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The new ZEN ED 3

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/05/2011 at 00:43
Klamath View Drop Down
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Zen Ray ZEN ED 3

 

The new ZR glass, the ED 3 is out and should be ready for sale at least by August 1.  There are definitely more similarities to the ED 2, but the changes seem well thought out and do seem to have produced a better binocular.

 

I have had both the 8x43 and 10x 43 for a few days now.  As far as I can tell, these are specimens with no particular flaws and I will assume they are representative; these are a sample size of one each.

 

Appearance

 

For those who look at their binocular as much as they do through it, it seems to me that the ED 3 is a much better looking instrument.  The rubber armor is very different from the ED 2, being a grayer tint than the ED 2.  The ED 2 pattern of knobs is gone, replaced by a checkered pattern that is, from my perspective, a definite improvement.  The armor feels softer and more tactile than the ED 2.  Gone are the printed “dielectric coating” from the ring below the non diopter eyecup, not only the lettering, but the ring is gone too.  The housing on the ED 3 appears to be a little different from the ED 2.  The appearance of the hinges is noticeably different and the armor covers the hinge, unlike the ED 2 where the upper hinge was visible, not here.  There is only ZEN ED 3, 8x43 426 fov, and waterproof on the focus knob, and the Zen Ray badge on the body armor instead of on the bottom hinge.  The ED 3 incorporates two tripod adapter sockets. One socket is in a new location on the back hinge in front of the focus knob, and the traditional one on the front hinge. Both are standard 1/4" thread and any adapter will work in either location.

 

Function

 

The ED 3 has new eyecups which give a slightly different feel while up to the eye and the ocular lens is now about 1.5mm closer to the rim of the eyecup, increasing the usable ER.  The upper level of the eyecup is flush with the ocular assembly, not raised over 1.0mm as before.  The ocular lens is a few tenths of a mm closer to the surface too.

 

The focus is completely different on the ED 3.    This has to be about the fastest focus I have ever seen. There is one turn total wheel travel. It takes less than one half turn to go from the close focus distance of about 6 feet to 100 feet.  It only needs another quarter turn to get to infinity and there is a quarter turn past infinity.  The focus is clockwise to infinity.  There is some play in the wheel and wheel movement is fairly stiff.  After focus past 200 feet or so, the focus wheel is not really needed.  Be glad it is a bit stiff; otherwise it would be easy to overshoot focus.  The play in the knob seemed to help too.  Just a very slight nudge as the tension comes up.  I had no problems following the birds in the big shade trees around the house, nor did I have any problems with fine focus at long distance.  The bottom line is, if you wish your ZEN ED 2 had a faster focus, it’s now fixed.  The focus wheel is the same size as the ED 2, but is a solid black checkered knob on the ED 3.

 

The objective covers on the ED 3, while they look like the ones with the ED 2, are a lot better.  They look and feel like they should stay put.  The neck strap is a little shorter and now is curved to fit the neck.  There is only a muted gray Zen Ray printed on the strap.  The case and accessories are the same.

 

The size and specifications remain unchanged.

 

Image

 

The ED 3 has a new generation of dielectric prism coating.  The antireflective coatings are also different; the ED 3 has a definite purple cast to the lenses.  The ghosting or flare that could be seen in the ED 2 is still there, but to a lesser degree.  I can only induce flare with the bright sun directly behind me.  I can remove it by shifting the lower portion of the eyecup away from my lower eye socket a little.


Steve
"Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted". Albert Einstein

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/05/2011 at 07:42
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Nice update Steve, do you think they are going to include the the 7&9x36 in the ED3 lineup?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/05/2011 at 10:13
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Originally posted by lucytuma lucytuma wrote:

Nice update Steve, do you think they are going to include the the 7&9x36 in the ED3 lineup?
I should have added that above.  Yes, the x36 will be there within a month or two.  After the two 9x36 ED 2, I am looking forward to seeing them.  I am condsidering upgrading my 7x36 also.

Edited by Klamath - July/05/2011 at 10:15
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/05/2011 at 15:43
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Thanks for the heads up Steve.Do you have any idea what kind of price change there is?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/05/2011 at 17:05
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Originally posted by stickbow46 stickbow46 wrote:

Thanks for the heads up Steve.Do you have any idea what kind of price change there is?
The website has them up by about $75.00.  There is a discount code, ED3, for 10% off.  I haven't seen if SWFA has that yet, but they should soon if they don't.  That makes the ED 3 about $25.00 more. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/05/2011 at 17:32
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Thanks for the review Klamath. I like to hear about focus wheel, sounds like they made improvement over my 10x43 ed2's loose feeling. Makes me think i might want to upgrade.....Big Smile
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/05/2011 at 19:26
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Originally posted by Klamath
<DIV></DIV>
<DIV></DIV>
<DIV></DIV>I should have added that above.  Yes, the x36 will be there within a month or two.  After the two 9x36 ED 2, I am looking forward to seeing them.  I am condsidering upgrading my 7x36 also.[/QUOTE Klamath
I should have added that above.  Yes, the x36 will be there within a month or two.  After the two 9x36 ED 2, I am looking forward to seeing them.  I am condsidering upgrading my 7x36 also.[/QUOTE wrote:


Well, the above is my bad Sad.  Sorry, but the conversations I had with ZR were about a 7x43, which it turns out
Well, the above is my bad Sad.  Sorry, but the conversations I had with ZR were about a 7x43, which it turns out is in the works.  I am now not at all sure when the x36 versions will show up.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/05/2011 at 23:36
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I would be interested in a 7X43.
Big Smile


Thanks for the quality look into the future, Steve! 

On another note, my ED2 knob is precise and smooth.  Love the idea of improved armoring.   

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/06/2011 at 18:44
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I saw on zen-ray's website, the new glass has an almost purple color reflection, is that the result of newer glass coating?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/06/2011 at 21:32
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Interesting write up, Steve. Sounds like they will be an improvement all around. I wasn't aware of the QC problems with some batches of the older ones. I guess mostly from not being in the market for new bins or paying much attention lately. But it sounds like most of the frustration never reached customers.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/06/2011 at 22:48
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Originally posted by jonoMT jonoMT wrote:

Interesting write up, Steve. Sounds like they will be an improvement all around. I wasn't aware of the QC problems with some batches of the older ones. I guess mostly from not being in the market for new bins or paying much attention lately. But it sounds like most of the frustration never reached customers.
 
We still faithfully inspect every binoculars individually before they were sent out to the dealers like SWFA or to our customers. What Steve was referring was an event that we were able to intercept a very small batch of older models even before they left our warehouse floor.  I shared that experience with Steve over PM, not expecting it got discussed here.   I guess it's like the review: What I can only control is the quality of binoculars to our spec. But I will never know how Steve will think and write about it.
 
 Learning from that experience, we emphasize the quality control at component level, on the factory floor throughout the design/manufacturing process of the ED3 binoculars. Hopefully the new ED3 will serve that mission.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/07/2011 at 09:16
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I've got a couple of quick questions if you don't mind.

1.  Do the accessories, ie. the objective and eyepiece covers, fit better on the ED3?

2.  How many eye cup stops are there?  The one's on my ED2 could have been tighter.  They had a tendency to move from the intended setting.  Are the ED3's tighter to stay put, or about the same?

Thanks, keep up the good work.  These are great products, especially for the $$$. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/07/2011 at 11:25
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Originally posted by spf2 spf2 wrote:

I saw on zen-ray's website, the new glass has an almost purple color reflection, is that the result of newer glass coating?
There are new prism coatings, which should not affect lens color tint.  There are new anti reflective coatings, which are probably the reason for the color difference.
 
JGR
 
The ocular covers are the same, but the objective covers, while they look the same have a much tighter fitting elastic ring to hold the barrel a lot tighter than the ones that came with the ED 2.  The neck strap is different too.  It is now curved to better fit the neck contours, and is shorter than the older style too.


Edited by Klamath - July/07/2011 at 11:27
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/07/2011 at 13:53
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Originally posted by Zen-Ray Zen-Ray wrote:

Originally posted by jonoMT jonoMT wrote:

Interesting write up, Steve. Sounds like they will be an improvement all around. I wasn't aware of the QC problems with some batches of the older ones. I guess mostly from not being in the market for new bins or paying much attention lately. But it sounds like most of the frustration never reached customers.
 
We still faithfully inspect every binoculars individually before they were sent out to the dealers like SWFA or to our customers. What Steve was referring was an event that we were able to intercept a very small batch of older models even before they left our warehouse floor.  I shared that experience with Steve over PM, not expecting it got discussed here.   I guess it's like the review: What I can only control is the quality of binoculars to our spec. But I will never know how Steve will think and write about it.
 
 Learning from that experience, we emphasize the quality control at component level, on the factory floor throughout the design/manufacturing process of the ED3 binoculars. Hopefully the new ED3 will serve that mission.

Charles, I viewed that as entirely a positive reflection on your company. Not everybody would be willing to deal with the hassle of having to do that.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/07/2011 at 16:38
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Nice write up Steve......may need to upgrade my ED's to the ED3 soon.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/08/2011 at 00:11
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Hey Chris, welcome to OT, haven't seen much of you elsewhere lately Big Smile.  The ED 3 is a nice glass and I do think improves the ED 2 in several ways.  I sure don't need to tell you how good the ED 2 is.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/08/2011 at 08:03
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Originally posted by JGRaider JGRaider wrote:

I've got a couple of quick questions if you don't mind.
1.  Do the accessories, ie. the objective and eyepiece covers, fit better on the ED3?


I am very close to pulling the trigger on ordering a pair of ED3s, but I am interested in the answer to this question as well. It is a pain to be out hunting out in the bush only to be fighting the lens covers and not have a decent shoulder harness to carry them with.  At least if these can't be supplied through Zen Ray, it would be nice if they could recommend after market products that work well with these binocs so that the buyer doesn't have to experiment trying to find stuff that works.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/08/2011 at 11:29
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Originally posted by captainjoe captainjoe wrote:

Originally posted by JGRaider JGRaider wrote:

I've got a couple of quick questions if you don't mind.
1.  Do the accessories, ie. the objective and eyepiece covers, fit better on the ED3?


I am very close to pulling the trigger on ordering a pair of ED3s, but I am interested in the answer to this question as well. It is a pain to be out hunting out in the bush only to be fighting the lens covers and not have a decent shoulder harness to carry them with.  At least if these can't be supplied through Zen Ray, it would be nice if they could recommend after market products that work well with these binocs so that the buyer doesn't have to experiment trying to find stuff that works.
Personally, I use Bushwhacker or Butler Creek flip ups on my ZEN ED glass.  I like the Bushwhacker better.  You will have to do some trimming to let the cover slide on around the hinge, but they work and they stay put.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/08/2011 at 19:56
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Thanks for the tip. Which Bushwhacker size worked for you?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/08/2011 at 20:56
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Originally posted by captainjoe captainjoe wrote:

Thanks for the tip. Which Bushwhacker size worked for you?
I'm pretty sure it's number 6.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/13/2011 at 17:03
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I wanted to take the opportunity to chime in about my experiences with the Zen ED3 at this point. I received the 8x43 model at the beginning of last week. Since then I have had the opportunity to compare it with my ED2 and the Pro Optic 8x42 (as well as a few other roof and porro prism models).

Steve's review covered everything about the ED3 quite nicely. All of the key changes from the ED2 design are addressed. To reiterate some of those points with regard to my experience......

Upon removing the binocular from the box the first change that is easily noticed is the armor. Yes, the color is slightly different. It is a more subtle green tone. As Steve mentioned, all of then flashy "descriptors" are gone. The result is a binocular that looks much sleeker and "classy" for lack of a better word.

The second issue that immediately grabs your attention is the texture of the rubber armor. It is almost "smooth" without being slick to the touch. In other words it is very pleasing from a tactile standpoint. Once you pick it up you don't really want to put it down.

It is at this point that you want to put it up to your eyes but you are a bit afraid that the image won't live up to your performance preference.

The good news is that the optical performance is still there...and maybe then some. I say this for a few reasons. One, no, none of the major optical components have changed to my knowledge. The dielectric prism coating has been upgraded and the outer antireflective coating have been changed so there may be a slight increase in overall performance because of it. The glass itself has not changed though so do not expect a huge jump in performance level.

Optically the two areas where I do notice the difference from the ED2 is in the color rendition and in the apparent field of view. Again, as Steve mentioned, the color representation went from a relatively warm tone (slight yellow/red) to a cold one (blue/green). The color representation almost seems to be a bit of a "hybrid" Zeiss/Leica. Overall the color seems Zeiss in nature. However, I do remember using the Ultravids on a few occasions and almost feeling like they were "too bright" in certain situations. I get the same impression from the ED3. The colder color representation certainly gives the impression of a brighter overall image. It also give the impression of slightly greater detail. Direct resolution comparisons between the ED2 and ED3 though do not reveal any measurable difference.

I also mentioned the apparent field of view. Though the true field of view has not changed there does appear to be less field curvature in the image. As a result the apparent field of view "appears to be" larger in the ED3. Again, this is an impression because of the specific type and degree of edge distortion. Not the result of an increase in the true field of view.

Other notable changes worthy of mention....

Eye relief is definitely enhanced. With the eyecups now closer to the same level as the eyepiece surface there definitely is more usable eye relief. This was very noticeable to me after only a brief bit of use. With the ED2 I can have the eyecups fully collapsed and let my eyes scan around the entire image. When I attempt to do much the same thing with the ED3 I end up getting blackouts. I have to back the eyecups out about a half a turn before the blackouts disappear completely. I will probably do a little digging for some rubber o-rings to stick inside the eyecups.

Two, the focusing knob and focusing speed are definitely improved. The texture of the ED3 focusing knob is definitely better. Thank you to whichever forum member suggested it. It gives much better traction and therefore better control of the focus. When you add that to the faster focusing speed then you get a much better focusing design. Admittedly, I do occasionally overshoot perfect focus because the focusing speed is so much faster. But, after repeated use, one becomes accustomed to the new design.

So, the question then whether this "ED3" is only a minor upgrade to the "old" design or if it is really a major upgrade should be posed. I don't have an opinion on it at this point. Just when I think the ED3 is a serious upgrade I pick up the ED2 and am reminded by how a warmer color bias can still be attractive for different reasons. I am also reminded of how a slightly slower focus can give the user more of a sense of control.

I am going to have to give it a bit more time before I draw any definite conclusions.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/13/2011 at 18:30
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Originally posted by FrankD FrankD wrote:

... However, I do remember using the Ultravids on a few occasions and almost feeling like they were "too bright" in certain situations. I get the same impression from the ED3. The colder color representation certainly gives the impression of a brighter overall image. It also give the impression of slightly greater detail. Direct resolution comparisons between the ED2 and ED3 though do not reveal any measurable difference...

This is a good point.  I never really thought of a binocular as being too bright, but I admit, one of the reasons I keep my original Promaster Infinity Elite ELX ED is simply due to its warm color bias.  It is the glass I use when it is really bright and snowy outside, my winter binocular if you will.  The color bias is kind of like using a pair of sunglasses.  I've not yet had the "too bright" reaction from the ED 3, but no bright wintry days yet either.  But it is brighter than the ED 2.  I hope this is as cool of a color bias as we see from ZR.
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