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Compact roof binoculars: $500-$700 range?

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#1 BobinKy

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 06:35 PM

I cannot believe this. . . but I have an unexpected $700 coming my way.

So my budget is $700 (maximum).

My objective is to purchase a nice pair of compact roof binoculars for birding and nature walks. I am looking for edge to edge sharpness, bright views, color vibrancy as good or better than my Swift Audubon 8.5x44 820ED, carrying them in my pocket, and totally submersible if the need arises.

The sales rep at Eagle Optics recommended the following:

Leica Ultravid 8x20 BCR
Eye relief -- 16mm
FOV -- 341 ft/1000 yds
Close focus -- 7.2 ft
Weight -- 8.5 oz
Dimensions (HxW) -- 3.6 x 4.4 in
Weatherproofing -- Waterproof/Nitrogen Purged

Nikon Premier LX L 8x20
Eye relief -- 15mm
FOV -- 356 ft/1000 yds
Close focus -- 7.8 ft
Weight -- 9.5 oz
Dimensions (HxW) -- 3.7 x 4.2 in.
Weatherproofing -- Waterproof/Fogproof

I appreciate any and all opinions, including recommendations of different binoculars than the above. However, please remember my budget and objective.

This is a very serious post! I plan on enjoying several nature preserves and bird sanctuaries this fall. :jump: :jump: :jump:

#2 Joe Ogiba

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 06:50 PM

The Pentax 8x32 DCF ED's are $743.11 w/free shipping and would be my choice IMHO. Get the $43.11 from the cookie jar. :lol:

#3 Rich N

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 06:52 PM

You might also look at the Zeiss Victory 8x20.

Good luck,
Rich

#4 Joe Ogiba

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 07:20 PM

If the Leica Ultravid 8x20 BCR's have $250 better optics than the Nikon Premier LX L 8x20's then get the lighter Ultravids.

#5 hallelujah

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 07:26 PM

Bob,

Have you ever "looked through any" 20mm compact binoculars?

I agree with Joe, for serious birding, I would not want anything smaller than a 32mm compact. :) :grin:
The new Pentax DCF ED 8x32 would be an excellent companion to your Swift ED bino.

Eye Relief 17mm
Exit Pupil 4mm vs. 2.5mm
Close Focus 4.9'
FOV 393'
5"x5"
23.5 ozs.
JIS Class 6 waterproof
ED glass optical elements for color and sharper images
Hybrid aspherical lens elements for edge-to-edge sharpness

Outdoor Life Magazine recently did a test on the DCF ED and raved about the color.

You may have to carry it in a jacket pocket instead of a shirt pocket.

I would definitely do some in store comparisons "before" you spend your money.

#6 BobinKy

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 07:28 PM

How do the Leica Ultravids 8x20 compare to the Pentax 8x32 DCF ED's?

#7 BobinKy

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 07:32 PM

Yes, I own a pair of Nikon Travelite 8x25s.

Now, with the extra $700 coming in, I want to have better views. I guess the ED glass in the Swift Audubons have spoiled me. I very much like the color vibrancy.

So you guys think the 32mm aperture would be the minimum for serious birding?

#8 hallelujah

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 07:38 PM

That is something you will have to test for yourself. Each individuals likes and dislikes can be miles apart.

I really don't see how you can "fairly" compare an ED bino to a non-ED.

Guys on other optics talk forums order both, and send back the one they like the least.

#9 BobinKy

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 07:50 PM

Thank you for recommendation of the Pentax DCF EDs.

Yes, I went through the ED/nonED comparison with the Swift Audubons. I was amazed at the difference that the ED glass can make.

Now, I am starting to look at the Pentax DCF EDs very seriously. How would their 8x32 compare to their 8x43? Another $100 or so in price. Would the larger aperture add that much for birding?

#10 hallelujah

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 08:07 PM

During bright daylight probably not a whole lot, where you begin to notice the difference in aperture, 32mm vs. 43mm, is at dawn and dusk and very cloudy days.

#11 BobinKy

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 08:14 PM

Thank you again for the suggestions on the Pentax. I have no stores close to me--so I will probably do the online purchase and return strategy when I make the decision.

#12 Neil Weiner

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 08:17 PM

I.
http://www.eagleopti...ex.asp?pid=4698
http://www.eagleopti...ex.asp?pid=4587

II.
Compactness is often defeated in actual use by neckstraps, lens covers and cases that are unnecessarily bulky or not well thought out.
To carry an x30 or x32 roof in a jacket pocket or fanny pack, I use a kitchen plastic bag. That equals 4 lens caps and a case that get totally out of the way when you quickly stuff that plastic bag in any pocket. (If it is a tiny fanny pack devoted only to the bino, I skip the plastic bag.)
For a neckstrap, I use a flat cordura bootlace through 1 (one) eyelet on the bino body. That is all that is needed for the safety of the bino, to defeat gravity. It is long enough to hang the bino around my neck or to loop securely around my wrist.
Thus my x30 or x32 is used as a true compact ... mostly in pocket or fanny pack ... ok for almost any occasion (not weird, until it comes out) ... ready for any opportunity. If the cordura lace was not enough, that meant it was a true, hours-long, bino event, not an opportunistic occasion, and I could have brought a bit more bino.

#13 BobinKy

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 08:36 PM

Neil:

Thank you for the suggestions. It seems like you have the convenience issues of compact roofs figured out to a "T". Yes, I agree, comfort and speed of accessing are paramount with compact roofs. Particularly when the target objects are so quick to move away.

The thought of walking through the woods with the compact roofs in one hand, the eyes darting about, and the ear cocked for sounds on either side is so exhilarating. :ubetcha: :ubetcha: :ubetcha:

#14 Joe Ogiba

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 08:47 PM

How do the Leica Ultravids 8x20 compare to the Pentax 8x32 DCF ED's?

I don't have either one but a 4mm exit pupil would work much better than a 2.5mm exit pupil in less than ideal lighting conditions.

#15 BobinKy

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 09:01 PM

Joe O.:

Thank you for the Pentax ED recommendation and the heads up on the exit pupil size. That specification was missing on the Eagle Optics website. :bow: :bow: :bow:

The Pentax EDs are definitely on my radar screen! :ubetcha: :ubetcha: :ubetcha:

#16 BobinKy

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 10:07 PM

Rich:

Thank you for your recommendation of the Zeiss Victory 8x20s. I like the weight and size of these binoculars. They received an Editor's Pick from the magazine Outdoor Life, along with another pair I am considering.

Do you own a pair of the Zeiss Victory 8x20s? If you do, I am interested in how you like the unusual body design.

#17 Jared

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 04:55 AM

I own a pair of the Leica Ultravid 8x20's and love them. Light weight, exceptional optical quality, and good eye relief. That being said, I would not consider them serious birding bins. The exit pupil makes them harder to use--not as fast to the eye--and they don't have as wide a field of view as most 8x32 bins. They are a great "go everywhere" model and as a result are probably my most used pair, but the 8x32's are a better choice for true birding.

#18 edwincjones

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 06:12 AM

Bob,

I would strongly recommend that you not buy blind, but go to binocular shops, sporting goods stores, and try first hand-both for the optics and the ergonomics.

I recently went through this to find a better binocular than my Audubon EDs and they are hard to beat. The Zeiss and Sw lines beat the Swifts, but are out of your price range.

Amazon.com has the Nikon SE 8x32s at <$700 but they are not waterproof or roofs.

edj

#19 BobinKy

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 07:01 AM

Jared:

Thank you for telling me about your Leica Ultravid 8x20's.

Yes, "go anywhere" is one criteria for my next pair of binoculars--light and compact. The Leica Ultravid 8x20s were the first recommendation from the sales rep at Eagle Optics. She also said they were sharp edge to edge and the Leica lifetime passport warranty was exceptional.

However, she did say they were not for everybody due to the compact size.

I understand how a good compact can easily become one's "most used pair" on the nature trail and strolling through a bird sanctuary. I also understand that serious birding is a slower activity than "spur of the moment" walking on a short trail, in the city, or by the water.

Do you have a favorite birding binocular with a wide field of view that is "fast to the eye"--and still not cumbersome on the trail?

#20 BobinKy

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 07:11 AM

edwincjones:

Thank you for your reply. I am very interested in your search for a better pair of binoculars than the Swift Audubon EDs for nature and birding use.

If you do not mind continuing our discussion. . .for the moment, put aside my budget restriction of $700. In your opinion, which Leicas or Swarovskis beat the Audubon EDs for portability, quickness to the eye, optical sharpness, and the ED glass color vibrancy?

#21 Joe Ogiba

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 07:52 AM

Joe O.:

Thank you for the Pentax ED recommendation and the heads up on the exit pupil size. That specification was missing on the Eagle Optics website. :bow: :bow: :bow:

The Pentax EDs are definitely on my radar screen! :ubetcha: :ubetcha: :ubetcha:

Also the Pentax 8x32 ED's have 393 ft./1000 yds.FOV that is alot wider than the 8x20's.

#22 johnno

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 11:04 AM

Hi All,

I have several "Compact" binoculars,from 8x20, Nikon 9x25's to 8x32,

Without Doubt,the 8x32 is a darn sight easier to look through,ESPECIALLY, for longer periods.

Certainly not high end,BUT exit pupil size is the same,to look through,
Regardless,of the overall quality,of the Binocular

I find very small exit pupils even during daytime,a pain to use.

Just my 5 cents,(we dont have 2 cents in Australia)

Regards.
John

#23 BobinKy

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 11:26 AM



Johnno wrote:

I have several "Compact" binoculars,from 8x20, Nikon 9x25's to 8x32,

Without Doubt,the 8x32 is a darn sight easier to look through,ESPECIALLY, for longer periods.

Certainly not high end,BUT exit pupil size is the same,to look through,
Regardless,of the overall quality,of the Binocular

I find very small exit pupils even during daytime,a pain to use.



Johnno:

Thank you very much for joining the "compact binoculars" discussion and recommendations.

If you do not mind, could you speak a little more about the following comments from your reply above.

Certainly not high end,BUT exit pupil size is the same,to look through,
Regardless,of the overall quality,of the Binocular



Are you speaking about the exit pupil size of your binoculars? Do you mind giving us the brand and exit pupil size of your binoculars?

and

I find very small exit pupils even during daytime,a pain to use.



Is there a minimum threshold to the exit pupil size you recommend not going under? Others in this thread have recommended 4.0mm as a minimum threshold for birding and nature observing. Do you agree with that size or do you have other thoughts?

Thank you for your suggestions.

#24 KennyJ

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 12:27 PM

Hello Bob ,

I will start by saying right out that I do NOT like compact binoculars - period !

A few years ago , inspired by the crisp , clear , breathtaking views through my then new Zeiss 7 x 42 BGAT roofs , my wife Kathy decided she would like me to buy her a really nice pair of compact binoculars , which she could keep in her handbag .

The pair of us spent well over an hour inside and outside a dedicated binoculars and telescopes shop , trying every pair of compacts the shop had available .

This was before the introduction of the Leica Ultravid and Nikon HGL compacts -- BOTH of which I have since tried and consider superior to the one we ended up buying , which was a Swarovski 8 x 20B .

A review I wrote about that binocular is still available to be read in the CN mini - reviews section .

I've written several times trying to explain what it is I don't like about compact binoculars , so will just list the main points below .

1. More difficult to find , then maintain , perfect eye position , than with standard or larger binoculars.

2. Very fiddly to adjust diopter adjustment and central focus wheel .

3. Inevitably small exit - pupils - TOO small to provide bright images in typically dull , overcast UK conditions or at twilight or dusk , or in dense woodland .

4. Severely restricted light GATHERING capacity .

5. Rarely , if ever , have true fields of view as wide as larger binoculars of same magnification .

6. Rarely provide sufficiently long eye - relief for eyeglass wearers .

7. Any " stereoscopic " effect , whether physical or psychological , is minimal compared side by side with larger binoculars .

8. For " some " reason , perhaps related to point 7 above , or perhaps not , lack of perceived " depth of view " , or perceived " depth of field " when compared with larger binoculars of same magnification .

9. Overpriced !

I would rather use a top quality 30mm or 32mm binocular ANY time , and also advise to maintain an exit - pupil closer 4mm , with probably 8 x 30 being the smallest size that would interest me , yet JUST ABOUT offer an acceptable exit - pupil .

For this reason , I've yet to try either a 10 x 32 or an image stabilised binocular that I would buy , but would probably seriously consider a 8 x 32 , 9 x 36 , 10 x 42 or 12 x 50 image stabilised model , of which , thus far , only a 10 x 42 is in production .

Moving swiftly back on topic , considering the absolute upper limit budget of $700 US , I think the Zeiss 8 x 30 BGAT classic would worth taking a look at , as would the Pentax DCF 8 x 32 ( I thought the ED version was priced higher than $700 , but could be wrong about that ).

In summary , to narrow your search down to a more manageable number , I would stick to 8 x 30 or 8 x 32 phase - coated roofs between $500 and $700 and take it from there , paying very close attention to your eye - relief and field of view requirements , and as always , if at all possible , trying before buying -- or at least buying from a reputable vendor with a no qualms / no nonsense returns policy .

Regards and good luck ,

Kenny

#25 johnno

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 12:45 PM

Hi Bob,

Happy to elaborale a little,if I can be of some help to you.

To me, exit pupil size,is just that.

Absolutely,nothing to do with a Brand name,or cost.

If you expect to bold the Binocular to your eye,for an extended period of time, you have to be comfortable.

I personally find with very small exit pupil size,I am continously moving the Binocular to MAINTAIN a good view.

Simply put,
TO ME, SMALL exit pupil Binoculars,need to be placed perfectly,to suit your eye pupil.

There is LITTLE room, for even the slightest movement.

As to BRAND.

I have an A.O.E Odyssey 8x32 Roof prism 7.5 deg,which I absolutely love.(4mm exit pupil)

INCREDIBLY, sharp,on axis,Also great depth of field,actually,leaves some of my Porros,in the same class, size,and Price, for dead.

I can focus,on my shoelaces (I am 5'3" tall)

Cost $139.00 AUSTRALIAN,THAT,is darn cheap in AMERICAN $

Next best is an older Nikon 9x25 compact,nice and sharp.

BUT,no Depth of field (reverse Porro),

Apart from the lousy 5.6 deg FOV,
they only have 2.8 mm exit pupil,

Again,Not comfortable to hold to the eyes,for extended viewing.

Cheap,$27.00 off Ebay AU,because the SIZE logo,on the focuser was missing,and the seller didn't know what size they were.

NOT hard to work out,THANKS,to knowledge Gained from "Cloudy Nights",Over the years.

Next Best compact is a VIXEN,9x20,nice little Binocular,Made in Japan.

Not as sharp as the Odyssey,or the Nikons,
BUT,an even smaller exit pupil,

A REAL pain to use,(Small exit pupil AGAIN), except for a quick view,of something.

They were as New,
Again, off Ebay $20.50,
So,if they get lost,or broken,I wont get too upset.

EBAY,is NOT the place to buy Binoculars.

UNLESS,you are dealing with a reputable seller,
AND,know what questions to ask.

I totally agree with the others,4MM exit pupil is really good for daytime viewing.

All the best.

Regards.
John


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