Saturday, March 06, 2010

Binocular Showdown in 10x40: -- Nikon vs Tasco

As a result of our new interest in birding, we had decided that it was time to upgrade binoculars. The old ones actually half stopped working because of some strange fungus growing in the left half. They also were a little too small for serious bird spotting. So we researched the choices available both as recommended by the local experts and on the internet. We soon learned that the really good ones, like Swarvoski and Leica were approaching $2000. At a Wal-Mart stop we took a look at what they had available: several Nikon (good cameras) and a niche brand were offered in a couple of different sizes, but they seemed to range in price from $100 to $200 -- a lot more affordable for a well recognized brand. Based on our testing, we decided that a 10 power with a 40 mm objective lens was what we needed.

Then we were faced with the ultimate shoppers dilemma. The Nikon we tested was $160 but there was a Tasco of the same size for only $26, but it was in one of those infernal plastic bubbles that has to be destroyed to open and there were no testers available. For the price difference we felt that we had to take the gamble on the Tasco and if it proved unusable, we hopefully could return it, or if not, just consider it part of the price of our birding education.

We took the Tasco 10x40 back to Morty and cut it free of its plastic prison. Boy were we surprised! They performed exactly as the Nikons did with very clear, bright images and no problems at all. It's hard to believe that if something nasty happens to these we can just replace them and keep doing that for six more times before we equal the cost of one pair of Nikons. I suppose some of the Swarovski-Leica clan look down their noses at the off-brands, but they will never guess how really inexpensive these are and with that kind of savings in our pocket, we actually feel a little superior to all the high-brow birders and their way more expensive eye-candy. And out in the field, we are spotting a lot more birds and wildlife now than ever before. If you are looking for new binoculars, be sure to check out the Tasco offerings -- they are the wolf in sheep's clothing when it comes to getting your birds.
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