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Battle of the sub-$200 10x50s?

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#1 Zamboni

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 10:48 AM

I'm planning on getting a better set of handheld binoculars than the cheap department store junk 10x50s I have currently. I'm pretty sure they don't even use BaK-4. Being gifted a pair of decent 25x100s made me realize just how inferior my handhelds were. I do want to stick to the 10x50 size; I can comfortably hold them steady at 10x and will be primarily viewing from a zero-gravity chair where I can rest my elbows.

I'm looking specifically at 10x50s in the sub-$200 range (pretty strict budget limitations so if anyone starts going off-topic and recommends anything above that price, I *WILL* roast you for your reading comprehension abilities. It'll happen anyway. This is CN after all!) and two keep coming up as being acceptably good quality at around the same price; the Nikon Action Extreme, and the Oberwerk Deluxe. I've also seen a few good comments on the Pentax binos in that price range. Any other worthwhile ones below 200 that I missed?

Has anyone compared them head to head? Does either one have much of an advantage over other in any specific regard? Any differences in size of FOV or amount of edge distortion? Coating quality? I like the inclusion of 1.25" filter threads on the Oberwerks but don't know in practice how much I'd actually use them. I will be observing while wearing glasses, so are any of them better in that regard?

I'm ASSUMING the answer is "pretty much the same," but you know what happens when you make assumptions; you make an a** out of umptions.

Edited by Zamboni, 17 April 2021 - 10:50 AM.

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#2 eyeoftexas

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 10:57 AM

It'll happen anyway. This is CN after all!

I'll take that as a signal that I can!  Not by much, however.  You might add to your list Celestron Nature DX ED 10x50 ($220).  I have the 8x42 Nature DX ED and love them.  Excellent color correction.  No experience with the ones you listed, but as you say they often get good reviews.  Good luck.



#3 Zamboni

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 11:06 AM

I'll take that as a signal that I can! Not by much, however. You might add to your list Celestron Nature DX ED 10x50 ($220). I have the 8x42 Nature DX ED and love them. Excellent color correction. No experience with the ones you listed, but as you say they often get good reviews. Good luck.

I won't roast you because you make a compelling case (and they're even less expensive than you say, Agena has them for 210). I've always heard to err on the side of Porro prisms for astronomy binoculars, or is that conventional wisdom out of date? I don't have a lot of experience with modern roof prism binoculars, but these WOULD be easier to carry for hiking/camping which I intend to have my 10x50s pull double duty for.

TBH I wasn't even looking at roof prism binoculars because of conventional wisdom, but then again I haven't paid attention to developments in roof prism technology so I might need to reassess my biases if there are astronomy-worthy roof prism binos in my price range that can contend with the Obies or the Nikons.

Edited by Zamboni, 17 April 2021 - 11:12 AM.

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#4 ihf

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 11:23 AM

The problem that I have with these kind of requests is that they assume that someone with enough money to buy 3 cheap binos would have done so, instead of buying a fancy one. Even heavy collectors don't seem to fish for sample variation on the lower end. And the people going to a store and trying them side by side are often not the most experienced users. Nor does a sample of one say much about the quality control process of the makers and future experiences.



#5 sevenofnine

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 11:33 AM

I have both Oberwerk and Nikon binoculars in the lower price ranges and they are both good. That's on a scale (mine) of poor, fair, good, better, best. Nikon's Aculon line and Oberwerk's LW (light weight) line might deserve some attention. I have the Obie 8x56 LW and the 15x70 LW and I rate them both as good+. I've read very good reviews of the 9x60 LW so that might be an option for consideration. The Obie 10x50 Deluxe gets very good reviews but some have criticized the threaded oculars though. They can scratch glasses if you are not super careful. I rate my Nikon AE 10x50 as better-. I don't think you can go wrong with either brand in this price point. waytogo.gif


Edited by sevenofnine, 17 April 2021 - 01:15 PM.


#6 explore19

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 11:39 AM

I really like my Nikon Action EX 10X50 binos. I have heard good about the Obies but I have not personally tried them.

#7 Zamboni

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 12:12 PM

The problem that I have with these kind of requests is that they assume that someone with enough money to buy 3 cheap binos would have done so, instead of buying a fancy one. Even heavy collectors don't seem to fish for sample variation on the lower end. And the people going to a store and trying them side by side are often not the most experienced users. Nor does a sample of one say much about the quality control process of the makers and future experiences.


True story but I didn't think it hurts to ask. There are weirdos on these forums who buy and try everything, and I know I've been able to compare my low end equipment to that owned by others at star parties.

Edited by Zamboni, 17 April 2021 - 12:13 PM.


#8 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 05:44 PM

I would add the Orion Ultraview 10x50s.  I have the Japanese version and find them slightly brighter and sharper across the field than the Nikon Action Extremes.  The Nikons are waterproof and have much better warranty support.  

 

And production of the Ultraviews has recently shifted to China so they're really an unknown.

 

I'm not a fan of Celestron binoculars simply because the fine print in the warranty says that collimation and alignment issues must be reported within 30 days of purchase..

 

Jon


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#9 DaveL

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 06:31 PM

I agree with Jon. I've compared an Action Extreme and Ultraview (Japan version) 10x50 side to side and the ultra view was clearly brighter. The view was in the day, so I do not know about edge sharpness.

 

-Dave



#10 paul hart

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 06:16 PM

I do have a pair of 25-year-old Orion Ultraview 10x50's I'm happy with. I  believe they are Chinese(?). and go for $139. If you have a bit more to spend The Oberwerk 10x50 Deluxe go for $180. I have a pair of the 15 x 70 LW Obi's and judging from my experience I might be tempted to go with the OBI 10x50's. Either one is going to be better than what you have. My old pair were 10x50 Tascos and the Orions show brighter images. I agree about the Celestrons. I've heard stories about them being out of collimation so I'd avoid them One thing about Oberwerk. They are all tested.


Edited by paul hart, 18 April 2021 - 06:20 PM.


#11 Echolight

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 08:22 PM

I couldn't decide on a new 50mm myself without spending more than I wanted. So went to the GW online auction and got 12 binoculars for $244 to the door. 
 

Got the first one. An essentially new in box Minolta Standard XL 7x50, which I know isn't highly regarded. But nice build quality for $38.50 to the door. Not bad. 

 

On the way is:

Minolta MK Standard Extra Wide 10x50. Came with a green armor Focal 7x50 for $40.50 to the door.

I splurged a little on a clean original style Nikon Lookout II 10x50 in a custom made leather case, along with another green armor Tasco 305R 7x50. And a couple of 7x35's for gifts to some kids to get them started. $78.50 for the lot delivered. I don't know if I'll like the Lookout II with it's 6 degree field and reported short eye relief. But it looks in real good shape and it's a Nikon so should be liked by someone else if I don't. And I really wanted the custom leather case and the green rubber Tasco.

Then I really splurged on what I hope is a cherry Bushnell Custom 7x50 for something classic. Came with a cheap 10x50. A retro Optex 7x35, another starter giveaway. And a Nikon 10x25 that I might just stuff in the glove box or sell. And 3/4 of a Jupiter Jr. $84.50 delivered.

 

I believe these are all Japan models. The 50mm's. So build quality at leadt should be dependable. Except the one oddball brand cheap one.

 

Good luck choosing a new one. But there's always used if you can't make a choice.

 


Edited by Echolight, 18 April 2021 - 08:36 PM.


#12 pat in los angeles basin

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 08:30 PM

Taking odds on how many need work? I've had good luck with SGW but there's times I question the sanity of it all. Sound like you have the hand at fixin- I hope. Regards, Pat


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#13 Echolight

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 08:40 PM

Taking odds on how many need work? I've had good luck with SGW but there's times I question the sanity of it all. Sound like you have the hand at fixin- I hope. Regards, Pat

Well I know the first one don't need fixin. It's at least a good daytime bin, and in new condition.  If the MK, Lookout II, and Bushnell Custom are all good I'll be real happy. They all look real good cosmetically, except a little dust on top of the MK and Nikon.

 

But I know it's a risk with collimation and internal debris. If I have to, I'll learn.

 

Not really taking odds. Just wanted to try a variety. And I've read that the Bushnell Custom is great, and I like having a classic just because. The Bushnell might've been the biggest risk because of the price and only the little Nikon 10x25 has any value in the package.


Edited by Echolight, 18 April 2021 - 09:00 PM.


#14 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 08:58 PM

I do have a pair of 25-year-old Orion Ultraview 10x50's I'm happy with. I  believe they are Chinese(?). and go for $139. If you have a bit more to spend The Oberwerk 10x50 Deluxe go for $180. I have a pair of the 15 x 70 LW Obi's and judging from my experience I might be tempted to go with the OBI 10x50's. Either one is going to be better than what you have. My old pair were 10x50 Tascos and the Orions show brighter images. I agree about the Celestrons. I've heard stories about them being out of collimation so I'd avoid them One thing about Oberwerk. They are all tested.

 

The older Ultraviews were made in Japan, it's been less than year that production shifted to China. As such, they're an unknown.

 

Jon


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#15 pat in los angeles basin

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Posted 19 April 2021 - 10:08 AM

The bushnell customs as a line are wonderful binoculars. I have several of the 7x35 and 2 of the 10x50- if you see a 10x50 grab  them as fast as you can- uber wonderful (though heavy)!! The 7's have a decent for the time amount of eye relief and an 8 deg FOV0 - good coating  and center sharp with a slight fall off to edge. Heavy and easy to work on as well, good focuser - did I mention that fact that I really like customs?? I understand the 7x50 is a high demand custom. The 9 and 8x36  should also be a very nice bin.

                                                                                                                                               Regards, Pat


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#16 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 19 April 2021 - 11:40 AM

Hello Zamboni,

 

If you want more specific information on the Pentax 10x50s, peruse the review at allbinos.com:

 

https://www.allbinos...P_10x50_WP.html

 

As with many Pentax porro models, the field is relatively flat, eye relief is very good (important for wearers of eyeglasses), but TFOV and AFOV is narrower than comparable models.  Rugged construction is a plus for this line of binoculars, and the center focus is completely internal.

 

I don't have the 10x50, just the 20x60 which shares the same basic design.  It's quite sturdy for the price, optically good, and I have been able to live with its compromises for astronomy use.

 

The Nikons and models from Oberwerk also come highly recommended from other users on CN, as you can see.

 

Good luck with your decision,

Mike


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#17 Zamboni

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Posted 22 April 2021 - 10:29 AM

Hello Zamboni,

If you want more specific information on the Pentax 10x50s, peruse the review at allbinos.com:

https://www.allbinos...P_10x50_WP.html

As with many Pentax porro models, the field is relatively flat, eye relief is very good (important for wearers of eyeglasses), but TFOV and AFOV is narrower than comparable models. Rugged construction is a plus for this line of binoculars, and the center focus is completely internal.

I don't have the 10x50, just the 20x60 which shares the same basic design. It's quite sturdy for the price, optically good, and I have been able to live with its compromises for astronomy use.

The Nikons and models from Oberwerk also come highly recommended from other users on CN, as you can see.

Good luck with your decision,
Mike


Thanks for the info. I think the narrower apparent field is going to be a deal breaker. My current binoculars have too narrow of an apparent field and that's one of the problems I'm hoping to address. I'd rather have a bit of edge distortion and a less claustrophobic view. Both Nikon and Oberwerk have a 65° afov so that's key info.

So to collate the information;

The Japanese Orion Ultraviews are highly thought of, but current (very recently) Chinese models are firmly in the "unknown quantity" category. I'll rule that out.

Nikon Action Extreme and Oberwerk seem to be more alike than different, filter threads can interfere with glasses but considering I'm already using big binoculars with filter threads and enjoy using the feature very much I'm 50/50 on it. And it's been pointed out that Oberwerk is frequently recommended purely from a customer support standpoint which is something I won't necessarily have backing me up with the Nikons. I've also been impressed by all the Obies I've looked through at star parties, although I've never seen that particular model.

There's a lone vote in favor of the Celestron EDs which certainly look appealing, but I'm leery for three reasons. My current bad binoculars are Celestron. Low end Celestron, but Celestron nonetheless. So far my only experience with Celestron binos has been negative. Secondly, slightly outside my budget, third I'm leery of light loss from roof prisms. I'd be paying a premium for more compact binoculars, which is something of limited necessity for me. I've always used Porros and when nature viewing I like the greater depth perception they provide. And slight CA doesn't bother me in binoculars so I'm tentatively ruling out the Celestron EDs.

So it's back to a toss-up between the Nikons and Obies with two key factors pushing towards the Oberwerks.

I think I've made my decision and I greatly appreciate everybody's input. This has been helpful.
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#18 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 April 2021 - 01:44 PM

So it's back to a toss-up between the Nikons and Obies with two key factors pushing towards the Oberwerks.

 

 

I think its hard to go wrong with either one.. With Oberwerk you're dealing directly with "The man".

 

I like the comparison chart.. nobody else has the courage to publish the effective aperture of each model.  That tells me Kevin wants me to know what I'm getting..

 

It also means that when it says the 10x50 Deluxes are operating at 100% i can trust it.. 

 

https://oberwerk.com...mparison-chart/

 

Jon



#19 pat in los angeles basin

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Posted 22 April 2021 - 04:15 PM

Currently, B&H photo has the bushnell 10x50 legacy for  $105, which seems like a very attractive price- yeah they smell a bit funny thanks to the armor and they are a bit plasticky in build, but they have a decent FOV and the ER is 18 . My older auction version with fold down eyecups throws a good view. BaK4  prisms (might be a bit small  (not a true 50mm?).   Regards, Pat




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