My budget is approx $150 and I'm fine with used items. I understand that for $150 or less I'm still in the "not-so-really-good-quality" level, but I would like, of course, to buy something that is of good build quality for the price. I might be able to find an used pair for $150 that new costs more than that and hence could potentially be in a higher quality level. Or I could spend $150 or less for a pair of new binoculars that suit well my needs. I compiled a list of choices that I have been gathering from here and there and I'm posting it below.

I was initially thinking about vintage (or vintage-looking; idk how to exactly define it) binoculars but comments from other users made me think that probably a more modern pair could be better.

I appreciate your help narrowing down this list. Thanks.


<$100
Kowa YF30 YF30-8 8x30
Leupold BX-1 Yosemite 8x30mm
Wingspan Optics Spectator 8X32
Celestron 71330 Nature DX 8x32
Celestron 71328 Nature DX 8x25

$100-$200
Pentax 9x28 A-Series AD WP
NIKON 8x30 Prostaff 7s
Vortex 8x28 Diamondback
Opticron Aspheric LE WP 8x25
MEOPTA Binoculars meosport 8 x 25
Sightron Blue Sky SII 8x32

>$200
Zeiss 8x25 Terra ED
MINOX BV II 62030 8 x 25 BR

Vintage
Steiner Safari II 8x30
Steiner 8X30 Military Marine

Hi again:

If you’re going to backpack from Oakland to India ... no problem, as you will drown within the first 30 minutes.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

If the 8x32 is not too heavy for you, it would be your best bet. My nature bino is an 8x32. It will give you a 4mm exit pupil; the other will give you a 3mm. You will need to decide between image brightness and convenience. In optics, one size does not fit all. Well maybe in SOME cases. Look at the attached. Here you will see a 120x120 binocular that fits neatly into a 7x50 bino body. Those Asians are so clever!

Finally, if you are going to Southeast Asia, you may want to put PROVEN waterproof integrity into your “thinkology.” :cat:

Bill

PS Let us know what you decide.
 

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Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
My recommendation for a cheap compact light weight knock-about waterproof bin with decent eye relief is the Nikon 8x25 ProStaff ATB reverse-porro. It is smooth, black in color, and has a nice understated design that doesn't attract attention. What you give up to an 8x30 is field of view. Bins like this have served backpackers very well. Only $125 if you shop around.

http://www.nikonsportoptics.com/en/nikon-products//binoculars/prostaff-8x25-atb.html

--AP
 

18000bph

Well-known member
The Leupold Yosemite has awesome optics but relatively poor build quality. I am under the impression the Kowa is similar optics but with improved build quality over the Leupold. These would normally be my recommendation but the eye relief is not good and I think they would be frustrating to use with specs.
 

fazalmajid

Well-known member
I see you're in Oakland, CA. There's a Wild Birds Unlimited in Novato, and a Bass Pro in Manteca and San Jose. Samy's Camera in SF has a very limited selection, mostly on the low end or image stabilized. Los Gatos Birdwatcher has a few, but I think more on the higher-end. Google and call them if you want to try the old-school in-store approach.

Unfortunately, there's very few places even in the San Francisco bay area that will have a decent selection. Some gun stores will have a selection, but mostly on the longer (10x - 12x) side for hunting.

Out of this world Optics in Mendocino (http://outofthisworldshop.com/optics) and Optics4Birding (https://www.optics4birding.com) are the two big ones in California, AFAIK, but not really close by to San Francisco. There's also the Leica store in SF, but that does not help in your price range :(

Orion Telescopes in Cupertino, perhaps (I’ve never been). Fireside Camera on Chestnut Street San Francisco has a small selection but better than Samy’s.

Unfortunately San Francisco hasn’t had a good optics store since Scope City in Fisherman’s Wharf closed.
 
Hi all.
I might try to go to one of those stores to see if they have some of my preferred ones.
In the meantime I narrowed down my list to the following:

Kowa YF30 YF30-8 8x30 (the least expensive)
MEOPTA Meosport 8 x 25
Vortex 8x28 Diamondback
Nikon 8x30 Prostaff 7s
Zeiss 8x25 Terra ED (probably the best from this group but over my budget...)

Would you immediately exclude any of this?
Thanks again!
 

lgguy

Well-known member
I've visited a few stores in the area. Los Gatos Birdwatcher and Bass Pro Shops had the best selection. Los Gatos Birdwatcher had Nikon, Vortex and Opticron and several 8x32 to compare. Bass Pro Shops was mainly larger 8x42 or 10x42. If you get to Los Gatos I have 3 pair you can try. Send a PM if interested.
 
I currently don't have a car, so Los Gatos is a bit far. But thanks for offering.

I'll wait for some feedback on the short list I posted before.

Thanks.
 

fazalmajid

Well-known member
In the meantime I narrowed down my list to the following:

Kowa YF30 YF30-8 8x30 (the least expensive)
MEOPTA Meosport 8 x 25
Vortex 8x28 Diamondback
Nikon 8x30 Prostaff 7s
Zeiss 8x25 Terra ED (probably the best from this group but over my budget...)

I'd ditch the Vortex and reinstate the Sightron, which has glowing reviews on this site (I've never tried it myself).

FWIW, Meopta is an alpha brand that is not widely recognized as such and thus has to sell at beta prices. So is Kowa in binoculars but the YF line is not actually made by them.
 

lgguy

Well-known member
I agree about the Sightron. Just took a walk with them and didn't feel I was missing anything. I've also looked through the Kowa. They're not as compact as the sightron, but considering the price there's very little to complain about.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
I would ditch the Meopta 8x25 Meosport. It is bulky considering how little glass is involved. If you are going to get a cheap 8x25, better to get a Nikon 8x25 ProStaff ATB, which has same FOV, lower weight, is overall more compact, and is cheaper.

--AP
 
I ended up getting the Vortex Diamondback 8x28 because they have good reviews and I got a good deal from an user at cloudynights.
Thank you all for your help (including suggesting to use the classifieds section of these websites instead of ebay).
 

alexdozon

Member
As far I know the Leupold Yosemite has awesome optics but relatively poor build quality.
But the impression of the Kowa is similar and improved build quality over the Leupold.
 

18000bph

Well-known member
I’ve got an older pair of Leupold Yosemite and they have held up to years of abuse.

I had the pleasure of getting some views through my child's 8x pair this past weekend. The optical quality of the Yosemite is phenomenal. It is amazing to me that such high optical quality is available in a $100 binocular.

However, the fit and finish really is not up to the standards of the others. The most frustrating to me is the diopter adjustment which seems to always need to be adjusted even though the knob hasn't moved. The focus wheel is the worst I've used by a longshot--rough with lots of slop. My final criticism is the eyecups. They are horrendous in that they won't stay up or down, the left and right are not even with each other, and the stops are poorly matched to the available eye relief (at least in 8x). The rest of my criticisms are minor niggles that are to be expected in such a budget priced binocular.

They do give the impression of being durable.
 

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