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Minox HG 8.5 x 43 review

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/12/2007 at 13:43
ND2000 View Drop Down
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I wanted to share my recent experiences with these binoculars, as I've had a chance to try them in a number of different lighting conditions over the past several days.  For comparison, I tried them against my 8.5 x 42 Swaro ELs.  Minox released the HG series to directly compete against the Big 3 at a substantially lower price, so the test seems appropriate.  Below are the comparisons on the factors that are important to me.  If I've missed something that you'd like to hear about, let me know. 

 

Brightness/Color - Almost exactly the same.  The Minox are very color neutral.  The ELs may be just a hair warmer, but it's very hard to tell a difference and you would not be able to notice a distinction unless you tried them side by side.

 

Field of View/Edge Sharpness - The Minox use certain (aspheric) lenses which restrict the FOV.  At 320 ft, you are essentially getting a 10x FOV with an 8.5x power magnification.  The flip side, of course, is the sharpness at the edges is very, very good.  Probably the best that I've seen and slightly better than the ELs. 

 

Contrast/Resolution - The contrast is very comparable in both, although the Swaros do perform a little better in low light conditions..  Regarding resolution, the Swarovski's perform better here also, particularly at distances > 200 yards.  The Minox are good, but you can just pick up more detail with the Swaros at greater distances. 

 

Sweet Spot - I was impressed with how large it was on the Minox, although it's not quite to the degree of the Swaros. I think it's right up there with Leica and certainly better than the Zeiss FLs to my eyes. 

 

Comfort/ergonomics - the Minox are extremely comfortable to my hands, which are smaller.  They are also very lightweight at ~22 oz.  I could hold either pair for extended periods of time without any discomfort.

 

The bottom line from me is this:  Are they directly comparable to the Swarovskis...probably not, as the Swaros were just a hair better in most categories.   Having said that, at < $600 (I bought a demo pair considering I get the warranty coverage) these are a tremendous pair of binoculars.  They are my favorite pair to look through in the sub-$1,000 class, and that includes the Bushnell Elites, Leupold Golden Rings, Kahles, Meopta, etc., which is why I bought them.  I think anyone who looks through them will be very, very pleased and surprised at what you can get for that amount of $$$.

 

ND2000

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/12/2007 at 13:59
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Good review, ND2000.  Thanks for sharing your observations!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/12/2007 at 19:12
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But how big a jump is it above the Nikon Monarch?

I ended up with Zeiss 10x40, paid a litle too much I think. I only wanted go about 500. But they will be OK. Eye cups not as comfortable as most brands these days.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/12/2007 at 21:48
ND2000 View Drop Down
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Rifledude -   Thanks and you're welcome.  The  HG series hasn't quite been out a year yet in the U.S. so info is kind of sparse to this point.

Tero - The first thought that came to mind regarding the size of the jump in relation to the Monarchs was "substantial."
I do think Nikon generally offers good value in the market, but you would not confuse the two binoculars by any means.

ND2000
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/15/2007 at 19:25
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I may have to yet invest in a pair of these. I really wish the field of view was larger but if the edge sharpness and sweet spot are relatively good then I may be able to live with it.

 

I am in the mood for a new set of bins and these are at the top of my list.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/15/2007 at 21:33
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FrankD,

The one that caught my eye was the Vortex Razor 8.5x50mm.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/23/2007 at 09:48
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Sounds like a great bargain binocular, I wonder how they compare to the 8x42 Meopta Meostars ?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/23/2007 at 11:50
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Spitzer -

 

I tried the Meostars as well.  Meostars are heavier/bulkier (if you have larger hands, Meostars would probably be easier to hold steady) and are warmer across the color spectrum than the Minox.  Sweet spot/edge sharpness also weren't as good to my eyes...perhaps a touch sharper in the center, but with greater deterioration as you move to the edges (just personal preference as to what you like).

 

ND2000

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/23/2007 at 12:25
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Quote The one that caught my eye was the Vortex Razor 8.5x50mm.

 

Yes, I know. I was eyeing that one up as well. But it is not due out for another month or two the last time I checked. I just picked up a pair of the FL 7x42s and a pair of the Ultravid 7x42s to do a direct comparison on. Throw in the Razor/Viper in 8x42 as well as the Meopta and the Nikon 8x32 SE. What a wonderfully enjoyable afternoon I had up on the mountain yesterday. The HG would have been probably the only other pair I would have loved to have had up there for direct comparison.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/23/2007 at 14:04
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FrankD -

 

Would love to hear your comments on the 7x42 Ultravids vs. the FLs.  People talk very passionately about both of those models in the 7x...

 

ND2000

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/23/2007 at 19:21
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It may be a bit of hijacking your thread but I would be more than happy to accomodate.

 

Let me preface this by saying that I am nitpicking this to the extreme. Both bins are superb instruments that can please even the pickiest of binocular fanatics. With that said here is what struck me about both bins.

 

Leica Ultravid 7x42:

 

The image is exceptionally vibrant and very relaxed to my eyes. Take the Trinovid and turn on a little light bulb inside the image and you have the Ultravid. Colors are very well represented and the browns and reds seem especially vivid. The field is flat across the entire image and a good 80-85% of the image is in focus with the centerfield.

 

Handling is top notch. These bins do not feel like they weigh 27-28 ounces. With a combination of the texture of the rubber armoring and the thumb "extensions" the binoculars really do fit my hand like a glove. I could fall in love with that feeling. I also would have a hard time believing anything but a hit from a sledgehammer would really damage these bins. They seem quite durable.

 

Zeiss Victory FL 7x42:

 

The two key optical qualities that jump out at me when I look through this bin are the brightness level and the wide true and apparent field of view. There is not another bin out there in this configuration that shows such a bright image though the Ultravid is fairly close. The huge 450 foot field of view is really panaromic and, just like the 8x42 Meopta, makes me forget that I am looking through a binocular. I love 8x42 and 7x42 bins with apparent fields of view over 60 degrees. They make viewing seem so much more natural and effortless.

 

Ofcourse I cannot ignore the incredibly sharp image which is predominantly free of any type of color fringing. If you are a fanatic for razor sharp images that seem to show more detail than your eye is capable of perceiving then the FL will make you do flips. It really is that good.

 

Ergonomically these are a bit more of a handful than the Ultravids. The barrels are a bit fatter plus the ribbing on the outside makes them feel even wider than they are. However, I did not perceive either to really be a negative ergonomically, in fact with my large hands this helps steady the binocular considerably for long distance viewing.

 

I have owned three of these FLs. The first pair was wondeful optically but I had some issue with the focus knob/diopter. The second one was in perfect condition mechanically but had a bit too small of a sweet spot in the image. This last pair seems to combine the positives of both though I did note an issue with the focusing knob stiffening up a bit when the bins were left in direct sunlight. Hopefully that will not be a reoccurring issue.

 

All for now. Hope this is what you were looking for.

 

Frank

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/23/2007 at 20:17
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Frank -

You are too kind to call it "my thread" but thank you.

I've heard many people suggest the 7 x 42 is the real gem within the FL series.  I may have to check them out at some point, along with the Leicas.  Considering I've already purchased two pairs of binoculars in 2007 I think I need to get the idea out of my head for a while...or it could really get expensive with the wife!!!

Saying that, I have looked through the 7x SLCs and like them a lot, just perhaps a tad heavier than what I would prefer...decision will probably come down to ergonomics if/when I pull the trigger.

Thanks much for the comments.  Let us know if you ever get to try the HGs.  I'm hoping to try the Razors in mid-May if I have time to stop at the headquarters in WI.

ND2000
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/24/2007 at 10:22
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Good stuff, FrankD!  You really are a great resource on binoculars, and we're lucky to have you here!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/25/2007 at 18:01
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Thanks guys. I just get a great deal of enjoyment trying out all these wonderful bins and I am happy you folks get something from my comments.
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