Not really photography but sort of related...
Anybody care to recommend a pair of binoculars for general bird spotting, mountain viewing, etc ?
I have a travel pair for the pocket but want something with more magnification that i can keep in the car or bigger pack
Amazon links and around £50 would be ideal !
For that price you are best looking at the RSPB own branded bino’s you can try out at any of their large reserves or scouring the second hand sections of camera stores where you might get lucky and find an old pair of a mid/low end tier.
I would ask yourself what do you really value about seeing the wildlife then workout a solution from that. The top end stuff is really nice but sometimes it’s only different from the mid to low end stuff when you test it out in low or poor visibility and the coatings make a massive difference in what you can see. No point in owning them unless you spend a lot of time in those conditions.
Bird spotting and mountain viewing have different requirements. For general bird spotting, an 8x magnification is better: larger field of view making it easier to follow active birds; brighter colours, better in poor light. 10x gives you more detail at a distance, but also more hand shake and a smaller field of view. I'd go for 8x40; the birding's more successful, and it's also perfectly adäquate for non-specialised mountain viewing. There's loads on the Internet If you google "best birdspotting binoculars" for instance.
I have a pair of Regent 8x30 binoculars that my dad bought me for passing my 11+ exam in 1959. They are brilliant for all round bird watching and have lasted well. There are loads on ebay for under £20. I also have a pair of Nikon 10x50s which are good for reserve watching & hides but finding things in trees is a lot harder with these.
I was told by one of the expert Twitchers of this parish that when you buy binoculars costing below £150ish then you are getting a mass produced product from probably the same factory as everybody else. The factory simply puts the branding/badge/logo of the seller. Think of it like a local bakery that bakes bread for Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and M&S. Its the same bread however with M&S marketing its not just ordinary bread but M&S bread at a higher price.
Once you go above an arbitrary price point of £150-£200 then the binoculars are built to specs and form factor of the seller.
Don't expect miracles for a budget of £50
Yeah I’m not expecting miracles, just thought there might be a brand that was worth looking at at the lower end of things, doesn’t look that way ! I will have a read of some reviews and take a punt.
> Yeah I’m not expecting miracles, just thought there might be a brand that was worth looking at at the lower end of things,
I'd go for a retailer with good customer service reputation as a deciding factor.
As for me, I bought my binoculars from Viking. I took a punt on some shop-display reduced glass. They still cost me a small fortune but I got them at half price.
I believe that Viking and RSPB are virtually the same.
The RSPB seem to be the same as either Opticron or Viking.
There is almost no point buying £50 new binoculars. Most of that will be profit, you'll get bottom end optics. Look for a second hand pair form that price, try "Opticron 10x42" on eBay - there is a pair originally ~£150 on for £50 or offer.
Go to an rspb reserve, they'll have various models in the shop that you can try, that should give you an idea as to what to look for. You'll probably be able to hire a pair to use while you're there. Opticron Savannah 8x33 are a decent all round starter pair, fairly small and light, close focus isn't great though.
Could you buy a Skoda Octavia instead, and drive closer to the thing you wish to observe?
My wife went to a small independent camera and binocular/scope shop maybe 8-10 years ago. They sold very expensive and more modest binoculars.. She got some Opticron Taiga 8 x binoculars on the guys recommendation and they are amazing... I think they are around £100, but fabulous quality. Interestingly (to me) when out with some eco consultants and trying their Swarovski (over £1000) binoculars.. Could I tell the difference... possibly, possibly not.. But what was definite was comparing the Opticron to the RSPB own brand, the Opticron were staggering better image quality/brighter/sharper. So you don't need to spend a fortune, but get something good for a price, not just a cheap branded pair.. One last time - amazed by the quality of the Opticron (when I actually get to use them!) . Let us know what you get
erm, what ?
> Could you buy a Skoda Octavia instead, and drive closer to the thing you wish to observe?
Funniest comment on UKC for a long time.
Opticron trailfinder rood prism 10x42 £50 on eBay, any good ?
As a family we have 3 pairs of Olympus DPSI 8x40 binoculars, currently £48 on Amazon (down from £90ish). Heartily recommend (for the price) and compare favourably with a pair of Swift Plovers that we also own. We use mainly for bird watching and general nature stuff. Hope this helps.
You get what you pay for. Among the cheaper glasses, Opticron is usually one of the better makes. For 50 quid, getting on of the more expensive Opticrons used is going to be your best bet.
I disagree with the poster above who did not see the difference to Svarovski glasses, they must be blind! I recently tried some 2500 Euro Svarovskis, almost makes me want to bin my Leica 10x50s!
By the way, 10x42 is probably what you will be looking for for the birding stuff. Yes the field of view is smaller than with an 8x, but you will get used to that quickly, and the extra maginfication is worth it. For the front lens diameter you could even think about 32s, they are considerably lighter and any extra light gathering ability will only maybe give you an extra 15 min at dawn or dusk.
Yes, that's the one. I think it's a good deal.
Cheers, went for them, got them for £40.
To keep costs down make your own. Two oven foil tubes taped together and panted black would do the trick. No problems with fogging or low quality optics.
P.s let the paint dry before use.
Sounds like a good deal!
Enjoy. I have the next model up, bought about 10 years ago for £120. Such a difference over the £50 pair I bought as a teenager from a camera shop. My wife paid £150 for hers secondhand at a specialist shop near RSPB reserve in Norfolk, they were over £400 originally and the optics are brighter such that the 10x32 (or similar) are about as bright as my 10x42 but it's marginal improvement. Maybe in another 10 years, or when my son is old enough to have mine, I'll splash out on some expensive bins.
Total post hijacking, sorry richIan, but this is very timely for me as I'm after the same thing! My parents have promised to buy them for me, though, as I've had a big birthday, so if you had similar requirements c £150 (maybe up to £200 to spend), what would people get?
Opticron seems to be the answer !
Check out Vortex Diamondback. I have two pairs of the next model up (Viper), and they are stunning - quality and value.
Depends. If you want new, look out for Opticron Discovery WP 10x42.
Got my dad a pair of Avalon 10*42 on the recommendation of several people, they're not brilliant (probably because I'm comparing them to mine) but pretty good for the money.
I've got a pair of Bresser Pirsch ED which are excellent but a bit above your price limit. Don't know what the model down is like but might be worth trying a pair if you can.
Often big bird reserves have a binocular shop there where you can try a load out before you hand over the cash.
Would a monocular make more sense? Do they offer better bang for the buck?
And should be half the price, to boot
> And should be half the price, to boot
It doesn't quite seem to work that way - my local camera shop:-
Opticrom 8x42 mono £129 8x42 bino £207 But I don't think the models are directly comparable unfortunately.
To the OP - this shop stocks 35+ Opticron binos and monos, 10 nikon binos, half a dozen Olympus binos, and some night / image stabilised things from specialists for the boaters. I suspect the Nikon ones are there for the Nikon camera fanboys to buy as they occupy the same price range as the Opticrons. It also has 10 Swarovski binos and half a dozen of their birding scopes. The Swarovskis are ten times the price of the Opticrons. I have a pair of 12x30 BGA Opticrons (Oasis model?) from them which are optically great and ideal for mountain use as they're waterproof (albeit not as small as 8x25s or similar, and require steady hands). One of the rubbers on the twist-out eyepieces comes loose occasionally, but that seems standard for all binos I've ever used. They also come with a 30 year guarantee! I think binos are something you really need to try to ensure your eyes fit them nicely. Also, if the lens designs used are anything like camera lenses then the latest ones will be significantly better than older ones due to CAD & CAM, so an old secondhand pair may not be the bargain you think it is now.
Just did some more digging -
A quick look at the Opticron site shows that comparable monoculars are less than half the price of their binolcular equivalents.
I think the main advantage for me would be that you can go up in objective diameter or reach for the same weight and gain much improved performance. i.e. a 10x42 monocular wieghs about as much as 10x25 binoculars, yet will let in lots more light.
Anyone who has tried holding a monocular compared to the equivalent binoculars will be aware of the general awkwardness you get when trying to hold a monocular steady .
As for branding, it's true: Optictron are the Skoda of the optical world and that should be a good enough recommendation for 95% of the population.
Cheers for this lead Dave. For years I've been wanting to buy some new binoculars after the sad demise of my old pair, but every time I've looked (and asked here in the past as well) I've just got confused and couldn't really decide what I wanted. I looked up the ones you suggested here and thought "why not just get them and stop worrying about it?"
Anyway they arrived yesterday and seem great. The whole family have just been out in the garden looking at the moon through them and everyone has decided that it was "pretty cool" - and that's a lot coming from two grumpy and not impressed with anything teenagers!
Go back out and look at the Moon. There should be a bright ish star to the right of the Moon, about a moon width or two away.
Say hello to Saturn.
We were looking at that too, it was very bright, but they aren't powerful enough to see anything beyond it being a very bright blob.
Worst possible conditions for seeing anything other than a vague disc with the moon being so close. With my little refractor you need to be looking through the 18mm (22 x) eyepiece to see a definite ring and probably double that to see the rings as a distinct and separate thing from the body of the planet and preferably on a moonless night.
Jupiter's moons are a much easier sight with almost any binoculars.
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