Optics review 2015

2015 Optic Review

Written By: Neil large

Research by: The Hunting Channel Field Staff


Optic review results

Optic review results


The staff at the Hunting Channel Online recently had the pleasure of testing some of the hottest and best glassing binoculars the industry has to offer.  This optics comparison is a bit different than those you may have seen in the past.  We hand-picked binoculars we believe in, use, and ultimately know that hunters will enjoy using to effectively glass up game in multiple different hunting scenarios.  There just isn’t a bad set of binoculars in this comparison!  We have included binoculars that fit several different price points in order to capture the essence of today’s current line-up of user friendly, quality optics while keeping in mind each hunter may choose to spend differently when purchasing optics.


Included within each synopsis is a current online price comparison that will give readers an up to date price index of each binocular within in the comparison.  We have also comprised a small spreadsheet full of pertinent information for each model; use these mini spreadsheets to compare stats of each binocular to help make an informed choice when you are in the market to purchase a new pair.  Warranty information is listed as well as our genuine opinion of the optical quality of each model listed.


Please note that our clarity opinion is listed about each model throughout the comparison.  Clarity is perceived differently for each user and our opinion can only be used a guide when determining which binocular is right for you.  We all perceive clarity, brightness, and color rendition differently, therefore it is generally a good idea to take a pair of binoculars for a test drive before deciding which one is right for you.  This list is presented alphabetically for ease of use and to deter any preconceived notions of favoritism.  Granted, each of us here at the Hunting Channel Online has our preferences, in the name of journalistic objectivity however, we will keep this article about the perceptions of the field staff in regards to each model listed.


Leica Binoculars


When attention to detail meets some of the best glass on the planet, the result is Leica binoculars.  We are lucky to have had the chance to test both the 8×42 and 15×56 Geovid rangefinding models currently offered by Leica.  These are top tier binoculars that offer perceived clarity and color rendition almost unmatched by any other brand in the industry, they do however carry a price tag that matches those sentiments. We found the range finding capabilities of each of the models tested to surpass our expectations with quick readings at obscene distances under a variety of conditions.  The Geovid line is for the serious hunter that expects nothing but the best and demands a binocular that delivers ultimate performance.


Leica Geovid 8×42 HD-B


Stout (heavy) and ergonomic, the 8×42 Geovids are a spot and stalk hunters dream!  When closing in on an animal, there is no need to reach for a rangefinder once it has been re-located during your stalk.  Simply click the button, let down your Geovids, and aim with confidence!  The wide field of view and clear, crisp image offers hunters the ability to see clearly and range with ease at the same time.  We were impressed with how vivid colors were in the field of view as well as the supreme light transmission during low light periods. Simply put, these are top of the line binoculars built for serious hunters!

For your convenience, we have included an online price comparison.  Listed at just shy of $3000.00, these binoculars are for serious hunters who demand only supreme quality.


Leica Geovid 8×42 HD-B  
Magnification 8x
Objective Lens 42mm
Field of View @ 1000 yards 426.5 ft.
Eye Relief 18mm
Close Focus 16.4 ft.
Weight 32.8 oz.
Rangefinding Capabilities 2000 yd.

Leica Geovid 15×56 HD-R


Mounted on our Manfrotto tripod, the Geovid 15×56 binoculars are made for glassing for extended periods of time in unmatched comfort.  The color brightness, light transmission and edge to edge clarity will help hunters find more animals as long as they are proficient at glassing.  Among the most comfortable, and one of the clearest binoculars in this comparison, these binoculars speak for themselves in the field.  Once again the convenience of range finding capabilities truly compliments the Geovid 15×56’s making them ideal for spot and stalk hunters across the board.


We have included an online price comparison to aid in your search for these premium long range glassing binoculars.


Leica Geovid 15×56 HD-R  
Magnification 15x
Objective Lens 56mm
Field of View @ 1000 yards 325 ft.
Eye Relief 15.5mm
Close Focus 19.4 ft.
Weight 45.9 oz.
Rangefinding Capabilities 1400 yd.




Minox Binoculars


Often overlooked as a top tier binocular manufacturer, Minox offers some great glass for those looking for something a bit outside of their norm.  We found the perceived clarity on the 10×43 model tested to be on par with all other big rollers in the binocular game and believe hunters could surely benefit from the quality of color rendition and light transmission as they search for their trophy.  Both models tested come with the Minox Lifetime Total Coverage Warrantee. This protection alone is worth the price tag and will allow hunters to glass with confidence knowing Minox stands behind their product regardless of how damage may occur.


Minox 10×43 APO-HG


The German engineers at Minox have discovered a way to increase field of view without detracting from any of the other necessary features such as light transmission, clarity, and color rendition.  These top tier binoculars are a pleasure to use not only because they are extremely comfortable and fit a wide range of facial features, but the ED, fully coated glass makes picking apart the terrain almost effortless and free of eye strain. Perceived clarity through these binoculars was surprisingly clear and can be compared to any other binoculars in the high end market. Minox patented the Quick-Close-Focus and applied it to this series of binoculars which allows users to quickly change focus from very close to infinity without sacrificing a bit of clarity.  We conclude that the 10×43 APO-HG binocular from Minox will surely fit the bill for hunters everywhere allowing them to glass with confidence while using their high quality, fully protected Minox optics.


Check out this Online price comparison for the Minox 10×43 APO-HG. Retail pricing begins at just over $1600.00 for these attractive, user-friendly binoculars.


Minox 10×43 APO-HG  
Magnification 10x
Objective Lens Diameter 43 mm
Field of View @ 1000 yards 355 feet
Eye Relief 16.5 mm
Close Focus 8.2 ft.
Weight 25.6 oz.
Height x Width 6.5 x 5.2 in.

Minox BL 15×56


Although these German made 15×56 binoculars may not be in the same class as the high end optic brands, this binocular, in our opinion, is made for hunters in need of a good long range binocular at an economical price.  Although this model lacks ED glass, the perceived clarity is still better than other optics with a higher price tag. The BL 15×56 binoculars are good middle of the road glass that are priced right for those not wanting to break the bank to enter the glassing game.  For hunters looking to get a good set of binoculars that will allow them to glass for extended periods of time with little or no eye strain, this set will work greatly.  Just like other binoculars in the Minox line, the BL 15×56 also have fully coated lenses with 21 layers of high quality coatings to aid in light transmission and color depiction.  They also come with the Minox Lifetime Total Coverage Warrantee for worry free glassing.


Here is an Online price comparison for these easy to use, affordable binoculars.


Minox BL 15×56  
Magnification 15x
Objective Lens Diameter 56 mm
Exit pupil 3.7 mm
Field of View @ 1000 yards 234.6 ft.
Close Focus Distance 23 ft.
Eye relief 17.4 mm
Height x Width 7.7 x 5.7in.
Weight 38.1 oz.

Nikon Binoculars


Nikon binoculars have found their way into the arsenal (and hearts) of hunters throughout the globe. This optics giant offers good quality products at a competitive price allowing many hunters to get a decent glassing set-up without having to take out a loan. We had the privilege of testing two popular binocular models from Nikon’s Monarch 5 series, the 8×42’s and the 16×56’s.


Both models come with perceived clarity seemingly above their price point as well as comfortable eye cups and crisp color rendition.  The ED glass is multi coated which helps set the optical quality apart from lesser brands while delivering a nice crisp image for the user. The Limited Lifetime Warranty covers defects of materials or workmanship, but unlike other binocular companies this is not an “unconditional” warranty, but Nikon has been known to take care of their customers.


Nikon Monarch 5 10×42


Our first impression of these Monarch binoculars was how light they were! At a mere 20.8 ounces, these sleek, relatively compact binoculars seem as if they could be carried on a chest harness for days before realizing they are even there.  Their rubber coated frame not only feels great and is easy to grip, but will absorb shock if they inadvertently fall to the ground.  The rubber eyecups and adjustable frame make the Monarch 5 10×42 binoculars a good fit for almost all face configurations with or without the use of glasses.  The relatively low price point of the Monarch series binoculars make them easily attainable for nearly all hunters, therefore we conclude they are a good piece of glass for beginning or intermediate users who object to spending more for truly great glass.


Here is an online price comparison for your convenience.  Stop by your local sporting goods store to test drive these light, clear, inexpensive binoculars.





Monarch 5 8×42
Magnification 10x
Objective diameter 42mm
Field of view at 1,000 yards 330 ft.
Exit pupil (mm) 5.3
Eye relief (mm) 19.5
Close focusing distance 7.8 ft.
Length x Width 5.7 x 5.1
Weight 20.8 oz.


Nikon Monarch 5 16×56


When we obtained a pair of the 16×56 binoculars and mounted them on a Manfrotto tripod, everyone was pleasantly surprised with their usability! The comfortable fit and clear, crisp ED glass made glassing for extended periods of time enjoyable and worry free as we scrutinized the central Arizona landscape.  Once again, these binoculars are priced right for hunters who would rather not spend premium dollar for their glass, but offer quality above their price point.  Although the Monarch 5 16×56 binoculars may not be considered “top tier” binoculars, we conclude that hunters who are proficient at glassing should have no issues finding game while using a pair.


Check out this online price comparison to shop for these surprisingly clear, affordable long range binoculars.


MONARCH 5 16×56
Magnification 16x
Objective diameter 56mm
Field of view @ 1,000 yards 215 ft.
Exit pupil 3.5
Eye relief 16.4 mm
Close focusing distance 16.4 ft.
Length x Width 7.8 x 5.7 in.
Weight 43.4 oz.

Swarovski Binoculars


Often heralded as the best of the best, the SLC line we tested is just one notch below Swarovski’s premier EL models.  Make no mistake, the SLC binoculars in both the 8×42 and 15×56 configurations we tested offer supreme clarity and color brightness coupled with amazing light transmitting capabilities, in fact no other binocular in the comparison competed with the light gathering properties found within the Swarovski binoculars!  The SLC line is for hunters who have decided to take the next step by investing in not only great glass, but in their hunting ability and future as well.


Swarovski 8×42 SLC


These solidly built binoculars are housed in rubber armor to protect against abuse commonly dealt out while hunting.  They are not light by any means, at 28.5 oz., they are one of the heaviest sets of 8 power binoculars in the comparison. The weight issue is quickly overlooked once they were brought to our eyes. All of the necessary components of truly great glass are present within the 8×42 SLC’s and they are comfortable to use as well. It’s safe to say that these were a crowd favorite within our test group.


This online price comparison will help you find the best online deals for an amazing pair of these high end binoculars.

Swarovski 8×42 SLC  
Magnification        8x
Objective Lens      42m
Close Focus      10.5 ft.
Field of View @ 1000 yards      408 ft.
Eye Relief    18.5mm
Height/Width 2.5”x4.7”
Weight    28.5 oz.



Swarovski 15×56 SLC


These binoculars are built in the same fashion as their 8 power counterpart, stocky, tough and heavy. At 43.5 oz, they are suited for a home in your pack until deployed and placed on a sturdy tripod for a very complimentary glassing experience.  We used both the standard eyecups and the “winged” design during the comparison and believe each has its place in a glassing arsenal.  The 15×56 SLC binoculars are premier glass used by hunters throughout the globe who demand ultimate performance from their glassing set-up while keeping piece of mind that they are built to put up with the demands hunters place on their gear.


This online price comparison is here for you to shop with confidence when you’ve decided to take the plunge and purchase some of the best glassing binoculars on the planet.

Swarovski 15×56 SLC  
Magnification 15x
Objective Lens 56mm
Close Focus 12.8 ft.
Field of View @ 1000 yards 234 ft.
Eye Relief 16mm
Length x Width 7.56 x 5.5 in.
Weight 43.5 oz.

Vortex Binoculars


Having been in the optics game for just over a decade, Vortex optics offer their customers a wide range of binoculars in a variety of styles and price points.  They also have the best warranty in the optics industry, unconditional lifetime!  We chose to try out a couple of the more popular binoculars we feel will accentuate most glassing arsenals quite nicely, the Viper 10×42 HD and the super popular Kiabab 15×56 HD.  Both sets have amazing clarity, are easy to use and come with a moderate price tag considering the quality of glass.


Vortex Viper 10×42 HD


These binoculars come packed with features that will help you find more game.  The color fidelity and resolution alone will help hunters distinguish the minute details of game and their slight movements through the brush.  The rugged design is built to take a beating in the sometimes harsh environments hunters face while pursuing their passion. The Viper 10×42 HD binoculars are light and compact enough to carry an entire hunt without seeming cumbersome, a great benefit considering all of the gear todays hunters take to the field.  For hunters looking for clear glass, a compact design and rugged construction at a moderate price point turn to the Viper HD line for your next optics purchase.


Here is the online price comparison to help you in your purchasing decision. Even if you have decided to purchase only high end binoculars, you may be surprised with the Viper HD line and what they offer hunters at a fraction of the price.


Vortex Viper 10×42 HD  
Magnification 10x
Objective Lens 42mm
Close Focus 5.1 ft.
Field of View @ 1000 yards 319 ft.
Eye Relief 16.5mm
Length x Width 5.8 x 5.3 in.
Weight 24.6


Vortex Kiabab 15×56 HD


The Kiabab series from Vortex has really taken off out west where glassing is the preferred method of hunting the “big country” where game is generally found.  These clear, high definition binoculars offer superior color rendition at all ranges and allow hunters to glass with confidence at obscene distances knowing the fully coated HD glass will allow them to do so.  The Kiabab 15×56 binoculars aren’t necessarily “budget glass” but come at a more affordable price point than some of the other large glassing binoculars.  It is worth your time to check out a pair if you are in the market for premium long range binoculars that are a bit more affordable than their competition.

An online price comparison is available for you to peruse prices across the web when shopping for these clear, bright long range binoculars.


Vortex Kiabab 15×56 HD  
Magnification 15x
Objective Lens 56mm
Close Focus 23 ft.
Field of View @ 1000 yards 215 ft.
Eye Relief 15mm
Height x Width 7.7 x 5.7 in.
Weight 43.5 oz.



Zeiss Binoculars


We chose to review the Conquest line from optics giant Zeiss.  This company has been producing top quality optics for well over 100 years and has this game down to a science.  The 10×42 HD and the 15×56 HD are well suited for hunters who demand clarity, color brightness and an ergonomic feel at a reasonable price point.  Both models tested contain multi coated HD glass and are serious competitors with even the most expensive binoculars in this review.  Backed by a Lifetime “No Fault” warranty, hunters can use Zeiss products with confidence in knowing this company truly stands by their products.


Zeiss Conquest HD 10×42


The ergonomics of this compact binocular surprised us right away and made for comfortable glassing with the light yet durable construction.  The perceived clarity was also top notch, especially for binoculars without a top end price tag.  The ease of use was noticed by all during the test, we noted great eye cup design and quick focusing adjustments as well. The Conquest HD 10×42 binoculars from Zeiss will accentuate the discriminating hunters gear nicely allowing hunters to focus on the task at hand by letting the binoculars take care of the rest.


The online price comparison will aid in your search for these comfortable, clear binoculars that are very easy to use.

Zeiss Conquest HD 10×42  
Magnification 10x
Objective Lens 42mm
Close Focus 6.5 ft.
Field of View @ 1000 yards 345 ft.
Eye Relief 17mm
Height x Width 6.5 x 4.7 in.
Weight 28 oz.


Zeiss Conquest HD 15×56


Mounted on top of our Manfrotto test tripod, we were content and comfortable behind the Conquest HD 15×56.  When serious hunters need long range binoculars that offer everything the most expensive models offer, the Conquest HD 15×56 get the nod as a major competitor.  We noticed the brightness and color rendition were each above the price point and liked the comfortable feel of the eye cups as well.  All things considered, the Zeiss Conquest HD 15×56 binoculars are right at home in the pack and tripod of western hunters in need of a binocular that works well and is easy to use.


The online price comparison will show you where to get the best online deal for these serious competitors in the long range glassing game.


Zeiss Conquest HD 15×56  
Magnification 15x
Objective Lens 56mm
Close Focus 11.45 ft.
Field of View @ 1000 yards 240 ft.
Eye Relief 18mm
Height x Width 8.27 x 5.7 in.
Weight 45.7 oz

Final Thoughts


Our staff here at the Hunting Channel Online considers ourselves very fortunate to have had the opportunity to review these hunting binoculars side by side.  Although we hand-picked models we believe will benefit hunters in the field, we tried to choose specific models with a variety of price points hoping to include something for everyone.  We strongly urge hunters to spend a bit more than they feel necessary when purchasing optics for hunting to negate any buyer’s remorse after the purchase.  Please use this optics comparison as a guideline in making your next glassing optics purchase; hopefully we have taken some of the guesswork out of the equation for you. Good luck out there and happy glassing!


OK OK OK, I know its a  little frustrating because we didn’t tell you our favorites so I will give you a brief run down of who I loved… For me hands down price point meets quality and overall functionality I am a huge fan of the 15×56 SLC for my big glassing binos and but if I couldn’t afford the SLC… I would go with the Nikon 16×56 I was really impressed the Nikon I feel they are a better choice than the vortex and at cheaper price point….. but that’s all I’m saying…..