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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)

kimmik

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I use IS lenses and rarely do I turn them off. If that doesn’t mean anything to you then I’m wasting my time here.
 

Hermann

Well-known member
Experience - canon 17-85mm IS lens needing repair.
Sigma 150-600mm IS being a bit weird
Iphone IS needing replacement after a modest drop
Comparing apples to oranges, don't you think? There's quite a difference between the "L" lenses Canon makes and, say, the Sigma.
Thats enough IS trouble for me as it is. Carrying an IS lens or bino, I will no longer be able to throw the bino into my hiking bag and forget that it existed until I use it!
Ok, if you want to be able to treat your optics roughly, you may indeed be better off with, for instance, a Hensoldt Fero. But that's then a very specific criterion.

Hermann
 

William Lewis

Wishing birdwatching paid the bills.
United Kingdom
I still think it's best to consider an alpha the best binocular you own - for everyone's sanity!

It's interesting that this thread has turned into is an i.s stabilized binocular an alpha one though so I'll chuck my 2p in.

I hadn't looked through any till this weekend and wes totally blown away by the detail, handheld at higher magnifications.

Usual test for me is looking at some writing and seeing how small I can read with various bins, I s blows everything away comprehensively hand held above the usual stability limits for me these are decent quality 6.5x32 7x35 or 8x42. And even at these mags/apertures i.s would still be better, getting a thoroughly useable view in a 16x42, mental.


Have I bought them, no. Wife reminded me I'm a fickle beast and like to sell things every now and then to justify my decision making incompetence. Selling an I s bin Vs a well renowned and thoroughly warranted euro bin? Got some lovely SLC 8x56's on the way instead. It's all twisted logic!
 

dwever

Registered User
Supporter
Sorry, not going to read a 12 page thread. In case these have not been added:

  • Maybe the Zeiss 20X60 Mechanically Stabilized (not a birding solution but darn sure alpha; launched in 1990 the first mechanically stabilized and still around) $8,000.
  • Certainly the Swarovski EL Range TA (second only to the NL optically); released last year. Starting at $3,599.
 
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Paultricounty

Well-known member
United States
Sorry, not going to read a 12 page thread. In case these have not been added:

  • Maybe the Zeiss 20X60 Mechanically Stabilized (not a birding solution but darn sure alpha; launched in 1990 the first mechanically stabilized and still around) $8,000.
  • Certainly the Swarovski EL Range TA (second only to the NL optically) Starting at $3,599.
Agreed.
 

Gdavis248

Well-known member
United States
Just throwing in my 2 cents here in the middle of this debate to say I made the jump from ~$500 mid-level bins to some “alphas”. Swarovski EL 8.5x42. What I’ll say is look…it’s not like you’re gonna hear colors and magically see birds that weren’t there before. BUT in a side by side, mano a mano test. There is a very clear winner. Swaro’s every time! I mean the others are good sure…and when you just look through them without comparing with the “alphas” yeah they’re nice binos but when you look through the EL’s there is a realization of ohhhhhhh okay. Yes. I see it now! And then when you look through them for EXTENDED periods of time is really when you start to see and feel the difference. And that’s why in my opinion, one cannot pick up a pair of NL’s or any other alpha glass at a store counter and expect to be amazed by them. I did that! And now that I own a pair I can confidently say that looking through a pair in a store does them no justice whatsoever. And honestly it probably only goes to hurt the reputation of these brands because one simply isn’t going to be wow’d by them in 5 minutes inside a store shop counter with an impatient bored employee staring at you while you try to focus on a stuffed buck on the wall. Basically you’re just not getting the full effect.
 
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Binocollector

Well-known member
Germany
And now that I own a pair I can confidently say that looking through a pair in a store does them no justice whatsoever.
Now a Swaro is back on my wish list thanks to your post :). I think the main problem with "testing in the store" is distance, unless they allow you to go outside and have a look. Many cheaper binos perform pretty well at close range and only show their weaknesses at distances above maybe 300m or something along those lines. When I am looking at birds at the feeder in the garden in roughly 5m -- I can take whatever I have at hand and it will always look nice.
 

Dyrlege

Well-known member
Norway
Sorry, not going to read a 12 page thread. In case these have not been added:

  • Maybe the Zeiss 20X60 Mechanically Stabilized (not a birding solution but darn sure alpha; launched in 1990 the first mechanically stabilized and still around) $8,000.
  • Certainly the Swarovski EL Range TA (second only to the NL optically); released last year. Starting at $3,599.
I made the mistake of trying the Zeiss 20x60 in the late 90-ies, it is a wonderful piece of equipment!
A mistake because 1: I am unwilling to spend that much money om a pair of binos , 2: because they became the standard by which I measured all later binos and scopes.
So maybe sometime I shall have to reconsider 1...
 

CharleyBird

Well-known member
England
Where angels fear to tread...

Reading through this, it seems any Alpha listing ought to be divided into a number of categories with defined specific usage.
Alphas ought to have excellent all round abilities and/or specific ability. Cost is irrelevant.
e.g. the Fujinon 40x150. In my Astronomy Alpha list.

What seems clear to me after reading this thread is that, given the overall optical and ergonomic qualities of any IS binoculars currently on the market, I would not include them on a list of "Alpha Birding" instruments.

Also the 'Scopeviews' website has been mentioned a number of times, and, whatever quotes might be extracted, again it seems clear to me the author thinks the NL 8x42 is the best birding binocular currently available.
His favourite is the NL 12x42 because firstly he lives near the Solway with expansive views of the Lake District Fells and the more distant Scottish hills over the Firth, and secondly for his astronomy. He is quite clear as to why the NL binoculars are winners.


P.S.
Batteries suck.
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
To expand on CB's points about Roger's observations in Scopeviews . . .

Besides Roger's reviews of individual binoculars: Binocular Reviews
he also has a Best Buys page that some may be not be aware of: Scope Views' Best Buys
It addresses which binoculars Roger considers best for various terrestrial and astronomical uses (and also telescopes for astronomy).


John
 

Gdavis248

Well-known member
United States
Now a Swaro is back on my wish list thanks to your post :). I think the main problem with "testing in the store" is distance, unless they allow you to go outside and have a look. Many cheaper binos perform pretty well at close range and only show their weaknesses at distances above maybe 300m or something along those lines. When I am looking at birds at the feeder in the garden in roughly 5m -- I can take whatever I have at hand and it will always look nice.
Not only distance but something about the lighting just doesn't help at all with distinguishing binoculars. Synthetic fluorescent/led store lights. I literally picked up a pair of ~$300 bins and then some NL's while in store. And for a few seconds I thought...wait, what's the difference here?!? Unfortunately, the store I was in had no interest in letting me take their $3,000 binoculars outside for a test. Can't say I blame them (trust no one these days!).

Best bet is to find a store with a good return/exchange policy and go from there. Huge hassle for sure but it's the only way to really experience them.
 

tenex

reality-based
Now a Swaro is back on my wish list
Do consider the SLC HD (esp. 2010 model) not just EL, unless you must have SV/FP. Excellent glass.

...it seems clear to me the author thinks the NL 8x42 is the best birding binocular currently available... He is quite clear as to why the NL binoculars are winners.
Having tried several models I agree that they're the best practical (i.e. excluding WX) binoculars ever made, period. But that's where things get complicated, because not only do I still not have one yet, I recently got a nice SLC HD 10x42 that I stumbled upon instead, and like enormously. I just got a chance to compare it directly to an NL; the short story is that it has very much a similar quality view (including general field sharpness) and focusing range, with some further differences:
  • NL has wider FOV, sharper edges, more neutral color (but also annoying FP attachments, eco-armor, lacks Swaroclean etc)
  • SLC has a slightly warm (yellow/amber) cast that I only notice in direct comparison, possibly meant to aid contrast, which is better even than NL's
  • SLC has more pincushioning, and is a bit shorter and lighter than NL (1/2", 2oz), quite small for a 42 (both feel very good in hand, in different ways)
  • I expect SLC to do better with glare as its baffling looks excellent, but have not had occasion to test that yet
One can absolutely call NLs "the best" overall, but even apart from price, it's not an entirely straightforward choice for me. I would define an "alpha" binocular circularly, as one that leaves us in this sort of quandary among other alphas. (Until we get out and use it.)
 
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CharleyBird

Well-known member
England
tenex,

Regarding the Field Pro attachments, in this hot weather I didn't want to carry my phone/wallet in my pocket in London, so decided to zip it in my swaro case and carry bandolier style.
To best fit my galaxy note in the internal pocket with binocular, I took off the strap of my 12x42's.
Long story short, after a year and a half since they were bought, the strap came off easily, and furthermore went back on pretty easily too. I reckon as long as you know the simple method, push and turn using a small bit of e.g. rubber to grip the stud, and ensure the clips are fully in before inserting into binocular when reattaching, the system (while not perfect) does work ok, at least on my bins.

Regarding the thinner(?) NL armour, I feel they are adequately protected, but the finish definitely shows scuffs and marks more easily than others.
 

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