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04-10-2012, 09:51 AM #1
Best place to find CHEAP binoculars???
I'm in need of some new 10x50 binocs (preferably Alpen's or Swarovski's, unless someone has another brand recommendation.....) and I was wondering if any of you have website recommendations for cheap, affordable binocs???
The two I've found are opticsplant.com and binoculars.com....... I'm looking to spend about $100-200 and will be using the binoculars mainly for birding but if I could find a light pair, it would be nice too (so I could bring them ski touring; i currently carry a pair of 10x20 when touring).
04-10-2012, 10:36 AM #2
Consider a monocular for touring, at least 10x.
10x50s are going to be huge. x50s are overkill for daylight use IMHO.
Swarovskilooking to spend about $100-200
04-10-2012, 11:11 AM #3
Best optics for around $100 are Luepold Yosemite or Vortex Raptor binos. Both are pretty light for porro prism glasses, but, of course, porros are bulkier than roof prisms. The 6x30 Yosemite and 6.5x32 Raptor are sharper than the 8x30 Yosemite and 8.5x32 Raptor. 6x30 and 6.5x32 are very nice general birding glass specs. It's nice to have 5mm exit pupil vs. 3.7mm at dawn and dusk, but for daylight birding a 3mm exit pupil works fine if the optics are good.
For around $200, you have a few choices. Nikon Monarch 8x42 ($250) was for years the standard for affordable roof prism birding glasses, and the newer models are even better. You can't go wrong with the 8x42 Monarchs.
One or two Chinese factories are now making binos with good optics sold in the US under the Vortex, Atlas, Zen Ray and Eagle brands. IME, Eagle Optics is a great site to buy binos. Zen Ray sells directly to consumers.
If you can scrape together $275, this Vortex Viper 6x32, on sale, is amazing glass for the price. Image is like a $1500 Swaro/Zeiss/Leica.
If I were looking >$200 roof prism glasses, I'd start by looking at the Eagle house brands and Atlas glasses at Eagle Optics.
10X? Why? If you have good eyes, you don't need 10X. 10X glasses suck for general birding. A very steady hand might be able to hold a 10X for a short while, but not for long. Sibley recommends 7X +/- 1X for general birding, and I agree. My general birding binos are 6.5x32. I often ID birds with my 6.5X that my buds with 8x42 good glasses can't. I also have 10X Zeiss glasses, which are the best optics I own, but they get limited use because 10X are not the right glass for most things.
Our household also has two quality compact binos, but that's for another thread.
ETA: Steiner binos, popular with the militia crowd, are very overrated. I've never seen an Alpen that could compete with a Vortex or Zen Ray of half the price.
ETA2: Decent monoculars are rare and overpriced. Vortex and Minox make some decent porro prism monos but they are bulkier and inferior optics compared to good compact binos. Leica and Zeiss make higher quality monos but they are bizarrely overpriced and don't perform any better than compact binos 1/3 the price. I like the concept of a good mono and I've spend hours shopping for them and trying them out. But I haven't found anything I'd carry in lieu of our compact binos.
ETA3: If you wear glasses, be sure to research eye relief.
Last edited by Big Steve; 04-10-2012 at 11:45 AM.
04-10-2012, 12:00 PM #4
well I have two pairs of nikon action binocs right now, one is a 8x42 and the other is 10x50 (but these are the state's and I have to return them). I really prefer to bird with the 10x50's personally and find the magnification of the 8x42's to be insignificant.....
I don't have great eyes
I don't really know anything about binocs either, but it seems like the majority of people I bird with use something in the 10x50 range..........
04-10-2012, 12:01 PM #5
I also don't know what you mean by roof prism
04-10-2012, 12:21 PM #6
Big Binos.com has the best bang for the buck. I have a pair from there that are better than fujinons at a 3rd the price.License to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations
04-10-2012, 12:51 PM #7Registered User
- Join Date
- Apr 2010
The Bushnell H2O series looks like the absolute cheapest you can go for roof prisms and waterproofing but I'd definitely look into paying a bit more for Vortex (as mentioned above) or other brands. Vortex comes with a lifetime, no questions asked warranty and you can still stay under $200 for water/fog proofing and solid optics.
04-10-2012, 12:57 PM #8
See Birdwatching.com: How 8 is more than 10 and Audubon Magazine: The Audubon Guide to Binoculars
Porro prism glasses have the dogleg, like your Nikon Actions. Roof prisms have straight tubes. Computer aided design has cleared the way for moderately priced roof prism binos. Now, virtually all high quality binos use roof prisms. The last alpha quality porro prism made was the Swaro 10x40 Habicht, but they went out of production years ago. My bud has a pair of Habichts. Very nice glasses, but not waterproof. (He uses Nikon Premier LXL roof prism compacts in the backcountry.)
Last edited by Big Steve; 04-10-2012 at 01:14 PM.
04-10-2012, 01:03 PM #9
Last edited by Big Steve; 04-11-2012 at 09:57 AM.
04-10-2012, 01:12 PM #10
Definitely look at something with a smaller objective than 50mm. That big glass is for light gathering which is more important to people trying to stretch their visiable light hours (primarily in the shooting sports). You will be carrying a lot more weight around that also makes it more difficult to steady. Your price range is going to be low for new optics so I would suggest looking for some good used gear. Also cabelas.com has the bargin basement that has deals sometimes.
04-10-2012, 01:18 PM #11
04-10-2012, 01:29 PM #12
So to pile on,
What is a good cheap option for a compact pair for touring and climbing?Life is a lot like climbing: there isn't anything much more comforting than a good #2.
04-10-2012, 02:28 PM #13
[QUOTE=Big Steve;3611241]"Better than Fujinon" cloudy optics is a very low standard. I'd be wary buying birding binos from a site that specializes in astronomy optics.
Ive never heard of cloudy Fujinons. I had a pair that were $800 and they were awesome but got some Oberwerks that were as good for less than half the price. & yes I use them for astronomy but have bought some of their general use binos and they were a great value and good quality.License to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations
04-10-2012, 02:47 PM #14
I've looked through several Fujinon binos and it was like looking through $50 Tasco glass. Fujinons seem to be popular with boaters but the birding reviews consistently put Fujinon at the bottom of the list. I've always associated Oberwerks with astronomy optics, never seen any on a birder or hunter.
sfotex, How cheap? I looked for <$300 compacts for the GF but nothing impressed me so I got her the Vortex Viper 8x28, which goes for around $350. Very nice, crisp, bright, very little edge distortion -- size is somewhere between compact and mid-size. Nice to have the 3.5mm exit pupil (vs. the 2.5mm of my compacts) when birding around camp at dawn and dusk. Her Vipers have a better view than $600 Zeiss to my eye. I have the Nikon Premier LXL 8x20 which, to my eye, is equal to the top shelf Swaro and Leica compacts and better than the top shelf Zeiss. (BTW, Zeiss Victory full size binos are absolutely top notch, many say the world's best binos -- at $2500+ they oughta be -- but Zeiss seems to have missed the mark with its current batch of compacts. I'm a Zeiss guy and wanted to like their compacts, but that did not happen.) At $500, the Nikon Premier LXL may be the best deal in a compact, but they are certainly not cheap.
My bud has the Vortex Vanquish 8x26 reverse porro prism binos. Around $120. They have a crisp bright image, but some noticeable edge distortion. Nitrogen purged and sealed too. I could live with them if my budget were constrained to $125. I looked through a guy's Vortex Diamondback 8x28's ($140), which were not too bad (some edge distortion and pin cushioning) but quite a bit heavier and more bulky than I expected for 8x28 glass. If I had to choose between Diamondback and the Vanquish, based on my limited experience with each, I'd go with the Vanquish.
I have not been impressed with Nikon Trailblazer compacts. Distortion, pin cushioning, not bright, not crisp. They gave me a headache after a few minutes of use.
Lots of people like the Minox compacts. The ones I've seen were okay, maybe on par with the Diamondbacks.
Cabela's house brand compact sucks. Avoid them.
Last edited by Big Steve; 04-10-2012 at 03:04 PM.
04-10-2012, 03:41 PM #15
Look no further than these, the Nikon Monarch 10x42. I've used them for elk hunting for the last 8 year and had great results. Very durable and reliable
04-10-2012, 03:58 PM #16
Brunton eterna are damn decent for the price.But Ellen kicks ass - if she had a beard it would be much more haggard. -Jer
04-10-2012, 04:15 PM #17
Which Eterna? I looked through a full size Eternas bino and it seemed nice to me but I think they were $400. I also hear the Eterna spotting scopes are nice, but not cheap. I'd like to see the Eterna 8x25 compact.
04-10-2012, 04:17 PM #18Life is a lot like climbing: there isn't anything much more comforting than a good #2.
04-10-2012, 07:33 PM #19
Big Steve's advice when it comes to binos is solid. I would heed his recommendations.
I don't know many birders who use 10X50s. Definitely not considered birder glass by most.
I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...iscariot
04-12-2012, 10:24 AM #20
If you know what you are looking for a Pawn Shop is probably your cheapest option.Gravity Junkie
04-12-2012, 10:44 AM #21
04-12-2012, 12:11 PM #22
Big difference between Diamondback and Viper glass. It's obvious with a side-by-side comparison. Viper glass is crisper, brighter and has less distortion, less pin cushioning and less flaring. All new Vipers except the 8x28 are HD glass. That 6x32 deal is older non-HD stock, but not sure that matters in a 6X. Note that, assuming same quality glass, lower power glass will tend to have less distortion, less pin cushioning, less flaring and far less heat wave distortion.
To my eye that 6x32 Viper on sale has the "pop" of alpha ($2000) 8X or 8.5X glass. I'd get them if I weren't wholly satisfied with my 6.5x32 Vortex Fury binos. (I think they may be the same glass. Vortex no longer makes the Fury line, which had a diopter design that is a bit touchy, but works fine for me.)
Not sure I've looked through the Diamondback 8x42. I have looked through other Diamondback glass, including a few rifle scopes and one or two mid-size binos. Compared to the established standard for $200 full size binos -- Nikon Monarch 8x42 -- I have not been impressed by Diamondback glass. It's okay but if you've got $220 to spend, why not get Monarchs?
Okay, so if 8X full size is what you want and you've got $220: 8x42 Monarch (newer ones, with the low dispersion glass) is the safe play. I was also impressed looking through the Eagle house brand $180 8x42 and the Atlas 8x42 around the same price. Note that the Atlas was noticeably heavier.
If you have a chance to look through various binos, do it. Somebody with Monarch 8x42 may live in your neighborhood. Or find a birding group. The Seattle Audubon nature shop sells Monarchs, a couple levels of Vortex and a couple alpha binos (Swaro, Zeiss Victory) and will let you try them.
Last edited by Big Steve; 04-12-2012 at 06:21 PM.
04-12-2012, 04:58 PM #23
What Big Steve said. I have the 8x42 Monarchs for hunting. After a few twilight point counting episodes my friends bought Monarchs too. Hard to beat for the price. I think they're too heavy for touring and would use my much smaller 8x25s or even a monocle. Binos are great if you're glassing for a long time (like hunting or birding) but a monocle will do for quick spotting and route finding.
Head for the nearest Cabelas of you want to check out binos and the prices are usually good too.If you have a problem & think that someone else is going to solve it for you then you have two problems.
04-13-2012, 04:09 PM #24not "Darkside"
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
Not as cheap as the binoculars discussed here but are there any thought on the:
Brunton Epoch 7.5x43 Roof Prism Binocular
They are ridiculously marked down which is a bit of a flag (but that need not always be true). They are also a bit larger than I wanted but I could live with that if they have truly have high end quality.
04-13-2012, 04:37 PM #25
I haven't looked through the Epochs but the word is that they are sweet. I seen only a couple. They didn't catch on with the birding community. So much competition for $1000+ glass these days. Who would have imagined that? If you've got $700 to spend on full size binos, you ought to do a hands on/eyes on comparo. If that were my budget I'd take a good look at the Vortex Viper HD because that's the only glass I've looked through at the price that had the "pop" of alpha glass. You might also want to check out this deal on the the Zeiss Conquest 8x40. I've got the 10x30 Conquest. Best optics I own, but I don't use 10X much. Those 8x40s are amazing and are such a deal because Zeiss has stepped up to HD glass for the Conquest and those are old inventory.
Also, if you are going to spend that much dinero, you should consider how the glasses handle in your hands, focus knob feel, eye relief (if you wear glasses). Zeiss Conquest are not great eye relief, so I hear. Not an issue for me because I don't wear glasses.