Hi all I'm looking for a decent and affordable pair of compact binos. Was hoping someone could recommend the right type in terms of zoom (10x42, 10-12x25, etc) Right now I have a cheapy 10x42 Bushnell Powerview I managed to get from Bass Bro for about $30 on sale. I hunt mostly woods and with these binos i just can't seem to get a clear and veiwable sight picture, plus their rather bulky. I really don't want to spend more than $100-150 depending on the bino. Thanks all.
Squirrelhawker made some good points. I'll add a few thoughts.
[ul][*]Get binos with BaK4 glass prisms if at all possible. You'll have noticeably better clarity and brightness. But they will be hard to find at $100-$150. You won't be sorry if you have to spend a little more to get Bak4 glass. (BK7 prisms are inferior.) The prisms are the glass element that turns the image right side up and correctly oriented left-to-right.
[*]Get "fully multi-coated" lenses, not "fully coated" or "multi-coated." Fully multi-coated means all surfaces of all lenses inside and out are coated with multiple layers of coating to reduce reflection and loss of light. It makes a big difference. ("Fully coated" might mean the lenses have only one coating, and "multi-coated" might mean only the exterior surfaces are coated.)
[*]Get binos with objective lenses that are as large as you are comfortable with. They'll be brighter at the end of the day. My favorite pair is 8.5 power with 50mm objective lenses. Yes, they're bigger, but often worth it -- especially in low light. Once in a while I carry a smaller pair or a compact pair. [*]Anything over 10 power will be hard to hold steady without support.
[*]Lean toward rubber-covered binos. They're quieter and take the bumps better. Don't steer away from camo, but don't spend extra for it.
[*]Don't get all elitist about brands or country of origin. Good binos are made everywhere and under many little-known names.
[*]Remember that most brands have different quality levels -- kind of a good-better-best marketing approach. Know where your choice falls in that line-up. A low-end Brand Name might not be as good as a high-end Brand X. My 8.5 x 50 are Alpen Apex. (Apex is the middle line.) It will be hard to find Alpen in stores.
[*]Evaluate everything with your own eyes, outside a store and in dim light if possible.
[/ul]Be patient, and good luck.