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favorite 8x42 class binos ?

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#1 NHRob

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 12:02 PM

This is for general and astro use. Looking for a vg quality bino around 8x42 ... great optics and ergonomics.
Some candidates ...

Swift 8.5x44 Audubon
Swift 8x42 Ultra-Lite
Eagle Optcs Ranger Platinum 8x42
Leupold Wind River Mesa 8x42

The Swift 8.5x44 sound neat and boast a large FOV.
Any opinions? Other candidates?

I'd liek to keep price < $300 if possible.
Thanks,
Rob

#2 Glassthrower

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 12:30 PM

Rob,

It's funny you should ask that. I was just about to write a review of my 8X42 Bushnell Audubons. This is an older pair I have had for about 10-12 years. They are made in Japan, are fully rubber armored, center focus, rdiopter focus, and tripod adapter built in - although I rarely use them mounted.

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These binos sold for about $100 in the early 1990's. I was in the market for a cheap bino with decent optics. I especially wanted something that would give me a nice, bright image with good contrast for picking out subtle colors and plumage details on birds. Back then, I was not actively stargazing and I had little knowledge of that night craft. My trusty Bushnell 8x42's have been on countless hikes, camping trips, boating trips, car trips, and they have been knocked around, dinged, left in hot cars, and generally neglected in a moderate way. All that time they have held their collimation well (they are slightly off now, but tolerable and not really noticeable unless one is actively checking it), and the lenses have held up well. I believe, but I am not sure, the lens are uncoated. If they have a coating, it is transparent and not readily visible to the naked eye under a lamp or the sun.

I have tried and tried to find my owner's manual for them (back in the day when one received a manual and not some generic flyer or pamphlet shared by 3 or more models), but I cannot locate it for the specifications.

They are wide-angle binos, and the FOV (apparent?) says - 430' at 1000 yards), if anyone could tell me what that is in degrees, then I would appreciate it.

Over the years, they have given me very good performance for a budget binocular. The FOV is nice and crisp, and consistently crisp out to about 80-85% of the view. I have tried many other bird glasses over the years, some borrowed from friends, others picked up on the cheap (yard sales, outlets, etc), and none have beaten these in overall terms of optical quality and durability.

When I started getting into stargazing shortly before Xmas of last year, I got a pair of 15x70mm binos, and later a pair of 25x100mm binos (apeture fever had set in by then), and I all but forgot my humble bird glasses. Recently, I had some problems with my big 100mm binos and I will be without their use for some time, so I started getting re-acquainted with my smaller binos. On a whim, I took the Bushnell pair out one night for an impromptu stargaze, and wow, I was amazed at how well these little binos performed. Stars were nice sharp points, out to the 80% range I mentioned above, and then from about 80-90% the image dimmed but remained sharp. From 90% outward the image is dimmed and fuzzed. But, IMHO, not bad for a <$100 bino. I haven't tried them on the moon yet, so I don't know how bad the CA problem is, but it's likely quite noticeable due to the lack of coatings (?).

They give nice views of areas like the Cygnus star fields and the open clusters and star clouds of Sag and Scorp. I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a good but cheap bino. Of course, they are discontinued now and Bushnell has several newer lines of "Audubon" model binos in the lower price points. I have no idea how these new Bushnell's compare. Although I have my doubts that they are comparble to the Swift or Leupolds. I have used Leupold rifle scopes, so I am familiar with their nice, tight optical quality and even these older Bushnell's don't seem to be in that strata of quality.

Overall, they do make a nice handheld, grab n go, bino.

Good luck on whatever you decide to get and let us know how it goes.

MikeG

BTW, excuse the cruddy quality pic of the binos, my digital camera is acting up and needs to be replaced.


#3 Erik D

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 12:50 PM

They are wide-angle binos, and the FOV (apparent?) says - 430' at 1000 yards), if anyone could tell me what that is in degrees, then I would appreciate it.

MikeG



one deg FOV = ~52.4 ft at 1000 yards. 430 ft/1000yds = 8.2 deg.

EO Optics P Ranger is an excellent roof prism waterproof bino for the money but EO will have a new 8X42 RP WP with Phase coating for about 1/2 the price next month.

http://www.eagleopti...urch=1&pid=4214

I expect the Denali will be made in China. It would be interesting to see how well a sub $200 RP Phase Coated bino performs compared to the P Ranger.

Erik D

#4 NHRob

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 01:29 PM

Why go for roof prism instead of Porro prisms?
Rob

#5 ChrisR

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 09:33 PM

If you want to stay in the $300.00 to $400.00 range you may want to try the Nikon Monarch, or the Pentax HR2. I like the HR2 because it feels better in the hand and doesn't seem as plasticy as the Monarch. Optically I think the HR2 edges out the Monarch and the Audubon just a bit at the edge of the field, but thats just my opinion. Now I will warn you to get the older Swift Audubon rather than the new armored waterproof version. The older Audubon seems to be a bit better built. Look at the bridge, and you will see the older Audubon is solid aluminum, and the new one is plastic. Now if you want to stay in the $200.00 range look at the Minolta Active 8x40 WP-FP series it is a good solid all around bino especially for the money.


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