Bushnell Legend Ultra-HD 8x42 Binoculars
Bushnell has released a new level of binocular for the dollar in their Legend series, essentially holding the price, bettering the glass, and lowering the weight. If this sounds like quite an accomplishment, it is. Let's take a look at how the new Legend Ultra-HD 8x42 #198042 compares to the 8x32 Legend Model I tested back in 2005:
In that 2005 “Waterproof Binocular Round-up” the search was for glass for the dollar and it was actually the larger, bulkier Bushnell Legend 10 x 50mm porro prism units that won the day. Naturally, the bulk of any porro prism binoculars can be considered as less than ideal in the field for some.
Erin Boyd reviewed the “older” Bushnell Legend 8 x 42 binoculars in 2005 on Guns & Shooting Online, finding at that time they compared very favorably to a pricier pair of Minox binoculars. That Legend unit weighed 30.1 ounces and had a 330 ft. field of view at 1000 yards.
In 2006 in yet another review, weight was discussed along with street prices of several 8 x 42mm binocular sets: Looking at other 8 x 42 binos: $748 Kahles units came in at 26.1 ounces, $1644 Leica Ultravids are 27 ounces, $949 Leupold Golden Rings are 29.5 ounces, $1199 Nikon Premier LXL units are 28 ounces, $739 Steiner Predator Premiers are 24 ounces, $899 Zeiss Conquests (8x40) are 29 ounces, and the $1449 Zeiss Victory FL units are 26.5 ounces. Even the $1499 Swarovski EL (8x32) units, despite the smaller objective lenses, are 21.5 ounces. The noted prices here are all 2006 street prices.
The list of improvements as found in these new units just grow and grow. The new Legend Ultra-HD units offer a greatly increased field of view over their classic units and more to the point beats out the competition. The new magnesium frame allows the new Legends to beat out most $1000 dollar (and higher) sets of binoculars in the weight department and are more than twenty-five percent lighter than the units they displace. Looking up the street price of Nikon 8 x 42 Premiers, I found they are running at about $1200, are heavier at 28 ounces, and have a tiny field of view (267 ft. @ 1000 yards) compared to these Bushnell Ultra-HD units. Nikon ED glass units (Nikon 8 x 42 EDG) run $1900 street price, weigh 28.6 ounces, and still have a somewhat inferior field of view compared to these Bushnell units at 403 ft. @ 100 yards.
Setting up my usual array of signs and charts before day-break, I compared the Legend Ultra-HD to several other sets of binoculars that were all far more expensive. What was readily apparent that the Ultra-HD is an amazingly competent set of optics, with noticeably better field of view and lighter weight than most. Image quality and color rendition is superb, with no aberrations I could detect. In the afternoon, it was time to head to the field to see how it did in the middle of December grass and still-standing corn as the sun went down.
This is a case of discerning between straw-colored and slightly darker straw-colored as well as tan and “very tan” shades and hues. The color accuracy and resolution of the Legend Ultra H-D unit is superb. There may be ways to further define binocular performance, but that would be something a machine could possibly register, not adult human eyes.
Price is the thing that you pay, but value is what you get. Directly put, the Bushnell Legend Ultra-HD 8 x 42 binoculars are the greatest value I have ever seen in modern hunting binoculars. They are water-proof, have the latest generation of Bushnell Rainguard, and have a current street price of under three hundred dollars. Nothing I have ever seen in this price bracket is remotely as good. It is a tremendous accomplishment by Bushnell that will leave many people wondering why $1000 optics are not as good. See for yourself: they are truly amazing.
Copyright 2009 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.