I think that Nikon makes exceptional binos and you will have a tough time beating them for clarity and light gathering ability, with out spending double the money.
With good quality glass you will be surprised how much you can see with an 8x. I would stay with 8x or 10x for comfort and light gathering. The lower power will gather more light than the higher.
Another to look at is Steiner. I have a pair that I have been carrying for 10yrs. They have been drug through the dirt on many a belly crawl and still work very well. The perma focus system on the Steiner works well for me.
If you have a dealer in your area that will go outside with you to look through them you can see the difference. Do as statet earlier, and go in the evening.
WOW, you really want to stur up the opinion pot with that question... :>)
Honestly, most folks buy into the "bigger is better" arguement... if 7x is good, then 8x is better and 10x must be great! Jump to a 12x or 15x and it's the ultimate! Right? As the rental car ad says..."Not Exactly"... As the magnificaton goes up, the need to hold it extremely still... not always easy to do freehand when you just climed a mountain, or got a shot of adraline when you spot that B&C buck across the canyon! It's damm hard to hold that 10x,12x, or 15x still enough to use with out sometype of support.
It's a personl peference... I myslef like 8x binocluars with large objective lenses - 50 to 56mm That combination delevers that maximum amount of light your eye can use... an exit pupil of 7mm or close to it. In real hunting condtions when not using a tripod, I carry an 8x... but I also have the 12x if I want to take a closer look.... My Leica 8-12x Duovids are supurb for giving me the option of the 8x or 12x. I can mount them on a lightweight tripod and grid glass very efficently. I just wish they were 52' instead of 42'... Oh well, we can have everything we want . :>(
I used a MINOX 8.5x52 for years, it was super... sometimes I wish I haden't sold them... but my Douvids are FANTASTIC and keep me from carrying two binoculars when open country or spot and stalk hunting. Expencive, but worth every penny. NJS
I've got a pair of Nikon 12x ATB's. I bought them for spotting groundhogs @ longer distances. While they work great for the intended purpose, I would not recommend them for all around use. For one thing, the focus is more critical than other binos and they are, therefore, slower at aquiring a clear picture. The 12x really limits field of view when used for viewing at shorter ranges and makes a steady hold seem more difficult.
A high quality optic with excellent resolution trumps magnification every time. Whether it's your rifle scope, binos or spotting scope - it's all about resolution and light transmission when working in diminished light. Magnification comes in at a distant 3rd place. Magnification is WAY over-rated, IMO.
.... A pair of 300 dollar binos look great when compairing to higher priced units while standing at the counter at the sporting goods store. It's the difference you can see 10 minutes before dayight or after the sun sets that the true quality of the"Alpha Binos" really show thier dominance...
.... Buy the best you can possibly afford... you will NEVER be sorry and the cost of use over the long haul will make them one of the cheapest pieces of gear you buy... NJS
NJS is absolutely correct. The real difference is what you can't see in low light or poor lighting conditions. You will get opinions from 2 groups of hunters, those that never "took the plunge" (and never will due to personal finance reasons), and those that can afford the better optics and have used them enough to see the real difference.
You will never hear an owner of high end optics say that he wishes he had spent $300 instead of $1000+ Not because of ego as some on the internet suggest, but because there is a real and noticeable visible difference.
I own some 10x42 Leica. I have hunted with pentax, Zeiss, and looked through Brunton. My preference order is:
3. Pentax or Brunton
The brunton's are a friend's. I looked through them as was impressed. I believe that they were around $500. My Leicas are absolutely wonderful. Buying the high priced bino's is hard to due but worth every penny. I was faced with the same dilema with a Nightforce scope. I finally ordered one and was scared to death. I thought that I had made a huge mistake and spent way too much money. After receiving the scope and shooting with it, I am satisfied. The clarity is well worth the money. I think that you will find the same thing with a good set of binoculars.