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Old February 12, 2019, 18:31   #1
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Best binoculars youíve ever looked through

What are the best binoculars youíve ever looked through? Iím talking in terms of optical clarity, low light performance, and minimal chromatic abberation. Please stick to commercially available options.
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Old February 12, 2019, 18:36   #2
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Kowa

https://www.optics4birding.com/kowa-...SABEgKEePD_BwE

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Old February 12, 2019, 18:36   #3
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Swarovski
Steiner
Zeiss

And I once had a humungous set of *Russian artillery binoculars* from Sportsman's Guide!
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Old February 12, 2019, 18:38   #4
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PS:. I love my Kowa spotting scope but never tried their binos.
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Old February 12, 2019, 18:55   #5
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I have two pair of Steiners. One is a Predator 8X42 hunting bino. I love it. The coatings are made to enhance animals colors making them readily visible. They work and I have taken many deer after spotting them walking through the woods. Never saw them with the bare eyes at distance. The second is the standard Military/Marine 8X30. They are great all around binos and ride in my truck. Suitable at the range, woods, water. Carried them in my patrol car until I retired.

May not be the best but I don't think you can buy better for the money.
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Old February 12, 2019, 19:24   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tac-40 View Post
I have two pair of Steiners. One is a Predator 8X42 hunting bino.


Steiner Predator gets my vote too. I have the 8x42 aswell.
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Old February 12, 2019, 23:18   #7
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Fujinon 7x50 marine binoculars.
Good low light performance with a large exit pupil.

They worked very well on the boat but might be on the bulky side for tromping in the field.

You didn't say what you wanted to do with them.
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Old February 13, 2019, 00:08   #8
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My Steiner 7x50 Mil/marines. Had a pair of Safari 8x30s,didn't like them. Foggy image. The 7x50s are crystal clear,and suck light like a vacuum. Never looked thru any higher priced binocs. I imagine some of the other upper brands are very good.
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Old February 13, 2019, 10:54   #9
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Ziess 8x42 were the best hunting glass I've ever used.
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Old February 13, 2019, 13:36   #10
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Swarovski 8x has my vote. Haven't ever had the expensive Zeiss to compare to.
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Old February 13, 2019, 14:11   #11
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Leitz and Swarovski I was splitting hairs between them.

The deer hunters I often spend time in camp with typically spend 3-5K on their glass and this means I get to sit on the verandah of the hut and use them as much as I want.

I hunt with a pair of Steiner 8x30s (an older version of these https://www.steiner-optics.com/binoc...military-8x30r ) that I have had now for about 22yrs. Whilst "only" being about $1200 (Aussie) compared to the rest of the European gear they truely hold their own (and are much more portable) !!
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Quote:
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You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
(Jiminy Christmas, did I just recommend a 'yota?!!??)
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Old February 13, 2019, 19:47   #12
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Eurpoean glass is the best of the best. The differences are so minuscule your brain and eye can't really tell the difference but your WALLET WILL!!! (tube construction, proper seals and ergonomics play a huge part of the "unseen" factors in nice quality optics also. High end Zeiss makes the best glass in the world. They actually make the glass for many other optics manufactures. I have several pair that I will be buried with but one of the best pair is a $80 surplus pair of Zeiss Jenna (East German Zeiss) NVA 7x40 BEFORE coated optics came along...Built like a tank and actually see better in the dark then anything else I own (other then my PVS14!!)

ANY and I repeat ANY of the MAJOR European brand of glass will be better then your eye can see the difference in. When you get above the $800 point, quality glass becomes obvious to someone who actually uses it for the intended purpose.

American and Japanese glass will be a UPPER middle of the road...

Nikon is a major supplier of glass to other off brand companies also...

Eastern Europe, Russian (all of east Asia except JAPAN) and especially Chinese glass is crap. The quality of the glass is sub par, the housing may be made like a TANK, but the peripheral distortions, aberrations and coating that FLAKE OFF after a year or two just aren't worth the hassles.The electronics and quality of internal parts and seals will be shit also...
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Old February 13, 2019, 20:30   #13
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I can't tell the difference. They all suck. Too much adjusting and cross eyed stuff going on
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Old February 13, 2019, 22:53   #14
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Quote:
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I can't tell the difference. They all suck. Too much adjusting and cross eyed stuff going on
...I generally adjust the oculars once at the start of a trip (often they need no change) and not again. No focus etc to worry about.
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You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
(Jiminy Christmas, did I just recommend a 'yota?!!??)
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Old February 14, 2019, 10:01   #15
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Leica
Ziess
Swarovski

had the chance to look thru all at a shop set up thru a window looking for long distance

are all top of the line and I doubt that there are better out there but,

my wallet is tiny and by sheer luck nearly 30 years ago I was able to acquire a Steiner 8x30 Predator set via a safety rewards program where I worked

best value on a cost basis when spending your hard earned cash, clear, crisp image and my eyes do not get fatigued looking for extended periods of time
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Old February 16, 2019, 21:17   #16
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Hate to admit but my junk Celestron 15x70 skymaster is the best I have. I'm one of the lucky ones, the optics in mine are collimated correctly.
As cheap as they are I've been startled by them sometimes.
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Old February 16, 2019, 21:55   #17
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Steiner, commander model I believe, the set with the built in compass.
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Old February 16, 2019, 23:15   #18
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My old Steiners hanging there...

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Quote:
Originally posted by GOVT1911
You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
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Old February 18, 2019, 23:06   #19
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Zeiss Jena EDF 7x40 East German surplus out of early 90's stores after the wall fell are the best I've ever looked through. They beat my Leicas, Steiners, and Hensoldts hands down.
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Old February 26, 2019, 16:44   #20
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Steiners Military/Marine 7X50 and Leica Geovid 7X42 for me. The Steiners are rugged and suit me as the best all the way around. I bought the Leicas because they had the laser rangefinder built in and they are excellent as well. I think that Leica has the better glass than the Steiner pair or most any others I have tried (except brothers Ziess). But the damn Leicas don't want to adjust quite wide enough for my eye span and do get to be a bit fiddly to find the sweet spot. I have a Vortex mono 10X24 with ranging reticle that I usually just grab for casual ship spotting down at the waterfront park.
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Old March 01, 2019, 18:01   #21
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Thanks to all the good info in this thread, I bought some Zeiss Jena EDF 7x40 East German surplus binoculars, amazing.
Replaced the Bell & Howell 8x40 I have had since the early 70’s.
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Old March 01, 2019, 21:23   #22
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Best I own are Steiners. Have used some other brands that are nice and basically learned get what pay for. A $1,500 pair of brand x, y or z will usually all be relatively comparable and that's when ergonomics and how controls feel to you start making an impact. Have Nikons in my truck, Steiner compact in briefcase and two pair of Meade that have decent glass.
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Old March 02, 2019, 11:20   #23
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Quote:
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Best I own are Steiners. Have used some other brands that are nice and basically learned get what pay for. A $1,500 pair of brand x, y or z will usually all be relatively comparable and that's when ergonomics and how controls feel to you start making an impact. Have Nihttp://www.falfiles.com/forums/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=4705441kons in my truck, Steiner compact in briefcase and two pair of Meade that have decent glass.
Ditto on the ergonomics, Huey. As previously stated, the Leicas i have don't want to accommodate the width of my eye span without much fiddling around. When I do make a passable alignment, the glass is superb. Steiners are just pick up and use with no fuss.
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Old March 03, 2019, 23:15   #24
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Steiner HX 10x42 is what my eyes are on. No options locally to put my hands on them, so anybody have any experience?
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Old March 04, 2019, 13:27   #25
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When the power level grows to the 10 power and beyond, stabilizing the view can become a very real issue. When using hand held the image can shake so badly that details will be harder to discern. Now if you can take a steady rest, or if you have a set of stabilized binoculars, life is golden. Not always easy to find a steady rest out in the field and stabilized ones are expensive on top of expensive. Try before you buy and see if you have the steady hand it takes.
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Old March 04, 2019, 14:42   #26
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Iíve used 10x42 for many years, and I agree at 10x can be a bit wiggly in the field. A good bino harness allows you to use tension to stabilize without a field rest. Their are 15x56s in the HX line I seriously considered, but I think those would require a tripod to avoid fatigue.
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Old March 05, 2019, 18:55   #27
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Going to agree with ThulTroll and others, Steiners are great glass

couple other options:

Older East German Carl Zeiss are tremendous
military 7X50s still turn up at shows for the $100 range

Late military Hensoldts are up there with Leica. Even used they are not inexpensive

member .308 sold a number of Steiners here last year real reasonable, LE surplus
There was a 7x50 Commander with compass like new on an airgun board last week for $250 that was a bargain
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Old March 05, 2019, 22:37   #28
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Well, for what I paid my East German DF 7x40 is hard to beat except in weight.
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Old March 06, 2019, 07:32   #29
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Back in the eighties and nineties, I used to travel between Japan and Germany on a regular basis. I was interested in getting some compact binocs and checked them out in both countries. A compact 10x Nikon model with the rubber exterior in Japan (a model not available in the US) was around $125 and seemed quite good. In Germany I looked at a comparable (size wise), either a Leica, Zeiss or one of the other high end German makes that were around $400 and surprisingly, thought the Nikons were much better optically. So next trip to J-land, I bought the Nikons. I did learn they were not waterproof so I keep them out of the rain and snow. I am guessing that all consumer products by Nikon are now made in the Philippines or China and don't know what they are like now.
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Old March 18, 2019, 19:31   #30
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I went with Leica Trinovid 10x42. I couldnít find the Steiner HXs anywhere to look through, and the Leicas beat everything else I looked through in that price range by a pretty good margin to my eyes.
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Old March 18, 2019, 20:15   #31
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I have a couple pairs of the old WWII 6x30 US binoculars,I think one is a Nash/Kelvinator,can't remember the other. Those damn things have really clear glass. Better than anything below a couple hundred bucks today.
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Old August 15, 2019, 09:27   #32
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This summer I bought Cobra TB50-336 thermal binoculars. This device is easy to use even in the total moonless night and extremely great to shoot. I can say yes, it's worth buying. You can check this model out on https://www.agmglobalvision.com/thermal-imaging official website.. There are cheaper options on that site!
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Old August 17, 2019, 08:34   #33
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Past decade been swapping my favorite length, especially longer zoom lenses, with image stabilized versions. While I dislike Nikon scopes and binoculars have always shot Nikon camera lenses and spending four figures per unit is expected. That said I recently decided to buy a pair of image stabilized binoculars. While not a Cannon camera fan after much reading and driving into Atlanta where have the city haze to cut through when test driving optics ended up with a pair of Canon 10x42 L Image Stabilization Waterproof Binoculars. Street price is about $1,200 but I scored a pair for $999 out the door as vendor realizes have been a regular camera customer for over 25 years and get pro pricing. They take care of their old school guys who still shoot film.
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Old August 17, 2019, 09:30   #34
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Don't get me wrong, I love my old Steiners but compared to Swarovski and high end Zeiss its like looking through a paper towel tube.

Swarovski takes it for me as the best glass Ive looked through. But for over 4 grand they better be.

I use Maven's. For around a grand they make amazingly clear, tough optics that are on par with binoculars that are 3 times the cost.
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Old August 17, 2019, 14:00   #35
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Back in the days before my father passed away he suffered with tremors that made great difficulty in glassing anything while hunting for him. So I bought a pair of Canon stabilized binoculars for him to use in his final days. Not the 10x42's that Huey spoke of. I think they were more like 7~8 power and a lot less in cost. To him it was like the greatest thing since sliced bread in that they allowed him to see a coherent image.

I tried them myself and have to say that all bino's should be stabilized. What a world of difference it makes. While the glass isn't up to the high standards of Leica or Zeiss, the steady image goes a long way towards clarity. The high end makers do stabilized as well, but the price, shall we say, is crushing!!!!
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Old January 19, 2020, 11:29   #36
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best binoculars

Swarovski EL 50
Celestron SkyMaster 25x100
Nikon Monarch 5 20x56
Pentax 7x50 Hydro
RSPB HDX 8 x 42 Binoculars.
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Old January 19, 2020, 11:46   #37
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For the money Steiner is the way to go, they also make great Rifle scopes too. Steiner is used by Military and Police around the world.

I use the police model 10X50.
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Old January 19, 2020, 16:44   #38
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Steiner Commander V Marine binoculars here. Illuminated compass and ranging reticle in the glass. Have had mine for 15 years or more. Love 'em.

I guess to answer the question posed by the OP, the best set I ever took a peek through were Swarovski. The Steiners were still crystal clear, however, and fit my intended purpose so I wound up buying those. Cost me half what the Swarovski set was at the time.

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Old January 21, 2020, 16:16   #39
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I have a pair of budget Nikon binos for hunting and they are great for the $100 - $200 range. The higher end models are made with real Jap glass I believe, and assume they are superior. But I have no complaints with mine.

The Steiner Military / Marine 7 x 50 with the analog compass are top on my want list now that I've pretty much got all the rifle optics I want for a good long while.

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Old January 22, 2020, 08:59   #40
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I'm not much of a binocular guy but one of my sons just got a pair of 10x42 Vortex Fury's. What is the general consensus on them? They seem nice to me but the only other set I own are some old WW2 one's my Dad liberated from some army supply room back in the 60's.
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Old January 25, 2020, 21:34   #41
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Another Steiner military/marine recommendation.

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Old January 26, 2020, 05:59   #42
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Long around 1995, I was an Opticalman First Class stationed aboard the USS Frank Cable (AS40), home ported in Charleston, SC. Our most unique rate has been disestablished since about 2000, but in the day, our primary mission on a Sub Tender was maintenance of the attack and observation periscopes installed on submarines, Kollmorgan & Sperry were the maker of most of those back then.

We also overhauled Navy 7x50 binos, as well as NVG, sextants, stadimeters, ships big eyes and so forth. My Chief was a guy named Earl Osborn, and he was one sharp guy to work for.

One day, he brought in a pair of Carl Zeiss aus Jena EDF 7x40 East German Military Binoculars and had me check them out. They were brand spanking new, and although I felt that we did an excellent job overhauling our WWII (and before) vintage Navy issue binos, the clarity experienced looking through these Warsaw Pact optics was unbelievable and truly blew our best efforts away. They were pretty pricey on E6 pay, but I bought them from him and I believe he got them through an outfit called Deutsch Optik. I have seen many well made binoculars since then, but none that I would trade for those.
There is a pair on eBay right now, but hard to say what shape those are in.

Earl retired and went to work for Deutsch Optik (I think) and also went into business for himself, repairing/restoring optics from all over the world. He was a good Chief and I learned a lot from him. And he sold me some great binos...

Last edited by OMCHamlin; January 26, 2020 at 06:06.
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Old January 26, 2020, 18:59   #43
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Swarovski binoculars (EL series) are pretty incredible. Once you get into that price range, it is a whole different level of quality. You really see the difference in low light (toward evening). If you are elk hunting in big country, they are worth it.

I think a good budget option are Vortex - surprisingly clear glass for a really low price point (and great warranty).
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Old January 27, 2020, 19:40   #44
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Brother Tuhlmann: In answer to your question, for me it was the Swarovskis at the Dealer Shot Shows. Zeiss and Steiner are also excellent binoculars.

In all fairness though, I am blind in one eye and cannot see out of the other, but the Swarovski's are amazing.

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Old January 29, 2020, 18:35   #45
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Actually the best binoculars I ever looked through were made before WW2 officially began in Germany for their battle ships and were too heavy to hold up. Were also used for shore watching on a tripod. Guy I know has all kinds of WW2 stuff including marine binoculars from Germany, Japan, U.S., England and more from handheld to mast mount. He had same model of German binoculars made mid war and they didn't hold a candle to the prewar made unit.

Same with his Japanese, pretty war ships binoculars were great and end of war they tried but didn't have access to materials or time to build them right. His U.S. made units got better as the war progressed. President WW2 were o.k., mid war were nice and end of war almost as good as the prewar German and Japanese. He has over $100,000 in vintage to modern binoculars and likes to look at birds. At least he doesn't have to buy ammo to keep the binoculars running.
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Old January 31, 2020, 09:11   #46
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Zeiss 10x40 B T P Dialyt.
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Old February 02, 2020, 08:19   #47
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I have a pair of Jason 7X50s that were gifted to me when I was about 12. They sit here on a table in the den and I use them regularly to watch game animals that show up around the house. As clear today as when new. Certainly there are higher quality glass, but to what end if what you have works, and works well. Never have seen this brand since. Not sure I could afford them now. A great gift from my parents.

I have a set of compact Steiners that I keep in my truck. Frankly, they are garbage. I was really disappointed with the performance of these glasses considering what I paid and the stellar brand name. My modestly prices Leopold compacts simply blow them away!
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Old February 02, 2020, 10:49   #48
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It's not the glass...

It is the coating on the lenses. Any optics firm can grind a great lens, but not just anyone can formulate the mix of sputtered metals found on the Euro scopes/binos.

Those highly guarded industrial formulas, that enables light transmission, thereby giving the best results.

The Europeans have always did a notch better than the Americans or Japanese.

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Old February 11, 2020, 08:13   #49
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My top picks are...

Celestron Cometron 7x50 - budget pick, and I' d say the most lightweight since they are only 2 lbs
Bushnel Equinox or Sag Kilo - my top-2 rangefinding monoculars
Swarowski 12x50 - best vision ever, the image is so real it's as if I'm up in the trees with the birds. But only if you are ready to spend over 2000$
Orion 15x70 - best for stargazing. 5 lbs is quite heavy to hold them steady with 2 hands. But their usual weight is about 10-12 lbs
https://wildproofgear.com/best-binoc...or-stargazing/
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Old February 11, 2020, 19:01   #50
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Leica 10x, not sure of model. If price is no object...

I was gifted DDR Carl Zeiss-Jens EDF 7x40s and they are nice glass.

The Cabelaís Euro HD are made by the Czech firm Meopta. I donít know how durable they are in the field, but if I were looking for full size optics, I might stalk and wait for a sale.
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