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need help choosing binoculars

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Category: Other Optics
Forum Name: Binoculars
Forum Description: Anything that requires two eyes to look through it
Printed Date: July/20/2018 at 09:49
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.10 -

Topic: need help choosing binoculars
Posted By: koshkin
Subject: need help choosing binoculars
Date Posted: June/16/2004 at 12:22

I am looking to buy two pairs of binoculars over the next few months.  After doing some research I concluded that it seems quite impossible to have one binocular as a jack of all trades.  I do think though that it is possible with two binoculars.  I think that I'll buy a full size 10x or 12x porro binocular (that I can also use instead of a spotting scope at the range tripod adapter is a must) and 8x32 roofs for situations when I need something reasonably light.  I don't want to go with a true compact since I havn't been able to find one with good enough view (one possible exception is Bausch & Lomb 7x26 Custom; these are exceptionally good reverse poros).

I am hoping to spend less than $600 for both.  Any recommendations? (if I amange to spend less, I will not cry).

One caveat: given a choice I prefer to stay away from German products (family/historical reasons).


Some binoculars I've been looking at:


Pentax DCF XP 8x33 (is there any information on these out there?)

Bushnell Legend 8x32

Burris Signature 8x32 (I've heard good things about these)


Pentax PCF WP 10x50 or 12x50

Leupold Wind River Mesa 10x50

Sightron SII 10x42 (I have Sightron scopes and their optical quality is very good)




Posted By: Roy Finn
Date Posted: June/16/2004 at 15:24
Dear Koshkin, welcome aboard to this very informative site. After reading your question, I would like to make some suggestions to you that will benefit you in the long run. Optics, especially binoculars, should be looked upon as an investment that will provide you with many years of enjoyment and performance. If your sole use/need for a spotting scope is for range use, then you should invest the bulk of your budget on the binoculars. Binoculars will not negate the use/need of a spotting scope. I will not bore you with optical terms for which I am basing my opinion on. I will say, however, that the higher the quality of optics you invest in will result in less eye strain/headaches which will make you want to utilize your binoculars more which will make a more successful hunter. Lastly, I recommend that you look into binoculars in the 8-10 with 42mm objective lens over the 32's, again for overall optical performance. I'm sure that Chis and many others will be able to make several suggestions that will not disappoint you in the long run. Good luck.

Posted By: ranburr
Date Posted: June/16/2004 at 16:09

I think that the German and Austrian companies make the best binos, but I also feel you can get some very good quality out of Japan.  I agree with Roy's recommendation in that you would be better suited with one set of 8-10X by 40-43.  I think the best deal going right now are the Pentax DCF SPs in either 8x43 or 10x43.  These binos rival the top euros at a cheaper price.  Another option would be the high-end Nikons in 8x42 or 10x42.  The only problem with the Nikons is that they are fairly heavy and they cost $1,000,00+.  The Pentax are lighter and I think they are every bit as good.  Hope this helps.



Posted By: koshkin
Date Posted: June/16/2004 at 16:27
Thanks for the advices.  I appreciate any help I can get.  The reason I was thinking of 8x32 binoculars is that I would like to have something small that I can put into my pocket when I go hiking.  Also, the only hunting I might do with them would be pig hunting in Central California which does not really constitute looking at small things at large distances.  Basically, I was looking for something almost as portable as compacts, but better optically.

Posted By: ranburr
Date Posted: June/17/2004 at 23:43

You may want to look at the Leupold Wind River Katmai 8x32 binos.  I have zero experience with these binos other than the literature.  The Wind Rivers that I have seen have been pretty good for the money.  Thes Katamais are small and lite and I would assume descent optics for under $300.00.  Hope this helps you out.



Posted By: koshkin
Date Posted: June/19/2004 at 15:46
Thanks for the suggestion ranburr.  There are a couple of problems with Leupold Katmai: BK7 prisms and lack of phase coating.  Considering that there are several binoculars with those features available, I think I'll stay away from the Katmai series.  From what I understand in the Leupold line only Pinnacles and Olympic binoculars have phase coating. 

Posted By: ranburr
Date Posted: June/19/2004 at 21:57

You could try the Burris Signature series in 8x32.  I don't know much about Burris binos but their scopes are very good.  You could also look at the Bushnell Legends.  Or, I still think you should consider my original Pentax reccommendation, it can be had in 8x32.  Other than Nikon, I think the new Pentax are the best binos outside of europe.  Alpen and a handful of other companies offer descent binos for the money.  I really don't know what else to tell you if we have to leave the Germanics out. 



Posted By: koshkin
Date Posted: June/20/2004 at 02:49
These are the exact three binos that I was considering (see original post).  I was kinda hoping to find someone who has had personal experience with them.  Pentax apparently just came out with their new DCF XP line which I am very curious about.

Posted By: ranburr
Date Posted: June/20/2004 at 15:40

I certainly could have saved myself some time by rereading your original post.  Sorry about that.  I have briefly used the Pentax in 10x43 and was very impressed with them.  They were clear and bright enough to easily distinguish individual bats as the sun was going down.  I could also easily spot a javelina hog that was otherwise perfectly camo'd with his enviroment.  I am assuming that the same quality works its' way down the line to the smaller sibbling.  I just don't know a whole lot about the Burris lie-up of binos.  The best answer that I have gotten from other optics guys (hunters and birders) is that they are OK.  I can say this, I have seen a  lot of Burris rifle scopes in hunting camps, I can't ever remember seeing a pair of their binos.  That does not necesarily mean anything other than the fact that Burris pushes the scope line much more than they do the binos.  The Bushnell Legends have always struck me as a pretty good set of binos for the money.  And if memory serves me right, they have the same guts as the older Pentax and a few other brands of binos.  I personally just have a hard time with Bushnell products (other than the 32-4200 Elite rifle scopes).  They just seem to be hit or miss in the quality department.  They do make some very good product, but they have such an extensive line up, made in so many different places, that quality control has got to be a nightmare for the company.  They have some very good products and they have a lot of very low-end product.  When I think of say Leica, I think quality across the board.  When I think of Bushnell, I think of quality resembling a roller coaster, some very high, some very low.  I think your best bet will probably be Pentax, or you may want to strongly consider Nikon. 



Posted By: SAKO 75 SS
Date Posted: June/20/2004 at 23:06

I think you should consider the Brunton Epoch binoculars. They are about double the amount you posted you would like to spend, but these binoculars are truly one of the very best in the world. I own the Brunton Epoch 10.5X43, and even though the exit pupil is not big, these binoculars are extremly bright. These image is very bright and crisp. They come with a halowarranty- which means no matter what happens to them they will repair or send you a new pair. These in my opinion are the best Japanese optics have to offer. I've compared these to the Swarovski EL's and these are on par with the Swarovski's. Hope this might help in your decision. Brian

Posted By: koshkin
Date Posted: June/21/2004 at 12:01

Thanks ranburr. I suppose I'll concentrate on Pentax and Nikon then (unless I see a really great deal on Burris somewhere; I am kinda curious about them). 

Does anyone know the difference between various Pentax DCF series: SP, XP, WP, HR2?

As for Nikon, I'll look at Monarch ATB binoculars.  I am fairly confident that I'll never be able to afford their Venturer line (or the Brunton Epochs for that matter).

Thanks. Ilya

Posted By: tbone1
Date Posted: June/21/2004 at 22:33

I have been following the posts and really didn't think that I could offer you any sound advice for a clear choice.  However I have had some experience with the Pentax line of binoculars and I will share my experience.  I bought my first pair of Pentax around 5 or 6 years ago (DCF III porro prism) and always thought they were excellent optically for their price.  Since then I have owned several more pair of binos including Nikon, Minox and I currently have 2 pair of Leica.


While I was hunting with my uncle, I let him look through my Leicas.  He liked them so much that he wanted a pair of binoculars for himself.  He was not willing to spend the money for the Leica so he asked me to find him a pair of binoculars that offered excellent optics in a similar size (roof prism) for under $450.  So I started researching them much the way you are now, reading specs, reading articles, asking opinions.   After research and actually hands on viewing of numerous models in hunting stores, I recommended that he purchase a Pentax 10x42 DCF WP (the WP means waterproof).  Every review I read said that they were optically right there with or slightly behind European optics but at an affordable price.


So he purchased them a little over a year ago and never really was happy with them.  He loved the size, weight, body, construction but never really liked them optically.  He asked me to look at them so I used them a few times.  I made sure them lenses were clean, set the right eye piece for my eyes, but never could get the resolution or clarity that I would expect.  I did not expect them to be as crisp or as sharp as the Leica's but I thought they would be better than they were.  So, after using them for about a year he called me and asked him to find him the best deal on a pair of Leica 8x32, buy them and he would pay me back.  I found a great deal on a demo model on the samplelist at SWFA for $699.00 and ordered them a few months ago.  He has called me several times since and has been amazed at how brilliant the optics are.


I am not dissapointed that I didn't love the Pentax optically because quite naturally my perspective is a little different and maybe a little biased now.  But I am dissapointed that he didn't since this was his first pair of binoculars and I did the research and made the recommendation.   Like I said though everything seemed to point to the fact that they were an excellent piece of optics.  Everything still does other than this experience.  I feel that it is possible we just got a lemon.  In that price range, I think they (the 8x32s) are exactly what you are looking for as far as size and weight vs. performance are concerned.


This is my opinion solely based on my experiece with numerous binos and I'm sure that many others in this forum will disagree with me.  But, I don't think there is a great difference optically between a $150-$200 pair of porro's and a $300-$500 pair of roofs.  Although they may be slightly better optically, most of the extra expense is in construction, durability, and reduced size (which is probably worth the expense).  But, from what I have seen after owning several other brands of roofs in this price range.  There is a world of difference optically between mid priced roofs and top quality glass such as Leica, Swarovski, Zeiss, and even Nikon Venturer.


Now this may be changing.  The Pentax DCF SP offers what they say is higher resolution glass than the DCF WP.  They may be much better than the WP.  I know they are more expensive.  Go to - to find the info on all there binos.  A review I read on the SP rated them as an awesome piece of glass with great resolution and low light performance.  I haven't found any binos in your price range that I can tell you are better than the Pentax DCF WP.  I believe the Burris are imported (at least their porros are) and I think they are probably comparable but not necessarily better than the Pentax.  Same thing for Nikon probably very close optically.  According to the Pentax website the 8x32 SP have Hybrid Aspherical Glass,  the 8x32 WP are the standard waterproof, and the new XP (compact) are similar in performance to the WP but are slightly shorter and lighter and they claim are in the compact category.  Be cautious because if they are too small like compacts then they become hard to hold steady.  I dislike compacts not only for their poor optical performance but also because they are uncomfortable to hold.  I would also look at the Zeiss conquest series in an 8x30.  I don't know much about them other than they are using their T* coatings on them, but I would definately take a look at them.  Some of the others in this forum may have some better info on them.


I am not trying to talk you into a really expensive pair of binos, I'm trying to give you all the info you can get to make the best decision for your needs.  I think that if you want a pair for hiking and limited use to glass something at a distance, you may be happy with the Pentax.  However if you are expecting to view things in great detail and resolution you may be dissapointed with them or any others in this price range.  I doubt that you would be but, I didn't think my Uncle would be either.  Good Luck and let me know if I can help.



Posted By: koshkin
Date Posted: June/21/2004 at 23:10

Thanks for your comments tbone1.  I have never looked through a Pentax binocular; so I do not have an opinion on them yet.  I have read a few reviews on Pentax SP line and they are uniformly excellent.  I do not know much about the other lines (yet; although I've been going through a lot of birding websites).  As for Leicas: I am a Russian Jew, and as such I will not buy a German product as long as there is an alternative.  If I can't find anything worthwhile in my price range, I'll try to save some money and buy a more expensive Nikon Venturer LX.  Optically, that is a pretty spectacular glass. 

Thanks. Ilya

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