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An apples to oranges 8x comparison

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/01/2009 at 21:31
jonoMT View Drop Down
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I recently bought a pair of 8x42 Nikon Monarch ATBs off a more finicky friend for $160 - a price I could not resist although these are behind the Vortex Razors and Zen-Ray ED2s on my list. This evening I took them out, along with my 8x30 Swarovski (monocular) rangefinder and a pair of Leupold porro 8x25s that I bought for $49 a few years ago. I partially put all three to the test by glassing the east side of a mountain two miles away that was heavily silhouetted by the setting sun.

I found that the ATBs generally are a quite pleasant and effective binocular. The only noticeable flaw when looking at the mountainside was a purplish-red fringe on the ridgeline. Turning a few degrees farther from the sun made it go away. Of the three, given the 42mm objective, I was able to make out the texture of trees on the slopes because of the additional light transmission. The Swaro glass was (as expected) completely free of glare and any color fringing. I only brought it out to compare some alpha glass since it is a monocular. The Leupolds were pretty uncomfortable, fogged on the outside of the oculars and suffered from their lack of objective diameter. But for their price they are what they are.

The only real point of this "review" is to note how far one needs to move up in objective size, glass quality and construction to have serviceable bins. The ATBs will work quite well until I get the Razors (or maybe the Zens...waiting too to see how JB's hunting trip to Alaska treats them). So, in my opinion, you don't have to go to far at all. A decent 8x42 can be had for $200-300 and maybe a really good one for $400.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2009 at 04:44
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jonoMT

I agree with your assessment, you can get very good glass at around the $400 mark. I hunt with a pair of Swarovski so I have my “alpha” glass.  I find myself looking for good deals out there, so every opportunity I get to look through peoples bino’s or even better when I can barrow some friends I do it.  The vast majority of the hunters out there do not need alpha glass binoculars, but they need good binoculars and there are some really good buys out there.

 

I came to this sight looking for advice. Several members here were very helpful and I ended up following their advice and I was very satisfied and glad I did.  They at the time recommended the Swift Audubon poro’s and I have to be honest they are very close to the Alpha glass on the market. 

 

I am very picky when it comes to Chromatic aberration (the purple or red colored fringe color you see when looking at contrasting objects) like a tree to the sky, or along a ridge line. 

 

I had a pair of Weaver Grand slam 10x43mm at $400 and they looked good except for the CA distortion. Which I shared that information with people here. While I love their scope the older style GS binoculars while good I felt were over priced.  My Swifts that were suggested to me are ED glass and no CA distortion and they were worth every penny and even some more.  

 

I have heard great things about Vortex and the Zen Ray stuff, and I am grateful that we have a sight to share such information, since going to a store and looking at binoculars under artificial light is not a true comparison.  Thank you for sharing your information.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2009 at 11:03
jonoMT View Drop Down
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There was some pair of $129 Leupold porros that I looked through last time I was at a store and they had some pretty amazing glass and were very bright for that price...I guess and advantage that porros have.

I did some more glassing with the ATBs this morning, looking at the same mountain two miles away. I could clearly make out hikers on the summit and there's enough resolution that at that distance you can distinguish that a person is wearing a backpack or see their dogs' legs. I would not be able, I think, to do much to distinguish one antelope or deer from another at that distance with 8X - even with alpha glass. But at those distances I just want to spot animals. I could not make them out with the naked eye.

One thing I noticed was that - while the depth of field seems pretty decent - when I would go from looking at something in focus 2 miles away to something 75 yards away, my eye would have to adjust. This was less pronounced with the Swaro...and not as noticeable if I focused @ 75 yards and then looked at more distant objects. So, yes, I would prefer a pair of Swaro ELs or SLCnews, but for 10-15% of the price a pair of ATBs work alright for a less-than-perfectionist user. I sure won't worry about them while were bouncing around in the truck looking for antelope this fall.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2009 at 11:41
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I think the basic premise that most people don't need an alpha is a good one.  One of the reason we have seen the ZEN, Promaster, Hawke and Atlas binoculars show up is the simple fact that they identified a market niche in the area of the quality of the lower price glass and the expense of the top end glass.  Not that the top end stuff is not good, it is, but it is a personal choice on what you will have to spend on it.
 
Now the Monarch is OK, but frankly there is better glass out there for less money if you wish to refine your point further.  I have a Monarch, and it was fine for awhile.  It is still decent and serviceable, but there is lesser price stuff that beat it now.  Even the new $130 Atlas Radian, I would take over the Monarch.  The main thing about the Monarch is a narrow fov and the edges are not as sharp as some of the others in that category.  Color contrast could be better too.  But it is a decent useful binocular and if you use it for what it is and don't get to the point where the flaws stick out, it will sure work to go hunting.
 
Less expensive stuff is getting better all the time.  The quality of the less than $100 Yosemite and the new Radian roof prism just about have to be seen to be believed.  I think the Radian might be the roof version of the Yosemite.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2009 at 12:42
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as hunters we have different needs when it comes to glassing. We want to be able to determine if it is a log or an animal lying there and what is on top of his head. I used the Monarchs in Eastern Wy last year for antelope and deer. I liked them a lot. My friend who was using his alpha glass was amazed and could not believe what i paid for them. After i spotted the anamials and decided they had good head gear. Then I brought out the spotter, but they were about 3 miles away. i forgot to mention they were 8x42's 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2009 at 16:07
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There's just one thing that I think it could improve the threads in general: more pictures.
I know we can see the binos on the internet, on google etc... but its not the same thing, specially when you have more than one and you can compare it.
When I get my Zen-Ray ED2 8x43 I will take some pictures and post here.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2009 at 16:21
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Having a Swarovski does not make the user a better glasser.  Having a lesser binocular does not mean that the user is therefore a poor glasser.  It simply means, like with anything else, knowing what you are doing is a large part of the equation.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2009 at 16:42
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Klamath,
Thats why I created this thread !

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=150586
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2009 at 16:43
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Originally posted by Klamath Klamath wrote:

Having a Swarovski does not make the user a better glasser.  Having a lesser binocular does not mean that the user is therefore a poor glasser.  It simply means, like with anything else, knowing what you are doing is a large part of the equation.


Nor does more magnification. Another thing I did last night when my brother-in-law was here was to glass the almost-full moon with the ATBs and with the Bushnell Excursion spotter that I'm test driving. No surprise here, but the spotter without a tripod was basically worthless above 15X. Seems there's a threshold of magnification (combined with weight and ergonomics) that requires hands-free stabilization to be useful. For me, that is anything above 10X.

From what I've gathered from the forums here, lower magnification combined with a larger objective size would probably benefit most users over what are commonly considered ideal bins. In fact, if you offered me a choice between the Swarovski EL 8.5x42s and the SLCnew 7x42s I'd take the latter even though the others are $400 more.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/03/2009 at 14:54
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The more i read on this forum the more i just might stick with my 8x42 monarchs on my elk hunt this November.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/03/2009 at 15:16
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oh no, you can't just stick with one pair.  You got to have at least a dozen different brands of the exact same size and power.  Wink
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/06/2009 at 10:48
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monarchs work well but they arent the "best"
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/08/2009 at 02:29
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Having Swarovski, Zeiss, Leica or very high end Nikon will not make you a better glasser or hunter.  However, using lesser glass will eventually show their limitations.  That is not to say that 99.9% of the hunters out there can not be perfectly happy with a “decent” pair of binoculars and by “decent’ I am going to say like a $300 and up pair of binoculars.

 

I’ve said it before here that the first “step’ in optics is the biggest.  The difference between your $39.99 special and a $300.00 pair of Bushnell Legends (example) is going to be HUGE!!  As you move up the gap gets smaller.

 

But if you’re spending hours and hours behind your glass even the $300 nocs will have their limitations.  Eye fatigue will catch up with you.  Or if the conditions get bad and down right horrible that is where Alpha glass will make the difference.

 

My example.  I am a huge fan of the Weaver Grand Slam scopes think they are a great buy for the money.  So I picked up a pair of the older model Weaver Grand Slam 10.5x45 (example picture         http://www.optics4birding.com/weaver-grand-slam-10-5x45-binoculars.html      Sorry SWFA only has the new style for reference.  They are priced at about $450-$499 safe to say decent glass.  I was up deer hunting on a very nice clear day and I compared them to my friends Zeiss Classics and another friends Leica Trinovids and I really couldn’t see what the extra money was for.  Fast forward several months and we are hunting in horrible weather sleet and snow then the sun breaks and there is lots of reflection off the snow. This showed the weakness of the Weavers the other two looked way better to everyone there.  Now is it worth paying another $1000 for only hunting in bad conditions?  Maybe, maybe not.

 

It all depends on what you want, what you’re willing to get or give up.  I still believe regardless of a person’s bank account when it comes to optics buy the best you can afford.  There are great buys in the optics world (Vortex, Swift, apparently the Zen Ray glass and others) but there are no short cuts.

 

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/08/2009 at 06:19
jonoMT View Drop Down
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I tend to look at the overall equation. Sure I could afford a pair of Swaro SLCs but then am I better off than if I put that money into range time and more reloading components? Sure, there will be special cases of low-light or glare or some other conditions that reveal the limitations of your run-of-the-mill 8x42s. Or if your hunting has evolved to require significant time glassing, there's no doubt the view will be fatigue-free through high-end glass. I've never relied on glass as much as I have on learning the terrain, locating forage and watering spots or strategizing to stay down wind. Most of the time any decent pair of bins will be more than adequate as a tool.
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