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Old Friday 2nd January 2009, 17:54   #1
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Zen-Ray ZEN: another ED open bridge binoculars

Just saw this on their mailing list. Looks like another version of Hawke Frontier ED or Promaster ELX.

http://www.zen-ray.com/zen.shtml

Price seems decent at $459 for 10x43.

Spec copied from their website

Quote:
Standard Features of ZEN ED binoculars
  • Magnesium Alloy body protected by Stylish Rubber Armor to ensure the shockproof, yet lightweight
  • Extra Low Dispersion(ED) Glasss
  • BAK4 Prism
  • Premium 5 group/8 elements optical Design that provides flat edge-to-edge sharpness. So you won't miss the action happening at your peripheral vision.
  • Ergonomically open hinge design
  • ZROS Phase Coating with Ultra high reflective silver prism coating enables high fidelity color rendering
  • Fully Broadband Multi Coating ensure 99.5% light transmission at each glass/air interface
  • Waterproof/fogproof with Argon Purged and O-ring sealed
  • Premium EVA Hard case to protect your optics for years to come
  • Quick Connect Neckstrap with extra comfort cushion
  • Long eye relief with multi-stage twist-up metal alloy eyecups
  • Large exit pupil ratios.
  • Close focus of 6 ft
  • Center Focus
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Old Friday 2nd January 2009, 20:49   #2
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a dumb question, do they use ED for all glasses or just some of them?
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Old Friday 2nd January 2009, 21:05   #3
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No, ED glass is not used in all binoculars. When used properly it improves color contrast, reduces chromatic abberation, color fringing, and helps reduce stray light issues. It has evolved into sort of a marketing gimmick and is advertised by lots of monikers, FL, HD, XD and some others, even though there may well be significant differences in the glass used.

Zen-Ray sounds like a tanning parlor or some alien weapon. The Chinese Optics Industry needs to do some work on their naming procedures. But whatever this one is called, it does indeed look to be a triplet to the Promaster/Hawke.
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Old Friday 2nd January 2009, 21:13   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve C View Post
No, ED glass is not used in all binoculars. When used properly it improves color contrast, reduces chromatic abberation, color fringing, and helps reduce stray light issues. It has evolved into sort of a marketing gimmick and is advertised by lots of monikers, FL, HD, XD and some others.

Zen-Ray sounds like a tanning parlor or some alien weapon. The Chinese Optics Industry needs to do some work on their naming procedures. But whatever this one is called, it does indeed look to be a triplet to the Promaster/Hawke.
Thanks. I know not every binoculars has advanced ED glasses. I mean to ask whether they use ED glasses throughout every lens of binoculars.
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Old Friday 2nd January 2009, 21:50   #5
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Sorry about that. As far as I know its use is in the objective lens.
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Old Friday 2nd January 2009, 22:12   #6
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Hawke, with an E.
ProMaster, vs what, Amateur Master? Pro Novice?
Vortex, what does a cyclonic mass of air or water have to do with binos?
And now ZEN! I suppose these will immediately get one in touch with their meditative inner birder?

I have only tried one of these Chinese bins but I know this... they are collectively THE stupidest names for binoculars available!

BTW the one pair I did try, Vortex 6.5 x 32 Furys, lasted about 10 minutes before they catastrophically failed.
I know, old news... it's my only personal data point though.

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Old Friday 2nd January 2009, 23:19   #7
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Sorry about that. As far as I know its use is in the objective lens.
Thanks.
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Old Friday 2nd January 2009, 23:24   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Conville View Post
Hawke, with an E.
ProMaster, vs what, Amateur Master? Pro Novice?
Vortex, what does a cyclonic mass of air or water have to do with binos?
And now ZEN! I suppose these will immediately get one in touch with their meditative inner birder?

Point taken. There are a lot of pretty stupid names out there aren't there.
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Old Friday 2nd January 2009, 23:35   #9
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yeah, there are more names I just found stupid:

Bushnell,

Alpen,

Leupold.

No particular reason, only don't like them being made in China.

Edit: before you mentioned it, I didn't realize my Vortex was a dumb name. But it is a good glass. Who cares the name then!

Last edited by falcondude : Friday 2nd January 2009 at 23:52.
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Old Friday 2nd January 2009, 23:50   #10
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Almost every manufacturer who offers binoculars of less than alpha quality optics only will have some items made for them by Chinese manufacturing companies. Leupold is the closest thing we have left to made in the USA. What that comes down to is assembled in the USA. Most anything less than $400 US is likely Chinese. It can be a real research project to figure where a lower mid price glass is produced.
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Old Saturday 3rd January 2009, 00:34   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by falcondude View Post
yeah, there are more names I just found stupid:

Bushnell,

Alpen,

Leupold.

No particular reason, only don't like them being made in China.
Well "Dude",
I'm not sure I understand your post. I do know that Bushnell and Leupold are surnames, presumably the founders of their companies. I don't know about Alpen, but it sounds like someone's name as well.
To each their own, I know what sounds ridiculous to me.
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Old Saturday 3rd January 2009, 06:36   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Conville View Post
Hawke, with an E.
Perhaps named for Mr Hawke the company founder? Not after the bird. Like the cars that are not named after a stream crossing. Hmmm, like Swarovski, or Zeiss.

Brand names need to be trademarkable and distinctive. That tends to drive new names when you make them up.

Promaster has been around for a long time outside the bin world. Not the best name but then again not the worst (and they don't plaster the name all over the bin either ... people can't tell unless they can see the focus wheel!).

Unless you really need a big brand name. Say, Leica. Hmmm, Leitz Camera making bins? What's with that?

Bins are "referentially transparent" (as well as being optically transparent!) i.e. they don't work any different if you change the name. Unless you really, really need a brand name. And I can sell you some stick-on label to fix that.

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Old Saturday 3rd January 2009, 06:53   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by falcondude View Post
Thanks. I know not every binoculars has advanced ED glasses. I mean to ask whether they use ED glasses throughout every lens of binoculars.
That's never the case: you seem to find in these bins that they use ED glass in the objectives (to reduce longitudinal CA) and perhaps an LaK lens or two in the eyepiece (to help with transverse CA).

It seems to work in the Hawke and Promaster though I'm not certain they use LaK in the EP.

Back to the OP. Nice catch, these things must be growing on trees!

Looking at the CAD renderings (what? no photos of real bins? ) and the specs these look essentially identical to the Hawke Frontier ED 8x43. The focuser KNOB looks the same, the enclosure shape, the name badge positioning, the thumb indents, the 43mm objectives, the 3 step eyecups, the FOV, even some of the rubber sculpting (the diamond pattern).

The 8x43 is $449 so it's priced just under the Hawke but not by a large amount. The 10x doesn't carry as a large a 10x tax as the PM or Hawke.

The other interesting bit of info (I speculate) is that it shares the same optics so the "Premium 5 group/8 elements optical Design that provides flat edge-to-edge sharpness" is an extra bit of info on the internals of the Promaster and Hawke EDs.
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Old Saturday 3rd January 2009, 07:39   #14
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Yep, I was wondering whether they will actually become a real product by the month end after seeing only the computer image. By comparing it to Hawke and Promaster, it seems to be related more to the Hawke.
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Old Saturday 3rd January 2009, 08:09   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Purcell View Post
Perhaps named for Mr Hawke the company founder? Not after the bird. Like the cars that are not named after a stream crossing. Hmmm, like Swarovski, or Zeiss.

Brand names need to be trademarkable and distinctive. That tends to drive new names when you make them up.

Promaster has been around for a long time outside the bin world. Not the best name but then again not the worst (and they don't plaster the name all over the bin either ... people can't tell unless they can see the focus wheel!).

Unless you really need a big brand name. Say, Leica. Hmmm, Leitz Camera making bins? What's with that?

Bins are "referentially transparent" (as well as being optically transparent!) i.e. they don't work any different if you change the name. Unless you really, really need a brand name. And I can sell you some stick-on label to fix that.

OK Hawke was the soft target, I'll give you that one. You conspicuously left out Vortex and Zen.
"trademarkable and distinctive" don't have to equate to stupid sounding. It's really no more complicated than that. Vortex and Zen and (to a slightly lesser degree) ProMaster, no matter how much you tell me otherwise, will still sound idiotic...to me.

Though you have tried to steer what I said to come off as brand elitism, it's not about that at all. I've had Celestrons, Bushnells, Fujinons, Minoltas, Nikons and so on. Those names, though having the benefit of a history, at least evoke things optical.

You can also claim that names are of no meaning and that these are merely opto-mechanical tools, but I would disagree. Words and names have power.

Last edited by Kevin Conville : Saturday 3rd January 2009 at 09:31.
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Old Saturday 3rd January 2009, 21:18   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Conville View Post
You conspicuously left out Vortex and Zen.
Well, I wouldn't want to make your argument for you

I note that both of these have current "cool" letters: X (Xtreeme to the Maxxxx, dood) and Z. And in teh Cortex case lots of hard consonants. I supposed hunters like that (and they buy more bins than birders do).

Just like the K in the 1930s (Kevin's Krazy Krab Shack ... you can still see some of these around ... even Krusty the Klown) those letters have a fad appeal. I think X is on the way out. And Zen just sounded cool to a couple of Chinese guys (judging by the English on the web site).

For me it doesn't bother me. But I can you you do care

Of course real birders use bins that either have a just numerical designation (M19) or unpronounceable cyrillic letters (the "GNU" bins from the 1970s and 1980s in Britain). They could tell a chiffchaff from a willow warbler even when the bins were fogged.
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Old Sunday 4th January 2009, 00:48   #17
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Any pics of these Kevin?

Anyone thinking of purchasing a pair for review?
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Old Sunday 4th January 2009, 01:25   #18
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Pics and specs from Zen-Ray site.

http://www.zen-ray.com/zen.shtml

Their ZRS, with a FOV tweak, looks like a Vortex Viper clone.
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Old Sunday 4th January 2009, 08:31   #19
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Quote:
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Any pics of these Kevin?

Anyone thinking of purchasing a pair for review?
Of the Zen-ray ED? The only ones I've seen are CAD renderings: nothing real on their main page

http://www.zen-ray.com/zen.shtml

As I already have an apparently identical bin I think I'll pass

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Old Sunday 4th January 2009, 17:45   #20
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I kind of had a feeling you were going to say no. I do not really feel the need to purchase another set yet either. If something significantly different, physically, comes out then I might consider it.
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Old Sunday 4th January 2009, 18:39   #21
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Quote:
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Pics and specs from Zen-Ray site.

http://www.zen-ray.com/zen.shtml

Their ZRS, with a FOV tweak, looks like a Vortex Viper clone.
ZRS is interesting. 10x42 has 60 degree AFOV, whereas 8x42 is slightly narrower (58ish). It seems they might have put a field stop on 8x42 to maintain its edge resolution. The spec also says 5 piece EP and 3 piece objective lens (a semi-APO triplet design?). Adding the focuser lenses, we are talking about 9-10 glasses. If quality checks out good, it will be an awesome deal for under $200 (they are running a promotion with a $35 coupon ("ZRS")). I might just get one of those.
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Old Monday 5th January 2009, 00:04   #22
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I kind of had a feeling you were going to say no. I do not really feel the need to purchase another set yet either. If something significantly different, physically, comes out then I might consider it.
The Orion ULX ED (RIP ) in 10x was an option as I'd like to try out a decent 10x ED at rather lower price. But that doesn't seem like an option now.
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Old Tuesday 6th January 2009, 17:01   #23
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I somehow had it in my head that Zen Ray was a Chinese company operating in the US. There was a bit of discussion about this on another forum, so I just emailed them and asked. Here is their reply. From their site they appear to be more birding oriented.

FWIW, part of the curiosity they refer to is that I asked them about their name. They did not adress that.

Steve,

Thanks for your inquiry. No, I can totally understand your curiosity.

Our company is an American company based in Oregon that does not have any affiliation with Chinese industry. Like several other companies you named, we source our products from the OEM factories in China and a few other countries per our spec. We only chose the products that offer the best quality/price ratio. We also are active sponsor that support several local hunting communities in the Northwest US.
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Old Tuesday 6th January 2009, 20:30   #24
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By a couple of Chinese guys I was thinking more along the lines of "new immigrants to the US". The English on the web site has some interesting quirks that suggest a non-native speaker

Nothing wrong with that being one myself (well not new, but an immigrant).
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Old Tuesday 6th January 2009, 20:52   #25
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someone mentioned that Hawke can be purchased for $399 for 8x42. Any link on that?
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