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Help wanted with shortening my shortlist of 8x32 binoculars for < 300 € (Vanguard, Nikon, Opticron, Bresser) (1 Viewer)

follerma

Member
Germany
Dear fellow birders,

I am having a hard time deciding which pair of binoculars to get next.

My background: I enjoy occasional, but frequent birdwatching. I seldom go out exclusively for birdwatching (I may do so once a month or so) but whenever I go out for whatever reason (e.g. with the dog, for a short trip with the family) I take my bins with me. That's why I prefer the 8x32 configuration, as it seems to be the best compromise for me between "big enough for a decent viewing experience" and "small enough to actually take them with me". I have a Carson 3D 8x32 (the non-ED version) already and I have been quite satisfied with it for a long time. However, one thing that bothers me more and more is the lack of edge sharpness, especially - weirdly enough - to the inner areas of the two barrels. It starts at around 50 to 60 % already and the drop in resolution is quite dramatic. The last time this almost drove me nuts was when I was panning a bunch of shorebirds during my last vacation and single birds seemed sharp for my left eye and blurred for my right eye. At first I thought I might invest in a pair of 10x42 binoculars for the precious occasions of dedicated bird watching activities but then I realized I will probably be better off with a pair of binoculars that replace my Carsons because I have many more opportunities to enjoy the fruit of my investment.

My budget is 300 € and this is my shortlist (with very similar overall ratings from allbinos and BBR, although not every model has been reviewed by both), along with all the pros and cons that keep me awake:

Vanguard Endeavor ED II 8x32
Pros:
  • Attractive on a gut level, partly due to the open bridge design, partly because the 10x42 I tested recently felt good and solid
  • Good image quality according to most reviews, especially edge sharpness
  • build quality (Magnesium housing, metal focus wheel)
Cons:
  • Lack of QA and risk of getting a faulty pair (according to some voices)
  • Eyecups are a bit of a pain (from my own experience with the 10x42)
  • The 10x42 seemed to be less sharp than my Carson 3D, especially for distant objects
  • Transmission only medium (according to allbinos), possibly due to lack of dielectric prism coating

Nikon Monarch 7 8x30
Pros:
  • Wide, impressive FOV
  • Good optical performance in general
  • Good QA, constant quality
  • Compact and lightweight
Cons:
  • Eye relief of only 15.1 mm might not be enough for me as somebody who has to wear glasses (Astigmatism)
  • Picky with eye alignment
  • Rubber armour might have slack, might feel sticky and seems to be wearing off comparatively easily/early
  • Little attention to accessories (cheap rainguards, short neck strap, strapless velcro bag)

Opticron Explorer WA ED-R 8x32
Pros:
- Checks many boxes (wide FOV, dielectric coating, compact and lightweight, long eye relief, decent accessories)
Cons:
  • Not many reviews available, unsure how it compares to the others
  • Near focus "only" 2.5 meters
  • Comparatively expensive here in Germany, as it seems, only one official reseller in Germany, so no competition

Bresser Pirsch ED 8x34
Pros:
  • Good optical performance overall
  • Elegant design
  • Lifetime warranty
Cons:
  • Generic "Made-in-China" look (Bresser Pirsch = Carson RD = Bynolyt Voyager = Praktica Pioneer = Barska Air View?)
  • Seems to have some problems with glare (bad QA?)
  • Accessories seem impressive at first, but bag does not seems to be very useful (too small to accommodate neck strap, tips over easily)
  • Near focus only 3.5 m (although BBR says it is actually 2.15 m)
  • Narrowest FOV in the list (122 m at 1000 m)

I could, of course, order them all in some random order and keep the one that I liked the best, but for sustainability reasons I would like to narrow the list down to maybe two binoculars first.

Can anybody perhaps nudge me into one direction or the other, ideally based on personal experience? Any help, hint or hunch would be much aprreciated.

Greetings

Frank
 

Ratal

Well-known member
A tiny fraction OVEr the 300 mark, but once you use one of these, you will never regret that little bit extra. The Traveller is a stunning bin.



Added a review - If you can snag a Traveller, you will be a very happy birder indeed as for the small increase in price, the Traveller will demolish all of the above optically.

 
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Aotus

Well-known member
United States
I was pretty impressed with the Nikon monarch 7 in three configurations - 8x42, 8x30, and 10x30 - with my preference in that order. The 30mm models are remarkably small and light, while the 42 is not small or light but really lovely to use (more so than the other two imho). I heard somewhere that Nikon is not making them anymore and they’re getting tough to find online. I bought the 8x42 for my mom and had to get it from Japan via eBay.
 

Brink

Well-known member
FWIW I love the rain guards on the monarch 7 8x30. Better than other binoculars I have tried, including the MHG
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

one more vote for the Traveller ED recommended by Ratal - close relative to the Nikon M7 but a bit nicer and more ER.

Joachim
 

Brink

Well-known member
Curious on how the Traveller focus will operate after 6 months, the Nikon will be the same as when new.
Indeed. My beat-up 8x30 M7 has been living in my glovebox for the last 1-2 years, so it has seen anywhere from -10 to +95 Fahrenheit and the focus is still perfect. Nice even resistance with no slop.
 

Brink

Well-known member
Now if Kowa could have a Nikon focus on the BD II models, they would sell more.
That's funny, I literally handled both of these binoculars this weekend, and agree. My BDII 6.5x32 probably could not be trusted to live in the car, and its focuser is not as smooth. I have fallen in love with its ergonomics and immersive view though.
 

follerma

Member
Germany
A tiny fraction OVEr the 300 mark, but once you use one of these, you will never regret that little bit extra. The Traveller is a stunning bin.



Added a review - If you can snag a Traveller, you will be a very happy birder indeed as for the small increase in price, the Traveller will demolish all of the above optically.

Thanks Ratal for the input! Actually, as per


I had the Traveller on my list even before the Explorer, but unfortunately I can only get them for 429,- € here in Germany, which is simply beyond my budget. Do you (or does anybody here) know, how the Travellers compare to the Explorers? On paper they don't seem to be THAT much different.
 

normjackson

Well-known member
I guess the binocular is the most likely culprit for the issue with the drop in resolution as you look to edges of field but assume you've checked your spectacles and eye combo isn't an issue there. Also if haven't done so might be worth checking whether in the situation where the blurriness is in the right eye as you look to edge of field it can be focussed out by adjusting the dioptre wheel. If so that should at least eliminate inadequate correction for astigmatism in spectacles or binocular from the equation.

I think pretty much all on your list offer an upgrade on extent of FOV over your Carson but perhaps you'd still have an issue if in that extra provided there were similar issues? For a used option potentially at your budget my immediate thought was a Nikon HG (L) 8x32 which is highly regard for edge sharpness though not offering quite the jump in FOV of some on your list. Not often seen though these days and certainly quite a bit heavier than those under consideration here.

I see the Opticron Traveller BGA ED would cost 430 at the retailer you mentioned; a bit of a jump from your proposed budget though can readily believe it would be worth it even if it means taking a bit more time to justify. So the burning question is has your request for a shortening of your list resulted in it being completely binned or extended? :oops:

Looks like that Carson binocular is specc'd as having 19mm+ of eye relief; might be worth measuring yourself. If that's right and you find yourself using pretty much all of that then it looks likely the Nikon M7 8x30 would come up short.
 

follerma

Member
Germany
Thanky
I guess the binocular is the most likely culprit for the issue with the drop in resolution as you look to edges of field but assume you've checked your spectacles and eye combo isn't an issue there. Also if haven't done so might be worth checking whether in the situation where the blurriness is in the right eye as you look to edge of field it can be focussed out by adjusting the dioptre wheel. If so that should at least eliminate inadequate correction for astigmatism in spectacles or binocular from the equation.
Yes, I have been looking through other binoculars and did not have that edge blur problem. So yes, the binocular is the culprit. But I am aware that I will never have the same view as somebody with less funny eyes. Addin to all this is that my right eye is worse than my left, so the edge blur problem is more noticeable on the left than on the right. Sigh ...
I think pretty much all on your list offer an upgrade on extent of FOV over your Carson but perhaps you'd still have an issue if in that extra provided there were similar issues? For a used option potentially at your budget my immediate thought was a Nikon HG (L) 8x32 which is highly regard for edge sharpness though not offering quite the jump in FOV of some on your list. Not often seen though these days and certainly quite a bit heavier than those under consideration here.
Yes, I'd rather have a narrower, but sharp FOV than a wider FOV with fuzzy edges. Thanks for the HG idea!
I see the Opticron Traveller BGA ED would cost 430 at the retailer you mentioned; a bit of a jump from your proposed budget though can readily believe it would be worth it even if it means taking a bit more time to justify. So the burning question is has your request for a shortening of your list resulted in it being completely binned or extended? :oops:
Definitely extended, but not binned, as nobody has commented on the Vanguard and the Bresser yet. I have seen some opinion on both in this forum, but I hope that somebody might be able to say something about them in relation/comparison to each other (or to some of the others in my list).
Looks like that Carson binocular is specc'd as having 19mm+ of eye relief; might be worth measuring yourself. If that's right and you find yourself using pretty much all of that then it looks likely the Nikon M7 8x30 would come up short.
Funnily enough I have the Carson's eyecups fully retracted but when I tried the Vanguard Endeavor ED II 10x42 (with "only" 18 mm of ER on paper) I had to twist the eyecups up one stop to avoid kidney beaning. Also, when I tried the Celestron Nature DX 10x42 (14 mm ER) I did not really lose much, if anything, of the FOV. So I have learned to be cautious with the numbers in the specs. I guess there is more to the story than just that one number.
 
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Ratal

Well-known member
Go with the Opticron Explorer - eye relief and wide field of view.

If that were my shopping list, that would be my hunt over with.

Bright, sharp, wide field, light and backed up by Opticron. Job done.
 

follerma

Member
Germany
Thanks for the input! These didn't make it on my shortlist for the same reason as the Travellers: I can get them for at least 389,- € only here in Germany. (The're available via the same reseller as the Opticrons, so no competition.) I had considered them, but alas ...
 

Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
follerma,
Kite and Ddoptics have 8x30/32 binoculars that are in your price range and what I have seen from the Kites 8x30 : attractive for a good price. Ddoptics and Kite offer the same binoculars, but Ddoptics operates mostly in Germany if I am well informed. The Kites are similar to the Nikon 8x30.
Gijs van Ginkel
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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