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Tough choices on 8x42's

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/15/2015 at 14:54
freediver111 View Drop Down
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New guy here!
I stumbled across this forum in my search for binos. First off, this is a great forum. I've been doing a lot of research and I find myself coming back to this forum a lot. I find several other review sites somewhat biased and it drives me nuts. 

I live in the boonies of John Day, Oregon. Love it here! Lots of great hunting and tons of outdoor recreation which are my hobbies or as my wife would say, obsessions!

I recently began upgrading my optics and I will be the first to admit, in order for me to spend my hard earned money, I have to do a ton of research and find what may be the best option for me in my price range. I recently upgraded my spotting scope and so far I'm very happy. I went from a Leupold GR 15-30x-50mm to a Pentax ED II 65mm with XW14 eyepiece. The difference is amazing, plus I managed to score a great deal on the Pentax from a friend. No regrets with that decision. 

Now, on to binos! I have a set of 2010 Vortex Razor 10x42's. These are the older version with the open bridge design. I got them for free, so no complaints there. The more I use them, the less impressed I am with them. My buddy has a pair of 8x42 Pentax binos and is always spotting game before I do. Granted his aren't alpha class binos, but he has a knack for spotting game with them.

The more I think about it, the more I think a lot of his success may come from a brighter, larger, and steadier FOV by using 8x over 10x. Thus my reasoning for trying a pair of 8x42's. 

The bad part is that I can't afford $2K worth of binos. I can justify $600-$1K, with $1K being a ways off in order to save up some of my play money. After a fair amount of research, I've come up with a few binos that have caught my attention. Kowa Genesis, Meopta Meostars, and the Zeiss Conquest HD. 

I left out Vortex because I honestly haven't been in love with my current pair. I don't wear glasses and the eye cups fit me nicely roughly 1/4 way out, but they don't stay put very well. I also am less impressed with the glass, but I'm sure the newer models have improved over the old razors. Still, not bashing, but I think Vortex is out. 

Now, I know the Kowa Genesis have received some really great reviews, but something is pushing me towards the Meostars. I know there's a lot of good reviews on them and I like the look of them. My big issue is lack of HD glass in the 8x42 models, but on the flip side, used sets of Meostar B1's come up fairly frequently for $550-$600 which is nice.  

Can anyone offer up some opinions on these or other 8x42's? I am far from an optics expert, but what I need is a bright pair of binos that have excellent contrast in order to spot a brown deer on a brown hillside. That's about the biggest criteria for me. I'm not as worried about size of deer/buck/doe, etc, because I want to be able to spot them first, after that I can get the spotting scope out of need be. 

Sorry if this was long winded. I go through a lot of debate before I pull the trigger on some things, optics being one. I would love to try some out, but living in the boonies does have it's downfalls at times. Not sure when I'll be headed to Boise to stop in a Cabela's, but that's on my list of things to do. 
 
Thanks for any advice. I'll be visiting this site frequently from now on. 




Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/15/2015 at 15:02
freediver111 View Drop Down
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I also forgot to mention I have a pro deal account and can get a pair of Steiner Nighthunter XP 8x42 for under $600, but I haven't read too many glowing reviews. I also find the winged eyecups a little distracting. Anybody have any experience with those?

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/15/2015 at 15:21
Bitterroot Bulls View Drop Down
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First,

Welcome to the OT!

Second,

Nice mulie!

Third,

Of those 8X42s you listed I like the Meostar the best. The 8x42 model shows some CA, but not bad.

Another to look at would be the Meopro HD 8X42. I have used the 10X42 version, and it is optically excellent, although the focus is a bit faster than I would like.


One other thing, the newest Razor HDs are improved from your model, but the 8X42s have too narrow a FOV for a 8X42, IMO.

EDIT: I just checked the Meopro HD specs, and like the Razor HDs, the 8X42 model is inexplicably narrow in FOV.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/15/2015 at 15:33
RifleDude View Drop Down
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Welcome to OT, freediver!

I don't think you can go wrong with the Meopta Meostar! That being said, I have the first generation Vortex Razor 8X42 bino, and to my eyes, it is so close to the Meostar, I can't say either is better optically. For what it's worth, I'm a bit picky about chromatic aberration, and I saw more CA in high contrast situations with the Meopta than I did with the Vortex. Different people see things differently, though. I also thought the Meopta had a very slight yellowish color rendition. I didn't find this to be a negative thing, but the image was noticeably "warmer," so I thought it worth noting. I don't think you will see much, if any IQ improvement over those two within the same price range, though I haven't looked through everything available.

I do get the impression the Meopta Meostar is built tougher than the Vortex Razor. I don't know that for fact, but the Meostar is much heftier.


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/15/2015 at 15:34
freediver111 View Drop Down
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Originally posted by Bitterroot Bulls Bitterroot Bulls wrote:

First,

Welcome to the OT!

Second,

Nice mulie!

Third,

Of those 8X42s you listed I like the Meostar the best. The 8x42 model shows some CA, but not bad.

Another to look at would be the Meopro HD 8X42. I have used the 10X42 version, and it is optically excellent, although the focus is a bit faster than I would like.


One other thing, the newest Razor HDs are improved from your model, but the 8X42s have too narrow a FOV for a 8X42, IMO.

EDIT: I just checked the Meopro HD specs, and like the Razor HDs, the 8X42 model is inexplicably narrow in FOV.

Thanks for kudos on the buck! It was a late season archery mule deer on a limited entry draw. Very happy with him.

Second, thanks for the quick reply to my post. I read several reviews of the Meostars and many came from you on this site. 
So I take it HD or not, the Meostar B1's 8x42 are really good glass for what I'm after? 

I really am most concerned with a bright image that will show as much contrast as possible to pick out animals. I should probably try and get some $2K alpha glass, but it won't happen for many years to come with three little mouths to feed!


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/15/2015 at 16:12
Bitterroot Bulls View Drop Down
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Contrast is where Meopta products generally (and the Meostar binoculars specifically) excel.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/15/2015 at 21:33
RifleDude View Drop Down
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By the way, that is a nice buck in your avatar, freediver.

Your avatar buck is nice too, Matt.


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/16/2015 at 12:27
Klamath View Drop Down
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Freediver,

Again welcome to OT Big Smile.

One thing that occurred to me was the possibility your Razor needs to be serviced.  Even slight collimation issues can become distracting pretty quickly.  Just cost shipping to Vortex to eliminate that possibility.  I think a lot of binocular issues are due to this.  The Razor should be noticeably better than the Pentax.

Another thing that occurred to me is that you may well have correctly identified yourself as someone who simply prefers 8x vs 10x.  I am a dedicated 8x man myself.  Even 7x has some superior merits.  Personally I think the detail gain with higher magnification is close in...NOT...at distance.  I'm also aware I probably possess a minority opinion here.  But that is OK with me. Big Smile  I also have no intention of restarting the highly personal 8x vs 10x debate.  They both work.

If you want a really outstanding binocular in the $600-$1,000 range, the new models have a fairly short list.  At the bottom end lives the ZEN Prime HD and the Leupold McKinley HD.  These are excellent glass and if produced in a major recognized big three alpha plant would easily cost 2-2.5x more than they do.  Up the list a bit are the already mentioned Meopta Meostar, the really outstanding Zeiss Conquest and for a little more the new Vortex razor HD.  The Steiner Nighthunter XP I have no experience with, nor any Minox in that price range.

A new Leica Trinovid or Swarovski SLC HD can be had in the $1,500-1,700 range.

I think there is a lot of over thinking going on in optics selection.  We crave choice, but when we see choice we sometimes get overwhelmed by that choice.  I think there is little reason to spring for anything outside of the $600-$1,000 class.  You can get all the glass you need within the selections of that range.

Don't get hung up on the infernal distraction of thinking...geez would a Meopta have been better than the Zeiss Conquest, or should I really have got the Meopta instead of the McKinley.  Use a little time and try to get someplace where you can look at some of those.  It is really, in my mind more important to find a binocular that fits your face and eyes, particularly in the area of eye relief,  how well the eye cup geometry matches your facial features, and that balances well in you hand.  Get those wrong and the whole binocular will be wrong...regardless of what it cost.  There are little differences between all binoculars.  Evaluate the whole big picture.  If you get hung up on differences, or faults, pretty soon you will be spending a ton of money.


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/16/2015 at 13:06
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Welcome Freediver.  I don't have a ton of experience with the different models, but I can say that I've been impressed with my Zen-Ray ED2s in 7x36. I use them primarily for bow hunting, and they are excellent for that.  I have also heard wonderful things about their Prime HD's.  Obviously, you can't go wrong with the Zeiss's either:

Zen-Ray 8x42 Prime HD Binocular
Zen-Ray 8x42 Prime HD Binocular
Stock # - ZENPRIMEHD8X42
  • 5 group/6 elements eyepiece featuring doublet field flattener lenses
  • Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass for chromatic aberration free image
  • Second Generation VividBrite Ultra High Reflectivity (UHR) Dielectic Prism Coating for maximal brightness
  • CrystalView water/oil repellent coating
  • Fully broadband multi-coated optics allows 99.7% light transmission at each glass/air interface
  • Phase-correction with BAK-4 roof prisms
  • Large 42mm objective lenses for crisp, bright imaging.
  • SpeedDial2M focus wheel offers responsive focus rate
  • Tripod adapter sockets to offer balanced support for tripod users
  • Enhanced eyecup design for eye glasses wearers
  • Heavy-duty, 100% waterproof /fogproof construction: Argon charged
  • Metal alloy enforced multi-stage Twist-up rubber eyecups
  • Diopter adjustment to fine tuning focus
  • Extra large center focus knob for smooth and precise focus
  • Ergonomic shape for stress free use
  • Rubber armor absorbs shock
  • Lifetime No Fault Warranty
$609.00

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/16/2015 at 13:16
freediver111 View Drop Down
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That's good advice Klamath.
I could send the Razor's in for repair, but I'm not sure they need it. It's possible they do of course. I did send them in for some work about 1.5 years ago due to the eye cup adjusters not functioning properly. They were sent back with a note that they checked the whole thing over and found no other faults. 

In the end, maybe I'm overthinking everything and possibly my friend is better at finding game than I am no matter what! The funny thing is that another friend and I are constantly out glassed by this guy. Two of us are using 10x (Razor's for me and he has some GR Leupy's), and this guy is using the Pentax 8x's. Every time, without fail, he glasses up more game than we do! 

Maybe I'm going crazy trying to figure out an issue that will never change, but it's winter, I'm bored, and I'm curious to see if going to a 8x would somehow allow me to "catch up". When I moved out west 10 years ago, all I've ever owned has been 10x binos. I guess curiosity has the better of me to find out if I'll have more success at glassing game with 8x's. There's just something about the Razor's that I feel leave me with less contrast and definition. 



Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/16/2015 at 13:33
Klamath View Drop Down
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Originally posted by freediver111 freediver111 wrote:

That's good advice Klamath.
I could send the Razor's in for repair, but I'm not sure they need it. It's possible they do of course. I did send them in for some work about 1.5 years ago due to the eye cup adjusters not functioning properly. They were sent back with a note that they checked the whole thing over and found no other faults. 

In the end, maybe I'm overthinking everything and possibly my friend is better at finding game than I am no matter what! The funny thing is that another friend and I are constantly out glassed by this guy. Two of us are using 10x (Razor's for me and he has some GR Leupy's), and this guy is using the Pentax 8x's. Every time, without fail, he glasses up more game than we do! 

Maybe I'm going crazy trying to figure out an issue that will never change, but it's winter, I'm bored, and I'm curious to see if going to a 8x would somehow allow me to "catch up". When I moved out west 10 years ago, all I've ever owned has been 10x binos. I guess curiosity has the better of me to find out if I'll have more success at glassing game with 8x's. There's just something about the Razor's that I feel leave me with less contrast and definition.



Well, if you have the feeling of dissatisfaction with the Razor, then a change is in order.  Don't worry about going crazy figuring out optical issues.  We all do that here, we can maybe even help you go crazy as the rest of us.Big Smile.

It is also entirely possible you friend with the Pentax is better at glassing.  That kind of underscores a point that the user is the bigger part of the equation.  Glassing is a patience heavy undertaking and I don't know if I'll ever completely master the art of infinite patience.

FWIW if you like your friends Leupold GR, you have a good idea of the quality of the McKenzie. I have a GR HD 8x42 that is my main guy these days. I've had people tell me they prefer my McKenzie to the GR due to better edges and wider field.  It may be possible the McKenzie gets the GR designation at some point.  Leupold has not abandoned the GR binocular idea yet.

Another point to consider is that you have reached the decision divide of 8x vs 10x.  That is a question you really need to answer for yourself.  So, get a good 8x and see for yourself Big Smile.


Edited by Klamath - January/16/2015 at 13:41
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