Minox ZA5 vs ZV3 Rifle Scopes
I've been getting a lot of questions lately about the Minox ZV3 scopes and how they compare to the Minox ZA5. The obvious answer was to get them both out, compare them, and post here. This comparison is between the ZV3 3-9x40 and the Minox ZA5 2-10x40, the closest possible match between the two.
The ZA5 is Minox's "alpha" line, and typically sells for $300+, and quickly approaches four figures as magnification increases. The ZV3 is a new product for 2013 and is Minox's attempt to dip into a wider consumer market.
Both the Minox ZA5 and ZV3 have one piece aluminum bodies and are fully waterproof and fogproof. It appears that they are exactly the same dimensions in length and width. Both measure 31cm (12.25") long, and when I say they are the same size, I mean it. The width at the objective is exactly the same, width of the focusing ring is exactly the same, and the bends in the tube are at the exact same spots. The only physical difference in the body is that the threads for the turret caps are sized slightly different, meaning they can't be interchanged. I assume that the dimensions in the ZV3 design spec were pulled directly from the ZA5 2-10x40.
Weight for the ZA5 is 14 ounces, while the ZV3 weighs slightly less at 13.4 ounches. I was expecting more of a weight difference due to the magnification difference, but this is not the case. Before weighing on a scale, I had thought that the ZV3 was at least several ounces lighter, but apparently I was wrong. Placebo effect?
The magnification adjustment rings are of different construction (the ZA5 is rubber while the ZV3 is the same aluminum as the body), but feedback between the focusing ring and magnification ring are nearly identical. Neither scope exhibits any points of resistance across the mangification range. The same goes for the focusing ring. Compared to several other scopes that I have on hand, they are both tight and require a little more effort to turn. Tolerances seem to be very close.
The turrets on the two scopes are also slightly different. The turrets on the ZA5 are slightly larger and produce a much more audible click than the turrets on the ZV3, which you can feel but not really hear. In addition to this, the turret caps on the ZA5 are slightly higher to accomodate the taller turrets, and feature raised ribs of rubber. The ZV3 turret covers are just plain aluminum caps, similar to other scopes without tactical turrets. Both scopes have allen screws on the turrets so the dials can be reindexed after sighting in.
Not that it really matters, but the MINOX logo on the ZA5 is etched (maybe embossed is the right term?), while the logo on the ZV3 is painted.
The most notable functional difference between the two scopes is that the entire ZA5 line is a 5:1 magnification ratio, while the ZV3 is 3:1. This means that the highest magnification on any Minox ZA5 is going to be 5x that of the lowest magnification, whereas the ZV3 follows the same rule that the highest magnification is going to be 3x higher than the lowest. This doesn't really have any bearing on performance, although one could argue that the 5:1 range is a little more versatile. Other scopes may have 4:1 magnification (Nikon, for instance).
Accessories included with the two are pretty standard. Each comes with a cleaning cloth, instruction manual, and allen wrench for reindexing the turrets. The only real difference in accessories between the two is that the ZA5 comes with a neoprene Scopecoat. The ZV3, on the other hand, only includes standard plastic lens caps attached with elastic bands.
As far as optical quality, I was expecting expect the ZA5 to blow the ZV3 out of the water. If nothing else, the price difference would justify that assumption. I was extremely surprised to find that this is not nearly the case. First, the differences.
Since the ZA5′s lowest magnification is 2x, rolling ball is a little more pronounced than the 3x minimum on the ZV3. This isn’t so much an indicator of quality as it is an indicator of difference in magnification. It’s just an interesting note.
The lens coatings on the two scopes also appear to differ slightly. Both are fully multi coated, but the ZV3 shows more green than any other color, while the ZA5 shows more of an equal green/purple hue. They aren't very different, and somebody who isn't an optics geek probably wouldn't notice a difference to begin with.
That being said, the optics comparison between the Minox ZA5 and the Minox ZV3 yields little difference overall. I positioned both scopes in a fixed position side by side and scoped several objects at varying distances in the mid-afternoon light on a sunny day. In a side by side comparison of the two, I was unable to point out any noticeable differences in clarity or light transmission, or fine detail. Optical quality on both scopes at about 5x yields a very clear picture. On the highest magnification, chromatic aberration is lacking enough that I would consider it nearly nonexistent, and the difference between the two is again indistinguishable. I am VERY surprised at how similar the two are, and I have a theory on why that is.
Disclaimer: This is just an assumption and I have no way of backing this up.
The ZA5 is manufactured with Schott glass, evidenced by the SCHOTT lettering on the objective ring of ZA5 scopes. Schott manufactures the glass found in several popular brands of rifle scope (Zeiss being the most recognized). However, SCHOTT is NOT found on the objective ring of the ZV3, or anywhere else for that matter. I am also aware that Schott operates factories in China. My hypothesis is that Schott manufactured the glass in the ZV3 to a similar spec as the ZA5 (if not the exact same spec), but the name isn't found on the ZV3 because they didn't want their name to be clearly associated with Chinese manufactured sport optics, especially a brand new product. Again, this is just an assumption, but I think anybody else doing a side by side comparison would agree.
There you have it. The ZA5 remains the flagship line of the Minox riflescope offerings, but the ZV3 certainly holds its own in my opinion. Don't think of it as a completely seperate line from the ZA5, but in beer terms it's more of a "ZA5 Lite."
Photos are on the way.
As promised, photo comparison.
Side by side comparison. Notice that the only real differences are the magnification ring and turret caps.
Close up of turrets. ZA5 on the right, ZV3 on the left. Both are 1/4 MOA clicks. The ZV3 feels a little "tighter" but doesn't audibly click when adjusting.
Another view of turrets. ZA5 on the right, ZV3 on the left. Notice the set screws on the ZA5 turrets. It may be hard to see, but there are set screws on the ZV3 turrets as well.
Close up of focusing ring and magnification ring. Aside from markings and the construction of the magnification ring, distances and clearances appear to be the same.
Close up of objective. The ZA5 is the one that is marked WETZLAR GERMANY - I was incorrect at first, this ZA5 does not say SCHOTT, I may have been thinking of the 4-20x50. The thickness of the bodies themselves are identical - if you hold objectives end-to-end, they are exact.
Great Article. Could you please discuss more at length the 3;1 Ratio and the 5;1 Ratio and how the 5;1 ratio could be more versitle?
The versatility I'm referring to in this article is in reference to the low mangification, close range capability in the same package of high magnification, longer range. You've got the ability to dial back to 2x or so for a very close-up shot and a wider FOV, yet you can go all the way up to 10x for shots out to a few hundred yards. You wouldn't want full 10x magnification for something under 50 yards, or vice-versa. You just get lots of choices with a wider range of mangification.
Of course, this wide range of magnification comes with a downside. A lot of scopes that utilize 5:1 and 6:1 magnification (2-10x50, 1-5x24s, 1-6x24s, etc.) are built in such a way that the glass in some of the lenses has to be curved to handle all the available powers in the entire range and still maintain edge to edge clarity, which can cause the pincushion/rolling ball/globe effect that some people are prone to seeing on these scopes. It was especially pronounced on the 2-10x models of the Minox ZA5, and you'll likely see it to varying degrees on most scopes with higher ratios.
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