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Looking for new binos 300-500£: help me to reduce my list of options plz (1 Viewer)

Guilhem37

Well-known member
Hi, after my first year of birding with some modest Opticron Adventurer TWP 8x42, I'm ready to invest in decent ED binoculars around 300-500£. Here are the binoculars I short-listed:

• Vortex Viper HD 10x50 - 580£
• Opticron Imagic BGA VHD 10x50 - 540£
• Bushnell Forge 10x42 - 490£
• Zeiss Terra ED 10x42 - 420£
• Nikon Monarch 7 10x42 - 420£
• Olympus 10x42 PRO - 390£
• Vanguard Endeavor ED IV 10x42 - 350£
• MONARCH 5 10x42 - 320£
• Bresser Pirsch ED 10x42 - 320£
• Celestron TrailSeeker ED 10x42 - 300£
• Opticron Natura BGA ED 10x42 - 290£
• Minox X-Active 10x44 - 290£

Could you help me to identify the best binoculars in this list please? And if you see some that are definitely below the others, please let me know.

My usage is birding only, in different habitats. I don't like spotting scopes and I often encounter issues with birds being at the limit of my eyesight (which is quite bad) and impossible to identify, so I want to move from 8x42 to 10x42, ideally 10x50 to have a good field of view and brightness.

My first criteria is quality of optics: to have a beautiful, crisp and colourful image of birds. I often bird at dusk and dawn so good brightness is definitely a plus. For the rest, ergonomics/design/warranty/etc., as long as it is ok, I'm fine.

Thank you for your help 😊
Guilhem
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
If you bird at dawn and dusk I would definitely get a 10x50 rather than a 10x42. Choosing from your list I would pick the Vortex Viper HD 10x50. It has nice bright, crisp optics and a fairly large FOV at 346 feet. The ergonomics are great, and it has one of the best unconditional warranties in the business and some of the best customer service. Sorry, it is the most expensive on your list. But you know what they say "You get what you pay for."
 
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Guilhem37

Well-known member
If you bird at dawn and dusk I would definitely get a 10x50 rather than a 10x42. Choosing from your list I would pick the Vortex Viper HD 10x50. It has nice bright, crisp optics and a fairly large FOV at 346 feet. The ergonomics are great, and it has one of the best unconditional warranties in the business and some of the best customer service. Sorry, it is the most expensive on your list. But you know what they say "You get what you pay for."
Thank you very much for taking the time of answering me 👍

What you say makes sense to me: have you had a chance to try the Opticron? They are 10x50 as well.
Same for the Nikon Monarch, despite it is 10x42. People say the optics is fantastic so I was wondering if excellent optics could make up for the lack of size regarding brightness (but I have concerns about the robustness and risks of defects for the Monarchs).
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Thank you very much for taking the time of answering me 👍

What you say makes sense to me: have you had a chance to try the Opticron? They are 10x50 as well.
Same for the Nikon Monarch, despite it is 10x42. People say the optics is fantastic so I was wondering if excellent optics could make up for the lack of size regarding brightness (but I have concerns about the robustness and risks of defects for the Monarchs).
Even if the Nikon Monarch had slightly higher light transmission because of better coatings it would never make it perform better especially in low light than the Vortex Viper 10x50. A 50 mm aperture pulls in 40% more light than a 42 mm and better transmission will never compensate for it. Personally, I have tried several Opticrons, and although they are good I feel the Vortex is a better value for the money.
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
Even if the Nikon Monarch had slightly higher light transmission because of better coatings it would never make it perform better especially in low light than the Vortex Viper 10x50. A 50 mm aperture pulls in 40% more light than a 42 mm and better transmission will never compensate for it. Personally, I have tried several Opticrons, and although they are good I feel the Vortex is a better value for the money.
Thank you! About this part "A 50 mm aperture pulls in 40% more light than a 42 mm", it's interesting, I will look for articles about this point. I read more and more positive things about the Viper, and it seems to be the perfect option for me.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Thank you! About this part "A 50 mm aperture pulls in 40% more light than a 42 mm", it's interesting, I will look for articles about this point. I read more and more positive things about the Viper, and it seems to be the perfect option for me.
All you have to do is figure the area of the two 42 mm and 50 mm circles using A = π r.² Then figure the % difference in area. If you think about it an 8 mm increase in objective size doesn't seem like much but that 8 mm increase is around the WHOLE circumference of the objective so the increase in surface area of the objective that lets light in is very significant! A 8x56 mm binocular will bring in 314% more light than the 8x25 mm compact binoculars many people use!
 
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pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Normally the "standard" advice is to stick with 42mm or smaller binoculars for general purpose birding, but if you're particularly interested in 50mm for dawn/dusk use, and to get a brighter image, just beware that the increased weight is pretty noticeable and make sure you get a good harness to carry the weight instad of a neck-breaking strap. As well, unless your eyes are particular in terms of not dilating in response to daylight, you won't reap much benefit from the 50mm objectives except for at dawn/dusk, but you'll carry the weight all day, so it's still worthy of consideration.

In terms of you saying your eye-sight is quite poor, do you bird with glasses? It's generally the preferred way to go, particularly as glasses will correct astigmatism that is specific to your eyes that the binoculars cannot correct.

As far as what is on your list, I don't know most of those models in 50mm sizes but in the 42mm range I'd recommed the Opticron BGA VHD for excellent optics and excellent warranty service.

The Nikon Monarch 7 stand out in that field for their large field of view. The optics are good but false color and overall quality of view is perhaps a touch behind the DBA VHD. Another concern with Monarchs is that in the long run the armor is not as durable and Nikon's customer service can be a bit hit-or-miss.

The only bins on your list that I would recommend against are the Monarch 5 and the Zeiss Terra. They are both fine binoculars but there are better options at the price points, in my opinion. I don't know several of the others so not commenting on them is neither a recommendation nor a slight.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Normally the "standard" advice is to stick with 42mm or smaller binoculars for general purpose birding, but if you're particularly interested in 50mm for dawn/dusk use, and to get a brighter image, just beware that the increased weight is pretty noticeable and make sure you get a good harness to carry the weight instad of a neck-breaking strap. As well, unless your eyes are particular in terms of not dilating in response to daylight, you won't reap much benefit from the 50mm objectives except for at dawn/dusk, but you'll carry the weight all day, so it's still worthy of consideration.

In terms of you saying your eye-sight is quite poor, do you bird with glasses? It's generally the preferred way to go, particularly as glasses will correct astigmatism that is specific to your eyes that the binoculars cannot correct.

As far as what is on your list, I don't know most of those models in 50mm sizes but in the 42mm range I'd recommed the Opticron BGA VHD for excellent optics and excellent warranty service.

The Nikon Monarch 7 stand out in that field for their large field of view. The optics are good but false color and overall quality of view is perhaps a touch behind the DBA VHD. Another concern with Monarchs is that in the long run the armor is not as durable and Nikon's customer service can be a bit hit-or-miss.

The only bins on your list that I would recommend against are the Monarch 5 and the Zeiss Terra. They are both fine binoculars but there are better options at the price points, in my opinion. I don't know several of the others so not commenting on them is neither a recommendation nor a slight.
The Vortex Viper HD 10x50 only weighs 28.4 oz. which is lighter than a lot of 42 mm binoculars so that is another advantage in its favor. It is not very big either in fact it is not any larger than a lot of 42 mm binoculars. The Vortex unconditional warranty will replace the binocular even if you drop it in a river or off a cliff.
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
Normally the "standard" advice is to stick with 42mm or smaller binoculars for general purpose birding, but if you're particularly interested in 50mm for dawn/dusk use, and to get a brighter image, just beware that the increased weight is pretty noticeable and make sure you get a good harness to carry the weight instad of a neck-breaking strap. As well, unless your eyes are particular in terms of not dilating in response to daylight, you won't reap much benefit from the 50mm objectives except for at dawn/dusk, but you'll carry the weight all day, so it's still worthy of consideration.

In terms of you saying your eye-sight is quite poor, do you bird with glasses? It's generally the preferred way to go, particularly as glasses will correct astigmatism that is specific to your eyes that the binoculars cannot correct.

As far as what is on your list, I don't know most of those models in 50mm sizes but in the 42mm range I'd recommed the Opticron BGA VHD for excellent optics and excellent warranty service.

The Nikon Monarch 7 stand out in that field for their large field of view. The optics are good but false color and overall quality of view is perhaps a touch behind the DBA VHD. Another concern with Monarchs is that in the long run the armor is not as durable and Nikon's customer service can be a bit hit-or-miss.

The only bins on your list that I would recommend against are the Monarch 5 and the Zeiss Terra. They are both fine binoculars but there are better options at the price points, in my opinion. I don't know several of the others so not commenting on them is neither a recommendation nor a slight.
Thank you very much for taking the time of answering me in details like this :)
That's a very good point to consider the inconvenient of the weight compared to the short time of dawn/dusk. However, I can remember days where my binoculars failed me in dense woodlands (or woodlands by bad weather), so I still want to try the 10x50. Buying a harness is an option I will consider if need be (thanks for the suggestion!).
I already made up my mind about the weight: the only way to know is to try so if 10x50 is available, I will try. If it feels too heavy, I will just make an exchange for 10x42.

What you're saying about the Nikon Monarch 7 just confirms what I read and thought: too risky and lack of overall quality. Most likely, I'm going to keep these binoculars for at least 5 years so better to invest in good overall quality and warranty.

About my eyesight, yes I wear glasses but I prefer to watch without them. Even though, I know I would like a better zoom because in many situations I experienced, I felt that a bit more zoom is just what I needed to enjoy watching a bird (birds in farms which are forbidden to public so slightly too far away, birds of prey high in the sky, birds a bit too far away in ponds or in nature reserves etc.). It's not just for identification but for the pleasure of the view in itself.

Otherwise, did you have a chance to try both the Viper and the BGA VHD? Which Optics do you like best and why?
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
The Vortex Viper HD 10x50 only weighs 28.4 oz. which is lighter than a lot of 42 mm binoculars so that is another advantage in its favor. It is not very big either in fact it is not any larger than a lot of 42 mm binoculars. The Vortex unconditional warranty will replace the binocular even if you drop it in a river or off a cliff.
Most 10x50 weigh 28.4oz/800g. I think until 800g it's fine but the only way to know is to try.
 
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pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
I believe most 10x50 weigh more than that - the Viper is certainly one of the lighter offerings, as Dennis pointed out. Apparently the BGA VHD is as well. I think ordering from a reputable shop that will allow you to return if you don't like it is going to be the way to go for you. And I would really, really recommend a harness for carrying if you plan to use them for extended periods.

As well, in looking at Opticron's website, I realize I'm mistaken and was confused by similar product names - I've not seen the BGA VHD models. I've seen the DBA VHD+ which has a few different times impressed me as either the best or among the best bins available at the price point. But it's not available in 50mm models. So apologies! I cannot comment on the BGA VHD. At your price range, if you do end up considering 10x42, I would recommend the DBA VHD+. Beyond that, I'm afraid I can't comment much on most of those, as mentioned above!
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
I believe most 10x50 weigh more than that - the Viper is certainly one of the lighter offerings, as Dennis pointed out. Apparently the BGA VHD is as well. I think ordering from a reputable shop that will allow you to return if you don't like it is going to be the way to go for you. And I would really, really recommend a harness for carrying if you plan to use them for extended periods.

As well, in looking at Opticron's website, I realize I'm mistaken and was confused by similar product names - I've not seen the BGA VHD models. I've seen the DBA VHD+ which has a few different times impressed me as either the best or among the best bins available at the price point. But it's not available in 50mm models. So apologies! I cannot comment on the BGA VHD. At your price range, if you do end up considering 10x42, I would recommend the DBA VHD+. Beyond that, I'm afraid I can't comment much on most of those, as mentioned above!
Thank you!
 

Foss

Well-known member
I believe most 10x50 weigh more than that - the Viper is certainly one of the lighter offerings, as Dennis pointed out. Apparently the BGA VHD is as well. I think ordering from a reputable shop that will allow you to return if you don't like it is going to be the way to go for you. And I would really, really recommend a harness for carrying if you plan to use them for extended periods.

As well, in looking at Opticron's website, I realize I'm mistaken and was confused by similar product names - I've not seen the BGA VHD models. I've seen the DBA VHD+ which has a few different times impressed me as either the best or among the best bins available at the price point. But it's not available in 50mm models. So apologies! I cannot comment on the BGA VHD. At your price range, if you do end up considering 10x42, I would recommend the DBA VHD+. Beyond that, I'm afraid I can't comment much on most of those, as mentioned above!
Honestly, I even use a harness with my CL 8x30. Keeps them snug to my chest and prevents rhythmic bouncing as I walk. Hiking off trail, up hillsides, and over boulders, they are definitely binocular savers.
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
I believe most 10x50 weigh more than that - the Viper is certainly one of the lighter offerings, as Dennis pointed out. Apparently the BGA VHD is as well. I think ordering from a reputable shop that will allow you to return if you don't like it is going to be the way to go for you. And I would really, really recommend a harness for carrying if you plan to use them for extended periods.

As well, in looking at Opticron's website, I realize I'm mistaken and was confused by similar product names - I've not seen the BGA VHD models. I've seen the DBA VHD+ which has a few different times impressed me as either the best or among the best bins available at the price point. But it's not available in 50mm models. So apologies! I cannot comment on the BGA VHD. At your price range, if you do end up considering 10x42, I would recommend the DBA VHD+. Beyond that, I'm afraid I can't comment much on most of those, as mentioned above!
I think I would rather go for the Imagic 10x50, I'm really interested by trying this size ;)
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
I made up my mind, I'll try the Viper.
Hopefully, I won't need to come back and ask more advice :)
Will let you know how it goes.
Thank you everybody for your valuable help :)
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
If it is of any help, I'm currently using the Viper HD 10x50, and while I don't have my 10x42 Monarch 7 anymore, my general impression is that the Viper HD is a clear step up in terms of sharpness, contrast and general quality... and they should, given that they are more expensive (although comparing by memory is always pointless by definition). As for the Opticron, I'd be really interested in comparing them, since the specs sound promising (very lightweight, even more so than the already light Viper HD, and good coatings, Oasis-dielctric, etc.), the only concern being the narrowish FOV at 5,8º compared to the 6,5 of the Viper HD, which makes them pretty immersive. Build quality on my Viper HD seems really nice as well, in spite of all the MIC vs MIJ (Opticron) discussion going on at the moment in many other threads here on BF.
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
If it is of any help, I'm currently using the Viper HD 10x50, and while I don't have my 10x42 Monarch 7 anymore, my general impression is that the Viper HD is a clear step up in terms of sharpness, contrast and general quality... and they should, given that they are more expensive (although comparing by memory is always pointless by definition). As for the Opticron, I'd be really interested in comparing them, since the specs sound promising (very lightweight, even more so than the already light Viper HD, and good coatings, Oasis-dielctric, etc.), the only concern being the narrowish FOV at 5,8º compared to the 6,5 of the Viper HD, which makes them pretty immersive. Build quality on my Viper HD seems really nice as well, in spite of all the MIC vs MIJ (Opticron) discussion going on at the moment in many other threads here on BF.
Thanks man, how is the weight during long sessions? After 4h, do your neck, back or shoulders hurt?

I'm in touch with a retailer to get them but they told me no refund is possible if there is any dust or stain on the lenses. If I try them, even if I clean them afterwards, there are always stains remaining due to the cleaning product, it's never as perfect as when you just bought them. I can't take the risk to spend £600 in binoculars I haven't tried. How annoying 😒
 

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