Ilya Koshkin


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I hold a B.S. in Applied Physics from Caltech and an MBA from UCLA

I have spent most of my professional career working on projects related to test and measurement as well as image and data analysis. I started out working in telecommunications with fiber and micro optics. In 2002, I transitioned to infrared imaging and worked on imaging sensors for land-based astronomy, satellite surveillance and night vison weapon sights for both Rockwell Scientific and Raytheon. Since then, I have been involved with CMOS imaging sensors for high end digital photography, cinema and video conferencing.

A few years back, as I was just starting out with rifles, I went online trying to find some information on rifle scopes. I knew very little about scopes at the time, but I had a good background in optics and imaging. A lot of the information I found on the web made little sense from an optics standpoint, so I decided to stick around and clear things up a bit. People started asking me questions and in order to provide the answers I had to look at more and more scopes. As the questions were getting repetitive, I ended up writing and posting fairly detailed reviews that I could point people to. Then, I just kept at it and companies trying to get some publicity started sending me their latest and greatest optics for review.

My conditions for writing a review are quite simple:

  • I will look at the scope/binocular/spotter as thoroughly and honestly as I can.
  • I will compare it to the competition to the best of my ability.
  • Good or bad, the review will be published (if you want a guaranteed “excellent” review conclusion, I am the last guy you want to evaluate your product, I call them the way I see them).
  • If someone wants me to look at a product and keep the results private, it is no longer journalism, then it becomes consulting and I expect to be compensated for my time.

Ilya Koshkin runs an independent optics review website, Ilya is also “affectionately” known as the Dark Lord of Optics. (Just ask him!)


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