We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I tend to be birding, if only casually, anytime I am outdoors. For those purposes, I do not need binocs because I have learned the gestalt of common bird shape, behavior, sound, and flight patterns. I am far from expert, but better than most casual amateurs. For example, my birding friends can readily ID a flying Cooper's from a flying Sharpie, but I can not. Nor am I any use at all with fall warblers or rarities - I tend to guess for the regulars to be safe.
I have been doing an inventory of my binoculars this weekend. No reason, really. Closet-cleaning. Also because planning a cool birding trip to South Carolina barrier islands this Spring. Turned out I have 13, from handy-dandy minis through mid-range birding binocs to marine very long-distance binocs which I have also used for hawk-spotting (bad idea - it's impossible to find the spot in the sky and the wobble is a problem).
I have to give some of them away.
What I usually have on hand when outdoors for any length of time is one of my minis, but if I intend to do some serious looking my go-to is my Minox 8X32. It's waterproof. They make an 8X33 now, but I don't need that. I bought a binoc harness from Cabelas.
Experts can and do ID pretty much anything with bare eye or with the inexpensive Nikon mini in their pocket, but when you are looking for the one Glaucous Gull in a flock of 2000 gulls, you need more. If you sport a Swarovski you had better be at pro level or you're a poseur. Firearms, cameras, binocs - an amateur like me does not need the best because it's just for fun. I have also observed, over time, that the best talents never need the best kit. I rarely use my good birding scope anymore because of the hassle.
What do you use for birding? (Some wise guy will comment "12 gauge". In a duck blind, I tend to have binocs and a 12 ga.)
"If you sport a Swarovski you had better be at pro level or you're a poseur. Firearms, cameras, binocs - an amateur like me does not need the best because it's just for fun."
Hogwash. Better gear is not a guarantee you'll have more fun but that's very often the way it works out. Go on a animal watching safari in Tanzania with Swarovski binoculars instead of a junk pair of binoculars, and you'll see more, learn more, and have more fun.
Inadequate gear frustrates. Frustration kills the fun. That's true for optics, firearms, cameras, comm gear, tools, and darn near everything else. Yes, you can get by with cheaper less capable stuff, but you won't be having as much fun.
Wow, you go for the jugular, BD. Years ago, after bragging on a friend's Swarovski glasses, my wife surprised me with a pair for Christmas. They are wonderful. Agree with Paul above. They really enhance my time outdoors.
Fujinon rubber armored. Got them soon after I bought my first marina size sailboat. Amazing night vision. Great for finding an pass or inlet at night with no local knowledge. Don't have my boat anymore, but still have my Fujinons. Rubber is a little cracked, over 30 years old, but the glass is still clear, great for birding.
Zeiss Victory 10X56. Incredible light gathering capability at dawn & dusk. Also great for viewing deep space like Andromeda Galaxy--a thrill (but no comparison to a camera time exposure). Disadvantage is stability, and I haven't yet gotten a stabilizing attachment for my tripod. And, they're heavy. But man! what optics. Got a deal on eBay, so I didn't pay the list price.
I have three from Celestron. First the 8x42 Outland X. Great optics, wide field (6.8*), not expensive, solidly built. In the shop, i could not see better with the Swarovsky. Second the 8x56 Skymaster, primarily for astronomy, but fabulous in low light, albeit heavy to carry. Thirdly the Ultima 80 angled spotting scope mostly for birds on the water. I used to carry some smaller Nikons,but now I'm spoiled. Happy new year to all. Don't forget the most important ...proper glasses!