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A futile attempt to replace my 10x42 Engage. (1 Viewer)

Oldnintheway

Well-known member
For the past couple of years I've been carrying around a pair of Bushnell Engage 10x42 and have been quite happy with them. These are the better of the 3 Engage and I think I paid under $300 for them on sale.They have been dropped and banged around numerous times. The hinge is loose and there are a few light scratches on the lenses. So I though it a good time to look for a replacement, maybe a step up. I spend more time glassing for Orcas around Puget Sound than I do birding these days and that means long times with arms raised. Hoping for an aha moment with something new. My budget was initially about $500. I read every thread I could find on the subject here and elsewhere. I decided on a pair of Nikon Monarch 7($446.95) and ordered them from B&H. I have always been happy with Nikon gear, I have used their camera equipment for years. They arrived and much to my disappointment I could just not get them to focus properly to my eyes. It's possible that it was just a bad pair. They felt fine physically but after a few days of trying to focus without eye strain I gave up and sent them back. B&H sent a prepaid label that cost $10.80 to return.
So I decided to take a different approach and select 3 pair of the best reviewed in that price range and keep the best. I spent a good while searching and settled on the Vortex Viper HD, Hawke Frontier ED X, and Tract Toric UHD. I had to expand my budget a bit for the Tract but they sounded like they might be worth it. I ordered the Tract from Tract as they had a promotion going that saved 5%, which in the end cost me money. If I had ordered from Amazon would have been free returns. I ordered the Vortex & Hawke from Amazon. The Vortex($494.) were slightly better than the Nikon but still caused eye strain and did not work for me so I put them back in the box after a few hours. The Hawke($479.99) were good. They felt good, were slightly brighter than my Engage, and detail was similar. Maybe, very slightly better than my Engage all around. The Toric ($694)had the best optics, bright, contrasty, and clear focus. But again comparing them to my Engage the difference was minimal. The Toric also had some downsides. They are the biggest, and noticeably the heaviest, and the rubber had a strong, offensive smell. I left them in open air for several days and the odor did dissipate some but it was still enough to put me off. Who wants to smell something nasty every time you raise your binoculars? The Tract guys were very responsive along the way. There was a lengthy UPS delay in delivery and I had a few other questions that they promptly responded to. In the end, much to my disappointment, no aha moment, not even close, so back they all went. Things to consider if you're thinking of doing similar. Return costs were as follows: B&H $10.80. Tract $31. for the cheapest USPS with seven hundred dollars insurance and tracking. Vortex & Hawke from Amazon FREE!
This is just a recount of my experience and others may have a completely different outcome. But I thought I'd share and hope that it would be of some help. I think I'll order a new pair of Engage when I get around to it.
JIm
 

Steve C

Well-known member
I think you will very likely find the differences in your budget class will always be minimal. I'd say offhand the difference you can see with the Toric is likely about what you can expect. I don't have a real good explanation for the focus issues you describe. Without wanting to sound condescending, I will just assume you are familiar with the process for focusing each eye using the center focus and the diopter.

My advice would be to tell you to stick with the Toric. To get the same sort of performance from there you will wind up spending far more than you want to. But if the odor is offensive, I can surely see staying away from it. I note from your forum handle, that you are likely , as am I, a senior citizen. One thing to consider is perhaps your eyes are starting to tell you thay they don't like 10x as much as they used to. Aside from that, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it", as you seem to have done with another Engage is probably the best way to go.

I just remembered that CameralandNY has he Athlon Cronus on sale for $300, down about half price from normal retail. I had a look at one of those, and frankly I was pretty well surprised at what it had to say for itself, so that might be another option. The Cronus is 8.5x42, but it is pretty hard for a lot of people to tell that a 10x has a lot greater detail.
 
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Oldnintheway

Well-known member
I think you will very likely find the differences in your budget class will always be minimal. I'd say offhand the difference you can see with the Toric is likely about what you can expect. I don't have a real good explanation for the focus issues you describe. Without wanting to sound condescending, I will just assume you are familiar with the process for focusing each eye using the center focus and the diopter.

My advice would be to tell you to stick with the Toric. To get the same sort of performance from there you will wind up spending far more than you want to. But if the odor is offensive, I can surely see staying away from it. Aside from that, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it", as you seem to have done with another Engage is probably the best way to go.

I just remembered that CameralandNY has he Athlon Crounus on sale for $300, down about half price from normal retail. I had a look at one of those, and frankly I was pretty well surprised at what it had to say for itself, so that might be another option. The Cronus is 8.5x42, but it is pretty hard for a lot of people to tell that a 10x has a lot greater detail.
Thanks, Steve. Yes I am well familiar with balancing the two lenses. I tried multiple times with each to be sure it wasn't my error. It still may have been? I'm also going to have my eyes checked soon. I just wear 1.75 readers at the moment but at 66yrs there may be something going on I'm unaware of. I was close to pulling the trigger on the Toric a few times. It was down to them and the Engage. But going back & forth between the two, the difference was negligible. The odor, added weight, and 2x the price made the choice clear.
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi Jim,

sorry to hear your story... didn't work out too well...

Beside diopter setting another explanation might have been non-optimal collimation of the M7 example (and to a lesser degree the Vortex) - the images don't quite merge but the brain will work to make do... resulting in eyestrain or even a bad headache after some time...

With a little patience a Nikon SE 10x42 can be found in your budget. That will offer the best view for the money (used to be "the finest binoculars I have yet tested" to quote a certain Steve Ingraham of better view desired fame of old - and still quite close to the alphas in the optics department nowadays).
But not waterproof and as a porro (albeit armoured) maybe not quite as rugged as an equally armoured roof... so maybe keep the Engage for those kayaking or climbing trips... you need quite a few scratches on the lenses for noticeable image degradation and you can probably tighten the hinge yourself if you are handy...

Joachim
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
You are kind of running out of options at that $500 price point! Why don't you try a Vanguard Endeavor ED IV 10x42? They are pretty nice for around $350. Another option if you don't need waterproof is a Nikon E2 10x35. I am kind of going the porro route because of your lower price point in an attempt to get you the most value for your money. Porros in general are a better bang for the buck than a roof. There are several Nikon E2 10x35's on eBay for around $600. A good porro like the E2 can be easier on your eyes if you are having eye strain with the less expensive roofs because a porro is a simpler optical system, and it is easier and cheaper to make a good one. With a roof, often times the more you spend, the less eye strain you will get. The Nikon SE 10x42 above is a good choice, but they are pretty hard to find.
 
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Oldnintheway

Well-known member
Hi Jim,

sorry to hear your story... didn't work out too well...

Beside diopter setting another explanation might have been non-optimal collimation of the M7 example (and to a lesser degree the Vortex) - the images don't quite merge but the brain will work to make do... resulting in eyestrain or even a bad headache after some time...

With a little patience a Nikon SE 10x42 can be found in your budget. That will offer the best view for the money (used to be "the finest binoculars I have yet tested" to quote a certain Steve Ingraham of better view desired fame of old - and still quite close to the alphas in the optics department nowadays).
But not waterproof and as a porro (albeit armoured) maybe not quite as rugged as an equally armoured roof... so maybe keep the Engage for those kayaking or climbing trips... you need quite a few scratches on the lenses for noticeable image degradation and you can probably tighten the hinge yourself if you are handy...

Joachim
Thanks Joachim, Not waterproof is a problem here in the Pacific Northwest. :) But I'll have a look.
 

KevinL

Well-known member
Ive looked through the engage and thought they were ok. I dont find Bushnell build quality all that solid. At the $500 price point binoculars are getting pretty good so you wont see very much difference between those and the next level up but its still there. The Tracts are in that $1000 next tier up. They are build better too, which is why they are heavier. For light weight and good optics I really like your first option the Nikon Monarch 7. The older vipers are also lighter as they had that polycarbonate chassie. I also thought they had better optics than the new ones. The only advantage the new ones have is the wider field of veiw. Out of those you mentioned, I would have gone Tract if you can reach up to it. Its the best performer and I value that more than other characteristics. I find that in full sun, lower quality binoculars can perform similar to higher cost ones. But then if you use them in low light the differences get bigger. Also you start noticing color fringing, edge performance, glare, resolution, distortion etc is all a little better in higher quality binoculars. So the differences add up. Collectively, people say that the binoculars have better clearity when describing the combined effect of these factors. I do think the engage is close to the perfomance you get at the $500 price point so I think it punches above its weight class.
 
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BKoh

Well-known member
Singapore
I was close to pulling the trigger on the Toric a few times. It was down to them and the Engage. But going back & forth between the two, the difference was negligible. The odor, added weight, and 2x the price made the choice clear.
The Athlon Cronus 8.5x42 at Cameraland NY was already mentioned. Its G2 10x42 sibling is also available, quite a bit lighter but $499.

GPO Passion ED 10x42 seems to have good reviews, around $500.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
As far as I'm concerned, that price range offers a lot, and optically there's a number of very capable contenders. In fact, I can understand your comment about the small differences among them. However, I think that, as KevinL says, the build quality on the Bushnell Engage is not probably its strongest point. I've had the Engage in 8x42 and 10x50, and, although none had any issue, I found my Vortex Viper HD 10x50 to be on a higher level, or at least that was my impression, and the same goes for the amazing Vixen Artes J. Talking about the latter, I think it's closely related to the Leupold Bx-4 Pro Guide. Both the Vixen and the Leupold are made in Japan and boast terrific optics and sturdy build quality. It's not uncommon to find the Leupold for around 500 $, so within your budget. I'd be surprised if you weren't happy with it, and if it didn't have a longer life expectancy than your Engage. Just a thought, I hope it helps you.
 

Oldnintheway

Well-known member
I appreciate the comments! You've given me a few more to consider. I had not looked at the Leupold or the Vixen, which are out of production and so far not readily available. Nor the Athlon. The ability to return without spending $30. is necessary for me to try anything else. Or a visit to Bass Pro/Cabela's, an hour drive, which appear to stock the Leupold. Thanks again all!
 

Oldnintheway

Well-known member
Well this saga took a complicated turn in recent days. I returned the Hawke & Vortex to Amazon, and the Toric to Tract, or so I thought. 4 days ago I get a message from Amazon returns that doesn't make sense at all. In a nut shell it says that I have returned several items recently and something that I returned was not in its original condition and they would like to know what they could do to better my Amazon experience. I replied with, "what exactly was not in original condition?" , as everything was perfect when I sent the package. I get the same message for the next 3 days running ans they will not tell what the problem is, it's infuriating! Yesterday I find a full refund in my bank account so I decide to forget about it. Today I get a call from Tract, Jon says very nicely, "we have a problem" and explains that what they received is a pair of Hawke Binoculars. Oh sh*t! So I call Amazon and after a painful process of navigating their automated system I get a human, I think. The connection sucked and I could clearly understand every other word. :( I won't go into more detail but I think I managed to ope a ticket and they will try to find the Toric and send them back to me. I'm not hopeful. Tract is returning the Hawke. Who knows how this will end up? I shared in the hopes that everyone will double check their packages before returning, and maybe have a chuckle at my expense. :) Getting old and feeble minded is going to take some getting used to.
Cheers, Jim
 

Oldnintheway

Well-known member
Well imagine my surprise when UPS showed up with a package that I had not ordered. Amazon actually found the Tracts and returned them to me. After all of the self-imposed chaos I didn't feel right returning them so I decided to keep them. After some use in the field I've found them to be quite nice! The odor I complained about seems to have come from the box and has gone. When I made the returns I switched manufacturer boxes. Tract in the Hawke box and visa versa. When I removed the Hawkes from the Tract box they reeked, just as the Tracts did originally. And the Tracts that had been in the Hawke box had no odor. I wanted to clear that up so nobody would hold that against them in their research. Another feature of the Tracts that concerned me was the the weight/size. After using them for a while now it is not an issue for me. They are well balanced and I notice no added fatigue while scanning. My only complaints at this point are: The strap is too short. I wear my binos over one shoulder and it's not long enough for that. I have another on the way. And the eye cup protectors don't even attempt to stay on. Does any manufacturer get this right? It doesn't seem like it should be that difficult.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Well imagine my surprise when UPS showed up with a package that I had not ordered. Amazon actually found the Tracts and returned them to me. After all of the self-imposed chaos I didn't feel right returning them so I decided to keep them. After some use in the field I've found them to be quite nice! The odor I complained about seems to have come from the box and has gone. When I made the returns I switched manufacturer boxes. Tract in the Hawke box and visa versa. When I removed the Hawkes from the Tract box they reeked, just as the Tracts did originally. And the Tracts that had been in the Hawke box had no odor. I wanted to clear that up so nobody would hold that against them in their research. Another feature of the Tracts that concerned me was the the weight/size. After using them for a while now it is not an issue for me. They are well balanced and I notice no added fatigue while scanning. My only complaints at this point are: The strap is too short. I wear my binos over one shoulder and it's not long enough for that. I have another on the way. And the eye cup protectors don't even attempt to stay on. Does any manufacturer get this right? It doesn't seem like it should be that difficult.
" And the eye cup protectors don't even attempt to stay on. Does any manufacturer get this right? It doesn't seem like it should be that difficult."

That is one thing I like about the Leica Noctivid's 8x42. The rain guard and objective covers are the best I have ever seen. They are soft, supple rubber, and they fit perfectly and come off with just the right amount of tension. The case on the Noctivid is very cool also. The strap comes out of the back of it, so you can leave the case on while you use the binoculars. The case itself is beautifully made, contouring to fit the binoculars like a glove. Leica seems to give a lot of thought to the little things.
 

dries1

Member
Oldnintheway,

The Tract 10X42 is one of the better glass that tract puts out, although I am curious about the 12.5X50, I may try one out this year. The eyecups are better than most believe it or not, they are much worse out there. You can always measure the outer diameter of the eyecups and see if other manufacturers such as Vortex or Opticron have suitable replacements.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Oldnintheway,

The Tract 10X42 is one of the better glass that tract puts out, although I am curious about the 12.5X50, I may try one out this year. The eyecups are better than most believe it or not, they are much worse out there. You can always measure the outer diameter of the eyecups and see if other manufacturers such as Vortex or Opticron have suitable replacements.
I agree. The Tract 10x42 has an AFOV of 65 degrees which is competitive with most 10x42's, whereas, some of the other Tracts are only average in AFOV. The on-axis view of almost all the Tract's are very good, though.
 

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