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Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Premium (Alpha) my list. (1 Viewer)

Paultricounty

Well-known member
United States
I thought this might be a friendly short thread on what other birders and binocular users think fit into the alpha category.

My opinion picks, from top of the premiums to the just entry level, in that order. For overall image quality on axis more or less. I’ve had experience and or own every one on my list (not just a try out in store) unless indicated by an, I’m told.

Swarovski:
NL
EL
SLC
Habicht

Zeiss:
SF
HT (I’m told)
FL (I’m told)
SFL (judgement still out, but certainly in the price category.

Leica: everything, just kidding.
Noctivid
UVHD
Trinovid Classics.
Trinovid BN (I’m told)

Nikon:
WX
EDG
SE (border line, maybe)

What did I forget?

Paul
 
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CharleyBird

Well-known member
England
A bit broad? I mean, is it to be a list of pretty good binoculars, or to rank the optically outstanding? Or the best in use (personally)?

Putting a Nikon WX in the same category as a Habicht? I'd rather use an E2.

Do you start with WX and Borg as optical Alphas, then NL/SF/Noct/Highlander as Betas, then...?


Good luck...
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
I haven't tried all the newest of what you list there, since I tend to stick only to «past generation» top of the range, which I can afford (FL, UV, EL, SE, HG). However I'd say that I'm not sure how many "generations" you can go back in time keeping a comparable level of performance to be included with the latest and greatest. Take Leica, for example: NV and UV are surely top of the range, but then UV has had different iterations over the years (BR, HD, HD+)... and then comes BN in the list. It is without a doubt a really impressive device, I'd dare to say it has become a cult bino, but a bit long in the tooth, don't you think? I mean, if you add BN, then Nikon SE would certainly be in there too. It seems that you've embarked in a sail that crosses rough to very rough seas ;)
 

Paultricounty

Well-known member
United States
A bit broad? I mean, is it to be a list of pretty good binoculars, or to rank the optically outstanding? Or the best in use (personally)?

Putting a Nikon WX in the same category as a Habicht? I'd rather use an E2.

Do you start with WX and Borg as optical Alphas, then NL/SF/Noct/Highlander as Betas, then...?


Good luck...
My thought process was to take the three or four binocular companies that produce or have relatively recently produced what we call alphas, the height of premium glass. I rank them in order of each manufactures top of the line to the lowest end of what they manufacture that I believe still falls in the premium alpha category.

I don’t think people will disagree with the first entry in each manufactures lineup as being the height of today’s premium (alpha) glass. Where it gets a little tricky is when you get down to older designs or what was previously what we all considered premium. Where does the borderline comes in. I don’t know too much about the WX, but some here have said that the WX is still made by Nikon to show that they can still make high-end Optics. I’m not sure if I should’ve included it. We have to keep in mind that Nikon doesn’t really make any premium grade binoculars anymore if the WX wasn’t included.

Just to clarify again, the list is an opinion of each manufacture best including each manufactures lowest premium , but still falling into that alpha category. As you note I don’t have things like Trinivit HD, monarch HG, Zeiss conquest, which I feel fall into a different category. When speaking about the Leica’s, I was referring to UVHD+ and the model just before the plus.

As far as Habicht and EII , I agree that I can prefer the Nikons for a few different reasons, but on axis the Swaro is in another league, I’ve had a dozen or so people do side by sides. Interesting to note that although the majority of them thought the Habicht’s are brighter and sharper, the majority of them like the E2 better.

Paul
 

Paultricounty

Well-known member
United States
You forgot Canon. The 10x42 IS L is definitely an alpha.

Hermann
Are they? I havnt really seen a consensus on whether the 10 x 42 IS L is true premium alpha glass. I’ve looked through a few ( briefly & I don’t believe any were the L) over time and none of them impressed me or came close what I call alpha. I reserve the right to ad it later 😃. I will have a pair in the next few weeks. Also if enough people here say that are true premium glass, I’ll ad and then give my opinion later.

Thank you

Paul
 

Vespobuteo

Well-known member
Added, Thank you 🙏🏼

Paul

Zeiss 7x42 Dialyt

"Among the cognoscenti, the 7x42 Dialyts are regarded as a Zeiss masterpiece. No dissent from me. The wide, sharp, deep and bright view seems almost modern. False colour levels are very low without HD or Ultra-FL, presumably due to the external focusing.

So the optics are great, but the Dialyts are quite light and handle well too. Many current Alpha binoculars still have less perfect eyepiece comfort than this 1981 design. Even the focuser would be excellent, given a service.


The Zeiss 7x42 Dialyts are a genuinely exceptional binocular, even today, and get my highest recommendation. Trouble is, you’ll be lucky to find a really good example and any optical repairs will be expensive. And make sure you buy T*P* for a modern view.
"

 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

if we go by optical quality and don't care about use for birding any more, we need the Fujinon FMT-SX series in there, the Canon 10x42 IS L too, it's a notch above the other IS series.

Not sure about the Habichts though - sure, they win in the brightness and center field resolution categories but everything else is fairly meh - eye relief: no, field flattening: no, performance in difficult light: no for 8x30, so-so for the others, good field of view: no for the 7x42. If you force me to choose one, it would be the 10x40, but i would take my E2 any day...

Joachim
 

Thotmosis

Well-known member
Netherlands
Me on the other hand would vote in favor of the Habichts. Having both the 10x40 and 8x30, i find the latter even better than my UVHD 8x32 regarding center sharpness, ease of view, brightness, FOV and ergonomics. Just my opinion, i don’t want to start a war over it ;)
.
 

Hermann

Well-known member
Are they? I havnt really seen a consensus on whether the 10 x 42 IS L is true premium alpha glass.
There won't be any consensus here over ANYTHING. And the Canons seem to polarize opinions more than any other binocular. There are plenty of people who don't want to have anything to do with binoculars that need batteries for the stabilizer. Funnily all of those people presumably also use cellphones and plenty of other gadgets that depend on batteries ... ;)

That bias is pretty obvious here, and also on the German forum.
I’ve looked through a few ( briefly & I don’t believe any were the L) over time and none of them impressed me or came close what I call alpha.
There's a quite a difference between the 10x42 IS L and the other Canons. That said, even the lowly 10x30 IS will show you more detail on the bird than any of the conventional alphas, especially on windy days. With the 10x42 that difference is huge. Do you know Kimmo's old thread where he compared the resolution of the Canon vs. the Nikon 10x42 SE handheld? It's here: Canon 10x42 IS L Tripod vs hand-held vs IS testing
I will have a pair in the next few weeks. Also if enough people here say that are true premium glass, I’ll ad and then give my opinion later.
That's going to be interesting.

Hermann
 

Hermann

Well-known member
Hi,

if we go by optical quality and don't care about use for birding any more, we need the Fujinon FMT-SX series in there, the Canon 10x42 IS L too, it's a notch above the other IS series.
Agreed.
Not sure about the Habichts though - sure, they win in the brightness and center field resolution categories but everything else is fairly meh - eye relief: no, field flattening: no, performance in difficult light: no for 8x30, so-so for the others, good field of view: no for the 7x42. If you force me to choose one, it would be the 10x40, but i would take my E2 any day...
My favourite among the Habichts is actually the 7x42 despite it's (very) small field of view. Brightness and contrast are truly exceptional, and it's one of the few binoculars that have NO problem with glare/veiling glare. The 10x40 is #2. The 8x30 on the other hand is out. Its performance when viewing against the light is pretty abysmal.

Hermann
 

Paultricounty

Well-known member
United States
There won't be any consensus here over ANYTHING. And the Canons seem to polarize opinions more than any other binocular. There are plenty of people who don't want to have anything to do with binoculars that need batteries for the stabilizer. Funnily all of those people presumably also use cellphones and plenty of other gadgets that depend on batteries ... ;)

That bias is pretty obvious here, and also on the German forum.

There's a quite a difference between the 10x42 IS L and the other Canons. That said, even the lowly 10x30 IS will show you more detail on the bird than any of the conventional alphas, especially on windy days. With the 10x42 that difference is huge. Do you know Kimmo's old thread where he compared the resolution of the Canon vs. the Nikon 10x42 SE handheld? It's here: Canon 10x42 IS L Tripod vs hand-held vs IS testing

That's going to be interesting.

Hermann
Thx Herman

no consensus on anything, that made me laugh. Thx for the link.

Paul
 

Paultricounty

Well-known member
United States
Me on the other hand would vote in favor of the Habichts. Having both the 10x40 and 8x30, i find the latter even better than my UVHD 8x32 regarding center sharpness, ease of view, brightness, FOV and ergonomics. Just my opinion, i don’t want to start a war over it ;)
.
I could agree that on the 30’s , don’t have the 840. I still seem to prefer the little Leica‘s for that color saturation. Two incredibly different binoculars that are both incredibly enjoyable to use.

Paul
 

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