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Bino Comparison-Advice on upgrade

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/10/2005 at 16:32
Matt Palmquist View Drop Down
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I made the mistake of comparing my current binoculars with some buddies while on an elk hunt.  I am currently using Pentax DCF HRII 8X42, and am satisfied with them for the money.  I compared them with the following:

Zeiss Classic 10X42, and Cabelas alaskan guide in both 8X42 and 10X42.  To say the least I was not as impressed with my binos after this test.  However, when using for extended periods I would rather look through my Pentax than my friends Zeiss.

 

It was towards dusk, and we were comparing the performance of each bino in lowlight conditions.  There was definately not anything scientific about this, but the pentax were definately the dullest.  The Zeiss were probably the brightest, but in my opinion have a yellow tint to them. 

 

I have been considering trying some Pentax DCF SPs, but was able to compare them with my HRII recently as well, and couldn't tell enough difference to switch.  My ultimate goal has been to purchase a set of Leica Ultravids after looking through some a year or two ago, but as we all know they carry a very steep price tag. 

 

I almost exclusively use my optics for hunting.  I will glass for extended periods of time when searching for game in the open prairie of western Kansas where I reside.  With that said you should know that I bowhunt everything so I also use my binos at closer distances as well. The point of my ramblings is to get some opinions on whether or not Leicas are the way to go.  Are midrange optics such as Kahles, Pentax SP, or even the Alaskan Guide series up to the task when using for hunting.  I have researched on this site as well as other forums, and am still not sure what binoculars would be the best for my intended use.  I thought I would get some opinions of the knowledgeable users of this site. 

 

My biggest obstacle is testing several binos in an actual hunting situation.  Going to cabelas, etc. doesn't really tell you much because as we all know everything looks good in the store.  I advice/comments/questions that would help lead me in the right direction for the perfect binocular for me would be greatly appreciated. 

 

Thanks for the help.

 

Matt

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/10/2005 at 17:19
Acenturian View Drop Down
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Matt: Welcome to the forums.

 

I would not consider my self an expert so by no means is my advise the knowledge of the optics gods hopefully some of the more experience people on this forum will chim in and give some very solid advice.  With that I have played around with a couple different pair of bino's and scopes so I'll share some experiences.

 

I have a friend that hunts with the Zeiss Classics and another that hunts with Leica's both are very good and both are very expensive.  I have been on a quest to find optics that are as good or dam close for a lot less money.  So far I have done pretty good.

 

When I was looking for my first decent pair of binoculars (by decent I always used the cheapest pile of garbadge you could buy ) I did a fair amount of research and asked a lot of questions.  I looked through Bushnell Legends, Nikon Monarchs, Pentax DCF HRII, Alpens, and Carsons.  I wanted to spend no more than $300 and here is what I found.

 

For that amount of money you will see a HUGE increase in performance over the junk I was using.  I think as you go up from there, it will get better but you will not see the major huge difference that you get with that first step up.   After what I compared the above binoculars to I think the Carson XM series has the others beat hands down.  I found out about the Carsons from a archery forum that I belong to www.archerytalk.com  (you can do a search as a non-member for Carsons or binoculars and read up what my fellow archers have said the results are great). http://www.archerytalk.com/vb/search.php?searchid=1123358

 

 I also found this web page on a birders forum  http://www.naturephotographers.net/articles0404/je0404-1.htm l

 

I thought the Alpen Apex was second and the Bushnell Legends third then the Pentax and finally the Nikon which I was definitly not impressed with.

 

Now I dont know enough about optics but I have been told that it is easier to get better optical quality out of a poro (traditional dog leg shaped binocular) than out of the straight roof prisms for the money.  From the adivce of the people on this forum I bought not one pair but two pairs of Swifts Audubons a couple months back. These binoculars ROCK!!!  I got both the ED version more expensive and a little lighter in weight with the cool back rubber and the NON Ed version in gray rubber.  Both are awsome and I cant put into words how good they are especially for the money.  When I showed them to a friend who hunts with the Lecia Trinovid he was impressed with the quality and view the Swifts Audubons provided.  If the Lecia was better it was not by much and the Swifts actually weighed a little less.

 

Do a search on this forum for Swift Audubons 8.5x44 the results are very favorable.

 

 Also I found this link:

http://betterviewdesired.com/audubon/audubon.html

 

Some people dont like a poro shaped binocular, I was one of them to me they looked obsolete and uncomfortable to carry. I got a good binocular harness and they carry great,  the field of view is huge at 1,000 yards a good 100 + feet wider than the roofs and the clarity on the glass is increadable I dont think you will find anything close to them unless you want to spend the $1300 + dollars,.

 

Good Luck

 

 

 

 



Edited by Acenturian
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/10/2005 at 22:11
Matt Palmquist View Drop Down
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Thanks for the reply.  I am also an AT junkie so I am quite familiar with that website.  How much do the Swifts weigh?  It sounds like they aren't too bad.  I have read several comments about them and they definately sound worth a look.  Same goes for the Carsons.  When they first came out there were several rave reviews on AT and I was looking at them back then, but never ended up getting a pair. 

 

I suppose it would be a good investment to give them a try before spending $1000+ on a pair of Leicas or Swaros.

 

I am a bigger fan of the roof prisms over the porros, but it is probably due to the experience I have had with porros.  My first "decent" or so I thought, set of binoculars were Leupold Windrivers 10X50.  They were pretty good for a year or two, but became extremely sensitive when trying to focus. 

 

Once again thanks for the reply as well as the Welcome to the boards!

 

Matt

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/10/2005 at 22:18
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If you are willing to consider porros, look at Swift Audubon 8.5x44 or one of several Fujinon FMTR-SX "Polaris" models.  Swifts have center focus, while Fujis have individual focuaing.  Fujis will be tougher and have better waterproofing, but both have awesome glass.

Ilya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2005 at 15:39
Rusty View Drop Down
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Acenturian

How are the Audubon ED's in low light conditions?  Are they up to the more expensive binos in low light cinditions?

 

Rusty

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/12/2005 at 05:21
Acenturian View Drop Down
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Rusty:

 

The Swift Audubon ED"s are very good in low light.  Optics are very subjective in that what may be good for my eyes may not be for yours, but I think they are very good even in low light conditions.  I read that they have a twilight factor of 19.3 which is pretty high, considering that the PentaxSP's are 18.5 and the Leica Trinovid 18.3.  Some people dont really put a lot of faith into those numbers, I really dont either but I've looked through all three and they all look great and the Swifts cost less. 

 

One thing to consider is that if you wear glasses the Swift Audubons are not as eye glass friendly as some of the roofs on the market since they have a fairly short eye relief, you will only be able to see about 2/3 of the full field of view.  Other than that they are a great buy in binoculars

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/12/2005 at 11:58
Rusty View Drop Down
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Acenturian

Low Light Characteristics:  "Good Low Light Characterisitics" can be subjective, but you can always do side by side comparisons comparisons with other known binoculars.  Usually the higher power binos do slightly better in low light, while lower power binos are "brighter", but "dim out" sooner than higher power binos.

 

Thanks for the information.

 

Rusty

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/13/2005 at 21:24
Acenturian View Drop Down
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Rusty: I only have two pairs of binoculars at the moment.  But I compared the Swift Audubon 8.5x44 poro ED to the Weaver Grand Slam 10.5x45 roof.  This is by no means any scientic comparison just what my observations were.  I compared the two last night at approximatley 7:15-7:30 hours.  I live in the city so it was dark enough that people were driving with headlights on as well as all the street lights lit.

I went to my back yard and with no outside light decided to do a little comparison between the two.  Looking at some trees across at a park out approximatley 200 yards they seemed about the same.  I'd give the Grand Slam higher marks mainly because the extra 2x magnification brought me in closer but light gathering and contrast about the same.

 

Then I looked over at a neighbors pitched roof. Its a white stucco house and it has a darker gray colored attic vent.  distance was at approximately 70-75 yards.  No lights and a pretty dark corner.   Again splitting hairs but at the shorter distance and looking at the vent for contrast I'd give it to the Swifts.  Not a big difference but a noticable one.  The Swifts just had a slight edge in clarity and contrast.  It should be noted that both allowed me to see into the pitched area that looked almost totally dark to the naked eye.

 

I really like the Weavers I like the extra power and I am supprised more people are not commenting more on them.  While I dont think they are quite up to the glass of the Swift Audubon ED's or the Pentax DCF SP they are not far behind.  About the only thing I dislike about the Weavers are they are "touchy" in that a slight turn of the adjustment wheel will send them way out of focus, unlike the Swifts or the Carsons I had.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/17/2005 at 10:58
jasonk_jasonk View Drop Down
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Matt,

If you can find a way to afford it, I would highly recommend the Leica Ultravids.  I have a pair and have had the opportunity during hunting situations to compare them next to Swarovski, Cabelas Guide Series, Pentax and a few others.  The Leica's have always come out on top...even the owners of the other brands agreed with me.

 

The Leica warranty is also an added plus as well.  I ripped one of my rubber lense covers in half while pulling it off for cleaning (I should have been more careful), so I got on the Leica site and electronically submitted a request for info on where I should buy a couple replacements.  The response was simply, "We've dropped a pair in the mail for you and thanks for being a Leica customer".  That is the type of service we all should expect when we pay $1000+ for anything and Leica delivers it.

 

Good Luck with your decision....I know from my months of research before buying the Ultravids that there are hundreds of reviews and opinions out there and none are the same.   My only advice that's not biased to Leica or anyone else is to buy the best you can afford and you'll never regret it and wished you bought something better.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/19/2005 at 11:33
Rusty View Drop Down
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Acenturian,

 

Thanks for the information.  I "test/review" my binos the same way you did.  I find a shadowy area to test low light capability in my neighborhood. 

 

I have heard the Weaver Grand Slams have good low light characteristics, but I have never tried them.  I think most people will not try them because: they are not as well known, they are near 30 ozs., and they are not waterproof (like the Zeiss Classics, they are water resistant). 

 

Thanks,

 

Rusty


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/20/2005 at 23:00
Matt Palmquist View Drop Down
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Thanks Jason for the Reply.  I really would like to get the Leicas, but I am not sure the gain is worth the extra grand.  I haven't completely ruled them out, but I am going to consider the Kahles and the Pentax SP as well.  Either way I need to start saving some Money!!! lol.

 

Matt

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/20/2005 at 23:54
Matt Palmquist View Drop Down
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After doing quite a few searches on this site I still have alot of questions when trying to make a decision to purchase.  I am tempted to buy a pair of Carson XM's to give them a try, but I know that I will just want one of the higher end models in a year or two anyways.  I would love to get a pair of Leica Ultravids, but am having a hard time justifying the price tag. 

 

I have decided on a 10X roof prism bino.  I do alot of spot and stalking and crawling with my binos on my chest so I want something compact, lightweight, and very durable.  I also think I would like to keep my purchase under a grand, or maybe even $800.  It is pretty easy to creep up the price limits, but I would like to upgrade my spotting scope as well. 

 

In this price range which binos are the best in lowlight conditions?  Which are the most durable?  Who has the best warranty?  Which bino has the best optical qualities?  Most of the searches resulted in Kahles and being Pentax SP being listed as the best in this price range, but I am open to other suggestions. 

 

I know that many of these are specific to individual preference, but your experiences definately can help in making my decision. 

 

Thanks,

Matt

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