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Thread: Binocular ramblings from a rank amateur!

  1. #1

    Binocular ramblings from a rank amateur!

    I have seen various "which binoculars?" type threads here, and thought that this may help someone who has recently been in the same position as me.





    I have recently been on the hunt for a new pair of binoculars. I currently use a pair of quite well regarded Japanese made ones, but was in a shop recently and whilst my mother was choosing a pair for herself, asked to look through a a pair of high end, expensive bins. Wow! Now I wish I hadnít! So the hunt began to find a pair for me to upgrade.

    I researched the web, went on birdwatching websites and even bought some birdwatching magazines. I trawled through lots of old posts on here. I asked advice of everyone I knew, and tried to borrow theirs for a bit. And I went to shops and tried a few. The shambolic results of my findings are listed below, I hope they may be of use to someone.


    1. Try them. This has become my golden rule. I would no longer buy them unseen, unless it was a model that I had previously tried and liked. And even then, there are small differences between examples of the same bins. So if at all possible, buy the actual pair that you have tried and liked. Recommendations are all well and good, but everyone has a unique shaped face and different sized hands, which can make a world of difference.
    2. Try them on a dull winter day. All bins look good in good bright conditions. Twilight sorts the wheat from the chaff. In an ideal world, buy in the depths of winter, and try them as late as possible in the day to get a true idea of light transmission.
    3. Donít be blinded by brands. Some of the lesser known names are made in the same place as the better known brands, and no doubt use the same components. Some of them offer excellent guarantees too. Minox seem highly regarded here, I havenít yet had the oppurtunity to try a pair so I canít comment. (If anyone in W Yorks has a pair I could look through Iíd be grateful!)
    4. Be aware of the law of diminishing returns. 1k bins are not twice as good as £500 bins. They may only be 10% better optically. Evaluate what you really need from them, and choose accordingly. Try them, alongside each other, in line with rule 1 and 2 if possible.
    5. Try to stretch yourself and buy quality, fewer times. Quality bins hold a decent proportion of second hand value, if you ever decide to upgrade. A decent pair should hold you in good stead for many years to come.


    There are some birdwatching places which overlook bird reserves, and sell optics. They are great places to get your hands on a few pairs and try them out. I took a flask of tea and spent 3 hours in one! Ideal for actually looking at animals and birds, and not just distance views. Thoroughly recommended.

    I actually found that there was less difference than I thought between my current model, and the expensive German and Austrian makes I was trying out, than I imagined there would be. However, this was in good light, I think dusk may tell a different story. The expensive ones were clearly better made and nicer to handle, with a better field of view. I did struggle for example, to tell the difference optically between the new Swaros and the current Zeiss. I canít see where thew extra money goes. But thatís just me and my eyes. You may well be different.

    I am by no means an optics expert, and am new to stalking, but have been involved in country pursuits for quite some time. A decent set of bins enhances your pleasure no end, a simple walk with the dog takes on a different dimension. I hope you find what you are looking for.

    Best regards

    Tuck

  2. #2
    Tuck, certainly not shambolic,to me anyway, a decent bit of advice for the beginner, however, I feel by your references to bird watching that you may be an rspb sleeper, sent here to spy on us!... Steve.
    (The Unspeakable In Pursuit Of The Uneatable.) " If I can help, I will help!." Former S.A.C.S. member!

  3. #3

    Spy!

    Ha! Thank you Steve, I hope it is a help to someone. As for the RSPB, most certainly not! I won't buy from their shops, or fund them in any way, as an organisation they just seem intent on the persecution of my gamekeeper friends! Good places to check out bins though, birdwatchers seem to be even fussier about optics than us hunters are!

  4. #4
    Hi Tuck,

    I have to agree with you on just about all you have said. I brought my binos from the RSPB shop at Pulbourugh Brooks in Sussex after taking a pair of them for a walk around the reserve on an "Optics try day" they are an unknown make I suppose. being Viking 8x44 Roof prisim water Proof and cost I think it was £239 when I brought them some years ago now.

    The biggest problem I have is my eyes seem to alter from day to day. Age I suppose? but we just have to work around these little problems. I have found that using a pair of normal sinlge vision glases instead of my vari focals does help as the vari foculs are a right PITA for using binos and scopes with.

    Oh I don't mind buying from the RSPB shop when the occasion needs.

  5. #5
    A good thread and a couple of points:

    Quote Originally Posted by tuck1 View Post

    Try them on a dull winter day. All bins look good in good bright conditions. Twilight sorts the wheat from the chaff. In an ideal world, buy in the depths of winter, and try them as late as possible in the day to get a true idea of light transmission.
    IMO probably the most important factor affecting your purchase given the nature of our interest - doubly important if your stalking is in the main in woodland.

    Try to stretch yourself and buy quality, fewer times. Quality bins hold a decent proportion of second hand value, if you ever decide to upgrade. A decent pair should hold you in good stead for many years to come.
    That's a fact. My Swaro SL 8x56 are currently fetching way more than I paid for them 20 years ago looking at the s/h prices that are around.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by tuck1 View Post
    birdwatchers seem to be even fussier about optics than us hunters are!
    That's cos all they do is watch. For us, 'watching' is often a precursor to doing something else

  7. #7
    if you go to RUTLAND WATER bird fair there are hundreds on binos to try it may take all morning to do it though worth a look as are bird reserves as already quoted in previous posts

  8. #8
    What an interesting topic !! We stalkers are a target for equipment sellers. Everything we use for our sport ie. cars, guns, clothing, boots have all been tried and tested to destuction, evaluated and discussed in forum and it is generally accepted that the more you pay the better the quality. Or is it ?

    I recently took a friend to my shooting patch near Stirling and he had paid £1000 more for his binolculars than I paid for mine which are Bushnell 8 X 42, bought on sale at Bradford Shooting Supplies.

    As evening came he said how he would expect to be able to see for much longer as dark came. And he was right, after 10 or 11 minutes after I said 'enough' he said the same.

    If I was a proffesional stalker with a cull figure to achieve, that 10 mins or so could be important, but as a recreational stalker that 10 mins is not worth a damn because I find having to gralloch a deer in the dark holds no pleasure for me and because there is no pressure to achieve numbers I usually retire at dusk and look forward to an early start tomorrow.

    I would suggest that Tuck has spent more time and thought on binoculars than 95% of us, and rightly so, because of our striving to get another 10 minutes stalking time we gladly (?) pay hundreds of pounds more than needed in many cases just to be able to say 'the light gathering capabilities of my swarzeimin bins are fantastic'.

    Buy the bins most suitable for your personal sport.

    Brianm

  9. #9
    Thanks to all for the positive comments. I just hope they are useful to someone, and try to guide someone towards making the right choice first time in these difficult times.

  10. #10
    I have now had the oppurtunity to try the Leica's and also the Minox BF models. The Leica's didn't suit me at all, and the Minox seemed particularly good, especially for the money. Now I'd really like to try a pair of the HG's.

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