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Vixen Foresta 7x50 CF Porro (vs Leica, Fujinon, Minox) (1 Viewer)

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
A meeting of four sevens (disclaimer: long read for die hard 7x lovers)

I’ve wanted to get a pair of Vixen Foresta 7x50 CF for quite a while, ever since I read both FrankD’s and Edz’s reviews here and over at Cloudynights, besides the reports of other users. So when a forum member answered to my “message in a bottle” in the Wanted subforum I was over the Moon. When they eventually got home the anticipation was so great that to say that my expectations were high would be an understatement.

Background
As for personal preferences, I like 7x binoculars and I sure like a wide field of view, but I think that if I had to chose among the different attributes that make my dream binocular, sharpness would be on top of the list. In order to have some reference for the performance of the Vixen, I have made a series of comparisons with other 7x binoculars I have at hand, some of which are very well known. Please be aware that this is a completely unscientific personal review and I have no other aspiration than to share my experiences with other fellow forum members and binocular lovers, exchange impressions and opinions… and have a good time! Nice binoculars to compare and discuss... what could be better! :)

You can find deep reviews of the Vixen Foresta both here and in CN. Its basic specs are a weight 930 g and have a FOV of 7,1º - 125 m/10000
The other binoculars I used for my comparison are:

Leica Trinovid BA 7x42 900 g - 8º/140 m
Minox BD BR Asph 7x42 820 g - 7º/123 m
Fujinon FMT-SX 7x50 +1300 g - 7,5º/131 m

I have been enjoying all these lovely binoculars for a while, but my intention is to keep just one of them. As a format, 7x42 is probably my favourite one: great depth of field, steady view... but due to size and weight I tend to use 8x30-32 the most, followed by 10x42 for long range. Anyway, I feel I want a nice 7x in my “team of binoculars”, something that is bright and can be used both for very early/late viewing and backyard astronomy (plus backyard, feeder, landscape and balcony observations). In the past I’ve had the pleasure of using top dogs in the 7x format like the Zeiss FL 7x42 or the Leica UVHD 7x42, but given that this is not my primary binocular, I find it hard to justify having 1K € sitting idle on a cupboard, unused most of the time. Hence, price does play a role in this decision, and it is exactly here where an affordable 7x50 with good performance comes in.

I love my 7x50 Fujinon FMT-SX, I’ve enjoyed great astro sessions with it, its performance is astounding but because of its massive weight and bulk, and especially because of IF, it simply never leaves home (I’ve tried it, seriously, but taking it for a walk just doesn’t work for me).
Then I have some nice binoculars in the 7x42 format, just perfect: plenty bright with a 6 mm EP and compact enough. I have a Leica Trinovid BA which is superb in spite of its age and a Minox BD BR Aspherical which I consider to be a “poor man’s Trinovid” (as I read somewhere, I can only agree). Both are sturdy and reliable like a Land Rover and its designs, while a bit dated, still perform great today. So let's get cracking.

Out in the field
I’ll be short: the Vixen are mindblowingly sharp. Sharper than the Leica (yes, it’s an old design and has been improved by current Ultravids, but it is by no means poor in performance). The Vixen is obviously sharper than the Minox and (on axis) I'd say at least "almost" on pair with the Fujinon, if not directly their match, at least under daylight conditions (I’d say that under some circumstances the Vixen shows a little more contrast than the Fujinon).
And now a little bonus track: enter the EL 8x32 Swarovision EL, a really sharp binocular. I’d say the Vixen is as sharp as the EL (!). Yes, I know, I know this it’s a bold claim. But there’s two things that might explain the incredible perception of sharpness and “pop” in the Vixen: first, the porro 3D view makes things jump from the background, and then the 7x depth of field and steady view make for a sense of “HD view”. The Vixen are intoxicatingly sharp, addictively sharp. I mean, seriously.

There’s a lot of talk about “alpha” binoculars and what they provide. If for a moment I forget (I know it’s a lot to forget) about mechanical quality, reliability, long term use, warranty, resale value and the like (well, then it's wouldn't be an alpha anymore, I know)... what has always amazed me about top binoculars is that they seem to provide an image so crisp and bright that it feels as if you had superpowers in your eyes that allowed you to see reality "more real than it is": sharper, brighter. The Habicht porro have this addictive quality, and so does the 7x42 FL, the UVHD and the EL (and I’m sure most top tier binoculars I haven't tried also have it). They provide you with this “superpower”… and so does the Vixen Foresta 7x50. If we could measure a level of sharpness as a ratio of "sharpenss per euro/dollar", I think these would probably have one of the most impressive ratios: sharp ,sharp, sharp.

Moving to contrast, the Foresta display a really rich image; blacks are really black, shadows display beautifully. By comparison, the Leica and the Minox give the feeling of looking through a very thin nylon panty (so to speak). And then there’s the outstanding behaviour in tricky light conditions, say sunset. The Foresta 7x50 just trounces the Leica, Fujinon and Minox for sunset observations, maintaining impressive levels of contrast and hardly any veil. You basically have to put the Sun so close to the FOV that you risk injuring your eyes. Some months ago I did a small review of the smaller brother, the Vixen Foresta 8x32 Porro, and it also behaved really well in this situation (it can be found here).

Handling
As for the grip/tactile area, just like its smaller sibling, the grip on the 7x50 is great. The armour recalls that of the Nikon SE (if a little rougher), and the whole device feels lighter than those 930 g that the scale confirms. They’re a pleasure to grip, both by the tapered shoulders or by the long barrels. The rubber feels nice and comfy. When you hold them cupping the end of the barrels on your hand, there is a small recessed area for your thumb, and the position is so easy and comfortable. Nice. However, the same cannot be said about the eye position. Given the 7x power and the limited FOV, I would have expected a really comfortable eye position, but things are not that easy, at least in my case. Eye relief is plenty, with 20 mm advertised. I don’t use glasses, and even with eyecups fully extended, I cannot put my eye sockets directly “onto” the eyecups, or I risk getting “kidneybeaning"; I have to rest my eyebrows on the top part of the eyecups (somehow what I do when I want to use the eyecups all the way down in other binoculars in order to enjoy the entire FOV on a wide field binocular). It takes some time getting used to this (I guess this is great news for glass wearers).

I know depth of field is determined by the optical construction (magnification), but if I compare both 7x50 (Vixen and Fuji) my impression is that the Vixen have a bigger depth of field, also bigger than the Leica or the Minox. This is really remarkable, since I am comparing 7x binoculars.

And now for the not so nice
-Brightness. I was trying to pick the pieces of my jaw from the floor (my jaw kept dropping every time I used the Vixen) when I handed the Leica and the Vixen to my partner. She made a really interesting remark that cooled down my enthusiasm: "the Vixen are sharper, but the Leica are brighter”. I thought, “Wait, how is this possible?”. After many comparisons to and fro… I think she might as well be right. I have no idea about the light transmission figures of the Vixen (or if this could have to do with it), but during daylight hours (especially if the day is not very bright), I think the Leica, Fujinon and EL are brighter than the Vixen. This shows particularly when placing a white wall somewhere within the FOV (say, behind a tree). The white is darker on the Vixen, at least to my eyes. Obviously, as soon as the Sun sets and you find yourself in pretty dark conditions, the Vixen has the lead over the Leica (42 mm against 50 mm, not an easy one), although not by a huge margin (I’m 46, maybe a younger person would take a greater advantage of the 7 mm EP in the Vixen), so I still wonder about the light throughput of these. The Fujinon are the brightest, as it is to b expected by size/price.
-Colour rendition. Comparing the Leica, and especially the Fujinon and Swaro to the Vixen, I started to get the feeling that when changing from the Vixen I got a “greenish” tint in the other binoculars. And then I realised that it was actually the other way round, I’d say the Vixen have a purple/reddish hue.
-Focus wheel. It is so hard to move. Really. Habicht hard. No, I’d say even harder. This would disqualify them instantly as “field/forest” binoculars to follow birds in flight or among branches. But given their amazing depth of field, for stationary observations it is not that bad. Besides, focus in close range is terribly slow, but from middle to long range (say 20 m to infinity) is hardly a quarter of turn. Oddly enough, the 8x32 Foresta that seem to share the same basic construction don’t share the same resistance to movement, and work much better, soft and supple, softer than a E2, for example.
-Eyecups. I like wide eyecups (I struggle with narrow eyecups, a deal-breaker for me in many nice binoculars), but the eyecups in these Vixen are almost too big. I have an IPD of around 68 mm, and my nose is not particularly large, and even so I can say that the side of the eyecups nearly rest on my nose. If I had a smaller IPD (or a wider nose!) this could be a problem.
-Astro. Under the night sky the field does not appear so perfectly sharp as during daytime. I’d say it is pretty far from the FMT (again, this is to be expected, since the Fujinon is more than 2x more expensive, it is bigger and heavier, and a reference in this respect). I had expected a little more, given the stellar daylight performance.

Conclusion
The Foresta are a hair heavier than the Trinovid BA, but are sharper, brighter and with more contrast… and are way cheaper. Yes, obviously the Vixen is not even remotely as well built as the Leica (my BA unit looks as if could give another 25 years of service without bigger problems, while the Vixen will surely suffer in many areas). But then, as a package, the Foresta is a proposal hard to turn down: a “light” 7x50 with “alpha sharpness”. You can enjoy the sharpness of a +1500 € roof for less than 300 €. Obviously for this money you don’t get the many other features that come with a current top roof. In the end, you do get what you pay for, but in certain areas, like sharpness and contrast, the Vixen Foresta offer 4x more than its price would suggest.

I’ll summarize it like this, the Vixen Foresta belong in this category of binoculars that, simply put, give pleasure. Yes, I think they are both an optical device and a device for pleasure. Once you experience this “superpower” of seeing things crispier and shaper and with more contrast than in real life… who’d want to give it up?!

Bonus track
Now I’m just really very curious about this level of performance at this price point in this format but in 10x50. Unfortunately, I think Vixen never had a 10x50 Foresta Porro. However, looking at the Levenhuk Sherman Pro 10x50* it does look as if the Sherman PRO and the Vixen Foresta do share some similarities on the outside. I don’t know about this model in particular, but Allbinos tested the 6,5 and 8x32 and both had very interesting results for the price.

*(Binocularsky did a positive review , with certain caveats, especially for astronomy, here)
 

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dae33

Active member
I'm glad that you like it.
Will add some comments, i agree on most statements, except the brightness.

The Foresta 7x50 indeed is a very sharp binoculars, sharper than the Leica Trinovid BN 7x42 and the Fujinon fmt 7x50. I had all three at the same time and compared them a lot. The best edges (less softness) are in Fuji, then in Foresta, than in Leica, but Foresta has the smallest TFOV.
The color reproduction is a little reddish in both Foresta's 7x50 and 8x32 i had. Fuji has slight warm color reproduction, while Leica has noticeable warm color cast.

The apparent brightness in a binoculars is formed by different parameters, main are light transmission, color reproduction, AFOV, vignetting of the exit pupil.
Warm binoculars always seem to me less bright, than a binoculars with the reddish hue or neutral.
But concerning these three binoculars, you can find light transmission measurements in Gijs van Ginkel tests.

We also made such a measurements with my friend, and results are in R/G/B channels of the Cannon 400D:
Vixen Foresta 7x50​
89.3/87.8/85.2%​
Fujinon FMT-SX 7x50​
88.9/87.0/81.3%​
Leica Trinovid BN 7x42​
84.0/82.6/76.2%​

Trinovid BA has a couple of % light transmission less, than the BN. So it could be 82.0/80.6/75.2%

So the Foresta 7x50 is the brightest binoculars in your test. I remember i could see this in the direct comparison.
 

Conndomat

United States of Europe
Europe
The apparent brightness in a binoculars is formed by different parameters, main are light transmission, color reproduction, AFOV, vignetting of the exit pupil.

Vixen Foresta 7x50​
89.3/87.8/85.2%​
Fujinon FMT-SX 7x50​
88.9/87.0/81.3%​
Leica Trinovid BN 7x42​
84.0/82.6/76.2%​


Hello,

I've never heard the AFOV have anything to do with apparent brightness, so the Swarovski 7x42 Habicht would be a dark lamp ?!

Andreas
 

dae33

Active member
Nice example! Habicht 7x42 has the highest light transmission, we've tested, around 95%. But the weakness point of the binoculars is the AFOV of 42°.
AFOV and the size of the exit pupil affect of personal feeling of a binoculars brightness. You can compare two examples with AFOV 60° and 50° and will see what i'm talking about.
 

Conndomat

United States of Europe
Europe
But the weakness point of the binoculars is the AFOV of 42°.
AFOV and the size of the exit pupil affect of personal feeling of a binoculars brightness. You can compare two examples with AFOV 60° and 50° and will see what i'm talking about.
First of all, the Habicht 7x42 has an AFOV of 46° degrees... https://www.swarovskioptik.com/at/d...cts/binoculars/habicht/tech-spec/habicht-7x42 ... but anyway ... sorry that a bigger AFOV suggests a brighter picture is IMO nonsense!
I have several high quality binoculars to make comparisons, e.g. Nikon EDG 7x42 AFOV of 52.2 ° degrees and Nikon EDG 8x32 AFOV 59.6 ° degrees, the 8x32 does not look that brighter even in good lighting conditions, the same is true with other binoculars that have a different AFOV but similar transmission!
If your assumption were correct, the Habicht 7x42 would have to be one of the darkest binoculars, this is not the case, in normal light conditions it beats any other glass in brightness, only when a certain point of twilight sets in, binoculars with a larger eye exit pupil can overtake the 7x42 in brightness !

It is important that you set the interpupillary distance correctly and look centrally through the exit pupil, otherwise there may of course be shadowing.
I cannot confirm your assessment by comparing many binoculars, there is no connection between AFOV and brightness.

"Of course the higher transmission of the Habicht that is obvious even in bright daylight also helps. The image is extremely bright with very high contrast and no colour cast whatsoever; it looks absolutely neutral. In fact, the difference compared to the Nikon SE is so obvious the Nikon SE’s image looks almost “mushy” in a direct comparison. That is something I never thought I would have to say about the Nikon SE. In low light and at night the Habicht also obviously works very well with its high transmission."

Andreas

PS: The size of the exit pupil is only noticeable in poor visibility conditions, an 8x25 and an 8x56 binoculars are equally bright in sunshine with the same transmission and quality, the 8x56 only becomes increasingly brighter with increasing loss of light.
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
If the AFOV (or the FOV where magnification is the same) affects the perceived brightness,
then the image in my Leica 7x42 UV HD would appear significantly brighter than that of my Habicht 7x42

The figures are:
• FOV of 140m vs 114 m (so the area of the Leica’s FOV is 50% greater), compared to

• Range of Transmission of 82 to 88% vs 92 to 94% *

But that's not at all my experience. Unsurprisingly, the Leica doesn't appear brighter in side-by-side comparisons, either in bright or low light conditions

* see Gijs’ February 2016 test of various 7x42’s at: https://www.houseofoutdoor.com/verrekijkers/verrekijkers-testen-en-vergelijken/
n.b. Gijs’ comparison is of a UV HD+ (vs my UV HD) and a 2014 production Habicht (vs my 2017 one)


John
 

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dae33

Active member
The Habicht 7x42 has 45° AFOV indeed, i mixed up with the Pentax PCF 7x50.
The effect of perceptive brightness of different AFOVs is noticeable when comparing similar formats (ie similar exit pupils).
So comparing Nikon EDG 7x42 AFOV of 52.2 ° degrees and Nikon EDG 8x32 AFOV 59.6° degrees is not good here.
The best way to see\feel it to compare similar formats (7x42 with 7x42 | 8x32 with 8x32) with similar color hint and light transmission during day light.
I didn't say it was huge, but i could see the effect while comparing Pentax PCF 7x50 with Fujinon fmt 7x50.
The simple explanation could be that the restriction of an eye with the smaller AFOV deliver less light to an eye. Or make such a feeling at least.
And my comment was to comparing brightness of binoculars. It is quit tricky, depends on someone eyes and experience.
The only correct way is to compare measured light transmission.
 
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yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
dae33, very interesting comments.
Regarding the brightness, that left me thinking. I don't know if it has to do with FOV, but I think there is something in certain binoculars that make them look brighter than others (FOV, maybe, colour reproduction, etc.).
As for light transmission, I'm comparing the 7x50 Foresta with the 7x50 B1.1 Meopta Meostar and I'd say in dark conditions it's a very close call, and the light transmission of the Meostar is given by the producer at 88/82 %, actually a little less than the Foresta, although I don't think such slight differences in transmission can be noticed (probably other factors like the mentioned above also play a role). What I find really impressive is that I find the Foresta sharper than the Meostar, which is something like almost 3 times more expensive. However, the Meostar wins hands down in ease of use: handling is really very nice (doesn't feel like a 7x50 at 1 kg) and the eyecups are just a breeze, while the eyecups on the Foresta are a bit clunky in comparison.
 

Conndomat

United States of Europe
Europe
I didn't say it was huge, but i could see the effect while comparing Pentax PCF 7x50 with Fujinon fmt 7x50.
The simple explanation could be that the restriction of an eye with the smaller AFOV deliver less light to an eye.
Hi,
I don't think that's a good explanation!
You compared two 7x50s with each other, so the eyepupil was fully illuminated and, in addition to the transmission, it determines the brightness!

The light comes from the exit pupil and not from the edges, I think the different color rendering of binoculars suggests sometimes lighter or darker, and on the subject of large AFOV, I did not find a lighter image in the binoculars literature, if that were so you could certainly do it somewhere read up.

Andreas
 

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