• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Reviews by Tantien

Recommended
Yes
Price
18$
Pros
  • No wind flutter! Super small and light. Simple adjustment.
Cons
  • The thin straps are not quite as comfortable as the wider ones (but not bad at all)
I've recently replaced two much more expensive harness systems with this one and like this one so much more!

It is the best of the ones I own now; and I own 4 other manufacturers and styles. The only reason I kept looking is that traditional single padded straps are too hot and the bino's swing when you walk.

The harnesses with the leather patch in the back and the flat elastic straps suffer from sever wind-fluttering when I hold them to my eyes and there is a stiff breeze.

*9/4/15 Update* today went to Point Reyes Lighthouse where the wind was whipping at 35-40 MPH and even with the image stabilization my Canon's had, it was still hard to hold them steady. One of the things that I got a chance to test today was the complete lack of flutter from this harness; not even a slight issue. These things are light, strong, and not at all bulky. Very glad I invested in these.​

I have a quick-release version of the harness just mentioned and it has a nice soft attachment for the bino body and the flat-ish elastic straps are very comfortable and suffer from only some wind-flutter. The only minor problem is that they are pretty bulky for storage. They are also over $35.

I have an older model of harness does not stretch or adjust much but has the right basic design and works for my Nikon SE without bulk or much weight and adds zero flutter because it is made of a rounded braided nylon cord.

So the black Ultra-Light Binocular Harnesses immediately caught my eye as the being updated models of the harness that is on my SE, with full simple adjustments and just the right amount of stretch to be comfortable.

This harness doesn't suffer from the annoying wind-flutter that all my flat elastic straps have suffered from. And it is easily adjustable at a single point in the back. The quick release mechanisms are very clever and quick to use to correct twists.

And the entire 1 ounce system wraps easily around the bino instead of being forced to hang outside the carrying bag.

And while I haven't used it for cameras, I can see how this can also be used in exactly the same way for them.

Highly recommended.
One member found this helpful.
  • Like
Reactions: ian1962
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Solidly Built, Bright images, Field flattener, very low CA, precise focus
Cons
  • Heavy, right diopter does not lock.
I was fortunate enough to win these from a Zen-Ray contest here on the Bird Forum and I will be unsparing in my comparisons with some excellent binoculars that I own.

They are indeed nicely over-built; like a tank in fact and hefty, with really clear optics. A nice padded case included as well. And as others have noted, have a distinct "new binocular smell" (OK: they smell like rubber but that didn't last) that I don't recall on the others. I really like the grippy armoring and their added weight stabilizes these in actual use (like on a rocking ship). Since they are fairly heavy, I got a Leupold harness for these and that made all the difference in the world. While their stock neck-strap is pretty good, it is not enough for the swinging weights that these become when walking with them.

I've taken them on a cruise and and the images through these are super-crisp with a 3D quality that I did not expect from a roof.

I've compared them to a pretty good field: My Nikon 8x32 SE and the Vortex Viper HD 8x32s, and the Altas Optics Intrepid 10x42 EDs.

Compared to their nearest cousins that I have, the Altas Optics Intrepid EDs 10x42 (Silver-coated prisms) (which are practically identical to the Zen-Ray ED2s) the field flattener effect is definitely better, with a larger sweet spot, extending to about 90+% of the field. In fact, you would need to artificially train your eye towards the outer edges to really see where the soft blur begins--from a practical point of view, it is excellent--maybe not as immersive as a Swaro or Zeiss but every bit as bright and crisp.

Here's something I did notice when adjusting them: the right diopter ring does not lock (like the Vipers) but is nicely marked and has enough resistance that it probably not move much in practice. The Vipers and SEs have a great feel in the hand that I missed in the Primes (I often felt like I was carrying a rubber-coated brick with the Primes), but they again are very different in size and weights too.

I also liked one thing in particular: the Primes have a really excellent smooth focus wheel (a fact that maddened me about the Intrepids was that the focus was sloppy and had too much play)

The Intrepids are slightly lighter (1 lb 11 oz) to the Primes (just under 1 lb 14 oz). And the Intrepids are 3/4" longer as well. The eye-cups on the Primes are indeed large, but so far with my glasses, I've not had any issues.

The SEs have a much deeper field of field than any of these (and I'm not sure why--maybe because they are the only Porros?). They are the brightest binoculars I have and a joy to look through. But the Primes held their own in similar good lighting conditions. The only thing that the Primes don't do as well is have as good an ergonomic grip as the SE porros. But in every other way that counts, these are actually on par with the SEs for color balance, brightness, and even give the 3D effect a run.

Probably the only thing the Primes have over the SEs is the great, precise focussing knob; making the SEs feel stiff.

Compared to the very compact and versatile Vipers is not quite a fair comparison with the degree of magnification of the Primes making all the detail 'POP' compared to the Vipers. The Vipers have maybe a touch less crispness than either the SEs or the Primes, but they are highly portable and packable, which is the only downside for the Primes.

On a recent cruise, in the real world, the Primes were excellent in every way that mattered. I never felt like I had to baby them. Their lens caps are all reasonably tight-fitting and never fell off. Their clean finish, styling, and grip was exactly what I needed.

I'm one of the few people that do like thumb indents and they probably could use thicker armoring or softer areas under the armor to cushion the thumbs, but this is honestly a minor quibble.

I can say that these compared as good or better to very tough competition. I even briefly asked two birders, one with a Swaro 10x42 EL, the other with a Zeiss 8x42 FL to rate these and both agreed that these have excellent glass.

I highly recommend these and look forward to Zen-Ray really making themselves a viable comparison with quality European Alphas, because in practical terms, you are not getting much more for thousands of $ more.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Amazing glass with 3D effect and ergonomic design
Cons
  • Eyecups poor, stiff focus, lack of weatherproofing
Every time I think that that I'm going to get an expensive pair of roofs that are over $600, I look through these and my eyes delight all over again with the crystalline views. Yes I had to flip my eye-cups around and I do have to put up with stiff focusing and keep it out of the rain, but for the views they grant me, I too am happy with these 8x32 SEs as my Alphas!
Recommended
Yes
Price
25$
Pros
  • No lens caps to flip or case to use
Cons
  • Might interfere with focus knob
This is a product that I saw on Birdwatcher's digest and was immediately intrigued. My Binobib came quickly in the mail and was sized to fit my Vortex Viper 8x32s. The stretchy neoprene and nylon case slips over the body with a circular sleeve and hardly adds more than an ounce.

Since the oculars are covered by the top half of the cover, you don't need caps to protect them from the rain. When actively using them, the case flips over the front of the binos to loosely cover the oculars from rain and anything falling into them. When you are ready to use the binos they flip back so that the body of the case is between you and your body, pretty much out of the way.

When you are ready to cover them completely for the day, the base stretches over the objectives the fit is pretty snug.

It's a really great concept that may not play that well depending on how you binoculars are and how you like having a case literally less than an inch from your face/nose. The first thing I noticed when I looked through my Vipers with the case on was that the top part of the case was fractions of an inch from my nose so that my own breath was detectable but it was out of the way and using the binoculars was not at all a problem.

If your hinge is loose, there may be enough sleeve tension to close the binoculars. If your style of bino has a large focus wheel, you might initially find the sleeve interfering with the knob after you "unfold" the case for active use, but the sleeve can be pulled down and away from the focus wheel when in active use mode.

The other thing is that if you have an open-bridge style of bino, you might find that the sleeve of this case might close off some of the open styling.

But here's what I really like: adds protection and allows the optics to breathe. The neoprene is not too thick but definitely would make me feel like it added some padding when the binos are snug inside the case.

I also like that I don't have to worry about any lens caps from either end and that the case itself will protect from rain. It's not waterproof, but water resistant.

I got mine in Natural Gear Camo (a tan and mottled combo) because I thought that black would absorb heat and the many other colors did not appeal to me but if you wanted it in leopard or hot pink or international orange, go for it! :t:

Customer service was good and friendly and it is made by an American company based out of Phoenix, AZ.

Here's a video showing how it is used.
  • Like
Reactions: TwitchieOtter
Recommended
Yes
Price
560$
Pros
  • Compact, Solid, Low CA, Wide FOV, Comfortable
Cons
SOLID. The first words that came to mind when I held these. Compact and even though only 20.6 oz, they feel heavier only because this is all packed in a smaller package.

I'm not an expert in binoculars, just an overly obsessed enthusiast, always wanting more. ;)

So when I decided I needed a compact set of binoculars and a brand new set of Bushnell Ultra HD Legends 10x32s failed me on the first day of ownership, that was the straw that stopped me from being cheap on binoculars. Yes you can get ED Glass in under $300, but the trade-off appears to be the quality of the build.

These Viper HD meets my needs for HD optics in a travel-friendly size, wide FOV (400 ft/1000 yd), close focus (3 ft), comfortable with or without my glasses, a worry-free warranty.

Comparing these with my Vortex Diamondback 8x42s reveals that the Vipers are indeed better, but not as much as I thought they'd be. A shade better light transmission (especially given the smaller objectives), finer detail, almost no noticeable CA, and all in a small, packable, and very solid, package.

Focusing is much smoother and more fluid than the Diamondbacks and the dimensionality of what I see looks more 3D. Given that the Vipers are 2.5X more than the Diamondbacks, this speaks the quality of the Diamondbacks and the law of diminishing returns. I'm not sure how much more I'd get from a pair of Zeiss Conquests or Victories.

Am I glad I made the leap (albeit modest)? Yes. Any buyer's remorse? No, but I would like to see these in 10X version too ;). The main reason I went with 8x32s is I thought they'd be more versatile for more activities both with their wider FOV for birding and their incredibly close focus (nothing like seeing every feather's barb and vane while viewing a bird at your feeder just a few feet away).

These Vipers are a great balance of size, features, quality and cost and I would highly recommend them to anyone both starting out and those who might have never thought of spending more than $500 for a pair of quality optics.
  • Like
Reactions: Yeti Man
Recommended
No
Price
230$
Pros
  • Compact, lightweight, ED Glass and many features
Cons
  • Questionable Build Quality Construction
I had such high hopes for this binocular. But I am returning it only a day after receiving it.

I'd done my research. This binocular has all the right specs for what I was looking for: ED Prime Glass, compact size, light weight (20.7oz), 10X, 32-ish objective lenses, close focus (6.2 ft), rubber armoring, water-proof, fog-proof, great warranty, magnesium body, and really nice extras included (including a real microfiber lens cleaner cloth, quick-attaching shoulder harness AND quick-attaching neck-strap with a air flow design, a sturdy hard case and a soft sack case).

And this was all to be had for under $230 USD. Yes. Too good to be true indeed.

So what made me return it was one simple, but major, indicator of what I got: the locking right eye diopter ring snapped after my first use of it locking down. The cheap piece of plastic snapped as if there was a seam down the side.

It made me doubt the construction of the rest of these pair. Others on Amazon had mentioned this exact problem, but I thought, "Oh they just had a bad pair." That is until I joined them.

I did get a chance to try them out a bit. Really clear, 3-dimensional view, with little CA that I could detect. Images were sharp and bright across about 90% of the field. But their eye relief (stated at 14.4 mm) was not enough for my glasses and caused light circles underneath the images, especially when the sun was low. They were better without my glasses but I think longer eye relief would have really made a difference.

The binoculars feel great and substantial in your hand, with softer cushions where your thumbs go. The focus is smooth and fast enough, but the twist-up eye cups could have used another stop.

These are a great example of looking good on paper, and even had many good reviews, but I hesitate to say how long these would last me, given a simple little part that failed and made a big, negative impression.
Recommended
Yes
Price
195$
Pros
  • Locks In Tight, Compact, Lightweight, Easily Adjusted, Quality
Cons
  • No 3rd Leg Warmer
A Solid, Strong, & Smooth, a great Tripod

This replaced a very inexpensive, lightweight Radian tripod/head combo that shook at the slightest breeze an could not pan smoothly at all, so made for very unstable image viewing with a spotting scope. The difference is startling and there is no comparison. This Manfrotto is so well constructed and solid that I immediately regretted cheaping out. Knowing what I know now, I would get a quality tripod like this to begin with and a smoothly tilting-panning head like this combination and never look back. Could it be lighter? Yes, but that gets you into carbon-fiber and many more dollars. If you can afford this as your first tripod, get it. You won't be sorry.
  • Like
Reactions: jonnymorris
Recommended
Yes
Price
150$
Pros
  • Comfortable, lightweight, good eye relief, well appointed
Cons
  • Focus knob was a little squeeky
For what can be considered an entry level price, these are exceptional binoculars. They are comfortable to hold, smartly designed and feel lightweight.

They accompanied me on a cruise to Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize and were excellent companions for birding and sightseeing in general.

No problems with my eyeglasses and the eye relief. The optics were crisp and bright and a joy to use, easily making my other binoculars seem dull by comparison.

Little things matter: The included neck strap was not just an ordinary nylon strap with a hard rubber pad; this was a comfy padded neoprene-like strap that lessened the apparent weight.

Their attached lens caps and twist up and down eye-cups do away with the annoying/lost lens caps or roll-down cracking rubber eye-cups.

They focus quickly enough and are just a great introduction to the Eagle Optics line.
Recommended
Yes
Price
210$
Pros
  • Well Constructed. Excellent in low light. Nice case. Lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Loose tethered lens caps
These were a gift to myself; possibly an upgrade to an excellent pair of Eagle Optic Denali binoculars. Am I glad that I made the jump! I just compared these at night looking at stars, clouds, distant city lights, and the moon. These Diamondbacks are noticeably better in low light so either the glass and/or coatings are better. The very close focus (4.5 ft. vs 7 on the Denali's) and the really wide field of view (420 vs 408) make this an excellent value. Love the rounded eye cups but they really need tighter covers for both ends.
Recommended
Yes
Price
130$
Pros
  • Bright optics, lightweight, compact
Cons
  • None for the price
I got these as a present for my wife that would be a comparable pair to my other (more expensive) Vortex 8x42 Diamondbacks. I'm afraid to say that these are, in many subtle ways, better. And while the Vortex's (which I really like BTW) are about $70-80 more, they are so strongly challenged by these Atlases, that I would not hesitate to recommend the Atlas Optic Radians as a viable alternative.

The differences are all minor but noticeable in controlled A-B comparisons. The Atlas's are slightly shorter, have a slightly brighter rendition of white in dim inside light, tighter lens caps, a narrower field of view, a slightly easier turning focus knob, and a slightly farther near focus than the Diamondbacks.

I am really impressed for the difference in cost between the two. Of course, had I not seen the differences, they would be very subtle and not that noticeable in field. So my question is, if you can barely see the difference, why pay more for this value and quality? I highly recommend these.
Recommended
Yes
Price
300$
Pros
  • ED Glass, Open Bridge design, handsome
Cons
  • Slow focus cheap case, objective caps loose
These binoculars replace a venerable pair of heavy porro-prism Minolta 10x42s that had served me well but were starting to show their age.

I'd been wanting a set of ED glass binoculars but could not see myself paying $500+ for that feature. I believe in the law of diminishing returns that you will get relatively less value the more and more you continue to spend on items like binoculars. So when I heard of this model was on sale and had all the good reviews that they'd gotten on this site, I was very interested.

So I'd already been impressed with a pair of Atlas 8x42 Radian binoculars which I found, much to my amazement, better in optical clarity than Vortexes that cost double. How would their more expensive cousins compare?

The Intrepid EDs are green, clad with a smooth rubber armor, no ridges or anything fancy texture-wise. The only very thoughtful design touch was a pair of thumb indentations that feel very nice when holding them. Also the open bridge design actually allows you to hold this one-handed, if you had to, but more-so allows your fingers to grip the barrels in a nice, comfortable, fashion.

The focus knob is probably my only gripe about these, there is some play (probably 1/8th inch) between when you start focusing and when the mechanism actually catches. Once it does however, the focusing speed is very reasonable and I had no problems focusing near (love the near-focus: 6.5 Feet!) and far without feeling frantic about the slowness of the refocusing.

And the optics on these are so clear! To be able to get additional 25% magnification over the 8x models and still experience all the fine detail, without light loss, is exactly what I was looking for, and these did not disappoint.

As an avid birder, however, I was concerned that the 10X power would be too much (causing shakes) but this is not a problem with these. I think if they were too light or too heavy this would have been problematic but I have so far found this not to be an issue.

There are some minor negative points though that I will note: The objective lens covers (the larger far side lenses) are too loose and will come off when simply pulled from the rather cheap, black, non-logo-ed case. The twist-up/down multi-position eye-cups are comfortable enough for eye-glass wearers like me but do have some play in the mid position and less in the fully up position.

There is no manual really, just a generic single sheet of folded paper, with the requisite Italian, French, Spanish, German and Dutch taking up most of the space. There is also an attempt to provide a lens cloth, but it looks like a cheap piece of felt.

The provided neck strap is wide and comfortable but the weight of these binoculars will cause them to really swing when you are walking; a harness strap will redistribute the weight and make them more stable to use than what was provided.

That said, these are excellent binoculars for the money and if you do the research, these will have few peers that can match them for features, design and a comprehensive warranty from Eagle Optics.
Recommended
Yes
Price
240$
Pros
  • Lightweight and rugged with lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Useful really 20-40X. Focus touchy
This was my first major step towards a better quality budget scope. My first scope was a tripod and Audubon Dimensions 80WA 80mm Spotting Scope - 80WA-ES combo for less than $160. Let's just say, you get what you pay for. The Radian tripod was way too light and the scope really only had one really useful 20X eyepiece. Everything was too light and shaky to be very useful.

I was hoping for a much better combo with the Vortex Nomad. And, even though this model is discontinued, it continues to be sold by Eagle Optics and other places. And Vortex will honor it's lifetime warranty, so the risk was nominal and the upgrade was really noticeable.

I also upgraded the tripod as well to a Manfrotto 190XB 3 Section Black Aluminum Tripod Legs with 128RC Micro Fluid Head. Don't skip on the tripod if you want your scope to really perform.

The scope is a lightweight (36.1 ounces) with a polycarbonate body. Fit and finish are good. The eyepiece is covered with a hard plastic screw-off protective cover that is not tethered. It is waterproof and fog-proof with green rubber armoring. My first scope was heavier and neither armored nor water/fog-proof.

The ability to zoom from 20-60 is pretty easy but the range above 40X makes the heat/air shimmer so much more magnified, and the image is so much darker, that that power is not very useful. Plus the focus at the upper end of the zoom is very touchy. So I tend to use this scope in the lower range and am very happy with this.

The optics are good and the eye-relief works for my glasses. But don't expect Swarovski quality at this price point.

The provided case is OK but not more than basic with some velcro to keep the flaps out of the way or the lens cover back.

I do like the ability to shift the angled scope from upright to "straight" by loosening a single screw and twisting the body 45 to 90 degrees.

I was able to do a decent full-moon digiscope using this scope and was very pleased with the results.

Overall, this is a decent scope for the money and easy to carry on your birding outings.
Back
Top