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Thread: Binoculars that are hike friendly

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Error 404 View Post
    5) Always consider the exit pupil of the binocs. Divide the objective diameter (in mm) by the magnification. Ex., 35mm / 7 power = 5mm exit pupil. This greatly influences the "brightness" of the glass. Larger your exit pupil, the brighter the image. Particularly helpful in low light.
    This was sort of drummed into me as a kid - it might be more accurate to say that certain adult relatives who had "been there, done that" considered anything smaller than a 7x50 to be a toy - and I have to admit that (given equal quality optics) I do greatly prefer binocs with relatively larger exit pupils, especially if I am going to be looking through them for any length of time.

  2. #22
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    I've been using a pair of Olympus Magellan 7x50s that I picked up several years ago. I've always loved Olympus' optics and these have an internal compass that is really nice if you are sharing the binocs. While you are looking through them if you look down you will see the compass. When you are sharing and trying to point something out you simply say "look at @#&% and voila! They will see it.
    Rest in peace Bill. I wish I could have done more. You are sorely missed.

    #331 In Ryan W's 2014 GAW

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Error 404 View Post
    My thoughts in no particular order:

    1) Dollar for dollar, roofs will give you more chromatic abberation than porros. You need to get into the ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass in a roof to be free from the CA.
    2) You're sacrificing True Field of View (TFoV) going to an 8 x 42.
    3) In my opinion, a 7 x 35 porro is an ideal woods glass. You don't need a lot of mag and a narrow field of view in the woods. Lower mag and WIDE field are your friends. If you're shore birding however, go with a 10 X porro and spotting scope.
    4) The birding "pros" all seem to love 8 x 42 roofs, but they all use European glass such as the Leica. You probably don't want to spend $2K though.
    5) Always consider the exit pupil of the binocs. Divide the objective diameter (in mm) by the magnification. Ex., 35mm / 7 power = 5mm exit pupil. This greatly influences the "brightness" of the glass. Larger your exit pupil, the brighter the image. Particularly helpful in low light.

    That said, my two primary binocs are a Leupold 8 x 30 and a Pentax 10 x 50 (both porro). When I bird, I'm not lugging optics far from the car. I also have a small Nikon Travelite for tossing in the day-hike pack.

    Good luck.
    Wow, that's a great, concise summation. I love my Nikon 7x35 porros and plan to continue using them, but they are pretty tough to bring on hikes in the Catskills that typically involve a lot of scrambling. Either I have to put them in my pack, taking up space, or wear them messenger style, which gets painfull after a while, and results in them shifting alot (usually between me and the rock) in the harder section. The 6x roofs seem to offer the benefits of a more compact size and a weight savings of around 0.5 pound. They'll have a nice wide field of view and provide good low light performance. Ones that I am looking at are fully multi-coated and phase-corrected. I guess what I will be giving up is CA-free viewing (not an issue if it's not too bad) and perceived depth-of-field (3D) - How much will I be sacrificing regarding depth of field?

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by wintermute View Post
    Wow, that's a great, concise summation. I love my Nikon 7x35 porros and plan to continue using them, but they are pretty tough to bring on hikes in the Catskills that typically involve a lot of scrambling. Either I have to put them in my pack, taking up space, or wear them messenger style, which gets painfull after a while, and results in them shifting alot (usually between me and the rock) in the harder section. The 6x roofs seem to offer the benefits of a more compact size and a weight savings of around 0.5 pound. They'll have a nice wide field of view and provide good low light performance. Ones that I am looking at are fully multi-coated and phase-corrected. I guess what I will be giving up is CA-free viewing (not an issue if it's not too bad) and perceived depth-of-field (3D) - How much will I be sacrificing regarding depth of field?
    My most practical advice is to investigate the chest packs made for binoculars. There is the very simple pouch with elastic that keeps them from swinging around when you bend over, or there are full-on chest packs with magnetic closures that give you pretty much instant access.

    OR...

    You can have it all, but you have to pay for it. A pair of Swarvoski 8X32 SLC's will blow the doors off of most binoculars twice their size in both brightness and clarity, but they're about five times your price range. Top end optics from Zeiss and Leica will be similar in performance, and price.

    I'm a binocular fan...they are my most used piece of outdoor gear. I've sat on a hillside and found grizzly bears, black bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, wolves, and even a wolverine that were indistinguishable with the naked eye. Twenty years ago I spent two months' wages on a pair of Swarvoski 10x42 SLC's, and I think it's probably the best money I've ever spent. The initial price seems absolutely outrageous, but it comes with a lifetime of enjoyment. Once you get used to looking through top end optics you'll never go back. Pick up a pair of Swarvoski binoculars and look through them. If you jaw doesn't drop open, you might have cataracts.

  5. #25
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    Good advise sutured! The Swaro 8 x 32 is indeed a first-class binoc. And I agree, my binocs are by far my most used outdoor gear. I always have a bag of 3 or 4 in the car.

    Winter, the sacrifice I was refering to was in true field of view (angular), not depth of field. Depth of field is an entirely different optical property. Your 7 x 35s will have a TFoV of approx. 9.3 degrees, whereas a typical 8 x 42 roof is maybe 6.3 degrees. Google both terms for a better description than I can give here.

    Now, I have a couple of sleeper recommendations for you. You want smaller and lighter than your existing 7 x 35s, and under $300. Take a look at 1) Kowa SV 8x32, and 2) a Meopta MeoPro 6.5x32. Both lightweight, quality roofs. Good luck!

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Icepick15 View Post
    I've had a pair of Steiner 8x30G for 15 or 20 years. Catalog weight is (I think) 17 ounces; I've never actually weighed them. Individual focus, if that matters. I've had them hanging from my neck from before sunrise till after dark and never noticed the weight. Steiner makes several models on this pattern now that weren't available when I bought mine.

    This is what I was going to recommend too.

    They are 17 or 18 oz. i carry mine on my neck for full days and they feel fine. I really like the focus free feature. I don't think the image is as sharp as higher end adjustable focus Binocs but becausenyou dont need to be continuously fucusing they are real easy on the eyes. I can use them all day and not feel it.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Error 404 View Post
    Winter, the sacrifice I was refering to was in true field of view (angular), not depth of field. Depth of field is an entirely different optical property. Your 7 x 35s will have a TFoV of approx. 9.3 degrees, whereas a typical 8 x 42 roof is maybe 6.3 degrees. Google both terms for a better description than I can give here.

    Now, I have a couple of sleeper recommendations for you. You want smaller and lighter than your existing 7 x 35s, and under $300. Take a look at 1) Kowa SV 8x32, and 2) a Meopta MeoPro 6.5x32. Both lightweight, quality roofs. Good luck!
    Error,

    I guess I wasn't clear, as I understood it, you lose depth of field in roof prism binos (images appear "flat" and/or you only have a narrow range of depth that is in-focus, but I could be wrong).

    Also, regarding the Meoptas, that's one of the binos I've been looking at. I think I've decided to ditch the 8x42 platforms, since a lot of my use will be woodlands viewing, so the extra power might not help out much but I'll be losing FOV, and they'll be bigger and bulkier. So pretty much I've narrowed it down to these two binos:

    - Vortex Viper 6x32 (not HD)
    - Meopta MeoPro 6.5x32

    I can buy these for similar prices. I'm having trouble finding reviews of the Meoptas to help guide my decision.

  8. #28
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    Ditto on the Vortex Viper 6x32 non-hd. Google some reviews on these and you will see why they are considered one of the best bang for the buck bins out there and keep in mind that many of the reviews are based upon the pre-closeout prices. I was looking at the same two several months ago and ended up with the Vipers and have not regretted it. I have an assortment of Minox, Steiner, Fujinon, Zen-Ray and Vortex binoculars and the little Viper 6x32 bins are my most used since I got them. They don't take up much more pack space than my compact 8x25 and 10x26 bins and naturally have greater low light performance and FOV.

    Having owned both the Vortex Fury 6.5x32, now discontinued but based upon the same basic design as the MeoPro, and the Viper 6x32 I would opt for the Viper. I know they are not identical but the Fury and the MeoPro share the same diopter control design where it is mounted just below the center focus wheel and is non-locking. The Viper has a right eyepiece mounted locking diopter control which is better in my experience. It is my understanding that issues with the center mounted diopter control is one of the reasons the Fury line was discontinued. I have no knowledge that the Meopro line has had similar diopter issues and Meopta certainly makes excellent optics and has an excellent warranty, but that is what steered me to the Viper over the MeoPro. The Vortex warranty service is all that it is cracked up to be too in my experience with a pair of Diamondbacks.

    As far as bang for the buck, there were also some Zen-Ray 7x36 ED2 closeouts popping up not long ago, but they may be dried up now.

  9. #29
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    http://alpenoptics.com/mm5/merchant....oduct_Code=271

    These are cheap in price but very light and surprisingly good optics. I have two pair, the 8x21 and the 10x25 , but usually carry the smaller ones. I save the pricier Leupolds and Steiners for birding.
    SEMPER-FI TIL I DIETo have an opinion of a fact or set thereof is oxymoronic.It is an opinion if it may in fact be wrong.Otherwise, it is factual and not subject to opinion.Just so you know...

  10. #30
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    Winter, depth of field is a function of f-stop, which in turn is the ratio of focal length to objective diameter. Therefore, given two binocs (1 porro, 1 roof) with the same focal length and aperture diameter, you'll have the same depth of field. DoF is not a function of prism design.

    Depth of field is more commonly discussed in photography where one can change the aperture of the lens, consequently "selecting" their preferred depth of field. In binoc/scope systems, aperture is fixed. Depth of field, (the distance in front of and behind the point of focus that APPEARS to be in focus) is just a given and is generally not discussed. Don't spend a lot of time worrying bout DoF.

    You also allude to another optical property which is field "flatness". This is getting beyond the scope here, suggest you google/wiki it.

    Of the two binocs you mention, I'd try the Meopta (the poor man's Swaro). They're Czech. Don't rule out the Kowa, an excellent Japanese brand. I have an issue with firms (i.e. Vortex) using terms like "HD" in their marketing. In the case of Vortex, it means High Density (whatever that means). I'd rather look for the term ED, which means Extra-low Dispersion glass. Doubt you can get an ED glass under $300 though. Also, if buying a roof, you want "phase corrected". Good luck.

  11. #31
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    I would suggest a Bushnell 7 x 26 Elite Custom Compact binocular.

    I actually have two pair just in case they go out of production. They are porro prism but have objective lens closer together than the eyepiece lens, making them "compact". They only weigh 12 ounces and are very clear. Maybe not the best for low light but I do not find that a problem. Cost about $260. I have much more expensive Leica's but I usually carry these since they are so handy.
    Woods Dreamer

  12. #32
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    I'm certainly not an expert in optics, but I have learned a few things from those that are while researching optics for purchase. Naturally the best tool, by far, for conducting comparisons is your own eyes, but can't always be arranged. Fortunately some dealers will send you 2 pairs of binoculars to compare yourself and allow you to return the runner up. I think the second best tool is the opinion of someone that has used at least some of the binoculars you are considering. There are several optics forums where the members are more than happy to share their opinions. Some clearly show brand bias and that may not be experience based so keep that in mind.

    Sorting through all the HD, ED, XD, etc. labels can be confusing when comparing optics and is easy to get caught up in. Some of those labels have standards and some don't. ED glass has a standard of having an ABBE number between 80-95, which is a measurement of light dispersion and even that is meaningless unless the optics that use the glass are not optimized to take advantage of it. Some companies like Kowa and Vortex describe some of their models as having XD (extra-low dispersion glass) but I have not found any universal standard for XD glass. Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss, Leupold in additional to others including Vortex have used "HD" in in their optics and the marketing messages for same. There are no standards for HD glass, but whether the HD stands for High Density or High Definition I look at it as a lens upgrade over the prior or standard model for each manufacturer as in the case of the Swarovski SLC that was upgraded to the SCL HD. I don't think anyone, including Vortex, is claiming that their HD lenses are exactly the same as the Swarovski and I would avoid getting caught up in all the labels. All steaks don't taste the same just because they are made out of beef and all bins that have ED glass aren't the same either. I would look at the measurable specs like exit pupil, FOV, minimum focusing distance, weight, size, etc. as well as read comparative reviews and consider the warranties on each model you are considering.

    I don't think you could go wrong with either pair you narrowed it down to but, as already disclosed, I have only used one of them.

  13. #33
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    If you really want light, ie pocket sized, and can't afford Leica, I'd check out the Minox.

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