Binos on a budget


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WayBeau
December 3, 2012, 10:39 AM
Just what the title says, I need a new set of binos and I'm on a budget (would like to keep it below $300). My 4.5 yr old somehow got his hands on my binos this past weekend and dropped them. You can complete the equation.:mad: Luckily they weren't an expensive set and I had actually won them in a contest so really wasn't that upset save for the fact that I now need a new set. :banghead:

So I need some suggestions for a good set of binos that won't break the bank. The majority of my hunting is in the mountains, but I occassionally will sit on a field edge. I'm looking in the 8/10x range.

Thanks.

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Mencius
December 3, 2012, 11:19 AM
I don't have any real experience with all the different binoculars out there, but I have a set of the Vortex Diamondback 8.5x50 and like them alot. Clear and gather a ton of light in the woods and at dusk/dawn. I think I got mine in the low to mid $200's, don't remember exactly how much I paid for them. I see Amazon has them for $239 right now.

22-rimfire
December 3, 2012, 12:08 PM
I use Nikon Monarch 8x42's and have been very happy with them as compared to some ot the $500+ binos that are available.

I used Leupold Yosemite 6x30's if I am hunting in the woods typically. But the Nikons work for that too. They are just a little larger.

heeler
December 3, 2012, 12:08 PM
I bought myself a pair of Pentax DCF 8x42 bino three or four years ago for under three bills and are super impressed by them .
The blow my friends Nikon ATB's right out of the water.
He bought his at the same time I did.
I was looking through both two weekends ago at a couple of deer at three hundred yards and there is no comparison in the clarity.

MCgunner
December 3, 2012, 01:23 PM
Well, you an do what I did, marry a wife with some good binos. :D I inherited these binos from her ex...and her, I guess. His loss both times. :D They're Canon, megabucks. They're in storage and I don't recall the power, but they're HIGH, like 16x or something. Too much, you say? You push this little button and they electronically stabilize the image. WOW, that's neat! :D Things were way over a thousand dollars, she said he always wanted the best. Well, I'm glad he had the campaign tastes. :D He was going through a bird watching phase or something, long story. I never bought a set of binos that cost over 50 bucks, ROFL!

Andrew Leigh
December 3, 2012, 01:46 PM
I bought myself a pair of Pentax DCF 8x42 bino three or four years ago for under three bills and are super impressed by them .
The blow my friends Nikon ATB's right out of the water.
He bought his at the same time I did.
I was looking through both two weekends ago at a couple of deer at three hundred yards and there is no comparison in the clarity.

+1000

My wife and I both have a pair that we use for birding and then my pair that doubles up for hunting. They are awesome just don't know what they go for these days.

heeler
December 3, 2012, 02:29 PM
Under three bills Andrew.
I caught mine on sell several years ago for $205.00.
My friend paid $279.00 for his Nikons.

Edit to add...These are USA prices.

WayBeau
December 3, 2012, 03:21 PM
I was looking at the Nikons and Bushnells, but I'll have to give the Pentax a look.

jmr40
December 3, 2012, 04:19 PM
Buy 2 pair of these.

http://swfa.com/Leupold-6x30-BX-1-Yosemite-Binocular-P48061.aspx

I'm not joking. For the money these are the best deal going. I bought a pair of these several years ago and someone stole them out of my truck. I bought 2 pair to replace them. Have a spare pair just in case. Buy the 6X30, not the 8X30's. Trust me.

I have better binoculars. These

http://swfa.com/Pentax-8x43-DCF-SP-Binocular-P1935.aspx

But the Yosemite's go with me far more often. Any difference is clarity and brightness is very small. If I had bought the Yosemite's first I would have never bought the Pentax.

If you want to spend right up to your $300 budget this is another heck of a deal. These are now discontnued, but one of the best compact bino's ever made. They are slightly better than the Yosemite's, and a lot smaller. Also a lot more expensive.

http://www.eagleoptics.com/binoculars/leupold/leupold-katmai-6x32-roof-prism-binocular-black

wankerjake
December 3, 2012, 04:33 PM
I think the Vortex Diamondbacks are a lot of glass for the money. I bought a pair after looking thru 2 other pairs my friends have. For under $300, these are great. Good clarity and light gathering. I have the 12x50, but have looked thru the 8x and 10x options in the field. I am impressed. It's hard for me to look thru bonos in the store, they all look good. But once you get them in the hills, it's a different story sometimes.

http://www.cabelas.com/product/Hunting/Optics/Binoculars%7C/pc/104791680/c/104752080/sc/104217480/Vortex8482-Diamondback-Binoculars/755820.uts?destination=%2Fcatalog%2Fbrowse%2Fhunting-optics-binoculars%2Fvortex%2F_%2FN-1100054%2B4294749857%2FNe-4294749857%2FNs-CATEGORY_SEQ_104217480%3FWTz_l%3DSBC%253BMMcat104791680%253Bcat104752080%26WTz_st%3DGuidedNav%26WTz_stype%3DGNU&WTz_l=SBC%3BMMcat104791680%3Bcat104752080%3Bcat104217480

The Nikon Action Extreme line is also a good pair for the money. Looked thru a few of these in the field, always impressed at how cheap they are.

http://www.cabelas.com/product/Hunting/Optics/Binoculars%7C/pc/104791680/c/104752080/sc/104217480/Nikon-Action-Extreme-Binoculars/748738.uts?destination=%2Fcatalog%2Fbrowse%2Fhunting-optics-binoculars%2Fnikon%2F_%2FN-1100054%2B1000004133%2FNe-1000004133%3FWTz_l%3DSBC%253BMMcat104791680%253Bcat104752080%26WTz_st%3DGuidedNav%26WTz_stype%3DGNU&WTz_l=SBC%3BMMcat104791680%3Bcat104752080%3Bcat104217480

I looked thru one of Leupold's cheap lines, I think they were Yosemites. My friend said they were in the $250 range. I liked those as well.

MCgunner
December 3, 2012, 09:07 PM
Here's the ones similar to what the wife's got if not THE ones. I think they're the same. I can use 'em when I want. :D:D:D They're kinda heavy for any kind of active hunting, but no matter sitting on a stand.

http://www.eagleoptics.com/binoculars/canon/canon-image-stabilized-all-weather-15x50-binocular?gclid=CJDHlu3U_7MCFeuPPAodSgoAVw

.333 Nitro Express
December 3, 2012, 09:43 PM
Sporting optics is one of my "things." I have owned pretty much every brand in the course of my life, and with your budget in mind, I would get the Steiner Military and Marine 8x30. They are absolutely fine for every hunting situation--European quality without the huge price. They are porro prism, which brings the price down considerably:

http://dsp.imageg.net/graphics/product_images/pDSP1-13182818dt.jpg

Cheaper Than Dirt advertises them for $232. Oh, and their rubber coating makes them a little more impervious to future accidents.

jrdolall
December 4, 2012, 09:08 AM
I know I will get blasted for this but I really like the Bushnell Perma-Focus binoculars. They are very inexpensive, $59 or so on Ebay, and relatively durable. I don't know how the technology works but I can look at a tree 50 yards away and then look at another tree 100 yards away without having to manually adjust the focus. This makes it easy to glass a hardwood bottom or mature pine thicket. Based on personal experience they WILL NOT survive a fall from a climber 30 feet up a tree especially if they bounce off the tree on the way down. Good thing they are only $60.
When I hunt out west I use a pair of Lieca Rangefinders that I won in a raffle about 7 years ago. I don't really need to range deer at 1200 yards in any Alabama hardwoods.

.333 Nitro Express
December 4, 2012, 09:53 AM
JRDolall, why should you get blasted?

The Bushnell PermaFocus is a perfectly good binocular. If there is a downside to it, it's virtually meaningless for the hunter--that is, the ability to focus at very close distances (say, 15 feet).

How it works is very simple, and you can duplicate it if you have a camera with manual settings. Focus is given by the distance between the objective lens and the one you look through, just like in a camera. Depending on the lens, you always have a magic focus point that gives you an X-to-infinity focus. For instance, a 50mm camera set at f16 gives you an 8ft to infinity focus. If I want my camera to be PermaFocus, I just set it at that, and the only thing I have to remember is not to take pictures closer than 8ft.

PermaFocus is nothing but a trade name for the concept of fixed focus--(and BTW, the Steiners I am so fond of also feature that). So if anyone "blasts you" for liking your Bushnell PermaFocus, tell them to get a life. :evil:

H&Hhunter
December 4, 2012, 10:39 AM
I've got a 9x40 Bighorn by Steiner. I've also got an older Leica 8x32 BN.

There is a definite difference in clarity and focus between the two. Back when I bought my Leicas they were like $700 vs the Steiners that were like $280. So is the question to me is this. Is there $400 difference between the Steiner and the Leica. In my mind YES there is. the Lieca is ultra clear and allows you to pick up little stuff that you simply can't pick up with the Steiner unless somebody points it out to you first. The Leica is way better glass no two ways about it.

HOWEVER the equivalent Leica in today's dollar is pushing $2000. So the question today is the Leica worth $1700 more than the Steiner? The answer is it depends on what you're doing with them. There is no way I'd be buying a new pair of Leicas at that price point today UNLESS I was making a living with my glass as say a high dollar professional sheep guide or as a PH in Africa then you are required and expected to have the best. Super high quality glass allows you pick out stuff that you simply can not do with lesser quality glass.

I'm just glad I got mine back before they got so incredibly insane on their prices. If I was wanting super quality euro glass today at not so super prices I'd be looking real hard at the new Zeiss conquest line of binocular. They come in about half the price of a comparable quality euro binocular and I think they are very bit as clear and well built. And they are STILL expensive as heck! But something that I'd be willing to save for if I was in the market for extremely high quality glass.

This one right here.

http://www.sportoptics.com/zeiss-binoculars-524210.aspx

I have also been highly impressed with some of the glass that leupold is putting out at the 5-$600 range. I have not been overly impressed with Steiner quality. They are however very clear glass for the their price point. I've sent mine back TWICE now for fogging issues. Rubber armor coat and all, I'm not impressed.

T.R.
December 4, 2012, 11:12 AM
I've had very good luck with Bushnell H20 model in 10X power.

TR

WayBeau
December 4, 2012, 12:37 PM
Seems like I have a good problem to have, lots of options. I'm going to check out all the suggested binos. If only I knew someone with every set so I could look through them first.

Andrew Leigh
December 4, 2012, 02:38 PM
Some technical issues.

Important things to consider;

To state the obvious the 8X42 relates to binoc's of 8 times magnification with a 42mm objective lens. These numbers are important.

Magnification - The 8 or 10X is considered the maximum that most people can hold steady. Anything over that would be a struggle to hold still, leading to irritating image jump.

Objective size - This is 42 or whatever the number is on the binoc's you are considering. It is important for light gathering, for me the minimum is 40 / 42mm. At midday life is good but early mornings and late evenings will have you struggling for resolution with anything smaller. You will not necesserally notice this, what you will notice is a general poor image. As one gets older this becomes even more apparent.

Exit pupil - EP This the the image in the eyepiece that you see when holding the binoc's away from you and looking at the eyepiece. The exit pupil is simply the expression of the objective lens divided by the magnification. For our example, the 8X42 this means 42/8= 5.25mm

Simply put this is the size of the image that your pupil sees. So why is this important? Well the smaller the exit pupil the harder it is to focus on the image and the less the light is that is gathered. As we get older our pupils become less elastic which makes matters worse. There is much to be written on this but not know ...... google is your friend.

So a 8X50mm would have an EP of 6.25 which is better but size and weight is a compromise.

Conversely an 8X30mm would have an exit pupil of 3.75mm which is small and creates eye fatigue. But they are easy to handle.

Old marine binoculars were always 7X50mm as the exit pupil was an understood phenomonum, it was 7.14mm, widely considered the best compromise for all eyes.

People will argue but unfortunately the laws of magnification and light are pretty universal. It is no different when buying a rifle scope, the same principles apply, one just needs to find a compromise for ones unique application.

Weight may be a factor as you may travel light, but if you are 21 with excellent vision then a 8X30 may well be the perfect solution for now.

For me at 50+ my vision is not what it was, a pair of 8X30 would simply not work for me but 8X42's work for now.

Personally I find it exceedingly difficult to keep binoc 10X still enough to be of value. I see better with 8X and a steady hand.

Good luck

Patocazador
December 4, 2012, 03:00 PM
I know I will get blasted for this but I really like the Bushnell Perma-Focus binoculars. They are very inexpensive, $59 or so on Ebay, and relatively durable. I don't know how the technology works but I can look at a tree 50 yards away and then look at another tree 100 yards away without having to manually adjust the focus. This makes it easy to glass a hardwood bottom or mature pine thicket. Based on personal experience they WILL NOT survive a fall from a climber 30 feet up a tree especially if they bounce off the tree on the way down. Good thing they are only $60.
When I hunt out west I use a pair of Lieca Rangefinders that I won in a raffle about 7 years ago. I don't really need to range deer at 1200 yards in any Alabama hardwoods.
BLAST #1:

"Permafocus" binos are set at infinity or just short of it so nothing close will be in focus. They are only useful if you are in open territory .. on a large lake looking for ducks, in a desert with no trees, etc. To use binos successfully, you have to 'focus through' brush, trees, etc. This puts certain distances in focus and blurs out other distances. It's a great tool for finding hidden animals in thick cover.

wankerjake
December 4, 2012, 03:05 PM
Magnification - The 8 or 10X is considered the maximum that most people can hold steady. Anything over that would be a struggle to hold still, leading to irritating image jump.

This seems to be what most people think, and I disagree. I mostly use 12x50 as an all purpose binoculars, and I hold them still just fine. Moving up to 15x yes, that is too much without a tripod. But 12x works great in my opinion. For thicker country I like 10x maybe a little better but 12x has been quite versatile for me.

Andrew Leigh
December 4, 2012, 03:18 PM
Then you are an exception with a steady hand.

12X50 gives an exit pupil of 4.16mm, tending toward the bottom end. You must be young or have great eyes.

There are always exceptions to the rule but when giving advice it is difficult to give advice for all exceptions, so the advice tends to be for the average user.

Don't know about where you come from but where I shop there will be more 8X than 10X and more 10X than 12X etc, must be a reason for this. There is a reason why the average scope is 3-9, some will use 12 - 14X but it is easier to hold a rifle steady over a rest than handholding binoc's. I have 14X but the scope stays dialed in at between 6 and 8X.

As I stated it is horses for courses, whatever races your boat. A good place for binoc reviews are birding sites, those boys use binocs regularly and need to resolve real fine detail to identify birds.

jmr40
December 4, 2012, 03:27 PM
The problem with anything over about 8X is that the objective has to be so large to work well. The front objective needs to be a minimum of 5X the magnification or they will be a poor perfrmer in low light. For car or boat use where they are not carried a 12X60 or 10X50 is OK. But for hunting somthing in the 8X40 range is as big as I'm willing to carry. A 6X30 or 7X35 is even better.

Something with a 8X30, or the compact 8X24's commonly seen suck big time in low light. I don't care who makes them, I'd avoid ANYTHING with less than a 5:1 magnification to front objective size ratio.

jrdolall
December 4, 2012, 03:31 PM
BLAST #1:

"Permafocus" binos are set at infinity or just short of it so nothing close will be in focus. They are only useful if you are in open territory .. on a large lake looking for ducks, in a desert with no trees, etc. To use binos successfully, you have to 'focus through' brush, trees, etc. This puts certain distances in focus and blurs out other distances. It's a great tool for finding hidden animals in thick cover.
My real world application would refute this. It is true that I can't focus on a bird 20 feet from my nose but I rarely need binoculars for a deer within 20 yards. I hunt relatively thick hardwoods and pines where my longest shot is normally less than 100 yards with a few exceptions. I can reach way back into the thick stuff and pick out individual trees and focus on them even if there are 20 trees closer to me. They are not as clear as my $800 binoculars but then again I don't expect them to be. I use them to find animals that are maybe a little back in the junk and to identify individual bucks that I have on camera so I can record what I see and where. They work fine at 75 yards looking through brush and identifying a certain animal by any unique characteristics like antlers or spots. On the rare occasion that I hunt a food plot or field they seem to do the job right at dusk.

H&Hhunter
December 4, 2012, 05:00 PM
I agree with Andrew I fond the 8X42 to be about the best power vs objective lens mix there is.

My 8x32 BN Leicas start to fall down pretty hard in dim light conditions. I had an opportunity to but a pair of Swarovski 8x42 EL binos for $750 a while back and turned them down..:banghead:

What was I thinking?

matrem
December 4, 2012, 07:07 PM
What was I thinking?


And....
What was he thinking?

I'm not aware of anything in the hunting/shoooting world that the phrase "You get what you pay for" is more true than with optics.

Research, look through all you can,even if you have to have the gun store clerk go outside with you, then spend a bit more than you know you should.
I'm betting you'll not regret it.

WYcoyote
December 4, 2012, 07:54 PM
Ok, my choice in this price range is The Zen Ray ZRS 8x42 HD.
They have been performing well and are worth a look.

Flintknapper
December 4, 2012, 08:22 PM
I bought myself a pair of Pentax DCF 8x42 bino three or four years ago for under three bills and are super impressed by them .
The blow my friends Nikon ATB's right out of the water.
He bought his at the same time I did.
I was looking through both two weekends ago at a couple of deer at three hundred yards and there is no comparison in the clarity.


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ SAME!

Pentax 8 x 42 DCF HR II's

Hard to beat.

Had many folks look through them and be quite surprised.

heeler
December 4, 2012, 11:06 PM
Yep,That's the exact same model as mine Flint!
Was digging through my safe yesterday trying to find the specific model designation to help the original poster,but could not find my paper work.
Thanks.

squarepants33889
December 5, 2012, 12:35 AM
I bought a pair of camo Bushnell Trophy XLT's for $175.00 from the local big box sporting goods store(Wholesale Sports) in 10x42. Now I am certainly no expert, but I have been super impressed with these "budget" binoculars. I have had 3 days of hunting with them now. They have seen barley freezing with intermixed rain. Gray skies with no sun to be seen. And brilliant sun shining off snow on a crisp Saskatchewan winter day(about -20 degrees celcius). They function fine in low morning light, but not as good as my expensive Leupold scope.
Tomorrow I will test them on the last day of our whitetail season in a brisk -20 degrees celcius with a real stiff wind.
So far, these things havent failed me. And it is the clearest image I have ever used in the field. I am not gonna say the are as impressive as the $1000 models, but you wont be disappointed.http://www.binocularsnsite.com/files/2172008/uploaded/bushpic232811.jpg

Lloyd Smale
December 5, 2012, 06:17 AM
another vote for nikon monarchs. Ive got a pair of 8x monarchs and think there better glass them my 10x minox that cost twice as much.

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