Minox BL 8 x 44 Binoculars
Binocular configuration is a personal choice and invariably a compromise. The heaviest part of most optics is the glass itself. So, while we all want light and compact, it doesn't happen without smaller lenses and a reduction in exit pupil diameter and image quality. Personally, I've always found the dinky opera glass binocular approach to be a headache, literally. The 8 x 32 platform is where binoculars become useable, to my eyes, and this 8 x 44 set offers superb image quality while still not being a pain to lug around. The 8 x 44s are easier to hold steady when out in the field, but the 10 x 44s give you a larger but shakier image at the expense of exit pupil and field of view. I find the 8x ideal but it is a close call contingent on your intended use. Shaky images rapidly degrade images. If you mount your binoculars on a tripod you'll quickly experience what I'm referring to. Let's get the obligatory factory specifications out of the way.
data: MINOX BL 8x44 with Comfort Bridge
worst piece of advice ever given is the hoary you get what you pay
for. You sure don't, unless you believe paying for overpriced junk
is what you seek to pay for. It hardly matters how much those boots cost
if they don't fit you, how much that jacket cost if it doesn't keep you
warm, or how much that meal cost if it tastes like mud. If you are wondering
what that has to do with binoculars, it really doesn't matter what they
cost if they give you a shaky image, if you can't focus them, if they
don't feel good in your hands, and if they are burdensome to carry around.
Image quality read by machine, but imperceptible to the human eye is not
worth paying for. You are buying optics for human use, specifically your
use, not for your pet robot.
There are huge differences in handling and build quality and that is where this Minox set shines. The open chassis and slightly tapered barrel design makes one hand operation easy and conventional operation a lead pipe cinch. Where some binoculars have instant collapse eye cups, or all or nothing positions, the Minox has four distinct, steady positions based on the eye relief you need.
Some sets of binoculars have the rusty hinge folding / unfolding feel. These are both rock steady and smooth. The focus knob shows no excessive creep or play, so quick and precise focusing is fast and easy. Some sets of binos have diopter adjustment rings that easily move out of adjustment or locking focus attempts that don't lock properly. The diopter focus is flush on the right barrel of the Minox BL set, so once you focus your binoculars you won't have to try to refocus them at what is always the completely wrong time.
Not surprisingly, I do have several sets of 8x42 8x 42 binoculars, some above the Minox BL price point and some below. A couple sets are no longer in production. So, I did the usual side-by-side casual comparison. One consideration with the Minox is the small strap eyelets. They work fine with the supplied Minox strap, but the German made Vero Vellini strap that I wanted to use was too wide to attach.
One roof prism set, while optically comparable, had the all or nothing collapse syndrome on the eyecups, where the Minox stays in one of four positions. The objective caps seems to be a universal problem with twisting and falling open inadvertently. The Minox attempt is far better than most, but not perfect. Another, pricier ED set had perhaps slightly better image quality, ever so slightly, but it suffered from the easily knocked around diopter ring, where the Minox flush version is clearly superior. The Minox is a shorter, more compact unit as well. The $500 roof prism price bracket is, as far as I'm concerned, the sweet spot where you can get virtually all of the real-world performance of the $1500 sets when used by human eyes. It is no guarantee, but the possibility is there.
salient differences in actual use are in handling, eyecup design, and
diopter focusing. This is where the Minox shines brightly, along with
its self-evident smooth operation and overall build quality. There are
a couple of niggles: the small strap eyelets and a case that is on the
small side for this set of binoculars. Yet, the end result is an extremely
satisfying set of binoculars that deserves to be on everyone's short list
if not permanently in your gear bag. It is an impressive offering from
Copyright 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.