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Zen ED2 or Swift Audubon

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/07/2011 at 14:38
Alan Robertson View Drop Down
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Howdy folks,
The price/performance of either a Zen-ray ED2 8x43 or the Swift Audubon 8.5x44 (in roof, porro or porro ED) seems to suit my needs.

Haven't been able to compare/view them, but reviews have led me to these choices.
Are there any other models in this range worth comparing (which are carried by SWFA?)

I'm also interested in my final selection being as durable and waterproof as possible. If any of you have experience with any of my choices, or could recommend something else in this range, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks, Alan

Ps I keep a little pair of Barska 8x21 binos at my desk to view birds at the feeder. They are the best $6.95 binoculars I've ever owned... an upgrade is in order.   :)
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/07/2011 at 15:32
Klamath View Drop Down
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Allan,
 
I have had them both.  The ZEN ED (the original, not the ED 2) is essentially the roof equivalent of the Audubon porro.  The depth of field is somewhat better in the Swift, probably due to the porro  design.  They are both big binoculars, but the image is a wash between the two.  The ZEN ED 2 I think has the edge on the Swift in better brightness and contrast, not much, but there if you have them side by side.  Steven Ingraham in a review in his Better View Desired website called the Swift the "poor man's Swarovski EL".  In my experience that statement holds true for the ZEN ED 2.
 
I ultimately did not keep the Swift, which was the 820 ED version, largely because the oculars were too large in diameter and were essentially too large to fit my eye sockets properly and began to chafe somewhat if used for long periods of time.  I am not small, and I have a reasonably flat, open face, so unique physical characteristics was not my problem, the oculars were just too big in diameter.  Eye relief will be an issue with Swift if you wear glasses.
 
The original version of the Swift 820 Audubon has only just been replaced by a new version.  I have talked to a couple of dealers about them and to say the new ones get less than stellar reviews from the dealers is an understatement.  I have yet to ask anybody at SWFA about them, since they are Swift dealers, you might try that approach.
 
SWFA carries Hawke binoculars, which are essentially a ZEN ED with a different brand logo and some internal differences.  I would also take a serious look at the Kreuger Caldera, also on the SWAFA site.
 
If you are interested in waterproofness and durability, the ZEN ED 2 is the better choice.  The Swift is supposedly sealed, but has a relatively weak eye piece bridge that can flex and that action I think may wear the seal and eliminate the water resistance.  The Swift is not nitrogen purged.  The ZEN ED 2 also has water and oil repellent coatings, which I can tell you from experience work.


Edited by Klamath - February/07/2011 at 15:42
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/07/2011 at 15:59
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/08/2011 at 08:39
Alan Robertson View Drop Down
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Thanks for the fast responses. I haven't viewed any model mentioned, but I have seen the most excellent Swarovski ELs to which these Swifts (and Zen- Ray) have been compared. If the Zen- Ray and Swift optics are as close to alpha as everyone says, then they are very good indeed.

The difficulties with eye- relief (I do wear glasses) had just about eliminated the Swifts. Weakness with the bridge was also not a point in their favor.

Everyone out there gives good reports about Zen- Ray customer service. Their repair services are located near the Leupold factory in Oregon, which means they should have a pool of skilled optics craftsmen to draw from.

Although I really like the view offered by porros, I see a new pair of roofs in my future.
I will poke around and see what I can find about the Calderas, as well.

Klamath, I appreciate your comparative information, as it added to what I'd already found.
Bird Watcher, thanks for the links.


Edited by Alan Robertson - February/08/2011 at 08:40
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/08/2011 at 12:01
Klamath View Drop Down
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Originally posted by Alan Robertson Alan Robertson wrote:

Thanks for the fast responses. I haven't viewed any model mentioned, but I have seen the most excellent Swarovski ELs to which these Swifts (and Zen- Ray) have been compared. If the Zen- Ray and Swift optics are as close to alpha as everyone says, then they are very good indeed.
Allan,
 
What you will see as the primary differences in the EL and the ZEN ED 2 is that the EL will have a sharper edge (this is the original EL, I have not seen the new one yet) than the Z ED 2.  It will have a better depth of focus than the Z ED 2, but the effect of that show itself in the fact that the focus is better close in when focused on a more distant object.  Any binocular gets more focus fiddly as viewing gets closer in.
 
Additionally the EL, or any other alpha, will have a more sophisticated, refined and more durable feel.  The same for the focus action.  The Z ED 2 is not a poorly built glass, but no they are not alpha in that regard.  Centerfield image, contrast and color is pretty much even.  So what you get with this is a practical single digit in percentage point difference.  For giving up that small amount you save enough money to buy two pair of Z ED 2 binoculars and a Z ED 2 spotter and still have money left over.
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/08/2011 at 12:36
Alan Robertson View Drop Down
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Steve,
I agree with what you say, without ever having seen the Zens or similar ED models, just based on reviews. All voices out there (and your reviews here and there) reach the same conclusions... 4- 5X the price gets me 5% more optical performance and the look and feel of the alpha class.

The same holds true for scopes, too. While I love the view through a Swarovski Z6, my Conquests do all that I ask and left me enough cash to put into powder and range time (and new binos).

Have you had a chance to review the Calderas?
I really like what you had to say about the Therons.
By the way, thanks for all of your great reviews, here and elsewhere.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/08/2011 at 15:09
Klamath View Drop Down
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Originally posted by Alan Robertson Alan Robertson wrote:

Steve,
I agree with what you say, without ever having seen the Zens or similar ED models, just based on reviews. All voices out there (and your reviews here and there) reach the same conclusions... 4- 5X the price gets me 5% more optical performance and the look and feel of the alpha class.

The same holds true for scopes, too. While I love the view through a Swarovski Z6, my Conquests do all that I ask and left me enough cash to put into powder and range time (and new binos).

Have you had a chance to review the Calderas?
I really like what you had to say about the Therons.
By the way, thanks for all of your great reviews, here and elsewhere.

I'm working on the Caldera.  I talked to Krueger a year or more ago when those were first introduced.  It took them a very long time to get them out and ready to sell and in the meantime they sort of slipped to the back of my mind.  They did not go back on my radar until just a couple of days ago when I was looking at SWFA and noticed the Kruger link there.
 
I just got hands on with brand new 8x and 10x43 ZEN ED 2 and they are both better than my first run ED 2's.  The focus is much nicer and the edge performance is better.
 
I'm always glad to see somebody who likes the reviews.  Thanks for the kind words.
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