Pentax DCF SP vs Monarch X vs Vortex Viper
I am looking to replace my current. Primary use is birdwatching, thus am looking for a model in the 8 X 42 range (but will consider slight deviation). Maximum budget is $1000.
Models which have caught most of my interest are the Pentax DCF 8X43 SP, Monarch X 8.5 X 45 and the Vortex Viper 8 X 42. But of course, there are others, including the Zen Rays, but these three seem to have caught most of my attention. I think the Pentax DCF ED's and Vortex Razors are not worth the extra dollars. On the other hand, I would like something somewhat better than the Monarchs.
How do the above models compare? Is there one which can be rated as "best" and why? Are there other models which I should consider?
I am a big fan of the Pentax DCF SP and have been for years - that's no secret if you check some older posts on this forum. It's a great value and will ID as many birds as any binocular you want to buy. You are really at a point with the SP and these others of deciding how much optical performance you want, rather than simply need for bird identification purposes. You won't necessarily ID more birds by spending more money. However, you will enjoy seeing birds, more, with ever more image quality, but you will spend much more to get only tiny increases in image quality. Is it worth it? Only you can decide that and, no matter what anyone tells you, the ultimate test will be having you take a look for yourself.
That said, there is a visible difference in image quality between the DCF SP and the DCF ED, a bit less so with the Razor. This is something I base on optical tests on test targets with all of these. The DCF ED will score higher in resolution, color correction and, especially contrast. You will likely enjoy seeing birds, more, with the DCF ED than a binocular in the $500 range, but that is no guarantee you will ID more birds. However, if I had $1000 to spend, the DCF ED would be at or near the top of my list.
There is no such thing as "best" despite whatever binocular shootouts you review and the results of these scoring should never be taken too literally. Best is a myth, simply because there are far too many variables involved. It's never so cut and dried, black and white with binoculars. Indeed, I have yet to test any binocular that scores best in every optical or mechanical category at any price point. The binocular market is far too competitive for that to happen, anyway. Then, too, how do you, personally, weight each category? Is resolution or contrast or image brightness or color correction or edge sharpness or eye relief more important to you and in which order? Binocular scoring schemes never reflect your personal preferences and we are only talking optics, here. The matter of mechanical construction, handling and so on is even more personal and subjective.
http://www.allbinos.com/index.php?test= ... test_l=114
for what appears to be an objective comparison.
My wife loves the Vipers and intends to keep the pair for herself. I think the Razors will have to go back though I love the construction and the general appearance, I just don't think the extra weight makes up for it against the Vipers. The Razors are almost a third heavier than the Viper.
I don't know if any of that interests you, but those are my thoughts.
Yes, all feedback is appreciated; that's what a forum is all about.