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Need help on 10x bino under $1000

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 16:49
motts View Drop Down
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I'm looking to purchase a 10x40 bino under $1000. I mostly hunt out west (Utah, Colorado, Montana) and will be observing general wildlife. I could really use your opinions as I have not been able to handle these. I'm interested in saying, "get this one because it's almost as or as good and costs $200 less." I'm looking for the best under $1000. Here are my choices

1-Pentax DCF ED- The most expensive of the bunch. Gets great reviews. Has ED glass.
2-Vortex Razor - Best Warranty. Mixed reviews on stiff focus knob. Questions on whether it is actually assembled in China, even though it says made in Japan. I've read it's a great binocular, but not as good as others in it's class. Still, there are many very positive reviews.
3-Meopta Meostar - Very good in low light. Great clarity, good FOV and large sweet spot. Negatives I've read are that it has no locking diopter and twist eyecups don't stay in place.
4- Zeiss Conquest ABK - Zeiss name. ABK prisms for maximum light. I've heard this bino is underwhelming for the price.
5- Zen Ray ED2 - For the most part...it gets rave reviews everywhere. I'm really considering getting this. However, I've read a number of reviewers state that they were bothered by ghosting images, crescent images, or cloudiness. I don't love that it's made in China, but I could maybe get over it.

I don't care about which ones are the cheapest...i.e. Zen Ray. All are withing my budget. I was originally leaning towards the Meopta, but I wouldn't mind having a "newer" binocular that uses more current technology such as ED glass, Dielectric coatings, ABK prisms. I don't know if all these have locking diopters, but it certainly would be nice.

I've read mixed reviews about the Vortex Razor and the Zeiss Conquest. Some absolutely love them, and many were very underwhelmed...not sure what to think about that.

You don't hear much about the Pentax, but what I have read, from experts, has been very positive.

So, I ask for you help. I know many of you own or have used many of these particular models. I appreciate your help in comparing these. Please feel free to rank these in your order and also list the reasons why. Or, state the positives and negatives of each. Thanks.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 17:06
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The ghosting thing with the ZEN seems to be a few people are sensitive to something, maybe facial shape.  I can say, I've seen a couple of the returned binoculars, but as far as I could see, they were fine.
You have hit the main entries below a grand.  The Meopta is a nice glass and has a good reputation for durability.  I might get one one day to satisfy my curiosity, but the ZENs I have do what I need.
Not much way you go wrong with any on the list.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 17:13
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I personally have a pair of the 10x Meoptas and really like them.  I was able to test drive a pair or 8x Razors and spent 2 weeks with them.  Comparing them to the Meopta they are both dang nice.  I like the size of the Meopta, not quite as tall.  Eyecups seemed better on the Razors.  The Meoptas felt a little better in my hands.  Optically I honestly could not tell much difference if any.  Currently I would probably be all over the Razors as they are cheaper and have the $100 rebate.  The two things I like better about the Meopta are not worth the $230 difference in my opinion.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 17:23
motts View Drop Down
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I've definitely been struggling between the Vortex Razors and the Meostars. Even though the Meopta doesn't have ED glass or Dialectric coatings, I've heard that the view is amazing...very close the the Big 3.

I really like the Vortex on paper. I just want to know if it's living up to expectations and how it fares compared to these others. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed them.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 17:35
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Those are some great choices.  I think you won't be disappointed.  I have posted often about the ZENs and Meoptas.  I currently have both in 10X.  I will recommend the Meoptas with one reservation:  Their Chromatic Aberration control is less than perfect.  That said, resolution, contrast, depth of field, and field of view are right up there with the very best.  Durability is on par or superior to ANYTHING available.  These things are compact and heavy.  They feel like GEAR, not a lab instrument.
 
I have really enjoyed my ZENs.  For the money they are optically the best ... period.  The center field resolution is astounding, at least in my unit.  I do prefer the increased depth of field and larger sweet spot of my Meoptas, so the Meoptas are still my go-to glass.  I can glass comfortably for a long, long time with the Meoptas.
 
I agree that Vortex has wonderfull customer service, but I would also put Meopta's customer service and warranty up there with any company's.  Check with Meopta USA:  Any Meopta binocular that came to the USA through the proper channels (not gray market) will have the full lifetime transferrable warranty.  I have read and seen it advertised that Meopta has a 10 year warranty.  Maybe in Europe, Asia, or elsewhere, but not through Meopta USA.  Check it out:  http://www.meoptasportsoptics.com/services1.php?nav1=7&nav2=1
 
I had a minor issue remedied immediately by Meopta.  They handled it perfectly, and without delay.  I had a similar warranty issue handled by Vortex in a similar manner.  These are two companies with great products in your price range.
 
It has been said before, but maybe you should check out the bins you mentioned side by side.  I would recommend checking them out in low light and tripod mounted while checking out the same subject through all bins.  Then, when you've made your choice, get online at SWFA.com and order with confidence.
 
If it were me and the difference between $400 and $800 didn't matter, as you mentioned it didn't to you  ... I would go with the Meoptas and enjoy them for a long, long time.  That is unless Meopta comes out with an ED model.  I can feel my credit card warming up at the thought!Jump and Spin
 
Good Luck!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 17:38
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I have had good experience with Meopta customer service as well.  I had a rifle scope go down and had a brand new scope in my hands in about a week.  No questions asked.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 17:42
motts View Drop Down
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Originally posted by Bitterroot Bulls Bitterroot Bulls wrote:

 
If it were me and the difference between $400 and $800 didn't matter, as you mentioned it didn't to you  ... I would go with the Meoptas and enjoy them for a long, long time.  That is unless Meopta comes out with an ED model.  I can feel my credit card warming up at the thought!Jump and Spin
 
Good Luck!


If Meopta had an ED Binco out...it wouldn't even be a decision for me. I would buy it. I'm comparing their "standard" bino to others that have ED or new prism coatings. If they had an ED..I'd be all over it. Thanks for your thoughts.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 17:46
motts View Drop Down
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One other questions on the Meos...have you found it annoying that the diopter doesn't lock? Does it change on you easily, making it hard to get back on target quickly? I understand the Vortex does have a lock, and the Zen Ray, has a turning diopter on the right eyepiece, but it doesn't lock.

Has anyone anything to say either way about the Zeiss Conquest ABK model? Any experience? I feel myself leaning towards the Meopta or Vortex. Regardless of money...assuming these five binos all cost the same...would the Zen-Ray perform better than the Meopta or Vortex?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 17:48
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I have been using mine for a few years now and have not had them move on me yet.  They are kind of recessed a little between the barrels and don't get bumped to easily.  But I can see that it could be a concern to some.

A guy I took a class with had the Ziess conquest binos in 8x.  They were nice, but to my eyes the Meopta were noticeably better.  Sharper, clearer, brighter, and had a larger sweet spot.


Edited by supertool73 - August/31/2009 at 17:50
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 17:52
motts View Drop Down
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Originally posted by supertool73 supertool73 wrote:

I have been using mine for a few years now and have not had them move on me yet.  They are kind of recessed a little between the barrels and don't get bumped to easily.  But I can see that it could be a concern to some.

A guy I took a class with had the Ziess conquest binos in 8x.  They were nice, but to my eyes the Meopta were noticeably better.  Sharper, clearer, brighter, and had a larger sweet spot.


Good to know. Thanks for the reply.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 20:07
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+1 on the Meoptas.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 23:53
motts View Drop Down
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I made it into Sportsmans Warehouse tonight. The only binocs that I could look at on my list were the Pentax DCF ED and the Vortex Razor. The Vortex has the $100 rebate, which is nice, but the Pentax was going for $789! That's like $300 than I can find it for most places online. I almost jumped on it. But, I want to maybe try a couple more pairs of binos out before I pull the trigger.

The focus wheel on the Vortex Razor was indeed stiff and harder than normal to turn. But I never considered myself a girlie-man, so I'm sure I could handle it Hippie. I only viewed it instore, but the image was bright and good clarity.

The Pentax image seemed a touch brighter, with a bit more clarity edge to edge. I also felt like the Pentax image immediately "popped" out at me...sooner than the Vortex. Now, with the price being so close, you'd think I'da just jumped on the Pentax...but I didn't. Their warranty is also just a lifetime limited...only covers manufacturer defects of the original owner. I think that is correct anyway. The Vortex Warranty--no questions asked, lifetime transferrable...basically you don't get any better than that.

Being how I'll be up in the mountains and wilderness, it's always possible that you can drop your binos, or trip, slip, and damage them. That Vortex warranty could come in real handy.

Anyway, hopefully, I'll be able to make it to Cabela's so that I can play with the Meopta and Euro there and check out the Conquest as well.

As of right now...it's still up in the air. I don't even know what I would pick between the Vortex and Pentax. Pentax is normally a good bit more expensive. I also thought the Pentax was sharper and brighter...yet I find myself still wanting the Vortex...partly the warranty, and I like the company too.

So, I'm no better off than I was a few hours ago, lol Cool.

If anyone else has anything to add, I appreciate it.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 23:56
motts View Drop Down
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Forgot to add that both the Vortex Razor and the Pentax DCF ED both had a nice locking diopter. The pentax is on the right barrel, by the eyepiece while the Vortex is by the central focus knob. They were both fine, either should be great.

I did also like the markings on the Vortex eyecups, as you twist them out.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/01/2009 at 00:03
motts View Drop Down
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Well, I found the Pentax warranty.

Sport Optics "Worry-Free" Warranty
The PENTAX “Worry-Free” Warranty is available on all PENTAX Sport Optics products purchased in the United States, on or after March 1, 2006, from an authorized PENTAX Sport Optics dealer.

PENTAX Sport Optics products are of the highest optical and mechanical quality. If your PENTAX Binocular, Spotting Scope or Riflescope purchased in the USA from an authorized PENTAX Sport Optics dealer requires repair, PENTAX will repair or replace it to the original purchaser (even if damaged by fault) for a charge of $19.95, to cover handling and return shipping.* This warranty does not cover cosmetic damage, theft or loss. (Replacement may be with comparable model at PENTAX’s discretion if the original model is no longer available.)

*Applies only to unmodified equipment or product with modifications performed by authorized PENTAX repair personnel.

Vortex wins here for sure.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/01/2009 at 10:40
motts View Drop Down
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Anyone been able to compare the Vortex Razor directly to the Zen-Ray ED2 or even ED1? Similar build, both claim to use ED glass with Dielectic Prism Coatings.

It also looks like the new ED2 is waterproof as well. I'm just curious how they compare build quality, and mainly optical quality. Thanks.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/01/2009 at 10:52
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Just an FYI, the Meopta and the Euro are the exact same bino. 

One other thing, when you get to cabelas have them take you outside to look through the bino's.  Do not accept how they look indoors determine how they will look outdoors.  I would not consider buying a pair of binos that I was not allowed to compare with others outside.

The Cabelas in Lehi allowed me to take out like 8 pair to compare with each other.  That is their job to allow you to do that.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/01/2009 at 11:31
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Originally posted by motts motts wrote:

Anyone been able to compare the Vortex Razor directly to the Zen-Ray ED2 or even ED1? Similar build, both claim to use ED glass with Dielectic Prism Coatings.

It also looks like the new ED2 is waterproof as well. I'm just curious how they compare build quality, and mainly optical quality. Thanks.
 
I have compared the Vortex Razor 8X42 to the Hawke Frontier ED 8X43, which is the same binocular as the ZR.  They are very close optically.  The Hawke / ZR has slightly wider FOV; the Razor has greater depth of field.  The Razor is sharper out to the edge, as the Hawke / ZR is a little soft on the field edge.  Both have equally well-controlled CA and great resolution.  Both are great binoculars that are very close to alpha class glass!
 
Even though the ZR is a better value because of price, the rebate on the Vortex makes the value proposition very close.  Personally, I'm willing to pay a little extra for the Vortex warranty and the fact it is made in Japan and not China.  I don't have a problem with the fact the ZR is made in China from a quality standpoint, only a philosophical standpoint.
 
Even if both binoculars were priced the same, and built in the same place, I personally like the Razor better.  I found it has better flare resistance when viewing toward a strong light source.  I also like the eyecups, the diopter adjustment, and the focuser better.  You must have sampled an earlier generation of Razor, as they have made improvements to focus knob smoothness.  The one I have is nearly perfect in that regard -- very smooth and precise, with no slop and just the right focusing speed for my preference.  The Razor's warranty and customer service seals the deal for me.  I'm sure ZR has a good warranty and c.s. too, but I have experience with Vortex's c.s., and it is exceptional! 
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