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Why is Alpha better than high grade. (1 Viewer)

To drive this even further -- I think it is better to have 100 vintage binos for 30 bucks each than to have one super-duper-alpha.
But a couple of more thoughts on the matter:
Until rather recently the larger FoV didn't seem of much concern to the alpha brands. Part of the reason being maybe that a birder or hunter doesn't absolutely need a wide FoV but prefers perfect color rendition, low-light performance, therefore the best coatings, etc.
At the moment I am all about large FoVs. Doesn't even have to be 100 % sharp to the edge. Just the wide view in itself is what I enjoy. Therefore, my most used bino at the moment is a vintage 1973 8x30 Made in Japan "Eschenbach" Luna Super (AFAIK Eschenbach never made any binos themselves, they just imported them) with a stated 10° FoV (comparisons to other binos suggest it might be more around 9.3-9.5). And I compared it for quite some time to the APM 6x30 with 9.3° and Kowa BD II 6.5x32 with 10°. But the vintage one is still the most impressive of the bunch. Less rolling ball effect therefore better panning, better sharpness to the edge (and even center sharpness and contrast is really good) compared to the Kowa (maybe not the APM which is rather good at the edges but feels narrow compared to the Luna Super and has a weird effect when panning as the slight pincushion distortion is not symmetrical -- so you get a "bathtub-effect" when panning).
And I don't care that the coatings are old and it's not as bright. In fact, on a sunny day I get the feeling that a slightly dimmer bino has better contrast and seems sharper -- same effect as when wearing sunglasses. It was Holger Merlitz who wrote on his homepage that most of the advancement in binos in the last decades were the coatings.
So just recently the "alphas" noticed that there might be a few customers out there who value a large FoV. But if that wouldn't be the case -- I'd never even consider buying an alpha.
And another thing -- if I want a certain size, weight, etc. that the alphas don't offer -- they can have the best optics they want to and I wouldn't choose them over something else that does have the characteristics I want. Light transmission (I guess that is meant by "sparkle") or edge-to-edge performance is in my eyes not the "be all -- end all" of the bino world. Considering sharpness -- none of my modern day "low to mid price" binos like my DDoptics models are really looking sharper to my eyes than some of my best vintage ones. My almost 50 year old Eschenbach is more than sharp enough.
But -- yes, if someone gifts me an NL Pure I will not reject it. But would I give up any of my beloved vintage models for it? Nope. If I had to choose -- so if someone said, "here, you get this alpha bino but you are never again allowed to use any of your vintage ones", I'd not agree to that. So luckily, we don't have to choose but can have all of those.
Will I buy an NL Pure one day? Or at "least" a Habicht 8x30? Maybe. I spent more on my collection than what those cost (in fact when counting all my astrophotography equipment -- much more). Still -- collecting vintage binos is so much fun -- I'd not trade that for any alpha.
Couple of pics taken free-handedly through the Eschenbach in my garden -- the shadows at the edges are from the camera not being positioned well enough:
r5kp2.jpg

fgk91.jpg

ysj60.jpg

Are alphas "better"? In what way, shape or form are they "better" than this? Is it better to have a brighter view but less FoV? Do they offer the same joy I have when putting those vintage super wides to my eyes and feel like I am zooming into the scenery -- like Wayne Watts in "Ready Player One" when he puts on the VR-goggles to visit the oasis? Maybe the NL Pures will offer that but still ... those wide angle binos are only the newest models. So no -- I wouldn't choose an alpha over everything else "for all occasions". There is more to binos than brightness or even build quality (those vintage porros are often quite sturdy). As soon as Swarowski comes out with a 10° 8x32 in the size of a Kowa 8x32 I will reconsider. And I might get a Habicht or NL Pure if I wanted to spend that much on one single bino -- I think I'd actually prefer the habicht as I like porros and don't like the strap attachment on the NL Pure. I still wouldn't trade any of my vintage treasures for it though.
To drive this even further -- I think it is better to have 100 vintage binos for 30 bucks each than to have one super-duper-alpha.
But a couple of more thoughts on the matter:
Until rather recently the larger FoV didn't seem of much concern to the alpha brands. Part of the reason being maybe that a birder or hunter doesn't absolutely need a wide FoV but prefers perfect color rendition, low-light performance, therefore the best coatings, etc.
At the moment I am all about large FoVs. Doesn't even have to be 100 % sharp to the edge. Just the wide view in itself is what I enjoy. Therefore, my most used bino at the moment is a vintage 1973 8x30 Made in Japan "Eschenbach" Luna Super (AFAIK Eschenbach never made any binos themselves, they just imported them) with a stated 10° FoV (comparisons to other binos suggest it might be more around 9.3-9.5). And I compared it for quite some time to the APM 6x30 with 9.3° and Kowa BD II 6.5x32 with 10°. But the vintage one is still the most impressive of the bunch. Less rolling ball effect therefore better panning, better sharpness to the edge (and even center sharpness and contrast is really good) compared to the Kowa (maybe not the APM which is rather good at the edges but feels narrow compared to the Luna Super and has a weird effect when panning as the slight pincushion distortion is not symmetrical -- so you get a "bathtub-effect" when panning).
And I don't care that the coatings are old and it's not as bright. In fact, on a sunny day I get the feeling that a slightly dimmer bino has better contrast and seems sharper -- same effect as when wearing sunglasses. It was Holger Merlitz who wrote on his homepage that most of the advancement in binos in the last decades were the coatings.
So just recently the "alphas" noticed that there might be a few customers out there who value a large FoV. But if that wouldn't be the case -- I'd never even consider buying an alpha.
And another thing -- if I want a certain size, weight, etc. that the alphas don't offer -- they can have the best optics they want to and I wouldn't choose them over something else that does have the characteristics I want. Light transmission (I guess that is meant by "sparkle") or edge-to-edge performance is in my eyes not the "be all -- end all" of the bino world. Considering sharpness -- none of my modern day "low to mid price" binos like my DDoptics models are really looking sharper to my eyes than some of my best vintage ones. My almost 50 year old Eschenbach is more than sharp enough.
But -- yes, if someone gifts me an NL Pure I will not reject it. But would I give up any of my beloved vintage models for it? Nope. If I had to choose -- so if someone said, "here, you get this alpha bino but you are never again allowed to use any of your vintage ones", I'd not agree to that. So luckily, we don't have to choose but can have all of those.
Will I buy an NL Pure one day? Or at "least" a Habicht 8x30? Maybe. I spent more on my collection than what those cost (in fact when counting all my astrophotography equipment -- much more). Still -- collecting vintage binos is so much fun -- I'd not trade that for any alpha.
Couple of pics taken free-handedly through the Eschenbach in my garden -- the shadows at the edges are from the camera not being positioned well enough:
r5kp2.jpg

fgk91.jpg

ysj60.jpg

Are alphas "better"? In what way, shape or form are they "better" than this? Is it better to have a brighter view but less FoV? Do they offer the same joy I have when putting those vintage super wides to my eyes and feel like I am zooming into the scenery -- like Wayne Watts in "Ready Player One" when he puts on the VR-goggles to visit the oasis? Maybe the NL Pures will offer that but still ... those wide angle binos are only the newest models. So no -- I wouldn't choose an alpha over everything else "for all occasions". There is more to binos than brightness or even build quality (those vintage porros are often quite sturdy). As soon as Swarowski comes out with a 10° 8x32 in the size of a Kowa 8x32 I will reconsider. And I might get a Habicht or NL Pure if I wanted to spend that much on one single bino -- I think I'd actually prefer the habicht as I like porros and don't like the strap attachment on the NL Pure. I still wouldn't trade any of my vintage treasures for it though.
I enjoy the vintage binoculars and those with wide FOV as well. I go back and forth with using the vintage binos, they bring a lot of joy. I have a nice little collection. Not to sound facetious but they all have their place in our hearts , visual and haptic pleasure. With the money spent on so called alphas being discussed here I could have a 100 vintage binos 🤣.

Each category, vintage , wide field, low magnification etc. etc. has a place and I wouldn’t want to give any of them up. With that said there is a whole lot of joy in the modern day alphas. Wether small (Habicht 742) , medium or large fields of view. For years I enjoyed trying, buying and using vintage binocular. Then I tried one of the high end binoculars, then I tried another and I was hooked. Vintage is just one aspect or category of binocular optics. Forget about build quality or FOV, when looking through NL‘s or Habicht’s, it takes your breath away.

Nice photos!

Paul
 
I dread the idea of never searching anymore and satisfaction sounds boring. Its like there’s never anything out front. You’ve reached your destination, the ride is over.
The other side of that coin is never being content or satisfied with anything.

I would find looking forward to a never-ending seacch for something somehow perceived as “better” than what I already have to be almost infinitely depressing.
 
100% agreed. Sometimes I am not looking at anything really when using a bino. Just looking out at anything there is. Trees, the river, boats, fields, the sky. Nice if a bird happens to be there, too of course ;)
Philip,
Well said, that’s what is all about. I laughed when you wrote, just looking out at anything… I could look at bark on trees for hours 😜😵‍💫. My wife is like, enough already, look at the grey Heron hunting 😃.

It’s all about what brings you joy and entertainment. This morning with a great cup of coffee, sunny beautiful morning I was watching, glassing, studying a carpenter bee 20 yards (18.29 meters for this across the great pond) for an hour with my newly acquired Nikon SE1042 & Swaro EL832. This I’m sure will be the height of my day as I’m now off to work😧.

Paul
 
Is Nikon MGH 10x42 an alpha? I understand is the better product in fabrication at Nikon.
Is Zeiss VP 8x25 an alpha even if the cost is "only" 1K? I think, in the pocket binoculars realm, it is an alpha.

Can an alpha manufacturer produce a non alpha binocular sold for 2K ? (2K is just an example)

I think here we need to take in consider the size of the instrument. The larger size the more expensive it is. VP 8x25 is expensive for its size, and it would be strange if it was as expensive as the full sized models.
 
The other side of that coin is never being content or satisfied with anything.

I would find looking forward to a never-ending seacch for something somehow perceived as “better” than what I already have to be almost infinitely depressing.
Different strokes for different folks. Lots of times it’s about personality which is instilled in us through our upbringing and environment and possibly genetics. I have four children, each one of them has a different personality, different drives and motivations. Interesting how we all perceive the same topic so differently. That’s what makes people so different and unique.

I don’t know, if it is a never ending search. It’s more like you see something come out, or you read about some aspect of a product you never tried and you’re intrigued, excited. You then do your research which is part of the enjoyment and Journey, discuss it with people like you and others here, then take the plunge and acquire one of desired products ( not just for optics). Then discover it’s unique characteristics, optically, haptically with all its pros and cons. Your satisfied with it , or not. Then on to the next interesting and exciting road. For dozens here that started as soon as Zeiss introduced pre-orders for new SFL 😃.

Be well my friend

Paul
 
Then I tried one of the high end binoculars, then I tried another and I was hooked.
That's what I am afraid of honestly :LOL: . The reason I did not test those Swaros and Leicas when I was at a bino/telescope store the other day where I tested a lot of stuff but only the ones I was willing to buy at that moment. In the end I bought a more than twice as expensive bino as I had planned (Kowa BD II instead of a cheapo Minox X-Lite 8x34). Had I tested the Habicht or Trinovid they had on display, I fear, I might have walked out with one of those instead. Some people spend more money when buying online. I definitely spend more in a shop.
 
Philip,
Well said, that’s what is all about. I laughed when you wrote, just looking out at anything… I could look at bark on trees for hours 😜😵‍💫. My wife is like, enough already, look at the grey Heron hunting 😃.

It’s all about what brings you joy and entertainment. This morning with a great cup of coffee, sunny beautiful morning I was watching, glassing, studying a carpenter bee 20 yards (18.29 meters for this across the great pond) for an hour with my newly acquired Nikon SE1042 & Swaro EL832. This I’m sure will be the height of my day as I’m now off to work😧.

Paul
When you are retired, you will be able enjoy those things full-time.

Stay healthy until then.
R.
 
That's what I am afraid of honestly :LOL: . The reason I did not test those Swaros and Leicas when I was at a bino/telescope store the other day where I tested a lot of stuff but only the ones I was willing to buy at that moment. In the end I bought a more than twice as expensive bino as I had planned (Kowa BD II instead of a cheapo Minox X-Lite 8x34). Had I tested the Habicht or Trinovid they had on display, I fear, I might have walked out with one of those instead. Some people spend more money when buying online. I definitely spend more in a shop.
I totally understand that, and I’m so guilty of going to buy one thing and then spending twice as much for another. Would it have been the end of the world if you bought the Swaro ? That is also part of the reason I don’t go into the Porsche dealer when I’m buying or leasing a car. I have been one of the blessed and very lucky the last few years that I can spend the money to buy expensive fun toys, because in the end that’s really what they are. A couple of binoculars are tools (IMO) when you start to buy dozens and the best, they’re just expensive toys (and tools). I have clients that go into the Mercedes’ dealer thinking to purchase/lease a 350 series and come out with 500 series AMG. For some reason I haven’t been that blessed.

Back to the OP, I pose a question. Why is a high-grade binocular better than a midgrade binocular, why is a Mercedes better than a Buick, why is Weatherby better than Ruger…

I think it all comes down to money. I think if we all had much more than we needed there would a lot less posts about what’s worth something or not 🙄.
 
Maybe it's about what kind of bling you have around your neck! Hahaha. I pick out all the problems out on my vortex db's after I look through my swarro SLC's.
 
Would it have been the end of the world if you bought the Swaro ?
Certainly not but maybe the end of the fun journey of collecting binos. On the other hand -- there are much more expensive hobbies. I collect watches and for the price of an alpha you wouldn't even get the cheapest Rolex they offer (not that I want one or own one). Not even close. Maybe a metal watch bracelet. And with watches, you're not getting that much "more" when it comes to practical use (you will get more prestige, maybe better craftsmanship but not a more precise watch after a certain amount of money). You can just buy a radio-controlled solar Citizen and be done with it (basically the watch-equivalent of an IS-bino)
With binoculars on the other hand -- you are actually getting higher quality when paying more. Something that is not necessarily the case with other hobbies or stuff you buy.
Great -- now I'm looking at Habichts and other Swaros online. A very slippery slope this "alpha-business" :LOL: .
 
"I’m saying give someone a $1000 binocular and $2000-$3000 binoculars, and I’d bet after looking through them, they’d choose the alpha every time."

I agree. If you don't think an alpha is worth the money, just side by side it with your $1000 binocular. Once I was thinking my Kowa Prominar 8x32 was pretty good until I side by sided it with an NL. Game over. The alpha won! We are lucky that we can buy the best binoculars available for even $2K to $3K. If you are into other hobbies like photography, you can easily spend $10K on one telephoto lens. Really, birding or even nature observation is a pretty inexpensive hobby. Get a good quality $1K binocular and a Birding Book and you are ready to go.
Yes good Glass can cost you way in excess of USD$10,000.00 for a single lens..
 

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I would say the $1000 mid-tier binoculars have about 90% of the optical performance and build quality of the alpha's. The manufacturers put their very best glass and coatings in their best binoculars, and they have the best build quality without a doubt. Leica Noctivids are built like a Rolls-Royce. If money is no object, you might as well go for the alpha because they will give you a slightly better view of the bird and in reality it can make a difference in how much you enjoy birding. Some birds are just more impressive when viewed through an alpha because they bring out every small bit of detail and color, and they are incredibly sharp. For most people, a $1000 binocular will work fine, but don't get used to using an alpha and then try to go back to the $1000 binocular. You are going to notice the difference. You are going to think there is something missing. As I have said many times, "Once You Go Alpha, you Can Never Go Backa." There is one solution to this dilemma. Get an alpha PORRO! An alpha porro will give an alpha roof view for 1/2 the price of the alpha roof, with better transmission and a more natural 3D image. Even a $500 porro like the Nikon E2 8x30 will give you a view equal to a $1000 roof prism and the $1000 Habicht porro will equal anything an SF, NL or Noctivid can throw at it and give you a brighter image with more 3D to boot. So if you are just talking about roofs my answer is yes an alpha roof is probably worth it if you can afford it, but if you can't, and you want the alpha view try a porro.
Build quality is better......not always its not think objective cap fixings,armour splitting etc on the swarovski's .Iffy focuser's ,ocular cups won't stay in position on some zeiss sf's. Leica's Nitrogen leaking out ....often.!!

I have owned all the most expensive birding binoculars including Swarovski 12x42 NL Pures and they all give great views, but, so do some less expensive bins. I have a new pair of Nikon 10x42 hg at the moment and there image is as good as any bin I have ever owned and the build quality is just up to the very best standard and at a much lower price.

I was once an optics snob.....not any more,times have moved on gone are the days when if you wanted the best view a roof prism could provide it was a choice between the big three.
 
Build quality is better......not always its not think objective cap fixings,armour splitting etc on the swarovski's .Iffy focuser's ,ocular cups won't stay in position on some zeiss sf's. Leica's Nitrogen leaking out ....often.!!

I have owned all the most expensive birding binoculars including Swarovski 12x42 NL Pures and they all give great views, but, so do some less expensive bins. I have a new pair of Nikon 10x42 hg at the moment and there image is as good as any bin I have ever owned and the build quality is just up to the very best standard and at a much lower price.

I was once an optics snob.....not any more,times have moved on gone are the days when if you wanted the best view a roof prism could provide it was a choice between the big three.
I don’t think many manufactured products don’t have some slip ups and quality control issues on product lines and I’m sure the entry level products have issues in much higher percentage. And I’d bet many times buyers do t even know when there defective. I’m also sure that even a rolls Royce has had defects over the years.

If you feel your Nikon HG is as good as an NL pure or other optics in that category, then that’s good for you and your saving money as well. But that’s your opinion. There are other opinions on that and many would highly disagree. You don’t have to be an optics snob to differentiate and or appreciate the high end of optics. Some notice very minute differences, some see very big differences and others don’t see any differences.

if you don’t see a difference and you’re buying the high-end stuff, that’s an optic snob.
 
I don’t think many manufactured products don’t have some slip ups and quality control issues on product lines and I’m sure the entry level products have issues in much higher percentage. And I’d bet many times buyers do t even know when there defective. I’m also sure that even a rolls Royce has had defects over the years.

If you feel your Nikon HG is as good as an NL pure or other optics in that category, then that’s good for you and your saving money as well. But that’s your opinion. There are other opinions on that and many would highly disagree. You don’t have to be an optics snob to differentiate and or appreciate the high end of optics. Some notice very minute differences, some see very big differences and others don’t see any differences.

if you don’t see a difference and you’re buying the high-end stuff, that’s an optic snob.
Tell me something I don't know....yes I know It's my opinion just like your take on it is your opinion . Remember Opinions are like a'holes everybody's got one.
 
A few years ago, the Cornell laboratory had already done the exercise of comparing the quality and price of binoculars for bird watching. The result clearly indicates that the gains in quality are minimal once the $1000 mark is passed.Bino_quality_price_B.png
 
Tell me something I don't know....yes I know It's my opinion just like your take on it is your opinion . Remember Opinions are like a'holes everybody's got one.
Exactly, i wouldn’t of said it if I thought you knew. I was going to use that phrase but decided not toand couldn’t think of a good euphemism. Keep in mind some just stink more that others😧.
 
A few years ago, the Cornell laboratory had already done the exercise of comparing the quality and price of binoculars for bird watching. The result clearly indicates that the gains in quality are minimal once the $1000 mark is passed.View attachment 1443803
I’d like to know the year and the optics used for the exercise. Otherwise it’s just a picture of colored balls with a red line. But we all know there are diminishing returns over a certain price range. Does this pertain to the OP, was there a point here somewhere?
 
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