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Review, Leupold Mojave BX-3 8x32

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Old Sunday 2nd March 2014, 20:59   #1
Steve C
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Review, Leupold Mojave BX-3 8x32

Leupold BX-3 Mojave 8x32 Review
Subtitle: The Mad Binocular Scientist vs the Arts and Accessories Department.

Well, I’ve had this binocular for some time now, so here is the review. This took Leupold some time to get out, but, I think it will prove worth the wait.

http://www.leupold.com/hunting-shoot...mojave-8x32mm/

I won’t bother to list specifications and such information as the viewer can get from the above link to the binocular’s page. For general information, this a Japanese OEM/Leupold project. MSRP is $439.

The binocular scientist got things right here, but as I found out, one will have to deal with the accessory folks before you can get into the good stuff. The first thing you don’t notice right off, but it will become apparent that the case is too small. The new plastic wrapped binocular slips right out. However what you will notice is the rain guard. Yeah, the blasted rain guard, of all things to make a first impression. It is of ample size, is well enough made. So, what’s the problem? It is so slick that it makes the suction grip from hell with the softer somewhat textured rubber eye cup coverings. Trust me, it is not easy to get off. The slightly short case requires the eye cups to be screwed down and when the Velcro case closure is fastened, there is that suction seal all over again. This is all pretty minor as any rubber eye guard of the right size other than the slick plastic contrivance solves the issue. I quickly decided to use a case from an old Yosemite. The accessories folks did get the neck strap right. It is just right in length, about an inch and a quarter wide, nicely padded, and very stretchy. It comes with nice snap on connectors, which Leupold needs to make standard on all of its lines. There is a little blue cleaning cloth in the package too.

As to the arts people, I can’t say I’m really a fan of the artsy design the included in the rubber armor. The smooth, slightly raised ridges are no particular hindrance, but the feel would be enhanced if the whole rubber suit was the stippled, textured style present in the bulk of the armor. That would enhance the grip, slim up the profile a bit as well. But, not much of an issue.

When the binocular finds itself freed from the bonds of the case and rain guard, we are in for a surprise. The short story is the optical performance is superb. Four things stand tall as strong points in the new Mojave. First is it has an apparently flat field, certainly flatter than anyone would tend to suspect from a binocular lacking field flattening technology. Second is that the edge performance is at least as good as the flatness of the field. Third is how bright it is, particularly in light limited situations. Forth, for having no ED glass, CA is as well controlled as several highly regarded ED binoculars.

Optical Performance- field.

As the short story says this has a very flat field. No, it is not as flat as would be expected from a binocular with field flattening oculars, but still it was a surprise and immediately obvious as it happened that and the edge performance were the first things I happened to look at here. I had to stop and call Leupold to confirm they had not inserted field flatteners or ED glass. There is a peripheral appearance, or hint of a slight outer curvature ring, but just a hint, and may well be just a function of normal peripheral vision. If there is any accommodation at all left in your eyes, it vanishes as you look to the edge to define it. When I was checking the fov specifications, the reading on the tape measure at the edges was every bit as sharp as anywhere else across the field. Edges are usually blurry enough it takes a little effort to read the outer numbers on the measuring tape, not here. By the way it seems to be spot on at the listed 8*. It seems to project a sweet spot that is at least 90% in terrestrial viewing. Star images will blur beginning about 75%. This gives the Mojave a better picture window experience than with the other less apparently flat 8x32 binoculars I will review elsewhere. A nice complement to the small size.

Optical performance- image

As mentioned above this is a bright glass. Not blindingly bright or standard setting bright, but more than amply bright to give a crisp, clean, sharp view. It stands up amazingly well in light limited situations and will not be embarrassed with its smaller objective by even a top quality 42 mm binocular. The color balance looks pretty neutral when viewing brightly lit white surfaces through the objectives. In field use, I’d judge it to be ever so slightly warm. Be that as it may, the colors are bright, vivid, and appear completely natural. Contrast levels are good enough to snap the colors right out, and varying shades of color appear sharply defined. Stray light issues and glare is very well controlled, practically non-existent. So are reflections from the ocular lens.

L-Coat

This coating plays a reasonably visible part in the packaging and in general information about this glass. L-Coat is Leupold’s proprietary, new generation, cold fusion, multi-layer prism mirror coating. This is part of the tweaking that went on with this glass. While they certainly will not tell anyone what the secret sauce is, I was told that it is unique in that it uses a silver based compound in the formula at some point in the process.

The lens coatings have a green tint, as opposed to the purple/violet tinge shown on the Leupold site. The objectives perhaps darker than the oculars. The ocular reflects three reflections, yellowish, then green, then pink. The objectives reflect two. One green, and the deeper one pink.

Field Usage performance;

The focus is counterclockwise to infinity and moves through one and one half turns. There are three approximately equal in movement, “usage zones” in the travel. This one focuses to the advertised close focus distance maintaining a unified image. It will come about 18” closer if you use a single eye. It focuses from close to 30 meters (100’) or so in one third of travel, using up the first usage zone. The second usage zone takes you to infinity, with the third usage zone leaving ample room past infinity if needed. This will leave most use of the focus in the first whole rotation of the wheel. The focus seems well done, soft without being too soft, and is quite precise. There was some unevenness out of the box but that worked out pretty quickly.

The diopter is click stop, and is located on the front of the focus knob. It is a pull out affair and locks snugly in place. It has showed me no sign of drift and focuses my right eye just where I need it to.

The eye relief is listed as 16.0 mm but there is 12.0 mm available. The eye cups do extend fully to 16 mm above the ocular lens, but you can only get within 4 mm with the eye cups turned down. The eye cups actually roll over the edge further than needed and are thick enough to lose about 2 mm. The rest is a metal ring around the ocular lens which extends above the lens surface another couple of mm. Before the “woe is me” alarm sounds, I will point out that with my reading glasses and some of the sunglasses I use, there is ample relief for me to see the entire fov. So eye glass wearers, do not dismiss this out of hand.

The binocular in hand differs from the specifications in a couple of other ways. First, the weight is listed as 17.0 oz. or 482 grams. Mine, sans covers and strap weighs 19.0 oz. or 530 grams. That is not much difference and this is still a nice, small easy to pack and handle binocular. With eye cups extended it is 5.25 or 133 mm. With eye cups down it 4.8” or 122 mm. When expanded to a 65 mm IPD, it is 4.25” or 108 mm. wide. The high single hinge allows the barrels to extend about 2", or 50 mm or so from the hinge. That will easily fit two larger fingers, or three smaller ones.

The specifications list a minimum IPD of 58.0 mm, this one is 56.0 mm and leaves 15.0 mm between the eye cups at minimum setting.

So, how does this compare to;

This is larger than 8x32’s like the Opticron Traveler, the Leupold Acadia, and the Vortex Diamondback, just a bit bigger than the ZRS, and just a bit smaller than the Theron. The high single hinge is like the ZRS. It is a nice sized and compact binocular.

It is a superior binocular to the rest of the 8x32 mid-size I have around, which include the Leupold Acadia, Opticron Traveler and the ZRS 8x32. I also have the Theron Wapiti LT 8x32 which is closest of the 30-32 mm stuff I have to the Mojave, but it is just a tiny bit less sharp and the edge is not as good as the Mojave.

So, after I’d had these for a day or so, I set off for a couple of local dealers. One has the Zeiss Terra 8x42 and the other, the Nikon Monarch 7 in 8x42. On a gray, about to rain, sort of light limited day, the Mojave was brighter, and sharper and had MUCH better edges than the same fov in the Monarch 7, in spite of a 10 mm handicap in objective size. I would take the image of the Mojave to either of the above two. I would put the Mojave in the same class as the Vortex Viper HD. The center sharpness, detail, and brightness are on par, but the Mojave has the edge in apparent size of the size in the sweet spot in the view. That is not meant to be a knock on the Monarch 7 or the Terra. If I had either I could be quite happy with it. I have not seen the Monarch 7 30 mm binocular, but unless Nikon has sharpened the 30 mm edge and brightened the coatings and improved those facets from the 42 mm M 7, the 30 mm I would expect to fall short of the Mojave. They hold their own very well with the other 8x42 binoculars I have on hand, the Leupold Gold Ring HD, the Leupold McKinley HD, the ZEN Prime HD, the Kruger Caldera, and the Promaster Infinity Elite ED.

Summary;

Overall a very nice binocular. It is a binocular to go on the short list if you are looking for a compact that won’t break the bank, has sharper edges and a flatter field than expected on a mid-level binocular, that is pretty compact, easy to handle, well built, and offers a bright, sharp, high contrast image. Top notch warranty service from Leupold hurts noting either. I realize we have all come to think of all, or at least some of the combinations of the new bells and whistles are necessary for enjoyment of a modern binocular. I would not worry about the fact the Mojave lacks ED glass. It is bright enough, sharp enough, and CA is well enough controlled, that I believed the Leupold engineer I talked to who said it would add nothing but cost. They apparently did a lot of work with coatings and lens geometry and I happen to think most people will be well satisfied. This hits a fair bit above its price class. I’d dearly love to get a new Kite Lynx HD, a Meopta Meostar, or a Zeiss Conquest alongside this one to see how it stood up. Pretty well would be my guess.
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Last edited by Steve C : Sunday 2nd March 2014 at 23:30.
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Old Sunday 2nd March 2014, 21:34   #2
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Impressive.
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Old Sunday 2nd March 2014, 21:45   #3
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Steve,

Thanks for the review. I have a 3ish year old pair of the 8x42 Mojaves and have always found the image produced quite impressive for the demo price at which I bought them; their minute CA and large Sweet-spot are particularly nice. The 8x42x have a relatively narrow field of view, but the 32mm seems to rectify that complaint - though at only 12mm of usable eye relief I doubt I could utilize these with my eyeglasses

Regards,
Justin
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Old Sunday 2nd March 2014, 21:51   #4
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One thing , maybe two I should have mentioned. First is in spite of the apparent similarity of the 32 and 42 mm Mojave, with the 32 mm looking like a shorter 42 without the lower bridge, is that the 32 is a different glass. The 42 and 50 mm Mojave are scheduled for substantial upgrades in 2015. Second is the 32 with its wider view will likely spoil the narrow 42 or 50 view for some.
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Old Sunday 2nd March 2014, 22:05   #5
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Thanks Steve, just placed my order for one. I have been looking at this little glass for sometime.
I'm always a little hesitant, call me a procrastinater.
I just like seeing user input before I purchase and ultimately put a bin through its paces.
Bryce...
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Old Monday 3rd March 2014, 16:53   #6
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Nicely done Steve. This binocular sounds very attractive in terms of optical performance. What were your thought on overall handling? How stiff is the focusing tension? Any problems with the click stop diopter in terms of getting that "just right" setting?

I do hope to have one in my hands some time in the near future.
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Old Monday 3rd March 2014, 17:05   #7
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Thanks Frank.

It handles quite well. The high hinge gives enough barrel extension to give room for larger hands. I think most people will find this binocular in a comfort zone. While big enough for larger hands, it is still pretty compact and small adults and kids should be fine with the size on the other end of the spectrum.

The focus tension is fairly light. It takes little effort to move the focus, but seems, so far at least, to be where you left it when the binocular was used last. Hinge tension is just right too.

The click stop seems to work just fine for me. One thing I should mention, is this binocular seems to snap into perfect focus for me when I first do the standard, left eye with the focus, right eye with the diopter, then with both eyes open a little more diopter use and the focus really sharpens up best. Between last night and this morning I noticed a difference in needed settings. Last night I was using it to check out stars. I set the diopter for that purpose, and found I needed to readjust this morning scanning waterfowl on the lake. Other than that, the diopter seems to have no issues.
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Old Monday 3rd March 2014, 20:26   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jremmons View Post
Steve,

Thanks for the review. I have a 3ish year old pair of the 8x42 Mojaves and have always found the image produced quite impressive for the demo price at which I bought them; their minute CA and large Sweet-spot are particularly nice. The 8x42x have a relatively narrow field of view, but the 32mm seems to rectify that complaint - though at only 12mm of usable eye relief I doubt I could utilize these with my eyeglasses

Regards,
Justin
This was my concern initially, but I've owned the 8x32 for a while now and have not had any issue with my eyeglasses. I have not tried many 8x32 glasses but this Mojave compares well to everything else I've owned, mostly 8x42 stuff.
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Old Monday 3rd March 2014, 20:44   #9
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The focus tension is fairly light. It takes little effort to move the focus, but seems, so far at least, to be where you left it when the binocular was used last. Hinge tension is just right too.
Right on. Focus tension is ideal in my opinion. Important for me is its ability to focus smoothly in below 0 temps. I've had mine out several times this winter in bitter cold temperatures and although it get a bit harder to move it is still manageable and better than the others I own at this time. The Terra ED focus was even smoother and lighter but it was just too fast for my taste. The Mojave feels about right for speed and tension.
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Old Monday 3rd March 2014, 21:03   #10
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kflan22,

Just out of curiosity, did your Mojave come with the same hard to remove, slick plastic rain guard?

As a general note, mine just came out of three hours in the freezer. The focus tension was stiffer, but very manageable.
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Old Monday 3rd March 2014, 21:31   #11
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kflan22,

Just out of curiosity, did your Mojave come with the same hard to remove, slick plastic rain guard?

As a general note, mine just came out of three hours in the freezer. The focus tension was stiffer, but very manageable.
Yes it did. I struggle with removing the thing just about every time, especially in colder temperatures.

Just an observation but I noticed the same rain guard on the Opticron Countryman BGA. Those and the Mojave 8x32 seem to have some similarities.

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Old Tuesday 4th March 2014, 22:16   #12
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Originally Posted by kflan22 View Post
Yes it did. I struggle with removing the thing just about every time, especially in colder temperatures.
Any other rubber as opposed to slick plastic rain guard will fix the issue, like the ones Eagle Optics sell for instance.
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Old Tuesday 4th March 2014, 22:28   #13
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A bit of a review update.

It has been pretty gray and stormy her (thank you Lord...finally) but today there was a brilliant sunny break between systems, so off to the White Lake Unit of the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge I went. I started there and proceeded down Stateline Rd until off the refuge, from there north through the flooded Bureau of Reclamation lease lands and the private lands in the Lower Klamath vicinity.

Mostly I was looking south, toward and under the sun. There are hundreds of thousands of birds around, so there was ample opportunity to ask some further questions of the Mojave. The glare off the water is sharp and much of the view is too bright, for some of it, I had to use sunglasses. That last bit reinforces the idea that there may well be ample eye relief for many eye glass users.

It was pretty easy to frame many birds , even multiple whole fov sections of nothing but birds, that were bright enough that it looked like a flood lit black and white scene, also pretty easy to get too close to the sun. It was surprising how well the Mojave would define identification detail. Looking north the bright sunny views were brilliant and sharp. The color bias seems more towards the warm side than it seemed in gray overcast skies.

In spite of the bright conditions, CA remained elusive, so I think it is reasonably safe to say that CA is pretty well controlled here.
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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 12:30   #14
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I received my Mojave 8x32 two days ago and I wanted to take the time to share my thoughts/impressions of it since that time.

Let me start off by saying that I am extremely impressed with this binocular. I do want to reference kflan's comment above with regard to the Opticron Countryman HD 8x32 (new version that debuted in December 2012). I did a review of that model which can be found here:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=250655

I think Kflan was on to something. I did not pay too much attention to the reference that he made until I received the binocular. As soon as I did I was struck by the similarities. For one the eyecups and oculars seem identical. Two, the focusing knob/diopter design seem very similar if not the same plus the focusing feel/tension also seem of the same ilk.

Looking back on what I wrote of the Countryman in terms of the previously mentioned features and, furthermore, the optical performance I have to say that the two have to be based on the same design. Everything I said optically about the Countryman fits what I am now experiencing with the Mojave. It also coincides directly with what SteveC commented about in the original post of this thread....right down to the ever so slight amount of field curvature off axis. The only practical difference I can see is in the bridge design. The Leupold's is obviously much shorter which allows for more finger placement between the barrels. It also would explain the 2 oz difference in weight between the two models.

I am going to post more as I have more time with the binocular but suffice to say I am extremely impressed with this model and would highly recommend it at the $279-$349 that they are currently selling it for. For all you optics nuts that love a really good deal I can't see how you would pass it up.
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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 12:32   #15
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Just another shot.
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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 13:18   #16
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Frank: Any idea on the ER? It's still listed as "N/A" on Leupold's site, and there seems to be some disagreement above on how much is there.....
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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 14:16   #17
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This binocular looks (superficially at least) extremely similar to the Z-R / Celestron 8x32 twins, both in physical appearance with that tiny bridge and H shape and in specs (very low weight, moderate eye relief etc). Is this Chinese made? Is it reasonable to assume its a Leupy souped up version of this basic model? Surprised there has been no reference to this yet from anyone.

Frank while it may perform like the Countryman from here, superficially, it doesn't really look anything like it (Countryman is Japanese too).
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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 14:18   #18
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Paul,

I haven't measure it yet. As Steve mentioned above the oculars are recessed a fair amount from the edge of the eyecup so there definitely is a difference between absolute and usable eye relief. Having said that I did see on one of the retailer websites a listed eye relief of 16 mm. I am guessing Steve measured it based on his comments in the original post in this thread. Interestingly enough the Opticron version has a listed 19 mm of eye relief and yet I can tell no difference (in terms of "in practice") between the two models.

I cannot induce blackouts/kidney beaning with this model no matter how hard I press them into my eye sockets. I also don't get any eyelash marks on the lenses (which I do get with two other short eye relief binoculars I have had in my possession lately).

I will try to get a measurement for you later but if I had to guess I would say that the 16 mm of eye relief is probably the usable amount but I do defer to Steve if he has actually measured it.
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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 14:24   #19
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Eitan,

I am actually going to have the opportunity to put the Mojave side by side with the Countryman next weekend as I am attending an optics event down in Cape May. I will let you know for sure there.

I think you may be overstressing the short bridge design in your visual comparison of these two models. Short of the shorter bridge and the fancier contouring in the rubber armor I really see the same binocular as the Countryman. The diopter design/appearance, the eyecup/ocular lens design/appearance and the focusing feel/tension all seem smack on identical to the Countryman. So my guess is same "internals" with a different external package.

The Mojave is stamped "Made In Japan" underneath the central hinge.
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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 15:17   #20
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Hmm. Well if it's made in Japan than my theory is out. Looking at more photos I see that the bridge is more of a "high H" unlike the centered bridge on the ZR/Celestron but like the Monarch/Kite 8x30, also Japan made (hmm).

I see what you mean about the focus knob / diopter and eyecups. The Countryman is a bit fatter though no? All pics (and my memory) have it as sort of a wedge shape with fatter barrels tapering towards narrow eyecups, whereas the Leupy looks more directly rectangular. But anyway it wouldn't surprise me if there is shared lineage.

So has this displaced the M7 8x30 as the best compact 30mm class binocular below the Viper HD price point? Any grumblings about China bins do not apply here as it's Japan made, Leupy quality with their lifetime warranty. Seems like a crazy good value at <$300.

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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 15:28   #21
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Eitan,

My guess on the "outline" difference is possibly the thicker rubber armor. Maybe the thickness of the rubber armor is wider at the objective end than at the ocular end. Just a guess but like I said, I will compare next weekend. I can also compare it to the Nikon M7 8x30 which I have yet to handle. Nikon will be there too and I am sure they will have the 8x30 on hand.

It will be interesting to compare the Leupold to the Nikon for all the reasons you illustrated. For the time being I have been comparing it directly to the Sightron. It would seem that all my comparative comments between the Sightron and the Opticron would apply here. The Leupold is the better binocular in my opinion and for a few reasons.

1. The image does appear more color neutral in the Leupold and therefore it appears slightly brighter than the Sightron (which is bright for a relatively inexpensive 32 mm roof).

2.The field is slightly flatter in the Leupold.

3. The sweet spot is larger in the Leupold.

4. The overall feel of build quality in the Leupold is slightly better.

Now keep in mind I have no issues with any of the above in the Sightron so to say that the Leupold is better in each of this categories is really saying something.

It would now seem that we almost have to have a different "reference standard" for 8x30-something class binoculars at almost every $100 price point. The Sightron can be found for $180, the Leupold at $280 and the Nikon at $380.
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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 16:38   #22
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Quote:
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Frank: Any idea on the ER? It's still listed as "N/A" on Leupold's site, and there seems to be some disagreement above on how much is there.....
Well, I'm not Frank, but I listed that information in the review. To repeat, there is 16 mm with eye cups raised, which is the listed spec. The combination of the rubber eye cup and the ring around the ocular allow the eye glass wearer to get within only 4 mm of the ocular surface. There are some ER comments in the review.
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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 16:44   #23
Steve C
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eitanaltman View Post

So has this displaced the M7 8x30 as the best compact 30mm class binocular below the Viper HD price point? Any grumblings about China bins do not apply here as it's Japan made, Leupy quality with their lifetime warranty. Seems like a crazy good value at <$300.
I would say it has. I would take the Mojave 8x32 over the Nikon Monarch 7 8x42 any day of the week. The Mojave is the brighter of the two, and the field and edge performance are clearly superior to the M7.

Repeating the review comment, I would place this right at the Viper HD level, but the Mojave bests the Viper in field, width, width of usable sweet spot, and has superior field and edge performance characteristics.

I will echo Franks earlier comment in the vein of it's really hard to not like this binocular.

Leupold has the basic design down well enough that if they so choose, they are at the verge of some butt kicking. Take the MSRP to the $700 level, add some better quality glass, include some ED in the objective, use a better level of coating,take the transmission % into the 90% range, refine the eye cup a little, and a few other refinements, and we could be looking at a test run for the new Gold Ring series. Realize that is just me thinking out loud, I have no idea of what the plans Leupold has are. The potential here is enormous.
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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 19:02   #24
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jack be nimble, jack be quick...

Eagle Optics is phasing out their Leupold dealership. The have one Mojave 8x32 for $253 left. No differences in what they have and what you will get elsewhere.
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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 23:39   #25
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Sorry Steve. I missed that. I'm still on the fence about a compact 10x32 vs a fullsized 10x42 or 10x50, but I do know that 18-19mm seems to be the ideal ER for me.



Quote:
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Well, I'm not Frank, but I listed that information in the review. To repeat, there is 16 mm with eye cups raised, which is the listed spec. The combination of the rubber eye cup and the ring around the ocular allow the eye glass wearer to get within only 4 mm of the ocular surface. There are some ER comments in the review.
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