How much should I spend on safari binoculars?

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Jul 19th, 2004, 05:53 PM
  #1
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How much should I spend on safari binoculars?

I have seen binoculars at a range of prices, from $20 on ebay all the way up to over $1000. Roughly what does one need to spend (minimum) to get a good pair for a safari, a good enough pair for seeing birds as well? Thanks!
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Jul 19th, 2004, 07:59 PM
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I would say it depends on where you are going on safari. For example, in Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia, it was difficult to approach the animals as they were too skittish.

In South Luangwa, it was much easier to get closer to the animals except for the leopards which were still a bit elusive.

In the Sabi Sand, on the other hand, the animals are very approachable, and rumour has it that you may even say "cheese" to some and they will pose and smile!

I think that for no more than about $150 you can get a very good pair of binoculars. Do not waste extra money on night binoculars, as you will not even see the animals until the spotters have seen them and have their spotlights on the animals.
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Jul 19th, 2004, 09:52 PM
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Well, there is no simple answer to this! It depends on much you want to see birds, and what your "optical standards" are! Also, how much time will you spend behind a camera/video, and what magnification will you be using there?

For example, if you tell me that your favorite camera is a Leica...you'll be happier with the best binoculars you can buy. If a point and shoot keeps you happy...lower end.

Finally, how much are you paying for your safari? (Just answer to yourself!) Nothing increases your appreciation and enjoyment of wildlife and birds more than good binoculars, so don't spend alot on a safari and then get super cheap when it comes to optics!

But if you are interested in seeing birds, I think you'll want something at least in the 8 power range, with an aperture in the 30 range. (EG 8X30 or 8X35) Preferably 10X40 or 10X42. The bigger apertures will gather more light-- important because you'll want something that still delivers a bright image in low light.

Finally, do you expect to continue using these binoculars? Interestingly, while you might pay more for the high end Leicas/ Nikons, etc. they seem to hold their value well, and can easily be resold...not so for the cheaper ones.

I suggest you visit a good camera shop with a good range of binoculars, and try to find one that carries the Leica/Nikon/Zeiss/Swarovski models that are at the high end of the range. Test a range of models, starting at the top and working down the price range, and see what you think...

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Jul 20th, 2004, 07:39 AM
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Styleoracle: tashak is correct. You should go to a camera store and compare the various brands. Our binocs were about $150 and suit my purposes very well. A friend of mine who is a wildlife biologist and uses her binocs regularly, spent $1,000 on a Swarovski model. I think it boils down to what you feel comfortable with (weight, shape, etc.) and how often you are going to use them after your safari.
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Jul 20th, 2004, 12:51 PM
  #5
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I'm finding 7 and 8 powers with good light gathering run $300-$400. The bird shops near us have them for $1700. Does anyone have a particular make they favor? I am in the market.
 
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Jul 20th, 2004, 01:36 PM
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I recently purchased Nikon 10X42 Monarch ATB binoculars for our forthcoming Botswana/South Africa safari for $294.83, including shipping. The magnification and aperture size is identical to that talked about by Tashak, and is at the top of the magnification range talked about in wildlisfesafari.info. I like these binoculars, but have only used them to view some birds from our lanai. On the other hand, my wife feels that they are too heavy (21.1 oz. or 26.3 oz., depending upon which technical specs. you believe) and too big (5.6"X5.0"). She prefers the compact Nikon 7X20 (245 g.) that she used when we went to Kenya. I believe that the fundamental question for you is: "What is the most important factor for you: weight, magnification or aperture size (for lo-light situations)?"
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Jul 21st, 2004, 10:03 AM
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I bought a pair on ebay for 50.00 They were perfect. I left them with our driver. He loved them too
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Jul 23rd, 2004, 05:02 PM
  #8
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Thank you for all your great posts on binoculars! I'll post again here once we get ours and let you know what we got.
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Jul 24th, 2004, 04:37 AM
  #9
 
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If you have a SLR camera with a good zoom lens, you might find you don't use your binoculars at all. We never used ours since everything we wanted to see we saw through the camera. Of course that all depends on your camera and lens. But it saves you from bringing one more thing to Africa and buying one more piece of travel equipment.
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Jul 25th, 2004, 02:05 AM
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We took an 8x21 pair which are extremely small and light.

I found no problems with the magnication BUT I wish I had a wider field of view. The second figure, which as everyone says, is about how much light comes in, is effectively about how wide the angle that you're seeing is. I'm not explaining very well but imagine a bird in a tree 50 feet away. With my binoculars, magnifcation 8, I could see the bird and about an inch around it. With a pair borrowed from the guide which were ALSO magnication 8 but had a bigger second number, I could the bird, same size, PLUS about half a foot or more around the bird. Why does this matter? For me, I'd spot the bird in the tree without the nocs. Then I'd lift them to the tree and find it SO hard to find the bird again because I couldn't see enough to recognise the shape of the branches near it etc to help me find it. I know I'm explaining this badly, can anyone help?
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