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11X80 Binoculars

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#1 Dan McConaughy

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Posted 17 October 2009 - 08:11 PM

I have some 11X80 University Optics binoculars that I bought over 20 years ago. It seems that back then 11X80 was common. Why aren't they any more?
Dan McConaughy

#2 Erik D

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Posted 17 October 2009 - 08:46 PM

Up to the late 1980s conventional wisdom for astro binocular selection told us ~7 mm exit pupil offered the brightest image possible and was most desirable. Many of us started with 7X50 binos. Take a look at an old issue of Sky and Telescope, Astronomy magazine or Orion catalog from that era you will also find a selection of 8X56, 9X63 and 10X70 mm binoculars for astronomy.

As more of us ventured into binocular astronomy we discovered that unless we live under very dark skies of Mag 5.5 or darker and have young eyes we can't fully take advantage of that large 7.1 mm exit pupil. For most of us higher power binos with exit pupil of 4-6 mm offers darker sky background and bigger image scale. Making dimmer stars visible under suburban skies.

Owners the Ultra Giant Fuji 25X150 reported they do well under exceptionally dark skies but for mag 5.5 or less a pair of 25X100 binocular can show nearly as much but with a fraction of the bulk and weight.

My guess is that the Fujinon 16X70 and 10X50 FMT SX models are out selling the 10X70 and 7X50 version by a healthy margin today. Among my two dozen+ binos my most used binocular for astro viewing are 12X50 hand held, 20X80 and 54X100 mounted. I keep a pair of 7X35s with 11 deg FOV for EWA scanning, but my 7X50 Celestron Nova(10 deg FOV) purchased in 1985 have not been used for quite a while.

#3 DJB

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 12:20 AM

Hi Erik D,

I am really surprised that you do not use your NOVA 7x50. However, from your your dissertation, I can see why so.

In my opinion, when I want a 7x50, I almost always go for the NOVA, a very well-built unit. It is also much lighter than my FUJI FMT-SX--great but heavy. Just my opinion sir.

Best regards,
Dave.

#4 Philip Levine

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 08:16 AM

Hi Dan,
I just started binocular viewing, having acquired a set of 11x80 University Optics binoculars at the Conjunction Star Party this past summer. These binoculars seem well made, and seem to give surprisingly good views of objects such as the Pleiades.
I would like to hear from others their opinion of the University Optics 11x80.
I have a pair of Fujinon 16x70 on order, and will be curious on how these two sets of binos compare.
Phil

#5 EdZ

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 08:35 AM

I'd be curious to know the effective aperture of this 11x80. Use Glenn's easy method test. Set the binocular down on the counter, hold a clear scale directly in front of the aperture and shine a bright light thru the eyepieces. You will see the circle of light representing the aperture outlinded on your scale.

edz

#6 Philip Levine

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 09:19 AM

Hi Ed,
I seem to measure a circle of light approximately 30mm. This was measured by placing a small flashlight directly against the eyepiece and traced the circle on a clear piece of plastic. I noticed the circle size changes slightly according to how the flashlight is positioned at the eyepiece, so I adjusted the flashlight such that the circle of light was centered at the aperature end.
Phil

#7 EdZ

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 09:22 AM

move the flashlight back away a foot to two. You should be getting a circle between 70-80mm.

edz

#8 Philip Levine

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 10:08 AM

Hi Ed,
When the flashlight is placed 1 foot from the eyepiece, I measure a circle 70mm at the aperature. As a comparison, also with flashlight at 1 foot away, with a set of Nikon 10x50EX, I get 47mm.
Phil

#9 EdZ

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 06:09 AM

That's better. I get 48mm for the Nikon ex 10X50. so you are close now.

And if you placed that flashlight at 2 feet, I doubt it woud change much, perhaps a small fraction.

So these old 11x80s are actually close to 11x70, eh.

edz

#10 Jay_Bird

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 11:43 AM

I'll throw in a subjective 2 cents...

For about 6 months I've used 11x80 Comet King (on a p-mount almost exclusively). It is noticeably brighter and has larger image scale (the latter surpised me) than a modern and a 30-yr old 10x50. It combines the best of what I like about the large exit pupil aesthetics of 6x42 and 7x50 with what I like about seeing deeper with 10x50. I think these general statements are likely true of all the variuous current 10x70 to 12x80 options that range in quality, and run across a factor of 10 in price.

The main negatives are the weight of about 4-5 pounds, about the upper limit for good use with the Paragon p-mount, and the 45-50 degree AFOV, with fall-off in edge sharpness for about 3 or so sharp degrees. These can show groupings of DSO nicely and do well seeking out DSO beyond my 50mm and smaller binos. They elicit "wow" from crescent moon views at outreach. These have a wide enough FOV that I can turn my kids loose with them on the p-mount and get a lot of good "what is this I found" learning moments, and let them find their own growing repertoire of objects. These have pretty well replaced the one-eyed 12-20x range on a nice 80mm Achro for my wide-field use.

So the older ones are heavy, not wide field, and may really be 10-12x70mm ballpark, but they are pretty robust and I do enjoy the views. I think that the used 11x80 MC version was a better bet for me to avoid the need for do-it-myself alignment than the lowest cost modern options in this size.

#11 Wes James

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 12:01 PM

I tend to look at the weight- icw the rest of the construction as an indicator of the nice quality these exhibit, as opposed to some of the cheesy quality inexpensive bino's out there today that have a 50-50 chance of arriving in collimation, and a lesser chance of remaining that way throughout their lifespan!

#12 Littlegreenman

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 12:30 AM

SNIP! As more of us ventured into binocular astronomy we discovered that unless we live under very dark skies of Mag 5.5 or darker and have young eyes we can't fully take advantage of that large 7.1 mm exit pupil. For most of us higher power binos with exit pupil of 4-6 mm offers darker sky background and bigger image scale. Making dimmer stars visible under suburban skies.

SNIP!


I have a wonderful pair of Celestron 11x80's. I measured the light circle (marking a piece of paper) and get 76mm, give it +/- 2mm. This pair is marked "Coated Optics" "Field 4.5 [degrees]. Mine does not have a brace between the two halves at the objective end, which I believe was adopted later on in the evolution of astro binoculars. They weigh in at 4.5 lbs. I've owned or looked through about 5 pairs of 11x80's, branded Celestron, Meade, and some others whose details I forget. There is a range of quality, from acceptable to great. That is assuming collimation is on.

I also had a pair of Stellarvue branded binoculars 15x63's*. Comparing the two bear out Eric's comments quoted above. But, I preferred the 11x80's, based on use in NELM 3-6 skies (dark suburban and mountains north of Los Angeles). Maybe the pupils of my 50 plus year old eyes open up more than average. But, I would say that the two gave different views. The 11x80s give a wider FOV with a spacewalk feel. The 15x70(63)'s definitely had much more contrast, making the background sky ink black, and the stars sparkled much brighter.

I would argue neither is 'better,' but they are 'different.' When I downsized my binoculars I kept the 11x80's. I would not argue that a smaller exit pupil will give you a more contrast, and you can see more stars. But for the term 'better,' I would say, better for what? For wide scanning of The Milky Way or star fields, or comet hunting 11x80 may be 'better.' For me, the preference is more an aesthetic preference. Sorry to harp on this point, but I make it because it seems to be a minority opinion on this forum, often not stated. Or rather, the fact that a smaller exit pupil will show more contrast and fainter stars has been at times been presented as the final word on the subject. I wish new 11x80's or something similar were being made.

Of course, the real solution is to get two, three, five pairs of binoculars in different sizes! :jump:

*Stellarvue sold some 15x63's and 20x85's around 2004, if I remember right. They show up on the used market occasionally. I can recommend the 15x63's, but have not looked through the 20x85's. They were made in China, and tested under dark skies before shipping.

Littlegreenman

#13 EdZ

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 06:00 AM

I wish new 11x80's or something similar were being made.



I'd say the Kunming 10.5x70 (they are full aperture) fill that slot

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#14 Littlegreenman

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 04:50 PM

I just found a pair of Celestron 12x80's listed on ebay. It's highly unlikely I will bid on these. BTW, I've noticed prices have softened quite a bit on these older binoculars in the last few years.

eBay auction

LGM

#15 Erik D

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 05:43 PM

LGM,

Very interesting!

Do you think this is a pair of a Celestron Branded Vixen similar to the Orion Megaviews in 15X, 20X and 30X. If so that's a great price for pair of Japanese 80mm binoculars. (I notice the center hinge say "japan"). My 2001 Orion catalog list a pair of 15X80 Megaviews at $479.

ERik D

#16 Philip Levine

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 12:25 PM

Hi Dan,
I also have a pair of University Optics 11x80 binoculars (though the quick aperature flashlight test indicates it is closer to 70mm).
I am overall quite happy with these, I aquired them this past summer, and they appear to have been never used by the previous owner.
So I was curious about these binos, and emailed the University Optics website to ask for more info on the 11x80.
I was informed these are about 20 years old, made in Japan, and probably fully multi-coated. :jump:
Phil

#17 Littlegreenman

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 01:07 PM

Over the past day or so I started wondering if the Stellarvue's I had showed brighter stars partly due to modern coatings. Just wondering.

Erik, you got me wondering and pulled out my 3 old Orion Catalogues from 1995, 1997, and 2003. I wish I had kept more of those.

The 10.5 x 70's currently sold by our favorite vendors (I assume they are made by Kunming: Garrett, Bigbinoculars, Orion and who else?) at around $350 are cheaper than the 11x80's in the Orion 1995 catalogue (Orion branded) at $469. Orion also had 16x80 and 20x80 for the same price.

The 1995 catalogue also has the Celestron 12x80 and 20x80's, at $609/669, which makes me wonder who was setting their prices and what was their rationale? Quoting the text: "Celestron's redesigned Giant Series binoculars provide fantastic astronomical viewing..." So at the time these were redesigned for $130 more. They also had BAK-4 porro prisms and were fully multicoated, and "Retractable rubber dew shades/lens shields..." Retractable dew shields are uncommon. 6.6mm exit pupil and 4.5 degree FOV.

At the bottom of the page Orion was also selling "Dew Caps for 80mm Binoculars." "These clever, lightweight dew caps..." Clever.

Moving along, the Celestron redesigned Giant Series binoculars no longer appear in the Orion 1997 Orion Catalogue. I suppose at some point in time a product stands on it's own. Besides, no matter how clever you are you can only call something 'redesigned; for a short period of time.

The largest Celestron binoculars in that catalogue are the 9x63 Ultimas.

Jumping ahead to the 2003 Catalogue there are the Megaviews:
15x80 $479, 20x80 $489, and 30x80 $499.

The Celestron 12x80 are uncommon. There are none listed in the Astromart Classifieds; just 1 wanted add. I remember another pair selling on eBay a few months back, but that's the only pair I remember for sure. The higher price probably didn't help.

So, whose going to win those one's on eBay and tell us if they were worth the extra $130?

LGM

#18 Wes James

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 01:15 PM

I also have a pair of University Optics 11x80 binoculars (though the quick aperature flashlight test indicates it is closer to 70mm).
I am overall quite happy with these, I aquired them this past summer, and they appear to have been never used by the previous owner.
So I was curious about these binos, and emailed the University Optics website to ask for more info on the 11x80.
I was informed these are about 20 years old, made in Japan, and probably fully multi-coated.



I've had 2 pairs of the Comet Kings (imported/sold by U/O) 11x80's... one pair was marked fully coated, the other pair were marked fully multi-coated. I believe the markings on each.
I assume these are marked "University Optics"? No reference to coatings? Rather odd... usually coating type's are annotated in some way.

#19 Rich V.

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 01:56 PM

LGM, I think the 90's 80mm binoculars sold by Celestron and Orion were made by Vixen in Japan. Both companies were resellers of Vixen products; Celestron re-branded much of the Vixen bino and telescope lines with their name. I recall Orion re-branding the 80mm Vixen binos but sold the telescopes with the Vixen brand.

I believe the Megaviews were the last of the Vixen Japan giant binoculars sold by Orion.

Rich V

#20 KennyJ

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 02:09 PM

Oh ! -- for those clever , lightweight dew caps ! -- surely to die for , those are ! :-)

The extra cost per increase in magnification factor also amuses me a little , and surely unfair that one should be asked to pay an extra 10 dollars for that extra 5x when they could have got an extra 15x for 20 dollars ! :-)

Throughout the 1990s here in the UK , those generic Japanese 11 x 80 and 20 x 80s were always priced above the average workers' weekly wage , and those 14x and 25x 100mm big brothers cost the equivalent of a month's wages to anyone either desperate enough or daft enough to pay that much for them .

I've looked through many of those Japanese 80mm binoculars over the years , and have felt slightly underwhelmed by all except the 11 x 80 models .

Perhaps part of the reason was because they weren't all true 80mm ones after all ? Most of them were relatively well built though , even without the more recently celebrated central support hinges , I will say that for them .

Kenny

#21 Philip Levine

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 07:09 PM

Hi Wes,
I stand corrected, it states "Fully Coated" right under the Universeity Optics logo. Still a good bino.
Phil

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#22 Wes James

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 07:49 PM

I agree, Phil- They are very enjoyable bino's!
Wes

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