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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
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.
Viper is still a good option, if I don't like the Opticrons for some reason, I may fall back to the Viper 8x42.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
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 :)

I was talking about regular use of a 10x (standing, like during a walk, the same way you use a 8x), many people use 10x42 like this, without the need of any support. In fact, some people prefer 10x as a main binocular and find it is perfectly usable as an everyday binocular. There are several threads in the forum about this. Once I opened once regarding this very question, you can read interesting opinions:


Other interesting threads:


In my case I find 8x way more comfortable as an all-rounder (7x even more so, but good 7x are becoming rare; I've been on an endless quest looking for "the 7x", and having tried some of the very best, I have not found it yet).
When I know I'm not going to be doing a lot of forest/bushes, then I take the 10x42. The Nikon SE 10x42 offers me a really steady view (many people find porros easier to hold because they're wider). I've even used several 12x binoculars and for the same use they were reasonable good (the Monarch 5 12x42 was quite nice handling-wise), but mostly I don't find a great advantage of 12x above 10x. What I find worth noticing is that 10x is very personal... even changes with days. Some days I take my 10x42 SE and I'm amazed of how still I can hold them, basically like a 8x (and I'm not talking about wind or lack thereof), I get a clear an steady image, full of contrast and details, but some other days, I find 10x too nervous (maybe too much coffee?). I don't know why, but some days 10x simply don't work for me.

As for the 10x50 Viper, I've found the ergos quite nice, very different to the SE. I like the fact that the barrels are wide at the end, so you can grab them from there and get a very stable view (this is a classic holding technique to get a quieter view, holding the binoculars by the further bit, by the objectives, not by the nearest-eyecups, like on smaller binos).

I agree with you, if I was going to sit or use something as a stand, I'd use 15x, etc.
 
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Guilhem37

Well-known member
I was talking about regular use of a 10x (standing, like during a walk, the same way you use a 8x), many people use 10x42 like this, without the need of any support. In fact, some people prefer 10x as a main binocular and find it is perfectly usable as an everyday binocular. There are several threads in the forum about this. Once I opened once regarding this very question, you can read interesting opinions:


Other interesting threads:


In my case I find 8x way more comfortable as an all-rounder (7x even more so, but good 7x are becoming rare; I've been on an endless quest looking for "the 7x", and having tried some of the very best, I have not found it yet).
When I know I'm not going to be doing a lot of forest/bushes, then I take the 10x42. The Nikon SE 10x42 offers me a really steady view (many people find porros easier to hold because they're wider). I've even used several 12x binoculars and for the same use they were reasonable good (the Monarch 5 12x42 was quite nice handling-wise), but mostly I don't find a great advantage of 12x above 10x. What I find worth noticing is that 10x is very personal... even changes with days. Some days I take my 10x42 SE and I'm amazed of how still I can hold them, basically like a 8x (and I'm not talking about wind or lack thereof), I get a clear an steady image, full of contrast and details, but some other days, I find 10x too nervous (maybe too much coffee?). I don't know why, but some days 10x simply don't work for me.

As for the 10x50 Viper, I've found the ergos quite nice, very different to the SE. I like the fact that the barrels are wide at the end, so you can grab them from there and get a very stable view (this is a classic holding technique to get a quieter view, holding the binoculars by the further bit, by the objectives, not by the nearest-eyecups, like on smaller binos).

I agree with you, if I was going to sit or use something as a stand, I'd use 15x, etc.
Thanks, that was very interesting to read you.
I'll have a look at these threads later on.
I wished I knew about this holding technique before I sent back the Viper :)
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
Alright, update guys: I read articles about how to have a more steady view when using binoculars so I ordered and tried this morning the Opticron DBA VHD+ 10x42:

https://www.opticron.co.uk/our-products/binoculars/dba-vhd-plus-binoculars/dba-vhd-10x42

Feedback

  • Context: weather was cloudy but bright. Tested in forest and open areas. Tested in parallel with my Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x42. Observed passerines, thrushes, crows, geese.
  • Exit pupils: like the Viper, while not perfectly rounded, very good rounded shape. Nothing truncated.
  • Collimation check: ok!
  • Design: binos Ok/normal. I'm not especially fond of the strap and the case but nothing bad or ugly. As long as it's not ugly, it's secondary to me.
  • Ergonomics: rain guard and caps ok, diopter ok, binos compact, holding ok. The focus wheel is far too stiff. At the beginning, it was like moving through notches. I'm sure it would ease up with time though, so not a big deal. However, I felt a lack of magnitude in the focus, like reaching too fast the point of focus and not having enough "length" to adjust it accurately. Maybe it's just a feeling coming from the stiffness of the wheel.
  • Weigh: 714g (against 805g for the Viper HD 10x50). The weigh is good and comfortable, no problem.
  • View shakiness (reason why I had returned the Viper HD 10x50): first I tried with my usual bad way of holding binoculars. While I found too much shakiness to my taste, it felt better than the Viper which means the weigh is to be considered when increasing magnification above 8x in order to limit this side effect. Then I tried new ways of holding my binoculars and I managed to have a decent steady view. However I noticed that using these techniques tend to have drawbacks: 1) less comfortable/increased pressure on my lower back in some situations, 2) reduced reactivity as it takes longer to stabilise the view and 3) tendency to lose the right position/alignment provoking black halos at the periphery of the view. Which still makes me doubt about aiming for magnification 10x.
  • Magnification 10x VS 8x: like the Viper, I felt the benefit of 10x welcome without being substantial enough. I think when buying 10x binoculars, I was expecting something like a 12x. I realise that now.
  • Optics Quality: similarly to the Viper HD, I felt an overall superior quality but still amazed and kind of disappointed by how my modest Opticron Adventurer can compete in bright view with its fully multi coated Bak4 Porro prisms. However, after having lengthily observed the same goose on a pond, I noticed a superior contrast with the DBA VHD+. It's very difficult to assess optics quality: there is nothing like a detail or a colour that appears on the DBA VHD+ that would be absent on the Adventurers, it's more an overall impression of better contrast and neater image. Sometimes, I felt like I had striking, beautiful views of birds without being able to describe why. I guess I'm very bad at appreciating the quality of optics 😂 One thing I understood is that not everybody is able to judge the quality of optics. It requires practice and experience to notice and appreciate differences objectively. That means many/most reviews of binoculars - probably 80% of reviews - are not reliable and one should be very careful about who is writing the review they are reading (yes, including mine).
  • Field of view: obviously, major loss of field of view compared to my 8x42. This is very annoying. I saw the impact on following active little birds or catching flying birds but it's not what has taken me aback. The most annoying thing, something I was not aware of until then, is that the periphery of binoculars is blurrier and darker than the centre of the view (now I see what they meant in the reviews). While it's not a problem on a 8x42 or a 10x50 because the FOV is so wide and comfortable, it's definitely annoying with a 10x42. It gives an indescriptible impression of tunnel effect, like when one is drunk. I felt I missed space, like when you live in a room which is too small and you cannot move as you wish. I felt constrained. I did not like it.

Conclusion

  • built quality good/no defects noticed
  • design ok, could have been better
  • ergonomics ok but felt like the focus wheel was not handy
  • view shakiness manageable with good holding techniques, but is it manageable on the long term due to the occasional discomfort of such techniques?
  • zoom 10x is a plus without being a major advantage over a 8x: a 12x would be
  • 10x42 field of view terrible compared to a 8x42: 10x magnitude doesn't compensate the loss of FOV at all
  • great optics quality: it felt higher than the Viper but it's very difficult to tell if it's real or psychological (especially after having read reviews that praise the DBA for their quality)

So what's next then?

Viper 10x50: too shaky for me. Opticron DBA VHD+ 10x42: field of view too small.
So I asked for an exchange and I'm going to try the Opticron DBA VHD+ 8x42. Why? Because while design and ergonomics were slightly disappointing, it's not a major issue to me and I felt like the optics were excellent.
I'm considering ordering the Viper HD 8x42 and try both, the Viper and the Opticron DBA in parallel (and my great & cheap Opticron Adventurer 😁)

Continue ...
 

Ivydwg

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I think 8x42 will work much better for you.

Interesting point on your appreciation on quality of view. I find it is generally only where there are highly contrasting and/or textured objects that I can really appreciate better quality optics. Other than that I am a little oblivious ....
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
I think 8x42 will work much better for you.

Interesting point on your appreciation on quality of view. I find it is generally only where there are highly contrasting and/or textured objects that I can really appreciate better quality optics. Other than that I am a little oblivious ....
Maybe that's why some of the rare images that struck me with high quality were a Red Wing and a Blue Tit. The Greylag Goose, took me time to see the difference.
 
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Guilhem37

Well-known member
At the bottom end of your budget THESE could be a consideration. Normally around £370 but you can get £55 off on eBay at the moment.

Hawke on eBay.
Hi, thank you for your suggestion, I don't think I would consider binoculars below 450£. Following advices received on this thread, I cannot expect to have the same quality between 600£ and 300£ binoculars. I'm aiming for the best 8x42 binoculars below 600£. The only choices I see are the Vortex and the Opticron DBA. I went to all kinds of retailer lists, ordering binos by price, and I can't see serious alternatives to these 2.
 
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Sprite1275

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Hi, thank you for your suggestion, I don't think I would consider binoculars below 450£. Following advices received on this thread, I cannot expect to have the same quality between 600£ and 300£ binoculars. I'm aiming for the best 8x42 binoculars below 600£. The only choices I see are the Vortex and the Opticron DBA. I went to all kinds of retailer lists, ordering binos by price, and I can't see serious alternatives to these 2.
Oh right. BBR rated them best buy under £500. He is only one man though and Suppose it's not £600.

Have fun with the opticrons (y)
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
They are out of collimation.
I had an impression of darkness/black halo at the beginning due to finding the right settings of eyecup relief and IPD. Now it's ok.
I observed in front of my house for a time,
I remember how the Viper 10x50 had such a massive FOV, the DBA has similar FOV to my Opticron Adventurer T WP, maybe even slightly narrower.
I have a doubt. I ordered the Vortex Viper HD 8x42 with quick delivery. I'll test the DBA this afternoon and will compare them with the Viper afterwards. Then I will take the one I like the best. If it's the Opticron, I'll have to ask for an exchange because of the collimation.
In any case, I don't want to spend more time on this. It costs me time to test and money to return items. But no regrets: it is important to have good binoculars and to know what you like and don't (I also tried a scope+tripods, didn't like it).
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
I did a bit of test this morning, of both the Vortex Viper 8x42 and the Opticron DBA VHD+ 8x42, side-by-side. I confirm the Opticron FOV is a bit narrow and the Viper FOV wide and comfortable.
I did long, intense observation of 2 Egyptian geese on a pond. I tried to find a clear difference between the 2 binoculars in terms of clarity of image but failed to see anything substantial. I have done very accurate diopter adjustment on both binoculars, and tried to focus on the ultra-thin black pattern on the grey part of the geese's body but I couldn't tell for sure which binoculars were best. I did the same with a wren singing in shrubs, well exposed, but impossible to be sure.

I noticed something annoying with the Viper though: the eyecup design has a severe flaw that causes stray light. If you look at this photo https://outdoorgearlab-mvnab3pwrvp3t0.stackpathdns.com/photos/14/7/262190_26632_L.jpg you will notice 2 things: 1) there is an important space between the lenses and the edge of the eyecups and 2) the eyecups are straight with nothing else. This allows the surrounding light to easily come in from your lenses side (instead of your objectives side only), causing reflects and light stray. On the contrary, the Opticron have an inward bulge ( https://www.bestbinocularsreviews.c...cron-DBA-VHD-10x42-Binoculars-Focus-Large.jpg ) that prevents the light from coming in. While it is not perfect, the Opticron display ~3 times less glare and reflects than the Viper. Even worse, I could notice 1 distinctive blur zone on both lenses of the Viper due to this light stray, almost permanently. That's a problem I had with my cheap Opticron as well (the Adventurers, not the DBA) but it might be even worse with the Viper than with the Adventurers.
As I couldn't tell the optics apart, I was about to pick the Viper but because of that, I'll do more tests tomorrow. I tried to find suitable alternatives at the same price point (500-600£) but I haven't found anything so far.
 
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Guilhem37

Well-known member
After trying many binoculars - Opticron DBA VHD+ 8x42/10x42, Vortex Viper 10x50/8x42, Hawke Frontier ED X 8x42, Hawke Frontier APO 8x42, GPO Passion ED 8x42, Vortex Razor 8x42 - and considered all binoculars below 900£, I decided to go for the GPO Passion ED 8x42. I'll give feedback later, to give back something to the community.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
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

The best thing is to try them all yourself even if you have to order them and return the ones you don't care for from a dealer that has an easy return policy. Everybody is different and what I prefer might not work for you because of facial structure and eye socket depth and so on. I just did that myself when selecting a 10x42 roof at the $1000 price point. It is the best and most sure way to decide. That being said I personally would choose the Vortex Viper 10x50 but I would try it first.
 

Guilhem37

Well-known member
The best thing is to try them all yourself even if you have to order them and return the ones you don't care for from a dealer that has an easy return policy. Everybody is different and what I prefer might not work for you because of facial structure and eye socket depth and so on. I just did that myself when selecting a 10x42 roof at the $1000 price point. It is the best and most sure way to decide. That being said I personally would choose the Vortex Viper 10x50 but I would try it first.
Yes, it is what I have done: I tried all the binoculars listed in my last post and I chose the GPA.
The Vortex Viper has a major issue with glare: I tried 2 10x50 and 3 8x42, all of them show a permanent grey stain on each lense. Even at dusk, it is visible so bad it is. That's the only issue I found with these binoculars, but it is a major one. As soon as the weather is a bit bright, it is terrible.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Yes, it is what I have done: I tried all the binoculars listed in my last post and I chose the GPA.
The Vortex Viper has a major issue with glare: I tried 2 10x50 and 3 8x42, all of them show a permanent grey stain on each lense. Even at dusk, it is visible so bad it is. That's the only issue I found with these binoculars, but it is a major one. As soon as the weather is a bit bright, it is terrible.
You never know if a binocular is going have glare until you try it yourself. It is a personal phenomenon dependent on your eye sockets and facial structure. One person can experience glare with a binocular and somebody else will see none. For example, I didn't have any major glare problems with the Vortex Viper HD 10x50, but you did. That is why I recommend trying the binocular yourself before buying. You can use other peoples recommendations and use the reviews to guide you, but it is always best to try the binocular yourself.
 

Sprite1275

Well-known member
United Kingdom
You never know if a binocular is going have glare until you try it yourself. It is a personal phenomenon dependent on your eye sockets and facial structure. One person can experience glare with a binocular and somebody else will see none. For example, I didn't have any major glare problems with the Vortex Viper HD 10x50, but you did. That is why I recommend trying the binocular yourself before buying. You can use other peoples recommendations and use the reviews to guide you, but it is always best to try the binocular yourself.
Glare comes from the ocular then? So could winged eye cups not eradicate this.
 

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