Two years ago, I bought a pair of
Alpen Wings 8x42 ED
binoculars. These are one of the least expensive mid-range birding
binoculars, but a big step up from my earlier
Nikon Trailblazer 8x42 at
three times the price. Even so, I didn't expect them to be so
much better than anything I had used before.
The view is addictively bright and clear,
and I use the 2.5m close-focus capabilities much more than I thought I
would. The build quality is excellent, the adjustments are smooth and
precise, and these binoculars feel reassuringly solid in the hand. The
hard carrying case is also welcome.
On paper, the specifications are very similar to the Trailblazer: same
magnification, similar field of view, waterproof and fogproof, slightly
less eye relief, a bit smaller but a few grams heavier. I expected only
a modest improvement in optics and better build quality, but they're in
an altogether different league. Two years later, I'm still as happy and
impressed with them as I was in the first five minutes.
(I also use an Alpen spotting scope, which I will review someday;
suffice it to say that Alpen optics deserve their excellent reputation.)