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Thread: Powerful binoculars - night vision

  1. #1

    Powerful binoculars - night vision

    Hi all
    Iím becoming more and more back to watching the wildlife - better as the Covid seems to have encouraged quieter stock to surface and perhaps be more daring

    My old 8x30 just donít cut it
    Picking out a bird in a tree quickly, and then thereís the whole night vision idea with the foxís, bats etc

    Iíve a budget of say £130 to £150
    Am I peeing in the wind at that?
    Happy to accept links to products
    Should I buy used?

    Many thanks

  2. #2
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    Aug 2012
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  3. #3
    Grand Master sundial's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    You mention '8x30 do not cut it' … but what exactly are you seeking? Do you want brightness or magnification or both?

    If hand holding, 8x mag. should be fine; if you go to 10x mag., the field of view will likely reduce compared to 8x … and the 10x will be more difficult to handhold (because of image shake)

    Your 8x30 has an exit pupil of just 3.75mm (30mm / 8 = 3.75mm ) which is not so bright for low light use.

    If you considered e.g. an 8x40 the exit pupil is 5mm (40mm/8 = 5mm) and they will be a lot brighter

    If you considered e.g. a 7x50 they have an exit pupil of 7.14mm … likely twice as bright as your 8x30 … but the magnification will be a little less than your 8x30. However, as we age, our eye pupil diameter tends to shrink - so older people with e.g. 5mm to 6mm max diameter pupils cannot take advantage of a 7.14mm binocular ext pupil … but a 7x50's image would be much brighter than that of your 8x30 … regardless of an observer's eye pupil diameter.

    Binoculars need to be set up optimally for the individual user … unless set up properly you'll never see a decent image … especially if you wear glasses and do not appreciate the importance of 'eye relief' and eyecup adjustment.

    Have you read the several binocular threads in this forum?

    They will tell you a lot more about choosing, setting up and using a binocular.

    Don't be put off by porro prism binoculars … some think they are 'old fashioned' because they are not so sleek as roof prism binos … but for your budget, porro prism binos are usually much better value than roof prism models.

    And regarding 'night vision' … if considering night vision binoculars, please consider viewing some You Tube videos to see the type of image they produce … and consider that some are not binoculars … they are monoculars with binocular eyepieces which cannot produce a 3D image.

    If considering USED … … a few potential bargains ... but you should really consider 'try before you buy'. … these porro prism binos are old but good build quality and good value for the ££ … BUT … short 12mm eye relief so need to use without wearing glasses.

    You do not state which make / model your 8x30 is? Can you please advise?

    The Bird Forum will give you more guidance about choosing and using a binocular

    Last edited by sundial; 7th May 2020 at 10:37.
    "The energy expenditure of most people's weekly gym class workouts equates to the reward of one large doughnut afterwards" Ö Prof. Tim Spector, 'The Diet Myth' author

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Threads like this can be expensive! I too wanted to improve visibility in the gloom as I usually walk my dog pre-dawn and there is plenty of wildlife around - usually Fallow deer, muntjac, foxes and pheasant (unfortunately I haven't seen the puma I wrote about in another thread since mid-January, but that's a different story!). I have been lucky enough to see a barn owl twice in the last four days. I have been mainly using a pair of cheap Nikon Aculon 8x40 which have given comparable performance to some old, immaculate Zeiss Deltrintem 8x30s but I wanted to get something better.

    I bought a pair of Opticron 8x56 Trailfinders but as well as being heavy (1.1 kg-ish) I didn't find they were any brighter than either of my other pairs in the pre-dawn light. Sundial's post and a PM got me reading about pupil exit size and a web resource suggested that my ageing eyes probably have a fully dilated pupil size of 3.5mm so I was unable to take advantage of the 7mm exit size of the Opticrons - they almost certainly were brighter than the other two pairs, but my eyes couldn't take advantage.

    So in order to match my eyes to suitable optics, I decided to buy the brightest small binoculars I could afford - and being small they are no hassle to carry and I am more likely to have them with me. I opted for some Swarovski 8x30 Habicht - they are old-fashioned porro prism binoculars with top-notch coating on the lenses, giving very high light transmission and optical clarity. They look just like my old Zeiss binos that were first made in 1940!

    They arrived today - in a posh box, rather like a high end watch - and are a thing of beauty (in my eyes). It is the first time I have used high-end optics and the difference over my other binos is obvious, even to my old eyes. The clarity is amazing and the ability to see detail in a gloomy wood (during daylight) has meant that they have already passed their first 'poor light' test.

    I can't quite believe I have spent so much on a tiny pair of old-fashioned (looking) binoculars, but compared to a half-decent watch, they really aren't that expensive...



  5. #5
    Grand Master sundial's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Jon, You have a superb binocular but porro prism binos are not old fashioned. They might look old fashioned because the basic design dates from the 19th C. but a good porro design can out-perform the equivalent roof prism model ... particularly as regards centre sharpness. Your Swarovski Habiicht 8x30 W has excellent reviews e.g.


    "The energy expenditure of most people's weekly gym class workouts equates to the reward of one large doughnut afterwards" Ö Prof. Tim Spector, 'The Diet Myth' author

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2018

    Binos - Minox HG-Pre-Owned


    Wish I hand not part-ex'd my 7x42 Habicht SL's for the newer SLC's - nowt wrong with porro-prism's - especially as Swarovski will service for free (most times), and they come back as new (mine did within their 30yrs warranty as did the replacements with 12yrs left).

    As an alternative may be worth looking at pre-owned Minox HG's (Schott glass and argon purged) - good warranty and review well.

    May be worth looking out for 8x42's as can still be held steady (8x30 Swaros are very good and light weight).


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