View Full Version : Binoculars

September 25, 2008, 01:26 AM
I'm looking for a new pair of binoculars. It doesn't really matter to me whether they are porro or roof prism, as long as they are bright and have good optics.

I would like a pair of 8x42, moderately priced. Something under $500 preferably. Some that I'm considering are:

- Nikon ATB Monarch 8x42 (these are roof prism) or a Nikon porro model with good multicoating. I like that the ATB Monarchs are under $300!

- Leupold with good multicoating. Lifetime warranty, I think. Don't know if the optics are as good as the Nikons, though.

- Steiner Marine 7x50. These are also under $300, but wonder how well the rubber coating holds up. Are the optics as good as the Nikons?

I haven't held any of these and will order them over the Internet. My criteria is:

- Comfort for long use (extended viewing)
- Good multicoating
- Nitrogen filled

Weight is not a big concern, although I don't want a brick. I don't mind porro-prism models, since they seem to be cheaper, if they are as good as roof-prism models. I read in a post that porros have better depth of field, anyway, which I like. If I go with a roof prism model, I want Phase coating.

Another question - I see several Steiner models in the 7x50 range. Is there a big difference in 7x compared to 8x binoculars? I'm looking for good magnification, but don't want the shake that comes with 10x. 7x50 would certainly offer good light transmission, with its' 7mm+ exit pupil. Are Steiners as bright and well made as the Nikon? (I currently have some 7x binoculars and was wanting a little higher magnification.)

Thanks for any suggestions.

September 25, 2008, 11:59 AM
For hand-held binocs, the 8x42's are a great choice. The Monarchs would be fine, along with any of the Vortex models up to and including the Vipers. Also, Alpen makes very good binocs at this price.

I would stick with the roof prisms just because of the ease of use and weight factor.


September 25, 2008, 12:33 PM
I just went through this and bought the 8x42 Vortex Viper over those other choices. They're the best bang for the $500 buck and you won't be disappointed!


8x42 (http://www.eagleoptics.com/index.asp?pid=4654)
10x42 (http://www.eagleoptics.com/index.asp?pid=4656)

September 25, 2008, 04:28 PM
Who is Vortex? I've not heard of them.


September 25, 2008, 05:00 PM
I am no expert in optics but I spent a lot of time researching for a spotting scope and have come to learn that if you do not mind porro-prism design, then you will get the best bang for your buck. Apparently, it is more expensive to produce roof prism optics than porro and usually, porro optics are of better quality/performance than roofs of the same price. If $500 is your budget, then I would find porro-prism binocs that cost $500 from a respected name (leupold, nikon, bushnell, vortex...). That would get you a great set of optics with all the features you want!

September 25, 2008, 06:03 PM
Who is Vortex? I've not heard of them.I hadn't heard of them that long ago either but they've apparently blown away the birdwatchers, and they're really the pickiest audience. They want the birds clear and bright and the colors not muted. I started to buy Leupold or Steiner to take to the auto races but folks talked me into a pair of Vortex (http://www.vortexoptics.com/riflescopes) Diamondbacks. I wanted a seriously wide field of view and that's what Diamondbacks are made for. I was very impressed. Then when I went looking for hunting optics I again thought Leupold, Steiner or Nikon but finally settled on the Vortex Viper for hunting after asking experts at Optics Talk (http://www.opticstalk.com/) (SWFA's forum), and reading reviews and finally talking with Eagle Optics (http://www.eagleoptics.com/). Everybody pretty much agreed that the Viper would blow away all of the Leupold "green ring" binoculars, and anybody else at that $500 price point. Do yourself a favor and pick up a harness ($15-20) to go with your new binoculars.

Field of View.......347 ft./1000 yds.
Eye Relief ........20mm
Close Focus........5.1 ft.
Weight...............23 oz.
Dimensions (HxW): 5.8 x 5.3 in.
Weatherproofing: Waterproof/Fogproof

Steve C99
September 25, 2008, 08:23 PM
A month ago I would have wholeheartedly agreed with scholling about the Viper. I have both the 8 and 10x42 Vipers, and they are terrific binoculars. However, I recently had a chance to review the Promaster Infinity Elite ELX ED 8x42. Now, I have no idea why they chose to continue their naming strategy the way they did. They have lesser quality Infinity and Infinity ELites. However the key here is ELX ED. This is an optics comment, but if it matters to you, they are made in China.

The whole deal was done without anyone knowing what they were or what they cost. The idea being to try for some open review comments.

Short story is this. These things cost $500. I bought an 8x42 and the Viper is going to go up for sale. They EASILY compare in image quality to much more expensive glass, and are noticeably brighter with better resolution than the Viper. As I said, I never thought I'd ever say this about the Viper at this price class.

They are an open bridge design of 28oz. They resemble the Bushnell Infinity more than the Vortex Razor. They have a water and oil repellent coating, and a fov of 393'. They have a fairly slow focus wheel rate.

CameralandNY sponsored the review and that is where I bought mine.

Sort of long winded for my first post, but the are really good optical instruments.

September 26, 2008, 09:05 PM
Sorry, this is my first post as well. I came from the same place as Steve. Here is a copy/paste of my review of the Promasters Steve mentioned. Easily the best binoculars optically in the $500 and under price range.

Yes, quite a mouthful but definitely worth it when your eyes are placed up against the eyepieces.

I know this binocular has been discussed quite intensely under the "Mystery Binocular..." thread but I really feel the need to continue to draw attention to it simply because I continue to be impressed by its optical performance.

Really, it is that good.

After finally receiving my 8x32 Nikon SE this morning I have been sitting on the backporch shifting back and forth between the SE, the 7x42 Zeiss FL and the Promaster ED. Think this is an unfair comparison? Think again.

I spent alot of time last week comparing the image of the Promaster ED to the 8x32 Swarovski EL, the 8.5x42 EL and the 7x42 SLC. I came to the conclusion that the Promaster actually offered the best centerfield apparent sharpness of any of those models. Yes, you read that correctly. The image in the Promaster is exceptionally sharp. Granted both the ELs and the SLC had better edge performance. I have repeatedly compared the Promater to the FL in regards to this particular characteristic. Exceptional centerfield sharpness with a moderate level of astigmatism in the outer 1/3rd of the field of view. Because of the flatness of the image (no field curvature) the astigmatism isn't that troublesome though it does "turn your eye" towards the extremely sharp centerfield.

I have now been comparing the FL, SE and Promaster. In my opinion the centerfield apparent sharpness of the Promaster is very close, if not at the same level as the FL and SE.

I am not exaggerating in the least.

Edge performance is better in the SE and brightness is better in the FL but the Promaster really does compare very well optically to both of these models. Both the FL and SE display an extremely neutral color representation. Probably the most neutral of any binoculars I have had the privelege to look through. Only in comparison to these two models does the Promaster display an ever so slight warm color bias. To give you some perspective the Promaster looks entirely neutral in comparison to the ELs and SLCs. Flare control is also very good in the variety of conditions I have had the opportunity to place these binoculars in.

For those of you that have not been following the Mystery binocular thread the Promaster is now selling at several camera-specialty stores for $500 US and around $550 for the 10x42 model. (From my understanding Promaster only sells to these types of stores so those of you waiting for Eagle Optics or Cabelas to start carrying these may be waiting a long time.)

From an optical standpoint I do not really have anything negative to say about these bins. What I have found though is that when a person is really pleased with the optical package of a binocular then they start being really picky of the physical package...and vice versa. I guess it is just our nature to want to try for the "perfect binocular". In the case of the Promaster its physical characteristics and overall ergonomics are entirely acceptable. After intense use over the last two weeks I do not really have any "major" complaints in this regard.

On the minor side...

...the eyecups could be slightly more contoured and slightly stiffer in movement

...the focusing tension could be just a hair "tighter" as there is some play in my unit

...the diopter arrangment could be a little "classier" but is entirely adequate in its current design

The focusing speed is slow by todays standards requiring 2.5 turns to go from a close focus of 6 feet to infiniti. I have found this to actually be an asset though as it really gives me superior control in dialing in the sharpest image possible. The thumb indents on the underside of the barrel are fairly shallow but they fit my hands quite well. Placing my right thumb in the indent and allowing my left hand to wander further up the barrel, closer to the objective, produces an extremely stable platform while still allowing for perfect finger placement on the focusing knob.

All and all I am extremely satisfied with this binocular...excited even when you consider that you now can buy a Chinese manufactured binocular at the $500 price point that performs at this level.

Low light performance? Excellent
Apparent sharpness? Superb
Color representation? Very neutral
Brightness? Excellent
Handling? Very good

Its features read like a checklist.....

ED objectives....................check
Fully multicoated lenses......check
Phase coated prisms...........check
Silver coated prisms...........check
Nitrogen purged.................check
Close focusing...................check
Wide field of view...............check
Oil/water repellent coating...check
"No fault" warranty..............check
Average "high end" weight.....check
Good ergonomics..................check

I had the opportunity to compare the EDs against almost all of my bins last night....the Leupold Yosemite 8x30, Celestron Ultima DX 8x32, Bushnell Discoverer 7x42, Zeiss FL 7x42, Zeiss Conquest 8x30.....and really only the FLs displayed slightly better image quality. (see picture below) The Promasters are the open-bridge style in the middle.

I strongly encourage all of you binocular aficionados out there to give these binoculars a try. They are going to start gaining a following quickly.

September 26, 2008, 10:29 PM
Anyone know if the mystery binocular comes in a 15X size?

September 27, 2008, 08:22 AM
I am guessing that you are looking for a "Big Eyes" verison of this bin?

At the present time there only are 8x42 and 10x42 versions of this binocular.

September 27, 2008, 10:06 AM
Mystery binocular thread the Promaster

I was part of the review panel for Doug. The Promasters are very good. I found the depth of field somewhat flat, but I don't think that would be a problem in the field and the upside is a very short close range focus of 6ft. The glass is exceptional, but the whole package is somewhat pricey. As a value seeker is was drawn to the following.



and the Leupold Yosemite (which Cameraland doesn't carry)

I ended up the the Minox 6.5x32 IF. I should get them in the mail in the middle of next week.

I don't consider myself an optics snob, but I have learned that cheap bins are a total waste of money. All the walmart specials I've bought are out of collimation and after looking at the Promasters the glass on the cheapies look like they are coated with saran wrap.

Chuck Dye
September 27, 2008, 11:08 AM
Don't forget internal reflection control.

I have some Pentax binoculars with glossy black internal surfaces and apparently undressed lens edges that make for very poor contrast under too many viewing conditions. :(

Steve C99
October 2, 2008, 06:11 PM
After reviewing the Promaster, I finally decided to get a pair for myself. They got here today. There have likely been some changes in the production run vs. the review sample. The image may be a little brighter (that's sort of an unquantifiable subjective term that I suppose doesn't mean much) but that's how it seems. The field of view seems cleaner further toward the edge of the field than on the review glass. I wish the depth of focus was better, but it is not bad, and actually somewhat better on the new one than on the review one. The depth of focus seems to increase as the observing distance increases. The distance resolution of this thing is awesome.

So, for $500, this thing is scary good. If the depth of focus was better, there would be no real observable differences between these and $1,000++ binoculars. I'd sure call Doug at Cameraland and ask him about them.

October 2, 2008, 06:31 PM
I got my Minox in from Doug today too. So far I'm very impressed.

October 2, 2008, 06:53 PM
Has anyone tried the Steiner 7x50 Marine model? I've heard that some Steiners may not be as bright as you would think, because of UV coatings or some such?

I'm also concerned about the sharpness of the "non-focus" design.

Anyone tried them?

Steve C99
October 2, 2008, 09:39 PM
Have an 8x30 Steiner Predator, but I've never tried a 7x50 Military/Marine. Actually what Steiner calls Auto Sport Fous is just their name for the old standard IF (Individual Focus). You have to adjust each eye with a diopter tyle focus ring located on each ocular. Focus for one eye, then the other. Has nothing to do with how good the image is. The image is controlled by the quality of the glass and coatings in the binocular. That Steiner should focus fine. I don't really like the image of my 8x30, but that is a function of the optics in that model more than the IF. You'll either like the depth of field as focused or accept the two eyed re-focus if you need to go closer to you. Personal choice there. I'll take a center focus wheel every time.

October 3, 2008, 06:37 AM
Steve, I have a focused depth of about 20 yards to 150 yards without touching the diopters. I played with the diopters last night, and I can spin both rings at the same time without moving the bins from my eyes. I will be hunting in relatively thick stuff, so 20-150 is just dandy as is the 6.5 power. But you are right, others would dislike the IF feature.

Steve C99
October 3, 2008, 03:03 PM
You have better hand-eye coordination than I do. I thought I would be able to do that (focus both diopters at once), but I can never get it right. If IF is being considered, The 6.5x-7x would likely be better. Generally as magnification is increased, depth of focus decreases. I also happen to have a 6.5x32 Vortex Fury, a CF glass with the same sort of optics as the Minox. When I focus like you describe, the field is about what you describe. If focused at 100yds+, the field is about 40 yds to infinity. The Minox is probably about the same. So, yeah, its a purely personal preference deal.

However, I find that even with a real expensive binocular like the Swaro EL, which has a superior depth of focus, that I still can get a little beter view if I can bump the focus a bit to get just the right spot for whatever it is I'm loking at.

My reccomendation to the OP is that if you decide to try an IF binocular and don't happen to like it, the resale value of the Minox will be far better than the Steiner. The IF Steiners generally have a less appealing image, so they will be hard to sell without taking a bath. The Minox has lots of fans, and resale will be way easier. Me, I'd get the Minox over the Steiner and not look back if I was in the market for IF.

October 3, 2008, 09:14 PM

What do you mean by less appealing image with the Steiners? Are they not as sharp? Not as bright? Poor contrast?

Thanks again.

October 3, 2008, 09:45 PM
I also own a pair of 8x30 Steiner Predator Binos and love them.
I use them for hunting and they work great! Eye relief is great, they are light weight, and the rubber coating is awesome. I can set them down on the dash of my friend's boat and that's where they stay even flying over waves going at 45 mph on the lake! I suppose that's why the cost guard uses them.

Most Steiners are (and I am careful to use this term correctly) Mil-Spec designed. So you know they can take alot of abuse.

I guess it depends on what you will be using them for. I have found that my Steiners are great for every type of viewing I've used them for.

I don't think you can go wrong with any of the three you listed.
All of those companies produce great optics.

Steiners work very well if you wear eyeglasses.

I know Leupold offers a lifetime warrenty and Steiner offers a 10 year, I'm not sure about Nikon.

George Hill
October 5, 2008, 07:37 PM
My picks:

10x25, Nikon Sportstar, $69.99. Super compact size and very light.

10x25, Nikon Prostaff, $139.99. Compact reverse poro prisms. Great optical quality for the size and those little 25mm objective lenses.

10x42, Hunters Edge Series 3, $149.99. Small and tough optics, not too expensive, but a good hard working set of glass to toss into your range bag. That's where I keep mine.

10x42, Bushnell Excursion. $149.99 to $199.99 depending on when and where you find them. If you can get them on sale, they are a heck of a good deal for the optical quality you are getting.

10x42, Leupold Acadia, $199.99. A great deal more light transmission and clarity than any other glass at this size and in this price range, in fact, they are often better than others that cost 100 bucks more.

10x50, Nikon Advantage. $199.99. These are fairly large roof prism binos, but they are very light in weight. I like the camo pattern. Works in desert and wetland areas. Great optical quality for the money.

10x42, Nikon Monarch, $299.99. Great optical quality, much like the Advantage, but much smaller. No Questions Asked Warranty makes this the better choice for serious hard use... such as for military guys wanting there own good glass.

10x42, Leupold Cascade, $309.99. One of the best binos on the market... I think the optics are a touch better than the Nikon Monarchs, but these guys don't have the No Questions Asked Warranty that Nikon has. This is my choice for uses that are not as hard as say an Infantry mission... but great for most any hunt.

10x50, Nikon Monarch. $399.99. Bigger and heavier than the 10x42 Monarchs, much longer too... but if you don't mind the weight, these are fantastic binos for the money.

10x42, Leupold Mojave, $419.99. Great glass and a good step up from the Cascades as these units do better in lower light. Normally there is an even playing field at the 300 dollar tier and another level up around 500 dollars... so this one occupies a middle ground.

10x42, Vortex Viper, $499.99. These are probably my all around favorite binoculars. The optical quality is striking. These units have one awards from the outdoor industry. Vortex has a great VIP warranty program and is probably the best company to work with for binoculars. Before these came out, I would have said Steiner Merlins here, but for the same money, these Vipers are just flat out better.

10x42 Vortex Razor, $796.99. These are longer than the Vipers, have an Open Hinge like the Swarovski EL series. We have a lot of guys that come in looking for Swarovskis, and walk about with the Razors. Looks similar to the Vipers when you look through them, but really stand out when you get into lower light or transitional light. That dusk magic hour is when these really shine compared to other optics.

Above this level, you have Swarovski. The SLC and the EL 10x42. These are hands down the best glass on the market. Don't even ask the price. The SLC is a tougher built, hard working set of glasses. These are for hunting and serious purpose. Very tough, very strong, and the view through them is nothing short of amazing. The EL's use a lighter magnesium housing with an open hinge design. Designed primarily for bird watching, it has a much closer minimum focal distance. Swarovski also spent a lot of time doing color correction work on these. Meaning that colors look brighter and crisper through these units than anything else.

Nikon also has a high level set of Binos out called the Edge. For 2 grand, they are more expensive than the Swaros. Sure, they are supposed to be fantastic, but Nikon is only making 30 to 40 pairs a month. So essentially these are vaporware.

Now you also have these upper level bino/rangefinder combo units like the Leica Geovids. I don't really like them at all. They are too big, bulky, heavy, and expensive. Rather than spend 2200 bucks on the Geovids, I'd rather have a set of Vipers and a Lieca 1200 and save almost a Grand.

Steve C99
October 5, 2008, 11:09 PM

My bad, what I meant is that there is a lot of either love/hate for Steiner. The image I referred to is the public relations sort of image they have, not necessarily ihe image view the binocular gives. Also there is the same sort of love/hate with IF. My point was and is that it will likely be easier to get a decent resale on the Minox than with the Steiner. should you decide to with an IF binocular and then wish to sell it. Again, this is a personal deal and I see no reason to abandon CF. The Steiner Military/ Marine @ 7x50 ius probably pretty good, but it is pretty huge.

Steve C99
October 5, 2008, 11:14 PM
As to the Vipers. Not so long ago, they were my unquestioned $500 class binocular. After a couple of days hunting in wet, rainy, cold, dreary, dim and gray days, I have this to say. The Viper can't touch the Promaster Infinity Elite ELX ED which are the same money and dead on optical ringers for $1,000++ binoculars. The 8x Promaster shows more detail way out there than the 10x Viper.

October 6, 2008, 09:48 AM

Thanks for the clarification. I didn't know anything about a bad reputation for Steiner, I haven't kept up with the binocular world.

I've decided against them, anyway. From the descriptions, I'm sure I would prefer center focus.


October 6, 2008, 10:59 AM
Having just researched for almost 9 months I just bought a set of the "Cabellas Alpha Extreme" in 8X42.
These are every bit as good as all the others mentioned, and for about $200.00.
I directly compared them for clarity, way out to the edges of the FOV (Where it's usually at it's worst), Field of view, contrast (snap), flare (Internal reflections that cause problems with contrast & make colored blobs of light), and ease of use.

One very nice feature is the ability to set individual eyesight correction very easily. The center focus knob sets normal focussing, but if you pull the knob out, against a firm click-stop, the individual eyesight correction is applied with the same knob. It's amazingly easy to set up this way, while being difficult to accidentally access because of the firm click-stop position.

I wear glasses, and because of this frequently have problems, even with the "EER" models, no such problewms here. I could easily see the whole field wearing glasses.
Also just a little thing, but good is the lens covers are permanently attached with rubber straps.

I am very satisfied with the results as compared to Leupold, Nikon, and Sowarski.
They got a field test for a week in the mountains, and came thru with flying colors.
You might want to check them out.

October 6, 2008, 11:49 AM
I like the Nikons... Very bright... One thing I've noticed in comparing binoculars is that some tend to add a slight tint to things that are white. In fact, some even turn a white wall to pale yellow. The easiest way to see this is in a store where you can immediately switch from brand to brand and see the difference. In any case, I live in the land of grey weather and low light so I opted for the Nikon 10X50's several years ago. Great glass for the money. I haven't looked back.

October 8, 2008, 05:48 AM
How do you know how powerful a set of binoculars is. What does like 8 x 21 mean? If the numbers go higher or lower does that mean it is weaker or more powerful?

Auto Transport (http://www.nationaltransportllc.com )

October 8, 2008, 09:56 AM
I posted this on another forum a while back, in response to pretty much the same question.
Hope you find it helpful.

Doing the math. Question: What do all the numbers on the box, or in an advert tell me about the optic I’m buying?

The main numbers will be something like 8X40, or 10X50. This tells you 2 things immediately, once you understand the numbering conventions used.
The first number (8 or 10) is the magnification provided by the scope. 8 means that an object will appear 8X bigger, or 8X closer as you prefer.
The second number is the diameter of the front (or objective) lens. This will control, among other things, the brightness of the lenses, and the field of view.
You can also calculate things from these two numbers using simple math, mostly add, divide & multiply.
If you divide the second number by the first (8/40 in our example) it will give you a number called the “Relative Light”. This will give you a number that represents how bright the scope should be, all other things being equal.
Lets do the math, based on our numbers above.
40/8 = 5
50/10 = 5
This says that the two different scopes will have the same brightness, but the bigger one will have more magnification. The cost here being it will be bigger, more expensive & heavier.
Lets try a different one. This time we’ll use a compact binocular as an example, a 10X20.
20/10 = 2
This tells us that the compact will give us the same magnification (10X), but the small front lens, which allows it to be small & light lets far less light thru, so it will look much dimmer. The difference can be marked down as 2/5, which equals the difference between the 2 systems. The compact is 0.4 times as bright as the big one.

If we do the opposite and multiply the numbers together, then we can calculate even more.
40X8 =320
10X50 = 500
8X20 = 160
These numbers will give what is called an “Optical Index” by comparing the answers we can get an idea of the size & weight of an optic without ever seeing it! The higher the number is, the bigger the optic will be. Again by dividing out the numbers & comparing the answers we have a reasonable idea of how much bigger one will be than the other.
500/320 = 1.5625
This means the 10X50 will be roughly 1-½ times bigger & heavier than the 8X40.
Or 320/160 = 0.5
In this case the compact 8X20 will be 0.5 or ½ the bulk & weight of the 8X40.

There are also specifications that have 3 numbers such as 3~9X40. These refer to zoom scopes where you can vary the magnification by turning a ring. The first number here is the Lowest power, the second, separated from the first by the “~” symbol is the highest and the third is again the diameter of the objective lens. With zoom optics you need to have a power setting of your choice before doing the math, but again it can be useful. For example: how much brighter is the zoom when set at 3 powers than when it is set at 9 powers?
Like this:
40/3 = 13.333
40/9 = 4.44
13.333/4.44 = 3.009.
The scope is 3 times brighter at 3X than at 9X!

Easy do the math twice, once for each power setting & then treat the results like two different scopes!

Bare in mind these have no relationship to the quality of the optic, they just allow us to play “what if” games without having to go & get a bunch of optics to do the comparisons.
Cool, No?

Understanding the technical terms. Question: what the heck do things like “Aspherical Objective Lens” mean in plain English?

Like any technical field there are terms used that are unique to that area, kind of shorthand for the ideas involved. Here are some of the more common ones you’ll come across when choosing a scope.

American System
The reticule is placed in such a way that the apparent size does not change when zooming. Advantage: Consistent view. Disadvantage: any range measuring must be done at a specified power.

Angle of view.
The same as field of view, but expressed in degrees. You have to do the math to convert it into a feet at a distance number. Usually shown as 1.3 degrees, or something similar.

Aperture / F number
The diameter of the lenses free light-transmitting path. Sometimes referred to ads "D" in telescopes. Usually fixed in telescopes & binoculars, determined by the design. Usually adjustable in camera lenses by opening & closing a mechanical version of the iris in your eye.

Most lenses are part of a sphere. Imagine slicing a piece off of the side of an apple. The curved part with the skin is "spherical" & the flat part where the knife went is "Plane" Aspherical lenses change this curve as you get closer to the edge of the lens. It allows some fairly extreme optical engineering to happen without loss of quality.

Bore sighting
Preliminary alignment of the scope & Barrel. Done by looking down the Barrel while adjusting the cross hairs to meet at the same point that can be seen thru the barrel. Now sometimes done by shining a laser down the barrel & making the cross hairs meet where the dot shows up.

Mechanical ratchet that makes a clicking noise when being adjusted. It allows precise adjustments for zeroing by allowing the clicks to be counted. Frequently marked as 1/4 MOA or 1/8 MOA. In this case there is a known amount of movement in the point of impact per click, which allows for rapid, precise changes in zero by going "up 8 clicks". This being a 2" movement at 100 yds with 1/4 MOA clicks.

A process that applies a very thin layer to the surface of glass. This improves transmission & adds a physically tougher layer to the surface of the soft optical glass. There are dozens of proprietary coatings in existence, all of which have a unique name. Some kind of "Multi Coating' is the current standard.

The amount of separation between black & white objects. If they appear light grey & dark grey they are said to be "Flat" or "low Contrast". If they are bright white & dark black they are said to be "Hard" or "high contrast". Frequently used as a measure of quality, but too much is not a good thing in this case, as for example shadows will become black & not hold detail (such as the 12 point buck hiding in them!)

A single piece of glass with one or more curved surfaces. The curve may bulge out "Convex", curve in "Concave" or be flat "plane". Different sides may have different shapes. The basic building block of a lens system. A pair of glasses is a pair of elements.

The internal lenses that allow the thing being looked at to be right side up & right way round. Usually only found as a separate item on astronomical scopes when using them as a spotting scope.

European System
The reticule is placed so that it changes apparent size as it is zoomed. Advantage: Ranging can be done at any zoom setting. Disadvantage: The change in apparent size is the opposite of what would be idea. (it gets bigger & thicker as the image gets smaller.)

Exit pupil
How wide the actual projected image that you will be viewing is. Very important for low light usage! The average human eye adjusts in diameter as the light decreases. An exit pupil less than the diameter of the iris in your eyes will not get brighter as the light decreases, no matter how bright the system is. This will make the scope poor in low light, or heavy shadow. 9~11 mm is a good low light diameter as this is about as big as the human pupil gets.

External adjustments
The tube has fixed internal components and the adjustments move the whole tube to correct aim by screws outside the optical system. Good for water sealing the tube in extreme environments, but more fragile & likely to get knocked out of alignment than internal ones.

Eye relief
How far away from the eyepiece your eye can be while still seeing everything in the scope.

The lenses at the back of the scope that you look into.
Field of view. How wide a circle you will be able to see at a given distance. More is better. When comparing 2 different scopes of the same power the one with the wider field of view will allow you to see a wider area. Usually shown as something like 323 feet @ 100 yds.

Stray light bouncing round inside the lenses, instead of being either trapped, or eliminated. Usually shows up as a loss of sharpness & contrast.
Focal Length The distance behind the front lens groups where a sharp image is formed of a distant subject. Usually longer is more powerful, but has a narrower viewing angle. You have tested a focal length if you ever used a magnifying glass to start a fire by moving it back & forth to concentrate the sun's rays. When the hot spot was smallest & hottest you were at the focal length of that magnifying glass.

Focal point
The plane where an image formed by a lens is tack sharp. There are at least two in all telescopes. Inside the front is the primary where the main lens first focuses the image in front of the scope. To the rear is the secondary, where the eyepiece optics will produce a sharp image of your eyeball.
Ghosting Bright colored blobs of light that wipe out the image as seen without the scope. An extreme form of flare. Usually controlled by good design & a lens shade. The closer you can get to a light before this happens is one measure of the quality of a scope.

A bunch of elements fitted together to do a specific task that one element cannot do alone. The number of groups & elements will vary from lens to lens, but usually more is better, especially in zoom systems. If you put a magnifier in front of normal glasses for close up work this is a group.
Internal adjustment The interior of the scope is a smaller tube, moved within a bigger tube to track across or up & down without any external screws.

Lens shade
A device to keep stray light from degrading the image by shading the front lenses from direct sunlight. Works like holding your hand over your eyes when looking into a bright light.

Light transmission
Not all light passing thru a lens makes it. A small percentage is absorbed or reflected. Not too serious until you add all the glass in a zoom system, then it adds up quite a bit. The higher the number the better 99.5% being about what good modern optics can do.

One minute of angle. An angle roughly equivalent to 1" @ 100 Yds, or 2" @ 200 Yds and so on.

Used several different ways. It can mean attaching a glass element to a group, or tube. It can mean the device used to attach the whole optical shebang to another device. Camera mounts allow interchangeable lenses to be swapped on a camera, scope mounts attach the scope to the gun Etc. Basically a generic term. Mounting prisms in binoculars is an important example, clamp mounts are far sturdier than glue mounts Etc.

The big lens, or group of lenses at the front of a scope that collects the light entering the system & performs the initial manipulation by forming a "real" image. It controls things like field of view & magnification.

Optical axis
An imaginary line drawn thru the exact center of each lens in the system.

Optical Center
The middle of the lenses. This is where the quality is highest. Cross hairs should be optically centered from the factory, but on a used scope you may have to do it yourself. Rolling the scope in “V” blocks while looking at whether the cross hairs "wobble" will detect this, Adjusting the turrets until the "Wobble" stops finds the optical center.

Optical Glass
Special kinds of glass used to control the way light is bent by the individual lenses in a scope. Frequently several different types may be used in a single optic. Types such as "Flint Glass" are common. Nowadays there are even more specialized types in use such s "Fluorite Glass" frequently found in camera lenses. The list goes on and on. Basically its an indication of a higher quality lens.

Optical plane
Not a cheap flight for photographers! To make the math easier the front to back of everything from the subject to the eye is divided into slices, just like bread, but much thinner. Each of these slices is a plane. Some of them have vital things happening in them (such as the reticule being positioned there.)
Parallax The differing position between the image of the reticule & the image of the target. When correctly eliminated the two appear as one. When incorrect the center of the reticule can appear to move across the face of the target, causing dispersion of the shots. It can be checked for & adjusted if the scope has an adjustable objective (AO) lens.

Usually the magnification of the optic. 10X means it magnifies 10 times, or makes things seem 10 times closer. Frequently over stated by optics manufacturers. A rule of thumb is you can have only 20X per inch of objective diameter. So that 40mm X 200 power scope will not be real sharp.
Prismatic Using a prism shaped glass block to bend light round corners. Usually refers to binoculars, but spotting scopes are frequently prismatic to reduce bulk. Very few sights are prismatic, one of the exceptions being the "Trilux SUIT"

Range finding reticule
Divisions, or marks on the reticule, known as “Stadia” that can be compared to an object of known size & used to estimate the distance to that object. There are many systems all of which rely on the same principal: If the size of an object is known, and the power setting of the scope is known then 2 sides of a triangle are known. The scope is “programmed” to do the trig. Needed to calculate & display the 3 rd number (the distance to the target.) by doing the Sine, Cosine, Tangent thing we all hated in high school! The accuracy of all of them depends on a couple of things, (the correct estimation of the size of the target, the ability to very accurately place the object exactly within the stadia.) The stadia can be circles, lines diamonds, dots, lozenges or indexed curved lines, but the technique used ids the same A unique one is the "Sheppard" where 2 reticules are used. They are made to appear to be together by clever optical design.

Device to measure distance. Some use moving mirrors, but the newer ones bounce a laser off the target & calculate the delay to be very accurate.

Relative light
The amount of light being sent out the back to your eye. The higher the better for low light conditions. Works with the "Exit Pupil"

One measurement of how sharp an optic is. It is the number of black/white lines the lens can detect at a given distance. More is better. Especially if you are trying to see a .223" hole at 500 yds.

The framework that you sight with inside a scope. It can have dozens of types, including, but not limited to: Post, Post & horizontal wire, cross hair, 30/30 (cross hairs that thicken towards the edge of the scope & thin towards the center) Range finding (many types) & Mil Dot (another range estimating system) The functions of the reticule are mainly A: put an aiming point on the target. B: indicate whether or not the gun is level. C: Have some system to pull the shooters eye to the center.

Sighting in
Same as zeroing.

REAL MEANING: A lens built in such a way that its optical length is greater than its physical length. Example a 1000mm lens can be as little as 450 mm long. Done by using clever internal lens design, prisms, or mirrors. COMMON MEANING: a lens that makes things look closer than they are.

The mechanical screws, dials, springs & indicators that tell you where you are setting the cross hairs. Usually one for elevation (up & down) & another for azumith (left right.)

Twilight factor
How bright the image will appear to be under low light, such as dense shade. Does not really apply under bright lighting, you will not be able to detect a difference of twilight factors under normal lighting.

Wide Angle
REAL MEANING: a lens that compresses more than we can see with the unaided eye into the same space we see with that eye. COMMON MEANING: having a wider than normal field of view for that type of optic.

Wide Field
Same as the common usage of wide angle.

Getting the path of the bullet & the optical view to meet at a given point. The sight is mounted away from the barrel. The bullet’s path is curved, & the optical path is straight. Correcting for all these things is the “Zero” at a given distance. The appearance is that the bullet will strike the target exactly where the cross hairs were pointing when the cartridge fired. There are actually 2 zeros at any setting, one as the bullet climbs up after leaving the barrel, and another as it drops back under gravity much further away. You can use this to sight in for a distant range when there is only a closer distance available. If you “Zero” at the first point, you can calculate the second out if you know the trajectory of the bullet. It is approximate, but better than guessing. Making adjustments to the scope’s mounting & adjustment turrets does it.

Changing the magnification by manipulating the internal optics. Common ones are 3~9 or 4~12 meaning you can change the "power" between either 3X to 9X, or 4X to 12X. Popular because magnification & area viewed are exact opposites & you can trade off between the two quickly & easily.

Steve C99
October 8, 2008, 06:22 PM
In his previous post wogpotter uses the term "all else being equal". If one decides to "do any of the math", keep that in mind. Remember that a $19.95 bubble wrap binocular off the discount rack at the Cheap Mart of some magnification X objective size will give the exact same mathematical solutions as the same magnification X objective of a $1,995.00 State-of the-Art binocular. Just because the Twilight Factor or Relative Brightness for the two are the same surely does not mean the actual performance is the same. That works for rough comparisons between binoculars of approximately equal optical ability. Hence all else being equal. Problem is, it's never equal.

October 9, 2008, 06:38 AM
That was my point exactly.
You will need to compare apples to apples.
"Just because the Twilight Factor or Relative Brightness for the two are the same surely does not mean the actual performance is the same. "

This is not quite true. Let me explain.
Twilight factor is just that. How bright will the two being compare be when your eye is fully dilated? This is a purely subjective measurement.

But "Relative brightness" will be an actual measurement of the amount of illumination per unit vale at the eyepiece. This is an actual comparable, measured value.

Just "doing the math is" the first step, it will allow you to see if a particular magnification/objective size is at all suitable for the purpose intended. It's most usefull application is in eliminating unsuitable specification from your search.

Now differing quality of manufacture (ie cost), will effect things like light transmission (& many other things). This will show up in the specs if you know how to read them.

The real trick here is to learn how to "read between the lines" of the printed specs. If model #1 has a relative brightness of 13, & model #2 has one of 12, then there is a less efficient light transmission with model #2. If they are the same spec (let's say 8X40) then that "missing" light goes somewhere. It either just gets lost, due to poor coatings, or scatters a random uncollimated light & bounces round inside the system. This is a bad thing as this will show up as a lack of contrast & even possibly "flare" that will make the image look flat, or fuzzy.

All the definitions & calculations in the earlier post are just the starting point of the learning curve. They were posted to answer the questions about what the terms mean, & how to apply them. They were never intended as a treatise on picking an optical setup.

Having said this, to clarify the previous post, I agree totally that you get what you pay for with optics. If you compare a cheap optic with a very expensive one then you are cheating yourelf as there will be a price to pay for the compromises made in materials & manufacturing to reduce the cost.

October 11, 2008, 10:33 PM
I ordered the Nikon Monarch ATB 8.5x56 model. Has anyone tried these?

I've not been able to see them in person, so I'm hoping it's not going to be a mistake...

Bob G.
October 15, 2008, 12:32 PM
I have the Nikon Monarch 8.5x56 binocs. Very good performance, especially in low light. I love them for viewing the moon and stars too. Only complaint I have is weight, not bad, but I made the mistake of playing with the Nikon Monarch 8x42's and really noticed how much lighter they are. I would not give up the 8.5's, but I now have a pair of the lighter ones high up on my "need to buy" list. I think you will be very happy with your purchase.

October 15, 2008, 02:47 PM

Thanks for the info. I'm hoping they're going to be delivered today by the man in brown.

I still may put the 8x42 Monarchs on my list to buy later, too.

Ala Dan
October 15, 2008, 05:36 PM
I vote for the Leupold 10x42 "Wind River" green ring Cascades~! ;)

A very fine hunting type bino~! :cool:

November 8, 2008, 03:14 PM
Thanks for all the info. Just ordered the Vortex Viper 10x42mm on amazon. Picked them up for $509.00 with shipping! I'll let you know what I think. Hope to have them soon, it is deer hunting season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

November 8, 2008, 05:44 PM
Hope you like your Vipers! I can't afford a binoc in the that price range, or the Vipers would be mine. I just ordered a pair of Vortex Vultures 8.5x 50 on sale at Cameraland in the coyote brown. Anxiously awaiting. Its my early birthday gift to me. My Bausch and Lombs have been through a hell of a lot and I got good service from them, but they're over 10yrs old and pretty scratched up. Woohoo new binoculars!:D