Anyone know where I can get some good binoculars advice?


Link Posted 15/08/2011 - 09:50
Hi all

My wife and I are looking at treating ourselves to a decent pair of binoculars for our anniversary.

Having had a look at what's available there is clearly a baffling array. Just wondering if anyone here is able to offer some advice or knows of a good, helpful forum (like this one) for binoculars.

You will only prise my 43Ltd from my cold, dead hands...


Link Posted 15/08/2011 - 10:01
Find a pair that are compact and easily carried for starters, and find somewhere you can try before you buy, they should feel comfortable in use. Bins are no different to camera lenses in that cheaper ones will suffer from fringing etc,
Also consider if you want a pair that can be mounted to a tripod as many models have that option.

I have a "cheap" pair of Bushnell Bins (45 from ebay), I could not really reccomend them as they are big and cumbersome and suffer heavily from purple fringing when fully zoomed.
My Names Alan, and I'm a lensaholic.
My PPG link
My Flckr link


Link Posted 15/08/2011 - 10:15
Cheers Alan

Fairly compact and easily carried are a must. A tripod mount probably isn't a deal-breaker although we would be likely to have a tripod or monopod with us (for the camera) so could be useful.

We were given a cheap pair of Bushnells and these have heavy purple fringing (terrible if you are looking for birds in trees) hence why we are after a higher quality pair.

I think my main question is around the magnification. Our current (cheap pair) are 16x magnification but most internet advice suggests 8-10x as a maximum as handholding above that would be difficult. That doesn't seem like very high magnification to me and I don't seem to have too many problems with the 16x binoculars.
You will only prise my 43Ltd from my cold, dead hands...


Link Posted 15/08/2011 - 10:48
You don't say for what purpose so I'll presume they would be used for wildlife/birding.

Like good lenses, good bins are not cheap, but the extra investment is definitely worthwhile. Unless you intend spending most of your time watching sea birds, you should limit your search to those having an exit pupil size (objective lens diameter in mm/magnification factor) of between 5 and 7mm (e.g. 7x50, 8x40, 8x42 or 8x56). This will ensure that the image remains bright even under poor (low light) viewing conditions. For field of view, aim for the widest available for you chosen magnification providing that edge sharpness/distortion have not been sacrificed to obtain it. Top quality lens/element coatings are esential for good contrast and accurate colour rendition with minimal distortion/abberation. The ability to focus down to 2-3m, or thereabouts, is highly desirable. Size and weight should make them comfortable to hold steady for extended periods. The focussing mechanism should be rapid, smooth and positive, of a good size and easy to find/operate with numb/gloved fingers. To prevent misting, the optics should be waterproof, sealed and nitrogen-filled. Rubber armour, whilst not essential, adds protection and makes the bins easier to hold/grip when conditions are wet or with numb/gloved fingers when cold. If you and/or your wife are spectacle wearers, make sure that the rubberised eyecups are of an appropriate size/stiffness and do not interfere with viewing (cause vignetting).

Where to buy/try: British Bird Watching Fair, Rutland Water 19th - 21st August (link

In focus regularly hold field events throughout the U.K. link

As for me, I scrimped and saved enough to purchase pair of Swarovski Habicht 8x40 SLC for about 500 in the early nineties and have never regretted the outlay.

Hope all this is of some help,



Link Posted 15/08/2011 - 10:55
When I looked at the SRS site I was amazed by how many binoculars were on offer - including masses by Pentax.

Depending on where you are, WWT sites sometimes have binocular/spotting scope shops that you can get good advice from.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 15/08/2011 - 12:22
Unless you have very steady hands I suggest the maximum magnification to go for is 10.

Prsjnb's comment about exit pupil is important. You could get really compact binoculars such as 10x25 but the exit pupil is 2.5mm. In low light the view these would give would be very dim.

This sounds as if having very large objective lenses is the way forward. However, bigger objectives mean heavier binoculars. 10X80 would give really bright images, but they could not be hand held.

The compromise sizes are as has already been mentioned. I'd add 10x42. My wife has a pair of deltaSL2 10X42 which give a really bright image and are lightweight.

The most important thing is going somewhere to try a few pairs. The only place I know is In Focus. Mrs Tringa and I spent over 2 hours at the Hertfordshire shop and tried loads of pairs from about 1/4 our price limit upwards and ended up with a pair under our limit, though while we were trying we did not know how much each pair cost. There was never any pressure to buy and as the bloke there said, They have to be right for you."



Link Posted 15/08/2011 - 20:01
If you know what you want then amazon seems to have some decent prices. I am not sure where you are located but I know that the WWT wetlands centre at Barnes has a showroom with binoculars and scopes which seems like a good outfit. I agree that there are a baffling array available and at a huge range of prices. For myself I have a pair of Pentax Papillio 8.5x21's. I really like them. I am happy with the image they produce, they are fantastically lightweight and very compact, easy to focus, and in my experience to date they are good at distance (for birds) and close-up (for butterflies and bugs). They are so petite that I actually take them places as they don't take up much space in my camera bag nor add to the weight. They are less than 100. However, I would reiterate that you ought to try out a range of binos and work out what your specific requirements and budget are. I know from other experiance that Carl Zeiss make some very capable optics indeed, but the ones I have tried are all beyond my price range...

Mat W

My Flickr: link


Link Posted 15/08/2011 - 20:41
This is very dependent on what you need from them! Picking the subject will reduce the choice!

Birdwatching - maybe 8 x 42's

Twichthers - Impossible captures

General - anything cheap

A good set of 8/10 x 42's are a reasonable investment across the board - 100 ish
K5's (2)both gripped, K10d gripped, Pentax 28-90 f3.5, Sigma 18-250mm, Sigma 150-500mm. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro, Sigma 10-20 f.4-5.6.EX DC, Hoya 135 f2.8, Take on 28mm f2.8 Pentax AF360 flash, 2 fill in slaves. 30 metre remote release, Rt angle viewfinder, Giotto NOT 3261B Tripod with Manfrotto 808Rd4 ball head, Manfroto 4861RC2 monopoly, shoulder stock, various filters etc, Panasonic SET HBS HD Video cam, Tamrac Explorer 8x backpack and a sore back.....
Photography is an index for measuring futility and pride.......




Link Posted 15/08/2011 - 20:45
Forum Member Daniel Bridge, who I think works for Essex wildlife trust, pointed me to these link and I have not been disappointed.
Too Old To Die Young
Pentax K1 K5-IIS K-01 K20D A50/2 A50/1.7 DA10-17 DA18-250 DA18-135 DA18-55 DA300 DA40 DA50-135 DA50-200 DA55-300 DA70 F35-70 DFA150-450 FA20-35 FA100 FA135 FA35 FA28 FA43 FA50 FA77 K55/1.8 M135/3.5 M200/4 M28/3.5 M28/2.8 M40/2.8 Q 01 02 MX-1 I-10 Sigma 15 24 105 180 8-16 10-20 17-35 17-50/2.8 24-70 400/5.6MF Tamron 70-200/2.8 17/3.5MF 24/2.5MF 28/2.5MF 90/2.5MF


Link Posted 15/08/2011 - 20:59
With binoculars try before you buy.

Visit an RSPB reserve, InFocus event, Wildlife trust etc... handle a range of binoculars of different budget ranges. This will enable you to directly see the difference for the price regarding low light, ease of use, fringing, weight, field of view, close focus etc. If you wear glasses check that the bins are suitable. I was amazed at the difference when I was looking to buy!!!



Link Posted 15/08/2011 - 22:48
We treated ourselves to a pair of these (link) binos for our 60th Birthday Safari and have not been disappointed. Good sold build with mag alloy chasis, gas filled to eliminate condensation and make them waterproof to boot. Paid a lot less than this though - a couple of years ago.

Retired at last - now all that time for photography - you would think: wink:


Link Posted 15/08/2011 - 23:22
This is going to get me marked as a heretic, but...

I bought a pretty decent set of "sailing binoculars" in Aldi a couple of years ago. I'm not sure of the magnification, but they're supposedly waterproof, apparently float, have a built-in compass and are brilliant with glasses (the latter is my main criteria, I haven't tried dropping them in a lake and don't intend to!) The caps are also attached to the body by rubber strips making them impossible to drop or lose.

They have a thread for a standard tripod adapter which I managed to find on ebay for a few s, bolted to my old Velbon CX540 they take up station in the living room when the bird feeders go out in autumn.

Shooting the Welsh Wilderness with K-m, KX, MX, ME Super and assorted lenses.


Link Posted 16/08/2011 - 10:17
Thanks everyone. We are members of the WWT and Barnes is our local place so that is a good call.

They will be general purpose - occasionally birds but usually wildlife on holiday.

I'm thinking that a pair of 10x40s (ish) seem like a good base with a nice wide viewing angle. The wife wears glasses sometimes so they need to be comfortable for her.

Cheers for the recommendations too.
You will only prise my 43Ltd from my cold, dead hands...


Link Posted 01/09/2011 - 15:33
Just an update.

Finally got around to buying a pair of Pentax DCF CS 10x42 from Microglobe. Their shop is around the corner from my office so I annoyed the guy by trying lots of pairs of binoculars out at lunchtime (they were very helpful though and someone nipped out to the warehouse to grab some of the ones that they didn't have in the shop).

These were easily the best I tried (in the sub 300 range). Beat the Nikon Monarchs in every area except maybe image brightness where they were the same.

I wasn't intending to buy Pentax - just happened that they were the best for the money.
You will only prise my 43Ltd from my cold, dead hands...


Link Posted 01/09/2011 - 19:59
Glad you find what you are looking for. The monarchs are ok but they do suffer from fringing. Enjoy your new purchase

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