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Thread: Best all-around binoculars on a budget

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    Default Best all-around binoculars on a budget

    So, here's the deal. I'm new to Alaska and to hunting, but I'm looking forward to learning, black bear and/or moose being my goal this upcoming year. As I'm beginning to gear up, I'm in search of a decent pair of all-around hunting binoculars. After reading through some previous threads, it seems as though you generally get what you pay for when it comes to optics, but I only have $200 available for my first set considering all the other gear I still need. So, I was wondering if anyone with more knowledge/experience than me might have a recommendation as to what would be the most bang for my buck. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by akgreenhorn View Post
    So, here's the deal. I'm new to Alaska and to hunting, but I'm looking forward to learning, black bear and/or moose being my goal this upcoming year. As I'm beginning to gear up, I'm in search of a decent pair of all-around hunting binoculars. After reading through some previous threads, it seems as though you generally get what you pay for when it comes to optics, but I only have $200 available for my first set considering all the other gear I still need. So, I was wondering if anyone with more knowledge/experience than me might have a recommendation as to what would be the most bang for my buck. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
    Why not waiting a few months to save another $200.00 or so? I just bought a set of Leupold Olympic 8x42 binocular that is very nice. It's fog and water proof, and has a rubber armor. It's sort of tan or ivory color (not my favorite), but it's bright and sharp. It was on sale, so I paid less than $400.00.

    I looked at a Nikon Monarch (I looked through several at the store), and neither the sales person nor I could adjust them for a sharp image. There were not sharp enough, no matter what I did. But Nikon binoculars are spot on, at least other models I have looked at, so maybe it was a bad batch I was looking at (made in China, of course). But what isn't these day? Even my brand new iMac was shipped to me directly from China this week

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    I'm not real familiar with what's out there in that price range, but you may be able to find a Leupold or Nikon 8x30 in that range that you would be happy with.

    I think Ray has given you some solid advice. Plenty of time to save a little more dough before hunting season to get some good glass. Decent binoculars are really important for Alaska hunting. You will literally live in them for some hunts.

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    Both are easy to see a long ways off. Then you pratice putting the sneek on them to see if they are good enough. Both can be taken with-in 25yards with pratice

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    For that dough? Pentax.

    Call Doug at Cameraland...he'll hook you up phat.


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    Default minox

    doug's cameraland has minox 8x30 on sale now, under 200. these are blemished (cosmetic on the rubber armor)

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    eagle optics also has some good deals... but i second the motion for saving a little more dough... by $200 glass now and you'll end up wanting $400 glass soon enough... get the $400 pair first and you save $200.
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    Default I don't need to be an expert, or sound like one.

    Every time someone asks this question, someone says, "Wait, save your money". "Buy Used" etc. I don't think thats good advice. My advice is, Get what you can afford, and don't be a Gear Nurd.

    Current day, Bushnells are a reasonably priced brand of optics, and they work fine for me. There are others of course, and if they didn't work, they wouldn't be able to sell them.

    Test before buying. Take them outside and look at the twigs at the top of trees, far, far, away. Try the adjustments, left and right eye, etc. Compare.

    I would suggest, Bushnell, or Burris.

    I use either the 10x42 Bushnells I got at Costco, OR Burris 10x30s, which are smaller to pack around. I've used others too of course.

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    go to the web site sportsmans guide we bought 9x42 steiners there for about 225 shipped. We love them and they have a great return policy.

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    Member wykee5's Avatar
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    I would take a good look at the Nikon Monarchs, in 8x42. In my opinion, they are the best "value" glass out there. I have used them side by side with Leupolds that cost twice as much, and I prefer the Nikons. I have nothing against Leupold, I own a number of their rifle scopes, but when it comes to binocs, I don't think there is a better deal out there than the Monarchs. I have also put them side by side with Leica Geovids. Sure, the Leicas definitley look better, but not necessarily $2000 better. I used to sell optics in college, and not remembering the specifics of everything out there, I do know that I own the Nikons.

    Just my opinion though, there is plenty of good glass out there. Look through a bunch, and don't cheat yourself too much. Break down spending an extra couple hundred bucks once over ten years of use, and you're talking about pennies a day. Get what works for you, or you'll just end up replacing it with what you want in a year anyway.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Nikon Monarch 8x42. You can pick up a refurbished set from Doug at Cameraland for about $250, and they're easily better than any other glass you'll find under $5-600. I have the Monarch 10x42 for both my wife and I, and I absolutely love them.

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    My favorite all around size for binoculars are 8x42's (or 8x40, same thing). As Chisana said, you will live in the things some hunts, and the extra glass size really helps with light gathering. I also like the 7x or 8x power when using them all day, since 10x will fatigue my eyes with the extra perceived motion. Binocular sizing is kind of a person thing, but that's my opinion. You might be better off trading down in size for better quality, but I wouldn't go below about an 8x30. On my average hunt, I use the binoculars more than any other single piece of equipment, so if you can skimp on something else it's worth it.

    I've owned a few pair of binoculars ranging from $150 to $300+ and managed to break them most of them at one point or another. That includes a Leupold (green ring), Steiner, Pentax, and even my current Nikon's. You get what you can afford though, and I understand that. It took some scraping to purchase my Nikon's, and they certainly weren't that expensive by binocular standards.

    Things to watch out for are when buy budget bino's:

    -good eye relief
    -Solid eye cup adjustments (I've failed a couple)
    -even light transmission between the eyes (I had leupolds that filtered the light differently, really annoying).
    -Broad range of focus. And by that I mean you shouldn't have to fiddle with the focus for every minor change in distance.
    -Minimal glare from sunlight. If you look toward (not at) the sun, can you still see? An early set of Cabelas brand binos I had were awful for that and got returned.

    You probably won't get all of those from a $200 set, but those are the things I look for.

    Good luck, and try a bunch.

    Yk

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    Member BrettAKSCI's Avatar
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    8x32 Steiner Predators are prety nice for $240ish!

    Brett

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    Member AK Wonderer's Avatar
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    There are some decent binos for around $200. Check Cameraland.
    Nikon Monarch 8x40 Demo $230
    Pentax DCF HS 8x36 $189
    Vortex Diamondback 8x42 $220, 10x42 $230

    All of these are a decent bang for your buck.

    A $200 pair of binos will easily get you by until you can upgrade. My first pair of binos when I moved to Alaska was a $50 pair of Bushnell's. After an hour of glassing you were cross eyed and the headache was setting in. After a couple of hunting trips I upgraded to some Pentax DCF SP's.

    Welcome to Alaska.

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    While it is true for the most part that you get what you pay for when it comes to optics, occasionally you can find gems for little cash. I had even less $$ when I was shopping for binoculars. I went into Sportsman's warehouse, told the guy at the optics counter that I needed binoculars for $150 or less. He set out three sets - one Swarovski, one Leupold, and one Alpen. The Swarovski was obviously the most expensive of the three at over $1K, the Leupolds were about $250 and the Alpens were $75.00. All three were the same size with the same magnification, but to my surprise the best light gatherer was the Alpen set. Completely clear with great light gathering capability, waterproof... I can't believe the quality for the price.

    I took them hunting along with a cheap spotting scope in August. The spotting scope is junk. I wound up leaving it in camp after the first day and doing all of my glassing with the Alpens. I could see more clearly and judge better with them in spite of having far less magnification. I used them for several hours with zero eye fatigue. They were subjected to a lot of water and dust on the trip too and are none the worse for wear. Alpens sell to a price point, but for the quality they'd sell just fine at hundereds more.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Cameraland, sponsors Optics forum and has good deals

    You could ask Doug at Cameraland for advice.

    The Nikons Brian M mentioned are available for $230 - reburbished:
    Nikon Monarch ATB 10x42
    Part# 7432 & 7525

    Refurbished Unit Price: $229.99
    Team Realtree Model
    http://cameralandny1.reachlocal.net/...page=nikon7432

    More discussion
    Nikon Monarchs:
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ead.php?t=1010
    Value binocs, some in $200 range:
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=20850
    Binocs under $200(an old sale thread, but some are still similar price range):
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...d.php?p=611843
    Updated Cameraland clearance deals, October 9:
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=64749

    Now is about time for end-of-year deals on optics and other gear too if you're not in a hurry.

    Good luck.

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Birdwatchers help?

    A friend years ago told me Cornell has one of the 2 top ornithology programs in the USA (U of Kansas was the other I think). Well, Cornell gives binocular buying and maintenance advice. Their last binoc review is from 2005, but they mention Leupold, Nikon, Celestron, Noble...and Bushnell compacts on the value end.

    http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Publica...Age_Binos.html

    The article's comments about high end binocs is also good - and consistent with AOD members' comments over the years IMO.

    Snyd, an AOD moderator, has posted on tips from birdwatchers too and I think is a Pentax fan. Smitty's point about not going overboard makes sense, especially if you need to save $$$ for a bush flight (ka-ching).

    Good luck -

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    As others have said. Doug at Cameraland can hook you up. If you can scrape up another 149-200 bucks buy the PENTAX 8x43 DCF SP's or the 10x43's. He's got some "demo" models now which means they are brand new but someone looked at them.
    I've had the 10x43's since they first came out... excellent. Fullkurl here just bought some "for his wife"....ya uh-huh.... I think they are his now!

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    Lots of good advice in this thread. Thumbs up all around.

    You should be able to find something adequate in your price range. I'd suggest you go somewhere with a good selection and try them out. These are really the salad days of optics and good ones abound for real reasonable pricing.

    I've got a set of Leupold 10x42 and a 6x30 and they've performed well and I don't think either ran over $200 purchased new. I've also used Burris and Nikons in that range and they were fine.

    Doug at Cameraland will likely be your best source for cosmetic blemished but functional stuff. You can really get good glass for cheap this way and you won't feel so bad when you drop them in the field. Out of all my gear it seems I'm harder on binos than anything else.

    I want some really nice glass in the future but I look at my battered Leupolds and think if they were Swaro's I might just start crying...

  20. #20
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    My kid's have Vortex Diamondbacks and they are very decent glass for the $200 range.
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