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Best Bird Watching Binoc under 0

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Best Bird Watching Binoc under $100

Postby Jim in Huntington Beach on Sat Apr 23, 2005 2:06 am

I'm just starting to bird-watch with my kid and I want binocs that he and I could use (so small compact ones may be a consideration.)

I don't want to totally throw my money away at really cheap binocs but the bird-watching thing may not last and I would still want to keep them around for other things: the occasional concert or ball game.

I noted some possibilities (though I haven't gone through all of the brands of binocs) with the prices and the closest focusing range because I think that's important to bird watching.

Are any on this list any good? Also, just what is an pupil exit of 2.1 like for bird watching (eg; with Nikon Medallion)

$60 --10' Audubon 8x40 Family Binoculars - 6000
$64 --9.9' No FAULT Nikon 10x21 Medallion S Compact Binoculars - 7380
$70 --8.5' Audubon 8x25 Compact Binoculars - 5208
$40 --8' Audubon 8x22 POCKET Binoculars - 4200
$30 --15' Bushnell 8X32 Folding-Roof Prism Black Powerview Binoculars 13-0832
$89 --6.1' Pentax 8x25 UCF X II binoculars 62211 - Best Buy
Jim in Huntington Beach

Postby on Sat Apr 23, 2005 1:48 pm

Hi Jim

That is a good question. Thank-you for visiting us!

The exit pupil is a rough estimate of image brightness. An exit pupil of 2.5 in the case of an 8x20 or 3 in the case of an 8x25, is adequate for all daylight situations short of heavy cover on the darkest, cloudy day. A full size 8x40 will, of course, take care of any birding situation, but, as you say, may be too large for your youngster.

Of those you mention, the Pentax UCF XII is a winner. It is one of our staff favorite picks under $100. It is a good binocular in its own right and it definitely has enough quality to be useful as a travel or backup binocular if you decide to upgrade to a larger binocular later.
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Postby Jim in Huntington Beach on Sat Apr 23, 2005 8:05 pm

Hey it's me, contributing to my own answer. I went to a camera store today with my kid to handle some binos and it was an enlightning experience. Mostly I went to see their Olympus Roamer 8x21 (which Optics Planet doesn't carry) and I also tried a couple of Minolta Activas and a Bushnell Birder.

Bottom-line, I need more light than anything in the 2 exit pupil range. Three is a little better, but 4 and 5 is definately more comfortable. Granted, I was looking at things inside the store, but that's probably equivalent to shadier spots with birds. I had taken with me my old broken Bushnell Ensign 7x35, but boy did it shed considerably more light on things.

Oddly, I found the smaller compacts more difficult to keep steady than something like the Bushnell Birder 8x32 which is your standard feeling porro (unfortunately it's min focusing distance was 15' which seemed much too far away for what I would want it for.)

Another surprise for me was that I didn't feel comfortable with the folding binos in that I found one side or the other collapsing while I was focusing. Maybe I'm a bigger klutz than I think. Also, I was getting this weird "overlapping" of what I saw through each side of the binos--I'm not sure if that was me again, or a result of the "compactness" of the binos, but I never got it straightened out.

The jury's still out on this, as I'll continue to search.

I'll post back, in case anyone's interested.

Jim in Huntington Beach

Postby Jim in Huntington Beach on Mon Apr 25, 2005 2:02 pm

And the winner is . . .

First let me say, I didn't actually accomplish what I set out to do, that is find a birder bino for under $100 that would be of, what I consider, to have a sufficient quality that it would be a wise investment for the future. Though I came close ($130).

I did, however, choose one that gave me more features than I anticipated, though some features, I did compromise on but not by much.

Overall, I think this purchase satisfies my needs (which are obviously not what someone else may want) with only minor short-comings but with some great advantages.

So, my choice is . . . the Bushnell Legend Porro 8x42 19-0842 ($130).

What excites me about the Legend:

- Fully Multi-coated Bak4 lenses
- Water and Fog Proof! I think if you’re outdoors birding, you would want this
- Porro lens (so I know I'm getting adequate optics for the money)
- Wide FOV 403'/1000'
- Large exit pupil: 5.25mm for more comfortable light in all situations
- Twist-up eye-cups
- 8x, so I get a little more power for birding
- Powerful and bright enough to use as a bino for astronomy in case birding falls through (and it has a tripod adapter)
- and also, the Legend seems to have garnered some pretty good reviews both here in the forum and elsewhere

What doesn't quite excite me (the compromises)

- Minimum focusing distance: 12'. Though, not bad, I wish it could have been more like 8'. Most birds probably won't be in closer than 12', though.

- Eye relief: 15mm. This spec is minimum for eye-glass wearers, and though I wear glasses, I probably won't need them when focusing this bino

- Weight: 22oz. I wanted less weight mostly because my kid was going to use these too, but compacts just don't have enough features per $

Well, there you have it. Like I said, my needs may not be everyone else’s', but I think the porro 8x42 Legend is a powerful, bright bino that will be pretty decent for birding and for all other family uses that comes pretty close, though does not quite meet, the $100 goal. But when considering it's weather and fog proofed with fully multi-coated Bak4 lens, it still seems quite the bargin.

Jim in Huntington Beach

Best Bird Watching Binoc under $100

Postby Bob on Fri May 20, 2005 11:06 am

I would check out the minolta classic 7x50. Much under rated. Great optics, bright with good eye relief. They're not small though