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How detrimental is CA in Hunting Binoculars

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/08/2013 at 13:35
nuance231 View Drop Down
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Hello, planning on buying some (expensive for me) mid-priced binoculars.  The primary use will be scouting/hunting deer, coyotes, and waterfowl in the Midwest, occasionally the Western states plus Alaska in all seasons including the snowy ones. Secondary uses are anything the owner of one or two pairs of binoculars can use them for.   
While internet researching CA or chromatic aberration is mentioned/rated, most often on birder forums. I'm understanding that this occurs more often with a sky background?  Does this mean water or snow backgrounds as well? 
Bottom line, is CA something I should pay a faIr amount of attention to, or can I downgrade my concern?

Thanks
Jeff
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/08/2013 at 13:52
Klamath View Drop Down
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First off welcome to OT Big Smile.

I would follow your own advice from your signature line here.  Easy does it.  Sensitivity to Chromatic Aberration is likely the single biggest self afflicted binocular obsession there is.  

If you don't see it, for all that is holy, don't go about looking for it, for surely you will find it and then you are bound to spend lots of money on expensive glass.  It is a fact that chromatic aberration exists, and exists to some extent in nearly all binoculars.  However many, maybe even most people don't see it.  When you do see it it appears as bright borders of color at the edges of objects in the image.  I don't see it and I thank my lucky stars for it.  I can only see it with slightly out of focus binoculars with bright, high contrast targets.  Like a resolution test chart in bright sunlight for example.

The thing is...do you see it?  If you do you should not need explanation of what it is.

Look for binoculars using ED or Flourite glass in the objective lenses, these tend to alleviate the problem.

But I'd say that it sounds like you are not particularly bothered by it or I think the question you asked would have been phrased differently.  Whatever binocular you get, use it and enjoy it for its strengths.  Don't go looking for faults.  They all have them and if you look hard enough you will find them, and then , like CA in this case, you will always see it after you find it.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/08/2013 at 14:27
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CA is most evident anytime you're viewing high contrast surfaces juxtaposed against one another. It is seen as a color fringe (usually yellow or purple, in my experience) along the edges of dark objects against a light background, or vice-versa. The degree to which you see CA also depends on how defined the high contrast edge between dark and light is, and how much ambient light is present. It doesn't matter whether the background is sky, snow, or whatever, it's merely an issue of high contrast, dark against light.

Some CA is present in most optics to varying degrees, simply because different wavelengths (colors) of light don't converge at the same focal plane when light passes through lenses, however optics with ED (extra-low dispersion... also sometimes referred to as HD, FL, APO, etc.) glass types, lens elements, or optical design minimize this dispersion so that CA is effectively reduced to the point it isn't noticeable in all but the most severe conditions.

Does it matter? That depends on how picky you are, what the intended use of the optic is, how much fine detail you wish to discern in normal viewing, and how sensitive your eyes are in seeing CA. I don't like excessive CA, and I can readily see it. CA reduces apparent sharpness/resolution, so, for example, if you wish to evaluate fine antler detail like kicker points on deer, CA can reduce your ability to see small details in certain circumstances. However, it honestly doesn't inhibit the usefulness of the optic the majority of the time, other than the image quality isn't as sharp and pleasing to the eyes as it would be with CA well-controlled. Low CA is much less important in a rifle scope than it is in binoculars, where you're doing a lot of glassing. Having absolutely no CA whatsoever under any circumstances is neither essential nor technically possible.

I look at it this way: CA, like any all aberrations, reduces image quality. All else being equal, I want the least amount of optical aberrations possible without having to pay a fortune to get it. Realizing there are tradeoffs between the good and bad in everything and that there's no such thing as absolute perfection in any optic, I'm willing to live with some small amount of CA if the optic is excellent in other respects, but low CA is one of my "wants" in any optic. I'm much more picky about image quality in binoculars, which are used to search for and evaluate things, and which I spend way more time peering through than I am in a riflescope, which is first and foremost an aiming device. Different people have different priorities. The only way to know if a given optic meets your expectations for CA or any other undesirable optical trait is to spend time looking through it.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/08/2013 at 14:28
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Didn't mean to repeat much of what you said, Steve; you and I were typing responses at the same time.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/08/2013 at 14:34
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Steve (Klamath) is correct; if you look hard enough for faults and know what you're looking for, you'll always find them. Then, once you find them, you fall down a wormhole from which you can never return, and it makes you much more likely to notice the same flaws in other optics. Then, you become an increasingly more picky optics snob, with the end result that nothing but the most expensive stuff ever truly satisfies you. You can easily drive yourself nuts in the perpetual search for the elusive "perfection." It's all an evil plan concocted by Satan himself. Big Grin
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/08/2013 at 15:24
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I agree with Steve and Ted. If you don't see it, don't look for it.

I see it easily, and can't NOT see it now. It is detrimental to my hunting, and it is an important area I look at in selecting a binocular. CA control is probably the single biggest difference between the mid-range bins and the "elite" stuff.

That said, in some types of hunting even those that normally don't see CA will see it. Those are, of course, high contrast viewing situations. For instance I spend a lot of time hunting the big burns of western Montana in the snow, and all of that black on white sets the stage for offensive levels of CA. When glassing with non-ED bins it will seem like the snow is on fire.

Because I spend so much time hutning in these situations CA control is a priority for me. It doesn't hurt in other situations either, for the reasons Ted explained.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/08/2013 at 15:52
Klamath View Drop Down
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There's really two types of CA afflictions.  While I said something about the self afflicted kind, there are people who just see it and they don't have to look very hard for it either.  So I suppose your first order of business is to do a quick determination to see if it bothers you.  

I can look over our snow covered pasture, checking our black Angus cattle while looking toward the sun in the early AM, and I'm not bothered by it.  I have some problems in addressing the issue when I review a binocular.  The question always comes up.  I'm not going to get so serious about it I make myself sensitive to it.  My standard test is to de-focus a binocular on a USAF resolution target on an 8.5x11" sheet of paper in bright sunlight.  I judge CA from how much, or how little, I have to de-focus the binocular and how much CA shows up when de-focused.  A street sign is good too.  So is an Angus cow in the sunshine on a snow covered pasture. Big Smile

Excellent CA control is offered by the ZEN ED and Prime HD series binoculars.  The Kruger Caldera and the Theron Wapiti APO-ED are good too.  Vortex Talon and Viper HD would be good choices too, as would the Steiner Predator Xtreme.

Depending on your budget, it really is sort of pointless to drop more than $1,000 these days.  At that level you should not need to spend over the amount for a Zeiss Conquest HD or a Meopta HD.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/08/2013 at 17:51
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Originally posted by Klamath Klamath wrote:



Excellent CA control is offered by the ZEN ED and Prime HD series binoculars.  The Kruger Caldera and the Theron Wapiti APO-ED are good too.  Vortex Talon and Viper HD would be good choices too, as would the Steiner Predator Xtreme.

Depending on your budget, it really is sort of pointless to drop more than $1,000 these days.  At that level you should not need to spend over the amount for a Zeiss Conquest HD or a Meopta HD.



While I agree that CA control is pretty good with all of the above bins (I have used them all, specifically looking for CA), I think a couple really stand out in the area of CA control. Those are the Zen ED2/3 and Meopta HD. the rest are very similar in showing a bit more. The Prime HD is better than the ED2/3 in all optical areas ... except CA control. This surprised me, but as somebody sensitive to it, it was readily apparent.

Don't get me wrong, the Prime HD is an excellent hunting binocular, and overall the best Chinese produced bin I have seen (GREAT build quality), but it has a very slight misstep in the CA control (especially at the edge), and eyecup design.

The Meopta HD is a phenomenal hunting binocular. Image differences between it and the most expensive roofs available are really, really splitting hairs. Its only tiny tiny misstep is the lack of locking diopter, IMO. Some will find it hefty, though.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/08/2013 at 18:02
nuance231 View Drop Down
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Thanks much for responding.  
FWIW I'm trying at this point to narrow the field a bit in the rather less than $1k area. Lots o' internet info. When I was reading reviews etc on the Vanguard ED some folks on a birder site thread were going back and forth about CA and I got curious and started reading a bit more.  Inquiring minds and all that.

 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/08/2013 at 19:52
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By the way... welcome to OT, nuance!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/08/2013 at 20:02
Klamath View Drop Down
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Goes to show how different people react to CA. In my experience there is only one binocular I have never been able to induce ANY CA in, anywhere in the entire field, and that is the ZEN Prime HD. Trust me, I really tried too.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/09/2013 at 10:24
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What exactly is your budget nuance?  Lot's of great glass out there now for  $1000 or less.   I'm lucky I guess.  I"ve never noticed CA, and don't look for it.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/09/2013 at 12:31
nuance231 View Drop Down
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Budget $300 to 500, 8x42 or so, lighter weight for a no glasses 55 yo walking hunter.  Currently using Stiener Safari 9x40s (no CA noted or looked for) which work well enough but a little bulky.  Looking to upgrade and move the Stieners into the truck or as a borrower. Currently making a short list of glass to view locally before I buy.

Jeff 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/09/2013 at 12:54
Klamath View Drop Down
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Originally posted by nuance231 nuance231 wrote:

Budget $300 to 500, 8x42 or so, lighter weight for a no glasses 55 yo walking hunter.  Currently using Stiener Safari 9x40s (no CA noted or looked for) which work well enough but a little bulky.  Looking to upgrade and move the Stieners into the truck or as a borrower. Currently making a short list of glass to view locally before I buy.

Jeff 

In that case my recommendation is the Kruger Caldera.  Light, compact (well fairly compact for a 42 mm), widest field of view of any 42 mm binocular.  You might look at some local dealers and see how a Bushnell Legend Ultra HD seems to you.  They get a lot of recommendations...except from me.  The two I have had have shown enormously distracting field curvature.  But I am also not convinced that either one of them did not have issues.

I have not seen one of these yet, but the Nikon Monarch 7 would be worth a look too.

I think the ZEN ED series, particularly the ED 3, are a little better than the Caldera, but they are pretty good sized binoculars.
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