What to look for when trying out optics in the store?

Thomasj1107

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Nov 25, 2019
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I don’t really know anyone that has any quality optics, so I went to go to bass pro to compare the top of the line stuff. They have swaro el and razor HD. All I can do is look across the store about 100 yards. In the store they look the same. How do you compare in this situation?
 

shedfinder7

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Dec 21, 2019
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Have them let an employee go outside with you in bad lighting conditions. Ive done it several times as well as many other guys do before spending that kind of coin. Find some shadows and some colors that are hard to see. I like to look for heat distortion as well during middle of the day across the parking lot, some binos are much worse for me then others and when im hunting in the dessert i hate heat waves!
 
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Thomasj1107

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Is the difference that noticeable in a parking lot outside as to the difference between 1 and 3k dollar glass?
 

shedfinder7

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I have to use a tripod to see how good a pair really is. Kinda hard to go back and forth and keep holding perfectly steady
 
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Thomasj1107

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Nov 25, 2019
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I have to use a tripod to see how good a pair really is. Kinda hard to go back and forth and keep holding perfectly steady
Is the difference in value something that you only see when you are actually in the field glassing? Because to my eye at 100 yds in the store, it’s indiscernible
 

Frank Grimes

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Go to an actual optics dealer or camera store. Talk to employees who know what they are talking about. Set different glass up on tripods, get comfy and compare. Sometimes you have to spend abit more to get quality service but not always. If you do, it’s worth it. If your going to spend that kind of money, they should accommodate you, and be able to help you Decide what is best for your eyes and needs.
 

BluMtn

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One test I use and have mentioned before on here is take your optics outside and find a pickup or some other object that has shadows or dark places on it. I try and find jacked up pickups as far from me as possible and look into the wheel wells and see if I can see the shocks and tell what they are and how clear they show up. As mentioned above look at store front signs and see how defined the colors are to your eyes. In store viewing is not going to cut it for you. Also if possible try and look through them at mid-day and then as darkness is falling to see how much light they gather at the end of the day. Good luck in your search.
 

WCB

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Jun 12, 2019
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You need to go outside and get them on a tripod. Good info above on looking into shadows, different light, etc. Also,view on object or sign on the edge of the view in the binoculars and check clarity don't just look right down the middle of the field of view. This will show differences in edge to edge clarity which can really help spot animals when glassing.

Look at high contrast areas...White building with a black roof. where the black and white meet see if the white shines or bleeds into the black.

Another thing that doesn't get mentioned a lot is how easy they are to focus and how narrow a focus window they have. Look at things close 100 yards then out say 500 yards and in between and practice getting them in focus.

Take your time and make a decision you feel comfortable with. Personally I won't even put glass to my eye inside unless I'm just checking out a scope reticle.
 

JohnJohnson

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Jun 12, 2019
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I couldn't tell in the store either when I was looking through Swaro SLCs. I ended up getting demo Swarovski EL 10x50s for a considerable discount and took a shot in the dark on them, never looked through them prior to purchasing. My father has Vortex 10x50 Razors and I compared them to each other handholding them where I live out east. I was starting to think I'd wasted a lot of money because I couldn't notice much difference when handholding them and only looking out to 100 yards.

Well we went out to Idaho and spent about 8-10 hours per day glassing for a week straight with our binos mounted to tripods. We were glassing anywhere from 300 yards to a couple of miles away. The differences popped out immediately and were so stark that I was shocked, so was my father. After having looked through them both extensively now, there's not even really comparison between the two. The differences were the most stark when it was getting towards sunset and both binos had to deal with some glare from the sun over the mountain while glassing into the valley in front of us that was already in the darker shade. But the differences were definitely obvious even in good light from a tripod at distance.
 

tdot

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Aug 18, 2014
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Lots of good info here.

As mentioned previously. Details within Shadows. High contrast signs at distance. Depth of focus, I find this one super for still hunting as the focus allows you to look thru brush, etc and focus what's on the other side.
Go to an optics store. Save big box stores for underwear and socks.

A couple other things.

If you are going to be hand holding, just see what is comfortable in your hand.
Eye box - how easy is it to see the entire sight picture
Colours - look at areas with similar earth tones. Can you separate the brown twig from the brown Bush, etc.
Sun - If possible, I like to look at them on a cloudy rainy day and also a sunny morning with the sun low, and then glass perpendicular to the sun (just dont look into the sun with them)
I've also breathed on them, especially if they're cold. It is interesting to see how easily some will fog vs others. Zero idea if thay relates to the field. But maybe?
Also, if you cant see nature from the store, dont waste your time.


Stores are typically overlit, crosslit with minimal shadows and a warm light colour. Makes everything look nicer, including the view through optics.


Caveat. The more you test head to head, the more likely you are to end up with Alpha glass.
 
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MOBE88

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Feb 5, 2020
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Yep yep, if you can get outside with an employee. Natural light is going to show you more than LED or fluorescent they arnt going to allow you to see conditions the optics will see in the field.
 

shoeshineman

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Inside the store, I’ve been testing edge clarity, depth of field, eye relief/blackouts, and handheld shake/stability.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

shoeshineman

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Inside the store, I’ve been testing edge clarity, depth of field, eye relief/blackouts, and handheld shake/stability.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Also when inside the store, check the edge clarity of some noctivids/EL vs the absolute cheapest pair of whatever is in the display case.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

samolot

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Dec 16, 2019
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Best way is to try binoculars is in various conditions that suit you, which can take a couple of days. For this reason I highly recommend just buying from Amazon. Try them out for 30 days in rain or shin. Seamless return process.

Most optics dealers will have you pay for return shipping.

Once you are ready to buy, I'd recommend supporting small businesses and buying from a dealer.
 

Gaffer

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Feb 12, 2020
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I'm going through trying to.figure out best pair to buy and all the above advice is really helpful.
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

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Oct 8, 2019
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A few years ago I went to a BP to grab either 10x Razors or the 10x SLC. Looking around the store, it was pretty even between the two. However, when I looked out one of the windows and saw Camelback Mountain, there was no comparison. The SLCs blew the Razors away. I could see everything on Camelback clearly while the Razors were blurry.

If the store will allow you to take them outside, escorted of course, do it in the evening when there is reduced light. Look at everything, close to far, small to large.

Another option is to see if there are any birding groups in your area.
 

MattB

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Go to a dealer and take the optics outside during the last 20-30 mins of sunlight. Low light performance is key.
 
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