vortex binos

Discussion in 'The Basics, Starting Out' started by foreign, May 24, 2010.

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  1. foreign

    foreign Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2008
    has anyone used any of the vortex range of binos. looking at a pair of
    Viper 12x42 Binoculars. just wanting a comparison between the likes of leupold burris bushnel ect. cheers
  2. Niles Coyote

    Niles Coyote Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2008
    I own a pair of 8x42 Viper's, they are great and I would buy them again if I ever needed too. When I first received them I compared them to a Swarovski 8x30 and Steiner 7x50. They were better in every way to the Steiner. Equal to the Swarovski as far I could discern, and better as the light began to fade but that was to be expected with the viper having a bigger objective.
  3. 4th_point

    4th_point Well-Known Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Long story, but maybe this will help...

    I compared the 8x42 Vipers to the 8x30 Swaro SLCneu and Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42. I also compared those 3 to the Swaro 8x32 EL. For my eyes, the EL was easily sharper than the rest, but they were $1700. I was willing to spend up to $1200, but not a dime more.

    If the EL were in my price range I would have bought them and never looked back. At the same time I wanted to see what I could get in the $300 to $500 range. The Vipers are really nice and appeared fairly close to the SLC and noticeably better than the ATB.

    The SLCneu was on sale for $900 and I bought them. I owned them for ~2 weeks, but wasn't that impressed for $900. Part of the reason was that I already owned the Swaro Laser Guide so my right eye was already familiar with SLC glass (the Swaro LRF is basically one half of an 8x30 SLC bino, but possibly different coatings). I was so excited to have new binos that I wanted the image to 'pop', but it didn't since it was the same image I had seen for the past few years!

    I then remembered some talk about Zen Ray and the unbelievable claims made about them. The company is here in Portland, with the binos made in China. Once I found out that they had a local office, I arranged a visit. The Zen Ray vs SLCneu comparison started the day I got a pair of 7x36 ED2 for $400. I spent days comparing the 2 side-by-side. In the end, the ZR won and the SLC was returned. The bonus was that I had an extra $500 in my pocket and I bought an ACI and mount for my new 300WM from Len. Cool!

    What's this have to do with the Viper? The Viper was the darling of the bino world a few years ago. Hunters and birders all over loved them since they had great performance for the cost. That was yesterday. If you check out the birding forums now, they are overwhelmed with good reviews of Zen Ray ED2. Many birders claim that the Viper doesn't come close to the optical quality of the Zen Ray. And, in my opinion, birders are often more particular with their glass than hunters.

    I would add the Zen Ray ED2 to your list of binos to check out. I've got nothing to do with Zen Ray, but am extremely happy about my pair 7x36 ED2. Like anything, they are not perfect but are really nice for the money. This is the first time I've posted about them and I've owned them for months. If anyone is interested, I will dig up an e-mail that I wrote comparing the $400 Zen Ray to the $900 SLC.
  4. 4th_point

    4th_point Well-Known Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Below is the message I mentioned in my post above comparing the Zen Ray to the SLCneu. I have been reluctant to post this info anywhere since people might take it as Swaro bashing. I love my Swaro LRF and have nothing against them. I think the EL is the best bino for my eyes, but not my wallet. Anyway, someone might find this info useful.

    I should point out that the first pair of ED2 got returned for a barrel out of focus. The replacement has been perfect. Charles is the owner of Zen Ray, and went out of his way to make sure I was happy with my purchase. Very honest and a great guy.

    Message edited to remove unrelated topics:

    ...I also wanted to let you know that I spent a few hours this afternoon and evening comparing the 7x36 ED2 vs the 8x30 SLC. I know its not fair to compare different magnifictions, or different objective sizes but still the differences were remarkable, at least with the samples I have. I thought you might be interested in my findings. I apologize if I don't use the proper optical terms, but here are my impressions.

    In the late afternoon with bright sun I compared the two binos by looking at a tree that was backlit with bright sunshine. Glare, flare, stray light, whatever its called is one of my major concerns with any optic... bino, spotter, or riflescope. The Swaro produced very noticeable crescent shaped glare/flare in the lower 1/8-1/4 of the FOV. I tried to re-position my eyes with respect to the exit pupils, but this only made the glare shift to another area. I was not able to get a 100% glare/flare free view.

    At first glance, the ED2 seemed to also have this glare, but I was able to reposition and eliminate the problem completely. While test driving the ED2 at your office, the first thing I looked towards was the sun and I did notice the glare. But, when I raised the SLC, it also had the same problem. For some reason it appears more noticeble with the SLC. Not necessarily bigger, but it stands out more. It was not until I got home that I noticed that the issue can be completely resolved with very minor repositioning on the ED2. Its actually quite easy. The same cannot be said for the SLC, at least for my eyeballs and the SLC sample I had.

    I did notice that the ED2 seemed hazy with the intense light coming from behind and above the tree. I will need to re-test after cleaning the lenses in case there were some smears or smudges. Perhaps it has something to do with the large FOV which makes it appear as though its hazy, I don't know. Even so, the absence of the glare is a huge advantage for the ED2 in my opinion and there were no haziness issues noticed at any other time.

    I was not able to test the binos with sunlight reflected off of water or snow and into the objective. This is something I would definitely like to compare.

    I did position myself so that the sun cast bright sunshine over my right shoulder from behind me. The SLC had a very bright red star in the image. This was simply a reflection of the sun in the ocular, but the red star was fairly intense. Of course, one could reposition their body to block the sun or use their hand to provide shade but this still gave me an idea of how the ocular glass would handle reflections off of snow or water. The ED2 also had a star, but it was blue and not nearly as intense as the red star seen in the SLC. I could easily continue to use the ED2 with this reflection from the sun, but there was absolutely no way I could continue to use the SLC. I had to shade the ocular or rotate my body.

    Depth of field seemed very similar between the SLC and ED2. There might be a difference, but since both seemed very good to me I didn't bother to compare them in great detail. In the mid to upper price range the DOF is generally very good. If they were lower priced binos, I would have compared DOF more.

    The FOV is definitely larger with the ED2 but that is no surprise and one of the reasons I chose to buy one. Even at close distances, the huge FOV is impressive with the ED2.

    In the evening the differences in light transmission were apparent in the very last minutes of light. For this test I used the shingles on the roof of a nearby house as a test grid pattern. The roof had several shades of grey shingles in fairly large block patterns. The edges of the blocks and different shades of grey could be easily seen with the ED2, but they appeared as grey blobs with little distinction between the shades with the SLC. The image was clearly brighter with the ED2, but it does have 36mm objectives (but is also much less expensive than the SLC).

    I also looked at a pair of street lamps and found that the SLC produced more pronounced halos compared to the ED2.

    Overall I would say that the 7x36 ED2 is simply a better bino vs the 8x30 SLC, at least in terms of what matters to me most... flare/glare control and low light capability. I also value DOF and FOV, but both seem very good at these. I was also impressed with the edge-to-edge sharpness, and sweet-spots for both models but tend to not focus on analyzing these things too much so long as they look good while I use the binos. I don't have a critical eye for CA or fringing and didn't set out to specifically look for it but I didn't notice it either. Someone else could probably do a better job of comparing color rendition. I thought the ED2 and SLC were equal and quite nice.

    One thing that was consistent throughout my test was the fact that the ED2 was easier to focus. While the SLC seemed to take some fiddling to get the focus just right, the ED2 was a snap to focus. I think this may translate into less user fatigue with the ED2. Maybe the lower magnification helps the ED2 with focusing since its easier to maintain a steady image. I did not use a tripod, but did brace my arms and body for much of the test.

    For me the ED2 is simply a more useful binocular especially under those tough light conditions. Of course this is a small test sample size, but still the differences are meaningful to me since I only want one pair of 7x or 8x right now. I would be very interested in seeing how the 7x36 ED2 compares to the 8x32 EL or a 7x Swaro/Leica/Zeiss.

    So the bino harness came off of the SLC and is going on the ED2. I think the SLC will be returned to the dealer. I'm not keeping the ED2 because its just as good as the SLC for less money. That's not the case. The ED2 is simply a better binocular, at least to my eyes. I tried for several hours to find something that pointed in favor of the SLC. I couldn't find a single thing that the SLC did better. When you factor in the cost, it became a very easy decision. I was ready to keep the SLC, but not anymore. And I have money left over for something else.

    Thanks again Charles. I wish you continued success with your company. You have good intentions and sincerely care for your customers. This is something that is lacking with many manufacturers.
  5. M_freeman

    M_freeman Well-Known Member

    Aug 10, 2009
    I can save you a lot of reading ---Zen Ray Ed2! I bought the ED am very impressed, they are a little heavier than I like but for the money nothing comes close. We are talking real ED glass for $400.00! I haven't looked through the best binos in the world but I have photographed with some of the best lenses ever made and Zen ray hit it right and you can't go wrong for $400.00 the next closest binos imo are in the $800-$1000 range. They are not ultralites. Performance is much better than my zeiss conquest scope.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010