Author Topic: NGC Quality Binoculars  (Read 3618 times)

Offline ccoli

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NGC Quality Binoculars
« on: December 25, 2019, 09:59:33 AM »
Okay here's the deal. My wife asked for a decent set of binoculars for xmas. None of the kids took the hint. Now it's down to me.
Since this list is the source of all knowledge,  give me some insight and advice. Used would be fine.
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Offline Sheepdog

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2019, 11:04:44 AM »
Leopold makes great binos  at a price a great deal lower than Zeiss or Steiner and the glass is superb. I have the Pro Guide BX 4 10x42s and love them...
« Last Edit: December 25, 2019, 01:34:55 PM by Sheepdog »
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Offline bad Chad

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2019, 11:22:52 AM »
I’m a fan of compact binoculars.   I did some research about 15 years back and found Nikon to be the best combination of price and quality.  I have been enjoying them ever since.
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Offline craigclu

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2019, 12:16:46 PM »
Does she wear glasses?  If so, eye relief distance is especially important.  In general, you give up a bit of field of view to gain more eye relief.  A company making some ripples with their scopes and binoculars and competing with the best German gear at more moderate prices is Tract:

https://tractoptics.com/binoculars

I have some of their rifle scopes and they are great and exceed expectations.  For more affordable rigs, I don't think you could go wrong with the Nikon Monarch series.  A forgotten option is the mid and upper range Pentax gear.  They make most of the high end eyepiece optics for serious telescopes and are highly regarded, too.  I did a lot of comparisons a few years ago and ended up getting some Pentax 8X43 ED's and have been very pleased at how they compare to friends' Steiner and Zeiss.
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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2019, 12:16:46 PM »

Offline ccoli

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2019, 01:55:08 PM »
My expectations for this group are not unfounded.  This is exactly what I was hoping for.
Yes, she does wear strong prescription glasses and has pretty severe astigmatism.
Thanks for the responses.
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Online keuka4884

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2019, 02:05:29 PM »
What is your budget? If a pair of Steiner's or other high end binocs are not in the budget, consider Swift or motion cancelling Canon's. Excellent quality without the high price.

What are you/her going to look at the most? Objects in motion or something like an eagle's nest. Can you mount them to a tripod? How far away do you/her like to look? Regular size or compact? All important questions.
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Online Chuck in Indiana

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2019, 02:22:51 PM »
I have some pretty good birdwatching binocs, but I'm in Kalifornia and don't remember :rolleyes: what they are. They weren't horribly expensive  uhh 30 some years ago. I'd recommend them if you give me a couple of weeks to get back to the frozen (not, but it will be when we return) north.  :smiley:
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Online keuka4884

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2019, 02:34:27 PM »
A good setup is a regular pair of binoculars mounted to a stick pod. You lose the shake and can easily master panning. If I'm going to take them riding I'd have a pair of compacts.
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Offline bad Chad

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2019, 04:01:58 PM »
Don't get talked into high magnification, much more trouble than worth for common use.

These are the newer generation of what I have carried for years.  I like the 8x25 vs the higher mag as the image shakes less at lower mag.
https://www.nikonsportoptics.com/en/nikon-products/binoculars/travelite-8x25.html

The idea of image stabilization sounds intriguing, I have never tried  a set, but if they work and don't weigh too much and cost is reasonable, might be pretty cool.

Weight is a really concern with binocs, they get heavy quick, the stick works great, but it's one more thing to tote around.
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Offline Zoom Zoom

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2019, 07:50:12 PM »
I bought a pair from Vortex. They are a high quality at a reasonable price. Some of their models use Japanese optics and are routinely compared to optics twice the price.

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Offline tommy2cyl

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2019, 08:29:50 PM »
Vortex Diamondback 8 X 28.  Around  $140.00.  Lightweight.  You can spend a lot but don't need to.  I find that having a decent small size binoculars encourages more use.  These parameters are very good for birding, sports and can follow motorcycle/car racing on track.  The optics are very good for the price. I would strongly recommend something in this price range.  More than adequate.  Smaller size means they will be taken more often for various activities.  Large binoculars are best for home viewing.

Offline ccoli

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2019, 10:13:06 PM »
What is your budget? If a pair of Steiner's or other high end binocs are not in the budget, consider Swift or motion cancelling Canon's. Excellent quality without the high price.

What are you/her going to look at the most? Objects in motion or something like an eagle's nest. Can you mount them to a tripod? How far away do you/her like to look? Regular size or compact? All important questions.

Budget? Probably under $500.
Use? Mostly birding from our 3rd story balcony, river below has frequent waterfowl. Sometimes Sport events.
Tripod? Maybe,  probably not.
Size? Not large.
FWIW we are currently using a set of Tasco 7x35 and she doesn't like them, other than the size.
Also have a loaner Tasco 10x50 which are too big.
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Online chuck peterson

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2019, 10:35:33 PM »
This may sound like “have you checked the kill switch?”, but..i find few people understand the left/right eye focusing adjustment when i hand them mine. Nikon 7x35 “Action” model. I lift my eyeglasses to use them. Not compact not big great glass
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Offline fossil

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #13 on: December 25, 2019, 10:49:41 PM »
In the range up to 500,- Steiner has quite a lot to offer. Many of them with retractable rubbers at the oculars for people with even strong glasses like me. And they last! How do I know? My favourite binoculars are my old 6 x 30, which can be used on small boats and even in aeroplanes. For the intended use the Safari 8 x 42 could be the right instrument: https://www.steiner-optics.com/binoculars/safari-8x42 .

In comparison to other binoculars the exit pupil at Steiner products very often is bigger. This makes a brighter picture.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2019, 11:14:21 PM by fossil »
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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2019, 10:50:24 PM »
 I have found the NIKON ACTION full size porro prisms to be the best for the money. The Leupold also hit out of their league. Leupold 6x30 are my favorite smaller standard type. I second the motion that high power  (ie 10x and up) are not the best except as a second pair. I like super wide angle models for comfortable long duration viewing and the lower the power, the better the wide angle.

There is nothing wrong with good old 7x35. The 7x50 are known as the 'Mariners Glass' and are brighter.
You pay more for the roof prism types' compactness, but image quality is no better than standard BAK4 porro prism types, in my experience

Of course, Steiner Zeiss and Swarovski are the greatest as well as some other high end brands. I have never been willing to spend that kind of money.  Be careful not to get bit by the vintage binocular collecting bug. There are some good old off-brand models out there if you find some good ones.
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Offline Moparnut72

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2019, 12:17:54 AM »
Another vote for Nikons.I have a Nikon rifle scope that is a 6.5-24 x 40. It is a target scope that is very clear and sharp at a reasonable price. I also have a Bosch and Lombe (sp?) rifle scope, 5-15 X 50, very bright and clear. Unfortunately I think they have gone to another brand name which I can't think of the moment and is of lesser quality and just average. I fell for a Tasco binoc. It is an absolutely terrible unit. They aren't nicknamed Trashco for nothing. Give them away and get something better.
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Offline JoeB

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2019, 07:30:21 AM »
FWIW, my wife had eye problems that required corneal transplants. Prior to surgery a 12-36x50 spotting scope worked well. We used a tripod but newer models are even more compact. Was also good for some night sky viewing. Since surgery a Nikon compact fit the bill.
I have an ausJena surplus bino 7x40 that is remarkable for clarity. Sadly however counterfeit copies permeate the market.

« Last Edit: December 26, 2019, 07:41:41 AM by JoeB »
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Offline bad Chad

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2019, 10:45:42 AM »
If found it much better to take my glasses off and use the scope like original intended.   For me the distance glasses keep the eye away from the binoculars, even with rubber shrouds pulled back is just too much to deal with.
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Online ozarquebus

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2019, 07:45:27 PM »
The original Tasco and Jasons from the 60s were actually pretty good when Japan was trying to prove their worth to the world, but Tasco went downhill fast.
 I have a nice pair of Yashica binos from the 70s that are decent.
 In many cases I have come to believe that when new, some mid grade level binos can approach the image quality of the Steiners and Zeiss, but 20 years down the road, the Steiners and Zeiss are still great and rebuildable, while lesser brands have degraded with age.
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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #19 on: December 26, 2019, 09:10:31 PM »
Funny, when Bev and I birdwatch, she uses binoculars and I use my camera with a telephoto zooms lens.   I have the option of taking a photo.

The truth, I have a nearsighted left eye and farsighted right eye and have never been able to get much use out binoculars. 
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 09:44:08 AM by LowRyter »
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Offline John Ulrich

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #20 on: December 26, 2019, 10:01:15 PM »
Hi Chris,

I went blind reading reviews on this subject.  I need a set for an upcoming cruise and spotting from high hills in AZ. 

Hawke Endurance ED 8x32

Google them, good treated ED lens, good focal length.... go stronger and you get more blur/shake from breathing.  I bought a cheap tripod to steady it. Amazon has them for under $200.

Here's the 32's I have.....    https://www.bestbinocularsreviews.com/Hawke8x32EnduranceED-161.htm

The larger/longer 42's
https://www.bestbinocularsreviews.com/HawkeEnduranceED8x42-172.htm

 ED (Extra Low Dispersion) glass. The properties of ED glass potentially enable a sharper, higher resolution image with less color fringing to be produced when compared to standard glass

.
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« Last Edit: December 26, 2019, 10:21:55 PM by John Ulrich »
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Offline fossil

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2019, 04:29:06 AM »
In many cases I have come to believe that when new, some mid grade level binos can approach the image quality of the Steiners and Zeiss, but 20 years down the road, the Steiners and Zeiss are still great and rebuildable, while lesser brands have degraded with age.

Exacxtly. This is great at all our German and Austrian brands. My first Steiner "drowned" on one "channel" when I used it at an exercise when I was in emergency services (including North Sea, open boats, Beaufort 10 - 11). It was exchanged at once cost-free. The old (40 years +) Optolyth Royal 8x56 I inherited from my father was refurbished by the maker for reasonable money.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 04:30:48 AM by fossil »
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Offline bratman2

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2019, 04:57:42 PM »
I am a big fan of Docter binoculars made in Germany. I have an almost complete collection of their top line Nobilem binoculars. I would not recommend them though, they tend to be quit large. Anyone claiming 200-300 binoculars can run with the big dogs must have never looked thru a top shelf German binocular. There are many reasonable priced binoculars with many more coming on line all the time. Generally you pay for what you get! In a smaller porro prism binocular I would recommend a used Nikon E. Or a Nikon SE (superior E) if your budget allows and you find a nice one. These are very good used porro prism binoculars from Japan. Many Nikons are Chinese as most binoculars you see in stores are now. The SE did come in a 8x32 and the E in a 7x35. That is my picks! You can use this site to make other selections. Take a few minutes and learn to navigate it, it has a wealth of test and information. https://www.allbinos.com/binoculars_reviews.html
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 04:59:13 PM by bratman2 »
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Offline boatdetective

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #23 on: December 27, 2019, 08:26:55 PM »
Distance and use and available light arecritical in making the decision. If you are birding while walking through the woods, subjects will be much smaller, closer, and tend to flit about. 8x40 is the standard. 8 power is a decent magnification without restricting the field of view. I have compact Zeiss 10x binos that are tiny- but you cannot track a bird with them.

7x50 to 10x50 are more common for water fowl that are 50-100yds away. The front objective is large enough to let in a lot of light- critical at dawn and dusk (the best times to go birding).

Do NOT underestimate the field of view. It makes your life a lot easier. Light gathering is huge. center focusing is overrated. If she is looking at things over 33 feet away it's not needed. You will need good solid separately focusing eyepieces.

Color, contrast, and "pop" are really hard to gauge from simple stats.

Opticsden is a great resource- do some reading there.  Go to a birding web forum and ask there (give them actual distances- not "the third floor".

Tasco is garbage
Steiner is overrated and over priced.
Of course, the German brands (Leitz, Zeiss, Swarovski) are excellent...and expensive
Don't get a hunting brand- if she's birding- look at what's popular with twitchers.
Nikon, in general, does a good job in the lower price range.
If she's not hiking with them, then do not get "compact" models- there'sa  price to pay with everything. Compact models will not gather light as well.
Better quality also means tremendous eye relief (it's easy to see through the glass without squinting or working hard to see the image).  It's hard to appreciate this critical feature just by looking at specs.

Without any hesitation: if you look through primo glass, you know why it costs so much. It is a joy to use. Top notch Swarovskis are stupendous.

Fujinon is/was a big name in marine glass. They make spectacular prism type 7x50s.  Many people in the marine field are ditching their traditional binoculars for image stabilizing models- that's how I got my Zeiss 7x50 Bs for only $300.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 08:27:40 PM by boatdetective »
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Offline Red07

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #24 on: December 27, 2019, 09:16:48 PM »
Your best option would be to go to a sporting goods/hunting store like cabellas or Bass Pro Shop.  Try several back to back.  Also, when you find a pair you really like, ask to try 2-3 pair of the exact same thing.  Not all glass is cut the same.  You will notice a slight difference between them. (Clarity, brightness, etc).  That being said, I am really happy with a couple pair of Vortex binos I have.  The Vortex Diamondback 10x42 are really nice for the money.  About $229.  A step up would be the Vortex Viper HD 10x42.  Around $499.

I compared the Vortex Viper's against Swarovski SLC 10x42 ($1,800), and found them to be very comparable.  I was really impressed.



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Offline harry h

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2019, 12:53:15 AM »
Here's another vote for Vortex.  I got 3 pairs of Diamondbacks (10x42) while on safari in Africa last year.  We were all very happy with them, especially in low light conditions.  I keep a pair in my truck and use frequently. 
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Offline fossil

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #26 on: December 28, 2019, 02:59:17 AM »
I am a big fan of Docter binoculars made in Germany. I have an almost complete collection of their top line Nobilem binoculars. I would not recommend them though, they tend to be quit large.

Please observe that the Docter brand is not longer used for binoculars. They are sold, the new brand which still produces the Docter types in the old Zeiss Jena factory with the old workers is Noblex. And they of course have compact binoculars. https://www.noblex-germany.com/index.php/en/products

@boatdetective : "Steiner is overrated and over priced." Yeah, of course. First of all, you obviously did not follow my link, second you obviously have no experience with Steiner, and third the same applies to Moto Guzzi...
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Offline boatdetective

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #27 on: December 28, 2019, 07:09:38 AM »
Please observe that the Docter brand is not longer used for binoculars. They are sold, the new brand which still produces the Docter types in the old Zeiss Jena factory with the old workers is Noblex. And they of course have compact binoculars. https://www.noblex-germany.com/index.php/en/products

@boatdetective : "Steiner is overrated and over priced." Yeah, of course. First of all, you obviously did not follow my link, second you obviously have no experience with Steiner, and third the same applies to Moto Guzzi...

My experience with Steiner is their 7x50 marine binoculars. Fujinon makes a far better pair of 7x50s.  As I recall, the Steiner's were stupid expensive for only average performance.  As far as Guzzis, I don't know what that has to do with binoculars, but I've owned four of them. I tore three of them apart and put them back together- so that should earn me a pass on the familiarization front.
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Offline bratman2

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #28 on: December 28, 2019, 07:42:23 AM »
I collect Docter binoculars so you can be assured I already knew they have been sold. I still stick by my first recommendation and don't recommend them. See how that works, I am not recommending my favorite binoculars because I feel that what he wants would be best served with something else. A Nikon E or SE in 8x30 or 8x32 in excellent condition is my number one pick for what the OP claims his wife will most likely use them for. If you are lucky you can still find a new one from Japan ccoli! Go to Ebay and search ccoli. To get the optical performance of those two binoculars in a roof prism binocular that so many are recommending you would have to spend a pretty penny! Many people are recommending large binoculars, roof prism hunting binoculars, this is not what the lady is doing. Sounds like he wants to purchase her a high end general use binocular that she can view birds from, maybe an occasional sporting event. I have a rare, bought in near new condition, Docter Classic 8x30 porro prism that I guarantee she would love. Problem is they are rare, lol! Like hen teeth!
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Offline Lannis

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Re: NGC Quality Binoculars
« Reply #29 on: December 28, 2019, 08:04:16 AM »

7x50 to 10x50 are more common for water fowl that are 50-100yds away. The front objective is large enough to let in a lot of light- critical at dawn and dusk (the best times to go birding).


I've had Nikon, Swarovski, and Fujinon binoculars in 8x35, 8x40, and 10x50, but they've all been sold or traded off and I only use my Dad's WWII Navy "BuShips" Bausch and Lomb Mark 23 7x50s now.   

7x50 is the perfect light-gathering and magnification combination for what I use them for.   Wide field of view, works great in low light, good eye relief .... I had an optics shop take them apart, clean, and align them and they're great, not to mention solid and bulletproof.

Horses for courses, same as motorcycles, firearms, knives, and other personal accessories!

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