8x42 Advice & Recommendations
I am looking for a good 8-8.5 x 36-44 binocular for very all-round use: boating, hiking, sporting events, hunting, bird/animal watching, etc.
Important criteria for me: roof prism, price $175-$300, weight < 750g (the lighter the better), waterproof, eye-relief acceptable for eyeglass wearer, a reasonably wide field of view, decent close focus ability, good optical performance, and well-constructed.
I currently have a Nikon Monarch 8x42 ATBs (pre-dielectric coating). I have been very happy with the Monarch (previous experience was with absolute garbage...typical <$100 porro prisms your average joe buys on a whim), but when I started to investigate buying binoculars for my uncle, I read some comments that lead me to believe that I might appreciate a larger field of view than the Monarch offers (which is apparently relatively limited). This opened up a can of worms, so to speak, and now I am considering whether I should buy two binoculars of a different make/model!
Here are some models that seem to be potentially interesting. I'd really love to hear any observations, ideally from people with relevant experience:
- Nikon Monarch 8x42 ATB, with dielectric coating: I'll keep this on the list as the benchmark. The real question is: Given my criteria above, is there anything better.
- Pentax DCF CS 8x42: On paper, it looks like the front-runner. Not much in the way of on-line reviews and comparisons though.
- Vortex Diamondback 8x42: Seems equal to or better than the Pentax.
- Bushnell Excursion EX 8x42: Close to the Pentax - but some concern over the eye relief.
- Bushnell 8x42 Legend Ultra HD: Same comments as the Excursion apply.
- Nikon Monarch 8x36 ATB: This one is a wild-card. It seems somewhat appealing to me due to the slightly wider FOV and the size and weight.
- Carson 8x42 XM-HD: Don't know much at all about this binocular or manufacturer. Field of view does not seem to be superior to the Monarch.
- Anything else?!?: Olympus Magellan EXWP I 8x42? Don't know anything about it.
I'm open-minded. I don't care what the brand is, particularly...just the best binocular for the application.within the price range.
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If you have been happy with the Monarchs, stay with the Monarchs. For one, the 6.2 degree field of the Monarchs is actually not bad. It's, at the very least, average for an 8x. For another, in my experience, field of view, unless it is unusually narrow for a particular magnification, is a non-factor, as far as usefulness. Going to a seven degree field or better really won't make your binocular more that much more effective at finding objects in the field. At best, going wide-angle can enhance viewing comfort, but nearly always at the cost of optical performance. Getting a wide-angle model that is also super sharp right to the edge with little pincushion distortion is not going to happen at these prices. In short, I certainly don't consider field of view in this case to be a good reason for switching binoculars.
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