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Outstanding Compact Binoculars
on January 5, 2012
Many of my comments from this review come from a direct, hands-on comparison of three sets of compact 10x25 binoculars, The Alpen PRO, the Olympus Tracker (both purchased here), and my Minolta Compact binoculars that I've been using for years. Out of the 3, the Alpens are my least favorite. Yes, the 6.5 degree wide angle viewing is more than the 5.0 on the Minolta and the 5.3 degree of the Olympus, but I found some less desirable traits with the Alpen. First, I found it more difficult to get the eye pieces exactly the right distance apart to create a single image than the other two binoculars. Also, and probably most annoying, the close focal distance seemed to be about double the listed length of 12 feet. I could VERY easily focus on items 10-15 feet away with the Olympus and Minolta binoculars, but I could not come anywhere NEAR focusing on those items with the Alpen. Maybe this won't be an issue when looking off the deck of a ship at something, but it certainly make the binoculars less flexible in their use. The ridged hand grips on the Alpen binoculars didn't fit my hands well, there was no adjustable eye relief, no lens caps, and a cheap feeling canvas case. The optics are crystal clear so no complaints there, and once I got them focused they didn't wander. I would have returned these binoculars if I paid more than $50 for them, but for something that claims to be waterproof, plus provide a slightly wider field of vision, I think I'm going to keep them as a third, slightly different, set in my binocular arsenal.
The Olympus Trackers were my favorite of the three, and the $20 more I paid for these versus the Alpen is money very well spent. The eye pieces (which have caps), rotate out to provide a much deeper eye relief, making it much easier to focus these binoculars. The optics are perfect, and adjustments easy to make. The Trackers are less bulky and the sleek silver body makes them much more refined looking than the Alpen (which looked like something you take in the woods). I was able to pick these up and adjust them to my preferences in half the time it took for the Alpen PRO's, and as icing on the cake, the streamlined, padded plastic case is far more attractive than the basic canvas case of the Alpen.
Overall, I rate the Olympus Tracker my favorite out of these three. All had excellent optics for a compact binocular, but the Olympus was easier to use, felt better, and looked better overall. Consider the Alpen if you're looking for something that's weather resistant and with a slightly larger viewing angle, but if these are not important features, the Olympus Trackers will be a much better choice at a similar price.