Can you see?
An essential element for successful hunting is a great set of binoculars. It may seem strange to those who have never purchased binoculars before, but it takes research and knowledge to secure a quality pair. Over the years as technology has improved, so have binoculars. A quality pair of binoculars will provide greater clarity and last longer than a cheap pair. However, with so many options to choose from it can be difficult to determine which is best for you. Therefore, we picked some top end brands, Swarovski EL, Leica Ultravid HD-Plus, Vortex Razor HD and Maven B.1, and put them to the test comparing different elements such as clarity, visibility, weight and price to help you decide which one is right for you.
What you see can literally make or break your hunt....
While testing all these products over the course of a few months, we started to realize the strengths of each individual brand. One factor that stood out was clarity, which is crucial in determining a quality set of binoculars. To test clarity, we took each binocular and mounted them on a tripod with a mirrorless camera mounted on another tripod. Then we took a picture using the same settings (F/4 9mm 1/3200 sec ISO 6400).
The ISO is high but the pictures were taken early in the morning creating a low light situation. The images have been cropped, however there was no other editing or enhancing of the photos. Look close at the AVID on the hat and the yellow flowers to see which pictures were the sharpest, to give an indication of the clarity of each binocular.
Swarovski EL 10X42
The EL binoculars by SWAROVSKI OPTIK marked a milestone in long-range optics. The crystal clear optics provided by SWAROVISION technology enables a hunter to make the right decision in almost any hunting situation. The 10x42 EL’s have a very solid feel. The high quality glass provided by Swarovski is top of the line. The Swarovski EL’s really are hard to beat, and in our opinion you get what you pay for when it comes to them. These binoculars were not the heaviest in our group but they were a close second. Although the price may seem intimidating, these are a high quality product and worth the investment.
Swarovski EL 10x42
Exit pupil diameter (mm)
Exit pupil distance (eye relief) (mm)
Field of view (ft/1000 yds / m/1000 m)
336 / 112
Field of view
Width approx. (in / mm)**
5.2 / 131
Length approx. (in / mm)*
6.3 / 160
Weight approx. (oz / g)
Vortex Razor HD 10X50
Razor HDs step up and out on other binoculars in their class. Small, light, bright, strong, and packed with superior quality. The hand selected prisms and premium HD extra-low dispersion glass are among the best available today. Vortex Razor’s clarity and brightness does not match up to the Leica Ultravid HD Plus or the Swarovski EL’s but the weight was considerably lighter. We tested the 10x50 model and they were still 1.5oz lighter than the Swarovski EL’s. Price is also very reasonable considering this is the most expensive model available by Vortex and includes the lifetime Vortex warranty. The Vortex VIP unconditional lifetime warranty has a proven track record by consistently following through with their customers making the Vortex Razor a worthwhile investment.
VORTEX RAZOR HD 10X50
Linear Field of View
315 feet/1000 yards
Maven B.1 10X42
The new kid on the block has introduced the B series binoculars. These are unique from the rest in that they are customized to fit individual needs. Maven’s B1’s are the cheapest in our group however they still offer a good low light performance and edge-to-edge clarity. Clarity and brightness does not compare to the Leica Ultravid HD Plus or the Swarovski EL but it is similar to the Vortex Razor. As for weight, they come in at our heaviest pair and the pair we tested also had a very stiff focus adjustment. However, the Maven B.1 is backed by an unconditional lifetime warranty. The warranty also covers all the customized options. For the price they are a deal with a lot to offer.
MAVEN B1 10x42
Field of view (ft/1000 yds)
Leica Ultravid HD-Plus 10X42
The Leica Ultravid HD-Plus series is a precise combination of state of the art technology, new coating processes, and innovative glass materials. The Ultravid 10X42HD-Plus series are among the most compact binoculars available on the market in their class. In addition, their light-gathering power can compete with the larger 50mm models on the market. The Leica Ultravid HD plus has the whole package. Arguably, Leica offers the best edge-to-edge clarity, while still being the smallest and lightest in our group.
LEICA ULTRAVID HD PLUS 10X42
Field of view at 1,000 yds
112 m / 336 ft
Dimensions 4 3⁄4 x 5 3⁄4 x 2 3⁄4 in
In our conclusion you get what you pay for. If you want the brightest with the best edge-to-edge clarity then go with Swarovski or Leica. If money is a concern but you want something that is a step up from the mid-level binoculars and has an unconditional warranty go with Vortex or Maven. While neither Swarovski nor Leica offer the proven warranty system Vortex has, they do stand behind their product and take care of their customers. These companies just have more strict policies to weed out any that would take advantage of the system. Ultimately the choice is up to you, and while there are some other brands out there that could potentially have good optics, this group we have tested is our favorite, and you really can’t go wrong with any of these four.