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Review, Leupold Mojave BX-3 8x32

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Old Monday 10th March 2014, 13:21   #26
FrankD
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I used the Mojave 8x32 extensively over the weekend and continue to be impressed by both its handling and its optical performance. This is one of those binoculars that I have to do a double-take when I lift it up to my eyes. The optical performance performance is just genuine surprising given the price. I would expect optical performance of this level to be price at between $500 and $600. At times I have found myself thinking of it as an 8x32 McKinley instead of an 8x32 Mojave...with the understanding that there aren't any facial fit issues with these oculars.

No, it doesn't have quite the edge performance of the McKinley but it is awfully close and with a much more user friendly design. Given a bit more time I could potentially see this binocular as becoming my go-to model instead of the Sightron. Yes, it is $100 more expensive than the Sightron but we are still talking about a model priced notably under $300.

Simply amazing.
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Old Monday 10th March 2014, 17:25   #27
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How is glare / stray light handling? That's a weakness of many otherwise excellent binoculars.
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Old Monday 10th March 2014, 17:38   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eitanaltman View Post
How is glare / stray light handling? That's a weakness of many otherwise excellent binoculars.
That is, as far as I can tell, a strong point with the Mojave. I have yet to be able to induce any veiling glare and stray light issues seem non existent. I'm curious as to what Frank has found in that regard.

Depending on what plans Leupold has, they are on the verge of being able to do some serious butt kicking with this design if they so choose. See Frank's McKinley 8x32 comment as a for instance.
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Old Tuesday 11th March 2014, 05:37   #29
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Thanks for the terrific review, SteveC. My pair arrived on Saturday. I can confirm to other eyeglass wearers that there is enough effective eye relief to see the entire field with glasses (I have a moderate prescription, both eyes between -3.0 and -4.0 diopter). For my eyes, the sweet spot isn't quite as expansive as with yours. I'd call the sweetspot maybe 55%-60% of the field, but for me, that's actually a very good result. Very good sharpness here. The only issue I'm having is uneven tightness in the focuser, but I'm hoping that this will even out with more use.
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Old Tuesday 11th March 2014, 10:09   #30
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Hard to imagine the minimum IPD is 58 mm per Leupold literature (56 in this testing). Still, not fit problems it seems.
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Old Tuesday 11th March 2014, 12:56   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peatmoss View Post
Thanks for the terrific review, SteveC. My pair arrived on Saturday. I can confirm to other eyeglass wearers that there is enough effective eye relief to see the entire field with glasses (I have a moderate prescription, both eyes between -3.0 and -4.0 diopter). For my eyes, the sweet spot isn't quite as expansive as with yours. I'd call the sweetspot maybe 55%-60% of the field, but for me, that's actually a very good result. Very good sharpness here. The only issue I'm having is uneven tightness in the focuser, but I'm hoping that this will even out with more use.
I am glad you mentioned the focuser. I mentioned it in my original comments in this thread and also in reference to the Opticron Countryman review. I did not do a formal review but rather just posted some "continuing comments" in addition to Steve's review. If I had then I would have included a "nitpick section" of issues that I find the binocular less than perfect in. Number one on the list would have been the focusing feel.

The focusing tension isn't what I would call "stiff" in the sense of the word that is often used here. Making large adjustments of the focusing knob is very easy. Making small adjustments is a bit of a different story. I would like to use the term "stick-tion". There is a bit too much of it to make small adjustments easily. In other words the user has to apply a bit too much force to make small adjustments to the focus.

I haven't found this to be a major issue yet primarily because this is one of those binoculars that....

a) has that "pop" when the image is in focus so it is hard to miss it and....

b) also has very good image quality even when the image is slightly out of focus. In other words, just when you think you have reached perfect focus you turn the focus knob just a little bit more and that "pop" occurs.

The second nitpick for me is the strap lugs. When I initially picked up this model and placed my hand in the intuitive position I felt the strap lug digging into the webbing of my hand. I have since re-positioned my hand slightly forward and the strap lug is no longer an issue. Still, if the strap lug were moved 1/2 inch closer to the eyecup then I think it would alleviate this concern.

As for the sweet spot size you mentioned, I don't think there is as much sample variation as one might think. I have no doubt that the sweet spot size in your unit, my unit and Steve's unit is the same. I think it varies depending on the individual and on the special object/field that is being observed. Case in point, if I look at something man-made, such as the back of truck or a car then the sweet spot size almost looks "edge to edge". If I look at a tree or a hillside with lots of trees and fine detail then the sweet spot size seems to shrink considerably. In that instance I would probably rate it at about 70%. I am guessing this is the result of the specific type of distortion or aberration evident in the image. Just a guess though.
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Old Tuesday 11th March 2014, 15:40   #32
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Remember that it's also the frames which effect ER needs. I have three pairs of glasses that I use regularly: my "normal" everyday pair, a pair for workouts/bike rides, and a bifocal pair for some work duties. The first two have identical, up-to-date, single vision prescriptions, are made of the same high-index material, and have the same coatings (and came from the same store), but the workout glasses sit closer to my eyes, and up my nose a bit. 15-16mm ER seems OK with those, but if I'm wearing my everyday single vision glasses I need 18-19mm, as they sit 2-3mm further from my corneas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peatmoss View Post
Thanks for the terrific review, SteveC. My pair arrived on Saturday. I can confirm to other eyeglass wearers that there is enough effective eye relief to see the entire field with glasses (I have a moderate prescription, both eyes between -3.0 and -4.0 diopter). For my eyes, the sweet spot isn't quite as expansive as with yours. I'd call the sweetspot maybe 55%-60% of the field, but for me, that's actually a very good result. Very good sharpness here. The only issue I'm having is uneven tightness in the focuser, but I'm hoping that this will even out with more use.
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Old Wednesday 12th March 2014, 05:23   #33
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Frank: Those are some very good observations about these Mojaves. Concerning small adjustments on the focuser, I'm wondering if we could blame the "stick-tion" on whatever damping lubricant the OEM uses in it. I tend to like the old-fashioned squishy, petroleum-jelly-like feel one gets with older lubricants, where as you increase finger pressure on the focuser, the focuser "gives" a little bit just before it starts moving, and so you get the feeling that you are easing into movement. With the Mojaves, as you gradually step up pressure on the focuser, nothing happens, until all of a sudden it starts moving. I've seen a similar effect in the Steiner 8x30 Wildlife Pro CF, but it was a little more problematic with the Steiners because it was coupled with a fast focuser, so I'd often overshoot the focus quite noticeably (until I got used to it). It's not as much a problem with these Mojaves because the focuser is a bit slower, and so even if you overshoot, it's not by much. Plus, like you wrote, it is still pretty sharp even if the focus is a little off!

Paul2013: You make a very good point, and I hadn't considered it. I supposed that each of us eyeglass wearers has a good idea about what will and will not work with our own particular faces and frames. For me, I can mostly get away with using a bin with 16 or 17mm of eye relief, depending on how much of the eye relief is lost to the eyecups.
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Old Wednesday 12th March 2014, 10:54   #34
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Peatmoss,

I agree with your comments about preferences for the feel of different lubricants. I am hoping though that continued use ends up "smoothing out" the overall feel of the focusing tension. Will be sure to comment more about that as time passes.
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Old Thursday 13th March 2014, 18:57   #35
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Steve,

I should apologise for not thanking you earlier for the excellent review.

I'm not sure where Leupold is coming from with their current 'styling' but I confess the look of the Mojave doesn't do it for me. It's a make we rarely see over here and I suppose I prematurely dismissed for personal consideration. Following the thread now I see it's rather more interesting than I initially imagined.

There are a few numbers in the specification that look a bit odd to me. It lists the FOV as 420ft or 128m, which would be 384ft. Am I right in thinking 420ft is the correct figure? The others stem from comparison with the Countryman HD which certainly spiked my interest. 17oz/482g is a lot lighter than 21.7oz/614g listed by Opticron. If both are right that would suggest significant differences in the structure and/or materials. Perhaps that's something Frank might be able to compare. Likewise the ER. It's a while since I tried the Opticron but I recall needing to twist out the eye-cups to use with my glasses which normally would not be necessary with a 16mm ER which makes me feel the 19mm ER for the Opticron might be right.

I probably have less accommodation than Frank and Steve, but the field curvature of the Opticron was quite pronounced to my eyes. It sounds rather different to Steve's flat(ish) description. Opticron are a bit vague about their 63-layer 'Oasis' coating but the 'L' coating on the Leupold sounds like it might be different.

I'm not aware of the Japanese OEMs producing identically specified models for two different companies, and it certainly sounds like there are distinguishing features. However if the Mojave's view really does compare with the Countryman HD in a 5oz lighter body then that would get me excited enough to ignore it's looks. I'm looking forward to Frank's side by side.

Thanks again Steve.

David

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Old Friday 14th March 2014, 02:45   #36
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I think Leupold could cut some costs in reductions in their arts and design department (assuming they have such a thing ). I don't like the new age flare and supposed enhanced design either. That seems to be something in vogue on more than one Leupold design. It's a marvel at what some people get paid to do.

The field on my unit checks out at 420', so 8* is correct. Note mine weight 2 oz more than the spec sheet says it does. I see an alarming tendency in more than one optical company website to post information that makes it seem the the right hand is ignorant of the left hands actions.

I have not yet had the chance to talk with my Leupold contact since he just got back from the IWA show in Nuremberg yesterday. When I do contact him in the next couple of days, I'll see what he has to say about an Opticron Countryman connection.

My Mojave has the upper edge of the eye cup exactly 16 mm above the ocular with the eye cup extended.

I have little doubt it will compare up to snuff with the Countryman. I look forward to Frank's comparison as well.

You are welcome for the review. I am glad you liked it.
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Old Friday 14th March 2014, 08:06   #37
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Steve,

Is that a 'new age' design? Must have got my ley lines crossed. Still the x32 doesn't look quite as bad as the x42s! I have to say the rather conservative design of the Opticron is more to my taste.

Sorry, I'd missed your comment on the weight. Still a useful difference in my book.

We'll have to wait for Frank's comparison but the key feature I like about the Opticron is that I found it sharper than many at the price including the Monarch 7 8x42 and two out of three Terras. However the M7 8x30 I tried would give it a run for it's money. That still wasn't sharp at the edges but the sweet spot was much broader than it's big brother.

David
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Old Friday 14th March 2014, 14:07   #38
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A couple of thoughts after reading the last few posts.....

- I don't know what to make about the eye relief differences. A direct comparison is probably the only way to sort that out. I wouldn't be surprised though to find that both binoculars display the same level of eye relief.

- As for the weight difference, since the actual weight difference is only two ounces (as opposed to four) I think it can be easily displayed in the difference in bridge designs. I think I mentioned it in my original post on the Mojave but its shorter bridge design could easily shave off 2 ounces in weight.

- Keep in mind this isn't the first "similar model" I have found between the two companies. The 8x32 Acadia is a dead ringer for the previous version of the Oregon 8x32. Optically they were very similar except the Acadia was phase coated and the sweet spot of the Oregon was larger.
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Old Monday 17th March 2014, 12:25   #39
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I had a really busy, but fun, weekend comparing optics. I am debating how to relate everything I saw/did at the Cape May Optics fair. Maybe a new thread in the main forum? I will have to think about it.

However, the reason I am posting here is because I did have the opportunity to compare the Mojave with several similarly configured binoculars at and above its price point. The model comparison that I think you folks will be interested in are the Opticron Countryman HD, Opticron Verano HD, Zeiss Conquest HD and Nikon Monarch 7. I am going to reserve comments for just a little until I have a chance to collect my thoughts but I did want to share some of the pics with you to stimulate discussion.....
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Old Monday 17th March 2014, 12:35   #40
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Countryman HD - Leupold Mojave 8x32 comparison pics
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Old Monday 17th March 2014, 12:36   #41
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Eyecup/eyepiece comparison for usable eye relief....
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Old Monday 17th March 2014, 12:45   #42
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Monarch 7 versus Mojave size comparison
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Old Monday 17th March 2014, 12:52   #43
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Lastly, a little digibinning comparison in image performance between the Mojave, the Countryman HD and the Nikon M7. My apologies for not perfectly centering the tree in each image. Difficult conditions at the time. Still, it will give you some idea....
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Old Monday 17th March 2014, 15:37   #44
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Frank,

Thanks for the images. Side by side the Mojave and the Opticron appear to have points of similarity like, the dioptre adjustment, but quite different in other ways. Look forward to your comments on how the view compares.

Putting the Monarch 7 in the mix adds some spice. I've still only seen that pre-production sample at BirdFair back in the summer which got me very excited. Very interested in your thoughts.

David
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Old Monday 17th March 2014, 16:50   #45
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Frank,

Interesting observations for sure. Now I'm going to have to get my hands on the M7 8x30. Its image in your picture seems to beat its bigger M7 x42 siblings. It looks like there is little to no real differences in the images of the three.

I did have the impression the M7 8x30 would look smaller alongside the Mojave than it seems to in your pictures.

The spring waterfowl is in full bloom here, one of the things that makes this place a birder's mecca. I have been using the Mojave extensively over the last several days. I continue to be impressed at its ability to resolve detail at distance and am able to remark again how well it handles CA, glare ,and any stray light issues.
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Old Monday 17th March 2014, 17:18   #46
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I have a few minutes to share some thoughts. I would like to start with the Countryman versus Mojave.

After comparing the two side by side I would say that my earlier comments are, for the most part, accurate. I have no doubt that the eyepieces and optical train are the same. The image performance in the case of apparent sharpness and sweet spot size appear identical. The Countryman has a more neutral color representation and does appear brighter in normal daylight conditions. You can see the slightly warm color bias in the Mojaves' picture above.

The Opticron Verano was a bit more of a challenge to the Mojave. In terms of centerfield apparent sharpness I did not notice a difference. The sweet spot size is notably larger on the Verano...less field curvature and astigmatism. The Verano also has a more neutral color representation and appears to have better brightness as a result. Interestingly enough, though the true field of view specs are identical I received the impression that the apparent field of view was larger in the Verano. The same was the case with the Zeiss Conquest HD and the Nikon Monarch 7 (though the latter does have a listed .3 degree wider true field of view as well). I believe this is the result of the specific type of edge performance that each of these bins offers in comparison to the Mojave.

The Conquest HD was very similar to the Verano overall in just about every way. So my comments on the Verano apply to the Conquest as well. The Conquest appeared to be ever so slightly brighter than the Verano, and subsequently the Mojave as well.

The Nikon M7 was a bit of a surprise. I have read all of the comments on here before and after it was released. I had relatively positive expectations towards it but was unprepared for how much I would like this binocular. It is a superb little glass. Loved it and for a variety of reasons. For one the optics are impressive. Just as bright as the Conquest in my opinion with a notably more immersive feeling to the image. The wider field of view coupled with the larger oculars (and narrower diameter eyecups) just made me feel like I fell into the image. The apparent brightness, contrast and sharpness were all excellent. The sweet spot size was very good..a little better than the Mojave but not quite as good as the Verano. Off axis performance wasn't distracting in the least.

Ergonomically the focus wheel speed and feel were perfect for my tastes. The tactile sensation generated by the rubber armoring was as pleasing to my hands as the original Swarovski EL 8x32. "Like a glove". Nikon is going to sell a ton of those.

So, to summarize, I compared the $280 (least expensive retailer) Leupold Mojave to four competitors. The least expensive of the group retails for $100 more than the Mojave. I couldn't find any retailer that had the Nikon less than $376. The centerfield performance in all areas except color representation was equivalent to all of the other four. Only in the areas of color representation (and subsequently apparent brightness) and size of sweet spot did I feel that the other four truly bettered the Mojave. So, as is often the case in the binocular market, if you want slightly better optical improvements in various areas then you have to pay more money to achieve it.

All for now.
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Old Monday 17th March 2014, 22:52   #47
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Frank,

Many thanks for posting your comparison.

Although a couple of places have the Mojave 10x32 I can't find the 8x32 on sale in the UK. Opticron don't offer a Countryman HD 10x32. I wonder if the Mojave 8x32 is too close to the Opticron to be sold here?

The Monarch 7 made a big impression on me as well. Interesting you didn't see the glare some have reported. I guess it's something I need to check thoroughly for myself but really hope it doesn't damp my enthusiasm for the model. (Already sold one of my binos to make space for it. )

I've mentioned before I found some differences in sharpness between the other models mentioned. Sounds like you found them somewhat closer. Food for thought!

Thanks again,

David
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Old Tuesday 18th March 2014, 00:32   #48
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Quote:
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The Monarch 7 made a big impression on me as well. Interesting you didn't see the glare some have reported. I guess it's something I need to check thoroughly for myself but really hope it doesn't damp my enthusiasm for the model. (Already sold one of my binos to make space for it. )
I hope you don't mind if I jump in here. I've had the 8x30 M7 for a few months now. I am also very impressed at how good it is. I don't think it provides as good an overall view as the Conquest HD (as one would reasonably expect), but I have to say that I don't miss the Zeiss at all when I am using the M7. They are surprisingly close.

Anyway -- I have not found glare to be a problem. I do see it along the lower portions of the view when I am glassing in the general direction of the setting sun, but that is about the only time I see it. For my use, the small amount of glare that is present is not an issue.

If you need a smaller bino as perhaps a backup to high-end glass, or just need something small and light in weight for all-day hiking, you can't go wrong with the M7.
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Old Tuesday 18th March 2014, 06:48   #49
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Phil,

Thanks for the reassurance. From what I've seen there is so much to like about the M7 I'd be content to forgive a small niggle, particularly in a binocular this price. (It's much more irritating in a $1600 model. ) Figured it would be ideal for hiking and travelling.

It could be there is some sample variation. There is quite a bit in the full size M7s I've tried, but this baby is from a different supplier we are told. I recall that someone here noted an unblackened surface in theirs that might have been the culprit. There is a store a couple of hours from me lists both the Monarch and the Kite Lynx that I hope to visit sometime soon.

David
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Old Tuesday 18th March 2014, 11:04   #50
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Typo,

I forgot to mention something about the comparison between the Countryman and the Mojave earlier. If you look at the objective lens comparison pic that I posted earlier you will note the difference in coating color. I have a strong feeling that this is the primary difference in optical performance between the two binoculars. The color bias and apparent brightness could easily be explained by the difference in coatings. I believe the Opticron's probably yields a higher light transmission value but I am certainly not complaining about the Leupold's.

I will be sure to check for stray light issues the next time I get to sample the M7 8x30. I will also be sure to look through the objective end to note any exposed/non-blackened surfaces.

David,

The Verano 8x32 that I tried this past weekend was very sharp. It actually seemed to offer better apparent sharpness than the unit I reviewed last year.
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