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Old Tuesday 3rd July 2012, 18:29   #1
absolut_beethoven
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30 minutes of Optical Nirvana in Cabelas

Since moving to Texas 6 monhs ago, yesterday was my first opportunity to visit their 230,000 square foot store in Fort Worth with my son who joined me only last week. First, a word of warning - this place is extremely dangerous to your wallet, so either hide it or hold on tightly.

Don't read too much into these observations as I only had about 5 minutes with each. My eyes are more critical than most, and I do tend to pick up the obvious flaws almost immediately due to many years relying heavily on my eyesight to make a living as a watchmaker. All observations were limited to inside and I don't use eyeglasses with binos. Lastly, keep in mind that I didn't try multiple samples of any bino listed below.

Without further ado and in no particualr order. All are 8x42, except for the Euro HD at 10x42 and the Swarovski SV 8.5x42

The new Nikon Monarch 7. Extremely comfortable and well balanced in the hand. A clear and bright picture, but clarity and defintion seemed a little soft. Maybe because so many of the others I compared it too were two to 5 times the cost.

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD. The quality delivered for such a low price makes this a complete steal. Sharp, bright, high resolution and under some conditions a little extra flare. But easily manageable.

Swarovski CL 8x30, not even in the same class as the Nikon Monarch 7 - enough said. Very unimpressive so I spent very little time with them.

Swarovski SLC HD really excellent but not a good balance for me. Irrelavent anyway as it was easily put to shame by the SV 8.5x42. Bright, sharp, exceptional resolution and gave me the easiest and most relaxed view of the lot.

No surprises then that the latter of the individual samples I checked out, was the best for me by far.

But, But, one more he says and hauls out the Euro HD. Less than half the cost of the SV 8.5x42. Brighter, sharper and to my eyes, quite a bit better in the resolution department too. No CA in the sweet spot either. With bright, vibrant and very neutral colors. Amazing quality for so little money. The only downside is its excessive pin cushion distortion which kicks in around the 65% to 70% mark. Not as terrible as cupid's bow as some have described it, but still it should be better controlled in that price range IMHO.

The bottom line for me is that the Bushnell and Euro HD offer outstanding value for the money. But if you want the best, you can't go wrong with the SV 8.5x42.

Hopefully we'll get a chance soon to see how it stacks up against the new Zeiss HT.

I hope that you guys find this informative as I had fun comparing all these top notch binos. Something that I was last able to do in B&H in NY more than 10 years ago.
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Old Tuesday 3rd July 2012, 18:42   #2
newfie ghost
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Quote:
Originally Posted by absolut_beethoven View Post
Since moving to Texas 6 monhs ago, yesterday was my first opportunity to visit their 230,000 square foot store in Fort Worth with my son who joined me only last week. First, a word of warning - this place is extremely dangerous to your wallet, so either hide it or hold on tightly.

Don't read too much into these observations as I only had about 5 minutes with each. My eyes are more critical than most, and I do tend to pick up the obvious flaws almost immediately due to many years relying heavily on my eyesight to make a living as a watchmaker. All observations were limited to inside and I don't use eyeglasses with binos. Lastly, keep in mind that I didn't try multiple samples of any bino listed below.

Without further ado and in no particualr order. All are 8x42, except for the Euro HD at 10x42 and the Swarovski SV 8.5x42

The new Nikon Monarch 7. Extremely comfortable and well balanced in the hand. A clear and bright picture, but clarity and defintion seemed a little soft. Maybe because so many of the others I compared it too were two to 5 times the cost.

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD. The quality delivered for such a low price makes this a complete steal. Sharp, bright, high resolution and under some conditions a little extra flare. But easily manageable.

Swarovski CL 8x30, not even in the same class as the Nikon Monarch 7 - enough said. Very unimpressive so I spent very little time with them.

Swarovski SLC HD really excellent but not a good balance for me. Irrelavent anyway as it was easily put to shame by the SV 8.5x42. Bright, sharp, exceptional resolution and gave me the easiest and most relaxed view of the lot.

No surprises then that the latter of the individual samples I checked out, was the best for me by far.

But, But, one more he says and hauls out the Euro HD. Less than half the cost of the SV 8.5x42. Brighter, sharper and to my eyes, quite a bit better in the resolution department too. No CA in the sweet spot either. With bright, vibrant and very neutral colors. Amazing quality for so little money. The only downside is its excessive pin cushion distortion which kicks in around the 65% to 70% mark. Not as terrible as cupid's bow as some have described it, but still it should be better controlled in that price range IMHO.

The bottom line for me is that the Bushnell and Euro HD offer outstanding value for the money. But if you want the best, you can't go wrong with the SV 8.5x42.

Hopefully we'll get a chance soon to see how it stacks up against the new Zeiss HT.

I hope that you guys find this informative as I had fun comparing all these top notch binos. Something that I was last able to do in B&H in NY more than 10 years ago.
Cabela's is a great store eh?

Thanks for the review. My impressions coincide with yours. The Bushnell HD (the one sample I saw in 8x42) blew my mind for the price.

The 8.5 SV goes without saying. How was the focuser on the example you tried? Mine is great now that it is fixed.

I like the old non-HD Meopta and thought it was one of the best in the price range. I have not seen the HD yet. Tazzila was very impressed with his HD
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Old Tuesday 3rd July 2012, 19:41   #3
edwincjones
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we have a new Cabela's about 5 miles from my home "opening soon"

edj
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Old Tuesday 3rd July 2012, 20:57   #4
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we have a new Cabela's about 5 miles from my home "opening soon"

edj
You will love it! But your pocketbook might not.
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Old Tuesday 3rd July 2012, 22:57   #5
absolut_beethoven
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Originally Posted by newfie ghost View Post
Cabela's is a great store eh?

Thanks for the review. My impressions coincide with yours. The Bushnell HD (the one sample I saw in 8x42) blew my mind for the price.

The 8.5 SV goes without saying. How was the focuser on the example you tried? Mine is great now that it is fixed.

I like the old non-HD Meopta and thought it was one of the best in the price range. I have not seen the HD yet. Tazzila was very impressed with his HD
This is the first Cabelas that I've been into as we don't have any in California. I was really impressed - the layout, the selection and the helpfulness of the staff without any pressure. They'll definitely be seeing my CC again soon

Believe it or not, the 8.5x42 was THE only one that was less than ideal. All the others, including the other two SV models felt great. Some had slightly more tension and some less, but all felt very smooth and even in both direcetions, except the aforementioned SV.

It didn't feel gritty, it just wasn't as smooth as the others, and the tension wasn't 100% the same in both directions. I personally would have left it. But it really should feel at least as good as the Nikon Monarch 7 considering its price. Nothing wrong with its view though and that's the main thing!!

This was the first Meopta bino that I have ever looked through, so I didn't really know what to expect. I was blown away by the clarity, vividness, brightness, exceptional sharpness and resolution of the Euro HD. Okay, it only extends to about 65% to 70% of the view, but man, what a view it is!!!

The size, shape and weight are all very conducive to holding it firmly, and I didn't notice any additional shake, even although it was the only 10x bino that I looked though.

Except for the SV SLC HD, all of them actually felt quite comfortable in my small hands with the Nikon Monarch 7 being my ideal.

I can see lots of people comparing the Euro HD to the 8.5x42SV and figure that the last 30% is not worth the extra money one has to pay in order to achieve it.

FWIW Cabelas had a regular eye chart - like you see at the DMV or your eye doctor - about 300' away and almost 40' high right near some very bright high powered HID (or sodium lamps). The Bushnell were the weakest in controlling the veiling glare caused by them, but even then it didn't diminsh its other outstanding attributes.
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Old Tuesday 3rd July 2012, 23:15   #6
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AB:

You lead a sheltered life. I am fortunate or not to have a Cabelas within a close enough
driving distance that I get there, 2-3 times a year. Also up north the Scheels sporting
goods stores, have a nice selection of optics of many kinds.

Be sure to check out the Bargain cave at Cabelas, some nice discounted optics in
there.

Good for you to report, but the bright lights are not the best for any real comparison.
I have found with some of the binoculars that I have, it takes at least a week or 2
to become acquainted, and to appreciate what they have to offer.
You mentioned it, that the handling, and the other ergos, are very important with any
optics purchase.

Jerry
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Old Wednesday 4th July 2012, 00:17   #7
newfie ghost
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Originally Posted by absolut_beethoven View Post
This is the first Cabelas that I've been into as we don't have any in California. I was really impressed - the layout, the selection and the helpfulness of the staff without any pressure. They'll definitely be seeing my CC again soon

Believe it or not, the 8.5x42 was THE only one that was less than ideal. All the others, including the other two SV models felt great. Some had slightly more tension and some less, but all felt very smooth and even in both direcetions, except the aforementioned SV.

It didn't feel gritty, it just wasn't as smooth as the others, and the tension wasn't 100% the same in both directions. I personally would have left it. But it really should feel at least as good as the Nikon Monarch 7 considering its price. Nothing wrong with its view though and that's the main thing!!

This was the first Meopta bino that I have ever looked through, so I didn't really know what to expect. I was blown away by the clarity, vividness, brightness, exceptional sharpness and resolution of the Euro HD. Okay, it only extends to about 65% to 70% of the view, but man, what a view it is!!!

The size, shape and weight are all very conducive to holding it firmly, and I didn't notice any additional shake, even although it was the only 10x bino that I looked though.

Except for the SV SLC HD, all of them actually felt quite comfortable in my small hands with the Nikon Monarch 7 being my ideal.

I can see lots of people comparing the Euro HD to the 8.5x42SV and figure that the last 30% is not worth the extra money one has to pay in order to achieve it.

FWIW Cabelas had a regular eye chart - like you see at the DMV or your eye doctor - about 300' away and almost 40' high right near some very bright high powered HID (or sodium lamps). The Bushnell were the weakest in controlling the veiling glare caused by them, but even then it didn't diminsh its other outstanding attributes.
What was your impression of the scl hd in relation to the 8.5 SV?

It seems the 8.5 has the most frequent focus issue. SWARO can do it right as they fixed mine. Hopefully the new models will have the improvement.
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Old Wednesday 4th July 2012, 06:40   #8
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Wow that Meopta sounds great....

oh wait no, it actually sounds terrible. Outer 30% soft. Unusable. To much eye strain.

Maybe I didn't understand this correctly?
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Old Wednesday 4th July 2012, 13:09   #9
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Originally Posted by NDhunter View Post
AB:

Be sure to check out the Bargain cave at Cabelas, some nice discounted optics in
there.

Jerry
Lucky enough to have one here in CT 5 minutes away from school so I get there more than I should.
Anyway they had a factory refurb Zeiss 10x40 Classic in the bargain cave for $549 last week. I FINALLY got to try one after reading so much about them. Nice and sturdy feeling and the view was nice but I'd probably only get them for a novelty or to lend out or use if my Nikon's were being used.
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Old Thursday 5th July 2012, 23:37   #10
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...The Bushnell were the weakest in controlling the veiling glare caused by them, but even then it didn't diminsh its other outstanding attributes.
I'm surprised by this result. In my testing of the Bushnell 8x42 Legend Ultra HD, it performed as well or better than any of my other bins (including a number of alphas). In fact, backlighting performance was one of that model's strongest areas of performance. Were the lenses and prisms clean? Maybe chalk it up to unit to unit variation, which is considerable in that model.

--AP
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Old Friday 6th July 2012, 05:02   #11
absolut_beethoven
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDhunter View Post
AB:

You lead a sheltered life. I am fortunate or not to have a Cabelas within a close enough
driving distance that I get there, 2-3 times a year. Also up north the Scheels sporting
goods stores, have a nice selection of optics of many kinds.

Be sure to check out the Bargain cave at Cabelas, some nice discounted optics in
there.

Good for you to report, but the bright lights are not the best for any real comparison.
I have found with some of the binoculars that I have, it takes at least a week or 2
to become acquainted, and to appreciate what they have to offer.
You mentioned it, that the handling, and the other ergos, are very important with any
optics purchase.

Jerry
Hi Jerry, Yes, I did notice the bargain cave, but after spending too much time checking out binos, plus too much money on spare mags and ammo, I think that my CC was relieved that I stayed out of there.

Next time it'll definitely be my first stop!
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Old Friday 6th July 2012, 05:10   #12
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What was your impression of the scl hd in relation to the 8.5 SV?

It seems the 8.5 has the most frequent focus issue. SWARO can do it right as they fixed mine. Hopefully the new models will have the improvement.
I didn't spend a whole lot of time looking through them because out of the entire lot that I looked through that day, they were the least comfortable for my small hands and the balance didn't feel good. Probably something to do with my weight to height ratio. Or as my doctor once said, My weight is perfect if only I was 12" taller!

Having said that though, I thought that they really had excellent optics, sharp, bright and a very easy view. But in the samples that I checked, the 8.5x42 was slightly better in all the aforementioned areas, except resolution which was a lot better in the latter. Unfortunately it was also the only one whose focusing action was slightly sub par, especially taking into account its very high price.
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Old Friday 6th July 2012, 05:21   #13
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Wow that Meopta sounds great....

oh wait no, it actually sounds terrible. Outer 30% soft. Unusable. To much eye strain.

Maybe I didn't understand this correctly?
Absolutely no eyestrain at all Clive, and not soft either.

The sweet spot is razor sharp, so even although the last 30% is not razor sharp, it's sharp enough to be useful but it does stand out in stark contrast. The overall optical quality offers astounding value for money IMHO and you'll literally have to spend twice as much in order to get something significantly better.
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Old Friday 6th July 2012, 05:33   #14
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I'm surprised by this result. In my testing of the Bushnell 8x42 Legend Ultra HD, it performed as well or better than any of my other bins (including a number of alphas). In fact, backlighting performance was one of that model's strongest areas of performance. Were the lenses and prisms clean? Maybe chalk it up to unit to unit variation, which is considerable in that model.

--AP
It was only slightly worse than the others in that I noticed it at all with the Bushnell. It was there to a lesser degree with the others, but so slight that I barely even noticed it until I looked through the Bushnell.

That particular sample of the Legend Ultra HD had outstanding brightness, sharpness and resolution. I was shocked to see that it only cost $300 because it put the SV CL and Monarch 7 to shame. An outstanding bargain IMHO.

Keep in mind that the inside of Cabelas is less than ideal for absolute comparisons, but at least all the binos were compared under the same lousy indoor conditions. Good enough to see which models merit further testing and which ones not to bother with at all.
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Old Friday 6th July 2012, 07:37   #15
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Thanks. I like these quick compare reports as I don't have a decent optics place anywhere nearby. This Cabelas does sound great.

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Originally Posted by absolut_beethoven View Post
Absolutely no eyestrain at all Clive, and not soft either.

The sweet spot is razor sharp, so even although the last 30% is not razor sharp, it's sharp enough to be useful but it does stand out in stark contrast. The overall optical quality offers astounding value for money IMHO and you'll literally have to spend twice as much in order to get something significantly better.
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Old Friday 6th July 2012, 20:28   #16
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...That particular sample of the Legend Ultra HD had outstanding brightness, sharpness and resolution. I was shocked to see that it only cost $300 because it put the SV CL and Monarch 7 to shame. An outstanding bargain IMHO.
It's even more impressive when you consider that it sells for around $200 elsewhere.

--AP
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