Binoculars Guide 2004

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Well, the last thing we need for our big trip in the outdoors are great binoculars to look at all the wildlife. Some great resources about this, but its been a little confusing because there doesn’t seem to be a definitive source and there are *lots* of brands. The main conclusion is that an midrange 8×32 is the best in terms of overall usefulness and an 8×20 makes a great compact binocular to take anywhere. The top brands seem to be Leica, Nikon, Zeiss and Bruntun, Swift and Swarovski. Here were the best of the bunch:
# Nikon Premier LX 8×20 ($350). Also called the Venturer LX. It was top rated in Outdoor 2003 and 2004 Buyers Guide and got a rave from Better View Desired (probably the best of the online sites).
# Nikon Venturer LX 8×32 ($700). This seems to be the choice of many folks for a mid-size binocular in terms of quality and optics.
Here are the sources used in order of usefulness.
* “Outside Best of 2004”:http://outside.away.com/outside/gear/buyers-guide-2004.tcl?Gear=Binoculars&v=15. A great review of binoculars. They liked the Leupold Wind River Katmai $400 list as the best value. The Nikon Premier LX 8×20 (“$290”:http://www.hotbuyselectronics.com/item_detail.php?item_id=105022) also scored well, but didn’t get a check mark for some reason. NOw all of these are roof prism, nitrogen filled (so no fogging) and multicoated so no flare. Pretty amazing. The cutting edge is which are phase coatest in the prism.
* “Outside Best of 2003”:http://outside.away.com/outside/gear/bg2003_2.html (registration required and doesn’t have the full review anymore). From last year, there is another list of great binoculars. Top ones to look at include Pentax UCF X 8×25 ($99) cheap and decent, only issue is that it isn’t waterproof. Here again, the Nikon Venturer 8×20 LX was a winner
* “Better View Desired”:http://betterviewdesired.com/RefSet.html. Similar opinion which is that the Bausch & Lomb Custom 7×26 is the best compact for the money, althought they love the Zeiss Victory 8×20 and the Nikon Venturer LX “8×20”:http://betterviewdesired.com/compacts/index.html. If you want the very best mid-sized, its the Nikon “Venturer 8×32”:http://www.epinions.com/Nikon_8_X_32_Venturer_LX_Binoculars__Binoculars_7436?zip=98112&x=7&y=13#wtb LX 8×32 ($700).
* “Birdingwatching.com”:http://www.birdwatching.com/optics.html. A good overall survey. They have “reviews”:http://www.birdwatching.com/optics/binocsbwd2000reviews.html where they end up liking the b&l custom like the others as well as the Nikon Venturer LX 8×42 fullsized. They also very much like the Swarovski SLC 8×30 ($865!)
* “Consumer Search”:http://www.consumersearch.com/www/sports_and_leisure/binoculars/. A good meta review site that covers Consumer Reports, Outside Magazine and the NJ Audubon Society of all things. They like the Bausch & Lomb “Custom”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00005AXHY/104-8858311-7452763?v=glance 7×26 ($225), Nikon Venturer LX 8×32 ($700) for midsized
* “Optics4Birding Review Sites”:http://www.optics4birding.com/users.aspx. A good list of sites reviewing on the Internet.
* Desperately Seeking Binos. A good overview of what to look for. The basic notes are spend as much as you can afford. Get roof prism. This is an older review from 1999, but the conclusions are Bausch and Lomb Custom 7×26 $276 was great a compact
* “Homestead”:http://www.homestead-products.com/binocs.htm. They have some great prices and also are super friendly with good advice. While he likes the Leupold Wind River “Katmai”:http://www.homestead-products.com/binocs.htm 8×32, thinks the Alden Apex “492”:http://www.homestead-products.com/alpen.htm#apex is probably better for a slightly higher price. Apparently, it uses BAK4 glass which is better and it is phase coated (so they are brighter. Alden just started making binoculars in 1997

5 Replies to “Binoculars Guide 2004”

  1. Thanks so much for the synopsis of bino information. I’d seen most of it while searching around for info but it’s nice to have it all in one location. How do you like you’re Leupold’s. Hope they help out your Alaska trip.
    The reviews in the Outide best for 2003 are actually 2004’s reviews and that the review for the Nikon 8×20 and the Olympus Magellan are transposed. So for a review of the Nikons go to the Olympus review. Confused? So was I.

  2. Sorry about the mixup on Outside’s reviews. They seem to change their site URLs constantly, so the 2003 buyers guide is now mainly gone and the 2004 guide silently replaces the old 2003 urls.
    Didn’t see the problems with the Magellan (??) and Nikon reviews. Checked the links, so they should be fixed for now.
    Also, I didn’t get the Katmai. We actually had the Canon IS-30 as a gift and these were highly rated, so took those. Did order the Nikon 8x20s but they are stuck in mail order hell at thenerds.net for the last month. Sad.
    Did like the Canon’s BTW although they are bulky. Also got the kids some $20 Brunell 8x20s as cheapos. Not waterproof, but totally OK for kids.
    I’m mainly lusting after the fancy Nikon 8x42s now. Just wonder why I need them, but I’m a gadget geek 🙂

  3. The Wind River binoculars are really some of the best ones available for the money. I know the Wind River Pinnacles 8x42mm Binos were named the top binoculars under $500 in 2003 by the Bird Watcher’s Digest. I think they would be great for camping, or any outdoor activity.

  4. Thanks, James for the advice. I’m still looking for great glass and it sounds like Wind River or Nikon are both great.

  5. Bushnell 7×50 Marine w/Illuminated Compass & Range finding Reticle that personally is my favorite binocular because of its lens
    my eyes hurt with the Nikon series

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