View Full Version : Help recommend me some binoculars!

November 29, 2008, 08:40 PM
Hi all, looking for a halfway decent set of binoculars as I do not have a pair yet. Wife wants to get me something quality for Xmas, and she knows that I am a picky bastard so I'd hate to have her get me something and a week later find out that there is something that I'd rather have instead. Looking to give her suggestions under $300. I don't know really what to look for other than I can tell you my uses. I wear glasses or contact lenses and I have a hard time with distant objects. I want binocs that I can keep in a day pack so no giant borderguard things. I want decent quality but name is not important. Nothing made in China. Will be using them on trips and vacations as well as hoping to use them as an informal spotting scope at the range. No need to take score from 100yds, but it would be nice to be able to discern groupings at least. I am also going on a trip to South Africa next year and would like to have something good for the animal preserves we will visit. I found a set of Canon binocs with the anti shake feature for $299. they are 8 x 25. Is this enough? Or will I be wanting more?

We have a Cabelas 10 miles away, so anything from Bushnell to Swarovski and Leica are avaliable to fondle and purchase.

Opinions, recomendations, criticisms, etc very welcome.

November 30, 2008, 08:43 PM
Be sure and check out the Vortex line in your search as they make some very good optics. A friend of mine bought a pair of the Vipers and i was so impressed with them that i purchased a pair of the 10x42 Diamondbacks and was equally impressed. The Diamondbacks were $209 shipped and they have very good glass for the price. The clarity and brightness is excellent with a very good field of view. I would put them up against any binos in that price range and even against some that cost much more. They have lots of models to choose from so you should be able to find one to fit your needs. I liked the binos so much that i bought a Vortex scope for my daughters rifle and she loves it. Let me add that i'm in no way affliated with Vortex i'm just a very satisfied customer passing along a great find in optics.

Here's a link to their site and also a link to a guy who has good prices.

November 30, 2008, 10:31 PM
If you're lookig for good quality inexpensive glass and want to stay out of China, take a look at the Steiner and Leupold lines of binoculars. They're made in Germany and the USA respectively
Sierra Trading (http://www.sierratradingpost.com/d/312_Binoculars-and-Scopes.html) post has some hard-to-beat deals here in the Steiner 10X40s and 8X22 compacts and then there are the larger 10X40 Predator Pro and 7X50 Marine models but they might be a little heavy for walking distances. Their prices on the Minox 10X42 are smoking and that's a great size to carry for all purposes but alas, they're made in China.
PS Good glass and coatings beats anti-shake pseudo-tech any day.

November 30, 2008, 10:49 PM
If you go to Cabellas check out the Alpha extreme.
I bought a set last year after checking out a lot of models at prices up to $800.00.
They are well worth the look, particularly for glasses wearers. This is the first set I've owned that allow me to use my glasses without any loss of field of view at all.
They come in 8X42, and 10X, bu the 10s are too bulky for field use, just to get the extra 2X.

There is one feature I particularly like. The individual eyepiece focus adjustment is used by pulling the focus knob out against a click-stop, & locked by pushing back in.
I've seen the exact same model under different brand names for $200 more.

December 1, 2008, 09:02 PM
While you're there check out the Meopta. I have the 8x42. I'm looking to get a 4x scope too.

December 1, 2008, 11:50 PM
Ive had a pair of Leupold Windriver 10 powers for several years and am really happy with them. They came with a nice padded sling and have proven to be very tough. They have pull out eye pieces which I could do with out and most of the time dont even use them. I have dont remember what I paid for them but I would buy them again if I had to.

December 2, 2008, 12:03 AM
After doing my homewrok I found that the best buy is the Pentax DCF SP which I got in 10x43. They are very sharp, great resolution, great color, well built - got them for a couple hundred less than their list price of about $680. You do not get the Zeiss name but when compared with a Zeiss binoc. I could not tell a difference.

December 2, 2008, 08:48 AM
Go with the Vortex !!! They have a real Lifetime Warr. that can't be beat. I've had my 8x 42 for two years the go everyware with me. Boat, truck , on foot . Very tough. Midprice , $350 range optics are very competive these days . no reason too pay too much... :D

Steve C99
December 4, 2008, 09:30 PM
You have a bit of a problem. You have just about eliminated everything that would work from consideration. The problem, in roof prism binoculars, you can't get anything NOT made in China for less than about $500. There are a few but I can't think of any offhand. However I think the Leupold Cascade Porros are Japanese. Be glad for a Cabelas close by. You are going to be dissapointed with how much of their $300 inventory is Chinese.

For example, the Japanese Vortex binoculars start with the $500 Viper. I don't know about the Cabela's Alpha extreme, but they may be Japanese.

December 5, 2008, 12:19 AM
Get the Canon Image Stabilizers. They make larger ones but the size you mentioned is the only model within your budget.

A few years ago a buddy let me use his Canon IS's. Holy smokes, what a difference. I never want to own or use another pair of plain old non-stabilized binocs again.

I've handed my Canon's to quite a number of people by now. I tell them to focus well on a distant object, get used to the standard bino view, then press the magic button that activates the image stabilizer.

Every time their immediate response is "Oh, wow!" or something along those lines.

Another thing: It's like you have a pair of binos of higher than their actual magnification because the image is so nearly rock steady that you can see much more clearly. With my 12X IS's I've counted craters inside of craters on the moon.

At the very least, before you buy any binocular, get a hold of one of the Image Stabilizers and try them.

December 5, 2008, 07:37 AM
I don't know about the Cabela's Alpha extreme, but they may be Japanese.

No they're chinese, but good quality Chinese, just the same as the Nikon for $200 more & the Leupold for $500 more.

That was one of the big surprises when I went to Cabellas to compare models.
The same glasses were there under 4 different brand names, the price range for the exact same bino was $1,000.00!
They were all marked made in china.

Now before the flames start licking at my feet Ill reiterate they were the exact same glass, I checked.

December 7, 2008, 02:28 AM
The Vortex are made in China and the Pentax are made in Japan. Made in China will not last,

December 7, 2008, 10:24 AM
I have not tried any of the new swarovski el's in roof or the nikon superior e's in porro, but have likely owned over 100 pair of various bino's from k-mart through leica/zeiss/swarovski . I would suggest getting japanese optics and if it be a roof, have phase correction. In both models kowa,swift,fujinon,pentax, browning(by bushnell) models that are JAPAN versions are excellent...i personaly am fortunate enough to have lots of pawnshops/thrift stores in my area and would only buy a used binocular to save money! your wife probably isnt up for that kind of stuff , so maybe you search e-bay and point her in the right direction ! theres a set of fujinon 8x CD models that are ending in about 7hrs that will be fantastic, but they are alittle hefty ! maybe you should research some of the 8x32 or 10x32 models for a nice mid-sized guy.. I REALLY like my kowa 10x32's for a roof prism !

December 7, 2008, 12:42 PM
The Vortex are made in China and the Pentax are made in Japan. Made in China will not last,Can you back up that statement? There are a couple of decent optics works in China. They aren't in the same league as Japan's LOW, but not all are horrible. Mueller and Vortex have have proven that. With many companies country of manufacture also depends on what model. My Vortex Diamondbacks are made in China but are still some of the best bang for the buck $200 binoculars on the market. Of course most $200 binos are made in China. The Diamondbacks are well made with good glass and a very wide field of view - I bought them for sports and they're perfect for that.

My Vortex Vipers are Japanese not Chinese and are outstanding $500 binoculars. Pretty much universally recognized as the best bang for the buck. Where you notice the difference between the Viper and the Diamondbacks is looking at fine details. Both came with a no-nonsense lifetime warranty from an American company. If you're that picky I'd add $200 to the budget and buy the Vipers.

Steve C99
December 7, 2008, 04:10 PM
Point is the original posts sets forth three basic requirements:
1-Halfway decent (whatever that means).
2-$300 price.
3-Nothing Chinese.

The fact is and remains that with the nothing Chinese requirement, he has a real research project on his hands and may have to settle for a mediocre optic in his price class. Otherwise his expenditure may well have to reach $500. Some good candidates, such as the Nikon Monarch and the lower end phase corrected Pentax are Chinese. Vortex Fury and the lesser Vortex grades are primarily Chinese. Most Bushnell below the Elite e2 are Chinese. There are many good inexpensive binoculars such as the Vortex Diamondback, Bushnell Excursion and Excursion EX, the Cabela's Alpha Extreme, Leupold Acadia and and a bunch of others are Chinese. While I do not want to promote Chinese optics, the bald faced fact is that Chinese optics are getting better, less expensive, and thus more prevalent. For example the clear winner in the best OPTICS for the dollar goes to the Chinese OEM Bosma, who is producing $500 binoculars in the Promaster Infinity Elite ELX ED and the Hawke Frontier ED. I have a Promaster ELX ED and the image is sooooooooooo cloooooooooose to the Euro alpha glass that 99% of people will not be able to tell. This is only to illustrate the point Chinese optics are evolving, not to sell somebody who does not want one a Chinese optic.

So the best non Chinese "halfway decent" binoculars are the Vortex Viper, the Swift Eaglet and Audubon series, Leupold Pinnacle, and Bushnell Elite e2. These are really better than halfway, they are really decent binoculars. I am not sure about Leupold Cascade or Olympic Green Ring series. The last two are the only ones that will come close to all three original requirements, provided they are not Chinese. Now that I think about it, the Bushnell Legend may still be Japanese, and they are a good, "halfway decent" binocular. There are likely others on one side or the other of the Japanese/Chinese divide, but this is just off the top of my head.