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Hunting binocular help.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/22/2010 at 19:31
TwistedAiredale View Drop Down
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I was all set to buy another pair of binoculars until I started lurking here and now I’m not so sure about what to buy so I thought I’d ask your opinions and really get confused.  There is little locally I can look at since I don’t live near a city so I can’t look through a lot of different models. 

I currently have a pair of 8x42 Steiners and I’ve been happy with them so far, but we are hunting in bigger country now and I’ve decided I need a pair of 10x42’s.  My hunting partners use Leica’s for one and Swarovski’s for the other, both 10x, but they are better at making money than I am so my budget is quite a bit lower (it’s ok, I’m a better hunter and shot than my desk bound friends Big Smile )  Features that are important to me are top quality glass of course, ruggedness, and weight, not necessarily in that order. 

Weight might be a big factor, after ten hours on horseback even my little Stiener’s (Merlin) feel like a brick around my neck.  I’ve taken to slinging them under my arm while riding which helps a lot.  BTW, I’ve tried lot of different straps and such, so far, under my arm is best when riding in cold weather.  Oh that’s another problem, on my Steiners, I have to really watch I don’t loose the eye cup things jamming my arm through the strap, it’s a pain having to climb down and find a missing rubber eye cup in soft snow. 

Another thing I really like on the Steiners over the SL’s is the front lens covers being attached and easy to flip open.  I have yet to find a rear lens cover I like and mostly leave them in camp.

Anyway, I like to keep it at or under $1000 and quality wise, they would need to be close to the Swarovski SL (I know I can’t touch the Leicas)  10X40ish with a good FOV, light as possible, and be able to hold up riding around three months a year in wet snow and in my truck (cased) the rest of the year.

Any thoughts?


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/23/2010 at 07:01
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Personally I'm not a fan of 10x power for hunting - too much shake and I don't feel it's really necessary. Alot of western guides like the 8x56 as their choice since a top optic in this size has a high brightness factor for low light capability. And if they're scouring the countryside for deer, elk, and bear at long distances with only 8x, they must be satisfied with it. It's the quality of the magnification, not the amount.
 
If you wear glasses then a model with sufficiant eye relief is going to be a factor.  With a $1000 budget,  I would suggest a used quality optic over a new one of lesser quality. I would keep checking SWFA's sample list or that other online auction site. 
 
That said, the Zen Ray EDII models get rave reviews for less than half your budget as well some of the Vortex models - but they are NOT alpha binocs.  I've owned (3) different Swarovski models and currently have a little Lieca 8x20 BC and a Zeiss Victory 8x42 FL that is sweeeeet.  I'm used to having the best view possible now and anything less wouldn't be acceptable. Good luck.


Edited by tpcollins - May/23/2010 at 07:05
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/23/2010 at 10:49
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Personally, I see no need in this world to fork over more money for a binocular than the price of a Meopta Meostar.  If the optics and construction of that glass aren't up to it for you, something is wrong.  For the very best binocular for the least money don't back away from the Zen Ray ZEN ED either.  The Leupold Gold Ring and Vortex Razor fit well here too.
 
I also hunt wide open Sage-Juniper intermoutain west country and I see no need for more than 8x.  However that is a purely personal choice.
 
Just forget your buddies "..well everybody knows mine is better" and keep out hunting them. 
 
Steiner 8x42 takes in a lot of territory-which Steiner 8x42?  Edit: nevermind, it helps to remember the whole post you are replying to Big Smile.  All will probably be better than the Merlin 


Edited by Klamath - May/23/2010 at 10:54
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/23/2010 at 11:53
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I would get the Vortex Razor 10X42 personally (if you are determined to get 10X binoculars; I too prefer 8X).  The Meopta Meostar is a great choice as well, but the Razor has optical performance equal to the Meostar, with the addition of a dirt / oil / water repelling outer lens coating, lower price, less weight, and better warranty terms.

http://swfa.com/Vortex-10x42-Razor-Binocular-P10831.aspx

This assumes that weight remains a high priority to you.  If you are willing to live with extra weight in exchange for better low light performance, the Vortex Razor 8.5X50 is an awesome hunting binocular!

I think you'll be surprised by how well the Razor stacks up against the Leica and Swarovski!  It's actually pretty close optically, at half the price.

http://swfa.com/Vortex-85x50-Razor-Binocular-P10830.aspx

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/23/2010 at 12:58
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The reason I was thinking 10x (besides using the above mentioned 10x binocular's) over my current 8x was not so much spotting game as being able to tell a good bull from a bull.  We travel light and far and don't carry a spotting scope when hunting WY.  Hunting here in Eastern Oregon I've been happy with the 8X, but I've never carried 10x either.  Also, I'm getting on 50 - my eye's are not what they once were.

The conversations generally go, "I got elk", "where?", "Big Meadow below that peak with the pointy top, about 2 miles...See em near that big log on the right side, they are moving in and out of the shade", "got em, any bulls?", "at least one, can't tell how big he is..".  After a minute.. "He's a six by at least".  Then after another few minutes I'll say "See a way to get over there?" to be answered by a long silence...  :O  My Buddies horse is part Mt Goat.

I've thought long and hard about a used pair of 'alpha' glass, but for the price I could buy both the 8x and 10x mentioned Vortex Raxors (although I've never heard of them before coming here).  The others I was looking at were the Leupold GR's (rebate on the HD's) and the Minox HD's.  As for the Zen Ray, it would be hard to show up with a pair of Chinese Binoculars, I'd take a lot of razzing no matter how good they were.

I should just buy something and be happy. :)


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/23/2010 at 13:44
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Look at a good compact version, particularly the Meopta 8x32.  I would advise that you are just about to make an all too common mistake (I did it at one point).  The assumption is just what you stated-"I'm not getting any younger and my eyes are not what they once were".  I have no doubt it is true as you say, I know it was true for me.  The answer is NOT more magnification.  After a brief interlude with a good 10x, I finally reached the belated and blatantly obvious conclusion that what I needed was a better binocular (better suited for my eyes), not necessarily the most expensive.  What lets you see detail is decent resolution, good image brightness, proper contrast of colors, less eye strain, and ease of view, particularly with regard to image shake, which increases with magnification.  Another thing magnification increases is the shimmer effect of heat mirage, it can render a 10x useless, while an 8x will still be OK.  Less magnification will also yield a considerably deeper depth of focus, another thing that decreases with increase in magnification. 
 
I actually have evolved into the Zen Ray ZEN ED 7x36 as my main binocular.  I see no advantage to 8x, nor do I see a disadvantage to 7x.  The ZEN 7x36 is quite a bit smaller than the ZEN 8x43, but is still quite a bit bigger than most (if not all) compact binoculars.  It is still pretty light, 21 oz, I think and easy to pack all day.  I really like the Meopta 8x32 as well, but I have what I have and am happy with it for now.
 
As far as telling a good bull from a really good bull (or buck) for 50 some years tells me that it I can't make a "go for it" decision, then I really need to either try to decrease glassing distance, or I need more than a 2x bump to 10x.  You might be better served with a small easily packable spotter.  Another thing is that proper utilization of magnification at 10x an on up really requires you have a tripod.
 
To add to Ted's comment, the newer ZEN ED 2 series have both water and substance repellent coatings, as do the Razor.
 
As for the China thing, well it is sure there.  Just a decision you need to make for yourself.  How much extra is it worth/not worth to you.  I can't advise there. 


Edited by Klamath - May/23/2010 at 13:54
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/23/2010 at 14:49
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I agree with both of Klamath's posts and will only add one thing.  A top Swarovski, Zeiss, or Leica binoc in 8x will let you determine a good bull from a really good bull alot easier than a mediocre 10x will -  there's a reason why $2200 binocs are better than a $400-$500 pair.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/23/2010 at 16:44
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Those Swaro's and Leica's will not show you anything in big game hunting conditions that you won't see 95-97% as well with those mopta's, Zen Ed2, Vortex Razor, Leupold GR HD, Pentax ED, Bushnell Elite, or a Minox HG, all at a fraction of the price.  Given these choices the two "alphas" are not worth the extra $$$.  The competitors I listed are optically superior to my Trinovids. I've hunted and guided hunters who had SLC's, Geovid's, and EL's and the difference is minimal at best.   I was most impressed with Leupold's GR HD's for $599 after rebate....an absolute steal.  I use 10x42's exclusively for my open country big game hunting and wouldn't be without the 10x.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/23/2010 at 17:12
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Originally posted by TwistedAiredale TwistedAiredale wrote:

 10X40ish.....light as possible, and be able to hold up riding around three months a year in wet snow and in my truck (cased) the rest of the year.

Any thoughts?


 
weight 24.3 oz. 
http://www.minox.com/index.php?id=485&L=2

Edited by Bird Watcher - May/23/2010 at 17:13
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/23/2010 at 18:20
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TwistedAiredale - you're the only one you have to please. You should buy whatever you want, irregardless of what someone else on this forum suggests. A lot of times people will recommend what they have, as a way to justify their own purchase.  
 
Just come back after your trip this fall and tell what you bought and how they work out for you - that'll be the true test.  Good luck. 


Edited by tpcollins - May/23/2010 at 18:23
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/24/2010 at 20:02
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I just noticed, Somebody going by Klamath who works in irrigation management?  That's like working for BP as a safety inspector.  <just kidding, I am also in irrigation management>




 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/24/2010 at 21:26
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You are right here.  There is a reason the top end optics do cost more, they have better
glass and warranty.  You do find the boosters here for some of the others.  But it really
does come down to what you what you want to spend and your satisfaction. Big GrinSmile
 
Yes, a really good bull will do a better job.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/25/2010 at 09:12
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Originally posted by NDhunter NDhunter wrote:

You are right here.  There is a reason the top end optics do cost more, they have better
glass and warranty.  You do find the boosters here for some of the others.  But it really
does come down to what you what you want to spend and your satisfaction. Big GrinSmile
 
Yes, a really good bull will do a better job.


How can you say that Zeiss/Swaro's warranty is better than Leupold's?  If you can't find a bull/buck with those binos I listed it's not the glass.....it's the glasser.   
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/25/2010 at 11:14
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For the record, I currently own 2 pairs of Leica binoculars (8X50 Trinovid and 8X32 Ultravid HD) along with a Vortex Razor 8X42.  I have tested them against Swarovski EL, Zeiss Victory FL, as well as the Zen Ray ED and Hawke Frontier ED.  Are the alpha binoculars better than the Vortex, Zen Ray, and Hawke?  Yes... but only through very extensive, critical back and forth comparison will you notice the difference, and the difference is honestly very slim.  In fact, only the most recent alpha binoculars have a slight optical edge over the current generation of the better mid and upper mid level binoculars.  My Vortex Razor is truthfully better optically than my Leica 8X50 Trinovids, for example. 
 
The slight optical performance edge offered by the alpha binoculars over the better mid range binoculars may be justifyable to some highly critical enthusiasts over a lifetime of use, but that slight edge will never make a difference in your ability to evaluate a trophy animal at distance under any conditions.  It just won't.
 
The fact is, the Vortex Razor, Meopta Meostar, Minox HG, Zen ED, Hawke ED, Leupold Gold Ring, and other binoculars in that class will provide 90% of the performance of the very best binoculars at half the price.  Sure, the alphas may give you a performance edge in some specialized viewing situations.  Some might also privide a slight edge in durability.... maybe.  But, the alphas will never ever make a difference in whether or not you are able to identify and bag game vs. the current crop of better mid range binos.  Any way you slice it, that's simply the truth.  Companies like Vortex even provide superior warranty than the alphas.


Edited by RifleDude - May/25/2010 at 11:15
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/25/2010 at 11:21
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Airedale,
 
Tpcollins is pretty much right, you just have to satisfy yourself.  Period, end of discussion.  There is in the realm of optics discussion a nearly genetically inherited idea that the only decent glass you can get can only come from Germany or Austria.  At one time that was true, but when Pentax figured out how to affordably apply phase correction to their DCF WP series in 1995, the walls of Jericho have been tumbling.  The advantage to be had by alpha glass keeps getting cut in about half every five years or so since 1995.  The alpha response has been ever more ridiculously expensive stratospheric prices, now topping somewhere around $2,400-2,500.
 
Now, I am not trying to flame the fire,  Are the alpha glass the best you can buy?  Yes they are.  However, I have to say that whenever I see somebody going on about how good their alpha is, I very often wonder who it is they are trying to convince?  Are they trying to convince to poser of a question, or are they trying to simply convince themselves they really did need to spend all the money they spent?  I don't know; and I do not offer this as a criticism, just an observation.  I have two perfectly good eyes and while I can detect some differences in the alpha, to be sure, they are not significant enough that I have any blasted intention of paying $2,000 for.  If that appeals to some fine, go that route.
 
I have spent as much time in side by side comparisons of the ZEN ED and the Swarovski EL, as I could arrange, and I would have to see for myself that if a test could be arranged wherein a bunch of hunters looking for new binoculars had the chance to look through prefocused glass on a tripod, so they did not know which was which could, on a statistically significant basis, separate which was which.  I think that by now I probably could tell, maybe some other users could too, but I'd wager that way the devil and gone most of the users would not.
 
I find myself in agreement with JGRaider here.  If you can't see it with a glass starting with the price of a ZEN ED, topping at the Meopta Meostar, with glass like the Leupold GR and the Vortex Razor being in the mix, you won't be able to see it any better with an alpha.
 
I offer another thought here too.  The Steiner Peregrine falls within your price range, and is a nice step over the Merlin and fits well in the discussion too.  Same housing and size, better optics.  Somewhere I posted a review of the Peregrine and Peregrine XP.
 
Oh...yeah the Klamath Basin and irrigation management are sort of like a gas can and a match this year.  Eastern Oregon, are you with IRZ maybe?
 
EDIT:  I see Ted got in a good post as I was doing this one.  I pretty much second what he said too.  Just remember everything you can buy will have flaws.  If you let yourself got nuts looking for them...well you'll just go nuts Big Smile.


Edited by Klamath - May/25/2010 at 11:34
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/25/2010 at 18:04
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I know that you want to be under 1K, but there is a real good deal on www.gunbroker.com for Swarovski SLC 10x42 for $1175.00.
http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=170757227
I handled SLCs 10x42 several times and was very impressed. I hunt in North East and very happy with my Zeiss 8x42 FL T pre Lotutec(no need x10 in my part of the woods).
Good luck with your quest
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/06/2010 at 19:36
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Well, I finally ordered new Binoculars, they shipped today.  After a ton of research and considering everything from Zeiss 10x45 Victory RF's to Zen-Ray ED2's price wise, I ended up going with the Zen-Rays and Leica CRF 1200 rangefinder.  Hopefully I'll be happy with them.  The Vortex Razors came in close second but the comparisons were close enough that price won out between those two.   I wish I could have ordered both (why not add in the EL's and Victorys also haha ) and kept the ones I liked best but that seemed really unfair to SWFA etc. 

I'll update you on what I think after using them for a bit.  No elk tags this year, but I do have and antelope tag (WY) and two deer tags (WY and OR) to fill.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/06/2010 at 19:40
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BTW, I did use the Swaro SLC's quite a bit last week PD shooting but just could warm up to them - it was a ergonomics thing.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/06/2010 at 20:59
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I understand everyone has a limt. The 4th binocular I'd ordered recently was a Leupold non-HD Gold Ring and then I decided to order a Zen Ray 7x36 EDII for a comparison to see which one I liked the best. Maybe I got a bad one but I'm sending the Zen Ray back. The only con I could find was it's a tad bit brighter than the Leupold and probably just as clear in the center of the view only, but it was downhill from there.
 
I don't care what the cheap binocular justifiers say - the Zen isn't even close to the brightess and clarity of my Zeiss Victory. When you get your Leica CRF 1200 (I have the CRF 900), I'll bet the overall view is clearer with the rangefinder than the Zens you ordered. Let us know when you get them.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/06/2010 at 21:14
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Well hopefully it was a bad one, I really hate sending things back but I figured I'd start at the low end.


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/06/2010 at 21:24
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I might just be a "cheap binocular justifier," but I will say with confidence that my Zen 10X42 ED1s are quite close to several models of top-of-the-line Euro bins.  Their resolution is remarkable, and CA control is absolutely top-shelf.
 
I have used a hunting partner's Leica CRF 1200 many times, and it absolutely optically knocks the socks off my Elite 1500 (although not in ranging capability).
 
However, I would take the Zens any day of the week over the Leica rangefinder as a glassing tool.
 
tpcollins' 7X36 ED2 unit may well have been a lemon.  Regardless, everyone has their own opinions of optical performance.
 
take a good look through your Zens and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised.  If not, SWFA will take care of you.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/07/2010 at 08:32
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Originally posted by Bitterroot Bulls Bitterroot Bulls wrote:

I might just be a "cheap binocular justifier," but I will say with confidence that my Zen 10X42 ED1s are quite close to several models of top-of-the-line Euro bins.  Their resolution is remarkable, and CA control is absolutely top-shelf.
 
I have used a hunting partner's Leica CRF 1200 many times, and it absolutely optically knocks the socks off my Elite 1500 (although not in ranging capability).
 
However, I would take the Zens any day of the week over the Leica rangefinder as a glassing tool.
 
tpcollins' 7X36 ED2 unit may well have been a lemon.  Regardless, everyone has their own opinions of optical performance.
 
take a good look through your Zens and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised.  If not, SWFA will take care of you.



So are the ED2's.....they have fantastic glass.  If you can't see game through an ED2 it's the glasser's fault, not the glass. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/07/2010 at 11:47
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I've hunted all my life and I could not imagine having a pair of 8 X 42 binoculars around my neck for 8 - 10 hours, walking or horseback.    I faced the same questions as you when I upgraded my binoculars 16 years ago.   I finally purchased a pair of 8 X 30 SLC Swarovski binoculars and have never looked back.  Now I have not seen nor looked through any of the new Zens or Vortex models, however for the difference between 850.00 (Vortex Razor 8  x 42) to 1100.00-1150.00 for the Swarovski's, the choice would be simple in my mind.  I've owned Leica 10 x 50's and unless it's almost dark, the Swarovski 8 x 30 will do everything you ask of it, AND it is small and light.  A major concern when your on horseback for 10 hours.
 
my 2 cents
 
Good Luck.
 
Bill
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/07/2010 at 15:56
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I wear a bino harness, and have never noticed the weight of my trinovids, Gold Ring HD's or any other heavier glass at all.  I don't even know they're there.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/07/2010 at 17:04
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Originally posted by JGRaider JGRaider wrote:

I wear a bino harness, and have never noticed the weight of my trinovids, Gold Ring HD's or any other heavier glass at all.  I don't even know they're there.


Ditto.  My dad uses Meopta 12x50s and he never complains about them being to heavy.  I use Meopta 10x42s and never had a problem either.


Edited by supertool73 - July/07/2010 at 17:05
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