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Nikon 10X70 IF SP "Astroluxe"

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#1 HfxObserver

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 04:13 PM

Nikon 10X70 SP "Astroluxe" red stripe on barrels.

Last night I had first light with the 10X70 IF SP. Little has been said on these binoculars apart from EdZ's review of the Nikon 10x70 IF HP WP (?) where debate ensured over the similarities & differences between models.

The 10X70 IF SP was purchased used as "like new", one cannot buy many high end Nikon products here in Canada. It arrived in excellent condition with an unused black Nikon case and 2 different eyecups, batwings and standard rounds, the latter installed. I had considered the Fujinon 10X70 but when the Nikon could be had for a similar price used I decided on this somewhat more exotic glass. Other considerations were given to the Fujinon 10X50 and Docter 15X60. The cost and weight of the 10X50 were close enough to the 10X70 that the only advantage became a 1.5 degree increase in TFOV. The Docter was starting to get a narrow TFOV at 4.1 degrees and might prove too close in performance to the Canon 15X50 which I have the pleasure to borrow in the field during most sessions.

Background: I own 22X100 (inexpensive) & 7X50 Vixen Geoma of good quality, I also own a 125mm Apo that weighs about the same as the bigger binos, therefore the scope gets far more use. A friend has the Canon 15X50 IS and I wanted something similar in quality and more portable than the 100mm's. We often use his 12-inch reflector and my 5-inch APO to go back and forth on the same objects and wanted the same sort of usability with binoculars. The 15X50 are amazing binoculars but redundant equipment in the field seems silly, the 15X50 IS are leaps and bounds over my Vixen with only weight being a downside in their comparison. 75% of observing is under Bortle 3 sky with the other 25% spent under Bortle 1 so concerns of sky brightness are less than other observers. My dark adapted pupil dilates to 7.3mm and I must observe with thin glasses to correct astigmatism.

The 10X70 easily outperforms the 7X50 for illumination and distortion. Although I've been very pleased with my Vixen 7X50, it does have drop off 25% from edge and gets astigmatic on the last 10%. The Nikon has drop off only in the last 15% and less pronounced, it's still a usable field for all but the last 5% which is rather dark but in use ones eyes focus on centre of field and averted vision naturally compensates for much of the loss.

This is not a comparison to see which is better, 15X50 IS vs. 10X70 but a test to ensure we have complimentary optics to provide diverse magnifications see more than one set alone reveals. So we compared the 15X50 mounted and found that resolution was slightly better in the Canon, example, Mintaka was readily split while the Nikon you had to look for the secondary star for another second to find it. The Nikon are considerably brighter and with high cirrus the sky background was detrimental to the view, a result of significant aurora stretching 150 degrees X 35 degrees to the north but the sky remained black in the Canon.

Eye relief of the Canon (15mm ER advertised) is reasonably comfortable and I don't have issue but the Nikon (16.3 ER advertised) is an easier view and certainly glasses friendly. The Canon has a sharper edge, but more difficult to see due to wider apparent field, but without the drop off of the Nikon the 4.5 degree TFOV Canon has about the same usable field as the Nikon 5.1 degree TFOV.

The Nikon is well balanced and required little adjustment of tension on a standard pan tripod head. I'll get them on my Micro-Star this weekend. The tripod adapter for Nikon is a brilliant design and seems to provide superior stability vs. the standard L-bracket. I have not owned IF (individual focus) binoculars before and was concerned I might not care for this feature but in practice this is a non-issue and removes the tendency to futze with the focus.

It appears the two binoculars compliment each other nicely, the 15X50 provides more resolution and darker sky while the 10X70 gives a brighter view and greater context since you aren't splitting objects up as much. We went back and forth on M46 / 47 and found greater star numbers in the cores with the 15X while the 10X revealed the delicate larger structure of star trails and surrounding Milky-Way, features which appear a little dark in the 15X Canon.

#2 ronharper

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 05:26 PM

Chris,
Congratulations on this rare and precious binocular. I often enjoy the 7mm exit pupil experience with my Fujinon 7x50 (even though my eyes will take in only 6.3mm worth). The background sky is, well, just the way it really is. But I have not had a chance to use a 10x70. From all the lore here, you have the best one ever made. 7x, 10x, 15x and 22x is a nice percentge stepped assortment!

My 7x50(7.5 deg field) and 10x50(6.6 deg field) relate, FOV wise, much the same as your 10x70 and 15x50, and I feel much the same as you about them. The wide field of the 10x50 feels like its going to swallow me up, which is sort of nice, but the edge is so far out there it's hard to actually look at, and not very sharp anyhow. So despite the FOV numbers, its wide field by no means obviates the lower powered instrument. To me at least, stars look more colorful and alive with a large exit pupil.
Ron

#3 rydberg

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 06:26 PM

I own what "I" call the little brother, 7x50 IF SP WP etc. etc. (mostly known as "Prostar"). It has the red rings on the barrel too.

7x is not much magnification but I made the mistake, once, of using the Prostar mounted.

Afterward, I have not looked through any other of my (too) numerous 7x50. It is simply no contest. Apo-like views, no other way of saying it.

I think that your 10x70 has very similar properties, but probably a bit softer at the edge, as your observations seem to confirm.

I very much enjoyed your comparison with the Canon.
Thanks!
Marco

#4 HfxObserver

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 08:57 PM

Thanks Ron, good idea, we'll have to get all binos set up together one night, we have enough mounts so should be pretty easy.

They compare well with the Canon, very similar quality of views.

The Nikon 10X70 have some large barrels and prism housing compared to the mass 70mm's out there and I was surprised that they were so much bigger than 11X80's I had borrowed once and far larger than my 22X100's.

-Chris

#5 charen

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 02:32 AM

Nice report. There is no doubting the build and optical qualities of these Nikons. Most serious bino collectors should strive to acquire a 'top end' classic porro Nikon. Unfortunately I use my 10x70 IF HP WP less and less due to deteriorating eyesight. Still they would be the last ones to sell amongst my collection. They even 'look' like classic old time astro binoculars. They are keeper binoculars.

Chris

#6 Erik Bakker

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 07:28 AM

Congrats on a wonderful Nikon astro bino. It will grow on you even more with increasing time under the stars with it.

I have the Nikon 18x70 and find it a great joy under the stars. I have attached a picture of mine and wonder if your 10x70 looks similar.

Attached Files



#7 HfxObserver

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 11:30 AM

Erik, the body and case look the same. The adapter appears different as yours has two heads the the back plate has stats on the same side.

The prism housings are as large as the objectives on these Nikons, very impressive.

How is the edge performance on the 18X version? I've read there is fall off, just wondering how they perform during actual use?

-Chris

#8 Erik Bakker

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 07:22 PM

Hi Chris,

In actual use, these are superb. They give a very beautiful, detailed and rich 3-D view of any object in the heavens. If there is a finer bino for observing the heavens in it's size class ±10mm, I am not aware of it.

#9 Fomalhaut

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 04:40 AM

In actual use, these are superb. They give a very beautiful, detailed and rich 3-D view of any object in the heavens. If there is a finer bino for observing the heavens in it's size class ±10mm, I am not aware of it.


I agree there are no better binoculars in the same approximate size and focal length group!!! Personally, I'm sure about this, because I've tried the most important contenders (before buying!).

The 18x70 is the one I will never part with!

Chris

#10 HfxObserver

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 10:06 PM

Pic;

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#11 HfxObserver

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 10:17 PM

Pic 2;

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#12 Zdee

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 11:03 PM

Mighty fine looking pair of binocs. :waytogo:

#13 Erik Bakker

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 05:51 AM

Very nice!

I see different eyepieces in your 10x70. What is their apparent FOV?

#14 walter S

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:02 AM

Excellent binoculars. I've had them for nearly two years and I use them just about every night, even if its just for a 5-10 minute indulgence. I find the clarity, star colours, detail in the nebulous areas etc much better than any other bino I have used. Even in areas with moderate light pollution, I see about the same and sometimes more stars with the 10x70's than 10x42's. I love taking them to dark sites and I amaze myself at the amount of dso's I can pick out after 30 odd minutes. Like the others have said, "they're keepers".

#15 HfxObserver

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:45 PM

Erik, they are stamped with 5.1 - degrees, so the apparent field is ~51.

Wal, with such a large fully illuminated field they really have punch.

-Chris

#16 John F

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:45 PM

Congradulations on getting a pair of these fine binoculars, I've had a pair for 7 years now. When used at really dark sky sites they provide fantastic views of the Milky Way.

Last Summer was an exceptionally good year and I got to use mine at a couple of high elevation/dark sky sites and spend the better part of 3 observing nights mainly using these.

When I first got them I thought that they'd be a nice-to-have in addition to my Swaro 8.5 x 42s and Zeiss 15x60 B/GATs. But they've provided me with so many nights of incredible viewing experiences over these past 7 years I can't imagine trying to get along without them.

Because of their size and weight I primarily use mine with a mount. Another Nikon binocular I have is the 7x50 Prostars which are the smaller brothers of the 10x70 Astroluxes. The 7x50s are also superb but I find that 10x70s to be more useful because of the 10x power are their better light grasp.

John Finnan

#17 rydberg

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 10:04 PM

Hi John:
I have the Prostars and if you tell me that the 10x 70 are better, I think I am in a heap of trouble. Where do you find a pair these days ( i am fresh out of arm and legs...)?
:grin:
Marco

#18 HfxObserver

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 10:26 PM

John, how do the Nikon 10X70 compare to the B/GAT? they were in the running but difficult to obtain.

I'm particularly concerned with eye relief and edge sharpness and very pleased with the comfortable views the Nikons provide, the edge is sharp only some light fall off, this was surprising since they are rated as 16.3mm of ER but it must be total usable and I expected some aberrations as with most binos.

-Chris

#19 Fomalhaut

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 07:10 AM

Since I did not succeed in attaching my pictures directly to this post on this forum, please use the following links to directly look at my small show (3 pictures) of my Nikon 18x70 Astroluxe plus Zeiss 15x60 B/GAT*.

Here picture #1:

http://astro-foren.d...81&d=1322577628

(Choose full size for viewing!)

Notice the folded-down circular-eyecups on both binoculars!

Chris

#20 Fomalhaut

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 07:15 AM

Here picture # 2:

http://astro-foren.d...82&d=1322577628

Notice the sun reflected by the two different coatings! This coating is the best I've ever seen on any binoculars.

Chris

#21 Fomalhaut

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 07:18 AM

...and here picture #3:

http://astro-foren.d...83&d=1322577628

Compare the coatings, again!

Chris

#22 HfxObserver

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:21 AM

Great pictures, you can really see the prism size of the Zeiss is approaching that of the larger Nikon bino.

-Chris

#23 Erik Bakker

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 01:03 PM

...and here picture #3:

http://astro-foren.d...83&d=1322577628

Compare the coatings!

Chris


Nice pictures Chris. They shed some light on the differences between these two classics.

I continue to be amazed at the incredible brightness and crystal clarity of the images of the heavens in the Nikons. Last night I observed M13 in the 16" and the Nikon. I really enjoyed both views immensely.

#24 John F

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 12:19 AM

Marco,

I can't and am not saying that the 10x70s are optically superior to the 7x50 Prostars. If anything, I think the Prostars are a little sharper out towards the far edge of the field. Nevertheless, the 10x70 Astroluxes are more than sharp enough so I don't consider that to be much of an issue between them.

For hand-holdable use the 7x50s are better because of their lower power (i.e., easier to hold steadier), smaller size and lighter weight.

Both binoculars perform superbly for terrestrial use (on longer distance targets). The 7x50s have the advantage of a larger true field and the 10x70s the advantage of providing a larger image scale but no drop off in brightness.

For astronomical use I don't use either of those binoculars very much between the months of October and May because the skies where I observe at during those months are not dark enough to enable either of those binoculars to perform well enough that I'm captivated by the views they provide. My 8.5x42 Swaros and 15x60 B/GATs perform much better under "ordinary dark skies" or in suburban settings.

However, under really dark skies at sites far away from any cities or even small towns, then the two Nikons will excel. However, between those two I find the 10x70s to be more useful and consequently I spend a lot more of my observing time with them than I do the 7x50s. Under perfect conditions I will spend maybe 30-45 minutes using the 7x50s to view everything that I think that I can profitably use them on during mid-summer night observing session. However, with the 10x70s I usually spend about 2 hours with them and on the whole come away much more impressed by what I've seen through them. By the way, I could probably spend even more time using them but have to I have to allocate some time to use with my other binoculars and telescope/binoviewer.

Even though both of those binoculars have large 7mm exit pupils, the 10x power of the Astroluxes does seem to darken the sky somewhat and improve the contrast. Also, there is a signifigant difference in image scale between 7x & 10x.
So on the whole more objects look better to me through the 10x70s than they do through the 7x50s.

The 7x50s show the really fainter Milky Way clouds better than the 10x70s do, but the latter show most of the brighter ones much more impressively than the 7x50s do. But the bottom line is that when I'm at really dark sky sites (which I'm usually at for 4 - 8 hour observing sessions on 5 - 10 nights each summer season)I find in practice that I spend at least 3 times as much time observing with the 10x70s than I do with the 7x50s.

So do I think that you should get a pair of the 10x70s? Well, if you can get to some REALLY DARK SKY SITES where the Milky Way is bold and bright to the naked eye, then yes I would recommend getting the 10x70s. However, if you're not able to get to such sites to observe with them at, then I'd recommend that you consider getting a pair of the 15x60 Doctor Optics Nobilems, the 16x70 Fujinons or the 18x70 Nikons instead.

John Finnan

#25 rydberg

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 06:05 AM

Hi John:
Thanks for the well thought out reply. What you say makes perfect sense, and I have reached similar conclusions as well. Around here, unless I travel in the furthest reaches of Eastern KY, I'd be better served by a 16X70 or thereabout binocular of good quality. But the design and feel of the classic Nikon is always a draw. I was lucky in acquiring my Prostars (they were basically new at a used price...) and the Astroluxe looks and feel the same. I'd be definitely better served by the Astroluxe 18x70, but they're even rarer the the 10x70...
Thanks again!
Marco






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