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Thread: Binoculars

  1. #1
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    Binoculars

    Anyone happen to know enough about binoculars to make a recommendation?

    They'd be used in a very hilly and forested area (so we're not talking about looking all that far) to look at birds and other animals. Mostly birds.
    All else equal smaller is better but size would be secondary to quality.

    These would be for my Dad who wears glasses. Does that matter? I don't know if he's near or far sighted but I could find out if that's critical knowledge in selecting the right ones.

    I'm kind of excited that for the first time in 50 years I came up with good idea for a father's day gift. He was blown away by a set his friend let him try and he's been talking about upgrading the ones his Dad brought back from WWII but I know he's too cheap to ever actually do that.

  2. #2
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    oh, budget is around $200. I could go a little more if necessary. I'm thinking $200 because that's what his buddy said his cost and he said those were great.

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    Too old to ride plastic

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    No idea if mine are "good," but I have a pair of Barska binoculars that I take in the woods to hunt with.
    I lost my phone number. Can I have yours?

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    glasses & binoculars are a problem. I could never get a good look even with 'glasses' rated binoculars. I took the lenses out of some old glasses and ground them round to fit in the end of the binocular cups, that works better.

    Also I got the ones with a zoom feature, I liked that too! I use them for watching racing and other stuff so I went with a 'wide angle'. If you just looking at stuff sitting still, a narrow angle would be appropriate.
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    Is there a sporting goods store near enough to you that you can look at and handle their inventory of binoculars before making a decision? That way you can check eye relief, weight, size, clarity and magnification before making a decision.
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    Is there a sporting goods store near enough to you that you can look at and handle their inventory of binoculars before making a decision? That way you can check eye relief, weight, size, clarity and magnification before making a decision.
    Not that I'm aware of. I've talked to a couple websites that specialize in binoculars and returns won't be a problem though. Not sure if my checking them would be of value anyway. I'm clueless as to what's good and what's bad and they are to be a gift for someone else.

    I'm focusing in on (pun intended) these: Vortex Optics - Diamondback 8 x 42 based on a lot of reviews and the site I spoke to recommending them.

    Thanks guys.

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    I have no problem using binoculars with glasses. I bought a pair of Nikon "Mountaineers" about 13 years ago and have been very happy with them. Compact size, nitrogen filled (apparently keeps them from getting foggy inside the lenses), and they're great for bird watching as they have a fairly wide field of vision vs something more "telephoto" oriented. I think they are 10x25.

    I paid $250 back when I bought them.

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    Vortex makes good optics but I would also look at Steiner. Their military/marine ones are superb.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon D View Post
    Vortex makes good optics but I would also look at Steiner. Their military/marine ones are superb.
    +1. I've had a chance to use Steiners and they do work very well. I was under the impression that they were quite expensive but maybe not.

  11. #11
    Wandering
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    Looks like you have a decent handle on something worthwhile in your price range. In general, check the various birding organizations for their current recommendations - like this one from Audubon (which has your model listed).

    General features:
    - sealed roof prism (some may argue but appropriate here)
    - adjustable eyecups w/ decent eye relief (most seem to be good now)
    - comfort in-hand (obviously can't check since it's a gift)
    - clarity/resolution (I print out a resolution chart & bring with me to a shop)
    - probably around 8x (hand shake can make 10x glass almost unusable for some people)

    Best case scenario is to go to the binocular counter @ B&H in NYC & plan to spend some time. My experiences there have been incredible & they have excellent prices when you're ready to buy (probably not an option but something to keep in mind).

    Most binocs come w/ a neck strap. If your Dad spends more than an hour in the field, he'll also appreciate a chest harness as it takes the weight off the neck. First group birding event my wife & I attended, we noticed we were literally the only ones w/ neck straps. Local birding center probably has some or you can order from a zillion places online - like this.

    I'm sure your Dad will appreciate your efforts - kudos!
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    Ron
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    oh, budget is around $200.
    These are simply the best around that price. .
    ZRS HD 8x42 Binoculars SUMMIT from Zen-Ray Optics

  13. #13
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    Thanks Guys. I ended up getting the Vortex ones. Between my own research, including posting here, and a conversation with a kind woman at birdwatching.com I'm fairly confident I at least didn't get something totally wrong. Gotta love the intrawebs, I learned what would have taken me years without it. There's a ton of options and stuff to know. I had to settle before my head exploded.

    I hadn't thought about a harness. He mostly uses them from the back porch because they live next to a swamp and woods so he doesn't even need to leave the house to see great stuff.
    That and the golf course where he claims to see bobcats and eagles that no other golfer sees.....but that's a different topic. No bigfoot sightings.......yet.

  14. #14
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    Late to the thread, but in addition to binoculars, a spotting scope might be a good thing to look into.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jetdog9 View Post
    Late to the thread, but in addition to binoculars, a spotting scope might be a good thing to look into.
    I saw those things in my search.

    What to heck are they anyway? Well I get what they are but presumably they are to do something binoculars don't do as well, or visa versa, but what's the difference as far as someone looking at birds would be concerned?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I saw those things in my search.

    What to heck are they anyway? Well I get what they are but presumably they are to do something binoculars don't do as well, or visa versa, but what's the difference as far as someone looking at birds would be concerned?
    A spotting scope would be used on a tripod which allows a larger objective lens an magnification that couldn't be used off hand. The bigger the objective lens the more light allowed in and the larger the field of view. My spotting scope is 20 power and would be just about impossible to use without a tri pod or a stand of some sort. Also a scope usually allows for more eye relief making them easier to use with glasses.

    If used on the porch a scope would be dandy, but the cost of a good scope and a solid tri pod far outweighs the cost of a good pair of binoculars.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    A spotting scope would be used on a tripod which allows a larger objective lens an magnification that couldn't be used off hand. The bigger the objective lens the more light allowed in and the larger the field of view. My spotting scope is 20 power and would be just about impossible to use without a tri pod or a stand of some sort. Also a scope usually allows for more eye relief making them easier to use with glasses.

    If used on the porch a scope would be dandy, but the cost of a good scope and a solid tri pod far outweighs the cost of a good pair of binoculars.
    Thanks.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Thanks.
    P.S.

    What I should have mentioned in that post was that the reason the scope would need the stand is because the larger magnification is too hard to hold steady enough to get a good look at something.

    P.P.S.

    Jeez, I did mention that. I'll go away now.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    P.S.

    What I should have mentioned in that post was that the reason the scope would need the stand is because the larger magnification is too hard to hold steady enough to get a good look at something.

    P.P.S.

    Jeez, I did mention that. I'll go away now.
    It's not uncommon for me to need to read things more than once to get it so don't worry about it.

    One of those definitely wouldn't be better than binoculars in the case of my Dad. Even when he's set up on the porch he's looking all over the place, up, down and around sometimes running in the house if he'll have a better view from a window in there.
    With new binoculars being much smaller and lighter than the monstrosities he currently has I anticipate he'll start taking them on his walks too where he'd just be glancing not wanting to set up a tri pod and look for that long.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    It's not uncommon for me to need to read things more than once to get it so don't worry about it.

    One of those definitely wouldn't be better than binoculars in the case of my Dad. Even when he's set up on the porch he's looking all over the place, up, down and around sometimes running in the house if he'll have a better view from a window in there.
    With new binoculars being much smaller and lighter than the monstrosities he currently has I anticipate he'll start taking them on his walks too where he'd just be glancing not wanting to set up a tri pod and look for that long.
    Oh yeah, binoculars are cool, I often carry a compact pair in my handlebar bag.
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  21. #21
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    Interesting, I was looking at spotting scopes a couple of weeks ago, my wife decided that I should get a longer lens for my camera. I ended up with an SMC Pentax, f=5.6 400mm prime!
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

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