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8x Compacts-Midsize?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/02/2006 at 17:03
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I'm looking for a pair of 8x binos for my dad and stepmom to use for general nature viewing and bird watching while horseback riding.  I would like to get something in an 8x25 to 8x30 range that can go a the saddlebag.  Trying to spend around $200, but will go higher in need be to get waterproof and phase coated.  My dad also wears glasses.  Please let me know my best options.

 

Thanks

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/02/2006 at 19:23
koshkin View Drop Down
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If you are trying to get the most for your money going with some sort of a porro prism is probably your best option.

Does it have to be waterproof?

If not, the best compact binocular from the optical quality perspective, that I can think of is Bushnell Custom Compact 7x26.  I think it goes for around $250 and you will not find a better (optically speaking) compact binocular for any price.

If you insist on roof-prism you'll be best serves with models with at least a 30mm objective lens.  Take a look at Bushnell Legend 8x32, Celestron Noble 8x32 and a few others.  I suspect that a lot of the binocualrs you'll find in this range are pretty much the same design with different labels on it.

I was also pleasantly surprised with an updated Wind River Katmai (although I played with a 6x32 model).

ILya


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/02/2006 at 19:29
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There are used Steiners on the Sample list.  There are clearer binoculars, but you said horse back, so these are rugged.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/03/2006 at 12:19
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I suggest that you go with a 30 or 35 objective lens.  The larger lens will give your folks a much clearer and brighter picture.   There are also more choices in this size.

 

Believe it or not, older eyes really appreciate every bit of help they can get.  (Don't fall for the "restricted pupil size" argument.)

 

Compact binoculars with smaller objectives are somewhat restrictive when it comes to general use.  They are  touchy when it comes to focus (small parts).  The exit pupil is smaller.  They fade out when the light gets dim (i.e., cloudy, dawn, or dusk or when looking at birds in shade trees).

 

We use (or have used) Leitz 10x25s, Bushnell 8x20s, and other brands.  The Leitzes, for example, work very well in  most daylight situations.  These are our "take along" pair when we aren't sure whether we will use binoculars.  They are wonderfully convenient.  When offered a choice of using either these or a  full-sized binocular, though, almost everyone chooses the full-sized binocular.

 

Size and weight shouldn't be a significant factor (within reason), if these are going to be carried in a saddlebag.  I don't know where your folks are riding, but if it's in the mountains the binoculars probably should be waterproof.  When you ride in the mountains most places (either east or west), it's a good idea to be prepared for some rain and significant temperature changes.

 

Hope you find this helpful.  

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/03/2006 at 15:36
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My in-laws went on an vacation to Hawaii not too long ago.  Amoung their many activities was a whale-watching cruise. Before they left they asked for advise on a binocular they might buy for the trip.  Knowing them as I do, I recommended they buy a cheap little 8x25 mini.  I knew they would never spent enough time looking through the binocular to ever see optical abberations and that they also would never carry around a mid or full-sized glass.  All they wanted to do was take a closer look at some of those whales.  They took my advise, bought a little Bushnell Powerview and were perfectly satisfied with what they got. They still have that little mini and they think it is just the most fantastic little binocular ever.

 

Thus. some of the questions you need to be asking yourself (and perhaps your parents) are:

  1. How much are they going to use the binocular?  Even if they are in the saddlebags and thus easily available, will your parents feel compelled to pull them out and use them much? Even a  $60 cheapy can last a long time if they aren't being used constantly.
  2. How much size/weight are your parents realistically willing to pack? Obviously you have already considered this to be an issue as you started out limiting suggestions to compact and mid-sized binoculars.  Certainly a compact binocular that could perhaps be kept in a shirt pocket and used would be better than a mid-sized binocular that gets put in a saddlebag and left there.  There are some really nice compacts on the market that provide astonishingly good views.
  3. Do your parents wear eyeglasses?  If they do, you will need to be extra selective of any 30+mm binocular you consider as many of them offer very poor eye relief.

Personally my vote goes toward a good, high quality compact because:

  • They are easier to carry.  My 60+ year old uncle carries around a little mini Zeiss that he has owned for a couple of decades.  This little binocular absolutely disappears in his shirt pocket and yet, is instantly available whenever he wants them. Sitting in a saddlebag, the tendency is going to be to ignore the binocular as the effort involved in getting them out is too much bother.
  • They provide excellent images (especially during daytime activities like horesback riding.) Sure the larger optics of a mid-sized binocular will be brighter but, how often do people go horseback riding at dawn or dusk? Again my elderly uncle has had no trouble seeing through his little mini and unless your parents have known vision problems, I wouldn't be too quick to assign them something based on the presumption of a handicap.
  • While perfectly suitable for horseback riding excursions, the compact is also immenently suited to other activities like sporting events, the theater, traveling, hiking, and a myriad of other places where even a mid-sized glass would just be too large to be convenient.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/04/2006 at 12:56
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Lucznik makes some very valid observations.  These should help you in making your decision.

 

A few responses:

 

1.  Hawaii + ocean = REALLY bright light.  (Been there seven times.)  Glare can be a problem. 

2.  Really cheap binoculars are almost always a bad idea.

3.  Excellent point on pulling the binocular in and out of saddlebags. 

4.  Shirt pocket works, as long as the fabric and fit support the minis and don't let them bounce against your chest.   A fanny pack or belt pouch is another option.  You'll find out real fast if you are carrying something in the wrong place on horseback.  It will bounce against you or rub you making you VERY uncomfortable.  (Been there, done that.)

5.  Disagree about eyeglasses and min-binoculars.  We usually have to take off our glasses with the minis, but not with good regular binoculars.  Glasses tend to further diminish an already small view with minis.  Lucznik makes excellent point that you should be sure the binocular (of whatever size) works well with glasses if your folks wear them.

6.  Horseback riding at dawn or dusk?  We've done this in the Rockies, the Smokies, and other places.  What really matters, though, is what YOUR folks do.

7.  Theatre?   Minis can be frustratingly dark, unless you go for low magnification and a high ratio of objective to power.  Koshkin's 7x26 should work pretty well for this, with a ratio of close to 4 to 1.  

 

Good, informed advice, even though we may not agree on every point.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/04/2006 at 13:06
koshkin View Drop Down
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I found that with compacts which are very light scaling back on magnification a little is a good idea for several reasons:

-Since they are very light, they are harder to hold steady
-You are unlikely to observe something really distant with compacts, so you can trade some magnification for depth perception and field of view
-It is easier to make a quality 7x than a 10x
-You still get a reasonable exit pupil with small objective lenses.

That's kinda why I recommended the Custom Compacts 7x26.  They are not waterproof, but pretty rugged and have better view that just about any compact I've ever seen. 

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/05/2006 at 08:06
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Excellent advice thus far. Some very knowledgable folks on this forum.

 

Personally I prefer mid-sized to compacts unless ultimate portability is the primary concern. Compacts always tend to have poor handling for me..cannot seem to hold them as steady as I would like.... and the relatively small exit pupil makes them less user friendly at times. However, they are infinitely better than no binocular whatsoever and, again, if compactness is the primary concern then they should be your first choice.

 

As for mid-sized, around $200...I would probably go with either the Bushnell Legends (newest version is fairly light though the older versions were a bit heavy), Nikon Monarchs (new 8x36s) or Carson XM series. All are good optically for the price and all are fairly ergonomic. Also, I would agree that a $200 porro will be significantly better, optically, than any of the roofs at this price range but there can be issues of waterproofness or ergonomic incompatibility with some models.

 

Last suggestion, if you can stretch the bank just a bit then I would also suggest you take a look at the Pentax DCF-SP 8x32. You can find them a few places on the web for about $350. They are Pentax's top of the line roofs and feature aspherical lenses and ED glass. Nice, ergonomic package ( a bit heavy compared to some other 8x32s though) with very good optics. Resolution, color rendition, etc.. are top notch. Ofcourse, they are waterproof, fogproof, nitrogen purged etc... and have an advertised eye relief of 17 mm which should be sufficient for eyeglass wearers. Just picked up a pair myself and I have been fairly impressed with them.

 

Hope this helps.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/05/2006 at 20:11
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I'll second Koshkin's recommendation of the Custom Compact 7X26.  Very clear, very light, very small.  I used a pair of 6X25 Custom Compacts hard for 25 years.  They're about worn out now, but my son still uses them.  I used a pair of these for a while with good results until I bought the Leupold Katmai 6X32 ($300).  These are very good and have the roof prism benefits.  I'd highly recommend either the Custom Compacts or the Katmai's.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/08/2006 at 15:25
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Wow.  Thanks for all the replies. 

 

With all the advice, I believe I'm going for a compact over a midsize.  I think the smaller  and lighter size will have a greater benefit over the couple minutes of extra viewing they could get at dusk with a larger lense.  I didn't see the Custom Compacts on the site.  Are they water proof?  My father does a couple of 3-4 day horseback rides each year in southern Illinois and Kentucky so rain is always a possibility. 

 

Of the ones I've seen on SWFA I'm looking at the Pentax DCF MP 8x28, Bush. Leg. 9x25, and Leo Olympic 8x25.  I like the Pentax because it has a little larger field of view, which is hard to find in a compact.  I myself like all the field of view i can get.  I like the Pentax 8x32 SP's that are mentioned above (I have a pair of SP 10x43's and love them), but they are fairly heavy.  The same goes for the Legend 8x32's.  Would any of these compacts be better for eye glass wearers?

 

Now that I'm looking at compacts, I'm also thinking about picking up a pair for myself.  I do alot of hiking up here in Alaska and my 10x43's aren't very conducive to a day of hiking through the mountains.  My compacts would also go into the field for hunting and back up my SP's on days that might require more walking.  Any further information would be helpful.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/10/2006 at 22:30
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The Pentax DCF MP 8x28's are an excellent choice. I purchased a pair over a year ago for use when my wife and I travel and don't want to lug larger and heavier binoculars. The Pentax binoculars work so well that we rarely use our more expensive Swift and B&L binoculars at all! The only drawbacks were the flimsy case and neck strap Pentax supplied. We soon replaced them with something better. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/12/2006 at 06:25
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Quote The Pentax DCF MP 8x28's are an excellent choice

 

I tend to agree. When you look at the list of features that these bins have and then you look at their price I would have a hard time passing them up. Fairly compact and a configuration not often seen by other manufacturers. A good mid size/compact compromise.

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