Bushnell has a very varied catalog of binoculars with a market historically dedicated to hunters, whose most popular lens diameter is between 40 and 42 millimeters.
The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 is placed exactly in this caliber of binoculars with a price that corresponds to the mid-range segment.
It’s a roof-prism pair from Schmidt-Pechan, which incorporates several optical innovations, such as ED (ultra-low dispersion) glasses, full multi-coating of the lenses, and Bushnell’s “RainGuard HD” hydrophobic coating.
Find out through this review if the performance of this model is worth its price.
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 Review
- Magnification: 10
- Lens diameter (mm): 42
- Perceived linear field at 1000 meters (m): 113
- Brightness index: 17.6
- Exit pupil (mm): 4.2
- Eye relief (mm): 15.2
- Minimum focusing distance (m): 1.9
- Dimensions (mm): 175x137x62
- Weight (g): 639
- Interpupillary distance (mm): 58 -75
- Type of prisms: Roof
- Chassis quality and magnesium construction
- Good correction of chromatic aberrations
- Moderate astigmatism
- Not many coma aberrations
- Extended field of view that provides great panoramas
- Perfectly circular exit pupil
- Good quality BaK-4 prisms
- Brightness is a little worse than average
- Color rendering is not completely neutral
- Pronounced loss of sharpness in the periphery of the visual field
- Eye relief is a bit weak
Image Quality and Ergonomics
Bushnell almost went flawless with its Legend Ultra HD 10×42. Thanks to the use of ultra-low dispersion ED glasses, no color fringing is perceived at the edges of objects. This is a fairly rare advantage for binoculars sold for less than $300.
The coma aberrations are also quite weak. They appear only on the last outer quarter of the visual field. Their low intensity will allow for obtaining a good definition of stars and planets. Astigmatism defects are well corrected while moderate distortion is visible at the periphery of the field of vision.
The main problem here is that the image suffers a loss of sharpness over the entire last outer third of the image compared to the center.
By reducing the size of the tubes and therefore of the optical components, a compromise on the image quality at the periphery has been made. The lenses become sensitive to spherical aberrations which cause this decrease. It’s a shame since the sharpness is really good in the center.
The image retains excellent resolution with high detail precision.
Medium brightness but perfect circular exit pupil
Brightness is as important as sharpness since it is the light rays that create the image. The maximum light transmission reaches 82%. It’s not a particularly high value, but it’s not bad either.
The color rendering is not totally neutral: the blue tones are less intense than the other shades, which gives a weak yellow/orange tint to the image.
The lenses capture less light on their edges, which slightly weakens the brightness at the periphery of the field of vision.
On the other hand, there is no perceptible vignetting: the exit pupil is perfectly circular. This is the result of the quality of the BaK-4 prisms; a high-reflectivity dielectric coating.
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42s will have the best potential in open. The lenses benefit from a complete multi-layer treatment which limits the loss of light between each glass. Bushnell gives no indication of the quality of the coating applied, but it would seem that not all surfaces are fully treated.
Quick and easy focus
Focusing is done via a wheel located between the two eyecups. Its inertia is quite high and requires a little effort to turn. In some places, you feel some additional friction in the rotation mechanism, which is not problematic.
The focus range is 560 degrees or about one and a half turns. This leaves plenty of room for precise focusing without losing speed.
The diopter correction is done by turning a ring located under the right eyecup. The adjustment of visual acuity between the two eyes is done without difficulty. Once set correctly, the diopter correction does not need to be readjusted between two uses.
Note that it is the outer part of the mechanism that moves during adjustment, which may make it a little more sensitive to dust.
The eyecups are extendable and suitable for wearing glasses. The 15.2mm eye relief is less than on other 10×42 binoculars. You will need to concentrate more in order to perceive the entire field of vision if you wear very thick lenses.
Ergonomic and quite light
The dimensions of the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 are standard for their caliber. The frame of the binoculars is wrapped in a rubber coating which provides better grip on the hands.
The center of the binoculars has a hollow shape to allow more room for the fingers, and the eyecups are very comfortable to the touch on the face.
The frame of the binoculars is made from magnesium, which considerably reduces its weight, reaching only 638 grams. This is an advantage for long-duration observations where arm fatigue complicates image stabilization. You can also mount the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 on a tripod by using an adapter (not included in the package).
A fixing hole is provided for this purpose, on the front of the pair. Otherwise, a lanyard will attach the binoculars around the neck.
Very good quality components
Bushnell has made the bet to build quality binoculars and as such offers a 30-year warranty on its Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42. The rubber coating around the tubes provides protection against bumps and drops. It doesn’t get sticky when exposed to heat like other binoculars sometimes do.
The collimation of the tubes is perfect and their inner surfaces do not reflect light which can cause glare. The use of magnesium for the manufacture of the chassis, and not a polycarbonate/steel mix, is a characteristic normally reserved for premium models, which is synonymous with quality.
On the sealing side, the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD is equipped with O-rings at the ends of each tube. According to Bushnell, this gives them water resistance for 30 minutes up to a maximum depth of 1 meter.
The lenses have received the hydrophobic “RainGuard” treatment, which prevents raindrops from stagnating on the lenses and reducing image quality. The tubes are filled with nitrogen, to prevent internal moisture from fogging up.
The package contains a padded strap, a Cordura storage case, a microfiber cloth to wipe the lenses, and a protective cap for the outer lenses. The accessories have no special feature, they fulfill their role well. The protections remain in place once fitted, which is not always the case on other models.
Very short minimum focusing distance
The design of the optical components makes it possible to achieve a very short minimum focusing distance of only 1.9 meters. This is an excellent score, which will allow you to get very close to your target while maintaining a high quality of focus.
Large visual field
The visual field is 113 meters wide at 1000 meters distance. This is a higher than average value, which will give you extended panoramas. The advantage of having a wider field of vision is to be able to identify events that occur on the periphery, such as the passage of a bird or an animal for example.
What activities are the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 made for?
Several activities are ideal for using the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42. It is a pair dedicated primarily to ornithology and animal observation, but it can also be used for marine use. Their compact size makes them suitable binoculars for hiking or traveling.
For stargazing, a pair of binoculars with better brightness will be a better choice. It will not be impossible to observe the moon or certain constellations, but it will be more difficult for the lenses to maintain good light transmission. Likewise, the perception of details at dusk will be more complicated.
With its Legend Ultra HD 10×42, Bushnell has almost succeeded in offering binoculars that are both comfortable and have excellent optical performance. Chromatic aberrations are low and comas are moderate from the center to the edge of the field of view. Astigmatism defects are well corrected and the exit pupil is perfectly circular, which gives the image a high level of detail.
Unfortunately, the sharpness is not homogeneous. This decreases very quickly around the field of vision, which does not necessarily allow you to take advantage of all of it. The light transmission is quite average and the blue tones are less intense than the other colors.
In short, it is a pair that we will use especially during the day. Overall, we think the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42s are good value for money, although better alternatives exist.
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