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Seeking Binocular Choice Feedback (1 Viewer)

Seeking Binocular Choice Feedback

I’ve had many pairs of lower end binoculars in the $50 — $200 range, from 8x25 to 10x42, but have become progressively dissatisfied with throw away build qualities and mediocre performance.

So I’m planning on moving up to a pair of lower mid range compact roof prism binos in 8—10 magnification with 30—32 objectives, using the inclusion of ED glass as my lower cutoff.

My usage is hunting in the Fall, birding and general use the rest of the year.

My max price range is around $600.

These are the the potential choices so far:


Maven B.3 8x32 ED $525 range

MEOPTA MeoPro 8x32 HD/ED $450 range

Zeiss Terra 8x32 ED $400 range

Nikon 8x30 Monarch 7 ED $380 range

Celestron 8x32 TrailSeeker ED $280 range


Factory specs are available online, but harder to come by is experience translating specs into actual field performance.

I’ve searched extensively for info online, Amazon and B&H buyer reviews, pro reviews, and bird and bino forums. But field experience feedback is spotty and sometimes conflicting.

Accordingly, any feedback would be greatly appreciated for any of the above binos, or alternate brand/model suggestions, with respect to the following criteria:


Image sharpness

Image contrast

Sweet spot size percentage

Actual CA

Color transmission

Low light performance

Eye cup stability

Diopter control stability

Bridge hinge stiffness

Focus wheel size, position, smoothness

Ergonomic handling

Field durability

Experience with a warranty
 

WJC

Well-known member
Seeking Binocular Choice Feedback

I’ve had many pairs of lower end binoculars in the $50 — $200 range, from 8x25 to 10x42, but have become progressively dissatisfied with throw away build qualities and mediocre performance.

So I’m planning on moving up to a pair of lower mid range compact roof prism binos in 8—10 magnification with 30—32 objectives, using the inclusion of ED glass as my lower cutoff.

My usage is hunting in the Fall, birding and general use the rest of the year.

My max price range is around $600.

These are the the potential choices so far:


Maven B.3 8x32 ED $525 range

MEOPTA MeoPro 8x32 HD/ED $450 range

Zeiss Terra 8x32 ED $400 range

Nikon 8x30 Monarch 7 ED $380 range

Celestron 8x32 TrailSeeker ED $280 range


Factory specs are available online, but harder to come by is experience translating specs into actual field performance.

I’ve searched extensively for info online, Amazon and B&H buyer reviews, pro reviews, and bird and bino forums. But field experience feedback is spotty and sometimes conflicting.

Accordingly, any feedback would be greatly appreciated for any of the above binos, or alternate brand/model suggestions, with respect to the following criteria:


Image sharpness

Image contrast

Sweet spot size percentage

Actual CA

Color transmission

Low light performance

Eye cup stability

Diopter control stability

Bridge hinge stiffness

Focus wheel size, position, smoothness

Ergonomic handling

Field durability

Experience with a warranty

Welcome aboard.

It is not uncommon for a newbie to ask questions that:

1) Can’t be answered or
2) Will vary by as many users of them (often with those answers relating more to opinion than fact.)

There are hundreds of brands and models out here, most of which come from the same handful of OEMs. So, your best effort might be to narrow your questions to 3 or 4 of your most important. :cat:

Bill

PS There haven’t been any AMERICAN made CONSUMER binoculars in 70 years. Yes, them, too.
 
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pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
For your price and wanting durable and high quality, I'd hold out for a sale on a Zeiss Conquest HD or Nikon Monarch HG or, perhaps with a bit of luck, a Meopta Meostar or Kowa Genesis. Perhaps consider used as well. The first two can at times be had for around your $600 limit (recently the Nikon) - the Kowa occasionally around $600-700, and the Meostar I'm not sure if it ever dips quite that low, but it's in the same class. Any of them will provide more of a "binocular for a lifetime" experience than pretty much anything in the sub $500 class.

If you do prefer to stay more in the $300-400-500 range, others will be able to better comment on the various models. I've had the Monarch 7 and it's a perennial choice for optical quality vs price, but the armor is notoriously not a favorite.

Cheers and good luck.
 
Welcome aboard.

It is not uncommon for a newbie to ask questions that:

1) Can’t be answered or
2) Will vary by as many users of them (often with those answers relating more to opinion than fact.)

There are hundreds of brands and models out here, most of which come from the same handful of OEMs. So, your best effort might be to narrow your questions to 3 or 4 of your most important. :cat:

Bill

PS There haven’t been any AMERICAN made CONSUMER binoculars in 70 years. Yes, them, too.


Thanks for your answer and your kind feedback. Learning as I go. Let's say the 3-4 most important considerations would be: image sharpness, actual sweet spot size and taper, stiff bridge hinge, and because I tend to press binos to my head to steady them, I worry about collapsing eye cup resistance. These things are mostly only known to users because manufacturers and even pro reviewers tend to overlook them.
 
For your price and wanting durable and high quality, I'd hold out for a sale on a Zeiss Conquest HD or Nikon Monarch HG or, perhaps with a bit of luck, a Meopta Meostar or Kowa Genesis. Perhaps consider used as well. The first two can at times be had for around your $600 limit (recently the Nikon) - the Kowa occasionally around $600-700, and the Meostar I'm not sure if it ever dips quite that low, but it's in the same class. Any of them will provide more of a "binocular for a lifetime" experience than pretty much anything in the sub $500 class.

If you do prefer to stay more in the $300-400-500 range, others will be able to better comment on the various models. I've had the Monarch 7 and it's a perennial choice for optical quality vs price, but the armor is notoriously not a favorite.

Cheers and good luck.

Very much appreciate your response. Should be clear I can't afford alphas at this time, but maybe might reach to the options you've suggested, with Black Friday possibly coming up. As I noted I'm learning as I go. I guess all of those you mentioned should have the base optical quality I'm reaching for so maybe I should just drop those concerns on the forum. On some models, my online searches have indicated unsteady or collapsing eye cups and/or weak bridge hinge. So I'll just limit my query to those two concerns if anyone has some feedback.
 
Welcome aboard.

It is not uncommon for a newbie to ask questions that:

1) Can’t be answered or
2) Will vary by as many users of them (often with those answers relating more to opinion than fact.)

There are hundreds of brands and models out here, most of which come from the same handful of OEMs. So, your best effort might be to narrow your questions to 3 or 4 of your most important. :cat:

Bill

PS There haven’t been any AMERICAN made CONSUMER binoculars in 70 years. Yes, them, too.

As an aside, the Lander Wyoming company, Mavin Optics, claims to use all Japanese components assembled in San Diego. Don't know if that qualifies for American made, but about as close as we can get these days.
 

WJC

Well-known member
As an aside, the Lander Wyoming company, Mavin Optics, claims to use all Japanese components assembled in San Diego. Don't know if that qualifies for American made, but about as close as we can get these days.

Assembly IS NOT manufacture. BUT, they buy from Mark (Masaka) Kamakura. I used to buy from his older brother, Toshi, before he took over the company. Good people. :cat:

Bill
 

mwhogue

Registered User
Supporter
T. Emerson,

Generally speaking since you will be using bins year around and have decided to spend up to $600, I vote you simplify your list somewhat by excluding:

Zeiss Terra 8x32 - a decent binocular but somewhat overpriced at $400;

Celestron Trailseeker 8x32 HD - I have some good for the price lower end Celestrons but since you are willing to spend @ $600 you can do a lot better.

The answers to your questions re criteria are likely to be more "positive" the more you spend and IME many of your questions depend too much on primary intended use, individual preference, sample variance, handling ergonomics, facial anatomy, whether you will more often use glasses with your bins, et.cet. The often repeated advice "try before you buy" is sound.

Finally at @ $600 price point I agree with others you may well be better off going for a used or discounted/sale model.

Mike
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
In relation to the Maven products mentioned in post #6, see a screen grab from their FAQ page at: https://mavenbuilt.com/pages/faq

Maven uses various sources of components and locations of production, along with various assembly and inspection options, depending on the product series
They offer both B and C series binoculars (the S series is their telescopes, and the RS series their telescopic sights)

The FAQ page also has other interesting information for a prospective Maven purchaser

And a photo from the site showing some of the possible binocular colour combinations!


John
 

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Assembly IS NOT manufacture. BUT, they buy from Mark (Masaka) Kamakura. I used to buy from his older brother, Toshi, before he took over the company. Good people. :cat:

Bill

Sigh. I'm learning. But the idea of all Chinese is beginning to be downright troublesome for me, while alternatives seem extremely alpha. But the former is just a personal pref.

Being retired with limited funds, I just dumped a ton on a needed new vehicle and a few other toys, so alpha is simply NOT in my present budget -- yet!

Meanwhile I'm getting a handle on this great forum. I can just go to the brand specific section, look for posts on models I'm interested in, and ask one or two specific questions at a time from actual experienced owners. Perfect!

So once again, thanks for your helpful suggestions.
 
In relation to the Maven products mentioned in post #6, see a screen grab from their FAQ page at: https://mavenbuilt.com/pages/faq

Maven uses various sources of components and locations of production, along with various assembly and inspection options, depending on the product series
They offer both B and C series binoculars (the S series is their telescopes, and the RS series their telescopic sights)

The FAQ page also has other interesting information for a prospective Maven purchaser

And a photo from the site showing some of the possible binocular color combinations!


John


Thanks. While functionality and optics are primary, and although a bit vain, the idea of the total customization is just downright appealing. REALLY appealing, right down to the personal engraving. So Mavins are on my list. Just need to ask about a few complaints others have had. And of course, as others have suggested, I might be better off trying to reach up to the next notch of quality. The idea of Mavin's claim of attempting to match higher quality by eliminating retailers is compelling too. Need to find out from owners if this might be a fact or just a marketing ploy.
 
T. Emerson,

Generally speaking since you will be using bins year around and have decided to spend up to $600, I vote you simplify your list somewhat by excluding:

Zeiss Terra 8x32 - a decent binocular but somewhat overpriced at $400;

Celestron Trailseeker 8x32 HD - I have some good for the price lower end Celestrons but since you are willing to spend @ $600 you can do a lot better.

The answers to your questions re criteria are likely to be more "positive" the more you spend and IME many of your questions depend too much on primary intended use, individual preference, sample variance, handling ergonomics, facial anatomy, whether you will more often use glasses with your bins, et.cet. The often repeated advice "try before you buy" is sound.

Finally at @ $600 price point I agree with others you may well be better off going for a used or discounted/sale model.

Mike


Appreciate your feedback. Drop the low end Zeiss (apparently like buying a cheap version of a Chinese Mercedes), and the Celestrons. That helps.
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
I would recommend you look for a used Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32, which can be found within your $600 budget.

It’s a proven performer, extremely durable, very bright and very sharp with a very wide FOV, and the eyecups are rock solid stable (I also hate flimsy eyecups and the Conquest HD eyecups are SOLID). It has a very large sweet spot and a well correct field overall with minimal aberrations. There’s a reason it’s been a favorite in the “sub alpha” 8x32 class for a decade. The focus knob is smooth, and they are very ergonomic. The only thing it doesn’t have on your list really is top notch CA control, but that’s hard to find at this price point. (Side note: the Conquest HD line is also Kamakura manufactured, Zeiss then does enough assembly in Germany to be able to label them “made in Germany” but it’s Japanese glass).

Nothing at the $600 price point will do *everything* you are asking for. The Kowa Genesis 8x33 is another terrific option, it has superior color fidelity vs the Conquest HD, and is the only optic in this range that has truly excellent control of CA. It also is very well built and has a phenomenal focus knob. But it’s a bit above your budget even used for the most part.

The Maven demo program is worth a look, since you can try it risk free and decide if you like them. I’ve never heard anything bad about the optical quality, they are said to be very sharp and very bright.

Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 is also worth a look.

As others have noted the biggest X factor is personal fit / ergonomics. For example the 8x30’s you’re looking at (Nikon / Maven) are quite small and light, and some would consider them TOO small to use comfortably all day (especially if you have big hands). The Conquest HD and Genesis on the other hand are chunkier and heavier, which for some is a positive as it gives you more meat to wrap your hands around, and the extra weight helps with holding them steady. I think both the Conquest Hd and the Genesis are supremely comfortable in the hand.

One more X factor — there are a couple of Leica Trinovid 8x32 BN on eBay for under your budget. This model is a legendary classic still beloved by many and fully competitive optically with newer models in this price range. Extremely well built and considered by many to be one of the most ergonomic 32mm binoculars of all time.
 

Steve C

Well-known member
In relation to the Maven products mentioned in post #6, see a screen grab from their FAQ page at: https://mavenbuilt.com/pages/faq

Maven uses various sources of components and locations of production, along with various assembly and inspection options, depending on the product series
They offer both B and C series binoculars (the S series is their telescopes, and the RS series their telescopic sights)

The FAQ page also has other interesting information for a prospective Maven purchaser

And a photo from the site showing some of the possible binocular colour combinations!


John

Only the Maven C series binoculars are built from sources from various places. The main B series binoculars are from Kamakura in their Japanese facility, parts being shipped to Kama-Tech in San Diego for assembly, where warranty, service, and custom finishes are done as well. That being said, it is likely not possible to determine where Kamakura might get all its bits and pieces. In the same vein it is likely not possible to ever figure out where any manufacturer gets all the bits and pieces that go into the shiny new binocular you have just taken from the box.

One thing to note is that for whatever reasons the 30-32 mm class of binoculars seem to have a fairly wide range of suitability for various users with regard to eye cup extensions. Some people seem to have more serious problems with glare and other problems with these. Here is good reason to limit selection from what is available to try before you buy. Depending on where you are, it might need to involve a little return shipping costs. This is money well spent to get the right fit.

As far as the OP is concerned, the Maven B3 is by a fair margin the best of his list. He would do well to order a demo and see for himself. Another one he might do well to consider is the Opticron Traveller ED 8x32.

I'd be personally suspicious of anything from ebay that does not come with a factory warranty, either sold on the bay by a dealer with a good reputation, or from a private seller selling something with a no questions warranty.. That is a buyer beware place, particularly with regards binoculars.
 
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I would recommend you look for a used Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32, which can be found within your $600 budget.

It’s a proven performer, extremely durable, very bright and very sharp with a very wide FOV, and the eyecups are rock solid stable (I also hate flimsy eyecups and the Conquest HD eyecups are SOLID). It has a very large sweet spot and a well correct field overall with minimal aberrations. There’s a reason it’s been a favorite in the “sub alpha” 8x32 class for a decade. The focus knob is smooth, and they are very ergonomic. The only thing it doesn’t have on your list really is top notch CA control, but that’s hard to find at this price point. (Side note: the Conquest HD line is also Kamakura manufactured, Zeiss then does enough assembly in Germany to be able to label them “made in Germany” but it’s Japanese glass).

Nothing at the $600 price point will do *everything* you are asking for. The Kowa Genesis 8x33 is another terrific option, it has superior color fidelity vs the Conquest HD, and is the only optic in this range that has truly excellent control of CA. It also is very well built and has a phenomenal focus knob. But it’s a bit above your budget even used for the most part.

The Maven demo program is worth a look, since you can try it risk free and decide if you like them. I’ve never heard anything bad about the optical quality, they are said to be very sharp and very bright.

Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 is also worth a look.

As others have noted the biggest X factor is personal fit / ergonomics. For example the 8x30’s you’re looking at (Nikon / Maven) are quite small and light, and some would consider them TOO small to use comfortably all day (especially if you have big hands). The Conquest HD and Genesis on the other hand are chunkier and heavier, which for some is a positive as it gives you more meat to wrap your hands around, and the extra weight helps with holding them steady. I think both the Conquest Hd and the Genesis are supremely comfortable in the hand.

One more X factor — there are a couple of Leica Trinovid 8x32 BN on eBay for under your budget. This model is a legendary classic still beloved by many and fully competitive optically with newer models in this price range. Extremely well built and considered by many to be one of the most ergonomic 32mm binoculars of all time.


Wow. Very solid feedback and appreciated. While feeling the urge to buy something, one of the things about the learning is the process. The more I learn, the more likely I'll get into bins that even if replaced, I might keep and use.

I don't expect *everything* though, esp at the entry price level I'm at. I just listed all the criteria I'm learning about, trying to find the best deal for the buck. The ergo is critical, esp the eye cup stiffness. At my age, holding bins tightly against my head steadies the image a LOT.

A few have either pointed me to or offered me some interesting deals. But if I grab one, I'll be cutting off the struggle to learn about this topic. So I'm trying to take my time.

Weight is a factor. I hunt, mostly in the Fall. Not the greatest hunter, I just like to get out and it's always been a passion. And I'm older, so I have to carry everything I need including basic survival gear, extra clothing, water, emergency food, headlamp, range finder, OnX cellphone GPS, backup batteries, animal field dressing gear, etc. After a day with a 20+ lb pack, and five or six miles of bushwhacking at altitude, the difference between a 1 lb 32 obj bin and a 2 lb 42 obj bin is critical. The rest of the year my wife and I watch birds and animals, and pack our horses out of the back yard gate for short rides into the ranch country we live in. So coat pocket fit is also important, otherwise I'd tend to leave them at home with the 10x42 Leupolds that gather dust hanging with the car keys, or my old 10oz Nikon 10x25 hunting poros that are both wearing out and losing their image kick for me. Really noticing the poor optics, very narrow FOV, unsteady ergo, fixed eye cups, and really craving something better. ANYTHING better.

The money. I'm retired, but as an avocation I've been a pro photographer for a decade now, with both high end Nikon and Canon lenses, and really appreciate good optics. Still, I set a price of $400 - $600 to get into the market with the cash I have placed aside for bins. But while I could credit card an alpha pair right now and pay if off slowly, at first it seemed absurd to pay more for a pair of bang around hunting/utility bins than I did for my Kimber rifle and 4.5-14 Vx3 Leupold scope together! But still, I'm adjusting my views as I go. This forum is terrific. Just what I needed.

Again, thanks for the feedback.
 
In relation to the Maven products mentioned in post #6, see a screen grab from their FAQ page at: https://mavenbuilt.com/pages/faq

Maven uses various sources of components and locations of production, along with various assembly and inspection options, depending on the product series
They offer both B and C series binoculars (the S series is their telescopes, and the RS series their telescopic sights)

The FAQ page also has other interesting information for a prospective Maven purchaser

And a photo from the site showing some of the possible binocular colour combinations!


John

I'm joyfully learning here, so thanks to everyone for feedback.

Some sources suggest the B3 mavins, along with Nikon and several other brands, are using the same engineering formula for their 32 obj designs. If this is true, and I'm understanding this correctly, the only difference then would be glass quality, surface polishing, quality control, and build, which could easily add up or subtract from performance and personal fit.

Mavin build quality looks top notch, although the B3's apparently have plastic housings instead of metal. If the optics are anything like they claim, the Mavin B3 could be a very good deal, IF the ergo works for me. I'm not at all comfortable with Chinese quality control at ANY price, so if these really have well known quality Japanese glass as some of the more knowledgeable forum persons have suggested, and American assembly, and if Mavin is strong enough to hold up warranties, these are indeed compelling.

I opted for mid level Leupold Vx3 4.5-14 CDS optics for my Kimber rifle, and have had great experience with their American support reps. REALLY great. If Mavin is even close, that would be a good thing.

In vanity, I worked up these on the Mavin custom website:
 

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dries1

Member
Nice, reminds me of a Leopold, however in my small 2 cent opinion- I can't take the light gray accents on the focus wheel and surrounding the ocular/objective tubes.

Andy W,
 

PhilR.

Well-known member
Hello,

I haven’t owned the Mavin or the Meopro, but we have owned the other three, and still own the M7. The Nikon is my favorite by quite a bit. It provides a noticeably brighter, wider, and sharper view than the TS or the Terra, and with less weight too. The M7’s focus wheel is smoother too. Some people have reported issues with the M7’s rubber armor, but I have not seen any and my example was purchased when they first came out. The only downside to the M7 for me is the short eye-relief, which prevents me from wearing sunglases while using them.

You should really consider the Kowa BD II as well. They are on sale at cameralandny.com for $359, and their prices usually include shipping. I’ve not used one, but we do have the 6.5x version, and based on my experience with it, I would go with the 8x version if I were in your market.

Sorry I can’t tell you anything about the Mavin or the Meopro. Mavin just isn’t a brand that interests me. I do like the 42mm Meopros though, and might consider the 32mm if it costs less than the Kowa.
 

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