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Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 8x42 (1 Viewer)

FrankD

Well-known member
I felt the need to start a new thread on this binocular despite the fact that it has been discussed previously. My reasoning is because of the current price on this model considering its list of features and performance level.

I bought one of these a couple of years ago right when they first debuted. At the time I compared them directly with some of the other binoculars I had on hand including one of the Zen Ray ED models (can't remember if it was the ED or ED2). At the time my comments/thoughts on the model were favorable. The view is wide at over 420 feet plus the introduction of ED glass into the Legend model created very good color correction in the centerfield of the image. The only major negative that I remember posting about was the size of the binocular's "sweet spot" of image in focus and relatively free of distortion. I do remember it being smaller than that of its chief competitors. In its defense it is a smaller and lighter package plus it was/is less expensive.

After seeing some of these units show up on Amazon for the measly sum of $130 I decided to order another one to, once again, compare to what I have on hand. My findings are entirely comparable to what I originally discovered with this binocular. A very nice, compact full-sized binocular with very good centerfield performance. The sweet spot is still smaller than I would prefer and the type/severity of the edge distortion is more distracting than that of its chief competitors. However, when you consider the price these can now be had for (average around $200) plus a $50 mail-in rebate it is really hard to ignore them.

None of this is entirely new though so you may wonder why I chose to post this. Well, I had some time the other night so I took many of my current binocular selection out back to do a little "resolution comparison" between models. This isn't a true resolution "test" as I did not use a booster or a line chart for comparisions. What I did do was pick out a specific object to focus on. In this case it was a birdfeeder that I have set up approximately 20 yards from the backporch. One of the small access "holes" to the feeder had various seeds and granules located within it. The back of the hole is dark so it provided a nice opportunity to not only compare in terms of apparent sharpness but also contrast and CA control (black hole on silver colored feeder). What I found was particularly interesting....

This was a tripod mounted test.

Though the sweet spot of the Ultra's image is smaller than I would like the performance within that sweetspot is exemplary in terms of the areas I just mentioned. I was actually able to resolve finer details in that sweet spot than I could with any other binocular I have on hand. The only other binocular that allowed me to see the same small details was the Nikon SE 8x32. None of the other units I compared to the Bushnell were able to equal this accomplishment. I found that somewhat surprising considering some of the other models feature ED glass in the design. What surprised me further was the level of CA control and contrast available in that sweet spot as well. Both characteristics were, again, exceptional in my opinion.

Now, don't take this as a glowing endorsement for the optical performance of the Legend Ultras. They are certainly above average overall for their price point but the edge performance of these binoculars is their one weak point optically. CA is noticeably evident in the area not within the sweet spot (about 50% of the image) plus the distortion is fairly noticeable in regular use. But, when you consider the physical package the image is presented in then it is hard not to like them overall.

As a side note, I am going to have the opportunity to try out Bushnell's warranty/customer service. Yesterday afternoon I managed to drop the Ultras while getting into my car. They landed, sadly, on the edge of the eyecup. The binoculars are now out of alignment and the eyecup will not twist out of the body. The rubber armor around the eyecup is also a bit torn at this spot.

Still, for the $80 I ended up paying for them I am not overly concerned. I look forward to using them again.
 
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brocknroller

A professed porromaniac
United States
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 8x42 Revisited

Dear Butterfingers,

Thanks for that second take at the Bushnell Legend HD, particularly with it matching the apparent resolution of the SE. Sorry to hear they fall down and go boom. Well, at least it wasn't your SE.

The Japanese-made Celestron 8x32 Ultima I owned also matched the apparent resolution of the 8x32 SE, but it also had a small sweet spot and "crummy" edges.

I'm impressed with the way Chinese-made bins have improved. Recently, I tried the Monarch III, Hawke Frontier (open bridge design), and Frontier ED. Didn't like the ED model, but the other two put up very nice images for their price points.

Last year, I tried the 8x42 Vortex Fury and 8x36 Pentax NV. Also very nice images for the price points.

Although I didn't like the excessive pincushion, the 7x36 ZR ED2 impressed me with its centerfield resolution and CA control even off axis.

Perhaps Bushnell with come out with a Legend HD2 with improved edge performance for btwn $300-$400.

Reese's Crispy Crunch
 

Nixterdemus

Well-known member
Bushnell has a history of producing entry level glass by the boat loads. The 50 bucks off the legend Ultra combined w/100% buy back over a year from purchase should maintain a steady flow of inexpensive demo models for next year.

Maybe a diabolical plan to flood the market attempting to put the kibosh on the Asian, Johnny come lately, ED boys.

Now setting the big B standard is the Elite model for the masses w/ED Prime Extra-Low Dispersion fluorite glass. Surely they could've come up w/couple of more adjectives to throw into the mix.

All Bushnell needs now is to include a compass/range finder/decoder ring, of TS(Top Shelf) black onyx/tiger's eye for the Legend and mystic BQ(Buddha quality)jade for the discerning Elite owner in a quinella par excellence.

I do admit being somewhat intrigued by the Bushnell offering of elite status. Why is it offered only in 8/10-42 or 7x26? Would've thought the ever popular 32 MM would've beat out a 26.

Thanks for the report Frank. Seems Bushnell continues to provide for the masses a glimpse of good glass at a most affordable price.
 
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Nixterdemus

Well-known member
Thanks Bob I'll take a peek in a moment whilst I pick your noggin a mite. What is the status of Bushnell? Not to imply that they never built quality products, but they certainly give the appearance of producing a ton of lesser quality.

Granted the Custom was beloved and I see that Field & Stream awarded the Elite in 2005 as one of their best of the best. However, now everything seems to be pointing to the Legend Ultra HD as the best ED bang for the buck and the current Elite 628042ED running over 400 bucks.
Is the 628042ED, on the Bushnell website http://www.bushnell.com/products/binoculars/elite/62-8042ED/, the E2 that I see referenced?

I notice the non-ED Elite in 43/50 MM has been discontinued as well as the non-ED Legend, but it's still all quite muddled.

I've been to best view before though I didn't recognize the name firsthand. It appears that models combined w/Bausch & Lomb fared well, yet that is the past. B&L licensing is gone and I'm trying to come up to speed on more recent Bushnell quality offerings.

Some speak well of the discontinued 43MM non-ED partially it seems from Japanese construction and others claimed that between the ED legend and Elite that there isn't that much difference optically.

Bushnell pumps out a lot of differing models at various price points and I'm attempting to compare them to the discontinued ED2 7x36 and Viper 8.5x50 that I'm using.

What I read of the Legend ED bodes well for the price, but some have complained of a small sweet spot. I'm wondering how the Chinese glass and build in the newest Elite offering compares.

My apologies for rambling.

ETA: Not to be critical, but the best view gives all indications of being stuck in the past worse than the prices I wish to pay. News is a tad long in the tooth w/the latest review I found being on the gold ring Leupold from May 2006 and an article questioning roofs at 500 clams using the Zeiss Diafun 8 X30 as an example that discounted for 350 bucks when still available as NOS.

Still, quite the wealth of information from before the arrivial of cheap Chinese ED lens.
 
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RJM

Don't Worry, Be Happy!
I measured the "sweet spot" FoV to be ~6.9°, just slightly smaller than the ~7.1° measured for the Nikon 8x32SE which many folk say "sharp to the edge" of its 7.6° TFoV. The Legend Ultra HD AFoV is just so frigging HUGE it seems to be a small percentage area despite the being ~85% it is really above average. FWIW, the predominant aberration in the outer field is curvature. The main issue with the 8x is mechanical in that the eyecups do not extend 1 click stop far enough. I would expect this not to be an issue with the 10x.
 

Nixterdemus

Well-known member
It's hard for me to retain all the information/reviews I'm reading on the fly and it's possible that I was reading about the non-ED Legend as having a small sweet spot.

That being said I've seemed to notice somewhat of a trend in that a lot of the less expensive ED glass has a narrow FOV. Is it possible that this is a penalty for not using a better grade ED glass, is the ED better utilized in a narrow FOV or is it just me thinking there's a pattern of narrow FOV?

I've been tempted to buy one of the Amazon warehouse returns, but I'm curious how much better the Elite model performs.
 

FrankD

Well-known member
Nix,

Actually it was the Legend Ultra HD that I commented on having a small sweet spot of image in focus with the center of the field and free of distortion. The original Legend actually had a much larger sweet spot but a narrower field of view. I have both.

All this discussion about potential upgrades to the Legend Ultra HD has my interest piqued though. Maybe they have and both of the units I have tried have been from earlier production batches. I will double check my latest purchase when it returns from Bushnell. I may also stop by the local Cabelas to check out one of the units they have in stock. Hopefully it is a newer unit.

I can say that my previous experiences with this model are the exact opposite of Rick's. To compare its sweet spot with the SE 8x32 really surprises me. They were nothing alike from what I remember. I will verify that shortly though.
 

Nixterdemus

Well-known member
Thanks Frank for the response. It seems I'm digesting a lot of information only to end up w/indigestion. I've set a three hundred dollar limit on bins, give or take, and I'm happy w/two I currently own, yet the journey continues. I'm waiting out a couple of models to see if their price will dip down to the point of seduction. In the meantime I'll try to isolate other potential bins

I think Bushnell is just the company to offer ED value for a song. I'm curious how far the price will dip on the Elite and naturally I'm interested in how elite are the optics that it truly possesses.
 

FrankD

Well-known member
Nix,

I am in the same boat as you in a sense. I haven't tried the Elite ED model yet but would want to wait a bit until the prices came down from their current level. Much the same issue with the Celestron Granite. Looks attractive on paper and just a bit lighter and shorter than other open-bridge ED glass offerings in this price range....but I wouldn't pay over $300 for it considering the Bushnell Legend Ultra's price/performance.

I don't remember if you had a chance to check out either the Kruger Caldera or Theron Wapiti APO. The Caldera can occassionally be found under $300 on Amazon while the Theron is listed at $350. You might also check out the Pro Optics at Adorama. Very similar to the Caldera but more ergonomic and slightly better perceived depth of field. I had a pair of the 8x42s earlier last summer. They are out of stock on the 8x42s but still had some 10x42s for around $155.

There was also a Zhumell ED glass objective model priced around $250 from what I remember.
 

lilcrazy2

Well-known member
Frank

Ran across this review of the 8x42 Legend Ultra HD from Binomania, and I have to say that I pretty much agree with their tests and evaluations. The sweetspot they note at 70% but I would say about 75% plus, with very slight softening out to the edges with some mild field curvature at the edges which can be easily focused out. Also, they note the problem I reported on earlier, as has Rick, and that is the eyecups do not extend out far enough to give the full eye relief - they could use one more click.

http://translate.google.com/transla...legendhd8x42/bushnelllegendhd8x42.php&act=url

I still think these are great binos and an outstanding value for the price.

Tom
 

jaymoynihan

Corvus brachyrhynchos watcher
... I've seemed to notice somewhat of a trend in that a lot of the less expensive ED glass has a narrow FOV. Is it possible that this is a penalty for not using a better grade ED glass, is the ED better utilized in a narrow FOV or is it just me thinking there's a pattern of narrow FOV?.

My take on that is that it is not so much the ED part of the objective, as in the degree of correction (higher = cost more) in maybe the whole optical train. Of course the ED element would follow that also.

Yesterday I stopped by a Gander Mountain and for a first time play around with two 8x42's the one subject of this thread, and the Nikon Monarch ATB. The store had them priced identically ($299).

It was not by any means a rigorous assessment.

I found the apparent resolution of the Bushnell superior by a tad than the Nikon in the central area of the field. Outside that central area, the smaller FOV Nikon was significantly superior to the Bushnell.
"Tested" the CA by viewing the edge of a light bank at the other side of the box store. The CA was slightly better in the center on the Bushnells. At the edge and outer area the CA was very pronounced. The Nikon exhibited thin highlighting on the edge of the light bank. The CA was grossly worse than the Nikon at the edge, multiple, wide fuzzy fringing. The outer 1/4-1/3 of the Bushnell was very distorted i thought.

Granted, the Bushnell fov is 2 degrees wider than the Nikon. but the FOV in the Nikon was more usable.

BTW: my checking them out was due to curiosity only. Did not purchase any optics (but did get a really cool tiny LED flashlight!)
 
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FrankD

Well-known member
Jay,

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I was beginning to lose faith in my eyesight considering the variety of contrary opinions with the Legend Ultra HD. Your description of its optical performance is identical to my experience with it. Great performance in the sweet spot (CA control, contrast and apparent sharpness) but a small sweetspot with distracting optical performance outside of it.

Don't get me wrong...it is still a great bin. I have purchased two already. I just don't understand the wide differences in perceptions of the sweet spot with this bin.
 

jaymoynihan

Corvus brachyrhynchos watcher
... I just don't understand the wide differences in perceptions of the sweet spot with this bin.

I do not know if this is the case here, but generally I have found in optical instruments, the lower the cost the less consistency sample to sample.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
With current low pricing of the Bushnell 8x42 Legend Ultra HD and $50 rebate it is possible to get these now for $150, and so I've acquired one for a friend. For anyone who remembers the original, what Steve Ingraham called "$500" or budget roofs, most notably the Pentax 8x42 WP which introduced phase-coating to such bins, they are miracle of optical quality and pricing (relative to both yesterday's budget roofs and today's alphas).

Good things include the wide FOV (not available until the last few years in cheap roofs), excellent contrast, close focus of ~5.5 ft, mostly curvature rather than astigmatism at edges of view, and overall ergonomics/build feels solid despite being relatively light weight (24 oz on my scale) for a full-size. Performance against the light seems good for as much as I've been able to test it. Control of CA in he middle seemed OK but not impressive (i.e. not like Zeiss FL), and CA at sides of field could be considerable if eyes were not properly centered on the enormous (especially for a budget bin) oculars.

Bad things are that the field is not as flat as I prefer (even within what for some with young eyes might be the sweet spot), the color balance is very slightly warm biased, the eyecups don't extend as far as they should for non-glasses wearers, the focus stiffens considerably at cold temps (One would think that this common flaw of cheap roofs and porros would be easy to address. Does the grease in alpha roofs cost $1500 or what?), and the focus has a bit of play in it, which makes it feel spongy. The left/right focus synchrony seems fine despite the play in the overall system.

Overall, in use and compared to other bins, these are not as easy on my eyes as my alpha roofs, or even my Browning 8x32 (with their comparatively rock-solid focus control), probably because of their field curvature, but their contrast is far superior to the latter, making them a better overall choice as a budget bin. I do not find the view as transparently relaxing as I find in alpha roofs or other of the Chinese ED roofs that I've tried, such as the Zen Ray ED2 and Atlas Optics Intrepid ED. Sure wish I could get the Browning with updated coatings.

--AP

Update
Good thing: performance against the light (strong backlighting, direct sun on objectives) seems excellent, far superior to most cheap roofs that I've tried in the past.
Bad thing: Something must be wrong with the focus mechanism, and it must decouple from one side or the other sometimes. I've had to adjust the diopter to + more and more to the extent that the left (adjustable) ocular is now almost flush with the eyecup, whereas it is several mm recessed on the left (fixed) side. Guess these will need fixing/replacement! The joys of buying bins mail-order.
 
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Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
OK, so the defective Bushnell 8x42 Ultra HD are being return shipped, and I received a replacement set today. Guess what--they're also faulty right out of the box! Most obvious is fuzziness in the lower left portion of the view through the left side, especially fuzzy edge to the field stop. I've already received a return ship label and a third unit is on its way to me. The ongoing joys of mail-order binocular buying! I would say that these have an obvious quality control issue, but truth be told something close to 50% of all the bins I've ever purchased, including many top of the line instruments have had faults right out of the box or soon after, so I'm trying to be stoic.

--AP
 

NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
Alexis:

I too thought we might find value in this Bushnell, as much as they have been talked
about on this site. I have tried them in person more than once at several sporting
goods stores, and just have not been able to like this one.
I was amused with one sales person wanting to give lessons about setting the
diopter would give it a work out without giving much thought about returning to 0.
I suppose the poor user getting just a look through that one and fuzzy all the way
would quickly move on.

Just a nit to pick with some here who know better.

You have mentioned, easy on the eyes, and I agree, these are not.

Jerry
 

lilcrazy2

Well-known member
Over the last 13 months or so, I have had 3 pairs of the 8x42's, and while none were defective, the ease of use and optical view was nowhere near as good as the 8x36 or 10x42 model. As we have all stated many times over, the eyecups on the 8x42 just do not extend up far enough for proper ER for non-eyeglass wearers. RJM must have an entirely different model than those they are selling in the USA, as I find the sweetspot and pincushion average, and the edges somewhat lacking. Centerfield resolution and contrast are very good though. In 8x42's there are many other binos I would chose over these.

Tom
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
In 8x42's there are many other binos I would chose over these

Any that sell for $150 as these do currently (after rebate)? I don't know of any, though I've not tried the 8x36 version. I've tried these in the past and have been impressed with them from the standpoint that a good units seem to be as good or better than most anything that sold for $400-$500 5-10 years back. When I want great optics, I go all the way, and when I want value I look to do the same. I've never been much intrigued by models of intermediate cost (except in the case of porros).

--AP
 

FrankD

Well-known member
For slightly more than $150 you could try the Theron Optics Wapiti LT 8x42s. I have a pair on hand and am impressed with several of their optical performance areas. A different animal entirely from an optical perspective in comparison to the Legend Ultras but still worth mentioning at this price point.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
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