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Thread: Hunting Binoculars

  1. #1
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    Default Hunting Binoculars

    Good folks, I currently use a set of Pentax binoculars for hunting. I've had them for about 15 years and they are showing their age. I've been saving up for set of Swarovski binos for the last two years. This week I finally scraped up enough cash to buy a set of 10x50 ELs. BUT I've turned into a chicken when it comes to plunking down that much cash on a piece of hunting kit. Should I go through with it? You thoughts are appreciated.

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    Member Antleridge's Avatar
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    I couldn't use 10X50s for general hunting, but you won't regret going with Swaros.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueDuck View Post
    Good folks, I currently use a set of Pentax binoculars for hunting. I've had them for about 15 years and they are showing their age. I've been saving up for set of Swarovski binos for the last two years. This week I finally scraped up enough cash to buy a set of 10x50 ELs. BUT I've turned into a chicken when it comes to plunking down that much cash on a piece of hunting kit. Should I go through with it? You thoughts are appreciated.
    Personally, I think the Vortex are a better option for the money. I've seen both in the field, and my opinion is that there is not a marked difference in the Vortex vs. the Swaro when it comes to binoculars... but when you're talking spotter - that's another story.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I wouldn't put down the money on Swarovskis until you've looked through a set of Vortex. After getting my wife a set last year, I'm sold on them.

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    another vote for vortex- was in same spot, not knowing what to buy. Wanting best glass for the $$. Bought a pair of Vortex HD & although we have diff pairs- they are the faves for my family. ( we have a small pr of steiner, pentax, leupold & an older set of leica)

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueDuck View Post
    Good folks, I currently use a set of Pentax binoculars for hunting. I've had them for about 15 years and they are showing their age. I've been saving up for set of Swarovski binos for the last two years. This week I finally scraped up enough cash to buy a set of 10x50 ELs. BUT I've turned into a chicken when it comes to plunking down that much cash on a piece of hunting kit. Should I go through with it? You thoughts are appreciated.

    Was in the same boat about 9 yrs ago. Had been using a pair of bushnells for years and finally bit the bullet and bought the Swarovski 10x50's, I've taken them all over the state and have never second guessed buying them.

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    I broke down and bought a set of Ziess 2 years ago. My only regret is not doing it sooner. You will not regret spending the $$$$ on good glass. Easier on the eyes. And can define brow tines when others cant.

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    Another vote for the vortex train from me. I looked at swaros and vortex and the lifetime warrantee vortex has grabbed this penny scraper's attention. I ended up going with the 10x42 vipers. HD glass for a very affordable $599. I don't have a bad thing to say about them. The sportsmans warehouse in ANC will let you pull swaros and vortex out of the case and walk outside and try them. I went right about dusk early in the spring and tested both out in "low light" (if that exists in the city) and could hardly tell the difference. So I gave the vortex vipers the nod.


    Can't shoot 'em where they ain't.

  9. #9

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    ELs all the way. No questions. I can line up 30 pairs of binoculars and often have. You can not make a decision of how ELs are worth it unless you are at a shop that lets you go out and compare them in rain, sleet or low light conditions. Most of the workers at sporting goods stores will push Vortex Razors or Vipers because of the excellent sales incentive programs. They are the best in the business. However, I can tell you without a doubt that Swaro ELs are worth it.
    1) Exceptional eye relief. (20 mm) is way more than any of the other alphas.
    2) comfort in the hand- I have to literally pry them out of the hands of people who try them.
    3) High residual value. You buy quality and it won't decrease in price. You will not ever want to sell them. There are a lot of used Razors and Vipers but you will not see many ELs unless the person is buying a new pair and selling their old pair.

    I can tell you as the guy who sells the binoculars here in Fairbanks that it WILL make a difference in finding game.
    Negatives- They are expensive. However, you buy them once and learn how to use them, you will find that they increase your hunting ability by a large amount.
    2) Vortex offers more marginal social utility.(Bang for the Buck) Until you knock the APO prisms out of alignment. Sure they will continue to work but if you use them for more than 15 minutes you will get head aches.Vortex has a super warranty but if they take a fall in the field you have to wait until you get into town to send them in.
    3) Wife or Husband will give you hell because you are spending too much money on something that can be purchased for 40.00. Right now there is a consensus that the EL 10X42SV is the best binocular(general purpose) in the world. The best car will cost you 10M. Best Rifle 100,000. Best watch 500,000. However, while you may use a car, a watch or a rifle to be an effective hunter you should be spending more time behind the binoculars than any other tool.

    If you have any other questions.
    PM me.

    I will be in Chitina for three days but I am around.

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    Member KantishnaCabin's Avatar
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    I was in a similar conundrum 15yrs ago. I settled and purchased a very nice set of Zeiss 8X40 rubber armored bino's. While I have been happy with their quality and durability the last 15 years, the only regret I have is not spending the extra $200 for the Swaro 10X42's. Just about every guide I know from Kodiak to Fairbanks recomends the Swaro 10X42. They said it 15 years ago and they still say it today. Don't settle, you will regret it. Even if you do purchase a very nice alternative.

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    I appreciate the input guys! I'll certainly check out the Vortex binos before I spend my money. Can anyone articulate the difference between Swarovski SLCs and ELs? Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by kaboku68 View Post
    ELs all the way. No questions. I can line up 30 pairs of binoculars and often have. You can not make a decision of how ELs are worth it unless you are at a shop that lets you go out and compare them in rain, sleet or low light conditions. Most of the workers at sporting goods stores will push Vortex Razors or Vipers because of the excellent sales incentive programs. They are the best in the business. However, I can tell you without a doubt that Swaro ELs are worth it.
    1) Exceptional eye relief. (20 mm) is way more than any of the other alphas.
    2) comfort in the hand- I have to literally pry them out of the hands of people who try them.
    3) High residual value. You buy quality and it won't decrease in price. You will not ever want to sell them. There are a lot of used Razors and Vipers but you will not see many ELs unless the person is buying a new pair and selling their old pair.
    I'll second this. Over 30 years ago I purchased a pair of 8x40's (predecessors to today's SLC's I believe). They cost about $750 at the time, and I had to borrow a couple hundred from an uncle to make the purchase... They went from the coast to over 14,000 feet and back again, many times, in all weather and temperature conditions imaginable... About 21 years ago, while camping on an Oregon beach in spring (huge surf, torrential rain, and dramatic diurnal temperature swings) one of the tubes fogged. Swarovski replaced them without blinking, free of charge, including shipping. I still have them today and would not for a second consider selling them, other than to replace them with a new pair of Swaro's (but I have no reason to). Bar none, that was the best money I have ever spent in my life.
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    I was in the same boat as you. Except I was looking for both binos and spotter. I ended up getting vortex razor spotter. My buddy has the swarro and there is little to no difference. I did buy a set of swarro 10x42 el range at cabelas for an amazing deal. I can tell you that they don't even compare to the vortex binos. At least from what I saw. It hurt spending that much on glass but every time I look through them I think that they are worth it. I can't wait to get them out hunting this year.

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    This seams to be a never ending bino question; are Swaro's really worth the money. $2,500 is a tough pill to swallow for a pair of binos. Whether they truly are worth the money or not, I don't think you'd ever regret the purchase if you go through with it. I think you'd regret it about as much as getting heated seats or auto start in your truck. Have you ever heard any one tell you they hate having an auto start? I sure haven't. Cabelas has the EL on sale.

    I have hunting buddies with EL's and a variety of Vortex binos. Like you I have a 8 year old pair of Pentax binos, the DCF SP's. I've compared my old Pentax to all my hunting buddies and will say that even a $500 pair of Vortex are a big improvement from my old binos. The funny thing is, I still out glass most of them. I think diligence in your glassing is more important the the bino you use. That being said, quality binos are still important and I'm in the market to upgrade my Pentax as well. After multiple trips to the various stores to compare, I'm kind of set on the Swaro SLC's. Just can't get myself to jump up to the EL's.

    Per a Swaro rep I spoke to, the difference between the EL and SLC is there is an additional lens in the EL's that gives it more edge clarity. Honestly I've done some searching for the same answer a while back and this was about the jest of it. Some people claims to get the fisheye roller ball effect with the EL's. I think those claims are few and far between. Everyone's eyes are different so I'm sure there are a few people who get this effect. This website usually has some good bino inf, http://www.opticstalk.com/.

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    Thanks again guys for the incredible feedback!

  16. #16

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    Swaro's all the way. I went with the SLC's, they are awesome and as stated above, I have no regrets.

  17. #17

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    EL field flatteners are actually 6 additional lenses near the objectives than the ELs. That is from John Nicholson who is the head SONA representative. Ron Williams is the present national sales representative. That is why they are so much heavier than the SLC HDs. The SLC HDs actually have a higher light transmission than the ELs. However, the ELs have no sweet spot. What that means is that the entire field of view is a sweet spot you actually can do a grid pattern with them without moving the binocular.
    The SLC HDs are fantastic binoculars. They have a huge sweet spot and really can articulate a super clear image. The focus wheel on SLCs sometimes needs triflow spray to loosen it up but otherwise they are extremely nice.

    However, the biggest element of the optics game is that the Vortex binos and spotters are improving every single year. They are getting better and better.

    The ELs presently are on sale for 10% off. This is because there are going to be some model element changes(outside cap adapters). However, there is no improved Super Swarovision. Optically Swaro is where it wants to be. However, it is intending to put numbers of binoculars out there.
    Leica's Trinovid and Ultravid binoculars are superb. Leica is commonly the guide's choice. The Ultravid + binoculars are nearly at the same price level as the Swaro SLC HD. They are better than the SLCs optically. Ultravid + are right with the ELs with the only positive element for the ELs are their eye relief.

    Many people also really believe that the HTs are better than the SLCs and you often can find them on sale for near the same price.
    The SFs have not really hit the market but the alpha birders say that they are the freaking bomb and can focus uber close. I will hold back on my view of them until they are in my mitts.

    Vortex and Meopta and more recently Maven are as good as the Alpha four for all cases except one. When visibility sucks and light is crap the alphas will creep up and articulate images that the second tier just can't get to.

    One last thing, everybody has eyes that favor specific types of glass. Luke Moffatt has 10/20 vision and with his time in the field- the articulation of vision that he can get from his 12X50 Razors is as good as what his ELs gave him. My eyes are myopic with astigmatism. The 20MM of the ELs do give me a better image and in fact my 10X25B Swaro Pockets with 17 MM of eye relief actually give me better image than my razor 12X50s.
    I don't know what to say about it.

    My son loves Leica. He is a black rifle, tactical nut but he loves Leica.

    I still have a soft spot for Zeiss and look forward to what the SFs will do.

    Right now everybody is winning as they optical companies compete against eachother.

    One last thing....
    Bear Archery had a really sweet collection of compound bows last year. This year, not so much. Sometimes when you get a really good product from a manufacturer buy the thing because beancounters can muck up stuff better than anybody.


    Sincerely,
    Thomas

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    Vote here for the Swaro EL 10x42. I have owned many pairs of binoculars over the years including Zeiss. This is my second pair of ELs....I traded up when the new Swarovision models came out. I found that my old pair were worth almost exactly what I had paid for them 4 or 5 years before.

    My Swaros mostly stay locked in the gun safe. I have some Nikon Monarch ATBs in the truck for general glassing. But come hunting season or spring waterfowl migration, the Swaros are the only glass I use. Excellent clarity, color transmission, depth perception. It hurts buying them but you will never regret having them in the field.

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    Lots of good info here. I went with the SLC HD 8x42s. I looked through the ELs and the view just didn't seem natural to me. The human eye doesn't have such a clear, flat field of view. We see things with a sweet spot in the middle yet are fuzzy around the edges because of our peripheral vision. So, I can see why some folks refer to the ELs as looking through a clear rolling ball.

    When I bought mine, I found some reviews by Dr. Gijs van Ginkel. He had done some reviews of various binos using optical measuring equipment he has available to him at a university in the Netherlands. He has the results and an explanation of optics features available at the website Houseofoutdoor.com.

    His reviews are now a bit dated as technology continues to change but the information proved useful for me. Google translate is needed as well and some of his reviews are so extensive, Google cannot translate them but you can see the tables and figure out how various optics compare. Relevant parts of the website are at the bottom left under Binoculars, basic education, secondary education, university and further down, test and compare binoculars is where the test results are linked.

    Birding forums are also a good source for bino reviews. I am perfectly happy with my SLC HD 8x42s and I am looking hard at the Leica Geovid HD-R Type 402. This bino incorporates a laser rangefinder with basic ballistic info. Much better than the ballistics package in their HD-B which did not allow for enough customization to match the specific ballistic profile of a gun and load. Good luck in your optical quest!

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    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    And another vote for the EL's. I rather forget my rifle for a hunt than my EL's.

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