The Swarovski’s are tripod adaptable. On the other hand, while the Alpens
do have the means to be tripod adaptable, it takes a some extra effort.
Let me explain. There is a built in threaded receptacle on the front of
the Alpen’s center focus spindle to accept a tripod adaptor. However, the
spacing between the two barrels is too narrow for most standard adaptors
to fit into this small area. However, if you or a friend is at all handy
with tools, making an adapter is perhaps a 15-20 minute job. My good
friend Bill Racer threw one together for me with a strip of scrap metal,
two washers, and a screw. I think the total cost was 65 cents.
When I look through the Alpen's, I see a bright, vivid, slightly
exaggerated three dimensional image in which the colors are true and clear.
There’s no yellow, green, gray or blue tinting. Nor is there any distortion,
waviness, bending, or blurring even at the extreme edges of the image. The
picture you see is completely lifelike.
So what is it that makes these Alpen’s so good? Well, first you’re
starting off with big, high quality 50mm objective lenses. These are three
element apochromatic types. Most objectives for almost all sport optical
products consist of a two element achromatic lens to correct chromatic
aberrations for two colors. These do a pretty good job, however the three
element apochromatic lens types can focus the incoming light to the same
wavelength in three colors (usually red, blue, and green or yellow). Only the
very best optics use APO lenses. For a more complete discussion of the subject
see my article "The
Best 60mm Spotting Scope on the Planet".
We’re also dealing with a optical system that is fully multi coated.
Why is full multi-coating a good thing? Well when light hits those big
objectives, and all the other lenses in the system, it’s natural tendency is to
be reflected away. All that reflecting and light scattering does all kinds of
bad things to our image. The coatings are multiple layers of rare earths that
reduce the reflecting and scattering, which then results in more light being
transmitted through the system while increasing contrast.
Another big part of the winning formula for these binoculars is the
fact that they use BAK4 glass for its roof prisms. So why is that good? BAK4 is
a type of barium crown glass that has a couple of significant advantages. One,
there is less chromatic dispersion. Translation - colors are more true and
distinctive with no fringing which gives you a more vivid image.
Two, BAK4 glass will give you images that are unvignetted. So what’s
vignetting? Well it has to do with something called the cos-4th law of optics.
In a nutshell, this means that with most lenses, the edges will receive less
light than the center. The result is the fact the the farther you get from the
center, the darker the image will become. Use of BAK4 glass helps to overcome
that situation resulting in a brighter image across the whole lens. BAK4 glass
also produces a perfectly round exit pupil (the shaft of light containing the
image exiting the rear of the optical system) instead of a "lumpy" shaped exit
Additionally, the Alpen’s prisms are phased coated. This is very
important. This feature separates excellent binoculars from binoculars that are
merely "good". By their very nature, roof prisms will split the light that hits
them into two paths. Of course this is occurring in each of the binocs two
barrels. Those two light beams are then forcefully refocused back together by
the time they exit the eyepieces. However, there’s a problem. Both of the
refocused beams will be slightly out of phase (sometimes called phase shifted)
with each other even though they’ve been mashed back together. So here you’ve
got a situation where out of phase light is coming out of each of the two
barrels of the binoculars. (Sounds kind of Star Treky doesn’t it?)
Phase coating on the roof prisms, will refocus the beams back into
phase. The result is superior resolution and contrast and a very edgy image. If
you want binoculars that will be able to see a 6.5 mm bullet just passing under
a steel ram’s belly, or can pick out an eight point buck bedded down in the tall
dry grass, you definitely want phase coating to see that level of fine detail.
Lastly, there’s waterproofing and rubber armor. If there’s any chance
at all you’ll be taking your optics into the field, you need waterproofing and
armor. You wouldn’t buy a rifle scope that wasn’t waterproofed would you? Things
happen in the field. It gets wet out there. It snows out there. Things get
dropped out there.
So does that Alpen water proofing really work. You bet. I recently
heard of a case where a fellow took his Alpen binocs on a hunt and accidentally
left them hanging on a bush by their neck strap. Those binocs were left out
there in the wild exposed to snow, rain, and all the elements for a full year.
When the owner went back to the site on another hunt, he found them right where
he had left them the year before. The rubber eye cups had rotted away but the
binoculars themselves were in perfect optical and mechanical condition . I know
that most of the time it’s probably over kill, but I just feel better knowing I
won’t ever have to worry about my binoculars fogging up or letting me down at a
critical moment. Reliability is important to me.
In summary, you can pay nearly $1400 for a pair of super premium
binocs, or you can pay well under $400 for a pair of Alpen Apex binoculars that
gives virtually the same level of super premium performance. Your choice, your