Be an Optics Contrarian!

Be an Optics Contrarian!

Consider Porroprism Binoculars For a Great Deal

Wayne Mones
Published: 07/15/2008

I have always been this way. I want to listen to music through a good sound system, and I want to look at birds through good binoculars. I just don’t understand people who don’t feel the same way. There is no getting around the fact that great binoculars make birding more satisfying.

A few years ago Nikon lent me a pair of their 8x32 Superior E binoculars, and I fell in love with them. The Superior E is a Birkenstock-ugly, stubby little porroprism binocular. Since they use the same prism and housing as the larger 10x40, the prisms are over-sized for their application which makes these binoculars incredibly bright. They have the most natural, distortion-free image I have ever enjoyed. Despite the fact that they aren’t waterproof, they may be the best birding binocular ever. It is easier to get a great image from a porroprism binocular than from a roof prism, mostly because porro prisms fold the light path one time less than roof prisms. This design does less damage to the light path. I have spoken to several friends in the binocular industry to try to convince them to make a $1,000 porro that would blow the doors off everything else. No sale. People just won’t buy porroprisms. In fact, Nikon sold very few of Superior Es despite the fact that they were so good. In fact, Nikon discontinued this model earlier this year.

Anyway, I have been eyeing a pair of Superior Es which have been sitting unsold in the showcase of a certain nature store for the past several years. I have had my eye on them for all this time and finally worked out a good deal with the store manager. Although I have a closet full of alpha-class binoculars, the Superior Es may be my favorites. They are truly amazing, and I kind of like that they are funny looking.

I am sharing this with you as a way of suggesting that you should consider being a contrarian. If you are looking for a great deal on binoculars, try to snap up a pair of Nikon 8x32 Superior Es if you can still find them. Any store that still has them will probably be happy to get rid of them at a significant discount. Another great deal in porros, which are still in production, is the Swift Audubon 8.5x44 ED (about $500). Or, for less money, consider the Audubon Raptor 8x42 at about $120.