Rogers Sporting Goods has been running an excellent special on the 8X42 Bushnell Legend M on their eBay site with a great price of approximately $160. Multiple members have jumped on the offer and so there is renewed discussion of this very good binocular. The sale is discussed in the Binocular Bargains thread.
The reason for activating this thread again is to give us members a place to discuss the M in some detail and to still keep the Binocular Bargains thread on track.
Below are comments from C J in regards to the Legend M and the similar Zen Ray ED3. I figured it would be best for me to respond outside of the Bargains thread.
C J ...... Thanks for posting your comparisions of the two models. I was hoping to hear your thoughts on the M considering all of your experience with the ZR ED3. I consider the Legend M a clone of the ZR ED3 but with improved revisions.
I have looked at both internally with a flashlight and they sure look the same to me. Screws, part shapes, placement, etc are all the same. They look to both use the same frame and for the most part, differences are in the armoring. There are however a couple of noticeable changes made to the body.
The first noticeable difference is the Bushnell has rings at the eye piece ends of both barrels whereas the ZR has the diopter ring on one side but no corresponding ring on the other barrel. I am not sure why that change was made. It could be for just aesthetic reasons.
The other noticeable change is the bridges, especially the focus knob bridge. The ZR is higher up. It looks like the focus was reworked. The front bridge on the Bushnell is also a little lower.
Speculation is not uncommon practice on the Forum so I will go there for a bit. Bushnell was owned by a couple of investment firms until a couple of years ago. It was then purchased by an outdoor products company and rather than being run by bankers sitting in some big city high rise, it now has some folks who actually use the products. I am thinking these folks who actually know something about outdoor products took a serious look at the base model and found areas that could be improved. It also looks like they are making a serious effort to get consistent quality.
I have both the 8X43 and the 10X43 in the ZR ED3 and also the 8X and 10X42 in the Bushnell M. Both of my original ZR units had to be exchanged due to issues out of the box. One may have been exchanged twice, but I do not remember for sure. That gave me first hand experience with at least 4 and maybe 5 ED3 units. All had free play in the focus when changing rotation. The two I have now are not bad and are much better than the first shipments but there is a noticeable difference compared to the Bushnell units with have near zero free movement. The Bushnell M at the Birdfair may have been an early demo and the assembly has improved with the current production. So far all the recent buyers have not found free play in the Bushnell. I think the focus mechanics it one area where Bushnell put some effort in improvement. I can see a change in the physical housing and in actual use.
C J is right about the Bushnell focus knob being a little smaller and the focus being faster. The diameter of the Bushnell focus knob is about 33mm and the ZR is about 35mm. Travel rotation from close to infinity is about 5/8 of a turn for the ZR and about 1 5/8 for the Bushnell. My ideal is about 1 1/4. I find it easier to lock onto focus at infinity with the Bushnell because of the slower focus and that lack of free play. The ZR would win out in close viewing.
I do pick up a difference in color balance. It is not great but my ZR models do lean a little to the warm side. I can see it on first look without having to switch back and forth multiple times. The Bushnell looks to be very close to neutral. They both work for me although I prefer the balance to be as close to neutral as possible.
Related is the color of the coatings. The Bushnell is magenta similar to the newer Zeiss products. The Zen Ray coating color is the blue green very similar to the Nikon Aculon.
I am not that particular about the handling and they both handle well for me. As C J pointed out, there are differences in the armor on the bride and the focus knob services. One other difference is the thumb cutouts on the bottom side. The ZR is for a specific grip and the Bushnell is more generic. My grip is not quite as ZR had in mind so the Bushnell design works a little better for me but it is not major.
The biggest difference for me is ease of eye placement when viewing without eye glasses. ZR products follow the design of a shorter extended eye cup in relationship to the eye relief. The end result is that for my facial structure, I have to brace the eye cups higher up than what is naturally comfortable for me. I do not have not that problem with the Bushnell Legend M. It looks like Bushnell eye cups are slightly longer so that may be part of the reason for the difference. I am also wondering if they tweaked the eye piece design to make it less susceptible to black outs. It seems I can wiggle the Bushnell around a little bit more before seeing blackouts.
When the eye cups are fully retracted, it looks like the edge off the eye cup may be a little bit farther from top surface of the eye piece lens. If so, then there is the possibly that the Bushnell may not work as well for a full view when viewing with glasses. Maybe C J, as an eye glass viewer, can comment on that and if she was able to get a full FOV with the Bushnell.
As C J noted, optical qualities of CA, glare, distortion, and center view appear the same. Both look to be optically the same other than a little difference in color balance and maybe some eye piece tweaking.
There was some discussion on the quality of the diopter ring of the Bushnell M when it first came out. That was a weak point of the previous model where it was made of plastic and frequently broke. I did look at an early version of the M a couple of years ago and had some concerns. I do not know if I had a bias because of what I knew about the previous version or if Bushnell has since made some changes. but I have no issues with the durability of the diopter ring on the two units I now have.
It looks like Bushnell did their homework and made a very good binocular even better. The improvements that work for me are a better focus mechanism, a small improvement in color balance to neutral and easier eye placement when viewing without glasses.
My choice between the two is the Bushnell and the primary reason is the eye placement. That is a personal preference item since different facial structures require different hold points. Some folks may get along better with the ZR approach. Both are very good and the Bushnell is a great buy at the current sales price.