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

jch10400

Member
I have both the original Vanguard Endeavor 8x42 and the Endeavor II 8x32. While they felt solid, both have to go in for repairs after about 3 years of use (maybe 1x per week each). The hinge worked loose on the 8x42 and the diopter adjustment doesn't stay at the same setting on the 8x32 (the diopter ring locks in place but the setting moves if I tip the binoculars up and down)
 

ZDHart

Registered User
Supporter
United States

ZDHart

Registered User
Supporter
United States
M7 for non glasses wearers. Traveller for glasses. The extra eye rel7ef is a massive boon, even for sunglasses let alone spectacles.
Ratal... so if extra eye relief doesn't matter... M7 is the better binocular? FOV is a dramatically wider with Travellers. And close focus is closer.

How do the focusers compare between the two? Smoothness. Lightness of operation?

How does the field of sharpness compare between them?

Color quality? Aberration correction?

Are the M7 and Travellers virtually identical, aside from eye relief, field of view, and close focus?
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Ratal... so if extra eye relief doesn't matter... M7 is the better binocular? FOV is a dramatically wider with Travellers. And close focus is closer.

Some misunderstanding here methinks as Ratal clearly recommends Traveller for use with glasses and explains this by saying the extra eye relief is a massive boon.

Lee
 

ZDHart

Registered User
Supporter
United States
Lee... my understanding from Ratal's statement was that if the extra eye relief (offered by the Travellers) didn't matter/wasn't needed (by folks who don't wear glasses) then the M7 is the better choice for those non-glasses wearers. I'm thinking the implication was that aside from eye relief considerations (which might better suit eyeglass wearers), the M7 are better bins?

Did I miss something here? Or get it wrong?

I do understand that the greater eye relief with the Travellers may suit glasses wearers better. But how do the two bins compare for those who don't wear glasses and don't need the extra eye relief of the Travellers? The M7s are overall a better bin than Travellers, except for those folks who need the extra eye relief?

I haven't had the opportunity to check out either of those bins and I don't wear glasses - is why I ask the questions.
 
Last edited:

follerma

Member
Germany
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
Thanks! For Kite it's the Ursus models that are in my price range, for DDoptics it's the Kolibrie series, both of which have an 8x32 model. Neither of the two models have ED glass (I know, I know, it's not really a must and much of the talk about it is marketing) and my impression, especially for the Ursus binoculars is that I can get more for the same price from other manufacturers. They do have their advantages, but just didn't make in in my shortlist.
 

follerma

Member
Germany
I have both the original Vanguard Endeavor 8x42 and the Endeavor II 8x32. While they felt solid, both have to go in for repairs after about 3 years of use (maybe 1x per week each). The hinge worked loose on the 8x42 and the diopter adjustment doesn't stay at the same setting on the 8x32 (the diopter ring locks in place but the setting moves if I tip the binoculars up and down)
Oh, that doesn't sound good at all. Sorry to hear the hassle you have with them. This is not the first voice raising concerns about their QA. I guess the Vanguards may be the first to leave my shortlist. Sounds too risky in the long run.
 

normjackson

Well-known member
Well Frank it's looking good if the budget Celestron DX 10x42 is nearly there for eye relief and has an acceptably sized sweet spot(?) The Nikon M7 may well be in the running after all. And there's no need to lengthen your list with used flat field designs or ones with compromised FOV :)

I just noticed Jessops in the UK are offering a special on the Nikon Monarch 7 8x30 atm, but like so many other retailers there also seems to be a conspicuous lack of stock :(

Vanguard UK customer support seems to get good feedback. For better or worse looks like maybe they are more inclined to replace than repair for all but the most easily rectified issues eg. loose eyecups, hinge or dioptre ring.

Wouldn't be at all surprised if there's a thread here somewhere on BF addressing the question of what folks consider an acceptable life expectancy for a mid-price binocular if that's possible given differences in care taken and amount of use. More easily answered would be whether a requirement to return to manufacturer for a repair or replacement in that time is considered par for the course. I suspect for many it would be.
 

follerma

Member
Germany
Well Frank it's looking good if the budget Celestron DX 10x42 is nearly there for eye relief and has an acceptably sized sweet spot(?) The Nikon M7 may well be in the running after all. And there's no need to lengthen your list with used flat field designs or ones with compromised FOV :)

I just noticed Jessops in the UK are offering a special on the Nikon Monarch 7 8x30 atm, but like so many other retailers there also seems to be a conspicuous lack of stock :(

Vanguard UK customer support seems to get good feedback. For better or worse looks like maybe they are more inclined to replace than repair for all but the most easily rectified issues eg. loose eyecups, hinge or dioptre ring.

Wouldn't be at all surprised if there's a thread here somewhere on BF addressing the question of what folks consider an acceptable life expectancy for a mid-price binocular if that's possible given differences in care taken and amount of use. More easily answered would be whether a requirement to return to manufacturer for a repair or replacement in that time is considered par for the course. I suspect for many it would be.
Thanks, normjackson!

Well, the good thing is that I can test the Nikon M7 in a store in my city. I did actually look through it once, but that's a while ago when it wasn't on my shortlist yet and I didn't really know what to look for. So, for example, I didn't do the glasses-on-glasses-off test to check if the eye relief will do. I will definitely check them next time around. But then again, I can't really A/B test (or A/B/C/D test for that matter) all four models. So it's still a matter of "Well, mayyybe one of the others is still better." I guess I have to get over this kind of thinking someday.

It's certainly good to hear that in the UK Vanguard's customer support is well reviewed. The other question, of course, is whether it's a good thing that you need to have your bins repaired or replaced in the first place. I would rather prefer not to have to contact customer support at all if possiible. Seeing that many people seem to have issues to deal with with the Vanguards just doesn't give me a good feeling of reliability. But maybe that's something I need to get over with as well.
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

if you can test the M7, I would try if you can see the whole field with your glasses (compare field of view w/o glasses and eyecups up vs with glasses and eyecups down). In that case, you could consider them but of course your next glasses might work less well if you get a bulkier frame...

The M7 delivers a very nice package at the price... The Traveller ED is very closely related but a bit more expensive... and has a bit more ER...

Joachim
 

ZDHart

Registered User
Supporter
United States
Hi,

if you can test the M7, I would try if you can see the whole field with your glasses (compare field of view w/o glasses and eyecups up vs with glasses and eyecups down). In that case, you could consider them but of course your next glasses might work less well if you get a bulkier frame...

The M7 delivers a very nice package at the price... The Traveller ED is very closely related but a bit more expensive... and has a bit more ER...

Joachim
Joachim... how do the focusers compare between the M7 and Traveller? Which focuser is lighter to turn, which is smoother?
 

normjackson

Well-known member
For an open bridged model the now discontinued Opticron Verano HD 8x32 looks like a robust option :
A used one available now at LCEGroup for about same price as a new Nikon M7 8x30.
 

follerma

Member
Germany
I promised to keep you updated. The first of the binoculars on my shortlist that I tried have been the Bresser Pirsch ED 8x34. So here we go:

Size and weight
I haven't measured either, but the binoculars have the compact dimensions and light weight that I expected. This ensures that you actually have these binoculars with you when you are out and about. I had also tried a 10x42 glass before, which was simply too big and too heavy for me. I would have left that at home at least every second time.

Build quality and handling
Of course, the first thing that is striking is the design with an open bridge. This makes the binoculars extremely easy to handle, which is also due to the rubber armouring, which has just the right feel for my taste. There are no dots or nubs or the like that are in the wrong place or that look stupid someday. Instead, the surface is "velvety" and simply wonderful.

The two bridges are stable and can be adjusted with the right resistance.

The focus wheel is made of metal, which is initially a plus. However, the surface is quite smooth - smoother than I expected from the pictures. I don't think that's that great, even if it's not really a problem in the end because the wheel can be turned very smoothly. Nevertheless, a clearer corrugation would give me a better, because more secure, feeling. I haven't tried it, but I could imagine that wearing gloves could get you into trouble. In the case of my copy the focus wheel was apparently not installed completely clean, so that it has a higher resistance to rotation at one point. I would have just made a complaint, and the problem would certainly not have occurred with the next copy, but in the end I decided against these binoculars for other reasons.

The diopter setting on the right eyepiece can be adjusted with adequate resistance so that there is no need to fear that a setting that has been made will be accidentally lost.

The twist-up eyecups appear to be made of plastic and work perfectly, although I would prefer a more "snug" snap. Now, unfortunately, I have to keep my glasses on when looking through binoculars (astigmatism), and binoculars and I don't go well together here. If I leave the eyecups all the way in, as you should normally do if you wear glasses, then I get those annoying flying shadows that come in from the outside as soon as you move the binoculars even a tiny bit. This indicates that the eye relief is too small. However, if I turn the eyecups out a notch (there is only one central position), then something is noticeably lost from the already narrow field of view. The ideal is actually an adjustment of the eyecups exactly in between, but this is quite fiddly and unreliable, because the eyecups are too easy to screw back in all the way if you press them too hard against the glasses. With a little practice, after a while, I got along best with the eyecups all the way in, but I'm not very happy with that.

Regarding the build quality, it should be said that the binoculars are waterproof and filled with argon, so that you do not have to worry about damage even in rugged oder humid environments.

Optical quality
As I had hoped, the picture quality is really very good. The picture is crisp, bright and true to color. The sharpness only decreases a bit very close to the edge of the image.

The field of view is quite small at approx. 122 m at a distance of 1,000 m. You don't have the feeling of looking through two keyholes, but it couldn't have been less.

Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled, but have not completely disappeared. Overall, however, a very good result, which probably only leaves "optics snobs" unsatisfied.

The close focus is given as 3.5 m, but is significantly less, maybe 2.5 meters. For bird watching this is sufficient. However, if you would like to see insects right in front of your feet, you should use other binoculars.

Unfortunately, what made me decide to send the binoculars back is their high sensitivity to stray light. If the sun is not right behind you or is very high in the sky, you quickly get a milky crescent in the lower area of the field of view. My previous binoculars have the same (maybe even worse) and you could maybe get used to them, but for more than double the price I would like to have an essentially undisturbed viewing experience. And since I have three other models on my shortlist, I prefer to try them out first before I commit myself too quickly to the first binoculars I come across and regret it later.

Equipment/accessories
Since it was foreseeable that I wouldn't keep the binoculars, I didn't even unpack most of the accessories so I can say anything about e.g. the neck strap, the cleaning cloth or the cleaning pen from personal experience. The bag is very good in itself, but the binoculars fit so precisely that you definitely won't get the neck strap into that bag as well. How I could have used the bag in a meaningful way is not really clear to me. Otherwise you can hear a lot of good things about the neck strap of the binoculars.

As usual in this price range, the Bresser Pirsch ED 8x34 has a thread for a tripod adapter.

The eyepiece cover is ordinary in the best sense, fits snugly, and does what it's supposed to do. The lens covers are very flat because of the second bridge that is located far in front and fold down easily. I wouldn't have a good feeling walking around with the lens caps attached because I would be worried that these things would completely say goodbye. In fact, other reviewers report that this is exactly what happened to them.

Conclusion
With the Bresser Pirsch ED 8x34 you get a lot for your money. The optical quality is, apart from the thing with the stray light, very good, and the workmanship also makes a very good impression. Anyone who has to keep their glasses on when using binoculars should try out whether it works for him or her. The accessories are, apart from a few small flaws, very neat and usable. So all in all a good package where the most important question is probably how demanding you are.

Next up will be Monarch 7 8x30. Stay tuned ...
 

follerma

Member
Germany
Here my thoughts on the Nikon Monarch 7 8x30

Size and weight
The Monarch 7 8x30 is really very small and light. I have not verified the official information, but a few grams or millimeters more or less don't matter here. You can take it with you practically anywhere, and you can hardly feel that you are wearing it around your neck.

Build quality and handling
First of all, the rather soft rubber armouring compared to most other binoculars is noticeable. This makes the binoculars very handy, but there are also reports (including photo evidence) from users in this forum that this material wears out quickly through frequent handling. And this rubbery feeling is certainly also simply a matter of taste.

The shape of the binoculars lies very comfortably in the hand, as the bridge is quite narrow and high up, so that a lot of the tubes are exposed, which can be safely grasped. So the binoculars can also be used very well with one hand. For this purpose, I always put my little and ring fingers around the tube, my middle finger on the bridge and my index finger on the focus wheel.

Speaking of which: the focus wheel can be turned evenly and without any free play. The resistance may be a bit too high for my taste, especially for one-handed operation, but that's not really a problem. The gear ratio / aggressiveness of the focus wheel is appropriate: not too fast and not too slow. You can switch from distant to close objects quickly enough and vice versa, but at the same time you don't have to worry that even the slightest rotation will cause you to lose focus. Since the focus wheel is made of plastic, it makes a rather flimsy impression.

The same applies to the diopter setting on the right eyepiece: It feels a bit cheap, but otherwise works without any problems and with an appropriate (high) resistance, so that you do not have to worry about accidentally changing a setting once it has been made. What surprised me a little: Normally, if I leave the glasses on while looking through, I have to set the mark exactly to the middle position / to zero. That also makes sense, of course, because the glasses already compensate for the differences in vision between my two eyes. With the Nikon Monarch 7, however, I have to turn the marking a good bit to the left so that both eyes get a sharp image. That makes a somewhat sloppy and not entirely professional impression.

The eyepiece lenses are nice and large, the rubber coating around them is quite narrow compared to other binoculars that I know, so that I can see a little more of what is happening around the binoculars in my peripheral field of vision. Can be a disadvantage (distraction), but also an advantage (you can keep an eye on the surroundings). The two intermediate stops work as expected, but do not make a particularly durable impression. These are small depressions in the plastic of the eyecup, into which protrusions, also made of plastic, snap into place from the inside. Whether this really wears out after a while, as I would fear, can of course only be judged after a while, but there are definitely more durable constructions.

The bridge can be bent with a comfortable resistance, so above all it does not move accidentally by itself.

Image quality
The picture is super sharp in the middle - I haven't seen anything better in this price range. The use of ED glass alone does not automatically work miracles, but here the potential of ED glass is fully exploited thanks to Nikon's experience and high manufacturing quality.

The sharply focused area is also comfortably large and I would estimate it to extend up to about 75% of the radius. However, the sharpness definitely doesn't extend alle the way to the edge - when panning, e.g. if you search for something with the binoculars, you can already see that things are initially a bit blurred when they come into view. But that's criticism on a high level. Overall, looking through the binoculars is definitely very relaxing for the eyes.

The large field of vision also contributes to this, although I have to say that, given the numbers and the sometimes exuberant hymns of praise from many users, I expected a little more. I just seem to be someone who is not that good at sensing differences in the size of the field of view. This may have to do with the fact that when I use binoculars I have to keep my glasses on because of a rather pronounced astigmatism. I have to say, however, that despite the small 15 mm of eye relief, I can use the binoculars well with glasses. As far as I can see, nothing is lost from the field of vision. But it shouldn't be less eye relief either.

The Monarch 7 reproduces the colors very faithfully and the image is very bright despite the small lens openings, presumably due to the high-quality coatings, especially the dielectric coating of the prisms.

There is one problem with these binoculars, however, and that is their high sensitivity to stray light. The Monarch 7 8x30 have been dubbed »glare monster« occasionally in this forum, and I have to agree. If you hold the binoculars against a bright background and look into the eyepiece from a distance, you can see a lot of bright spots around the actual exit pupil. Nikon doesn't seem to do much about internal reflections. This is also very noticeable in practical use: only under reasonably optimal lighting conditions you will not have any veils or light spots in the picture. The sky doesn't have to be cloudless, and you don't have to have back light to get these undesirable effects. Because of the otherwise excellent image quality, this actually completely unnecessary weakness is particularly displeasing. What a pity!

Equipment and accessories
The equipment is rather mediocre compared to other binoculars in this price range.

The bag is kept very simple, not very well-padded and does not have its own shoulder strap. It has a Velcro fastener that holds very securely, but is also quite loud, which, depending on the use case, may startle shy animals.

I haven't tried the carrying / neck strap, but it seems to me to be of decent quality, albeit a bit short. If you don't wear binoculars in front of your chest, but like a sash around your shoulder, the length might not be sufficient.

The objective lens caps are made of rubber and, unlike most other binoculars, are not pushed over but into the ends of the barrels. That makes a very solid impression. The rainguard is completely different: It is made of hard and rather cheap-looking plastic, obviously too big for the eyecups and therefore actually only resting on them instead of being stuck firmly onto them. As a result, it tends to fall off, even if you walk around normally. Other manufacturers are trying harder.

A cleaning cloth is not included.

The binoculars can be mounted on a tripod using an adapter (which you would have to buy separately) if you want to have both hands free or need to have a particularly stable image. Although binoculars of this size are actually optimized for hand-held use, this feature may come in handy at some point. The cover, which is screwed into the internal thread for the tripod adapter, is kept very simple with a plastic thread.

Conclusion
Almost perfect binoculars with excellent sharpness, brightness and color rendering for this price. It lies perfectly in the hand and can be taken anywhere. I can overlook the not-so-oberwhelming accessories - for a good pair of binoculars I would be willing to invest in some third-party bag or whatever. I can also condone the somewhat cheap-looking workmanship of some parts. But the very persistent veiling glare in the picture is unfortunately really annoying and unworthy of binoculars in this price range. It's actually worse than with the Bresser Pirsch ED 8x34 I have tested before. So, my search will probably go on for another while.
 

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