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Need help choosing binoculars

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/16/2010 at 10:50
gdpolk View Drop Down
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I am looking for a nice pair of binoculars.  Based upon the following criterion which would be the best pair for me in your opinion?
  • used for hunting and backpacking primarily, but also for sporting events on occasions and for watching game occasionally
  • must perform well in low light due to being used in hunting situations
  • must be fairly small since I will take them on hikes and backpacking (probably limits me to roof prisms only)
  • low power, low objective size...7-9x by about 30-35mm would be good
  • must have the ability to carry with a harness and a neck strap for versatility
  • must be durable, and a good warranty would be nice as well
Based on my positive experience with Leupold hunting scopes I am inclined to stay with them.  I am impressed with their customer service and the quality that they put into their scopes but I am not so caught up on them that I won't consider anything else either.  Where I hunt there is a lot of woods but the areas that I backpack in open up considerably.  This makes me think that a zoom might be nice so that I can hunt with low power/high FOV for scanning and really zoom in on distant landscapes while backpacking.  The problem with zoom is that it adds size and weight and makes the optics more prone to inconsistent focusing between the left and right eyes.  I am debating between the 7/12x32 Switch Power binoculars and the Golden Ring 8x32 HD binoculars and would like to know which would be the better buy for my purposes as well as other models that might be worth looking into.

Right now I am leaning towards the 7/12x32 Power switch model because they are smaller, lighter, and more versatile...
  • Pros of the switch power
    • 7x is great for scanning for game and general glassing
    • 12x adds a nice power boost for really distant landscapes and game but isn't too powerful that you start to see your hands shaking much when glassing without a rest
    • 1/3 of a pound lighter than their fixed power 8x32
    • slightly more compact than their 8x32
    • longer eye relief
  • Cons of the switch power
    • $300 more than the 8x32
    • more complex design which could lead to more problems(although backed by a fantastic warranty)
    • smaller field of view
    • doesn't have diamond coat
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/16/2010 at 11:34
RifleDude View Drop Down
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I would not buy a switch power 7/12X binocular with a 32mm objective.  While I can see the usefulness of being able to change to a higher magnification when the situation warrants, 12X with a 32mm objective gives you only a 2.6mm exit pupil, which means it will be very eye position critical at 12X and have a very dim image.  High magnification creates enough problems with image shake with full sized binoculars hand held, so trying to get a steady image with a small, light 12X binocular will be very difficult without support.  In addition, some optical quality will be sacrificed for the switch power capability. 

I am a fan of the 8X32 configuration.  I think it represents a good set of compromises where one wants a reasonably compact, light binocular with good magnification without too small of an objective diameter.  8X is the max power I would want in a 32mm binocular, though.  Between those two binoculars, I would get the GR 8X32 HD.  I don't know what your budget is, but for another $100 or so over the GR, you can also get the excellent Meopta Meostar 8X32, which I think is at least on par with the GR optically, maybe a bit better.
http://swfa.com/Meopta-8x32-Meostar-Binocular-P40351.aspx

If you can define your max budget, we can better help you with suggestions.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/16/2010 at 12:45
gdpolk View Drop Down
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I would prefer about $500-$600 but could go up to $1000 for some nice glass.  I want to get something nice with a good warranty that I only have to buy once and that doesn't leave me wanting more.  A good example of this would be my Leupold VX-III 3.5-10x50 scope.  It offers a fantastic power range, isn't too big for the gun it is on, offers excellent clarity/color/resolution/light gathering, and is very reliable and backed by a warranty just in case it falls off a cliff and breaks one day, although I sincerely hope that never happens ;)
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/16/2010 at 15:11
JGRaider View Drop Down
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I'd jump all over the Leupold GR HD's like Rifledude said.  The view through my 10x is fantastic.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/16/2010 at 19:03
silver View Drop Down
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Try the Zeiss Conquest 8x30.  There were some Kahles left on the sample list.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/16/2010 at 19:06
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I just got a set of ZenRays to test drive, 8*43 and they are awesome.  I would diffenately look at them before i made a purchase.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/16/2010 at 20:20
Klamath View Drop Down
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I have the Switch Power 7/12x32.  Great binocular @7x, very close to alpha image.  The 12x is overall more useful than I thought it would be.  Much easier to hold steady at 12x than I ever thought it would be.  However it is not the binocular at 12x that it is at 7x.  12x is far better in close and sharpness degrades at distance.  It is decent, but not the equal of a good 10x at longer ranges.
 
The ZEN ED 7x36 is a very good glass, but it is not as compact as you state you want.
 
So, with the above, I will recommend the Swift Eaglet 7x36.  I've had one ever since they introduced the new CFT prism coating.  I've had it at least five years I think and it is a binocular I will probably always keep.  I have never one time found myself thinking I was missing anything due to needing a better image.  It is as small as any x32mm compact binocular, it weighs something like 20 or 21 oz.  Some dismiss the 374' fov as restrictive, but it does not seem that way.  The field is flat, and the edge sharpness is very good.  Never have wished very hard it had more fov.  Originally conceived as a tactical and surveillance binocular, its full 5+ mm exit pupil make it very useful in low light.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/16/2010 at 23:33
gdpolk View Drop Down
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thanks for the advice. it seems that i may do better to stick with a fixed power set of glass rather than have the 7x be good and the 12x be second rate.  I will probably wind up with the 8x32's based on these reccomendations
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/17/2010 at 00:22
arshutr View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
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Check out the review of the new Zen Ray ZRS HD.  If I didn't already buy the ED's I would have saved some cash and just went with these.  Based on that review, there isn't another bino under $200 that will touch it.  I believe it.  I love my ED's. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/17/2010 at 21:07
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I like the idea of the 8x32 Meopta binos, I pretty happy with my full sixed 10x42s.  The Zen Rays would also be under consideration, though I haven't looked through them, they have recieve nothing but praise from all the guys here.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/17/2010 at 21:28
RifleDude View Drop Down
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Zen Ray doesn't offer an 8X32 binocular.  The closest model they have to this config would be the 7X36 ED2.  They are good binoculars, but he specified he wanted a 32mm class bino.  I think the 8X32 Meopta Meostar would be an excellent choice for his stated requirements.  It has fantastic optics and a massive FOV.

Edited by RifleDude - March/17/2010 at 21:31
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