Vortex UHD / Maven B5 18x56 Novice Comparison.

Tahoe1305

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Folks

Doesn’t seem like too many have had hands on the UHD and Maven 18xs together yet. Had the chance to demo so will give it my best shot at comparing.

That said I will draft a couple initial posts and then encourage folks that have specific questions to reply and I will do my best to get them answered.

Like mentioned in the title I’m not a expert glass-matician. I am lucky enough to have a balcony that can see about as far as the eye over various terrain and have made a few resolution charts I used to compare a bunch of 10x42s last month. So I try and develops “game” like stuff to look at and compare.

My initial impressions with both are they seem very similar. Weight with zero accessories on the Maven was 45.2oz and the UHD 42.0oz. Heights and widths were both roughly the same. I personally didn’t have a problem adjusting either to my eyes and felt the diopter and focus felt good on both. The diopter locks on the vortex and is just very stiff on the Maven. I personally don’t see either of them moving easily out of place.

I did like that the barrels on the UHD left a bit more room between them to snug in a non outdoorsman style tripod adapter (easier to twist). The Maven worked fine too just took a bit more time.

I only got to view them for about 30 min at 1800 or so (roughly sunset here) at a street sign with varying sizes of font at 1200 yds. Both offered a clear resolution advantage over my 10xs. I could read the smallest level of text vs being able to read two levels less with the 10xs.

In the initial peak through I couldn’t say one was “better” than the other. Both appeared to not be perfectly clear edge to edge (at least at lower light), although very close. Both actually seemed very touchy to focus compared to similar models in 10x(B2 Mavens). If anything I’d say the Maven was just a touch easier to get a good view behind. Specs say 18mm eye relief for both but Maven appeared slightly better. I feel the UHDs can get just a few mm closer for inter-pupil range, but it appears specs say they are equal.

Like with other UHDs, really like bino harness that comes with it. Both these are big binos and IF you wanted them in your chest vs your backpack, it’s nice not to have to buy a special harness.

I will break out USAF Resolution chart in coming days and work the low light tests a bit more too.

Just wanted to start the thread, provide initial impressions, and allow folks to provide testing ideas.
 

cast10K

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Do you have any experience with the Meopta 15x or if you gave it any consideration?
 

prm

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I would love to get my hands on each of the 15x and 18x binos for a comparison. Definitely following.
 
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Tahoe1305

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Do you have any experience with the Meopta 15x or if you gave it any consideration?
I don’t have experience with them. The only 15x I have ever looked through was some vortex 15x56 kaibabs. I was comparing these to the UHD 12x50 and to my eyes I could see more with the UHDs and these were close to the same size (UHDs are big). Based on what I’ve read in various articles the appeal for 15x isn’t there for me. You can’t hand hold effectively and the small magnification increase over 12s doesn’t justify the weight/size/cost increase.

That said, 18s appear to be only slightly larger/heavier/more expensive than the 15s and a substantial magnification increase over 12s, so trying to see if that is worth it for the hunting I do.
 
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Tahoe1305

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Got to spend a bit of time behind both of these the last couple days.

I focused on edge to edge clarity and field of view.

For edge to edge clarity I focused on a group of road signs at roughly 1500yds and then adjusted the center point of the binos to place various signs on the outer edge of the binos field of view. It was very close between both of these. I’d give the slight edge to the Mavens however. I could make out all the text with both but the lines appeared a bit sharper in the last 10% or so with the mavens.

For field of view I focused on a tree in the center of the picture at about 1200yds. I had a few reference marks on various houses on the side of a hill around the center tree. Again like the specs say both are pretty close. I would say at that distance the Maven again edged out the UHD by about 5 feet (pretty negligible).

I have noticed that with the smaller exit pupils on both of these it’s a bit tougher to get a nice constant picture with zero blackout on the edges. It’s a bit windy out so it isn’t helping but it’s the cost of that much zoom and objective size. Just need really good alignment.

A quick note on focus. The nob on the maven is metal vs plastic on the UHD like other models in both lines. I personally like the “feel” of the UHD a bit better. It doesn’t have as much resistance as the Maven, not that the maven is bad I just think it’s a tad easier to focus the UHD. More interesting is the Maven has approximately 1.5 turns for range of focus. The UHD has approximately 2.8 turns. This would make the UHD a bit more sensitive obviously but I didn’t notice it any more difficult to get a sharp focus. I also didn’t notice issues with depth of field or feeling like I needed to refocus on objects a few hundred feet in front and behind the center target.

Hope that helps for now. I will run a few more basic comparison test over the weekend. Feel free to ask other questions or suggest tests.
 

FlyGuy

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Some side by side photos, that’s all I can think of. Sounds like either one is shaping up to be a good choice.




You can’t cheat the mountain
 
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Tahoe1305

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Alright, this will be my second to last planned post. As FlyGuy requested, I have below some comparison photos.

Today I was able to post the USAF resolution chart at ~400 yds (390 to be exact) from my back balcony. This test was accomplished at 2pm during an overcast day which can be seen with the two binos on tripods photo. It was still a tad windy, but I was able to get good readings as it settled, so I feel like the test was pretty fair.

As you can see in the attached resolution chart IMO the UHD bested the Maven by one level. That said, my buddy (who hasn't been starring through binos like I have for the last month), swore the Mavens just barely beat out the UHDs. Additionally, he noted he felt the Mavens appeared to have a tad more "zoom" to them. I didn't feel that way and having set these up for my eyes prior and having looked through about 18 different sets in the last month, I am trusting my eyes over his on the results in the chart. Regardless, like other sections of my posts here, these two compare very closely.

The pictures show just how close these are in size as well and also how the UHD has a bit more space between the barrels.

Possibly more interesting to some, I compared all the glass I had on hand using the same chart, at the same time. I tried to take some photos using my phone adapter but like most, they don't tell the story much at all, maybe just show what various zoom levels look like. I wouldn't trust what "you can see" through the photos, it isn't accurate I promise. For that reason I don't have a picture of the Maven and the UHD below because it doesn't really show much (it looks the same).

One of the big things I wanted to test personally with these two 18x binos, is what they offered over handheld (12x or smaller) binos, as well as larger spotting scopes. Below is what I found:

-As most would expect, the two things that contributed to being able to resolve more on the chart were magnification and glass quality. From what I could tell though, magnification trumped glass quality to a certain extent. For example, most would agree that the Nikon HG or Razor HD 10x42 is superior glass to the Viper HD, however the 12x Vipers could clearly resolve a tad more than the 10x with "better" glass.

-Both 18x can resolve almost exactly as much as the spotters set on 18x magnification. That said, as most would expect the FOV was wider on the binos and they were easier to maintain a consistent view behind.

-The Kowa 554 as most people have said is a pretty powerful 28oz package. I personally don't like the FOV and eye relief that much, but it is great for what it is. I actually am pretty happy with the Gen I Razor 16-48x65 I just snagged. Not to say I won't sell it and keep the Kowa (undecided still), but for the price I paid it really is awesome. And the wide angle eyepiece at 18x makes for a really great viewing experience, almost Bino worthy. And the Leupold GR falls right in between as a great compromise on all weight, resolution, magnification, FOV.

-I confirmed that I need a "good" set of 12x binos (no I'm not spending the money on 12x50 Els). I think this is personally the best compromise for what I hunt. I can see more than 10x but can still hand hold, don't sacrifice too much on low light and can resolve more without destroying FOV and not gaining a bunch in size and weight. I have a set of Meostar 12x50 HD on order and may snag some Razor HD 12x50 in the future to compare as well.

-I think for the 18x, clearly they could easily displace a spotter in folks packs for about the same weight (except for Kowa 554 weight wise). I think you would gain a more favorable viewing experience and increased field of view. I also think in certain situations you could hand hold these supported and confirm a bit of detail at shorter distances, but you wouldn't want that to be the plan all the time. I would say that if you were hunting and stalking inside a few miles between glassing areas these would serve you well alone. If you needed to count rings, or wanted extreme range you would want a bigger spotter. Probably something bigger than the 60mm range too.

I still plan on doing one additional test for low light and then will provide some final thoughts.

Pictures attached are comparisons between the two for size. An overview of the setup on tripods showing viewing area and weather/lighting. A picture of the Mavens at 18x, the Viper at 12x, the Nikon HG at 10x, and the Kowa 554 at 45x. All through glass pictures were taken on full phone zoom. And lastly, the chart with all the binos I tested this go around and spotters. The text next to the resolution levels shows where they feel, to note the Zeiss could resolve the same as the razor but appeared clearer, so I put it in between levels.

Let me know if you have any questions.
 

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Tahoe1305

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So interesting note on low light performance (good or bad). At 10 min past official sunset, using the same target at ~400yds. I could only break out the largest of the resolution chart and decided to move it closer tomorrow night for a better test. Then just because I decided to see what the Kowa 554 would see at 45x....

to my surprise I couldn’t make out anything. Just not enough light. So more to follow tomorrow night, but the 18x binos may prove to offer better low light performance over the spotters. That surprises me, maybe not some folks here.
 
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Tahoe1305

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Finished my low light comparison with an interesting finish to my testing.

Attached is the resolution chart with the Maven 18x56 and UHD 18x56, as well as my Kowa 554 and Gen I Razor 65 spotter.

Based on last nights test, I moved the target into 60 yds (from 400). I took measurements at 40 min prior to sunset, sunset (1808), 20 min after sunset, and lastly, 30 min after sunset. Only at 30 min after sunset I took a spotter measurement. There was a tad bit of ambient light about, but at the last reading, the white piece of paper the chart was on, was completely not visible to the naked eye. So it was pretty dark out.

Much like yesterday at 40 min prior, the UHD just barely bested the Maven to my eye. From that point on they were exactly the same. I will say I felt the image in the Maven did appear a bit brighter as it got darker, but fact was I couldn't resolve any more with it. It is a bit interesting to see how many levels of resolution are lost at the various times.

Also like last night, the spotters were less effective than the binos. The Razor resolved one more level than the Kowa, but both were 4 levels less than the 18x binos. At full magnification I couldn't make out anything with the Kowa, and I could just barely make out the largest element with the Razor.

Which brings me to probably the most interesting thing I discovered with this testing. In low light, the binos are more useful at close to equal magnification compared to at least ~60mm spotters. This is one reason why someone may choose a 18x bino, IMO.

My overall impressions of both 18x Binos are below:

-Both are extremely similar in resolution, low light, and ergonomics.
-The UHD is a few ounces lighter for those ounce counters.
-The UHD is a bit easier to swap out tripod adapters due to space between barrels
-I personally found UHD easier to focus (I felt like I went by sharpest image with Mavens more)
-I like the UHD objective lens covers that fit inside the objective vs over the barrel like most.
-The Maven has a warmer color and appears brighter, especially in LL

I personally don't have a place in my kit for a 18x Bino, because I live in Hawaii and no game is more than 1000yds away that I can get after. But based on the two samples I had, if forced to choose, I would go with UHDs. Mainly because I am one of those ounce counters who end up climbing lots of steep mountains.

Hope that helps some folks, as always it was fun. As I planned to do from the beginning, I will post my UHDs for sale (sending Mavens back because they are demos). I feel these are a pretty strong sample based on their performance against the Mavens, for what it's worth.

Let me know if you have questions. Thanks for reading.

Phil
 

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Wiscgunner

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Finished my low light comparison with an interesting finish to my testing.

Attached is the resolution chart with the Maven 18x56 and UHD 18x56, as well as my Kowa 554 and Gen I Razor 65 spotter.

Based on last nights test, I moved the target into 60 yds (from 400). I took measurements at 40 min prior to sunset, sunset (1808), 20 min after sunset, and lastly, 30 min after sunset. Only at 30 min after sunset I took a spotter measurement. There was a tad bit of ambient light about, but at the last reading, the white piece of paper the chart was on, was completely not visible to the naked eye. So it was pretty dark out.

Much like yesterday at 40 min prior, the UHD just barely bested the Maven to my eye. From that point on they were exactly the same. I will say I felt the image in the Maven did appear a bit brighter as it got darker, but fact was I couldn't resolve any more with it. It is a bit interesting to see how many levels of resolution are lost at the various times.

Also like last night, the spotters were less effective than the binos. The Razor resolved one more level than the Kowa, but both were 4 levels less than the 18x binos. At full magnification I couldn't make out anything with the Kowa, and I could just barely make out the largest element with the Razor.

Which brings me to probably the most interesting thing I discovered with this testing. In low light, the binos are more useful at close to equal magnification compared to at least ~60mm spotters. This is one reason why someone may choose a 18x bino, IMO.

My overall impressions of both 18x Binos are below:

-Both are extremely similar in resolution, low light, and ergonomics.
-The UHD is a few ounces lighter for those ounce counters.
-The UHD is a bit easier to swap out tripod adapters due to space between barrels
-I personally found UHD easier to focus (I felt like I went by sharpest image with Mavens more)
-I like the UHD objective lens covers that fit inside the objective vs over the barrel like most.
-The Maven has a warmer color and appears brighter, especially in LL

I personally don't have a place in my kit for a 18x Bino, because I live in Hawaii and no game is more than 1000yds away that I can get after. But based on the two samples I had, if forced to choose, I would go with UHDs. Mainly because I am one of those ounce counters who end up climbing lots of steep mountains.

Hope that helps some folks, as always it was fun. As I planned to do from the beginning, I will post my UHDs for sale (sending Mavens back because they are demos). I feel these are a pretty strong sample based on their performance against the Mavens, for what it's worth.

Let me know if you have questions. Thanks for reading.

Phil
Thank you for puuting in the time and money to provide a comparison so many have asked for!
 
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Tahoe1305

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Folks

Demo Mavens in the mail back, UHDs posted at link below if anyone is interested in them. I think I have them priced well. They are winners for sure and will help you find game/ID trophies.

Helping sell these gives me the confidence to randomly buy more binos to compare in the future as folks request, without feeling I’m risking too much. Appreciate the support.

Thanks for looking.

 

Racethesunset

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For the UHD’s, at what point or in what setting do you think that they could replace the little Vortex or Nikon 50mm spotters?
 
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Tahoe1305

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So again single test I ran, but I do feel it was pretty fair (actually you could count the 400yd as a partial test too, so maybe two tests 400 and 60yds).

But from what I saw, both 18 binos could see more at last light then any of my spotters (55mm Kowa, 60mm Leupold, 65mm Razor) at their lowest magnification (15,12,18 respectively). At the spotters max magnification it was just black (razor could see largest item, but barely). And to be honest it wasn’t even close. The binos resolved it what looks like 5-7 levels more.

It’s an interesting finding and if you still have your pair I’d be curious if you would find the same results (I suspect/hope so).

So short answer to your question is low light for sure they could. I also think they could throughout the day as well but obviously the trade off here would be wider FOV and comfort(18s) for increased magnification(spotter). So as long as you don’t need to count rings or anything at ridge to ridge distances, they could replace. I had the mavens with me on a axis hunt this weekend and I could see deer antler points out to I’d guess about 1800 yds with great enough detail to make decisions. That’s just the furthest I could see(due to terrain), not to say I couldn’t do the same a bit further.

Let me know if that answers it or if you disagree.
 
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Tahoe1305

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I haven’t looked through the 50mm Nikon or Razor, but I can’t imagine they would outperform the larger objective spotters of similar quality at lowest magnification. Based on what I’ve read I wouldn’t see the extra zoom on the 30x spotters as worth the trade offs. The Kowa 553/4 would be the only one I’d consider over the UHDs and again that would be saying I prefer magnification vs LL,FOV,comfort. Which for my hunting I don’t.
 

Racethesunset

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I could see deer antler points out to I’d guess about 1800 yds with great enough detail to make decisions.
Thanks that’s what I was looking for. I haven’t had the opportunity to glass that distance with the UHD 18, only to spot check between them and the SLC HD inside of 800 or so. I sold my little spotter a few years ago and was thinking of a SW mule deer hunt where maybe I’d bring one. But now I can’t really see taking both the 15s or 18s and a compact spotter for that. These newer big eyes are that good at distance. You’d need to step up to 85’s for dawn/dusk to compare.
 
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Tahoe1305

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I wouldn't hesitate to do that. That said, I did lose my one shooter buck last weekend here in Hawaii switching between my 8s and 18s. I really liked that combo BTW, but anytime you switch you are putting tough to find game at risk. I kicked myself for it, only shot I had all weekend.
 
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Tahoe1305

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Ok, so straying a tad bit from a UHD/Maven comparison, but I conducted another resolution test today at 130yds and tested edge to edge clarity with a few other Binos, a spotter, and the 18x UHDs.

The test was to look at the same resolution chart at 130 yds, note the clarity level at the center of FOV then move the target to the very top of the FOV for all binos/spotters and record what level can be seen there.

Attached are the results. (c) is for center and (t) is for top. What I tested is all I have on hand still. I plan to echo this post in my $1000 Bino comparison thread as well. I have done 4 different test now with most of these binos and am getting very similar results as far as which ones best others (+/- 1 level of resolution) in various lighting conditions, so I would say my results are fairly consistent.

Summarized findings:

-All binos had a loss of clarity on the edges (shouldn't surprise anyone)
-My Razor 65mm spotter at the 16x setting had zero loss (I was surprised here)
-Maven B1 8x30 lost 4 levels
-Nikon 10x42 HG lost 5 levels
-Razor 10x42 lost 7 levels
-Viper 12x50 lost 10 levels
-Meostar 12x50 HD lost 4 levels
-Razor UHD 18x56 lost 3 levels
-Razor 65mm @16x same
-Razor 65mm @48x lost 2 levels

In general I was surprised the spotter had less loss compared to the field of binos. Also to note, now that I have comparable glass in the 8x, 10x, 12x, and 18x categories (at least IMO) I can comfortably say that magnification compared to resolution is roughly the following (at 130 yds anyway):

-8x baseline
-10x gains 3 levels
-12x gains 5 levels
-18x gains 7 levels

Again, hope this helps someone out there deciding on various levels of glass and magnification.
 

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