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Clarity difference between $35 binocs and $80-300 models?

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 8, 2008 12:27:41 PM PDT
When I look just at the overall specs (e.g. 8x24, 10x25, size and weight; I'm looking at compact binoculars) I see the same specs at both the $35-ish price range and in the $80-300 price range.

The difference seems to be partly construction (waterproof rubber gasket seal, nitrogren-filled interior to prevent fogging, armored exterior) and partly optics. On the optics end, the difference between the price points looks like it includes these factors:
* kind of prism glass
* coatings on lenses (coated lens vs. fully-coated vs. multi-coated vs. fully multi-coated)
* design of the prism system: porro prisms vs. roof-top prisms

My question is: Is there a discernable difference in clarity, both sharpness or resolution, and also color fidelity or richness, between the two price ranges?

In reply to an earlier post on May 12, 2008 9:05:53 PM PDT
OldAmazonian says:
35-80-300 is a big range with some big differences. The only way to discover what's discernible to you is to look through several types. Your own best corrected visual acuity is a limiting factor, and your age is a limiting factor for low-light use. I'm old, with normal vision for my age, and can easily tell the difference between a typical new $35 binocular and a typical new $80 binocular (most obvious are off-axis color fringing and lack of edge field sharpness, less immediately obvious are poor alignment and sloppy focusing mechanics). The optical and mechanical differences become less pronounced but still easily noticeable as the price increases into the several hundred range. Personally, I greatly enjoy my ancient uncoated Zeiss Telact from 1912. They're not contrasty, because anti-reflection coating hadn't been invented in 1912, but they're still perfectly aligned and tack-sharp from edge to edge after nearly a century of use that was evidently none too gentle.

In reply to an earlier post on May 13, 2008 12:18:00 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 13, 2008 12:20:47 AM PDT
Thanks for the perspective!

I looked at a set of really similar products by different makers. I was looking for compact, lightweight binoculars, and raised my sights from the $20-35 range to the better optics and construction in the $70-120 range. All of the ones I narrowed down to were nearly the same specs:

- inverse porro prism design (the light path, instead of flaring out from the lens you look through so the far lenses are wider than your eyes, folds in so the far lenses are narrower than your eyes)
- about 10 oz.
- 8-10 x 24-28

I'm sure the design and optics were all similar in this price range. I looked at Nikon, Pentax, Leupold, Olympus--all available here on Amazon. I ended up getting:
Nikon Travelite V 9x25 Binocular
Nikon 7509 Travelite 9 X 25 mm V Binoculars

Once I started looking further here on Amazon, there were plenty of drool-worthy Zeiss, Steiner, Leupold, and others in the stratosphere, from $120-1200! Maybe this first pair will turn out to be my break-in pair, the gateway drug to the serious stuff!! :-)

Next up: Time to try a monocular. Like Jack Bauer!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2008 7:57:20 AM PDT
Muffin says:
After you are through the "gateway", and when your wallet is a bit fatter, try the Canon 10X42 IS.

They will be a revelation. (and a waterproof one, at that ;-)

I've worked my way "up" through about 7 pairs of binocs, including Steiners, Fujinons, Nikons, etc. ... all top-rated models.

All but the Canons are now gathering dust. No comparison as a viewing experience.

The word "see" has become "study". Great!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 15, 2008 3:29:43 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 15, 2008 3:37:55 PM PDT
I would agree with Muffin. I too have owned some of the best out there such as the Leicas and the Zeiss (all over $1200). I have the Canon IS binos now (3 different pair) and I would not go back. I would suggest that you look at the 8 power set since they are in your price range.

Other than that I think that Nikon makes some great glasses in the $200-300 range (such as the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42). No one that I know has ever said "I wish that I had a cheaper pair of binoculars". With a little care they will last you for many, many years. I suggest that yoiu invest in the best pair that you can afford.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2008 5:45:15 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Nov 1, 2008 5:46:27 PM PDT]
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Discussion in:  Binoculars forum
Participants:  5
Total posts:  6
Initial post:  May 8, 2008
Latest post:  Nov 1, 2008

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