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Equipment Discussions >> Binoculars

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ngc 9999
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Reged: 08/13/12

Loc: Sunrise, Fl. 26 degrees N
Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper
      #5697057 - 02/23/13 06:10 PM

When you buy a binocular what of the two of the above conditions do you think about, spending not much money knowing that if you lost what you bought, you should not care, or being picky about optics and spending thousands of dollars to have the best optics that your money can buy and keep it?

In other words are you a serious observer that buys the best pinpoint stars, the best transmission in order to absorb the last photon of light of that faint nebula or galaxy or are you the one who gets aperture fever to see how that eyecandy object looks like with the bigger aperture and magnification?


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steve@37n83.9w
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Reged: 01/20/11

Loc: Kentucky
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: ngc 9999]
      #5697171 - 02/23/13 07:40 PM

I normally go for the premium binoculars but the "best" view isn't the only reason. I could easily sell some of my premium porros for what I paid for them originally or for even more, so in that sense the really premium binoculars are a better value. I just noticed that Nikon no longer offers their premium IF porros so I fully expect them to increase in price now that production has ceased as was the case with the Zeiss 15x60 and Takahashi 22x60.

I would also note that some of the "best bang for the buck" binoculars are getting very close to the alphas as far as optics....just not sure about the long term mechanical durability. I've been impressed with the Opticron Porros (SRGA and HR WP) and the Vortex Roofs (Viper HD).

Now days I buy all of my binoculars as keepers since I deeply regret my one and only binocular sale. It was a Zeiss 15x60 B GAT T* and I really didn't need it since I preferred the view in my regular 15x60 GAT T* (non B)....yet I still wish I hadn't let it go.

Steve


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Jawaid I. Abbasi
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: steve@37n83.9w]
      #5697199 - 02/23/13 07:58 PM

For me the Bang for the buck is the one that is used the most. although, the premium will give you absolutely the best image. JUST A THOUGHT.

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: ngc 9999]
      #5697314 - 02/23/13 08:56 PM

Quote:


In other words are you a serious observer that buys the best pinpoint stars, the best transmission in order to absorb the last photon of light of that faint nebula or galaxy or are you the one who gets aperture fever to see how that eye candy object looks like with the bigger aperture and magnification?




Like most, I try to find a balance, acceptable quality balanced with the cost.

I consider myself a "serious" observer but I do not believe that equipment with pinpoint edge correction and the last bit of transmission is required to quality as a "serious" observer.

In my world at least, the thing about seeing the faintest, tiniest galaxies, the faintest nebulae, this is what telescopes are for. And I have made a considerable investment in high quality eyepieces, coma correctors, flat field, short focal length refractors, Newtonians of various apertures. I do have equipment that does provide about as perfect a field of view as is possible.

But, in many way, those nice pinpoint stars at the edge of the field, their eye candy too. Far better observers than me use far simpler equipment.

Jon


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Scott BeithAdministrator
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Reged: 11/26/03

Loc: Frederick, MD
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5697376 - 02/23/13 09:24 PM

I'm with Jon.

I try to strike a balance - buy quality gear so I won't feel a need to upgrade, but I don't need the best there is on the market.


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eklf
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Reged: 05/12/07

Loc: Carrboro, NC
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Scott Beith]
      #5697437 - 02/23/13 10:03 PM

I'd describe my current position as a four-phase process. In phase 1, I began with bang-for-the-buck class of binoculars and was satisfied with them. With time and experience I determined the BA-8 class binoculars as the ones that met my balance of qaulity vs price (phase 2). After gaining a firm footing of a couple of those keepers, I'd dabble in bang-for-the-buck class for the fun of it (I mean, some of these do provide fine views). Currently, phase 4, I just dont bother with the budget class any-more. The BA-8 class are it for me, and its just a matter of determining the right combination for my needs.

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*skyguy*
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Loc: Western New York
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: eklf]
      #5697681 - 02/24/13 01:35 AM

I consider myself a "hard core" deep-sky binocular observer ... I actually use them and don't just display them to impress others. I'm more than happy to use my inexpensive (bang for the buck) bins over the couple of expensive (premium) bins I own. If carefully chosen ... the BFTB bins can provide 90% or more of the optical performance of the premium bins ... and let's face it ... 7X-15X isn't going stress out any optical system!

When I'm in an observing group, I'll hand them over to others ... even children ... without a second thought. If they get dropped and break ... I won't be crying and facing a $400 repair bill. Into the garbage and off goes the order for new ones.

I prefer to own the things I buy and not be owned by them.


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KennyJ
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Reged: 04/27/03

Loc: Lancashire UK
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: *skyguy*]
      #5697764 - 02/24/13 03:50 AM

I don't fall into either of the two fixed categories.

I'm primarily a frivolous observer who has only ever really bought two "premium"(i.e Zeiss)observing instruments outright but have even sold on both of those,due to a feeling of either needing or preferring to re-invest the proceeds in items of more urgent usefulness.

Hence,I cannot be classified as a"premium binocular keeper".

I happen to think the expression"best bang for the buck"is overly simplistic.With at least three hundred different models to choose from at any given time,in varying price brackets,it seems ludicrous to suggest any given ONE represents"the best bang for the buck".

It's interesting to obtain one or two"entry level" models,if only to see how good,bad or indifferent they really are,compared with more expensive models.Doing that helps to provide and maintain a true perspective on the subject,rather than be tempted to shout from the rooftops that such and such is a GREAT binocular,yet can be obtained for $25 from the Amazon,Nile or Yangtze websites.

For serious uses,and this applies not only to optical instruments,but to any real estate,motor vehicles,musical equipment or whatever,my basic philosophy is "buy the best you can AFFORD",providing you actually NEED the item and intend to USE it and of course that you really CAN afford it.

I've been incredibly,almost outrageously fortunate with binoculars and telescopes,insomuch as more than half of those still in my possession have been donated to me as most generous gifts of friendship and appreciation for my determined efforts in trying to help and support two or three of the most grossly under-appreciated and misunderstood members of our virtual community.

Kenny


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edwincjones
Close Enough
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Reged: 04/10/04

Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: KennyJ]
      #5697818 - 02/24/13 05:58 AM

I think that one should get the best optics they they can "reasonably" afford.
Viewing time is limited, and get the best view possible.

edj


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Tony Flanders
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Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: ngc 9999]
      #5697830 - 02/24/13 06:25 AM

Quote:

When you buy a binocular what of the two of the above conditions do you think about, spending not much money knowing that if you lost what you bought, you should not care, or being picky about optics and spending thousands of dollars to have the best optics that your money can buy and keep it?




In practice, almost all of us end up making some kind of compromise between price and performance.

I generally prefer to spend less, for three reasons. First, I don't have a huge amount of disposable income. I need to optimize how I spend it. And when I compare the relative values of (say) a premium eyepiece versus a trip to a dark-sky site, the latter tends to win.

Second, because I do a lot of traveling and do most of my observing in public areas where crime is at least conceivable, I don't want to own equipment that's so expensive that I'm reluctant to use it for fear of having it damaged or stolen.

Finally, I'm philosophically opposed to spending 5 times as much to getting that extra 5% of performance. That's always trending toward conspicuous consumption.

Of course, it depends who you compare me to. For typical hand-holdable binoculars, in the 7x35 to 12x60 range, I would probably aim between $200 and $300 if I were buying another pair. Maybe a bit more on the 12x60 end.

However, I need another pair of binoculars in that range like I need a hole in the head. So far I've been able to resist the temptation ...

Quote:

In other words are you a serious observer that buys the best pinpoint stars, the best transmission in order to absorb the last photon of light of that faint nebula or galaxy or are you the one who gets aperture fever to see how that eyecandy object looks like with the bigger aperture and magnification?




Hunh? I honestly don't understand what you're stating or implying. I do understand the difference between serious observing and eye candy, but I can't for the life of me understand what it has to do with the original question.

For what it's worth, I tend to associate the premium-equipment snobs with the eyecandy camp. After all, those pinpoint stars are much more about aesthestics than practical value; you will see just as much if the stars near the edge of the field of view are a little smeared. Just center them up!

But that's not fair, either. How serious you are as an observer is orthogonal to your place on the price/performance preference. The two things have no relation to each other.

Are you implying that the eye-candy users get bigger but cheaper binoculars? I don't think that's true, either. The obstacles for my owning big binoculars have much more to do with mounting than with optical quality or price.


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City Kid
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Reged: 05/06/09

Loc: Northern Indiana
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: ngc 9999]
      #5697949 - 02/24/13 09:46 AM

All three pairs of my binoculars would fall into the cheaper range, $200 give or take. Although I use at least one pair of my binoculars almost everytime I go out to observe I don't consider myself a "binocular observer". If binoculars were my primary interest I would probably have some high end ones. Honestly I've never even looked through any other binoculars than the ones I own so I don't even know what expensive binoculars bring to the table. That might be a good thing for my wallet.

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hallelujah
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: ngc 9999]
      #5698298 - 02/24/13 01:45 PM

FWIW, all of my binoculars, whether purchased new or purchased used, are the best bang for the buck.
That's why I purchased them.

To each his own. (Every person is entitled to his or her personal preferences and tastes.)

My Fujinon 12x60 HB, purchased new, in 2012, cost me $300; the list price was $1,140.00.

My older, used, Fujinon 7x50 FMTR-SX was priced at only $250.

I guess that makes me a Best Bang Bargain Hunter.

Stan

Edited by hallelujah (02/25/13 11:04 AM)


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Jarrod
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5698929 - 02/24/13 09:11 PM

For items I use daily and/or to further my profession, I have little problem justifying the extra cost and diminishing returns involved in owning a premium product. But my current lifestyle does not place binoculars anywhere near that category. For me, "good enough", is. I prefer to invest $100-200 each in a handful of average to above-average binoculars that provide different capabilities (magnification, FOV) vs. taking that sum and investing it in one premium binocular that is a "compromise" in terms of capability.

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hallelujah
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Jarrod]
      #5698942 - 02/24/13 09:18 PM

Quote:

For me, "good enough", is.
I prefer to invest $100-200 each in a handful of average to above-average binoculars that provide different capabilities (magnification, FOV) vs. taking that sum and investing it in one premium binocular that is a "compromise" in terms of capability.




You expressed yourself very well.

I find myself in that very same mind set.

Thanks,

Stan


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Stacy
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Reged: 09/15/02

Loc: Seattle, WA
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5699135 - 02/24/13 11:46 PM

Living in Western Washington, I must consider how limited my observing opportunities are when buying equipment.

So I, like most around here, buy good quality, great quality when it's affordable and "the best" when the next new best thing comes out.

For example, I lusted after the pinpoint stars and wide fields of the Nagler line of Eyepieces. I could never afford those though. However, when the Ethos came out, the used market flooded with perfectly like new Nagler's at great prices. I purchased a complete set and I must say, they are spectacular performers, as well as being beautiful. So, not the "best" but certainly good enough for me and a reasonable price to pay.

I get the best I can reasonably afford, and look for bargains. However it's my belief that the step up from "entry level " binoculars to some high quality binoculars is MUCH more dramatic than the difference between high quality and "the best" binos.

Common sense stuff I guess. If I had more expendable income, I'd own some of everything!


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ronharper
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Reged: 02/14/06

Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Stacy]
      #5699193 - 02/25/13 12:47 AM

I am 62 years old and bought my first binocular in 1973 for $50. It was sort of the dark ages then, at least for me: no forums, no information, no binocular using friends. A couple of decades and several binoculars later, I still didn't have one with two sides even properly lined up. I'd take it back to the camera store, the guy looking at me like I'm an idiot, "Whaaaat?", never heard of "collimation", defeat. I didn't spend a whole lot of money but it took something out of me that I will never have back. The hand held magnified image held a magic for me or I would have given up, but I just could not get no satisfaction.

Seven years ago I discovered this forum and bought a used 7x50 Fujinon FMT-SX for a princely $300. My head kicked by the mule now, I admitted how important this amplified view thing is to me: I like binoculars better than pie, ice cream, or hamburgers even, in fact more than any of the other proverbial "things of Baal". I saw a path forward, and never looked back. I since have consistently erred on the side of perhaps too expensive and perhaps unnecessarily good. With this philosophy, the pursuit and realization of my optical dreams has been the most incredible fun! I have spent a lot of money this way, but emotional dues have been next to zero.

Times have changed of course. Now, information is abundant, free trial periods are the norm, and cheaper binoculars are often said to be good enough. I don't doubt it, but I'll probably stick with what works for me.
Ron


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RichD
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: ronharper]
      #5699282 - 02/25/13 04:00 AM

I love quality and am willing to pay for it, but alas I was raised by a very thrifty mother who rammed home the message that "money doesn't grow on trees". So I typically go for the high quality, bulky, old fashioned porros that give great views and will last a while, but don't break the bank like an alpha roof might. Ideally second hand too. Even if I do find a gem on the used market, i'll still feel guilty about it for a few weeks after.

Don't regret a single bino purchase however. I did get some cheaper stuff years ago but they were sold to finance the quality stuff later on when I learnt more about the hobby. I am pleased with the gear I have now, it's a fair investment but every time I use them I think "wow, these are good. I'm glad I spent the cash".

As mentioned above, the good quality stuff like Fujinon FMT line, Nikon se etc hold their value so well that you stand to lose quite little on resale. Particularly if you buy used and sell on later. I once made a modest profit this way on a pair of old style 7x50 FMT-sx.

Bang for the buck can be a misleading term - I consider the bang that the Fuji 10x50 or 16x70 FMT gives you for the price, around $400 used, to be amazing.


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StarStuff1
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: ronharper]
      #5699289 - 02/25/13 04:09 AM

In 1980 I started "binocular astronomy" with an inexpensive pair of 7x35 Sears wide angle jobs. Immediately I discovered two new open star clusters near the Scorpion's tail. Oops, some guy named Messier had beat me to it by a couple of hundred years. Drat!!

Back then the sky was much darker. In my yard I could barely see my hand in front of me on a Moonless night. My how times have changed and I find the need for more magnification in binos to eek out more details.

With that said and back to the OP I had an interesting experience with a serious birder. He was (now retired) a local newspaper writer with an additional wildlife column each week. The subject was almost always about birds. One week he was distressed about his Leicas being stolen from his car when it was being washed. These were the only binos he had. Since I have at least two dozen binos I had no problem offering a 7.5x32 roofie to him for temporary use until he had the funds to replace the Leicas with a new pair. He offered to pay me but I refused. I told him I just wanted to see what the view through a premo $1200+ bino was like.

Sure enough, in a couple of months he got his insurance check, IRS refund and his new Leicas. I met him outside his office and we did some daytime bird watching. Actually I did some more critical observing of CA, field curvature, image sharpness, etc between this brand new piece of alpha glass and my 4 year old <$120 Chinese roofie. Of course the Leica was the better performer but certainly not 10 times better, not even twice better.

So, we all find our comfort level between price and performance with our optics, binos or...? 25 Years ago I bought an almost new 14x70 Fuji for (IIRC) $350. A lot of money for those days. A Chinese 15x70 I bought for 1/3 that price 5 years ago gives it a very close run for the money and weighs half as much. I just can't bring myself to sell the Fuji. Guess my estate will have to deal with that someday.

OTOH, a few years ago I was at a star party and a vendor had an absolutely mint condition pair of Fuji 7x50 FMT or FMX or something. All I knew the fov was absolutely flat and sharp and crisp everywhere I looked. I fell in love with them and bought 'em. A year later I sold them. Just too heavy.

So, what I have learned is if you are happy with a bino and you can afford to keep it, DO SO! Everyone eventually finds their own bang for the buck level.

I still have my Sears 7x35...ohh and some other nice glass, just not in the Alpha range.


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DarkDisplay
sage


Reged: 12/21/10

Loc: Texas
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: ngc 9999]
      #5699602 - 02/25/13 10:33 AM

Some people are not satisfied with anything less than what they consider the very best. I'd much rather have two or three "good enough" binoculars that provide nice views of the night sky. The different sizes for particular uses and the fact that I'm not as concerned about damage are a big plus. Besides, there are many moderately priced binos that give views almost as good as the more expensive ones.

Best wishes,
Frank


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RichD
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Reged: 11/08/07

Loc: Derbyshire, UK
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: DarkDisplay]
      #5699624 - 02/25/13 10:50 AM

I've never looked through the very best, as long as the observer is satisfied with the image that's all that matters.

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hallelujah
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: RichD]
      #5699670 - 02/25/13 11:16 AM

When it comes to the very best binoculars some of them are 'rated' very close to one another.

Here's just one example:

http://www.optyczne.pl/ranking_optyczne_pl-ranking_lornetek-10x50.html

Based upon price, which one would you buy?

Stan

Edited by hallelujah (02/25/13 11:20 AM)


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kcolter
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Reged: 06/04/03

Loc: Missouri, USA
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: ronharper]
      #5699698 - 02/25/13 11:28 AM

Ron's words above really resonate for me. That feeling one gets from a splendid look at the night sky, be it with the 1X7s, a good binocular, or through the telescope goes much higher on my list than most of the "things of Baal." One doesn't have to spend a lot of money (although I have) to experience the feeling. Whitman's phrases, "broad, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe" and "I am he that walks with the tender and growing night" come to mind. As to the things of Baal, I once had a small college football coach tell me how fortunate I was to have a chance to play "the great game", which he placed third on the list behind watermelon and "that other stuff." I would move the view of a great sky through good optics far ahead of watermelon.

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DarkDisplay
sage


Reged: 12/21/10

Loc: Texas
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5699720 - 02/25/13 11:43 AM

Personally, if I had the money to buy any of those listed, I'd choose the Nikon AE 10x50 (13th on the list). The rest of the money could be used for gas to travel to dark sky sites.

Best wishes,
Frank


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Jarrod
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: DarkDisplay]
      #5699733 - 02/25/13 11:52 AM

Quote:

Personally, if I had the money to buy any of those listed, I'd choose the Nikon AE 10x50 (13th on the list).




It certainly is an outlier compared to its neighbors as you scan down the price column (as is the Fuji). I agree with you - my AE 12x50s arrive today.


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Mr. Bill
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5699734 - 02/25/13 11:52 AM

Quote:

When it comes to the very best binoculars some of them are 'rated' very close to one another.

Here's just one example:

http://www.optyczne.pl/ranking_optyczne_pl-ranking_lornetek-10x50.html

Based upon price, which one would you buy?

Stan





Uhhhhh....Hummmm....


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RichD
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Reged: 11/08/07

Loc: Derbyshire, UK
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Mr. Bill]
      #5699869 - 02/25/13 01:39 PM

Stan - I'd still go for the Fuji.

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hallelujah
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Loc: North Star over Colorado
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: RichD]
      #5699889 - 02/25/13 01:54 PM

Quote:

Stan - I'd still go for the Fuji.




Rich,

I think many of us would follow that line of thinking.

Stan


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plyscope
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Reged: 11/23/06

Loc: Perth, West Australia
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5700132 - 02/25/13 04:04 PM

I went for the Docter Nobilem because of the centre focus, but I admit the Fuji is very appealing (for astro only).

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George9
sage


Reged: 12/11/04

Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5700152 - 02/25/13 04:13 PM

I think there are a couple of hobbies mixed together: visual astronomy, equipment tinkering, and equipment collection, and your decsion for this question will be affected by which of those you enjoy. Coin collectors and stamp collectors rarely use their acquistions for the intended purposes. In astronomy, we get to both collect and use.

I can understand the quest for perfection assuming you stay within your budget, and I can also understand the quest for the best inexpensive binocular, and also just using whatever happens to be around and spending your energy on the sky (in which case you are probably not reading this forum).

George


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hfjacinto
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: George9]
      #5700200 - 02/25/13 04:30 PM

I only have 1 binocular. I own the 15 by 50MM Canon IS binoculars. After looking through the Canon's nothing else compared. They were expensive but I think they are truly worth it. So in my case I went super premiun and am happy I did.

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ngc 9999
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Reged: 08/13/12

Loc: Sunrise, Fl. 26 degrees N
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hfjacinto]
      #5700646 - 02/25/13 09:48 PM

In my case I'd go for the improvement/cost ratio, spending enough to get what I'm after, but not spending too much as to not get a significant improvement.

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steve@37n83.9w
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Loc: Kentucky
Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5700725 - 02/25/13 10:44 PM

Quote:

When it comes to the very best binoculars some of them are 'rated' very close to one another.

Here's just one example:

http://www.optyczne.pl/ranking_optyczne_pl-ranking_lornetek-10x50.html

Based upon price, which one would you buy?

Stan




Stan

Interesting list since it compares one of the most popular configurations (10x50) for astronomy use. Like most binoholics I frequent the allbinos site and find results/findings interesting because it kind of gives you some idea of how various binoculars compare optically and to a certain extent ergonomically although ergonomics are obviously more subjective in nature.

The thing such sites don't give enough credence to in my opinion is mechanical reliability/durability. I understand this quality would be hard to test but to me at least this quality is just as important as the view provided by the binocular. If you took many of the Chinese binoculars that almost do as well optically they would fall well short of the premium binoculars in longevity, especially if subjected to heavy use.

Certainly nothing wrong with buying the better Chinese binoculars.....I just think those who base their purchases on reviews from sites such as allbinos should remember that just because they're rated 90% as good optically it doesn't mean they're 90% as durable as the premium Japanese/European offerings.

Steve


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hallelujah
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: steve@37n83.9w]
      #5701315 - 02/26/13 10:07 AM

Quote:

The thing such sites don't give enough credence to in my opinion is mechanical reliability/durability.
I understand this quality would be hard to test but to me at least this quality is just as important as the view provided by the binocular.
If you took many of the Chinese binoculars that almost do as well optically they would fall well short of the premium binoculars in longevity, especially if subjected to heavy use.

Steve




Steve,

Reliability/durability

I have been purchasing/collecting new & used binoculars since 2005.
Some of my used binoculars were manufactured back in the 1970's or 1980's.

Out of all my binoculars only two have been sent back to the distributors/manufacturers repair shop for warranty work.

One was sent back, more than once, because the distributor/manufacturers repair shop screwed it up
when they were working on it and they never corrected their error.
I eventually gave it away to someone in the binocular repair business.

The other one was sent in, under warranty, to tweak the collimation & the right diopter adjustment settings
to manufacturer specifications, to correct a factory error.

I did return two, brand new, Giant Chinese imports to the distributor because of factory Quality Control issues, etc.

Reliability/durability problems are the least of my concerns.

The majority of my issues, with binoculars, have centered around alignment/collimation, mainly associated with
the purchase of 'used' binoculars.
Some of the collimation problems could have been a result of rough shipping and handling.

Stan


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steve@37n83.9w
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5701971 - 02/26/13 04:12 PM

Quote:

Quote:

The thing such sites don't give enough credence to in my opinion is mechanical reliability/durability.
I understand this quality would be hard to test but to me at least this quality is just as important as the view provided by the binocular.
If you took many of the Chinese binoculars that almost do as well optically they would fall well short of the premium binoculars in longevity, especially if subjected to heavy use.

Steve




Steve,

Reliability/durability

I have been purchasing/collecting new & used binoculars since 2005.
Some of my used binoculars were manufactured back in the 1970's or 1980's.

Out of all my binoculars only two have been sent back to the distributors/manufacturers repair shop for warranty work.

One was sent back, more than once, because the distributor/manufacturers repair shop screwed it up
when they were working on it and they never corrected their error.
I eventually gave it away to someone in the binocular repair business.

The other one was sent in, under warranty, to tweak the collimation & the right diopter adjustment settings
to manufacturer specifications, to correct a factory error.

I did return two, brand new, Giant Chinese imports to the distributor because of factory Quality Control issues, etc.

Reliability/durability problems are the least of my concerns.

The majority of my issues, with binoculars, have centered around alignment/collimation, mainly associated with
the purchase of 'used' binoculars.
Some of the collimation problems could have been a result of rough shipping and handling.

Stan




Stan

Like you I use/collect used binoculars with over twenty used binoculars (mostly Japanese circa 1960-1970s). Most of them just needed a thorough cleaning and when disassembled the workmanship and build quality is self evident. One of these binoculars (9x35 7.3* Nikon J Pat.) is one of the sharpest binoculars (on axis) that I have ever looked through.

I think the durability/reliability of a binocular or its mechanical build quality is very closely related to issues such as collimation. I've found the better built/designed binoculars are much more prone to maintain collimation in the case of an inadvertent drop or deliberate rough handling....and of course it goes without saying that premium binoculars will at least be in collimation before being shipped out to the consumer.

Steve


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Jarrod
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: steve@37n83.9w]
      #5702289 - 02/26/13 07:05 PM

As old as those good designs are, you'd think the Chinese would be able to copy them better without fear of intellectual property violations (do they have such fears?) as certainly the patents have expired by now.

I've only been at the astro thing for a couple of months and already had bad luck with collimation/alignment on two brand new binoculars, a Pentax 20x60 PCF WPII (somewhat surprising), and a Celestron Skymaster (not surprising). It has made me a bit paranoid.


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hallelujah
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: steve@37n83.9w]
      #5702299 - 02/26/13 07:10 PM

Quote:

One of these binoculars (9x35 7.3* Nikon J Pat.) is one of the sharpest binoculars (on axis) that I have ever looked through.

Steve




Steve,

I recently purchased two Japanese Nikon Nippon Kogaku K.K. 7x35 Gold Sentinel 9.3* wide field binoculars, late 1980's vintage.
(1986 literature/instruction & specification sheets) One was new and the other one was used.

I spent a little time with both, in my backyard, looking at airplanes, birds, squirrels, trees.
Sharpness was very impressive considering the fact that I was viewing without my eyeglasses,
just to see how they performed.

I had the 'used' 7x35 outside, the other evening, and the moon was very sharp & stars were just a little off because of the astigmatism
in both eyes. (no eyeglasses)

I am very happy and more than satisfied with the performance & build quality of mine. Both were still collimated.

Stan

Edited by hallelujah (02/26/13 07:14 PM)


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hallelujah
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Jarrod]
      #5702315 - 02/26/13 07:22 PM

Quote:

I've only been at the astro thing for a couple of months and already had bad luck with collimation/alignment on two brand new binoculars, a Pentax 20x60 PCF WPII (somewhat surprising), and a Celestron Skymaster (not surprising). It has made me a bit paranoid.




Jarrod,

Just hang in there & keep your fingers crossed.

Misfortune has a way of touching all of us, at one time or another, when it comes to binocular gremlins.

Once you get a good one you will give a sigh of relief and you will be happy that you patiently endured.

Stan


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Jawaid I. Abbasi
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5702353 - 02/26/13 07:50 PM

Stan..... you are 100% correct and very informative.

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hallelujah
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Jawaid I. Abbasi]
      #5702354 - 02/26/13 07:52 PM

Thanks Jawaid.

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StarStuff1
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5702708 - 02/26/13 11:36 PM

"
As old as those good designs are, you'd think the Chinese would be able to copy them better without fear of intellectual property violations (do they have such fears?) as certainly the patents have expired by now."

FWIW the Chinese don't always have to copy exising designs. They will build to the total quality the importer/original buyer is willing to spend on. I have a couple of high quality Chinese built binos, an 8x42 rooie that is excellent and a 7x50 porro built to military specs that is as rugged as almost any bino I have ever seen in this size.


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hallelujah
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #5702743 - 02/26/13 11:56 PM

Quote:

"As old as those good designs are, you'd think the Chinese would be able to copy them better without fear of intellectual property violations (do they have such fears?) as certainly the patents have expired by now."




The Japanese had a custom of doing things based upon a 999 year contract.


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steve@37n83.9w
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #5703266 - 02/27/13 10:58 AM

Quote:

"
As old as those good designs are, you'd think the Chinese would be able to copy them better without fear of intellectual property violations (do they have such fears?) as certainly the patents have expired by now."

FWIW the Chinese don't always have to copy exising designs. They will build to the total quality the importer/original buyer is willing to spend on. I have a couple of high quality Chinese built binos, an 8x42 rooie that is excellent and a 7x50 porro built to military specs that is as rugged as almost any bino I have ever seen in this size.




From what I've seen the Chinese "quality control" is so bad that they have trouble manufacturing an existing proven design. I'm a framing/building contractor and as such deal with the inferior products coming out of China on a daily basis. Many of the tool manufacturers (makita, hitachi, etc.) have been outsourcing many of their tools to China and the results are pathetic. Granted we use our tools more in a week than a do it yourselfer would in a year but the good quality tools will hold up to daily use for years. When the Chinese can't even copy/manufacture a proven design with the help of the parent company it speaks to the non existent quality control so prevalent in Chinese goods. Contractors such as myself who can't find a quality tool at the box stores( Home Depot/Lowes) have to search out industrial suppliers who can still find the good stuff made in Japan, Germany, Sweden, etc.

I mention this example because it is analogous to how I feel about optics, i.e. I'd much rather buy a quality used tool or binocular from ebay, pawn shop, etc. than purchase the shiny new stuff coming out of China. I would mention that the goods manufactured in Taiwan seem to be of better quality than those manufactured on the mainland. Some of the Taiwanese made tools and binoculars (William Optics) I've had experience seemed to be of very high quality. I know the Chinese are occasionally capable of quality manufacturing and as you mentioned they do pretty well when having to meet higher standards specified by a particular buyer(my I Phone being a good example) but the majority of goods coming out of China (especially optics) just aren't made that well in my opinion.

I certainly hope the quality of goods coming from China improves because for certain items you have no choice but to buy Chinese....and of course they have/control 97% of the rare earth elements necessary for the production of smart phones and other high tech gadgets.

Steve

Steve


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Mr. Bill
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #5703286 - 02/27/13 11:08 AM

IMO, at this point in time, the Chinese are capable of producing the highest quality product. CNC equipment works the same everywhere.

It's a question of price point and marketing that determines what's being made.



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Tony Flanders
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: steve@37n83.9w]
      #5703290 - 02/27/13 11:11 AM

Quote:

From what I've seen the Chinese "quality control" is so bad that they have trouble manufacturing an existing proven design.




It's rash to generalize. China obviously makes many low-quality products. However, some of the best telescopes manufactured today are coming out of China -- with consistently high optical quality. And you don't hear a lot of complaints about Kunming binoculars.

On a related note, I remember when "Made in Japan" was a standard catch phrase for anything cheap and shoddy.


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hallelujah
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Mr. Bill]
      #5703308 - 02/27/13 11:23 AM

Quote:

IMO, at this point in time, the Chinese are capable of producing the highest quality product.

It's a question of price point and marketing that determines what's being made.




Optics from China vary depending upon the parent company.

Here's the most recent example, reviewed on another Binoculars Forum.

http://www.opticstalk.com/leupold-bx4-mckinley-hd_topic35913.html

Stan


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steve@37n83.9w
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5703337 - 02/27/13 11:38 AM Attachment (17 downloads)

Quote:

Quote:

One of these binoculars (9x35 7.3* Nikon J Pat.) is one of the sharpest binoculars (on axis) that I have ever looked through.

Steve







Steve,

I recently purchased two Japanese Nikon Nippon Kogaku K.K. 7x35 Gold Sentinel 9.3* wide field binoculars, late 1980's vintage.
(1986 literature/instruction & specification sheets) One was new and the other one was used.

I spent a little time with both, in my backyard, looking at airplanes, birds, squirrels, trees.
Sharpness was very impressive considering the fact that I was viewing without my eyeglasses,
just to see how they performed.

I had the 'used' 7x35 outside, the other evening, and the moon was very sharp & stars were just a little off because of the astigmatism
in both eyes. (no eyeglasses)

I am very happy and more than satisfied with the performance & build quality of mine. Both were still collimated.

Stan




Stan

I have two of the Nikon 7x35 9.3 wide field binoculars and they are one of my favorites for cruising the Milky Way. I have several EWA binoculars with even larger fovs but the Nikons strike a good balance between a wide fov coupled with excellent edge performance.

One of my Nikon 7x35 wide fields is the regular version and one is the gold ring version such as yours. I stumbled upon the gold ring version brand new in the box in a camera store which was going out of business. The Nikon had been languishing on the shelves for 20+ years and the salesman didn't even how to price it so he suggested 100.00 and I jumped on it. I'm enclosing a pic of my two Nikon 7x35 wide fields and my 9x35 so you can get some idea of the size difference. The Nikon 9x35 J Pat. is a very small porro about the same size as the 8x30 Habicht, and out of my several binoculars it is these two diminutive porros that yield the sharpest on axis images.

Steve


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RichD
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: steve@37n83.9w]
      #5703361 - 02/27/13 11:54 AM

I think with regard to quality control it's more to do with what the client specifies. The Kunming BA8 series have had very few problems with collimation, quality or durability as they are spec'ed to certain standards. So i'd say Mr Bill is right when he says CNC machining is the same the world over.

Chinese manuf's can produce quality like any other country, it's just that it seems the chinese don't mind pumping out the rubbish if they think there is a buyer (or if rubbish is what the client specifies). Other nations maybe have a longer heritage and a certain amount of pride.

Anyone who has looked through a BA8 15x70 or 10.5x70 knows the chinese can do it when they want to.


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hallelujah
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: steve@37n83.9w]
      #5703379 - 02/27/13 12:02 PM

Steve,

Thanks for the photo. Your brand new Nikon 7x35 find, for $100, is a bargain.

I have been keeping my eyes open for a Nikon 9x35 as well.
I'm always looking for the lowest price.

Please send me a close-up photo of your 9x35 prism covers, via PM, so I can read the information better.

Thanks,

Stan


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Rich V.
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: RichD]
      #5703397 - 02/27/13 12:14 PM

Though the BA8s are probably the best Chinese Porro offerings so far, I still feel they are lacking when compared to the Fuji FMTs, for instance. Considering their price, though, the BA8s are a great value. They are still built to a lower price point, however.

In a direct comparison between my BA8 and FMT binos there are small mechanical niggles afflicting the Chinese binos like tight/rough focusers, overly stiff hinges, mounting bar/hinge design issues and loose coverings. The FMTs exude a sense of quality construction that I think the BA8 competition is still reaching for.

There is a higher level of optical performance as well but that's more subjective, I suppose. I can't make that comparison because my BA8 and FMT binos are too dissimilar to compare.

The FMTs as a range of binoculars still have more "bang for the buck" than other premium binoculars on the market, even though they're more expensive than the Chinese competition, IMO.

Rich


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moynihan
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: ngc 9999]
      #5703443 - 02/27/13 12:38 PM

Quote:

When you buy a binocular what of the two of the above conditions do you think about, spending not much money knowing that if you lost what you bought, you should not care, or being picky about optics and spending thousands of dollars to have the best optics that your money can buy and keep it?

In other words are you a serious observer that buys the best pinpoint stars, the best transmission in order to absorb the last photon of light of that faint nebula or galaxy or are you the one who gets aperture fever to see how that eyecandy object looks like with the bigger aperture and magnification?




I do not think i am a serious observer, in that i do not contribute any information or data to the scientific community. I think of my astronomy as recreational.

That said, binoculars for night use are important to me. My primary use of binoculars though is for day time nature study.
Here is what i did.
I have more binos than i need for daytime use, but we won't go there.
For night time, i want flat field high resolution and contrast, usually handheld with a tripod an option, and central focus.
So my primary reliance is a Nikon 12x50 SE. My cross-over-always-hand-held is the Nikon 10x42 SE.

I would love to find a non-alpha price bino that met the above criteria (except the hand held part) of the 80mm class, that matched the quality of the 11x and 20x Celestron models from the 1980's (yes i regret the sale of old 11x80 ), that are nowhere to find (i have looked alot).


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Tony Flanders
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Rich V.]
      #5703484 - 02/27/13 01:04 PM

[quoteConsidering their price, though, the BA8s are a great value. They are still built to a price point, however.




All mass-produced commodities are built to a price point.


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Rich V.
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5703491 - 02/27/13 01:09 PM

OK, Tony, they are still built to a lower price point...

Better now?

Rich


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Binojunky
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #5703521 - 02/27/13 01:31 PM

Well I guess I,ve been lucky?, in the last year or so I picked up the Fuji 12x60HB for $300,the Oberwerk Mariner 7x50 for $120, Bushnell Elite 8x42 for $350 but the best buy has to be the Meade Montana 7x42 for $79,an oustanding performer, if you are preperred to hunt around and keep your eyes open its possible to buy very good intruments for bargain prices, all the above are Made in Japan other than the Oberwerk.DA.

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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5703661 - 02/27/13 02:51 PM

Quote:


Here's the most recent example, reviewed on another Binoculars Forum.

http://www.opticstalk.com/leupold-bx4-mckinley-hd_topic35913.html





That is very interesting. The Redfield 10x42 and 8x42 that just arrived appear to be constructed from the same mechanicals as this Leupold (parent company) BX4. I'll write something up later.


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Mapleton
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: RichD]
      #5703686 - 02/27/13 03:11 PM

I would prefer to get a premium binocular. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to spend $2000+ but I don't see the point in buying junk.

This forum does seem to have an affection for buying cheap binos, I don't understand it. But I'd rather have one quality bino than 10 *BLEEP* ones.

It's like, what would you rather have, 10 used Ford Pintos or one brand new Lexus?


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Jawaid I. Abbasi
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Jarrod]
      #5703698 - 02/27/13 03:27 PM

I did not want to jump in CHINESE discussion but I can say because I have 25+ years experiance in retail business. Two importent variables for consumers and that are Quality and buying power of a consumer.

China is producing both variables. Quality within reach for those who wants as good as "JAPANIES" and low cost goods for those who wants the product only. The cost of goods is proportion to demand.

Very soon, the babies will come from "CHINA" and labelled as Made in China

Chinese first targeted the consumer (low cost product) to gain market shares and build reserve then start making quality product with low markups. This way; they are now capturing the market day by day. I am not just talking about optics but almost every product which is available in United states.

This is only my personal opinion based on experiance and you may disagree with it


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steve@37n83.9w
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: hallelujah]
      #5703777 - 02/27/13 04:14 PM Attachment (11 downloads)

Quote:

Steve,

Thanks for the photo. Your brand new Nikon 7x35 find, for $100, is a bargain.

I have been keeping my eyes open for a Nikon 9x35 as well.
I'm always looking for the lowest price.

Please send me a close-up photo of your 9x35 prism covers, via PM, so I can read the information better.

Thanks,

Stan




Stan

I had problems getting the pic to load on the PM so here is the close up of the prism covers.

Steve


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hallelujah
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: steve@37n83.9w]
      #5703804 - 02/27/13 04:24 PM

Steve,

Thanks!

Stan


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TonyTowe
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Mr. Bill]
      #5704048 - 02/27/13 06:57 PM

Quote:

IMO, at this point in time, the Chinese are capable of producing the highest quality product. CNC equipment works the same everywhere.






You have to look at the quality of the CNC equipment too. The best still comes from Japan and Germany, but at a premium price. Most manufacturers opt to buy CNC equipment made in China, usually for half the cost (or even less). Why spend $500K on a CNC mill that will be depreciated off your asset books over the next 6 years when the market is flooded with models from China that can be bought for $150K. From what I've seen over the years I've spent in machining/manufacturing, there is a difference. The Chinese lathes, mills, and machining centers will not hold the tight tolerances of the German or Japanese equipment. My guess is that you will not find CNC equipment from either of these countries in a Chinese binocular factory (or any other factory for that difference). Let's face it, the world has demanded cheaper product, which means cheaper labor, cheaper production equipment, lower standards. It affects everything from your grandchildren's toys to your toys (on this forum, that would be optics).


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Mapleton
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Mr. Bill]
      #5704052 - 02/27/13 07:00 PM

Quote:

IMO, at this point in time, the Chinese are capable of producing the highest quality product. CNC equipment works the same everywhere.

It's a question of price point and marketing that determines what's being made.




Machines don't make binoculars, men do. Machines do not engineer optical designs, men do. Machines do not operate themselves, men do.

If the Chinese could make a Swaro level bino, they would. but they don't. In fact, nothing from China even approaches the typical $1000 Japanese made bino.

If you believe you are correct, go to China and start a bino company and import them, sell them for a third the price as Swaro and you'll be rich.


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Tony Flanders
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Mapleton]
      #5704155 - 02/27/13 07:59 PM

Quote:

I would prefer to get a premium binocular. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to spend $2000+ but I don't see the point in buying junk.




Hmmm, are you implying that the world is divided into premium and junk, and nothing in between? That's not how most people see the world.

Quote:

What would you rather have, 10 used Ford Pintos or one brand new Lexus?




Neither, thanks. I would rather have what I do in fact own -- a solid, reliable, sensibly engineered, unpretentious car.

But I certainly wouldn't want to own a "premium" car. Yuck!


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Lou3
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5704498 - 02/27/13 11:08 PM

I have no doubt that I'll be blown away when I look through a Swarovision, Ultravid, or Victory, and will measure all other binoculars against them. I wouldn't buy one though. First, I tend toward "bang for the buck" options. The BA8 or Zen-Ray might not score as many points in a review, but they'd surely provide a lifetime of great service. Secondly, a $2,000 binocular would feel more like a jewel to me than a tool; I just wouldn't be able to relax with it.

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Stacy
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Lou3]
      #5704711 - 02/28/13 02:54 AM

Quote:

I have no doubt that I'll be blown away when I look through a Swarovision, Ultravid, or Victory, and will measure all other binoculars against them. I wouldn't buy one though. First, I tend toward "bang for the buck" options. The BA8 or Zen-Ray might not score as many points in a review, but they'd surely provide a lifetime of great service. Secondly, a $2,000 binocular would feel more like a jewel to me than a tool; I just wouldn't be able to relax with it.




There is a LOT to be said for that. It's hard to relax with some of this alpha glass. However I DO love my new Lincoln.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Lou3]
      #5704770 - 02/28/13 06:17 AM

Quote:

I have no doubt that I'll be blown away when I look through a Swarovision, Ultravid, or Victory, and will measure all other binoculars against them. I wouldn't buy one though. First, I tend toward "bang for the buck" options. The BA8 or Zen-Ray might not score as many points in a review, but they'd surely provide a lifetime of great service. Secondly, a $2,000 binocular would feel more like a jewel to me than a tool; I just wouldn't be able to relax with it.




I am not so sure you would be "blown away" by the $2000 view. The differences between a good quality optic and an excellent optic are in the execution and the fine points. The limitations are still the same, they don't go away. Sharpness is limited by the large exit pupil, the low magnification, small aperture, the fast focal ratios and the fact that you will most likely be hand holding the binoculars...

Jon


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*skyguy*
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5704865 - 02/28/13 08:23 AM

"We should seek excellence in that which we do, for the pursuit of perfection is a fools errand, unattainable by a human." Good advice when buying binoculars and for other pursuits in life!

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Tony Flanders
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5705111 - 02/28/13 11:07 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I have no doubt that I'll be blown away when I look through a Swarovision, Ultravid, or Victory, and will measure all other binoculars against them.




I am not so sure you would be "blown away" by the $2000 view.




Agreed. I'm sure I would be impressed with the view, and I'm equally sure I wouldn't be blown away -- nor would I measure all other binoculars against them.

I was very impressed when I first looked through an Ethos eyepiece. My internal reaction went something like this:

It's amazing that they can make an eyepiece like that. I'm really happy for the lucky owner. Now please give me back my Panoptic and let me continue observing.

Good enough is good enough for me.


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StarStuff1
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5705208 - 02/28/13 12:06 PM

Agreed. I'll keep my mid-level binos and eyepieces.

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Fomalhaut
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #5705369 - 02/28/13 01:40 PM

Rather very seldomly premium bang binocular buyer (!) than ...
...many times (sequentially or simultaneously) many-littlebang-for-manymany-bucks...

Because?? => In the long run, it's cheaper!

Chris


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Lou3
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5706257 - 02/28/13 09:42 PM

Quote:

I am not so sure you would be "blown away" by the $2000 view. The differences between a good quality optic and an excellent optic are in the execution and the fine points. The limitations are still the same, they don't go away. Sharpness is limited by the large exit pupil, the low magnification, small aperture, the fast focal ratios and the fact that you will most likely be hand holding the binoculars...

Jon



I don't mean that the alphas would blow away everything else, but that I expect they'd impress me more (if only incrementally) than anything else I've used. The point is that I'm sure the alphas have their reputation for a good reason. But, as Tony says, good enough is just that. Nothing against the alphas or people who buy them.


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RichD
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Lou3]
      #5706772 - 03/01/13 08:56 AM

For me it's about star sharpness. Once you've looked through a Televue Panoptic or Nagler for a while it's difficult to go back to those eyepieces that don't have as sharpn an image. You feel short changed, particularly if you hate (as I do) ragged stars anywhere near the field stop.

Same thing applies to binos, I once had a Helios stellar 15x70 (Orion mini giants in the US) and had fun with it, but after I splashed out on a Fuji 16x70, the image in the Helios compared to the fuji was so obviously inferior that it had to go. I'm no snob when it comes to optics and certainly not an expert observer, but when the image is so much better you have to pay the money for it.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: RichD]
      #5706864 - 03/01/13 09:46 AM

Quote:

For me it's about star sharpness. Once you've looked through a Televue Panoptic or Nagler for a while it's difficult to go back to those eyepieces that don't have as sharpn an image. You feel short changed, particularly if you hate (as I do) ragged stars anywhere near the field stop.

Same thing applies to binos, I once had a Helios stellar 15x70 (Orion mini giants in the US) and had fun with it, but after I splashed out on a Fuji 16x70, the image in the Helios compared to the fuji was so obviously inferior that it had to go. I'm no snob when it comes to optics and certainly not an expert observer, but when the image is so much better you have to pay the money for it.




I am OK with not so perfect views. I have two fast 4 inch refractors, an Orion AstroView 100mm F/6 and a TeleVue NP-101. The NP-101+ 31mm Nagler is about as perfect as it gets in terms of pinpoint stars from right up to the field stop. Still, I enjoy the AstroView achromat with the attendant field curvature at low magnifications and less than perfect stars at moderate and higher magnifcations.

If you are jaded by the NP-101 + 31mm Nagler and unable to appreciate views/stars hat tare no quite so perfect, you are pretty much stuck and unable to look through anything else. Even the best binoculars are not going to provide an evenly illuminated, truly sharp to the edge 82 degree field of view...

Not long ago, I spent most a night just looking through my ST-80 fitted with a 2 inch focuser. 6 degrees with the 31mm Nagler, lots of field curvature. Right next to it was the NP-101. Imperfect as the 80mm F/5 views were, it was showing me things not possible in the fancier scope and I just could not take my eyes off it.

Jon


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Mr. Bill
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5706983 - 03/01/13 10:54 AM

There's no going back (for me) once you have seen what good optics are capable of....kinda like your first bottle of really good Pinot Noir.

My philosophy: a few really good things rather than lots of mediocre....YMMV



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Erik Bakker
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Mr. Bill]
      #5707005 - 03/01/13 11:10 AM

I have enjoyed many instruments for observing the universe, and continue to do so. When they are really well made, they tend to get out of the way more easily. I enjoy and appreciate that and find myself willing and able to pay the price for that. The other way around: if we stop appreciating and buying premium stuff, none of them will be available new in the not to distant future. I don't like that idea, so I enjoy sponsoring the companies that make the choice to design and manufacture quality stuff. When I couldn't afford that stuff new, I bought used.

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Tony Flanders
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: ngc 9999]
      #5707374 - 03/01/13 03:26 PM

For what it's worth, there are two separate issues here: How picky one is about optics in general, and how picky one is about binoculars in particular.

The only place where I'm really, really critical about optics is in my main telescopes. In particular, when I bought my 12.5-inch Dob I knew this was going to be the biggest optic that I would buy for a long time, so its optical quality would be an absolute cap on what I'd be able to see with my own equipment.

But as far as I'm concerned, binoculars are always a compromise -- so I'm very happy to compromise on optical quality as well as other considerations. For me the main points of binoculars are wide fields of view and convenience. Both of those mean that you have to settle for seeing less than you might otherwise.

A wide true field of view can be achieved only at low magnification, and low magnification inevitably limits how much you can see. There's always a tension between small and big with binoculars. The bigger the aperture, the more you can see -- but also the higher the magnification and the smaller the field of view.

Big apertures also, obviously, reduce the convenience. But as far as I'm concerned, binoculars can never be considered genuinely convenient if they're mounted. And when I hand-hold binoculars, that invariably limits what I can see more than any optical deficiency does, unless the deficiency is truly gross.

I think the unstated third dimension here is how much you care about viewing with two eyes as a opposed to one. For me, it's a significant consideration, but definitely third place to field of view and convenience.

I think it's the people who are really passionate about using two eyes for whom the optical quality of binoculars is paramount. If the best possible two-eyed view is your primary goal, then of course you will mount the binoculars -- that goes without saying. And that's when you will really start to pay attention to the fine points of the optics.


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Mr. Bill
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5707397 - 03/01/13 03:45 PM

Very well put, Tony.

I'm passionate about any optics, including microscopes.



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Lou3
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Erik Bakker]
      #5707474 - 03/01/13 04:48 PM

Quote:

When they are really well made, they tend to get out of the way more easily.



Well said. I've seen that with other things, and I'm starting to see it with binoculars. It probably depends on how picky we are about precision. For better or worse, I notice a lot of stuff: spiky stars, soft outer edges, narrow FOV, weight, feel in the hand, stiff or imprecise operation. That's why I expect alpha binos would be my ideal, but hopefully something like a Zen-Ray or Vortex will strike the right balance.


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hallelujah
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Lou3]
      #5707523 - 03/01/13 05:29 PM

Quote:

That's why I expect alpha binos would be my ideal, but hopefully something like a Zen-Ray or Vortex will strike the right balance.




Lou,

Take a quick look at this brief comment, from someone who tested the Vortex>

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php/Cat/0/Number/3559992/...

Stan


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George9
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Re: Bang for the buck vs premium binocular keeper new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5709427 - 03/02/13 07:38 PM

Quote:

I am not so sure you would be "blown away" by the $2000 view. The differences between a good quality optic and an excellent optic are in the execution and the fine points. The limitations are still the same, they don't go away. Sharpness is limited by the large exit pupil, the low magnification, small aperture, the fast focal ratios and the fact that you will most likely be hand holding the binoculars...

Jon




Maybe not blown away, but a couple are actually sharp to the edge like a Televue eyepiece, and it's most noticeable on the the night sky. I think there actually is a jump for the Swarovision, and in fact I wonder why most of the others (Bushnell Elite, Ultravid, Victory) have not caught up yet. Not that it is worth the money, but I think there can be a real jump in edge sharpness, putting shaky hand holding aside.


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