20 March 2019

The other day I got involved in a discussion on the Birding-Aus Facebook page about binoculars. You probably know (and if you don't you could easily guess) that among birdwatchers, discussions about binoculars are numerous and enthusiastic.

It's a bit like how car people can talk all day about how Ferrari is better than Lamborghini, but most people drive Toyotas or Kias.

In the case of binoculars, the big three are Leica, Zeiss and Swarovski. But most birdos start off with something a little more affordable like Bushnell, Pentax, Steiner or Saxon.

Here are two of my pairs - my current Nikon Morarch 8.5x56 and an ancient East German Zeiss Jena 8x30. The Zeiss are old, but totally bulletproof. I think they were made so that if NATO ever invaded Eastern Europe they could be used in desperation as tank traps or bludgeons.

...and they're Zeiss.

My first was a pair of Vixen Ultima 8x56, which were brilliant in low light, but eventually fell to pieces. I could watch a raptor go right over my head, but then an eyepiece would fall out onto my face. 

Like most birdos, I'm pretty hard on my optical equipment.

My Monarchs are a good workhorse, but they do suffer from chromatic aberration when I'm looking into a bright glarey sky.

My next pair of bins are definitely going to be the Vortex Diamondback 8x42. As I've got older, my eye pupil isn't able to dilate quite as much as it used to, so there's no point in getting bins with a large exit pupil - it's just a waste of weight. Optically, the Diamondbacks punch well above their weight.

Of course, my dream binoculars are the ones at the top right of our display - the Leica Noctivid 8x42. I show them to serious binocular customers, just to demonstrate how good binoculars can be if the manufacturer refuses to compromise - but I think I'm just making myself jealous.

So what are your stories? 

What was your first pair?

What is your current pair?

Realistically, what is your next pair?

What is your dream pair?

...and why?