Hi, I’m Steve Cheyne, one of the two primary participants on this site. I present this as a brief resume of who I am. I am 66 years old, and I live in Klamath falls, Oregon, on the ranch homesteaded by my great grandfather over 100 years ago. I have a masters Degree in Biology and today work primarily in Irrigation System Design and Management. My first use of binoculars was in Mule Deer hunting. My dad insisted I use the great big 7×50 IF binoculars we had…just to be sure. Well I was pretty sure those were too big for a then 10 year old. I replaced those with some long lost and forgotten 7×35 of some unremembered pedigree. They were not much good so I did not use them too much. When it became evident that my chosen college major would need to see me with a good binocular, I purchased, mostly by chance (on a really good dealer recommendation) a Swift Nighthawk MK I 8×40. This is a relatively large, ultra wide angle (10*) porro prism. I learned birding with that binocular and it taught me what good optics were about, and what could be accomplished with a good binocular. It served me well, but finally age and use took its toll. I eventually sent it to the master Swift repairman, Nicholas Crista, for refurbishment. I still have that binocular, purchased in 1968. It still shows me what needs to be seen. Certainly there are better images, but the old Swift is still pretty impressive. I also purchased a roof prism Swift Trilyte 8×40 due to size and weight reductions. a couple of years after the Nighthawk. Those two served me well until I began a serious replacement search in 2000. Upgrading the Swift eventually led me to the Nikon Monarch 8×42 ATB. That upgrade search started my optics hobby in earnest, and today, here I am.
I have no particular favorite or brand loyalty. What I have, I have because it suits me and it works for me when I use it. That is my criteria for a binocular.
I have way too many binoculars. Some are older vintage/classic porros and some are modern roof prism binoculars. When I started my upgrade search, I had in mind a new Leica Trinovid. That was more money than I had to spend then, but I figured then it would eventually be either the Leica or a Zeiss. I had never even heard of Swarovski then. However I soon learned that Pentax had brought really decent, even if not alpha quality phase correction, to mid price binoculars. I had no idea what phase correction was at the start of this journey either, but I’ve learned a lot and used a lot of different binoculars since I started this hobby. Where I went was toward the rapidly improving mid price class binoculars and away from the higher price stuff. My WOW factor these days comes from the mid price stuff…”WOW look at how good these things are! Having said that, I admit there is a part of me that would like to have a Swarovski SLC-HD.
My current binocular that checks all of my bullet points is a Leupold Gold Ring HD 8×42. I won’t say this is the best there is, but differences with “better” binoculars have to be ferreted out in some serious side by side comparisons. While I’d currently rate several binoculars as technically better than the Leupold, the differences are of insignificant impact in real world use to matter much to me.
I use some binocular or another daily. I’m to the point where I feel lost without a binocular close to hand. The spring waterfowl and waterbird migrations here are sights to behold.
“Do what you can, where you are, with what you have” Theodore Roosevelt.