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

I think that we are lucky enough to enjoy a time where nice binocular performance (yes, I know this is vague and personal) can be enjoyed at very different price levels but, coming back to the OP, more and more at cheaper prices. There are amazing views to be seen from binoculars in the 200 - 300 € segment, and if you aim at cheaper devices, I also find that there are very interesting and reasonable options.
A good advice (that has already been given) is to check the options among Porro prism binoculars in your price bracket, chances are you can get a lot of performance for little money. For years I've been amazed at the performance of the Kowa YF 8x30, that offers extremely reasonable performance for anyone for little over 100 € (and some offers can be found for less).
Recently I've been amazed by the performance of another Porro, the Opticron Adventurer 8x32 WP, that can usually be found for 80 - 90 €. I mean, seriously, I found the level of sharpness and contrast to be perfectly OK for anyone looking for an inexpensive device to take on birding (and then some).

If my experience serves for the purpose: I bought a pair of Kowa YF 8x30 three years ago, at a time I was in-between binoculars (had just made the heart-breaking discovery that my Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32 was too big and heavy and was looking for a nice 8x32). I used it quite intensively for a year or so, and for the last two years it has been living 24/7/365 on my glovebox, and mind you I live in a pretty warm and humid environment, which I guess poses some serious challenge. Some 3-4 Summer months in a scorching glovebox (the car is always parked outside under the sun) are something to be taken seriously. Well, I can report that even after such a strenuous ordeal, the Kowa still work as intended. Yes, I can see they're not exactly as new (well, it's to be expected, otherwise I would believe in fairy tales), but are 100 % usable.
 
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.


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
This is an evergreen topic.
Imho, the Nikon Action EX porro remains the gold standard of budget binoculars. Good eye relief and FoV, waterproof, decent optics at a derisory price from a top tier supplier. The price on Amazon USA for the 7x35 is $123.18, the 8x40 is $146.95.
What surprises me is that the more recent Nikon Aculon series is demonstrably inferior in terms of eye relief, maybe not an issue for kids, but definitely one for adults.
 
I’ve had a pair of the Sightron 8x32 Blue Sky bins for years. I kept them in the truck console and took them to Michigan football games.

Recently I sold my Zeiss Victory T* FL to reduce my overall toy inventory. After having alpha withdrawals, I got a bargain on an 8x42 Leica Trinovid HD and the are really nice.

Hearing all the accolades on the Vortex Diamondback HD, I ordered the 8x32 plus the Cabelas 8x42 Infinite bins for some testing. I returned the Diamondbacks but the Infinity blew me away. Even my step-son was amazed after looking thru the Leica and Infinity back and forth.

I sold the Sightrons which I never thought I’d do and the Infinity is my new truck bin.
 
Hearing all the accolades on the Vortex Diamondback HD, I ordered the 8x32 plus the Cabelas 8x42 Infinite bins for some testing. I returned the Diamondbacks but the Infinity blew me away.
Uh, of course a 8x42 will blow away an 8x32, especially in cheaper glass, where the coatings can't make up for the smaller exit pupil. Seriously that's like having a pulling competition between a F150 and a F250 and expecting it to be fair
 
Uh, of course a 8x42 will blow away an 8x32, especially in cheaper glass, where the coatings can't make up for the smaller exit pupil. Seriously that's like having a pulling competition between a F150 and a F250 and expecting it to be fair
Did you miss that I sold my ZEISS Victory 8x32 T* FL? Those were as good and probably better as the Leica 8x42 Trinovid HD I just bought.
 
Did you miss that I sold my ZEISS Victory 8x32 T* FL? Those were as good and probably better as the Leica 8x42 Trinovid HD I just bought.
That's because the FLs are alphas and the Trinovids are $1000 bins. The FLs cost over double the Trinovids. Also the higher the price the closer 32mm and 42mm bins will be because the better, more advanced coatings and glass should be able to overcome the exit pupil size. When comparing two bins in the same price range, for meaningful results you need to compare the same configuration. Therefore it wasn't fair to the 8x32 Diamondbacks that you compared them to an 8x42.
 
That's because the FLs are alphas and the Trinovids are $1000 bins. The FLs cost over double the Trinovids. Also the higher the price the closer 32mm and 42mm bins will be because the better, more advanced coatings and glass should be able to overcome the exit pupil size. When comparing two bins in the same price range, for meaningful results you need to compare the same configuration. Therefore it wasn't fair to the 8x32 Diamondbacks that you compared them to an 8x42.
Looking thru progressive lenses, my old eye can’t tell the difference between the Zeiss Victory and the Leica Trinovid HD.

But my old eyes could see the difference in the Diamondback HD and the Trinovid HD.

The big difference was the blurring around the outer edges on the Diamondbacks. What does the objective size have to do with that?

I have a pair of Leica Ultravision 8x20 - in normal light they’re better than the Diamondbacks. You sound like a typical forum troll that’s unhappy with their life.
 
You sound like a typical forum troll that’s unhappy with their life.
What the heck? Where did that come from? I was simply pointing out that you had done an unfair binocular comparison, and now I'm a troll? Wow, you need to chill, dude.
 
Looking thru progressive lenses, my old eye can’t tell the difference between the Zeiss Victory and the Leica Trinovid HD.
This actually proves my point, the alpha 8x32 is no better to your eyes than the 8x42 that cost less than half the price of the alpha
The big difference was the blurring around the outer edges on the Diamondbacks. What does the objective size have to do with that?
Are you talking about Diamondback vs Intensity or Diamondback vs Trinovid. Because the Diamondback will naturally have less edge sharpness than the Trinovid. From what I've read a larger objective controls aberrations much better.
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Just bought the Slokey 8x32 secondhand £20
I found them better than the opticron 8x32 in all departments, surprisingly good for the money I’ve seen them for £80 new well worth a punt
 
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 think most roof prism binoculars under $200 are not worth buying. I don't see that the Slokey binoculars are even phase coated. If you have a limited budget, it is better to get a porro prism because they are a better value. I would suggest the Kowa YF II 6x30 for $100.

 
I started off in 1989 with a pair that were really poor but probably good value at £20.
Optical performance ?
Irrelevant - the important thing was that they got me out birding.

There’s a real risk that we can be pretentious about binoculars when the important thing is to get people into the hobby.
 
I started off in 1989 with a pair that were really poor but probably good value at £20.
Optical performance ?
Irrelevant - the important thing was that they got me out birding.

There’s a real risk that we can be pretentious about binoculars when the important thing is to get people into the hobby.
I agree, you can definitely have a good birding experience with modestly priced binoculars. I've spotted a few birds with my car binoculars that (so far) I've never seen again. And I like having an extra pair I can loan without worrying about damage or theft. I wouldn't buy a bargain, though, unless it had good reviews and a good warranty.
 
Most binoculars under $100 are not worth much. You really got to get to the $200-300 tier and they get decent at that price. Sometimes you can find a binocular from that teir on close out and catch them between $100 to $200 on sale. This spring I found Vortex Diamondbacks on sale for $125 and got them for my son. A few years ago I found Alpen Apex on sale for $135 and got them for my other son. Then for my wife I found Cabelas Guide Series binoculars, which are basically Leopold BX3 binoculars for $175. So it can be done if you are patient. One can enjoy birding alot with such binoculars, especially if you never look through a better pair.
 
The cheapest good binocular that I know of is the Pentax Papillio 6.5 and 8 x 21.
This is small, specialized for close up viewing but workable for general and birding use;
and well respected by many. It list for $100-130 US,

edj
 
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