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Best value 10x42 in $300 to $400 range?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/24/2016 at 19:54
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Hi all,

Black Friday is hours away and I'm in the market for the best $300 to $400(ish) binoculars.  I think I want a 10x42 (or 43) as that's what I have now, but feel free to talk me into a 8x42.

They will be used for general wildlife viewing, and eventually and hopefully, an epic western elk hunt.

Some that I'm looking at are the following:

Zeiss Terra HD 10x42 (I've found a camo version for $300)

Zen Ray ED3 10x43 (Looks like they are around $440.  I'd need to catch a sale or demo model)

Athlon Midas ED 10x42 ($300) Wirecutter recommened the 8x42 version.

Alpen Wings ED 10x42 ($400) Wirecutter also liked the 8x42 version 

Sightron Siii LR 10x42 $400 (not sure about these, but Sightron Blue Sky ii have an almost cult-like following among birders for being a great value. But I wouldn't purchase these unless I found more reviews or people really raving about them)

I'm fine with demo or open box models.

Thanks.  I looking forward to hearing what people with more experience than me have to say.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/24/2016 at 22:49
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Add to the list 

Vanguard Endeavor ED  and Vanguard Endeavor ED II  (there's a $100 rebate program. They would be $140 and $300 after a mail-in rebate, respectively.)  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2016 at 12:46
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The Vanguard should be a solid option.  Look at the Vortex Talon as well. They are basically the same design as the Zen Ray ED series.

Look hard at the Leupold Mojave BX-3 and the Kruger Caldera as well.  I like the 10x42 Mojave better than the 8x.  The Mojave is a very compact design for a full size 42 mm glass.

I have been impressed with what I have seen of the Zeiss Terra 42 mm series as well.

The Minox BL series are around that price and I like what I have seen of them as well.


Edited by Klamath - November/25/2016 at 12:54
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2016 at 13:05
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To further complicate things,

Zen Ray has a Prime 10x42 Demo unit for $419 shipped.  That's in my budget. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2016 at 16:02
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OK, the Prime is a good glass.  The glass and build are good enough that you need not want for better if you are stuck at your budget.  However, the ocular diameter of the Prime is pretty large.  The oculars will give you problems with the way they fit your eyes...maybe.  That will be an issue if your eyes are set close together or if your eyes are set somewhat deep and in somewhat small diameter eye sockets.  I have a fairly large IPD at 64 mm or so.  I had no problems with the Prime in that regard, but even though I have a fairly open face, I found the large diameter of the eye cup assembly sometime got uncomfortable.  This is a consequence of the desire to provide a flat field.  This requires large diameter eye cups on large ocular assemblies.  That is one I would not recommend you buy without seeing it first.  Sad to say, but ZR has been getting a lot of negative customer service comments lately.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2016 at 17:48
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I am too looking into these, I was pretty much sold on the ZR primes or even the 2015 ZRS hd's but after some of the negative CS reports idk what to do.

Been looking into the endeavor ed2's, bushnell legend ultra hd's, steiner predator, Athlon optics midas ed,

ziess terra? So many to choose from!

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2016 at 17:53
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Optics GrassHopper
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Thanks Klamath.

I'll skip the Prime. Now that you mention it, I've read that before somewhere else (maybe from you. Not sure.) I think my eyes are face are probably average, but don't want to risk it.  

I am also seeing the reports that Zen Ray's customer service is less than stellar. That's a shame. A company that got too popular, too fast?

Mostly though, I can't find a discounted ZR ED3. (i'm a tight bastard that hates paying retailBig Grin)

Vanguard also has the no fault/no hassle warranty, but I've not heard of it being tested.

I've found a Minox HD BL in my price ranges.  
-------
I think the shortlist is now Zeiss Terra, Vanguard Endeavor ED II, and the Minox.

Thanks for the replies.


  



Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2016 at 18:50
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"A company that got too popular, too fast?"

Bingo

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2016 at 19:44
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I'd love to have the Zeiss but they only have a 2yr warranty and it's also made in china so almost everything in this price range is made in china but some seem to Japanese made, some. I'm a tight a55 on this but there seems to be so many off shoots, clones of things that flooded the market with decent options but too many to choose from that all have different positive and negatives, for me the warranty is a BIG thing but it seems vortex only relies on the warranty to sell items on the low end of their products because I've read a lot about their $600 and down scopes and such having all the bells and whistles but the glass is not on par. Nikon seems to have cheapened up their probucts even, nothing seems like the old Nikon where they had sturdy looking optics, now they feel cheap.

Tract toric looks very appealing but out of the price range.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2016 at 19:47
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Cattleball, have you thought of the zen-ray 2015 zrs hd? I think they've been well regarded.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2016 at 20:04
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i looked through some nikon monarch 7's . they sure looked great for about $400.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2016 at 20:36
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Originally posted by cowski cowski wrote:

i looked through some nikon monarch 7's . they sure looked great for about $400.


The Monarch 7's are good binoculars.  But here is the deal.  I advise not getting too tied up in worrying about which one is better than that one and how much better, or not, it might be.  These mid range binoculars have gotten a lot better pretty fast over the last few years.  Truth be told there is not nearly as much difference, up or down between any of them as people might expect there to be.  I have come to the conclusion that the most important criteria in satisfactory use of a binocular is to just be able to shut off your subconscious and just go use the thing.  I have also decided that the way the binocular fits you, the way it balances in your hand and how well the eye cups fit your face and eyes are a lot more important than what label is on the binocular.  To get an idea of the balance and fit, you have to have the thing to hand to see for yourself.  So that means one of two things.  Go see what you can find locally.  Most places for instance have stores that stock things like the Zeiss Terra, the Nikon Monarch series, Vortex, and Leupold.  The last two have superb warranty and service departments and will take care of you.  Nikon seems a bit more cumbersome, and I have zero experienced with Zeiss.  So the point is if you get to a store that has...for example, a Nikon Monarch 7 and if ti ticks off your checkpoints, put it on your short list.  Maybe you will find a Leupold Mojave or a Vortex Talon someplace else.  If you can make a decision on what you can see for yourself, buy the Nikon, or the Leupold, or the Vortex.  If you could not find either an Endeavor or a Minox, then be prepared for the possibility of an extended buy, try, return, and exchange cycle with a good reputable dealer who has a good policy.

 In my estimation all of the suggested choices represent good value, high quality, field worthy binoculars.  To be sure there are bound to be personally significant differences (but that is mostly due to the ergonomics), but that is why a try before you buy policy is always best.  It matters not a whit how I like your choice.  It matters that you like it.  I can just tell you what I like.  When you find one you like get it and don't worry about how it might differ form another one.


Edited by Klamath - November/25/2016 at 20:41
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2016 at 21:41
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Originally posted by IHFarmer07 IHFarmer07 wrote:

I'd love to have the Zeiss but they only have a 2yr warranty .

If you are in the US or Canada, I think the Terra's have a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. It's two years outside of the US.

http://www.opticsreviewer.com/zeiss-terra-ed.html  (Zeiss's website also says this)

But it's not a no fault warranty against accidents that Vortex, Vanguard and others have. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/26/2016 at 17:24
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Hi Steve:

There you go with all that LOGIC stuff, again.

With so much talk about No-Fault warranties, I would like to the offer the first part of my vignette on them.

20 “I GOT A ‘NO FAULT WARRANTY’ WITH MY BINOCULAR, SO I NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING.”

 

Although No Fault Warranties have become popular in recent years, I have a different understanding of the phrase than most consumers. It goes:

“We’re making so much money off these little suckers we can afford to hand out two or three replacements and still turn a profit. Besides, we know most people won’t recognize a problem or contact us at all. That means we can layoff our in-house repair techs, give customers a brand new instrument, and make them think they made out like a bandit, even though the second or third unit might not be any better than the first, causing them to get frustrated and just go away.”

Are all No Fault Warranties like this? No, No, No! But, "buyer beware" is a phrase of ever-expanding importance. One CEO of an American optical importing company shared the following with me:

“Being bought in quantity, some of the popular low-end binoculars coming from China are bought for as little as $5 a box.” 


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/26/2016 at 17:58
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Great call Bill!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/26/2016 at 18:03
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Thank ye!

The truth is not always pleasant as some of our more politically correct types would like. It is, however, always the TRUTH. We just came from a time when all that really mattered.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/27/2016 at 10:06
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Originally posted by WJC WJC wrote:

 

Although No Fault Warranties have become popular in recent years, I have a different understanding of the phrase than most consumers. It goes:

“We’re making so much money off these little suckers we can afford to hand out two or three replacements and still turn a profit. Besides, we know most people won’t recognize a problem or contact us at all. That means we can layoff our in-house repair techs, give customers a brand new instrument, and make them think they made out like a bandit, even though the second or third unit might not be any better than the first, causing them to get frustrated and just go away.”

Are all No Fault Warranties like this? No, No, No! But, "buyer beware" is a phrase of ever-expanding importance. One CEO of an American optical importing company shared the following with me:

“Being bought in quantity, some of the popular low-end binoculars coming from China are bought for as little as $5 a box.” 



I understand the economics of a no-fault warranty.

But imagine you have to identically performing binoculars (and there might be a gnat's whisker difference between the bins I've listed, for all I know.)  

One company has a guarantee that if I drop the binoculars on a boulder and break then the company will replace it, and the other one doesn't.  

Ceteris paribis, I'm going to chose the one with the no-fault warranty.  The company's margins (which let them replace the occasional binocular that gets damaged by the user) are not relevant to me.  I just want a new (or repaired) optic.

Plus, I think we might be overestimating how many binoculars and scopes actually get turned back in Vortex and other similar companies that are covered under a no-fault warranty and wouldn't be covered under a more standard "warranty against manufacturing defects".  As much as I like having the no-fault warranty, so far I've never had an optic that would have been replaced under such a warranty.  But again, it's nice to have.

 I suspect the no-fault warranty doesn't get used often and it's marketing value far outweighs the replacement cost, regardless of margins companies have on imported optics.

 


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/27/2016 at 16:40
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you also have to look at a companies history.....have they been around forever and do you think they will be around in the future if you need them.....some of these companies that are just importers with their name stamped on a product might close up tomorrow....there goes your warranty.....
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/28/2016 at 11:18
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Cattleball:

I was not speaking of Dan Hamilton or his Vortex product. I was just speaking of the term in general. You say you understand the economics. Then you must also know there are plenty of people who don't.

Having 3 HOURS to show for 4 YEARS of high school, I have a son who wanted to vote for anyone who would promise FREE COLLEGE for all those who were too stupid to go to high school. I think he believed the money would be flown in from the Ort Cloud or that it would materialize from nowhere, with no one sacrificing to make it happen.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/28/2016 at 13:36
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A couple of comments:  virtually every binocular in this price range is made by an OEM and the company selling it just adds their own cosmetics to it.

I do agree that going with a reputable brand is a good idea in case something goes wrong.  Most mid-range binoculars these days are pretty well built and will serve you well for quite a while.  You do want good support on an off chance that something goes wrong, but that is not terribly likely.

Of the binoculars listed, I do not have too much mileage with most of them, but I liked the Zen-Ray ED3 and did not lile the Zeiss Terra.  I liked Sightron SIII LR a fair bit, though.

If you really want someone who makes their own stuff, Sightorn is your only option here.  They are effectively a house brand for a large Japanese manufacturer that OEMs for a lot of people and makes their own products.

ILya
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