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Review of new 10x42's and Mckinley HD

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/26/2013 at 02:12
timberbuck View Drop Down
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Well I imagine this is going to ruffle some feathers but there it goes.

I thought this post might help people make a decision on the Leupold Mckinley or other mid grade binoculars on the market.

I spent two hours today comparing several new 10x42 binoculars as well as a few other established binoculars. I did throw one premium 8x42 into the mix.

I was really wanting to look through a few mid grade glasses to include the McKinley, Viper HD, Meopta HD, Zeiss Conquest HD and Nikon Monarch 7.

I was also able to compare the Zeiss Victory HT, Swarovision, SLC HD and the new Leica Trinovid as well as the Ultravid HD-all in 10x42.

I was not able to test for brightness or CA as I was in a large retail store but there were challenging conditions (including a resolution chart on the far wall) inside the store.

For some background I currently own a Swarovision 8.5 and have owned many other alpha and mid grade glass in the past including a Zeiss FL 10x42, El in 8.5x42 ect.

On to today's comparisons;

Everyone's  are different as we all know but in my opinion it is very easy to group top performers from the lower level.

If you want to be happy with a binocular and not strive for better optics the $1000 and up segment is where you want to look.

I will start off with the new Leupold  because it the most new of the bunch.

I was completely non impressed with the McKinley to such an extent that I thought I was looking through a bad sample and asked the salesman if he could get another new unit out of the box (which he did) so I could examine it also. It is one of the hardest to look through binoculars I have ever tried. Yes it appears sharp with flat edges and good brightness but it was just impossible to get a good complete view of the picture presented. I had to run the eye cups all the way down to even get close. Its not just a result of the large oculars and eye cups, its something else going on IMO. I once owned a Zen Ray prime HD and never had a problem like this.
Not much more to say, its a complete no go for me and I would have a hard time believing the 8x version would be much better. Why this binocular is getting such good reviews is puzzling to me.

Optically I put the McKinley at the bottom of the list of all the 10x42's I looked through today. I would take  Vortex Viper HD or Nikon Monarch 7 over the McKinley any day of the week.

I would also have a very hard time deciding between the Zen Ray Prime HD and the Nikon M7 or Viper HD, I believe the the optics are close but the M7 and Viper HD have better build quality.

Here are my thought on the other Binoculars examined today with best at the top. Remember they are all 10x42 and all examined together at one time and location.

Swarovision- its the one to beat for resolution/sharpness best my eyes have seen still to this day period.

SLC HD and Zeiss Victory HT tied for second place ( i would place my late Victory FL in this group too, very little difference)

Leica Ultravid HD

Leica Trinovid (new model),  Zeiss Conquest HD,  Meopta Meostar HD,  Vortex Razor HD (new model). These all tied with each other. If you are looking to spend $1000 buy the Razor, Meopta or Zeiss. Leica is going to have a hard time selling the new Trinovid when these are just as good but cheaper.  My pick of the litter was the Meopta Meostar HD, I like the weight in the 10x as well as the ergonomics and stout build quality.

Nikon Monarch 7, bested the Vortex Viper HD in FOV and sweet spot. Best buy at $500 if you do not want to step up to the $1000 glass. I was not expecting it to be as good as it was because of all the negative reviews.

Vortex Viper HD, it only lost to the M7 because of its smaller FOV and sweet spot, it is a very good glass.

Zen Ray Prime HD

Leupold McKinley HD

On another note today I looked through for the first time and bought a cherry used Leupold Golden Ring HD in 8x42. It easily performs in the $1000 plus or higher range of binoculars.


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/26/2013 at 02:29
timberbuck View Drop Down
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I would like to add that with the Swarovision you may see rolling ball in the view and it may be bothersome to you and if that is the case the SLC HD or Zeiss Victory would be a better choice.

My opinion of the superior sharpness of the Swarovision has nothing to do with its sharp/flat edges, its the sharpness of the center of the image I see as superior. This is considering a static view.

The Victory HT is very nice and I think it will prove to be a more durable and reliable binocular over the current crop of Swarovski glasses but this is just an assumption on my part. It screams quality in its build as the Leica Ultravid HD does.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/26/2013 at 10:32
Klamath View Drop Down
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Well, we have at least been comparing some of the same binoculars. On some we agree, on some we don't Winking. Here we go, top to bottom.

Swarovski SV. Since you brought it into the discussion, I agree it is the top of the list. For what is costs it should be there. However, I'd really like to see the links to independent lab tests that give the SV a 5-6% increase in light transmission over the EL and SLC Neu that you were using over on the other thread.

SLC-HD. Top of the list with the above. Again for the cost it is where it should be. I like the ergonomic package of the SLC-HD better than the SV.

Leupold Gold Ring. There is so little difference to the true alpha glass here as for those differences to be inconsequential. The ergonomics of this glass for me are the best I've tried, and I still place it pretty high in my list of top ten roof prism views.  I suppose I'd place the original EL and SLC Neu here too. Probably the Steiner Peregrine XP too. There are differences to be sure, but a lot of that will boil down to personal likes or dislikes do to user perception of apparent brightness, contrast, color balance and others.  I'm really not quite sure where I'd go with the Zeiss Victory F, other than call it an alpha.  This is the only alpha glass before the Gold Ring I ever seriously thought about.  The thing that always held me back is frankly for me in some situations the thing was just too bright.

Vortex Razor HD (new). Really nice glass, super view, nice ergonomics. The downside is I don't quite think it is worth $300 more than the glass below. I put this one over the Zeiss only because the eye relief, eye cup extension is just right for me.

Zeiss Conquest HD. Really nice binocular. The one I've seen is quite satisfying, nice ergonomics, but the eye relief or the eye cup extension is just not right for me. I like the just slightly warmer color balance of this glass better than I do the Victory FL.

ZEN Prime HD Leupold McKinley HD. Even up. If it were not for the larger size and the larger oculars giving the binoculars a slight ergonomic advantage to the Conquest and Razor HD's they would all rank even up here. The oculars and the eye cups on the 10x versions of these two are identical. Identical. The eye relief is identical too. I can imagine no explanation for the problems you see with the McKinley since you had none with the Prime. I guess it boils down to personal differences Winking

The next bunch are basically even up in my book.

Kruger Caldera. It is just a bit sharper than the Monarch 7 below. The color saturation and contrast are on par with the Monarch 7 below.

Monarch 7. Very nice binocular. Compact, well built, with very pleasing ergonomics. If this was my binocular I'd go forth and use it with no fear of missing anything. The edges are better than some posts have claimed. But while the image is nice, it does not have the color saturation or overall brightness to get it in a higher tier. This is the Monarch that should have happened to upgrade the original Monarch. Forget the Monarch 3, the 5, and the X.

ZEN ED 3. Lots has been said about this binocular. I don't need to repeat anything here

Vortex Viper HD. If the 42 mm was as nice as the 32 mm, this would go higher. Considering where other price competitors are today this needs a more competitive fov. I actually think the optics are better than the Monarch 7. But overall, if this were my binocular, id go use it and not fear I was missing anything.

Consider a lot of this preliminary. I don't see where I'll ever be able to arrange to do a proper side by side.

The differences are pretty slim. I think the ranking (mine and mine alone) is pretty indicative of the optical quality advances we've been seeing over the last several years.
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Edited by Klamath - March/26/2013 at 10:43
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/26/2013 at 10:48
3 Tuns View Drop Down
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"Testing" binoculars at the store counter?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/26/2013 at 12:13
Klamath View Drop Down
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Originally posted by 3 Tuns 3 Tuns wrote:

"Testing" binoculars at the store counter?

Sometimes that is what you have to do unless you want to wind up buying what you may not want. That is also why I said in my post that some of the remarks are to be considered preliminary.  

Another way to look at the store counter test is to realize that the very first view you get, right after you get the glass properly set up for your eyes, is the most important view you will ever get of that binocular.  Like meeting someone for the first time, there is only one chance for a good first impression.  

Now I suspect timberbuck has looked at enough binoculars in his time that he knows what it takes to make his list.  I know I can tell right quick if I'm looking at a binocular that is worth further consideration.  Lots of other OT regulars can too.  Now, I'm not saying there is anything that can substitute for use in the field, but a complete evaluation really requires a year, at least in my estimation.  It takes a week or so with a binocular before I'm real comfortable in writing a review.

But the store counter test can be very instructive, if not the last word.  I've never yet grown to like a binocular that I did not like at first look over the counter.  Most that hit my "like" button, I will continue to like, although there are some that got ditched after some experience.  They key is knowing what to look for in the over the counter session.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/26/2013 at 13:37
timberbuck View Drop Down
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Thanks for your insight Steve.
Now I need to look through a Caldera.
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