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Prime HD compared to Leupold Mojave Pro Guide

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Old Sunday 6th December 2015, 23:47   #1
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Prime HD compared to Leupold Mojave Pro Guide

I've had both of these bins in 10x42 for a few days and have spent several hours using both, most often side by side. So here are a few of my initial thoughts on these comparably priced ($550-$600) binoculars.

There's certainly a lot to like about both and they are very different. In the hand the Leupolds feel like a quality bino while the Zen Rays feel like a premium bino. The ZR has a heft to it and it feels very solid. The eye cups twist firmly and one of my favorite things about this bin, the focusing knob is just great. Great texture, just the right amount of stiffness, and just the right speed. The Pro Guides aren't lacking in any of these areas but it doesn't quite have the 'premium' feel that the Zen Rays do.

There are optical differences and neither one is outright better than the other.

The Prime HD definitely has the sharper edges. There is very minimal resolution drop off with these, very clean image all the way out to the edge. IQ does drop just a smidge but you have to strain your eyes to see it. The Leupolds have a very respectable edge clarity, particularly when panning to the left and right edges. Here they are darn near as clean as the Primes. Looking to the top and bottom of the fov is where they show some blur at the last 10-15%. Maybe a 10% loss of IQ. Overall not noticeable unless you're specifically looking for it.

Resolution is a toss up. Both are to my eyes dam sharp. My eyes are still quite sharp, 20/10 vision so when there are even slight differences I can usually see them. At times the Primes were resolving images about 1% better and other times the Leupolds were about 1% sharper. Over all I've got to say they're essentially equal. I will say the Primes are much easier to focus and the image pops into focus faster and without much effort. The Pro Guides take some back and forth fine tuning of the knob to find just the right spot for optimal resolution.

Color representation, I'm not sure. They both appear pretty neutral to me.

Low light performance is definitely where the Pro Guides excel over the Primes. Certainly not by a significant margin but it is noticeable. The difference becomes noticeable as soon as the sun sets and continues to the point of darkness. The Primes lose ground on details and colors compared to the Pro Guides in low light.

Depth of field is noticeably better in the Primes. At intermediate distances of 100-200 feet I was having to refocus the Pro Guides while looking at objects within this range far more frequently than I had to with the Primes.

Ergonomics, at least for me, most definitely are in favor of the Pro Guides. The large oculars on the Zen Rays just don't allow them to seal firmly to my eye sockets like most other binoculars. And with the Primes while I appreciate the hefty quality feeling they have, they do kind of handle like a brick. But that ZR focus knob, just loved it. As I mentioned earlier, loved the texture of it, the focus speed, and the firmness/resistance it gives while turning it.

The Leupolds ergos are very comfortable to me. Light enough to be easy to hold for extended lengths of time, open bridge allows for a complete grip around the barrel, and they are very quick to the eye. As soon as they are up to my eyes the image pops fully into view, very comfortably with no blackouts. The Zen Rays are just a little slow to find the right spot at my eyes and center the image properly. Maybe it's just me.

Hasn't been sunny enough to investigate glare. I don't wear glasses so have no comments on eye relief.

Which one is better is a loaded question. Just depends on what you're after and without holding and using both it is a question that would be impossible for an individual to answer. Optically I give the Prime HD's the nod by a very small margin but I'll be keeping the Leupold Pro Guides because of their ergonomics. I bought the Prime HDs first and knew quickly they just didn't fit me right. They are subsequently now for sale. $450 shipped.

Hopefully I didn't forget anything so I think that'll wrap it up for my "quick" initial thoughts. :)
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