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 Post subject: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: June 19th, 2016, 3:57 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3178
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Hi guys,

1. on my binoculars, one of the loops to hook the straps onto to the binos has broken off. The loop was part of the binoculars' body and cannot be replaced. Does anyone know of some kind of universal straps that can be connected to loop-less binos?

2. I've been using a fairly good, Malaysian-made pair of USD500 binos for the last three years, but last month a visitor from Germany brought a pair of Zeiss Victory SF 8 x 42 to Borneo, and after birding with that incredible piece of German ingenuity for an afternoon, I've found religion (think John Belushi in that shaft of divine light in "Blues Brothers") I've managed to secure the funds (barely, haha) and even successfully convinced the missus that my life will have no meaning if I spare this expense, but one question remains: whether to buy the 8 x 42 or the 10 x 42 version. I mostly bird in Borneo's forests, where 10 x 42 might be too large to follow birds from tree to tree, and most rainforest birders I know use 8 x 42 for this reason. But I've been using 8 x 42 for three years now, and I would really, really like to see my quarry a little bigger, so I'm very tempted to get the 10 x 42 version. I also bird in Taiwan, which has much more open spaces (coast, agricultural land, montane meadows etc.), and where 10 x 42 wouldn't be a problem.

In your experience, is it REALLY that inadvisable to use 10 x 42 in dense tropical forests?

Thank you very much in advance!

Hans


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: June 19th, 2016, 6:39 pm 
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Joined: March 16th, 2011, 11:28 am
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Location: New Jersey
I'd get the 8x42's. Wider field of view, image stability, and brightness trump seeing the birds a tiny bit closer. I'd only ever use higher than an 8 if I were doing mostly hawkwatching or seawatching.


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: June 19th, 2016, 8:08 pm 
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Joined: August 24th, 2010, 8:34 pm
Posts: 414
Location: Los Angeles County
I've always used 10X. One of the main things to consider is how steady your hands are. Close focus is also a important factor. Most of the better brands have a good close focus distance. Weight can also be a determining factor. Some folks don't like luging around the extra weight.

-nightdriver


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: June 19th, 2016, 11:29 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
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Location: San Antonio, TX
Good lenses trump power every time. I would much rather buy a high quality 8x42 than a lesser 10x42.


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: June 20th, 2016, 1:21 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3178
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks very much for all your answers! To clarify, the Victory SF 8 and 10 are exactly the same binoculars, quality-wise, (here's a link) and I don't mind extra weight, so the question is just "will I be able to use the 10s as effectively as the 8s in the forest?" (444 foot field of view for the 8 x 42 is of course very tempting :-))

@nightdriver, what sort of terrain do you usually bird in?

Thanks again!


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: June 20th, 2016, 10:37 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Posts: 590
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan
I use 10x42 in tropical forest, and can't imagine using smaller. I don't really care much for field of view, as I'm focused on the bird, not the habitat around it. I may lose the odd flittering warbler, but overall, I prefer 10x.


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: June 20th, 2016, 3:23 pm 
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Joined: March 16th, 2011, 11:28 am
Posts: 547
Location: New Jersey
Curtis Hart wrote:
I use 10x42 in tropical forest, and can't imagine using smaller. I don't really care much for field of view, as I'm focused on the bird, not the habitat around it. I may lose the odd flittering warbler, but overall, I prefer 10x.


It seems like this is really a matter of personal preference. I actually use 7x42 Leicas, and they are absolutely fine for me except when looking at very distant birds like hawks or shorebirds (when I will usually have a scope handy anyway). I don't personally run into too many birders using 10's except at a hawkwatch or seawatch. For me, the field of view is a huge help when you are trying to track a small bird in dense foliage, especially high up in a tree when you are already straining your neck and back. Think of the binoculars like a gun: if your goal is to hit the bird on the first shot, would you rather have a rifle or a shotgun?

To be fair, I have excellent vision, so maybe I can't appreciate the benefits of the extra magnification for those who don't. The very best thing to do would be to get a hold of a pair of each and try birding with them, but of course that can be difficult unless you are at a birding convention.


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: June 20th, 2016, 6:52 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
cbernz wrote:
The very best thing to do would be to get a hold of a pair of each and try birding with them, but of course that can be difficult unless you are at a birding convention.


Thank you very much again, guys! That's all really helpful! I was birding in my neighborhood forest park this morning, trying to find sunbirds and other wee stuff with my 8s, and I kept thinking "damn, this is difficult enough at this magnification, how would it be at 10?" So, as you say, the best thing would be to try out a pair of 10s for a few hours and then decide. I'll try to find someone who can lend me some :-)

Again, much obliged!

Cheers

Hans


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: June 25th, 2016, 8:19 pm 
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Joined: August 24th, 2010, 8:34 pm
Posts: 414
Location: Los Angeles County
Hans

Sorry, Been busy at work. :roll:

I've used 10x in just about every habitat imaginable. As someone said earlier, try them out and see what works and feels best for you. I've never really birded with 8x, but I know a lot of pelagic birders that do because they are easier to keep steady. As I get older, this is looking like more of a possibility for me. If you bird in close quarters then that close focus is great. I'll never buy another pair I couldn't focus on my toes.....or close to it.(10X, 10 toes...works for me) ;)

Another thing to think about, is if you wear glasses. Some binocs are much better for people that wear glasses than others. When I was a low budget birder, this was my top priority. Then my salary went up and I had laser surgery. Then I focused on high quality and feel in my hand. I even sent back some really pricey/very nice bins because they didn't feel right in my hands.

happy birding/herping/and everything else

Keep up those awesome posts.

Nightdriver


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: June 30th, 2016, 5:48 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
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Location: San Antonio, TX
You can get used to whatever power you have available.

I have a pair of Nikon Monarch 7x42s and 8x30s and an older pair of Nikon 10x40s.
All three are good binocs (the Monarchs are excellent), but frankly I find that 9 times out of 10, I reach for the 8x30s when going out in the field. Yes, the 7x42s are a tiny bit brighter but not enough that it justifies the extra weight on my shoulders for a long day (the Monarch 8x30s are amazingly bright for such small binocs - most 8x30s are not). It isn't just the weight, it is the size that bugs me. I usually have a camera with a 100-400 lens and often my shotgun microphone with me. I don't want any more stuff on my body than I have to and physical space on my neck/shoulders is at a premium when I'm in the field.
I almost never bother with the 10x binocs, in fact, I'm not sure when the last time they came out of the closet was? It has probably been a couple of years.

I often bird with someone who uses a pair of Nikon 8x42 Nikon Premieres ($1600) and I generally have my 8x30 Nikon Monarch 5 ($300). When looking at the same bird in the same conditions, there is a slight difference in image quality (more likely due to the 42 vs 30 diameter) , but not $1300 worth. And the problem with $1K+ binoculars is you tend to treat them like they are made of crystal and spend time worrying about them in the field instead of birding. I can afford more expensive binoculars, but I'm not sure it is a good investment. I need a pair I can leave on the floor of the car or drop in the mud and not get all worked up. They aren't an investment, they are a tool. Frankly, I would rather have 3 pairs of $300 binocs than a $1K pair. That way I could bring two pairs on a trip in case one gets lost/stolen/broken.

Also, if you told me I had $1500 to spend on birding I would rather spend $300 on a quality pair of binocs $1200 on a birding trip than $1500 on binocs that I have to stay home with.

But I've only been birding seriously for 33 years. Once I get better at it I might feel differently. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: July 2nd, 2016, 11:26 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
Posts: 897
Location: NE Ohio
I really agree with most everything that this thread has stated so far. I used a Vortex Razor 8x42 and love them. Granted I got a a heck of deal on mine, and they price has substantially gone up, but (and in general I hate plugging brands) I really love the company. Their optics usually get compared to other brands that are a price point or two higher. Mine retailed at the time for $900 (I think they are over a G now), but commonly were compared to $1500+ binoculars. And one of their biggest bonus points is the company offers a lifetime guarantee. If you break it they fix or replace it. I don't baby mind (they get tossed around my car, dropped, banged into rocks when flip things) and they are still in good shape 9 years later. I once dropped it on concrete and lodged an eye cup - sent it in for repairs and had it back within two weeks before a trip to Yellowstone.

Anyway, get a good pair of binoculars - one that works for you and you'll be happy.

Andy


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2016, 5:13 am 
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Joined: July 28th, 2013, 6:56 am
Posts: 76
When choosing the power that you want to use in the field, the most important thing to consider is your own skill level. I started with 7X and have worked my way up to 12X. The ability to quickly find an object with your binoculars is probably is the determining factor on what magnification you should use. Practice, practice, and more practice is the key to getting better. You can get the best pair on the market but if you still lack the basic skills to utilize the tool in your hands then it's kind of a waste to spend a lot of money. My current pair is the Nikon Monarch 12x42. After research and testing more than a few others I found these to be the best option for me. I tried much more expensive brands and did not see enough of a difference to merit the huge difference in price. I don't have a problem find small targets or the following movements of those targets. If there is a trade off of magnification increase vs harder tracking I believe skill will level the playing field. The difference of seeing a rare sighting at 12x compared to 7x or 8x is like night and day. Of course my post is only my opinion, so accept it as just that.


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2016, 7:32 am 
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Joined: March 16th, 2011, 11:28 am
Posts: 547
Location: New Jersey
reptologist wrote:
When choosing the power that you want to use in the field, the most important thing to consider is your own skill level. I started with 7X and have worked my way up to 12X. The ability to quickly find an object with your binoculars is probably is the determining factor on what magnification you should use. Practice, practice, and more practice is the key to getting better. You can get the best pair on the market but if you still lack the basic skills to utilize the tool in your hands then it's kind of a waste to spend a lot of money. My current pair is the Nikon Monarch 12x42. After research and testing more than a few others I found these to be the best option for me. I tried much more expensive brands and did not see enough of a difference to merit the huge difference in price. I don't have a problem find small targets or the following movements of those targets. If there is a trade off of magnification increase vs harder tracking I believe skill will level the playing field. The difference of seeing a rare sighting at 12x compared to 7x or 8x is like night and day. Of course my post is only my opinion, so accept it as just that.



I've never even heard of 12x42's. Skill level aside, how is the brightness on those compared to a 7, 8, or 10X binocular? What kind of close focus do they have? It would be amazing to have a bright 12X binocular that could also focus within 6 feet, but dark image and long focal length might be a serious handicap for jungle birding in particular.

One problem with jungle birding is that distant birds are either really high up and horribly backlit, or down low and just horribly lit. Either way, clarity and brightness will be more helpful than magnification, in my opinion. The other thing that will help (that I don't think has been mentioned yet) is a decent sound recorder with speaker(s) so you can lure those distant birds in with playback.


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2016, 7:41 am 
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Joined: March 16th, 2011, 11:28 am
Posts: 547
Location: New Jersey
Andy Avram wrote:
I really agree with most everything that this thread has stated so far. I used a Vortex Razor 8x42 and love them. Granted I got a a heck of deal on mine, and they price has substantially gone up, but (and in general I hate plugging brands) I really love the company. Their optics usually get compared to other brands that are a price point or two higher. Mine retailed at the time for $900 (I think they are over a G now), but commonly were compared to $1500+ binoculars. And one of their biggest bonus points is the company offers a lifetime guarantee. If you break it they fix or replace it. I don't baby mind (they get tossed around my car, dropped, banged into rocks when flip things) and they are still in good shape 9 years later. I once dropped it on concrete and lodged an eye cup - sent it in for repairs and had it back within two weeks before a trip to Yellowstone.

Anyway, get a good pair of binoculars - one that works for you and you'll be happy.

Andy


Haven't tried the Razor bins, but I have a Vortex scope, and I love it as well. It's essentially identical to the similarly sized Swarovski, at about 60% of the cost. The difference in image quality is so minute that it might simply be an effect of confirmation bias. If anyone is thinking of getting any high-end optics, I would absolutely recommend trying out Vortex as well - you might be pleasantly surprised.


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2016, 1:52 pm 
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Joined: July 28th, 2013, 6:56 am
Posts: 76
cbernz wrote:
reptologist wrote:
When choosing the power that you want to use in the field, the most important thing to consider is your own skill level. I started with 7X and have worked my way up to 12X. The ability to quickly find an object with your binoculars is probably is the determining factor on what magnification you should use. Practice, practice, and more practice is the key to getting better. You can get the best pair on the market but if you still lack the basic skills to utilize the tool in your hands then it's kind of a waste to spend a lot of money. My current pair is the Nikon Monarch 12x42. After research and testing more than a few others I found these to be the best option for me. I tried much more expensive brands and did not see enough of a difference to merit the huge difference in price. I don't have a problem find small targets or the following movements of those targets. If there is a trade off of magnification increase vs harder tracking I believe skill will level the playing field. The difference of seeing a rare sighting at 12x compared to 7x or 8x is like night and day. Of course my post is only my opinion, so accept it as just that.



I've never even heard of 12x42's. Skill level aside, how is the brightness on those compared to a 7, 8, or 10X binocular? What kind of close focus do they have? It would be amazing to have a bright 12X binocular that could also focus within 6 feet, but dark image and long focal length might be a serious handicap for jungle birding in particular.

One problem with jungle birding is that distant birds are either really high up and horribly backlit, or down low and just horribly lit. Either way, clarity and brightness will be more helpful than magnification, in my opinion. The other thing that will help (that I don't think has been mentioned yet) is a decent sound recorder with speaker(s) so you can lure those distant birds in with playback.


Interestingly enough I use them in lower light conditions and they seem to enhance the light. I have spotted movement in the underbrush around dusk and then easily identified with the binoculars. They are a great product for the price. I would say 6' is on the very edge of focus, at 7' they are crystal clear. I hear what you are saying about jungle birding, and all I can say is I have used them in Panama and Costa Rica with great results. I use mine for herping as well as birding. I have even tried 16x power Nikon binoculars and they were a waste of time. There is a point to where magnification and good results don't go hand in hand for birding. My sister is in town visiting and we were watching one of my feeders when a juvie Northern Flicker showed up. She had a hard time finding it with my binoculars yet I was able to follow it up the trunk of a tree and then across to another tree. I practice quickly finding targets at home to hone my skills. If I had 1 tip to share to help people get better it would be to learn to look directly at your target and then bring up the binoculars to your eyes without moving your head or looking at anything but the target. This tip is not directed to you, it's move for someone trying to step up in skill level.


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2016, 11:41 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3178
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thank you very much for all your enthusiastic help, everyone! I've decided to go with the Zeiss Victory SF 8 x 42, and will pick them up during my trip to Ze Fazerland next week (found them at a killer price, just a little over USD2000). A full report will follow after my return to Borneo in early September :-)

Cheers, and thanks again!

Hans


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 Post subject: Re: HELP! Two binocular questions
PostPosted: July 24th, 2016, 9:16 am 
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Location: San Antonio, TX
cbernz wrote:
The other thing that will help (that I don't think has been mentioned yet) is a decent sound recorder with speaker(s) so you can lure those distant birds in with playback.


Having a sound recorder to record a bird in the field is a great idea. I often carry mine and sometimes my shotgun microphone to try and capture bird calls for things like inaturlist.org and xeno-canto.org.

Using one for playback is a different issue. In fact, it is illegal in some areas. The ethics of this issue are debated back and forth on birding forums, etc.. I guess it is a personal choice? I don't do it. If I can't see the bird without luring it in with a recording, I don't need to see it.

That said, I do use it on amphibians occasionally to get a shy male frog to call so I can find/record/photograph it. But frogs are not territorial to the same degree as birds.


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