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Low budget binocular – could such, in some case, as the first ones for a newbie, be worth buying? (1 Viewer)

loox

New member
Sweden
Most low, or very low, budget binoculars will mostly, in the end, become more costly compared with a bit more expensive pair. The building quality, and other key characteristics are too poor to give them any actual use in a real word context. Sometimes, in rare cases, exceptions can however be made.

There has been a lot advertising about Slokey, a Spanish company in the field of optics that also, as it seems, physically, operates in the UK.

Their products seem to focus (hmm…) on buyers looking for something that promises a lot in the lower budget segment. As far as I can see they seem to have had some success and the buyer’s response in reviews are mostly positive. Of course, on wonders. Is this real reviews? And if so, who are those buyers. In which fields are they using them, and with which expectations? Nobody, as far as I’ve seen, seem to mention Slokey in “serious” forums where expectations are, in some way, more knowingly, addressed or defined (bird watching, hunting, outdoor, etc.).

One example is the Slokey 10x42 Binoculars @ about £63.

It would be very interesting to hear if there is anyone here at Birdforum that has some real experience of the binoculars above that could give some reliable opinion about them. Of course, from the perspective of a person that is about getting a first couple of binoculars that would work well enough to identify one bird from another under normal light conditions (let’s say daytime) and from not very far away (it could be in such everyday life examples as from the kitchen window to the birch 10 or 15 yards away - or sometimes just from inside the room to the other side of the window as they squabble around the bird feeder, or on a stroll in the woods when they reside in trees and bushes not further away than the length of a pine). Could this couple of binoculars, in that perspective, possibly be the exception made above?
 
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Maljunulo

Well-known member
Cheap optics are cheap for a reason, they are not very good, either optically or mechanically.

I would say the answer is no, as bad optics are bad at any distance.

(just my opinion)
 

dries1

Member
I know the temptation is there, a new tool at a good price. The problem is that after a couple of weeks there likely will be problems. I would save your money on that item. Find out where you can go to view some binoculars say in a store, mall, etc. you will learn more in that short period since you will be testing instruments with your own two eyes and perhaps find a good pair. Or do further research and find a good value for your hard earned $$.

Andy W.
 

qwerty5

Well-known member
United States
Most low, or very low, budget binoculars will mostly, in the end, become more costly compared with a bit more expensive pair. The building quality, and other key characteristics are too poor to give them any actual use in a real word context. Sometimes, in rare cases, exceptions can however be made.

There has been a lot advertising about Slokey, a Spanish company in the field of optics that also, as it seems, physically, operates in the UK.

Their products seem to focus (hmm…) on buyers looking for something that promises a lot in the lower budget segment. As far as I can see they seem to have had some success and the buyer’s response in reviews are mostly positive. Of course, on wonders. Is this real reviews? And if so, who are those buyers. In which fields are they using them, and with which expectations? Nobody, as far as I’ve seen, seem to mention Slokey in “serious” forums where expectations are, in some way, more knowingly, addressed or defined (bird watching, hunting, outdoor, etc.).

One example is the Slokey 10x42 Binoculars @ about £63.

It would be very interesting to hear if there is anyone here at Birdforum that has some real experience of the binoculars above that could give some reliable opinion about them. Of course, from the perspective of a person that is about getting a first couple of binoculars that would work well enough to identify one bird from another under normal light conditions (let’s say daytime) and from not very far away (it could be in such everyday life examples as from the kitchen window to the birch 10 or 15 yards away - or sometimes just from inside the room to the other side of the window as they squabble around the bird feeder, or on a stroll in the woods when they reside in trees and bushes not further away than the length of a pine). Could this couple of binoculars, in that perspective, possibly be the exception made above?
I have never heard of these bins, and that's probably for a good reason. As far as your expected usage of the bins, that will likely change. You will see a bird perched a long way off sometime, and try to use your cheap binoculars, only to find that they are inadequate. You will see birds in the woods that are too far away to be identified, unless you plan on limiting your eyes to seeing birds only 100 ft away. Save your money, don't spend it on junk.
 

MikeMules

Well-known member
If you're beginning, you don't need a high-end pair of binoculars. I don't know your price-range or how the pricing works in the UK compared to Australia, but you can pick up a pair of perfectly useable porro-prism binoculars from Olympus, Nikon, Bushnell or Olympus for $200 AUD or less. The optics aren't spectacular, but they're fine for getting out there and finding birds. After a few years you'll have a better idea of what you want and what to look for in an upgraded pair of binos.

I say this from the viewpoint of owning (and using) two pairs of Olympus 10x42 porros (the latest version of which is going for $200 AUD) over the last 20 years. The first one got left on a car roof and forgotten after 10 years of hard use in all sorts of conditions, and its replacement still gets occasional use when I don't want to risk my Leicas (2nd hand "upgrade" 3 years ago - but not as much of an upgrade as you might think, especially in low light conditions). As well as a pair of pocket-sized Nikon Aculons bought for $80 AUD to go hiking with - the optics aren't that good, but they are good enough and have been the consistent difference between identifying or not identifying birds on multi-day hikes for the last 13 years where normal binos are too bulky or too heavy to justify taking.

Look at your needs, and purchase for them, then save for your wants later down the track.
 

mwhogue

Well Known Member
Supporter
Most low, or very low, budget binoculars will mostly, in the end, become more costly compared with a bit more expensive pair. The building quality, and other key characteristics are too poor to give them any actual use in a real word context. Sometimes, in rare cases, exceptions can however be made.

There has been a lot advertising about Slokey, a Spanish company in the field of optics that also, as it seems, physically, operates in the UK.

Their products seem to focus (hmm…) on buyers looking for something that promises a lot in the lower budget segment. As far as I can see they seem to have had some success and the buyer’s response in reviews are mostly positive. Of course, on wonders. Is this real reviews? And if so, who are those buyers. In which fields are they using them, and with which expectations? Nobody, as far as I’ve seen, seem to mention Slokey in “serious” forums where expectations are, in some way, more knowingly, addressed or defined (bird watching, hunting, outdoor, etc.).

One example is the Slokey 10x42 Binoculars @ about £63.

It would be very interesting to hear if there is anyone here at Birdforum that has some real experience of the binoculars above that could give some reliable opinion about them. Of course, from the perspective of a person that is about getting a first couple of binoculars that would work well enough to identify one bird from another under normal light conditions (let’s say daytime) and from not very far away (it could be in such everyday life examples as from the kitchen window to the birch 10 or 15 yards away - or sometimes just from inside the room to the other side of the window as they squabble around the bird feeder, or on a stroll in the woods when they reside in trees and bushes not further away than the length of a pine). Could this couple of binoculars, in that perspective, possibly be the exception made above?

I am not familiar with the Slokey binoculars but agree with others here, it is unlikely they are a good value. If your budget is limited to @ $100 US generally it is best to buy a central focus porro prism. Good models I have are Opticron, Nikon and Kowa. If you want a full size roof prism binocular, it is better to spend @ $200. Many here recommend the Sightron in that price range.

Mike
 

Anon2020

Well-known member
I think you need to define low budget. If you mean £20 - £30 then I doubt there’s much if anything worth buying.

A quick look at Amazon UK however shows you can buy a pair of good quality Olympus or Opticron porro prisms for between £55 - £85.

I know there are many here who would assert that for all sorts of reasons such binoculars are completely “unusable” but that is mere prejudice and justification for their addiction to high priced so-called “alphas”. This is not a criticism as I myself am a victim but do accept that I could quite easily live with a pair of cheap binoculars if I had to.
 

kabsetz

Well-known member
A couple of years I was asked to offer "expert opinions" on a bunch of low-medium cost binoculars for a Finnish Nature magazine story on binoculars. There was a sample starting with a ca 25 € Clas Ohlsson brand 8x20 (a toy at best) up to some Kite model at over 400 €. Among the cheaper ones, there were two standouts that I would consider eminently usable as first binoculars with no particular rush to move up. One of these was an Olympus porro such as mentioned by Anon above, and the other was a Focus Handy 8x42 WP, which retailed here for about a hundred. That particular model has been replaced by Focus Explore 8x42 which seem to go for 119 € now.

This is a basic Chinese roof prism binocular, but offered a very decent and problem-free view as well as fine handling. I cannot vouch for the current model, as I haven't spent any time with it, and it is also likely that the same or similar binoculars will be offered under other brand names also. What I'm getting at is that good binoculars indeed do exist at this price point now. It is worth looking at them in a good and knowledgeable brick and mortar store. Trust your eyes. If it is good, it is good. And it can be good even for such a price.

- Kimmo
 

Maljunulo

Well-known member
I know there are many here who would assert that for all sorts of reasons such binoculars are completely “unusable” but that is mere prejudice and justification for their addiction to high priced so-called “alphas”. This is not a criticism as I myself am a victim but do accept that I could quite easily live with a pair of cheap binoculars if I had to.
Ah, yes.

The perfect argument, "If you disagree with me you are prejudiced and addicted to a 'so called' first-rate optic."

Needless to say, I disagree.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Depends on what is "low budget". I have a roughly 120 EUR binocular and I don't see how it would ever become "more costly" to me - it's perfectly adequate for its purpose, it's not falling apart and if I ever need to replace it, it will mostly likely be because it gets stolen, if I can use past experiences for any predictions, which the expensive segment has not solved so far to my knowledge. Maybe cheaper things are worse, but frankly, the savings here aren't even that big for a westerner.
 

Binastro

Well-known member
I have a friend who only buys binoculars from boot fairs, thrift shops or similar.
He has never spent more than £15.
He is an engineer and optics expert.

I have bought binoculars from charity shops that would last for years of use.
A fine Swift 8.5x44 for £15 including case.
The only 'fault' is the name and postcode of the previous owner written on the bottom.

Otherwise the Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Bushnell Porros under £100 new are fine.

Regards,
B.
 

Anon2020

Well-known member
Ah, yes.

The perfect argument, "If you disagree with me you are prejudiced and addicted to a 'so called' first-rate optic."

Needless to say, I disagree.
I may have been exaggerating slightly and you’re free to agree or disagree but a trawl through the posts on this forum suggest that my observation is not an unreasonable one. As a lapsed hi-fi addict it’s something I’ve also come across in hi-fi circles - the never-ending search for an unattainable audio nirvana.
 

Maljunulo

Well-known member
I may have been exaggerating slightly and you’re free to agree or disagree but a trawl through the posts on this forum suggest that my observation is not an unreasonable one. As a lapsed hi-fi addict it’s something I’ve also come across in hi-fi circles - the never-ending search for an unattainable audio nirvana.
Complete with such unadulterated horsepoop as "silver-plated speaker wire sounds better than solid copper speaker wire."

Optics people don't even begin to approach that level of lunacy.
 
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Strontium Dog

Well-known member
When I was a kid I had some crazy cheap Tasco binoculars that served me perfectly well. In 2008 I actually bought a whole bunch more Tasco binoculars for £2.99 from Home Bargains that I could store in various places for casual spotting (eg work); at that price they were virtually disposable, but again, still significantly better than the naked eye.

Even today I'm only using a sub-£200 optic (Visionary Fieldtracker Emerald ED 10x42).

It's like everything, spending more gives diminishing returns; a £1000 binocular isn't 10 times better than a £100 pair.
 

loox

New member
Sweden
First of all: Thanks to all for taking the time answering!
And especially to those of you who were willing to take on the perspective I suggested in my question: A newbie that watches birds from his kitchen windows, or in day time when it’s not pouring down as if it was the Fall and the birds are not further away than the length of a fir-tree (which is about equivalent with the “100 ft” mentioned some posts above).

It was never my idea to start a debate of “good” (“quality”) or “poor” (“junk”) equipment because that, as many here already has suggested, is always depending on the purpose and the situation and hence the meaning of words like “good” or “bad” (quality) always will differ (but I maybe should have envisioned it coming – as the lapsed hi-fi addict above I recognise the very same debate from the photo area – it’s still going on…).

In the end, and even if the very binocular in question was not known here (but not far away from a more widely perspective) I value all inputs and I’d say I actually found some help and guidance here, as for the question itself – and proposals of other, similar models of other brands – and not least, in a wider and more universal take of the art of putting and answering questions in a forum…
So, thanks to all!
 
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If you're beginning, you don't need a high-end pair of binoculars. I don't know your price-range or how the pricing works in the UK compared to Australia, but you can pick up a pair of perfectly useable porro-prism binoculars from Olympus, Nikon, Bushnell or Olympus for $200 AUD or less. The optics aren't spectacular, but they're fine for getting out there and finding birds. After a few years you'll have a better idea of what you want and what to look for in an upgraded pair of binos.

I say this from the viewpoint of owning (and using) two pairs of Olympus 10x42 porros (the latest version of which is going for $200 AUD) over the last 20 years. The first one got left on a car roof and forgotten after 10 years of hard use in all sorts of conditions, and its replacement still gets occasional use when I don't want to risk my Leicas (2nd hand "upgrade" 3 years ago - but not as much of an upgrade as you might think, especially in low light conditions). As well as a pair of pocket-sized Nikon Aculons bought for $80 AUD to go hiking with - the optics aren't that good, but they are good enough and have been the consistent difference between identifying or not identifying birds on multi-day hikes for the last 13 years where normal binos are too bulky or too heavy to justify taking.

Look at your needs, and purchase for them, then save for your wants later down the track.
I agree. I had a small pair for years purchased simply because it fit in my saddlebags when I went into the back country. They worked fine for what my interest was for years, then when I wanted to see more close up I bought a better pair.

Definitely, look at your needs and purchase for them, as MikeMules so wisely says.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
A couple of years I was asked to offer "expert opinions" on a bunch of low-medium cost binoculars for a Finnish Nature magazine story on binoculars. There was a sample starting with a ca 25 € Clas Ohlsson brand 8x20 (a toy at best) up to some Kite model at over 400 €. Among the cheaper ones, there were two standouts that I would consider eminently usable as first binoculars with no particular rush to move up. One of these was an Olympus porro such as mentioned by Anon above, and the other was a Focus Handy 8x42 WP, which retailed here for about a hundred. That particular model has been replaced by Focus Explore 8x42 which seem to go for 119 € now.

This is a basic Chinese roof prism binocular, but offered a very decent and problem-free view as well as fine handling. I cannot vouch for the current model, as I haven't spent any time with it, and it is also likely that the same or similar binoculars will be offered under other brand names also. What I'm getting at is that good binoculars indeed do exist at this price point now. It is worth looking at them in a good and knowledgeable brick and mortar store. Trust your eyes. If it is good, it is good. And it can be good even for such a price.

- Kimmo
I agree that some porros in the $100 price range can be quite good these days, a least optically. It doesn't seem that it costs much to produce a good set of lenses. Of more concern is assembly quality, mechanical integrity, and durability of the alignment and focusing system. As Kimmo says, find something that works in a brick and mortar store. If you're lucky, it will keep working. Unfortunately, many of today's cheap bins don't hold up.

Like Harbor Freight tools vs premium grade tools, they’ll get the job done.
Sure, maybe they will. But will they last long enough to get the second job done? Depends on the type of tool. With cheap bins, that is often a bad bet.

--AP
 

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