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Midpriced binocs for tropical birding? (1 Viewer)

BirdingCristina

avis fanaticus confirmavimus
I have come across the opportunity to upgrade my well-beaten Nikon Monarch ATB's and would appreciate some advice!

I'm looking for a pair under $500-$530 that adheres fairly well to these provisions:

-Clear, crisp, bright image
-Wide FOV
-Excellent resistance to rain and humidity
-Durable build
-Light weight, but I'm fairly strong and can accommodate
-Preferably 8x42

Take into account that I live in the tropical highlands, where most birding takes place in misty woods along bumpy mountain trails. I also travel regularly to the hot, humid jungles of the lowlands.

The Monarch 7 looks great, but I'm not sure it is the best purchase possible at this price range. Any suggestions will be gratefully received.
 

WJC

Well-known member
I have come across the opportunity to upgrade my well-beaten Nikon Monarch ATB's and would appreciate some advice!

I'm looking for a pair under $500-$530 that adheres fairly well to these provisions:

-Clear, crisp, bright image
-Wide FOV
-Excellent resistance to rain and humidity
-Durable build
-Light weight, but I'm fairly strong and can accommodate
-Preferably 8x42

Take into account that I live in the tropical highlands, where most birding takes place in misty woods along bumpy mountain trails. I also travel regularly to the hot, humid jungles of the lowlands.

The Monarch 7 looks great, but I'm not sure it is the best purchase possible at this price range. Any suggestions will be gratefully received.

For Costa Rica you don't need "excellent resistance to rain and humidity." You need waterPROOF / fogPROOF! Also, what constitutes waterproof in Omaha is quite different than what it would be in the Gulf of Alaska in the winter or Costa Rica in the summer.

Cheers,

Bill
 

BirdingCristina

avis fanaticus confirmavimus
For Costa Rica you don't need "excellent resistance to rain and humidity." You need waterPROOF / fogPROOF! Also, what constitutes waterproof in Omaha is quite different than what it would be in the Gulf of Alaska in the winter or Costa Rica in the summer.

Yes, exactly. For example, here "waterproof" = can stand torrential rains and perhaps a drop into puddle.

I have been looking into Zeiss's Terra ED binoculars. Do they stand a chance against the Nikon M7's?
 

ceasar

Well-known member
I have a Zeiss 8x42 Terra ED and I'm confident that it will perform very well against a Monarch 7 8x42 under your weather conditions. As far as being water proof it should be worry free. Its lenses are also stated to be "hydrophobic." It is built like a tank and with its thick rubber exterior it may well be the most rugged binocular in its price range. It has large comfortable eye cups and long eye relief of 18mm. It weighs only 25 ounces and feels surprisingly compact in the hand. It also has ED glass and a very generously sized "sweet spot" in the center of its view. On the down side its Field of View of 375' @1000 yards will not be as wide as the Monarch 7 8x42 and it is not Fully Multi Coated like the Monarch.

Bob

PS: It also comes in 3 different colors.

http://www.zeiss.com/sports-optics/en_de/lifestyle/terra.html
 
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WJC

Well-known member
Yes, exactly. For example, here "waterproof" = can stand torrential rains and perhaps a drop into puddle.

I have been looking into Zeiss's Terra ED binoculars. Do they stand a chance against the Nikon M7's?

Holding up in Costa Rica, where a highway can become a river in 10 minutes, can be a chore. Several marine glasses, from better companies, will do it. However, most are bulky and INDIVIDUAL-focus. Then, there are the bird watching "alphas." They, too, will do the job. But, along with that level of safety comes a huge price tag.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Buy something that is rated well for waterproof/fogproof integrity--although not of the marine use quality--keep it in a zip-lock bag when not in use, and . . . pray a lot. Boy, I wish we had the level of beautiful birds that you have around where I live. Seeing one or two around here in western Washington--unless you have feeders--is a real treat!

Bill
 
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winwinbino

Well-known member
Highly recommend ZR Prime HD 8x42 demo which still enjoy ZR's no fault lifetime warranty. Just FYI, ZR's demos are like new.
 

Kammerdiner

Well-known member
Highly recommend ZR Prime HD 8x42 demo which still enjoy ZR's no fault lifetime warranty. Just FYI, ZR's demos are like new.

I'll second that. It's a little above your price range, and it's also on the heavy side (over 29 ounces) but the view will beat any others mentioned thus far. It's also built like a tank.

"Lightweight" it is not, however, so that would be my only reservation.

Mark
 

BirdingCristina

avis fanaticus confirmavimus
Thank you for all the suggestions.

The Zeiss Terra looks great, but the M7's wider field of view looks irresistible. Is there a significant difference in sharpness and clarity between them? (I've heard that the Zeiss has slightly more chromatic aberration.) Also, some reviewers seem to have reservations about the M7's waterproofability and rainguards+objective lens covers. Is this true? I do know that my ATB's lens covers loosened and got lost within a few months of use.

And thank you, winwindam and kammerdiner; I'll check out the ZR's as well.
 
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PhilR.

Well-known member
I'm looking for a pair under $500-$530 that adheres fairly well to these provisions:

-Clear, crisp, bright image
-Wide FOV
-Excellent resistance to rain and humidity
-Durable build
-Light weight, but I'm fairly strong and can accommodate
-Preferably 8x42


The Monarch 7 looks great, but I'm not sure it is the best purchase possible at this price range. Any suggestions will be gratefully received.

Well... as no bino is the best at everything, it would be difficult to recommend one that you would consider as being "the best". The new Vanguard Endeavor EDII seems at the moment to be the best optically in your price range, but does not have a really wide FOV, nor is it as light as an M7. The Zen-Ray Prime is an excellent bino, but it is not light in weight. Neither is their ED3 either, although it is very good for it's price, and has a wide FOV. The Leupold Mojave is fairly light in weight and handles very nicely, but it's FOV is not as wide as the others.

Personally, as I value a wide FOV and light weight, I would probably go with the M7. I really like their handling, and at least on the ones I have used, have a very good focus wheel. OTOH, if I were to use a harness, I would go with a Z-R ED3, which has an excellent combination of build quality, optical quality, and fairly wide FOV for it's price (that is also in your budget range).
 

dalat

...
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Buy something that is rated well for waterproof/fogproof integrity--although not of the marine use quality--keep it in a zip-lock bag when not in use, and . . . pray a lot.

When a bin is specified as waterproof (and there is hardly any bin above 200$ that isn't) then it is waterproof. Except when seals fail. This can happen to any brand and price range, even to Leicas or Swaros. Perhaps some are more prone to seal failures than others, but I don't think there is any useful rating of "waterproof integrity" available anywhere, so no way to consider this criteria when making purchase decisions.

If a waterproof bin fails, this is usually covered by warranty. So the best thing you can do is to choose a brand that offers service close to the place you live, and perhaps keep a spare bin for the case you need your main bin to get serviced.
 

WJC

Well-known member
Dalat wrote: "When a bin is specified as waterproof (and there is hardly any bin above 200$ that isn't) then it is waterproof."

I have repaired too many "waterproof" or "shockproof" binoculars to believe all I see in print. It's like the photo of the 120x120 binocular I've posted before . . . that was really a 7x50. Many unwary folks are too trusting. I certainly wish that wasn't a problem. But then, like Tevya, I wish I were a rich man. Still, ads sway people and I'm sure they sold many binos based on their verbiage.

Bill
 
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NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
Yes, exactly. For example, here "waterproof" = can stand torrential rains and perhaps a drop into puddle.

I have been looking into Zeiss's Terra ED binoculars. Do they stand a chance against the Nikon M7's?

You seem to have had good service from your Nikon Monarch, so I would
give the new Monarch 7, a try. The new Monarch 7, is very good overall
and so have been the reviews.

I have experience with both the Monarch 7, and the Zeiss Terra, and
I recommend them both as great picks, both optically and fit and finish.
I am one that prefers the solid experience that an optic from Nikon and
Zeiss bring to the market.

Jerry
 

BirdingCristina

avis fanaticus confirmavimus
Monarchs seem to be my best choice at the moment. Plus, they're on sale right now at the Nikon store--those extra $80 could buy me a harness, cleaning equipment I need, and even some sort of covering against dust and moisture. I'll continue to research the Zen-Rays and the Terras, though.

I have repaired too many "waterproof" or "shockproof" binoculars to believe all I see in print. It's like the photo of the 120x120 binocular I've posted before . . . that was really a 7x50. Many unwary folks are too trusting. I certainly wish that wasn't a problem. But then, like Tevya, I wish I were a rich man. Still, ads sway people and I'm sure they sold many binos based on their verbiage.

Bill, do you have any experience with Nikon's warranty and repair services? I read somewhere that sending binoculars back to Nikon can be a hassle.
 

WJC

Well-known member
Monarchs seem to be my best choice at the moment. Plus, they're on sale right now at the Nikon store--those extra $80 could buy me a harness, cleaning equipment I need, and even some sort of covering against dust and moisture. I'll continue to research the Zen-Rays and the Terras, though.



Bill, do you have any experience with Nikon's warranty and repair services? I read somewhere that sending binoculars back to Nikon can be a hassle.

Hi Christina:

Attempting to be retired, I haven’t had dealings with Nikon directly in 6 years. My birding glass is Nikon (8x32 SE) and my primary astronomy glass is Nikon (7x50 Prostar). When I bought them, I could have had anything I wanted; I sold all the biggies. They are “alphas,” as most on this forum will affirm. However, everything wearing the Nikon brand is not.

I have been very impressed with their Refurb Program and what I have seen coming out of Japan. I have been considerably less impressed with what I have seen coming out of the California repair department. I believe that relates to some of the actions of their FORMER repair manager—can you say “shuck and jive”? BUT PLEASE, remember that a lot can change in a couple of weeks, and I haven’t had the inside track in 6 years. I still trust Nikon. But, on important matters, I would be cautious concerning who I dealt with (preposition at the end and all).

For YEARS, I only had the finest, most timely service. Then, near the turn of the century, things started getting a little shaky. My first clue was when I wanted to speak tech to tech with one of their bino techs and kept being given the repair “manager.” BEING a repair manager, I understand the importance of keeping the techs on the bench and off the phone. Nevertheless, I felt there was more going on.

I would like to tell some stories about this time, but I had better wait a few more years! I hope my convoluted comments are of some help to you. I did the best I could to speak plainly and keep myself out of trouble. |:x|

Cheers,

Bill

PS Do you live in the San Jose / Alejuela area?
 
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BirdingCristina

avis fanaticus confirmavimus
Thanks for the info, Bill. Up until recently I spent most of my life in the San José city area; I still go there every other month.

I've changed my mind, though. I think that the Zen-Rays would suit my needs better than the Monarch 7s. They're heavier and a bit above my budget (at least the Prime HDs are), but it seems that they would provide the best image quality and low-light visibility for the price.

Any thoughts? Is buying a Zen-Ray Prime over an ED3 worth the cost?
 
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WJC

Well-known member
Thanks for the info, Bill. Up until recently I spent most of my life in the San José city area; I still go there every other month.

I've changed my mind, though. I think that the Zen-Rays would suit my needs better than the Monarch 7s. They're heavier and a bit above my budget (at least the Prime HDs are), but it seems that they would provide the best image quality and low-light visibility for the price.

Any thoughts? Is buying a Zen-Ray Prime over an ED3 worth the cost?

I started to say that you don't even TYPE with a hint of a Spanish accent. But, then I looked at your bio: you're 15; that explains it!

There is a lady missionary in our church from Berlin. Not only does she not have any German accent, she speaks with all the stuff she would use as a young lady, here in the States--"likes" and "ums." The wife and I are blown away.

As far as Zen-Ray, I'm out of my league. That's not a comfortable place for a know-it-all. But then, the truth is more important. Zen-Ray was going to start sending me their repairs and a Fujinon collimator. I don't know what happened, there. I guess I was too expensive, or something.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help. My only advise is to take things slowly, don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

Deb and I have thought about moving to Costa Rica. Maybe with her Spanish and my experience with optics, I could get a gig with a marine store.

Cheers,

Bill
 

chowchilla

Maderator.
I live in the Australian Wet Tropics and own a pair of Leicas 10x42; they work just fine in the climate here and have survived many a heavy downpour, very high humidity and temperatures and the bumping of rough forest trails. :t:
 

typo

Well-known member
Christina,

The newish Monarch 5 and 7 I think offer a big improvement in CA and colour rendition compared to their predecessors. I personally feel that the sharpness still fails to match the best in class but I might be fussier about that than some. The M7 8x30 (short ER) is the pick of the range for me but the others are still worth considering as the ergonomics have hardly changed from the original.

Any thoughts? Is buying a Zen-Ray Prime over an ED3 worth the cost?

Zen-Ray isn't distributed in the UK so a comparison is not easy for me, but I did win a Prime here back in the summer and I am familiar with the Hawke Sapphire ED which is pretty much the same as the ED3 we understand.

The ED3 is about 27oz and the Prime 29oz and you might find both are getting a bit heavy for extended use. I actually find the balance of the Prime better in the hand than the Sapphire ED so feels a little lighter, but the difference would be noticeable round the neck. I've personally not tried them with a harness but it sounds a very good idea to distribute the weight. I've found the Prime's combination of weight and balance unusually steady in my hands and I'm pleased I chose the 10x. The Sapphire ED 10x was too unsteady for me.

Both models have relatively wide eyecups, bigger than the Monarch's as I recall, and probably won't sit in the eye socket. They may need to balance on your eyebrows, nose or both to some extent which might take a bit of getting used to. I did not have any particular issues with glasses.

The CA, centre sharpness and colour pretty good on both models, and above average for their respective prices. Both offer a comparatively wide view, but the Prime has a much flatter view than the Sapphire ED. The latter has a large sweetspot but some distortion and blur towards the edges. Most would find this entirely satisfactory in practice. The Prime's flat view is almost sharp to the edges. I personally find a flat view better suited to a 10x. I prefer some field curvature in lower powers but others will disagree. Flat field can cause a magnification distortion which a minority find unpleasant. The Vanguard Endeavour EDII, which was also mentioned above, has an even flatter if narrower view and I have seen the distortion occasionally with the 8x but so far been untroubled by the 10x prime.

If funds allow I would choose the Prime over the ED3 but whether it's worth the difference is very much a personal choice.

I also have the Vanguard Endeavour EDII 8x42 as I mentioned, which I consider very good as well. I'm wondering if the 8x32 might be an alternative worth considering as that is only 540g/19oz.

David
 

Toirealach

Well-known member
I live in the Australian Wet Tropics and own a pair of Leicas 10x42; they work just fine in the climate here and have survived many a heavy downpour, very high humidity and temperatures and the bumping of rough forest trails. :t:

Where can you buy them for under $500? ;)
 

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