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Promaster Infinity Elite ELX ED 8x42

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2008 at 10:19
Klamath View Drop Down
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I better apologize for the mystery thing.  It got started out in an attempt to get some objective reviews sans any proprietary "bragging rights" biases.  The cat is pretty well out of the bag anyway.  So here is a review that I posted elsewhere as well.
 
Note the edit:  It should be ED, not HD.
 

Promaster Infinity Elite ELX ED 8x42 Binocular

 

First the specifications;

Power: 8X or 10x
• Objective Lens Diameter: 42mm
• Type of Prism: BAK4
• Roof Prism Coating: Silver and phase coated
• Number of Lens: 8 elements in 6 groups
• Body Construction: Magnesium Alloy
• Objective Glass: Extra Low Dispersion (ED)
• Lens Coating: full broadband Transbright lens multi-coatings transmit up to

  99.6% available light           
• Repellemax Water, dust, and oil repellent coatings
• Focus System: Internal center focusing
• Exit Pupil Diameter: 5.2mm/4.2mm
• Eye Relief: 17.2mm
• Field of View: 8x=7.5° - 393 ft. @ 1000 yds.
• Field of view: 10x=6.3 – 330 ft. @ 1000 yds.
• Minimum Focusing Distance: 5’/1.5M
• Diopter System: Right eyepiece - ±3
• Waterproof and Weatherproof: Nitrogen filled fog proof
• Weight: 27.48 oz. w/o strap or lens covers, 30.5 with.

For the record I do not know where this binocular is made or just who makes it for Promaster. I also have no idea if the design is a proprietary design for Promaster or if this is the first of several off the shelf different labeled clones of the same basic binocular.  The ELX is a significant step forward from their original Infinity Elite entry level Phase corrected glass.  It will retail for $500 for the 8x and $550 for the 10x

 

This is the only binocular I have seen in quite some time that comes in a leather-looking velvet lined-looking hard case. The case is bigger than needed by a tad, so the binocular is quite easy to get into and out of the case. The eyecups do need to be all the way down for the case to close. The eyecups have two stops, at halfway out and fully out. There is a reasonable firm detent at each stop and side play in the eyepiece at each stop is minimal. The Diopter is a standard right eye, non-locking ring style. The movement is stiff without being difficult and will likely show little tendency to wander out of adjustment. It has only a ± 3 diopter range, which may be limiting for some people.  Minimum IPD seems to be 56mm.

The focus knob is large and well placed above the upper bridge. This glass has less space between the hinges than in either a Swarovski EL or Vortex Viper. These have a three finger bridge gap; this one has a two finger space. It looks quite a lot like the Bushnell Infinity and I would not be surprised that they share the same housing. The optics, however, are quite different.

 

At closer look it appears to be of quite sturdy construction.  Original testing shows no obvious concerns.  The Repellemax coating does bead water and a good dunk in warm water for three minutes did not result in any fogging,  They have the feel of a mid-price glass, almost but not quite as grippy and solid as the expensive ones.

There are two aspects of this glass I do not like. First the focus wheel operates through a frustrating 2 ½ turns. I am not sure if this is intended to be a dual system focus that is supposed to operate differently at near or far distance. What it is, is too slow. It turns smoothly with the just the right amount of effort. It just turns too slow. I suspect a fix is in order here if this is to become popular. However a visit with another dealer indicated he thought the first production run was set for the way it is now.  It may make a difference to some, but this one focuses clockwise to infinity.  I suspect that this is a dual range focus mechanism, using one range for close focus and another for longer distances.  While annoying, the focus does not seem to require extraordinary movement when focusing on any particular object, it does seem to take forever to move from near to far or vice versa.  This thing close focuses to 5 feet.  I tend to think close focus below 10 feet is way over rated and the close focus ability may have something to do with the focus wheel rate.  This binocular will focus on the viewers shoes and maintain a two eyed image while doing it.

The second thing I do not like may be in fact related to the first. This binocular has a narrower depth of focus than I like. This may not be quite the proper use of the terms from a optical sense, but think of it like this; within the range of the depth of the field that is reasonably in focus, about half of that at best is a focus “sweet spot”. This is better in that regard than my Nikon Monarch, but both are too “focus fiddly” for my liking. The focus wheel is then a requirement rather than an option. To me the hallmark of a really good binocular is that is has a depth of focus nearly equal to the depth of field. The whole image should be a right-there-right-now sort of an affair. Once focus is reached, the wheel needs to be used little save for more precise identifications as in “just what is that little gray bird behind those twigs?”. My Vortex Viper is far better than the Promaster in this regard. The extremely slow focus may be a primary cause of that problem.  The focus depth of the Promaster increases significantly as the viewing distance increases.

However, when this glass is in its zone, it has superb image quality. In terms of pure resolution it will easily play in the +$1.000 US class. The image is bright, sharp and gives a nice you just walked up 8x closer to something sort of view. The image appears very flat and the sweet spot across the FOV is 85-90%, at least for my eyes. Edge distortion seems minimal.  Color representation is very good. CA and fringing to my eyes is just not there for practical purposes. This is perhaps a contribution of the ED glass. This gives very good v

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2008 at 23:21
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Good review, Steve.  Very interesting.  Can you post pics?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2008 at 23:47
Klamath View Drop Down
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This looks like a long and involved link, but I tried it and it seems to work.  This takes you to the Promaster page and there is a picture there.  I didn't get pictures.  The binocular is on its way to Tenessee for the next reviewer.
 
 
FWIW, the one I had was black in color rather than the gray in the picture and had a brass trim around the focus knob instead of the silvery one in the photo.


Edited by Klamath - September/01/2008 at 00:03
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/26/2008 at 21:17
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Guys,
 
Sorry I have not been around for awhile but I just wanted to back Steve's comments on these bins.
 
RD,
 
Remember my comments on the Razor?
 
The Promaster Elite EDs are better optically.
 
Trust me.
 
Here is a copy/paste of my review of the bins from over on birdforum.
 
Yes, quite a mouthful but definitely worth it when your eyes are placed up against the eyepieces.

I know this binocular has been discussed quite intensely under the "Mystery Binocular..." thread but I really feel the need to continue to draw attention to it simply because I continue to be impressed by its optical performance.

Really, it is that good.

After finally receiving my 8x32 Nikon SE this morning I have been sitting on the backporch shifting back and forth between the SE, the 7x42 Zeiss FL and the Promaster ED. Think this is an unfair comparison? Think again.

I spent alot of time last week comparing the image of the Promaster ED to the 8x32 Swarovski EL, the 8.5x42 EL and the 7x42 SLC. I came to the conclusion that the Promaster actually offered the best centerfield apparent sharpness of any of those models. Yes, you read that correctly. The image in the Promaster is exceptionally sharp. Granted both the ELs and the SLC had better edge performance. I have repeatedly compared the Promater to the FL in regards to this particular characteristic. Exceptional centerfield sharpness with a moderate level of astigmatism in the outer 1/3rd of the field of view. Because of the flatness of the image (no field curvature) the astigmatism isn't that troublesome though it does "turn your eye" towards the extremely sharp centerfield.

I have now been comparing the FL, SE and Promaster. In my opinion the centerfield apparent sharpness of the Promaster is very close, if not at the same level as the FL and SE.

I am not exaggerating in the least.

Edge performance is better in the SE and brightness is better in the FL but the Promaster really does compare very well optically to both of these models. Both the FL and SE display an extremely neutral color representation. Probably the most neutral of any binoculars I have had the privelege to look through. Only in comparison to these two models does the Promaster display an ever so slight warm color bias. To give you some perspective the Promaster looks entirely neutral in comparison to the ELs and SLCs. Flare control is also very good in the variety of conditions I have had the opportunity to place these binoculars in.

From an optical standpoint I do not really have anything negative to say about these bins. What I have found though is that when a person is really pleased with the optical package of a binocular then they start being really picky of the physical package...and vice versa. I guess it is just our nature to want to try for the "perfect binocular". In the case of the Promaster its physical characteristics and overall ergonomics are entirely acceptable. After intense use over the last two weeks I do not really have any "major" complaints in this regard.

On the minor side...

...the eyecups could be slightly more contoured and slightly stiffer in movement

...the focusing tension could be just a hair "tighter" as there is some play in my unit

...the diopter arrangment could be a little "classier" but is entirely adequate in its current design

The focusing speed is slow by todays standards requiring 2.5 turns to go from a close focus of 6 feet to infiniti. I have found this to actually be an asset though as it really gives me superior control in dialing in the sharpest image possible. The thumb indents on the underside of the barrel are fairly shallow but they fit my hands quite well. Placing my right thumb in the indent and allowing my left hand to wander further up the barrel, closer to the objective, produces an extremely stable platform while still allowing for perfect finger placement on the focusing knob.

All and all I am extremely satisfied with this binocular...excited even when you consider that you now can buy a Chinese manufactured binocular at the $500 price point that performs at this level.

Low light performance? Excellent
Apparent sharpness? Superb
Color representation? Very neutral
Brightness? Excellent
Handling? Very good

Its features read like a checklist.....

ED objectives....................check
Fully multicoated lenses......check
Phase coated prisms...........check
Silver coated prisms...........check
Waterproof.......................check
Nitrogen purged.................check
Close focusing...................check
Wide field of view...............check
Oil/water repellent coating...check
"No fault" warranty..............check
Average "high end" weight.....check
Good ergonomics..................check

I had the opportunity to compare the EDs against almost all of my bins last night....the Leupold Yosemite 8x30, Celestron Ultima DX 8x32, Bushnell Discoverer 7x42, Zeiss FL 7x42, Zeiss Conquest 8x30.....and really only the FLs displayed slightly better image quality. (see picture below)

I strongly encourage all of you binocular aficionados out there to give these binoculars a try. They are going to start gaining a following quickly.


Edited by FrankD - September/26/2008 at 21:20
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2008 at 19:37
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The Promaster is the large binocular in the middle of the back row.
 
Guys, I honestly suggest some of you binoculars "nuts" give these a chance. You will be genuinely surprised and pleased by their optical performance.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2008 at 19:50
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Dang, Frank, it looks to me like you still have room for a few more binoculars on that chair. 8>}

Have you had your hands on the Nikon EDG? I'm curious about the 10x42mm.

      

Edited by Bird Watcher - September/29/2008 at 19:51
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/30/2008 at 16:55
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Wow!  Hard to believe a binocular costing $500 would hold its own against such strong competition! 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/30/2008 at 17:29
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BW,
 
Good to hear from you my friend. Yes, I do still have some room. That picture is actually a bit old. The Celestron porros, Zeiss Conquests and Bushnell Discoverers have all found better homes over the last week or two. The little 8x30 Yosemites are still looking for a good home. I still have the Promasters and the Zeiss Fls but I also added a Nikon SE 8x32 to the mix as well as another Meopta Meostar 8x42. I have another new model to hit the market on the way...a Hawke Frontier ED 8x42 (sells for right at $400) which should prove interesting competition for the Promaster.
 
RD,
 
Yes, believe it or not but the Promaster does compete quite well with the likes of the Zeiss FL and Nikon SE. It actually has better centerfield resolution and brightness in comparison to the Swaro EL and SLC. Very impressive binoculars now being produced at the $400 to $500 price point. I would highly recommend folks considering a new binocular to take a long hard look at the Promaster EDs. There really isn't anything not to like, especially considering the price.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/01/2008 at 11:28
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Originally posted by FrankD FrankD wrote:

There really isn't anything not to like, especially considering the price.
 
Except, for me, the fact they are made in China.  My objection is not from a quality standpoint, as I believe you when you say they're that good.  I just have a philosophical problem with buying products made in a Communist country when there are quality alternatives made in countries more friendly to the U.S.  I know it is very hard to adhere to this standard given the huge % of all consumer goods made in China in our retail stores, but where possible, I'm willing to pay twice the $ amount for non-Chinese made goods vs. Chinese goods of equal quality. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/01/2008 at 19:16
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RD,
 
I can understand your concern. One of the gentleman from 24hour has pretty much the same sentiments. I can't blame you and do appreciate your honesty. One has to stick by their values and beliefs.
 
BW,
 
My apologies as I missed answering your question about the Nikon EDG series. Actually, no, I have not had my hands on a pair yet. However, Hawk Mountain (which is about 20 minutes away) is having an optics sponsor weekend this weekend. Take a guess who the sponsor is? Yes, you guessed it....Nikon. I hope to make the trip up just so I can take a gander through the EDGs. From what I have read from others that have handled them and whose opinions I trust they are very good optically...
 
..Brighter than anything but the Zeiss FLs with the edge sharpness of the former Nikon LXLs and SEs and a field of view to match that of all of their competitors. I look forward to trying them out.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/01/2008 at 20:10
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Frank,

Great having you back on forum. If you get the chance take a look at the ProStar or Astroluxe, from Nikon. Some day I would love to get my hands on their 18x70mm.



Edited by Bird Watcher - October/01/2008 at 20:15
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/02/2008 at 11:22
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Originally posted by FrankD FrankD wrote:

Take a guess who the sponsor is? Yes, you guessed it....Nikon. I hope to make the trip up just so I can take a gander through the EDGs. From what I have read from others that have handled them and whose opinions I trust they are very good optically...
 
..Brighter than anything but the Zeiss FLs with the edge sharpness of the former Nikon LXLs and SEs and a field of view to match that of all of their competitors. I look forward to trying them out.
 
Frank, be sure to post your impressions of the EDGs if you get a chance to try them out.  I look forward to hearing your impressions of these bins.Smile
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/03/2008 at 17:42
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Frank, when you get to play with the EDGs please post your impressions.  I have been wondering about the 7x42 EDGs ever since I looked at them over at SHOT.

As for the ProMaster binos, I hope to try them some time.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/03/2008 at 19:07
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I am glad to be back guys. I miss the place and you folks. :)
 
I will definitely give you an update on the Nikons once I get my hands on them. The bad part about that though is that if I decide I like them then I will have to sell my Zeiss, my Meopta and my Hawkes just to afford the one pair. :)
 
Ok guys. You are going to love this. Check out my post about another set of open bridge bins from a company called Hawke Optics. Another sleeper with superb optical performance at $425!


Edited by FrankD - October/03/2008 at 19:21
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