Deciding which high class glass to go with?!??

Rbw1989

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Jan 26, 2020
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So I’m in the market for some new Binos. I’d like to get 2 sets to compliment each other, a lower power for everyday use(10-12 power) and a higher power for tripod use only (15-18 power). So far I’ve talked myself in circles by reading reviews and checking some options out in stores.
For reference, the country I typically Hunt is pretty vast. Glassing 400 yards across a little ravine is close range usually, with longer range being a mile + away.
The first option I was looking into are the vortex razor uhd, looking into the 12x50 and 18x56. The major plus for these is I can score a decent deal and pick them up for about 2500$ or less for both.
The next option I’ve considered (but haven’t checked out in person yet) would be some mavens. Maybe the b2 in 11x45 and the B5 in 18x56. I’m not going to lie, the customization of these has my attention, along with all the good reviews I’ve been reading.
Zeiss conquest HD also has a very good line up with the 10x42 and the 15x56

And finally the next option I’m considering would be to grab a pair of the meopta 15x56 along with either some swaro 10x42 SLC or EL. This option probably has me the most excited and curious, but at the same time, could be most costly by a decent, margin which is what it is. I could save up and make it work.
I think what it is going to come down to will be me demoing a pair of mavens and going into a local sporting goods store and giving everything a head to head against each other in the store. Although it’s not the best conditions to test in store at least I would get a better idea of what to do.

What I want from everyone is to give me pros and cons of what they have experience with and maybe help me rule out, or guide me more towards one of these choices. There are so many good options! thanks in advance everyone!
 

Hatchet Jack

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Man it’d be tough to beat the deals in the classifieds right now. Pre sv EL 10x42 and euro hd 15x56 And you’re under $2400 total. And it’s a better setup than anything you’re going to get from maven and vortex. I wasn’t overly impressed by the maven 18x. I also like the meoptas over conquest in the 15x. At this level you’re not going to see differences in the store, but glassing broken terrain in low light looking for an ear flick you’ll appreciate the High end European glass.
 

bigharge

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Jan 25, 2017
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If you are going to get 2 pairs I'd look at a pair 8x42s to compliment the 15x56 set, but that's just my preference, love the big field of view and extra control in hand.

As far as brands the best thing I'll say is try them all. I bought and borrowed every binocular I even thought I might like last year trying to settle on what worked best for me. Returned or sold them off as needed even if it meant taking a small hit, I didn't want a "what if" hanging around in my mind.

I finally ended up with a pair of zeiss victory sf's over the Swarovski els I had the years prior. They just fit my hands and eyes better than anything else. Would definitely recommend them if you havent tried them yet. But who knows, everyone's eyes are different. Was interesting as I would sort through all the binos I tested I would have my wife, kids, brother and brother in law look through them at different times and would get so many different responses as to which they preferred. It really sunk in how different each set of eyes can be.

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elkguide

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Jan 26, 2016
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Vermont
I use a pair of Swarovski 10X42 SLC's or EL's and a spotter. The spotter comes out maybe 5% of the time. The Swaro's tell me what I want to know very well.
 
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Rbw1989

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Jan 26, 2020
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Thank you guys for the reply’s and advice so far. Ideally, I would borrow some options I am talking about and go out in a canyon and do some real world testing of my own, but literally everyone I know is in the vortex cult lol. I’m not sure I have anyone that I know that has a set of these other Binos I’m looking at.
but I’m getting some good advice and opinions so keep them coming! Much appreciated
 

elkstabber

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Oct 15, 2014
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Zuni, VA
The absolute best way to know would be to test a bunch of binos. If that isn't possible then I would suggest this: buy a pair of 10x42 and a quality tripod. Use them enough to get familiar with them and then reassess whether you really need the 15 or 18s. Most of us wouldn't get much use from 15 or 18s.

If you can buy either Zeiss Conquest 10x42 or Swaro SLC 10x42 at a good price then you won't lose much/anything when you decide to sell them later. I'm suggesting these two binos because they have a very strong resale value.
 
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Rbw1989

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Oh I forgot to mention, I currently own some vortex viper HD 12x50. Early January I went on a desert mule deer hunt for a week with an “ok” tripod. After using my buddies camera quality tripod with fluid head I now know what a good tripod set up should feel like, and after being behind those viper 12x50, I know that with the style of hunting I’m doing, the 15-18 powers would get a good enough amount of use to justify spending the money. And we did have a spotting scope as well, it was ok, but just uncomfortable to use for hours at a time
 

eltaco

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May 18, 2013
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I can comment only on the lower power binos you’re interested in, haven’t spent any real time between 15-18x. I’m of the opinion a spotter is of more value in the mile plus application.

I’ve owned a few pairs you’re interested in. Vortex Viper HD 10x42, Razor HD 10x42, Maven 11x45, and Swaro EL 10x50. I think more than would admit here can get a good deal on the Vortex, which is IMO why they’ve become so prevalent. The glass of the two vortex for me was pretty similar, though in the spotter line the difference was massive. I really thought the Razors were the best thing since sliced bread. I picked up a set of Mavens to try, admittedly due to the rave reviews I read here. I tested them side by side with my Razors for a couple of weeks and eventually decided to stick with the Mavens. That choice wasn’t very clear to me. I found pros and cons to each of them. I liked the 11x, but hated the focus on the Mavens. To be honest, the longer I had the Mavens, the worse we got along.

I finally got aggravated enough with them last year that I ordered up the ELs. Like you, I had taken some time to look at them in the store, but really didn’t feel that was much value added to my decision. Testing in the field was necessary to make the best decision. Between the Maven and EL, the difference is substantially more than I would ever admit before I decided to spend that amount of money. I can clearly see animals 20-30 minutes longer in the evening with the EL. As light dims, the Mavens appear to lose focus, and the ELs remain clear just with less contrast. The difference to me is very substantial. Of the group you’re considering, the ELs are the only with field flatterers. I absolutely LOVE the clear view to the edges, but I know some people have visual issues with this. You won’t know if you do until you try them. When I look thru my ELs, I get the feeling that I’m in the scene instead of simply looking at it from afar. Completely different experience from the others.
 
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Rbw1989

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Jan 26, 2020
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I can comment only on the lower power binos you’re interested in, haven’t spent any real time between 15-18x. I’m of the opinion a spotter is of more value in the mile plus application.

I’ve owned a few pairs you’re interested in. Vortex Viper HD 10x42, Razor HD 10x42, Maven 11x45, and Swaro EL 10x50. I think more than would admit here can get a good deal on the Vortex, which is IMO why they’ve become so prevalent. The glass of the two vortex for me was pretty similar, though in the spotter line the difference was massive. I really thought the Razors were the best thing since sliced bread. I picked up a set of Mavens to try, admittedly due to the rave reviews I read here. I tested them side by side with my Razors for a couple of weeks and eventually decided to stick with the Mavens. That choice wasn’t very clear to me. I found pros and cons to each of them. I liked the 11x, but hated the focus on the Mavens. To be honest, the longer I had the Mavens, the worse we got along.

I finally got aggravated enough with them last year that I ordered up the ELs. Like you, I had taken some time to look at them in the store, but really didn’t feel that was much value added to my decision. Testing in the field was necessary to make the best decision. Between the Maven and EL, the difference is substantially more than I would ever admit before I decided to spend that amount of money. I can clearly see animals 20-30 minutes longer in the evening with the EL. As light dims, the Mavens appear to lose focus, and the ELs remain clear just with less contrast. The difference to me is very substantial. Of the group you’re considering, the ELs are the only with field flatterers. I absolutely LOVE the clear view to the edges, but I know some people have visual issues with this. You won’t know if you do until you try them. When I look thru my ELs, I get the feeling that I’m in the scene instead of simply looking at it from afar. Completely different experience from the others.
Thank you very much. This is the kind of feedback that I was hoping for. I hadn’t heard of issues with the focus on the mavens so I’ll take that into consideration for sure. I’ve heard of the “rolling ball” (I think ) affect of the ELs and was told I need to take them outside and scan side to side to see if I’ll be affected by it. I might have to drag the wife and kids to bass pro sometime soon so I can get hands on some of these again and look more closely at them
 

eltaco

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May 18, 2013
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258
Sure thing, good luck on your decision. I’ll note the SLC get extremely high feedback and there’s plenty of discussion on them being a tad brighter than ELs. If you enjoy the flat field as much as I do, you’ll have a hard time putting the ELs down tho!

To be more detailed on the Maven issue I experienced, the issue is the binos have a very narrow field of focus. That is, you can focus in on one distance but near or far distances are out of focus. I found this range to be very narrow, so I’m always adjusting the focus wheel as I’m scanning around. It’s more than just annoying, and you quickly learn that you spend a lot of time looking at objects out of focus. I didn’t encounter the same with any of the other models were discussing.

Between ELs, I really wish I had the opportunity to put significant time between the 10x50 and 12x50. I absolutely love the 10x50 I chose, but wish I could have closed that loop completely before purchasing. Sometimes I feel the extra power would be beneficial, but I know if you’re too shaky with them it will affect your ability to resolve detail. I’ve looked thru 15s only long enough to know I can’t handle them unless they’re on a tripod.
 
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Rbw1989

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Jan 26, 2020
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Sure thing, good luck on your decision. I’ll note the SLC get extremely high feedback and there’s plenty of discussion on them being a tad brighter than ELs. If you enjoy the flat field as much as I do, you’ll have a hard time putting the ELs down tho!

To be more detailed on the Maven issue I experienced, the issue is the binos have a very narrow field of focus. That is, you can focus in on one distance but near or far distances are out of focus. I found this range to be very narrow, so I’m always adjusting the focus wheel as I’m scanning around. It’s more than just annoying, and you quickly learn that you spend a lot of time looking at objects out of focus. I didn’t encounter the same with any of the other models were discussing.

Between ELs, I really wish I had the opportunity to put significant time between the 10x50 and 12x50. I absolutely love the 10x50 I chose, but wish I could have closed that loop completely before purchasing. Sometimes I feel the extra power would be beneficial, but I know if you’re too shaky with them it will affect your ability to resolve detail. I’ve looked thru 15s only long enough to know I can’t handle them unless they’re on a tripod.
Yeah I like the 12 powers for most things now, but feel that if I have a dedicated set of 15s for tripod use then 10 powers might be the way to go for off hand use.
 
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Talk with Doug at cameraland and look very hard at meopta. Just had the chance to spend time at the long range school at griffin and Howe in New Jersey. I have meopta meostars in 10x42 which I was able to compare with Swarovski slc and el’s. Of course the el’s were outstanding but not anywhere near $1500 more outstanding. The meostar and slc’s are no different to my eyes. Save the money for tags.
 
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Rbw1989

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Talk with Doug at cameraland and look very hard at meopta. Just had the chance to spend time at the long range school at griffin and Howe in New Jersey. I have meopta meostars in 10x42 which I was able to compare with Swarovski slc and el’s. Of course the el’s were outstanding but not anywhere near $1500 more outstanding. The meostar and slc’s are no different to my eyes. Save the money for tags.
I actually did call up cameraland yesterday and talked with Neil? I think that was his name anyways. Awesome guy tho. He also pointed me towards the meopta 15x56 which I will be taking a hard look at before I make a decision
 

passinggas33

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Dec 10, 2017
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Pullman, WA
For me this decision came down to how much I am going to use the different binos/glass. I was in a similar situation. I do mainly backpack hunting and take my 10x42s and a spotter everytime. But I take my big binos on only certain hunts. Since I use my 10x42 binos the vast majority of the time, I spent my most money there (swaros). I went with the Meoptas for the 15 power since they will only be used a small percentage of time (in my application). And these ended up saving me quite a bit of money but are darn nice glass. I then spent a good amount of money on my swaro spotter. For me I put my money on the glass that gets used the most and worked my way down from there. 10x42, then spotter, then 15s.
 
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Rbw1989

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For me this decision came down to how much I am going to use the different binos/glass. I was in a similar situation. I do mainly backpack hunting and take my 10x42s and a spotter everytime. But I take my big binos on only certain hunts. Since I use my 10x42 binos the vast majority of the time, I spent my most money there (swaros). I went with the Meoptas for the 15 power since they will only be used a small percentage of time (in my application). And these ended up saving me quite a bit of money but are darn nice glass. I then spent a good amount of money on my swaro spotter. For me I put my money on the glass that gets used the most and worked my way down from there. 10x42, then spotter, then 15s.
I think this is a good philosophy to go buy. Put the money where the most use is.
mod course right when I think I have a solid plan, I see dougs post for camera land and the sale on Leica hdb-3000..... I’m going to go and do some comparing today. Hopefully rule some things out on my own and maybe pick a front runner
 

tdhanses

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I think this is a good philosophy to go buy. Put the money where the most use is.
mod course right when I think I have a solid plan, I see dougs post for camera land and the sale on Leica hdb-3000..... I’m going to go and do some comparing today. Hopefully rule some things out on my own and maybe pick a front runner
I went from 10x42 Swaro EL’s with swarovision to the 10x42 Leica HD-B 2200, zero regret. The EL are a tad better but maybe 1% for my eyes.

One huge positive for the Leica is the built in rangefinder and ballistics calculator, if you only archery hunt it isn’t needed but it’s a nice bonus with great optics.
 
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Rbw1989

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I went from 10x42 Swaro EL’s with swarovision to the 10x42 Leica HD-B 2200, zero regret. The EL are a tad better but maybe 1% for my eyes.
I just went and compared the EL vs hd-b last night in the store. Of course, I couldn’t see any difference in optical quality in store, but those 2 were my favorite as far as ergonomics go. How do you feel about the weight difference between the 2? Do you use a bino harness? I think that’s my main concern was the extra bulk and weight of the HD-b vs the EL. I’m fixing to give Doug at camera land a call here shortly to get the low down on both of these options.
 

tdhanses

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I just went and compared the EL vs hd-b last night in the store. Of course, I couldn’t see any difference in optical quality in store, but those 2 were my favorite as far as ergonomics go. How do you feel about the weight difference between the 2? Do you use a bino harness? I think that’s my main concern was the extra bulk and weight of the HD-b vs the EL. I’m fixing to give Doug at camera land a call here shortly to get the low down on both of these options.
I use an Alaskan Guide harness, the classic I believe. Truthfully 2 years in I don’t even notice the weight or remember if it felt much different, I’m sure I noticed it at first but now it is a mute point.

As far as bulk I don’t find the Leica's to feel bulky at all, again after time the weight and bulk are mute points because it becomes what you are used to.
 
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Rbw1989

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I use an Alaskan Guide harness, the classic I believe. Truthfully 2 years in I don’t even notice the weight or remember if it felt much different, I’m sure I noticed it at first but now it is a mute point.
I hear ya. Thanks for the info!
 
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