Helios Apollo 15x70 Binos - First Light!
Posted 07 December 2008 - 07:40 AM
First, I'd like to thank all the people of this (and another) forum for providing great advice that helped me in my decision to purchase these binoculars.
For those not familiar with the Helios Apollo series, it's the same as he Oberwerk Ultras, Garrett Optical Signature Series, TS Marine etc. This is just the version that's available in the UK.
Thanks to the excellent customer service of the company I bought them from, I now have the correct 15x70s, and the 10.5x70s have been returned. I've only had a couple of opportunities to use them so far, but the results have been excellent, and I'm glad I got them as they are a definite step up from my 10x50s. The sessions with them have also been relatively short, 15-30 minutes each time, but that's the beauty of binos - I can pick them up and be observing literally in seconds, something I can't do with my C9.25 and EQ6 Pro! I have been using them on a tripod, which helps a lot, but they can be used hand held for short periods (i.e. a couple of minutes at most for my arms). I did try a new grip I'd read about (I think it was on here) - hold the left barrel with both hands, and rest the right barrel on my right fore arm - it sounds a bit strange but give it a try, it's actually simpler than it sounds, and is perfect for this size of binoculars (I doubt it would be much use for 10x50s for example). It seemed to work pretty well, at least for a short look.
So, some thoughts on the views... I'm not an optics expert, so I'll leave the critical analysis to people with more experience than me, but suffice to say, I'm very pleased with the views. I haven't done a side by side comparison with my 10x50s, so can't comment on how much more light they pull in with real world use. The larger magnification does a better job of framing many objects - for example, the Pleiades fills much more of the FOV than in the 10x50s. Speaking of the Pleiades, I can now see why many people refer to the bowl shape, as I could clearly see it, a close approximation of the bowl of the Big Dipper.
Orion's sword looks spectacular - I'd estimate that NGC1981 was approaching one edge of the FOV and iota Orionis / Struve 747 was approaching the other edge (it fills less of the FOV in the 10x50s), and the nebulosity of M42 was very impressive. On my first viewing, I noticed first two stars coming out of the gap on the eastern (I think... IIRC E and W are reversed in the sky, so it's on the left as you look at it), but after a very short time, this chain grew as I was able to see first one, then another star as I became better dark adapted.
I did some general sweeping around, and noticed quite a few stars with very nice colours - I took a few minutes to look at Betelgeuse and Aldebaran, both of which stood out from the crowd very nicely with their orange glows.
During my quick session last night, I also had a look (for the first time, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit) at the Hyades. This makes a very nice target, with the stars following the shape of the V in Taurus. It's defintiely something I'll be coming back to in the future.
Armed with my copy of Gary Seronik's Binocular Highlights book, I thought I'd try to track down something I'd never seen before, and thought I'd give Kemble's Cascade a try. I'm not that familiar with the constellation of Camelopardaris, so I followed the tops of the W in Cassiopeia, and without too much hunting around, there it was. To be honest, it's not hard to find (especially with the relatively wide FOV of bioculars) since it's almost a dead straight line, with one star conspicuously just off to one side of the line. Unfortunately, I didn't spend very long on it, as it was almost exactly overhead. However, now I know it's there, it's something else that I'll be returning to at some point. I had planned to have a quick peek at the Double Cluster as well, but it was getting late, and my neck and arms (I was hand holding at this point) were tiring, and I couldn't be 100% sure I was looking in the right place (overhead again), so I'll come back to it another day when it's a bit lower down.
Overall, I'm very impressed with these binoculars, and I'm very glad I bought them. Their ease of use makes me think that they might become my primary observing instrument, replacing my C9.25...
Posted 07 December 2008 - 09:05 AM
Thanks to a link elsewhere in this forum I discovered an excellent grip technique. You'll probably have to lengthen (and then make fine tuning adjustments to) the neck strap. Pickup the binoculars with both hands, one on each barrel or prism housing. Let the neck strap hang down. Move your elbows together and slip them through the loop formed by the neck strap, so the strap is just above your elbows. Now raise the binoculars to your eyes and expand your elbows a little. At some point everything should lock into place. This is similar to the way rifle target shooters use their shoulder strap to get "locked in", and it's pretty amazing. Works for me, give it a try.
Happy Sky Scanning! - Ted
Posted 08 December 2008 - 02:36 AM
the center field of view is very infact remarkably sharp with excellent contrast, CA is noticed only when viewing real extremes of contrast ie a very bright sky against a very dark background but otherwise wasnt noticed, some distortion is noticed around the field edge, sharp center 50% and getting increasingly soft as you work your way further out but with a wide apparent fov i didnt find it bothered me and with a good fluid head its easy to keep targets centered with out thinking about it so the field edge isnt really noticed, thats what i found anyway.
Posted 08 December 2008 - 04:06 AM
"Their ease of use makes me think that they might become my primary observing instrument, replacing my C9.25.." I am thinking th same thing - the ease of use is second to one - so much less hassle to observe with
How much are the helios? In $AUS we have them for $440.
What type of tripod do you have them mounted on?
Posted 08 December 2008 - 04:27 AM
Posted 08 December 2008 - 12:18 PM
The mount I'm using is nothing special, but it does the job and was reasonably cheap. I doubt it would cope with much more than 15x70s though - maybe 20x80s, but I wouldn't want to go any further. It's fine for me though - it's got plenty of leg extension, and the centre column goes just about high enough as well.
EDIT: AU$440 seems like a bargain compared to UK prices. Â£260 works out to about AU$580!
Hope that helps,
Posted 08 December 2008 - 12:21 PM