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Zen Ray and Vortex

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/27/2010 at 09:42
Acenturian View Drop Down
Optics Journeyman
Optics Journeyman

Joined: September/07/2004
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Points: 543

A close friend and I were discussing optics a couple weeks back. He is in the market for a new spotting scope for a family member and while he is very impressed with his Zeiss he didn’t want to spend that kind of money.

We started discussing binoculars and both he and I have heard “great things” about Zen Ray optics. I also have heard great things about Vortex and I mentioned that I wanted to test a set of Vortex 6.5x Raptors for bow hunting as well as a general “keep in your truck” glass.

By the end of the evening both the Vortex Raptors and Zen Ray 10x Zen ED2 were ordered. This week we met up for some evaluations:

I am always a bit leery with forums someone can say this compares to this or that without any hands on actual experience with a product. On the other hand I have received GREAT advice on this very forum. I am not an optics goo -rue but I have handled my fair share of bino’s and scopes from various manufactures and I even stayed at a holiday in once.

The Zen Ray Zen ED2 are 10x43 and were compared to my Swarovski SLC 10x42, my Swifts Audubon 820 (poro) ED 8.5 x 44, my friends Zeiss 10x42 Victory FL as well as his Zeiss Classic 10x40. We also through in the mix his son’s Zeiss Conquest 10x 30.

So how did they stack up. Actually, I along with my friend were pretty darn impressed especially for the $400.00 price. We didn’t have access to resolution charts, but then again I have never hunted resolution bars either. He lives on some property so we decided to glass the fields as well as surrounding mountains, tree stumps, fence posts, birds, deer at various distances. As well as glassing near by neighbors roof lines which was the final “night test”.

We had a bit of an over cast of clouds but for the most part it was clear. The Zens were bright and clear I think the Zeiss FL’s were the brightest but I think the Zens were equal to my Swaro’s . The area that I thought they lacked a bit was depth , while very clear and crisp when looking across the field at a telephone pole they only way to describe it; was it looked “flatter” then the FL’s or the SLC. Like looking more at a picture ..flat  if that makes sense??  Actually, I thought the Swifts gave the best depth view.

So we waited and waited…finally sun starts going down. This is the real test of optics. Anything can look great under artificial light in a store and from my past experience when the sun is up on a perfect “blue bird day”. Hunters need good glass that performs in less then ideal conditions. Early morning or just after dusk is when game starts to move (at least out here).

Let me say this….All of the glass would allow for a hunter to hunt to legal and ethical times. But when it got dark 2110 hrs to be exact that is where the Alpha’s showed why they are alpha glass. Looking at his neighbors roof (brick chimney) approximately 70 yards away and composition roof lines both the Swaro and the Zeiss had the edge. When it was dark enough where the Zen’s couldn’t pick up the lines between the bricks both the Swaro and Zeiss Fl’s could. On a side note I could still make out those features with my Swifts. But that may not be totally fair since the Swifts are 8.5x with a 44 objective.

So my conclusion on the Zens… Yes they are a heck of a buy. I think under a grand you would be hard pressed to find anything “better”. I didn’t have access to another friends Pentax Sp’s, but I do recall liking my Swifts more then his Pentax and I would say the Zen’s are right there with my Swifts which have been called the Poor man’s Swarovski. I didn’t have Kahles to compare side by side but again from what I recall I would say the Zen’s seemed to impress me more from the last time I looked at the Kahles.

My only real complaint is the whole Chinese thing. I have a major issue with companies doing business there. It wouldn’t be even as bad if it was a Chinese company coming here to sell their product, but US companies going over there to make it and bringing it back here to sell it seems short sided. I would easily pay $200 more for the level of optics that I saw from the Zen Rays and even at that price they still would be a good buy. Build it anywhere but China and that's fine with me.

Are they an alpha ? No, they are not and I would really question someone that says they are. Are they just as good as some of the other brands that cost considerably more that are just under “alpha glass”…yes they are. I think the level of optics the last couple of years have really closed the gap but I am not about to sell off my Swaro’s just yet.

As for the Vortex 6.5X Now those really impressed me but that is another post. Big Grin

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/27/2010 at 10:02
tahqua View Drop Down
Have You Driven A Ford Lately?

Joined: March/27/2006
Location: Michigan, USA
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Points: 8350

I need some more time behind the 10x43 Zen's, but I think you hit the nail on the head regarding low light performance. The ED2's have great resolution and contrast, coming near the alphas in many cases. At dark is where I have seen a difference that is more profound

But for the money the Zen Ray's are excellent.

Thanks for the post

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/27/2010 at 10:19
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Optics Master
Optics Master

Joined: February/06/2008
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Points: 1501
Good posts.  I really appreciate "in the field" uses and comparisons.  Thanks. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/27/2010 at 10:51
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Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: May/21/2010
Location: Ohio
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Points: 41

Nice Read.   I look forward to your post on the Vortex.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/27/2010 at 11:04
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Chief Sackscratch

Joined: December/17/2009
Location: NorthCackalacky
Status: Offline
Points: 29724
Very good read.  I am looking at a set of binos for bow season too so I am waiting to hear about your experience with the Vortex
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