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Is there anywhere other than Warehouse Express?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by lazyboy, Nov 19, 2006.

  1. lazyboy

    lazyboy Well-Known Member

    I've always loved watching wildlife especially birds and up until now I've had to put up with some really rubbish binoculars that I found in the back of one of out draws. I've now got to the stage where I feel I deserve to buy myself some decent equipment for wildlife watching. :D

    So Firstly what is better binoculars or a spotting scope? Secondly I know Warehouse Express sells this kind of thing but I was hoping someone could recommend somewhere that is reliable and specialises in this field? Thirdly what is the best I can get for under about £300?

    I know this is a lot of stuff to ask but I really need some help. :D

  2. SteveEM

    SteveEM Well-Known Member


    My partner, she who is called on this forum 'Mrs Steve' is a birder..the best all round bird binos are about 10x40's. I bought her some old used 1970's Leica ones from ebay for £230 and they are brilliant..much better image than any current new ones below £500, they are even smaller and lighter than the current new Leicas..the added plus is they will not depreciate at all..

    cheers Steve.
  3. Burgy

    Burgy In the Stop Bath

    I like the Canon 10x30 IS they should be the right sort of money also
  4. Rhys

    Rhys Sasquatch

    Have a look on Birdforum . You may find some usefull info on there?

    Minox binoculars are wonderful - about £220 ish (or there abouts) small and light. I have a pair of Bushnell naturviews (roof prism) and I prefer my partners Minox to mine. Also have a Minox scope bought from a camera shop in Harrogate (Bass & Bligh) they have a nice little stock of stuff in a very small shop. Tho we might sell it as we rarely use it.
  5. lazyboy

    lazyboy Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that but your link for some reason sent me to youtube :D ? I think I might go with the canon as the IS would be really useful.
  6. DaveCarr

    DaveCarr Well-Known Member

    I think it's hoped you'd be interested in his BMW....
  7. Nod

    Nod Well-Known Member

    I would suggest buying a copy of one of the birding or wildlife magazines you see at Smiths (or similar). A quick flick through will tell you which mags have loads of adverts! Should be loads of ads for binos and scopes in there.
  8. Tacitus

    Tacitus Well-Known Member

    The best advice I can give you is get a lot of advice and info before you buy. Also beware of binoculars and scopes sold on Ebay - some have had a hard life. There are also many "grey" imports around.

    While researching the same topic about 6 months ago I turned up the following pointers:

    If you are seriously interested a scope is the target, but is not a complete substitute for good binoculars. You will also need a tripod (allow £40++). Good scopes usually have 80mm objectives, some 60mm ones are fine, but the larger the better. Fluoride coating or ED glass is very desirable, Fluorite glass is very expensive. Zoom eyepieces sound fine but a quality fixed 20x or 30x (etc) is often better optically (for the same money). Sealed scopes (moisture proof/nitrogen filled) are best if you're serious and want to use outdoors in winter. "Spotting scopes" covers some models that are not really ideal for outdoors use. Many cheap secondhand scopes are not moisture proof. Researching models is very difficult. Top brands are the usual names at the usual prices -Zeiss/Leica/Minox/Swarovski; Next are Nikon, Pentax, Opticron, Kowa ..... more affordable.

    You'll probably not find a really new good scope and eyepiece for £300, but you really can find a pretty good used one. I recently bought a mint s/hand cased Kowa 60mm ED & 20x plus new 30x that cost £299 - pretty fair price, but it took some finding.

    Binoculars in your price range: don't skimp on quality. Go for Leica/Zeiss (used), top range Nikon Extreme (new), etc. Cheap binos (and scopes) can show horrible colour fringing under high contrast conditions: bad for birding. 10x50's are fine if you can hold them steady: 8x40 are pretty universal for birding and general use. Zoom binos can be pretty poor overall. Personally I would not touch binos that have an exit pupil of less than 5mm (objective diameter divided by magnification). The "cult classics" are Zeiss T* 8x40s but they are pricey and scarce.

    I also recently bought new Nikon Extreme 8x40 (latest Nitrogen filled model) from Microglobe for £110 - nice price - excellent for the price. Zeiss/Leica/Swarovski are significantly better at £500-800!

    Nikon Action IV 10x50 etc (budget models) on sale recently at Warehouseexpress are good for the price, but show some colour fringing: good spare binos, though.

    Opticron (www.opticron.co.uk) have a decent website. They also sell off discontinued models periodically.

    You will get good advice from Ace Cameras ( www.acecameras.co.uk ) and Birdnet (in Buxton -
    www.birdnet.co.uk). Keep an eye on London Camera Exchange - they periodically purge their shelves at fair prices.

    And so on ....

  9. lazyboy

    lazyboy Well-Known Member

    Thanks Alan but now I'm even more unsure than before.

    I thought I'd settled on the Canon 10x30 or the Minox 10x42 BL BR but now I'm really not sure. What about the Leica Ultravid 10x25 BR Binocular? They are only £350 new but they only have an exit pupil of 2.5 mm. The ones I have at the moment have a mag value of 8x, how much will I benefit from say a 10x?

  10. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    Just to add to your confusion (unless I've missed it in the above), nobody appears to have mentioned poor alignment (collimation) between optical axes in a pair of binoculars. Quite common particularly in poorly made binos, and in more expensive ones after suffering shock - and can lead to poor viewing pleasure & eyestrain, leading to headaches. There's advice on the web about this and how to detect it.
    My experience is that it's not easy to be certain unless you have experience (from your query, you haven't and neither had I when I bought a s/h pair), and it takes time to do the tests.

    I learnt a lot by going to a specialist company selling Leica Binoculars, seeing how they performed, and then seeing how the image got worse as I tried ever lower price bin's. Some time later, and after reflection on whether I really could afford £800 for Leica, I checked out a pair of affordable Opticron 8x42 porro prism and bought these. They've given good service over many years, and being quite heavy now stay at home as my garden bin's.

    Since then, I've also bought a pair of
    7x35 Activa porro (remaindered by Dixons, and I can never resist a "bargain"!)
    s/h 7x50 Activa porro, well out-of-collimation (how did I miss it in the shop?!), and replaced FoC by Minolta with brand new pair under their lifetime warranty!
    8x24 Activa roofprism compact (for going everywhere with me in my rucsac).

    The 7x35 pair has the best alignment.
    The 7x50 pair is marvellous for seeing into shadows below undergrowth.

    When selecting the 8x24s I knew I was sacrificing optics for portability and lightweight - they probably work as well as intended, but they're not as easy to use as the others with their larger exit pupils. What did surprise me was how much better they are than some similarly priced and larger roofprism types I found on demo at Martin Mere recently.

    Roofprism types are more complex than porro prism, and to work well need special phase coatings to be applied to the internal prisms. Therefore tend to be more expensive. But they're easier to make sealed. Probably OK if from a well known maker, and suspect if otherwise!
  11. Tacitus

    Tacitus Well-Known Member

    Well yes, Charles, it's pretty confusing. And while many websites provide valuable all-round advice, as far as the choice of particular brands, models and versions go the most useful advice is often well buried on many disparate sites.
    Then when you've found your ideal logical choice, getting hands on a sample isn't always that easy.

    I believe that the best approach is to do some basic research on the new models that fit the bill, then take a trip to a dealer as Malcolm suggests and try some out. You'll need to decide whether you want to sit watching birds for, say 20minutes or more at a time: if so a scope's a good idea. If it's more like a few minutes, or if you want to share the use with someone else, or you're out walking, etc you will find binos more suitable. You'll probably need both a scope and binos if your interest is sustained. Either way I think I'd suggest buying the binos first - leave the scope till later. If you have a steady hand, 10x binos are fine - but get ones that have a tripod mount and use a monopod/car window mount, etc; otherwise 8x binos are usually manageable hand-held. 2.5mm exit pupil is useless. If you wear glasses aim at 5mm. Then there are image stabilised binos ....

    For Binos the exit pupil and colour fringing are arguably the two most important issues, alongside sharpness and contrast. But comfort is an important issue too. The list goes on and on. How binos handle is quite a personal matter: porros, roof prisms, separate eye-piece focussing, etc can all be significant issues. (It's somewhat less of an issue with scopes, unless you are going to be glued to them for hours). Serious birders go out in poor light - that's why they choose the top price binos/scopes that are excellent in such conditions: in good light cheaper binos/scopes perform adequately for the most part.

    Nice binos are the Zeiss Conquest 8x40 B*T Binoculars at £500 and Minox BL 8x42 BR at £230. Both are "phase corrected" and gas-filled. I tried an Opticron Imagic 8x42 BGA (c£399) recently and did not like them - you might. The £400 Fujinon 7 x 50 FMTR-SX are similar to those issued to US Coastguards and are reputedly excellent. I do not like any Swift or Bushnell binos.

    I get through binos quite quickly in my work and hobby - they are just tools of the trade - but they don't wear out (apart from collimation issues as Malcolm suggests) -I just get bored with them. My glove-box Minolta "Classic" 8x40s (around £99) are good but have distinct colour fringing. I also have some older (standard style) Pentax coated 10x50 porroprisms used at work - they are pretty ok in good light.

    My current Nikon Extreme 8x40s are very good all round except at dusk in backlit comditions (and cheap £100-ish): my knockabout Nikon Action IV 7x50 (£50!) are ok in good light, but with colour fringing in backlit conditions.

    What binos would I buy if I had £300? possibly a top range Nikon or Optolyth Alpin 8x40 NG (new) or a decent pair of used Zeiss Conquest.

    For new a scope .... I'd have to start the search again, but I think I'd have to spend £500-600 to get what I want (80mm gas-filled ED with eyepiece and case ..) even used!

    Good luck. You can mail me direct with specifics if you wish.

    More links www.monkoptics.co.uk and www.opticalrepairs.com


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