build quality and optical capability
http://www.opticsplanet.com/minox-bv-ii ... cular.html
http://www.opticsplanet.com/nikon-42mm- ... -7296.html
http://www.opticsplanet.com/vortex-diam ... -d248.html
Is it a case of a direct relationship between price and quality?
I will soon be deployed overseas as a UN military observer and need a pair of personal bins just in case the issued optics are too heavy or damaged.
- narcoleptic warrior
- Posts: 2
- Joined: Thu May 05, 2011 9:13 pm
Yes, there is a direct relationship between optics/construction and price, but it is not proportionate. You will reach a point - usually at about $300 on a roof prism - where you will begin to pay much more for smaller gains in optics and durability. Of these, I would rate the Minox and the Monarch as equivalent, with both having an edge over the Diamondback.
http://www.nikonhunting.com/uploads/cal ... 2_info.jpg
When you weigh tangible things like that I think it helps make the choice a little easier...
Nikon Pro Staff
Nikon Pro Staff
- Posts: 22
- Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:50 pm
- Location: North Texas
I do NOT work for Nikon. I own a pre-DE prism NM 8x42. They are the best handling full sized binoculars at any cost - by far. The optics in mine are great; easily the equivalent of the discontinued Vortex Viper 8x42. I've owned my pair for three years and they still function as new. I've compared mine to the new DE prism model and they both deliver identical image quality. The DE prisms only provide an advantage in very, very low light levels. DE prims do not allow you to look deeper into shade in bright sunlight. If light weight (the NM 8x42's weigh 21.5 oz), reliability and handling are important to you, then the NM 8x42's may be appropriate for you. NM 8x42's have poly carbonate frames; unlike magnesium (dissolves) or aluminum (pits) - poly carbonate is uneffected by saltwater. Despite the sales propaganda poly carbonate is as strong as magnesium or aluminum.
I wear eyeglasses, the NM 8x42 19.6mm of eye relief is perfect and makes for comfortable viewing. This may also allow you to use the binoculars with gogles on? However, the NM's eyecups are the source of most of the complaints about the NM's. As I wear eyeglasses all the time my eyecups stay down all the time, thus there is no problem for me. But the NM's eyecup design is not one of its better features. If you need to extend eyecups all the time, then you may have to consider another binocular. Aditionally, the accessories packaged with the NM 8x42 should be replaced. The case is OK, it will protect the binocular from blowing sand. Replace the strap with a Vortex strap. Replace the objective lens covers with teathered lens covers (Vortex are good). Finally, replace the rainguard with one that is made of soft rubber with deeper cups so that it will stay on while you walk (again a Vortex rainguard is good).
If they will work for you (the eyecups), then the NM 8x42's are an outstanding binocular for the money. Shop around, they are available for less than $240. Use your savings for accessory replacements. Good luck and come back in one piece.
The meopta/calbelas euro are great as well.
- Posts: 64
- Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:27 pm
If I may be so bold, I would like to post my experience in case it helps...
I've been researching and physically testing a bunch of binoculars in the $300 area. I've tried every nikon under $400 including porro prisms, action, action ex, monarch, monarch dielectric, bushnell excursion ex, legend and legend ultra HD, pentax PCF WP II porro and dcf cs roof, and many other similar quality $300 range binoculars. I've compared them all as well as a few high end binoculars from zeiss and swarovski in the $2000-3000 range.
The main things that I have found are first and foremost, every single binocular model (every single one) that I tested had bad quality control. What I mean is that I had to use a second or third pair of the same exact model to get one physically or optically working properly. This is from multiple reputable sellers (not one bad store). The bushnells had focus issues, the nikons had eyepieces that came unglued out of the box and focus/clarity issues, the pentax had a focus issue also, and various models had collimation issues. Comparing one to another made the focusing issues completely apparent.
So basically, you might get lucky, but from my experience and what I've researched, a lot of the less expensive binoculars are chinese made and the quality control varies. You may have to try a few to find one that is perfect out of the lot. Some people have the opposite experience, but if you do some research you'll see this is pretty common. There are many tests you can do in store, and a few more out of store, but I'll leave that for now.
Another issue with the sub $300 binoculars is that the parts are "typically" not as smooth and consistent. After adjusting the IPD setting (moving the barrels closer) on some binoculars, they easily move around because they are too loosely controlled. This is also similar with the focus wheels. Some have similar problems with the eyepieces as well. They don't click solidly into place or stay in place well. Also accessories vary. This might not sound like much, but when you finally decide you need another case and lens caps you're talking $20 for the case $7 for objective caps and $7 for raingaurd (eyepiece caps). That'$34 plus shipping online. You could put that $40-50 towards a better pair. There are many other physical problems I won't go into (body design, strap loops, etc.), but I'll give you my basic opinion on what is available from some of the major brands.
First, sub $300 I really don't think you can beat the pentax or nikon porro prisms. The 10x50 PCF WP II is optically very good. Very sharp overall and of what I've mentioned, the pentax actually feel very well made and suffer the least from all the physical problems. They are firm in movement, but not difficult. Comfortable, etc. Second, the nikon action extreme 10x50 or 12x50. These are probably the absolute best optics for the price. The porro design gives a very 3d image, bright and clear. I did have to try two to get one that was sharp and clear, and the one i ultimately ordered had the eyepiece come unglued. However, that could be from heat in shipping or any other factors, so if you had one with good glue, the optics are nice. They aren't perfect (not as sharp throughout the whole field of view as the pentax for instance), but very good.
Of the roof prisms, the best I found was the bushnell legend ultra HD. These are also very good for the price. However, at certain distances the focus wheel is very very sensitive, requiring some frustration to get a pinpoint focus. This could have been another example of quality control, but I didn't have another pair to test. However, they had the sharpest, silky smooth overall optics I've seen under $300. The chromatic aberration level is good too, a decent amount better than any at the price.
I could go on and on, but basically if I had to spend absolutely no more than $300, I'd get the bushnell legend ultra hd if i needed portable high quality optics. If I wanted to save more money and didn't mind the slightly larger size, I'd get the 12x50 nikon action extreme. I can hold 12x50 as good as 10x50 with the nikon, because the weight feels good in the hands. This varies greatly person to person though, so I wouldn't buy a 12x binocular without trying it. You might see exactly the same detail from an 8x if you can't hold them steady (there are many studies that prove this).
To conclude this ridiculously long post, I'll say this. Spend a little more than $300. You really do get what you pay for, for the most part. And it is true that the higher the price you pay, at some point the quality returns are very small for a large difference in price. But from every pair I have tested, I believe the true "entry" point into "high quality" binoculars is $350-$450. At this price range every binocular I've tested has been much more rugged and solid feeling with much better focus wheels and moving parts. And most importantly, they have had drastically better optics.
My two favorite, and the two I'm struggling to decide between still, are the atlas intrepid ed and eagle optics ranger ed (10x models). The atlas cost $350 and the ranger $450. The difference from the $300 group of binoculars is much much less chromatic aberration. So much less it is very hard to detect if you don't know how to look for it. The field of view is very good, with crisp detail across much more of the view. Again, so much so that you would need to know what to look for to detect it. Don't get me wrong, they have chromatic aberration and less detail at the edges, but to a "much" lesser degree than anything below their price range.
If price is truly a concern, I would buy the atlas intrepid ed. They are very very close optically to the ranger ed. So close in day and nigh time performance they should almost be closer in price. However, the eagle optics do feel a little more tight in the adjustments. Not difficult, just tight. You adjust them and they require just the right force to change the adjustments. Then they stay perfectly adjusted without easily being moved. They also have a better case and slightly better strap.
Compared to lesser binoculars, there is an obvious optical difference when you put these two to your eyes. Compared to the higher end zeiss and swarovski, the difference is much less noticeable. These are the reasons I would recommend you spend just a little more. If you only had them for TWO years, the extra $50 would be $2 per month. That would go down the longer you keep them. So over time the small price difference is worth the ease of use, comfort and optic performance in my opinion. I haven't mentioned eye relief or some other factors, but the intrepid and ranger both have decent eye relief for glasses wearers. This isn't so on many binoculars, despite "ratings". So try them if you can.
I bought these two from eagle optics website, and their support is excellent from my experience so far. You can try them and return them in 30 days with no guilt or concerns. If you have any questions I'd be glad to answer whatever I can from the models I've tried. I still have these two and am testing before returning the one I like best...