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Best $300-$400 range binos

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/11/2006 at 21:46
hondo56 View Drop Down
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I'm going to order some binoculars from SWFA and just don't know what to get in the mentioned price range.

 

A friend bought some of those $1800 Swaros that you can see into the parallel universe with. I only have the funds to stay in this universe.

So, enlightened ones, Monarch ATB, Bushnells, Pentax? I want good clarity and depth, prefer roof prism and want a 10 x 42 setting.

 

Thanks!

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/11/2006 at 22:19
lucznik View Drop Down
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Well, if you want to get a view into that parallel universe but, don't want to spend the high dollar pricetag, you should be looking at porro prism binoculars. Swift, Bushnell, Nikon, Pentax, and others all have good options here that will easily match (or best) the image of any roof prism binoculars, regardless of cost. The tradeoff is that the porro binocular will be somewhat larger and (probably) heavier.

 

If you insist upon a roof prism view of just this universe, my vote would go to the Bushnell Discoverer, which is easily the best binocular available in your up-to-$400 price range.  If you need to go closer to the $300 mark, I would suggest either the Nikon Monarch or the Bushnell Legends.  Either one is the equal of the other and are probably the best options in this lower price range.  

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/12/2006 at 07:30
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The Pentax DCF WPII binos are only $339 for 8x and $359 for 10x.  They are excellent phase-coated roof prism binos.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/12/2006 at 10:16
lucznik View Drop Down
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I just remembered that the Leupold WindRiver Cascades were recently upgraded to include phase-correction coatings, which should put them on par with the Monarchs and Legends though,  I haven't seen one of these yet in the store to make a comparison. I believe these sell for right around $299

 

If you do go for the Leupold, you just need to make sure that you walk away with one of these newly enhanced models and not some left-over stock of the old ones that your dealer might be trying to get rid of fast.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/12/2006 at 10:32
hondo56 View Drop Down
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I was looking at the Wind Rivers, thanks for the heads up.
 Lucznik, you brought up the better clarity of porro prism. I've seen that opinion in other posts here. It appears that most bino makers are focusing on roof prism and most porros are lower priced with less selection. I could go for a 10 x 50 porro if it made sense performance-wise and financially.
Does a $150 pair of porros give the performance of $400 roof prism glasses? Is it just that much more expensive to make roof prism binoculars, or are manufacturers merely capitalizing on the popularity of the sleeker roof prism design?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/12/2006 at 11:26
lucznik View Drop Down
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Originally posted by hondo56 hondo56 wrote:

 Does a $150 pair of porros give the performance of $400 roof prism glasses?

 

In a word; Yes. 

 

Actually a $150 porro prism glass will generally be optically superior to that of the $400 roof prism glass.

 

Originally posted by hondo56 hondo56 wrote:

Is it just that much more expensive to make roof prism binoculars, or are manufacturers merely capitalizing on the popularity of the sleeker roof prism design?

 

Again, yes (to both questions.)  Porro prism binoculars are much, much easier to construct.  They also don't bend light to the same degree as roof prism optics and so they avoid many of the design difficulties that roof prism glasses deal with and for which extra coatings (for example, phase correction coatings) are needed to try to fix. The primary draw for roof prism glass is essentially two-fold:

 

First, roof prisms can be accomodated in smaller, sleeker housings which are both more convenient to carry and more stylish.  They also are generally lighter.  This is a legitimate issue and it cannot be denied that porro prism binoculars are significantly larger than their roof prism siblings.  They are not however, so large as to be unmanageable or to be excessively strain-inducing and I tend to think that the improved image quality is worth a little extra bulk and weight. I have a porro prism 10x42 B&L Discoverer and it easily matches the image quality of the Top offerings of Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss, and Nikon. This binocular originally retailed at $400 but, I bought mine for $200 on closeout.  Unfortunately this binocular is no longer made so, it would be very difficult (if not impossible) to find one.  However, there are still several other very good options available from Nikon, Pentax, Swift, Bushnell, etc.  If you don't mind Individual Focus mechanisms, you can also get high quality porros from Steiner, IOR, etc.

 

Second, the design of the roof prism housing makes them sturdier and more easily waterproofed. This additional ruggedness is often played up to a very high level by optics marketing departments.  It is however, not always as significant as it seems at first blush.  Porro prism design has improved and so have the materials used to make these binoculars to such a degree that they can be very robust products indeed.  Many of the current porro prism models are gauranteed waterproof/fogproof and even include lifetime warranties - a feature that would not be offered if they were expected to fall apart after only a few years of use.

 

 



Edited by lucznik
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/13/2006 at 21:29
hondo56 View Drop Down
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I love it when you get an education that substantiates opinions.  Thanks much!

I am going to Cabelas in Fort Worth to compare porros vs. roof. I have a set of cheap Tasco 10 x 50 porros and they surprised me at the clairty.

However, I want to move up to excellent rather than OK binos. With this feedback I just might get a $200-300 set of porros, save a bunch of $$ and be perfectly happy. Since SWFA hosts this forum, I will start looking with them.

Thanks again.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2006 at 11:49
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Wind River Pinnacles......the poor man's Zeiss.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2006 at 15:57
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I  would pick

Roof: Nikon Monarch

Porro:  Fujinon BFL

Actually find what fits you the best.  I find it hard to buy without trying them first.  You may end up with something that has good optics but you don't quite like the feel so it stays home or back at camp more then in the field.

good luck
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/16/2006 at 16:01
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Unless your dead set on spending extra a larger amount of money for less optical quality on a set of roof prisms to save a few ounces of weight, Id put your money on a set of porro prisms.  About a year ago I did the ole'  which Bino would I be happiest with for the price,  with a budget of 200-250 dollars.  I did some  in store optical comparisons of various 10x50's . I did a lot of comparisons (as best I could) and looked for various optical aspects such as feid curvature ( used a rack of fishing poles as a target) and also looked for such things as edge of feild sharpness and such.  I looked thru various Nikons, Bushnells, Pentax's, Windrivers ect.  and what I was able to compare in the store, the Pentax's 10x50's appeared to be  optically the better binos.   I cant remember which binoc was best from other features.  There was a problem will all of them though.  They all carried a Made In China sticker on them(unless they pull them off befor you look at them), and while I hate sending money overseas if I have to, I would prefer to send dollars to Japan then to Communist China, if you get my drift.  So the question is what Binocs did I buy?  Well , after reading all of the reveiws written by the group of people who are the fussiest about optic quality, ( astronomers)  I ended up buying a set of Orion Vista, 10x50's, which I have been very happy with.  These are excellent quality optics and are much better than the pair of 7x50's  Ive been using in the past.  Do they have any drawbacks?  well yes, like everything else there are compromises. The Orion Vista 10x50's have a little less eye relief then some others which may bother some people if they have to wear eye glasses when veiwing, but for me that is not a concern.  Price? ~  229.oo  .  These Binocs are also sold under a different label, ( cant remember which) .  Im not sure if these are sold thru SWFA, but if they are not, they really should consider adding them to their product line, as they have excellent optics,  and seem to be of well constructed..  I

Now, If size and price isnt an issue,  What binocs would I buy?  a set of Fujinon 15x70's,  An absolutely wonderful set of binoculars. These are a little large for hand holding so these may not fit your purpose. While I only have experience with Fujinon 15x70's, if the rest of their product line is of similar quality as this particular model,  I dont think you could go wrong.

Recommendations:
Orion Vista's (or possibly Pentax ) if you want a decent pair of moderately priced 7x50's or 10x50's without getting soaked.
or consider checking out the fujinon line of products if you have a little more money burning a hole in your pockets,  but realisticly unless you need a set of  coke bottle glasses to see thru a set of binoculars, Id recommend the Orion Vista's

( note: Im not sure about any of the cheaper branded Orion binoculars, as they most likely would compare both price and quality wise as most of the other chinese imports) ( although, i have heard some people praising the Oberwork line of imports, expecially their larger sizes, for being of decent quality for cheap price. Id do some reading on these as with all chinese produces, quality control is subject to wide variability.  If you are going to spend money on chinese optics, one should try not to pay premium prices for chinese glass as you would if you buy a set of Chinese Nikons, or Chinese Pentaxs or Chinese Windrivers, etc.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/17/2006 at 16:27
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Originally posted by The Crusader The Crusader wrote:

while I hate sending money overseas if I have to, I would prefer to send dollars to Japan then to Communist China, if you get my drift. 

 

I hear you. Not to mention that a lot of those optics fatories are owned by the Chinese Army.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/17/2006 at 16:30
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Originally posted by The Crusader The Crusader wrote:

I ended up buying a set of Orion Vista, 10x50's, which I have been very happy with.  These are excellent quality optics and are much better than the pair of 7x50's  Ive been using in the past.  Do they have any drawbacks?  well yes, like everything else there are compromises. The Orion Vista 10x50's have a little less eye relief then some others which may bother some people if they have to wear eye glasses when veiwing, but for me that is not a concern.  Price? ~  229.oo  .  These Binocs are also sold under a different label, ( cant remember which) . 

 

The Orion Vista is also sold under the name Celestron Ultima, or it was. Mine are actually made in Japan, but they are older. Nevertheless, great glass for a big ole porro 10x50.

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