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Which Binoculars?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2004 at 13:15
ar15a292f View Drop Down
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Chris,

I am looking at 8x42 binoculars for hunting and general purpose use.  I am looking in the $250 to $400 dollar range, but I may be able to purchase something in the $600 to $750 range.  In the $250 to $400 range I am looking at the Burris Signature 8x42, Bushnell Legend 8x42, Leupold Pinnacle 8x42, Pentax DCF/HRII 8x42 and the Weaver Grand Slam 8.5x45.  In this range I am leaning towards the Burris Signature 8x42, I think that it is the best binocular in this price range, but I am not sure because I have not been able to compare all of these models.  How do you rank this group of binoculars?  I have heard good things about the Leupold Pinnacles, but I wear glasses and I have heard that the eye cups can cause problems.  How do the Weaver Grand Slams compare?  I have not heard much about these glasses, but I do know that the Grand Slam Scopes are a great deal for the money and I was wondering if the quality and value was similar for the binoculars.  I was just curious as to how you rate these binoculars.  If I am able to spend betwwen $600 and $750, the binoculars I am considering are the Pentax DCF/SP 8x43.  I have heard that these are awesome for the money.  How do the compare to the Kahles 8x42 and the Minox 8.5x42?  How would you rank these three binoculars?  If I am able to spend the money I will probably get the Pentax, I just wanted your opinion.  Thanks.

Stan

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2004 at 17:45
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Of you top three, I think they are all pretty close, with maybe the edge going to Pentax.  It is a tough call, I personally cannot tell much difference in the clarity and brightness between a Minox and a Kahles.  I don't think you will go wrong with any of them.  This is really the lowest level that I think you can go and still be happy with your selection.  The nice thing about any of these binos is that they should last forever and you really can't do much better without spending over $1,000.00.  The lower end stuff just tends to irritate most people.  I suggest you look at all of them and then decide.  Personally, I would see which one I could get the best deal on and buy that pair.

 

ranburr   

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/24/2004 at 01:22
gremlin View Drop Down
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I've tried a number of the binoculars that you've got listed here--maybe not in the exact magnification or objective sizes that you've listed, but certainly the same brand and series. 

 

I belong to a pretty active Audubon Society chapter and when we get together each month, we swap a lot of glass so we can get a feel for the different brands.  It's not uncommon for members of our group to have a dozen or more different binoculars (I've got fourteen myself... don't ask me why, I guess I'm just addicted--"Hi, my name is 'Gremlin' and I'm an opti-holic...").

 

Of the first five you mentioned, my experience was that the Pentax DCF/HRII series was the most 'pedestrian'.  By that I mean that where the other four all have something they do particularly well, the HR series Pentax seemed more like a half-effort on their part--sharper than a non-phase coated roof, but not as bright as the other DCF series (MP, WP or SP).  They were 'klunkier' than most of the Pentax roofs--they have an elongated housing that seemed to sway more against my chest as I roamed about the woods.

 

I've always had a soft spot for Bushnell's Legend series (I own the little 8x26 inverted porros which are a good glass with tremendous features for under a hundred bucks!) and the soft spot is probably due to I was using a pair of borrowed 8x42's when I spotted my first double crested cormorant.  The reason that sighting was remarkable was because it ocurred during a light rain on a cold morning just after sun up--if you could call it that.  If it hadn't been raining, the early sun and the overcast skies would have qualified as a 'grey half-light' at best.  When compounding the poor setting with the fact that it was drizzling, the wind was blowing, and I was standing in a pair of hip waders amongst a mess of cat tails trying to keep warm, it was a less than ideal setting to gaze at the local flora and fauna.

 

When I heard this odd 'klunking' sound off to my right I knew right away it was the bird that a group of us had come out in search of (the aforementioned cormorant).  Quietly I cursed my bad luck for not coming across this prize on a better day--I just knew that my glass was going to be useless in those conditions.  At that time, my birding binocs were an old pair of Swift Audubon porros which while they were great in good weather, they were not waterproof and fogged easily in cold weather and/or rain.  Then I remembered that I had borrowed the Legends from a fellow birder who chose to sit in the truck rather than brave the elements that morning.  The Bushnells were clear--they'll never be mistaken for the brightest glass in the lot, but I have yet to find a pair of Legends whose focus knob ever let me down or that let the rain or fog get the better of them.  I watched that cormorant for several minutes before it took flight and was the only one of our group whose glasses proved up to the test.

 

I love the Leupold Pinnacles and I hate the Leupold Pinnacles.  I don't always have to wear my glasses (being far-sighted) but I'd just as soon leave them on and know where they are as take them off and have to hunt for them when I need them.  What you heard about the Pinnacles is true (although, I think maybe they're changing the design this year--I read a write up on Better View Desired that hinted as much).  The 10x42's I tried were really well built, smooth operating, perfectly good binoculars--I love their functionality and feel and their overall optical quality.  They had a bit more chromatic aberration than you'll find in comparable binoculars but they carry an image that's nearly as bright as the Pentax DCF SP series while offering more distinct contrast and outperforming them on close focus detail.  What drove me up a wall was that every time I put them up to my spectacles, they made a distinct clinking noise as the metal ring retaining the optical lens came in contact with my eyeglasses.  I figure that over a period of time that would be a bad thing for either the binoculars or my glasses.  I hated that about them--they were the right price with the right level of performance but I couldn't get past that issue. 

 

I found that the Leupolds threw up more chromatic aberration when they were focused on a white or gray base tone object in bright sunlight against a dark background.  As a birder, that kind of stuff drives you crazy--a halo effect really isn't desirable.  As a hunter, it's not so much of a problem.  I only mention it because of those first five on your list, I noticed it more with the Leupold than I did the others.

 

The Weaver Grand Slams that I've used were solid binoculars--certainly better than average.  I felt like the 45mm objectives truly let in measurably more light, but they also wore a bit heavier on my neck than other comparably sized 8x's.  They had the twist up eye cups rather than the straight pull and it made them much easier to wear with glasses--the eye cups weren't the locking type but they stayed put when I set them.  I think the thing that put me off about them more than anything else was that they were only water resistant rather than water proof (they may have improved their spec over the last year or two).  It could have  been that I was just a little more fatigued the day I wore them, but between "wearing heavy" and worrying about whether they could withstand the elements I didn't see any reason to pursue them further.  Especially not when compared to some of the other glasses that you're considering.

 

I've never used the Burris Signature binoculars.  The only input I can offer is that with over two dozen fellow 'opti-holics' traipsing about the hills of southern Indiana and western Kentucky for the last several years, none of my compadres has ever felt compelled to offer them up for a sample.  Any of three possibilities come to mind--1] Even though I see lots of Burris scopes in my neck of the woods, the binocular distribution network must be bad - 2] The users that have the Signatures love them so much that they don't want to risk losing them on a bird walk or a group duck hunt - 3] None of us has found them to be comparable to other options.

 

Don't get me wrong.  I L-O-V-E Burris Signature scopes--I have one on a bolt action Birmingham Small Arms .243win rifle that I wouldn't trade for anything (it's too dog gone hard to get a develop a good combination to change it out frivolously!).  It's just that great scope labels don't always translate to great binocular labels.  For instanace, the Monarch brand Nikon binocular is not the same quality binocular as what the Monarch is to riflescopes.  I suspect that might be the case with the Burris Signature line as well.

 

All of which leaves us with the Pentax DCF/SP, the Kahles, and the MinoxPersonally, I'm a sucker for the Kahles.  Do a search on this forum for some

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/27/2004 at 14:47
Chris Farris View Drop Down
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8x42 Hunting / General use in the $250.-$750. range. (a combination of your two request in order).

 

Kahles 8x42.....$748.99

Minox 8.5x42.....$658.99

Pentax DCF SP 8x43.....$598.99

Weaver Grand Slam 8.5x45.....$349.95

Burris Signature 8x42.....$329.95

Leupold 8x42 Pinnacles.....$364.95

Pentax DCF HR II 8x42.....$278.99

Bushnell Legend 8x42.....$249.95

 

The Kahles, Minox and Pentax are all close and each have their reasons why someone could select one over the other two.  Most buy which ever they can get the best deal on, some go with the Pentax because of its durability, some go with the Kahles for its low light performance and some get the Minox because it appears just a tad sharper.  We are really splitting hairs at this mid level log jam of premium optics.  It basically comes down to what you want the binoculars to do and how they fit you.  As noted the Leupold are not as eye glass friendly......another brand might be blurred or curved at the edges as Gremlin noted and cause eye strain, a headache or a vertigo effect.  Binoculars are personal and fit different people for different reasons.  You can't go wrong with any of the top three and only you can decide which one fits you best.

 

I would pick the Kahles as the best over all, the Pentax as the best deal.  If you don't want to spend that much the Grand Slam is a major sleeper in the $300 range.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/30/2004 at 08:43
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I agree with Gremlin on the Bushnell Legends.  I think these binoculars are a very good valu.  The picture/view is as good or brigther than my DCF WP.  I have checked them against the Pentax DCF SP's and they still seem brighter and sharper.  The only minor drawback is they weight about 30 oz. 
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