Years ago when I was the digital media director for an ABC affiliate, one of the vice presidents asked me if I had ever left or read reviews on products I had seen online. Of course I was aware of such reviews, but at that time really hadn’t given them much consideration. There wasn’t a lot of online product commenting back then, as ordinary folks had not quite caught on to the value or power of those short reviews from actual customers.
Today, I can’t think of buying something without looking at comments and when I see ones for binoculars that read, for example, “these are absolutely great for the cost,” “clarity is beyond expectations” and “they are a nice size, strong, inexpensive and have great glass,” it gets my attention. Those are verbatim just some of the review comments on Amazon from customers who have bought Bushnell’s Legend Series binoculars.
There are three series in the Legend line–E, L and M–with more premium features and higher quality as you progress through the alphabetical designations with E being the base model and M having all of the bells and whistles. SCI recently had the opportunity to field test a Legend M-Series in 10×42 to see if the product lives up to its Amazon rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars.
On first handling the binocular, you can literally feel that they’re physically very solid and, at just over 26 ounces, not terribly heavy. Weight is controlled in part by using a magnesium chassis that is lighter than aluminum, but gives up nothing in the way of strength. Also helping to control weight is a sturdy open bridge design that provides between 2 3/16 and 2 15/16 interpupillary distance to accommodate different width faces.
Twist up eyecups have two settings for eye relief with or without glasses and the center focus knob is large and ribbed for easy adjustment, even when wearing gloves. A rubberized coating provides a secure grip and some impact protection should you drop the Legend.
Premium mechanical features include a locking diopter ring on the right barrel so you can set your individual focus and forget about it getting knocked out of adjustment. Many premium binoculars have a +/- graduated diopter scale that’s consistent from one brand to another meaning if you’re +1 on “Brand A” you should also be +1 on “Brand B.” The Legend does not have such a scale, but since the adjustment locks and this is a one-time setting, it shouldn’t be a big deal unless several people are sharing a single binocular.
A screw-on endcap at the front of the bridge is removable so you can mount the binocular to a tripod using an aftermarket adapter for extended hands-free viewing.
Optically, there are a lot of advanced features with the ED Prime glass being among the most noteworthy. ED stands for Extra-low Dispersion fluorite glass and its use eliminates color fringing, or chromatic aberration, on L- and M-Series. Color fringing is an effect resulting from dispersion in which there is a failure of a lens to focus all colors to the same convergence point and is usually seen as a “rainbow” edge in areas of high contrast.
Another advanced optical feature is dielectric prism coating instead of aluminum or silver. Inside a binocular are reflective prisms that bounce the image back and forth effectively creating more “distance” between the objective and ocular lenses without the binocular having to be ungainly long. At the risk of overly simplifying things, every time an image passes through a lens or off of a surface, it loses some brightness to reflection and refraction. Coatings reduce such loss, and on the M-Series, the dielectric prism coating combined with the fully multi-coated lenses and ED Prime glass result in 92 percent light transmission for a bright image even in low light.
We had the opportunity to field test the Legend M-Series recently while on a plains game safari with Jamy Traut in Namibia. There, we subjected the binoculars to the usual bumps of a hunt plus everything from the fine Kalahari sand that gets into everything to an unseasonal downpour. Early mornings and late evenings had us seeking out game in low light, and the brightness of the midday Namibian sun rivals that of the Sonoran Desert at SCI Headquarters in Tucson, Arizona.
Physically, the Legend M-Series held up well. There were times when we had to belly crawl with the binocular taking the brunt of that abuse and, as expected, the fine red sand made its way into the hinge and eyecups. Even so, it never disabled either of those and a quick blast from an air hose is all it took to completely clean things out.
At some point, one of the objective lens covers disappeared and not having it, combined with using the binoculars as a rest for a prone shot, resulted in visible scratches on one of the lenses. The scratches weren’t noticeable when looking through the binocular, even when looking toward bright sunlight.
Optically, there were two minor issues. There is some pincushion distortion, meaning that toward the edge of the field of view the image appears to bend inward. For all practical purposes, that is a non-issue because it was really only noticeable at very close focus distances—and I’m talking objects only feet away. The other was that the lenses have a “sweet spot,” meaning that while the majority of the image is in focus throughout the field of view, the outermost edges are slightly not. As with the pincushion distortion, this is in large part a non-issue that most hunters won’t even notice.
One Amazon comment that really struck me read, “best pair of binoculars for the price on the market.” Clearly there are higher end binoculars that cost a lot more than the $320 the Bushnell Legend M-Series goes for, and it’s reasonable to assume the commenter hasn’t really tried all of the binos in that price range on the market. All that taken into consideration, though, it’s safe to say that the Legend M-Series gives you a lot for the money.–Scott Mayer
- Dielectric Coating
- Ultra Wide Band coating
- RainGuard HD water-repellent lens coating
- Lead-Free glass
- Ultra wide field-of-view
- Long eye relief
- Lightweight, magnesium chassis
- Locking diopter
- Improved eyecup resistance
- Includes carrying case, enhanced objective covers, neck strap and microfiber lens cloth
- Power: 10x 42mm (8x42mm also available)
- Close Focus: 8 ft./1.9m
- PC-3 Phase Coating: Yes
- Lens Coating: Fully-Multi Coated
- Field of View: 340ft@1000yds/113m@1000m
- Adapt to Tripod: Yes
- Eyecups: Twist-Up
- Locking Diopter: Yes
- Eye Relief: 22mm
- Focus System: Center
- Exit Pupil: 4.2mm
- Prism Glass: BaK-4
- Water/Fog Proof: Yes
- Nitrogen Purged: Yes
- Prism System: Roof
- Length: 6.5 inches/165.1mm
- Weight: 26.5 ounces/751 grams
- Size Class: Standard