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Vortex Razors, Monarch-X, or Chinese ED's

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/13/2009 at 15:50
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Has anyone had any experience with the new Vortex Razors or the Nikon Monarch -X binoculars? I'm looking for a pair of 10 X 42's, and would like to keep in the $750 and under range. I'd be open to the new Chinese ED's, but know nothing about them. Thanks in advance for any help.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/13/2009 at 16:13
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I don't think the Vortex Razors can be beat for their price range.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/13/2009 at 20:42
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I bought the Zen Ray 10x43.  Pretty good and around half the cost of the Razors.  Same style.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/14/2009 at 12:18
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AFAIK, Monarch-X is made in China too. If it has ED glass, it's Chinese ED too. ;)

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/14/2009 at 13:36
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Razors are great and currently have a $100-150 rebate.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/15/2009 at 07:46
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Didn't realize that, I thought all Nikons were Japanese.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/15/2009 at 07:49
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I have looked through the Razors at a local store, and was quite impressed. I was wondering if anyone had compared the newest Razors (HD System) with the new ED's.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/15/2009 at 09:00
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Has anyone looked at the new Bushnell Ultra HD binoculars?  How do they compare?  I would consider them if they get a favorable review.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/18/2009 at 09:34
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BW,
 
Here is a review I posted of the Bushnell Ultra HD 8x42 a few weeks ago over on BF. Hope it proves helpful.
 
As with most reviews I am going to break this down into the optical and the mechanical/ergonomic. If there are any specific questions then let me know and I will do my best to answer them.

Mechanical/Ergonomic

Mechanically these bins seem well put together for the typical $300 roof (slightly cheaper to significantly cheaper at some retailers). The focusing mechanism has a good amount of tension but is not difficult to move. It feels very similar to the original Legend in this regard (you will hear me say that often). The focusing speed is average in making 1.66 turns from one end of the focus range to just slightly past infinity. The eyecups have three positions...fully collapsed, halfway extended and fully extended. It seems to me, under initial inspection, that they will hold very solidly in either of the two extended positions. Central hinge tension is very good. I cannot imagine it moving accidentally. Much the same could be said for the diopter which is of the pull-up to move, push down to lock variety...nice touch!

Ergonomically I am very fond of this binocular. It has all of the wonderful handling of the original Legend as well as similarities to the other typical $300 roofs (Nikon Monarch, Pentax WP II, etc...) that have sold so well over the last 5 to 6 years. The physical length is well under 6 inches and the weight is in the low 20 oz range...a perfect compromise between compactness and usability for a variety of applications. The heavy "ribbing" in the rubber along the barrels serves to give one a very solid grip though it is not quite as comfortable as some of the smoother designs.

Optical Performance

I know this is what many of you want to know. The big question is going to be whether or not it compares with the recent crop of open-bridge ED roofs that have hit the market over the last 9-10 months. I will leave my impression of the answer to that question for last.

The strong points of the Ultrad HD are fairly straight forward. One, the image is bright. As bright and brighter than any other $300 roof I have owned. Initial impressions make me believe it is close to the other ED glass binocular that have recently hit the market though my comparisons have been limited at this point. Apparent centerfield sharpness is very, very good. It has the same "clean" look to the image that many of the other binoculars that utilize some form of ED glass display. Again, I have not done extensive side by side comparisons at this point but it does appear to be nearly as sharp and as vibrant in color in the center of the field as the other EDs.

The weak points? Well, as referenced in another thread once you get away from the center 50% of the image (yes, you read that correctly...it has a small sweet spot) the image quality drops off. It is not a rapid drop off but the image does exhibit both field curvature and astigmatism in the outer 50% of the image. It is gradual though so the overall quality of the image is not drastically affected by this. I think the easiest way for me to relate this is to imagine the original Bushnell Legend which had reasonably good edge performance but with a narrow (330 foot) field of view. Take that image quality over the 330 feet and then add field curvature and some astigmatism to the remaining 100 feet or so to get a moderately accurate representation of the Legend HD. The 426 listed field of view does produce a very "wide" representation of the area being studied an the amount of distortion in the outer portion of the image is noticeable but only when you look for it directly.

Conclusion:

I believe this binocular is certainly worth the $290 that it is currently selling for. Does it compete directly with the open-bridge ED binocular currently on the market? That depends on your preferences. If you want a more compact 42 mm model with comparable centerfield performance then the Legend Ultra HD would most certainly fit the bill. If you are after the utmost image quality for the price and you don't mind a slightly longer and slightly heavier binocular then the open-bridge ED models would be a better bet.

On a side note, the accessories and packaging of the Legend HDs are excellent. They come with a hard case similar to that of the original Legends and or several of the Vortex models I have recently owned. They also come with a section of the straps factory-attached to the binocular itself. This "quick detach" section can be used either with a standard, heavily padded Bushnell neckstrap or a standard shoulder harness also provided as part of the original package deal. Nicely done!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/22/2009 at 09:59
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Thanks Frank.  I appreciate your review.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/29/2009 at 14:41
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For the money I think the new Chinese ED binoculars (I looked at Hawke ED 8x43) are exceptionally good.

In use, I preferred the Vortex Razor, but it is a more expensive binocular (I liked the focusing knob and the depth of field on the Vortex).

Ultimately, if you can afford Vortex Razor is a spectacular binocular.

If the price of the Razor is a bit too steep, check out Hawke Frontier ED, Zen-Ray ED or ED2 or Vortex Viper. 

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/29/2009 at 15:55
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Originally posted by B-Line B-Line wrote:

Didn't realize that, I thought all Nikons were Japanese.

Nope.  Nikon makes stuff in China, Thailand, etc.  Leica has huge factories in Canada.  Companies have sought out cheaper labor for decades.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/30/2009 at 08:16
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Is there a drastic difference between the original razors & the newer "HD version"?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/07/2009 at 17:54
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According to a reliable source who emailed me today, the Razors will not have dielectric-coated prisms until 2010. Presumably, that means no improvements to the glass until then either. (Although Razor glass is already very good). I think it just means Vortex will have a harder time competing "on paper" with the features of the Zen ED2s, especially given the price.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/07/2009 at 18:07
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Originally posted by jonoMT jonoMT wrote:

According to a reliable source who emailed me today, the Razors will not have dielectric-coated prisms until 2010. Presumably, that means no improvements to the glass until then either. (Although Razor glass is already very good). I think it just means Vortex will have a harder time competing "on paper" with the features of the Zen ED2s, especially given the price.

Are you sure that is a reliable source?

I was told by Vortex that currently Kaibab, Razor and Viper all have dielectric coatings.

I can ask again though.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/19/2009 at 06:16
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Interesting now that both Vortex's site and the source (which I shared with Koshkin) now state that the Razors do have dielectric coatings - http://www.vortexoptics.com/product/vortex-razor-8x42-binocular

I wonder though what the chances are of getting old stock vs. new when ordering. A question I'd have to direct to SWFA.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/25/2009 at 21:58
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I have a Vortex Razor and would highly recommend them!  I have not compared them to any of these mentioned in this thread though.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 13:48
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I have a pair of 8x42 Razors and love them! According to the Vortex website you can get a $100.00 - $150.00 rebate. http://www.vortexoptics.com/uploads/rebate_razor_09-1.pdf
Sam
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 14:35
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I continue to lean towards the Razors, especially if I can get a pair that uses the dielectric-coated prisms. However, I just picked up a very slightly used pair of Nikon Monarch ATBs for $160, which was too good of a deal to pass up ($70-80 less than a new pair w/rebate). That overcame my desire to have the better glass of the Vipers or Razors for now. I hate to miss out on the Razor rebate but will have to for this year.

I wonder if Vortex will have to respond to price/performance pressure anyway from Zen-Ray, etc. even though they already offer a bin almost as good as the alphas for half the price.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2009 at 18:08
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Originally posted by jonoMT jonoMT wrote:

I wonder if Vortex will have to respond to price/performance pressure anyway from Zen-Ray, etc. even though they already offer a bin almost as good as the alphas for half the price.
 
That will probably be difficult to do as long as they are made in Japan.  The ZR, Hawke, Promaster EDs have significantly lower manufacturing cost because they are made in China.
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