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

leonardo_simon

Well-known member
Any pair of binoculars is a compromise.

At this price point I would suggest you look at the Swarowski CL 8X25's

I have recently bought a pair and have found that what is lost in brightness and field of view is more than made up in sharpness of the image and build quality. They are also super light

I very much prefer them over my Opticron 10x42 imagic BGA VHD for that reason.

The reason I bought the Swaroski CL 8x25 was that I upgraded to a pair of Swarowski EL 8.5 x 42 but wanted something lighter and smaller for occasional birding on work trips etc. Alas that hasn't happened with the multiple lockdowns but has facilitated lots of bird watching from my bedroom window so can compare.

Obviously the ELs are in a different league.

I anticipate many here will disagree with this binocular suggestion.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Thanks man, how is the weight during long sessions? After 4h, do your neck, back or shoulders hurt?
This is a very personal question. I've read threads here on BF where forum members claim to "be fit" and don't mind hauling a +1 kg device. For me, having a 1 kg piece of magnesium, glass and rubber hanging from your neck for hours doesn't have anything to do with being fit, it is more a matter of finding it annoying, tiring, etc. (the same way some people can't wear a wrist watch or a necklace). In my case, personal opinion here, the limit for a long walk on the hills (like the 4 h you mention) is around 500 g (the 450 g of a 8x30 Monarch 7 are perfect, the 580 g of a EL 8x32 are really on the verge). On the other hand, for a day-long visit to something like a reserve (where there are hides and you are actually more time standing looking for birds in a pond or on a distant shore, or actually sitting in a hide watching), then 800 g would be doable, maybe the limit, because you are not carrying the binoculars all the time, even if you spend 6 hours birding.
So, in this respect, I see myself (and I've already done it) carrying the 823 g of the 10x50 Viper HD for this second purpose without much of a problem, but personally for a trekking/walking 4 h excursion it would be too much for me, and I'll pack something smaller, this is the reason I love 8x32 (always talking personally, YMMV, as they say). Anyway, there's always the option of a harness. I've tried the Rick Young that is recommended by several forum members and, while I don't find it perfect, it is certainly an option that takes weight off your neck. Or else, if you use a backpack, you can create a system that attaches to the straps of the backpack.
I found the 10x50 Viper HD quite remarkable in that it "works" almost like a 10x42.
Take the weight: 823 g in my scale. That's classic 10x42 territory. Yes there are lighter, but also heavier devices. Here's a small list of some well known 10x42, from brick-like devices (BN or Meostar) to lightweight things like the MHG.


Meopta Meostar B1 10x42: 898 g
Leica Trinovid BN 10x42: 890 g
Swarovski EL SV 10x42: 800 g
Zeiss Victory SF 10x42: 780 g
Nikon Monarch HG 10x42: 680 g

Regarding the size, once again the 10x50 Viper HD feels quite 10x42-ish in spite of the 50 mm objectives.Here's a picture with a pretty short and light 10x42: the Nikon SE 10x42.

I hope that helps.
 

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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
This is a very personal question. I've read threads here on BF where forum members claim to "be fit" and don't mind hauling a +1 kg device. For me, having a 1 kg piece of magnesium, glass and rubber hanging from your neck for hours doesn't have anything to do with being fit, it is more a matter of finding it annoying, tiring, etc. (the same way some people can't wear a wrist watch or a necklace). In my case, personal opinion here, the limit for a long walk on the hills (like the 4 h you mention) is around 500 g (the 450 g of a 8x30 Monarch 7 are perfect, the 580 g of a EL 8x32 are really on the verge). On the other hand, for a day-long visit to something like a reserve (where there are hides and you are actually more time standing looking for birds in a pond or on a distant shore, or actually sitting in a hide watching), then 800 g would be doable, maybe the limit, because you are not carrying the binoculars all the time, even if you spend 6 hours birding.
So, in this respect, I see myself (and I've already done it) carrying the 823 g of the 10x50 Viper HD for this second purpose without much of a problem, but personally for a trekking/walking 4 h excursion it would be too much for me, and I'll pack something smaller, this is the reason I love 8x32 (always talking personally, YMMV, as they say). Anyway, there's always the option of a harness. I've tried the Rick Young that is recommended by several forum members and, while I don't find it perfect, it is certainly an option that takes weight off your neck. Or else, if you use a backpack, you can create a system that attaches to the straps of the backpack.
I found the 10x50 Viper HD quite remarkable in that it "works" almost like a 10x42.
Take the weight: 823 g in my scale. That's classic 10x42 territory. Yes there are lighter, but also heavier devices. Here's a small list of some well known 10x42, from brick-like devices (BN or Meostar) to lightweight things like the MHG.


Meopta Meostar B1 10x42: 898 g
Leica Trinovid BN 10x42: 890 g
Swarovski EL SV 10x42: 800 g
Zeiss Victory SF 10x42: 780 g
Nikon Monarch HG 10x42: 680 g

Regarding the size, once again the 10x50 Viper HD feels quite 10x42-ish in spite of the 50 mm objectives.Here's a picture with a pretty short and light 10x42: the Nikon SE 10x42.

I hope that helps.
Another lightweight 10x40 is the Swarovski Habicht W at 690 g. it is almost as light as the Nikon Monarch MHG 10x42 and it has much better optics and with its higher 95% transmission it is probably brighter.
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
This is a very personal question. I've read threads here on BF where forum members claim to "be fit" and don't mind hauling a +1 kg device. For me, having a 1 kg piece of magnesium, glass and rubber hanging from your neck for hours doesn't have anything to do with being fit, it is more a matter of finding it annoying, tiring, etc. (the same way some people can't wear a wrist watch or a necklace). In my case, personal opinion here, the limit for a long walk on the hills (like the 4 h you mention) is around 500 g (the 450 g of a 8x30 Monarch 7 are perfect, the 580 g of a EL 8x32 are really on the verge). On the other hand, for a day-long visit to something like a reserve (where there are hides and you are actually more time standing looking for birds in a pond or on a distant shore, or actually sitting in a hide watching), then 800 g would be doable, maybe the limit, because you are not carrying the binoculars all the time, even if you spend 6 hours birding.
So, in this respect, I see myself (and I've already done it) carrying the 823 g of the 10x50 Viper HD for this second purpose without much of a problem, but personally for a trekking/walking 4 h excursion it would be too much for me, and I'll pack something smaller, this is the reason I love 8x32 (always talking personally, YMMV, as they say). Anyway, there's always the option of a harness. I've tried the Rick Young that is recommended by several forum members and, while I don't find it perfect, it is certainly an option that takes weight off your neck. Or else, if you use a backpack, you can create a system that attaches to the straps of the backpack.
I found the 10x50 Viper HD quite remarkable in that it "works" almost like a 10x42.
Take the weight: 823 g in my scale. That's classic 10x42 territory. Yes there are lighter, but also heavier devices. Here's a small list of some well known 10x42, from brick-like devices (BN or Meostar) to lightweight things like the MHG.


Meopta Meostar B1 10x42: 898 g
Leica Trinovid BN 10x42: 890 g
Swarovski EL SV 10x42: 800 g
Zeiss Victory SF 10x42: 780 g
Nikon Monarch HG 10x42: 680 g

Regarding the size, once again the 10x50 Viper HD feels quite 10x42-ish in spite of the 50 mm objectives.Here's a picture with a pretty short and light 10x42: the Nikon SE 10x42.

I hope that helps.
Thank you: I generally go birding for 6h, constantly walking with binoculars attached to my neck (classic simple strap) all the time long. They weigh 627g and I don't feel them at all. A Vortex Harness is provided with the Vipers, I think it should be enough to make the difference (200g) bearable.

I'm a bit disappointed you say it weighs 823g, I imagined 800g was the limit I should not exceed: it says 805g on the Viper specs but it is probably your scale that shows a slight difference (I hope so ;) ).
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Sorry, my mistake. I rechecked it, it's 813 g in my scale. Well, I guess 8 g above the stated is not a crime, and might even be within the margin of error of my digital scale :)
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
Alright: I received the Vortex Viper HD 10x50 yesterday, tried them for a short hour this morning and I'm going to return them.

I tested them side-by-side with my Opticron T WP Adventurer 8x42, here's my feedback:

  • Defect: out of collimation (vertically). At this price, I was not expecting this defect and that really disappoints me. My 80£ Opticrons were properly collimated in comparison.
  • Exit pupils, while not perfectly rounded, looked good to me.
  • Design good, binoculars compacts and very good ergonomics (focus wheel, eye relief, diopter adjustment etc.).
  • Weight was good: I could imagine myself wearing them a long time even though you do feel the weigh compared to 8x42 binoculars. I didn't use the harness, just the strap which was very comfortable. However, I would have used the harness for comfort if I kept them. I'm averagely built, 1m78cm for 71kg: most people would feel comfortable with the weight of these binoculars. However, women/men weakly built/old people/kids would be annoyed by the weight and harness would be necessary. Also, it could be too much for their shoulders when using them.
  • Optics/image quality was very good. Not really able to judge this part but by a sunny, bright morning, I was surprised that my Opticron Porro Bak4 fully multi coated (no ED) did stand the comparison. Sometimes, I felt like the image was much more superior with the Viper but because the morning was so bright, the difference was not that high in many situations. If I had more time to try them - I didn't want to take the risk to damage them so I did minimum tests - I would probably have noticed a bigger difference of optics quality (especially in low light conditions).
  • Field of view was more or less the same as my Opticron, it even looked slightly wider so very happy about that.
  • Zoom 10 really adds something, especially when I caught a gull flying by but also in all situations. I always wanted to have a bit more zoom when using my Opticrons: I felt that in many situations, all I needed to identify or enjoy a bird properly, was a bit more zoom.
  • Unfortunately, and that's why I'm going to ask for a refund and not an exchange, I found the shakiness too important. Clearly, while following long-tailed tits and other passerines, impossible to focus on the birds and forget about this shakiness to enjoy the view of the bird. It's particularly annoying when you try to appreciate eyes, facial expressions and little details: impossible to get a steady view, contrary to my Opticrons. In general, the shakiness would annoy me to the point of being aware of it and losing focus from the birds. It's all about pleasure in the first place so for me it's a no-go.

Conclusion: I'm going to ask for a refund and look for the best 8x42 binoculars around 500£. Now I'm much more aware of the impact of the shakiness on the view, I'm wondering if a second pair of 6x32 binoculars wouldn't be better for close observation. I'm happy to have experienced them though. Maybe if they were lighter, the shakiness would have been bearable. I thought about trying the Viper HD 10x42 for this reason but I don't feel like losing in brightness and field of view.

If you have questions, don't hesitate. You helped me, so I'm happy to give you feedback.
 
Last edited:

Royfinn

Well-known member
Optics/image quality was very good. Not really able to judge this part but by a sunny, bright morning, I was surprised that my Opticron Porro Bak4 fully multi coated (no ED) did stand the comparison. Sometimes, I felt like the image was much more superior with the Viper but because the morning was so bright, the difference was not that high in many situations.
That's the lesson number 1: Difference between good and excellent binos are not that big and often unnoticeable. And differences are even smaller, when ID is conserned.
Conclusion: I'm going to ask for a refund and look for the best 8x42 binoculars around 500£. Now I'm much more aware of the impact of the shakiness on the view, I'm wondering if a second pair of 6x32 binoculars wouldn't be better for close observation.
Lesson number 2: 10X magnification is not miracle cure. I did find that the reduced depth of field with 10X bins is annoying. And shakiness, less field of view... There is a good reason why people use 8X42 bins the most, if size and weight is no problem.
 

Ivydwg

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Alright: I received the Vortex Viper HD 10x50 yesterday, tried them for a short hour this morning and I'm going to return them.

I tested them side-by-side with my Opticron T WP Adventurer 8x42, here's my feedback:

  • Defect: out of collimation (vertically). At this price, I was not expecting this defect and that really disappoints me. My 80£ Opticrons were properly collimated in comparison.
  • Exit pupils, while not perfectly rounded, looked good to me.
  • Design good, binoculars compacts and very good ergonomics (focus wheel, eye relief, diopter adjustment etc.).
  • Weight was good: I could imagine myself wearing them a long time even though you do feel the weigh compared to 8x42 binoculars. I didn't use the harness, just the strap which was very comfortable. However, I would have used the harness for comfort if I kept them. I'm averagely built, 1m78cm for 71kg: most people would feel comfortable with the weight of these binoculars. However, women/men weakly built/old people/kids would be annoyed by the weight and harness would be necessary. Also, it could be too much for their shoulders when using them.
  • Optics/image quality was very good. Not really able to judge this part but by a sunny, bright morning, I was surprised that my Opticron Porro Bak4 fully multi coated (no ED) did stand the comparison. Sometimes, I felt like the image was much more superior with the Viper but because the morning was so bright, the difference was not that high in many situations. If I had more time to try them - I didn't want to take the risk to damage them so I did minimum tests - I would probably have noticed a bigger difference of optics quality (especially in low light conditions).
  • Field of view was more or less the same as my Opticron, it even looked slightly wider so very happy about that.
  • Zoom 10 really adds something, especially when I caught a gull flying by but also in all situations. I always wanted to have a bit more zoom when using my Opticrons: I felt that in many situations, all I needed to identify or enjoy a bird properly, was a bit more zoom.
  • Unfortunately, and that's why I'm going to ask for a refund and not an exchange, I found the shakiness too important. Clearly, while following long-tailed tits and other passerines, impossible to focus on the birds and forget about this shakiness to enjoy the view of the bird. It's particularly annoying when you try to appreciate eyes, facial expressions and little details: impossible to get a steady view, contrary to my Opticrons. In general, the shakiness would annoy me to the point of being aware of it and losing focus from the birds. It's all about pleasure in the first place so for me it's a no-go.

Conclusion: I'm going to ask for a refund and look for the best 8x42 binoculars around 500£. Now I'm much more aware of the impact of the shakiness on the view, I'm wondering if a second pair of 6x32 binoculars wouldn't be better for close observation. I'm happy to have experienced them though. Maybe if they were lighter, the shakiness would have been bearable. I thought about trying the Viper HD 10x42 for this reason but I don't feel like losing in brightness and field of view.

If you have questions, don't hesitate. You helped me, so I'm happy to give you feedback.
I found the same as you when I purchased a 10x42 last year, having always gone for 7x or 8x. However, these were specifically purchased for wetland bird surveying where the higher mag is more useful in open landscapes.

So I understand your decision to return, I wouldn't want 10x42 as my main binocular, unless I lived in the British fenlands!

Have you tried/though about Hawke's Frontier ED X? I have this in the 10x42 and was very happy with them for the price. Solid build and a nice image. I would imagine the 8x42s are brighter with a better FOV. Lifetime warranty as well on the Hawke's, their customer service is brilliant. I lost my rain guard as well as end caps (twice!), they sent me new ones the next day for free.

Just a thought.
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
That's the lesson number 1: Difference between good and excellent binos are not that big and often unnoticeable. And differences are even smaller, when ID is conserned.

Lesson number 2: 10X magnification is not miracle cure. I did find that the reduced depth of field with 10X bins is annoying. And shakiness, less field of view... There is a good reason why people use 8X42 bins the most, if size and weight is no problem.
Honestly, with 10x50 dimensions, you must be very picky to rule it out because of the field of view. The weight, at 800g, is not a problem either (at least for most people).
The shakiness is the only reason why I'm going to fall back to 8x42.
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
That's the lesson number 1: Difference between good and excellent binos are not that big and often unnoticeable. And differences are even smaller, when ID is conserned.

Lesson number 2: 10X magnification is not miracle cure. I did find that the reduced depth of field with 10X bins is annoying. And shakiness, less field of view... There is a good reason why people use 8X42 bins the most, if size and weight is no problem.
About the difference between good and excellent binos, that's true, but I thought it would concern 500£ binos compared to 700+£ binos. My Opticrons are 80£: that's very cheap (but it's Porro prism and they say they perform like 150£ binos in tests).
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
I found the same as you when I purchased a 10x42 last year, having always gone for 7x or 8x. However, these were specifically purchased for wetland bird surveying where the higher mag is more useful in open landscapes.

So I understand your decision to return, I wouldn't want 10x42 as my main binocular, unless I lived in the British fenlands!

Have you tried/though about Hawke's Frontier ED X? I have this in the 10x42 and was very happy with them for the price. Solid build and a nice image. I would imagine the 8x42s are brighter with a better FOV. Lifetime warranty as well on the Hawke's, their customer service is brilliant. I lost my rain guard as well as end caps (twice!), they sent me new ones the next day for free.

Just a thought.
I considered these binoculars and ruled them out, but I can't remember why.
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member

LesR

Well-known member
I will. I'm seriously considering the top Opticron binoculars: the DBA VHD+ ( https://www.opticron.co.uk/our-products/binoculars/dba-vhd-plus-binoculars/dba-vhd-8x42 ).
There is little feedback about them but all tests and reviews are excellent.
And Opticron seems to be a reliable brand, on top of the fact I'm happy with my T WP Adventurer.
Good choice, I have the Opticron 8x32 Verano HD and Imagic BGA VHD 10x42, both very good products and not much difference to my Swaro 8x42 SLC, excepy FOV.
I notice the Birders Store has a good offer on the 8x42 Imagic VHD, saving of £100.
Might be worth comparing specs.

LesR
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
Good choice, I have the Opticron 8x32 Verano HD and Imagic BGA VHD 10x42, both very good products and not much difference to my Swaro 8x42 SLC, excepy FOV.
I notice the Birders Store has a good offer on the 8x42 Imagic VHD, saving of £100.
Might be worth comparing specs.

LesR
Thanks for the suggestion: I actually made up my mind, I'll go for the best Opticrons.
Reasons:

1) I buy them for long term so I want very good quality and these binoculars have excellent feedback
2) above this quality/price point, you pay a lot of money for little difference so no point in it and that definitely means I should think long term
3) made in Japan, which makes me more optimistic about built quality/quality control (even if the times when made in china meant bad quality are over)

The Vortex Viper experience, £600 binoculars out of collimation with no (always) striking difference with my cheap Opticrons, made me question the quality of this brand.

As soon as I get my refund for the Vortex, I will order the Opticron DBA VHD+.
 

Ivydwg

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Thanks for the suggestion: I actually made up my mind, I'll go for the best Opticrons.
Reasons:

1) I buy them for long term so I want very good quality and these binoculars have excellent feedback
2) above this quality/price point, you pay a lot of money for little difference so no point in it and that definitely means I should think long term
3) made in Japan, which makes me more optimistic about built quality/quality control (even if the times when made in china meant bad quality are over)

The Vortex Viper experience, £600 binoculars out of collimation with no (always) striking difference with my cheap Opticrons, made me question the quality of this brand.

As soon as I get my refund for the Vortex, I will order the Opticron DBA VHD+.
Let us know how you get on with the Opticrons. It was a model I looked at but ruled out due to cost, kind of wished I went for them now ...
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Unfortunately, and that's why I'm going to ask for a refund and not an exchange, I found the shakiness too important. Clearly, while following long-tailed tits and other passerines, impossible to focus on the birds and forget about this shakiness to enjoy the view of the bird.

Im sorry the Viper didn't work for you. I think someone pointed this already whether here or in another thread, but I also find 10x is a "speciality" binocular (and compared to 10x42, probably 10x50 is even more of a niche binocular, that's why I find these very 10x42-ish and hence interesting). I use mine on particular opportunities: long range, coast, waders across a pond, etc. In these occasions I find they can offer something (although 10x is no miracle; I remember the first time I looked through a 10x I was frankly underwhelmed by the magnification), but for an everyday binocular I find 8x (or even 7x) much better suited. I think 10x over long range is more comfortable, because you don't have to concentrate that much to pull out detail, but I'm not sure how much detail is not actually there at 8x, probably 99,9 % of the detail is there, but with birds far away you have to concentrate to "extract it" (if you know what I mean). So in my opinion and experience 10x are more suited for that kind of birding not because they discover something unseen, but because they do so in a more comfortable way. Reversely, when I carry my 6º - 10x binoculars and I'm following passerines I really miss my >8º - 8x binoculars, first for the FOV (easy to locate birds) and then for depth of field (focusing is not as critical) and finally for stable view.
I'm sure you'll enjoy the new Opticron, wether 8x or 10x. However, there's a lot to say about inexpensive but nice binoculars, like your Adventurer's (or the Kowa YF and the like). They offer so much, that when buying optics 2x, 5x, 10x more expensive you have to marvel at the great deal they represent.
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
Im sorry the Viper didn't work for you. I think someone pointed this already whether here or in another thread, but I also find 10x is a "speciality" binocular (and compared to 10x42, probably 10x50 is even more of a niche binocular, that's why I find these very 10x42-ish and hence interesting). I use mine on particular opportunities: long range, coast, waders across a pond, etc. In these occasions I find they can offer something (although 10x is no miracle; I remember the first time I looked through a 10x I was frankly underwhelmed by the magnification), but for an everyday binocular I find 8x (or even 7x) much better suited. I think 10x over long range is more comfortable, because you don't have to concentrate that much to pull out detail, but I'm not sure how much detail is not actually there at 8x, probably 99,9 % of the detail is there, but with birds far away you have to concentrate to "extract it" (if you know what I mean). So in my opinion and experience 10x are more suited for that kind of birding not because they discover something unseen, but because they do so in a more comfortable way. Reversely, when I carry my 6º - 10x binoculars and I'm following passerines I really miss my >8º - 8x binoculars, first for the FOV (easy to locate birds) and then for depth of field (focusing is not as critical) and finally for stable view.
I'm sure you'll enjoy the new Opticron, wether 8x or 10x. However, there's a lot to say about inexpensive but nice binoculars, like your Adventurer's (or the Kowa YF and the like). They offer so much, that when buying optics 2x, 5x, 10x more expensive you have to marvel at the great deal they represent.
I think if you use 10x binoculars for open water/ponds/coasts where you do static observation, it's not a problem because you can often find something where to put your elbows on. You can also sit on the ground (you need to have something behind you like a small tree to lay back on it), pull your legs and put your elbows on your knees: it removes all shakiness.
If I buy binoculars for long range, static observation, I would buy something even bigger than 10x I think :)
 

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