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Inexpensive Compact Binoculars advice (1 Viewer)

HokkaHokka

New member
United Kingdom
Hello,
I'm new to the hobby and have never owned binoculars before but would like to get some that are inexpensive (preferably less than £70) and easy to carry around. Enjoy viewing at birds in my garden and will use when hiking.
Recommendations would be really helpful please as I have no technical knowledge whatsoever!

Some that I have been looking at:

Pentax 8x21 UCF R @ £49.99

Olympus 10x21 RC II @ £59.99

Pentax 9x21 UD @ £69.99

Also seen Bushell Prime 10 x 25 @ £69.99

Please help!

Thanks
 

Jessie-66

Germany
I'm new to the hobby and have never owned binoculars before but would like to get some that are inexpensive (preferably less than £70) and easy to carry around. Enjoy viewing at birds in my garden and will use when hiking.
Recommendations would be really helpful please as I have no technical knowledge whatsoever!
Welcome here!
1) Only few people can hold a pair of 10x compact binoculars steady, so they blur details they think they gain over lower magnification. Choosing magnification too high is a typical beginner's mistake. Take 6x ... 8x magnification for compact bins.
2) Compact binoculars are rather tools for the "emergency" (long hikes, mountains), many people prefer to use particularly light binoculars in the format 8x30. Bins 8x30 are more comfortable and brighter. My recommendations: Kowa YF II 8x30 or Nikon Monarch 7 8x30 or Opticron Traveller ED 8x30.
3) Then I have not had good experiences with compact binoculars under 100 euros, I think especially with compact binoculars you should spend significantly more. I would look so in the direction of a Zeiss Terra 8x25. Or older, used compact bins from Kowa, Leitz/Leica, Nikon, Zeiss on ebay, format 8x20 ... 8x25, 6x24.
4) For new bins go or drive to a dealer and test various binoculars on site. Especially with compact binoculars, even top of the line products, many people have problems with shadowing - different between glasses wearers and non-glasses wearers, different between people with deep eye sockets versus people with chameleon eyes, different with thick and thin glasses, little or big frames of spectacles.
In German Wikipedia there are more text for choosing bins, use a translator:
Best regards. Jessie
 
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chris6

Well-known member
In each of those listed respects I agree with Jessie.

Jessie has not mentioned a preference for 'porro' binoculars in 8x30, where Zeiss Habicht, Nikon EII or SE (£500upwards) have been regarded as the reference examples. While they have been superceded they still offer fine wide and clean views at a much more reasonable price than later 'roof prism' super models.

Their main deficiency is related to their short 'Eye Relief' (ER) cf. roofs and, in most cases, to their rubber fold-down eyepieces cf. clicking-up eyepieces.

Imo it is in those ways that they are outdated for wearers of glasses (spectacles)
e.g. for me 16mm is the minimum for being able to see the whole field while wearing glasses.

However there are a some options in your chosen budget which might seem to be in imitation of those acclaimed porros, particularly of EII 8x30, sharing their wide fields of view, small size, and light weight:-

- Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x30 around £70 with ER 15mm which might therefore be marginal for glasses, which I have not tried
and
- Opticron Adventurer T WP 6.5x30, even wider view, around £70 with ER 18mm, which I have not tried.
they are both said to have a sweet spot of around 70% and have been favourably reviewed with regard to sharpness.

Along similar lines there is also
- Opticron SR.GA 8x32 with ER 13mm around £100, which I have tried and which is also relatively small and light.
It is very sharp and has a larger 'sweet spot' (of good focus), with a precise focusing mechanism.
* These are the very features which are usually problematic for low cost binoculars *

My own current favourite is
- Vixen Foresta ZR8 8x32 with ER '18mm', which unlike the rest of these economy suggestions is said to be more 'weatherproof'.
It's likely to be around £170 and is harder to find, but is among those I have tried.
A little larger than Nikon 8x30 SE & EII and the others suggested, and weighs a lot more at 750gms :eek:
The eyepieces are large and click-up, it is very easy to 'line up' with the eyes, and the shape and weight makes it easy to hold steady.
It is VERY SHARP (i.e. better than roofs at the price) but sweet spot is 'only' 60%
Also with my example focus mechanism was poor and required £70 refurbishment to nearly correct it.
- Levenhuk Sherman Pro 8x32 £130 is more readily available. That looks the same and you may get a better example, but I have not tried one, and anyway the lens coatings may well be different.

The 'feel' of the binoculars and the impression when looking through them are entirely subjective, hence Jessie's #4.

The common terms used to qualify opinions are not really those which can be measured without further quite complicated qualification. For example 'sharp' can be granular to give a convincing impression, while the real object may have a graduated variation of colour and tone. It also depends on the available light and the subject, while some people may prefer one version or another, but these are the nuances which tend to involve disproportionate expense!

In the same way consistent quality is more likely to be found at the high end but if you can't try them, and if you don't wear glassses or if you don't mind leaving off the glasses, I can certainly recommend Opticron SR.GA 8x32 which would currently almost fit your budget and requirements.
 

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HokkaHokka

New member
United Kingdom
In each of those listed respects I agree with Jessie.

Jessie has not mentioned a preference for 'porro' binoculars in 8x30, where Zeiss Habicht, Nikon EII or SE (£500upwards) have been regarded as the reference examples. While they have been superceded they still offer fine wide and clean views at a much more reasonable price than later 'roof prism' super models.

Their main deficiency is related to their short 'Eye Relief' (ER) cf. roofs and, in most cases, to their rubber fold-down eyepieces cf. clicking-up eyepieces.

Imo it is in those ways that they are outdated for wearers of glasses (spectacles)
e.g. for me 16mm is the minimum for being able to see the whole field while wearing glasses.

However there are a some options in your chosen budget which might seem to be in imitation of those acclaimed porros, particularly of EII 8x30, sharing their wide fields of view, small size, and light weight:-

- Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x30 around £70 with ER 15mm which might therefore be marginal for glasses, which I have not tried
and
- Opticron Adventurer T WP 6.5x30, even wider view, around £70 with ER 18mm, which I have not tried.
they are both said to have a sweet spot of around 70% and have been favourably reviewed with regard to sharpness.

Along similar lines there is also
- Opticron SR.GA 8x32 with ER 13mm around £100, which I have tried and which is also relatively small and light.
It is very sharp and has a larger 'sweet spot' (of good focus), with a precise focusing mechanism.
* These are the very features which are usually problematic for low cost binoculars *

My own current favourite is
- Vixen Foresta ZR8 8x32 with ER '18mm', which unlike the rest of these economy suggestions is said to be more 'weatherproof'.
It's likely to be around £170 and is harder to find, but is among those I have tried.
A little larger than Nikon 8x30 SE & EII and the others suggested, and weighs a lot more at 750gms :eek:
The eyepieces are large and click-up, it is very easy to 'line up' with the eyes, and the shape and weight makes it easy to hold steady.
It is VERY SHARP (i.e. better than roofs at the price) but sweet spot is 'only' 60%
Also with my example focus mechanism was poor and required £70 refurbishment to nearly correct it.
- Levenhuk Sherman Pro 8x32 £130 is more readily available. That looks the same and you may get a better example, but I have not tried one, and anyway the lens coatings may well be different.

The 'feel' of the binoculars and the impression when looking through them are entirely subjective, hence Jessie's #4.

The common terms used to qualify opinions are not really those which can be measured without further quite complicated qualification. For example 'sharp' can be granular to give a convincing impression, while the real object may have a graduated variation of colour and tone. It also depends on the available light and the subject, while some people may prefer one version or another, but these are the nuances which tend to involve disproportionate expense!

In the same way consistent quality is more likely to be found at the high end but if you can't try them, and if you don't wear glassses or if you don't mind leaving off the glasses, I can certainly recommend Opticron SR.GA 8x32 which would currently almost fit your budget and requirements.
Thanks for the suggestions. I am a shortsighted but don't need glasses for close up tasks and can function without generally. Would I be better not wearing glasses when using binoculars.
 

Jessie-66

Germany
This depends on the type of visual impairment already detected and unknown. Suggestion: Buy a cheap, used pair of binoculars on Ebay and try them out. With an cheap 8x30 you can also check the magnification and ergonomics that are suitable for you personally. Soviet/Russian binoculars (BPC5/BPZ5 8x30 are cheap in Europe/UK, robust and therefore less often decollimated than others.)

Nearsighted people without eye glasses need overtravel/overdrive/overturn of the focus wheel behind infinity - infinity focus relative to "normal-sighted" people. Eye glasses correct a lot, but a long eye relief (*) of the binoculars is necessary. At least 15 or 16 mm, better more. Chris has written very well about this.
(*) axial distance on optical axis between outer lens from eye pieces of bins to eye lenses of humans

***
The quality of serious/professional forums and contributions is not positively influenced by expressions of opinion and likes without (ojective or subjective/individual) justification, without any facts. Imho this does not help the questioner or later, silent readers: There is a reason for public forums versus coffee parties and regulars' tables. Informative, concrete threads and posts can even be linked - without having to rewrite everything time-consuming several times. Discussion with me unnecessary, reflection desired, this is solely a reasoned, personal opinion. An attitude about which I do not dispute.
(For me, a "like" is a thank you for an informative, helpful post for TO of threads, for me and thirds - not a confirmation of my intemperate opinion.)
 
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Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
...I have not had good experiences with compact binoculars under 100 euros, I think especially with compact binoculars you should spend significantly more. I would look so in the direction of a Zeiss Terra 8x25. Or older, used compact bins from Kowa, Leitz/Leica, Nikon, Zeiss on ebay, format 8x20 ... 8x25, 6x24...
I agree with you when it comes to pocket roofs, but the OP is looking at reverse-porro compacts. I find that that models such as those suggested by others above are quite capable, their main limitation being field-of-view, not optical quality.

--AP
 

Jessie-66

Germany
Alexis, you are right. But the TO stated, he has only small or no knowledge of bins. An reverse porro is cheap - but small FOV and objective diameter / exit pupil. A little light 8x30 roof is expensiver, but often weight and volume are similiar with significant more FOV and brightness. Actually, the TO now has all the pros and cons, can decide for himself or ask again in a special direction - according to first post or yet adapted requirements?
The suggestion to get a cheap used porro from Ebay was only for testing, checking the individual needs of the TO - not necessarily for permanent, life-long use. But some are said to have already fallen in love with classical porros, vintage bins ... ;-)
I'm curious and silent now.
 
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chris6

Well-known member
Nice ones Alexis and Jessie. btw I was confused by the acronym 'TO', only to find that in English the most likely definition could be 'Thinker One' and apparently 'OP' most often means 'Original Poster'. I had previously imagined it meant 'Other Person' but that was not listed at all. Quick, come back HokkaHokka ;-)
 

chris6

Well-known member
Not at all, in fact perfectly sensible. It was a long list and maybe I missed that one, and anyway come to think of it the list was probably for USA, like the spell checkers.
 

chris6

Well-known member
Thanks for the suggestions. I am a shortsighted but don't need glasses for close up tasks and can function without generally. Would I be better not wearing glasses when using binoculars.
Depending upon the shape of the face around the eyes, the size, edges, and consistency of the eyepieces may be important both for comfort and for steadiness of view. See Jessie's important post #8 but otherwise things like astigmatism may have to be quite marked before there is much to lose by not wearing them.

Without glasses, if the eyepieces are rubber fold-down type, or a bad fit with regard to their size or edges, they may not so easily be held at the right distance while resting firmly somewhere comfortable to aid steadiness. Ambient light tends to be better excluded, the user may more readily 'get into' the view, and the fingers can sometimes help to brace the binoculars instead.

With glasses, it may be easier to press the eyepieces against them for better steadiness, but the glasses themselves and the ambient light can more readily spoil the view.
 

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