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Celestron 11x80 Binoculars-Any Good?

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#1 AlienFirstClass



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Posted 01 March 2010 - 04:53 PM

I was just offered a pair of Celestron 11x80 binoculars.

Could the group weigh on these as to their history and quality?


#2 EdZ


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Posted 01 March 2010 - 05:28 PM

Probably a first consideration should be a comparison to your maximum eye pupil. If you eye pupil never gets larger than 6mm, than this binocular will be a maximum 11x66 for you. Few people ever get to use these at the full aperture.

Power could be hand held, but the weight of these, probably close to 5#, might preculde steady hand holding.


#3 Rich V.

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 05:37 PM

AFAIK, the Celestron 11x80 binoculars from the '80s and '90s were Celestron badged Vixen products from Japan. Orion 80mm binoculars from that time were also made by Vixen.

They had good build quality and decent but not great optics from what I've read; never looked through a pair myself. The classic "Japanese" build of these older binoculars is better than most of the Chinese 80mms sold today.

If the price is right and you've determined they are in good condition and still collimated they could be quite useful astro binoculars. Nowdays, 11x isn't popular; most folks interested in 70-80mm binoculars prefer 15x-20x. If you still have 7mm dark adapted eye pupils the 7mm exit pupil of these binoculars will work nicely under dark skies.

Rich V

#4 Jay_Bird


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Posted 01 March 2010 - 06:21 PM

Well, some things to consider are your intended use and more about the binoculars being offered.

With 7mm exit pupils these are best used under dark skies. But I use 11x80, 7x50 and 6x42 under my backyard ~ Mag 4.5 suburban fringe skies too and don't mind a visible sky background on the brighter nights. To observe brighter clusters, Jupiter's moons, or the earthlit crescent moon, I've also mounted these for much more urban light-polluted outreach. Handholding these is a novelty, but the 11x80 are really much better mounted. They work well on the smaller P-mounts such as Orion Paragon.

What other binos do you use for astronomy? 11x80 can be like a 'super' 10x50 (I can handhold 10x50 but prefer to mount 11x80, and see more through 11x80 than 10x50 in astronomy use even when both are mounted). They can be your 'big' binocular if you have 8x42, 7x50, 10x42, etc. They could also be a big 'night glass' (large exit pupil binocular) to complement the 50% smaller FOV of a typical 20x80 for faint extended objects under dark skies.

Are the ones being offered fully coated or multicoated? Is the FOV 4.5°, as typical for several older models? Are they in good shape mechanically, and clean and aligned?

If you want a high-power multi-purpose bino there are several 12x roof or Porro to consider that have smaller exit pupil, but also lighter weight and slightly wider FOV; those would be better for a combination of long range birding and astronomy, likely offering more chances for handheld use. For astronomy, the 11x80 are slightly a niche tool but an enjoyable one. They are not as sharp to edge as Fuji 16x70 that cost 2-3X as much used, but the 11x80 offer the comfort of a large exit pupil. The ~ 50° AFOV of the 11x80 doesn't feel restrictive, on a similar pair of 11x80 Comet Kings the center sharpness seems good and the last 1/2 degree at edges shows bloated stars. These have just enough added magnification and brightness to show some shape and texture to a lot of objects that are just detected with 7x50 or 8x40, a dramatic difference, and show a noticable amount more than 10x50.

#5 F.Meiresonne



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Posted 01 March 2010 - 06:34 PM

I agree with Ed. For reasons allready mentioned i find 20x80 (or perhaps 15x80)a better choice especially when the skies are polluted.
A higher mag increases contrast and does show dimmer stars or dimmer objects better.

#6 hallelujah


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Posted 01 March 2010 - 07:14 PM

I was just offered a pair of Celestron 11x80 binoculars.

What exactly does that mean?

Offered, as in, "Would you like this as a gift"?


Offered, as in, "Would you like to buy this at a certain price"?

If it is being offered without any strings attached, take it and make the best of it.

If it is being offered in exchange for money, it all depends upon the price and the condition.

#7 Jay_Bird


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Posted 01 March 2010 - 08:09 PM

To see the faintest stars you would pick a 16x80 over 11x80, and a 30x80 over 20x80 in turn, that is the point of the 'binocular performance index', a binocular metric given great weight here.

As to whether the 11x80 are "any good"?, it might be fair to say they are "good" or "pretty good". They offer robust mechanics and the aesthetic of a large exit pupil, which may or may not be your cup of tea. There are some great views possible, for example M6 and M7 barely span the 11x80 FOV and MANY milky Way Vistas are nice throughout the year. M27 has a 3D appearance. I use these for a mix of slightly light-polluted backyard and high elevation/very dark sky observing.

The larger specifications mean that the 11x80 probably show as much or more than any 10x50/12x56 even of higher price. For about $100-150 USD ballpark value, the 11x80 aren't bad at all, and can be used as a mounted complement to a handheld wider-field binocular, even a wider 10x50, for a night's viewing. The MC 11x80 Comet Kings (similar, but not necessarily the same as Celestron) give pleasingly sharp lunar views when mounted, that compare well to ~ 15-16x one-eyed views through a short tube achromat.

If you are shopping for a first astronomy binocular then you might consider 10x50 to 12x56 range instead for more day/night and handheld/mounted versatility. If the 11x80 is a gift or close to a gift, then my advice is to enjoy it.

A $400 used 16x70 Fuji or new 15x70 like Freddy mentioned is better than " good or pretty good" optically (I'd say "fine" or "superb" to describe 16x70 Fuji) but that's not really apples to apples in price or exit pupil.

A nice 15x85 could be the best of both worlds for magnification and exit pupil, but would weigh almost twice as much and require more subtantial mounting than either the 11x80 or 16x70.

#8 Mcat



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Posted 02 March 2010 - 12:09 AM

I recently bought an Orion 11x80 of the fully multi coated variety. Overall, I am happy with them.

As has been mentioned: awesome build quality, okay optics. However, I do find the edge correction to be quite good. Also, you will need a mount to fully utilize these.

As far as the exit pupil argument goes, I measured the effective aperture of mine to be 76mm and the exit pupil to be about 7.6mm. So, mine appears to be more like a 10x76 with a very large exit pupil that many eyes will not be able to accommodate.

In my opinion, this binocular in very good condition is a great deal for less than 100 bucks, since their quality exceeds anything you can buy new in that price range. By the way, they cost around 400 before they were discontinued.

#9 Littlegreenman



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Posted 02 March 2010 - 03:05 AM

I have what might be a minority view, because I ignore the exit pupil issue. Oh, I know that that information can tell you something, but I pay more attention to what I see with my eyes.

I have owned several 11x80's branded Celestron and other names, and have also owned or looked through at least 10 vintage Japanese 10-20x, 50-80mm in various combinations. And a Stellarvue 15x63, a mid 2000's Chinese made.

1. Individual samples vary. Older binoculars can get damaged, go out alignment. If you can look through any pair you are looking to buy, that is a big plus.

2. 11x80s give you a wider FOV than 15x80's or 20x80's. I like the wide FOV, just enough that while I've sold off other more powerful binoculars I've kept the lower powered ones. Your aesthetic desire may be different. The 11x80's are not as contrasty, and the background sky is often very dark blue-gray, but not black when compared to more powerful binoculars. With the lower power binoculars you see more of a star field experience. With higher power brighter stars are more piercing and you can resolve some objects better, like the Orion Nebula. The lower power binoculars bring the Milky Way or parts of constellations "closer", while the more powerful big binoculars zero in on smaller areas with more detail. They are just different experiences. If you can afford it, get both!
2.a because of the exit pupil issue I'm ignoring, greater magnification and a smaller exit pupil will cut through light pollution better than a large exit pupil. If you plan to use them in a city more magnification with a smaller exit pupil has it's pluses. If you plan to use them in a dark sky, everything works better.

3. Keeping in mind point number 1, the various 11x80s were on average better than the 1990's era group of Japanese imports.

4. The later versions had a center bar running the length of the binoculars that attache to the end of binoculars at the objective end. They may stay in collimation better than 'free-floating' barreled versions. Maybe.

5. Price are soft. A few years ago the sold for around $150. In the current economic situation I've seen prices range from $75 to $150.

Here is a link to a thread on 11x80's last October.

11x80 binoculars thread

AKA Diminutive Olive Male

#10 Erik D

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 07:59 AM


That's an excellent summary!

I lost a bid for a pair of Clestron 11X80s two month ago. New old stock sold by a NYC area dealer. Starting at 99 cent. Went up to $56 in the last few min. Sold for ~$122 at the last sec.

Just as well... I agree, "Classic Japanese quality" can vary quite a bit depending on brand and the era. I just took delivery of a pair of 11X80s from 1975 this past Dec. I think they were coated optics. The seller said they were totally re conditioned by Cory. Optics are OK, not great.

I still prefer my Burgess 20X80 LW from 2003. 70+ deg AFOV is wonderful, even if the edges are a little soft. My 2001 Japanese Orion 20X80 seem to have much more solid construction, but are almost two lbs heavier to 5.5 lbs. I enjoyed hand holding the 20X80 LW for scanning, not so much the 5.5 lb Orion.

ERik D

#11 Jay_Bird


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Posted 03 March 2010 - 02:04 PM

Did you get these, AlienFC? any impressions to share?

#12 KennyJ


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Posted 03 March 2010 - 06:00 PM

I think anyone who fully appreciates what 7 x 50 binoculars have to offer will probably also rather enjoy the views through 11 x 80 binoculars .

The main drawback with all the 11 x 80s I've looked through has been the very narrow true field of view of around 4.5 degrees .


#13 F.Meiresonne



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Posted 03 March 2010 - 07:41 PM

The main drawback with all the 11 x 80s I've looked through has been the very narrow true field of view of around 4.5 degrees .


Well, that's only an opinion. At 4.5° i would not call it particulary 'narrow'. But i guess everybody draws the line differently.

I would call 2.5° narrow for a binocular...wich is one of the reasons i would never buy the 28X110 mm BA8

#14 KennyJ


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Posted 04 March 2010 - 02:16 AM

< Well, that's only an opinion. >

That is correct , Freddy !

I just thought it may make a change for someone here to express a personal opinion , as opposed to reading endlessly about hard facts ! :-)


#15 RichD



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Posted 04 March 2010 - 09:54 AM

Like Kenny, I appreciate what a 7x50 can offer!

So,if it's a vintage Japanese made 11x80 in good working order, between $75 and $100 would seem to be excellent value i'd say.

#16 Cory Suddarth

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 10:22 PM

Made in Japan? Buy em!


#17 Roadbike


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Posted 18 March 2010 - 03:57 PM

I've got the 15x80 version of those glasses and like them a lot on a tripod. Whether they are a good deal today really depends on the price. There are some really nice big binoculars coming from china. As others mentioned a higher magnification with 80mm objectives will probably deliver a lot more stars. So balance the cost of something new with a higher magnification against a good quality 11x glass that is probably 20 years old.

#18 Jay_Bird


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Posted 18 March 2010 - 07:08 PM

Well I'll offer a few more unbridled opinions to mix in with all the facts: the older 11x80's are fun to use.

There are several reasons in particular:

- true 4.5° FOV, wider than most higher-power big binos

- easy view with large exit pupil

- biggest practical size for economical P-mount (Orion Paragon or similar)

Using them is like viewing with the best attributes of 7x50 and 10x50 rolled into one package that sees deeper than either. I doubt that a new import less than 2-3x the cost of a used 11x80 does any better.

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