Monday, January 29, 2018
The most cost-effective binoculars I've ever owned
A few years ago I wrote about the usefulness of binoculars in emergency situations, following that article with another on how to choose the right low-cost binoculars for your needs. I stand by most of my recommendations in those articles; but technology has improved to the point that many of my earlier criteria are about to be overturned.
I have on my desk, as I write these words, an example of that. It's the Costin Ultimate HD 8-24x50 Zoom Binoculars.
Yes, you read that right: they're an 8x50 pair of binoculars, with a zoom feature that lets you increase that magnification by up to three times, to 24x. They're quite lightweight, much more so than conventional 8x50's, so I presume the lens barrels and other features are plastic rather than metal. They're not the world's best glass, and they don't gather light as well as more expensive units, and they're not as clear and sharp as others I've tested: but at their price - including a discount currently being offered, I paid only $26.59 for them - they're unbeatable value for money. Even at their list price of $37.99, they're a bargain.
A price like that changes the whole cost-benefit analysis. Smaller, cheaper binoculars can be had - for example, small 8x25 units can be found for under $10 - but the larger, lightweight Costin units are so much easier to hold on to, carry, and focus, and offer so much more light gathering power, that there's really no comparison. As I said earlier, these Costins are not great binoculars; they're no better than adequate, optically speaking. However, at this price point, comparisons become rather pointless. They're simply outstanding value for money. The zoom feature even gives them the same power as low-end telescopes, adequate for looking at the Moon or something like that. What's more, if you should drop one and break it, or lose it overboard from a boat, or give it to kids to play with and they lose it . . . so what? You haven't lost a lot of money. That changes the whole ownership equation.
These are the first binoculars I've seen with so many features at this price point, but I'm sure they won't be the last. I'll be watching with interest to see what emerges over the next year or two. I don't intend to dispose of my Vanguard or Nikon or Bushnell units, because I value their higher optical quality and sharpness; but I'll be carrying them a lot less than I will this Costin unit, because I can afford to lose it if I have to. I can even leave it in the car, not worrying about whether it may be stolen or not. I can now have relatively high-performance optics with me at all times, irrespective of risks. That's a game-changer. How I wish I'd had something like this during my African adventures! It might have made some of them less adventurous, if you know what I mean.
I've ordered several more of the Costins. They'll be gifts for friends, whom I'm sure will find them just as useful as I'm doing.
(Mandatory disclaimer: no, I'm not being paid or compensated in any way to advertise these things, and I bought my review unit with my own funds. I simply like to tell my friends and readers when I find a bargain.)