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NcStar 20x70 & Magnacraft 12x60 ultra-mini review

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#1 aa5te


    Genial Procrastinator

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 03:05 PM

I purchased a set of Magnacraft 12x60's and a set of NcStar 20x70's (with the blue/green lenses) recently. I got the Magnacraft binos for $17.50 off of eBay after 30% Microsoft Live search cashback; the NcStar binos are from a popular online retailer and cost me $60. Both are new. Of course I'm not expecting something like Garrett Optical 25x100 views/brightness/quality out of these; I just wanted something a little bigger to play/experiment with when I don't feel like dragging the scope out.

I've been comparing these to a pair of Burgess Optical 15x70's borrowed from a friend and my own pair of Tasco InFocus 10x50's. Let me say that I'm still impressed with the Tasco binos as I purchased them on sale from K-mart for $10, and they are better quality and optically than my dad's pair of Tasco 7x50's that he paid nearly $80 for a few years ago and his 1980 vintage pair of 7x35's he traded a gun for.

I tried the NcStar binos out for 2 nights and one day, and here's what I discovered:

1. An excessive amount of contaminants were observed on internal prism surfaces in both barrels of the binoculars (at least 3 layers/surfaces deep). The contaminants appear to be lint and/or fingerprints.

2. An excessive amount of contaminants were observed on the internal eyepiece surfaces in both barrels of the binoculars.

3. Excessive visual defects - one barrel provides brighter images than the other barrel; I find it impossible to effectively focus the right barrel; lots of coma/aberrations on planets, such as Jupiter. It also appears that the prisms are not coated in any way.

4. The adjustments are just the right stiffness, and they feel good in the hands due to good weight balance and the rubber armoring.

5. The magnification appears to be much less than 20x, maybe closer to 15x.

In other words, either I received a very bad pair, or there are some major QA issues with their production. I've sent them back for a refund.

On the other hand, the Magnacraft binos are clean on all visible surfaces. The lenses have a nice blue hue to them; it appears that the prisms might be coated but not sure. Edge distortion was on par with the Tasco binos. The diopter adjustments are a little easy to move, but not too bad. They feel very nice in the hands and provide noticeably brighter images of the clusters in Auriga and M31 than the Tasco and NcStar binos.

FWIW, the Magnacraft binos have both the center adjustment and a diopter setting on both eyepieces (odd?). They have a sticker that states "Made in China" as well, but the attached lens covers are nice.

Hope this helps somebody out there. It sure helped me appear like an idiot to my neighbors - "Hey, officer, my eediot naybor is out in his yard a spyin' on somethun agin with 3 differnt pair of spyglasses round his neck".

#2 hallelujah


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Posted 19 November 2008 - 06:03 PM


Look for my PM at the top of the page, upper left hand corner.

Sounds like the NcSTAR that you received was somebody's idea of a joke. The one that I received was not horrific like yours was.

I actually enjoyed using the combination of 20x & 70mm, so much so, that I was able to find one of better overall quality in the Orion 20x70mm L.G.II.

Sorry to hear that yours was a disaster.

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