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Author Topic: Binoculars  (Read 2340 times)
Adam L
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« on: May 23, 2011, 06:00:03 AM »
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I could really use a recommendation or two on this subject.   I am interested in getting a pair and am overwhelmed by the choices and considerations.  There is a wide variety of quality and features and manufacturers; I need help understanding what is truly important.    I thought this would translate easily to camera speak but it doesn't.  My needs are general purpose.  To better watch sports events & concerts.  To help identify birds, to use when riding a bike or walking around downtown.  Image quality is very important, and I wear eyeglasses.   I feel I would prefer a wider view to a longer view.

I like the idea of image stabilization but don't know if it's a practical feature as there are not many models with IS.  At what level of magnification is this an issue?  Better visibility in low light translates into somthing called pupil diameter.  How much is enough as I know I won't need to look into pitch blackness.  As in all things there are trade-offs in size, feature, price.  I am having difficulty managing through the marketing material and understanding what's important and what's not. 
 
I put my budget at $500 but would rather wait and save up if that does not buy good IQ.   Any help would be appreciated.
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 06:13:11 AM »
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Don't look through a Zeiss or Leitz glass, or you won't be able to keep your budget, since once you have seen through one you don't want to have something different and start suffering craving for it ... its like a drug ... Wink

I recently had a chance to look through (an insanely expensive) one with a built-in mechanical lens stabilization and I was holding it free handed towards the moon - and could see a large moon with craters and stuff and the image stayed calm. The IQ I could see during daylight was simply breath taking.

So - don't look through one ...
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k bennett
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« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2011, 09:46:42 AM »
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Hey, a question I can answer!  What is important, IMHO:

Magnification: 8x is plenty, 10x is too much to hold comfortably for long periods of time.
Size: 30 or 32mm objectives are lighter and smaller, but still provide excellent viewing. Easier to carry all the time than the 42-44mm bins, but those are brighter, so it's a tradeoff.

Most people buy roof-prism binoculars these days. Look for Fully Multicoated lenses, Phase Corrected, and BaK-4 prisms. Once you start looking at the nitty-gritty details, I always look at the Field of View, which is extremely important and yet varies dramatically between models, and the eye relief, same issue.

+1 to the comments about not looking through the high end stuff right now. Leica, Swarovski, some of the Zeiss -- off limits or you will end up going crazy. For a serious birder, binoculars are like tripods (see the bythom article on buying a tripod) -- you start low and end up progressing through ever more expensive glass until you finally break down and buy the top end. (Ask me how I know this....)

For me, the perfect birding glass is an 8x32 roof prism, phase corrected, with a ~400 foot FOV and as long an eye relief as I can get. Pentax, Minox, Swift, Nikon, EO Ranger (though the newest Ranger is the 8x42, I don't think they've upgraded the 8x32 yet;) all make good quality binoculars. In our house right now we own the Pentax SP 8x32, the Leica 8x32 (mmmmmm), and the sadly discontinued Nikon 8x32 SE porros, one of the finest birding optics ever.

You might check out the Eagle Optics Ranger series. They have all the high-end features, but should come close to your budget. In fact, a phone conversation with the very helpful folks at EO will help tremendously. They carry everything, and are well-versed in the tech specs and features. (Disclaimer: I am just a very satisfied long term customer.) http://www.eagleoptics.com/

Good luck and happy birding.
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Robert DeCandido PhD
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« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2011, 10:44:28 AM »
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Look on Ebay for used - especially in Jan-Feb - good prices can be found.

Zen Ray's are a good "off" brand - about $400.

Best to hang out with a birding group for a day and try the different types in the field. Soem will fit your face/hands better than others...some will just not "feel" right in your hands...

Tough to give an answer - but women like 8x32 because they are light weight (and so they will take them along on a hike; anything larger and they leave those bins home). I like 8x32 Swarovki's as well...they do 95% of what the Swaro 8x44 models does but at less cost, and lighter weight.

Nikon Monarchs...sometimes Amazon Marketplace has refurbs or returns ("open-box") specials on brands of binoculars.

Robert DeCandido
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k bennett
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« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2011, 11:26:44 AM »
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Men like 8x32 for the same reason....
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2011, 02:17:29 PM »
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I purchased my shirt-pocketable 8X20  "Habicht" Swarovski binoculars thirty years ago.  8X is about the longest you can hand-hold properly and they're bright enough for all but nautical navigation use. I never lift them to my eyes without saying "Wow! Thank you".  They were about $700.  In a few years, the price difference is long forgotten.  The image quality is forever amazing.  They also focus very close, which is great for bug watching; something I'd never considered but truly enjoy.  Macro binoculars. : )

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viewfinder
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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2011, 06:01:02 PM »
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Nobody has yet mentioned exit pupil size....

Divide the diameter of the lenses by the power of the eyepieces give the 'size' of the cone of light leaving the glass.    This needs to be same size, or larger, than the iris of the users eye, to see a subject well....

....Thus, an 8x21 glass gives only a 2.6mm cone of light so that's a disadvantage in low light conditions when a healthy/youthful persons iris is open to 5 or 6mm.      7x50 offers a large a cone of light as any human eye can use in any conditions, which explains part of it's military/marine use.

The best general purpose (non stabilised) glass, in my opinion, is a 7x35,...this is roughly the same size and weight as an 8x30 but transmits much more light (do the 'rithemtic), can be carried around the neck all day and is as powerful as can be hand held.
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kevk
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« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2011, 06:25:22 AM »
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Have had several types over the years, for birdwatching and general use. My current favourite is Pentax PAPILIO. Moderate magnification at 8.5 x 21 but more than made up for in image clarity, CLOSE FOCUS (0.5m or 1.6ft), and small size/lightness.
The ability to focus so close is extremely useful - flowers, bugs, etc - its like having a portable microscope.
(Big recommendation here)

Kevin
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K.C.
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« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2011, 01:37:44 AM »
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I guess it's just me but I never thought of Binoculars as an appropriate topic under Computers & Peripherals.

But hey post where ever you want and you'll get someone who's willing to reply.

http://www.binoculars.org/selecting-binoculars/
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Adam L
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« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2011, 04:56:06 AM »
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Thanks for the posts and recommendations.  This has been helpful.

K.C. I thought about which category to place the post, which would you have chosen?
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Enchanter
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« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2011, 05:31:31 AM »
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I've used Zeiss and Leica 8 x 30's and they're superb. However, I would have to give the nod to the latest Swarovski 8 x 30's. They have a slight edge optically IMHO on all the other 8 x 30's currently. I think the 8 x 30 is a good compromise between weight and low light performance.



« Last Edit: May 26, 2011, 05:34:43 AM by Enchanter » Logged

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K.C.
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« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2011, 01:46:13 AM »
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Thanks for the posts and recommendations.  This has been helpful.

K.C. I thought about which category to place the post, which would you have chosen?

Well it seems that the Coffee Corner is the catch all forum here.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?board=33.0

It's not a big deal. It just surprised me to find the thread here.
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Patricia Sheley
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« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2011, 08:23:30 AM »
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If you are able to find someone carrying Swarovski in their complement, try a pair of EL 8,5x42 7,4° .They were I think in the 600£ range (at the time..$ 1200-$ 1600  or so now I think) but only once spread over years of fine service become some of the best money ever spent...stand up to foul weather, great in low light, FANTASTIC in the woods or at sea. Compare side by side with other choices you might be leaning towards and then factor in the years they will be part of your life. You will never regret great glass, excellent light gathering, and a field of view that allows an awareness of the general surrounds of your focus...
« Last Edit: May 30, 2011, 06:42:20 AM by Patricia Sheley » Logged

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