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New Maven B.6 10x50: A brief comparative review (1 Viewer)

Demarki

New member
France
Re APM vs. Fujinon: brightness is very comparable in my eyes; the APM mostly wins in CA correction - and in price, of course!

So if I understood correctly, the APM slightly outperforms the Fujinon while costing half as much? Sounds too good to be true...
 

Canip

Well-known member
Well, it is what it is. The APM is basically a clone of the Fuji, and it is made in China, the Fuji in Japan.
However, the Fuji is extremely robust and has been known to last forever - we will have to see in ten years whether the same is true for the APM.
 

AlphaFan

Well-known member
United States
Catnip,

Thanks for your wonderfully detailed and comprehensively comparative review.

I’ve personally owned a plethora of alpha and near-alpha binoculars (Dialyts, Trinovid BAs, Victory FL and SF, SLCs, MHGs, and others) over the years but will admit to not much experience in 50mm objective and above. But I’m very curious and interested in possibly adding a set. Since I’m fairly sensitive to globe-effect I’m probably not in the market for the ELs. However, it would be a great help if you could go into a bit more detail on your comparative assessment of the image quality/characteristics between the 10x50 UHD+ and the B6. Which image do you personally find more satisfying?
 

Canip

Well-known member
AlphaFan,

that is a tough question.

I love the 50mm Ultravids - 8x, 10x and 12x -, they probably will be among the few that I keep when I some day get rid of my large collection of binoculars.
I find them mechanically AND optically superb, I like the industrial design of the Ultravids more than all the other premium binos. Of course, the EL SV 10x50 „beats“ the UV in some regards, and I understand that many prefer the ultrasharp, crisp and bright image of the EL SV over the slightly more „settled“, color saturated image of the UV. Question of personal preference, really. I don‘t mind using either.
And then comes along a newcomer from Maven not even half the UV’s price and impresses with premium image qualities and characteristics reminding me of the UV. The image in the Maven appears slightly „more white“, but otherwise, the images in both are very comparable, I honestly couldn‘t say that one appears sharper or more contrasty than the other.
Panning charactersistics are similar.
The small difference in FOV is only noticeable if you look for it.
The Maven is slightly more compact and noticeably lighter than the UV.

Nothing for me beats the UV HD+ as an „overall package“, but I couldn‘ t say that I find its image more satisfying than the one in the Maven (which, I know, is a huge compliment for the Maven).

Canip
 

AlphaFan

Well-known member
United States
Thanks for the detailed feedback - precisely what I was looking for. In my time with the Maven B1.2 8x42 also noticed the “whiteness“ of the image compared to some other binoculars like the MHG, SLC, etc. In my case the comparisons mostly took place in wooded environments with tremendous variations in light. Overall, I found the Mavens offered very good brightness and resolution, but colors were somewhat less vivid. Otherwise it was a superb binocular in most respects, especially at the $1k and under pricepoint.
 

AlphaFan

Well-known member
United States
Bought a new Maven B6 10x50 that arrived on Friday. Played with it a bit on Friday and took it to a local bay on Saturday to do some waterfowl viewing. It proved to be a target-rich environment with plenty of Scaups, Ruddys, Canvasbacks, Wigeons, Gadwalls, Coots, and a host of others. The Mavens offered some wonderfully crisp, detailed views. Colors are fairly neutral, yet sufficiently saturated and the image very bright. I won‘t rehash all of Catnip’s detailed observations other than to say, “I agree.” Some additional observations/thoughts:

0BD3BDED-44F5-4FDF-88E1-E4D9BE191F4E.jpeg

Form Factor - Maven accomplished something special by engineering a 50mm binocular into the general size-weight range of a 42mm. The first thing I noticed was the compactness of the design which should appeal to both birders and hunters. The build quality and haptics are first rate and I really like the feel of the armor. Overall handling characteristics of the slightly heavier Maven are not quite as easy or ”light-in-the-hand“ as the SLC or the SF, but they handled/balanced very well and offered a steady hold. As a 50mm they exceeded my expectations in this regard. The only form negative is the very small space between the barrels - as presented in the video in post #23 it is barely sufficient to attach a tripod stud.

Some Additional Subjective View Observations - while observing large groups of waterfowl I did quite a bit of panning which was very comfortable with the Maven. This is not a flat-field design but there is a large sweet-spot, so the 6.5 degree FOV doesn’t feel at all restrictive. Someone will eventually measure its depth of field but subjectively it appeared quite good. While viewing a wide variety of ducks, even at some extreme distances, I was able to consistently pull a very satisfying level of detail from the image. My eyes do prefer the colors offered by the SF and SLC over the Maven - but at this time I’m uncertain if this is due to overall saturation level or just preference in tone. Lastly, as a 50mm the Maven clearly outlasted both the SF and SLC in low light performance - focusing on distant tree bark in the shadows I could clearly distinguish patterns and detail a few minutes longer with the Maven.

Out of the gate I’m very impressed with the B6. To me it is a significant improvement over the B2 in both optics and form. Just offering my initial impressions, but this one is looking like a keeper.
 

dries1

Member
I take it that the SF and SLC are 10X42 for reference, the pic says a lot on the compact size of the maven for a 10X50.
 

Steve C

Well-known member
These observations of the Maven are pretty well in synch with my impressions of the unit I had for awhile. Maven offers a top quality lineup of glass.

As for the comments on color preference, I think it is hard to separate contrast, saturation, and image color bias. They all three link hand in hand with transmission, and how well they balance for a particular user will largely determine the level of user satisfaction.
 

Brummie

Well-known member
I just received a pair of the B6 10x50 today. My first impression was a little underwhelming because the CA was noticeable. But, I was specifically looking for CA, viewing difficult targets (overhead wires and black railings against a clear December sky at midday) in direct comparison with my Victory SF 10x32 (which show effectively no CA). When I came back to them later in the day and wasn't trying to find CA, it was only barely noticeable when looking at difficult targets.

In terms of sharpness and resolution, I'd say they're equal to the SF 10x32, at least for my eyes, which probably aren't the sharpest. FOV is noticeably smaller than the SF 10x32, of course. To me, objects looked bigger in the B6 10X50, but I'm sure that's just an optical illusion due to the narrower FOV. They do seem a little brighter than the SF 10x32 even in full light, and definitely have a slight edge in performance at low light over both my SF 10x32 and NL Pure 12x42. I couldn't compare them directly to my SF 10x42 as they're with Zeiss to have debris cleaned out of the barrels (they're one of the early grey models from the era when Zeiss didn't seem to be able to make an alpha binocular without leaving a bit of grit in it for posterity), but in previous head-to-head comparisons, I haven't seen much of a difference between those and the SF 10x32 or NL Pure 12x42, so I would still expect the B6 10x50 to outperform them in low light.

I also got the Maven doubler to go with the B6, and find it to give a useful view. Not a beautiful, wide, scintillating view, but one which is sharp and definitely provides for more resolution of fine detail. The function of the doubler is just to give you that extra bit of resolution when viewing a stationary or slow-moving target from a tripod, not as the primary optic for scanning or immersive viewing.

So will the B6 10x50 displace my favorite binoculars for general viewing? No - that's still my SF 10x32 for general outdoor use, and the NL Pure 12x42 for when I want the ultimate hand-held image, even at the cost of a bit more weight and bulk (with the forehead rest included). The B6 10x50 are light and compact enough to substitute a good 10x42 for general use. But despite offering a very pleasurable viewing experience, the OK-but-not-outstanding FOV, and the occasional glimpse of CA, will always remind me they are not the very best.

I do still think the B6 have a place in my collection - for times when I want the best low-light performance in a hand-held binocular, and for times when I want a lightweight set up that can do it all (general daytime observation, low-light and basic astronomy, and tripod-mounted long-range observation with the doubler) - i.e. when I don't want the size and weight of carrying a proper scope alongside binoculars, or don't want to carry multiple $1000s worth of equipment on me.

I can also imagine them being a good choice for someone looking for a similar, very versatile set-up as a one-stop solution for diverse observation needs, particularly if they don't have money to burn or a weird optics fetish.
 

AlphaFan

Well-known member
United States
If I read post #32 correctly - the Maven B6 10x50 was delivered sometime on Tuesday, and by that evening a firm conclusion emerged that its overall performance is “underwhelming.” Many would consider that quite harsh and unfair especially when all of the comparison is against optics costing multiples of 2.3-3.25x as much. Even more so when highlighting any perceived negatives that can be forced from the Maven under the most extreme conditions while completely ignoring any of its advantages or shortcomings of the binoculars it is being compared to.

I’ve used the Maven as my primary birding glass for the past few weeks in a number of environments and also did quite a bit of comparison with other optics that I own - Zeiss SF 10x42, SLC 10x42, and even my FL 10x56. Suffice to say that my B6 10x50 observations/findings are much more closely aligned with those of Catnip and Steve C. In general, the B6 image is extremely bright, very high resolution, and neutral but sufficiently saturated colors. In spite of its very crisp resolution the view is still quite relaxed; although not flat-field it offers an above-average sweet-spot and a large FOV for a $1k 50mm binocular; on-axis crispness and CA are very well controlled (I do not notice CA in normal use - but haven’t looked for or attempted to force edge-CA); the entire FOV remains in full view without finicky eye placement, blackouts or kidney-beaning; and due to a very minor amount of edge distortion panning is quite comfortable. One place the B6 truly shines is in low-light performance - it is simply superb at finding birds and critters lurking in the shadows. In direct low-light comparison the B6 clearly outperformed both my SF and SLC 10x42s (10x32s are no match), and it was nip-and-tuck with my FL 10x56. While I still slightly prefer the overall image and handling characteristics of my SF10x42 and it will remain my main glass. Really don’t find myself pining for it while using the Maven.

The B6 should be recognized for the $1k gem that it is. Maven created a very high performing 50mm binocular in the size/weight range of a 42mm. If anyone knows of a better sub 31oz 50mm binocular (or 42mm for that matter) for ~$1k please don’t hesitate to let the rest of us know about it.
 

Brummie

Well-known member
If I read post #32 correctly - the Maven B6 10x50 was delivered sometime on Tuesday, and by that evening a firm conclusion emerged that its overall performance is “underwhelming.”
Perhaps you should re-read it. I said my "first impression was a little underwhleming" because CA was noticeable, and then went on to explain how with further use I didn't find it such a problem, and the B6 10x50 would have a place in my collection alongside first-rate Zeiss and Swarovski binoculars because it has some unique qualities - particularly better low-light performance in a compact package.
Just my reflections, based on my interest in buying them, and not claiming to be a comprehensive or definitive review. Make of it what you will, but I don't think it's too far off what you were saying.
Perhaps I have a little more sensitivity to CA, the sample I have is a little less controlled, or it's just one of those things that will fade as I get more used to using them. I'll see if my impressions change with some further use and comparisons. I particularly want to see if I notice it when viewing birds against the sky.
 
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Brummie

Well-known member
Incidentally, on the prices, I paid the standard $1000 for the B6, but I bought my SF 10x42 for $1700 in 2016 on a promotion, and my NL Pure 12x42 for around $2400 by buying them from the UK. So yes, considerably more expensive than the Mavens, but the wider set of retailers does give you options to reduce the differential with some patience and luck.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Maven's and Tract's IMO are more directed towards the hunting market than the birding market. They have tighter focusers in general which work better for long range scanning at a fixed distance, so you don't easily change your focus, but their focusers are not in general as fast and easy as say a Zeiss HD Conquest or Nikon HG Monarch which work better for fast moving birds where you are focusing more often. Maven's and Tract's are also more heavily armored for the rough service they would endure while being used by a hunter crawling on the ground stalking prey which in general leads to heavier binoculars, whereas, I don't think a birder needs this kind of protection or the extra weight that goes along with it. When I think of birding binoculars I think of a Swarovski EL, Zeiss SF or Leica Ultravid HD in the top tier and a Zeiss Conquest HD, Nikon Monarch HG or Leica Trinovid in the middle tier and the Nikon E2 or SE in the lower tier. I think birders also use more 8x32's or 8x42's, whereas, hunter use more 10x42's and 10x50's for greater light grasp and detail recognition of game, although there is a lot of crossover. I think birders tend to worry more about things like CA and edge sharpness, whereas, hunters tend to not be as picky about those things but care more about low light performance. It is kind of two different markets, but Maven and Tract are more directed towards hunters. I believe birder's buy more alpha level binoculars than hunters because hunters don't need to see the color or the markings of the game they are looking for. Hunters are much rougher with their binoculars by the very nature of their sport, and I don't think the greatest percentage of them care to carry $3K binoculars. I would bet the average hunter spends at most $1K on his or her binoculars, which is right in the range of most Mavens and Tract Torics. The $3K NL's and SF's are probably primarily bought by birders just because we are more picky and finicky about our optics. Sometimes I think we talk about them more than we use them.
 
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AlphaFan

Well-known member
United States
Dennis,

Your last post was pure conjecture and much of it wildly inaccurate. I cannot speak to Tract but own the Maven B6. A few points to illustrate:

  • B6 focuser is very smooth/fast, not as buttery light as an SF, but not as slow as an SLC
  • B6 armor is sufficient but certainly not heavy like an NL Pure, SLC, or Conquest HD
  • Low light performance is essential for all types of birding / nature viewing - guess you’ve never seen an owl
  • 7/8x is great for warblers and general forest birding, but I find 10x much better for waterfowl and raptors
  • edge sharpness, personal thing - some like a deeper 3D image, some prefer flat field
  • here in the USA far more Alpha level optics are purchased by hunters than birders

I believe Maven and many other newer optics companies recognized the closing gap between mid-grade and alpha level optics and the vastly expanded market that can be tapped at the ~$1k price point. They are bringing high quality optics to this market and having great success. But to imply the Maven B6 is in any way unsuitable as a birding glass is wildly inaccurate.
 

Brummie

Well-known member
Maven's and Tract's IMO are more directed towards the hunting market than the birding market.
While I agree with the general characterization, it's not true that the Maven are thicker amored or heavier than alpha models (in fact it's the opposite), nor are they slower focussing. The key difference between the Maven B6 and my SF / NL Pure is that the Maven has better low light performance (maybe marginally brighter in full light as well), but the field of view is narrower (still good, but not up with the best these days) and there is a hint of CA on challenging targets (which would not be at all detectable in typical hunting use, or in low-light).

Seems to me that with the B6, Maven were trying to get really bright and sharp optics with the added low-light benefits of 50mm objs into a compact and light enough package to serve for general and extended field use. That should certainly be attractive for hunters, but for others as well. Whether the slight compromises on FOV and CA control are primarily due to the constraints of cost or the compact form, I don't know, but those tend to be the qualities where the differences between alphas and near-alphas are most evident across a number of brands.

Personally, I want optics to cover pretty much everything. I'm not a hunter or a hardcore birder, but love nature-viewing, and also like to look up at the night sky from time to time. I used to be a field biologist focussing on large mammals, but am now mostly a desk jockey. That transition means I've gone from a heavy user of decent but affordable optics to someone who can indulge a fetish for fine optical instruments but has limited time to really get the most out of them. My general preference used to be for a 10x42 binocular, but now being able to get my sticky mitts on really good 10x32, 12x42 and 10x50 models, I could be very happy with any of them if I could only have one pair.
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
While I agree with the general characterization, it's not true that the Maven are thicker amored or heavier than alpha models (in fact it's the opposite), nor are they slower focussing. The key difference between the Maven B6 and my SF / NL Pure is that the Maven has better low light performance (maybe marginally brighter in full light as well), but the field of view is narrower (still good, but not up with the best these days) and there is a hint of CA on challenging targets (which would not be at all detectable in typical hunting use, or in low-light).

Seems to me that with the B6, Maven were trying to get really bright and sharp optics with the added low-light benefits of 50mm objs into a compact and light enough package to serve for general and extended field use. That should certainly be attractive for hunters, but for others as well. Whether the slight compromises on FOV and CA control are primarily due to the constraints of cost or the compact form, I don't know, but those tend to be the qualities where the differences between alphas and near-alphas are most evident across a number of brands.

Personally, I want optics to cover pretty much everything. I'm not a hunter or a hardcore birder, but love nature-viewing, and also like to look up at the night sky from time to time. I used to be a field biologist focussing on large mammals, but am now mostly a desk jockey. That transition means I've gone from a heavy user of decent but affordable optics to someone who can indulge a fetish for fine optical instruments but has limited time to really get the most out of them. My general preference used to be for a 10x42 binocular, but now being able to get my sticky mitts on really good 10x32, 12x42 and 10x50 models, I could be very happy with any of them if I could only have one pair.
That is the one shortcoming with Maven's for me personally. The FOV is not up there with the best, as you say. The same with Tract Toric's. That is a reason why I have moved away from them for birding. Even at the $1K price point you can get a Nikon HG 10x42 which is just as bright given the same size aperture as the Maven, probably has better contrast, is lighter, has a smoother, lighter focuser and a much bigger FOV than a Maven or Tract. For the birder it represents a better value IMO. Of course, the 50 mm Maven is going to be brighter in low light than your 42 mm HG, SF or NL. That is a given. But you are given up a lot of FOV and putting up with more CA.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Dennis,

Your last post was pure conjecture and much of it wildly inaccurate. I cannot speak to Tract but own the Maven B6. A few points to illustrate:

  • B6 focuser is very smooth/fast, not as buttery light as an SF, but not as slow as an SLC
  • B6 armor is sufficient but certainly not heavy like an NL Pure, SLC, or Conquest HD
  • Low light performance is essential for all types of birding / nature viewing - guess you’ve never seen an owl
  • 7/8x is great for warblers and general forest birding, but I find 10x much better for waterfowl and raptors
  • edge sharpness, personal thing - some like a deeper 3D image, some prefer flat field
  • here in the USA far more Alpha level optics are purchased by hunters than birders

I believe Maven and many other newer optics companies recognized the closing gap between mid-grade and alpha level optics and the vastly expanded market that can be tapped at the ~$1k price point. They are bringing high quality optics to this market and having great success. But to imply the Maven B6 is in any way unsuitable as a birding glass is wildly inaccurate.
IMO, unless you are doing a LOT of owling and 95% of your birding is in the daytime like most people, a binocular like the Nikon HG 10x42 is a better all around birding tool then the Maven B6 10x50. The focuser is lighter, the binocular is lighter, and it has better contrast. I would like to see some data to support your statement that more Alpha level binoculars are purchased by hunters. A lot of hunter's carry Vortex Viper's and Razor's, except for the few well heeled who usually have Swarovski. I bet more birders are buying the NL's and SF's than hunters.
 

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