Minox 8X33 BL vs Bushnell 7X36 Excursion EX

Someone recently wrote in looking for a pair of binoculars for their partner with the requirements of light weight, roof prisms with a good field of view and a price between $300 and $500 (AU) which at the moment is equivalent to the (US$). They had narrowed their short list down to two, the Minox 8X33 BL and the Bushnell 7X36 Excursion EX Binoculars and wanted me to compare the two:

I think that it is important for me to stress that whilst I have fully reviewed the Minox 8X33 and so can comment on the view through them, I have not reviewed the Bushnell Excursion EX’s and so cannot comment on them in terms of what it is like to look through them. We can however look and compare the main specifications and features between them, which I hope will help you to make up your mind.

Below is a table comparing the main specifications and features of the two binoculars, I have also included the 8X36 Bushnell Excursion EX as well as another alternative:

  Minox BL 8x33 Bushnell 7x36 EX Bushnell 8x36 EX
  Minox BL 8x33 binoculars Bushnell Excursion EX Birder 7x36 Binocular
Price (approx at time of comparison): US$470 (£370) US$140 (£120) US$142 (£167)
Weight: 650g 576g 610g
Eye Relief: 17.5mm 19mm 17.8mm
Close Focusing Distance: 2.5m (8.2ft) 2m (6.5ft) 1.7m (5.5ft)
Field of View at 1000m: 140m 142m 142m
Field of View at 1000yards: 421ft 426ft 426ft
Exit Pupil: 4.1 5.1 4.5
Twilight Factor: 16.2 15.9 17
Tripod Adaptable: Yes Yes Yes
Prism Glass: BaK-4 BaK-4 BaK-4
Phase Correction: Yes Yes Yes
Lens Coating: Fully Multi Coated Fully Multi Coated Fully Multi Coated
Waterproof: Yes Yes Yes
Fogproof: Yes Yes Yes
Eyecups: Twist Up Twist Up Twist Up

So as you can see from the figures above, the biggest difference is in the price. The Bushnell’s also have a slight edge in many of the other numbers including the weight, which may seem surprising considering that that the Minox has smaller 33mm objective lenses. I however often find that top of the range binoculars often weigh more than cheaper versions. I am not exactly sure why, but assume that it is down to the fact that they probably use better quality components rather than cheaper plastic ones.

So if you were going on statistics and price alone, I would opt for one of the Bushnell’s. This however does not always tell the full story and is why it can become confusing. Without looking through the Bushnell’s I cannot comment on the view, but I can say that the view through the Minox 8X33 BL was excellent and they are one of the best mid-size binoculars I have ever used. Which is something I expressed in my review of them: ” Overall I was extremely impressed with the view through these Minox BL Binoculars, the image was very bright and sharp. What is more is I could not see any colour fringing or softening of the image on the edge of the image that you find in poorer quality binoculars. Very Impressive.”

It is at times like this that having the two binoculars to compare next to each other would be ideal, but my gut feeling based on my experience of comparing binoculars in these two different price brackets is that the Minox would be slightly better. The main difference would probably be is in the amount of softening of the image on the periphery of the view. The Minox’s was almost none and was as good as or better than any binocular in their class.

So let’s go back to money, would the view through the Minox 8X33 BL’s be 3x better (a reflection of the difference in price) than that of the Bushnell’s? I doubt it. Instruments would probably tell you of a lot of differences, but to the human eye I bet it would be minimal especially considering that the Busnell’s like the Minox’s have quality Bak-4 prisms as well as coatings including phase correction. The fact is, the closer you get to the top, the more you have to pay for even the smallest differences.

Build Quality
Again without having the Busnell’s with me I am reluctant to comment too much on their build quality and overall feel, I can however again say that the Minox’s was first class. You really do feel like you are holding something special when you have them in your hands and I am not just saying that! My past experiences of Bushnell binoculars is that the cheaper versions can seem a little plastic. Things like neck straps and carry cases also are often much better on high end optics and I can say that these items on the Minox binoculars were very good.

The stats of the Bushnell’s are very good and have definitely piped up my interest enough so as to actively seek them out to review in the future. If I had to choose between the 7X and the 8X36 Excursion EX’s I would go for the 8X version as even though they are a little heavier with less eye relief, you will get closer to the action without sacrificing any field of view. The close focusing distance of only 1.7m (5.5ft) is also very impressive.

As for choosing between the Minox or the Bushnell, I have to say that even though they seem loose out in many of the stats, I can’t forget the excellent quality of the image that they produced and just how well they were made. I compare many top of the range binoculars and the image they produce is often equal to the human eye, they usually have all the same features and similar stats and the choice often comes down to aesthetics and which ones you just like the feel of.

I loved the Minox BL’s when I had them to review and so for me they would be my personal choice. I have to confess though that it is a hard decision based mainly on my positive feelings for the Minox’s and because I have not played with the Bushnell Excursion EX binoculars before, it may not be right choice for everyone, just me!

I am not sure if I should recommend doing this, but you could order both and return one pair after comparing them yourself?

Costs and Where to Buy

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