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Binos in 2018

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tucansam View Drop Down
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    Posted: June/06/2018 at 18:47
So I've started reading some threads here, and elsewhere, and the knowledge is fantastic, but maybe someone can address some specific questions I have.

I have helped about a dozen friends buy scopes in the last two years, and we have all come to the same conclusion: there are a handful of factories making scopes, and a TON of companies putting their individual features/logos/turrets/brands on those scopes.  Performance is nearly identical, given the same price range, magnification range, feature set, etc.  Birds of the same feather.  Half of them even look the same or are at the very least built on the exact same tubes and bodies.

It seems binoculars are going that way, too.

I have a pair of 10x42 Dbacks that I used last year for a hunt.  They're not terrible, but they're far from great.  My pals had Viper HDs (Japan, not China) 10x50s and 12x50s, and they could make out deer in low light where I could only see grey blobs.

I just got back from a huge sports store where I looked at Styrka, Swaro (just to say I did....), Vortex Viper (China), Vortex Razor HD (China) Loopy BX4 (Japan).... And I am as confused as ever.

I took the BX4s and Razors (12x50s) outside, and could not tell the difference, optically.  I can induce CA in virtually any optic, now that I have seen it, I tend to see it everywhere, although some optics are clearly better than others.

To complicate things, my choice of employment means I get significant discounts through many, but not all, of the optics companies.  So comparing $600 glass from one company and $1000 glass from another actually makes sense, if I can get both for $600.

Maven is a wildcard because I can't see them in person.

Styrka I just learned about today for the very first time, and was shocked at the clarity, given the "no name" brand (I have since read the post with the reference to the Celestron affiliation).

TRACT is a new-to-me company, never heard of them.  Guess I should research them though.

Athlon is worth looking at, a buddy has a spotter and a few of us have tried their scopes.  But can't get hands on locally.  And I don't think they have a 12x50 anyway, yet.

Vortex Razor HD is what everyone says to go with, but the focus was way less smooth than the Leupold.  Inside the store, even the Viper HDs looked the same to my eyes.  I didn't get a chance to take the Vipers outside.

So now I'm stuck in this place where I want a pair of $500-1000 binos of the 12x50 variety, but there are no many variables and options and unknowns, I don't know where to begin.  

So I will ask this one question, because its what I have the most direct experience with wanting to fix: besides dropping two grand or more on one of the big three European flavors, whose 12x50 will give me the absolute best low-light performance?  Daytime image seems to be so similar, at least from what I have seen personally, that its a wash.  I have a feeling everyone is using the same glass, the same tubes, the same blah blah blah and most of the major differences are marketing.

Thanks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote koshkin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/06/2018 at 19:56
Before I dig into the rest of it, why 12x50?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tucansam Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/07/2018 at 00:45
Thanks for replying, Ilya.  

I have 10x42s now, and I've looked through a lot of 8x42s and 10x42s.  They are certainly my go-to do it all bino.  Then I looked through a few sets of 12x and even some 15x binos.  The 15s had a way too restricted field of view, and were frankly uncomfortably large in terms of carrying up and down mountains on a neck strap.  Plus I found it difficult to use them hand-held, a tripod is a necessity.  The 12x seemed like a nice step up from the 10s, and were just slightly bigger, nowhere near as large as the 15s.

By buddy with the 10x50 and his brother with the 12x50 did most of the spotting on our last hunt.  I would find something with my cheapo Dbacks, they would glass the deer up to see if it was a buck or not, and if we wanted to count points, he would replace his binos with a spotting scope for a much closer look.  That's exactly how we are going to be hunting this year, and every year that we go together, so I figured a nice set of 12x50s would be worth my while.

I guess my other reason is "why not" as in, if there are better options, I'm all ears.  I wanted a nice mix between magnification and light gathering.  The 10x42s I saw at the store today were certainly nice, but I want better low light performance.  Maybe I should stick to 10x50s, thinking that the 12s would sap a little light away from an otherwise bright image.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote koshkin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/07/2018 at 01:41
If you primary binocular right now is a Diamondback, your best bet is to go up in quality, not try to bump up magnification.  I have done a number of blind test with different binocular magnifications.  I have NEVER encountered a person who saw more detail handheld with a 12x binocular than with a similar quality 8x or 10x.  Now I have seen a lot of people who thought they saw better with 12x when they knew it was a 12x.

Basically, if you want to use a 12x50 for any length of time, you have to do it supported.

If you like high magnification binoculars and want to maximize low light performance, consider a good quality 10x50 or a good quality 10x42.

For example, for around $1k, you should really consider Meopta Meostar 10x42HD or find a previous generation Meostar 10x50.

For around $1k, I think Meostar is the best option on the market right now with a possible exception of Maven B-series that I still need to test.

Maven 9x45 would be another very worthwhile option and Maven has a demo program that let's you try things.

ILya
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tucansam Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/07/2018 at 05:27
Thanks ILya, I will see if I can find a place within a couple hours drive that has Meopta.  I know Maven has the demo program, and my pal is chomping at the bit to try them out.  I would just REALLY like to see them in person first.

I am putting together a list of 8, 10, and 12x in the x42 and x50 varieties of the brands that I want to take a close look at to help me track the differences, I am mostly concerned now about FOV, price, field flattening lenses, and low light.  The more I read, the more it seems virtually all upper-mid-range and high-end glass will be well within the margins of acceptability, with much time and effort needed to weed out the absolute differences.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote supertool73 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/07/2018 at 11:01
I second Meopta. I have two sets of them and they are amazing. The HDs are a noticable step up in image quality IMO vs non hd meopta

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shenko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/07/2018 at 13:51
I was just looking at 10x50 and 12x50 binos last week. Wasn't planning to consider 12x, but I looked at what the store had.

Went back and forth between Vortex Viper and Razor, Leupold BX4, Sig, Zeiss Terra. 1 or 2 of them were 42mm. Most of them were 10X.

I thought the Viper HD 12x50 looked pretty good. Vortex makes a tripod adapter.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Son of Ed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/07/2018 at 20:29
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tucansam Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/07/2018 at 22:02
?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mike650 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/08/2018 at 10:40

Fish to Live, Live to Hunt
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tucansam Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/08/2018 at 22:18
Context to go along with those pictures would be..... Useful.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WJC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/26/2018 at 09:09
It has been my experience in optics that many "optical experts" are only experts in knowing what THEY like and don't like. Being a hunter, birdwatcher, mariner, or amateur astronomer qualifies one no more to be an expert on optics than being a diskjocky qualifies one to be an expert on the construction and performance of microphones.

Cheers,

Bill


Edited by WJC - September/26/2018 at 10:05
"What lies behind you and what lies before you are tiny matters compared to what lies within you."—Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Grubbs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/26/2018 at 10:41
Originally posted by WJC WJC wrote:

It has been my experience in optics that many "optical experts" are only experts in knowing what THEY like and don't like. Being a hunter, birdwatcher, mariner, or amateur astronomer qualifies one no more to be an expert on optics than being a diskjocky qualifies one to be an expert on the construction and performance of microphones.

Cheers,

Bill


Amen brother. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JGRaider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/26/2018 at 10:42
Originally posted by WJC WJC wrote:

It has been my experience in optics that many "optical experts" are only experts in knowing what THEY like and don't like. Being a hunter, birdwatcher, mariner, or amateur astronomer qualifies one no more to be an expert on optics than being a diskjocky qualifies one to be an expert on the construction and performance of microphones.

Cheers,

Bill



Couldn't agree more. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rancid Coolaid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/26/2018 at 11:41
Originally posted by Erictheguy Erictheguy wrote:

I personally think that specs are all that matters when it comes to choosing the best binoculars.  Some are pricey but are equally good.  Better check this site about reviews on the best binoculars. https://outdoorempire.com/finding-best-binocular-reviews/
 

I see a trend emerging...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RifleDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/26/2018 at 12:29
Originally posted by Rancid Coolaid Rancid Coolaid wrote:

Originally posted by Erictheguy Erictheguy wrote:

I personally think that specs are all that matters when it comes to choosing the best binoculars.  Some are pricey but are equally good.  Better check this site about reviews on the best binoculars. https://outdoorempire.com/finding-best-binocular-reviews/
 

I see a trend emerging...


Me too. And thus, it has now ended.
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