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Compact roof binoculars: $500-$700 range?

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#51 BobinKy

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 09:11 PM

hallelujah:

Thank you for the link to the review of the Nikon ProStaff 8x25.

As I mentioned in an earlier link, I have a Nikon Travelite V 8x25, which I purchased many years ago. It has served me well. The purpose of the current quest is to obtain better optics and ergonomics. Although the ProStaff is an improvement over the Travelite, I am aiming higher this time around.

I also appreciate the secondary link to the Review of 75 Birding Binoculars by Kenneth Rosenberg (2005) of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

. . .

Ed, I must tell you and Joe O. that I am leaning toward the Pentax 8x32 DCF ED. It is $99 or so above my budget, however the specs read like what I am searching for. Next week when I get to the "try out for 30 days" phase of my quest--I will be able to tell if the Pentax will suit my needs--to walk around with quality optics in my BIG pockets.

Thank you again for all of your help.

Keep reading this thread for my quest updates.

#52 BobinKy

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 06:19 PM

Here are two reviews of compacts written by Tom Lester, Wayne Mones, and Stephen Ingraham (Better View Desired/Christophers) Compacts: It's about pockets and wallets. . . (no date listed)

Compact binoculars: A pocket full of birds (1994, rev. 2007)

#53 hallelujah

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 09:57 PM

Thanks for the links, BVD is one of my favorites, when I 'remember' to use it. :grin:

#54 tjswood

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 03:17 PM

Hi Bob,

I own the Nikon Premier 8x20's - just bought them about a month ago. I spent a couple of hours (or more) comparing the Leica Ultravids 8x20, the Swarovski 8x20's, the Nikons - as well as other brands! I also considered the 10x25's in similar models... but decided that the 8x mags were more manageable for hand holding... it always seems to me when you get past 8x, its harder to hold them still enough - YMMV, of course. (I am using them for camping / hiking where I wanted something ultra small and light for daytime use).

First off, the Ultravids were about $200 more than the premiers. A fairer comparison to the Nikon Premiers is the Leica Trinovid - they are similarly priced. (Trinovid is ~$480, Premier is ~$430). Comparing those two, I liked the Nikons better for brightness and contrast, plus it seemed to have a "smoother" focus knob. Both were nice.

Comparing the Nikons, Leica *Ultravids* (~$619) and Swarovski's (~$629) - to me it was a toss up. All three were nice. All three were very bright, and had outstanding sharpness and contrast. All had generous fields of view, of course. I rated what was best for my eyes in this order - 1) Swarovski, 2) Nikon, 3) Leica. I had many different opinions, and other may order then differently! What appealed to me most about the Nikons? I felt I was getting a bino on par with the Leica and Swarovski for $200 less. I have not regretted this choice - they are an outstanding bino!

One thing - they (all three types acutally) - only come with a set of caps for the objectives - you can choose to put the caps on either the objective end or the eye piece end. But they don't have caps for both ends - but you probably already discovered that.

Another thing that was constant across all three brands (and most others) - I have to extend the eye cups out (twist out on the Nikons) to avoid minor blackout issues. For my eyes on all three pairs, if I leave the eye cups retracted all the way in, I would have to leave the binos *away* from my eyes just the right distance, or risk brief periods of "black out". However, once I extended the eye cups out (at least halfway) they were very comfortable with no issues. I actually like the fact I have to extend them out - creates a buffer zone from the finger prints as the lenses cannot be touched as easily by others with clumsy fingers!! ;)

Note - I did purchase one other bino in this size range, namely a Steiner 8.5 x 26 Wildlife bino. What attracted me to these is that they *extremely* rugged / waterproof, and the optics are good to boot. Reviews touted these as surviving Alaskan guide trips after being dunked in snow, ice, dropped, etc. They were $279. I bought these to take out on the belly boat / float tube (in a waterproof pouch), and other places where I was expecting water and jolts along the way. I am impressed with these for what they are, but I must note that the contrast, brightness and sharpness of the Nikons is better (hence why you pay more too!).

Anyway, both (Leica, Nikon) are great binos... you can't go wrong either way. Take a look at the Swarovski's too... who knows, you may justify spending the extra $200! They are nice too...

Tim

#55 BobinKy

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 03:01 PM

Tim:

Thank you for your reply--let me say mini-review--of the top-of-the-line compact roof binoculars. It is apparent you are attracted to the compact concept, as are many others. Already, there are 615 views of this thread.

I found your comparisons very helpful. In addition to the optical qualities of the top three models, you also discussed other features, such as lens caps, size influences upon a steady hold, focus knobs, and eye cups.

Additionally, your discussion of why you purchased two pairs of compacts was most helpful--the second pair being the rugged Steiner 8.5x26 Wildlife binoculars. It is obvious "go anywhere" is a major appeal of compacts. And ruggedness, as well as submersion in water, are certainly par for the course, according to the comments from dedicated compact users like yourself.

As I look around and talk with compact users, I find there are many reasons people purchase them. Some of the users of this very unique instrument tell me such things as I carry them with me while I jog, holding them in my sweaty palm.

We use them in the engineering firm where I work. We have several pairs that go out to the job sites.

While the viewing is not as good as what I get from my larger 8x32s and 8x42s, I find I use my compacts more than any other pair I own.

I keep a pair in the glove box of my wife's car. I like to sit outside and observe while she goes to the grocery store.

I take them to basketball games, gymnasium meets, and other indoor events. I find I am able to observe with them for the duration of the event.

I use them for watching chess tournaments.

To me, the real difference is not portability. . .but rather the relative inconspicuousness of certain of the double hinge pocket models, especially at the theater, museums, kept in a briefcase on a business trip, etc.

If I want a quick view, nothing is simpler than carrying a compact in my pocket.

I like to walk about downtown by the river during my lunch hour. Compacts are less obtrusive.

And on and on and on. . .Tim, thanks again for telling us about your compacts.

#56 tjswood

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 10:09 PM

Bob -

You are most welcome... that is what CN is all about - to share with others and also get good information. I always learn something new on CN.

It sounds like you gather your data carefully before making a choice. (so do I ;)) Best of luck, I hope whatever you get meets your needs!!

Tim

#57 BobinKy

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 06:56 PM

The binoculars are beginning to come in. Today, I received the 8x20s on loan from a local engineering company. My plan will be to record my reactions in this thread. Later, I may consolidate those reactions to some kind of nontechnical mini review.

5:00 p.m. My first impressions on the couch:
#1 Swarovski 8x20B
#2 Leica Ultravid 8x20
#3 Nikon Premier 8x20Despite what I have heard about the other two, the Swarovskis look like me.

6:30 p.m. The tomato garden test--Yes, definitely, the Swarovski feels right in my hands and against my face. The color vibrancy of the red tomatoes on the vines is better through the Swarovskis than the Leica Ultravids. What amazes me about the Swarovskis is how quick I get them to my eyes and in focus. However, the Nikon wins on the tomato garden test, once they were out of the case, unfolded, eye cups up, and focused.

6:45 p.m. Now for the rose garden test--the same results as the tomato garden test. The view through the Ultravids is pale in comparison to either the Swarovskis or the Nikons. The color vibrancy of the pink roses was the best through the Nikons, next the Swarovskis. I hate to say this, but the Ultravids were paler than an 8-year Nikon Tavelite V 8x25. Both the Nikon Premiers and the Swarovskis beat out the Nikon Travelites.

The Ultravids are sleek, the Swarovskis feel like another hand, and the Nikon Premiers are a tank--but definitely give the best views of the tomatoes and the roses.

7:00 p.m. My wife sends me to the grocery for eggs. I stuff the Swarovskis in my shorts pocket. What a feeling as I drive through the intersections. At the shopping center I head for the new construction and park. The Swarovskis are up to my eyes in seconds. I sweep the housing complex going up next to the shopping center. I put the Swarovskis on the seat next to me and drive for the store. Wrapping the slender cord, unlike the thick cumbersome cords of the Nikon and Leicas, I place the Swarovskis into the case and slip it into my pocket. Again the feeling--walking through the store with 8x20s in my pocket. I pick up the eggs and pay for them. Back in the car, I slip the case out of my pocket, unfold the Swarovskis, and place them on the seat next to me. I drive up the incline and sit at the intersection waiting for the light. No problem. Another viewing opportunity. I look at the vehicles ahead of me, the gas price sign across the street, and the cirrus clouds on the horizon. The light changes, I lay the Swarovskis on the seat again, and head for home. I slip into the house with eggs in my hand and glass in my pocket. Carefully, now, the wife does not suspect a thing.

More to come. . .

#58 hallelujah

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 07:58 PM

Excellent Bob! :lol:

Swarovski SLCnew 15x56mm is one of "my" favorite binoculars. :grin:

The price, however, is not. :( Don't see one in my future anytime soon. :bawling:

#59 BobinKy

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 08:23 AM

The 32s should arrive later today by UPS.

Last night my friend from the engineering company sent me a USAF Color Test chart as an e-mail attachment. I briefly looked at the chart on the screen through the 20s. Although the chart is designed to be viewed at 25 meters, I viewed it on my laptop screen at approximately 10 feet. I noticed some differences between the 20s. I want to come back to this color chart after the 32s arrive.

My friend also told me how different field surveyors prefer one of the 20s over the others. He said the different preference seemed to be size, eye cups, and color rendition. He said he preferred the Swarovskis in winter (because of their slightly yellow cast) and the Leicas in the fall. He said my preference for the Swarvoskis and Nikons over the Ultravids in the tomato and rose gardens, may have been my preference for the slight coloring added. In his opinion, the Ultravids do not add color and are more true to what is seen, only magnified. He also said the slight color leanings should be seen as a distortion, even though they added esthetically to the scene. I will have to come back to this at another time.

8:00 a.m. One of my dogs, a white spaniel with brown spots, is laying on the grass in the backyard. The sky is overcast and the sun, what there is of it, has not risen above the tree line yet. So I went for another test. The result of the spaniel test was different than the tomato or rose test on the previous evening. The Ultravids were clearly number one. The fur on the dog's neck was so clear and full of detail. The grass was cut a few days ago and the tops of the grass had a layer of yellow-brown from the cutting. The grass also looked the best through the Ultravids. The depth of field was deeper with the Ultravids, very noticeable by the spaniel's fur and the grass.

The Nikon's came in second, with the Swarovskis trailing. The Swarovskis last place appeared to be due to lack of detail. The spaniel's fur and the grass tops just did not stand out as much as they did with the Ultravids. So the results of the spaniel test with the 20s are as follows: 1. Leica Ultravids
2. Nikon Premiers
3. Swarovskis 10:00 a.m. I repeated the spaniel test with the Leica Ultravid 8x20s and the Swift Audubon 820ED 8.5x44s. The view through the Audubon EDs was definitely superior to the view through the Ultravids. I must bear in mind one of the reasons for the quest is to duplicate the view of the Audubon EDs in smaller binoculars. The other reason is to walk around with quality optics in my pocket. Although the Ultravid 20s can be carried in my pocket (but not as easily as the Swarovskis 20s), the Ultravid view is inferior to the Audubon ED. This is an important point to test. It will be interesting to see if any of the 32s I have coming beat the views of the Audubon EDs.

Another thing--I dislike the straps of the Ultravids and the Nikons. I dislike the Nikon strap the most. The eye cup covers are attached to the straps of the Ultravids and the Nikons. They get in the way from time to time. There are no eye cup covers with the Swarovskis. I will have to ask my friend about that. I clearly prefer the strap of the Swarovskis. So , I can record my preference for strap and case among the 20s as follows:1. Swarovskis
2. Leica Ultravids
3. Nikon PremiersI am looking forward to the arrival of the 32s later today. I must confess I truly enjoy field testing binoculars.

More to come. . .

#60 Rich N

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 09:49 AM

Great report Bob, but you need to add a Zeiss 8x20 Victory to your test group. ;)

Thanks,
Rich

#61 BobinKy

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 12:37 PM

Rich N.:

Thank you for your comments.

I hear you about testing the Zeiss 8x20s. However, my research funds and resources have run out. What I have on loan or 30-day review are all that I have. When I figure out which 20 and which 32 I prefer the most, then I can return the others and test the Zeiss 20 if I feel the need.

I am already hearing from folks that think I am testing the wrong 32s. They say I should have selected the Nikon Premier LXL 8x32, Leica Ultravid 8x32 & 7x42, Zeiss Victory FL 8x32 T* & 7x42, Swarovski EL 8x32 & SLCnew 7x42.

I read somewhere that it would be a mistake to put your eye up to something you know you cannot afford. So, I have been reluctant to look through the mid-size Leicas, Zeiss, or Swarovskis.

After 18 hours, I can say I like the design and feel of Swarovskis. Truly an ergonomic thing, for sure.

#62 KennyJ

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 02:41 PM

Bob ( in K )

I'm thoroughly enjoying following your hour by hour reports .

Already , amongst so many other things , the countless thousands out there who must be thirsting for advice on which compacts to choose for spotting spotted spaniels , have received invaulable information ! :-)

I still wish you could have found a way of trying a Zeiss Anniversary 8 x 30 BGAT classic roof !

Regards , Kenny

#63 tjswood

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 03:07 PM

Bob -

Did I mention that the Swarovski's were worth a look? As I stated, I liked them the best too... but purchased the Nikon's because of the financial aspect - they were $200 less and in the ballpark of quality. I think the Swarovski is a better optic, IMHO...

... hard to argue with that choice... unless, of course you consider Kenny's recommendation of the Zeiss... never viewed through them, but recall reading about them. They may be truly the best of the best!

Bottom line - how much do you want to spend for 20 mm of aperture? If $$ were infinite, it would not matter!

Good luck on your choice, and look forward to the next few hours of impressions before bedtime!!

Tim

#64 BobinKy

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 04:35 PM

3:30 p.m. I am sitting on the couch with the 8x20s. The UPS truck runs around 4:30 p.m. I am going to use the next hour or so to do a few more tests on the 20s.

Haze test. I live in a subdivision on top of a hill overlooking the Kentucky River. I cannot see the river from my house, but I can the see sloping hills rising from the river bottom, as well as towers at the top of the next hill. There usually is a lot of haze and thermal activity across the river. The distance from my home (elev. 802 ft.), across the river valley (elev. 486 ft.), up the slope, to the towers at the top of the next hill (elev. 785 ft.) is 3.60 miles. The azimuth direction of the towers is 260°, 10° short of due West. Although I will not be looking directly into the sun, it will be close by. The temperature is 100° F, humidity is 33%, and there is more than average haze and thermal activity.

The purpose of the haze test is to see how the 8x20s penetrate haze and bring out detail from the towers, 3.60 miles away.

The Nikon Premier did the best at penetrating the haze and bringing out more detail in the towers, as well as detail in the trees on the slope coming up from the river. The Leica Ultravid was not far behind the Nikon, however, the view through the Leica was bright and hurt my eyes. The Nikon view was more restful. The Swarovskis trailed the Leicas; however, the view through the Swarovskis was more restful to my eyes, so I will rank them above the Leicas. There is something about the Leica Ultravids that make me squint when viewing through the haze, which is not present in either of the other two models.

This reminds me of something my engineering friend told me. He, and the other staff who regularly take 8x20s to job sites, report some days Leicas are better and other days Nikons are better. My guess is Leica days are atmospherically different from Nikon days. I will have to ask him if he has been able to tell beforehand, if the day in the field will be a Leica day or a Nikon day. As for those who prefer the Swarovskis--it appears they prefer them day after day, no switching models. For the Swarovski surveyors and engineers, ergonomics is the number one factor that influences their pick from the binocular shelf in the equipment room.

When I added the Swift Audubon 820ED 8.5x44 to the haze test, I discovered the Nikon view surpassed the Audubon ED view. The reason for this is today is a very bright hot day, the Audubon ED has 44mm apertures, and consequently pick up more light, which may wash out the views somewhat. This is just a guess, I am not sure.

Here are the results from the haze test. 1. Nikon Premiers 8x20
2. Swarovskis 8x20B
3. Leica Ultravids 8x204:45 p.m. The UPS truck still has not come. So I decide to try another test with the 8x20s. I will call this the hand shake test. The purpose is to see which of the three models has less shake when held from a standing position. The target is a large oak tree 0.50 miles from my house, azimuth 200°, 20° to the West of due South.

The results of the hand shake test are as follows:1. Nikon Premiers 8x20
2. Leica Ultravids 8x20
3. Swarovskis 8x20B The reason for reducing hand shake appears to come from the design of the plate between the barrels. The Nikon, with less hand shake, has a pronounced groove in the center of the top plate. By placing the tips of my fingers along this groove and pressing down I find I can hold the Nikon very steady. The Leica came in second. The groove in the top plate is less pronounced and the finger tips do not "dig in" as much. The Swarovskis, with a flat top plate (no groove), had the most hand shake.

5:20 p.m. The UPS truck is late. I checked the tracking number and the 32s are on the truck scheduled for delivery today. I think I'll walk one of the dogs--It's only 100° F. I'll be fine as long as I wear my straw hat. The dog, on the other hand, does not have a straw hat.

#65 KennyJ

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 05:05 PM

Bob ( in K )

I find myself even more drawn to your comparison reports now you appear to have introduced a FOURTH 20mm compact binocular into the test arena - -

-- namely the Swarvoskis ! :-)

Given the uncanny similarity of name to Swarovski , one wonders whether or not any similarity ends there ?

Intrigued :-)

Kenny ( in L )

#66 BobinKy

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 05:29 PM

Kenny:

Thank you for the vo-->ov correction. I will go back and make the required spelling changes.

Cut and paste--it can lead to multiple mistakes when we copy the same mistake over and over.

:bawling: :bawling: :bawling: :bawling: :bawling: :bawling: :bawling: :bawling: :bawling: :bawling: :bawling: :bawling: :bawling: :bawling:

#67 hallelujah

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 07:30 PM

Bob,

Are you planning on doing any dawn or dusk comparisons to see which binocular can "see" the best in low light situations? :grin:

#68 BobinKy

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 09:19 PM

6:01 p.m. The UPS truck arrives. My dog and I meet the driver at the curb.

8:30 p.m. After supper I open the box from Eagle Optics. The three 32s are inside.Leupold Katmai 6x32
Minox HG 8x33 BR
Pentax 8x32 DCF ED The Minox and Pentax boxes appear to have been opened somewhere along the way. The Leupold box is wrapped in cellophane and does not appear to have been opened.

I open the Minox box first. The following literature is inside the box:(1) Quality inspection certificate telling me in seven languages "This product has been inspected according to the strict quality controls set by MINOX Gmgh in Germany." Someone's initials are written in ink at the bottom of the certificate.

(2) Instruction manual (14-pages of nice glossy card stock) in three languages: English, French, and German. The manual is for all five models in the Minox HG series.

Page 1: Fold out photograph with various parts identified; customer service address, telephone, e-mail, and website.
Pages 2-3: Statement attesting to the highest quality of Minox binoculars.
Pages 4-5: Eye cup instructions for those with/without glasses.
Pages 6-7: Instructions for adjusting diopter.
Pages 8-9: Focus dial and distance scale (meters).
Pages 10-11: Tripod use, cleaning the lenses, and factory number.
Pages 12-14: Specifications table for all five models.
Pages 15-17: Blank lined pages for user notes.

Specifications table
Magnification: 8X
Front lens diameter: 1.30 inch / 33 mm
Exit pupil: 0.16 inch / 4.1 mm
Field of view: 7.5° (394.6 ft / 130.9 m)
Eye relief: 0.59 inch / 15 mm
Close distance: 6.6 ft / 2 m
Over run: 4 dpt
Diopter adjustment: ± 2 dpt
Twilight factor: 16.2
Geom. twilight no.: 17
Operating temperature: 14° up to 122°F / -10° up to +50°C
Waterproof: Yes, up to 16.4 ft / 5 m
Height x Width x Depth: 4.92 x 5.00 x 1.97 inch / 125 x 127 x 50 mm
Weight approx.: 21.3 oz / 605 g

(3) Warranty Card
30 years
5 years: faulty manufacture
Exclusions: rubber eye cups, rubber armouring, carrying strap and accessories.

(4) Market research card: User demographics.

(5) Product tag attached to one of the strap posts lists the following:
HG Series
Aspherical Lenses
Magnesium Housing
Quick Close Focus
Distance Scale
Minobright (Prism Coating)
SCHOTT German Glass
Argon Gas insideThe case has a leather feel, however, I am sure it is some kind of synthetic product made to give the appearance of leather. There is minor padding on the inside of the case. A plastic clasp secures the case cover closed. A canvas belt loop is on the back. The case measures 6.25 (H) x 5.75 (W) x 2.25 (D) inches. The strap is enclosed in a separate plastic bag.

Upon unclasping the top and opening the case, it does not appear that the binoculars have ever been out of the case since they left the factory. Packed inside the case is a silica-gel pack to detour moisture; strap; and binoculars, rain guard, and objective lens covers neatly wrapped inside a plastic bag. Both the rain guard and objective covers have attachments designed for the strap to slide through.

The binoculars are covered with black rubber armor, except for the metal focus wheel, metal diopter ring, and metal strap post.

The shiny metal focus wheel is the aesthetic hot spot of the design. The wheel turns easily and can be focused with precision by using the first fingers of both hands. Using one finger from only one hand does not produce precision results as easily.

Another aesthetic feature of the focus wheel is the distance scale that measures the distance to the area in focus. The distance scale measures from 1.7 yards to infinity. The specifications table in the instruction book states the distance scale measures in meters. However, the word "yard" is clearly marked on the distance scale itself.

The diopter ring pulls out for adjustment and pushes in to lock.

When you hold the binoculars you sense the sturdy build. The black rubber armor is not squeegy, but firm and hard. In fact the sturdy motif is evident throughout--black box, black case, black rubber armor.

The objective lens covers fit inside the barrels, rather than over the end of the barrels. They fit snugly with a soft "pop" sound when inserted inside the barrels.

The eye cups twist up with four locking positions.

My paws fit nicely around the barrels when I hold them up to my face. However, the feel is unlike any other binoculars I have held.

I am looking forward to field testing the Minox.

#69 BobinKy

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 07:25 AM

7:15 a.m. After my first cup of coffee, I open the box of the Pentax 8x32 DCF ED.

The following literature is inside the box:(1) Owner's manual (single sheet of thin glossy card stock folded, presenting multiple panels) in eight languages: German, French, Italian, English, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, and Japanese. There are only six panels (pages) for each language. The manual is for all four models in the Pentax DCF ED series.

Panel 1: Fold out illustration with various parts identified; customer service address, telephone, e-mail, and website.
Panel 2: Pentax global addresses, 10 locations.
Panel 3: Illustrations to avoid looking directly at the sun, dropping the binocualars, or leaving them in the car on hot days.
Panel 4: Features, warnings, and handling precautions.
Panel 5: Eyepiece rings ( eye cups), adjusting eyepiece width, adjusting diopter, mounting on tripod, and attaching neck strap.
Panel 6: Specification table

Type: Porro prism, center focusing (innerfocusing), diopter adjustment lock, waterproof
Magnification: 8x
Effective diameter of objective lens: 32 mm
Real field of view: 7.5°
Field of view at 1000 m: 131
Field of view at 1000 yards: 393 ft.
Exit pupil aperture: 4 mm
Relative brightness: 16
Eye relief: 17 mm
Focusing range: 1.5 m to infinity / 4.9 ft to infinity
Eye width (ocular distance): 58 mm to 74 mm / 2.3 in. to 2.9 in.
Waterproof: 1 m depth of water, nitrogen filled
Height x width: 127 x 126 mm / 5.0 x 5.0 in.
Thickness: 53 mm (2.1 in.)
Weight: 665 g / 23.5 oz.
Accessories: Objective lens caps, rain-shielding eyepiece cap, case, neck strap.

(2) "Worry Free" Warranty
Lifetime to original owner.
Repair or replace (no fault) for $19.95.
Exclusions: cosmetic damage, theft, or loss.

(3) Product Registration Card
Return within 10 days of purchase
User information & market research user demographics

(4) Pentax Worldwide Service Network
Seven continents, many addresses.
The case is canvas-like material and forest green in color. The top flap is secured with velcro. There is no belt loop and the letters SPS are stamped on the bottom of the case. The case measures 5.5 (H) x 5.75 (W) x 2.75 (D) inches. The strap is enclosed in a separate plastic bag.

Upon opening the case, it appears the binoculars have been out of the case. The binoculars, rain guard, and objective lens covers are wrapped inside a plastic bag. The rain guard has attachments designed for the strap to slide through.

The binoculars are covered with forest green rubber armor, except for the focus wheel, diopter ring, and eye cups, which are black rubber armor. The manufacturer does not want the user to forget the brand of the binoculars, because the name "Pentax" appears seven times, and can be seen from all angles.

The focus wheel has smooth action and can be focused with precision by using the first fingers of both hands or one finger from only one hand.

The diopter ring pulls out for adjustment and pushes in to lock.

The objective lens covers fit inside the barrels, rather than over the end of the barrels. They fit snugly with a soft "pop" sound when inserted inside the barrels.

The eye cups twist up with four locking positions.

When I hold the binoculars the strap eye protrudes uncomfortably under the the palms at the end of my first finger. I mention this because it is annoying. The forest green rubber armor is squeegy. The binocular barrels lack that comfort fit in my paws when I hold them up to my face.

Later today, I will start field testing the Pentax.

#70 BobinKy

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 09:16 AM

9:00 a.m. I make a new pot of coffee and open the box of the Leupold Katmai 6x32.

The following information can be found outside the box or on printed literature inside the box:(1) Features (outside of box)
• Leupold Katmai binoculars offer high performance in three popular magnification levels.
• Fully multi-coated lenses provide high photopic transmission for a bright image.
• The BK7 prisms are both phase and L-coated™ to ensure that the image is not only bright but remarkably sharp as well.
• Long eye relief and twist-up eye cups make them easy to use with or without eyeglasses.
• Close focusing distance make them an excellent choice for naturalists.
• Full size eye cups and 32mm objective lenses provide full size binocular performance from a compact size frame.
• Armored, waterproof, and nitrogen filled, they are well protected against all field conditions.
• Leupold Katmai binoculars feature the Leupold Limited Lifetime Warranty.

(2) Specification table (outside of box)
Magnification: 6x
Objective aperture (mm): 32
Field of view (ft @ 1000yd): 423.0
Field of view (m @ 1000m): 141.0
Angular field of view (degrees): 8.1
Twilight factor: 13.9
Exit pupil (mm): 5.3
Eye relief (mm): 19.2
Interpupillary distance (mm): 67.0-72.0
Close focus distance (ft): 4.9
Close focus distance (m): 1.5
100% waterproof
Weight (oz): 16.0
Weight (g): 455.0
Length (in): 4.1
Length (mm): 105.0

(3) Green Ring Binocular Operating Insturctions (15 pages, Table of Contents, nonglossy card stock) in four languages: English (bold, large, sans serif font), French, Spanish, German, German, and Italian (light, thin, microscopic sans serif font). Clearly, the English pages are the ones meant to be read.
Page 1: Adjusting interpupillary distance.
Pages 2-3: Setting the diopter adjustment, cleaning, eye cup adjustment.
Pages 4-6: Warranty
Limited lifetime, original owner, nontransferable.
Not to be confused with Full Lifetime Guarantee on Golden Ring products.
Return instructions.

(4) Product Registration Card
Return within 10 days.
User information and market research demographics.

(5) Positioning the Katmai Eye Cups
Single sheet insert.The case is foam-like material and black in color. The top flap is secured with velcro. A canvas belt loop is at the back of the case. The case measures 5.0 (H) x 5.25 (W) x 2.25 (D) inches.

Upon opening the case, it appears the binoculars have never been out of the case. The binoculars, rain guard, and objective lens covers are wrapped inside a plastic bag. The rain guard has attachments designed for the strap to slide through. The strap is enclosed in a separate plastic bag.

The binoculars are covered with black rubber armor. There is a green ring around each barrel toward the aperture end. The manufacturer name only appears once on the binoculars themselves.

The focus wheel has smooth action and can be focused with precision by using the first fingers of both hands or one finger from either hand.

The diopter rotates very tightly, but does not lock.

The objective lens covers fit outside the barrels, not tethered. The fit is loose, not snug.

The eye cups twist up with only two locking positions.

There is no tripod adapter well.

When I hold the binoculars the strap eye fits comfortably between my first and second finger. When the strap is attached, the strap will have to flow between my fingers. The black rubber armor is slightly squeegy. Without the strap, the binoculars fit perfectly in my paws when I hold them up to my face.

I resisted commenting on the views through the other two 32s. However, I feel that I must mention the first view through the Katmais--WOW! The view is bright, sharp edge to edge, and I walk into the view and touch the target. Neither the Minox or Pentax, or any of the 8x20s, delivered this WOW factor during the first view.

I don't know, guys, despite the cheap foam case, loose lens covers, nonlocking diopter ring, 2-position twist-up eye cups, no tripod adapter well, and running the strap through my fingers--this may be love at first sight, a romance that will never die.

Later today, I will start field testing the Katmais.

I can hardly wait to pack up things up and head for the local nature center: water fowl on three lakes; bear, wildcat, deer, and buffalo in open areas, and two eagles in a large enclosure. All wildlife native to the state of Kentucky. Particularly, the Wildcats, who romp across basketball courts throughout the U.S. Southeastern Conference.
:jump:

#71 BobinKy

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 11:07 AM

10:30 a.m. Before going to the nature center, I took the six binoculars to the back porch to re-administer the tomato test.

Before I list the results, let me first paint the scene with words. We had a heavy thunderstorm last night. The temperature is a pleasant 75°, humidity 80%, visibility only 3.0 miles. There was much haze and fog earlier this morning. Now it is beginning to burn off. The tomato garden is enclosed by a metal wire fence with posts painted forest green. The tomatoes themselves are small cherry tomatoes that do not grow much larger than Scottish golf balls. The scene presents a spectrum of greens, yellows, oranges, and reds. The deepest reds are those tomatoes that should have been picked two days ago. The ground is moist from the rain and there are drops of water still hanging on to many of the leaves and tomatoes. A white butterfly with yellow spots flutters among the tomatoes hunting for remaining yellow blossoms. In the background, behind the tomato garden, is a gray cement bird bath. A morning dove demurely washes herself as I line up the binoculars on a patio table. Several song birds sing out in the oaks and evergreens along the fence row.

Here is the result of the tomato test: Leupold Katmai 6x32
Minox HG 8x33 BR
Pentax 8x32 DCF ED
Nikon Premier 8x20
Leica Ultravid 8x20
Swarovski 8x20BMaybe it was the extra FOV, eye relief, or exit pupil size--but the Katmai 6x32 gave me the best view this morning. Despite the step down in magnification from the other models, the reds were deep, graduation of reds and greens was easily discerned, the drops of rain sparkled in the emerging sun, and the demure dove was more in focus due the extended depth of field.

The Minox 8x33s came in a very close second. The color graduations were easily discerned, while the drops of rain sparkled a bit more than the Katmai 6x32s. The colors reflected the unique German optic look (I will talk about that at the end).

Pentax 8x32 came in a close third. In fact there really was not a lot of difference in the quality of the views of the 32s. The greens and reds reflected the Asian optic look.

Nikon 8x20, as with the tests from yesterday, had the best view of the 20s. However, as suggested by many people in the forums, the 20s view was inferior to the 32s view, probably due to the reduced aperture and exit pupil size. The Nikon views most closely resembled the views of the 32s. Not that far behind the Pentax.

The Leica, maybe due to the color-free "distortions" attested by my engineering friend, failed to bring out the color saturation of all of the models just mentioned. Clearly this morning's tomato test is about color, more than anything else.

As foretold by Kenny Jones four years ago, the Swarovski came in last. Two days ago, in the evening sun, the Swarovskis beat out the Leicas. But today, in the morning sun with very humid atmospherics, the Swarovskis revealed their lack of detail, which results in their last place.

Where do the Swift Audubon 820ED 8.5x44s rank? Ahead of the the Katmai 6x32s because of their increased magnification. The view itself, reproduced the same color graduation, vibrancy, and rain drop sparkle of the Katmais. The only difference was the smaller size of the Katmai binoculars and the reduced magnification of the view.

In closing, I want to talk a bit about cultural optical qualities that I observed many years ago as a photographer using the 35-mm film emulsion technology. At that time, I used three basic film manufacturers: Agfa, Fuji, and Kodak. The colors of each were distinct, yet beautiful. Agfa film displayed scenes with a rich deep quality that is difficult to describe today. It was particularly good in overcast days for greens and blues. Fuji film displayed scenes in bright colorful colors. These were magnificent colors, yet they were colors that did not appear in nature. Kodak was the best for human skin tones and was the favorite of portrait photographers.

I see the same color renditions displayed today, not through developed emulsion film, but through binocular optics. Minox, Swarovski, and, to some extent, Leica are reminiscent of the deep tones of the German film Agfa. Nikon and Pentax give bright colorful colors that are very pretty, but, like the Asian film Fuji, colors that are not found in nature. Leupold and Swift have some characteristics of American Kodak 64 film. Maybe these color thoughts are nothing more than a rambling old guy on a lazy summer morning after too many cups of coffee, whose color preferences may border a bit on ethnocentrism.

Now, on to the nature center.

#72 Mark9473

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 11:22 AM

Bob, this has become one of the most exciting threads on this forum ever!
Are you a professional writer?

#73 hallelujah

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 11:38 AM

Bob,

Just a quick side note.

My wife and I have looked through some binoculars together, at local Sporting Goods Stores. Her favorite has always been the Leupold Katmai. (64 layers of L-coat anti-reflective coatings obviously produce alot in their favor) :grin:

Also, your choice of the Katmai 6x32 is incredible, as my wife and I have only been able to find the 8x and 10x in local stores, and I was really wanting to learn more about the 6x, as a possible purchase for my wife.

Thanks ahead of time for all your great reviews in a variety of areas.

We need to put you on staff full time at CN as a reviewer.

#74 KennyJ

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 11:59 AM

Bob ( in K )

I'm particularly pleased that you are testing these binoculars in a variety of locations and at different times of the day .

Too many reviewers' opinions have been based upon short sessions at one place , at one time .

It may well prove , in the end , that there is no " outright winner " , but several " winners " in different ways , at different times , in different places , for looking at different things .

That is why I still can't place my Zeiss 7 x 42 BGAT and Nikon 10 x 42 SE in any definitive order of preference , per se .

Keep on this excellent work , Bob .

As Mark said , it is an exceptionally detailed and interesting work , reported to a very high standard .

In fact , I can hardly wait for your next , and subsequent installments .

Regards , Kenny

#75 Joe Ogiba

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 01:25 PM

Bob,

I know the Pentax 8x32 ED's have a 60° AFOV but what is the AFOV of the 6x32's. I am looking for a low power wide angle binocular like the Miyauch 5x32's .

Joe


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