don't know what you guys are using out in the field.but i bought a pair of Vortex Razors this year and the quality is easily comparable to swaros for 1/2 the price..and if you want to take pictures with them Vortex has the "set-up"!!!
their whole line of equipment is pretty damn good..I dont think you can shop em much..all bino companys pretty much regulate what theyre gonna get sold for..they were $1600 plus a couple hundred for a tripod(dont ever skimp on a tripod youll be SORRY)I got them at a local bird-watching store..Cabelas may have them by now..The story I heard was the maker of Vortex thought sworo,ziess and leica were gauging and he could make quality optics and offer them to the public for about 1/2 the price..all of their optics are lifetime guaranteed no questions asked..you cant beat em...
okay for those of you who are serious about getting the Vortex Razor...if you are a Cabelas club member you can get them right now for $1599.00 and you get 10% back in club points...i think thats $159.00,let me get my calculator...yup 159 it is...
You can get them on Ebay for $1198 plus free shipping no tax.
and Viper for $659.95 also free shipping no tax
This store offer free one day shipping at $1199.99
I've been on an optics bender for the last four years and have become an ardent supporter of tripod mounted optics for anything over 10x if you are looking long. The ability to hold binos still (and you dont know what still is until you use a tripod) and look under every bush and tree has helped my comrade aka 'thats my game" and I find and evaluate quite a few head of game. not only that when you find something with tripod binos you can lock it off on the tripod and look outside the binos and really figure where that thing you are looking at a mile away really is. While spotting scopes are great for final evaluation they are not good to look through over long periods of time. They give me headaches/eyestrain and do not give the same image and resolution as using both eyes to look at something ( not to mention mirage and climatic conditions and actual location of the animal) My current quiver is 15x swaros, sts 85 swaro spotter w/ 25-50 eyepiece and an outdoorsmans tripod for hanging the stuff on along with some 8x30 Leicas or swaros on my chest for the close stuff. check out the "Outdoorsmans" tripods they are a great product made in Az by sportsman for sportsman, they are a little pricey but well worth it. p.s. carbon fiber construction is not what you want in tripods for spotting as they vibrate at a high frequency when bumped while handling.
On a recent elk hunt in New Mexico (earlier this month) I was finding animals in the shadows with the 15 swaros on the tripod that the other guys using handhelds could not see even with me talking them right onto them.
I like the idea of having a system regarding optics. Having an 8X or 10X pair of bino's is an absolute must. And I would say that this is where you should invest your money. It will be where you spend most of your time. The resolution from this power range of optics is by far in a different league in the higher end products. I was hunting Arizona with a friend (two weeks ago) who was using Leica 12X HD bino's and I handed him my Leica 8X HD's and he was astonished at how much more crisp, bright and clear the 8X's were. Fine Firearms http://gunssandiego.com/ would lend me a 12X pair of Leica's every hunting season; when I purchased my 8X HD's I never borrowed the 12X's again. Don't spare a dime on your staple glass.
The 12X and 15X bino's on the high end products (Leica & Swaro) are definitely amazing but by no means are they a substitute for a quality spotting scope. The key to using a spotting scope for long periods of time is to use them on their lowest power setting. I have a Leica 77 Televid with a 20X-60X eyepiece. It rarely leaves the 20X setting. If you truly want to pick apart the landscape, a high end spotting scope is key when looking into distant areas. I agree with Snake Charmer that having the high power bino's are essential to have in your quiver but I now believe they fill the gap between the staple bino's and the spotting scope. To me, they are the last purchase of the three.
The bottom line, glass is important and should be where most of your hunting budget is spent. I am currently in the market for a 15X binocular but have not made up my mind what I want. I like the value of the Vortex, I like the price of the discontinued Swarovski 15X but I am also looking at the Leica 15X Geovid HD. The Leica Geovid's weigh the same as the Swarovski's but are a better bino across the board. Problem is they over a 1/3 more in price.
It's hard to argue with the quality of Leica or Swarovski, given the choice all my glass would be Leica. Any time you increase power you lose brightness with any brand period... it has to do with what our eye can take in and process. Unfortunatley for us hunters that affects us the most when light is low (dusk and dawn). 8x is one of the best for low light no argument. for long range stuff if Leica made a 15x w/o a rangefinder thats what I would own but they dont ( a range finder in a bino you cant carry ariound you're neck to me is silly) , tried to buy a new Leica spotter year before last and was very difficult to find (impossible) ( so I didnt and bought a Swaro) if you want 15x binos (I dont know Vortex products) put your trust in Swaro's and you wont be sorry.
As far as strategies go I guess it just depends what works for you, personally I can sit behind a set of binos on a tripod all day (sit back and stretch, change focus, lock down, look through other bino's etc etc..) and not have problems with fatigue like spotters give me. It is my go to set up to find game and the spotter is what I use to evaluate what I have found. If I am going to sit and look an area over it with any signifcant distance out in front of me it will be with tripod mounted binos to start . Buy the best you can afford and you wont be disappointed with how much better you can see what is around you if you take the time to sit still and look around...
I agree with the rangefinder around the neck theory. The 15X Leica is of the HD breed and is a cleaner glass than the Swaro. At the same weight (45 oz) it is just a luxury knowing how far your game is while spotting. The real problem lies in that the Geovid's are $3000 and you can pick up a pair of the discontinued Swaro's for between $1500-$1900. If I could chip away at the price of the Leica's it would be a no brainer. Having a rangefinder in the glass with no extra weight is not a disadvantage. But again, I really want to look through the new Vortex as they are building a great reputation for fine glass and at the price, well it's worth investigating!
I would have prefered the Leica's but $3k was too rich for me and as I said before I just dont see the need for a rangefinder on 15x. I use the tall tripod and it in my opinion is the way to go. I can stand on my hind legs and look if need be (wet or muddy ground or high brush) and I find myself doing this quite often the other two size's they offer force you to sit/kneel or find something to perch the tripod on. I dont use the pistol grip but I like it and the Jim White head is a compromise you have to unlock it to make any movement, with the Outdoorsman head (what I have) you can partially lock it down and still make minor adjustments without the chance of losing what you are looking at. I like to slightly loosen both the pan and tilt and use my body motion to control where I look if I see something I can either pull back and locate it with my bare eyes or I can reach up and lock it down and switch over to my spotter without losing the target. in my conversations with folks that rep this stuff the hd feature is nice but not a game changer in my opinion. I have put the Leica 12x50 hd's side by side with the non hd and personally I cant see the difference in normal daylight. when I purchased my spotter I did some homework and what I came up with is if you intend to do some digiscoping than the hd will produce a better image when printed but to the naked eye you just cant see the difference.
I bought the new Vortex Viper HD 10X50, binoculars.com (a hay needle company)had'em for $649, when I logged on the site a window popped up for $50 instant rebate got'em for $599, also bought the tripod adpt. $20 and a Vortex doubler $169 ?
I ordered the accessories from Cameraland.com
I like the Vortex binos but the doubler is standard at best, Vortex is a USA company but the glass is from Japan......kind of disapointed with that fact. In my opinion, you don't need to spend thousands.
I agree regarding value. Excellent gear. It was you're bino's (TopBuck) that made me think twice regarding Vortex. I have no problem with the USA manufacturer buying Japanese class. They produce some of the best optical glass in the world (Canon, Nikon Kowa etc.)
Good purchase Tim. I have started to work with Vortex regarding us getting demo gear for hunting and evaluation and will start to approach advertising and member discount shortly. Santiago just finished our store and we will soon be carrying high quality "got to have" gear on the main site.
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