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My quest for "the one"


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#1 JNDEER

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 07:09 AM

During last year’s deer season I had a chance to watch 7 bucks at the last of last light come out below me in a small bowl at 186 yards. Of the 7 bucks I could actually only tell that one had antlers while my hunting partner could see that 7 of the 11 deer below us had antlers on their head. It was at this time that I realized that had I not had already filled both of my tags this would have meant that a potential legal buck could have walked just because of my glass, so a new pair of binoculars where in order.

Like some I started out with what I could afford. Coming from a “road hunting family” we used the old porro prism 8x32 bushnell’s, then as a teen I started to venture into other hunting styles and changed my binocular choice. I went from a Nikon 10x25, to a Bushnell H20 10x42, to a Vortex Diamondback 10x42, then Vortex Razor 10x42 and currently am using a Zen-Ray Prime HD.

My quest like most of use began with the Internet. There are many binoculars available today with lots of reviews from biased and un-biased experts, birders, and average Joes. Sifting through all the reviews can be a challenge. One suggesting that would pop up from time to time was that everyone’s eyes are different and we need to let the binocular pick us. So, this is the route I took. I just spent $10k on a variety of “high end” binoculars from Cabela’s, knowing that I have 60 days to return them (I double checked that in the store too) in hopes of finding which ones work best for me and returning the rest. One thing to keep in mind is that I have the money to buy any one of these, so $$ is not an issue and I have zero loyalty to any brand.

I am no expert when it comes to binocular terminology. So this review will be from an average Joe who plans on just telling you what I see through them with my eyes. It should be noted that I wear glasses. I am not blind and barely passed the DMV vision test, but I always have my glasses regardless.

As I have been playing with them for the last 48 hours I have been noticing a lot and I figured it would be best to write up what I see each night as I compare them in different situations instead of writing one review.

So I will start with how I selected my binoculars. First obviously they had to be at cabela’s. When I went into the Reno store I had the associate pull out all 10x42 binos of the following: Conquest HD, Ultravid HD, Razor HD, El Swarovision, SLC HD, Cabela’s Euro HD. I got both elbows on the counter and picked out a small sign hanging inside of a wooden canoe they had on the wall. The sign was on the upper half and was in the shadow and I was focused on the writing.  It was about 50 or so yards and I wanted to see if I could eliminate any of them right out of the gate. Going back and forth I found the Razor HD would not focus well and I could not get the diopter to adjust right. I had him pull out another pair just to see if it was the bino and my eyes or just that bino. It turned out to be that bino and the next pair adjusted fine. The Conquest HD and surprisingly (at least to me) the Ultravid HD would not focus well despite how much I played with the diopter and going back and forth from them to others that did adjust well. I had him take those two away and we then took the remaining four outside to see if I could remove any from the list. It was sunny outside and a little breezy. I sat on the ground and put my elbows to my knees and proceeded to glass up a power tower that was about 1 mile away (that is what the associate told me). At the base of the tower were three small metal boxes and the middle one had a yellow sign on it. I did my best to focus on that sign. Immediately I could tell that the Razors were picking up the heat waves really bad compared to the other three. The others showed little to no heat waves while glassing. The three were very close in focusing on the sign as far as clarity of the sign and clarity of what was around it. I then went to looking under a tree that was on the same hill and tried to focus on a large bolder in the shade under the tree. Again all three were very good and with a little more adjusting I got the Razors to work ok, but they still showed the heat waves. With that I decided to purchase all of these and take them home to do some real testing in low light and hopefully on some game. While in Reno I also went to Scheel’s and was able to check out the Victory HT. In the store I was impressed with them, so when I went back to Reno on my way home I had them order me these as well.

 

---note--- 99% of the time I glass putting the binos on a stick, my elbows on my knees or standing. This is how I am testing the binos..

Night 1- behind my yard there is an oak tree (I am facing west) at about 80 or so yards away. I sat on my deck and as light faded I went from bino to bino looking at a small twig in the middle of the tree that was skylined as there was a hole through the leaves. The performance was impressive from all of them. The El impressed me most as not only was could I see the twig well, but I everything around it was crisp and clear too. The others (Victory’s should arrive on 5/10) could focus well on the twig, but did not show the surrounding leaves as crisp as the El’s.

Night 2- I decided to put all of the binos on a tripod and make sure the diopter was set the best I could get it. Due to rain and cloudy weather I could not get out to a local hill to do some long distance outside glassing. I elected to use the same tree again, but this time I found a small grey colored branch closest to me with the remaining of the tree behind it, giving a nice dark back drop. Going back and forth with the binos the razors performed better than the night before (I did make a diopter adjustment on them) and probably performed as well as the SLC and El. Again, just through my eyes and focusing only on that one light colored branch. Surprisingly the Euro’s performed the best and when I could barely make out the branch with the others, I could still see it looking through the Euro’s. The El’s kept everything around the branch very clean and crisp looking, but when I tried to just stare and focus on the branch it faded with the other three bino’s.

 

Some of my initial thoughts thus far are:

1-You can make out a difference in bino's at a store, but last and first light tell a new story.

2-You will never know how good or bad a bino is unless you have others to compare it to at the same time.



#2 hatchet1

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 07:26 AM

sweet jesus i wish i had your money...the possibilities!!!!  i own the

swaro el's..never looked back....its safe to say they get used weekly...you definetly gotta pay to play!!


Edited by hatchet1, 07 May 2013 - 07:29 AM.

"REMINDING CALIFORNIANS THAT "MAN" IS THE ULTIMATE PREDATOR..NOT SILLY MOUNTAIN LIONS....."

                                            " in memory of cecil the lion & P-32..never forget"


#3 Arrowslinger

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 07:48 AM

I have SLC's, best money I ever spent.

Big game hunter!


#4 glass eye

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 07:52 AM

  I just spent $10k on a variety of “high end” binoculars from Cabela’s......... So this review will be from an average Joe

 

Average Joe...........................................I think NOT !  :smiley-ugly-lol-bashing-sign:

 

But great write up.......thanks.



#5 ilovesprig

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 09:20 AM

I apparently know a lot of below average Joe's...Although, the doctors & professional ballplayers buds swear by Swaro's... :smiley-toothless-aqua:

 

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#6 JNDEER

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 09:20 AM

AS - funny you say that. I know a few guys with 20/20 vision who really like the SLC's. For my eyes (thus far) I prefer the EL's with the field flattener.

 

glass eye - well, i meant avg joe as far as a technical guru when it comes to bino's.

 

 

 

When i first started looking through them there were lots of details I noticed and wanted to make daily notes, instead of just one write up. hopefully it may help someone out there looking for bin's.



#7 PhotoHunter

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 10:14 AM

Great write-up. I have the SLCs and their the best binos I've ever had (not saying a lot). I've always wondered how the ELs would compare.



#8 paulc

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 08:32 PM

Wasn't there a neighbors window you could have used in your test to make it a little more interesting.

 

Just a thought.  When I sold my Leica 10x Ultravids on ebay I was surprised that they only went for $1300.  Point is don't hesitate to buy used good glass.  Most all the good ones stand behind their glass with warranty whether you are the original owner or not.  Leica warranty used to suck, but, is much better now.

 

I bought the Swaro rangefinder binocs in 10x during the off season.  So far I like them.


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#9 JNDEER

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 07:27 AM

Night 3 – I finally got out to a local hill near my house where I could glass from 0- about 1 mile in terrain very similar to what I hunt in. The hill holds deer so it was a plus as I could actually use them for their intended purpose. I glassed an east and west facing slope hill from .5 hours before sunset until dark. I will say there is a HUGE difference in glassing from in store, to outside the store in daylight, to glassing in your neighborhood and finally to actual hunting style situation glassing. Each time I glassed I put the binos in order of which ones were “top” during that session and each time they changed. I glassed leaning against my vehicle or putting my elbows on the door and roof to stabilize the image. Some initial things I noticed last night was that the Vortex were bright, but for some reason the diopter adjustment needed to be moved again. I tried to fiddle with it, but it was problematic. It was breezy and with that and the Vortex being light weight made it harder to stabilize on the image. So even though it was clear, the image would bounce causing it to be harder to get a great clear crisp image of the button buck I was looking at (he was about 300 yards away). The vortex focus adjustment is really smooth, but very fast. It goes from extremely blurry to crystal clear and blurry again in a small adjustment. The Cabelas and EL’s were extremely similar in the appearance looking through the glass. The main difference from first to last light was that the EL’s hold a clean crisp image in the whole FOV, were as the cabelas lacks the crispness all the way to the edges of the FOV. The center of the FOV image in both the EL and Euro’s were identical in how crisp the image was, however there was a slight increase in brightness to the EL’s..it was very slight and I had to go back and forth quickly to notice it. Both have a very similar speed on the focus wheel. The Euros are a tad bit stiffer and they hold a clear image much longer while turning the wheel. One thing about the EL I noticed was that because of the longer tube configuration while I was holding it for a longer period of time I noticed a very slight bounce in the image and it was due to the way I had to hold it in my hand while glassing.  I continued to glass the small button buck (he had about 3”) until last legal hunting light. During the last 15 minutes of light I noticed the Euro’s got a tad darker in the FOV (glassing an east facing slope with overcast skies), but still had a crisp image. The El’s held out until about 7 minutes of legal light before they too started to get darker, but again the whole FOV was still crisp. When I say crisp I believe I am referring to the lack of CA on the edges. Within the last 5 minutes of legal light is when the button bucks “buttons” became more of a bump on his head and with the EL and Euro’s I could not make out extreme detail of the buttons (like how tall or wide they were). Now for the SLC HD’s, from the first time I have ever looked through them to do a quick comparison in store they have always seemed brighter than any of the other binoculars. I believe this is because the EL’s have extra layering on the glass for the field flattener (what I read online) which cause it to be a tad darker. In my backyard I ranked the EL’s to have the edge over the SLCs but glassing the deer it was the other way around. The SLC’s hold a crisp image throughout the whole FOV. They also have a sort of “pop” to the image while you glass. The focus wheel is less than desirable. It is stiff on the outer extremes and kind of has a hick-up when you leave the extreme and move the wheel into the sweet spot. When you get into it sweet spot (clear focus from ranges of like 200-1000+ yards) it is very smooth and quick. The time it is in the sweet spot is just a little longer then the Vortex. At 5 minutes left of light I was still able to see the button bucks “bumps” very well and could see they still appeared to be 3” and about 1” wide. I was very impressed. At about last light I glassed over on a west facing slope which was about a mile away. Under an oak tree there was about a 3” diameter grey branch under the tree on the ground I found earlier in the glass session. The Euro’s were ever so slight tad bit less clear then the EL’s, but it was extremely slight. The SLC because they were still very bright showed the branch with still great detail compared to the other two.

 

Another thing I noticed about them was that when I glassed up a deer at about a mile away the actual size of the deer through the Euros was smaller than what I was seeing through the EL’s and the SLC’s. The size difference was nothing extreme, but still smaller. When the sun set I was still able to make out a buck at a mile away on the west facing slope with yellow grass as his backdrop with the Euro’s, EL and SLC. The bucks rack was a spike, but was wide and right along the line of the top of his ears.

 

I will wait until I get the Zeiss Victory HT to compare it to the others to see how it stacks up.



#10 hatchet1

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 09:03 AM

DUDE..YOU GOTTA SELL THESE REPORTS TO THE COMPANYS YOUR TESTING...HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE BEFORE YOU HAVE TO RETURN ALL THESE OPTICS?  IN THE END..YOU WILL GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR..NEXT REPORT NEEDS TO BE OF A DEAD MAMMAL WITH THE BINOS YOU CHOOSE LAYING ON THEM..ICING ON THE CAKE..

 

**im still going el's..dudes show up every season with the best of the best..in the end..it really depends on your eye ball..as nobodys eyeballs are the same...**


"REMINDING CALIFORNIANS THAT "MAN" IS THE ULTIMATE PREDATOR..NOT SILLY MOUNTAIN LIONS....."

                                            " in memory of cecil the lion & P-32..never forget"


#11 PhotoHunter

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:52 AM

Great job! Are you trying to get on a pro-staff?!!



#12 hatchet1

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:54 AM

I'm thinking sdhntr has him beat on that already!

"REMINDING CALIFORNIANS THAT "MAN" IS THE ULTIMATE PREDATOR..NOT SILLY MOUNTAIN LIONS....."

                                            " in memory of cecil the lion & P-32..never forget"


#13 JNDEER

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 11:16 AM

Great job! Are you trying to get on a pro-staff?!!

 

 

Thanks gents.

 

Nope, prostaffing is not really my thing. I like to use what works best for me and sometimes that can change from year to year or hunt to hunt.

 

 

 

I guess I am just taking my life lessons when it comes to bino purchases and putting it out there for people to read. You always hear people praising this brand or that not knowing if they are a sponsor for them, prostaff or if they are even a real "hunter". I realized like what Hatch said, everyones eyes are different and after saving for a while I had enough to buy which ever pair of binos fit my eyes the best...so I am going about finding it.

 

Also, I have a very detailed orianted memory and feel my specific examples could possibly help someone out there who is or was in my situation looking for binos (or if you apply the method most any product really).



#14 JNDEER

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 07:01 AM

I pulled out the Razors again to attempt to set the diopter. Before I put them on the tri-pod and used my credit card to focus on at a distance of about 20 feet. I did it again last night, but used an object at about 75 feet. I found that the diopter adjustment changed from where it was inside Cabelas, to where I had it two days ago, to where it is set now. This is the same kind of issue I am having with the Zen’s. I don’t know what causes it, but have a guess. My last optometrist visit resulted in some weird data about my eyes. I have some kind of over eye dominants issue. When I use both eyes the adjustments to get my vision clear is set one way, when the doctor blocks my right eye and I can only see with my left, the adjustment changes for just that eye and the same goes for my right eye. I guess it is not too uncommon, but he was surprised at the results we were getting while he was testing my eyes. Whether or not the Zens and Razor’s are just not able to compensate for my issue, I don’t know. The previous Diamondbacks and original Razor’s showed no signs of this issue.

 

I wanted to touch more on the Leica’s. Like I stated before both the Leica, Conquest HD and Razors had issues in store getting the diopter adjusted properly. I figured for a bino to cost as much as the new Ultravid HD’s that they should not show that kind of issue out of the gate and that is the only reason I did not ask the Associate at cabelas to try another pair, like I did for the razors. The only reason I wanted to try another pair of Razors was simply for their warranty and in hopes of finding a pair that I could at least give a fair shot at comparing them to the others I have chosen. The same goes for the Conquest HD. I fiddled with both the conquest and Leica for a good 5 minutes and after that, I just gave up as the other bino’s did not present the same problem I was getting with these binos.

 

I suppose I just wanted to clarify this so that people don’t think that these binos are not as good as the others as I was not able to actually test them the way I wanted to. It could simply be an issue with my vision and the way the binos diopter works, type of glass coatings, the way the internal mechanisms function……I just don’t know. When I let my brother use the Razors for a bit (during daylight hours) he said that they adjusted just fine and seem to hold a great image. So that leads me to believe that the issue with my vision when using those binos and not the binos themselves.

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#15 hatchet1

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 07:19 AM

Dude...you and sd related? Brutha from anutha mutha?ha! Good write up man....just cut to the chase and go with the el,s...there all you will ever need and more...I'm no pro staffer...just a hunter... sorta..

"REMINDING CALIFORNIANS THAT "MAN" IS THE ULTIMATE PREDATOR..NOT SILLY MOUNTAIN LIONS....."

                                            " in memory of cecil the lion & P-32..never forget"





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