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best $1200 8x hunting binocular

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/08/2012 at 17:30
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I am looking to upgrade my hunting binoculars.  I will use them primarily for hunting and scouting midwestern whitetail so low light performance is extremely important to me, as is clarity for evaluating antlers at a distance.  I also make one trip each year to hunt western game in rugged terrain so weight is a concern as well.  I currently have Minox BL 13x56 binos and a Nikon ED50 spotter that I like really well for higher magnification truck or tripod needs, plus plans for a Razor HD spotter. I'm looking to add a reasonably light 8x with 42-44mm objective to supplement them.  Once I get these and the big spotter that should give me the right optics to fit most hunting situations I encounter. 
I had been using Leupold 10x50 Olympic binos and upgraded last fall to Vortex Viper (non-HD) binos and found that they were better but I had to hold them slightly off my face to avoid getting a little black around the edges.  This was ok for quick use, but I didn't like it for extended glassing sessions.  A little later I got a deal on Minox BV 8x42 binos from the Sample List and to my eyes they equaled the Vipers and the eye relief fit me better at half the cost of the Vipers.  I plan to keep them as my truck binos to use around the ranch I work on, still like them real well.  Yesterday I recieved the Minox HG 8x43 BR German binos I just traded for thinking they would be the ticket for my high end binos.  I haven't got to do a real good low light test yet on them yet but my first impression is that they are not $1000 better than my Minox BV series.  They give me a little trouble with black around the edges when holding the eyecups tight to my face also.  As of now I'm thinking I should return them and try to find a better fit for me.  I figured it may help giving a little background of what has and hasn't worked for me to this point.
 
Anyway this brings me around to my main question again.  What would you recommend as the best of the 8x in this price range?  I apparently need a little more eye relief than most since the Vipers and HG binos left me wishing the eyecups twisted up another notch or two.   I don't wear glasses or contacts and my last eye test showed everything perfect except for a very slight stigmatism. 
 
Here are some I'm considering, but my list isn't limited to these models.  If I return my HG's I will have credit with SWFA so I want to stay with something they carry.
 
Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42's
Steiner Peregrine XP 8x44
Meopta 8x42 Meostar (wish they had an 8x HD)
Vortex Razor HD (tried at Cabelas the eye-relief worked for me)   
 
For anyone who can help, thanks for taking the time to help me out.  I truly do appreciate it.
 
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/08/2012 at 17:43
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After reading my post I thought I should add that low light performance is considerably more important than weight to me.  My big 13x56's don't bother me when packing them on my Badlands harness.  I'd be open to stepping up to a 50 or 56mm objective for low light if you experts feel it would be worth it for my low-light whitetail hunting.  I've read so many different opinions ,I don't know how much light the eye can truly use or what size objective is needed in an 8x.
 
Thanks again.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/08/2012 at 21:43
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Out of those you listed I'd try to find a deal on the Steiner Preregrine XP's.  IMO they are as good as binoculars get, and extremely well built.   
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/08/2012 at 22:16
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Originally posted by JGRaider JGRaider wrote:

Out of those you listed I'd try to find a deal on the Steiner Preregrine XP's.  IMO they are as good as binoculars get, and extremely well built.   
 
Yup. SWFA is selling them now for less than $1200.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/08/2012 at 22:50
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I actually like the Meostar best of your choices. 
 
The 2012 Razor HD has a tight FOV in the 8x model.  It is curious though, because the 10x model's spec is super-duper wide.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/08/2012 at 22:56
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I got to do my low light test tonight, and was fortunate enough to find that the friend I had help test me had just purchased Cabelas Euro HD 10x42's. 
 
It became clear as the sun went down the difference between my Minox BV 8x42's and the higher end glass.  With the heat waves this afternoon and yesterday I couldn't tell a great deal of difference, but tonight it became obvious.  My HG's did a great job in the twilight and I never noticed the black around the edges like I did in the bright sunlight.  I've truly never looked through anything that equaled them in low light.  I'm no optics guru though, just a hunter, and these are the most expensive glass I've looked through by several hundred dollars.  The Cabelas Euro HD's were definitely at a big disadvantage being 10x in the low light.  There isn't an 8x HD option though. They still did very well, staying with the HG's until the very end of light, about 3 minutes difference.  I was looking at my friend's cowherd about 3/4 of a mile away, and I could tell that there was a black baldy (white face/black cow) looking at me with both the HG's and Euros when my cheaper Minox couldn't distinguish individual animals. 
 
Now that I have wet my appetite for really good glass and seen that there is a big difference I am wondering how much further I should go.  The problems I had with the HG's earlier in the day are still a mark against them despite their performance tonight.  I did like the light weight of the Minox better than the Meopta when comparing them tonight. I have an older set of Steiner 8x30 Predators in the glove-box of my Polaris Ranger I use on the ranch, and they have taken one heck of a beating over the years and still work.  I got them for $90 off Ebay when Ebay was still pretty new.  The rubber has melted badly from being on the dash of my truck way to many hot days, but the optics are still about as good as ever.  That style eyecup worked out real well for me, maybe I should give the Peregrine XP a look.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/09/2012 at 09:57
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mcseal, obviously the way you did it, seeing it first hand for yourself, is the way to determine what your eyes like best.  I can tell you from my own personal experience with most all of the high end stuff, the Preregrine XP takes a back seat to nobody, at any price.  Good luck in your search and have some fun with it.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/09/2012 at 10:44
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Kind of funny as last week I spoke with a SWFA and asked about the Meopta and Steiner, as I have not seen the Steiner. They said the Meopta was much with out any hesitation. This was the second salesman that I spoke with there. The first wasn't sure and gave me to him for an answer.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/09/2012 at 11:44
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Originally posted by ccd3 ccd3 wrote:

Kind of funny as last week I spoke with a SWFA and asked about the Meopta and Steiner, as I have not seen the Steiner. They said the Meopta was much with out any hesitation. This was the second salesman that I spoke with there. The first wasn't sure and gave me to him for an answer.


Are you certain they were referring to the Steiner Peregrine XP?  Steiner makes many different models at different price points and optical performance.  The Peregrine XP is world-class; some of the other Steiners lower down in the pecking order aren't nearly as good.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/09/2012 at 12:25
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I did inquire about Peregrine specifically.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/09/2012 at 12:41
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I would not say much better by any means. The Vortex Razor, Meopta Meostars, and the Peregrine XP are all GREAT binos. However I don't think any of them are night and day difference in any regard. Whomever you spoke with must have misinterperted what you were asking somehow.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/09/2012 at 16:20
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Has Steiner discontinued the Peregrine XP model? 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/09/2012 at 16:30
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Yes, but it is still being made in Germany and named Nighthunter XP and Discovery.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/09/2012 at 16:51
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Thanks everyone for the replys.  I just came in from comparing the Minox HG's to my Minox BL 13x56's.  Today was considerably cooler than yesterday so the heat waves were not nearly so bad.  The HG's are really nice glass, but he eye relief just doesn't work for me.  I find myself having to hold them freehand with the eye cups away from my face where with the 13x binos I can rest the eyecups against my brow and steady them much more.  I can actually get a more steady image with the 13x this way than I can with the 8x the way I have to hold them.  I'm going to call SWFA about returning them and see what they suggest.  The Meopta's didn't have a real deep eyecup either so I think I may try the Steiners and hope they will do it.  I'll see what SWFA suggests.
   
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/10/2012 at 15:26
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Well I talked to a salesman today at SWFA and got his recommendations.  He recommended the following binos based on a larger eye relief for me, and low light performance.  He also said he is personally saving up for the Vortex Razor's. 
 
8x
Nikon Premier
Zeiss Conquest HD
Vortex Razor HD
 
and a sample list 10x42 Leica Ultravid. 
 
He was concerned the eye relief may not work as well for me on the Peregrine XP since I was having trouble with the Minox HG's I already have.  The Vortex warranty is a definite plus, but many reviews I have read on it consider it overpriced for what you get.  The Cabelas Euro/Meopta binoculars eye relief was a bit short for me also when I tried them the other night.  I forgot to ask today about the Zen-Ray Prime which I have found fairly few reviews on also.  How does it compare to the others listed, and will SWFA be selling them?
 
 
 
 
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/10/2012 at 16:40
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The XP is superior to all of those IMO.  The Razor is grossly overpriced, and the Premier is old technology.  Leica's warranty does not transfer past the original owner so if they're pre-owned you may not have a warranty.  Just my take on it, but your eyes may see it differently.   I don't know how hard you use your optics, but open hinged binos like the Razor, EL, etc are not as tough IME as the piano/single hinge types.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/10/2012 at 20:22
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Originally posted by JGRaider JGRaider wrote:

The Razor is grossly overpriced 
Have you seen the 2012 Razor, JG?  It seems like early reviews of the 10x model are very positive.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/10/2012 at 20:55
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I've seen it.  I put it on par with the Gold Ring HD and  Zen ED3 optically.  I always pose the question to those who are curious about the Razor. 

Which one would you buy?
1.  Zeiss FL T 10x42 for $1199  (arguably as good as it gets)
2.  Used/Demo SLCneu for $1000-1100  (still world class stuff)
3.  Cabelas Euro HD $1000 (very near my SLC HD optically)
4.  Used Gold Ring HD $500  (very underrated, fabulous glass and tough)
5.  Pentax DCF ED 10x43 $900  (world class view)
6.  Razor HD $1200 
7.  Zen Ray Prime ED  $550 (too new to tell, but world class glass according to some)

I've never had one single person, if they were being honest, pick the Razor, ever.  Now I never said the Razor wasn't very good, it is.  Just not worth anywhere near th asking price IMO, in light of the real world prices I listed above.   If it were priced at $750 or so I'd say jump all over it.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/10/2012 at 21:58
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I probably need to start a new post, and will, but I have come up with another option today after an email to SWFA.
 
I have $800 in credit coming with my HG's, and can get an additional $500 from my Minox BL 13x56 binoculars if I choose to trade them in.  When I made this post I was planning to put in an additional $400 which could bring me up to $1900 total.  Also I made an additional $150 roping and doctoring some calves with pinkeye for a guy who called me tonight, giving me the potential to spend $2050 on binoculars which I would be willing to do as a one time investment.  If I do trade in my 13x now I will own Vortex Kaibabs down the road, but I would still do it now.
 
Is there something at the $2050 price range that I should be looking at considering 90% of my hunting is whitetail on field edges at last light?  Once again, thanks for the replys.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/10/2012 at 22:03
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I have 8X44 steiner peregrine XP's....They are in the top 3-4 binoculars made in the world period. Optically they are pure alpha glass all the way to the edges. BRIGHT BRIGHT BRIGHT. The only binoculars made today that I would consider trading or selling these for are the new Zeiss Victory HT.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/10/2012 at 22:19
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Zeiss FLs have the subjectively "brightest" view to my eyes.  The 8x is their best model IMO, also.
 
The Zeiss HTs are certainly interesting, but I think they are going to be even more than your $2000.
 
I really like the SLC HD view all-around.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/11/2012 at 04:33
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KOWA Genesis HD  8.5 X 44

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/11/2012 at 08:59
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Originally posted by JGRaider JGRaider wrote:

I've seen it.  I put it on par with the Gold Ring HD and  Zen ED3 optically.  I always pose the question to those who are curious about the Razor. 

Which one would you buy?
1.  Zeiss FL T 10x42 for $1199  (arguably as good as it gets)
2.  Used/Demo SLCneu for $1000-1100  (still world class stuff)
3.  Cabelas Euro HD $1000 (very near my SLC HD optically)
4.  Used Gold Ring HD $500  (very underrated, fabulous glass and tough)
5.  Pentax DCF ED 10x43 $900  (world class view)
6.  Razor HD $1200 
7.  Zen Ray Prime ED  $550 (too new to tell, but world class glass according to some)

I've never had one single person, if they were being honest, pick the Razor, ever.  Now I never said the Razor wasn't very good, it is.  Just not worth anywhere near th asking price IMO, in light of the real world prices I listed above.   If it were priced at $750 or so I'd say jump all over it.


Of course!  That's because you're loading the question and not providing an "apples to apples" comparison. 

Where are you finding Zeiss 10X42 FL binos for $1199?  Certainly not new ones.
On the SLCneu, you might find some for sale in that price range, but not in like-new condition, and even then, finding any decent condition 42mm SLCneu binos for $1100 or less isn't exactly common.

You've understated the going price of the DCF ED by nearly $100.

The Gold Ring, while a very nice bino, isn't quite in the same class as the others.

The Zen Ray ED's are definitely a steal for what you get, but they're made in China, where all the others aren't.  While that doesn't mean they aren't good binos, that fact matters to many people and accounts for a good portion of the price differential.

If you're going to make a fair comparison, compare true real-world prices of new vs. new or used vs. used.  Your bias is showing.  Every time the subject of the Vortex Razor HD comes up, you go out of your way to say it's overpriced for what you get.  Yet, despite your claim above, you haven't even "seen it," because...



Edited by RifleDude - August/11/2012 at 09:10
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/11/2012 at 09:01
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Originally posted by JGRaider JGRaider wrote:

  I don't know how hard you use your optics, but open hinged binos like the Razor, EL, etc are not as tough IME as the piano/single hinge types.  


The new Razor HD bino you're using as the basis of your price comparison is NOT an open hinge design.  If you had indeed seen them, you would know this.

http://swfa.com/Vortex-10x42-Razor-HD-Binocular-P51764.aspx

The previous generation Razor was, but it's been discontinued, and you can get used ones for considerably less than $750, your stated "jump all over it" price.


Edited by RifleDude - August/11/2012 at 09:11
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/11/2012 at 09:16
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I was referring to the brand new single hinge Razors that have only been shipping for a couple weeks.  I have been trying hard to find a pair to check out.
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