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Old Sunday 21st February 2016, 04:42   #1
mrmister2000
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Vortex Viper HD 8x42mm vs. Bushnell Legend M Series 8x42mm

Hi all! I've been doing a lot of research on binoculars over the past few weeks and would like to see your opinions on a couple of pairs of binoculars. More specifically, experiences with both the Vortex Viper HD 8x42's compared to the new Bushnell Legend M Series 8x42's.

The Bushnell Legend M Series is a new series which is meant to replace/update the older Bushnell Legend Ultra HD series. They come with fully multi-coated lenses, ED/HD glass, and a dielectric coating on the prisms. The Legend M's can be had for around $279.

Meanwhile, the Vortex Viper HD's are also fully multi-coated, also have ED/HD lenses, and also have a dielectric coating. On paper, both the Bushnell Legend M's and the Vortex Viper HD's have pretty much the same specs, but the Vortex Viper HD's cost about $300 more than the Bushnell's do? ::scratches head::

On paper they look strikingly comparable in both materials and features. If anything, the Bushnell Legend M seems slightly superior "on paper", as it has a magnesium body, compared to the Vortex Viper HD's cheaper poly-carbonate body. So why the $300 price premium on the Viper's?

It's worth noting that, like Vortex, these Bushnell's now come with a "Yes, That's Covered" no-questions-asked lifetime guarantee, which is transferable and requires no receipt/warranty card. Practically similar to Vortex's warranty in every way.

I know the Vipers have been around for a while and they are what the majority of you would recommend, simply because of them being better known... but I was wondering if anyone had tried the Legend M's side-by-side with the Viper HD's and, if so, what you found during your comparisons?
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Old Sunday 21st February 2016, 16:34   #2
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So where are they both made? So they both have ED glass, but where does that glass come from? What grades of glass are they using?

That could have a large impact on selling price.

I dont see a poly carbonate chassis as a negative.

Bushnell has some good stuff, Vortex has some good stuff, just up to you to decide which you like better.
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Old Sunday 21st February 2016, 16:44   #3
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I believe the Bushnell Legends are still made in China. The optics in the Legend (and Elite) series have always been solid, but the issues typically result from the mechanics or quality control. Vortex is a very reliable brand with a legitimate no fault warranty (they have samples of things they have replaced at no cost that include binos being ran over by a vehicle, burned in a fire, etc.). I'd argue that the optics are better as well.

I've not had good luck in dealing with Bushnell's CS department which is unfortunate because I love the old Bausch & Lomb WP binoculars.
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Old Sunday 21st February 2016, 17:07   #4
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Originally Posted by mrmister2000 View Post


On paper they look strikingly comparable in both materials and features. If anything, the Bushnell Legend M seems slightly superior "on paper", as it has a magnesium body, compared to the Vortex Viper HD's cheaper poly-carbonate body. So why the $300 price premium on the Viper's?
I will echo Perterra's comment here. A polycarbonate moulding is not necessarily inferior. And a cheaply made magnesium casting that contains air bubbles might look good on paper but isn't necessarily superior.

I have had Zeiss FLs for years and subjected them to hard use and they have polycarbonate bodies and have never given any problems despite several knocks and bumps.

In addition, AFAIK machining precision housings in a polycarbonate moulding to accept critically positioned lenses and prisms isn't a cheap and cheerful business.

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Old Sunday 21st February 2016, 17:16   #5
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I will echo Perterra's comment here. A polycarbonate moulding is not necessarily inferior. And a cheaply made magnesium casting that contains air bubbles might look good on paper but isn't necessarily superior.

I have had Zeiss FLs for years and subjected them to hard use and they have polycarbonate bodies and have never given any problems despite several knocks and bumps.

In addition, AFAIK machining precision housings in a polycarbonate moulding to accept critically positioned lenses and prisms isn't a cheap and cheerful business.

Lee

But in most cases, the polymer is a tougher product, less likely to get bent or damaged.
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Old Monday 22nd February 2016, 07:35   #6
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Hi mrmister2000. Welcome to the forum. I've had a few days with the Bushnell and I think it's definitely worth trying. It's bright, sharp, and neutral in color rendition. CA is well controlled. I really like how it handles glare. It's focuser (clockwise to infinity, btw) shows a noticeable amount of play (a little more than 10*) but otherwise, I don't see any serious mechanical or optical issues. The $248 price is more than fair. I can't offer any advice on the 8x42 Vortex because I've never tried it, but I've got access to the 8x32 Viper HD, and except for the aforementioned issue with play in the focuser, the Bushnell compares well. Both companies are well distributed, so I'd recommend that you find a local shop that carries both so that you can try them out before making a decision. Otherwise, there are some online merchants who are very generous with their return policies if you want to order both. If you have any more specific questions about the bushnell, just let me know. Good luck!
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Old Monday 22nd February 2016, 11:02   #7
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Thank you for the replies so far! Much appreciated!
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Old Thursday 25th February 2016, 01:17   #8
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As an update to those who have been following and are curious, I ended up buying both the Bushnell Legend M 8x42mm and the Vortex Viper HD 8x42mm. The Viper's were delivered yesterday, and the Bushnell's, today.

I haven't had a chance to try either pair of binoculars outside in the sunlight yet, as long work-days and rainy weather have gotten in the way... but I have had a chance to play around with both pairs of binoculars indoors for about an hour after getting home from work and my initial thoughts and conclusions are...... well........ shocking.

More specifically, thus far I have observed the following:

1) The Bushnell's appear slightly brighter than the Vipers while indoors.

2) Between the two, I am also finding it easier to resolve details (such as reading the numbers off of a box's shipping label bar-code, from 15 feet away, in poor lighting) using the Bushnell's!

3) With respect to the focus wheels, the focus wheel of the Viper is CLEARLY superior to that of the Bushnell. It has a machining pattern on it which makes it easier to get a good grip on with the index finger and the focus wheel on the viper also turns with less resistance than the Bushnell's does. The Bushnell's focusing wheel is not bad at all, but it takes considerably more effort to rotate than does the one on the Viper.

4) The minimum interpupillary distance offered by the Vipers is HIGHLY disappointing. The Vortex has a minimum IP of 59 mm. Conversely, the Bushnell's have a minimum IP of what seems to be 55-56mm.

* Believe it, or not, that 3mm difference can make-it-or-break-it for someone. My own face is pretty narrow, with eyes spaced closer together than most other adults. Looking through the Vipers I see an egg-shaped view, with extremely distracting vignetting arcs on either side. I also see the reflection of my eye-lashes blinking, since my pupils are off-center from the ocular lenses of the Viper.

* Now, by comparison, a pair of Vortex Razor HD 8x42's have stated minimum IP of 55 mm, which would have fit me VERY well. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to pay ANOTHER $500 on top of what I have already paid for the Vipers, just get a proper interpupillary fit. The Talon HD's are a little better than the Vipers with respect to minimum IP, but then again, the Talons are said to have slightly inferior optical properties compared to the Vipers, particularly with respect to controlling stray light.

5) I paid $250 shipped for the Bushnell's and the Vipers cost me $472, which was the cost after a 20% off discount promotion. Essentially, the Bushnell's cost half of what the Viper's cost.

* Maybe I just got a really good pair of Bushnell's, or maybe a bad pair of Vipers, but I can't find anything mechanically or optically unusual about the Vipers. They (the Vipers) just seem dimmer and are resolving less detail at 15 feet in a poorly-lit room than are the Bushnell's, despite having the same apertures.

6) When I unboxed the Vipers last night I remember thinking that they felt VERY solidly-built and provided a sharp view... but nothing about the image quality really wowed me. This came after having purchased a Bushnell Legend Ultra 8x42 *monocular* two months back... the monocular, itself, of which has left me quite impressed with its image quality and which also led to my increased expectations with respect to the Vipers.

7) When the Bushnell's came today and I unboxed and looked through them I was pretty surprised by how bright and clear they are. At half the price compared to the Vipers I tried not to get my expectations too high, even though I knew that if they had the same optical quality as the monocular that would be to say that the optical quality was quite impressive. In this respect, the Bushnell's have not disappointed, thus far.

Now, take the above with a grain of salt. My informal optical comparisons thus far aren't what anyone could call "thorough or precise"... but that doesn't change the fact that, at least as of now, the Bushnell's actually seem to be providing more optical quality than the Vipers (to my eyes, anyway). I will update with further findings whenever I finally manage to get outside on a sunny day with them.
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Old Thursday 25th February 2016, 07:58   #9
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Interesting observations, but I think it's possible at least one of your conclusions might be a little out.

Firstly I should say that if then Vortex IPD is too narrow for you, send it back. A very large proportion of models on the market specify 68-75mm and we see quite a few complaints that users need narrower or occasionally larger IPDs . If it is too wide for you you not only get an oval view, but a big percentage of the light will be blocked from entering the eye. It will mean the view is dimmer and less sharp. Sound familiar?

Even in bright, perfect viewing conditions it is improbable that you could possibly see effective resolution differences between models in this price range. They use the same QC standard as Swarovski, Zeiss and Leica. In low light, your eyesight gets worse and any slight chance of spotting optical differences evaporates entirely. Any difference you see is not down to resolution.

The culprit is probably the IPD, but my impression was that the Bushnell had a higher blue transmission than the Vortex. This will have it's pros and cons whith different light conditions, but it is quite likely with the usual warm balance of interior lighting the bluer balance will be perceptually brighter, but binoculars are usually optimised for green transmission (550nm) for maximum low light performance so this is deceptive.

If you get a chance before returning the Vipers do try them in sunny conditions when both your eyes and the binoculars should be at their best.

Cheers,

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Old Friday 26th February 2016, 00:37   #10
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Hi David, in looking at my previous post I realized that I had left an important detail out.

Knowing that the IP between the two pairs of binoculars would result in an unfair comparison I had intentionally used only my right eye (keeping my left eye covered/closed) while performing last night's rather crude and unscientific comparisons. :P I did, however, try to keep all variables the same. Lighting, distance from the target (which was a bar code sticker, in this case), positioning/bracing of elbows on table while holding each pair of binoc's, etc.

Under those circumstances I found that I could read the numbers beneath the bar code while looking through the Bushnell's, but not while looking through the Vipers. Perhaps the differences in color transmission percentages between the two (lens coatings, purity and density of glass, etc.) did contribute to the Bushnell edging out the Vortex under those conditions.

However, when I arrived home today I briefly compared the two under overcast conditions (it's been cloudy and rainy here for days). And unlike last night's results, I did feel that the Vortex's yielded a slightly sharper image than the Bushnell's in these overcast conditions. It's worth noting, however, that the Vortex seems far easier to fine-focus than the Bushnell and in that respect it's very possible that I simply was not focusing the Busnhell's precisely-enough during this brief second test.

Honestly, I am not at all thrilled with either the texture of the Bushnell's focusing wheel, or with the degree of pressure which needs to be exerted in order to rotate it. I would consider this the Bushnell's Achilles heel. In contrast, the Vortex can be focused (and finely, I might add) just by using your pinky. The Bushnell sometimes requires two fingers (especially for long-throw adjustments) and even then it's hard to get sharp focus, especially when panning side-to-side at objects located and differing distances.

I really, really want to like the Viper's, but the IP range will likely result in me either re-selling them, or sending them back. The Razor HD's have the necessary IP for my eyes... but cost so darned much. The Talon HD's also have a better IP range than the Viper's, but I am concerned about inferior build quality and optical quality compared to the Viper's. It's like damned if you do... damned if you don't. LOL
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Old Friday 26th February 2016, 01:23   #11
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Sightron blue skys is the cure all. http://www.opticsplanet.com/sightron...r-armored.html

They have become pretty popular
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Old Friday 26th February 2016, 07:05   #12
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The middle ground price wise is now awash with highly specified Chinese made models featuring vide view eyepieced ED glass and field flatteners and on the whole they are mechanically pretty good too. I've had a Zen Ray Prime for 18 months and have no grounds for complaint but I don't think the IPD would work for you either. FrankD has managed to get hold of several others so check his threads. I think the Japanese made binoculars can still generally better their neighbours in the build quality and mechanical refinement. They usualy come with much longer warranties as well.

I may be wrong but I think the Elite is the only model left in the Bushnell range made in Japan. I don't know the Leupold range, we don't see them in the UK. Over here Opticron and now Kite are the best known names offering a selection of Japanese made models. Opticron has quite a few dealers in the US now but I think Kite is only available through Eagle Optics at the moment I believe.
http://www.opticronusa.com/Pages/dealers.html

The new Opticron VHD is a very nice binocular, but I think it sells for quite a bit more than the Viper. The Countryman HD is almost the opposite of Bushnell LM with a single hinge, curved FOV and no ED glass, but it's still one of my favourites in their range. 56mm IPD as well. Check with the dealer for prices.

I've only seen the Pentax version of the various Sightron BSII clones and the view was really pretty good for the money, but it didn't have the mechanical refinement of the Japanese made models. Nice have a choice.

David
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Old Friday 26th February 2016, 14:29   #13
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IPD...
My girlfriend has the same issue as you. Vortex 8X42 Diamondbacks listed at 57mm, WORK. My Vortex Viper HDs, 8X32s AND 8X42s listed at 59mm DON'T work. Vanguard Endeavor ED 8X42s DON'T work.

One binocular that DOES work for her and she really likes is the Cabela's/Meopta 8X32 Euro HD. Another one is the Leica Trinovid 8X42. I know those two are in the $800-$900 range but at least not quite as much as a Razor HD.
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Old Friday 26th February 2016, 19:58   #14
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Mrmsister ...... Zeiss is known for many of their models accommodating folks that require a smaller IPD. The Conquest line in both the 32mm series and the 42mm series specs the IPD as 52mm to 74mm. Better yet, the Conquest is a most excellent binocular and costs less than the Razor!

Eagle Optics and B & H Photo have a reduced price right now on the 10X42, new at $889. B & H is showing $899 for the 8X42. You must add either unit to the the shopping cart at B & H to see the reduced prices.
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Old Saturday 27th February 2016, 03:51   #15
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If the dioptre ring on the Bushnell is still thin plastic, then expect it to break with little to no effort on your part.
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Old Saturday 27th February 2016, 10:52   #16
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James .... The diopter ring new model did not look robust to me. Time will tell if it holds up.

http://www.birdforum.net/showpost.ph...4&postcount=49
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Old Saturday 27th February 2016, 13:43   #17
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I think it being thin depends on the type of material it is made from. I would guess it comes from a different factory than the original.

I've seen some pretty tough plastics. But I'm pretty much set and forget on the diopter, only reason to move it is if it gets bumped out of focus.
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Old Saturday 27th February 2016, 15:32   #18
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Perterra ..... You are right. Plastic is a rather ambiguous term and the use of it can be misleading. Some items described as being plastic may actually be more accurately described as being made of a composite or a type of nylon that are much more robust and of higher quality.

I am not sure what Bushnell used for the diopter ring, but the perception of quality was not there. Thus my comment of time will tell. Otherwise it appears to be a nice product especially at the price quote of $250. It should definitely be included on the list for anyone looking in that price area or higher.

Edit: If I liked the binocular overall, I would buy it and take a chance on the ring. Bushnell has a very good warranty (at least here in the USA).

Here is a video with some closeups of the ring. (The unit I saw seemed to be a slightly more shiny material than what appears in the video) ........

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFqd1x9Nw08
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Old Saturday 27th February 2016, 19:39   #19
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I think it being thin depends on the type of material it is made from. I would guess it comes from a different factory than the original.

I've seen some pretty tough plastics. But I'm pretty much set and forget on the diopter, only reason to move it is if it gets bumped out of focus.
My wife has the last version of the Legend HD. The dioptre ring basically just split in two and dropped off, without provocation.

I know of several other owners with the same problem and the internet is full of reports of the that very same problem. I think Jan mentioned getting a shipment of them and most of them had broken dioptres in the box! Unless they did a complete re-design, I wouldn't touch another Bushnell no matter the price.

Sad, too, as they were my favourite brand for most of my formative birding years.
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Old Sunday 28th February 2016, 02:42   #20
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My wife has the last version of the Legend HD. The dioptre ring basically just split in two and dropped off, without provocation.

I know of several other owners with the same problem and the internet is full of reports of the that very same problem. I think Jan mentioned getting a shipment of them and most of them had broken dioptres in the box! Unless they did a complete re-design, I wouldn't touch another Bushnell no matter the price.

Sad, too, as they were my favourite brand for most of my formative birding years.
This is a completely different design than yours. Likely a different manufacturer.

The elites I Handled were excellent
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Old Sunday 28th February 2016, 08:00   #21
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The Legend M's diopter ring is metal.
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Old Sunday 28th February 2016, 15:47   #22
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The Legend M's diopter ring is metal.
Probably won't fall off then
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Old Monday 29th February 2016, 16:14   #23
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The Legend M's diopter ring is metal.
Bruce's review says thin plastic...
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Old Monday 29th February 2016, 16:15   #24
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This is a completely different design than yours. Likely a different manufacturer.

The elites I Handled were excellent
I'm sure the Elite's are just fine - every version I have tried have been great - owned three through the years. Are we not talking about the M here though?
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Old Tuesday 1st March 2016, 00:01   #25
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I'm sure the Elite's are just fine - every version I have tried have been great - owned three through the years. Are we not talking about the M here though?

I probably misread, but I was commenting on the wouldnt touch another Bushnell part.
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