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Pro Optic 8x42

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/22/2011 at 08:30
FrankD View Drop Down
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I had some time on my hands the other day so I took the opportunity to do a little websurfing. I consider myself fairly well versed on the variety of binocular models currently on the market. Still I always feel the need to find a model or two that isn't widely recognized or discussed.

I must readily admit that I find myself increasingly preferential towards binoculars that offer ED glass in their design. The decrease in color fringing on high contrast objects really appeals to my love for incredibly sharp images. The vibrant colors and better apparent brightness also certainly have their appeal.

Lo' and behold there was an inexpensive, ED glass roof prism glass advertised on their site...the Pro Optic (8x42 and 10x42) binocular. After finding the Pro Optic I did do my research to determine if this binocular had been discussed previously here and on other optics messageboards. I only found two references to it and both of them were on another site and from about a year ago. The one review was not a positive one. The problem in that case had to do with a quality control issue with one of the binocular's eyecups. Little else was mentioned since then on this model. So, with that information in hand, I decided to order one. When you consider the binocular's specs/design and its price range I found it hard not to want to give this binocular a thorough review. Speaking of specifications, they are listed below....


ED Glass objective
Open Hinge Roof System
BAK4 Prism
Center Focus, Center Diopter
FullyMultiCoated
Phase Coating
Water Repellent Coater
Magnesium Body
8.3 Degree Angle of View

There isn't any listing for height, width, weight, eye relief or close focus. Still, even without that information, I decided to order one. It arrived two days ago and I have been tinkering with it ever since.
 


Optics:

This is the one area that most users focus on more so than any other...and for good reason. What use is a binocular with wonderful ergonomics and a butter-smooth focus if the image quality is sub-par? Of course, the answer is "none". Winking

The ED objective certainly delivers. Color fringing is very well controlled in the sweet spot. Apparent sharpness, brightness and color representation are all excellent and entirely comparable with the Zen ED2 that I have on hand. The ED2 might have a very slight edge in terms of brightness but I had to focus extremely hard to pick up on it in regular use. Without doing a "side by side" between the two models I doubt anyone would notice it.

Close focusing distance is a very respectable 5.5 feet. Not as close as one or two binoculars on the market but certainly as good as most models...in any price range.

The field of view is certainly addicting. The 8.3 angular field of view translates into over 430 feet. I love a wide field of view because I feel it gives a more relaxing view and definitely makes it easier for the user to scan large areas or follow fast moving objects. Eye relief seems to be in the 17-18 mm range as I have no problem seeing the field stop at the edge of the image with the eyecups fully depressed into the binocular body.

So, you are probably asking, what isn't to like about this binocular's optical performance. Well, if I had to pick one area that might be this binocular's optical "weak spot" then it would be the edge performance. Noticeable field curvature is present in the outer 1/3rd of the image. Illumination appears to be even across the full field of view but field curvature is present and can be seen readily if one focuses on it.

Mechanical properties:

The focusing speed of this binocular seems fairly fast. I have not measured it at this point but I would not be surprised if it takes approximately 1 to 1.25 turns to go from close focus to infinity with this binocular. Even though the focusing speed is fairly quick I have not had a problem overshooting "perfect focus" on any given object because the focusing tension is excellent. "Butter smooth" is a term often coined in this area and it certainly applies here. I have no complaints whatsoever in terms of focusing speed or tension. In fact I find it ideal!

The diopter design is an interesting one. The diopter is located in the second most common area for binoculars..in between both eyepieces on the central hinge. It does feature a locking mechanism. A small, metal "button" must be depressed in order for the diopter to be adjusted in either direction. It is extended just enough to be easily accessible while still recessed enough not to be accidentally bumped or caught while pulling the binocular out of the case.

The eyecups fully extend and collapse with the typical twist and turn method. They do lock in the fully extended position. I did not notice any problems with the design or construction of this particular feature. Keep in mind that the serial number on this particular unit was fairly high (unlike the unit mentioned in an earlier review).
 


Central hinge tension is very good on this unit. It just tight enough to keep the IPD constant and yet adjustable enough to move it should you decide to lend the binocular to another consumer.

Size and ergonomics:

This a very compact full-sized binocular. Though not as small as the Zhumell Short Barrel model that I reviewed recently it is very close. Putting the two side by side the Pro Optic is only about a quarter inch longer overall. The physical weight of the binocular is not listed but I would estimate somewhere in the 22-24 oz range. It certainly isn't heavy and feels very solid when handling.

Ergonomics are an extremely individualistic area. In other words every person has their preferences. I seem to be comfortable with a variety of designs provided basic functions are easily met (being able to comfortably reach the focusing knob with comfortable finger placement for example). The open-hinge design on this particular model is very easy to use even with my larger than average hands. There are two, shallow thumb indents on the underside of the binocular to also aid in hand placement.

Conclusion:

I like this binocular. I like it alot. Why? Well the optical performance is certainly way above the price point that they are selling it for. The sweet spot performance is certainly comparable to anything short of the European models. Apparent sharpness, color representation and brightness are all extremely satisfying. The field of view is wonderfully wide. Add those characteristics together and you certainly have a comfortable and enjoyable image. Throw in the ergonomics and the mechanical properties of this model and you definitely have a winner. I strongly encourage others to try this model. It easily is a "best value" and high performer at this price point and beyond.

- I have not taken any pictures of this binocular but will add some at a later time. For now you will have to settle for the stock picture from the retailer's website.


Edited by FrankD - May/23/2011 at 07:14
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/24/2011 at 18:24
FrankD View Drop Down
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Geez, I thought there would be some interest in this here. What we are basically talking about here is an ED binocular that is exceptionally light, ergonomic with a very wide field of view and optically quality that is comparable to the Zen Ray ED...and for only $150.
 
Thought some of you folks might be interested in it.
 
;-)
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/25/2011 at 14:18
RifleDude View Drop Down
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Very interesting, Frank; nice review!  Can you tell if it's a cosmetically different variation of another existing bino? 

An ED bino for only $150 is hard to believe, much less that it stacks up to the performance of the already low-priced Zen for less than half the price.  I don't see how it can be made for that and still have a decent profit margin.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/25/2011 at 22:08
Klamath View Drop Down
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Without wanting to seem to be jumping to any conclusions, there are several things that jump out at me here.

First, the PRO in Pro Optical. Pacific Rim Optical is owned by Kruger Optics and go by the name PRO.

Second, is that the diopter arrangement is identical to the Kruger Caldera.  For that matter ,the upper bridge design on the Pro Optical is the same as the Caldera, so is the tripod adapter cap. Also the position of the focus knob, the shape of the focus knob, and the strap attachment lugs are the same as the Caldera.

Third, the eye cups on the Pro Optic glass are the same as the Kruger Caldera, sans the fold down rubber eye shields of the Caldera.

Fourth, the binocular looks (at least somewhat) like the same one used in the Cabelas Alpha Extreme, built by Kruger for Cabelas.

Fifth, the angular fov of 8.3* is shared by the Pro Optics and the Kruger Caldera.
 
Sixth, the PRO Optics glass just looks a lot like the Caldera, with the Caldera being cut off behind the front hinge.  This may well have been enabled by using Flourite in the objective, which may have allowed for use of shorter focal lengths for the Caldera.

Any of the above are certainly circumstantial and may be coincidental. That many similarities in one place is hard to take as a coincidence. Winking  So my personal WAG is that this was built by PRO for the outfit selling it, or maybe just built it with a contract with said outfit to sell it...testing the binocular waters so to speak.  Kruger may not have been formed yet and they were just doing buisness as PRO, which is now a division of the larger Kruger Optical... and, who knows, I may be full of stuffing too.Wink
 
I'm assuming this is old enough that it is silver coating on the prisms, and I bet pretty similar to the ZEN ED 1 in overall view.
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Edited by Klamath - May/25/2011 at 22:26
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/26/2011 at 08:43
FrankD View Drop Down
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Ted,
 
Check out Steve's post above. We discussed it a bit over on birdforum and based on Steve's comments and some other comparative features we could be looking at the Caldera and the Pro Optic basically being the same bin internally and, to a lesser extent, externally as well. The bridge design is different as are the eyecups but everything else appears the same.
 
As for how it can be so inexpensive...well, if competitor isn't heavy into marketing it and they get it directly from the supplier then overall costs must be relatively low. If they are willing to just make a modest profit on it (and considering what I heard you can get bins for when you purchase them directly from the Chinese manufacturer) then it could be understandable how they are selling them at such a low price.
 
The silver prisms is pretty much what I thought too when considering the slight difference in overall image color representation when comparing the Zen ED 2 with the Pro Optic.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/26/2011 at 22:52
gyang View Drop Down
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These should be the best "Chinese EDs". As someone said in another forum, ProOptic 8x42 and 10X42 are made by China's N0.1 binocular maker: Xi An Optics, “Sicong”, they should be very close to Zen Ray EDs, if not better,  Zen Ray is made by Yun Nan Optics which is considered secondary when compared to Sicong. But I have not tried Zen Ray, so, just my guess.

This very same unit sells for about 2800 Chinese yuan in China (called Sicong QianFeng, means "Cutting Edge", or  "Pioneer"), that's about USD 450,  the only difference is that it comes with a much better carrying case for the Chinese market, the case for the US market is simply ridiculous, someone at Sicong thinks that the American binocular users can't afford a decent carrying case..........

Usually those OEM bins that sells for USD150 in the US market only sells for about 500 Chinese yuan locally, there are several examples.

I bought both the 8X and 10X and posted this info at a Chinese forum, 8 units were ordered by the forum readers within a week, some mail ordered, had to pay UPS and customs duty, made their final cost to USD 200+.

It's confirmed by one of the Chinese forum poster that the US and Chinese models are exactly the same optically, the only difference is the diopter button is square instead of round.








Edited by RifleDude - May/27/2011 at 07:40
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/27/2011 at 01:45
gyang View Drop Down
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This same unit sells for about 700 Chinese yuan in China, a bit over USD100, under the name of Nikula ShenLong( Devine Dagon), it has no ED glass, no phase coating.

The maker of this set is Nikula, a Taiwanese owned company in China, Taiwanese are more experienced in marketing in the US compared with those state owned companies like Sicong, Yuanda Optics or YunNan Optics.

FrankD mentioned he bought one nice set for $80, It might be  the Celectron open bridge  made by Yuanda Optics, sells for 500 Chinese yuan in China, none ED none Phase coating, it does have an ED version though, their performances should be very close to Shenlong and ProOptic respectively.

If you are worrying about "slave labors", avoid products from private owned companies, in the state owned companies, you can only find over paid lazy and careless workers, like all state owned enterprises in the world. Just look at poor jobs their marketing staffs have done!

By the way, I collected all the price data from online stores, I'm a binocular user, not involved in the business in anyway. I currently own a 3 Shenlongs and 2 ProOptics, among a few  Japanese and European sets.

EDIT:  Removed link to SWFA competitor, in violation of Forum Rules.



Edited by RifleDude - May/27/2011 at 07:36
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/27/2011 at 07:08
FrankD View Drop Down
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gyang,
 
Thank you for all of the information. I did read a post or two over on BF which stated that the Pro Optics were made by Xi An Optics. If all the information you presented on them is correct then they are certainly a steal for the price they can be had for here in the States. I look forward to seeing someone else picking up a pair and posting about them.
 
It is just these types of "deals" that truly interest me. There are probably some great optics out there that nobody is aware of or that just has not been posted about yet. Now is a wonderful time for this type of opportunity.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/27/2011 at 07:38
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gyang,
Thanks for the information, but please read the Forum Rules you agreed to when you registered your account.  This site is provided by SWFA, an optics retailer, and it is improper to use the forum they provide to us to advertise for their competition.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/27/2011 at 11:52
gyang View Drop Down
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FrankD,

Yes I'm also interested in hearing others posting about them. It's interesting to see the price differences around the world. In europe, the same things under an Italian name sells for 600+ EU.

RifleDude, I was not aware this forum was operated by an online store........sorry, will not post any links.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/27/2011 at 14:08
RifleDude View Drop Down
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No worries, gyang.  Welcome to Optics Talk, and I hope you enjoy your stay here.
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