What should I be looking for in a new pair of binos?

Mistake

New member
Ironman
I have a pair of bino's that have.. well, lets put it nicely, have seen better decades.

Whilst they still work ok at the moment, I'm looking for some experienced advice on what I should be looking at as a potential replacement set for when the worst comes do pass. Ideally for use in both field and target.

I believe my current ones are 10x40
 


bimble

Well-known member
Supporter
Fonz Awardee
Ironman
higher quality lenses are better than just going for bigger magnification. There is a very informative thread on binos by Andy! on the Australian version of AIUK. Large objective lenses allow in more light, but they also tend towards heavier. I use my granddad's old Nikon 9x 35. Not as high a magnification as most more modern available binos, but good quality so I was able to pick out arrows even in the dark of the woods at Overton.

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higher quality lenses are better than just going for bigger magnification. There is a very informative thread on binos by Andy! on the Australian version of AIUK. Large objective lenses allow in more light, but they also tend towards heavier. I use my granddad's old Nikon 9x 35. Not as high a magnification as most more modern available binos, but good quality so I was able to pick out arrows even in the dark of the woods at Overton.
 


Corax67

Active member
Although more expensive is a strong indication of better image quality - you pay more for glass quality, coatings and waterproofness - there are a lot of excellent binoculars available that won't break the bank.

Most weeks I use my 20yr old set of Opticron 8x42 BG PC.AG birding bins, they are waterproof & nitrogen filled with a superb close focus of under 6ft (not needed for archery - I hope) but I can confidently spot carbons at 100yds and score them. They are roof prisms and really light, light enough to have over a shoulder or around the neck all day without discomfort.

The benefits of coated lenses are twofold; they allow better light transmission giving a brighter image (perfect on overcast days, shooting in woodland cover or shooting into the evening) as well as correcting "colour fringing" which is where the edges of an image and the separation borders between colours can discolour.

I occasionally use my Leica Trinovids for archery if I have been birding in the week - massive overkill - and although they have a superior image clarity and give an extra hours workable light they are much heavier.


Had a little look at the Opticron site and their Discoverer 10x42 waterproof roof prisms are currently rrp ?169 but I am certain their are plenty of suppliers who can beat that - have a look at Wex Photographic (used to be Warehouse Express) as they used to be very competitive.



Karl

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Although more expensive is a strong indication of better image quality - you pay more for glass quality, coatings and waterproofness - there are a lot of excellent binoculars available that won't break the bank.

Most weeks I use my 20yr old set of Opticron 8x42 BG PC.AG birding bins, they are waterproof & nitrogen filled with a superb close focus of under 6ft (not needed for archery - I hope) but I can confidently spot carbons at 100yds and score them. They are roof prisms and really light, light enough to have over a shoulder or around the neck all day without discomfort.

The benefits of coated lenses are twofold; they allow better light transmission giving a brighter image (perfect on overcast days, shooting in woodland cover or shooting into the evening) as well as correcting "colour fringing" which is where the edges of an image and the separation borders between colours can discolour.

I occasionally use my Leica Trinovids for archery if I have been birding in the week - massive overkill - and although they have a superior image clarity and give an extra hours workable light they are much heavier.


Had a little look at the Opticron site and their Discoverer 10x42 waterproof roof prisms are currently rrp ?169 but I am certain their are plenty of suppliers who can beat that - have a look at Wex Photographic (used to be Warehouse Express) as they used to be very competitive.



Karl
 


Senlac

Supporter
Supporter
Image stabilisation makes a giant difference

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Image stabilisation makes a giant difference
 


dvd8n

Supporter
Supporter
I use an Opticron monocular, primarily for field. It's not got the most massive magnification or aperture but it's small enough to live on my belt all day and every day and not be noticed until I need it.

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I use an Opticron monocular, primarily for field. It's not got the most massive magnification or aperture but it's small enough to live on my belt all day and every day and not be noticed until I need it.
 


dvd8n

Supporter
Supporter
Oh and be careful of image stabilisation - not all rules allow electronics on the shooting line and I have had my optics checked for this.

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Oh and be careful of image stabilisation - not all rules allow electronics on the shooting line and I have had my optics checked for this.
 


fbirder

Supporter
Supporter
Oh and be careful of image stabilisation - not all rules allow electronics on the shooting line and I have had my optics checked for this.
I thought the rules said that electronic communications devices were not permitted, not electronic devices in general. Otherwise I'd have to do without my watch.

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Oh and be careful of image stabilisation - not all rules allow electronics on the shooting line and I have had my optics checked for this.
I thought the rules said that electronic communications devices were not permitted, not electronic devices in general. Otherwise I'd have to do without my watch.
 


dvd8n

Supporter
Supporter
I just checked the rules and you seem to be correct. I wonder why the judge checked that my optics were not electronic, then? Maybe a misunderstanding on his part?

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I just checked the rules and you seem to be correct. I wonder why the judge checked that my optics were not electronic, then? Maybe a misunderstanding on his part?
 


dgmultimedia

New member
I just checked the rules and you seem to be correct. I wonder why the judge checked that my optics were not electronic, then? Maybe a misunderstanding on his part?

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I just checked the rules and you seem to be correct. I wonder why the judge checked that my optics were not electronic, then? Maybe a misunderstanding on his part?
Probably in Field comps you are not allowed any form of range finder device.


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Andy!

Member
I have a pair of bino's that have.. well, lets put it nicely, have seen better decades.

Whilst they still work ok at the moment, I'm looking for some experienced advice on what I should be looking at as a potential replacement set for when the worst comes do pass. Ideally for use in both field and target.

I believe my current ones are 10x40
10x40 or 10x42 is a nice general purpose size.
You have many choices.
Currently my pick of binos in the "best for the money" category is the Zeiss Terra's

They just tick all the boxes.

Ease of use, ED Glass, Wide sweet spot, Waterproof, Bright and not stupidly priced.

They are still the only thing on the market that would tempt me to upgrade from my Bushnell Legend Ultra HD's. (The original ones. Not the new series)
You can find them for a wide range of prices on the Internet.

Next choice would be Zen Ray ED2 or ED3's as they're also very nice without a ridiculous price.


If you're going to go look at binoculars yourself, first thing to do is see how difficult they are to use.
I have a set of Pentax 20x50's which suck ass if they're not set up by someone who knows that you should have the eye caps screwed out first.

I've picked up Vortex Binos that were a joy to use and Steiners that were optically beautiful.... once you got them perfectly aligned. And they were pretty critical.

Go through the process here to set up your focus. Help with Use and Adjust Binoculars

Then rest the binos on something so that they're stationary and pointed at something which fills the entire view and is at the same distance away. Brick walls are ideal for this.
With the middle bit focussed, check to see how much of the rest of the view is in focus. The more you pay and the higher quality, the more of the wall will be in focus.
If you pay enough, you'll get edge to edge. This is evaluating the sweet spot.

Find something like a post or sharp line that is vertical and sweep the view of them with your binoculars. See how much it bends out of straight. This is a basic distortion test. Horizontal line too, if you can find one.

Look up at the blue (or grey) sky. (I've been to the UK..) Look for how bright the image of the sky appears across the view. The image WILL get darker closer to the edges. Some bino's get darker more noticeably than others.

See how much focus adjusting you need to go from the expected ranges you will be looking at.

Regular archery fields are good for this. I've had binoculars that would let you look out to past 250 meters in focus if you were focussed on the 50m target and others which had 70m in focus and past that was tosh. That was pretty educational.

The difference in twiddling the dials was super noticeable. If possible, go for depth of field for close use over picky narrow depth of field ones.

Find something dark against a bright sky and look for purple and yellow fringing. ED glass minimises this. These days I wouldn't have anything other than ED glass because I'm an optics whore.
However, occasionally I find second hand bino's that are amazingly good for non ED glass.

Once you have done a few of these comparisons on different binoculars, you'll have some experience to compare them against each other.
You can be quite suprised how WW2 optics compare to modern varieties. Some British war era bino's I've looked at were really good but for fungus damage.

The thing you will really notice in terms of difference is low light performance, but it's one of the things that most people never bother to try out.
In shady conditions like in amongst trees in a field shoot, good low light performance can let you see things in terms of target areas.

My party trick is pointing my spotting scope at the surrounding hills when they're a featureless black to the naked eye. Then I ask people if they can see "the stump" and guesture up towards the hills.
Of course they can't.
Then they look through the spotter and realise that they can see it clearly a kilometer away.

A 42mm objective lens gives you a LOT more light capturing ability than your pupil. However, the light transmission through various amounts of glass plays quite a part too.
 


dvd8n

Supporter
Supporter
Probably in Field comps you are not allowed any form of range finder device.
You are probably right. He probably said something about it not being electronic, meaning therefore not a range finder, and I misunderstood his reasoning.

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Probably in Field comps you are not allowed any form of range finder device.
You are probably right. He probably said something about it not being electronic, meaning therefore not a range finder, and I misunderstood his reasoning.
 


Mistake

New member
Ironman
Thanks for the feedback, especially Andy who went into so much detail that I've had to read it 4 times and take notes.

I should have said that these bins are free/auto focus ones I don't know if that changes anything significantly in terms of the improvements I'd expect to see

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Thanks for the feedback, especially Andy who went into so much detail that I've had to read it 4 times and take notes.

I should have said that these bins are free/auto focus ones I don't know if that changes anything significantly in terms of the improvements I'd expect to see
 


fbirder

Supporter
Supporter
Lots of useful info from Andy. Can I add just one extra bit.

If you wear glasses then you'll almost certainly want bins with a decent eye relief. This is the distance from the eyepiece lens to your eye where you can see the full field of view. Bins with a short eye relief will result in you just seeing part of the field as if looking through a black tube. If you wear glasses you'll want something with an eye relief of 16mm - more is better.

Binoculars: Eye Relief

Many cheaper, high magnification, binoculars are almost unuseable if you wear specs - things like this Celestron Outland X 10x42 Binoculars
 


Andy!

Member
Thanks for the feedback, especially Andy who went into so much detail that I've had to read it 4 times and take notes.

I should have said that these bins are free/auto focus ones I don't know if that changes anything significantly in terms of the improvements I'd expect to see
The only focus free ones that I've ever tried are the Bushnell Permafocus versions.
The only thing to be aware of is that these utilise the natural ability of your eyes to focus.

I'm now 48 and my close focus inside is 34 cm. I have measured it fairly regularly since I was 40 and watched it go from 22 cm to further away (when I first realised that I was losing the ability for close focus.) In good light, the constriction in iris narrows down the depth of field and I can recover some close vision.
I went and complained to an optometrist and she told me that I should STFU because she sees people who have lost way more than I have, every single day.

Unless I'm doing fine work like tying D loops, I don't notice it, so there are a plethora of 4+ reading glasses around the house and in my archery kit.

For every other function, including optics evaluation, it makes no difference.. until I tried the perma focus bino's.

It is quite unusual to see the field of focus change automatically as your eyes sweep from close in, to the horizon.
Then I tried looking at something super close. Most of my binoculars will focus to less than 3 meters or so.
The best I could do was about 30 meters.
Being super subtle, I handed them around to other people standing next to me and asked what the closest thing they could focus on was. Other people got much closer, so it was obviously related to individual eye focal ability.

One lady who uses glasses had no issues at all and thought they were rather cool. I was wondering how she'd do.
I suspect that the younger and more capable your eyes are, the more flexible these will be.
 


Corax67

Active member
i found the eye relief too short to use these with glasses.
Me too - tried them when they first hit the market, cool idea but also found them very heavy for the size.


RSPB and Viking also do a very good selection of bins at a range of price levels - if you are near an RSPB or WWT reserve have a look if they are hosting an optics event or have a shop, they are usually more than happy to go through a selection of items with you to help you narrow your choices down especially if you can get in mid-week.




Karl

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i found the eye relief too short to use these with glasses.
Me too - tried them when they first hit the market, cool idea but also found them very heavy for the size.


RSPB and Viking also do a very good selection of bins at a range of price levels - if you are near an RSPB or WWT reserve have a look if they are hosting an optics event or have a shop, they are usually more than happy to go through a selection of items with you to help you narrow your choices down especially if you can get in mid-week.




Karl
 


tan.k.sun.7

New member
The only focus free ones that I've ever tried are the Bushnell Permafocus versions.
The only thing to be aware of is that these utilise the natural ability of your eyes to focus.

I'm now 48 and my close focus inside is 34 cm. I have measured it fairly regularly since I was 40 and watched it go from 22 cm to further away (when I first realised that I was losing the ability for close focus.) In good light, the constriction in iris narrows down the depth of field and I can recover some close vision.
I went and complained to an optometrist and she told me that I should STFU because she sees people who have lost way more than I have, every single day.

Unless I'm doing fine work like tying D loops, I don't notice it, so there are a plethora of 4+ reading glasses around the house and in my archery kit.

For every other function, including optics evaluation, it makes no difference.. until I tried the perma focus bino's.

It is quite unusual to see the field of focus change automatically as your eyes sweep from close in, to the horizon.
Then I tried looking at something super close. Most of my binoculars will focus to less than 3 meters or so.
The best I could do was about 30 meters.
Being super subtle, I handed them around to other people standing next to me and asked what the closest thing they could focus on was. Other people got much closer, so it was obviously related to individual eye focal ability.

One lady who uses glasses had no issues at all and thought they were rather cool. I was wondering how she'd do.
I suspect that the younger and more capable your eyes are, the more flexible these will be.
Steiner Military Marine range are very good binos for the price. They are focus free Depending on the model you get from a 3-30 year warranty. Bullet proof (almost). They are the largest supplier of binos to the military I believe. I issued it to zoo keepers in the late 1980's (8x30) and despite abuse (covered in mud, left out in the rain, trodden over by rhinos, bouncing at the cargo tray st the back of a pickup etc) every single unit not lost (unfortunately the binos are not idiot proof) are still in use today. All the units needed were a good hose down and wipe and they are ready to go.


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Andy!

Member
Steiner Military Marine range are very good binos for the price.
Steiners are generally pretty good. They've done what a lot of other brands have done and had some of their cheaper line badge engineered.

Their medium range and up stuff is the business. It's the "take no crap" brand of binoculars and just looking through those mariner and military versions will give you an instant 3 day growth.
Half an hour of glassing stuff with them will see you grow a full beard and you'll look down to see that you now own an obedient attack trained doberman.
 


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