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Absolute Best of the Best in Binoculars

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#26 j.gardavsky

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 02:51 PM

Hello agmoonsolns,

 

throughout the many years, quite a few binoculars have passed my hands, and now I have scaled down the collection, as shown in my signature.

 

The Swarovski 8.5x42 EL Swarovision have a constant performance across the whole field:

sharp, CA next to nothing, other aberrations next to nothing, distorsion next to nothing.

 

The most comfortable for my hands are the Leica Ultravid 7x42, and they also allow to push the slim Astronomik nebular filters into the eye guards - a nice feature when you want to see the California Nebula or other big faint fuzzies.

 

The highest contrast and the highest light throughput offer the unfortunately discontinued Docter Nobilem 8x56 with the oversized Porro prisms, see also http://www.astronomy...uly-2019-a.html

I am tempted to rate these Docter Nobilems among the other (8 x some aperture) binoculars, like the Docter ultrawide eyepiece among the other ultrawide eyepieces.

 

Not sure, if I would dare to call one of these the very best binoculars, but they are all very good,

for each observing need its own.

 

Best,

 

JG


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#27 Tyson M

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 08:41 PM

If you choose to go with IS, then the Canon 10x42L IS is probably going to be the most recommended choice. The biggest drawback will be the weight. But IS is a game changer if you want to observe details. 

I have the Canon 10x42L(just received today!).  They are very sharp, not that heavy, well corrected.

 

I am able to use them with eye glasses and image stabilization is very cool!  Daytime at first was hard to notice that IS made a difference, because they are light and I am use to 12x50's. 

 

I realized I can focus on small objects in distant trees easier with IS on. Anxious to try them on the night sky but they are already going to rock for birding.

 

Edit:

CONS:

-you need a new case for them. I use a Canon soft carrying bag w/ strap for DSLR accessories -with the supplied tight fitting bino case inside that one but with the binos lying perfectly flat on the bottom to protect the IS feature.  

-I have dew shields that I had to order separably.  Not cheap! $120 US from B & H.  Good news is the new soft carrying bag you buy for them can carry the dew shields and extra batteries!

-also using a bino bandit to block ambient light coming in from the side angles but I do this with all binos


Edited by Tyson M, 18 September 2019 - 11:52 PM.

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#28 noisejammer

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 10:41 PM

I did some reasonably careful comparisons with my binos earlier this evening. In particular, I wanted to study field curvature.

 

Basically, the Canon 10x42 IS is flat field and the edge resolution is the same as the centre. I estimate the resolution is better than 4 arcsec.

 

My Minox 10x58 set has field curvature which limits the edge resolution to about 3 Saturn diameters (say 1.5 moa.)

My Minox 15x58 set has similar field curvature with similar edge resolution. The higher magnification makes this more obvious. It's not a big deal because I look through the middle of the field.


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#29 OneGear

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 12:21 AM

I like the IS because I am getting old and it's getting harder to hold binoculars stable/steady for longer periods of time. 

One might then question whether the difference between the best of the best and the merely good is academic for someone whose eyesight might not be best of the best itself.


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#30 agmoonsolns

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 12:35 AM

Just because one is getting older doesn't mean they're going blind or can't tell the difference between good and average optics. Also, with age comes the skill and experience to appreciate good optics in a way younger observers may not be able to do yet. I am sure I am not the only older member here who feels this way.

 

I realize everyone has a different idea of what "the best" is, but it's still very helpful to gather opinions from other observers to help guide purchasing decisions.

 

One might then question whether the difference between the best of the best and the merely good is academic for someone whose eyesight might not be best of the best itself.


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#31 agmoonsolns

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 12:37 AM

This helps so much, thank you!

 

Hello agmoonsolns,

 

throughout the many years, quite a few binoculars have passed my hands, and now I have scaled down the collection, as shown in my signature.

 

The Swarovski 8.5x42 EL Swarovision have a constant performance across the whole field:

sharp, CA next to nothing, other aberrations next to nothing, distorsion next to nothing.

 

The most comfortable for my hands are the Leica Ultravid 7x42, and they also allow to push the slim Astronomik nebular filters into the eye guards - a nice feature when you want to see the California Nebula or other big faint fuzzies.

 

The highest contrast and the highest light throughput offer the unfortunately discontinued Docter Nobilem 8x56 with the oversized Porro prisms, see also http://www.astronomy...uly-2019-a.html

I am tempted to rate these Docter Nobilems among the other (8 x some aperture) binoculars, like the Docter ultrawide eyepiece among the other ultrawide eyepieces.

 

Not sure, if I would dare to call one of these the very best binoculars, but they are all very good,

for each observing need its own.

 

Best,

 

JG


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#32 Mad Matt

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 07:47 AM

...and you have a Nikon 10x50 WX? scratchhead2.gif

 

Graham

I think this is proof that exit pupil can only be replaced by even more exit pupil. grin.gif blush.gif flowerred.gif


Edited by Mad Matt, 19 September 2019 - 07:48 AM.

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#33 Tamiji Homma

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 09:27 AM

I think this is proof that exit pupil can only be replaced by even more exit pupil. grin.gif blush.gif flowerred.gif

 

Oberwerk BT-70XL-ED with APM UWA 12.5 (or Docter UWA 12.5) gives you similar sensation to Nikon WX 10x50,

just like your Docter Aspectem 40x80ED at 40x.

 

Well at 31x, 2.8 degrees TFOV instead of 10x, 9 degrees TFOV.

10x is a little too low power for my daytime favorite target, aircraft IDing work.

 

Nikon WX 10x50/7x50 takes more resources to set it up for comfy viewing with 10micron BM100 mount.

It is wonderful night view but it is too much trouble to set it up for a short session.

 

That's why it isn't used daily...

Tammy


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#34 Binojunky

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 10:54 AM

One might then question whether the difference between the best of the best and the merely good is academic for someone whose eyesight might not be best of the best itself.

Interesting, in a couple of reviews of binoculars in a well known birding magazine when commenting on resolution comparisons between several binoculars under normal use then using a x2 doubler it said that even the lower cost  models that performed the worse  showed detail that was more than the average eyesight could detect under normal use, D.



#35 Mark9473

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 12:15 PM

One might then question whether the difference between the best of the best and the merely good is academic for someone whose eyesight might not be best of the best itself.

 

Interesting, in a couple of reviews of binoculars in a well known birding magazine when commenting on resolution comparisons between several binoculars under normal use then using a x2 doubler it said that even the lower cost  models that performed the worse  showed detail that was more than the average eyesight could detect under normal use, D.

I have little doubt that center resolution is good enough on all binoculars that are at least decent,

but center resolution is not where the difference between the best of the best binoculars, and the merely good, is made.

Instead, look at contrast, chromatic aberration, edge distortions, resistance to glare and ghosting, mechanical stability of the focus, light transmission, snap to focus, ease of view, ... and other such parameters.


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#36 PJ Anway

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 05:27 PM

Which Zeiss do you have? 

 

Which are better/sharper Zeiss or Leica?

I have two pair:

1) Zeiss/Oberkochen 10 x 50 porro prism. Called "Jahrhundertglas" ("glass of the century"). They have a 7.4° FOV at 10x. My "favorite of all-time" binos.

2) Zeiss Conquest 8 x 40 roof prism. My "birder" glass. Light; a joy to use for extended periods of time.


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#37 dries1

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 06:32 PM

Regarding the porro prism, I would say the Nikon SE in all three configurations, last of the best porros? perhaps. My 10X42s and 12X50s will be out tonight here on the east coast, dry clear cool skies. 

 

Andy W.


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#38 Sergey Stern

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 07:09 PM

I have the Zeiss SF 8x42.
I do not know, if it is the best of the best, but I could use and compare this one during one week with Swarovision EL 8,5x42 WB, and took the Zeiss because of
- overall much better ergonomics,
- better focuser,
- better rubbering,
- slightly higher brightness,
- wider field and
- more relaxed view.

I use it for astronomy and terrestrial observations. Very universal binocular.

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Edited by semej, 19 September 2019 - 07:52 PM.

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#39 Yarddog

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 07:36 PM

One of the best binoculars I have ever had is of all things, a Tasco.

 

I started to qualify that by saying without phase coated prisms. but I will just say it outright. Just before Tasco went out of business they came out with a model to compete with the high end binoculars at a cheaper price. This was also before Bushnell bought the Tasco name.

 

I happened to see the EXP, 8X42 on clearance at CDNN for $99. I did some checking and they really had sold at the $400 or more price point. The idea was a mistake because I doubt many purchasers of quality binoculars are going to buy Tasco.

 

I ordered one and was extremely pleased. In fact so well pleased that I ordered another one and it is just as good. They are probably about as good as one can be without phase coating. Every time I use them I am reminded again just how good they are. When using them I think to myself, "One doesn't really need to be any better than than these".

 

I will admit that the best premium brands are better but it is not immediately apparent. I usually grab an old Nikon 6X30 when I am just rambling around the yard but I could be perfectly happy using a $99 Tasco for the rest of my life.


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#40 j.gardavsky

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 06:42 AM

Thanks for the nice pics of the ZEISS Victory! These have a very big fan club.

 

ZEISS - Swarovski - Leica, and also the Kowa Prominar/Genesis, are certainly at the top

in optical performance and quality, and the observer's eyes finally decide which one is the best.

 

The legacy of their optics designs goes back to the tactical binoculars of WWII.

I have in my vintage collection the Carl Zeiss Jena 7x50 tactical Porros, which have been released in 1936 at the time of the Olympic Games in Berlin, and at that time they have been regarded as top, and cloned by other manufacturers.

 

Best,

 

JG


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#41 Yarddog

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 10:32 AM

I saw a photo years ago of a binocular which was being used to view England by the Germans. It was really, really, big, about the size of a Volkswagen. Well that may have been a little bit of an exaggeration but not by much. It was made by Zeiss. The view was across the English Channel.

 

I shudder to think how much one of those must have cost.



#42 gwlee

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 11:59 AM

Lots of very good binoculars are available and will be mentioned here, but none of them are “the best of the best.” Each has tradeoffs that make it more appealing or less appealing to some group of very experienced binocular users. I have my favorites, but the only way for you to know which binoculars you will find most appealing is to try them. 


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#43 949

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 12:29 PM

Hello All,

 

I have a Carl Zeiss Night Owl 7 x 45B T*P* which is pretty good even though it is more than 20 years old.

I would classify it as one of the best available , although there are plenty of others around.

 

Cheers.



#44 hallelujah

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 01:14 PM

I will cast a vote for this one:

 

https://translate.go..._aspectem_1.php

 

And a vote for this one:

 

https://www.zeiss.co...binoculars.html

 

Stan


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#45 Traveler

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 12:32 AM

When i compare my Nikon 10x50 AE against a Swarovski 10x50 EL it is clear the Swarovski is better...But i can buy 13(!) Nikons for the price of just one Swarovski...In fact the Swarovski is that expensive i am afraid using it in the field although i have the money for buying such a Swarovski.  I'm just not going to spend that much money...and yes that is something personal and yes maybe i am a miser...tongue2.gif 

 

My strategy would be: buy a Nikon 10x50AE for handheld astronomical observations and buy a > 70 mm for using on a tripod. 

 

For an allround binocular (day and night and when hiking) i prefer a 8x42...


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#46 edwincjones

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 04:15 PM

.................  I'm just not going to spend that much money...and yes that is something personal and yes maybe i am a miser...tongue2.gif...............

 

or maybe just wise with good judgement

 

edj


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#47 GabrielKnight

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 10:06 PM

A partially subjective response on my part, but I've long been enamoured with a Pentax PIF 10x50 SMC picked up for a song in a dusty corner of a Western Australian army surplus store some 20+ years back.

At the time in question, I was a fledgling law student of limited financial means with a below rudimentary knowledge of optics. That said, some 15 minutes spent beneath a crystal clear winter night's sky with the PIF helped reignite a long neglected passion for amateur astronomy.

The following day, I came to realise that I'd picked up something both rare and relatively unknown - a 1.65kg marine binocular that routinely draws comparisons to both the Fujinon FMT-SX and Nikon Prostar series. Pinpoint stars, exemplary edge to edge clarity, wide FOV, stellar build quality and perhaps the best example of a winged eyecup design I've ever seen on a binocular.

Despite hundreds of hours of use, they still look brand new and have the ability to evoke a certain 'wow factor' that makes even the most ardent roof enthusiast reminisce about the aesthetic appeal of the classic porro design.

It's certainly not the highest performing 10x50 in existence, but a definite contender (in my books) in any Top 5 list of modern marine/military porro binoculars.

G.K.
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#48 Tyson M

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 10:35 PM

From an ergonomics standpoint (which will translate to enjoyment factor and lots of use), if you're having trouble holding binoculars steady then image stabilization seems like the route to go.   

 

A close second would be limited your mag on binos to 8x and getting the most expensive glass you can afford.  


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#49 CAAD9

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Posted 22 September 2019 - 03:09 AM

Tammy’s binocular collection: is that not the best of the best in binocular collections?  If it isn’t, I mean holy cow, let’s hear what is!  And I do mean that in all sincerity.

 

To the original post (Pinac’s very correct point on all binoculars being some sort of compromise notwithstanding) of all the binoculars I have used and/or still have, if I had to resort to just one pair it is the Canon 10x42L IS.  I prefer having a choice but I have been with them as my only decent binoculars before and if that had to be the case again they are the choice.

 

I have looked through a top line alpha side by side with the Canon. I thought optically the alpha may have a slight brightness and contrast edge but the IS function renders that advantage irrelevant when hand held.

 

YMMV.


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#50 j.gardavsky

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Posted 22 September 2019 - 09:02 AM

When i compare my Nikon 10x50 AE against a Swarovski 10x50 EL it is clear the Swarovski is better...But i can buy 13(!) Nikons for the price of just one Swarovski...In fact the Swarovski is that expensive i am afraid using it in the field although i have the money for buying such a Swarovski.  I'm just not going to spend that much money...and yes that is something personal and yes maybe i am a miser...tongue2.gif

 

My strategy would be: buy a Nikon 10x50AE for handheld astronomical observations and buy a > 70 mm for using on a tripod. 

 

For an allround binocular (day and night and when hiking) i prefer a 8x42...

Hello Traveller,

 

I agree with you.

If there is any privilege of living in Germany, then it might be an access to the finest optics for less costs.

Besides  the 15x85 BA8 binoculars, all my binoculars are ex-demos or pre-owned.

 

The Swarovski Swarovision have been manufactured in their 1st series for the vendors to promote the Swarovision. I've got them from a friendly vendor for 1/3 listed price, as the final version has been decorated with some fashion elements on the body, as a differentiator to the old Swarovskis.

 

Well, it takes time and patience to save the costs,

JG


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