Subject: Binoculars
From: Lloyd Nielsen <>
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2007 11:02:46 -0800
I think the first thing when purchasing binoculars is to decide where you are going to be doing most of your birding. That is in high light or low light situations etc. If in low light (e.g. rainforest) you need the most light you can get through your binoculars i.e. a high light value. To work this out, multiply the magnification by the exit lens and square it e.g. 7x42s gives a light value of 36 which lets in alot of light; 10x40s gives a light value of 16 - moderate light; 16x50 gives a light value of 9 - difficult in dark situations. The higher the light value, the better your binocs will be in low light situations - and they will be excellent in other situations as well. I think this is far more important than comparing brands - Leica against Swavarosky etc and also more important than magnifications - 7, 8, 10 etc. I would sacrifice a little bit of magnification for alot more light every time. Weight is also another very important consideration - often weight goes up with higher magnifiactions.

I am not an expert on seabirding but I was told by someone who regularly does pelagic trips that 7x42s are great for seabirding, being very wide angle which gives a steadier image on a rocking, moving boat than higher magnifications - which I can understand.

I recently bought a pair of 7x42s (Minox) which have proved superb in low light situations such as rainforest - and excellent elsewhere as well. I can clearly see a dark bird such as a Fernwren in light too low to see the bird clearly with the naked eye other than its movement. If you will be birding mostly in higher light or need more magnification, then 10x would be fine but then with higher magnification they may not hold as steady on the subject. I have had many binoculars over 50 years of birding from 7x to 16x. A few years ago I bought a pair of 7x42 (Swift - which were great but fell apart with use) and was initially quite impressed - I had had 8x40s for some years previously. I can honestly say that the Minox 7x42s is the best pair I have owned by far. They are nice to hold as well and have a very close focus - you can almost focus on your feet!

Minox is a brand not sold commonly in Australia. They are German made with a 30 year guarantee and compare well with other higher priced brands such as Swaravosky etc. The only retailer I could find in Australia handling Minox was asking $1500 for a pair of 7x42s plus freight. I hunted around on the internet and found the best price from one of the big stores in New York (Digital Foto Club). Total cost landed at my local post office was $900 (AUD) which included freight by Fedex and GST (those came to over $200). Another surprise was that I had the binocs 6 days from ordering and they were insured and trackable all the way. The only turn-off was that Digital Foto Club wanted to know every last detail from a new international customer. Anyway, it was worth the $600 saved.

(Their website is - they have a gigantic range of optical and other equipment)

Lloyd Nielsen
Mt Molloy  Nth Qld

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