The ULTIMATE Compact Binoculars Buying Guide | Optics Trade Buying Guides

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The ULTIMATE Compact Binoculars Buying Guide | Optics Trade Buying Guides

Hello! This is Andraž and Tadej from Optics Trade and we are here to do a compact binoculars buying guide today We are on the hills of Pohorje, around 15 kilometres from our headquarters in Slovenska Bistrica. We went through the local gorge and hiked up this scenic viewpoint at around seven hundred and seventy meters of elevation and we brought various binoculars along to put them to the test and basically to find out which one is the best In regards to price range we have divided our compact binoculars into five categories: so that’s below 100 €, 100 to 300 €, 300 to 500 €, 500to 1.000 € and above 1.000 €. In each of these respective categories we are going to point out all the compact binoculars which we chose and of course present a winner in each respective category A compact binocular is small and lightweight, the objective lens diameter is from 28 millimeters all the way up to 36 millimeters with 30 and 32 millimeters being the most commonly used values. The magnification the most common one is 8 times or 10 times we also have other magnification we have 6 times, 7 times, 8 and 1/2 times, 12 times but these are really rare so we’ll be focusing on the 8 and 10 times. The difference is between the 8 and 10 times magnification there are a few so with 8 times you have a wider field of view with 10 times you’ll naturally have a narrower field of view but you’ll be able to see more details also with the 8 times magnification the handshaking will be less noticeable, you’ll benefit from the bigger exit pupil with 8 times magnification. Now we know that compact binoculars are not designed for use in dusk but you will have a little bit more brighter picture when it starts to get dusky with the 8 times magnification. As regard to use with tripods, compact binoculars are not often mounted on tripods because they’re lightweight but if you are willing to mount binoculars on a tripod it will be the 10 times magnification binocular because with the 8 times you will not have that much hand shaking. Now the last thing I want to point here is the point out here is the prism type – most compact binoculars feature roof prisms of the Schmidt and Pechan type, Abbe Koenig prisms are not in any of the compact binoculars that we know of, the Porro prism binoculars here are really rare but I have one of the examples here – this is Swarovski Habicht which still uses the Porro prisms and therefore has a unique shape Andraž, which are the most common fields of use for compact binoculars? Compact binoculars are commonly used by hikers, travelers, campers and other nature enthusiasts. They’re a great companion for longer treks because of their compact size and light weight Because of that you can also carry them strapped around your neck for longer and you can easily store them in a backpack If you look at them you can also tell that they are a great gift for your loved one or for a child, again because of their size. What do you think is it also possible to use them for let’s say for hunting? We generally don’t recommend using compact binoculars in hunting situations because hunting often takes place in dusk and compact binoculars aren’t designed to be used in dusk they will not perform well. There are some exceptions though in mountain hunting, a compact binocular might actually come in handy this is because they perform well during the day and mountain hunting often takes place during the day and because they’re light you won’t have problems carrying them

around in your backpack or strapped around your neck Can compact binoculars be used by birdwatchers? Well some birdwatchers also use compact binoculars but they go for higher magnifications like 10 times, 12 times to see the details better, but I would say they also go more for the 42 millimeter lens which is better for a prolonged use because it’s more comfortable to use. What about the pocket binoculars? Shouldn’t they go for pocket instead? So if you’re looking for small size and lightweight you could go for pocket binoculars but you have to keep in mind that with pocket binoculars the eyepieces are a little bit narrower and when you press them against the face they’re not that comfortable and consequently you will not be able to use them for longer amounts of time so if you’re an infrequent user of binoculars then pocket is the way to go but if you want comfort then go for compact binoculars or bigger ones. While we’re talking about this we have to point out that for marine applications we also wouldn’t recommend compact binoculars, we have a separate category for that that is 7 times magnification combined with 42 millimeter objective lens which tends to be the most optimal configuration and with 7 times magnification the probability of getting seasick is much lower than with higher magnifications and also for astronomy use we wouldn’t recommend them because the biggest magnification is 12 times which is not enough for astronomy applications First we have a price class everything that’s below 100 €. We don’t have any binoculars priced less than 100 € with us because we generally believe that they’re more suitable as a gift for children. If you’re looking for a decent optical experience we would advise you to spend at least 100 to 300 € for a binocular Okay so now we have binoculars priced from 100 to 300 € here. Tadej, can you tell us what are the specifications, the features of binoculars in this price class? Well Andraž, basically these are entry price class binoculars which are mostly used for outdoor enthusiasts and novices when it comes to optics – binoculars that is. So for users who use their binoculars I would say seldomly, not very often but seldomly. They also feature, in most cases plastic housing so the build quality is not as good as with higher ranks and they also mostly I would say have a single bridge as you can see, some exceptions as this Sightron here they have the open bridge which is better for handling and so on The eyecups are mostly of a, I would say, have 2 positions – the first and the second position for glass wearers. Mostly they are made in China the majority of them they also have the diopter setting on the right eyepiece, like this here and they have the warranty up to 2 years, well there are some exceptions to that like Vortex, Athlon and perhaps some others Okay, so we put the binoculars from this price class to the test First, I have to point out which ones we brought with us. So we have the Hawke Endurance ED, Vortex Diamondback HD, Vortex Raptor, Delta Optical One and Sightron SII Blue Sky. We couldn’t decide on the winner we decided that it’s a tie between the Vortex Diamondback HD and between Sightron SII Blue Sky. They both have their advantages and disadvantages Vortex has exceptional build quality, magnesium housing, a VIP warranty, big field of view but it’s difficult to use if you’re a glasses wearer so the the ones in our team who wear glasses could not use Vortex Diamondback HD The second winner, so it’s a tie again as I said, is Sightron SII Blue Sky. Its advantages are exceptional image sharpness for this price glass also an open bridge configuration which is a real rarity in this price glass you can use it single-handedly, it also is much lighter than average. Its disadvantage is that it’s a bit long for a compact binocular so this is

practically its only downside. What I also have to point out here is Delta Optical One which is almost a pocket binocular if you look at its size and as such it really can be used on longer treks without problems, easily stored in a backpack Okay, so now we have binoculars priced from 300 to 500 € here. What are the features of these? Well, these are good for novice and advanced users which use binoculars often but don’t wish to pay a higher amount of money for them, also the optical quality is higher, the build quality is better of course naturally they also have less plastic parts in its construction so they also they also provide you with more accessories, the quality of the accessories is higher of a higher class What about the eyecup positions? They also have mostly they have 3 positions, they use 3 positions, the binoculars from this series, from this price class are mostly made in China, seldomly in Japan, we have some examples from the Philippines and Japan and so on Usually they feature a single bridge design so that’s like this, like all 4 binoculars which we have here and also the diopter setting is generally placed on the right side. What about the warranty periods, are they any longer than with lower priced binoculars? The warranty period is mostly up to 5 years and of course also there are some exceptions to this rule and the housing is aluminum mostly right? Housing is mostly made of aluminum, yeah We put the binoculars from this price class to the test as well. We have here GPO Passion ED, Steiner Skyhawk, Nikon Monarch 7 and Zeiss Terra ED. It was not that difficult for us to choose the winner because GPO Passion ED really excels in all aspects. It is great, both in terms of build quality and optical quality. The housing is magnesium which is a rarity in this price class still, the eyecups are of high quality and can be fixed in three positions all together. It’s available in four colors and the edge sharpness is on a high level as well. Perhaps the only downside is that GPO is a fairly new brand on the optical market and it will take a while for them to gather some followers. I also have to point out Nikon Monarch 7 here because it is the smallest out of the 4 and Zeiss Terra ED. We were really fond of its optical performance and we concluded that it performs much better than the 42 millimeter objective lens model, providing high quality images and I think that Zeiss really, they did outdo themselves with this model So Andraž, what are the most common characteristics of compact binoculars which we have here in the price class from 500 to 1000 €? Yeah, so here we already have prestigious brands such as Swarovski, Zeiss, Leica, we also have Meopta here and naturally the build quality as well as optical quality is on a higher level than with binoculars priced lower. If we look at the build quality – we have magnesium housings, we have quality eyecups that can be fixed in 3 to 4 positions most of the times, we usually have already the central diopter setting instead of the diopter setting on the right ocular which is still present on some binoculars. Single bridge design is still prevalent as regards the optical quality the glass is of the of higher quality, we have more high quality coatings that increase light transmission rate and image quality. Overall the images are with more vivid colors, higher in contrast and everything like that. Then we have the warranty periods which are around 10 years but you can count on these manufacturers on providing service even when this warranty period expires Binoculars in this price class, those nearing the 500 € price point are made in Japan, some still in China but those who are nearing the 1.000 € price point are already made in Europe. You’ll get more quality accessories in the box and the boxes themselves look much nicer. I would say that these are all for someone who

is an experienced binoculars user and also for someone who wants to leap straight into the high quality in the world of optics So we have put 5 binoculars to the test in this price class – the Leica Trinovid HD, Swarovski Companion CL, Swarovski Habicht, Meopta Meostar B1 and Zeiss Conquest HD. It was very hard to determine the actual winner because in this price class we have phenomenal binoculars, but we put Leica and the Zeiss Conquest HD to share the first place. The build quality is better with Leica and also the contrast of the image is also very good with Leica Zeiss Conquest HD is better optically, it has better central and edge sharpness and on top of that it has a better field of view, the best among all here The focus is quite interesting – it has a really fast focus and some people like this, some don’t and we have to point out that the image when you look through it’s a little bit yellowish. The downsides are also its size and weight, it is one of the heaviest binoculars in this class. We also have to point out the Swarovski CL Companion which is uniquely designed, it has a unique bridge allowing you to hold the binocular single handedly and it is also really lightweight So we have the last category – the category of binoculars the top premium, above 1000 €. Andraž, what are the most common characteristics regarding this binoculars? Well first, I have to point out that all the binoculars that we have here the compacts are priced above 1.500 € and that is because inbetween 1.000 and 1.500 € there are almost no compact binoculars These binoculars are for someone who wants quality without compromises, someone who is looking for topmost performance, who uses binoculars on a daily basis or even perhaps collects binoculars. Only the most prestigious brands can be found here – so we have Leica, Zeiss, Swarovski and now Blaser is also a newcomer in this price class. The quality – so we have magnesium housings mostly, we have 3 to 4 eyecup positions and eyecus are usually of really high quality. We have both single bridge and open bridge design, the diopter is already mostly central, no longer limited to the right ocular, the Blaser here is the exception. As regards the optical characteristics, we have more coatings we also have the coatings that are applied to the external parts of the lenses and are used to prevent dew accumulation, dust accumulation on the lenses. Leica calls this AquaDura, Zeiss LotuTec and so on The glass is of really high quality and both optical and build quality are on the higher level than binoculars from the price class from 500 to 1.000 €. The warranty periods are 10 years mostly, some offer even more but you can expect the manufacturers to repair your binoculars even after this period expires. They’re also, if you purchase these binoculars it’s a good investment because they tend to hold their resale value well. If you purchase binocular priced 200 € you can’t really expect to sale them after 10 years- This is not the case with binoculars from this price class. Edge sharpness is on a high level as well the central sharpness, of course, they provide wide field-of-view, images are rich in colors and high in contrast. Some of these binoculars, for example, and this Leica Ultravid HD are also available in special limited editions, such as Ultravid HD-Plus Zagato which is available for 3.500 € and perfect for someone who collects binoculars So in the last category we have 4 binoculars: Leica Ultravid HD-Plus, Zeiss Victory FL, Blaser Primus and the Swarovski EL We have to say, it was very hard to choose the absolute winner because of the technologies which manufacturers use. But according to our tests which we performed, the slight advantage goes to Swarovski EL – that’s only a slight advantage. So Swarovski is optically the best, as we mentioned, it has a very gentle, very sensitive fast focusing system, it has a very flat field of view due to the Swarovision technology which Swarovski uses. And we have to point out here that some people like

this, some don’t. Yeah, we are fond of it. Yeah, that’s correct. As you can see, it’s also very long, it’s not very bulky but it’s very long. So if we take a look amongst these two, this one is definitely the longest. It has a good system for for straps, as you can see, it’s very comfortable for handling and so on and also the open bridge design which is the only one among the 4 and it’s very comfortable to use. So Leica Ultravid HD-Plus and Zeiss Victory FL are really not far behind. So, it’s also a matter of taste here. For some people, the FL might be the best and for some people Ultravid HD-Plus might be best. With the Leica, we have to point out the amazing superb build quality and high quality eyepieces also the image is really high in contrast. With Zeiss also, optically it’s one of the best compact binoculars out there. One thing that we don’t like is the housing which is made out of plastic. We think that the magnesium housing would be better for a binocular in this price class. Blaser Primus features a very elegant design and I have to point out that we really liked the color combination used for the housing. It also has a really nice slow focus that especially hunters will be fond off So we had great fun today, I hope that you found the video that we made useful If you have any recommendations for future videos, guides, please don’t hesitate to leave us a comment below or write to our email. Take care. Bye bye