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Quality vs. $

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2007 at 15:42
kescott1910 View Drop Down
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Want a good pair of binoculars for Western elk hunting.  I can't seem to tell much difference in the store between a $250 pair of binoculars and a $600 pair of binoculars much less if I fork out the $ for Swarovski at over $1500.  Is there a name brand that is superior and worth the money?  Is there a way to tell in the store the difference in quality?  I've owned a 2nd hand pair Steiner's in the past but the pair I had was heavy so I sold them.   I'm looking at Leupold Cascade, Steiner Predators, Swarovski(but outragous!), and Kahles(never heard of them until started looking) and of course Zeiss.  I was hoping to keep $ around $400 but if you do get much better quality with $800, $900, etc...then I'd like to know that before purchasing.  Thanks and yes I'm new to this forum!  I'm looking at 7 X 50 give or take a little!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2007 at 16:28
lucznik View Drop Down
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Assuming your experience with binoculars is as limited as you imply, it is unlikely you will see much of a difference between brands/models.  Three of my friends use Nikon Monarchs which they think are just awesome.  They would have no trouble affording better glass but, they just can't see the value (pun intended.)

 

In the under-$400 range you have some excellent options including:

  • Nikon Monarch ATB (roof)
  • Bushnell Discoverer (roof)
  • Leupold Wind River Cascades (roof and porro)
  • Bushnell Legend (roof and porro)
  • Pentax DCF WP II (roof)
  • Pentax PCF WP II (porro)
  • Vortex Vipers (roof)

Jump your budget to somewhere between $400 and $800  and you can include

  • Pentax DCF SP (roof)
  • Bushnell Elite II (roof)
  • Zeiss Conquest  (roof)
  • Kahles (roof)
  • Minox (roof and porro)
  • Vortex Razors (roof)

The more expensive optics are, generally speaking,  better than less expensive units.  However, the differences are often fairly small and many (perhaps even most) people can't see them without being deliberately taught how.



Edited by lucznik
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2007 at 21:09
ND2000 View Drop Down
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Kescott1910 -

 

Before I get too far, I'll tell you that I own a pair of Swarovski ($1,800) and Minox ($600) binoculars. 

 

Having gotten the disclosures out of the way, Lucznik has provided some very good choices for you to consider.  I can tell you that there is absolutely a difference between low-end (sub $400 roofs), mid-range ($400-$900) and high-end ($1,200 plus).  You likely won't notice under artificial store lighting, and wouldn't notice a substantial difference at mid-day on a sunny day outside either.  However, in low/poor lighting conditions, looking into shadows, low contrast situations, etc., the expensive stuff really starts to show their stripes.

 

In my opinion, it would be silly to spend less than $300-$400 on a pair of roof prism binoculars.  At that price point, the optics are much better in porro prism binoculars.  I think you'd be disappointed on your Elk Hunt to say the least.

 

You didn't mention Leica.  If you are willing to spend the money (considering you are looking at Swarovski and Zeiss, it appears you are at least giving it some thought), these are worth a hard look as well.

 

ND2000

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/27/2007 at 07:14
birdhunter View Drop Down
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kescott1910

 

I agree totally with Lucznik and ND2000.  I was in your same situtation last year as I had just sold my pair or Nikon Monarch ATB 8x40s.  They were great binoculars for the money and I wouldn't be afraid to own another pair at that price.  I also owned a pair of Kahles 8x40s that I let a friend talk me out of after one hunting season.  There were really great binoculars and they were very bright and clear and had great resolution and a big sweet spot.  I hate I ever parted with them.  Earlier this year I bought a pair of Swarovski SLC in 7x42 like the ones on the sample list and they are my best pair yet.  Now I know why the big three cost so much more.  In low light conditions when your trying to count the points on a big buck instead of seeing if he's a buck or doe their well worth their money not to mention Swarovski has the best customer service departments in the business bar none.  If I had to pick a binocular in your price range I would first check out the sample list here you could save several hunder dollars over a new pair.  You need to go and check out binoculars and handle each of them and see how they fit your hands and eyes.  I will list my choices below in the price ranges you set. 

 

Under $400

Nikon Monarch ATB

Pentax DCF WP II

Bushnell Discoverer

Bushnell Legends

 

Under $800

Kahles

Meopta

Pentax DCF SP

Minox

Zeiss Conquest

 

Check out the 7x50 and 7x42 Swarovski SLC's on the samplelist.  Also there may be some Zeiss Conquest on the samplelist as well.  Let us know what you decide on.  bird_hunter66

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/27/2007 at 07:42
jonbravado View Drop Down
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7x50 fujinon polaris can be had for around 500 bucks

and you would be hard pressed to find a better, brighter bino for anywhere near that price.

 

i don't think it can be done. they are renowned among ship captains as the brightest bino made.

and they are rubber armored and solid. very stable image.  We compared my OLD fujinon's to my buddy's

7x50 swaro's and everyone was impressed.  The polaris are better than those.

 

try and find a new pair, and rest assured you bought a wonderful bino.

 

J

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/27/2007 at 09:24
Bird Watcher View Drop Down
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I looked through the Fujinon 7x50mmFMT-SX last Friday at a local telescope shop. FOV is excellent....during the late afternoon they were bright and sharp and very clear. Just looking at the sky and the clouds was an experience in and of itself. Colors were outstanding.

These are high quality binoculars with flattner lenses for sharpness out to the edges. They are IF/Individual Focus, but, all I did was take them from the salesperson and walked to the front of the store and looked outside and everything was in focus. Depth of focus is quite amazing.

Light transmission to your eyes is 95%. Everything about the 7x50 was pleasing. They fit my hands very comfortably and they balanced exceptionally well. I did not think that they were too heavy.

I will be looking forward to owning one of these in the near future.

http://www.holgermerlitz.de/miyauchi7x50.html

Edited by Bird Watcher
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/27/2007 at 16:18
RifleDude View Drop Down
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kescott1910,

You have received some excellent recommendations from these guys.  The models they recommend are all good choices, at least those on their lists that I've personally used.  Just keep in mind that even though there are definite differences between $400 bins and $1500 bins optically, whether or not these differences are significant enough to justify the price difference is something only the individual buyer can decide.  Often, people who aren't accustomed to using really good optics and don't know what to look for won't notice much difference.  For them, they simply want to see a distant object under magnification and don't particularly care about the nuances of image quality.  Some of us "optics freaks" are pickier about optical quality than others and are more willing to fork out the extra $ to get the best.  Look at a variety of binos, and over time, you will start to see what differences are worth paying extra for, but unfortunately, inside a store is a very poor place to evaluate them.

 



Edited by RifleDude
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/31/2007 at 23:12
matt_griese View Drop Down
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I own a pair of Leica 10x42 trinovid's and they are great ! The best optics for hunting !
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/01/2007 at 07:54
jonbravado View Drop Down
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i wish i could afford leica's - i would sure have a pair.

 

but the fujinon's and minox are working quite well for now.

 

J

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/11/2007 at 10:38
lagarto308 View Drop Down
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We use to hunt wild boar in Spain during the nights, it is according to the local laws, and we use to spend a lot of money in swaros, zeiss, and similars. I had a Docter 8x30 and a Zeiss 8x56. Some years ago we tested a Minolta Activa WP FP II 7x50 because a hunter recommended it. We tested it with moon, without moon, with a quarter of moon ... and the Minolta is as brighter as the Zeiss 8x56, and the same with a Leica of a friend (He had just bought the Leica, tested the Minolta and ... bought a Minolta and said something like " i have just wasted a lot of euros"). The Minolta cost was about 150$ ...

I are not talking about other properties of the binoculars, only about the brightest in low light conditions.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/11/2007 at 17:10
Bird Watcher View Drop Down
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lagarto,

Minolta as a company does not exit, it was bought out some time ago and their products are scarce.

The Minolta Activa 7x50 is difficult at best to locate nowadays.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/12/2007 at 06:02
lagarto308 View Drop Down
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Hi, Bird Watcher. There are some binoculars from KonicaMinolta, but the 7x50 model and others of the same series were discontinued and it is very difficult to find it, I know some spanish hunters are looking them. It is only an example how it is possible to get a good binocular to hunting in low light conditions without paying a lot of money.

Some guys are recommending Nikon Action Extreme & also the Marine model as very good quality-price ratio. Of course, the Fujinon, but not for walking, only to sitting with them.




Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/12/2007 at 08:36
Bird Watcher View Drop Down
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If your buddies do a google search occasionally they will find the Minolta (Konica/Minolta) on the internet. Amazon.com is a good place to begin.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/16/2007 at 20:51
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I have used a wide range of binoculars from less expensive brands up to Nikon, Leica, Swarovski, Zeiss. IMHO, the Nikon Monarch ATB's offer by far the most bang for the buck below the high priced models from the Europeans. Most of my friends are working class guys, and they have almost universally selected the ATB's in 8x or 10x. I have personally owned Nikon Monarch ATB's, Venturer LX's, Swarovski SLC's, and currently own Zeiss Victory FL's in 10x32. I owned the Venturer LX and SLC's at the same time and compared them at all times of day and in many differing lighting conditions. In my opinion, the Nikons have better sharpness, but lack the depth of field that the Swarovski SLC's have. The Nikon's also exhibited a bit more chromatic aberration than the Swarovski's on high contrast scenes.The depth of field is nice when scouting for a nice buck, because you're not constantly fiddling with the focus to maintain good sharpness. Eventually I sold the Nikons and kept the Swarovski SLC's (both were 8x). I used the Swarovski's  on a successful Utah mule deer hunt(5x5 at 502yds), and found them quite satisfactory in most conditions, but they were very susceptible to lens flare when the sun was low and you looked even tangentially in the direction the light was coming from. The Nikon's were less affected by lens flare. I tested another pair of SLC's owned by a friend for this and found it to be common to both pairs of SLC's. At the 2007 SHOT show, I took a look through the Zeiss Victory T*FL's and was very impressed with their resistance to flare, light weight and image sharpness. I went over to the Swarovski booth and looked through the Swarovski EL's and they were about equally sharp to my eye, but still more susceptible to flare than the Zeiss bino's and slightly heavier. I subsequently bought a pair of the Zeiss binoculars and did a more in depth review between them and the Swarovski SLC's that I owned. I took them to the range and reviewed them with other shooters, and the consensus was that the Zeiss bino's were the new king of the hill. I sold the Swarovski's on Ebay, but I can't say I was glad to be rid of them, they were quite good and I would have happily kept them had someone not paid my fairly high buy it now asking price. I am now fortunate enough to own a compact pair of Nikon 8x20 HG DCF's and the Zeiss Victory T*FL 10x32 binoculars. The little Nikons are quite surprisingly good for pocket bino's and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a good pair of compacts. As for value for the money, I believe the Nikon Monarch ATB's are surely the best, and they compare quite well to the significantly more expensive optics that I own now. If I was forced by limited finances to select less expensive binoculars, I would pick the Nikon ATB's and know that I was giving up very little. BTW, I do not work for NIKON, and own LOTS of Canon camera gear... :) Last but not least, the Canon IS binoculars are pretty amazing too, just wish they weren't so heavy, fragile and expensive. I sold mine and my wife still reminds me from time to time that she liked them a lot...
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/17/2007 at 19:14
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Welcome to OT, Jim and thanks for posting your review!  Good information!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/31/2007 at 12:20
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Superbly sharp lenses have the strange effect of bringing things closer to you without magnification.
You "feel" like its closer because the detail you see is normally not there unless you are closer.

When you walk into someones house.. you tend to notice things they have grown accustomed to.... rusty door hinges, dust etc... they may feel their house is in order because you don't trip when you walk in the door.
Subconsciously or subliminally, you see those things but just don't bring special attention to them.

When your in the market for a house to buy, those things somehow affects your "emotional opinion" of the place.... "I just didn't like that place, or Wow, that place was amazing".. even though you can't put your finger on why.

I think sharp lenses are the same way. You can look through "good" lenses and the world looks good... but then you can look through "excellent" lenses and the world now looks "excellent!"

You don't know why you enjoy looking through them, but somehow the world becomes alive with new detail and wonder you never saw before.

I know this sounds like  Alice in Wonderland, but until you've finally gone outside and beheld the woods or the landscape through really good binoculars,  you don't know what your missing.

Funny how I see folks who are totally happy with their budget binoculars... I  even overheard a fella in the store bragging about how his Bushnell's just brought the world up close crystal clear... I was thinking, he has surely never looked through "real" binoculars!

Ever notice how you "think" your vision is perfect until you see the eye doctor and find out otherwise and up your prescription and again see the world clear and crisp with brand new eyes?

Ever notice how folks get used to using their binoculars and then upgrade to never go back?

I think once you try "excellent" lenses outside and use them a little, it will spoil you so bad, you will never be able to go back to merely "good" lenses.

Every story I hear from someone who has had their high end binocular stolen or lost, is never happy until he gets that same quality back.

Although the difference is indeed subliminal, it has an effect on your viewing experience big time!

Walking in the store and just holding them up for comparison is very difficult... you need to stabilize them on an immovable object so they don't move to see how sharp the lenses really are... "The brain cannot process well movement that is too fast, you need to stabilize it", ....and then find something resembling an eyechart that has angles and and writing at varying sizes... then the acid test is to go outside at dusk and do the same!

The world can truly become a wonderland with excellent lenses.

Unless your prone to loose them every so often, its worth the money to spend once and then be set forever!
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