• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

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

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)
The Nikon Monarch HG models are not alpha but not far off. You would be very pleased with the performance.
The Zeiss Victory 8x25 is an alpha model in the pocket size, as well as several others.
The pricing of the small ones must be much less, otherwise they would not sell many, as it is a small market compared
to the larger 30-42 sizes.
Jerry
 
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?
It is the principle of the curve that I wanted to remind... You pay a lot for little improvement with binoculars of the Alpha category... The link is here:
Best Binoculars: The Cornell Lab Review 2013
 
It is the principle of the curve that I wanted to remind... You pay a lot for little improvement with binoculars of the Alpha category...
People, for some reason, love to cite this fact as if it is a divine revelation handed down from Mount Olympus, and seem to present it as a way to somehow disparage alpha-class instruments.

Perhaps I misunderstand their intent, but it seems to be impossible to have any discussion of quality optics without someone throwing it into the mix.
 
Graphs like that are silly because the scoring of the vertical scale is largely subjective. As are all choices regarding binocular quality vs price, so "discussion" just keeps bringing up the same remarks every time, and the same reflexes to somehow justify one's choices or disdain others. And then it moves right on to cars or whatever, because all that can be pretty much the same...
There is a cure for this and that is to become more interested in what you are looking at than what you are looking through.
(y)
 
Last edited:
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.

For all the charm I find in using my old optics, and the pleasure they have given me, I find it very hard to agree with this. I'd rather have one truly outstanding binocular than a dozen, much less a hundred, average binoculars (which they will be if they cost $30 each, unless you're exceptionally lucky).

Of course the irony is that the majority of the ten or so binoculars I have are old models, purchased when wide field of view was more valuable in my birding than it is now. But none of them will do the job I now need my binoculars to do better than my more modern ones, and if I could spend all that money again...

But we all use binoculars differently. And I'd gladly trade a room full of NLs to return to the days before my favourite vantage point, from which I could use something like my Swift 766 to experience a panoramic view of dramatic hunting flights at sunrise, was forever lost to "development".
 
People, for some reason, love to cite this fact as if it is a divine revelation handed down from Mount Olympus, and seem to present it as a way to somehow disparage alpha-class instruments.

Perhaps I misunderstand their intent, but it seems to be impossible to have any discussion of quality optics without someone throwing it into the mix.
It's not divine, but it's probably not helpful to the conversation you want to have in this forum thread since in fact the price paid is not the subject of discussion.
 
Graphs like that are silly because the scoring of the vertical scale is largely subjective. As are all choices regarding binocular quality vs price, so "discussion" just keeps bringing up the same remarks every time, and the same reflexes to somehow justify one's choices or disdain others. And then it moves right on to cars or whatever, because all that can be pretty much the same...

(y)
This graph is not stupid, but yes it is subjective since in terms of the quality of binoculars we probably do not give the same importance to the different characteristics that can be taken into account. For example, how do binoculars behave at -5 degrees?
 
People, for some reason, love to cite this fact as if it is a divine revelation handed down from Mount Olympus, and seem to present it as a way to somehow disparage alpha-class instruments.

Perhaps I misunderstand their intent, but it seems to be impossible to have any discussion of quality optics without someone throwing it into the mix.
In fact, this type of analysis and the graphs that follow are very useful when we first set the amount of money we are willing to invest...... and it is not the subject of this discussion.
 
Lee

Why does a passion or a journey need to be cured… The search and testing of fine optics is a passion in itself. The other aspects of nature is just a complete other passion and journey. They are separate and individual. If one has a passion for fine firearms, Should we say, stop looking for the next best, different gun and expand into other aspects of reloading or work on gunsmithing … ✌🏼
Paul, when I read these words of yours "Its like there’s never anything out front. You’ve reached your destination, the ride is over" it soumded to me like you needed a 'cure' in your back pocket, should you arrive at the position when you feel like 'the ride is over', and that is to get on a different ride.

In the meantime, enjoy your binos in good health.

Lee
 
For all the charm I find in using my old optics, and the pleasure they have given me, I find it very hard to agree with this. I'd rather have one truly outstanding binocular than a dozen, much less a hundred, average binoculars (which they will be if they cost $30 each, unless you're exceptionally lucky).
That depends on your definition of "average". How "average" is a 10° FoV on the alphas? Do any of them even have it? I don't think so. Like I said -- light transmission and edge-to-edge sharpness is not all there is to optics. To me the "Luna Super" is the most outstanding of the bunch I own. It gives me that "wow"-effect every time I put it to my eyes. No other bino does that and I own a lot more expensive ones up to a Canon 18x50IS, a Kite Cervus HD, a couple of DDoptics Lux HR, etc. All around the 500 to 1,000€ mark.
But once you had that super wide field of view it is hard to go back. Every other bino feels like looking through a straw after that.
And one last thing -- German ebay is stock full of excellent vintage Japanese, German (by brands other than just Zeiss and Leica) and Russian binos. I feel like a kid in the play store every time. I think in other countries it is not like that. Here I can find a super wide vintage 7x35 in excellent condition even in pawn shops for 15 €. Abbe-Koenig equipped vintage 9x63's and 8x56's for maybe around 50-60. And I snatched up an excellent Optolyth 8x30 for around the same price. Or vintage Hartmann binos for 60 € (Gijs van Ginkel has a whole article about those on his webpage). None of those are "average" in any way. But if you're just after the brightest binos and then have to wear sunglasses while using them on a sunny day (like Holger Merlitz so funnily pointed out on his website) then sure -- they are "average".
 
People, for some reason, love to cite this fact as if it is a divine revelation handed down from Mount Olympus, and seem to present it as a way to somehow disparage alpha-class instruments.

Perhaps I misunderstand their intent, but it seems to be impossible to have any discussion of quality optics without someone throwing it into the mix.
Absolutely, great point. Every time I read some post where we’re talking about high grade alpha binoculars somebody has to throw in, they’re only 5% better or 10% better. Or you get 95% for half the price. Here’s a graph, here is a review, here is the light transmission as proof. It seems it’s more about them, than it is about the optics. 🫤.

Maybe we should start a discussion, why do people try degrade alpha binoculars. Although I think we know the answer.
 
Maybe we should start a discussion, why do people try degrade alpha binoculars. Although I think we know the answer.
You are correct and no matter what item is the topic you will always get a few stating that exact idea. Example is I am into high end Leica Camera's and Lenses for no other reason then just because I want to. No these cameras will not take any better snaps for me then a budget friendly camera system but I dont care one bit... I also own 4 "ALPHA" you call here in Bin's and I myself count not tell one thing about exit pupil, blah,blah however I do get the satisfaction of owning some of the finest. Having a Champaign Taste with a Beer Pocket Book would be me.. Great topic and love seeing all the different ideas here...
 
Paul, when I read these words of yours "Its like there’s never anything out front. You’ve reached your destination, the ride is over" it soumded to me like you needed a 'cure' in your back pocket, should you arrive at the position when you feel like 'the ride is over', and that is to get on a different ride.

In the meantime, enjoy your binos in good health.

Lee
Lee,

Unless I’m misunderstanding your reply (or you misunderstood mine) I was pertaining to the fact, if I picked one or two binoculars and said to myself these are great I’m satisfied, don’t need or want anything else, It would be like the equipment hobby would be over. Maybe I was getting too philosophical in my verbiage.

These are all individual traits and many times it’s hard to see the other persons viewpoints when wearing ones own shoes.

I always keep thinking about something my son-in-law said to me a little while back when I told him I was buying a specific binocular at around $1000. He said, don’t you have a few binoculars, why would you need another one, and are you crazy to spend $1000 on a binocular when you already have more than one. He has one pair of binoculars, that’s cool. We were out viewing some boats, I asked him if he wanted to try my binoculars, he said, no I’m good. doesn’t matter if they’re better I’m not buying another one.

This from a guy who has a football helmet collection worth big bucks. Has a room full of them. He doesn’t wear them or play football 😉.
 

Attachments

  • 7C481656-23FE-4B66-8777-FAAF1409731B.jpeg
    7C481656-23FE-4B66-8777-FAAF1409731B.jpeg
    941.2 KB · Views: 30
You are correct and no matter what item is the topic you will always get a few stating that exact idea. Example is I am into high end Leica Camera's and Lenses for no other reason then just because I want to. No these cameras will not take any better snaps for me then a budget friendly camera system but I dont care one bit... I also own 4 "ALPHA" you call here in Bin's and I myself count not tell one thing about exit pupil, blah,blah however I do get the satisfaction of owning some of the finest. Having a Champaign Taste with a Beer Pocket Book would be me.. Great topic and love seeing all the different ideas here...
Haha, love it. I hear you loud and clear. My wife says I’m like a rich man trapped in a poor man’s body 😃.

For some like us, it’s all about the quality (Mostly). Some people don’t get that. But I do understand there thinking, even it they don’t understand ours.

Leica cameras and lenses , nice !

Paul
 
Maybe we should start a discussion, why do people try degrade alpha binoculars. Although I think we know the answer.
Try to guess? I honestly never even heard the word "alpha" applied to optics before I joined an online-forum. And I still think it is not at all clear what the criteria are that a bino has to fullfill to be an "alpha" (other than being made by Leica, Zeiss or Swarowski and costing upwards of 2,000€ with the exception of Swaro porros). Obviously it is not a large FoV as that seems to be an aspect that just recently seemed to garner the interest of the "big 3". So is it sharpness? Many cheap binos offer razor-sharp views. One of the sharpest in my collection is a Russian 10x50 I got for, believe it or not, less than 20€. Is it field correction? Flat field binos can be had for much less than the prices of a Swaro, Leica or Zeiss. And not even all of the "alphas" have a flat field or no distortions.
I do see the appeal of fine optics or I wouldn't collect them. But the people claiming the "alphas" are the best, seem to have a rather random selection of criteria that a bino has to have to be an alpha or to be "the best".
It is similar to being in a watch-forum where people honestly often say, if the name "Rolex" is just mentioned in passing, "buy the Submariner, you know you want it and no other watch can give you what it offers." Mostly that is about resale value however and prestige, very rarely about quality.
I don't think it is about "degrading" them, just maybe putting things back in proportion that have been blown out of proportion before.
And another factor that hasn't even been mentioned -- I know, this is a birding forum, but at cloudynights there is very little rave about "alphas" as most people prefer other models for astronomy. I think one of the "alpha of alphas" is a Nikon WX. But even if it was one of the best binos ever, people who like "alphas" draw the line here because of weight considerations, size, and/or missing center focus. But at the same time seem to have problems understanding when other people choose different aspects of a bino to come to the conclusion which is "the best" for them and for their use profile.
It seems to me there is always a compromise involved in optical design. If you want flat field, wide FoV, no distortions and enough eye-relief, you end up with a monstrosity like the Nikon WX just because you need a ton of lenses to achieve all that. But the WX is rarely mentioned.
So my point being, choosing brightness, color fidelity and field correction (or any other aspect) as the factors that decide what an alphas is, another person might choose something else, like FoV and weight.
In my lengthy conversation with a store owner, he said (quoted from memory), "the impressive thing about the NL Pure is not so much the wide and well corrected FoV but that they have achieved that in a rather compact design without the eye-pieces looking like a wide-angle telescope eye-piece."
So just for myself to better understand what an "alpha" is:
-- widest field, brightest view, optimum color fidelity, best corrected field (depending a bit on personal preference as a pincushion distortion is not a matter of quality but a design choice), best quality in the most compact, lightweight, ergonomic design.
Does that seem about right?
 
Haha, love it. I hear you loud and clear. My wife says I’m like a rich man trapped in a poor man’s body 😃.

For some like us, it’s all about the quality (Mostly). Some people don’t get that. But I do understand there thinking, even it they don’t understand ours.

Leica cameras and lenses , nice !

Paul
To give you an example here is a Leica Noctilux 75MM Lens and cost on it is USD$15,000.. You can buy a 75MM Lens for less then a $1000.00
 

Attachments

  • E1CEB5BE-C7C9-4FAC-9CEF-91F9461DDF65.jpeg
    E1CEB5BE-C7C9-4FAC-9CEF-91F9461DDF65.jpeg
    2 MB · Views: 17
  • 3B20003F-0201-4850-A746-5CC53552139B.jpeg
    3B20003F-0201-4850-A746-5CC53552139B.jpeg
    1.9 MB · Views: 18
  • 9C394957-3315-42C5-99F0-188AAAE8ECE4.jpeg
    9C394957-3315-42C5-99F0-188AAAE8ECE4.jpeg
    2 MB · Views: 16
  • 48A3DE8A-1AA8-4ECC-8F61-59E052F14673.jpeg
    48A3DE8A-1AA8-4ECC-8F61-59E052F14673.jpeg
    1.8 MB · Views: 17
So just for myself to better understand what an "alpha" is:
-- widest field, brightest view, optimum color fidelity, best corrected field (depending a bit on personal preference as a pincushion distortion is not a matter of quality but a design choice), best quality in the most compact, lightweight, ergonomic design.
Does that seem about right?
No, then you fall into the trap of the spec-sheet-wavers, who are always trying to “prove” that “Alphas aren’t really that much better.”

For me it is the thing I call “the image illusion” which is both elusive and somewhat illusive. This is when the optics are good enough to convince your brain that they aren’t even there. It’s as if you are seeing the object with 8X or 10X (or whatever X) vision, and not through an instrument. I see this more often in my 8x32 SF than I ever did my EL SV 10x42, both of which are unquestioned alphas. It was rare in the EL, but more common in the SF.

The last instance I recall is looking at a Bald Eagle perched on top of a dead tree in a light drizzle, and 300 or so yards away. It was quite startling, actually, and I just stared in amazement. It was a magical moment. Other instances I remember were a female Mallard at maybe 25-30 yards, and a Green Heron, at about the same distance. It is really impossible to describe, but unmistakable.

Only the very finest optics can deliver this illusion.

(Yust my opinion, as always)
 
No, then you fall into the trap of the spec-sheet-wavers, who are always trying to “prove” that “Alphas aren’t really that much better.”

For me it is the thing I call “the image illusion” which is both elusive and somewhat illusive. This is when the optics are good enough to convince your brain that they aren’t even there. It’s as if you are seeing the object with 8X or 10X (or whatever X) vision, and not through an instrument. I see this more often in my 8x32 SF than I ever did my EL SV 10x42, both of which are unquestioned alphas. It was rare in the EL, but more common in the SF.

The last instance I recall is looking at a Bald Eagle perched on top of a dead tree in a light drizzle, and 300 or so yards away. It was quite startling, actually, and I just stared in amazement. It was a magical moment. Other instances I remember were a female Mallard at maybe 25-30 yards, and a Green Heron, at about the same distance. It is really impossible to describe, but unmistakable.

Only the very finest optics can deliver this illusion.

(Yust my opinion, as always)
I agree! The alpha binoculars seem to make the binoculars disappear more than lesser binoculars, and it is like there is nothing in the way of you and the bird, and you are magically 8x closer. Without a doubt, the alpha's do make a difference in your enjoyment of birding because the view they present can be just magical, and you never forget it.
 
This is when the optics are good enough to convince your brain that they aren’t even there.
First off -- I don't fall in any "traps" as you call it. Secondly -- that effect of the bino not being there is exactly what you only get with super wide angle binos like the mentioned "Luna Super". I wonder if anybody here even has looked through one of those... I'm beginning to doubt it or else they wouldn't call excellent vintage optics "average". I think I will not post anymore in this thread. I think I already gave more than enough reasons why I choose one particular bino over another and what is important to me in a binocular. But it seems people have such an urgent need to justify spending all that money that they have to convince themselves that the alphas are so much better.
(BTW -- just before anyone wonders, yes, I have looked through Swaros and Zeisses before, just not through the latest and greatest NL Pure.)
 
Warning! This thread is more than 2 years ago old.
It's likely that no further discussion is required, in which case we recommend starting a new thread. If however you feel your response is required you can still do so.

Users who are viewing this thread

Back
Top