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Pulled the trigger on new ED2 7x36s (1 Viewer)

Steve C

Well-known member
I have what is very likely the first of the ZEN ED 2 7x36 binoculars delivered to a customer. If memory serves that was 2009. I worked it over pretty hard when I got it. I dunked it in the water trough, hung it on the fence post overnight in nights with many degrees of frost. It rode in the saddle bag on the four wheeler out irrigating, checking cattle and sundry other farm duties. A summer in the four wheeler has destroyed other binoculars. One question is "what focus slop?". There is a minute amount that should not bother anyone, unless being picky is more second nature than it is to me. There is insignificant "slop" in my ZEN ED 2 10x43 as well as the 7x43 and in the 8x43 ED 3 I had. If you look hard enough there is some slop in anything. The ZEN ED focus slop is no different than in any I have had than with any other binocular in the general mid tier class. I say this not to be critical, but to state an observation of mine. Everyone should buy and use what they like. We like different things for different reasons. If focus is a big deal, get out the wallet. Tight and consistent tolerances and specifications don't come cheap.

While it is somewhat disconcerting to see some of the service complaints about ZR, their glass remains as good as anything else in that category. Yes there are better binoculars, there are sure worse. "Rough around the edges" is terminology that can be applied to anything regardless of cost simply because nothing is now, or ever will be perfect. So yes the ZEN ED series is rough around the edges, but something has to give to keep prices affordable (I sort of hate that word because it is sure different things to different people).

I have always looked at ZR as glass certainly good enough for use as a primary glass without breaking the budget. I have used several as primary binoculars and don't see where I missed anything. I formed a high opinion of their price vs quality performance. That opinion remains in place. For various reasons, not limited to my natural curiosity about optics, I have moved on, but still own some ZR binoculars.

My 7x36 has a place right beside the sliding glass door on the porch. The deck looks over a large rose hedge and a bunch of trees where it still gets frequent use, particularly during migrations. It remains as bright and tight as the day it came out of the box.
 
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PhilR.

Well-known member
I'm thinking about ordering another for a youngster I know that has shown an interest for birding. I like the 7X with the big exit pupil and huge FOV. Perfect for starting out.


I purchased a used Z-R 7x36 just to play with, and besides the slightly sub-par focus wheel that you mention, found it to be a very nice bino for the price. So much so that I purchased the Atlas Optics clone when they came on sale. Essentially the same bino, with the same very good optics and same slightly sub-par focus wheel. We use these two as "loaner" binos, and keep one stashed in each vehicle. Will also one day be used by us as a secondary bino when we are no longer able to hold 8x or 10x still, which is hopefully a long time from now, but you never know (our current primary 7x binos are a 7x42 FL, and a 7x42 Ultravid HD+).

I haven't been to the Eagle Optics website for a while, but you might see if they still have the Atlas Optics version on sale. I think I paid about $139 or thereabouts.
 

jremmons

Wildlife Biologist
Hi Steve,

I've got a pair of the 10x43 ED4 and also owned the 7x43 ED3. This ED2 definitely has more 'slop' or, maybe slack would bed a better term. That said, it isn't that bothersome and certainly doesn't hinder my every-day use. It is simply an annoyance I notice in testing and mostly forget it in the field.
 

chill6x6

Well-known member
It seems like I stepped on some toes which i did not intend on doing...

The rest of the story....

I take folks birding with me....mostly those just starting out. We start out trying to learn the names/marking/male/female/songs of five or so birds first time out. Then add to it each time. Northern Cardinal, Towhee, titmouse, Northern Mockingbird, Robin, Great Blue Heron, crow.... whichever we come across, something like that. Nothing that challenging. Many of course show up with their own "binoculars." About half the time the binoculars they show up with aren't suitable. Mostly they can't find the bird. If they find the bird the image isn't clear. Of course I always bring an extra pair or so just in case. Most are truly/seriously AMAZED when I hand them one of mine...usually a 8X Vanguard ED II, FL 8X32, or a Vortex Viper HD. Saying this.....

Within the last couple of weeks I have acquired four binoculars in the $250.00 to $340 range. My thinking...this price range is PROBABLY at a good price point for a very decent binocular. One someone just starting out birding should be able to purchase with no regrets and would be able to use it with confidence and one to inspire their continuing birding/outdoor experience. So I took it upon myself to buy a couple or three or four. Without divulging TOO much info before I've had a chance to USE/evaluate them as much as possible the binoculars included the brands Sightron, Athlon, Celestron, and Zen-Ray. Ashlee and I used the binoculars last Sunday and I did myself on Thursday. Ashlee is a GREAT test subject because she doesn't know what I paid and I don't influence her opinion in any way.

Of those four binoculars and any other binocular I currently own, the Zen-Ray ED2 has the most slack/slop in the focus adjustment of any of those four by FAR. If all four had the same issue with the focus adjust, so be it. But when two of the four have REALLY good focus adjustment, one not quite as good, and one not nearly as good, I take issue with it. In fact it has the most slack/slop in the focus of any binocular I currently have. It quietly frankly should be a lot better. Remember this is a $400 binocular with a $150 coupon. And when it comes to focus adjustment, objective covers that stay on, and probably customer service I think I may have done better with the other three, without getting out the wallet. Also consider as I type this the Vanguard ED II is $338 at optics planet. So saying this...the Zen-Ray might not be the first binocular I would recommend to someone. I think it's a decent binocular BUT, there may be a better choice here. I have not made that decision yet. I really didn't think I had been THAT derogatory concerning the ED2 in previous statements.

So when someone ask about what binocular/optic to purchase or advice on binocular/optic...I have no affiliation/preference in regards to brands...I only try to give the BEST advice I know/have to best of my ability. I have been fortunate to have owned a few binoculars and I may not always give the absolute best advice...but rarely will it bad advice.

One other possibility here I need to mention...I may have gotten a unit not to the standards it normally would be. This is the first Zen-Ray product I've ever purchased. I worked today but had a minute to make a REALLY quick video of the slack/slop in the focus adjustment. See if it matches yours...

So didn't mean to step on any toes...I think for the most part this is a good group here!

Maybe this link will work?

https://youtu.be/iU7baKr5ZtA

Comments?
 

Steve C

Well-known member
Chuck,

My toes don't feel stepped on ;)

That focus slop is about 10x at least greater than any of mine. Could be we are seeing a closeout and what is left are out of spec units returned or not sold at regular prices.

You have likely done this, but work the focus wheel back and forth from one stop to the opposite. Sometimes the grease needs to be spread around inside.

I sort of groan inside when I see focus problems. Not a single binocular made avoids the issue. What you illustrate is not acceptable for general use. That would irritate me too.
 

jremmons

Wildlife Biologist
Chuck,

You didn't ruffle my feathers with your comments, I just didn't understand why you thought the ED2 could not serve as a full time bino. I think the slop present in your focus knob is much greater than what exists in mine or the other ZR models I own/have owned. You could try contacting ZR support about getting a fix; they responded quickly when I had an issue with my ED3 and fixed it at no charge.
 

Cluster

Well-known member
One other possibility here I need to mention...I may have gotten a unit not to the standards it normally would be. This is the first Zen-Ray product I've ever purchased. I worked today but had a minute to make a REALLY quick video of the slack/slop in the focus adjustment. See if it matches yours...

So didn't mean to step on any toes...I think for the most part this is a good group here!

Maybe this link will work?

https://youtu.be/iU7baKr5ZtA

Comments?

That's pretty much the play that I have on the two I have handled. I see it as a little under one of the divisions on the rubber strip grips on the focus wheel.
 

BruceH

Avatar: Harris Hawk
Chuck,

It looks like your 7X36 has close to twice as much free play travel as mine. Although it is hard to tell from a video, it looks like yours is much looser. It did not look like there was much resistance when you were rotating the wheel. Mine has somewhat of a spongy feeling when in the free play rotation area. I have no problem with quickly locking onto a focus. That may be helped by the generous depth of field from a 7x.

I am not seeing any noticeable pupil truncation in mine. This is just casually holding the binocular at arms length toward a a white source and lining up the exit pupil the best I can.

My suggestion is to contact Charles about these issues and arrange an exchange. The best way to contact him is using his direct e-mail address. Be sure and request him to check out the replacement first before sending it out.

http://www.birdforum.net/showpost.php?p=3316989&postcount=10

I am curious what you are seeing in terms of color balance. Comments in another post mentioned they now have the same coatings as the ED3. I find the ED3 to have a very sight warm balance but less than my original ED2 7X36.

I am also curious as to how it compares to your Athlon Ares 8X42 since they appear to share the same design. Does the Ares have similar free play or truncated pupils? Also, are the general optical properties similar (brightness, color balance, center view percentage, etc.)?

The ED2 is not a Zeiss SF, but I can use it all day birding and be satisfied. My biggest issue is not with the Zen-Ray, but the power as a 7X is not enough for my more wide open spaces. I hardly ever do close in viewing.

As far as the example binocular on the right in your example photo, my guess is a Zeiss, and I will go with your SF 8X42.
 

NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
Chuck:

You mention some binoculars you have used and loan to others. How about the
Tract Toric, how does that perform compared to the Vortex Viper ?

Jerry
 

chill6x6

Well-known member
Chuck,

My toes don't feel stepped on ;)

That focus slop is about 10x at least greater than any of mine. Could be we are seeing a closeout and what is left are out of spec units returned or not sold at regular prices.

You have likely done this, but work the focus wheel back and forth from one stop to the opposite. Sometimes the grease needs to be spread around inside.

I sort of groan inside when I see focus problems. Not a single binocular made avoids the issue. What you illustrate is not acceptable for general use. That would irritate me too.

I told you! SLOP! HAHA! Don't worry I sat on the couch and moved the adjustment from stop to stop more than a few times before ever heading out with it. In most of my binocular purchases I've found that once it's pulled from the box that's as slop-free as its prob going to get, frequently gets worse as the years go by. I have a few binoculars that truly are seemingly as precise and tight as the day they were pulled from the box.

Chuck,

You didn't ruffle my feathers with your comments, I just didn't understand why you thought the ED2 could not serve as a full time bino. I think the slop present in your focus knob is much greater than what exists in mine or the other ZR models I own/have owned. You could try contacting ZR support about getting a fix; they responded quickly when I had an issue with my ED3 and fixed it at no charge.

I guess mainly because I know you had a FL 7X42 and I do too. The difference isn't a night/day difference but for me and my uses, WELL worth the price difference. You need another FL right by you to compare....

That's pretty much the play that I have on the two I have handled. I see it as a little under one of the divisions on the rubber strip grips on the focus wheel.

From the OPs posting, I expected SOME. Nothing like what I have here.

Chuck,

It looks like your 7X36 has close to twice as much free play travel as mine. Although it is hard to tell from a video, it looks like yours is much looser. It did not look like there was much resistance when you were rotating the wheel. Mine has somewhat of a spongy feeling when in the free play rotation area. I have no problem with quickly locking onto a focus. That may be helped by the generous depth of field from a 7x.

I am not seeing any noticeable pupil truncation in mine. This is just casually holding the binocular at arms length toward a a white source and lining up the exit pupil the best I can.

My suggestion is to contact Charles about these issues and arrange an exchange. The best way to contact him is using his direct e-mail address. Be sure and request him to check out the replacement first before sending it out.

http://www.birdforum.net/showpost.php?p=3316989&postcount=10

I am curious what you are seeing in terms of color balance. Comments in another post mentioned they now have the same coatings as the ED3. I find the ED3 to have a very sight warm balance but less than my original ED2 7X36.

I am also curious as to how it compares to your Athlon Ares 8X42 since they appear to share the same design. Does the Ares have similar free play or truncated pupils? Also, are the general optical properties similar (brightness, color balance, center view percentage, etc.)?

The ED2 is not a Zeiss SF, but I can use it all day birding and be satisfied. My biggest issue is not with the Zen-Ray, but the power as a 7X is not enough for my more wide open spaces. I hardly ever do close in viewing.

As far as the example binocular on the right in your example photo, my guess is a Zeiss, and I will go with your SF 8X42.

A thought....those of you that live out west, focus adjustment may not be a critical for you especially as mentioned with a 7X binocular. Most birds I view are inside of 20 yards...many times closer. Sparrows, warblers, kinglets.... Focusing ALL the time on a moving bird. I need to go out west and see how y'all do it! I'm sure I'd probably leave the 7X's at home.

7X36 color...GOOD! Like I said...fix the focus, it's a good binocular. 7X36 is really the perfect idea for a 7X binocular....one doesn't need a 42mm objective. Huge FOV is really appreciated too. It really doesn't have to be flat to find/follow a bird.

Athlon Ares 8X42...good detective! For sure the Ares is the ED2 big brother. Focus IS much tighter with a SLIGHT amount of play with a good bit more friction.

Exit pupil pics are from the ED2 and FL 7X42. That FL is round as can be isn't it?


Chuck:

You mention some binoculars you have used and loan to others. How about the
Tract Toric, how does that perform compared to the Vortex Viper ?

Jerry

Jerry...the Viper HD I currently have is the 8X32(love it BTW) although I HAD the 8X42. It's crossed my mind several times that I wish I still had it to directly compare. It's hard for me to go from memory comparing the Toric and the Viper HD 8X42...but I'd honestly have to say that they are very similar.
 

jgraider

Well-known member
Chuck:

You mention some binoculars you have used and loan to others. How about the
Tract Toric, how does that perform compared to the Vortex Viper ?

Jerry

My comparisons of the 8x42's showed the Tract superior to the Viper HD in most every way, and on par/slightly superior to the Razor HD, FWIW.
 

wdc

Well-known member
Chuck, Thanks for all your comments and clarity, as well as everyone else. It is good to read a thread that offers up so much information and experience, without rancor.

Regarding focus play or 'slop', the Sightron 8x32 and Vanguard ed2 I own are smooth, low-friction, and free of play. The Tract Toric 8x42 is much stiffer, and also no play. On the other hand, I tried the Maven b3's, and found the focuser to be very smooth, but had a noticeable delay in engaging the gears when reversing focus. "precision slop" if you will. The worst focuser I've got is on the Leupold Yosemite 6x30. It is stiff and uneven in resistance, plus it has play in it. There's no pleasure to be found in that one, though it provides a thoroughly decent view, and sits on our kitchen table next to the feeder.

Considering one might be utilizing that aspect of the binocular for hours, it really does become a critical issue for a device with relatively few moving parts.

Bill
 

chill6x6

Well-known member
Chuck, Thanks for all your comments and clarity, as well as everyone else. It is good to read a thread that offers up so much information and experience, without rancor.

Regarding focus play or 'slop', the Sightron 8x32 and Vanguard ed2 I own are smooth, low-friction, and free of play. The Tract Toric 8x42 is much stiffer, and also no play. On the other hand, I tried the Maven b3's, and found the focuser to be very smooth, but had a noticeable delay in engaging the gears when reversing focus. "precision slop" if you will. The worst focuser I've got is on the Leupold Yosemite 6x30. It is stiff and uneven in resistance, plus it has play in it. There's no pleasure to be found in that one, though it provides a thoroughly decent view, and sits on our kitchen table next to the feeder.

Considering one might be utilizing that aspect of the binocular for hours, it really does become a critical issue for a device with relatively few moving parts.

Bill

Hi Bill...
I agree with your comments on every binocular you just named. The ED II is among the best.

I couldn't agree more with your comments regarding the focus adjustment. I used four binoculars today....with a range from EXCELLENT to POOR where focus adjustment is concerned. It is really trying when using a a binocular with a poor functioning adjustment...
 

NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
Hi Bill...
I agree with your comments on every binocular you just named. The ED II is among the best.

I couldn't agree more with your comments regarding the focus adjustment. I used four binoculars today....with a range from EXCELLENT to POOR where focus adjustment is concerned. It is really trying when using a a binocular with a poor functioning adjustment...

Chuck:

I suppose you can just come out and say it, a poor focusing binocular
will never please, and I don't care what brand. Yours sounds like junk.

It just affects the attitude the minute you use it. I rate the focuser high
on the list of important attributes. I can overlook many things, but not
a focuser.

Jerry
 

chill6x6

Well-known member
Chuck:

I suppose you can just come out and say it, a poor focusing binocular
will never please, and I don't care what brand. Yours sounds like junk.

It just affects the attitude the minute you use it. I rate the focuser high
on the list of important attributes. I can overlook many things, but not
a focuser.

Jerry

Absolutely correct! It ruins the whole thing for me....
 

jremmons

Wildlife Biologist
I understand, Chuck. The focus problems on yours are much, much worse than on mine.

The optics of these things are very impressive, though. Yes, the FL was probably a bit better in a few ways (slightly brighter, better edge performance), but I really like these ED2.
 

Cluster

Well-known member
I've had so many binoculars that have play in the focus mechanism, and often much worse (looping focus, for which I return bins).. that, wrt China Bins, I come to expect it as the norm. Perhaps I should be more demanding.
 

Swedpat

Well-known member
I have considered to get a Zen Ray 7x36 earlier but became doubtful of the useable eye relief because of that the lenses seem too much recessed from the eyecup.
The eye lenses look large however, and maybe I would give this binocular a chance, because with my new eyeglasses I come closer to the eyepiece than before.
But when I look at the video with the focuser play it does not feel good: actually today I shipped my Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 to service because of such an issue(and for replacement to longer eyecups). In the long run it feels annoying. It should not be on a quality binocular!
 

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