November 30th, 2014

PrecisionRifleBlog.com Tests Range-Finding Binoculars

Last year, PrecisionRifleBlog.com published results from the most comprehensive field test of rangefinder binoculars ever conducted. The comparison test included virtually every product then available in the USA. If you are thinking about getting a set of binoculars with range-finding capability, you should definitely read this test. Here we summarize key findings of the test, but you’ll want to read the FULL STORY.

Six range-finding binocular optics (and two monocular rangefinders) were field-tested in a variety scenarios to see which had the best performance in terms of both optical clarity and ranging capabilities. The results are based on over 10,000 data points collected from the field over 3 months of testing. Cal Zant, author of PrecisionRifleBlog.com, published a series of posts with exhaustive details about his optical and ranging tests and results, but we’ll hit the highlights here.

Ranging Binocular Field Test and Reviews

VOICE FILE: Click Button to Hear Cal Zant TALK about Rangefinder Binocular Test

Six of the models tested were binoculars, and the other two were monoculars. The Leupold monocular was included for reference, because many shooters have a 1,000-yard rangefinder similar to the RX-1000. The Vectronix Terrapin model was included as the control for ranging performance, because it is known to be an extremely accurate rangefinder (spoiler alert: it is). Cal provides a very detailed side-by-side spec comparison for these models in one of his posts.

Ranging Test Results

Rangefinder Binocular ReviewEach model was used to range 500+ times in a variety of scenarios from 25 to over 30,000 yards. The tests showed these models had similar performance at close and mid-range targets, but at 600 yards their performance started to diverge … so that is where most of the testing was focused.

The chart below summarizes the ranging performance found on the test targets in ideal conditions, which was from a sturdy tripod, at sunset, with 10+ mile visibility. The exact target shape and surroundings varied, but the targets were all approximately 2 MOA wide, highly reflective, and perpendicular to the rangefinder. Specifics on target dimensions, view from the ranging position, and target surroundings are given in the detailed ranging performance results post.

Rangefinder Binoculars Review Ranging Performance Under Ideal Light Conditions

Vectronix is the leader of the rangefinder world, and that was proved once again in these tests. The new Leica Geovid HD-B wasn’t far behind them, with accurate ranging beyond 1 mile. The Zeiss Victory RF also had surgical precision off a tripod, although it had a reduced range compared to the Vectronix and Leica. The Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile also proved to be able to range targets out to their claimed max range of 1,760 yards.

PrecisionRifleBlog.com also tested the ranging performance of each model in bright lighting conditions, and offhand as well. The data from those tests also contained a few surprises. To determine how accurate each model really was, Cal Zant carefully analyzed the results from each model when aimed at precisely positioned, “known distance” targets. To see how those tests turned out, or learn more details about specific models, GO TO full results.

Optical Test Results

Rangefinder Binoculars Review Optical QualityFor the optics tests, Cal’s goal was to find an objective, data-driven approach to testing optical performance. What he came up with was placing eye exam charts from 600 to 1,400 yards with different size letters, and then recording what two different people could accurately read with each model. The data for each unit was summed into a single score so they could be ranked relative to how much detail the testers could make out. More specifics are provided regarding how the test was conducted and how scores were calculated in the optical performance results post. Here are the results from Cal’s data-driven approach:

Rangefinder Binoculars Review Optical Quality

The Leica Geovid HD-B edged out the other models for the top spot, with its completely new, Perger-Porro prism design. The original Leica Geovid HD, and Zeiss Victory RF also showed great optical clarity.

The Rest of the Story

Cal’s full series of posts is very informative. He’s done tons of analysis on the data, and summarizes it in several charts that provide a lot of insight. Cal is also in the process of publishing detailed reviews on each model, including notes he and the other testers compiled for each unit. They used them all — a lot, so they have a unique perspective on what’s good or bad about each. Find out more at the link below:

CLICK HERE to Read Full Article with More Info

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Optics 4 Comments »
December 24th, 2013

Ultimate Range-Finding Binocular Test by PrecisionRifleBlog.com

PrecisionRifleBlog.com recently published results from the most comprehensive field test of rangefinder binoculars ever conducted. It included virtually every product available in a variety of real-world scenarios, to see which had the best performance in the field in terms of both optical clarity and ranging capabilities. The results are based on over 10,000 data points collected from the field over 3 months of testing. Cal Zant, author of PrecisionRifleBlog.com, published a series of posts with exhaustive details about his optical and ranging tests and results, but we’ll hit the highlights here.

Ranging Binocular Field Test and Reviews

VOICE FILE: Click Button to Hear Cal Zant TALK about Rangefinder Binocular Test

Six of the models tested were binoculars, and the other two were monoculars. The Leupold monocular was included for reference, because many shooters have a 1,000-yard rangefinder similar to the RX-1000. The Vectronix Terrapin model was included as the control for ranging performance, because it is known to be an extremely accurate rangefinder (spoiler alert: it is). Cal provides a very detailed side-by-side spec comparison for these models in one of his posts.

Ranging Test Results

Rangefinder Binocular ReviewEach model was used to range 500+ times in a variety of scenarios from 25 to over 30,000 yards. The tests showed these models had similar performance at close and mid-range targets, but at 600 yards their performance started to diverge … so that is where most of the testing was focused.

The chart below summarizes the ranging performance found on the test targets in ideal conditions, which was from a sturdy tripod, at sunset, with 10+ mile visibility. The exact target shape and surroundings varied, but the targets were all approximately 2 MOA wide, highly reflective, and perpendicular to the rangefinder. Specifics on target dimensions, view from the ranging position, and target surroundings are given in the detailed ranging performance results post.

Rangefinder Binoculars Review Ranging Performance Under Ideal Light Conditions

Vectronix is the leader of the rangefinder world, and that was proved once again in these tests. The new Leica Geovid HD-B wasn’t far behind them, with accurate ranging beyond 1 mile. The Zeiss Victory RF also had surgical precision off a tripod, although it had a reduced range compared to the Vectronix and Leica. The Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile also proved to be able to range targets out to their claimed max range of 1,760 yards.

PrecisionRifleBlog.com also tested the ranging performance of each model in bright lighting conditions, and offhand as well. The data from those tests also contained a few surprises. To determine how accurate each model really was, Cal Zant carefully analyzed the results from each model when aimed at precisely positioned, “known distance” targets. To see how those tests turned out, or learn more details about specific models, GO TO full results.

Optical Test Results

Rangefinder Binoculars Review Optical QualityFor the optics tests, Cal’s goal was to find an objective, data-driven approach to testing optical performance. What he came up with was placing eye exam charts from 600 to 1,400 yards with different size letters, and then recording what two different people could accurately read with each model. The data for each unit was summed into a single score so they could be ranked relative to how much detail the testers could make out. More specifics are provided regarding how the test was conducted and how scores were calculated in the optical performance results post. Here are the results from Cal’s data-driven approach:

Rangefinder Binoculars Review Optical Quality

The Leica Geovid HD-B edged out the other models for the top spot, with its completely new, Perger-Porro prism design. The original Leica Geovid HD, and Zeiss Victory RF also showed great optical clarity.

The Rest of the Story

Cal’s full series of posts is very informative. He’s done tons of analysis on the data, and summarizes it in several charts that provide a lot of insight. Cal is also in the process of publishing detailed reviews on each model, including notes he and the other testers compiled for each unit. They used them all — a lot, so they have a unique perspective on what’s good or bad about each. Find out more at the link below:

CLICK HERE to Read Full Article with More Info

Permalink Gear Review, Optics 3 Comments »
September 6th, 2011

Swarovski Introduces New ‘EL Range’ Laser-Equipped Binoculars

Swarovski EL RangeSwarovski has released a new binocular product with built-in laser rangefinder, and angle compensation. Designed on the popular “open-bridge” EL binocular body, the EL Range comes in two configurations: 8x42mm and 10x42mm. Weighing just 910grams (32 ounces), both versions are lighter than other premium rangefinding binocs. The shape and size (6.5″L x 4.6″W) of the EL Range are basically the same as the non-laser EL Binocular — all the additional electronics are housed in two small belly extensions, one on each side (see photo). These curved extensions fit comfortably into your palms, so the the EL’s good ergonomics have been maintained.

Swarovski EL Range

Max Range is 1375 meters (1504 yards)
The EL Range is rated to 1375m or 1504 yards — that’s comparable with the latest Leica LRFs. Swarovski claims that its ranging laser can measure with an accuracy of +/- 1m over the entire measurement range (30–1375m). Ranging options (reticle brightness, angle compensation etc.) are controlled by a small button under the bridge. This can easily be accessed by your thumb while glassing. You don’t have to remove the EL away from you head to find or operate the digital controls. The EL Range is comfortable in the hand, and it is noticeably easier to hold the EL Range steady on a small target than the ultra-compact, pocket-sized rangefinders.

With the Swaro EL Range, you get great glass along with a very accurate laser. The transmission in both binocular halves is 91%. They are equipped with a 61° wide-angle eyepiece which supports a field of view of 137m (8×42) or 110m (10×42). The large eye relief offers four positions, to which the eyecup can be adjusted individually. This means that even spectacle wearers can enjoy the full benefit, with a crystal-clear vision and great comfort. Diopter compensation is an ample -7/+5. Interpupillary distance is 2.2 – 2.9 inches (that’s enough to fit all adults). The exit pupil on the 8X version is 5.3mm, while on the 10X version it is 4.2mm, still plenty big.

Swaro-Aim Angle Compensation Aids Hunters
The newest “SWARO-AIM” technology features an integrated gradometer to show the precise and correct shooting distance and angle. Designed with electronic readout of yards and meters, brightness levels and angle compensation, the display offers 5 individually adjustable brightness levels on an easy-to-read LCD screen with a simple and intuitive menu operation.

Swarovski EL Range

VIEW EL Range Techical Data | DOWNLOAD EL Range Specifications

Release Date and Price: MSRP on the EL Range laser-equipped binoculars is $3077.00 for the 8×42, and $3188.00 for the 10×42. We expect “street price” to settle around $2770.00 for the 8X and $2870.00 for the 10X. That’s quite a bit more than the 8×42 Leica Geovid Rangefinder binocular, which retails for $2349.00 (street price). On the other hand, Swarovski’s standard (no laser) EL 8.5×42 Swarovision binocular costs about $2350.00 (street price), so that means you’ll pay about $420.00 more for the ranging capability. For someone who can afford the standard (non-laser) EL binoculars, it probably makes sense to spend a few hundred more for the EL Range. Vendors expect to receive the Swarovski EL Range in late October, but Swarovski tells us that “quantities will be very limited before the end of the year”.

Permalink New Product, Optics 3 Comments »
March 3rd, 2009

Ultimate Optics: BigEyes™ System from SWFA

We often hear the question: “What is THE best spotting scope for viewing objects at ultra-long distances”. That’s not a trick question… but maybe there’s a trick answer. The best optic for ultra-long range may not be ONE spotting scope, but rather TWO scopes working in tandem. Military observers and artillery spotters have long used massive binoculars for long-range observation. Texas-based SWFA, one of the nation’s most successful optics vendors, now offers a dual-scope BIGEYES™ system that offers certain viewing properties no single scope can match. Employing two (2) premium 80mm-objective Swarovski spotting scopes with high-definition (HD) glass, the BIGEYES system promises better depth perception and enhanced perceived brightness compared to a single scope. Many people also find that extended viewing through a dual-lens system is less fatiguing than looking through one lens, but that is more about human factors than internal optic quality.

SWFA Bigeyes Swarovski

That’s Five Grand Worth of Swarovski Glass
The BIGEYES do work remarkably well. You’ll see these mounted on heavy tripods at long-range matches such as Williamsport. But BIGEYES are not for shooters and hunters on a tight budget. This twin-Swaro set-up is very expensive. SWFA offers two models. The STS80HD20XBE, with 20-power eyepieces, costs $4,929.95. The companion STS80HDZOOM with 20-60X zoom eyepieces (lower photo) runs a whopping $5,129.95. You can also purchase other eyepieces at different magnification, but remember, if you change eyepieces you need to purchase a pair — one for each scope.

SWFA Bigeyes Swarovski

Optical Advantages for Hunters
Even if we presume that two scopes are better than one, can a $5K investment in glass be justified? SWFA claims that: “BIGEYES™ allow you to view distant objects in great detail with the equivalent of a 20-60×80 tripod mounted binocular. Porro prism design provides the optimum focal length required to maximize the performance of the 80mm HD (high definition) objectives. BIGEYES offer superior field of view combined with amazing depth perception that no conventional binocular can match. BIGEYES allow you to hunt from a fixed location, providing you the ability to glass animals literally miles a way. You can scout and judge animals with out disrupting their patterns.”

This Editor doubts he could ever afford a set of BIGEYES. But it’s nice to know such a system, complete with mount, is available for those who have the financial resources. For more information, visit SWFA at www.RifleScopes.com.

Permalink New Product, Optics 4 Comments »
August 28th, 2008

Leica 10×42 Ultravid HD Earns 'Best of Best' Award

The new-generation Leica Ultravid 10×42 HD Binocular has been named “Best of the Best” by Field & Stream magazine. Field & Stream’s “Best of the Best” award selects winners based on design, dependability, and value. The Ultravid 10×42 is offered in both basic and HD (“high definition”) versions. The premium HD model features Fluorite-Ion Lenses for reduced chromatic aberration and enhanced color rendition plus state-of-the-art lens/prism coatings that transmit 3% more light. External lenses have an “AquaDura” hydrophobic coating that sheds moisture.

The Leica Ultravid HD binocular was introduced in 2007. The new Ultravid HD offers a marked increase in depth of field, contrast, and light gathering while retaining a compact size. Leica Ultravid HD binoculars are offered in a variety of models: 8×32, 10×32, 7×42, 8×42, 10×42, 8×50, 10×50, and 12×50. The Award-winning Ultravid 10×42 HD is available from SWFA.com (item 40294) for $2295.00. The “regular” (non-HD) 10×42 Ultravid (item 40262) is considerably less expensive at $1,479.95.

Leica Ultravid 10x42 HD binoculars

10000Birds.com Review:
“Optically [the Ultravids] are without doubt the best binoculars I’ve ever used — clear, sharp, and with no fringing at all. Thanks to the use of lightweight materials like magnesium for the housing and titanium for the central hinge shaft I no longer feel like I’m carrying a boulder around my neck after a day in the field, and the neck-strap is as comfortable as expected. I’ve used them on five continents already, at high-altitude, in strong sunlight and at dusk, in light rain and strong winds, and they have performed exceptionally well every time. They don’t fog-up, they don’t let in dust and — as the manufacturers booklet suggests — you can clean them by running them under a tap!”

Birdwatching.com Review:
“Because of its superb optical resolution and contrast, the Ultravid belongs in any list of the top binoculars of the world. Look through a Leica Ultravid, and you’re immediately struck with how bright and clear the image is from the center of the generous field of view to the outer edges, and how true and free from bias are the colors.”

Great Optics but Just Too Expensive?
The Washingon Times had an interesting take on Field & Stream’s “Best of the Best Awards”: “If you just hit the lottery and money is no object, the best top-of-the-line binoculars, say the experts at Field & Stream, are the German Leica Ultravid 10x42mm HD at $2,095. The best mid-priced binocs were Leupold’s Mojave 10x42mm at $480. Okay, so [the Ultravids] are the best, but I’ll never throw away my 20-year-old Bushnell binoculars I paid a little over $100 for. I love ’em. Seriously now [despite what F&S says] … we’re idiots if we buy the most expensive item when another performed just as well.”

Permalink Optics No Comments »