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Old Wednesday 3rd June 2015, 03:43   #1
Steve C
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Review: Mojave BX-3 and Pro Guide HD 10x42

The Mojave has always been a good seller for Leupold. I have had little experience with this model, aside from the 8x32 version introduced in 2014. That was a new development of the Mojave line and improvements introduced there were scheduled for incorporation into the Mojave line this year. I had thought the Mojave to be a binocular with decent optics and good ergonomics, but the fov always seemed somewhat like looking through a couple of long tubes…the fov seemed much more restrictive to me than the specs indicated.

The new Mojave BX-3 line is replacing the now discontinued McKinley BX-4. The McKinley was phased out due to customer complaints about size of the oculars from the original version, and about the size of the binocular in general for the second version. They also had some production delays from moving the right eye diopter of the original McKinley to the more standard Leupold style center focus diopter. The diopter problem forced some QC issues that were never resolved. This conspired to cause the McKinley to never really get any market traction. The McKinley had sharp, clear optics, and a flat field, but the whole package never got off the ground.

However, I think the final nail in the McKinley coffin was the continued development in the Mojave line. The Mojave had always sold well for Leupold and had some market exposure to those familiar with Leupold products. The new line has an apparently wider fov. The 10x42 versions of the BX-3 a Pro Guide HD that are subjects of the review are both 6.3* fov for an afov of 63*. However, both specimens are marked 6.0* on the focus wheel. When one gets hands on with both the McKinley (either version) and the Mojave, the much more compact size of the Mojave is the obvious first impression. It feels literally half the size of the McKinley. It is in fact quite compact, being no bigger (save barrel diameter) than the upper end of the x32mm size binoculars. You can see some size comparisons in the attached photos with the Maven B3 (compact 8x32) and the Theron Wapiti LT (larger 8x32). Also shown are the two Mojave’s, the Mojave and the McKinley (later version), and the Mojave and the Maven B2. The finish on the B2 in the last photo is the other finish option available with the Mojave Pro Guide HD.

The Mojave focus is counterclockwise to infinity. There are two full turns of focus wheel travel. For my eyes there is .75 turn past infinity. There is one full turn from the 7 foot close focus distance to infinity. There is .25 turns from infinity back to 100 feet. That leaves .75 turn from close focus to the 100’mark. That seems a tad slow in close, but for distance use, say a lake full of water birds or raptors in the distance it is pretty decent. Most use will require about one full finger pull to cover the majority of focus uses. They both focus to six feet.

The regular Mojave weighs at 23 oz. and the Pro Guide HD at 24 oz. Presumably this is due to the weight difference of some glass elements, but mat be in the normal variation between any two units. Fully extended they are 6.0 inches long and at my 62 mm IPD are 4.75 inches wide. There is a two finger gap between the hinges. There is a tripod adapter on the front hinge. It is somewhat difficult to remove.

There is no field flattening technology employed in the Mojave or the Pro Guide HD. It is, like the Mojave 8x32 a classical edge, with minimal distortion. Actual specifications for resolution and light transmission are hard to get anymore from nearly any manufacturer. What I did get was the Mojave BX-3 using what Leupold called conservative methods showed the first 20 specimens average a bit over 88% total transmission. The Pro Guide has some improvement, but what it is was not specified. It seems to be less than the 4-5% required to be visible to the typical human eye.

The image is sharp, bright, with good contrast, and very good color rendition. It does not excel at low light performance, but what performance there is certainly adequate (even fairly typical) for the 42 mm class. The sweet spot is certainly the majority of the fov. What this is will vary with the perceptions of various users, but it’s about 85% to my eye. As far as image performance there is not much fault to be found. Certainly there are better, but a user will suffer no particular disadvantage from having a Mojave. I’d be satisfied using one for most anything as an only binocular. It is the old adage of how much you get in improvement for added costs.

There is not much image performance difference between the two Mojave models. If pressed in a side by side, the Pro Guide HD will exhibit a little better contrast and color presentation. The latter might make it seem ever so slightly brighter to some users. However, you will have to have both side by side and you will work to the point of eye strain to separate much. I think I’ve gone too far when I reach that point and just quit for a while. The major, and I think pretty significant, difference in the two Mojave’s is the Pro Guide HD offers MUCH BETTER CA suppression. I am admittedly not very CA sensitive, but the difference is immediate and obvious.

My pretty much standard CA observation technique comes from examining the ridge lines of Stukel Mt. directly east from me and the Klamath Hills, which lie south and west. When the sun is behind a ridge line, if present I can pick it up when the ridge line is in the fov. If I drop the ridge line out of the fov, CA is no visible to me. Also I can pick it up on the edge of the moon. I do not make a large effort as I’d like to keep my CA insensitivity for as long as I can. When I pick up no CA along the ridge lines, I consider that to be excellent CA suppression. It goes (quite subjectively on my part) to very good, good to average. I generally find if I can find something below average in CA suppression, there are other problems with the binocular that will rule it out for me. At any rate I rate the Pro Guide HD as very good and the regular BX-3 as average+. I would say if this is a binocular that interests you and if you are CA sensitive, then the Pro Guide HD is well worth the extra money. The improvement is enough I suggested to Leupold that the binocular needs a BX-4 designation.

As a point of interest, I asked what the BX designation Leupold uses was. The response was that the X designation is historical with Leupold and used on many of their products. The B just stands for binocular. The number is a relative quality ranking. The warranty remains the standard lifetime unconditional Gold Ring policy.

The regular BX-3 Mojave comes in a typical all black armor. The Pro Guide HD differs in external appearance in that it comes in either Kryptec Typhon which is black and gray. This is the finish you can see in the photos. The other is Kryptec Highlander, which is the optional rubber armor I used on my Maven B2 (see attached photo).

Leupold was vague on the future of the Pro Guide in x32mm. They are however working on a wider angle fov Pro Guide HD in 10x and 12x50. The current models of the 50 mm still have a restrictive fov. I have a friend who has the 12x50. It has only a 4* fov and despite some stellar qualities is too restrictive for my tastes, although my friend is pretty happy with it. The development of the Mojave line is ongoing.

There is a polymer frame instead of Mg alloy. There seem to be three reasons for this. It is an existing frame requiring no additional development costs. It is lighter, and last, engineers keep telling me that a polymer frame has some flex and some very specific memory in its construction. As such it will flex with blows, absorb some shock and return to shape. People keep saying that this is an inferior thing. I will go with the engineers. I suppose it comes down to whether or not you think a binocular can (or should) survive being knocked of a batting tee by the likes of Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.

The Mojave seems a reasonable upgrade to the existing BX-3 model. The Pro Guide seems also to be an upgrade to the now defunct McKinley. While the edges may not be as sharp as the McKinley, or the fov may be somewhat less, the apparent resolution is similar, but the whole package is a lot more appealing than the McKinley.

This is a very good example of a quality mid-range price glass and gives very good optical performance.
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Old Wednesday 3rd June 2015, 14:11   #2
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Steve,

Thanks for the excellent report.

I get that you note the main difference between the two is the in CA performance between the two and the HD seems to denote a low dispersion element. Confusingly they say "Look for extremely vivid color, life-like clarity, and higher overall performance thanks to the calcium-fluoride lenses." Do you know if they actually mean mineral Fluorite which is crystalline Calcium Fluoride? That would be very unusual. It's a pretty fragile material normally reserved high end scopes like the Kowa 883. More usually ED glass is a complex mixture of materials including fluorophosphates of various metals including calcium. The best stuff can match Fluorite for low dispersion properties so why use it?

Cheers,

David
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Old Thursday 4th June 2015, 01:16   #3
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Steve:

You have presented a very nice review, and it looks like Leupold is bringing out some
nice new binoculars.

The only thing that I will mention, is that your photos are not very good. You may want
to take some better pics with a proper camera.

Jerry
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Old Thursday 4th June 2015, 04:12   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDhunter View Post
Steve:

You have presented a very nice review, and it looks like Leupold is bringing out some
nice new binoculars.

The only thing that I will mention, is that your photos are not very good. You may want
to take some better pics with a proper camera.

Jerry
Glad you liked it. I bet I noticed the poor photos before you did . Yeah something has to be done about that. It is a flaw I need to avoid. My digital camera is on the fritz. Those are taken with a 13 MP LG G3 smartphone. I was using a different camera app, which I think I'll uninstall. The phone is capable of way better than that (maybe the photographer isn't just yet)
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Old Thursday 4th June 2015, 04:14   #5
Steve C
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Originally Posted by typo View Post
Steve,

Thanks for the excellent report.

I get that you note the main difference between the two is the in CA performance between the two and the HD seems to denote a low dispersion element. Confusingly they say "Look for extremely vivid color, life-like clarity, and higher overall performance thanks to the calcium-fluoride lenses." Do you know if they actually mean mineral Fluorite which is crystalline Calcium Fluoride? That would be very unusual. It's a pretty fragile material normally reserved high end scopes like the Kowa 883. More usually ED glass is a complex mixture of materials including fluorophosphates of various metals including calcium. The best stuff can match Fluorite for low dispersion properties so why use it?

Cheers,

David
David,

I have asked Leupold, but I'm sure that you are correct in that it is not a CaFl lens, but rather uses fluorite components as you suggest.
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Old Thursday 4th June 2015, 13:17   #6
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Good review, thanks for the effort to write it.
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Old Friday 5th June 2015, 11:39   #7
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Originally Posted by Steve C View Post
The Mojave has always been a good seller for Leupold. I have had little experience with this model, aside from the 8x32 version introduced in 2014. That was a new development of the Mojave line and improvements introduced there were scheduled for incorporation into the Mojave line this year. I had thought the Mojave to be a binocular with decent optics and good ergonomics, but the fov always seemed somewhat like looking through a couple of long tubes…the fov seemed much more restrictive to me than the specs indicated.

The new Mojave BX-3 line is replacing the now discontinued McKinley BX-4. The McKinley was phased out due to customer complaints about size of the oculars from the original version, and about the size of the binocular in general for the second version. They also had some production delays from moving the right eye diopter of the original McKinley to the more standard Leupold style center focus diopter. The diopter problem forced some QC issues that were never resolved. This conspired to cause the McKinley to never really get any market traction. The McKinley had sharp, clear optics, and a flat field, but the whole package never got off the ground.

However, I think the final nail in the McKinley coffin was the continued development in the Mojave line. The Mojave had always sold well for Leupold and had some market exposure to those familiar with Leupold products. The new line has an apparently wider fov. The 10x42 versions of the BX-3 a Pro Guide HD that are subjects of the review are both 6.3* fov for an afov of 63*. However, both specimens are marked 6.0* on the focus wheel. When one gets hands on with both the McKinley (either version) and the Mojave, the much more compact size of the Mojave is the obvious first impression. It feels literally half the size of the McKinley. It is in fact quite compact, being no bigger (save barrel diameter) than the upper end of the x32mm size binoculars. You can see some size comparisons in the attached photos with the Maven B3 (compact 8x32) and the Theron Wapiti LT (larger 8x32). Also shown are the two Mojave’s, the Mojave and the McKinley (later version), and the Mojave and the Maven B2. The finish on the B2 in the last photo is the other finish option available with the Mojave Pro Guide HD.

The Mojave focus is counterclockwise to infinity. There are two full turns of focus wheel travel. For my eyes there is .75 turn past infinity. There is one full turn from the 7 foot close focus distance to infinity. There is .25 turns from infinity back to 100 feet. That leaves .75 turn from close focus to the 100’mark. That seems a tad slow in close, but for distance use, say a lake full of water birds or raptors in the distance it is pretty decent. Most use will require about one full finger pull to cover the majority of focus uses. They both focus to six feet.

The regular Mojave weighs at 23 oz. and the Pro Guide HD at 24 oz. Presumably this is due to the weight difference of some glass elements, but mat be in the normal variation between any two units. Fully extended they are 6.0 inches long and at my 62 mm IPD are 4.75 inches wide. There is a two finger gap between the hinges. There is a tripod adapter on the front hinge. It is somewhat difficult to remove.

There is no field flattening technology employed in the Mojave or the Pro Guide HD. It is, like the Mojave 8x32 a classical edge, with minimal distortion. Actual specifications for resolution and light transmission are hard to get anymore from nearly any manufacturer. What I did get was the Mojave BX-3 using what Leupold called conservative methods showed the first 20 specimens average a bit over 88% total transmission. The Pro Guide has some improvement, but what it is was not specified. It seems to be less than the 4-5% required to be visible to the typical human eye.

The image is sharp, bright, with good contrast, and very good color rendition. It does not excel at low light performance, but what performance there is certainly adequate (even fairly typical) for the 42 mm class. The sweet spot is certainly the majority of the fov. What this is will vary with the perceptions of various users, but it’s about 85% to my eye. As far as image performance there is not much fault to be found. Certainly there are better, but a user will suffer no particular disadvantage from having a Mojave. I’d be satisfied using one for most anything as an only binocular. It is the old adage of how much you get in improvement for added costs.

There is not much image performance difference between the two Mojave models. If pressed in a side by side, the Pro Guide HD will exhibit a little better contrast and color presentation. The latter might make it seem ever so slightly brighter to some users. However, you will have to have both side by side and you will work to the point of eye strain to separate much. I think I’ve gone too far when I reach that point and just quit for a while. The major, and I think pretty significant, difference in the two Mojave’s is the Pro Guide HD offers MUCH BETTER CA suppression. I am admittedly not very CA sensitive, but the difference is immediate and obvious.

My pretty much standard CA observation technique comes from examining the ridge lines of Stukel Mt. directly east from me and the Klamath Hills, which lie south and west. When the sun is behind a ridge line, if present I can pick it up when the ridge line is in the fov. If I drop the ridge line out of the fov, CA is no visible to me. Also I can pick it up on the edge of the moon. I do not make a large effort as I’d like to keep my CA insensitivity for as long as I can. When I pick up no CA along the ridge lines, I consider that to be excellent CA suppression. It goes (quite subjectively on my part) to very good, good to average. I generally find if I can find something below average in CA suppression, there are other problems with the binocular that will rule it out for me. At any rate I rate the Pro Guide HD as very good and the regular BX-3 as average+. I would say if this is a binocular that interests you and if you are CA sensitive, then the Pro Guide HD is well worth the extra money. The improvement is enough I suggested to Leupold that the binocular needs a BX-4 designation.

As a point of interest, I asked what the BX designation Leupold uses was. The response was that the X designation is historical with Leupold and used on many of their products. The B just stands for binocular. The number is a relative quality ranking. The warranty remains the standard lifetime unconditional Gold Ring policy.

The regular BX-3 Mojave comes in a typical all black armor. The Pro Guide HD differs in external appearance in that it comes in either Kryptec Typhon which is black and gray. This is the finish you can see in the photos. The other is Kryptec Highlander, which is the optional rubber armor I used on my Maven B2 (see attached photo).

Leupold was vague on the future of the Pro Guide in x32mm. They are however working on a wider angle fov Pro Guide HD in 10x and 12x50. The current models of the 50 mm still have a restrictive fov. I have a friend who has the 12x50. It has only a 4* fov and despite some stellar qualities is too restrictive for my tastes, although my friend is pretty happy with it. The development of the Mojave line is ongoing.

There is a polymer frame instead of Mg alloy. There seem to be three reasons for this. It is an existing frame requiring no additional development costs. It is lighter, and last, engineers keep telling me that a polymer frame has some flex and some very specific memory in its construction. As such it will flex with blows, absorb some shock and return to shape. People keep saying that this is an inferior thing. I will go with the engineers. I suppose it comes down to whether or not you think a binocular can (or should) survive being knocked of a batting tee by the likes of Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.

The Mojave seems a reasonable upgrade to the existing BX-3 model. The Pro Guide seems also to be an upgrade to the now defunct McKinley. While the edges may not be as sharp as the McKinley, or the fov may be somewhat less, the apparent resolution is similar, but the whole package is a lot more appealing than the McKinley.

This is a very good example of a quality mid-range price glass and gives very good optical performance.
Thanks for the heads up on this review, Steve. Great review. Still more interested in either Maven B3 8x30 vs Zen ED4; with the Maven b2 9x45 my dream bins.
best regards, Susan W
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Old Tuesday 23rd June 2015, 22:26   #8
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FWIW, I compared the Vortex Viper 8x42 HD with the Mojave Pro Guide HD in Cabelas today (best I could do...midday). To make a long story short, I can't tell any difference between them whatsoever, other than the ergos edge that I'd give to the Mojave. I also liked the fact that the hinge tension in the Mojave was tighter than the one in the Viper, in which I consider too loose. I often wonder why some people rave about Vortex products. I've never found them to excel at anything, or provide something that some other maker doesn't offer at an equal or better price.
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Old Friday 16th October 2015, 14:30   #9
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Originally Posted by jgraider View Post
FWIW, I compared the Vortex Viper 8x42 HD with the Mojave Pro Guide HD in Cabelas today (best I could do...midday). To make a long story short, I can't tell any difference between them whatsoever, other than the ergos edge that I'd give to the Mojave. I also liked the fact that the hinge tension in the Mojave was tighter than the one in the Viper, in which I consider too loose. I often wonder why some people rave about Vortex products. I've never found them to excel at anything, or provide something that some other maker doesn't offer at an equal or better price.
I agree with you about Vortex. Yes they are good, but it seems every single hunter/sportsman in my area acts like if you don't own a pair of Vipers you aren't in the cool guy club..its Vortex or nothing!
I had a salesmen tell me he'd pick the Diamondback any day over the Nikon Monarch 7 LOL..right then and there I knew he was either a Vortex paid salesmen or Vortex fanboy...most likely the latter. In my opinion the Diamondback has very below average optics and of course the Monarch 7 and the Monarch 5 both blow it out of the water
Now I will say, I love the Viper 8x32 but thats the only one Id think about spending their high cost on, plus their warranty doesn't get any better, but Leupolds Gold Ring Guarantee is just as good.

I compared the Mojave vs the new pro guide and I could tell immediately the new HD version is brighter and sharper, but thats not saying the original is not, its just the new HD version is a little better, but its also $200 more. (EDIT: Actually now that I remember I compared the Movaje 8x32 to the Pro Guide 8x42 so of course it would be brighter..unfair comparison)

I think these Kryptek coatings were a smart idea (for sales only) as these will most likely be bought by outdoorsmen rather than female birders. The Kryptek coating does to men what flashy diamonds do to a girl, it attracts guys because they think it looks cool. Just look at all the military style camo outfits and backpacks guys buy, also A lot of guys will even paint their rifles a camo pattern just for the looks. Many rifle companies sell rifles with camo patterns knowing it will boost their sales.

I couldn't care less about Kryptek coating, I prefer either all black or a dark grey but Leupold knows that most guys will remember it just based on the cool factor and will be willing to spend more, or buy it over something else just because of how it looks.

Ok I have to admit, the Maven KUIU digital verde camo pattern is way cool and I want it :) See it does work

Last edited by timmay : Friday 16th October 2015 at 14:34.
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Old Monday 26th October 2015, 02:04   #10
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Thanks for the review. The original 8x32 Mojave does have CA. If they decide to make the 8x32 in HD version and that eliminate CA that would be great.
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Old Sunday 20th August 2017, 00:52   #11
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Thanks for this review. I realize this thread is a couple years old, but given that they're on clearance in the $250 range at Cabelas, I'm wondering how these stack up to newer competitors like the Athlon Midas, Any thoughts?
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Old Sunday 20th August 2017, 02:53   #12
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Thanks for this review. I realize this thread is a couple years old, but given that they're on clearance in the $250 range at Cabelas, I'm wondering how these stack up to newer competitors like the Athlon Midas, Any thoughts?
Welcome to Birdforum. The posts above are from trusted reviewers
and users.

Athlon is not common on here, so I suspect you will not find much
of an answer to your question.

That means, try the Cabelas model, it is recommended.

Jerry
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