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Theron Mag82, Zen Ray ED2 and Celestron Regal

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/26/2011 at 09:24
FrankD View Drop Down
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I am genuinely excited to be able to write this comparative review for you folks. I had been out of the optiholics anonymous club for well over a year. Truth be told I have not had as much time as I would liked lately to get back into my hobby as much I once was. The kids’ baseball and building a new home take up a great deal of my personal time.

Nevertheless I was really enthused when I had the opportunity to compare three, very amazing spotting scopes. I had reviewed the Celestron Regal 80 F-ED a couple of years ago when it first debuted. At that time I considered it to be the best value of any spotting scope under $1000. I still do. The optical performance on it is only bettered by the true “Alpha” level scopes such as the Zeiss Diascope, Kowa Prominar, Nikon Fieldscope, etc… It was this scope that I chose to use as a benchmark when reviewing two relative newcomers to the spotting scope market…the Theron Optics Mag82 and the Zen Ray ED 2 80 mm class spotters.
 


These spotters have been reviewed before by other more qualified members of this forum. Links to these two threads, along with my previous Celestron review threads can be found here……

Henry Link’s Zen Ray review

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=202943

Steve C’s Zen Ray, Theron, Kowa comparison

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=189659

My Theron (Mag 82 and Saker), Celestron comparison

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=202192

My Celestron Regal 65 and 80 F-ED thread

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....elestron+regal


Some of the material I am going to hit on is a repeat of what has already been stated. I cannot think of a way around that. Some of it will not be as I will try to share my opinion, perspective and preferences as part of the review. Let me start off by saying that I would love to own any and all of these scopes. I do not consider one to be exceptionally better than the other two. If pressed I would have to rate both the Theron and the Zen Ray as slightly better optically than the Celestron overall but for twice the price they should be. So, without further ado…….


Physical Attributes:

The Celestron Regal 80 is the longest and heaviest of the three scopes. It weighs in at 72 ounces and measures 18.5 inches in length with the eyepiece attached. The Theron Mag has an advertised weight of 62 ounces (without eyepiece) and measures 15.5 inches in length with the eyepiece attached. The Zen Ray ED2 has an advertised weight of 64 ounces with eyepiece and measures in at 15.3 inches length. All are physically large 80 mm class spotters. The Zen Ray has the best balance out of the three with both the Theron and the Celestron exhibiting more of a front-heavy feel to them.


The Celestron and Zen Ray both utilize a dual speed, conventional focusing knob while the Theron uses a helical focuser similar to that of the Swarovski and Nikon models. In practice I found the fine focus on both the Celestron and the Zen Ray slightly easier to use to obtain the finest detail in the quickest manner. I was able to attain the same level of detail with the helical focuser of the Theron but it too some time to be accustomed to. I would not rate one design higher than the other in terms of convenience or functionality. My past experiences were with standard focusing knobs so I had a preference to that style initially. After extended use that preference disappeared.

Focusing speed is also different for each of them (assuming we are referring to the course focusing speed only.) The Theron is the fastest by a fair margin. It takes approximately ¾ of a turn of the helical ring to go from one focus stop to the other. The Zen Ray is next with just a little bit over two full turns of the focusing knob to go from one stop to the other. The Celestron is much slower in requiring 13 turns to go from one end to the other. This is one of those areas that can down to largely personal preference. The Celestron can offer greater control in dialing in an object but can also be detrimental in case you need to focus on something quickly. And, of course, the opposite is also true of the Theron. It is excellent if you need to quickly focus on one particular object but requires more precise control to get perfect focus.

Externally both the Zen Ray and Theron feature a hard exterior powder coat-like finish which can easily be scratched or dinged. The Celestron has a skin of rubber armor over the scope to help prevent these issues. All three come with a “view through” case which can make this concern a moot point. All three features sliding sun-shades to reduce glare in difficult lighting conditions.
 


Optical Performance:

It has been my experience that everyone’s favorite topic is optical performance. Consumers want to know how the scope performs not only for the price but also in comparison to some of the best spotting scopes currently on the market (Kowa Prominar, Zeiss Diascope, Swarovski, etc…) This can often be a tough judgment call as we all tend to prefer different optical qualities in our gear. Some prefer the brightest possible image while others prefer the flattest image with excellent edge sharpness. In all but the most expensive scopes this can be a difficult product to find. I can say, with much satisfaction, that these three scopes deliver in just about every area of optical performance. There are some slight differences and some pronounced ones but I think that at least two of them (the Theron and the Zen Ray) are sure to please all but the very most critical of optical aficionado. The Celestron is not far behind optically but it does fall slightly short of the other two models in a few key areas.

All three scopes utilize some form of extra low dispersion glass in their design to aid in reducing chromatic aberration thus producing a sharper, more colorful image. The Celestron Regal uses an air-spaced doublet objective while the Zen Ray and Theron utilize air spaced triplet objectives.

To aid in the comparison I wrote up a brief comparison chart which illustrates various aspects of the scopes’ optical performance in comparison to one another. Keep in mind that all of the scopes perform well above average in their respective price ranges so the results are entirely relative to the other scopes in the comparison.

Rankings were based on the "1-first, 2-2nd, 3-3rd" system. If I felt two scopes were too close to call in one particular area then I gave them the same score. I wouldn't put too much stock in tallying the totals because we all tend to put more emphasis in one area or another.

Celestron Regal -Theron Mag 82- Zen Ray ED2(20-60x zoom)

25x zoom setting

Apparent Sharp. 2 1 2
CA control 1 2 (edge control) 1
Apparent Brightness Equal Across the Board
Edge Performance 2 3 1
Contrast 3 (close to 2) 1 2
Field of view 1 2 1

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/26/2011 at 16:05
deltacornbread View Drop Down
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 Frank, thanks for posting. I found it imformative and very interesting. Of course, I do like knowing that my choice of purchasing the Mag 82 is a good one!
 People must be happy with the Celestron. Been out for awhile and I have not seen any on the second hand market. AND I have been looking for the last year or so.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/26/2011 at 16:58
Bitterroot Bulls View Drop Down
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Very nice Frank!

Thanks.

I wonder if my Razor HD would accept that Zen Ray 25-50.  I have heard Swaro eyepieces use the same bayonet as the ED2, and the ED2 and Razor HD have more than a passing resemblance.  I suspect focal length among all three are similar, and if the bayonets match, eyepiece swapping would probably work.

Any ideas?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/26/2011 at 23:14
FrankD View Drop Down
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Matt,
 
Not at the moment but I can do a little digging into the issue to see if it is feasible. I have read that the Zen Ray is made in China while the Vortex is made in Japan. If one was designed based on the other then I wouldn't see why it wouldn't work.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/30/2011 at 12:54
spf2 View Drop Down
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I was able to swap standard 20-60x eyepiece between my ZEN ED2 and my friend's Razor HD spotting scope when did our comparison.  Since their 30x WA EP are identical according to the images on the website, they must be interchangeable as well.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/30/2011 at 23:38
Bitterroot Bulls View Drop Down
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Originally posted by spf2 spf2 wrote:

I was able to swap standard 20-60x eyepiece between my ZEN ED2 and my friend's Razor HD spotting scope when did our comparison.  Since their 30x WA EP are identical according to the images on the website, they must be interchangeable as well.



Thanks spf2,

I thought they would interchange.  It seems the similarities are more than skin-deep with those two spotters.  I am interested in the eyepiece, but not interested in spending $700 for the swaro.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/01/2011 at 09:40
FrankD View Drop Down
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Matt,
 
You might also consider their 25-50x wide angle zoom when it hits the market. The field of view is actually wider at the 30x setting than the 30x fixed power eyepiece.
 
;)
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2011 at 00:01
FrankD View Drop Down
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I thought you guys might appreciate my first fairly serious digiscoping attempt with the Theron Mag82. Sorry, no whitetails, just a male house sparrow at the backyard feeder. Distance was about 20 yards at 21x.
 


Edited by FrankD - July/02/2011 at 00:02
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2011 at 00:13
Bitterroot Bulls View Drop Down
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That is a nice shot, Frank.

Did you process the pic at all?

I bet the uncompressed original is even more impressive.

It looks like there is a little purple CA on the lip of the feeder.  Is that an artifact of the scope or the camera? I noticed my older Canon puts some CA like that on some of my digiscoped pics.  My Sony is much better.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2011 at 12:00
anomad View Drop Down
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Nice picture. That's much better than the ones you see in the online identification guides.
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