Hello there folks. I'm a beginning birder who is advancing in skill and activity level, and I'm looking to upgrade this yule season from my Bushnell H2O's (8x42 and 10x42).
On my first pass through the market, I settled on the Nikon Monarch X 8.5x45. However, a friend pointed me towards Vortex. I subsequently became entranced by the Vortex Viper 8x42, as well as the Viper 8.5x50. This last pair of binos is especially intriguing to me — lots of light-gathering capability, a little extra reach compared to the 8x's, and way cheaper than the other two pairs I was looking at ($380, compared with $440 for the Monarch X's and $540 for the Viper 8x42's).
Downsides of the 8.5x50's include weight (29 oz. compared to 25 or 23) and FOV (305 ft. being the same as the cheap 10x pair I have now). I think that I could deal with these downsides.
I am, however, a little suspicious of the price. It seems so very low! Indeed, it's over $300 off MSRP. Is this too good to be true, or is it just too good to pass up? What do you think of the three pairs I have mentioned? Can you think of any better pairs in the sub-$500 range that aren't already mentioned in the active "Best 8x42's under $500" thread (http://www.opticstalk.com/best-8x42-binoc-under-500_topic26104.html) — remember I am not limiting myself to 8x42.
Thanks in advance.