Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Opticron HR 66 GA ED 18-54x66 Angled Spotting Scope

From Jim in New Jersey:

5/5 Rating

Nice scope

This is a great scope and Eagle Optics is a great company.

First, I wanted to have a smaller scope that I could also use for travel when needed, but I wanted something quality and not made in China, that I know will last. This scope is made in Japan and rivals the European brands in terms of quality and service. I also wanted it to be waterproof and have nice optics.

Eagle Optics was nice in that they rep I talked to compared this Opticron Scope vs the Pentax 65Edll and gave me a quick review over the phone (HR66 vs Pentax with XF zoom). The Opticron easily beat out the Pentax even with the XW fixed lens, as I determined later on my own tests.

I also evaluated the Opticron against the Kowa TSN664 which is a 66mm scope and the Swaro 65mm scope with 20-60 eyepiece. In both cases, the HR66 outperformed the Kowa and the Swaro. I was surprised.  This is a scope that might be under your radar but it is a solid, high quality scope.

The focus wheel has a lot of turns to it from near to infinity....I would say close to six turns but that is beneficial for it allows you to 'fine focus' the scope as this scope just has one central focus wheel. The wheel is large enough to use with gloves and has a very buttery feel to it, unlike the Kowa which was real stiff. The view and focus surpass the Swaro too and the price is easily a $1000 less.

The comes with a nice rubber armor feel to it. The SDL eyepiece (is waterproof) is excellent as you have the  ability to reach 18 zoom up to 54 zoom. Usually eyepieces (with exception of Swaro 25-50 eyepiece) go up to 60 zoom but the view isn't all that great at the 60 power using a 65mm scope. At 54 zoom, the HR66 still has a usable zoom. Also since it does go down to 18mm, I have found that is a perfect zoom range to start at and then zoom in, unlike the newer Swaro zooms which start at 25, which is not low enough. The glass on the HR is superb, plus if you add in the SDL, you have a winning combination.

Excellent product....along with Eagle Optics excellent service...the Opticron brand comes with a solid reputation and I had several conversations with Pete Gamby who is the Opticron rep and he was very helpful.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Zeiss Victory SF 8x42 Binocular

From Chuck P. in Kula, Hawaii:

5/5 Rating

First Look Victory SF

Just returned from a birding trip to Honduras partially sponsored by Zeiss and Eagle Optics to field test the new Victory SF's.

We were allowed to choose either an 8x or 10x 42 model. I chose the , as a senior birder I can no longer steady a 10x well enough. I have a Swarovision EL 8.5x42 with which I compared the new offering from Zeiss.

The first appearance of the Zeiss is of a LONG barreled bino. Compared side by side it is only a ocular cap thickness difference between the two and the listed specs give it as .5 inches longer. But it looks long. I prefer the finish of the Swarovski - the green color and roughened surface appeal to me but this is personal.

The next difference is when you pick it up. The perceived weight difference is really noticeable with the Zeiss feeling much lighter. My wife, who uses tiny Leica 10x32's, picked it up out of box and without knowing anything about specs exclaimed, "Wow, this is light!" The Zeiss is listed at 27.5oz, the Swaro 28oz, hardly noticeable (one would think) but after repeated testing back and forth the weight difference is noticeable. Zeiss claims to have pushed the weight balance back from the objectives toward the oculars making them feel lighter but the perceived lightness is very real and extends to scanning treetops for long periods with less arm fatigue. The elastic neck strap also seems to decrease the weight on the neck with long field use.

In the hand the thinner barrels of the Swaros feels better to me (small hands) and I really like the thumb detents on the Swaros. The Zeiss focus knob seems in a slightly more "natural" position for me, but this may vary with users' hands. I like the rubber ocular guards on the Zeiss slightly better than the hard plastic Swaros. The focus on the Zeiss is butter smooth - the best I've used on a bino.

I missed the extra 0.5x of the Swaro on the Zeiss, but the huge field of view and slightly increased brightness were noticeable on the Zeiss. I couldn't detect any difference in sharpness and the increased field of view in the Zeiss made comparing edge sharpness difficult. Depth of field and close focus appeared equal. Hard cases were of equal quality and similarly fiddly.

In summary, they are pretty close and will come down to individual preferences: sleeker design, 8.5x, of the Swarovski($60 less expensive at EO) vs the lightness, field of view, slightly brighter image thru the Zeiss SF. Both are state of the art.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Eagle Optics Ranger 8x32 Binocular

From Lori in Wisconsin:

5/5 Rating

Highly recommended!

I recently purchased the to use for birding and wildlife viewing.

The staff member I spoke to, Mike, was knowledgeable and very helpful in recommending the right binocular for my needs.

The shipping of my order was very fast and I am extremely happy with my purchase. It is exactly what I was looking for. Clear, sharp image. A well made product, yet not too heavy. Lots of quality in this binocular for a very reasonable price.

I highly recommend the Ranger 8x32 and Eagle Optics!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Leica Ultravid HD-PLUS 7x42 Binocular

From Hector G. in Vermont:

5/5 Rating

Leica Ultravid HD Plus 7x42 vs. 8x42

After looking through a friend's Ultravid HDs sometime ago, I have had a hankering for these Leica bins. When the new came out, I decided that it was time to take the next step. I didn't know, however, whether I wanted the 7x42 or 8x42 instrument.

I have never been a fan of higher magnifications like the 10x. My go-to binocular up until now has been the , and I was looking for something that would complement them. So, Eagle Optics, with their usual unparalleled service, sent me both the 7x and 8x and I spent a week or so comparing them in the field.

Both are incredible bins. Ergonomically, they are fantastic for me and the view is pin-sharp and bright. I guess that the new prisms and coatings make a real difference over the old HDs. In the end, I was seduced by the wide fov, deep depth of field, and bright and crystal clear view of the . I will be sending the 8x42 back to EO, but, make no mistake, these too are incredible bins.

So, how do they stack up against their competitors? Compared with the Swaro SVs they do not have such a pancake flat field, nor are they sharp right to the very edge. But, this somehow makes they view seem more "natural" and easy to look at. I am beginning the believe that in their quest for edge to edge sharpness and a completely flat field, some big manufacturers have created an "unnatural" view and lost the easiness of viewing in their most recent instruments. Also, the HD plus handles stray light better than my Swaro SVs and I can see no "veiling glare", a problem that seems to be systematic in the 8x32s.

Swaro and Zeiss seem to be in competition to produce the next most exciting and individual gadgets, whether it is flat field, edge-to-edge sharpness, or wider fov. This quest has resulted, IMO, in discontinuities in their product lines, with, sometimes, other successful aspects of their bins being sacrificed to incorporate the latest gimmick.

Not so with Leica. They have been criticized on various forums for not stepping up to the latest fancy bin with lots of new bells and whistles. What they have actually done, however, is improve incrementally on an already successful product, without throwing the baby out with the bath water. Has this succeeded? I'd say yes. I consider the new up there, if not surpassing the major competitors.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Eagle Optics NEW Ranger ED 8x32 Binocular

From Claudia M. in Santa Rosa, CA:

5/5 Rating

My hiking binoculars

I was helping a friend choose a pair of binoculars for birding.  She chose the after comparing with two other choices.

I currently use Swarovski 10 x 42's which can be heavy on hikes where the emphasis is not on birding. I was so impressed with her Ranger that I got a pair as well! 

The Rangers have a good feel in the hand- are light and compact which is great for my needs.  The image is bright and crisp and I am very pleased with my purchase- great binoculars at a good price.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Leica Ultravid HD 8x32 Binocular

From Yvonne in CA:

5/5 Rating

Excellent Customer Service , Great Product

 I purchased the for birding.

I wanted something lighter for my birding walks, and I knew the weight of the 10x42s was more than I wanted hanging around my neck for long spells. I knew I wanted the Leica optics I'd been enjoying from always "borrowing " my husband's Leica bins.

I ordered my new bins from Eagle Optics, having heard about them through birding magazines and podcasts. I ordered online late on a Friday night, and the bins arrived the following Tuesday.

They were exactly what I wanted:  lighter and more compact than the 10x42s, great clarity and color, generous field of view, and the new HD model provided plenty of light gathering power for shady underbrush views of shy birds.

The new bins are perfect, and I couldn't be more impressed. Thanks!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Vortex Razor HD 10x42 Binocular

From Richard N. in Point Richmond, CA:

5/5 Rating

Better than I expected

I bought the without the opportunity to try it, but knowing Eagle Optics' sterling reputation, I put complete trust in the person who helped me over the phone.  These binos are better than I even expected!

I'm over 70, wear glasses, and just don't see as well as I used to.  In my volunteer work I have to read wing tags at pretty significant distances.  My Razor HDs do the job beautifully (within my own optical limitations, of course).

One thing I really like is how bright the image is, even in very low light.  I'm particularly impressed with how the color on a bird really pops when viewed through the binoculars.  I have a Swarovski scope. and have used Swarovski binoculars.  I really can't see a significant difference - except in the price!

After I'd had these binoculars for almost a year, the diopter adjustment malfunctioned.  Getting them repaired (at no charge) by Eagle Optics was seamless.  Even though I was without them for only a short time, I really missed them.  Thank you Eagle Optics!

I would recommend these without reservation.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Vortex Razor Digital Camera Adapter

From Amy in Summerfield, NC:

5/5 Rating


This   is extremely easy to mount and use on my spotting scope.

My favorite feature is that I can leave the adapter on my  at all times and it does not interfere with using the zoom on my spotting scope.

Attaching the camera to the mount could not be easier. And with very slight adjustments and practice, you are able to get stunning close up photos of birds and other wildlife. I was able to get some great shots of the local Hooded Mergansers that I would have never dreamed of getting before.

Would highly recommend to anyone with a Vortex Razor scope.