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compact binocular advice...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/02/2005 at 17:08
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Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: August/30/2004
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 8
Hey guys I,m looking for the best compact binocular under 200 dollars...I thought about the kowa 8x25???Is it
close to the 7x26 customs.....thanks Clipboard.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/02/2005 at 21:14
ranburr View Drop Down
Optics Master
Optics Master

Joined: May/16/2004
Status: Offline
Points: 1082

I don't know about Kowa.  Their stuff is usually good.  You may want to look at Minox.



Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/02/2005 at 22:19
gremlin View Drop Down
Optics Apprentice
Optics Apprentice

Joined: February/16/2004
Location: left of center
Status: Offline
Points: 115
To me the best optical quality for under $200 is always to be found in the little inverse porros out there.  Because of their design, they're quite compact and yet don't require the expensive phase coating that little roofs do.   As a result, you get more performance for your money with inverse porros.

The Bushnell Legend 8x26's are really feature laden for under a hundred bucks and offer a very good image for that money that you'd be hard pressed to find in roofs costing three times as much.

The NEW Swift 805R Micron 8x25's offer an incredibly sharp image for right at $140 or less.  It's tough to find a medium to high-end Swift binocular that won't produce an exceptionally crisp picture with good color.  Be forwarned though, the new model with the rubber armor is the one you want... the older models were a bit skimpy on both eye relief and durability.

For just a little bit more than $200 you can get a truly exceptionally well made pair of Bushnell 7x26 Customs.  There is not a roof made by anyone in this size and price range that offers anything close to the center image sharpness of a pair of Bushnell Customs.  You've got to move up to the $400 price range in a compact binocular before you'll get the quality of a Bushnell Custom image and you've got to move up to a 42mm objective to find a $200 porro that will hold a candle to the Customs.  If you look hard enough, you might even find a "last year's model" pair of Bausch and Lomb Customs for $175 or so.

Most full line, old style gun stores that I go into will have a pair of Leupold Windriver Mesa 10x23's under the counter for $125 or less.  I usually pick them up and consider them for a moment, then I usually yawn and move on.  They're a good crisp picture, but I don't think their field of view is wide enough for my tastes.  They feel good in your hand and are easy to find new if you want a pair.  In addition, they'll provide a superior picture to a comparably priced pair of Olympus Magellan, Nikon Sportstar, or Pentax DCF MC roofs.

Nikon recently converted their popular Travelite inverse porros to the Prostaff All Terrain Binocular line  which is a shame because the Travelites were a very good, very compact little binocular.  When Nikon converted to ATB, they also added what feels like a several ounces of weight and, to my eye, cheapened the optics.  I don't feel that the Prostaffs are as bright as the old Travelites--maybe it's new coatings.  All of which means that you might be able to find a great deal ($100 or so) on a pair of Nikon Travelite 5's in 8 or 10x25 on the discontinued rack somewhere--a year ago they were hard to find under $140.

The butterfly watchers all swear by the Pentax UCF's and the new Papilio's--yes there are actually optics forums out there dedicated to watching butterflies--due to their close focus capability, weather proofing, and their light weight.  I've owned the UCF Q's in 10x21 and found them to be a handy little glove box binocular until my son sat on them one day--that was the end of them.  The Papilio's supposedly are one of the smallest, most compact, shortest focusing binoculars ever made--approaching credit card size or so I understand from reading the forums.  They give 400 foot field of view and focus down to 19 INCHES if you can believe the specs.  I, personally, never want to get that close to a coyote, but... if Monarch Butterflies are your thing, you probably would want to consider them.

I don't know if any of this helps, but if you want a quality optical image with lots of features, good field of view, and serviceable eye relief under $200, my advice is to consider one of these little inverse porros.  I love the little 8x26 Legends for the money...

Just my two cents.
Take the long way home...

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/03/2005 at 12:00
koshkin View Drop Down
Dark Lord of Optics

Joined: June/15/2004
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 11903

I'll second gremlin's advice on reverse porros.  You have to get a very expensive compact roof prism to get anywhere new the image quality of a decent reverse porro that you'll find for $75-$200.  Nikon Premier LX compacts are quite good, but you will not find them anywhere for less than $300-$400.


Small inverse porros also usually have a bigger objective lense than small roofs giving you a larger exit pupil.  For example, the most common sizes for inverse porros are 8x24 and 8x25.  High end compact roofs are 8x20 or 8x21.  That makes for an exit pupil roughly 45% larger in area for the inverse porros.


A beater pair of small inverse porros in my car is a Sightron S2 8x25.  Newer ones ar waterproof and a little better optically.  Nikon Travelite V 8x25 I've also had and they were excellent (until I lost them).  The best compact binocular I've ever looked through is Bauh and Lomb Custom 7x26, but it is not waterproof.  If waterproofing is a concern, Pentax and Sightron both make a waterproof inverse porro.  I do not remember if Nikon Travelite V is waterproof but I did not have problems with it.





Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/14/2005 at 22:40
Jess Curious View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: April/05/2005
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 10
Well, the Papilio's aren't as small as a credit card but they are an amazing bit of engineering to get that 19 inch close focus and the view is super-sharp at that range as well as longer. I went with the 6.5x21 model and they were $129.00 at a local wild-bird shop. Size wise they about the same size as the UCF X models A great glass for distance and fantastic for getting down into a flower to watch a bee at work. 
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