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I'm thinking about getting a pair of binoculars, but need help in deciding what to get. What is the difference in porro and roof prisms, and what is the difference in porro prisms with different ratings (bak4 vs bak7)? Is a zoom or fixed power set better for general use / woods / hunting?
Roofs are generally smaller, lighter, tougher and waterproof. Porros are easier to make and cost less. Bak-4 is Barium crown based glass and is of higher caliber. Zoom binos are typically crap.
Waterpoof is available in both roof and porro prism binos. More CA in roof binos but because of usually lighter weight and higher contrast, they are used by birders. You will generally find that a top quality roof is more expensive than a porro. But quality optics can be found in both.
GCR, you are correct in that some porros are waterproff. But for a Porro to be truly waterproof it has to have individual eyepiece focus instead of centerfocus. Some companies claim waterproofing in porros when they are really only splash proof. When a quality roof says waterproof that generally means that it is submersible to 16ft. Not a claim that any porro other than Steiner can make.