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Suggestions for new hunting binoculars ??

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/01/2004 at 00:51
jasonk_jasonk View Drop Down
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Fellow Hunters,

 

I've been given permission by my wife (we were married 3 weeks ago, she's the best) to buy a new pair of binoculars.  She said to do it right this time because with kids in the next few years I may not get the chance again   I've looked at a hundred pairs now and I'm just completely confused by all the different brands, models, options, etc.  I've decided that I am willing to spend $1000 + on my dream binocs, but only if they are really worth it.  So, that being said here's my thoughts so far and I'm open for suggestions.

* I'm pretty sure I want either an 8x42 or 10x42 power, but I'm not sure which will fit my needs best.  I hunt in pretty open county most the time, glassing between 200 - 2000 yards (I know that's a huge range), does anyone have preferences for deer and elk?  I know that the 8's would give a larger FOV and more light, but I'm I going to wish I had more power when I'm in the field?  I figure a quality pair of 8x will be better than a so-so pair of 10x, does anyone agree?

* Weight is a concern, I'd like to stay under 30 oz. if possible.  I was considering the Leica Ultravids because they seem to be a good mix of size, weight and quality.  But are they really worth $1200+ ?

* I have a pair of Bausch & Lomb Discoverer 10x42 and think they are pretty good, I put them up against some Kahles and thought in some aspects they were even better than the Kahles.  Are Leica or Swarovski twice as good as Kahles and/or 4x better than the Baush & Lomb's?

 

Please post any advice you can offer, I'm open to it all.  If you don't have any advice, please let me know what you're using and if you wish you had more or less power, wish you had clearer optics, less weight, etc.  Please also let me know what terrain you hunt in and typical glassing distances.

 

Thank you in advance!

Jason

 

PS....Should I just keep the B&L 10x42's and get a Leupold 12-40x Spotting Scope?

 



Edited by jasonk_jasonk
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/01/2004 at 10:43
Chris Farris View Drop Down
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Jason,

 

1st off congratulations on your marriage.

 

High end binoculars are definitely worth the money and with your budget you can get a pair that will last you forever.  Everything is better with the 8x on paper but in the field you will want more.  I've used a 10x42 for Coues deer in Mexico, Caribou in the Arctic, Whitetail in Texas, Kudu in Africa, Mule Deer in Wyoming, etc. etc.  These are all very different types of hunts and each time I was glad I had 10x.  I've been on many hunts where the guide or PH would ask to use my binoculars if he was using something under 10x.  The ideal glass is the Leica Duovid 8+12x42 because you get an 8x binocular and a 12x binocular all in one.  It weighs 36 ounces which is not all that bad with a good strap/system.  I've used a 10+15x50 Duovid in lieu of packing a binocular and spotter.  There are many factors that determine a binoculars worth and answering the question, "But are they really worth $1200+ ?" is subjective and personal.  To me a $1200. Leica is worth the money for these reasons.  I know that if I misjudge an animal or don't see one it is not because of my binoculars.  I know the likely hood of them breaking or malfunctioning is almost ZERO.  There is more to a high end binocular than just bright clear glass.  Leica uses an aluminum housing for added durability for instance.  And finally...confidence and piece of mind.   Sounds silly but being confident and positive in the field makes for a whole lot better hunt and experience.  Ranked second in line only to your weapon in order of importance is your binocular.  Think how much time, effort and money is involved in one hunt.  So to me again the answer is an overwhelming YES...they are worth every penny.  Now on the flip side, Joe Blow hunts whitetail out of a deer stand shooting towards a feeder 100 yards away and only goes out two times a year.  Are $1200 binoculars worth it to him....probably not, unless he just has money to burn.

 

Your B&L binoculars are above average and will do the job for sure.  You should have noticed the Kahles being brighter in low light with more resolution in low light.  If you compare your B&L to a Leica Ultavid or Swarovski EL in low light you will be buying one.

 

If you have to stick to under 30 ounces and around $1000. I would say keep your eyes on the SampleList.com site for a 10x42 Leica Ultavid.  I would recommend getting a good spotter but not instead of a good binocular.  You will find out that you won't use it as often as the binoculars because of its size, weight, time it takes to set it up and difficulty keeping it steady.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/01/2004 at 23:53
Roy Finn View Drop Down
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Hey Jason, like Chris said, congratulations on your marriage and best wishes for a future of happiness.

I have a feeling,and I could be wrong, that you made some observations in non-field type conditions due to the fact that you seemed to have some difficulty seeing differences between the B&L's and Leica and Swarovski's. That would qualify the advise you already got from Chris. I have had the opportunity to spend some time with the awesome Swarovski 8.5x42's and I can say that it doesn't get much better than the EL's. Breathtaking optics and ergonomics of the EL's would make them at the top of my list,if money is no object. This opinion, by the way, is coming from a die-hard Steiner Predator/Peregrine fan which I absolutely love. Steiner has come a long ways from some of old stuff. I have a pair of 8x42 Predators with the " game sensing lens coating technology" that really works as advertised. They are mil-spec. waterproof and shockproof and weigh in at 25 oz's. Steiner is the only company that I am aware of that took the time, effort, R&D etc. to develop a lens coating that would increase hunter's success in the pursuit of our goals to become better equipped in the field. I think that counts for something in my humble opinion. I am not saying that binoculars that utilize broad band lens coatings are a bad thing, however, by design they must transmit the entire visible color spectrum as accurately as possible. The Predator coatings were designed to enhance the colors of game, browns, reds, tans etc. This can only be a good thing for hunters!!!

P.S. The Predators also are rated to remain functional in temperatures to -40F for those of you who dare to brave the weather conditions commonly found in Canada.



Edited by Roy Finn
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2004 at 01:13
ranburr View Drop Down
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If you can afford them, Leica, Swarovski and Zeiss are all pretty hard to beat.  Even the high-end Nikons are pretty close and some people actually prefer them over the euro competition.  These are all the kind of binos that last forever.  They are all truly a one time purchase, very doubtful that you will ever have a problem with any.  If you want to save a few bucks Pentax and Kahles make some nice binos for the money.  I am also pretty impressed with Minox as a good bargain for the money.  I also understand that Docter makes some really good binos and I will probably get a pair just to be different from everyone else.  Roy is going to jump me for this, but I am just not that impressed with Steiner for the money that they cost.  I did a direct comparison with the Merlins, Predators and Peregrines against Kahles and found the Kahles to be significantly better.  To be fair, this was a very informal comparison and everyone's eyes are different.  For my eyes, nothing is better than Swarovski binos, my best friend who is my same age and has roughly the same eyesight, he sees best through Leicas.  Bottom line, test them all and see which you prefer. 

 

ranburr  

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2004 at 02:57
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Jason, again congradulations on your marriage.  I can tell you that I was just where you are several years ago with purchasing binoculars.  I had used several pair of mid line binos and wanted a top of the line pair but only if they were really worth it. Now after owning and also using several different top of the line binos, I can tell you that they are worth every penny.  There really is no comparison.  They have made a big difference in my hunt, making it that much more enjoyable.  It was the single best purchase that I have made for myself.

 

As far as 8x or 10x go, I own both and prefer the 8x in woods, but the 10x when hunting mostly in fields.  Given the terrain you mostly hunt in, I would recommend the 10x.  As far as brands go, I have used Zeiss a little but have used Swarovski SLCs and Leica Trinovids extensively.  In my experience the Leica Trinovids seemed to be the best optically.  They seemed to have slightly better resolution than the Swarovskis.  My roomate's father bought him a pair of Swarovski SLC 10x50 for Christmas last year.  We have compared them numerous times on hunts, in the field and the other evening outside the house.  We both agree the Leica seem a little sharper even though they are 10x42 vs. a 10x50 SLC.  His brother has the SLC 8x30 and another friend of mine has a similar pair.  We compared them both to the Leica 8x32.  Leica seemed sharper in both those comparisons as well.  Low light performance in all these comparisons were very close but the Leica seemed to be sharper and poduce better color rendition.  I also think Leica has an edge in craftsman and durability.  I am not fond of the Swarovski focus wheel, it is not very smooth in my experience.  Either brand though is a first class binocular and Swarovski may look better through your eyes.

 

Although I have little experience with the Swarovski ELs I do think they are slightly better optically than their SLCs.  Probably optically equal to Leica Trinovids or Ultravids.  However,  I would worry about their durability and I think they are too expensive.  I think the Leicas are tougher and will hold up through a lifetime of use.  Like I said though, I have only looked through them a few times so this is merely my opinion and not experience.  I agree with ranburr, I have not been too impressed with the Steiners that I have used.  Maybe I haven't used the right pair though?  I bought a pair of Minox off the samplelist and wasn't satisfied with them, sold them 6 months later.  Although a good bargain way behind Leica in optical performance.

 

I have to agree with Chris on this one.  The Duovid 8-12x42 would be ideal but might weigh more than you want.  My #1 recommendation would be the Leica Ultravid 10x42 simply because they offer top of the line optics and weigh less than the Duovids or Trinovids.  The Trinovids offer the same optics and are a few ounces heavier but are also less expensive.  Either one of these would be awesome.  There are some great deals on the samplelist for all 3 of these.  Good Luck.  Let me know if I can help.

 

 

 

 

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2004 at 08:00
Roy Finn View Drop Down
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Hey Jason, in April this was posted;

The Predator binoculars were made for hunting and they really perform in that arena.  The coatings really do make animals stand out against their back grounds.  The Peregrine line was designed for bird watchers and has more emphasis on true color representation, close focus, etc.

 

Predator Optics

Predator Predator-Coating

Wildlife hidden by dense foliage: whatever you need to spot - nothing escapes the Predator´s eyes! The revolutionary Steiner Predator lens coating increases contrast in wooded and camouflaged backgrounds and makes animals much easier to detect with the human eye. Simply put, the green coating blocks out green and blue (the colors of foliage and haze) and boosts browns and reds. The added contrast is impressive.

 

Jason, in light of your legitimate concerns: Family first,you are happy with your B&L's and last but not least, cost/return value, I thought I would recommend the Predators and save you 700 dollars or so. As you have already seen for yourself through your own eyes, the differences become less and less noticeable and the cost multiplies.Leica,Swarovski and Zeiss are ALL top of the line. Please don't get me wrong. The gentleman like Chris and ranburr are experts and posses a wealth of knowledge and experience in this field and most importantly would NEVER steer you wrong for personal gain. They have trained eyes and know what to look for.

Again, best wishes to you, your wife and future family.




Edited by Roy Finn
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/05/2004 at 00:34
Roy Finn View Drop Down
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Hey ranburr, you are right when you said I would probably jump on you for your Steiner comparison. Why would you compare Merlins, designed to offer birders a less expensive($450) glass that was never intended to go head-to-head with bino's costing double and triple their cost? The Predators, while more costly($690) are unique due to the lens coatings, intended for hunting, and are not broad band coated. Still, in my opinion, they have excellent optics. Lastly the ONLY fair comparison, from your eyes, would have been between the Peregrine's and the Kahles from a design feature standpoint. Oh, one more minor point. NOBODY builds a more durable, waterproof and shockproof binocular than Steiner!!! In my opinion.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/05/2004 at 01:53
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I was waiting for you to nail me on this, Roy.  I compared them all because they were all in front of me and they were all roof prisms.  Hey, I never said it was a totaly fair comparison. The Peregrines were pretty good, but I don't know how to explain it but the Steiner roofs just don't feel right to me.  That is totally subjective on my part.  The Kahles were cheaper than the Peregrines and performed better for me (once again subjective on my part).  The Peregrines were pretty good, the Predators I did not get to use in a hunting environment, and the Merlins were shall we say less than steller.  I don't think I would want the Predators even if they do perform as advertised only because they are so task specific.  I like a truer color rendition because my binos are used not only for hunting but hey also pull duty at ball games and I use them to scan the horizon to find birds working the water while fishing.  I won't argue with you as far as durability goes.  I know I put more than one pair of Steiners through Hell when I was in the service.  Try as I might, I never could mess up a pair of those porros.  I guess now that I know your choice of scopes and binos I should start refering to you as the "Elite Predator". 

 

ranburr 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/05/2004 at 10:31
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Hey ranburr, That has a really nice ring to it- " Elite Predator". I'm glad you didn't think I was attacking you because I wasn't. We don't want to make Jason think he started trouble or serious debates. I will admit my bias toward Steiner, however, with the products they have on the market today, Predators 8 and 10x42 and the Peregrines, I think they deserve to be in the company of " top of the line" bino's from around the globe. They have come a long ways from the Military/Marines poro numbers from an optical standpoint. Talk with you soon. I always look forward to your advise and knowledge.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/10/2004 at 06:35
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Congratulations on the new wife--she sounds fiscally liberal with regard to optics and that makes any woman nearer to a Perfect 10!

 

With regards to the binoculars, I've been through a bunch looking for what I considered the perfect hunting binoculars.  Not only did I factor in performance issues like brightness and sharpness, but I also accounted for the "Gremlin" factor--my own ability to do something stupid over an increasing amount of time.

 

I'd owned nice Leupolds and Nikons--never their top-of-the-line, but Monarch and Olympic series stuff.  I'd tried Bushnell Trophys and Bausch & Lomb Legacy.  I'd worked my way through older Pentax roofs and picked up Cabella's off of EBay.

 

In most every case, initial performance was fine--better than fine, in most cases pretty darn good.

 

What happened, though, was I ultimately dropped, soaked, bounced, ran over, muddied, _______ (fill in the blank) my latest pair and performance was never quite the same after that.  It doesn't matter which brand, it doesn't matter whether they were porros or roofs, waterproof or shockproof, armored or not...  They all got beat up one way or another while I was hunting or birding or fishing or mudding or drinkin' or whatever.

 

I was always hesitant to spend a $1,000 bucks on a pair of glasses because I knew that, over the long haul, all hunting glasses are going to face that ultimate test--confrontation with either gravity or the elements.

 

You can't avoid it.  In the end the only two things you can count on are gravity and the weather changing.  Or both at the same time.

 

I just knew that a $1,000 pair of Ultravids or Zeiss Trophys or Nikon Venturers were gong to come face to face with either a 12 lb carp at the bottom of the boat dock or the-only-piece-of-granite-for-two-miles-in-any-direction-underneath-the-deer-stand.

 

And I didn't want to cry that hard when it happened.

 

And then I found Kahles.

 

Quality Austrian glass.  Bright as a Rhodes Scholar on graduation day, sharp as Groucho Marx's wit, perfect contrast, excellent color, and $550 on The List at SWFA.

 

Built like a Mack Truck.

 

The Timex of Binoculars.

 

Submersible.

 

But sensitive.

 

Solid.

 

But mobile.

 

An absolutely outstanding binocular (I have the 8x42's) in both performance and endurance.

 

If you're going to plan on being in the field or in the stream with your glass and you want a pair that can take a beating without losing one bit of top quality performance, I'm giving the nod to Kahles.

 

And on that day when I finally manage to push them past their limit (I haven't gotten them too close to the campstove or the fire yet, but over a long enough period of time it'll probably happen), I won't have lost a $1,000 pair of binos.  I'll have lost a pair of $500 binos that gave a comparable picture to the more expensive ones but took their lickin' and kept on tickin'.

 

Not only that, but with the extra $500 you can buy your young wife a shiny bauble and see if you can talk her into one of those new Browning Automatics and a Kahles scope to go on it!

 

Just my two cents.

 

Take the long way home....

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/11/2004 at 11:36
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Jason -  I am also a new member.  I bought EL 8.5x42 last year and highly recommend them.  I previously used (and still do) Steiner 7x50 Military marine( auto focus) and found them to also be good but not of the same caliber as the ELs--but you are comparing $ 1600 to $500 so would expect a big difference. I hunt dense woods , cutovers and open fields. I can provide more info/opinion if you are interested.  Congrats on marriage--I am on 38th year.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/12/2004 at 14:39
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Gremlin,

 

I like the real world input you bring with your "Gremlin Factor" and the comment about Kahles being the Timex of binoculars.

 

Here is another post from Gremlin on the Kahles.    http://www.opticstalk.com/forum_posts.asp?tid=252&pn=1&fid=0&pr=0

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/16/2004 at 15:35
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IF YOU DONT WANT OT SPEND 1,000$ GO WITH THE PENTAX DCF SP's 10x43 OR KAHLES

 

if you wANt top of the line:

 

you cant go wrong with leica, swarovski, or zeiss period

 

i was in texas last year hunting whitetail and it was close to dark. i had some pentax dcf WP 8x42's which were great but i was on an 8 point or better place. I actually only counted 7 thru the binoculars but i took the shot anyway. BY THE WAY IT WAS @ 162 YARDS, not that far!

 

luckily, it was a 10 point but i wish i would have had the 10x43's i have now. the SP's are a little sharper to me than the WP's that they replaced. they should be because of the ED glass and aspherical lenses. i also have not noticed the 10x's are more "shaky", I CAN HOLD THEM STEADY.



Edited by SAKO75
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/16/2004 at 16:39
jasonk_jasonk View Drop Down
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All,

 

Thank you for the great advice.  I've ordered the Leica 10x42 Ultravids and am anxiously awaiting their arrival.  When they get here and I've had a few days to test them out I'll be sure to post my happiness!!

 

Jason

 

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