Binoculars are one of those critical tools that have not changed significantly over the last hundred years. Gains have been made in optical clarity and light transmission, but the basic function of the binocular has remained the same over the years. Leupold's switch power design is one of those simple changes that will alter how you think about and use binoculars.
Leupold Golden Ring 7/12x32mm Switch Power Binoculars
Today most hunters either purchase or use a variable power rifle scope. This wasn't the case even 20 years ago. Variable power rifle scopes have come to dominate scope sales because they solve the problem of having too much power close in and not enough power far away. The same problem in binoculars has vexed hunters for years.
The problem with binoculars is what power to use. 7-8 power is usually the most comfortable on the eyes for most people. This is because the 7-8 power range offers a large field of view and is less susceptible to the shakiness imparted by the hands holding the binoculars. To be sure, the tremors are still there but 7-8 power seems to be below the threshold where most people detect the small movements. This makes a 7-8 power an excellent choice for long days of scanning and glassing through your binoculars.
However over the last few years we have seen binocular designs stretching into the 12-15x power category with larger objective lens. These higher power binoculars offer superb resolution and can help to more quickly pick out detail, such as for instance the number of points on a rack or the number of bucks in a herd. The problem with these high power binoculars is that they are not particularly enjoyable to glass with for hours on end. Hand tremors can make the image shaky thus reducing the perceived clarity. Furthermore the higher magnification reduces the overall field of view requiring more back and forth motion to glass a given area.
Leupold's switch power design attempts to bridge the gap between low power comfort and the utility of higher magnification. The Switch Power Technology has a simple switch that allows you to flip between low and high magnification, otherwise the binoculars operate in pretty much the same manner as most other binoculars. It's worth noting that Leica also has a switch power bino on the market under the Duovid name.
We decided to review the Golden Ring 7/12x32mm Switch Power binoculars. Leupold offers a higher power 10/17x42mm version of the switch power as well. Our test binoculars came with a carrying case, neck strap, bino strap, a set of twist in eye cups, along with standard ocular covers. The switch powers are also covered by a lifetime warranty. Street price on our test unit is around $950.
The 7/12x32mm has a field of view of 376 ft at 1000 yards which works out to be 7.2 degrees. The weight is about 22 oz. and the overall size is, while not compact, a bit smaller than other 32mm objective binoculars on the market. The binos are surprisingly light and smaller than we expected, which has both up sides and down sides as we'll discuss in a bit.
The clarity and contrast of the switch powers is excellent and comparable to other $900 binoculars currently on the market. However clarity is not going to compete with models that are several hundred dollars more, but they are close. In other words, hunters should be more than satisfied with the image quality of the switch powers, but bird watchers will probably want more.
The binos are simple to setup and adjust with the diopter on the right eye. You can also easily fold the binoculars to fit your interpupillary (eye-to-eye) distance, although the binos do not have a lock on the barrel to keep the interpupillary distance the same over time. The switch power toggle happens to occur at the same place that a normal golden ring binocular would have the lock. The ocular protector is not very useful because it does not tightly fit on the binoculars, but if you intend to use the eye cups the ocular protector cannot be used.
Ocular view, notice that the outside of the ocular unscrews
so you can screw in eye cups or replace damaged ocular guards.
The switch power works smoothly, you simply scan on the lower power, then when you want to switch to higher power you simply toggle the switch. The toggle makes a soft clicking sound and then you're set to high power. When switching power the binos also hold focus, which is nice because you don't have to spend more time focusing at the changed power. When afield we found ourselves mostly just using the low power setting and only jumping up to the higher power when wanting to "zoom-in" on a specific object.
The switch is on the top and set at 7x.
The switch set to 12x power.
The switch powers are light as we mentioned above which seems to be a common trend in hunting gear. The light weight makes them easy to carry in the hands, on the neck strap, or locked into a bino strap. The only big downside is that light weight makes it easier for hand jitter to creep into the clarity when on high power. Given that you can always brace your arms against something to stabilize the image, most hunters will find the light weight a bonus.
In conclusion, the golden ring switch power binoculars should be a useful tool for most hunters. The optical quality is good and the ability to switch between high and low power makes them highly useful when scanning the great wide open and then focusing in on specific objects.
For more information about Leupold Golden Ring Switch Power Binoculars visit www.leupold.com .