New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Zen Ray 8x43 Review
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Check GunBroker.com for SWFA's No Reserve and No Minimum bid firearm auctions.

Zen Ray 8x43 Review

 Post Reply Post Reply   Topic Search Topic Search  Topic Options Topic Options
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/27/2009 at 20:06
FrankD View Drop Down
Optics Journeyman
Optics Journeyman


Joined: November/11/2005
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 684
I had decided earlier today to make a brief trip up to a local lake to take the dog for a walk. I put the neckstrap on the Minox BD BP porros in anticipation of taking them out on their first "field trip". Slight change of plans though. As I opened the front door I glanced down and noticed the "Priority Mail" box sitting on the front step. I was a bit surprised as I usually hear the doorbell ring when one of the delivery folks drops something off. The zero degree temperature last night must have done something to the doorbell mechanism as I wasn't able to get it to work either.

I grabbed the box and looked at the label. Sure enough it was the Zen Ray ED binoculars that I was keeping an eye out for. I threw them, and the dog, in the car and headed up to the lake. Upon reaching the parking area I tore open the box and took out a beautiful little set of binoculars. I say "beautiful" simply because I really do like the color scheme they have employed. They have the same color rubber armor as the Swaro ELs but with more distinctive black accents over the central bridge and in the eyecup area. Even the large red and white "Zen ED" logos located on the binocular look fairly tasteful...something I was not so sure of when I first saw the picture of them on the net.

Since they were going out walking with me I had to put the neckstrap on (so much for the neckstrap hypothesis for "keepers" Winking ). The neckstrap is a wonderful design in one sense and a bit of an annoyance in another. The positive aspect of it is that it is of the same design as the Vero Vellini that I use for the Meoptas. In others words the neck is fairly well padded and it has that handy little "quick disconnect" feature that leaves a portion of the neckstrap still secured to the binoculars. The reason I enjoy this design is because many times I just tote the binoculars around the house or out on the back porch. Both are places that I do not need to have a neckstrap attached. The negative? Well, even with the neckstrap tightened to its shortest setting the binoculars hang incredibly low on my 6' 4" frame. I would say at least to my belly button. If there was some way to shorten the strap further then I would most certainly be raving about the factory included neckstrap as I love the design. The rest of the accessories are entirely adequate. They come with a hardcase similar to that of the Hawke Frontier ED/Vortex Diamondback, etc... and the usual rainguard and objective covers. FWIW the box they came in looks pretty classy in all black with red and white "ZEN ED" inscribed upon it.

Ok, enough of the niceties, lets get down to how they perform and function mechanically.

Ergonomics/Mechanics

Physically the binoculars seem practically identical to the Hawke Frontier EDs minus the color differences. They have the same solid feel and wonderful fit and finish to them. There isn't any play in the click-stop rotating eyecups...the focusing knob has good tension without any play in it and the central hinge is stiff enough not to move unnecessarily.

Speaking of focus, when I initially pulled them out you could tell that they had been sitting in the cold for some time as the focusing knob was stiffer to turn than anything I remember (except maybe the Vanguard). This was initially a concern to me as I have memories of comments surrounding the stiff focus on the Vortex Razor initially. I immediately wanted to write them off as "less than adequate" for this reason but changed my mind after more extended usage. The focusing tension was still fairly stiff in the 15 degree F weather but I was able to turn it satisfactorily after working on it for a minute or two. As I sit typing this I am working the focusing knob again. It is much smoother at room temperature but still is a bit stiffer than what I remember the Promaster and possibly the Hawke. I do not believe anyone would have a major issue with this but I thought it was worthy of being mentioned.

I find the overall ergonomics to be quite agreeable. It has the same texture and balance of that of the Hawke Frontier ED with slightly different texturing along the outer edge of each barrel. The physical weight of the binocular feels entirely acceptable for my tastes and I cannot imagine having a problem toting it around for an extended period of time.

Optical performance

Though it seems like an often used cliche in binocular reviews, this is where these binoculars really shine...pun intended. These binoculars are bright, sharp, largely free of distortion with a reasonably flat field of view and excellent chromatic aberration control. I would suggest they offer just as sharp and clean of an image as the Promaster EDs but with a larger field of view. Sounds similar to the Hawke's doesn't it? Well, it is except I would offer that this binocular, despite the same listed field of view seems to display slightly less field curvature and edge distortion than the Hawke Frontier ED. I would venture to say that it is a blend of the two from an optical perspective. I am hoping Kevin can chime in more on this issue as he has all three binoculars currently in his possession.

Looking through these binoculars is a wonderful experience. You immediately get the feeling that you are there...next to the bird and not really looking through a binocular at all. As with the Promasters the image is "Alpha" sharp, bright and wonderfully colorful. The color representation is fairly neutral with the ever so slightest warm color bias. It is less than either the Meopta or the Hawke and possibly at the same level as the Promaster. With alot of snow on the ground it is somewhat noticeable. If this was spring or summer I would be willing to bet that I would have a hard time noticing it.

At this moment I am looking out through the back window of my home at my bird feeders. There are goldfinches, pine siskins and a variety of other beautiful little birds in and around the feeders. It is a pure pleasure to look at them with the Zen Ray ED binoculars. They most certainly compare with anything I have in my selection at the present time and easily better many of them optically. For the $340-some dollars these can be had for right now I think they are just too good to pass up. They easily surpass the typical $300 roofs in so many ways that it would easily take me another half page to describe it.

Take a hard look at these. They are beautiful "little" bins.

Hopefully more to follow.
 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/27/2009 at 20:19
lucytuma View Drop Down
Optics Jedi Knight
Optics Jedi Knight
Avatar

Joined: November/25/2007
Location: Wisconsin
Status: Offline
Points: 5389
Frank, in your opinion what do these three binos (Hawk, Promaster & Zen Ray) compare too optically.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/27/2009 at 20:29
FrankD View Drop Down
Optics Journeyman
Optics Journeyman


Joined: November/11/2005
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 684
lucytuma,
 
That is a difficult question to answer in that they don't really directly compare to any other bin out there...at least in one sense. They have the optical clarity, and overall specs (field of view, close focus, eye relief, etc..) of the Alpha bins. On that point I would respectfully challenge anyone but the most discriminating optics user to disagree. In my experience the Promaster and the Zen Ray might be a small bit ahead of the Hawke simply because the Hawke displays slightly more field curvature. Yet, the Promaster has a narrower field of view than either of the other two so that, too, has to be considered.
 
I guess what I would say is that if someone is looking for true Alpha level performance but cannot come close to affording it then these three binoculars are what I would direct them to.
 
...oh, and the pic is a bit distorted. The bins aren't anywhere near as long as they appear in the pic. It happened when I converted it to fit on the page. I will see if I can eventually rectify it.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/28/2009 at 10:14
spf2 View Drop Down
Optics Apprentice
Optics Apprentice


Joined: February/02/2007
Status: Offline
Points: 169
Originally posted by FrankD FrankD wrote:

...oh, and the pic is a bit distorted. The bins aren't anywhere near as long as they appear in the pic. It happened when I converted it to fit on the page. I will see if I can eventually rectify it.
 
ahaa.. It was ane slim/tall binoculars, I was thinking after looking at the photo.  Thanks for the review. I have their lower end binoculars and it is very good for the money.  Do you see any benefit with wider field of view from ZEN?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/28/2009 at 11:14
Klamath View Drop Down
Optics Master
Optics Master
Avatar

Joined: May/20/2007
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1267
I have both the Promaster ELX ED and the ZEN ED.  The Promaster is 8x42, the ZEN in both 8x43 and 10x 43.  They are very hard to seperate out.  For instance while the ZEN is a wider fov, there are no repellent coatings like the Promaster.  The Promaster had smooth rubber armour, the ZEN is stippled.  As far as image clarity is concerned, you will look untill your eyes water and probably not find any difference.  The look of the ZEN is a bit brighter.
 
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/28/2009 at 13:46
FrankD View Drop Down
Optics Journeyman
Optics Journeyman


Joined: November/11/2005
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 684
Originally posted by Klamath Klamath wrote:

I have both the Promaster ELX ED and the ZEN ED.  The Promaster is 8x42, the ZEN in both 8x43 and 10x 43.  They are very hard to seperate out.  For instance while the ZEN is a wider fov, there are no repellent coatings like the Promaster.  The Promaster had smooth rubber armour, the ZEN is stippled.  As far as image clarity is concerned, you will look untill your eyes water and probably not find any difference.  The look of the ZEN is a bit brighter.
 
 
 
I tend to agree with everything Klamath posted. I don't have the Promasters in my possession in the moment but going by memory I would say the observations are spot-on. This is an excellent bin for the money!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/05/2009 at 19:29
spf2 View Drop Down
Optics Apprentice
Optics Apprentice


Joined: February/02/2007
Status: Offline
Points: 169

What's the dimension on the ZEN ED? I looked and could not find that information. Is there enough space to put your fingers in the open area?

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/05/2009 at 22:48
Klamath View Drop Down
Optics Master
Optics Master
Avatar

Joined: May/20/2007
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1267
The ZEN ED is 7" long eyecups extended  This is the same size as the Swarovski EL and the Vortex Razor.  There is room for two fingers between the hinges and there is enough room to get your fingers of one hand around the barrel.  The gap between the barrels is about .75" on the ZEN.  The picture Frank posted is a bit distorted.

Edited by Klamath - March/05/2009 at 22:50
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/06/2009 at 17:24
spf2 View Drop Down
Optics Apprentice
Optics Apprentice


Joined: February/02/2007
Status: Offline
Points: 169
Thank you. That's the information I was looking for. I think I will get a 10x43 once I have fund available.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/09/2009 at 14:12
geezer View Drop Down
Optics Apprentice
Optics Apprentice
Avatar

Joined: October/22/2008
Location: Georgia
Status: Offline
Points: 133
I just got a pair of 8X43 Zen Ray ED's in last week.  They are much nicer than I could have imagined.  These will see a lot of field time.  They are very clear and bright - I watched rabbits feeding on the other side of a field last night at approx 8:30 pm.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/11/2009 at 06:57
Bird Watcher View Drop Down
Optics Master
Optics Master
Avatar

Joined: August/30/2006
Status: Offline
Points: 1490
Frank or Steve,
 
Are these three binoculars from China or Japan?


Edited by Bird Watcher - April/11/2009 at 07:02
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/11/2009 at 09:30
Klamath View Drop Down
Optics Master
Optics Master
Avatar

Joined: May/20/2007
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1267
They are Chinese.  I leave whatever political or cultural manifestations that invokes up to the individual.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/11/2009 at 13:28
Bird Watcher View Drop Down
Optics Master
Optics Master
Avatar

Joined: August/30/2006
Status: Offline
Points: 1490
Originally posted by Klamath Klamath wrote:

They are Chinese.  I leave whatever political or cultural manifestations that invokes up to the individual.
 
Neither, the Japanese have been designing and manufacturing binocular optics much longer than the Chinese. However, as we are presently discovering, the Chinese, with the proper assistance, are now producing quality optical products.
 
Thanks Big Grin
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/28/2009 at 13:23
John Barsness View Drop Down
Optics Optimist
Optics Optimist


Joined: January/27/2009
Status: Offline
Points: 785

After using a ZR ED 8x43 for a few days now I have to agree with Klamath. These are not just good binoculars for the money, they have optics that are right up there with the best. It's actually quite astonishing--and I say that because I own top-notch binoculars from the usual suspects (Leica, Swarovski, Zeiss) and some others that usually aren't listed in quite the same league but are also top-notch (Bushnell, Meopta, Nikon).

My only question now is how well the Zen Rays hold up under field use, but since my hunting season is underway and will be for the rest of the year that will be an easy discovery.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/28/2009 at 14:27
SChunter View Drop Down
Optics Journeyman
Optics Journeyman
Avatar

Joined: December/02/2007
Location: usa
Status: Offline
Points: 376
John, where would you put the Zen Ray in relation to the the Bushnell Elites, the Meoptas, and the vortex razors optically?  In other words, would you save your money?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/28/2009 at 15:13
John Barsness View Drop Down
Optics Optimist
Optics Optimist


Joined: January/27/2009
Status: Offline
Points: 785

You wouldn't believe where I rate the Zen Rays optically, so I won't bother.

But I do have to repeat that I'll need to see how they hold up in the field before rating them further. Right now I am quite fond of the Meoptas, because I have tested them throughly in really bad field conditions and they have held up magnificently. But if the Zen Rays hold up well then they would have to rated a better deal.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/28/2009 at 20:56
DAVE44 View Drop Down
Optics Journeyman
Optics Journeyman
Avatar

Joined: November/11/2004
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 652
Ok, where did you guys buy your Zen Ray ED binos? Can SWFA order them?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/28/2009 at 22:01
koshkin View Drop Down
MODERATOR
MODERATOR
Avatar
Dark Lord of Optics

Joined: June/15/2004
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 10961
Originally posted by John Barsness John Barsness wrote:

You wouldn't believe where I rate the Zen Rays optically, so I won't bother.

But I do have to repeat that I'll need to see how they hold up in the field before rating them further. Right now I am quite fond of the Meoptas, because I have tested them throughly in really bad field conditions and they have held up magnificently. But if the Zen Rays hold up well then they would have to rated a better deal.



I probably would.  I am about to post a review on Hawke Frontier ED binoculars.  I just need to go over it one more time to catch the obvious spelling errors.  It will be in the Members' Review part of the forum.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 17:25
FrankD View Drop Down
Optics Journeyman
Optics Journeyman


Joined: November/11/2005
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 684
I look forward to your review Koshkin.
 
To answer the earlier question you can order the Zen Ray EDs directly from their website and get an additional $90 off the $450 list price using the ifish coupon. (I have on affiliation whatsoever with Zen Ray but continue to be impressed with their products and the level of their customer service).
 
I would love to see SWFA carrying them. However, since they already carry, or are about to carry, the Hawke Frontier ED then it might be redundant.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/20/2009 at 22:03
Vichris View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper
Avatar

Joined: May/19/2009
Status: Offline
Points: 3
Well I've posted my review elsewhere.  I've registered here and might as well post my review here too. For what its worth I'm in complete agreement with Steve and Frank on these.
 
Zen Ray, ZEN ED 8 X 43 Binocular Reviews

First, I want to apologize for taking so long to write this review. Life has a way of getting in the way of pleasure. I
have had to much life getting in my way lately and have not had the free time in need to spend the time I needed to
give these binos a good field test. I finally had the chance to take out several binos to really do some comparisons
And speaking of pleasure the Zen Ray ZEN ED binos are a real pleasure to use and look through. I want to address a
few of the non optical issues first.

To start with I've had several people ask about where the Zen Ray binos are made. They are made in China. I personally
have no problem with that but I'll leave that up to the individual.

The hard case is excellent. The strap is way too long but I don't care because I never planned on using it. Most of you wont care either.
You will need to cut it (unless you are 7'5") if you plan on using it and not a harness. I does have a very good, wide, padded area
for the neck. My advice for ANY bino....get a harness. The eyepiece covers and objective covers are good. I've seen better and worse.
And now................. for the good stuff.

These are a very attractive and ergonomically well designed. The fit and feel of the ZEN ED really stands out. The overall length
of the ZEN ED is 7' with eyecups extended. Some will find that a bit on the bulky side but over all it took very little to get
used to the slightly longer barrel size. The rubber armor is as good as I've seen. The hinge is just stiff enough so that I don't constantly
have to readjust for my interpupillary distance like so many of the competition. The same goes with the eyepiece. Zen Rays specs
list the close focus distance at 6 ft. Maybe its just my eyes but I was able to focus as close as 4'8". The coatings appear to be flawless.
The exit pupils at arms length are perfectly round with no flat edges or shadowy light or dark areas in the 5.4 mm dot of light. This is an
excellent indication of well matched optics.The one thing I found disappointing was the diopter indicator mark on the right eyepiece.
It is so small its really difficult to see.

There are several features that really stand out with the ZEN ED's. The wide and almost absolutely flat field of view (FOV) are outstanding.
Zen Rays specs list the FOV at an amazing 426 ft /1000yds. The image is bright, very sharp, and I saw no indication of chromatic aberration.
I did a comparison of the edge to edge sharpness with two of the "big three". The ZEN ED compared very well to both. They definitely outperform
everything I looked at in the $300- $800 range. The optical clarity gives you that feeling that you are where the subject is. That no doubt, is
due to the flatness of the field. The color rendition, depth of field, and resolution are excellent. Optically the ZEN ED is second to none.

I also want to speak to the VALUE of these optics. I have no hesitation in saying that the Zen Ray ZEN ED are the best value in
binoculars on the market today. I did do quite a bit of price comparisons and have evaluated lots of binos that are similar in quality.
Quality wise the ZEN ED's stand out from the competition and come very close to the quality you will find from the "big three".
That's where the value comes in. For $359 these are tough to beat and they out perform many that are hundreds of $$$ more.
You will notice that I refuse to mention the competing optics that I did price, quality, and performance comparisons with.
I prefer not to beat up the other Mfgs but would like to speak to the quality of the ZEN RAY brand.

The optical quality that most of the major optic companies deliver these day is astonishing.
That the ZEN ED stands out from many of these speaks to the manufacturing and optical quality that these possess. I have
already seen that a couple of the competing brands have lowered their price and trumpeted their warranty in responds to
the ZEN RAY brand. This is a good thing, but personally I will choose the better optical quality over warranty every time. Can you buy
a bino that performs optically better? Yes,............. but you WILL pay at least a $1000 more and the difference is so minimal
I doubt most will be able to detect it. If you are planning on purchasing a pair of binos in the near future and don't plan on spending
$1200 + ....................get the Zen Rays. I highly recommend them. They are....... "that" good.
 
 
 
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane"- Marcus Aurelius

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/13/2009 at 08:48
Bird Watcher View Drop Down
Optics Master
Optics Master
Avatar

Joined: August/30/2006
Status: Offline
Points: 1490
ILya, Frank or Steve or anyone,
 
Would someone PLEASE give some 'specific' comments regarding Eye Relief.
 
With & without eyeglasses.
 
GOOD?  MEDIOCRE? BAD?
 
What sayest thou?
 
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/13/2009 at 09:36
Klamath View Drop Down
Optics Master
Optics Master
Avatar

Joined: May/20/2007
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1267
Bird Watcher,
 
I don't normally wear glasses with binoculars, so I typically am sort of "eye relief neutral".  Without glasses, they are placed about right, the whole image is there without any sort of blackout or kidney bean effects.  When I purposely put on my reading glasses or sunglasses and use them, I can easily see the whole fov.  Overall I can see no issues with the eye relief.  It seems they measured (8x43) at 16mm, but I'll have to dig out the calipers and check.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/13/2009 at 17:41
Bird Watcher View Drop Down
Optics Master
Optics Master
Avatar

Joined: August/30/2006
Status: Offline
Points: 1490
Steve,
 
Thanks much, let us know if you find anything other than 16mm with your caliper.
 
Stan
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/17/2009 at 16:28
Pacific Fisher View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper


Joined: May/08/2008
Location: Gualala, CA
Status: Offline
Points: 7
I recently bought a pair of the Zen Ray 8x43 ED's and can say they are amazingly good.
I am actually glad my old pair of binoculars were stolen.
As has been posted the flat field of view with clarity all the way to the edges stands out.
These have to be the best buy going in high quality binoculars today. Excellent
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/14/2010 at 13:25
whitneymuse View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper


Joined: April/09/2010
Location: Southern CA.
Status: Offline
Points: 21
They're very nice; and after Nikon Monarch's they are quite a bit heavier, too.  Can't have everything; they are definitely proprioceptively "more solid' built like a tank they are.  Have a set of 10X30s on the UPS truck; hope I don't wish for 7X30s since come to realize its steady that makes viewing a peasure; have a holster and can mount it to a monopod if worse comes to intolerable; that's what I finally did with the Swarovski sealed porro (before they went all-roof prism); I'll be the one with the tripod and spotting scope yike.   
 Post Reply Post Reply
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Similar Threads: "Zen Ray 8x43 Review"
Subject Author Forum Replies Last Post
Zen-Ray 8x43 Zen ED2 SVT_Tactical Member's Tests and Reviews 2
Zen-Ray ED2 8x43 diopter issue wadeocu Binoculars 5
Zen Ray ED2 8x43 Focus wheel kar120c Binoculars 1
zen ray 8x43 vs Vortex Viper? ccoker Binoculars 7
Zen Ray ED2's 8x43 drgracer392 Binoculars 8
ZEN-RAY ZRS HD 2010, a review by a poor hillbilly stork23raz Binoculars 1
Review Zen Ray 10x43 ED cajunhunter Binoculars 4
Zen-Ray 10x43 ZEN ED Demo's Brady Samplelist.com 0
Zen-Ray 10x43 ZEN ED Demo's Brady Binoculars 8
Zen-Ray 7x36 Zen ED2 Binocular tahqua Binoculars 6


This page was generated in 0.250 seconds.