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Old Tuesday 11th October 2011, 18:00   #1
FrankD
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Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 8x42

I felt the need to start a new thread on this binocular despite the fact that it has been discussed previously. My reasoning is because of the current price on this model considering its list of features and performance level.

I bought one of these a couple of years ago right when they first debuted. At the time I compared them directly with some of the other binoculars I had on hand including one of the Zen Ray ED models (can't remember if it was the ED or ED2). At the time my comments/thoughts on the model were favorable. The view is wide at over 420 feet plus the introduction of ED glass into the Legend model created very good color correction in the centerfield of the image. The only major negative that I remember posting about was the size of the binocular's "sweet spot" of image in focus and relatively free of distortion. I do remember it being smaller than that of its chief competitors. In its defense it is a smaller and lighter package plus it was/is less expensive.

After seeing some of these units show up on Amazon for the measly sum of $130 I decided to order another one to, once again, compare to what I have on hand. My findings are entirely comparable to what I originally discovered with this binocular. A very nice, compact full-sized binocular with very good centerfield performance. The sweet spot is still smaller than I would prefer and the type/severity of the edge distortion is more distracting than that of its chief competitors. However, when you consider the price these can now be had for (average around $200) plus a $50 mail-in rebate it is really hard to ignore them.

None of this is entirely new though so you may wonder why I chose to post this. Well, I had some time the other night so I took many of my current binocular selection out back to do a little "resolution comparison" between models. This isn't a true resolution "test" as I did not use a booster or a line chart for comparisions. What I did do was pick out a specific object to focus on. In this case it was a birdfeeder that I have set up approximately 20 yards from the backporch. One of the small access "holes" to the feeder had various seeds and granules located within it. The back of the hole is dark so it provided a nice opportunity to not only compare in terms of apparent sharpness but also contrast and CA control (black hole on silver colored feeder). What I found was particularly interesting....

This was a tripod mounted test.

Though the sweet spot of the Ultra's image is smaller than I would like the performance within that sweetspot is exemplary in terms of the areas I just mentioned. I was actually able to resolve finer details in that sweet spot than I could with any other binocular I have on hand. The only other binocular that allowed me to see the same small details was the Nikon SE 8x32. None of the other units I compared to the Bushnell were able to equal this accomplishment. I found that somewhat surprising considering some of the other models feature ED glass in the design. What surprised me further was the level of CA control and contrast available in that sweet spot as well. Both characteristics were, again, exceptional in my opinion.

Now, don't take this as a glowing endorsement for the optical performance of the Legend Ultras. They are certainly above average overall for their price point but the edge performance of these binoculars is their one weak point optically. CA is noticeably evident in the area not within the sweet spot (about 50% of the image) plus the distortion is fairly noticeable in regular use. But, when you consider the physical package the image is presented in then it is hard not to like them overall.

As a side note, I am going to have the opportunity to try out Bushnell's warranty/customer service. Yesterday afternoon I managed to drop the Ultras while getting into my car. They landed, sadly, on the edge of the eyecup. The binoculars are now out of alignment and the eyecup will not twist out of the body. The rubber armor around the eyecup is also a bit torn at this spot.

Still, for the $80 I ended up paying for them I am not overly concerned. I look forward to using them again.

Last edited by FrankD : Tuesday 11th October 2011 at 18:03.
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Old Tuesday 11th October 2011, 20:32   #2
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Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 8x42 Revisited

Dear Butterfingers,

Thanks for that second take at the Bushnell Legend HD, particularly with it matching the apparent resolution of the SE. Sorry to hear they fall down and go boom. Well, at least it wasn't your SE.

The Japanese-made Celestron 8x32 Ultima I owned also matched the apparent resolution of the 8x32 SE, but it also had a small sweet spot and "crummy" edges.

I'm impressed with the way Chinese-made bins have improved. Recently, I tried the Monarch III, Hawke Frontier (open bridge design), and Frontier ED. Didn't like the ED model, but the other two put up very nice images for their price points.

Last year, I tried the 8x42 Vortex Fury and 8x36 Pentax NV. Also very nice images for the price points.

Although I didn't like the excessive pincushion, the 7x36 ZR ED2 impressed me with its centerfield resolution and CA control even off axis.

Perhaps Bushnell with come out with a Legend HD2 with improved edge performance for btwn $300-$400.

Reese's Crispy Crunch
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Old Sunday 30th October 2011, 15:30   #3
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Bushnell has a history of producing entry level glass by the boat loads. The 50 bucks off the legend Ultra combined w/100% buy back over a year from purchase should maintain a steady flow of inexpensive demo models for next year.

Maybe a diabolical plan to flood the market attempting to put the kibosh on the Asian, Johnny come lately, ED boys.

Now setting the big B standard is the Elite model for the masses w/ED Prime Extra-Low Dispersion fluorite glass. Surely they could've come up w/couple of more adjectives to throw into the mix.

All Bushnell needs now is to include a compass/range finder/decoder ring, of TS(Top Shelf) black onyx/tiger's eye for the Legend and mystic BQ(Buddha quality)jade for the discerning Elite owner in a quinella par excellence.

I do admit being somewhat intrigued by the Bushnell offering of elite status. Why is it offered only in 8/10-42 or 7x26? Would've thought the ever popular 32 MM would've beat out a 26.

Thanks for the report Frank. Seems Bushnell continues to provide for the masses a glimpse of good glass at a most affordable price.

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Old Sunday 30th October 2011, 23:26   #4
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Nixterdemus,
If you haven't been introduced to Better View Desired it is time that it happened. The Elites were first the Bausch & Lomb Elites and they are an old and honored family name as binocular's names go. Here is a review of them from 10/96. (At least that is the date shown in the title.)

http://www.betterviewdesired.com/Bau...Elite-8x42.php

Bob'

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Old Monday 31st October 2011, 14:35   #5
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Thanks Bob I'll take a peek in a moment whilst I pick your noggin a mite. What is the status of Bushnell? Not to imply that they never built quality products, but they certainly give the appearance of producing a ton of lesser quality.

Granted the Custom was beloved and I see that Field & Stream awarded the Elite in 2005 as one of their best of the best. However, now everything seems to be pointing to the Legend Ultra HD as the best ED bang for the buck and the current Elite 628042ED running over 400 bucks.
Is the 628042ED, on the Bushnell website http://www.bushnell.com/products/bin...ite/62-8042ED/, the E2 that I see referenced?

I notice the non-ED Elite in 43/50 MM has been discontinued as well as the non-ED Legend, but it's still all quite muddled.

I've been to best view before though I didn't recognize the name firsthand. It appears that models combined w/Bausch & Lomb fared well, yet that is the past. B&L licensing is gone and I'm trying to come up to speed on more recent Bushnell quality offerings.

Some speak well of the discontinued 43MM non-ED partially it seems from Japanese construction and others claimed that between the ED legend and Elite that there isn't that much difference optically.

Bushnell pumps out a lot of differing models at various price points and I'm attempting to compare them to the discontinued ED2 7x36 and Viper 8.5x50 that I'm using.

What I read of the Legend ED bodes well for the price, but some have complained of a small sweet spot. I'm wondering how the Chinese glass and build in the newest Elite offering compares.

My apologies for rambling.

ETA: Not to be critical, but the best view gives all indications of being stuck in the past worse than the prices I wish to pay. News is a tad long in the tooth w/the latest review I found being on the gold ring Leupold from May 2006 and an article questioning roofs at 500 clams using the Zeiss Diafun 8 X30 as an example that discounted for 350 bucks when still available as NOS.

Still, quite the wealth of information from before the arrivial of cheap Chinese ED lens.

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Old Monday 31st October 2011, 22:47   #6
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I measured the "sweet spot" FoV to be ~6.9, just slightly smaller than the ~7.1 measured for the Nikon 8x32SE which many folk say "sharp to the edge" of its 7.6 TFoV. The Legend Ultra HD AFoV is just so frigging HUGE it seems to be a small percentage area despite the being ~85% it is really above average. FWIW, the predominant aberration in the outer field is curvature. The main issue with the 8x is mechanical in that the eyecups do not extend 1 click stop far enough. I would expect this not to be an issue with the 10x.
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Old Tuesday 1st November 2011, 10:20   #7
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It's hard for me to retain all the information/reviews I'm reading on the fly and it's possible that I was reading about the non-ED Legend as having a small sweet spot.

That being said I've seemed to notice somewhat of a trend in that a lot of the less expensive ED glass has a narrow FOV. Is it possible that this is a penalty for not using a better grade ED glass, is the ED better utilized in a narrow FOV or is it just me thinking there's a pattern of narrow FOV?

I've been tempted to buy one of the Amazon warehouse returns, but I'm curious how much better the Elite model performs.
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Old Tuesday 1st November 2011, 13:38   #8
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Nix,

Actually it was the Legend Ultra HD that I commented on having a small sweet spot of image in focus with the center of the field and free of distortion. The original Legend actually had a much larger sweet spot but a narrower field of view. I have both.

All this discussion about potential upgrades to the Legend Ultra HD has my interest piqued though. Maybe they have and both of the units I have tried have been from earlier production batches. I will double check my latest purchase when it returns from Bushnell. I may also stop by the local Cabelas to check out one of the units they have in stock. Hopefully it is a newer unit.

I can say that my previous experiences with this model are the exact opposite of Rick's. To compare its sweet spot with the SE 8x32 really surprises me. They were nothing alike from what I remember. I will verify that shortly though.
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Old Wednesday 2nd November 2011, 02:51   #9
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Thanks Frank for the response. It seems I'm digesting a lot of information only to end up w/indigestion. I've set a three hundred dollar limit on bins, give or take, and I'm happy w/two I currently own, yet the journey continues. I'm waiting out a couple of models to see if their price will dip down to the point of seduction. In the meantime I'll try to isolate other potential bins

I think Bushnell is just the company to offer ED value for a song. I'm curious how far the price will dip on the Elite and naturally I'm interested in how elite are the optics that it truly possesses.
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Old Wednesday 2nd November 2011, 14:35   #10
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Nix,

I am in the same boat as you in a sense. I haven't tried the Elite ED model yet but would want to wait a bit until the prices came down from their current level. Much the same issue with the Celestron Granite. Looks attractive on paper and just a bit lighter and shorter than other open-bridge ED glass offerings in this price range....but I wouldn't pay over $300 for it considering the Bushnell Legend Ultra's price/performance.

I don't remember if you had a chance to check out either the Kruger Caldera or Theron Wapiti APO. The Caldera can occassionally be found under $300 on Amazon while the Theron is listed at $350. You might also check out the Pro Optics at Adorama. Very similar to the Caldera but more ergonomic and slightly better perceived depth of field. I had a pair of the 8x42s earlier last summer. They are out of stock on the 8x42s but still had some 10x42s for around $155.

There was also a Zhumell ED glass objective model priced around $250 from what I remember.
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Old Sunday 6th November 2011, 04:44   #11
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Frank

Ran across this review of the 8x42 Legend Ultra HD from Binomania, and I have to say that I pretty much agree with their tests and evaluations. The sweetspot they note at 70% but I would say about 75% plus, with very slight softening out to the edges with some mild field curvature at the edges which can be easily focused out. Also, they note the problem I reported on earlier, as has Rick, and that is the eyecups do not extend out far enough to give the full eye relief - they could use one more click.

http://translate.google.com/translat...42.php&act=url

I still think these are great binos and an outstanding value for the price.

Tom
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Old Sunday 6th November 2011, 12:53   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nixterdemus View Post
... I've seemed to notice somewhat of a trend in that a lot of the less expensive ED glass has a narrow FOV. Is it possible that this is a penalty for not using a better grade ED glass, is the ED better utilized in a narrow FOV or is it just me thinking there's a pattern of narrow FOV?.
My take on that is that it is not so much the ED part of the objective, as in the degree of correction (higher = cost more) in maybe the whole optical train. Of course the ED element would follow that also.

Yesterday I stopped by a Gander Mountain and for a first time play around with two 8x42's the one subject of this thread, and the Nikon Monarch ATB. The store had them priced identically ($299).

It was not by any means a rigorous assessment.

I found the apparent resolution of the Bushnell superior by a tad than the Nikon in the central area of the field. Outside that central area, the smaller FOV Nikon was significantly superior to the Bushnell.
"Tested" the CA by viewing the edge of a light bank at the other side of the box store. The CA was slightly better in the center on the Bushnells. At the edge and outer area the CA was very pronounced. The Nikon exhibited thin highlighting on the edge of the light bank. The CA was grossly worse than the Nikon at the edge, multiple, wide fuzzy fringing. The outer 1/4-1/3 of the Bushnell was very distorted i thought.

Granted, the Bushnell fov is 2 degrees wider than the Nikon. but the FOV in the Nikon was more usable.

BTW: my checking them out was due to curiosity only. Did not purchase any optics (but did get a really cool tiny LED flashlight!)
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Old Sunday 6th November 2011, 21:01   #13
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Jay,

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I was beginning to lose faith in my eyesight considering the variety of contrary opinions with the Legend Ultra HD. Your description of its optical performance is identical to my experience with it. Great performance in the sweet spot (CA control, contrast and apparent sharpness) but a small sweetspot with distracting optical performance outside of it.

Don't get me wrong...it is still a great bin. I have purchased two already. I just don't understand the wide differences in perceptions of the sweet spot with this bin.
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Old Sunday 6th November 2011, 21:17   #14
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... I just don't understand the wide differences in perceptions of the sweet spot with this bin.
I do not know if this is the case here, but generally I have found in optical instruments, the lower the cost the less consistency sample to sample.
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Old Tuesday 6th December 2011, 18:45   #15
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With current low pricing of the Bushnell 8x42 Legend Ultra HD and $50 rebate it is possible to get these now for $150, and so I've acquired one for a friend. For anyone who remembers the original, what Steve Ingraham called "$500" or budget roofs, most notably the Pentax 8x42 WP which introduced phase-coating to such bins, they are miracle of optical quality and pricing (relative to both yesterday's budget roofs and today's alphas).

Good things include the wide FOV (not available until the last few years in cheap roofs), excellent contrast, close focus of ~5.5 ft, mostly curvature rather than astigmatism at edges of view, and overall ergonomics/build feels solid despite being relatively light weight (24 oz on my scale) for a full-size. Performance against the light seems good for as much as I've been able to test it. Control of CA in he middle seemed OK but not impressive (i.e. not like Zeiss FL), and CA at sides of field could be considerable if eyes were not properly centered on the enormous (especially for a budget bin) oculars.

Bad things are that the field is not as flat as I prefer (even within what for some with young eyes might be the sweet spot), the color balance is very slightly warm biased, the eyecups don't extend as far as they should for non-glasses wearers, the focus stiffens considerably at cold temps (One would think that this common flaw of cheap roofs and porros would be easy to address. Does the grease in alpha roofs cost $1500 or what?), and the focus has a bit of play in it, which makes it feel spongy. The left/right focus synchrony seems fine despite the play in the overall system.

Overall, in use and compared to other bins, these are not as easy on my eyes as my alpha roofs, or even my Browning 8x32 (with their comparatively rock-solid focus control), probably because of their field curvature, but their contrast is far superior to the latter, making them a better overall choice as a budget bin. I do not find the view as transparently relaxing as I find in alpha roofs or other of the Chinese ED roofs that I've tried, such as the Zen Ray ED2 and Atlas Optics Intrepid ED. Sure wish I could get the Browning with updated coatings.

--AP

Update
Good thing: performance against the light (strong backlighting, direct sun on objectives) seems excellent, far superior to most cheap roofs that I've tried in the past.
Bad thing: Something must be wrong with the focus mechanism, and it must decouple from one side or the other sometimes. I've had to adjust the diopter to + more and more to the extent that the left (adjustable) ocular is now almost flush with the eyecup, whereas it is several mm recessed on the left (fixed) side. Guess these will need fixing/replacement! The joys of buying bins mail-order.

Last edited by Alexis Powell : Wednesday 7th December 2011 at 17:41.
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 01:37   #16
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OK, so the defective Bushnell 8x42 Ultra HD are being return shipped, and I received a replacement set today. Guess what--they're also faulty right out of the box! Most obvious is fuzziness in the lower left portion of the view through the left side, especially fuzzy edge to the field stop. I've already received a return ship label and a third unit is on its way to me. The ongoing joys of mail-order binocular buying! I would say that these have an obvious quality control issue, but truth be told something close to 50% of all the bins I've ever purchased, including many top of the line instruments have had faults right out of the box or soon after, so I'm trying to be stoic.

--AP
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 01:47   #17
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Alexis:

I too thought we might find value in this Bushnell, as much as they have been talked
about on this site. I have tried them in person more than once at several sporting
goods stores, and just have not been able to like this one.
I was amused with one sales person wanting to give lessons about setting the
diopter would give it a work out without giving much thought about returning to 0.
I suppose the poor user getting just a look through that one and fuzzy all the way
would quickly move on.

Just a nit to pick with some here who know better.

You have mentioned, easy on the eyes, and I agree, these are not.

Jerry
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 06:08   #18
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Over the last 13 months or so, I have had 3 pairs of the 8x42's, and while none were defective, the ease of use and optical view was nowhere near as good as the 8x36 or 10x42 model. As we have all stated many times over, the eyecups on the 8x42 just do not extend up far enough for proper ER for non-eyeglass wearers. RJM must have an entirely different model than those they are selling in the USA, as I find the sweetspot and pincushion average, and the edges somewhat lacking. Centerfield resolution and contrast are very good though. In 8x42's there are many other binos I would chose over these.

Tom
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 19:04   #19
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In 8x42's there are many other binos I would chose over these
Any that sell for $150 as these do currently (after rebate)? I don't know of any, though I've not tried the 8x36 version. I've tried these in the past and have been impressed with them from the standpoint that a good units seem to be as good or better than most anything that sold for $400-$500 5-10 years back. When I want great optics, I go all the way, and when I want value I look to do the same. I've never been much intrigued by models of intermediate cost (except in the case of porros).

--AP
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Old Tuesday 13th December 2011, 19:18   #20
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For slightly more than $150 you could try the Theron Optics Wapiti LT 8x42s. I have a pair on hand and am impressed with several of their optical performance areas. A different animal entirely from an optical perspective in comparison to the Legend Ultras but still worth mentioning at this price point.
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Old Wednesday 14th December 2011, 06:14   #21
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AP
You are right that the 8x42 Legend Ultra HD's are a good bino at the $150 range, and I guess I should have tempered my remarks as I seem to have a knack for rooting out good deals. Ever since I bought my 8x42 Alpen Wings ED's for $175 last spring, I have been looking for another 8x42 that would be optically comparable for less than the $350 or so price these and the clone competition seem to sell for.

No one appreciates a good deal and value more than I do, but I guess each individual has a different ideal on what truly constitutes value for them. For me the 8x42 Kruger Calderas I just paid $213 for are a much better value than the $150 8x42 Legend Ultra HD I just got rid of. For the extra $63 to me its no contest optically, but the focus knob could stand improvement by extending the armoring all the way to the top of the knob. I had considered the 8x42 Theron LT's Frank & Steve had recommended, as they can be had for about $179, but went with the Calderas after additional input. After I bought the Calderas for $213 and posted the deal, and the other 2 pairs sold - the price jumped up to $369.

Adorama has been selling the 8x42 Bushnell Legend Ultra HD's for less than $200 for months, and Amazon has been selling open box returns for around $140 or less for awhile as well. I have to wonder what is up with the 8x42's, because none of the other 36mm's or 10x42's are discounted much. I got my 8x36's last year off ebay for $165 when Bushnell had the same $50 rebate. I bought another 2 pair of 8x36's last month to compare to mine and sent both back, as they weren't any better than the pair I have.

Let's hope the third time is a charm.

Tom

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Old Monday 26th December 2011, 02:52   #22
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review of Bushnell 8x42 Legend Ultra HD

I've had ample opportunity now to test the Bushnell 8x42 Legend Ultra HD. The unit I have now seems free of major manufacturing flaws (unlike the first two I tried, see previous posts in this thread). If it manifests any problems, I'll take the warranty repair route. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that I talked with customer service at the Bushnell world headquarters (in my home state of Kansas) and found them extremely helpful and accommodating--they were willing to replace my previous defective unit with new, sent me a pre-paid shipping mailer, and waived all return ship charges etc--but it ended up being faster turn-around for me to do all this with the dealer (Adorama, which gets full marks for quick and courteous customer service). Normally I'm more patient and prefer to send flawed products to the manufacturer, but I'm getting these to give to a friend in a few days.

The unit I have now is close to everything I was hoping for based on my more limited previous experiences with this model, which is perhaps the lowest priced of readily available "Chinese ED" bins in the USA. They are amazing in all ways--specs, performance, and price. Improvements of alpha roofs over the past 20 years have been trivial in comparison to economy roofs. I've long been a hater of cheap roofs, even though my first beloved bins were such--the Bushnell 8x42 Banner--and by cheap roofs I don't just mean the cheapest, I mean the ones that aspired to be roof equivalents in price and sales to the decent porros of the 1990s (e.g. B&L Custom 8x36, Swift Audubon or Ultralite, Celestron Ultima). It was a breakthrough when roofs got phase coating for under $500, but those still had poor specs such as narrow FOV and other performance limitations. The current generation is a whole new game--they aspire to do it all and invite comparison to roofs of any price.

Good stuff, and all for only $150:
All specs are really impressive: an 8x42 with 426 foot FOV (didn't measure it but it seems accurate, making it wider than any full-sized 8x alpha), ~140mm long (= slightly shorter than Leica 8x42 Ultravid, which is a small alpha), 24+3/8 oz weight (=less than many 8x32, less than any alpha 8x42) yet feels traditionally solid (like metal, not plastic), 5ft close-focus, reasonable focus ratio requires 1.5 turns from 5ft to infinity, and eye-relief is fine with my glasses (though I wouldn't mind another 1-2mm). The ergonomics are very much to my liking (nothing fancy, no flaring contours around the strap lugs, well-placed strap lugs, short center bridge allows ring and little fingers a wrap-around grip) and they have good "hang". Besides all this, the oculars are impressively large (~24mm diameter), the lenses have hydrophobic/lipophobic coatings, and what other bin, at any price, has "HD" on the name plate and marked below one side of the ocular _and_ "ED prime glass" marked below the other side of the ocular? :)

I find the view stunning overall. Most significant to me, because it is where most sub-alphas fail, is performance against the light (e.g. strong backlight, sun just outside view and shining directly on the oculars off-axis). These are the best I've seen--as good or better than any of my alphas as far as I can tell. The sweet spot is large (comparable to alphas other than those with "field flatteners") and the overall quality fall-off, which is more about field curvature than astigmatism, is gradual until very near the edge. CA control is excellent both in the center and off-axis, certainly way better than the non-HD version of the Leica 8x42 Ultravid (which bothers me even more than the Swarovski 8x32 EL).

Stuff that isn't bad but could be better:
Color is very slightly warm, though is closer to neutral than most alphas of 15 years ago. Rubber armor is intentionally squishy in places (like where other bins might have thumb cut-outs) which concerns me for long-term durability. Armor is on the slick side. Minimum IPD is 56mm and unnecessarily limited by the hinge design--could easily have been designed to reach 52 or 53mm if anyone had thought to break with the industry-wide dumb default spec (Zeiss is the leader in this arena, and threw caution to the winds by designing the Conquest and FL models with 52 or 54mm minimum IPD depending on the model). The view has strong pincushion distortion, which usually doesn't bother me, but in this case it is so strong that it makes the view seem not as easy on the eyes as it should be while panning. After a some days of use, my brain appears to have adjusted, and the distortion no longer bothers me, but I'm not so sure that it isn't still requiring more mental processing, which might not be a good thing on long days of heavy birding. Zero diopter setting is printed in the wrong place on the rubber armor (I blame the armor because the zero setting does seem centered on the range of adjustment).

Bad stuff:
These bins get it right in so many of the ways that I have always assumed were the biggest design and manufacturing challenges for any maker wanting to compete with the alphas (regardless of price), that I'm sad to say that these Bushnell Legend Ultra HD have lots of little flaws that keep them from being alpha contenders. To put in in colloquially, it's so dumb that these bins have these flaws because they aren't the sorts of things that should be what sets expensive bins apart from the cheapies. Here are my complaints:

The focus knob stiffens in the cold (again, I have to ask, how much does it cost to design bins to use light grease or to spec a better multiviscosity grease?). The focus knob rotates counter clockwise to infinity (see other threads for my opinion on that; how much does it cost to clone this feature of alpha design?). The focus knob has a bit of slop in it (not bothersome to me personally, but important for many, and I must say a pitiful flaw--hasn't the engineering and manufacturing of precise focus control been worked out, isn't it a trivial, mature technology?). A small portion of the slop may entail a bit of left/right focus asynchrony (extremely subtle, but I think it is there). Many optically mediocre roofs have better focus control, so this is a sorry shortcoming. The little disk at the front of the focus knob (akin to the sand trap of the Zeiss FL) is loose enough to rattle during normal use--it rings like a plastic bell! I solved the rattling problem by wedging a piece of rubber band between the disk and the back of the hinge on one side (stays in place, even when adjusting IPD). The eyecups are too short for some who do not wear glasses (for me they are OK even w/o glasses because I prefer to rest eyecups against my brow, not set them around the eye).

Other dumb stuff:
The case is big enough to fit the Zeiss 20x60 Stabilized (just kidding, but it is HUGE!). The supplied neckstrap is way too long for other than bandolier-style use. The neckstrap is over-engineered with segmented cushioning (I'd trade it, the case, and the supplied bino harness for a simple neoprene strap like the Op/tech "fashion bino" any day). Finally, it seems every binocular engineer is compelled to prove their mettle by giving us their own novel take on the ocular rainguard by designing one that is inexplicably (since rainguards are inherently very simple) dysfunctional. Examples that come to mind are the over-engineered hard plastic guard for the Swarovski EL, the original Zeiss FL designs that were either way too loose or way too tight, and the Leica Ultravid guard with its long floppy center piece and oddly tall profile. Well, the designers of the Ultravid HD rainguard were not to be outdone. It is a simple design, similar to the generic ones supplied with many bins these days, http://www.eagleoptics.com/binocular...ular-rainguard except that it only has a slot to feed the strap through on the right side. In other words, it is designed for left-handed users! That bias is refreshing in a way, but the right-handed majority will find that when it is dangling, that it impedes grabbing the bin with the right hand from its position hanging around one's neck, or that flipping it off the oculars (usually done with the left hand while the right hand simultaneously lifts the bins) encourages crossing the left hand from left to right in front of the body, meaning that the arm moves into, rather than out of, the way of raising the bins to one's eyes. What were they thinking? Maybe an irritated lefty seeking vengeance? Too bad for lefties and all of us that the sort of boring but functional guards such as Eagle Optics sells aren't made with closed strap holds on both sides of the guard so users could use it with both straps completely secured, or else use a razor knife to modify it according to their preference by slitting or entirely removing (as I do) one side or the other.

Final thought:
As I've known since trying my first "Chinese ED" bins (Zen Ray 7x36 ED2 http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....36#post1561454) the alphas are no longer much distinguished by optical performance, but rather build quality and smooth function, qualities that are quite important in the heat of birding. I'd have guessed that economy optics makers would have figured out how to build a bin with those qualities before they figured out how to match alpha optics, but my guess has again proven wrong.

--AP
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Old Monday 26th December 2011, 14:00   #23
jaymoynihan
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That was not only a very informative review, it was fun to read
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Old Saturday 31st December 2011, 14:17   #24
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So I take it these aren't worth paying more than twice the price in the US for a pair in the UK? They are up in the Nikon E2 price range here.
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Old Saturday 31st December 2011, 15:01   #25
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Originally Posted by murph View Post
So I take it these aren't worth paying more than twice the price in the US for a pair in the UK? They are up in the Nikon E2 price range here.
At the usual UK asking price of 360 I felt they were hard to recommend. Compared to the usual UK 'favourite' the Hawke Frontier ED the sweet spot is smaller, there is more CA and the build quality feels somewhat light weight. However I personally prefer the view characteristics and ergonomics of the Bushnell. I found the contrast better and the warmer colour balance is more to my tastes. Now it can be found for about 260 it's still a lot more than in the US but I would personally suggest it's worth a serious look.

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