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Steiner Merlin, Brunton Eterna?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/03/2006 at 22:47
Wild In AK View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
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I'm on the search for some new binoculars and of the ones I've been able to playwith a little in the local sportinggoods store kind of like one of these two.  Not to mention they fit my price range.  I've only seen a couple of posts containing either of these.  Was hoping to get some opinions from anyone who may have actual knowledge and experience with either of these.  I also thought the Leupold Pinnacles were decent.  Will be using them to locate and size up moose and blackbear at ranges from 200-800 yards and also for some general siteseeing.  I'm looking at the 8x but debating on whether to size up to a 10x.  How do these two or three compare in dimlight, etc?  Are they worth the money over say the Swift's, Discoverer's, or the Carson XM, all of which I've seen good reviews.  I haven't been able to hold any of these to get a good feel for them.  If I bit the bullet and jumped up a couple hundred dollars to a Kahles or the SP, will I be able to tell the difference (note: I'm an optical rookie).  Right now I'm leaning toward the Merlin, but would love some help.

 

Thanks

 

Wild In AK 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/04/2006 at 10:13
lucznik View Drop Down
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To be quite frank (hopefully without offending you at all,) it is quite doubtful as an "optical rookie" as you claim, that you would be able to see or appreciate much if any difference. At least, not at first. I would recommend that you still spend at least $300-$500 for a roof prism binocular, mostly for build quality issues that plague the low cost models and to ensure that you get good enough optics that they will be useable without causing you migraines, etc.

 

The Discoverer is a really good binocular.  A few years back I was choosing between a Discoverer and a Pentax DCF WP. I chose the Pentax, but have not always been convinced that I made the best choice.  Not that my Pentax is bad at all, but I have come to think the Discoverer would have been better. The Pentax DCF WP is no longer available and has been upgraded to the DCF SP which is also a great binocular.  But, it does cost significantly more than either the Discoverer or my old DCF WP and I don't know that you would get an extra $200+ worth of optical performance out of it.

 

I have never seen a Carson XM but, I have read many good reviews on it. I suppose the risk here is that you would almost certainly have to buy one "sight unseen" as I've never seen a sporting goods store, bird watcher's store, camera store, etc. that carries them to examine. They are new in the game so, you also are running a risk in relation to their warranty. (Will they be around when/if you ever need to have repairs done?)

 

The WindRiver Pinnacle is an excellent binocular. The FOV in the 10X is quite skimpy (only 267') but in the 8X its not too bad (341'.) They don't cost anymore than than the Steiner Merlin and if I were choosing between the two, I would not hesitate to take the Leupold.  (I have never much cared for Steiner optics and I know that's just a personal preference on my part.)

 

The Brunton Eterna is really a very good binocular.  The problem with it is that it is somewhat overpriced (by about $100.) The Nikon Monarch, Bushnell Legend, Bushnell Discoverer, Leupold WindRiver Olympics, etc. can all be had for significantly less than the Eterna and will give comparable performance. 

 

Actually Brunton has a bad habit of consistently overpricing their optics.  Take a look at the Epochs.  They would be a decent value at $700-$800 and going head to head against Leupold Gold Rings, Bushnell Elites, Kahles, etc., but Brunton has them priced at around $1500! No way they are worth that kind of coin.

 

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/04/2006 at 11:44
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lucznik summed it up quite well, I can only reiterate what he has said on a few points.

 

I have some experience with Steiner, Leupold Wind River Pinnacles and the Brunton Epochs.

 

If I had to choose from the previous three makes it would be the Leupold Pinnacles. I owned a set of Steiner Merlins prior to my Wind Rivers. The Steiners had too much stray light bouncing around in them if I was glassing a hillside or meadow with the sun to my face. The Leupolds had little to no stray light under the same conditions.

 

As for the Bruntons, man what a waste of money! My brother-in-law purchased a set of Brunton Epochs (10x42mm)

We spent several hours from overhead sun, until sundown glassing deer, utility poles and numerous other inanimate objects from 25 yds to appx 3 miles in distance. Sun in our face, sun to our backs, looking into woods, looking into shadows, just about every scenario you could imagine....and at the end of the evening the only thing I could say about the Epochs was "nice camo finish." And they did have a nice carrying case, but I don't think the finish & case covered the $1500 he spent.

 

Also, from what I've read, if you purchase the Pinnacles make sure that they're the ones manufactured in Japan. Supposedly the ones manufactured in China are not quite up to par. You may want to read the Gun-Tests magazine review of binouclars on this web site, it's under Optic Reviews and Tests, it sheds some light on the Pinnacles and rated them a best buy from a group of its peers.

 

Good Luck.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/04/2006 at 14:02
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Optics GrassHopper
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What effect does the stray light have on your glassing.  Does this give you a windshield glare type of effect?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/05/2006 at 07:29
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Exactly like a windshield glare.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/05/2006 at 17:53
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Optics GrassHopper
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Thanks for the info.  I think I'll take another look at the Pinnacles next time I get to the sporting goods store.
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