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What's in a name?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/17/2012 at 07:44
River Runner View Drop Down
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I've noticed on this opticstalk forum that some names, that I had never heard of a few months ago, are really popular with you guys.  Names like Vortex and Sunray.  Dollar for dollar, are they really better than the big names like Nikon, Bushnell?  I know that Nikon Monarch ATBs are very popular with birders for around $250-$300.  Can you really get anything better from these smaller companies for a comparable price?
 
I've heard some pretty harsh words for Barska.  I can't say I've had nothing but good experience with Barska.  I sent back some Gladiator 25-125x80s that were just awful.  But one of my three spotters is a Barska and among my five binoculars  I own some 15x70 Barska binoculars and have some 9x63 Barskas on order.  Barskas may not be the highest quality, but as far as bang for the buck, I don't know of any better.  If you pay $75 for some Barska 8x42 Binoculars, you are going to see pretty darn well with them.  That's seventy-five bucks!  I paid $65 for my 15x70 and you can get a pretty impresive view of the moon with them.  This is fun on the cheap!  And 9x63?   That's a ton of light gathering for around $85!  Who needs a night vision scope?    
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/17/2012 at 09:49
Alan Robertson View Drop Down
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Originally posted by River Runner River Runner wrote:

I've noticed on this opticstalk forum that some names, that I had never heard of a few months ago, are really popular with you guys.  Names like Vortex and Sunray.  Dollar for dollar, are they really better than the big names like Nikon, Bushnell?  I know that Nikon Monarch ATBs are very popular with birders for around $250-$300.  Can you really get anything better from these smaller companies for a comparable price?
 
I've heard some pretty harsh words for Barska.  I can't say I've had nothing but good experience with Barska.  I sent back some Gladiator 25-125x80s that were just awful.  But one of my three spotters is a Barska and among my five binoculars  I own some 15x70 Barska binoculars and have some 9x63 Barskas on order.  Barskas may not be the highest quality, but as far as bang for the buck, I don't know of any better.  If you pay $75 for some Barska 8x42 Binoculars, you are going to see pretty darn well with them.  That's seventy-five bucks!  I paid $65 for my 15x70 and you can get a pretty impresive view of the moon with them.  This is fun on the cheap!  And 9x63?   That's a ton of light gathering for around $85!  Who needs a night vision scope?    
" Names like Vortex and Sunray..."
That's Zen- Ray... no biggie.
_____________
"I know that Nikon Monarch ATBs are very popular with birders for around $250-$300."
Pentax PCF WPII is much better than a Monarch for a whole lot less. There are several other models from different companies that also beat the Monarch in price and quality. For just a little more than the price of a Monarch, one can get very near "Alpha" glass quality.

_____________
"I've heard some pretty harsh words for Barska. "
There's a reason for that.
____
" Barskas may not be the highest quality..."
You nailed it.
_____________
"This is fun on the cheap!"
Excellent point!
It's good that you are happy... you
should be happy with your equipment, or get something that does satisfy you. You have an array of optics for less than the price of just one of the more expensive choices.
We are blessed to have so many wonderful optics available to us. If you ever decide to improve one of your optics, you will find many to choose from.
It would be a mistake to think that just because something more or less works at an extremely low price, that something else at a higher price isn't better at that higher price.

I have a pair of Barska 8x20 pocket folders that are the best $6 pair of binos I own.
They are horrible by every measure, but nevertheless, they function as binoculars.




Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/17/2012 at 10:37
Bitterroot Bulls View Drop Down
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Zen Ray is an Oregon company that markets products made in China. They have very good quality control and excellent customer service. Vortex is similar, but a bigger, more mainstream company that has products manufactured in various Pacific Rim countries.   Both of these companies do more than just rebadge OEM products. They invest in design and improvements. Durability is another design goal for both companies.

Barska has terrible quality control, in my experience. Some of their products perform OK. Many do not. Customer Service is not one of their strong points, either.

I would take a Zen Ray ZRS over a Monarch any day of the week. Zen Ray's ED series makes the Monarch line look silly.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/17/2012 at 10:41
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I have had several pair of cheap binos. Meaning under $100.  A couple Bushnell, a couple from Nikon, a couple Jason, and a Tasco.  I used those cheap binos for years and years.  Not really liking to use them and ended up using my rifle scope more than my binos because they just did not do what I needed to do.  The color fringing, small sweet spot, chromatic aberation, was horrible in those. 

Then about 6 years ago, I used my saved up Cabelas card club points and bought a pair of Cabelas Euro, which are Meopta Meostars.  The difference is truly staggering vs those cheaper end products.  Now I could very much see so much detail and I actually love glassing now, they are fantastic.  Last fall I bought a pair of Leica Geovid HDs, because I wanted a bino range finder combo.  I felt the same way with those, glass is amazing.

I still have all my cheap binos, and occasionally I still look through them as I keep one pair in my truck and one in my ATV box.  They work, but it always amazes me the diff between them and the Meopta and Leicas. 

Cheaper binos have their place for sure and nothing is wrong with them for certain uses.  But they truly do not offer what higher end optics can offer.  Even comparing the under $100 to the $300 to $500 binos the difference is huge.  If a person really wants to see detail, to not get eye fatigue and to be able to glass for hours and hours then spending the money is for sure worth it.  Take if from someone who has used both a lot, there really is no comparison. 

I have looked through several Vortex products.  Razor binos (had a pair for 2 weeks to test drive) Viper Binos, Razor spotting scope, and have owned to Viper rifle scopes.  All were excellent in their respective price ranges. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/17/2012 at 11:26
Bird Watcher View Drop Down
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Originally posted by Bitterroot Bulls Bitterroot Bulls wrote:

Barska has terrible quality control, in my experience.
Some of their products perform OK. Many do not.
Customer Service is not one of their strong points, either.
 
If Barska would address the Quality Control Issues, in their binoculars, they would have much less neeed for Customer Service in the first place.  Wink
 
By the way, I own a Barska 30x80 X-Trail and have been using it since Dec.2005.
I returned the first two because of Q.C. problems; finally, a Barksa employee, in California, hand-picked the third one and sent it to me.
Even the third 30x80mm had some minor issues, but, for the small amount of money, it has been ALOT of fun to use for long distance viewing.
 
However, my made in Japan, Orion 30x80 MEGAView is a better quality giant binocular, overall, for ALOT more money.   
Stan
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/18/2012 at 23:37
River Runner View Drop Down
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I received my Blakchawk 9x63 and am sending it back.  It didn't perform up to expectations.  Not by a long shot.  I guess I'm going to have to side with you guys on Barska.  I have one Barska binocular and one Barska spotting scope that I feel were a good value, but this makes two Barska products I've sent back, though I don't think it is a quality control issue as much as poor design and cheap construction.  On that note, Bushnells are pretty cheap too and I've had nothing but good luck with them so far.  My Legend Ultra HD 10x42s are very sharp and very bright and found a pair in camo for $220 and I have some much cheaper 10x50 poros that are surprisingly sharp.

I'll check into Sun-Ray when I get the chance, but seems that comparing an ED glas Sun-Ray to a conventional glass Nikon Monarch would only be a fair comparison if the price were comparible.  The Monarch isn't Nikon's best.  Nikon makes ED glass binoculars too, but at a much higher price than the Monarch.  Now if the Sun-Ray ED binoculars are the same price as the Monarchs, then I'd certainly want to give them a look.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/18/2012 at 23:56
River Runner View Drop Down
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Zen Ray.  Cheese and rice.  Zen Ray not  Sun Ray.  Can't seem to get Sun Ray out of my head.  Sorry!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2012 at 10:29
Klamath View Drop Down
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Originally posted by River Runner River Runner wrote:

Zen Ray.  Cheese and rice.  Zen Ray not  Sun Ray.  Can't seem to get Sun Ray out of my head.  Sorry!
Get one and try it.  It will be like a ray of sunlight has brightened up your view.  See, you aren't so far off Big Smile.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2012 at 12:15
Bitterroot Bulls View Drop Down
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Originally posted by River Runner River Runner wrote:

 Now if the Sun-Ray ED binoculars are the same price as the Monarchs, then I'd certainly want to give them a look.

Here ya go:
 
 
Vs.
 
 
$50 difference.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2012 at 13:58
Klamath View Drop Down
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Originally posted by River Runner River Runner wrote:

II'll check into Sun-Ray when I get the chance, but seems that comparing an ED glas Sun-Ray to a conventional glass Nikon Monarch would only be a fair comparison if the price were comparible.  The Monarch isn't Nikon's best.  Nikon makes ED glass binoculars too, but at a much higher price than the Monarch.  Now if the Sun-Ray ED binoculars are the same price as the Monarchs, then I'd certainly want to give them a look.

Having owned Moinarchs as well as the Zen Ray's, trust me a Monarch is not close.  Nikon designed the Monarch as what will probably come to be looked at as a classic binocular back in 200-01 or thereabouts.  It was great for the time, but Nikon sat on its laurels and did nothing...nothing, to improve it.  All of the major players did nothing for quite awhile, except scramble to get on the  mid price phase coating developed by Pentax in 1995.  So along comes unknown names like Zen Ray who see clearly that there are BIG improvements possible, so they go do them.  So where's Nikon? On the Monarch 5 which is just shifting around the same old same old Monarch.  The Monarch also got ED glass in one of its few "sort of" improvements.
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