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Thread: Binoculars...

  1. #1

    Default Binoculars...

    Wife's birthday is coming up and would like to buy her a set of binoculars so that we can go birding together. Anyone in the know what is a decent brand? If I was looking for something like a 400mm - 500mm lens equivalent what would be the costs? Any good online review links would also be welcomed.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    A 500mm lens is almost equivalent to 10x binoculars.

    I highly recommend the NIKON SPORTSTAR EX Series - specifically the 10x25 bino (Nikon Singapore Pte Ltd)

    Cost just <$200, and its waterproof and fog free, and the images are sharp and contrasty, with little chromatic abberation. The built quality is excellent too. The other time when i wanted to buy a small compact bino to use when nature trekking, i was thinking between this nikon one, the carl zeiss 10x25 & leica 10x25. The cathay photo allowed me to test all 3, and i found the carl zeiss one to be the best. However, the image quality improvement over the nikon is marginal to my eyes, but it costs ~ $1,000. And besides, i only use bino to see and not take photos, so guess a ~$200 small light compact waterproof good built nikon will do the job for me.

    U can also look at the 10x42 models, they are brighter, but they are also heavier. I m not sure whether ladies would appreciate the heavy weight.

    And stay away from brands such as bushnell - their binos are really poorly built! I had one ~$600 10x42 binos but water seeped in when it claimed to be waterproof, and worst of all when i dismantled the binos, i realise there's cardboard material inside!!!! Wat the heck right, to use cardboard material in binoculars! Ridiculous!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    Wow.. many many thanks for the info. I can go up to something like $400 but of course would love to save the money for lenses !!!! I may even ask her to come to the shops to try them out...Once again, many thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by devilry View Post
    A 500mm lens is almost equivalent to 10x binoculars.

    I highly recommend the NIKON SPORTSTAR EX Series - specifically the 10x25 bino (Nikon Singapore Pte Ltd)

    Cost just <$200, and its waterproof and fog free, and the images are sharp and contrasty, with little chromatic abberation. The built quality is excellent too. The other time when i wanted to buy a small compact bino to use when nature trekking, i was thinking between this nikon one, the carl zeiss 10x25 & leica 10x25. The cathay photo allowed me to test all 3, and i found the carl zeiss one to be the best. However, the image quality improvement over the nikon is marginal to my eyes, but it costs ~ $1,000. And besides, i only use bino to see and not take photos, so guess a ~$200 small light compact waterproof good built nikon will do the job for me.

    U can also look at the 10x42 models, they are brighter, but they are also heavier. I m not sure whether ladies would appreciate the heavy weight.

    And stay away from brands such as bushnell - their binos are really poorly built! I had one ~$600 10x42 binos but water seeped in when it claimed to be waterproof, and worst of all when i dismantled the binos, i realise there's cardboard material inside!!!! Wat the heck right, to use cardboard material in binoculars! Ridiculous!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    Quote Originally Posted by photo-orama View Post
    Wife's birthday is coming up and would like to buy her a set of binoculars so that we can go birding together. Anyone in the know what is a decent brand? If I was looking for something like a 400mm - 500mm lens equivalent what would be the costs? Any good online review links would also be welcomed.
    Why buy Binoculars ?
    Buy telescope and adaptor -> better investment.

    You can use as scope or lens

    I eats, shoots & leaves

  5. #5

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    Quote Originally Posted by photo-orama View Post
    Wow.. many many thanks for the info. I can go up to something like $400 but of course would love to save the money for lenses !!!! I may even ask her to come to the shops to try them out...Once again, many thanks
    $400 plus probably Nikon Monarch. 8x or 10x and 32mm to 42mm depending on how heavy you want to carry, how steady your holding and how much low light usage. The new Monarchs are really good.

    if more (alot more) budget then Leica, zeiss, swarovski or Nikon EDG.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Binoculars...

    Has a pair of Leica bino once but sold it as not happy with the Made in Portugal. Canon or Nikon bino should be good.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    Ah sorry.. really we don't have a lot more.. we made a decision to stick to around the $400 mark and we will stay to that! Since I don't know anything about binoculars (!) but I do know a bit about photography, what would be the difference between what devilry suggested (NIKON SPORTSTAR EX) and the Monarch series? e.g. is it similar to the 300mm f/2.8 vs 80-300 f/3.5~45.6 kind of thing or APO vs non APO?

    Quote Originally Posted by An drew View Post
    $400 plus probably Nikon Monarch. 8x or 10x and 32mm to 42mm depending on how heavy you want to carry, how steady your holding and how much low light usage. The new Monarchs are really good.

    if more (alot more) budget then Leica, zeiss, swarovski or Nikon EDG.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    She usually spots birds better than me, and I think she is fed up helping me carry the tripod + 300mm f/2.8 + 1.7x + crop body + full frame for macros + 70-180mm macro + flashguns +/- extras, i.e. she is divorcing herself from carrying any kind of photo equipment!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Yutaka Go View Post
    Why buy Binoculars ?
    Buy telescope and adaptor -> better investment.

    You can use as scope or lens


  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by photo-orama
    She usually spots birds better than me, and I think she is fed up helping me carry the tripod + 300mm f/2.8 + 1.7x + crop body + full frame for macros + 70-180mm macro + flashguns +/- extras, i.e. she is divorcing herself from carrying any kind of photo equipment!!!!
    For such a supportive wife, I think a leica or zeiss is a good investment

  10. #10

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    Quote Originally Posted by photo-orama View Post
    Ah sorry.. really we don't have a lot more.. we made a decision to stick to around the $400 mark and we will stay to that! Since I don't know anything about binoculars (!) but I do know a bit about photography, what would be the difference between what devilry suggested (NIKON SPORTSTAR EX) and the Monarch series? e.g. is it similar to the 300mm f/2.8 vs 80-300 f/3.5~45.6 kind of thing or APO vs non APO?
    mmm, alrite, maybe I will explain a little bit more.

    - Classification: For bino, telescopes, they are usually written in figures such as 10x42, 10x25, 8x42 or 8x25.

    - First Number Indication: the "first number" and the "x" means "10 times zoom" or "8 times zoom"

    - Second Number Indication: the "second number" can be thought of as the "brightness" of the binoculars. Think of it as the aperture of a normal lens i.e. there are f/2.8, f/5.6. f/2.8 is definitely bigger in aperture & when u look thru the viewfinder of f/2.8, it is brighter than that of f/5.6. For binoculars, the bigger the number eg. "42", the brighter the binoculars will be. Some binoculars even go to "70". The brighter the binoculars, the image u see will be more shiok, clearer, but the lens elements will of course be bigger and the bino will be much heavier. Those binos which are brightness of "25" and below are the compact range, and easy to carry around. Those with brightness of "42" are the middle man/sit on the fence/most popular range i.e. suitable for ppl who want brighter image, but yet not too heavy as that of those in the "52" or "70" range.

    - Weight: a typical "10x25" weighs around 500 grams, while a typical "10x42" weighs around 1kg. the difference in weight for "8x" and "10x" isn't much.

    - Cost: the cost of a "8x" and "10x" and "12x" bino most of the time just a little difference. So u might think why not just chiong straight to "12x"? The reason the high "x" figure might not be ideal is because at higher focal length, ur handshake is super evident. Sometimes, u might even feel dizzy using the binos due to the handshake (some ppl after trekking some substantial distance find their body weak, and when they view their bino, they cant see properly because their hands keep shaking.) the shakiness of "8x" is the least, and "12x" is more, which is why again ppl usually settle for the "10x" as the middleground. Based on comparing what I see with the bino vs what I see in my camera through a crop camera + lens lens, "8x" is comparable to a 400mm lens, while 10x is abt 500mm, and 12x is abt 600mm.

    - Image Stabilisation: in case u wondering, since lenses have image stabilization/vibration reduction, what abt binos? YES, there are binos with IS/VR from canon and Nikon!! But they are (a) expensive (about $2,000 range for the Nikon ones here Nikon Singapore Pte Ltd ), and (b) I have played with the canon IS version for 5 mins, but I don't find the image quality anything to shout about to justify the price tag.

    - Bino with Zoom: Yes, there are binos with zoom (look at the eagle view series on Nikon Singapore Pte Ltd ). Good thing about them is of course u can zoom, but the bad things about these Nikon eagle view series are (a) they are build very poorly and filmsy - ask cathay photo for a test and u will know what I mean (b) the image quality isn't great - think of the image quality difference of zoom and prime lens (c) the image actually gets darker as you zoom - think of it as a non-fixed aperture lens (d) the zooming isn't smooth.

    - Famous Brands: Swarovski is the legend/leader in the binos/scopes field. while leica and carl zeiss comes in close. Most professional birders use Swarovski, followed by Leica, then Carl Zeiss. Swarovski is the most expensive, Singapore stores are selling at around $3,000 to $4,000 for their 10x42 version. Leica and Carl Zeiss is cheaper by a couple hundreds. You can get it cheaper from Amazon.com. ( http://www.amazon.com/Swarovski-Opti...warovski+10x42 ) A look at this Swarovski Bino on this amazon page will let u know what are the attributes of the best binoculars.

    - Other Important Attributes: Get a bino from a reputable brand so that they are really waterproof and nitrogen filled when they claim to be. This ensures that the interior of the bino is sealed tight, so that humidity have difficulty destroying the interior lens elements through fungus. of course u still have to wipe/clean the exterior lens surface if dirty, and of course must be kept in dry cabi when not in use.

    - Image Quality Differences Between High End And Low End Bino: One very obvious difference can be easily seen by pointing ur bino at high contrast and bright areas. The purple fringing of a low end bino will show up very badly. A trick when testing a bino is to purposely point at spot lights/light sources, and see how bad it's purple fringing is. The good binos are like the canon "L" lenses" - their colour fringing issues are almost 99% non-existent. Other obvious image quality trait of a low end bino is low contrast (things look pale), poor sharpness, poor build quality (it's like the "L" and "non-L" difference in build quality, you will feel it when u hold it).

    - Think with all these info above, you should more or less be able to make out the differences between the Monarch and the Sportstar series based on the data listed in the brochure

    That's about all I can think of at the moment, there are definitely still some more, but those above should be sufficient for most needs. For higher needs, just get a Swarovski/Leica/Carl Zeiss - no need think!

    (Then again, these are just some simple guidelines for binos, spotting scopes is another field/knowledge arena by itself again!)
    Last edited by devilry; 12th February 2013 at 12:16 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    This image will let u have a sense of the binos

    From the Left: the Canon 16-35 f2.8 lens, the Mandarin Orange , the Sportstar 10x25 bino, a lousy 10x42 bino



    The size difference between the 10x25 and 10x42 can be seen to be rather huge here..

  12. #12

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    wow. Interesting.. thanks for sharing.
    (Actually didnt expect this kinda reply in KPT..)
    Really appreciate it alot. Ah the Good binos cost just as much as a "top of the line" kind of lens or even abit more.

  13. #13
    Moderator ed9119's Avatar
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    Default Re: Binoculars...

    for BINOs you get what you pay for .... for $400 you can get quite a bit of bang for your buck

    get something that is generous with eye relief and a healthy exit pupil , has diopter adjustment on each barrell and easy smooth focusing dial

    just remember that in BRIGHT sunlight, the differences between a $100 and a $3000 are going to be there BUT its not going to be fatal
    the performance difference comes in low light situations (early mornings and late afternoons or in deep cover) then the different light gathering abilities start to tell

    And do you and/or your partner wear glasses ?

    I would suggest sticking to 8x or 10x magnification .... so something like 8x40 would be very good with lots of bang for your buck

    1. alot more comfortable on the eye
    2. your viewed image will be less shaky
    3. not give you a neck ache

    dont be kiasu and get something with huge magnification (eg 20x) if you are going to be using it handheld ... otherwise get a tripod adaptor for it ..... or else prepare for a dizzy spell or headache which is going to kill your interest in birding very quickly

    there are porro-prism and roof-prism style binos.... porro-prisms are the 'old' style delivers more optical bang for the buck but disadvantage is that its bulkier and heavier than modern roof-prism binos

    also try to go for BAK4 prisms which transmit light better

    for $400 you will not be able to get top of its class Leica or Swarovski but you will still be able to purchase VERY GOOD binos

    Consider like the others have mentioned eg Nikon ..... their Monarch series is very good .... An alternative brand and one of the best bang for the buck binos is Vortex Optics ... Russian made , good quality try their Crossfire II or for a little more than your budget their Vulture HD (their 8x56 spec'd one is imho excellent ) but a little bulky... or Viper HD (have not owned this but have tried a friend's and it is stunning in the shadows at 6.30pm it was just stellar in its light gathering ability) .

    Their Singapore agent is
    Cam Era Pte Ltd
    10 Ubi Crescent
    #05-49, Ubi Techpark
    Singapore 408564
    Tel 65 67498870

    Steiner is also good

    Otherwise if you have a fast long tele or zoom, just buy an adaptor to convert it into a spotting scope http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GGBQAC

    I would advise checking out the National Audubon Society website where they have alot of advise .... lots of good info at many sites on how to choose and buy a set of binos or scope for your needs

    Alan Photo at SLS also has a decent selection of binoculars but avoid the crap talk of the salesperson there ... they might know cameras but they do not know binos except pricing.... to be fair most shop salespersons ANYWHERE are not familiar with Binos as vs Cameras and lenses

    Lastly DO NOT RUSH into buying a pair of binos..... do your research, read up and go to the shops to test out. Sorry one of the dumbest ways to test a bino is to aim at something far far away (eg 100+m) in bright sunlight (that is typical salesman BS) .... work with nearer targets between 15 to 50m and IN THE SHADOWS to have a clue on the actual working performance

    good luck !
    Last edited by ed9119; 12th February 2013 at 01:50 AM.
    shaddap and just shoot .... up close
    Walkeast

  14. #14

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    Quote Originally Posted by photo-orama View Post
    Ah sorry.. really we don't have a lot more.. we made a decision to stick to around the $400 mark and we will stay to that! Since I don't know anything about binoculars (!) but I do know a bit about photography, what would be the difference between what devilry suggested (NIKON SPORTSTAR EX) and the Monarch series? e.g. is it similar to the 300mm f/2.8 vs 80-300 f/3.5~45.6 kind of thing or APO vs non APO?
    Actually the Monarch is my cheapest bin, the rest are topend. Have no experience with Sportstar. I was at Nikon CSC recently and I tried out the newer Monarchs and I can say they are almost as good as my topends. My old Monarch 8x42 costs $400 but the higher end Monarchs e.g Monarch 7 will cost more.

    also as Ed9119 suggested, there are also bang for buck brands like Vortex, Alpen or Kowa. $400 is a good budget as the difference becomes very marginal when you pay more. There is alot of info can google.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    Dear All, Many many thanks for your time in providing advice and info. We are sure that the wife does not want to carry heavy stuff, and she does not want another tripod or monopod. We are also sure of the budget(!). The rest of the info is quite an eyeopener and no doubt great starter for the rest of my research. Will take the wife around the photo shops to look at the different models, test test test test and debate.... (!) I will be back with what we have discovered and decided!

    Once again many many thanks for everyone's generously given help.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    when i first got my bino previously, i m also very lost actually. initially i thought it is a very simple straightforward affair with plastic/metal wrapping glass elements, but i couldn't have been more wrong. then when i read online abt binos, i was confused and blur and wasnt really sure what is mentioned.

    in addition at that time when i wanna get binos, i know nothing about camera lenses, and so i dunno much about what things such as colour fringing, sharpness meant. i also at that time wasnt sure what bino magnification should i get for proper birdwatching & also thought that i should get the longer zoom the better.

    so after trying and buying & buying a few binos (i tried out with the cheaper ones first to get a feel about image quality & the range which i want, but in the end now i am still settled with my <$200 nikon sportstar hahaha... felt its light and good enough for me. luckily i still couldnt justify myself buying the swarovski/leica/carl zeiss ones although i had chances to toy with them b4) & also after i started photography, i then know with more certainty what's good image quality & what's poor image quality.

    so yea, just be nice to the shop assistants and ask the stores to let u try out.

    maybe the next time u might be askig about spotting scopes already hahaha...

    though the range of scopes is tremendous and impressive, i felt its more for bird "watchers" and not bird "photographers". i dont have 1 yet myself as the need to use tripod is cumbersome, and i would rather be using my spare strength estate to carry my lens and tripod instead!

  17. #17

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    good info in this thread...!

    Quote Originally Posted by Yutaka Go View Post
    Why buy Binoculars ?
    Buy telescope and adaptor -> better investment.

    You can use as scope or lens
    i'm looking for binoculars also... to watch concert... so no need weatherproof or wat... i was wondering if i can bring my E-PL5 + 45-175mm lens into concert and use that as my binoculars instead of buying one... anyone got advice..?


    regards,
    wacky

  18. #18

    Default Re: Binoculars...

    Quote Originally Posted by wackykid View Post
    good info in this thread...!



    i'm looking for binoculars also... to watch concert... so no need weatherproof or wat... i was wondering if i can bring my E-PL5 + 45-175mm lens into concert and use that as my binoculars instead of buying one... anyone got advice..?


    regards,
    wacky
    for concerts, most important thing to take note is to get the lightest, as u are gona hold for a long time. again, the nikon sportstar ex 10x25 fits the bill.

    i have tried using 10x42 for the phantom of the opera, and my hands were sore after a while.. its definitely brighter and clearer in viewing, but the weight is uncomfortable for long duration.

    camera + lens might not be good becos some concerts disallow cameras, and batteries drain fast in Live View. besides, its much clearer and sharper to view using bino..

    stupid nikon should just pay me for helping them to advertise.

    btw, if u are ok with viewing with just one eye, u can look at monoculars, they are even lighter and more convenient.

  19. #19
    Senior Member shierwin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Binoculars...

    TS

    Just bring your wife to the shop and let her test out and decide which Bino she wants.

  20. #20
    Moderator ed9119's Avatar
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    Default Re: Binoculars...

    u pay to go to LIVE concert .... just so you can watch it on a camera LCD screen ???

    Quote Originally Posted by wackykid View Post
    good info in this thread...!



    i'm looking for binoculars also... to watch concert... so no need weatherproof or wat... i was wondering if i can bring my E-PL5 + 45-175mm lens into concert and use that as my binoculars instead of buying one... anyone got advice..?


    regards,
    wacky
    shaddap and just shoot .... up close
    Walkeast

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