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Maven B2 9x45's vs a few others (adhoc review) (1 Viewer)

NJMS

Member
Maven B2 9x45's

Hi BF members. I'm planning to do a youtube review on my thoughts regarding the B2 Mavens, below are my notes. I'm primarily a hunter / nature viewer but thoroughly enjoy the content and knowledge base this forum has. Excuse the formatting as this hasn't pasted well from google doc's.

By no stretch am I an optic’s expert, I’ve never even done a bino review before. I have been fortunate enough to own and use some nice glass over the years (I used to trade in used optics a little). I’ve owned older Swaro SLC’s, Zeiss Conquest (old ones), Kahles, Meopta and Leica’s in 8 & 10x40/42’s. As well as looked through friends Nikon’s, Swaro EL’s, Vortex, Bushnell & Steiner’s. While comparing the Maven B2’s I had in hand my Nikon Monarch 7 8x30’s, Tract Toric UHD 8x42’s, Leica Ultravid BR 10x42’s and my larger Swarovski SLC 15x56’s. So I feel a good base of comparison of quality glass even though different zooms.

I enjoy research on things I might buy. I think the “hunt” for something is a large part of my enjoyment in getting a new item. Looking around the various FB groups, Hunting forums and birdwatching groups show’s Maven’s as well regarded. That opinion is often one sided with optics as most have paid hard earned money for the bino’s and obviously don’t like saying their money was lost on something sub par. But if you spend some time in these groups you’ll soon see that there are some real guru’s plugging the B2’s with the Abbe - Koening prism’s. So most Roof Prism bino’s use Schmidt - Pechan prism’s. I’m no expert but I recall the AK’s reflect the image 4 times, where SP’s reflect it 5 times. So the AK’s often have an image with 3-5% higher light transmission. For hunting bino’s used at dawn and dust this should relate to a clearer brighter image in low light. I read a great review and a rather telling tale of the B2’s being compared to Zeiss SF 8x42 on birdwatching forum. That’s not anything in the bino world to sneeze at as those Zeiss SF’s are pretty awesome.

After spending a fair bit of time reading around I thought the claims were worth my $$$ and I’d try them myself. A few quick chats with Josh at Outdoor Sports Australia and they were on my doorstep within a few days. Note on that - Aussies are the only country I believe to have a Maven seller. Everywhere else is via the direct with the customer no retailer business model they run. Josh’s pricing was on par with Maven’s directly and I had the glass sooner. I do hope they can soon run the demo program that Maven does directly, that would be cool to see.

Initial Thoughts upon opening and first view’s

Seems well built, nice solid feel.
Love !!! the metal focus wheel. Sharp knurling is awesome, I can’t understate how much I like this. Weird, I know - but it just feels “quality” and going back to rubber and plastic focus wheels feels a step down.
Focus speed is fast but they lock sharply onto objects without readjustment, Focus wheel pressure is just right. No play in any direction.
Weight is 941g for the bare bino’s so they are a bit heavy.
Compared to my 775g 8x42 Tract Torics and 10x42 Leica Ultravids I'm surprised I can hold the heavier Maven's steadier. With a static 60bpm HR I can notice the slight pulse in the lighter bino's standing unsupported yet its lesser in the Maven's.
The length is 7” which is around 1” longer than the majority of 42mm roof prism bino’s.
Image is excellent. Sharp right out to the last few mm of the view and even then they don't give much away.
Sharper further out on the edges than my Tract and Leica's. The very outer image is just out of focus, this small area with a small tweak on the wheel becomes tack sharp. I’m not a bino’s expert but I believe this is more field curvature. It is not a permanently blurry outer portion of the FOV like many cheap optics.
Armour is a nice slightly rippled rubber. Not a harder finish like my Ultravids but also not as soft as my Tracts. I like it.
I would like to see more armor around the front oculars. Doesn't seem much protection compared to my other bino's if these get dropped. We shall find out if I drop them I guess but I've never dropped bino's anyway.
Eye cup notch adjustments are "okay". Slightly better than my Tracts which are too loose and I have rubber o’rings on to hold in place. But not as positive at my Ultravids
Very Very slight small tool marks and chips to the black anodised finish under the right eye cup when removed. Will effect nothing yet there are no marks to the left side. Possible QC issue but very minor and I;m being fussy listing this.

Thoughts after 2 months of use

I still love these bino’s. Enough so that I sold my Leica’s and the Tract’s are also listed FS right now.
Very impressed with the 9x magnification. I’ve had a good play with these stacked up against my 8x and 10x 42mm Bino’s. Both tripod mounted and handheld - I handhold 90% of the time though.
Some of the following comments will sound obvious, but I don’t know how else to explain the pleasant view.
9x I can see more fine detail than I can with 8x - obvious !!!
9x I can see the same fine detail as 10x testing from 100 - 800m.
9x I have less handshake than 10x, similar to the 8x.
So less shake = better detail in the viewed image
I like the weight of the Maven’s. Not all is judged equal on the scales and I feel the extra mass and length give me a better hold and steadier view due to the weight.
I only notice the extra mass when swapping between bino’s immediately. In use I’ve never felt fatigued at all from the B2’s nor thought “gees these are heavy”.
I don’t notice the extra length on the B2’s other than when I go to close up my Kuiu Bino harness. The B2’s are a pretty tight fit in a regular length pouch. Would recommend an XL pouch if the 9x45’s are your only bino’s.
9x on the Maven’s gives me a comparable FOV to the Tract’s at 8x. I do slightly notice the narrower view of the Leica’s at 10x, especially stalking in timber where I might only be scanning from 50 - 150m max. I’ve come to appreciate a nice FOV as a result. Gaining a larger FOV was a deciding factor in my purchase of the 8x42 Tract Toric’s a little while back as I certainly noticed the restriction of my 10x42’s on a few local hunting blocks where I’m chasing wild dogs in often tight gullies.
I think the Tract’s give me an amazing image for the cost under all lighting conditions. No reservations recommending them at all. I can still remember the “wow” when I first got the Tract’s and I don’t change that opinion.
The B2’s just seem to offer that bit more. Is it worth the extra cost - to me, YES. Do I think I’d gain more by spending double the B2 cost on some Swaro’s or Zeiss Alpha’s. NO, Maybe LOL. I might gain another 3-5% performance in some aspect. But I’m very content with the B2’s at this stage.
Why did I sell my 10x42 Leica Ultravids. I like the larger FOV and steadiness of the B2’s more. The image was comparable IMO, I can see everything with the Ultravids that I can see with the B2’s under all conditions. I do like the focus on the B2’s more than my Ultravids. For some reason I just seemed to hunt around more for a sharp image with the Ultravid’s. That might have been the Leica’s were faster focus or the wheel lighter to turn. But in use I noticed little things like that. And as when I first opened the B2’s I just love that knurled Maven focus wheel.
It might sound stupid but my Ultravid’s being the non HD’s didn’t have a antiphobic lens coating. I can get pretty vigorous walking about and I get hot. Depending on the area, terrain and species I’m hunting, I tend to move glassing locations quite quickly sometimes. I was always getting external fogging on the Ultravid’s, I’ve tried various lens cleaners. The lens coating on the B2’s does a lot to combat this. It’s not a complete elimination of fogging. But if they do fog it clears up really quickly. Less fogging = more looking about once I’ve crested that little ridge, easier quick scanning when moving locations.
I haven’t been in a position where I’ve thought the B2’s were noticeably brighter (noticeable being a keyword) with the AK prism’s compared to my Tract’s or Leica’s. That’s just my honest take but they are ALL pretty darn outstanding in low light TBH. The B2’s might ever so slightly show a little detail within a shadow up near darkness, But it’s splitting hairs stuff and for my use, I’ve never found the need to extract that fine a detail in all but darkness. Finding an animal, even a rabbit in dry grass at 200m these will all do. I will say compare that to elcheapo $100-250 bushnells or vortex’s and the comparison doesn’t exist, the better class of bino’s will blow budget optics away in poor light.

Bug bears with the Maven’s

Don’t expect a big list of complaints
I would like a designated bino case for storage. Although I just keep them in the kuiu chest pouch the majority of the time. Still, at this price point you should get more than the little felt bag they come with.
I would like the eyecups to lock slightly more positively out. They do lock much better than my Tract’s which I find poor in this regard. But the Leica’s eyecups even being plastic are better in all stop positions, they bloody should be though considering the alpha price tag. The B2’s are probably on par with most bino’s though in this regard.
I would like them to weigh less. Total gram weeny comment and I know I like the mass for the steady view. But my backpacking gearlist would like less weight always. Mute point I know as I’ve already stated I like the stability from the weight.

Final Thoughts

I like the Maven B2’s that much that I’ve ordered the smaller 8x30mm Maven B3’s to try out. Again I’ve read good reports online for the smaller Maven. And I’m hopeful the few things that I didn’t like with my Nikon Monach 7 8x30’s are rectified.
It would be cool to review the Maven B1 8x42 or 10x42. These are more your traditional Schmitt roof prism bino’s and they are smaller than the large B2’s. I do believe though that aside from the less weight and mass that the B2’s have a better image than the B1’s. I believe the B2’s push the optics up into the alpha zone. But the B1’s are more in the zone of excellent optics for the price they fall within, but won’t tip an alpha over.
I’m not one to say go buy this or that. But I will say it’s certainly worth throwing the Maven bino’s in the ring for selection when your buying new optics. If cost wasn’t a factor or concern, I’d by a pair of Swarovski Swarovision EL 8.5x42’s. They are very impressive with edge to edge clarity IMO. But if you would like to put the money saved towards something else. Look at some of the excellent optics from Maven. You might be surprised with what you can get without spending $3k on glass.
One cool thing with Maven optics is you can get custom finishes. Different camo’s and anodised aluminium components. I was very tempted to go this route but for me I’m just using these to look through. As nice as the finishes are I’d rather save the cash but have the same view. I have read that the custom finish is smoother than the stock options. I don’t think that's here nor there if they are smoother but I’ll mention it anyway for reference.
 

typo

Well-known member
NJMS,

Thanks for the report. It's a design I've not seen in it's finished form, but the collective opinion suggests it's very good. I take your point about the extra weight being steadier, but for me at least, once you get to about 1kg the benefit is fairly short lived. I'm looking forward to checking out another AK model the new Vortex Viper UHD when it arrives in the UK. There is some question over the accuracy of some of their specifications at the moment, but the 8x and 10x42s are listed as 915g. Not much lighter than the B2, but we shall see. Balance and hand grip make a big difference too.

David
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Nice Review! Here is how I feel about the Maven B2 9x45. I had one and it is an excellent binocular and probably the best 9x at $1k. When I had the Maven I also had the Swarovski 8.5x42 SV which is $2K. The Swarovski is the reason I sold the Maven. The Swarovski was 5 oz. lighter, smaller and slightly better optically with sharper edges and very close in magnification at 8.5x to the Maven's 9x. So it was redundant for me to keep the Maven. The big thing I don't like about the Maven is it is heavy and big especially for a 9x. It depends on how critical you are with the size and weight of your binocular and are you willing to carry 33 oz. for a little more performance in the field and how old you are also. I find when I am carrying a binocular all day 6 oz. IMO makes a huge difference in how my neck feels at the end of the day. You could be different or you might use a harness. I have decided I don't want to carry any binocular over 28 oz. and that 28 oz. is for a 12x50mm because I like a 12x sometimes for long distance detail. IMO you almost have to get a 50mm aperture to effectively use 12x. I use a Vortex Razor 12x50 because it is less than 28 oz. , it is compact for a 50mm and it gives me 12x magnification for detail and twilight viewing. I got rid of my Swarovski 8.5x42 SV because I don't use it much because it is too heavy for for an 8x IMO and it doesn't have the WOW factor of my SV 8x32 or SV 10x32 and it is a compromise. I have a Swarovski SV 8x32, Swarovski SV 10x32, Swarovski Habicht 8x30 W and a Swarovski Habicht 10x40 W as my primary birding binoculars. All four of these binoculars weigh less than 23 oz. and I use them depending on the conditions I might encounter. If I am doing close in birding I will use my SV 8x32 and for longer distance I use the SV 10x32. If I want a brighter view with more 3D I will grab the Habicht 8x30 W or for especially low light conditions and long distances I will use the Habicht 10x40 W. The Habicht's are good for low light because of their high transmission. If I am trying to spot something at long distance in twilight(like Wolves) I will use the Vortex Razor 12x50 for it's greater detail and excellent Twilight Performance. I know an SV 12x50 is better but for the times I use 12x I don't feel compelled to spend $2.5K and the SV 12x50 weigh's 33 oz. I think 9x is a good choice if you only have one binocular but I would rather have an 8x AND a 10x and pick the one I am going to use based on how I am going to use it and the conditions. A 9x is not as good as an 8x in close in birding and it is not as good as a 10x in open country and long range birding. That is just my opinion.
 
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jring

Well-known member
Hi,

nice review - just some little remarks on optics... the Abbe-Koenig prisms have indeed only 3 reflections as compared to 5 for Schmidt-Pechan.
And also one of the reflections in SP prisms is at an angle which usually doesn't allow for total internal reflection and thus needs a reflection coating (either metal or better dielectric).
Plus the SP prisms have two surfaces which are used in reflection and transmission so using anti-reflection coatings is a bit tricky on them (single-coating seems to be the best compromise).

A single coated surface is about 1.3% loss (an SP prism has too) and dielectric coatings have about 0.5% loss. One more total internal reflection can be seafely ignored. So 3% is a good number for a state of the art pair with dielectric coatings, 5% would be old metal coatings.

Joachim
 

Steve C

Well-known member
I've had the B2 9x45 for several years now. I agree with your assessment. I too wound up with the 8x30 B3,and find myself wanting for nothing in a handheld binocular I can't get with these two.

My reaction to the Swarovski is diametrically opposed to Dennis. I had the SV EL's in 8.5 and 10x42 and 10x50 when I had the Maven. Putting aside my adverse reaction to rolling ball in the SV, I figure a binocular costing what a Swarovski does should be quickly and easily able establish superiority over a glass costing much less than half that. It did not happen, Swarovskis are gone and the Maven remains. YMMV
 
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NJMS

Member
Nice Review! Here is how I feel about the Maven B2 9x45. I had one and it is an excellent binocular and probably the best 9x at $1k. When I had the Maven I also had the Swarovski 8.5x42 SV which is $2K. The Swarovski is the reason I sold the Maven. The Swarovski was 5 oz. lighter, smaller and slightly better optically with sharper edges and very close in magnification at 8.5x to the Maven's 9x. So it was redundant for me to keep the Maven. The big thing I don't like about the Maven is it is heavy and big especially for a 9x. It depends on how critical you are with the size and weight of your binocular and are you willing to carry 33 oz. for a little more performance in the field and how old you are also. I find when I am carrying a binocular all day 6 oz. IMO makes a huge difference in how my neck feels at the end of the day. You could be different or you might use a harness. I have decided I don't want to carry any binocular over 28 oz. and that 28 oz. is for a 12x50mm because I like a 12x sometimes for long distance detail. IMO you almost have to get a 50mm aperture to effectively use 12x. I use a Vortex Razor 12x50 because it is less than 28 oz. , it is compact for a 50mm and it gives me 12x magnification for detail and twilight viewing. I got rid of my Swarovski 8.5x42 SV because I don't use it much because it is too heavy for for an 8x IMO and it doesn't have the WOW factor of my SV 8x32 or SV 10x32 and it is a compromise. I have a Swarovski SV 8x32, Swarovski SV 10x32, Swarovski Habicht 8x30 W and a Swarovski Habicht 10x40 W as my primary birding binoculars. All four of these binoculars weigh less than 23 oz. and I use them depending on the conditions I might encounter. If I am doing close in birding I will use my SV 8x32 and for longer distance I use the SV 10x32. If I want a brighter view with more 3D I will grab the Habicht 8x30 W or for especially low light conditions and long distances I will use the Habicht 10x40 W. The Habicht's are good for low light because of their high transmission. If I am trying to spot something at long distance in twilight(like Wolves) I will use the Vortex Razor 12x50 for it's greater detail and excellent Twilight Performance. I know an SV 12x50 is better but for the times I use 12x I don't feel compelled to spend $2.5K and the SV 12x50 weigh's 33 oz. I think 9x is a good choice if you only have one binocular but I would rather have an 8x AND a 10x and pick the one I am going to use based on how I am going to use it and the conditions. A 9x is not as good as an 8x in close in birding and it is not as good as a 10x in open country and long range birding. That is just my opinion.

The weight I don't notice negatively. As I wrote though I use a bino chest pack which does distribute it well. I find anything over 500 grams annoying round my neck.

Interesting comment on the 8x vs 9x vs 10x. I honestly couldn't see anything with my 10x42mm Leica's in detail that the the 9x45mm B2's didn't also resolve easily. Be that on a tripod or hand held. But with the 8x42's I might have been able to make out the detail, but only after having found that detail with the 9x or 10x so I knew it was there. This was a BIG factor in the decision I made to sell my Ultravids and also the Tract's being also listed FS now.
 

NJMS

Member
Hi,

nice review - just some little remarks on optics... the Abbe-Koenig prisms have indeed only 3 reflections as compared to 5 for Schmidt-Pechan.
And also one of the reflections in SP prisms is at an angle which usually doesn't allow for total internal reflection and thus needs a reflection coating (either metal or better dielectric).
Plus the SP prisms have two surfaces which are used in reflection and transmission so using anti-reflection coatings is a bit tricky on them (single-coating seems to be the best compromise).

A single coated surface is about 1.3% loss (an SP prism has too) and dielectric coatings have about 0.5% loss. One more total internal reflection can be seafely ignored. So 3% is a good number for a state of the art pair with dielectric coatings, 5% would be old metal coatings.

Joachim

Thank You very much for the AK vs SP reflections comment. I continue to learn in this community and appreciate being corrected. I'll amend.
 

NJMS

Member
I've had the B2 9x45 for several years now. I agree with your assessment. I too wound up with the 8x30 B3,and find myself wanting for nothing in a handheld binocular I can't get with these two.

My reaction to the Swarovski is diametrically opposed to Dennis. I had the SV EL's in 8.5 and 10x42 and 10x50 when I had the Maven. Putting aside my adverse reaction to rolling ball in the SV, I figure a binocular costing what a Swarovski does should be quickly and easily able establish superiority over a glass costing much less than half that. It did not happen, Swarovskis are gone and the Maven remains. YMMV

Thanks Steve. My B3's hopefully arrive tomorrow. As always I appreciate your input in the various forums we both frequent.

Perfect world I'd own the 8.5x42 Swaro's. But for less money than them I can own both the B2's & B3's. Someday I'll probably upgrade but it's amazing to see what you can get for the $$$ these days in optic's outside the big three.
 

henry link

Well-known member
Hi,

nice review - just some little remarks on optics... the Abbe-Koenig prisms have indeed only 3 reflections as compared to 5 for Schmidt-Pechan.

Joachim

Just a quick correction - Abbe-Koenig prisms actually have 4 reflections as compared to 6 for Schmidt-Pechan. The extra reflections occur when the light cone from the objective lens is split at the roof face. The "right" half of the light cone reflects first from the right side of the roof face and is then transmitted across the roof edge to the left side where it is reflected a second time before exiting the roof face and recombining with the "left" side of the light cone which has taken a mirror image of the same path. Ray traces showing only a single centered ray don't reveal the extra reflection.

Henry
 

jring

Well-known member
Just a quick correction - Abbe-Koenig prisms actually have 4 reflections as compared to 6 for Schmidt-Pechan. The extra reflections occur when the light cone from the objective lens is split at the roof face. The "right" half of the light cone reflects first from the right side of the roof face and is then transmitted across the roof edge to the left side where it is reflected a second time before exiting the roof face and recombining with the "left" side of the light cone which has taken a mirror image of the same path. Ray traces showing only a single centered ray don't reveal the extra reflection.

Henry

Hi Henry,

thanks for enlightenment - yes, the usual raytraces of roof prisms show only one ray being reflected at the edge...

Joachim
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
To expand on Henry’s point

Complex terrestrial viewing devices, such as binoculars, spotting scopes and telescopic sights, have to present an image to the eye that is correctly orientated for viewing
- both top-to-bottom and side-to-side


Need for 2 Inversions and Reversals
Such systems need to have 2 points were the image is brought to a sharp focus i.e. the first and second focal planes *
- at the first, the image is both inverted (top-to-bottom) and reversed (side-to-side), and
- at the second, the image is again both inverted and reversed
so the net result is an image presented to the eye that is correctly orientated in both dimensions

This is most easily illustrated in a non-prismatic device (see the Swarovski cross section of a telescopic sight), where:
- the first focal point is due to the function of the objective unit, and
- the second point is due to function of the reversal unit
(and as can also be seen, the eyepiece unit magnifies but does not alter the orientation of the image)


* CORRECTION: While all complex terrestrial viewiers require that the image be inverted and reversed twice - not all of them also require the image be twice focused to a distinct point/ focal plane
With prism based devices, the image that has been inverted and reversed by the objective unit, enters the prism unit without first being focused to a point
- it's then only focused to a point after leaving the prism unit, see the final attached image from Swarovski
(Thanks to Joachim in post #15 below for pointing this out)


Number of Prism Reflections
In many devices, prisms are substituted for the lenses of the reversal unit (using prisms to repeatedly bend the light path makes for a more compact device)
And the prisms must necessarily have an even number or reflections, to achieve the same effect as the lens based unit
- ensuring that the image is both inverted and reversed (see the attached images from Wikipedia)

The problem with conventional cross section images of roof prisms, is that a side on/ two dimensional view can only show an odd number of reflections
i.e. it cannot show the splitting of the light cone that occurs due to the two intersecting roof surfaces that are in the light path
e.g. see the top Schmidt-Pechan image (and while the lower S-P image clearly shows the two roofed surfaces, it also fails to make clear the split at the surfaces - and the same for the A-K image)

Depending on the type, roof prisms may have either:
- 4 reflections (Abbe-Koenig) or
- 6 reflections (both Schmidt-Pechan and Uppendahl)
and Porro prisms of course have 4 reflections


John
 

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jring

Well-known member
Hi,

thank you John - that really explains things nicely - especially the argument that an even number of reflections needed for an upright and correct side view is actually quite intuitive - now with the knowledge that the roof-edge counts as two reflection, things get a lot clearer.

One question though - while the lens based image reversal system certainly has two focal points, are you sure that this is also true for a prism based unit? I'd think that with prisms the light cone of a kepler refractor is just folded and thus the image reversed through the prism unit - if there was a second focus point there remains the question what generates that and also it would allow interesting designs with undersized prisms by putting the 1st focal point inside the prism...

Joachim
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
Joachim,

You're of course correct in your second paragraph about the passage of the light cone through a prism based system - there is only one focal point, not two
(I chose the image of a lens based system as it made the image inversions/ reversals clear, but in looking at it I went on to make an incorrect generalisation)
I've edited my original post to correct this
Thanks

John
 

chartwell99

Well-known member
I've had the B2 9x45 for several years now. I agree with your assessment. I too wound up with the 8x30 B3,and find myself wanting for nothing in a handheld binocular I can't get with these two.

YMMV

I bought my B2 9 x 45 on the strength of Steve's review and have been sufficiently pleased with the binocular that I purchased the 8 x 30 B3 as well. The 8 x 30 B3 is a gem and both are stellar binoculars and flat out bargains. I will confess that I wandered into Cameraland in Bethpage while on vacation in June and based on weight, brightness and image quality, ended up with a GPO Passion 10 x 42. Thankfully, my wife was with me and got to try the binocular as well. I think I am now done for the foreseeable future.
 
I bought my B2 9 x 45 on the strength of Steve's review and have been sufficiently pleased with the binocular that I purchased the 8 x 30 B3 as well. The 8 x 30 B3 is a gem and both are stellar binoculars and flat out bargains. I will confess that I wandered into Cameraland in Bethpage while on vacation in June and based on weight, brightness and image quality, ended up with a GPO Passion 10 x 42. Thankfully, my wife was with me and got to try the binocular as well. I think I am now done for the foreseeable future.

Curious as to your thoughts on comparing the GPO Passion to the 9.5 Maven's. Are the Passions the HD?
 
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chartwell99

Well-known member
Curious as to your thoughts on comparing the GPO Passion to the 9.5 Maven's. Are the Passions the HD?

Yes, the Passions are the HD and I am still quite pleased with the binocular but the 9x 45 Maven is brighter, sharper with a stellar build quality. The GPO Passion is lighter, a little bit more powerful and handier in the field and focusing is easier. If I could only keep one, it would be the Maven but I'm glad I don't have to make that choice at the moment.
 

Tahoe1305

Member
Great review. I had the demo B2s for a while and thought they were good as well. But there is a size and weight penalty like you mention. I personally thought the UHDs in similar form factor were a bit better even.
 

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