Any recommendations for quality binoculars?

bigburly912

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With all due respect to the opinions of our members here, you may want to post your question on an optics forum. I did a search for binocular forums and got quite a few results. Again, all respect to our members, but, would you ask the members of another type of forum for a flashlight recommendation? You likely would get a more informed recommendation here, since that is our specialty.
People who like flashlights probably use other gear as well. It's a shame to think that some of us may not have experience in other areas just because this is a flashlight forum. 👍🏼
 

IMA SOL MAN

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People who like flashlights probably use other gear as well. It's a shame to think that some of us may not have experience in other areas just because this is a flashlight forum. 👍🏼
I honestly regret making that post. I was hoping that the preface "With all due respect" would prevent any ruffled feathers, but I see I was mistaken. People took offense anyway. I should have paid attention to my instinct. It was not my intention to disrespect the members of this forum.
 

orbital

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Would love to hear more!
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They aren't light & have a blue chassis, but optically are amazing.



Amazon has them also
 
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I use a 7x50 marine optic when sailing, and a 6x30 Leupold Yosemite Porro prism binocular for general land-based mucking about. I've become a fan of the 6x optics because of the crispness and stability of the image, especially when hand-held. The Yosemite model is no longer manufactured, but like-new models are available on eBay and other after-market consumer-to-consumer exchange sites. If your intended use is for general viewing, without much concern for watertight integrity, I recommend trying the lower power optics first. They're smaller and lighter for travel, and are less expensive to boot, so if anything unfortunate happens, your damages will be lower, too.
 

kaichu dento

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Thanks, but I'd prefer to stay in the $350-400 range. I have optics on rifles that cost more than the rifles but I'm not going to spend that for occasional use binoculars…
In your first post you mentioned weight and now a price range, which makes me want to suggest an 8x32 Vortex Viper, which you may be able to find a used pair at B&H possibly for that price range. Across the board, I cannot recommend Vortex, as their cheaper lines a pretty poor, but their midrange Viper is excellent.
Try a few if you can, and check to see if any of your friends are binocular fans for more hands on input.

Most of my favored binoculars are above the pricing you've listed, but I've found a couple of them used for in your range.
 

lumen aeternum

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Check out the Binoculars subforum on CloudyNights.com - an astronomy forum. They mostly talk about using them for stargazing, where collimation to yield a pinpoint star with no "rays" or double image, is important.

The best for the money you want to spend depends on what you are using it for - at night, or in broad daylight? Does it need to be waterproof? Color rendition for birding, or high contrast for spotting game in bad light ? etc
 

lumen aeternum

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Ha, as a matter of fact, no.
But I can keep the antique Herters at home now and it doesn't really matter.
Ooh, I've only seen one pair of Herters for sale. I recall the catalog from the 60's. Probably good quality. The era of game changing lens coatings was in the 80s, but the attention given to the resolution of the prisms & lenses went downhill.
 

orbital

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Like I mentioned earlier, people don't need the super high end optics, you just don't.
That said; the quality of glass & coatings makes a huge difference on achieving detail, reducing chromatic aberrations.

Say you wear glasses,
the headache you get trying to read something without them, or not having your reading glasses and trying to read/see things close.
It does no favors to your eyes,, plus the headache.... that's basically what you get from very cheap binoculars.
You try to get detail that the glass won't achieve, or it's just a mess.

Investing a couple hundred isn't crazy for binoculars and you eyes will thank you.

ex:
Meade Masterclass
Nikon Prostaff
Celestron–Nature DX ED
Vortex Diamondback HD
...several others.
 

IMA SOL MAN

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Like I mentioned earlier, people don't need the super high end optics, you just don't.
That said; the quality of glass & coatings makes a huge difference on achieving detail, reducing chromatic aberrations.

Say you wear glasses,
the headache you get trying to read something without them, or not having your reading glasses and trying to read/see things close.
It does no favors to your eyes,, plus the headache.... that's basically what you get from very cheap binoculars.
You try to get detail that the glass won't achieve, or it's just a mess.

Investing a couple hundred isn't crazy for binoculars and you eyes will thank you.

ex:
Meade Masterclass
Nikon Prostaff
Celestron–Nature DX ED
Vortex Diamondback HD
...several others.
I bought my cheapo binocs at K-Mart for storm spotting. I don't think I need expensive binocs to ID a tornado. But hey, it would be fun to ID the cars and stuff whirling around in it.

"Oh, Man! That was a classic '65 Mustang! :poop:!"
 

kaichu dento

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What people need is something they have to determine for themselves, as has been shown here when it comes to what someone needs for a flashlight.

Before anyone gets talked out of a top end binocular they should go look for themselves, as some can immediately appreciate high end products and others don't. The binoculars I didn't need that finally made me happy to use binoculars are my Leicas and it could be the same for many other members here.

One thing about Vortex again is that the Diamondback series put me off of buying any of their binoculars and it wasn't until I tried their midline Vipers that I totally changed perspective in a positive direction.

Does anyone need a $100 binocular when they can get one for $30, or a $3,000 dollar binocular when there are so many great options under $1,000 or under $2,000? The answer on a forum like this should be an obvious yes, but only we can determine that for ourselves.

I used to think of HDS as an incredibly expensive light and now realize they're only midpriced, when compared to McGizmo and Cool Fall lights, but so many of those brands of lights are in the hands of a heck of a lot of members here, and getting used on a daily basis.
 
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Dr. Jones

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If you want the best optics currently on the market, then you want the Fujinon FMTR-SX 7x50 marine binoculars. They are not cheap ($700 USD at B&H Photo today), not small, and not light (over 3 lbs), but they are the finest you can get. I have the long-discontinued Pentax PIF 7x50, which rival the Fujinons, but you can't get them, anymore, and they are even heavier, I think. If you want similar quality, but a much smaller size, the FMTR-SX used to also be made in a 6x30, but good luck finding any on the secondary market, they are as rare as hen's teeth, and jealously guarded.

Generally speaking, the best binoculars on the market are going to be the ones marketed specifically for marine use, and those will usually be 7x50, because the widest a human pupil can open is about 7 mm, and 50/7 = about 7.1 mm, so a 7x50 actually captures more light than anyone's eyes can see. When you look through a pair of 7x50s, the image will actually be brighter than that which you naked eye can see, so when you use them in dim light, it almost looks like looking through night vision goggles. Marine binoculars are also generally waterproof (for obvious reasons) and heavily armored (because boats have a tendency to move around a bit). This is also why they are so commonly used in the military.

Porro prism binoculars are much easier to make to a higher optical standard than roof prism types, but roof prisms are generally more compact. That's why roof prisms are popular, and why the best ones cost thousands of dollars, yet still can't quite match the quality of the best porro prism types.

6x30s are a good size for compactness and lightweight, and 6x is a good power for handholding. 7x50 marine binos are also generally great for binocular astronomy.

Other than that, most of the binos by the big names (Nikon, Fujinon, Pentax, Zeiss, Swarovski, Leica, Steiner) are going to be good.
Excellent post! You certainly know your way around optics.

Being on in years (a nice way of saying slightly younger than dirt), my pupils only open to a wee bit over 5mm now, so for me much of the light gathered by 7x50 binoculars is wasted. 7x35's, with their 5mm exit pupil, are right on the money. In much younger days, my pupils used to open up to just shy of 8mm.

I acquired a pair of LeMaire officer's field glasses of French WWI vintage long, long ago, of 8 power and with objectives 40mm in diameter, giving them, like 7x35's, a 5mm exit pupil. The exit pupil of a given binocular (or telescope for that matter) can be obtained by dividing the objective's clear aperture in millimeters by the power; thus, 40mm ÷ 8X = 5mm, 35mm ÷ 7X = 5mm, 50mm ÷ 7X = 7.14mm, etc.

I've checked my exit pupil every few years by standing in a completely dark room for a few minutes, then holding a millimeter scale right next to my eye and at the same distance from the camera, and taking a close-up flash photo. Examination of the photo allows me to perform somewhat-crude photogrammetry and determine my fully-open pupil by comparing it to the metric scale next to it. The pupil doesn't have time to contract from the flash before the image registers. Not recommending anyone do this, as eyes are sensitive things, but amateur astronomy has been an interest of mine since I was a child and it's important to know the minimum magnification one can use before losing light, given a certain telescope aperture and focal ratio.
 
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orbital

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SCEMan, are you:

1. already enjoying a pair
2. narrowed it to a couple different brands
3. backburner for now
 

yeoldoak

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Have been happy with both my Steiner Commander 7x50 and
Steiner military marine 8x30, not having to deal with a focus ring
is great in cold weather with mitts on : )
 
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