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05/17/2022 09:34AM  
I know we've got some birding fans as well as hunters around here and I'm looking for some folks with experience with a few tiers of binos ideally.

In my college days, when officially joining the ecology field, a pair of binoculars was essential. But needing to be cost conscious I managed with some Bushnell 8x21 for years. A while back I upgraded to the Nikon Monarch 5 10x42 which was quite the appreciable difference! Now I'm contemplating another upgrade.
I'm anticipating 99% bird watching use and like many in the hobby have had my eye on a Swarovski. I'm still not sure if I'll be going 10X or 8X. In truth I like seeing the birds close and I guess I've had enough practice it's not too much of an issue getting on and staying on target. Woodland use is maybe only a 1/4-1/3 of my use so the 10X hasn't been a problem for me and I'm used to it now. Anyway, I suppose I just need to decide on that but I'm extremely likely to stick with a 42mm objective regardless. I really think anything bigger will be annoying to carry around.

I was hoping someone on here has had experience with a 42mm Monarch level Nikon and a Swarovski. Obviously I'm much more in the territory of diminishing returns as from when I went from the Bushnell to the Nikon but has anyone else made the upgrade? Thoughts?
 
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05/17/2022 11:04AM  
I have a close friend who is a serious birder (actually a "somebody" amongst the global birding community) and he has the 10x42 EL Swarovskis, and swears by them. He uses them daily, year-round, and has for about 22ish years. His loaner binos are the Monarchs.

A hunting buddy got a pair of 10x50 EL Swarovskis, so I've been able to compare with my 10x50 Vortex Razors. His are better, for sure...but as you say, diminishing returns. On the plus side, mine are lighter by half a pound.


I've never heard of anyone regretting buying the Swaros.
 
05/17/2022 12:53PM  
Thank you sns for your thoughts.
Same in my book, anyone I've know working in or seriously active in the hobby has a pair of swarovski, zeiss or the like. My career path went a different direct but I'm definitely in the hobby, but like all my interests they wax and wane to some degree. Migration was super fun this year, my wife, daughter, and I added several new species to our master list of birds identified from our property! So I'm quite enthused at the moment. Just not quite the impulse buyer I was 10 years ago. But so far I'm being nudged towards a new pair :)
 
technically_rugged
distinguished member (396)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2022 01:06PM  
I went through a phase a few years back and tried several different binos most for astronomy. I have not looked through any Swaros unfortunately, but I have seen middle of the road Chinese made stuff (which ain't bad) and some higher end stuff from Nikon and Fujinon and Canon.

I had some Nikon Premier LX-L 8x42s which had one of the smoothest focusers and sharpest optics I had seen, but I sold them as I am not much of a birder and they seemed better for that. They have been replaced by the Monarch HG L DCF, I think. See if you can demo a pair of those as I bet they are lovely. I also have had the Nikon Premier SE 12x50 which are not birding binos in the slightest, but the optics are fantastic as well. The Fujinon 10x50 FMT-SX are also excellent binos but without center focus, so regardless of their large size and weight, they're not for birding in the slightest.

What I think would be right up your alley are Canon's image stabilized binos. The 10x42 are heavy and I don't know that I would recommend them for birding as a result, but they are excellent. Not summit tier like Swaro - an IS pair of Swaros would be the true pinnacle of binos. The eyecups are slightly uncomfortable as well. The Canon 12x36 III and 8x32/12x32 are also good options, though the optics are firmly in "better than average" territory, but not excellent. The IS system changes everything though - yes the optics aren't as sharp or "clear", but the lack of shakes allows you to study detail at a distance, which ultimately allows you to see more than you would with higher end optics that are shaking. I think 32mm is a little small but Canon needed to keep the size and weight of the binos tame - use the 10x42 for comparison.

While I would love a pair of Swaros (and would likely choose the 10x50 EL if I got some), the convenience and better usability with IS causes Canon's binos to be more useful to me. Take a look, if you haven't.
 
05/17/2022 01:11PM  
One more positive...they are the last Binos you'll ever buy, and your heirs will be able to use them.
 
05/17/2022 02:00PM  
technically_rugged: "I went through a phase a few years back and tried several different binos most for astronomy. I have not looked through any Swaros unfortunately, but I have seen middle of the road Chinese made stuff (which ain't bad) and some higher end stuff from Nikon and Fujinon and Canon.


I had some Nikon Premier LX-L 8x42s which had one of the smoothest focusers and sharpest optics I had seen, but I sold them as I am not much of a birder and they seemed better for that. They have been replaced by the Monarch HG L DCF, I think. See if you can demo a pair of those as I bet they are lovely. I also have had the Nikon Premier SE 12x50 which are not birding binos in the slightest, but the optics are fantastic as well. The Fujinon 10x50 FMT-SX are also excellent binos but without center focus, so regardless of their large size and weight, they're not for birding in the slightest.


What I think would be right up your alley are Canon's image stabilized binos. The 10x42 are heavy and I don't know that I would recommend them for birding as a result, but they are excellent. Not summit tier like Swaro - an IS pair of Swaros would be the true pinnacle of binos. The eyecups are slightly uncomfortable as well. The Canon 12x36 III and 8x32/12x32 are also good options, though the optics are firmly in "better than average" territory, but not excellent. The IS system changes everything though - yes the optics aren't as sharp or "clear", but the lack of shakes allows you to study detail at a distance, which ultimately allows you to see more than you would with higher end optics that are shaking. I think 32mm is a little small but Canon needed to keep the size and weight of the binos tame - use the 10x42 for comparison.


While I would love a pair of Swaros (and would likely choose the 10x50 EL if I got some), the convenience and better usability with IS causes Canon's binos to be more useful to me. Take a look, if you haven't."


Hmm I will have to check these out before pulling the trigger. I admittedly skipped over the rest or the mid range binos but maybe something I need to revisit.
I've demo'd several at retailers though never felt I got a good idea of how they work in the field when in a well lit building
 
05/17/2022 02:06PM  
sns: "One more positive...they are the last Binos you'll ever buy, and your heirs will be able to use them."

Very true! Especially nice that we may have used them together for a long time too!
 
PVnRT
senior member (84)senior membersenior member
 
05/18/2022 05:35PM  
Preface by acknowledging that I'm not a birder, so coming at the optics question from different perspective. My training and profession is in image analysis.

30 years ago my employer entrusted me to purchase a high quality pair of binoculars for each branch of our company. Local retailer allowed me to test several models over a weekend, knowing we would purchase in quantity.

Compared Zeiss, Leica, Swarovski, and Nikon head to head. All were in the 8 x 42 range. Very close in image quality. More difference was in hand feel, eye relief, focus action.

In the end we bought Nikons because were 1/3 the price and near same optical quality.

If cost were a non-factor, I would have recommended purchasing the Swarovski.
 
bwcamjh
senior member (88)senior membersenior member
 
05/18/2022 07:39PM  
I like 8 X 40 and 8 X42 although I do have others. I would not go to a 10X

I own Brunton, Zeiss-Jena, Optolyth, Steiner.

If buying today I would look at Steiner, Swarovski, Zeiss.

I still think Optolyth makes quality optics but hard now to get in the USA. So one of the other three that fits your budget.

Already having Steiner's I might sway that direction a bit. I'd prefer Steiner's made in Germany. Some Steiner's are no longer made there.

I do have access to my mother in laws Zeiss to look at the bird at her property and they are very very nice.......just don't think I would spring for them when price shopping.

I decided to go look at prices...WOW

The last pair I bought were Steiner for more compact travel in 2019...took a trip to Norway and wanted something smaller for the trip. They are 8 X 24's.

The only offering by Steiner that I would look at right now are the 8X42 Predators.
The Swarovski's look like they are 2G plus some close to 4G
The Zeiss the low end starting around 5-600 and the Victory's about 2700.

I'd likely get the Zeiss Victory's and call it a day. IF I had the money.
 
05/19/2022 05:29PM  
Thank you for the input and thoughts. Yes I'm very torn on 8x vs 10x. Regardless the Swaro FOV for 10x is still notably better than the FOV of my current 10x so I'll be upgrading that regardless. I'm in the mid-west so though we have forests where 8x thrives we also have vast open plains and large bodies of water where the inc magnification is nice. The vibrations haven't been much of a bother for me and I do like getting a close up view. I'll sit in my house and use my binoculars at a feeder we have 3 feet from our window......gotta make sure nobody has nasal mites lol
 
kenpark23
member (22)member
 
05/21/2022 08:39AM  
I compared several different models a few years back. Swarovski was the best. However, I went with a pair of Vortex. I only use use binos 20-25 days per year and could not justify the spending the extra money for the limited amount of use. Also, as someone mentioned above the swarovski set seemed significantly heavier. One of the guys I hunt with has swaros and loves them, there is some value in pride of ownership.
 
Nomadmusky
senior member (94)senior membersenior member
 
05/21/2022 09:15PM  
I've been selling binoculars for the last 29 years and the advice you've gotten has been very good.

Swarovski's are as good as they get, and yes Zeiss, Steiner, and the others mentioned make great glass too. I repped one of the German brands and several of the other brands.

In your case, I wouldn't hesitate to go to a 10X. For hunters, I tend to recommend an 8X for the increased field of view, the couple minutes more of early morning and late evening light, and to minimize the increased vibration that comes from the 10X compounded with a pounding heart when seeing that 10 point buck, climbing that mountain for that trophy Elk, or swaying in that tree stand 15' off the ground.

I know the team members participating at Cape May prefer the 10X.

Kevin
 
05/24/2022 08:17AM  
Thank you all for the input!
I pulled the trigger yesterday, got the Swarovski NL Pure 10x42.
Quite the investment but softened the blow a bit with a trade for store credit for a rifle which had been rendered obsolete but a different upgrade. Pride of ownership probably is a factor and it was a bit of a celebratory purchase as well....turning 40 coincided with paying off my student loans. This will be a good commemoration and provide lots of future fun!
Also, the day prior, we'd gotten up and out to some local blinds, I had about 30 seconds with my (old) binos before my daughter had commandeered them...now they're hers
 
technically_rugged
distinguished member (396)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/24/2022 10:15AM  
pamonster: "Thank you all for the input!
I pulled the trigger yesterday, got the Swarovski NL Pure 10x42.
Quite the investment but softened the blow a bit with a trade for store credit for a rifle which had been rendered obsolete but a different upgrade. Pride of ownership probably is a factor and it was a bit of a celebratory purchase as well....turning 40 coincided with paying off my student loans. This will be a good commemoration and provide lots of future fun!
Also, the day prior, we'd gotten up and out to some local blinds, I had about 30 seconds with my (old) binos before my daughter had commandeered them...now they're hers
"


Heyyyy now! Congrats - I have no doubt they are eye candy in its purest form. There is nothing like looking through some superlative optics that look sharper and clearer than your own eyes. Enjoy them, and congrats on paying off your student loans as well!!
 
05/24/2022 03:36PM  
Thank you thank you!
Yeah after the loans were gone out financial advisor really recommended we splurge on something before we reallocate to retirement....I'd say this fits!
 
CarolAArnold
 
10/07/2022 05:20AM  
I have 8 X 40 and 8 X42. I love them.
 
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