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Binoculars for ~ $ - $500

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/05/2006 at 08:51
nksmfamjp View Drop Down
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I'm looking for binoculars for eastern woods whitetail hunting, general wildlife viewing and occasional deer/antelope/elk hunting in Montana.  I would like good low light performance.

 

I'm thinking:

8x30 Predators - I tried them in a store (50 yds max, well lit)) and they compared well to some Swaro's they had.  They were also so quick due to the auto focus.  I'm concerned because in some corners of the web, non-mispec Steiners have a bad rep.

 

7x50 Military/Marine - Good impression of the above model and I feel 7 x 50 is more ideal for low light and woods hunting.

 

Nikon Monarch ATB 8 x 42 - Good rating by Cornwell Lab test(from internet).  Did pretty well in my comparison above, but definately worse than Swaro's.  Also, I hate the idea of Chinese made.  Don't need roof prism since porro's usually have better image.

 

Leupold Pinnacle 8 x 42 - Better image than Nikon, I thought.  Maybe Japanese made?

 

Swift 8 x42 Ultra Lights Porro - Haven't tried, but Cornwell guy reviewed and liked a lot.

 

IOR 7x40 - Good reputation for quality glass.

 

Zeiss Conquest 8 x ?? - I couldn't ever get these set up right.  Looked and felt like Kmart junk IMHO.  I will look again!

 

 

Are there better models in this price range I should be looking at?  Which did you choose and how did they perform?

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/05/2006 at 14:47
Acenturian View Drop Down
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Ok, some people love Steiner some people pass on them.  The pairs I've looked through really didnt impress me much in the optical department.  However, if I need about the most indestructable binocular I would look at Steiner.  Usually, that durabilty comes at a price....weight.  Im under the impression that while out hunting for hours and hours oz make lbs. 

 

The Predators have a coating (atleast my understanding) that tend to enhance certain colors to find game. Very cool concept however some people have commented that then the binoculars become strictly a hunting bino since using them at say a sporting event or air show ect....would be less than ideal do to the coatings.  That is a long winded version of they are very hunter specific .

 

I've never looked through the other Steiners so I will not comment.  As far as the Swifts I dont have the ulta lights but I do own the Swift Audubon's and they are AWSOME glass.  I bought two pairs one non-ED glass version and one with the ED glass.  The ED glass cost about a $100 more but it really does eliminate the chromatic aberration.  The Swifts have great glass and compare well to much more expensive binoculars. However, one down fall is the have short eye relief so if you wear glasses (I dont) you will loose out on the field of view. 

 

Another poro design that came out and went away and that came highly recommended is the Bausch & Lomb Discoverer.  It came highly recommeded from the forums here and I bought a pair from Cabelas on close out (no longer available sometimes can be found on e-bay just about as good as glass as the Swifts but much better eye relief.

 

IOR comes highly recommended good glass but again weight is pretty heavy.

 

Nikon Monarch I have not been impressed with. Keep in mind in stores optics tend to all look good. The Nikon Monarch scopes I really like but the binoculars seems dim to me. Personally it that catagory I'd look to either the Carson Xm series, Bushnell Legends followed by the Pentax DCF HR II.

 

Leupold Pinnacles good glass for the money. A friend hunts with a pair that had a large objective very bright, and clear. Im not sure if their are made in Japan or China.  ????

 

Zeiss Conquest. Love the scopes...not overly impressed with the binoculars. They are not Zeiss Germany or Zeiss America but made in Hungary .  The image was not bad. not overly impressive but the build of binocular feels cheap to me.

 

I'd look to either the Swift Audubons see  link http://www.betterviewdesired.com/audubon/audubon.html or try to find a pair of Bausch Lomb poro Discoverers.  If you can afford to spend a bit more go with the Pentax DCF SP's a friend of mine bought a pair very good glass (still think the Swifts are better glass) but they are very nice and duarble binocs.

 

Happy shooting

AC

 

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/05/2006 at 16:13
koshkin View Drop Down
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I think you've described fairly well what you want in a binocular, but you did not specify how much you are willing to spend.

That would be very helpful in order to make a recommendation.

With optics you tend to get what you pay for, but there always better bargains out there in most price ranges.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/06/2006 at 08:39
FrankD View Drop Down
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I tend to agree with both Koshkin and Acenturian's comments (minus the lack of enthusiasm for the Monarchs). Finding something not Chinese made takes some doing as a large portion of the $500 and under market is dominated by Chinese glass. My experience with porros is limited to primarily the various Nikon models and most of those are not waterproof. The Nikon Action EX is probably the only one from my collection that is waterproof but I have no idea if it would meet your requirements optically or ergonomically.

 

I do not particularly like any of the Steiners I had the privelege to look through but have owned or tried almost of all of the roofs you mentioned. I have heard very good things about the Swift and Bausch and Lomb Discoverers so I, too, would recommend them.

 

If you do go with roofs, and Japanese made models at that, then might I suggest some of the various house brand binos that Cabelas offers. I looked through their XT roofs and was somewhat impressed by the apparent sharpness and overall ergonomics. Brightness wasn't quite as good as the Monarchs but they are definitely made in Japan.

 

Under $500 my two favorite roofs would be the Minox BD BR series and the Pentax SP series. Both have excellent image quality with only slight compromises compared to binoculars costing significantly more. I have seen both listed for under $500.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/06/2006 at 08:54
nksmfamjp View Drop Down
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Originally posted by koshkin koshkin wrote:

I think you've described fairly well what you want in a binocular, but you did not specify how much you are willing to spend.


ILya

 

 less than $500. 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/06/2006 at 09:39
nksmfamjp View Drop Down
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Anybody have experience with the IOR 7x40's?  They seem like a good deal?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/06/2006 at 11:20
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For those of you who are interested in IOR Binoculars go to:

www.holgermerlitz.de/ior7x40.html
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/06/2006 at 12:21
koshkin View Drop Down
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Originally posted by nksmfamjp nksmfamjp wrote:

Anybody have experience with the IOR 7x40's?  They seem like a good deal?


I have had a couple of them and they were my "go to" binoculars for a couple of years.  Good glass.  They are excellent in low light and very rugged.  They are pretty heavy, but that also makes them easy to hold steadily.

I switched to Fujinon FMTR-SX 8x30 as my go to binocular, since I wanted something a little smaller.

They are obviously not as good in low light, so I am in the market for a dedicated low light binocular (perhaps a 7x40 or 7x50 or thereabouts).

The glass in Fujinons is absolutely superb and a little better than in IOR binoculars.  However, I would not hesitate to go out in the field with either.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/06/2006 at 12:42
koshkin View Drop Down
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For overall optical quality, I think Fujinon FMTR-SX porros are the best in your price range.  However, they are of individual focus variety.

If you want roof prism center focus binocular, Pentax DCF-SP is the way to go.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/17/2006 at 09:01
tddeangelo View Drop Down
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I guess I'll get taken to task for it considering the opinions rendered already, but I bought a pair of Zeiss Conquest 8x30's and I LOVE them. I compared them to Kahles, Nikon, Leupold, Meoptra/Cabela's Euro, Swarovski, and Leica.

 

Nikon Monarchs: Nice light weight, and really seemed to give the best performance at THAT pricepoint

 

Leupold Wind Rivers: A real disappointment. My dad has a pair of either Olympics or Pinnacles that are about 5 years old, and they are NOTICEABLY better than what's out today from Leupold in that range.

 

Kahles: I know everyone raves about them, but they looked no better than the Wind Rivers and were twice the price. I've looked through Kahles' binos at different stores and from different places...they ALWAYS appear dim and not very clear. I was not impressed, and many of the resellers tell me that they don't sell many, nor are people very impressed with them.

 

Meoptra: These I REALLY liked, and Cabela's Euro is the same bino. I just didn't want to spend $800+ dollars. They compared very well to the Swarovski SLC's.

 

Leica: Obviously very nice. Not $1600 nice, but very, very good. Probably the best binos I looked through, but I just couldn't see $1600 worth of need for them.

 

Swarovski:  Good, very good. I would have bought the Meoptra's instead, though. Similar warranty and support, equivalent optics (I think), and about 20% less cash.

 

In the end, I decided I didn't want to spend THAT much on glasses, and I went with the Conquests. On the day I bought them,I looked AGAIN at Kahles, at Brunton, and Nikon, at Leupold, and a some others I can't remember. For the $380 I gave for the 8x30 Conquests, I could NOT be happier. They are the size I wanted and perform very well in the time I had them out bowhunting with me.

 

I was watching a nice buck from about 200 yards 45 min. after sunset with them...and I could see him quite well for the time of day. I could easily discern him against dark brush and trees and see enough detail to view his antlers.

 

I had them with me the last 4 or 5 times out in our bow season, and I'm just as happy as could be with them.

 

I took them with me to the rifle range, too. Everyone that saw them practically drooled over them when they looked through them.  The guys at Cabela's (where I bought it...I live near a showroom) also told me they sell A LOT of the Conquests.

 

So while I'm sure I'll get hammered for it, I like the Conquests, and I personally don't think they feel cheaply made or have poor build quality like I'm hearing. Maybe people got some poor examples, I don't know. Mine are outstanding, and I'd buy them all over again if I had the chance.

 

I don't know why people say they feel like junk, really. Everything I picked up from Nikon felt flimsy and breakable. Leupold was ok, but not what I expected from them. Really, the Zeiss are a good set of binos. I wouldn't fret over their quality.

 

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/17/2006 at 11:14
FrankD View Drop Down
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Glad to see that you found a pair of bins that you are passionate about. That is really what this is all about in the end...finding a pair that works for you and your intended application. I owned several pairs of the 8x30 Conquests and would agree that they offer very good quality at that price point.
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