Small Woodland Owners' Group

Twitching Tools

A place to discuss or review of tools and equipment, how to look after them, handy hints for using them.

Re: Twitching Tools

Postby oldclaypaws » Tue Jul 08, 2014 1:52 pm

I also used to think £75 should buy a pretty good pair of bins and that 'budget' ones were more like £25. Apparently not.

If you read bin review sites and start looking at specialists, few better outlets stock anything much under £100. Budget would be defined as < £150, mid market £150- £350, and 'premium' £1000+. How the other half lives !

In terms of optical and overall quality, if one trusts the ratings given on a review site I found, it seems to buy a nice usable good budget pair with a 70% rating your looking at £100, to go to 'excellent' 80% will be around the £300 mark, and if you want that extra elusive few degrees of stunning clarity your restricted to makes like Swarovski which few of us can afford. The highest rated 97% Swarovski will set you back about £1500, or slightly less than I paid for my last 2nd hand Audi A4 car. :? You're paying for superb quality, but also a lot of money spent on glossy magazine advertising to build a brand of 'male jewellery'. Lower cost ones without the poser value that aren't international fashion statements (such as Vortex Razors @ £1000) might match the optical quality. It depends if you want to use them, or be seen wearing them.

I'm trying to justify spending £165 for 80% optical quality, I shan't be going down the polo club with them. I like the way the Vortex Diamondbacks will focus down to 4.5 feet, nice for watching the bees and flutterbies.

For anyone interested, this is the review site I've been perusing;
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Re: Twitching Tools

Postby oldclaypaws » Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:40 am

Bought my bins yesterday and am very pleased. Heres a review I posted on Amazon.
Vortex Diamondback 8 x 42- Best optics for the price and excellent warranty

I spent an afternoon trying several quality 8 x 42 binoculars by different manufacturers, at Lakeside Optics near Bristol, UK, looking at wild birds, views across the water and close up dragonflies. I cannot stress enough the importance of actually being able to test-drive several 'bins' in the hand with experienced retailers on hand to answer questions and give advice rather than just reading reviews and buying on-line. I paid a bit more than the Amazon price but think the service was worth it and the retailers merit their premium for being so helpful and patient and offering this great facility. I left the shop with the bins I wanted rather than waiting for them to hopefully arrive in the post, thoroughly satisfied they were exactly what suited my needs and the best within my budget.

From careful comparison I am quite sure the Vortex Diamondbacks @ around £169 offer the best value and optical quality in their price range. I give them 8/10. They are far superior to bins costing about £20 to £40 less, such as Hawke Nature Treks or Vortex Crossfires, the premium is worth it. They are also visibly better than competitors at the same price such as Hawk Endurance or Opticron Discoveries. To get better viewing of 9/10 you will need to buy ED glass, typically at twice the price or more. Vortex Vipers or Hawke Sapphires are superior with a brighter crisper ED image if your budget will stretch to it, but its a big jump in bucks. The unconditional lifetime warranty is exceptionally generous and unique, this alone makes Vortex a manufacturer you should seriously consider.

I also tried Zeiss, Leica and Swarovski, which are quite scintillating 10/10 optics; bright, sharp, great depth of field, but at up to £1700 beyond the budget or needs of the occasional casual user.

As a general purpose binocular, perfectly suited to birdwatching and nature viewing, the 8 x 42 Diamondbacks are excellent quality and exceptional value. They have a very wide field of view enabling easy capture of moving subjects and really excel in low light, the image being far brighter than the unaided eye sees. They are also good for watching insects, but I found the close focus was around 6 feet, not 4.5 as stated. Construction is solid and robust so they will cope with a degree of rough handling, they do not feel as 'plasticy' or vulnerable as the others I tried. The Diamondback 10 x 42's were also excellent, due to the higher magnification they show a bit more detail but are probably more suited to longer range viewing in good light such as views or estuaries, hand shake is more apparent, they have less depth of field on nearer subjects, slightly dimmer and are a fraction more tiring on the eye.

The Vanguard Spirit Ed or Endeavour ED is probably the nearest competitor, currently a very good price on Amazon, but I didnt have the opportunity to try them, they cost a bit more, and they don't have the amazing Vortex warranty.

Very satisfied and highly recommend the Vortex Diamondbacks.
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