Automatic levels, also known as optical levels or auto levels, are essential tools in America’s construction industry. Surveyors, builders and civil engineers use these critically important instruments every day for large and small construction projects.
Why Use Auto Levels In Surveying?
Automatic optical levels enable construction professionals to erect high-rise buildings, construct roads and highways and complete all sorts of huge projects.
The auto levels used for these massive projects are often surprisingly small, compact and portable. They are also packed with the kind of technology that enables a builder to clearly and effectively determine contours in the land upon which construction will take place.
Yes, these instruments are, in essence, “leveling tools” which provide builders with the vital information they need to “level the ground” before construction begins.
Of course, manufacturers long ago realized that automatic optical levels could also be useful for small projects. So it should come as no surprise that many automatic levels have been designed as surveyors’ equipment that is best suited for smaller projects such as landscaping, fence building and pipe-laying.
Big or small project, surveyors, construction professionals and civil engineers all readily admit that the work they do is helped immensely by automatic optical levels.
How To Choose The Best Automatic Optical Levels?
Nowadays, the market is flooded with auto levels from many major manufacturers. Prices and quality vary. The question you may be asking yourself is this: “How do I choose the right auto level?”
Simply stated, keep reading this article. We have compiled a short list of the best automatic optical levels, based on a comparison of features, prices and customer reviews.
Here is everything you need to know.
Top 5 Auto Levels For Surveyors
Careful research has allowed us to determine that the following 5 auto levels are among the best available today at walk-in stores or from online retailers.
The table clearly indicates the key features of each product. All you have to do is decide which features are most important to you for the work you do.
|David White 45-D8932||Bosch GOL 32CK||CST/berger 55-SLVP28ND||Topcon AT B4||Nikon AL-NIKON-AX-2S-1|
|Magnification||32 x||32 x||28 x||24 x||20 x|
|Leveling Accuracy||1/32-in @ 100-ft||1/16-in @ 100-ft||1/16-in @ 200-ft||1/16-in @ 100-ft||1/8-in @ 100-ft|
|Working Range||up to 400-ft (120m)||up to 400-ft (120m)||350-ft (107m)||250-ft (76m)||200-ft (60m)|
|Shortest focus||0.3m (1 ft)||0.3m (1 ft)||0.3m (1 ft)||0.3m (1 ft)||0.75m (2.46 ft)|
|Objective Aperture||40mm (1.6 in.)||36mm (1.42 in.)||40mm (1.6 in.)||32mm (1.26 in.)||30mm (1.2 in.)|
|Check price at Amazon||Check price at Amazon||Check price at Amazon||Check price at Amazon||Check price t Amazon|
That, of course, has now provided you with a quick overview. But, you probably need more information about these products before you’re able to decide which is best for you.
The information below gives you a detailed, easy-to-read-and-understand breakdown of the best automatic levels currently available.
#1 – David White 45-D8932 32 Power Automatic Optical Level
- Provides up to 1/32 inch accuracy at distances up to 100 feet
- Effective working range of up to 400 feet
- Lock-out device protects compensator during transport
- Lightweight just 3.4 pounds so it’s easy-to-carry around
- No grade rod or tripod included
Benefits Of David White 45-D8932 Optical Level
Specifically designed to make every leveling job easier and more accurate, this David White auto level has an excellent sighting scope and bubble vial built right into the rugged housing for greater durability.
Its wire-hung magnetically-damped compensator effectively holds the “level line of sight” within 15 arc seconds of level. That means this device will consistently enable you to get accurate readings which will aid in your construction project.
Importantly, the machine’s larger aperture results in more light to filter through so that you always get a sharper image.
A horizontal circle with easy-to-recognize-and-read white on black graduations is another superior feature. Clearly, this David White Automatic Optical Level is packed with the kinds of features that will help you “get the job done.”
Users love the fact that this product is easy to use and that its rugged carrying case seals tightly to keep out dust, dirt and rain.
Some have considered it to be a little costly, but every user has been impressed by the technology that has been built-in, a fact that makes this level effective and worth the purchase price.
#2 – Bosch GOL 32CK 32x Optical Level Kit
- Features rugged and durable all-metal housing with IP54 protection
- Includes extended range powerful 32x magnification that enables a working range of 330 feet
- Provides effective 1/16-inch accuracy at 100 feet
- Secure lock-out device protects the compensator during transport
- Lightweight and compact, it may be better suited for smaller jobs
Benefits Of Bosch GOL 32CK 32x Optical Level
This Bosch device is loaded with a broad range of superb features. For example, it has an automatic self-leveling compensator with both horizontal and vertical cross hairs and stadia lines.
The Bosch 32CK Optical Level features a powerful 32x magnification and a large aperture that provides bright and clear images. It provides superb accuracy at 1/16 inch at 100 feet.
And if that is not enough, this kit also includes a tripod, a rod, a hard case for easy portability, a lens cap, a plumb bob and a variety of useful adjustment tools.
The perfect leveling device for big, outdoor job, this Bosch auto level is, like the company’s many other products, highly regarded and coveted.
The Bosch Optical Level GOL 32CK has gained a lot of positive feedbacks from its users. Many found that the tool is sturdy, easy to use and valuable for the money.
Bosch is a highly-regarded manufacturer famous for quality products. For surveying tasks, the Bosch GOL 32CK optical level is considered one of the top choices of professional builders.
#3 – CST/berger 55-SLVP28ND 28X Magnification Automatic Level Kit
- Its magnetically-dampened, wire-hung compensator provides optimum range and accuracy
- It features a large, effective aperture and minimum focus of one foot
- Includes a top-mounted optical peep sight for quick reference
- Need to be calibrated regularly
Benefits Of CST/berger 55-SLVP28ND 28X Automatic Level Kit
This practical kit has been designed to give you the benefit of fast, easy set-ups and accurate leveling readings. And it succeeds.
It provides features that make your job easier. For instance, it has 28x magnification that gives you access to an effective range of 350 feet.
This CST/berger Automatic Level includes a sunshade that you can use in a variety of difficult weather conditions. And it provides 1/16 inch accuracy at 200 feet.
Importantly, this automatic level is water-resistant. It can get wet and still function perfectly.
Packed with a broad range of outstanding built-in features, this device is ideally suited to handling big, tough assignments. Highly rated, it has the reputation of a leveler that can help you to get the job done, no matter how difficult.
Although some users have reported problems with calibration, others love this CST/Berger auto level for its sturdy design. It’s ideal for big construction jobs.
If you’re looking to purchase an automatic optical level, you may wish to consider buying this one.
#4 – Topcon AT B4 24X Automatic Level
Topcon has a reputation for top quality products. This model does nothing to dispel that belief.
The Topcon AT B4 Automatic Level enables civil engineers, surveyors and builders to take extremely accurate horizontal plane and angle measurements.
- Provides 7.9 inch minimum focusing distance & 1/16 inch accuracy
- Convenient one-speed focusing knob
- Features 360-degree/400 gons horizontal circle
- IPX6 water-resistant body for better protection
- 5-year warranty
- A little heavy with 18.8 pounds
- Priced higher than its primary competitors
Benefits Of Topcon AT B4 Automatic Level
This Topcon level features powerful 24x magnification and superior telescope design that provides its user with clear and bright views.
This is also a versatile product that ensures precise leveling when work takes place near heavy equipment or busy, overcrowded roads and highways.
And its focusing range of 7.9 inches in front of a telescope makes it perfect for smaller jobs like landscaping, fence building and pipe-laying.
Ruggedly constructed, this practical auto level provides protection against powerful water jets from all directions and can even withstand a sudden shower or a torrential downpour.
The Topcon AT B4 automatic level package includes a carrying case, a plumb bob, a hex wrench, adjusting pins, a vinyl cover and a cleaning cloth.
This Topcon automatic optical level has received high praise from many of its users for its effectiveness as a quality leveling device and for its many superior built-in features.
While it may seem a bit “pricey” compared to similar products, the many good feedbacks it has received speak well for this dependable device.
#5 – Nikon AL-NIKON-AX-2S-1 Automatic Level Kit
- Its powerful 20x telescope has a 30 mm objective lens for clear, bright images
- The device’s horizontal knobs have an unlimited range and can easily be operated with either hand
- Its water-resistance capability allows its use in light rain and in dusty conditions, as well
- A special base plate enables mounting on flat or domed-head tripods
- Limited capability because it has been designed specifically for small construction projects
- Requires the use of batteries
Benefits Of Nikon AL-NIKON-AX-2S-1 Automatic Level
Nikon has always been famous for its cameras. It may now be building a reputation for its manufacturing expertise when it comes to automatic optical levels. Consider the device named above.
The Nikon AL-NIKON-AX-2S-1 Automatic Level delivers a high level of accuracy and it is remarkably easy to use for a variety of civil engineering and construction projects.
Additionally, it is lightweight, compact, rugged, durable and, importantly, water-resistant, as well. In fact, this auto level is able to withstand light rain and dusty conditions with equal effectiveness.
What’s more, Nikon’s famed, high-quality optics provide you with brighter, clearer images and superior minimum focusing when working in confined spaces.
It also has a magnetic built-in compensator. Clearly, this is a device that can tackle important jobs, both big and small.
Nikon is a world-class company, famous for its superior optics. This device, as might be expected, has superior optics and the price is right. Users have been pleased with its budget-friendly price tag and its performance. It offers you a solid purchase option.
More Options Of Automatic Optical Level
Now, you’ve had a chance to learn about the best 5 automatic optical levels on the market. But, there are others worthy of your attention and consideration.
Here are two more quality devices that could have easily made it to the “top 5” list.
1 – Sokkia B40 24x Automatic Level 738340
- Includes IPX6 water-resistance capability
- 5 Year Warranty
- Lightweight and not a good choice for big outdoor projects
- Not very durable
Benefits Of Sokkia B40 24x Automatic Level 738340
This auto level features powerful and effective 24x magnification and is ideally-suited for taking highly accurate horizontal plane, angle and distance measurements.
In truth, it has been designed for landscaping, fence building, setting foundations and other similar, small projects.
Its many features include 1/16 inch accuracy, a built-in compensator and a high-performance telescope that consistently delivers bright and sharp images.
Its ultra-short focusing distance of just 7.9 inches from the end of the telescope makes it easy to use in tight or confined locations.
The Sokkia automatic level includes an optional diagonal eyepiece that can be used in extremely tight spaces, a plumb bob, a lens cap, a vinyl cover, a hard carrying case that’s been designed to keep your device safe during transport and a cleaning cloth.
This device has its share of supporters. It represents a good value because of its budget-friendly purchase price. If you’re looking for help with small construction jobs, this Sokkia automatic level may be right for you.
2 – Leica Geosystems 840386 NA532 Automatic Optical Level
It is no secret that construction sites provide leveling challenges because they are never perfect. Civil engineers and builders have to contend with obstructions and uneven surfaces.
This device from Leica Geosystems has been crafted to provide you, the user, with consistently reliable and accurate measurements so that you can get access to the straightest and safest construction environment.
- Powerful 32x magnification assures bright, clear images at increased distances
- Ruggedly-constructed and able to withstand the harshest elements
- A little pricey
Benefits Of Leica 840386 NA532 Automatic Optical Level
This Leica optical level is packed with quality features including exceptionally powerful 32x magnification.
Perfect for use on big construction projects, it also includes a hard carrying case for protection during transport and an easy-to-understand Owner’s Manual CD.
It operates without batteries. Leica Geosystems products are popular with construction professionals which may be reason enough for any surveyor to consider it.
If price is not a factor, you may want to consider purchasing this Leica optical device. It provides very powerful magnification along with bright, clear images that can make your job easier.
That’s it. You have now had an opportunity to learn about the finest automatic optical levels available today. They are all excellent devices and one may be perfect for you.
When you’re satisfied that you know enough to make a decision there will be only one thing left to do. Buy the device of your choice and “start working.”