by Ron Spomer - Thursday, July 31, 2014
For all their revealing brightness, binoculars are dark and mysterious things. Ron Spomer's going to make things easy for you: Here are seven binoculars that won't break the bank.
My No. 1 overall pick. Impressive flare control and contrast. Sharp across view nearly to edge in both barrels. Compact, light. Clearly showed differences between various brown/red rocks an hour after sunset. At MSRP $129.99, this is a steal and perfect example of less power being more.
Nearly tied with Nikon for the No. 2 spot but wins because it’s waterproof. Some flare and slight loss of contrast. Sharpness very good, consistent nearly to edges. No problem picking out boulders an hour after sunset. About as wide and heavy as I’d want in a hunting binocular. Great buy at MSRP $125.95.
My No. 4 pick was consistently sharp and quite bright for a 3.75mm exit pupil. I could just differentiate brown boulders from green grass an hour after sunset. Disappointing was flare control. Eyes had to be perfectly aligned with optical center to minimize flare, and even then it wasn’t perfectly controlled. Contrast proved better than flare suggested. MSRP $225.
Coming in at No.5, this roof prism showed inconsistent sharpness across the field and between barrels. Edges were sharper than center in some places. Flare control and contrast were average at best. Still, I could clearly see a brown dog in the shadows against the setting sun at 240 yards. Could distinguish brown boulders from green grass an hour after sunset. MSRP $174.99.
A reverse Porro puts objective lenses closer together than eyepiece lenses, but is otherwise a typical Porro system. Makes for a compact unit. Alas, flare was so poorly controlled as to make the unit unusable when looking toward the setting sun even an hour before sunset. Sharpness was very good and quite consistent nearly to the edges. Keep the sun off the objectives and this becomes a decent daylight instrument. Brightness suffered quickly after sunset. At 10x26mm, this is an example of too much power for objective size. I’d rather see this unit as a 6x26mm. MSRP $200.
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