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Most Important Factors in Binoculars For You (1 Viewer)

JOC1

Member
United States
Hello Everyone, I was thinking about this topic and thought it would be great to hear other people’s experiences.
So I’ll give the question and my experience - then would like to hear yours!

Question: In your experience, what factors did you realize were the most important to you when it comes to binoculars and what factors did you discover weren’t as important as you once thought?


Most Important Factors for me:


Ease of Use -

I’ve had good performing binoculars that had blackout issues. While I learned how to use them and minimize the blackouts, I noticed that when I would give it to others to share the view, they would be bothered by the blackout. It bothered me that they couldn’t really enjoy the view with me. That’s when I realized Ease of Use was a huge factor for me - that anybody would be able to use the binos and not think twice about it.

Consistent Performance -

I didn’t know this was an important factor until recently - when I tried the Opticron Traveller 8x32. The sharpness was great but I noticed that if the light conditions weren’t optimal, the performance would drop. That made me realize that I wanted more consistent and flexible performance, which opened me up to the idea of upgrading to a 8x42 (despite the added weight).


FOV/sharpness -

I had The Nikon Prostaff 7s 8x30 and it had great ease of use, (despite it being a x30) but I was bothered by the tunnel field of view and the OK sharpness. For me, the binoculars have to reach a certain threshold in both, so that I’m focusing on the view rather than the lack of FOV/sharpness. My old Opticron Explorer 8x32 definitely hit this balance well. (my main issue was the ease of use, which is why I upgraded to the 8x42 Vortex Viper and am loving it)



Not Important Factors For Me:

Weight -

My first binoculars were a $50 8x42 pair from amazon and It did the job. But I noticed that I couldn’t use it well with one hand and thought if I got one that weighed less, it would solve the issue. So weight became one of my top priorities. But I quickly realized that no matter the weight - two hands will always provide a WAY more stable view than one hand ever could. And while less weight can be nice, we’re talking the difference between a handful of ounces, so it’s not a drastic difference. Needless to say - it became a non-factor for me. (Note: I’ve never tried pocket binos, but I suspect ease of use would be an issue for those)


So that’s what I’ve learned in my experience with binos so far, How about you all?
 
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Rg548

Retired Somewhere
United Kingdom
View first.... always view
Feel in the hand next.... I like a quality feel.
The rest I just seem to work around.
I don't mind heavier, and I don't wear glasses so eye relief not an issue.
 

BoldenEagle

Well-known member
Finland
Important factors:

Eye relief (I wear glasses and need about 19-20mm).

Ease of view; transparent, no reflections, shadows, or blackouts, smooth panning behaviour.

Light transmission >90%.

Big exit pupil (5.6mm feels quite ok).

Decent correction of chromatic aberration.

At least 6 degree fov.

10x magnification.

Not that important factors:

Weight.

Brand.

Closest focusing distance (can live with about 3.5m).

Edge distortion profile.

Faultless edge sharpness.


Regards, Juhani
 

Ted Y.

Well-known member
Canada
Most important factors for me:
Very good (depending of price) view.
FOV, more is better.
Exit pupil.
Details over contrast.
Focus mechanism.
Ergonomics.
Quality control in Europe or Japan.
Warranty.
Easy to access quality services for reparations and maintenance

Not as important as I once thought:
Weight.
Field flattening lenses.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Well, it depends on the intended purpose and if it's supposed to be my only pair or if I have one.
For example, if I have several binoculars, I can tolerate things better on certain cases that I wouldn't want to put up with if they were my one and only binos. I use the Pentax Papilio occasionally, and I can put up with their not stellar ergonomics, field of view, etc. Which I wouldn't want to experience every single time I use binoculars, but I can live with it while I use them. The same goes if I'm using a heavy 8x56. I can assume that day the trade off for low light performance it's going to be weight and bulk, etc.

If we are talking about my only (or my most used) binoculars. Then it would be like this:

1. Ease of use. There are three points were my body touches the binoculars: eyecups, body and focus wheel, and I want it to fit like a well used and worn shoe. I can't stand narrow eyecups, I don't particularly like "bulky" bodies and I have sold many otherwise nice binoculars because the focus action was not up what I expected (be it too slow or spongy or with play). So, for me, ease of use comes first by a large margin. Even if it has stellar optics, if I don't enjoy using it, I simply don't want it. I've been there many times, and over and over again, it's ease of use. I specially have a battle agains narrow eyecups. Ease of use first; performance second.

2. Weight/size. Always talking about everyday binoculars. My first quality binoculars were a 8x42 Conquest HD... and that's where I discovered I'm a "8x32 person". Probably due to what I do and where I live I see little use (actually no use at all) in 8x42. As a matter of fact, I adore the image through a quality 7x42 (UV, FL) but I simply leave it home for something more manageable like a 8x32. For an everyday pair, something around 500 g is my ideal. As a matter of fact, the Leica Retrovid 7x35 is basically my ideal pair but (check point 1) it has terribly narrow eyecups, not ideal. The focus action is lovely, but it's a little on the slow side.

3. Sharpness, contrast. Point number 1 and 2 always relate to a quality product. No, it does not have to be a +1000 € product. Something like an Opticron Traveller 8x32 or a Nikon Monarch 7 8x30 is more than enough for me (they struggle a bit with glare), but otherwise in terms of image quality I'm really happy with that level. My go-to binos are a 8x32 EL SV, but if Opticron released a 8x32 Aurora or Nikon came up with a more comfortable 8x32 MHG at around 500 g, I'd be over the Moon.

4. A little related with point 3., CA. I don't go crazy about it, but probably because my most used binos last year had CA to spare (Canon IS 12x36 III) I really enjoy when it isn't there (again, something like the Opticron Traveller ED is enough for me).

5. Repair/warranty. Over the years, I've come to appreciate binoculars that can be repaired and have had great experiences with some repair services (Swarovski, Zeiss, Leica, Meopta). So it's something I bear in mind when shopping for quality binoculars. Yes, I've had Vortex honour their warranty and replaced a faulty Viper HD, which is really nice, but not on the same league.


Not so important

1. A superwide field. Yes, everybody likes a wide field, and so do I. But with 8º in a 8x I'm more than happy, even 7,5º is everything else is perfect. I've used wider fields, but it hasn't given me an exponential level of satisfaction.

2. Eye relief. I don't wear glasses, so I really don't mind.

3. Which way the focus wheel turns. I've read many opinions stating how a CCW focus to infinity was a deal breaker. I really couldn't care less which way the little wheel turns.

4. Brand. I'm no fan boy. I have a Mac laptop and an Android smartphone, a Nikon and a Canon camera and bikes with Shimano and Campagnolo. I really don't care. Over the years I've owned dozens of binoculars, and there are some brands I like more than others (based on my experience), but I've had great and bad experiences with basically every brand I like be it Swarovski, Zeiss or Leica. I love my 8x32 ELSV, but found the eyecups on the 8x30 CL too narrow; I love the 7x42 FL, but had a hair in my brand new 8x42 Conquest HD (which was replaced); I love the 7x42 UVHD, but had to sold my 7x35 Retrovid due to narrow eyecups, etc. My most used brand is Swarovski (scope and go-to binos), but just because those two products fit my needs (as for today), but I could be happy with my Opticron MM3 ED 60 and the Traveller 8x32 ED. As a matter of fact, I like understated design, and if I could, I would erase every brand sticker and logo (the same way I do with clothes). As a special note, read point 5 above: I do like brands that repair their binoculars.


5. Country of origin (probably related). I really don't mind where they're made (well, as long as workers get a decent salary, this is). My Opticron Traveller ED 8x32 is made in China, but closed eyes you could be led to believe it's made in Japan (also after seeing it perform over the years). I think QC relates to the price you are ready to pay. China produces some very fine electronics, bikes, etc., and I'm sure they can produce some very fine optics, the same goes to the Philippines or wherever. A made in Portugal Leica is to my eyes just as good as a made in Germany, even though it doesn't sound nearly as impressive: take your know how and QC anywhere, pay for it, and you are ready to go. I've had good and bad experiences with Made in Germany and Made in China optics, so there you go.

6. Close focus distance. Anything around 3 m is OK. Yes, I've got some binos that go well under that mark and I enjoy using them, but it's not something I actively look for when shopping for binos.
 

Binocollector

Well-known member
Germany
Tough to answer. I have so many different ones and I like all of them for different reasons.

1. FoV -- wide angle 8x30s are a large part of my collection.
2. Comfy eyecups -- I prefer rubber fold-down ones over twist-up but there are some comfy twist-ups too. I dislike the ones that are too wide.
3. sharpness
4. flat field -- doesn't go together well with the wide FoV (unless you pay for it) -- so the ones I have with flat field are not as wide as the vintage porros. My preference for flat field in combination with wide FoV might lead to spending big bucks one day on a Swaro or Zeiss but I'll wait and see how the new Nikon P7 8x30 will perform.
5. weight -- if it's too heavy it won't see much use.

Not as important:
1. brightness -- overrated in my book, especially when using a bino during the day
2. waterproofing -- my vintage porros I could just take apart if moisture gets inside
3. magnification -- since my bino collection began through my interest in astronomy, I thought more is better but unless using my Canon 18x50IS I prefer between 6x-8x magnification.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Important factors:

Ease of view:
transparent, no blackouts, not a lot of glare, especially veiling glare.

Light transmission: >90%.(But I really prefer 95% and above for the sparkle it gives you even in the daytime)

Exit pupil: I prefer at least 4 mm or above in my full size binoculars, but 3 mm is fine for compacts and even down to 2 mm for compact IS binoculars.

Magnification: I prefer 8x in a traditional binocular for the bigger FOV, DOF and steadier view. I like 10x and above for the additional detail, but I prefer IS when I use any higher magnification than 8x.

Sharpness: I really like high on-axis sharpness and the ability to resolve detail.

Contrast: I really appreciate good contrast and the "pop" that the alpha and higher priced binoculars seem to have more of.

AFOV: I prefer an AFOV of at least 60 degrees or above unless the binocular has unusually good performance in other areas like the Habicht 7x42.

Focuser: I really appreciate a smooth focuser that is even in both directions.

3D: I really prefer the 3D stereoscopic image that some binoculars give you, especially porros.

Ergonomics: I can tolerate average ergonomics if the binocular has exceptional optics. The optics are what is most important to me.

Not that important factors:

Weight:
I don't mind carrying a heavier binocular if it has really exceptional optics, up to a certain point of about 40 oz. (No Nikon WX's in my arsenal).

Brand: I prefer European or Japanese over MIC because of quality problems I have had with MIC binoculars.

Closest focusing distance: 10 feet is usually good enough because I don't do bugs or butterflies.

Edge sharpness: I prefer sharper edges, but they don't have to be tack sharp anymore, but I don't like it when you notice a lot of fall off on the edges.

Waterproofing: Not that important because I don't bird in the rain usually, although I do appreciate having a sealed binocular for dust and fog proofing.
 

Trinovid

Well-known member
United States
Primary goals:

*Compactness - speaks for itself
*Durability and weather resistance - same as above
*View - that's what binoculars are for
*Brightness, balanced against size - prefer to be able to still see when it starts getting dark
*Ease of focus - of course
*Lockable eyecups - ones that will stay in the out position without any fiddling around needed

These main areas of importance for me has led me to have nothing but Leica binoculars so far, but I'll probably end up with a pair of the Zeiss Victory 8x25 and Swarovski Curio 7x21 eventually too.
 

gweller

Well-known member
Important/vital for me are:
Resolution
Accurate color rendering
Little or no CA
Weight
Ergonomics
Ease of view
Build quality
Manufacturer support (i.e. able to get spares and to know that there is a good repair service)

Nice to have, but not necessarily deal breakers
Waterproofing
Rubber armor
Wide field of view
Edge sharpness
Brightness

Don't matter
Accessories (very rarely use a case and normally replace neck strap with wrist strap)
 
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GrampaTom

Well-known member
United States
Seems an assumption, something taken for granted in most of these thoughtful lists, but doesn't magnification have to be number 1? It is why binos exist. Second to that, and methinks doesn't need much qualification, is the quality of that magnified view. What good is one without the other? All the rest are subordinate and subjective....
 

Binocollector

Well-known member
Germany
Seems an assumption, something taken for granted in most of these thoughtful lists, but doesn't magnification have to be number 1?
I am most comfortable with 6x-8x. And there are not really many binos lower than that apart from some exotic things like those super wide angle Galilean type 2x54 (I will probably get one of those one day) or something along those lines. Most major brands start at around 7x and that is my sweetspot.
I'll go up to 10x if the ergonomics are good enough to keep them still. Any higher and I take the Canon 18x50IS. I do have a 15x56 too but it's best used with a monopod. Sometimes I do use my 12x50 Vortex Diamondback but 12x50 seems a strange format to me -- almost not usable hand-held and very restricted FoV.
 

Maljunulo

Well-known member
Seems an assumption, something taken for granted in most of these thoughtful lists, but doesn't magnification have to be number 1? It is why binos exist. Second to that, and methinks doesn't need much qualification ……
Sorry, but no.

As you yourself have said (sort of) bigger isn’t better without additional detail. A bigger blob is no more informative than a smaller blob. There is a thing known as “empty magnification”, but I think binoculars have to be rely awful to exhibit this.

I do not believe I see less with my SF 8X32 than I used to see with my EL SV 10X42 because the image, although smaller, is “better”, for whatever reasons. (detail, contrast, etc, etc.).

The purpose of enhanced optics is to resolve, not to magnify. They are not the same thing.
 
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GrampaTom

Well-known member
United States
Sorry, but no.

As you yourself have said (sort of)bigger isn’t better without additional detail. A bigger blob is no more informative than a smaller blob. There is a thing known as “empty magnification”, but I think binoculars have to be rely awful to exhibit this.

I do not believe I see less with my SF 8X32 than I used to see with my EL SV 10X42 because the image, although smaller, is “better”, for whatever reasons. (detail, contrast, etc, etc.).

The purpose of enhanced optics is to resolve, not to magnify. They are not the same thing.
Mal, I think you're confused. I wrote "....doesn't magnification have to be #1?" Indeed, of course it does. Please note, I did not say how much magnification, that is for the user to decide. Essentially the sole reason binos exist in the world is to makes stuff bigger or closer, however one chooses to interpret. Not debatable, sorry
 

Binocollector

Well-known member
Germany
Not debatable, sorry
Of course it is. It is a given fact that a binocular magnifies. So why put "magnification" on the list at all. I might just as well put: "Needs to have lenses" on #1. Or "needs to have two barrels." So since we all agree that a bino magnifies, it doesn't tell you anything about how important that point is on anybody's list. Everything is debatable.
If someone asks you, what you like about a car -- do you put: "Has 4 wheels" on #1?
 

William Lewis

Wishing birdwatching paid the bills.
United Kingdom
Brings far away things closer, minimum 6x.

Clear, minimal CA, bright view, 115m fov minimum.

Stability. Hand held 10x max if long, 8x max if short for good stability for me without I.s.

Good depth of field, minimal focusing after 30m

Robust.

Accurate focuser.

Exit pupil 4mm minimum.

Weight, max 1kg.

Comfy eye cups.

Done.
 

GrampaTom

Well-known member
United States
Of course it is. It is a given fact that a binocular magnifies. So why put "magnification" on the list at all. I might just as well put: "Needs to have lenses" on #1. Or "needs to have two barrels." So since we all agree that a bino magnifies, it doesn't tell you anything about how important that point is on anybody's list. Everything is debatable.
If someone asks you, what you like about a car -- do you put: "Has 4 wheels" on #1?
The title of this thread?

"Most Important Factors in Binoculars For You"​

Seems obvious enough to me. Needs to magnify. Yup. How much? For you to answer. And that magnified image needs to be as sharp and clear as possible, (I can afford).

If someone asks me what I like about my car, the answer is cuz it takes me where I want to go, when I want to go there, and helps carry stuff I wanna bring, (like binos), with me.

Of course it isn't, not for me (ref thread title), sorry.

You are of course welcome to your own opinion.
 

Binocollector

Well-known member
Germany
Seems obvious enough to me. Needs to magnify.
Yup, and since EVERY binocular does that -- no need to even mention it. Of course you are entitled to mention it on YOUR list if you deem it important to mention the obvious.
BTW -- this will be my last post in reaction to yours. Time is precious and I am certain there will be another reaction from you (because there always is -- basically a given on an internet forum). Which will lead to you ending up on my ignore list.
 

Trinovid

Well-known member
United States
...isn’t better without additional detail. A bigger blob is no more informative than a smaller blob.
Yup, and since EVERY binocular does that -- no need to even mention it. Of course you are entitled to mention it on YOUR list if you deem it important to mention...
Pretty well covers how I see it too, but we all made our lists with the points we felt were important and there'd be no controversy if he'd simply mentioned his preference without suggesting that we all had to agree on that.

Anyways, my next purchase will be some nice 1x binoculars, with two eyepieces of course.
 

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