The title says it – we review binoculars.
Look, the general rule is that the more you pay, the better quality the optics you will obtain. And it’s no secret that the Zeiss factory has been producing top class lenses for many decades. But the question with hunting binoculars is always the same “Is the extra price worth it?” And that’s a tough one to answer because it depends on a lot of factors. The better that Japanese manufacturers have become, the harder it has been for German lens manufacturers to assume they have a definite lead and hold on the market. So Nikon, Bushnell, Steiner, Zwarovski all manufacture excellent lenses and bodies, so the options with regard to quality center focus binoculars has widened considerably.
Chosing a pair of binoculars is not just about picking the best. For some situations, a telescope would be best. I’m not going to review spotting scopes on this site, but we shouldn’t close our eyes to them. Ha! (and my preference on the optics front is for binoculars rather than scopes as the human is blessed with binocular vision). But my point is that ‘the best’ is not always the most appropriate.
One of my favourite optical instruments is the lowest quality imagineable. A yellow plastic job! But why do I like it? Because I go canoeing in the tidal estuaries of the east coast, and I really don’t care how much salt water gets splashed around. My Zeiss Binoculars would have seized up years ago if they had been given the same treatment that these have received. These travel to the beach with me as well, and quite honestly I revel in the maltreatment that these ridiculously cheap optics can take. Quality? No. But just so useable, and that is the point: to use them, not to have them wrapped up and preserved for posterity in the loft. So the point I am making is that there are horses for courses. Night vision binoculars are brilliant – for the right activity at the right time of day/night. A pocket pair of 8x20s is nowhere near as good at picking up light as a Nikon Monarch 8X42ATB in side by side tests, but if you have the smaller bins with you, they will pick up light far better than the quality optic that you only take with you on a formal outing.
Though this site is really aimed at reviewing top end binoculars, small compacts also have their place – better to have a lesser pair of binoculars with you, than no binoculars atall. So in due course I will also review some good quality compacts.
However rational we like to pretend we are, we sometimes just go out and buy something not because it “is worth it” but quite simply because we like it and want it. And if you can afford to indulge yourself by buying the best binoculars out there, then my advice would be, just go for it. I hope the comments in these binocular reviews help you to reach your decision.
For specific information on cleaning binoculars, the page of Review binoculars that you want to go to is here