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June 20, 2006

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Binocular Advice: Roof Prisms or Porro Prisms?

Dear Dave, I will be hunting Mule Deer and Elk in Southeastern Idaho this fall - and need advice on binoculars. Most of my friends seem to think 8x42 or 10x42 would be sufficient...but, then again, none of them has hunted out West as far as I can recall - which is why I turn to you folks. Being an eyeglass wearer...should I go with porro prism or roof prism binocs?  What is the difference?

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Jeff Harper
Fowlerville, MI

Dear Mr. Harper: Thanks for your e-mail.

Being an eyeglass wearer, you want to make sure that your binoculars--of whatever type--have fold-down eyecups. Just about all binoculars do, but check to make sure. Porro- or roof prisms have no bearing on this, just the eyecups.

As for power, I'd go with 10X. 8X is easier to hold steady, but I like that extra magnificatiion, and out West, you need it.

Porro prisms are the older, "dog-leg" style of binoculars; roof prisms are "straight-through" Porro prisms are cheaper to make than roofs, but roof prisms are slimmer, lighter, easier to waterproof, and they are what I would get.


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Richard McBride

Good advice Dave. Two years ago I bought a pair of Leupold 10x50 roof prism binoculars and have found them excellent and very tough. Most people would prefer something a bit lighter than 27oz, but I'm obviously a true masochist and enjoy the heft of the 10x50s. The most important thing is a good belt mounted case to stop them swinging around...I made my own in the time-honoured way from good leather. (As an ex sailor I have all the requisite leather sewing tools and can still stand the pain of the odd slip of the needle!)
Because of the internal focussing its easier to make roof prisms waterproof and tough. The Leupolds are great glasses and suffer only a very little from the roof prism glasses most common fault of color fringing. I also enjoy the 10x magnification and the 50mm objective lens' light gathering power. When I was a professional hunter I carried a pair of 8x30 porros but find my current set much clearer and better to use.

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