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  #1  
Old June 25th, 2013, 05:18 PM
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TanTien TanTien is offline
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Default Binocular Advice

There are frequently questions about what binoculars to take on your Alaska Cruise. As an avid birder, bino enthusiast, and one who's been 3 times now, going on 4, I wanted to post this to serve as a reference,

WHAT ARE THE BEST BINOCULARS TO GET?
The best all around binoculars will depend on your needs, your age, budget and your tolerance for optical imperfections. I'm primarily a birder but cruise frequently, wear glasses, and handle a 10x42 well, which is perfect for whale-watching and wildlife viewing where objects are farther away.

However, the tradeoff is that they are larger and heavier than I prefer--especially when packing and traveling. And they really don't do well on a small whale watching boat skimming along the open water because they are simply too heavy and powerful--watching from the ship is where these are good (for me).

Tip #1: Don't get a 10X or greater power pair of binoculars unless you know how to use them properly. On a ship or a bouncing whale watching tour boat, you will find that these will be very hard to hold steady.

Tip #2: the cheap binos for sale on the ship, except for the well-known brands like Nikon are generally a waste of your binocular dollar. Save up and expect to find some durable, decent binoculars at over the $120 mark. The Nikons found onboard are good binoculars but they are also over the $250 mark and might be outside your budget.

If you are an older cruiser or are looking for some binos that are compact, you might want to get a pair of 8x32s. They are relatively small compared to 8x42s, lighter in weight and probably won't be required to be out at early dawn or late in the evening when light is waining, so the smaller light gathering ability of the 32s probably won't some into play.

I found a compact pair that would give me great optics, high versatility, compact size and last me for a long time. That pair is a Vortex Viper HD 8x32 and they are well-rounded, high quality, solidly backed, binos good for birding or wildlife viewing.

I could have gone for the 10x32's but I sacrifice the field of view that is many times what may be needed when you are scanning for wildlife. So it's a trade-off. Either money, or weight, or size, or the use will cause you to compromise at some point.

As for why I state age: recognize that a larger objective lens (the 20/32/42/50 that people use) is the light gathering part of the equation, in general, bigger is brighter and better. BUT, as you age, your eyes will not be able to use the full light provided to your eyes (the "Exit pupil"). So, in short, you might find that the more compact 32 models will be just as bright to your eyes as the larger 42 models, and so you save on weight, and even expense.

Look for a good amount of eye relief for glasses: you will find this listed for nearly every pair of binoculars as a millimeter number. Try for something above 16 mm (17-18 would be better) to accommodate your glasses.

Here's a guide that speaks to birding, but could just as well speak to your needs as well. http://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bw...yers-guide.php


But, as well-stated above, there's nothing like looking first and comparing binos directly if you can. Oh: Look for a long/lifetime warranty and don't cheap out--get the most expensive glass you can afford if you can because these will be a long term investment in your eyes and enjoyment. Cheaper pairs will not always hold up over the years, and when things start to fail, you want to know that the company behind it will be hassle free. Vortex is one of those companies that I tend to go to again and again because of their service, affordability and wide range of choice.

Hope this helps! Please feel free to ask questions.
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TanTien
  • Star Princess, Mexican Riviera (10/14)
  • Carnival Imagination, Baja Mexico(7/14)
  • Grand Princess, Hawaii (11/13)
  • Star Princess, Calif. Coastal (11/13)
  • Grand Princess, Alaska (8/13)
  • Grand Princess, Hawaii (4/13)
  • Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera (12/12)
  • Sea Princess, Alaska (8/12)
  • HAL Oosterdam, 4-Day Pacific Coastal (4/12)
  • Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera (10/11)
  • HAL Westerdam, Alaska Hubbard Glacier (5/11)
  • Carnival Dream, Eastern Caribbean (1/11)
  • Carnival Victory, Southern Caribbean (5/10)
  • NCL, Norwegian Spirit, Western Caribbean (12/09)
  • NCL, Norwegian Star, Inside Passage Alaska (7/08)
  • Celebrity Horizon, Philly to Bermuda (2000)

Last edited by TanTien; June 25th, 2013 at 05:24 PM. Reason: Typos
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  #2  
Old June 25th, 2013, 05:51 PM
Keith1010 Keith1010 is offline
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Thanks for taking the time to pull this together.

Keith
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  #3  
Old June 25th, 2013, 07:09 PM
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TanTien TanTien is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith1010 View Post
Thanks for taking the time to pull this together.

Keith
My pleasure Keith! If I can help other cruisers with my obsession with binoculars, then I'm happy to do it.
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TanTien
  • Star Princess, Mexican Riviera (10/14)
  • Carnival Imagination, Baja Mexico(7/14)
  • Grand Princess, Hawaii (11/13)
  • Star Princess, Calif. Coastal (11/13)
  • Grand Princess, Alaska (8/13)
  • Grand Princess, Hawaii (4/13)
  • Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera (12/12)
  • Sea Princess, Alaska (8/12)
  • HAL Oosterdam, 4-Day Pacific Coastal (4/12)
  • Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera (10/11)
  • HAL Westerdam, Alaska Hubbard Glacier (5/11)
  • Carnival Dream, Eastern Caribbean (1/11)
  • Carnival Victory, Southern Caribbean (5/10)
  • NCL, Norwegian Spirit, Western Caribbean (12/09)
  • NCL, Norwegian Star, Inside Passage Alaska (7/08)
  • Celebrity Horizon, Philly to Bermuda (2000)
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  #4  
Old June 25th, 2013, 07:18 PM
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Reader0108598 Reader0108598 is offline
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Talking Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by TanTien View Post
There are frequently questions about what binoculars to take on your Alaska Cruise. As an avid birder, bino enthusiast, and one who's been 3 times now, going on 4, I wanted to post this to serve as a reference,

WHAT ARE THE BEST BINOCULARS TO GET?
The best all around binoculars will depend on your needs, your age, budget and your tolerance for optical imperfections. I'm primarily a birder but cruise frequently, wear glasses, and handle a 10x42 well, which is perfect for whale-watching and wildlife viewing where objects are farther away.

However, the tradeoff is that they are larger and heavier than I prefer--especially when packing and traveling. And they really don't do well on a small whale watching boat skimming along the open water because they are simply too heavy and powerful--watching from the ship is where these are good (for me).

Tip #1: Don't get a 10X or greater power pair of binoculars unless you know how to use them properly. On a ship or a bouncing whale watching tour boat, you will find that these will be very hard to hold steady.

Tip #2: the cheap binos for sale on the ship, except for the well-known brands like Nikon are generally a waste of your binocular dollar. Save up and expect to find some durable, decent binoculars at over the $120 mark. The Nikons found onboard are good binoculars but they are also over the $250 mark and might be outside your budget.

If you are an older cruiser or are looking for some binos that are compact, you might want to get a pair of 8x32s. They are relatively small compared to 8x42s, lighter in weight and probably won't be required to be out at early dawn or late in the evening when light is waining, so the smaller light gathering ability of the 32s probably won't some into play.

I found a compact pair that would give me great optics, high versatility, compact size and last me for a long time. That pair is a Vortex Viper HD 8x32 and they are well-rounded, high quality, solidly backed, binos good for birding or wildlife viewing.

I could have gone for the 10x32's but I sacrifice the field of view that is many times what may be needed when you are scanning for wildlife. So it's a trade-off. Either money, or weight, or size, or the use will cause you to compromise at some point.

As for why I state age: recognize that a larger objective lens (the 20/32/42/50 that people use) is the light gathering part of the equation, in general, bigger is brighter and better. BUT, as you age, your eyes will not be able to use the full light provided to your eyes (the "Exit pupil"). So, in short, you might find that the more compact 32 models will be just as bright to your eyes as the larger 42 models, and so you save on weight, and even expense.

Look for a good amount of eye relief for glasses: you will find this listed for nearly every pair of binoculars as a millimeter number. Try for something above 16 mm (17-18 would be better) to accommodate your glasses.

Here's a guide that speaks to birding, but could just as well speak to your needs as well. http://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bw...yers-guide.php


But, as well-stated above, there's nothing like looking first and comparing binos directly if you can. Oh: Look for a long/lifetime warranty and don't cheap out--get the most expensive glass you can afford if you can because these will be a long term investment in your eyes and enjoyment. Cheaper pairs will not always hold up over the years, and when things start to fail, you want to know that the company behind it will be hassle free. Vortex is one of those companies that I tend to go to again and again because of their service, affordability and wide range of choice.

Hope this helps! Please feel free to ask questions.

So very nice of you,Thanks so much, this is very helpful!

Reader
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Last edited by Reader0108598; June 25th, 2013 at 07:18 PM.
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  #5  
Old January 17th, 2014, 12:36 PM
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tnfcruise tnfcruise is offline
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Default Binoculars advice-Thank you!

Glenn TanTien,

Thank you SO MUCH for this thread, and your comments on other threads, regarding binoculars. I have 5 pair of relatively cheap binoculars none of which I've been satisfied--I'd go to a camera shop or online and whatever my latest "must-have" would rule--light weight, zooming, fog-proof, etc. After 35+ years of this, I finally stepped back and researched. Your information, suggestions and links were all I needed (along with some donaldsc hints). It still required about 3 hours of reading, comparing and shopping but I can't imagine how long it would have taken if you hadn't posted all.

I've purchased, and just received from Eagle Optics, the Vortex Viper HD 8x32 and wow, I'm finally happy! Really, really happy. Especially wonderful is not having to remove my glasses to view...never understood or thought I cared about "eye relief".

My next sail is coming up in 7 weeks or so...although I'll be using my new Vipers now for my back-yard and local birding, can't wait to try them on the cruise.

By the way, I love your Gromit Avatar.
Thanks again!
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  #6  
Old January 17th, 2014, 12:40 PM
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tnfcruise tnfcruise is offline
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Default Thanks!

I'm quoting you so I know you'll see my other post...
Quote:
Originally Posted by TanTien View Post
There are frequently questions about what binoculars to take on your Alaska Cruise. As an avid birder, bino enthusiast, and one who's been 3 times now, going on 4, I wanted to post this to serve as a reference,

WHAT ARE THE BEST BINOCULARS TO GET?
The best all around binoculars will depend on your needs, your age, budget and your tolerance for optical imperfections. I'm primarily a birder but cruise frequently, wear glasses, and handle a 10x42 well, which is perfect for whale-watching and wildlife viewing where objects are farther away.

However, the tradeoff is that they are larger and heavier than I prefer--especially when packing and traveling. And they really don't do well on a small whale watching boat skimming along the open water because they are simply too heavy and powerful--watching from the ship is where these are good (for me).

Tip #1: Don't get a 10X or greater power pair of binoculars unless you know how to use them properly. On a ship or a bouncing whale watching tour boat, you will find that these will be very hard to hold steady.

Tip #2: the cheap binos for sale on the ship, except for the well-known brands like Nikon are generally a waste of your binocular dollar. Save up and expect to find some durable, decent binoculars at over the $120 mark. The Nikons found onboard are good binoculars but they are also over the $250 mark and might be outside your budget.

If you are an older cruiser or are looking for some binos that are compact, you might want to get a pair of 8x32s. They are relatively small compared to 8x42s, lighter in weight and probably won't be required to be out at early dawn or late in the evening when light is waining, so the smaller light gathering ability of the 32s probably won't some into play.

I found a compact pair that would give me great optics, high versatility, compact size and last me for a long time. That pair is a Vortex Viper HD 8x32 and they are well-rounded, high quality, solidly backed, binos good for birding or wildlife viewing.

I could have gone for the 10x32's but I sacrifice the field of view that is many times what may be needed when you are scanning for wildlife. So it's a trade-off. Either money, or weight, or size, or the use will cause you to compromise at some point.

As for why I state age: recognize that a larger objective lens (the 20/32/42/50 that people use) is the light gathering part of the equation, in general, bigger is brighter and better. BUT, as you age, your eyes will not be able to use the full light provided to your eyes (the "Exit pupil"). So, in short, you might find that the more compact 32 models will be just as bright to your eyes as the larger 42 models, and so you save on weight, and even expense.

Look for a good amount of eye relief for glasses: you will find this listed for nearly every pair of binoculars as a millimeter number. Try for something above 16 mm (17-18 would be better) to accommodate your glasses.

Here's a guide that speaks to birding, but could just as well speak to your needs as well. http://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bw...yers-guide.php


But, as well-stated above, there's nothing like looking first and comparing binos directly if you can. Oh: Look for a long/lifetime warranty and don't cheap out--get the most expensive glass you can afford if you can because these will be a long term investment in your eyes and enjoyment. Cheaper pairs will not always hold up over the years, and when things start to fail, you want to know that the company behind it will be hassle free. Vortex is one of those companies that I tend to go to again and again because of their service, affordability and wide range of choice.

Hope this helps! Please feel free to ask questions.
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  #7  
Old January 17th, 2014, 01:17 PM
donaldsc donaldsc is online now
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Also check out this very recent extensive review -

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Page.aspx?pid=1478

DON
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Old January 17th, 2014, 04:18 PM
skrapngal skrapngal is offline
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Thanks so much. I've been reviewing binoculars for about the last 2 months and have finally chosen the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10X25 compacts. At this point, I'm simply waiting for them to go on sale somewhere in Canada LOL

A local store has them in stock and I was able to go try them out (a must since I wear glasses). I was also able to compare them to the 8X42 model of the same line and the lighter weight won over the better optics.
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Old January 17th, 2014, 05:16 PM
Lady Anna & Sir Troy Lady Anna & Sir Troy is offline
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My husband has a 10x50 Nikon Action that he really likes, but I have the 10x30 Canon with Image Stabilization which means I can use them without immediately getting a headache from straining my eyes to see with the shakiness. Also the Canon 10x30 are so compact and light - it is really nice. Wish they had included a cap with them - it just seem stupid to me the caps didn't come standard on these.

Lady Anna

Last edited by Lady Anna & Sir Troy; January 17th, 2014 at 05:16 PM.
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  #10  
Old January 20th, 2014, 08:30 AM
bouhunter bouhunter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skrapngal View Post
Thanks so much. I've been reviewing binoculars for about the last 2 months and have finally chosen the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10X25 compacts. At this point, I'm simply waiting for them to go on sale somewhere in Canada LOL

A local store has them in stock and I was able to go try them out (a must since I wear glasses). I was also able to compare them to the 8X42 model of the same line and the lighter weight won over the better optics.
I'm sure those are nice binoculars and I don't mean to knock them. If size and weight are a priority they're probably for you. Just realize that a 10x25 model in that price range the field of view and low light performance will not match something with a bigger objective lens.
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  #11  
Old January 20th, 2014, 11:43 AM
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Default Wow!

Wow< your advice is terrific! I had no idea of how many variables are put into play when choosing the correct Binoculars! Now, I looked at the Vortex Vipers and they are very nice indeed, however, way out of my price range...any budget suggestions for "older" eyes and someone who wears glasses?
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  #12  
Old August 6th, 2014, 09:45 PM
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TanTien TanTien is offline
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Red face Sorry for my delay in response!

Quote:
Originally Posted by shiner6 View Post
Wow< your advice is terrific! I had no idea of how many variables are put into play when choosing the correct Binoculars! Now, I looked at the Vortex Vipers and they are very nice indeed, however, way out of my price range...any budget suggestions for "older" eyes and someone who wears glasses?
I realized that I never logged back in to finish this thread. I apologize. I looked up your other posts on this subject and I see that you did indeed get a great value: the Vanguards are indeed very well regarded and should serve you well. The specifications are very good: great eye relief (20mm) for eyeglass wearers and a good close focus of under 7 feet; for under $200.

Let me know if you have any questions and feel free to PM me.
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TanTien
  • Star Princess, Mexican Riviera (10/14)
  • Carnival Imagination, Baja Mexico(7/14)
  • Grand Princess, Hawaii (11/13)
  • Star Princess, Calif. Coastal (11/13)
  • Grand Princess, Alaska (8/13)
  • Grand Princess, Hawaii (4/13)
  • Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera (12/12)
  • Sea Princess, Alaska (8/12)
  • HAL Oosterdam, 4-Day Pacific Coastal (4/12)
  • Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera (10/11)
  • HAL Westerdam, Alaska Hubbard Glacier (5/11)
  • Carnival Dream, Eastern Caribbean (1/11)
  • Carnival Victory, Southern Caribbean (5/10)
  • NCL, Norwegian Spirit, Western Caribbean (12/09)
  • NCL, Norwegian Star, Inside Passage Alaska (7/08)
  • Celebrity Horizon, Philly to Bermuda (2000)
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  #13  
Old August 8th, 2014, 12:55 PM
sweetsleep sweetsleep is offline
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Can you recommend some national stores that sell several varieties of these binos?
I live in Nashville-we have an REI,Best Buy,Dicks Sporting Goods,Bass Pro shops as well as other smaller stores(I suspect).
Going to South Africa (several days on safari) and Alaska next year so I guess I really need to start looking for a pair.
Thanks for the excellent advice and tips
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Old August 8th, 2014, 01:46 PM
Angiet75 Angiet75 is offline
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Thank you!
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  #15  
Old August 8th, 2014, 02:28 PM
knittingGal knittingGal is offline
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It is difficult for me to judge the binoculars during a short visit in those stores. I'd rather order them online that have good return policy and try them out for 30 days.
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  #16  
Old August 10th, 2014, 01:03 PM
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TanTien TanTien is offline
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Lightbulb Retail Buying Advice and Tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetsleep View Post
Can you recommend some national stores that sell several varieties of these binos?
I live in Nashville-we have an REI,Best Buy,Dicks Sporting Goods,Bass Pro shops as well as other smaller stores(I suspect).
Going to South Africa (several days on safari) and Alaska next year so I guess I really need to start looking for a pair.
Thanks for the excellent advice and tips
There are not many retailers that have a good selection of better grade binoculars that I've seen. REI will have some but not much more than their own brand (questionable quality) and a handful of Nikons. If you go to any one here's a couple of extra tips:
  • Avoid any binoculars that are blister packed and hanging, en masse, on rods.
  • Avoid any binoculars that have a ruby/red lens coating. Yes it looks cool, but it really washes out the natural colors.
  • Bushnells come in all shapes and sizes and costs. Their best level is called Bushnell Legend Ultra HDs--they are better than almost anything else they carry and present quite a value but I've returned two so far because their Quality Assurance process is a bit spotty.
    • Bushnell's cheaper models are not well regarded and I would generally avoid these.
You might try this retail store chain (first online and then in the store) Wild Birds Unlimited There looks like there are 3 in the Nashville area.

There are a few stores out here in California that specialize in birding supplies that also happen to carry better quality binoculars like Celestron or Opticron. So you could search for these kinds of stores near you too.

As knittingGal stated, a few seconds here or there of viewing through these in the store won't get you your best evaluation, so check out their return policies to give you adequate time.

You will have these for years (and even decades) so don't skimp out on the time to get to know them better before you buy. To buy on specifications alone won't translate into ones that fit your hands and your face and your eyes.

There are also optics fairs that appear throughout the country where many of the best optics companies will appear and you can literally try a dozen different binos in a few hours. So look for ones that are appearing in your region to get a side-by-side viewing experience.
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  • Star Princess, Mexican Riviera (10/14)
  • Carnival Imagination, Baja Mexico(7/14)
  • Grand Princess, Hawaii (11/13)
  • Star Princess, Calif. Coastal (11/13)
  • Grand Princess, Alaska (8/13)
  • Grand Princess, Hawaii (4/13)
  • Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera (12/12)
  • Sea Princess, Alaska (8/12)
  • HAL Oosterdam, 4-Day Pacific Coastal (4/12)
  • Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera (10/11)
  • HAL Westerdam, Alaska Hubbard Glacier (5/11)
  • Carnival Dream, Eastern Caribbean (1/11)
  • Carnival Victory, Southern Caribbean (5/10)
  • NCL, Norwegian Spirit, Western Caribbean (12/09)
  • NCL, Norwegian Star, Inside Passage Alaska (7/08)
  • Celebrity Horizon, Philly to Bermuda (2000)
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  #17  
Old August 11th, 2014, 07:51 PM
sweetsleep sweetsleep is offline
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Wonderful advice and tips!!!
Will check out Wild Birds unlimited in my neck of the woods.
Have a coworker who has a great pair of bins and he will bring them in for me to check out.
Thanks for the wonderful advice.
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  #18  
Old August 12th, 2014, 12:46 PM
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fishin' musician fishin' musician is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TanTien View Post
[*]Bushnells come in all shapes and sizes and costs. Their best level is called Bushnell Legend Ultra HDs--they are better than almost anything else they carry and present quite a value but I've returned two so far because their Quality Assurance process is a bit spotty.
Bushnell's best level is the Elite series. Legends are a good midrange binocular, I have an older pair and they are my go-to glasses. The older pre "Ultra-HD" Legends were made in Japan, I believe the current line is made in China.

If considering the Elite series you start competing with the entry level models of the more cork-sniffer European brands like Zeiss, Swarovski, Leica, etc... All these, including the Elite are typically a bit brighter, and clearer, but are they worth 5-20 times the price of the Legends? Only your banker knows for sure.
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Old August 12th, 2014, 01:02 PM
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TanTien TanTien is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishin' musician View Post
Bushnell's best level is the Elite series. Legends are a good midrange binocular, I have an older pair and they are my go-to glasses. The older pre "Ultra-HD" Legends were made in Japan, I believe the current line is made in China.

If considering the Elite series you start competing with the entry level models of the more cork-sniffer European brands like Zeiss, Swarovski, Leica, etc... All these, including the Elite are typically a bit brighter, and clearer, but are they worth 5-20 times the price of the Legends? Only your banker knows for sure.
Thanks for the update! I stand corrected!

I am not a Bushnell follower, so I apologize for the mis-categorization. Most of the posters here are not budgeting for Elites so I've certainly not even considered that level. Again, much obliged, fishin' musician.
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TanTien
  • Star Princess, Mexican Riviera (10/14)
  • Carnival Imagination, Baja Mexico(7/14)
  • Grand Princess, Hawaii (11/13)
  • Star Princess, Calif. Coastal (11/13)
  • Grand Princess, Alaska (8/13)
  • Grand Princess, Hawaii (4/13)
  • Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera (12/12)
  • Sea Princess, Alaska (8/12)
  • HAL Oosterdam, 4-Day Pacific Coastal (4/12)
  • Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera (10/11)
  • HAL Westerdam, Alaska Hubbard Glacier (5/11)
  • Carnival Dream, Eastern Caribbean (1/11)
  • Carnival Victory, Southern Caribbean (5/10)
  • NCL, Norwegian Spirit, Western Caribbean (12/09)
  • NCL, Norwegian Star, Inside Passage Alaska (7/08)
  • Celebrity Horizon, Philly to Bermuda (2000)
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