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Best Binos for $200

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#1 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 17 February 2004 - 05:35 PM

Hey guys,

I'm looking at buying some binos for about $200. Which is a good pair yall would reccomend? I have been lokking at the Orion Vistas 7x50 or 10x50 for $199. Should I get 7x50s or 10x50s? Is the wider field of view worth it over the 10x50s?

Thanks

#2 KennyJ

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Posted 17 February 2004 - 06:39 PM

John,

The wider field of view might be useful , and the lower magnification will be much easier to hold steady , but unless you live in a VERY dark sky location , of the two I would go for 10 x 50s without a moment's hesitation.

There are a few VERY good 7 x 50s , but not for $200.

I would therefore forget 7 x 50s.

Generally speaking , for astronomy ,I would recommend a binocular with an exit-pupil between 4mm and 5mm , on a roughly sliding scale of magnification against object diameter.

There are plenty of past posts which address the question of "best for under $ x y z".

There is really no such thing as "best for $200" for ALL individual persons.

So many factors need to be considered, which include :

1. What "kind" of viewing to you intend to use these for ?

2. What is the highest power you can hand -hold ?

3. Do you wear glasses ?

4. Do the binos need to be waterproof ?

5. Do you want wide -field or narrower flat -field ?

6. Are you intending to "mount" these binoculars ?

There are others too.

If someone asked me this question over a telephone call and I had just 30 seconds to recommend a specific model I would possibly suggest Pentax 10 x 50 PCF WP. --but not everyone ( self included ) can hold a 10x bino steady enough for looking at the night sky.

You won't go far wrong with a decent 8 x 40 or 8 x 42 for general use.

Regards -- Kenny.



#3 Erik D

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Posted 17 February 2004 - 06:54 PM

John,

You did not mention your intended application but I assume any one using Saturn as signature image and posting here has astronomy in mind. If so the answer is easy. Go for the 10X50s. The Orion Vista 10X50 you mentioned has 5.3 deg FOV and the 7X50 6 deg. You will actually have a wider APFOV in the higher power 10X model. 6 deg FOV is pretty small for a 7X. My guess is that's done as a trade off to achieve 22mm ER. For me higher power and 5 mm exit pupil is better for astronomy. You can check the "Best of" section here for an explantion of why most like it that way.

Check the offerings from <bigbinoculars.com> for 11X56 or bigger binos if you think you can handle the higher power. I paid $109 for my Oberwerk 12X60 with 5.7 deg FOV. To me the optics of the Oberwerk are as good as binos costing twice as much.

Erik D

#4 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 17 February 2004 - 08:35 PM

Thanks guys. KennyJ, In response to your questions:

I'll will mainly be viewing star clusters and wide-field view areas. I've used 10x25s before. I don't find them hard to hold, so I'll go with the 10x50s. I don't wear glasses. They don't need to be waterproof, and I probally won't mount them.

Erik D:

Yes, I'm mainly intrested in astronomy for the binoculars.



#5 KennyJ

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Posted 18 February 2004 - 02:33 AM

Hi John,

In that case I agree that 10 x 50s is the way to go.

Regards --Kenny.

#6 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 18 February 2004 - 08:38 AM

I have Orion 7x50 Vistas. They are fairly good for astronomy, but not ideal. The exit pupil is a little too large I think for where I am usually doing my observing. But they are great all around binos. I recommend them...or the 10x50 binos for that matter.

Clear Skies!

#7 Erik D

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Posted 18 February 2004 - 04:31 PM

I don't see any advantage of using 7X50 binos for astronomy these days except perhaps slightly wider FOV. Most of us living within 100 mile of civilization are better off with 10X50s or higher power binos with exit pupil between 3.5-5.5mm.

Yes, I can cover more sky using 7X50 binos with 10 deg FOV but most of what I see is empty gray sky. M45 is probably the most magnificient open cluster on anyone's list. It's just a small sprinkle of 1-2 dozen stars in my 7X bino & the Double cluster is just about invisible. I'd have to drive 5 hours to reach Mag 6+ skies in central PA to take advantage of 7mm exit pupil. I wonder why some bino astronomy books are still recommending 7X50, 8X56, 9X63, 10X70 and 11X80 binos?


Erik D

#8 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 19 February 2004 - 08:17 AM

That's exactly why I wanted the 7x50s...the larger FOV. As a novice I wanted that. Yeah, I'm seeing a little less light because of the pupil size discrepancy, but I felt it was worth it for me. Plus these binos were needed for terrestrial viewing too.

#9 Erik D

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Posted 19 February 2004 - 10:58 AM

Actually, of the 9 pairs of binoculars in my current inventory my 7X50 Celestron Novas(10 deg FOV) still present the widest field AND Brightest image. Brighter than my 12X60 or 25X100. Widest FOV with 7 mm exit pupil.... that's why I wanted them 20 years ago. They work great for spotting wildlife at night. However, for astronomy use the brighest view also means a bright sky background....making celestrial objectects MORE difficult to pick out. My 7X50s work great as super FINDERS but if I really want to OBSERVE mag 7, 8 or dimmer objects I go for bigger objectives and higher power.

The reason we use telescopes and binoculars for astronomy is to collect more light and to Magnify. Larger objectives and higher power optics help us do that. Having the widest FOV is nice but secondary consideration. That's why 7X32s with 14 deg FOV are not the most popular astro binos.

Erik D

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Posted 19 February 2004 - 12:21 PM

I'm going to have to second the Oberwerk 12x60 recommendation. I bought a pair for ~$100, and I love them. I usually mount them on my Orion Paragon tripod.

#11 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 19 February 2004 - 12:40 PM

Exactly Erik. After greatly using my 7x50 Vistas (which I still enjoy) I realized I wanted more light gathering power and magnification, thus I got the 22x100 obies...and hopefully I will get them today. But back to the post topic, I can say that based on my experience with the 7x50 Vistas, the 10x50 Vista are probably quite nice for $200...and more appropriate for astronomy.

#12 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 05 March 2004 - 11:11 PM

I love my Swift Kestrel 10x50s. They're optically good and very sturdy.

I wouldn't really recommend 7x50s, as their large exit pupil brightens the sky background too much for good contrast. You'll see more with 10x50s.

#13 BarrySimon615

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Posted 06 March 2004 - 11:15 AM

I have just finished reading all the posts in this thread and want to offer my recommendations (based upon 25+ years of binocular use and over 40 pair of binoculars used that I have owned thru the years plus numerous other pairs that I have had the chance to evaluate).

Let me start be asking if anyone else has ever noticed the enigma of how (once dark adapted) the sky from the city, away from direct light in your eyes, looks darker than it does from a good rural location with less light pollution? So, the next question is why? The answer - simply because your pupils restrict to a new smaller diameter allowing the background to look fairly dark.

My observation with binoculars - particularly when comparing 7x50's to 10x50's is this - at least to me, and I admit that others may have different observations, is that the background sky looks no brighter or just marginally brighter in a pair of 7x50's as compared to the 10x50's. I think this is true because the pupil of your eyes becomes the governing exit pupil, not the exit pupil of the binoculars. One could still argue that the 10x50 binoculars should then be able to show you more because less light may be wasted as compared to the 7x50 binoculars where you cannot use all of the 7 mm light cone. Indeed I think this can be proven in testing as Ed Zarenski has with magnitude estimates with various binoculars. However with the lower magnification (10x or maybe as high as 12x and under binoculars typically used for panning and scanning, you will see very, very little difference in faintest stars seen. In my recent evaluation of the Nikon Action Extreme 10x50 I sought out the faintest stars I could possibly see in Orion. I detected no real difference between all the 10x50's seen (including the Orion UltraView which exhibited some significant prism cutoff) and indeed adding the Carton Adlerblick 7x50 and 8x42 to the mix, I could see the same faint stars with them. This does run counter to recent evaluations and probably has some of you shaking your heads, but that is what I saw with casual hand held observing. Had the binoculars all been mounted and been subjected to many minutes of painstaking testing, I am sure I would have been able to verify Ed Zarenski's findings, but that is not how we use low power binoculars.

In respect to binocular recommendations for $200 (or less) let me say the following about binoculars mentioned previously in the thread that I have owned -

Swift Audubon Kestrel 10x50, nice image quality, but measurement proved to me that the 7 degree claimed field is really a bit more than what you can actually take in at one time. Many, many will find the very short eye relief to be a real pain. I know I did, and I observe without glasses. I found that I had to press the binoculars in too hard to my cheek and brow to make long term use comfortable. They have been sold.

Orion Vista series - everything that I have seen, examination, and use (friend has a pair of the 10x50's) tells me that these are the same as the Carton Adlerblick series. The differences being that the Orion Vista has a soft leatherette skin which is easily torn up and the Carton Adlerblick has a rubber skin which is more durable. Other than that they look the same and have the same specifications. I had a pair of the Adlerblick 10x50. It does have a wider apparent field (53 degrees) than the Adlerblick 7x50 with just a 42 degree apparent field, but the true field is 6 degrees with the 7x50 and just 5.3 degrees with the 10x50. In addition, the stars at the field edge with the 10x50's break down as much as they do in wider 6.5 degree true 10x50's. Standard field is ok if star quality remains high near the edge; unfortunately it does not in either the 10x50 Carton Adlerblick or the 10x50 Orion Vista. My Carton Adlerblick 10x50's have been sold. I still have the 7x50 Adlerblicks and love them. They are however about $240.00 new.

I have also had the Oberwerk 12x60's and while they were ok, here was another pair which in measurement, you can really not see all of the advertised 5.7 degree field at one time. The action of the focuser was somewhat crude in comparison to other binoculars. Did not feel quite right either in hand. While my Pentax PCF III 12x50's have a smaller field, the edge correction is better in the Pentax and the focusing action was very smooth and precise. Could not justify keeping both so the Oberwerk 12x60's have been sold and I still have and use the Pentax PCF III 12x50's.

Johnny, if you are torn between the 7x50 and 10x50 Orion Vista, I would recommend the 7x50 over the 10x50 based upon my experience with their brothers - the 7x50 and 10x50 Carton Adlerblicks. If you believe that 10x50 is the way to go and edge correction is somewhat more important than the maximum possible field size, the Pentax PCF WP 10x50 which are waterproof with a 5 degree field should be considered. The Pentax can be had for under $200.00. If wider field and good overall quality with excellent resolution/sharpness with perhaps some sacrifice of image quality at the edge of the field is ok, well I think the new Nikon Action Extreme which can be purchased for about $150 (this includes shipping) would be the way to go.

Good luck!

Barry Simon

#14 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 07 March 2004 - 03:59 AM

Hey Barry,

I was wondering if you, or anybody else in here, has had a chance to try out the Pentax DCF HR 10x42. I know this line has been replaced with the DCF HR II series, but they can still be had on the net for about the same price as the Orion Vistas. I haven't had a chance to try them out myself, but I have handled the Pentax PCFs in a camera store and I really like the eye relief.


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