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Leupold Yosemite vs roof prism compacts (1 Viewer)

CO_west

Member
I've seen Leupold Yosemite binoculars recommended as a good option for cheap binoculars. I know that porro prism binoculars can be a good value, and I'm curious how they stack up against other compact binoculars in the same price range. Today I looked through some Vortex Diamondback 8x28's that were decent but not great, which is to be expected from binoculars that run around $100 USD.

For those of you who have handled lots of binoculars, how do Yosemites stack up against the competition?
 

mwhogue

Well Known Member
Supporter
I can't answer specifically on Leupolds. But in the $100 range porros will be much better than roofs optically. I tested a Vortex 8x28 for a week before giving it as a gift to a friend who wanted a compact binocular. It's Ok to good for a $125 roof .
But the Nikon 7x35 Action Ex, the Kowa 8x30 YF and the Opticron 6.5x32 Porro model are all much better binoculars at @ $100 although they are bigger and heavier than the Vortex 8x28.
Hope this helps.

Mike
 

Steve C

Well-known member
I've got a Yosemite 6x30. It is one of the first years run. Leupold had to change manufacturers a few years ago and the current Yosemite is not quite as good as the original. Kowa's current YF mentioned above is the same as the original Yosemite.

The bottom line is the Yosemite and its kin give lie to the old saw that you can't get a good binocular for $100. They are well worth the money and far superior optically to any compact roof in the under $200 range.
 

Foss

Well-known member
I have a Yosemite 6x30 too. The WA views are stunning if you can live with 6x. They definitely overdeliver for their price point.
 

mwhogue

Well Known Member
Supporter
I have a Yosemite 6x30 too. The WA views are stunning if you can live with 6x. They definitely overdeliver for their price point.

I haven't tried the Kowa or Yosemite 6x30 but the Kowa 8x30 is very good. The OP may also want to try the Opticron 6.5x32 Adventurer T WP at the same price. It has a much wider field of view than the Kowa 6x30, @474' vs. 420' and the 6.5 mag is a noticeable difference. They are heavier than the Kowa but not an issue for me.

Mike
 

CO_west

Member
But the Nikon 7x35 Action Ex, the Kowa 8x30 YF and the Opticron 6.5x32 Porro model are all much better binoculars at @ $100 although they are bigger and heavier than the Vortex 8x28.
Hope this helps.
Mike

Thanks for the input. Between those porro prisms that you mentioned, which do you recommend the most?
 

wdc

Well-known member
Several years ago I had a Maven B3 6x30 on trial, and compared it with my 6x30 Leupold BX-1 in dim light, studying the bird feeder from the kitchen table. Both my wife and I agreed the Leupold was brighter than the Maven. The Maven was hands down a better built binocular, but the Leupold showed a brighter image. For $100 (or less on sale), with the 6x30, you get a glasses friendly binocular for kids and adults to use. The focuser is a lumpy journey, eyecups are loose affairs, but it optically performs well. It gives up .5 a degree to the Maven (8.5 vs 8) in FOV, but has the same FOV as the Leica Ultravid 7x42. You'll have no problem finding the bird. Hard to beat for the price, imho.

-Bill
 
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mwhogue

Well Known Member
Supporter
Thanks for the input. Between those porro prisms that you mentioned, which do you recommend the most?

CO West,

Of those three, the Opticron 6.5 x32 for best overall image given the greater FOV and DOF and slightly steadier image due to lower magnification. If you have to have twist up eyecups, Optircron's are good but made of rubber (so 2nd place or) the choice in that case is the Kowa 8x. Third is the Nikon because it is big and heavy for a 7x35 but a much bigger FOV than the Kowa.

Hard to go wrong with any of them at the price depending on your preferences.

Mike
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
CO_West, I haven't tried the Leupold, but I have its "twins" from Kowa, the YF, it's one of my favourite binoculars, my champion for value. I have it both in 8x30 and 6x30, and have tried also some other siblings (Eagle Optics, made by Vortex 8.5x32) and Vixen (on 6x30).
I would recommend the Kowas to anyone any day (actually, I have recommended it to friends and given several as a present). For a mere 100 $, or even less at discounted prices, I think the view is really good. And then, there is something about the balance of weight/shape which (at least to my taste) makes them really nice. They don't weight a lot, you can carry them all day long and hardly notice they're there. And, for a porro, they "hang properly" (the lovely Nikon EII 8x30, and to some extent the SE 8x32 tilt forward awkwardly, which makes them way less comfortable to carry).

From the different "flavours" I've tried, I'd rank them:
- Optically: first Kowa veryveryvery closely followed by Vixen and then Eagle Optics, at quite a distance (my unit of EO was noticeably dimmer)
- Build: Vixen, Eagle Optics, Kowa. The rubber armour on the Vixen is hard (like in "quality hard"), and the EO were nice as well. The rubber armour on the Kowa is also very very nice, but it is let down by the focus wheel, made of soft rubber with holes in it, a bit fiddly. Anyway, the focus wheel is the weakest point of this model in all the brands I've used, it's a bit mushy, and one of the Kowas I have sometimes shows a tendency to backlash (I don't know if it is due to warm weather).

I also have the 7x35 Nikon Action EX (not to be confused with the Aculon or Action, to my eyes of worse quality). I simply love this binocular, it is the one binocular that made me love the 7x format. Physically it is simply on another league when compared to the 8x30 Kowa/Leupold, because it is massive, really chunky and heavy (for me it is impossible to "single handle it", because they are so wide that the focus wheel is to far away from my fingers). Having said that, optically I like the Nikon AE better than the small Kowa/Leupold. It is brighter and the FOV is wider. The armour looks "beefier", as if it could withstand a heavier hand (however, I've bought the Kowa/Vixen/EO 4 times, and the 4 were good, while I've bought the Nikon AE 2 times, and one was decollimated, so go figure). Since the Nikon AE is so wide and 7x and has such a wide FOV, it gives me the weird feeling that I'm using "image stabilized" binoculars, or a steady cam, so to speak. It is so steady. The huge FOV has its drawbacks, since the sweet spot is not massive and, as is to be expected, the borders are very soft.
In short: both are great and great value, the 8x30 Kowa/Leupold/Vixen is a bit cheaper and I would recommend if you like light and small binoculars. The Nikon are a little pricier, and I would recommend them if you don't mind the bulk (e. g. if you have big hands) and the weight. It really pays off in terms of image quality and relaxed view. Two very distinct personalities for different audiences I suppose.
I hope that helps.
 

CO_west

Member
Awesome ... thanks everyone for the replies. I'm looking close at the Leupold Yosemite and its variants, as well as the Nikon Action Ex.
 

Swissboy

Sempach, Switzerland
Supporter
Switzerland
………….
From the different "flavours" I've tried, I'd rank them:
- Optically: first Kowa veryveryvery closely followed by Vixen and then Eagle Optics, at quite a distance (my unit of EO was noticeably dimmer)
- Build: Vixen, Eagle Optics, Kowa. The rubber armour on the Vixen is hard (like in "quality hard"), and the EO were nice as well. The rubber armour on the Kowa is also very very nice, but it is let down by the focus wheel, made of soft rubber with holes in it, a bit fiddly. Anyway, the focus wheel is the weakest point of this model in all the brands I've used, it's a bit mushy, and one of the Kowas I have sometimes shows a tendency to backlash (I don't know if it is due to warm weather).

........................

The focus wheel has a "special feel" because of the way these models are constructed. It is not customary to have water"proof" porros. So the focus has to deal with the sealing. But other than that, I am always impressed just how great these Leupolds and their clones are.
I have an original "Greenring" Leupold Yosemite 6x30, and it has worked and offered a brilliant view over at least two decades by now. The Kowa YF is a better substitute than the Leupold BX-1, I think.

Two points also merit special mention: They are made in such a way that they can be used for smaller kids as the tubes can be folded a bit more than most. And then there is that superb feel as one takes them in the hand. That is particularly true for the original "Greenrings" with their alpha-like smooth cover and well rounded shape. Simply superb! :t::t:
 
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yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Canip, thanks for the explanation. Makes sense. On the Kowa the fact that the wheel itself has a soft rubber padding with holes (that have a certain flexibility) does not help in my opinion. All in all, I agree 100 % with you. These are stunning performers for the price, I think they're my favorite binoculars in terms of value. It's the device I recommend the most when someone who wants to start birding.
Their suitability for smaller hands (and/or elderly people with shaky hands in the case of the 6x30) is the reason I've given them as a present to both my mum and nephews (I'm about to ask Kowa for a percentage of their sales as part of their sales department :-D :-D).
 

42za

Well-known member
Hello,

I have the Kowa YF Porro in 8 x 30 and really love this little binocular , I have not found a comparably priced Roof Prism binocular that even comes remotely close to the Kowa in performance.

For your price range you will not go wrong if you buy this one , but always have a look at the alternatives before making a final decision.

Enjoy whatever you decide to buy.

Cheers.
 

CO_west

Member
Kowa looks great, as do Opticron and Vixen. I contacted Opticron USA and Vixen to ask if their Leupold clones are fogproof, and both said yes. I hadn't been aware of the Vixen model before this thread. It looks nice and has objective lens covers that seem a little better than Kowa. There are also original green ring Leupolds on ebay that might be worth if for the right deal. I don't know a thing about warranty stuff with Opticron or Vixen or Kowa, but I know that if I have a problem with Leupold, they'll probably fix it.
 

Steve C

Well-known member
The downside to the Yosemite and siblings is that they are very likely not repairable. Leupold will take care of you, but by replacing with new stock, which is a little different glass from the original.
 
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 Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
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