Thoughts on buying binoculars

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  • Thoughts on buying binoculars

    I recently spent a lot of time researching and buying binoculars and thought I would distill my research into a quick post in case it is useful to someone. Before you purchase binoculars, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to use them for and your budget. Then make a decision on what compromise of prism design, magnification and objective lens diameter will best suit your needs. Then start looking for binoculars within your budget.

    Function
    To carry or use from a vehicle or fixed location ? Size and weight determined by prism design and objective lens diameter.
    Viewing subject ? Further or smaller objects need higher magnification. Moving objects need larger field of view.
    Viewing conditions ? 7mm exit pupil won't limit light transmitted to the eye so is best for night or low light. Smaller exit pupils need brighter light conditions.

    Budget
    Binoculars are 2 telescopes joined together. The best optics are no good if the 2 telescopes aren't pointing in the same direction. So image quality depends on both the glass and the construction. A bad image is useless and fatiguing for the eyes so too cheap binoculars are a waste of money. If you spend big dollars you'll get a brilliant image but the law of diminishing returns means that you pay more and more for less and less gain. Somewhere between there is a sweetspot of price vs function.

    Roof prism vs Porro prism
    Porro prisms will always give you a better image for the same cost vs roof prisms. Their other advantage is they can hinge down to a smaller inter pupilliary distance so are better for kids. Apart from that, roof prisms have all the advantages. They are more rugged, waterproof and more compact than porro.

    Magnification
    Higher magnification comes at the cost of field of view, exit pupil and difficulty to hold steady so more is not necessarily better. 6x is easy to hold steady and look through whereas more than 10x needs a tripod. Don't even consider variable magnification binoculars.

    Objective Lens Diameter
    The larger the objective lens, the heavier and bulkier the binoculars but the greater the exit pupil.

    Opinions
    Get full sized binoculars (40mm+ objective lens) if you don't intend to carry them. For hiking, hunting, or travel, smaller and lighter are better but you'll have to make some compromise between magnification and objective lens diameter to get a decent exit pupil. Or compromise on exit pupil which will make the binoculars less useful in low light conditions. The smaller the binoculars the more you have to pay for a good image.
    For watching sport, lower magnification and larger field of view are better. Only get 10x if you have very steady hands or need the magnification. 7x or 8x is much more useful in my opinion. If you are going cheap (less than $200) then get porro. Otherwise the sweet spot of price vs function is a roof design between $500-$1000. It's worth saving up and spending a bit more because you'll have a much more useful piece of equipment which will last for decades.

  • #2
    10X42 Steiners work for me.
    I'm in love with Jennifer Hawkins and Alessandra Ambrosio

    Comment


    • El-Skippo
      Skip commented
      Editing a comment
      10x42 bushnell fusion 1600 work for me best suited my needs. Cost also, get a lot for the money compaired to the competitors at a much higher cost.

    • Guest's Avatar
      Guest commented
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      "10X42 Steiners work for me."


      Steiners ive seen have been good mainly on some of the ships ive worked on offshore

  • #3
    I've heard good things about Vortex gear
    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing” - Edmund Burke

    Comment


    • #4
      I ended up getting a pair of Redfield renegade x10. I am very happy with them so far- they suprised me in a low light situation and are comparable to binos over twice the price.

      Comment


      • #5
        Funny that every post after mine recommends 10x binos. Don't you find that the gain of a bit of extra magnification comes at the disadvantage of harder to hold steady, reduced field of view and reduced exit pupil ? To me, I want binos I can use at dawn or dusk and that means an exit pupil of more than 5mm. (ideally 7mm but you have to make some compromises)

        I recommend Zen Ray ED3 8x43 (exit pupil 5.3mm) as a pair of good value all-purpose binoculars.

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        • Guest's Avatar
          Guest commented
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          Yea I agree 8x binos are pretty good all depends on your hunting grounds to if your always looking across valleys or your trying to spot a Thar in NZ against the rocks and tussocks its handy having the extra 10x mag. Every one is different though get what ever you like.

      • #6
        10X42 work. They see through vegetation if the glass is good enough. European glass.
        I'm in love with Jennifer Hawkins and Alessandra Ambrosio

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        • Guest's Avatar
          Guest commented
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          I'm just about order some Steiner 8x30 Military/Marine's out of the US

      • #7
        For me love the steiners,i bought a pair of 10x42 cobras,for me in low light conditions overlooking wheat crops in western nsw checking out big boars

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        • #8
          i just bought a Meopta Meopro 8x42. For the 400-500 price range they are second to none and beleive they are good entry level European high quality optics made in CZ.

          Comment


          • Vromme
            Vromme commented
            Editing a comment
            Cant go wrong with Euro glass, the pick of the Meoptas would have to be their Meostar HD range (but double the price)..

            After a plethora of research I picked up a pair of Kowa's BD 10x42 form the US. Double the price everywhere here so hard to justify buying from aus. Use them mainly for varminting so really need 10x at least. They are like having an eye orgasm, really feel like superman the world becomes so clear. Would be good to own a pair of 8x as well when out after bigger game.

            Another thing to consider when buying is weight. Depening on how you intend on using them weight can play a factor. I can glass for hours at a time with little rest. Holding heavy binos can be a real PITA. I dont think I would go a range finder bino combo as they tend to be quite a bit heavier I think (they are also bloody exy!)

        • #9
          I thought my Leica Duovids were good...until I looked through a mates Swarovski EL 42's. They are the goods.

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          • Guest's Avatar
            Guest commented
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            Originally posted by CE" post=74508
            I thought my Leica Duovids were good...until I looked through a mates Swarovski EL 42's. They are the goods.
            Yeh but who can afford 2 or 3K to spend on bino's

        • #10
          Originally posted by Oziblue" post=6939
          I recently spent a lot of time researching and buying binoculars and thought I would distill my research into a quick post in case it is useful to someone. Before you purchase binoculars, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to use them for and your budget. Then make a decision on what compromise of prism design, magnification and objective lens diameter will best suit your needs. Then start looking for binoculars within your budget.

          Function
          To carry or use from a vehicle or fixed location ? Size and weight determined by prism design and objective lens diameter.
          Viewing subject ? Further or smaller objects need higher magnification. Moving objects need larger field of view.
          Viewing conditions ? 7mm exit pupil won't limit light transmitted to the eye so is best for night or low light. Smaller exit pupils need brighter light conditions.

          Budget
          Binoculars are 2 telescopes joined together. The best optics are no good if the 2 telescopes aren't pointing in the same direction. So image quality depends on both the glass and the construction. A bad image is useless and fatiguing for the eyes so too cheap binoculars are a waste of money. If you spend big dollars you'll get a brilliant image but the law of diminishing returns means that you pay more and more for less and less gain. Somewhere between there is a sweetspot of price vs function.

          Roof prism vs Porro prism
          Porro prisms will always give you a better image for the same cost vs roof prisms. Their other advantage is they can hinge down to a smaller inter pupilliary distance so are better for kids. Apart from that, roof prisms have all the advantages. They are more rugged, waterproof and more compact than porro.

          Magnification
          Higher magnification comes at the cost of field of view, exit pupil and difficulty to hold steady so more is not necessarily better. 6x is easy to hold steady and look through whereas more than 10x needs a tripod. Don't even consider variable magnification binoculars.

          Objective Lens Diameter
          The larger the objective lens, the heavier and bulkier the binoculars but the greater the exit pupil.

          Opinions
          Get full sized binoculars (40mm+ objective lens) if you don't intend to carry them. For hiking, hunting, or travel, smaller and lighter are better but you'll have to make some compromise between magnification and objective lens diameter to get a decent exit pupil. Or compromise on exit pupil which will make the binoculars less useful in low light conditions. The smaller the binoculars the more you have to pay for a good image.
          For watching sport, lower magnification and larger field of view are better. Only get 10x if you have very steady hands or need the magnification. 7x or 8x is much more useful in my opinion. If you are going cheap (less than $200) then get porro. Otherwise the sweet spot of price vs function is a roof design between $500-$1000. It's worth saving up and spending a bit more because you'll have a much more useful piece of equipment which will last for decades.
          I'd like to add a few thoughts to your list.
          It's not surprising to find most people praise the binoculars they own but I doubt if they have ever given them any sort of rigorous test.

          If you want to compare binoculars without expensive test equipment try these tests.

          Resolution test.
          Set up a page of fine newsprint and see how close you have to be to read any text at random through your binoculars.

          Contrast test.
          In bright sunlight set up the page of newsprint in deep shadow, like inside a 44 gallon drum, and see how close you have to be to read text at random.

          Collimation test.
          Leave your binoculars set to your normal interpupillary setting and with your left eye closed lay them flat on a surface such that there is an image of a right angle corner of a building or somesuch in the middle of the field of the right barrel. Now without touching the binoculars and with only one eye confirm that that corner is in the middle of the field of the right barrel. Now again without touching the binoculars look through the left barrel and you should see the same corner in the same position of the field of view. If there is a slight discrepancy then the binoculars may be tiring to use for any length of time due to the effort your eyes have to put in to adapt to the image. If there is a larger discrepancy or rotation ten it will seem you can never get a truly sharp image.

          Your age also determines the usefulness of various binoculars in low light so you should take into account the variation in night adapted pupil size according to age.
          This table is a simple summary of the relationship to age.
          Age Night Adapted Pupil Size
          20 7mm
          40 6mm
          50 5mm
          70 4mm
          80 3mm
          So for instance a 50 year old won't get any greater benefit from 7x50 binoculars than from 7x35 binoculars unless you think carrying around more weight is a benefit. In bright sunlight your pupils will close down to 1mm or so regardless of age.

          Why have most military binoculars over the years been 6x30. Manufacturers will make whatever people will buy so why do you think the military choose such an unfashionable size binocular.

          Comment


          • Snag
            Snag commented
            Editing a comment
            I put bugger all research into buying my latest binos.

            I bought what I know is great gear at a pretty good price.

            Steiner 10 x 42 R Tactical with a mildot reticle for calling shots.
            They were about $800 by the time they got here. No doubt they are Phillipines made so their outlook is less dogmatic than those from the Fatherland.

          • zorba
            zorba commented
            Editing a comment
            i have some cheap as chips mini bino's

            had them for about 4 years and never had a need to use them.

            going to break them out this weekend to help a mate site in his new hand gun at 25m. i rekon they might just be good enough for that.

            dont think any of the above will help the OP tho

          • safeshot
            safeshot commented
            Editing a comment
            Many moons ago i bought a pr of Steiner 8 x 30. These are the 'Ranger' model ie entry level. and I just love 'em.
            I also bought a bino harness and now for a laugh i got myself a bit tangled up getting it on the first time or two. A female colleague says to me 'You men are useless its just like putting on a bra."
            But the Steiners take a lot of beating abd the binocular ... bra.. is damn good idea as all above have said. The latest Steiners have shaped eyecups to keep lateral light out as well.

        • #11
          I've been looking on 4scopes at 2 pairs, not sure which one to go with.
          - sightron sII 7x50 $110
          - Zeiss terra ed 8x42 $399

          I can imagine the Zeiss should be brilliant but I'm wondering if the sightron would be a bit more bang for your buck.

          Comment


          • #12
            I spent hours and hours reading reviews and researching binos and with out spending $600+ these seem to be the best buy i could get

            http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Bushnell-10x42-Legend-Ultra-HD-Binocular-Black-191042-FREE-SHIPPING-/361160797220?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5416dc6c24

            Ive used them quite a bit and love them, clear with no flaring, come in a nice hard case and a shoulder harness. Now i paid a little less being that the AUD$$ wasn't as pillaged as it is now buy the USD$$ but still they are just over $300aud and i cant be happier with mine, Now im sure you could get better but for sub $300 to your door i think you will be struggling
            .22 CZ 452, .22 Remington model 12 pump, .17 Savage 93R17 TR , DTA SRS A1 black/OD green .308 & .338LM

            My friends all bought dirt bikes, i bought a DTA......i think i won the cool toy contest :P

            Comment


            • headspace
              headspace commented
              Editing a comment
              Kowa 8x30 I can see clearly now.
              JD
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