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I am considering buying compact (or pocket) binoculars. Usage: general purpose: trips, sightseeing (nature, urban), even theater. That implies the required compact/pocket size. Price range: not more that $250. I read that I should first go to a store and hold binoculars in hands - that is hardly possible: general stores have poor variety, usually not good; special optic stores have a lot, but "in central storage", hundreds of miles away. So my education is abstract. I have a feeling that if an item costs less than $100, it hardly has better quality than a product of another brand for $200, even if that brand is considered overpriced. So I started with price of $200 and tried reading reviews. After reading many sites I decided I should consider Minox BD 10x25 BR. I liked its look; Minox is considered a good brand; BD compact is a new series. Not many reviews, but reviews on an older BV compact series are good. Also: I wear glasses, and it has large eye relief. Then I read that 10x may be too large magnification for compact size and added BD 8x24 BR to consideration. Later I encountered good reviews for Pentax DCF LV Compact 9x28. Not "German optics" of course, and not so compact (weight is 1.5 times larger than Minox), but more people review it. Could anybody help me select between those 3 items (most important feature - quality) or propose some other binoculars from same price and size range?
Yes, it is tough to buy anything optical, these days, with a walk in store. Most such stores just can't justify carrying a large selection of binoculars based on sales.
If this is your first compact, yes, I would start with an 8x. Steadiness is an issue with compacts. I own both 8x and 10x compacts and there is a difference. I do prefer 10x25s for that extra touch of resolution and detail, bit I have been using compacts for some thirty years. You'll get along better with 8x.
Have used both the Pentax and the Minox and, yes, I do like the Minox for its handling, though, as always, that is a very personal thing. I would not, however, make too much of the "German optics" thing. Price is a better indicator of quality than country of origin and, at these prices, Minox is a bit fuzzy about actual country of origin. I suspect some of the parts are outsourced. That's not a criticism by any means - just don't take "German optics" too literally.
Some others to consider? Optically and mechanically, the Bushnell Elite 7x26 is superb, but you may not care for the handling of a reverse porro and it is not rated as waterproof. If you want that German pedigree, try the Steiner Wildlife Pro 8x26. It's not as trim as the Minox, but a fine compact, nonetheless. The Brunton Eterna 8x25 is a great value in this price range, as well.
Thanks for posting with us
Joanie K - Your personal optics expert
Go with the 8x on the Minox if that is what you want. They really are not very special, and 10x shows the errors much more. The Minox 8X24 BR Binoculars are better, but also see Pentax 25 or 28mm models.