Why I can live with "Cheap" Optics

Matt W.

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I'm always one for quality gear, but I think today's optic market leaves a guy when some pretty solid choices for optics. I have been through a few different options and finally settled on some optics that are a great value for the budget hunter, IMO.

Binos:
Cabela's XT Binoculars 12x50 - I got mine on sale for $279. These have become my go to binos. I have had 8x and 10xs, but have just found these binos to be excellent in all ways.
They make 8x and 10x if you just can't fathom 12x. : ) In the open high country I run around in these have been more than excellent!


Spotter:
Vortex Nomad 20-60x60. I pair this with a $30 light weight tripod by Slik and have a great spotter setup for less than $350 bucks!
Complaints?
1) I bought straight, wish it was angled.
2) I struggle sometimes with getting my eye aligned just perfectly. The field of view is good, just not always easy to get aligned quickly.
3) The tripod is not ideal, but cost vs. performance is no brainer to me.

Range Finder
Nikon Rifle Hunter 550, it works and I don't shoot farther than 500 so good to go. Would like to try the new Vortex Ranger, but not because I need to... : ) It might be nice to have the extra distance and if I was looking for my 1st or get an itch I may give one of these a whirl.

So, this gets a guy all the "optics" one needs for around a $1,000.

There is probably even cheaper options out there, but these work and have stood the test for me.

With that said, what changes would I make?
Binos, none.
Spotter, I'd love to have angled vs. straight
Ranger Finder: My Nikon 550 works, but that Vortex Ranger intrigues me.

Anyway.. enough of my ramblings, hope someone finds it helpful.
 
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dotman

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Quick question, have you had the expensive alpha glass? You will never notice a diff until put to use. My Zeiss binos blew away my minox spotter the first and last hour of light. It was just amazing to see the diff I never knew was there until actually putting them to the test in the field. I'm now saving up for a Zeiss spotter. It really is a night and day diff you cannot get when looking inside a store or during the middle of the day.

I too would like the vortex rf but will stick with my cheap buschnell and put that money into the spotter savings.

I'm not meaning to knock your post just thought I would share my experience on mid grade optics vs high-end I have finally had a chance to experience, the price is worth it once in the field.

Also my total optics cost is around $1k also, look for demos for great savings.
 
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Matt W.

Matt W.

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No offense taken. Appreciate the comments and that was my goal with the post, get some constructive back and forth going on.

I've borrowed a pair of my Uncle's high end Swarovskis, they were nice, but it's just never been enough to convince me to drop that kind of dough. I'm rough on gear, my binos take a beating. Make me sick to do that to a pair of Zeiss! Always willing to be proved wrong, I just can not imagine having glass that is that expensive. I might be tempted to try a more expensive spotter, but I'd rather spend the money on an actual hunt.

What is your optic break out for a $1,000? Be interesting to see.

Now if Zeiss wants to send me a outfit to test out count me in! :)
 

Shrek

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I second the good glass. I would never have believed it could make that much diff. but it does. In the final mins. of daylight it will make a huge difference. I could judge and shoot deer at 200+ yards by the light of a half moon if I wanted with my zeiss victory ! Well worth every penny imo.
 
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Matt W.

Matt W.

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Both me and my buddy run the same binos. I have spent ~20 days with hours each day behind these binos. For where I hunt and what we are looking for (Alaskan sheep hunts) I have not felt they are lacking in any way. This year's hunt had a lot more snow that last year's and this made glassing a challenge. He's had his for 3 years and everyone who has tried them has either purchased a pair or want to. I could see spending some dollars on a spotting scope, but as for binos, I'd be hard pressed to give these bad boys up. With that said its a lot lighter up here than fall hunts in the L48. Perhaps I'd be singing a different tune then. ???
 

dotman

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No offense taken. Appreciate the comments and that was my goal with the post, get some constructive back and forth going on.

I've borrowed a pair of my Uncle's high end Swarovskis, they were nice, but it's just never been enough to convince me to drop that kind of dough. I'm rough on gear, my binos take a beating. Make me sick to do that to a pair of Zeiss! Always willing to be proved wrong, I just can not imagine having glass that is that expensive. I might be tempted to try a more expensive spotter, but I'd rather spend the money on an actual hunt.

What is your optic break out for a $1,000? Be interesting to see.

Now if Zeiss wants to send me a outfit to test out count me in! :)
Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 demo unit $749
Minox MD 50 spotter demo unit $219
Bushnell Chuck Adams (factory outlet) $80
Rocketfish 47 carbon fiber tripod $44

Total $1,092

Now my Zeiss isn't their highest end stuff but wow is it good.
 
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TooFarEast

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This is a good thread. I live on the east coast and most of my hunting is in thick timber for whitetails, so there is no need for expensive glass around here. I am trying to get set up to do a DIY western hunt every 2 years or so. It is hard for me to justify spending a ton of money on optics that I will only use once every year or 2. I currently have a minox MD 50 and a rocketfish tripod as well. I got the spotter brand new for $209 because I think the sales counter had a typo on the price tag and I held them to the price even though it rang up at $279 on the cash register. Nobody here buys expensive optics (besides rifle scopes) because there are no hunting situations in my region that would require long distance glassing. Thanks for the suggestion on the affordable binos because that is what I am looking for as I gear up for western hunts.
 
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Matt W.

Matt W.

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Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 demo unit $749
Minox MD 50 spotter demo unit $219
Bushnell Chuck Adams (factory outlet) $80
Rocketfish 47 carbon fiber tripod $44

Total $1,092

Now my Zeiss isn't their highest end stuff but wow is it good.
Interesting.. I think where I hunt I'd switch it around so that my top dollar item was spent on the spotter. But nice to see another guy's take. Thanks!
I did a search on the Rocketfish tripod. 2.9lbs? I sure do love my Slik Compact at 1.26lbs.. Probably not as durable, but... : )
 
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Matt W.

Matt W.

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This is a good thread. I live on the east coast and most of my hunting is in thick timber for whitetails, so there is no need for expensive glass around here. I am trying to get set up to do a DIY western hunt every 2 years or so. It is hard for me to justify spending a ton of money on optics that I will only use once every year or 2. I currently have a minox MD 50 and a rocketfish tripod as well. I got the spotter brand new for $209 because I think the sales counter had a typo on the price tag and I held them to the price even though it rang up at $279 on the cash register. Nobody here buys expensive optics (besides rifle scopes) because there are no hunting situations in my region that would require long distance glassing. Thanks for the suggestion on the affordable binos because that is what I am looking for as I gear up for western hunts.
I like those Cabela's XTs. I tried the a few other ones in $300 or so price range, but favored the XTs.
 
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Shrek

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Toofareast, I live in the SE and my 2.5x10x50 is used in the creek bottoms and thick timber. It is awsome down in the dark bottom. It gets dark in the bottom way before the end of legal light and thats where he goes first when he gets out of bed. I have shot deer when I couldn't see it at all without the zeiss scope. I got a 3x9x50 conquest in a trade for a camper about 2004 and thats how I got hooked. I had a vari-x III back then and the conquest just blew it away! The victory was that much better again than the conquest.
 

HOT ROD

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ToFarEast. I to live to far east. Nw Pa is home to me. I hunt out west as much as I can. At least every other year. I have ben using bushnell excursions. I thought it whas pretty good glass. Wow the zeiss conquest hd blow them away. Do Ur self a favor and save. and bye the best U can afford. Ebay camofire. I have even bought used gear. Now I need to save for a spotter. any one have any sugestions?
 

CrzyTrekker

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TooFarEast, I hunted for years with Steiners. Used 'em in the military and they work fine. About three years ago I got Zeiss 8x20s for lightweight excursions and realized they are brighter and much crisper than a full-size Steiner. Last year I bought Swarovski 8x32 for elk hunting and they are superb and an all around good glass for backpacking.

Wish I had saved up in the first pace, for as long as necessary, to purchase the higher-end glass. Could have saved a few bucks.
 

dotman

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Interesting.. I think where I hunt I'd switch it around so that my top dollar item was spent on the spotter. But nice to see another guy's take. Thanks!
I did a search on the Rocketfish tripod. 2.9lbs? I sure do love my Slik Compact at 1.26lbs.. Probably not as durable, but... : )
The thing is if I remember your tripod will only hold 3lbs, most spotters weigh more then that, the rocketfish will hold almost 16lbs.
 

HOT ROD

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Those are my thoughts to CrzyTrekker. First trip out in 09. West Elk Wilderness. Five pound tent, 5lb sleeping bag. That trip started out as a cabin hunt. But got changed to a pack in hunt. Can only blame my self. I am the one that changed it. Bye rite the first time. A lot of good people here. That are willing to help. And there is sum good stuf on the for sale site on this forum. rite now.
 
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Matt W.

Matt W.

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The thing is if I remember your tripod will only hold 3lbs, most spotters weigh more then that, the rocketfish will hold almost 16lbs.
True, but it works well with the Nomad. I would need to upgrade for a heavier spotter.

I'm just trying to point out that high dollar optics are not a must, at least for most. Lots of good medium quality stuff out there to buy. I'd rather spend the money on getting out. Just my take.
 

dotman

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True, but it works well with the Nomad. I would need to upgrade for a heavier spotter.

I'm just trying to point out that high dollar optics are not a must, at least for most. Lots of good medium quality stuff out there to buy. I'd rather spend the money on getting out. Just my take.
You are 100% correct, pretty amazing what the mid grade optics now offer for quality and warranty. They are way ahead of where they were 5 years ago.
 

tstowater

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High Country: Just spent some time in your state. About a week ago we were looking at a ram that the guide and I both believed was not full curl, but we did believe old enough based on mass and size of the ram. Problem was that the sheep were in a nasty spot to approach and wind was not good. The guide's spotter was giving him trouble and could not get focus that we needed to count rings. We backed out and picked up a different spotter and shot a different ram the next day. The morale is that good glass (clear and focused) makes a big difference. It doesn't have to be expensive, but you generally will get what you pay for. Some people's eyesight will compensate for lesser glass, mine won't. By the way, the spotter we had trouble with was an older Leica that needed to be sent in anyway and we used my Swaroski the next day. Probably could have gotten away with about anything as the sheep were close enough to probably judge with a good pair of binoculars. Why waste time chasing animals that could have been judged from a distance with better glass or past on ones that you should have if you could have seen them better from a distance and passed because you didn't want to climb the mountain on a "maybe".
 
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Matt W.

Matt W.

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That's why the one optic I'd splurge on would be the spotter. Lucky to have not had that problem yet. But it is a nightmare I've had a few times.. :). But splurge to me is stil ~$1000 or so. ;)
 

In God We Trust

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High Country I am with you. I don't buy cheap stuff but I don't buy the most expensive. I have a pair of Leupold Binos I paid 650 for a couple of years back. I have the new Leupold range finder and Vortex Viper Spotter. The mid range glass these days is pretty good. Mid range glass equals more money for other out of state trips. Good luck to everyone and God Bless.
 

pyroducksx3

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I just spend a couple days with my minox md50 on a slick tripod and my buddy had a sawro 65mm on a cheap nikon tripod. I didnt even want to use his because the tripod was so terrible but even when I did I didnt see the 1300$ difference. Maybe in low light and trophy hunters scoring and counting rings I could see it but for me the lighter weight md50 is fine for seeing if this animal is something I want to pursue. I went in to this trip thinking that after using his spotter I would have to upgrade but I dont feel that way at all.
 
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