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Compact roof binoculars: $500-$700 range?

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#26 Claudio

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 02:24 PM

Bob,
I share all the comments made by Kenny, and would add that stray light is a frequent and serious problem even in the most celebrated compact binoculars.
Claudio

#27 Rich N

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 03:43 PM

Hi Bob,

It's true I find looking through my 8x42 roof prism binocular easier than looking through my Leica 8x20 BCN roof prism binocular. The problem is the extra weight and bulk of an 8x42 binocular. I find carrying an 8x32 virtually as much of a bother as the 8x42. There are times I really like using my 8x20.

Some of the new pocket sized (20mm to 25mm) binoculars give very nice images, even when wearing eye glasses. A friend let me try his new Zeiss Victory 8x20. It gave a beautifully bright, clear image. It was surprisingly good. If you need a pocket binocular I'd go with the new Zeiss Victory or the new Leica Ultravid.

I don't know how easy it would be for you to find a store in your area carrying Zeiss binoculars, but Leica binoculars tend to be easier to find in the better camera stores. It would be worth the time to give 8x20 Ultravid a try.

Rich

#28 Jared

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 05:59 PM

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?


My personal favorites for this purpose are my Ultravid 10x32's. Most people prefer 8x bins for birding, though, for their wider field of view and better depth of field. Try before you buy.

Unfortunately, the 32mm Ultravids are well out of your $700 price range. Also, when you are in this lofty range, personal preference on ergonomics and design is likely to be the deciding factor rather than actual quality. I like the Leica's over the other premium brands because of the following:
- Accurate, vibrant colors--the best of the bunch in my opinion
- Combination of light weight and solid feel--they inspire confidence
- Extremely sharp on axis and very sharp even at the edge of the field
- Nearly as bright as the Zeiss FL's but significantly more compact (differences in prism design)
- Well controlled on-axis chromatic aberration, and only moderate lateral color error--it's there, but it's not obtrusive

There are three downsides to the Ultravid 32mm models:
- Very expensive (like its competitors in this category)
- Focus wheel is not as smooth as many due to the lubricant used by Leica (though there is some variation here, and the newer bins seem to suffer from this much less than the batches released in the first year of production)
- More pincushion distortion than most other brands disturbs some users, though I haven't had a problem

Unfortunately, I am not in a position to recommend any of the sub $700 mid-size bins. The few I tried when I was looking at the Ultravids really disappointed me--not nearly as bright as the high end models, noticeably less sharp due to lack of phase correction, and too much field curvature for my taste in several models. That was about three years ago, now, so things may have improved since then.

#29 BobinKy

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 06:39 PM

Kenny:

Thank you so much for your recommendations--so organized--so full of details. And thank you especially for tailoring your recommendations to my situation--my budget and purchase objective.

I am learning that compact binoculars are not for everybody. However, I still want to give them a try.

. . .

I am curious, what does your wife Kathy think of her compact binoculars after three years?

#30 BobinKy

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 07:43 PM

John:

Thank you for elaborating on your original post.

Your comments upon exit pupil size in compact binoculars is most welcome.

I also enjoyed the review of your various compacts. In fact, I just read about your favorite--A.O.E Odyssey 8x32--at the Aquila Optical and Electronics (AOE) website in Sydney Australia.

I understand you have wonderful dark skies in Australia. One day, I hope to visit the southern hemisphere to view your night sky gems, such as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

#31 BobinKy

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 07:47 PM

Claudio:

Thank you for your comments about the issue of stray light and compact binoculars. I will definitely consider your words of caution when I get to the purchasing phase of my search.

#32 BobinKy

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 09:48 PM

Rich N. wrote:

It's true I find looking through my 8x42 roof prism binocular easier than looking through my Leica 8x20 BCN roof prism binocular. The problem is the extra weight and bulk of an 8x42 binocular. I find carrying an 8x32 virtually as much of a bother as the 8x42. There are times I really like using my 8x20.

Some of the new pocket sized (20mm to 25mm) binoculars give very nice images, even when wearing eye glasses. A friend let me try his new Zeiss Victory 8x20. It gave a beautifully bright, clear image. It was surprisingly good. If you need a pocket binocular I'd go with the new Zeiss Victory or the new Leica Ultravid.



Rich:

Thank you again for your sincere recommendations. I guess binoculars are like clothing--we have our work clothes and our play clothes.

I really want to play this fall in nature preserves and bird sanctuaries (with a nice compact)--and at different times, I want to work real hard observing in nature preserves and bird sanctuaries (with my Swift Audubon EDs 8.5x44, Garret Signatures 22x85, and Bogen 3296/501 tripod setup).

Can I have my cake and eat it too?

:ubetcha: :ubetcha: :ubetcha:

#33 BobinKy

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 09:55 PM

Jared:

Well now--I could put my $700 gift in a bank account and rob the cookie jar over and over, until the binoculars account grows to $1800--and then buy the Leica Ultravid 8x32s.

What did Dr. Smith say in the Lost in Space tv series/movie--"Oh, the pain of it all!". . .

Thank you very much for both your replies. You have given me much to consider in the days ahead.

#34 edwincjones

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 05:25 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?


My search for a better binocular (the perfect binoc) went from the local Sportsman Warehouse (best collection of binocs locally) to the Astronomic web site, and back and forth many times.
I considered the Zeiss Conquest 8x40 for then $700 (but never actually saw them, but did see the 8x30 but didnot feel right), the Steiner's seemed heavy and unconfortable, but good optics, the Nikon SEs were not available, and finally came down to either Zeiss florite 8x40s or Sw 8.5x42ELs. The ELs had a better feel, but optics about the same.
I then backed off, questioning the worth/value of the ELs.
Several months later I cashed in an old life insurance policy that my parents had gotten when I was a child (1950s) and went for the ELs.

Conclusions-the SW 8.5x42 EL is as good as the hype, but the Swift Audubon 8.5x44 ELs are great value at 1/4 the cost. The Zeiss 8x40 Conquests might be a good alternative, if I could have seen/felt a pair.

edj

#35 BobinKy

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 08:36 AM

The quest continues. . . to walk around with quality optics in my pocket. . .

Here is a review of compact binoculars written by Kimmo Absetz (Finland), published in Alula (2006).

The five models reviewed by Kimmo were: Leica Ultravid 8x20
Nikon 8x20 HG L
Opticron Taiga 8x25
Swarovski Pocket 8x20 B (Swarobright)
Zeiss 8x20 B T* Victory

#36 Rich N

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 11:03 AM

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the link to Kimmo's review.

Sorry if I missed this somewhere but do you know if the Nikon 8x20 HG L DCF is the same as the Nikon LX L 8x20?

Thanks,
Rich

#37 Mark9473

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 11:05 AM

Bob, which pocket?
If it has to be a shirt or pants pocket, likely only 8x20 or thereabouts will fit.
I relaxed my requirement to "overcoat pocket" and found a great 8x42 that simply blows away my not-too-shabby Leica 8x20.

You're in a good position to be the first to review the new William Optics / Ferrari 8x25.
I'd not buy buy anything more expesnive than this one at that size; if I were to spend more I'd want at least 8x32.

#38 BobinKy

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 11:22 AM

Rich N:

Good question. . .

The photograph of the Nikon 8x20 HG L DCF in Kimmo's review looks very similar to the photograph of the Nikon LX L 8x20 at the Eagle Optics (EO) website.

I will ask the sales representative at EO when I talk to her again.

#39 BobinKy

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 11:38 AM

Mark, here are my "spur-of-the-moment" reactions. :o

Bob, which pocket?
If it has to be a shirt or pants pocket, likely only 8x20 or thereabouts will fit.
I relaxed my requirement to "overcoat pocket" and found a great 8x42 that simply blows away my not-too-shabby Leica 8x20.


My shirt or pants' pocket. Unfortunately, walking around in a overcoat will not work from April thru October here in Kentucky.

. . .

You're in a good position to be the first to review the new William Optics / Ferrari 8x25.


No thanks, the bright red may scare off the wildlife!

. . .

Mark, thank you for your suggestions. I will come back to them when I have some "serious" thinking time. :)

#40 Jared

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 12:04 PM

I know you are looking at the pockets, but if you determine they won't work out for you due to small exit pupil and ergonomics...

Definitely look at the Nikon 8x32 SE's. They are right at your price point when ordered over the web and provide superb views. The problems are:
--Much larger than the compacts you are looking at; you'd have to give up on putting them in a pocket
--Not waterproof
--Don't have the coolness factor of roof prisms

What the DO have going for them is probably the best views possible in your price range.

#41 Pinewood

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 12:28 PM

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the link to Kimmo's review.

Sorry if I missed this somewhere but do you know if the Nikon 8x20 HG L DCF is the same as the Nikon LX L 8x20?

Thanks,
Rich


Rich,

I believe that may be the case, where HG was used in Europe rather than LX.

Happy observing,
Arthur

#42 Bob A (SD)

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 12:48 PM

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the link to Kimmo's review.

Sorry if I missed this somewhere but do you know if the Nikon 8x20 HG L DCF is the same as the Nikon LX L 8x20?

Thanks,
Rich


If I'm not mistaken the HG L is the same as the LX which was replaced by the LX-L. Main difference being the change to lead free glass which many have opined was a step backwards in optical quality. See the thread in this forum about leaded glass for more info.

#43 KennyJ

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 01:09 PM

Bob ,

As others have mentioned , that particular range of Nikon roofs has gone through several name changes , as well as changes in weight and glass content .

Originally called Venturer ,and LX in the US , it then became more widely known as High Grade or HG , especially in Europe , before the lighter versions became the HGL ( or High Grade Lightweight , or indeed LXL ) , at which time the name " Premier " seemed to creep into the title in some quarters , especially in America .

The DCF simply means Roof prism / centre focus , the D being an abbreviation of the German wword " Dach " - meaning roof .

In addition to the above , occasionally when in conversation with myself about these models , I refer to the originals as VTWs (Venturer Ton Weights ) and the lighter versions as the HGLFs ( High Grade Lead Free )

I think Brock occasionally refers to the newer models as the HGRBs ( High Grade Rolling Balls ) ! :-)

Kenny

#44 edwincjones

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 02:34 PM

I know you are looking at the pockets, but if you determine they won't work out for you due to small exit pupil and ergonomics...

Definitely look at the Nikon 8x32 SE's. They are right at your price point when ordered over the web and provide superb views. The problems are:
--Much larger than the compacts you are looking at; you'd have to give up on putting them in a pocket
--Not waterproof
--Don't have the coolness factor of roof prisms

What the DO have going for them is probably the best views possible in your price range.


What do the Nikon SEs have that he does not already have with the Swift Audubons?

edj

#45 hallelujah

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 07:27 PM

Bob,

Here's something that I thought you might enjoy reading:

http://www.binocular...affATB8x25.html

#46 BobinKy

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 08:22 PM

Jared:

Thank you for the suggestions.

This evening, at twilight, I discovered another use for pockets (and large pockets) while driving home from the grocery store, along a road next to some government property.

A herd of deer were grazing beside the road in front of a wooded area (no fences on either side of the road). I stopped, as did all of the cars. I counted the deer--there were 3 bucks, 10 does, and eight fawns. The antlers of the bucks were covered with velvet and the fawns, just like Bambi's, all had spots. Watching them run across the road gave me more than a thrill!

Which binoculars would have been good for that spur-of-the-moment observation?

#47 BobinKy

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 08:24 PM

Arthur:

Thanks for clearing up the model names of the Nikon 8x20s.

#48 BobinKy

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 08:27 PM

Bob A:

Thanks for the reference to the lead free glass. I will have to go back and read that thread again.

#49 BobinKy

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 08:30 PM

Kenny:

Thank you for the lesson on changes to Nikon model names.

I always hate hunting for the specs of a Nikon because sometimes I am not sure which model name came first.

#50 BobinKy

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 08:49 PM

edwincjones:

What do the Nikon SEs have that he does not already have with the Swift Audubons?



Yes--that's one of the things I am trying to work through. I love my Swift Audubon EDs. I wish there was a way to shrink them down for my pockets/big pockets application. I also want the pockets/big pockets binoculars to have improvements over the Swift Audubon's eyecups and diopter.

Right now, here is my short list:
Pockets (<4.0 inches height)
Leica 8x20mm BCR Ultravid
Nikon 8x20mm Premier LX L

Big Pockets (4.0-5.5 inches height)
Minox HG 8x33 BR
Pentax 8x32mm DCF ED <-- <-- <-- The Pentax leads the quest!

Ed & others--

:bow: :bow: :bow:

I want to thank everyone for all of your excellent suggestions. You have really educated me in a few days about a very unique type of binoculars.

I am still interested in any opinions and suggestions.

I will keep posting my progress on the quest--to walk around with quality glass in my pocket.

:watching: :watching: :watching:


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