View Full Version : Good binocs without the enormous price tag?

March 1, 2002, 12:20 AM
I can handle spending money, but I don't think I can handle spending $1300 on a pair of binoculars.

I would like to spend about $700-$900.

I want something with range and view, like 8x40 minimum, up to 8x50 or 10x50.

Who makes binoculars that have crisp imagery, good light gathering, good optical quality, but without the enormous price tag?

I can handle spending even several hundred dollars. There has be something out there at least close to the quality of a Leica/Zeiss/Swarovski but without the big name brand price.

Jeff Neely
March 1, 2002, 12:55 AM
hey scorn;

I recently purchased a pair of leupold wind river binoculars, 10x42 roof prism. they were at a local G.I. JOES, display model, $300 . I see CABELAS has them for $349. Very good quality.


March 1, 2002, 02:00 AM
Recommend not buying any glasses unless you can take em outside first. Focus on a power pole at least a quarter of a mile away, preferably further. If the glasses show double pole or double cross bar (check both); don't buy em.

Really nasty collimation check is to try to see a star as a single dot. Very few glasses in the budget range are precisely collimated. And many of those have fixed prism mounts and can not be economically corrected.

You want to determine the sex and appearant health of a Pronghorn (size of a big goat) at up to 500 yds ? You need a good glass.

With carefull checking, good ones can be found.


Fred Hansen
March 1, 2002, 03:48 AM

8 x 42 Center diopter. Rated equal to or better than Zeiss, Swarovski. $ 458.00 @ eagleoptics.com. I hunt big game in Idaho and Washington. I love mine. :D :cool:

March 1, 2002, 08:21 AM
Have you tried Celestron? Got a great pair of FMC roof prisms.

Don't know about using them to help shoot critters. I use them for looking at women.

Jake 98c/11b
March 1, 2002, 09:13 AM
I don't know what price range you are looking in but Nikon has some good binoculars in the 250-350 range. Last I looked anyway, bought mine two years ago.

March 1, 2002, 12:10 PM
Adsolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt Pentax makes the best mid price range binoculars.


Especially the DCF/WP series.


March 1, 2002, 01:05 PM
My budget is around $700. I could go a little higher if it is necessary.

How are the Steiner Predators, 8x42? They are the price range I was looking for, and size I think I want (I don't know much about binocs). But not many people talk about Steiner, leading me to believe they are not that great. Most people seem to skip right over them and go for the Leicas or whatever.

I could maybe afford a Leica in 8x32 or 7x42 from SWFA. But I am not sure what I will be missing out on with a Leica 8x32 as opposed to a Steiner 8x42.

I could also afford a Swarovski 8x30 SLC at around $780. But once again I don't know what the difference is between a Steiner 8x42 and a Swarovski 8x30, as far as field performance.

I am going to be using these glasses to watch game in Arizona, sometimes for long periods of observation.

I will use Pentax as my fallback position, but honestly I was thinking of spending more money than that, so if there is something better in the $700-$850 range I will go for that.

Thanks for all the quick and informative responses!!!

March 1, 2002, 03:10 PM
Alrighty then....

How about a Swarovski 8x30 new in box w/full U.S. warranty for $599.95 ?

The Swarovski and Leica are very similar in quality and size. The Leica is more durable and weighs a little more, but the Swarovski is a steal at $599.95.

The Steiner Predator roof prism are nice but have a very critical focus, meaning that if you barely tough the focus wheel it is out of focus. This is caused by a fast geared focus wheel, so it does not take much of a rotatin to focus from 10 yards to 1000 yards.

We have several New Swarovski binoculars on our www.samplelist.com web site right now. Check 'em out.

But still don't count out the Pentax WP series, they will surprise ya. You can't always judge a bino by its price tag.

March 1, 2002, 03:17 PM
Thanks SWFA. Looking at the samplelist I am thinking I might want the Leica 8x50 or the Swarovski 8x50. Can't decide....they are both around $800-$900, just within in my price range.

I am interested in the 8x30's you mention, but I don't want to regret getting too little binocular. I don't mind carrying a larger heavier binocular as long as it gives the most performance.

I will be glassing in the desert, so perhaps I do not need the larger objective for light gathering?

I appreciate your advice in guiding me to the best optics for my needs.

March 2, 2002, 04:57 PM
If you're interested in researching binoculars, try some of the "birding" ("birdwatching") sites, such as www.betterviewdesired.com. Birders have demanded, and got, much better binocs than hunters have. BVD will take you into the tests of the optics and keep you from buying something you wouldn't have thought to question. They discuss the light gathering capability of large objective lenses, and find that it isn't as significant as we once thought - it does add a lot to the weight of the binocs, though.

The two basic types, "roof prism" and "porro prism" each have their own advantages and disadvantages. In general, "roof prism" (straight barrels) binocs are a little tougher, more easily waterproofed, and lots more expensive than porros. "Porros," (barrels offset from the eyepieces) in general, are less forgiving of knocks and harder to waterproof, but give you the best view for the money.

Within each type there's a wide variation in features and quality. You might want to know about "color abberation," "spherical abberation," "phase correction" and other technical issues before plopping down large bucks.

I settled on Nikon's 8X32 Superior E for a couple of reasons. First, since I was going to carry them a lot, I didn't want to carry anything heavier than its 22 ounces. Second, I wanted clarity all the way to the edge of the field of view (harder to get than you might think). Third, and most important to me was the way I was going to use them, the Nikon SE's have asymetrically ground lenses.

This is a little involved, but I thought it was worthwhile. Almost all lenses are ground spherically, which is the way they've been done for 400 years. (Rub two pieces of lens glass together and over time you'll have one convex and one concave lens, both "spherically ground.") Take any binocular with these lens and look at a straight line at the edge of the field of view - look at a telephone pole and move the binocs so the pole moves to either edge. See the pole curve, and the curve get bigger as you get closer to the edge? That's spherical abberation. Move a telephone wire to the top or bottom of the field and it'll curve, too. It's the nature of the beast. It doesn't bother most folks, because they automatically center whatever they look at, so it isn't a problem.

It is a problem for hunters who pan their binocs, looking for something to put in the middle of the field of view (FOV). I look for movement against a background. The farther to the edge of the FOV, the more "motion" I seem to see relative to the middle. For me, spherical abberation is a problem.

Nikon SE's (and a few others) use "asymetric lenses" rather than "spherical." The telephone pole in the center stays straight as it moves to the edge. There's less false movement as I pan for real movement. At $550 (+/-), they give me a clarity as good as the $1400 roof prism. They suit my needs, but YMMV.

The SWFA reference to the Pentax is likely the 8X42 WP (with phase coating), which is a real class leader in low price roof prisms. At 27 ounces, they were a little heavier than I wanted to carry, but their quality easily matches the German wonderglasses. They don't use asymetric lenses, though.

Oh, edited to add a suggestion as to purchasing. With this many bucks on the line, it's best to deal with high quality firms like SWFA.


March 3, 2002, 01:21 AM
Thanks for the info!
I am really torn right now. I am even thinking about going all-out and getting a Swaro EL but I just don't know what I am getting for my extra money.
I have not ruled out the Pentax.
I will pore over that BVD site.

March 3, 2002, 01:36 AM
SWFA is a great outfit to deal with and I have bought several riflescopes from them in the past.

If they don't have what you want another great outfit is www.bearbasin.com

Both outfits have good prices and customer service. I usually go with SWFA, but sometimes Bear Basin Outfitters has better prices on certain brands.

I picked up a pair of Leica 8x20 armor coated binocs a couple of years ago. Probably a tad small for your needs, but perfect for the pistol range and my over 40 eyes.

8x is about as much magnification as I can handle without support. You may want something like an 8x40 or 8x50 if the weight isn't a problem.