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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Premium (Alpha) my list. (1 Viewer)

The "dominance principle", alluded to in my post above, can be used to decide if a specific bino X belongs to the alpha class. First the user/we should define a set of important technical characteristics/features. If X is dominated by a bino in the existing/current alpha class wrt all these features then it belongs to the sub-alpha class (or lower), otherwise X is in the alpha set. Take the FL 8x32 as an example: (imo) it has better CA control than any of the accepted alpha binos (see my post above), hence it belongs to the alpha class.
 
I mainly use ELs or SLCs because I enjoy the view and handling. To be brutally honest with myself though I don't really need them - for 99%+ of the birds I see I could identify them just as well with a £200 pair of binoculars... I suspect if I stepped up to NLs the amount of additional birds I could identify than with my current binoculars would be near non-existent. We obsess about resoultion and detail, but practically we probably don't need that much, it's more a case of an unmeasurable extra degree of enjoyment.
 
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@PeterPS

The criteria and weighting to apply is the difficult and controversial issue.

For me, I would be considering handheld resolution (and objectively measured using a USAF chart or similar) and flat field (I generally don't like FC) .

CA would not be high in my weighting.
 
The only Canon IS bino that I have recommended to my friends is the 12x36 (II or III). The 10x42 has better optics and a wider AFoV as well as waterproofing, but it has the body of a toaster and eyecups made for klingons.
:):):)

Most amusing. It's been quite a few years since I tried IS bins, never bought any; but still, they truly must be the future.
I'm guessing Swaro will lead the way in producing a sleek, light, comfortable IS instrument, by which time I'll be doddery, semi-senile and desperately in need of a pair.

Edited to add, hopefully they'll include a virtual in-view auto-bird-ID display
 
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Is the meaning of "premium" the same as the meaning of "alpha"?

I think "premium" is more a technical qualifier and can be applied also to "specialized" binoculars, like the pocket binoculars, or IS ones. It express less subjectivity.

It is my understanding an "alpha” binocular is a "generalist" one, with a lot of capabilities, and having an important resale value. It is clear from various threads here than an “alpha” can also have some forgivable weaknesses (rarely mentioned).

Am I correct?
 
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@PeterPS

The criteria and weighting to apply is the difficult and controversial issue.

For me, I would be considering handheld resolution (and objectively measured using a USAF chart or similar) and flat field (I generally don't like FC) .

CA would not be high in my weighting.
The point I was trying to make is that a user can more clearly define the criteria that are important to her than rely on an elusive notion of "alpha". If, unlike me, you don't like a flat field why should Swaro SV/FP be alpha binos for you. If you are not sensitive to CA why should Zeiss FL be alpha for you, if it does not satisfy other criteria that are much more important to you? Once you have defined the criteria, and possibly their weights too, you are faced with a multiple-criterion optimization problem whose solutions form the set of YOUR alpha binos---imo "alpha" should be a user-dependent concept.
 
Wow. I thought this thread would just be lists bit it turns out to be a reasonably warmed debate!

I've never owned anything that's been mentioned as a potential alpha except possibly the habicht 7x42 (nice pair of linnets through them tonight, a rare view locally) so I hope that qualifies my findings.

I reckon if you have more than one binocular the alphas probably the one you like best.

P.s I'd really need to try i.s I'm up in brancaster for my usual week in October so must try one at cley spy with my wallet safely ensconse'd in the wife's handbag.
 
Like often before, I'm largely in agreement with Yarrellii's postings in defence of IS.

As many here know, my hobby for nearly three decades now has been to review (and therefore also field-test and to a degree, bench test) binoculars and spotting scopes. I don't own a collection like Pinac and many others here do, but have field-tested just about every top-tier binocular and many of the mid- and lower tier models as well. For me, it is important to see as much detail as possible, and also to see it well. Aesthetics of the image is one of my chief requirements.

Prior to the 10x42 IS L, I used the 15x50 IS as my primary binocular for several years. That model excelled in detail retrieval, but did not satisfy my aesthetics criterion. There was too much CA, and contrast, brightness and colour rendition also left too much wanting. Over the years, improvements in coatings have improved the image of the 50 mm Canons, but not to a point where I'd yet re-purchase one. The 10x42, providing you have a good, well-aligned unit, does reach the alpha level in major image-quality areas and for me provides the most aesthetically pleasing overall image, as the alpha-level image it provides does not shake.

What many people say about the weight and ergonomics is true. If Swarovski were to come out with a model that had the optics of their 10x42 NL Pure and the stabilisation of the Canon in a body of an EL range or even a 56mm SLC, I would buy it in a heartbeat for its better ergos and wider FoV, but the difference in optical quality would otherwise be marginal. This I know since every time I test anything I use the Canon as a reference. Lighter weight would be nice, but doing some pull-ups and pushups a few times a week nicely compensates for that, and has other benefits to boot.

As a contrafactual, I could propose an alternative world where all binocular have always had IS. A hypothetical company called Zeicavski introduces a revolutionary new concept: a binocular 250g lighter than any other alpha and with fantastic image quality! And it needs no batteries! But there is a small-print downside - it has no Image stabilisation. As a tester, I would laugh at such a ridiculous idea, and upon closer inspection would concede that the product would make sense for some explorers and outdoors people for whom every gram matters, but even then would caution that the drawbacks are so severe that you really, really must try before you buy. I actually own one of these binoculars in the Leica Ultravid 8x20, and there are times when I would take the Leica instead of a Canon. Except that now that our family also has a Canon 8x20 IS, I don't even take the Leica to theatre and concerts anymore. Come to think of it, perhaps running and cross-country skiing would be the only remaining activities of mine where the Leica would be my choice.

All this said, I really like and appreciate the current cream of the crop of the European muggle binoculars. They are beautiful examples of industrial design and manufacturing precision (well, mostly precision - let me not go to sample variation here), and bring me great joy to use, as long as I can reach out for the Canon when it really matters.

- Kimmo
 
The number of occasions where I can’t see, or have my view impaired by lack of IS, is very few. Absolutely agree that IS will almost always give better detail recognition but I use bins to find and ID birds, so I’m not soaking in those subtlies. For me at least, it’s overkill.

That said, a multi function IS bin, with variable zoom and photo capable would open my wallet…anything that helps me ditch camera, scope, tripod.
 
As a contrafactual, I could propose an alternative world where all binocular have always had IS. A hypothetical company called Zeicavski introduces a revolutionary new concept: a binocular 250g lighter than any other alpha and with fantastic image quality! And it needs no batteries! But there is a small-print downside - it has no Image stabilisation.
Excellent perspective! And yet this isn't really an argument. Some who try IS do come to feel this way... and then again, many don't. For now at least, it's just like an obsession with glare or CA or any other issue of special annoyance -- I don't mean that in a bad way at all, just the personal priority for which one is willing to make other sacrifices. (When was the Canon L last updated, especially the IS?) It's good to have this choice too, and one day it probably will have wider appeal.
 
Regarding "alphas" and the ego involvement in them along with brand fanaticism on the part of many posters, one should ask how much improvement over time can be achieved with them without incurring in significant price increases, how significant are said improvements and how much closer to their level will come much less expensive items. I have tried to find meaningful references to excellent older products with disappointment in posts. There is no useful information about high-level French binoculars nor have I found anything about various German brands and how they compare to the ones till made, particularly in comparisons of vintage products (Schneider-Kreuznach, Hartmann, Hertel and Reuss, Spindler and Hoyer, Steinheil and others). There is not enough information, what there is seems to consist of hype instead of substance and the result for the curious is frustration, particularly if one is interested in objectivity and the truth rather than ventilating his emotional involvement in a certain brand or brands.
 
Some who try IS do come to feel this way... and then again, many don't. For now at least, it's just like an obsession with glare or CA or any other issue of special annoyance -- I don't mean that in a bad way at all, just the personal priority for which one is willing to make other sacrifices.
Is that really on the same level? I mean, IS shows you clearly more detail on the bird, in all kinds of conditions. That's a fact. Glare and CA only affect the view through a binocular in particular conditions. And unless it's really bad it will never affect the detail you'll be able to see as much the shake - that IS binoculars effectively eliminate.
(When was the Canon L last updated, especially the IS?)
Does that matter? The optical quality is clearly that of an alpha binocular. (What Canon obviously changed over the years are the coatings. Later models have more contrast and as far as I can see better transmission.)

Hermann
 
Is that really on the same level?
OK, that could be an argument... but it will still depend on individual purposes.
Does that matter? The optical quality is clearly that of an alpha binocular. (What Canon obviously changed over the years are the coatings. Later models have more contrast and as far as I can see better transmission.)
Thanks for mentioning that, I hadn't heard before. But I was also asking about the IS, which sounds 20 years behind today's camera lenses.
 
But I was also asking about the IS, which sounds 20 years behind today's camera lenses.
Well, in some earlier Canon IS binoculars I saw some funny artifacts of the stabiliser. That was 15 years or so ago. I don't see any artifacts in the 10x42 IS L of recent production and in the 8x20 IS. I've heard rumours that Canon improved the stabiliser as well. Canon never mentioned this, but then years ago the main manufacturers improved their binoculars all the time without talking much about this.

Behind today's cameras - no, not really. I've got several camera lenses with IS/VR, and I don't think the stabilisers of the two Canons mentioned are behind these lenses.

Hermann
 
Is that really on the same level? I mean, IS shows you clearly more detail on the bird, in all kinds of conditions. That's a fact. Glare and CA only affect the view through a binocular in particular conditions. And unless it's really bad it will never affect the detail you'll be able to see as much the shake - that IS binoculars effectively eliminate.

Does that matter? The optical quality is clearly that of an alpha binocular. (What Canon obviously changed over the years are the coatings. Later models have more contrast and as far as I can see better transmission.)

Hermann

The Canons 10x42 IS L have good optics BUT If you consider effective ER, FOV, size, ergonomics and weight, I don't think they are quite Alpha level.

If they fix that, they will be interesting, but digital cameras probably killed the market for IS-bins anyway, so that's unlikely. A photo beats any bin when it comes to getting the ID of a bird.
 
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Well, in some earlier Canon IS binoculars I saw some funny artifacts of the stabiliser. That was 15 years or so ago. I don't see any artifacts in the 10x42 IS L of recent production and in the 8x20 IS. I've heard rumours that Canon improved the stabiliser as well. Canon never mentioned this, but then years ago the main manufacturers improved their binoculars all the time without talking much about this.

Behind today's cameras - no, not really. I've got several camera lenses with IS/VR, and I don't think the stabilisers of the two Canons mentioned are behind these lenses.

Hermann

IBIS + IS/VR will be better than what canon can do in their IS-bins, but 5-6 f-stops of stabilization is probably not needed, and the usual ≈ 2-4 is more than adequate.
 
I don't think they are quite Alpha level
Apart from they show more detail than any other non-IS or non-mounted binocular.

Back to one's opinion........ If bins are for actually seeing ...... Then one could argue they are the top of the Alpha pile.

Really, the term "Alpha" should be banned and demonised in use ...... It seems to be so emotive and causes pages of opinionated arguments over what products earn the accolade.
 
... nor have I found anything about various German brands and how they compare to the ones till made, particularly in comparisons of vintage products (Schneider-Kreuznach, Hartmann, Hertel and Reuss, Spindler and Hoyer, Steinheil and others).
I've handled binoculars of all the brands you mentioned, except for Steinheil. I also know several of the old Hensoldt models, both porros and roofs. The only one of these brands that can (almost) compete with modern binoculars are the late Hartmann models, even though their coatings still aren't as good as the ones available today. All the others - just like the old Zeiss porros, e.g. the 8x30B, the 8x50B and the 10x50, all excellent binoculars in their time - can't compete with modern binoculars. They're nice, but they can't compete.

And why should they be discussed here? You can't buy them new, and if you've got an old one you can't get it serviced easily. I won't deny these binoculars are quite fascinating - did you ever have a chance to use an 8x60 blc ("the fat one") or a Zeiss 8x60H? - but the times have moved on. Modern coatings make a heck of a difference. Just try to find a Habicht 7x42 from the early years and compare it to a recent Habicht. Same binocular, different coatings - and a world of difference.

There is not enough information, what there is seems to consist of hype instead of substance and the result for the curious is frustration, particularly if one is interested in objectivity and the truth rather than ventilating his emotional involvement in a certain brand or brands.
There is a lot of hype whenever a new binocular comes onto the market, that's right. "The best ever binocular ... yadda yadda yadda". However, this invariably dies down after a few months when people notice the warts and all that.

Hermann
 
There is a lot of hype whenever a new binocular comes onto the market, that's right. "The best ever binocular ... yadda yadda yadda". However, this invariably dies down after a few months when people notice the warts and all that.
Very true!
 
Hmm ….. so since the purpose of a car is to transport people and/or things from one place to another, a truck is necessarily a premium car since you can load more and therefore it performs it‘s purpose better than regular cars? 🤔
Not sure I follow.

By the way: there are areas where most IS binoculars, with few exceptions, suck. Consider e.g. applications where a very wide field of view is advantageous or even required (following rapid birds of prey; spotting birds when a large sector has to be covered rapidly). I find only the Canon 10x42 halfway useful in such situations.

I have more than half a dozen IS binoculars, and I used them regularly where they excel - seeing detail images. But otherwise, other binoculars sometimes offer more practical advantages. Whether they are „alpha“ or not does not depend on whether they have IS or not.
A perfect analogy and sums it up pretty good. One could call things what ever they want , it doesn’t make it a fact. IS is an optic tool that serves a purpose, a good purpose, but a truck is not a Ferrari or a Porsche. Regardless of cheeky comments from nexup or anybody who won’t do a comparison.
 
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