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View Poll Results: Which is better for low light?
Zeiss Terra Rifle Scope 3-9x 42mm Plex Reticle Matte ($399) 25 36.76%
Nikon MONARCH 3 Rifle Scope 2.5-10x 42mm ($399) 13 19.12%
Leupold VX-3 Rifle Scope 3.5-10x 40mm Duplex Reticle Matte ($479) 30 44.12%
Voters: 68. You may not vote on this poll

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Old October 23, 2013, 09:06 PM   #1
BigHutch
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Zeiss, Nikon, Leupold? Low light scope.

Looking for a scope that is better than my Prostaff, Buckmasters, Fullfield, VX2... Out of these three which would be best for low light situations?

Zeiss Terra Rifle Scope 3-9x 42mm Plex Reticle Matte ($399)
http://www.midwayusa.com/product/940...-reticle-matte

Nikon MONARCH 3 Rifle Scope 2.5-10x 42mm ($399)
http://www.midwayusa.com/product/132...pe-25-10x-42mm

Leupold VX-3 Rifle Scope 3.5-10x 40mm Duplex Reticle Matte ($479)
http://www.midwayusa.com/product/130...-reticle-matte
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Old October 23, 2013, 09:28 PM   #2
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Unquestionably the Zeiss, if they are still using the same German Schott Glass as in the Conquest.
I replaced my Leupold with a Conquest, in the last few minutes of daylight, it makes quite a difference.
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Old October 24, 2013, 07:21 AM   #3
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All things being equal I'd go with the Zeiss.

Check the exit pupil & relative light transmission to confirm though as the different mag & objective diameter will come into play as well.
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Old October 24, 2013, 08:29 AM   #4
AllenJ
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BigHutch, if you're worried about low light situations why look at 40mm obj? I only ask because some of the people I hunt with have 50mm scopes and they say it makes a huge difference in low light.
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Old October 24, 2013, 09:10 AM   #5
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Exit pupil is the limiting factor. Assuming good glass and coatings a 4mm exit pupil is the standard for the most light to the eye. Anything more is simply lost as the eye cannot receive it.

I bought a VXIII for my best friend last year and I have to say it is simply fantastic.
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Old October 24, 2013, 10:26 AM   #6
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I haven't tried the new Ziess Terra but I'd imagine it is a very good scope. I used an old Ziess Conquest 3-9X40 for awhile and traded it in on a VX-III 2.5-8X36. I can tell you with either one I was able to see and probably still shoot game before and after legal hunting times with either scope.

The thing for me was weight savings and overall size of the scope, as I find the 2.5-8X36 does everything I need it to in a hunting scope. I realize 4oz isn't much of a weight savings, but it also allowed for a lower profile overall for my hunting rifles. All three scopes are good quality scopes and I wouldn't be afraid to put any on my rifles, but given the choice I'll pick Leupold almost every time for the above stated reasons.

I just took my VX3 3.5-10X40 CDS out yesterday and shot it for the first time. The scope tracked better than the older Vari-XIII 2.5-8X36 and the Vortex Viper 2-7X32 that I fired yesterday as well. However the surprise scope of the day was a used Burris Fullfield (not FFII) gloss scope I used on my .300 Savage. It tracked every bit as well as my VX3 and were the fastest two scopes to get zeroed. Of course shooting from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm at the range won't test the light gathering capabilities of the scope, but it's a Leupold so I have faith in it already.
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Old October 24, 2013, 10:58 AM   #7
silvrjeepr
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Zeiss, Nikon, Leupold? Low light scope.

I can hunt and shoot by moon light with my conquest 3-9 x40. I can't ask for more than that. I would hope the Terra's are as good, but I haven't had my hands on one other than in the store. I know the conquest HD5's have a hydrophobic coating like the Bushnell rainguard and are getting very positive reviews.
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Old October 24, 2013, 10:59 AM   #8
wogpotter
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Quote:
Exit pupil is the limiting factor. Assuming good glass and coatings a 4mm exit pupil is the standard for the most light to the eye. Anything more is simply lost as the eye cannot receive it.
I've heard its closer to 8~9m. Relative light transmission matters as well. sending 1/2 as much light through the same exit pupil is way dimmer.

Quote:
In bright light, the human pupil has a diameter of about 1.5 millimeters, in dim light the diameter is enlarged to about 8 millimeters.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/p/pupil.htm

Incidentally you can do a quick & dirty calculation by dividing the effective objective lens diameter by the magnification. based on that alone & ignoring everything else the Nikon would be brightest, but only at the lower 2.5X power.
(42/2.5= 16.8), as opposed to the Zeiss' 3X (42/3.0= 14)
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Old October 24, 2013, 11:00 AM   #9
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Zeiss, Nikon, Leupold? Low light scope.

By the way... Check out swfa. They have awesome pricing and fast shipping.
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Old October 24, 2013, 11:02 AM   #10
silvrjeepr
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Zeiss, Nikon, Leupold? Low light scope.

Wogpotter, while the exit pupil can have an effect, glass clarity and coatings make all the difference in the brightness of a scope.
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Old October 24, 2013, 11:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
BigHutch, if you're worried about low light situations why look at 40mm obj? I only ask because some of the people I hunt with have 50mm scopes and they say it makes a huge difference in low light.
I thought about that and just don't really want a big Objective (50+), trying to keep it as compact as possible and low profile. Another possibility is the one below.

ZEISS 3.5-10X44 CONQUEST SCOPE MATTE #20 Z-PLEX BRAND NEW $489.95
http://www.ebay.com/itm/ZEISS-3-5-10...item53ff8a37f8


Thanks for the replies and thoughts guys.
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Old October 24, 2013, 12:58 PM   #12
myfriendis410
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My VXII 4-12 X 40 is bright enough to see the crosshairs (and whatever I'm looking at) well beyond legal shooting light. And, my eyes are 55 years old.
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Old October 24, 2013, 02:52 PM   #13
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''I thought about that and just don't really want a big Objective (50+), trying to keep it as compact as possible and low profile. Another possibility is the one below.

ZEISS 3.5-10X44 CONQUEST SCOPE MATTE #20 Z-PLEX BRAND NEW $489.95''

That's a good price for a scope with superior optics to the others mentioned, the size of the objective lens is not as meaningful as the glass quality.
Outside the worlds of opinion & brand loyalty, the Zeiss is measurably brighter, sharper & has better contrast.
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Old October 24, 2013, 03:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Wogpotter, while the exit pupil can have an effect, glass clarity and coatings make all the difference in the brightness of a scope.
I agree that's another reason I went with the Zeiss. I have one & it beats the heck out of everything else I own.

Having said that though. We're specifically talking poor/low light here & in that case you need the big exit pupil as your eye has opened up quite a bit, but will be effectively closed back down by a too small exit pupil. Think of it this way if the exit pupil is only 4mm & your eye has opened up to 7mm you wasted the other 3mm because its looking at black.
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Old October 24, 2013, 03:30 PM   #15
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Zeiss is my choice and Leupold isn't even a close second.
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Old October 24, 2013, 05:56 PM   #16
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I voted for the Leupold mostly because I really like my VXII.
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Old October 24, 2013, 06:36 PM   #17
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Any of the above can clearly see your mark well past legal shooting hours even my cheap Pro Staffs. I would have to give the Leupold the edge it is the brightest glass I have ever owned.
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Old October 24, 2013, 06:56 PM   #18
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Quote:
Exit pupil is the limiting factor. Assuming good glass and coatings a 4mm exit pupil is the standard for the most light to the eye. Anything more is simply lost as the eye cannot receive it.
Quote:
I've heard its closer to 8~9m. Relative light transmission matters as well. sending 1/2 as much light through the same exit pupil is way dimmer.
For most people the eye can only handle about 5mm. If you are still in your 20's and have exceptional eyesight you might be able to use up to about 7mm. At least for a few more years.

The size of a front objective, along with the scopes magnification determine the size of the beam of light that makes it to the eye. A 40mm scope set on 8X will let in exactly the same size beam of light as a 50mm scope set on 10X. But that has nothing to do with the brightness of that beam of light. That is determined by the quality of the glass. There are a lot of 40mm scopes that will be brighter in low light than a lot of 50mm scopes.

If you are talking about equal quality glass a 50mm scope has a very slight advantage over a 40mm scope only when set on 8X or 9X. With more magnification they are equal. On lower settings the 50mm scope will let more light through, but both 50mm and 40mm scopes are letting in more light than the eye can use at 7X or less. The 50mm's real advantage is that it allow you to use higher magnification in low light.

A scopes light transmission rating is more important. Most budget scopes allow around 80% or less of the light that enters the front objective to exit the rear objective. Most mid range scopes such as the ones being discussed are in the upper 80's to lower 90's. The really high end stuff will be 95% or better.

In the real world all of your choices will be so close it will be hard to notice the difference. At best you're talking about 2-3 more minutes of useable light. I have a Zeiss Conquest and Leupold VX-3. I also have a $300 VX-2 that is every bit as good. The next time I need a scope I'll save the money and just buy the VX-2.
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Old October 27, 2013, 09:40 AM   #19
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Thanks for all the replies guys, I've had my eye set on getting a Zeiss for a while now, I think I've settled on it.

My current "issue" is that I'm in a tree-stand facing West. When the sun goes behind the trees and it's after sunset I get a haze/fog the more I zoom in. It could be just the way I'm facing. The more you zoom the worse it gets.
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Old October 27, 2013, 10:18 AM   #20
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The Zeiss uses low defraction glass, which will help, but I would go for a reasonably long sunshade in your situation.
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Old October 27, 2013, 10:47 AM   #21
BigHutch
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Quote:
The Zeiss uses low defraction glass, which will help, but I would go for a reasonably long sunshade in your situation.
It's when the sun goes down that I have the problem, will that help? I can aim above the treeline into the sky and it's clear as can be, I go back to the field which has a tree-line about 135 yards away and it's hazy/foggy.
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Old October 27, 2013, 11:58 AM   #22
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You'll never get 100% clarity when the sun is directly shining into the lens no matter what you get. Even a shade won't help once the suns disc is in your field of view. (Its also very dangerous, think magnifying glass & ants!). I tried the honeycomb type ARD's & they took so much optical quality away from the scope I refuse to even own one nowadays.

However good design & good glass will reduce or minimize it by quite a lot & allow you to get closer to the sun actually appearing in the glass.

Strangely enough fixed power scopes do better than zooms (of equal quality) because they have far less internal air/glass surfaces to allow flare & ghosting to happen.
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Old October 27, 2013, 01:04 PM   #23
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The sun is already down past the tree-line 130 yards in front of me, but not set, so there is no glare and I'm definitely not staring at the sun . I'm going to take the VX2 out there tonight and see if there is a difference from the Nikon.
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Old October 27, 2013, 07:33 PM   #24
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You are just going to have to look through all three in low light. A lot of how "bright" a scope is depends on the eye behind the scope. Different coatings and different wave lengths allowed through look different to different people. For my eyes, Meopta is by far the brightest glass out there. Bushnell 6500 runs a close second. My NightForce and Leupold scopes are not even in the game with the above mentioned. It all depends on the eye of the viewer.
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Old October 27, 2013, 09:55 PM   #25
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I have a Nikon Monarch 3 4-16x42 and I'd say it's equal or better than the VXIII for a few bucks less. Way better than my VXII. I've never had a Zeiss.

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