Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63 -- a few tests
Posted 04 January 2013 - 03:07 PM
No Warranty Card, but a $10 gift card and a price of $369.00 instead of the often listed price of $499.00. I own over 14 pairs of binoculars (and more on the way) and have never had an issue. The online vendor (B&H Photo) is closed today. I will follow up with a call next week.
But other than no warranty card, the box and these binoculars look new as new can be. Except for the design, which reminds me of something straight out of World War I. I like this design (for now).
Today is an overcast gray day. After a quick adjustment of the right diopter, I began to sweep a tree line 35 yards away. WOW! On a gray day in January the Vixen ZCF 9x63 are quite illuminating. Yup--I do love 7mm exit pupils. I know, don't quote me all of the rules about eye pupil dilation and eyecup exit pupil. The fact is, my eyeballs and 7mm's on a gray day are best buddies.
In fact, I have observed this same tree line for years, in all types of conditions and lighting, using all of the binoculars and spotting scopes I own (19 models). I have often walked, mowed, and picked up loose limbs and leaves along this same tree line. However, today with my new ZCFs, I saw things I had never noticed before.
Time to go and do some non-bino chores. (Don't you just hate it!) I will begin my tests and comparisons on another day. Nothing too fancy or in keeping with the optical engineers who hang out on this forum. Just me and my ZCFs.
OH, the test partners will be the following high-steppers.
Fujinon FMT-SX 7x50 porro
Fujinon FMT-SX 10x50 porro
Fujinon HB 12x60 roof
Nikon SE 12x50 porro
Pentax DCF ED 10x50 roof
Vixen Foresta 7x50 porroI may also do a quick test or two with these models.
Fujinon FMT-SX 16x70
Pentax PCF WPII 20x60All in all, the tests and reporting will take several weeks and I will post as I observe. But nothing fancy, mind you!
Oh, I almost forgot, I also did a quick peek at the tree line (at the same time) with the Pentax DCF ED 10x50 roof. I quickly put the Pentax DCFs down and picked up the lighter, brighter Vixen ZCFs. No comparison on this day. The Vixen ZCFs win--no contest!!!
Hey grandson, don't mess with that new box over in the corner. Come on--we gotta go do some chores before grandma gets back.
Posted 04 January 2013 - 03:37 PM
Posted 04 January 2013 - 04:28 PM
I believe that is the same model as the Ultima 9x63. It is a great bino, lightweight and reliable.
I've owned mine for almost 15 years now and it still works like new. The field of view is a little narrow and the leatherette covering doesn't last but everything else about it is good. There is a review on Binomania. I have recently ordered the 8x32 version to try out.
Looking forward to more of your impressions and comparisons.
Posted 04 January 2013 - 05:00 PM
Posted 04 January 2013 - 10:06 PM
Nice night. I know those of you reading this thread want some kind of comparison of the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63 with the Fujinon FMT-SX 10x50. This is a very quick comparison, noting the obvious strengths of each binocular: ZCF 9063 versus Fujinon 10x50. However, please be mindful that I did not purchase the Vixen ZCFs for night sky observing--but for twilight and overcast nature observing during the day.
But first, before I report on some night sky quick peeks, a few preliminaries about conditions and equipment.
Observing Time & Location
8:30 p.m. EST, Friday 04 January 2013
Backyard patio, numerous porch and street lights aglow
Sky Quality Meter reading
Clear Sky Clock predictions
Cloud Cover: Clear
Transparency: Above Average
Seeing: Poor 2/5
NOAA National Weather Service Log
Visibility: 10.00 miles
Sky Conditions: CLR
Air Temperature: 29°F
Relative Humidity: 75%
Pressure Altimeter: 30.36 inches (steady)
Quick Peek Targets
Jupiter and moons
30 & 31 Cyg
Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63
Fujinon FMT-SX 10x50
Wearing sweatsuit and overcoat
Socks and shoes (yes, we wear 'em here in Kentucky)
And now for my highly subjective conclusions of tonight's comparison.
EdZ would not be pleased with my testing methodology.
Jupiter and Moons
Spiking of Jupiter
ZCF 9x63: none
Fujinon 10x50: none, stronger globe
Note: ZCF, despite the lighter weight, dances a little more in my 63-year cold hands than does the Fujinon. Both binoculars produce neutral color.
ZCF 9x63: 3 (Callisto, Ganymede, Europa)
Fujinon 10x50: 3 (same)
Note: Again, the slightly greater dancing of targets in the ZCF makes it a little more difficult to study the moons. While the Fujinon produces steady moons in the eye cups--I could look at Jupiter and the moons forever (or so it seems).
When I consulted SkyTools 3 (observation planning software) for this date and time for my location, I notice all four moons should be visible. However, in the binoculars at this time (8:30 p.m.), the moon Io is close to the double star HR1370, which outglows Io.
Note 2 (10:53 p.m.): Later while sweeping for the comet C/2012 k5 (LINEAR) with the ZCFs (I am an optimist), I veer over to Jupiter again and notice the ZCFs detect all four moons. Thus, 2 1/2 hours later with the target close to Zenith, the double star HR1370 does not outglow Io. As for the ZCFs picking up the comet--no such thing.
ZCF 9x63: Very tight fit in the eyecups due to the 5.4° FOV. The star colors of Aldebaran (Alpha Tau) and Ain (Epsilon Tau) are quite pleasant, very colorful.
Fujinon 10x50: Proper fit of the V in the eyecups due to the 6.5° FOV. Like a print matted and framed from a framing store. However, Aldebaran (Alpha Tau) and Ain (Epsilon Tau) do not appear to be as colorful.
Note: Regarding the star colors, this is my memory from a few years ago when I compared the Vixen Foresta 7x50 porro with the Fujinon FMT-SX 7x50 on this forum. The stars in the Fujinon 7x50 were more pronounced, bolder, when looking at open star clusters, more stars seen; however, the Vixen Foresta 7x50 produced more beautiful star color in the stars seen. I guess Vixen glass and/or coatings give an effect not found with Fujinon.
Another difference I remember from the Vixen Foresta 7x50 porro comparison with the Fujinon FMT-SX 7x50 regards atmospheric haze. The Fujinon FMT-SX (fishing and military binocular) has the ability to do a better job at penetrating haze both during the night and day, while haze shows up a tad bit more in the Vixen. This is really pronounced when looking at morning mist in the mountains. If you want a mist-filled aesthetic moment, grab the Vixen over the Fujinon. But if it is going to rain, grab the Fujinon.
Who wins this comparison? Fit versus Color--Fit wins because of the wider FOV. That is why the framing stores always use matting between the image and the frame. A wide border usually makes for a more pleasant viewing experience--even when color is involved.
Stars are bolder and brighter in the Fujinon FMT-SX 10x50. I did not count the stars, but it seems to me there are a few more stars in the Fujinon eye cups than in the Vixen ZCF. Star color is about the same in both binoculars. The Vixen color difference shows up more with yellow, orange, and red stars. When observing the hotter stars, the whites and blues, the Fujinon seems to have an edge as the stars are brighter, bolder. At least that seems to be the case tonight.
30 & 31 Cyg
Vixen ZCF 9x63: produces more color distinction in this beautiful pair of stars.
Fujinon FMT-SX 10x50: The two stars appear more bold and bright.
Note: I like color. That is why I like nature observing during the day. I give this comparison to the Vixen ZCF!
Conclusion for tonight's quick peek
Vixen ZCF 9x63 score: One point (30 & 31 Cyg).
Fujinon FMT 10x50 score: Three points (Jupiter, Pleiades, and Hyades).
Note: As has been said many times before on this forum, the Fujinon FMT-SX 10x50 is hard to beat.
End of tonight's comparison.
Posted 05 January 2013 - 03:17 PM
or is it different?
Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:39 AM
I enjoyed reading your comparison. That round was no surprise. Daylight may tell a different story.
Posted 06 January 2013 - 02:09 AM
Nice review. I was looking a review "Oberweck 25x100D" but still unable to find one single one. Did you ever tried Oberweck ?
By the way, did you use mount too yet and how does you feel using your 9x63.
Thank you for the review.
Posted 06 January 2013 - 03:49 AM
is the Geoma just a bigger Vixen Forester 7x50,
or is it different?
The Geoma/Ultima binocular series are an older design, maybe over 20 years old and all are made in Japan with little or no chnages over the years. The eyecups are simple fold down rubber types.
The Vixen Foresta 7x50 is a more modern design made in China. It uses a triplet objective design and has twist up adjustable eyecups. It is a nice bino for the money with great optical quality however it is not made to the same overall quality level as the Geoma/Ultima.
This picture shows a Vixen 8x42 Apex roof prism, Vixen 7x50 Foresta, Vixen Ultima 9x63 and a Docter Nobilem 15x60.
Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:58 AM
Posted 07 January 2013 - 09:39 PM
I have both binocular configurations too. My first for astronomy was the Celestron Ultima 9x63 (Japan). I used it for 4 years before buying the Fujinon 10x50's. Now the Ultima's get less use as I'm more apt to pick up the Fujinons for grab and go.
For me, the 9x63's lighter weight make it easier to hand hold. I find your opposite opinion to be interesting. However, I'm not steady enough to hold either satisfactorily for prolonged observations of any target and have to put them on a tripod.
I took my 10x50's to Canada on vacation last summer. My brother and I used them at his farm (+51 deg lat) with skies after midnight darker than 6.8 NELM. M33 was a bright and easy target. My brother loved them so much I left them there and ordered another pair when I came home.
I look forward to reading more reports in the future of your holiday "investments".
Posted 11 January 2013 - 03:02 PM
I have been very busy, optically speaking. My End-of-Year buying spree has turned into a January buying spree. I have received four pairs of binoculars (three different models) and one more is on the way.
Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63 porro
Orion GiantView 25x100 porro
Orion UltraView 8x42 porro (ordered two)
Minox BD BP 8x44 internal focus porro I plan on posting my subjective reviews on all of these models in due time. But those of you reading this are probably most interested in my continued comparisons with the model of this thread: Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63 porro. I have used the ZCF six times and here are a few summary comments.
Overcast day -- twice (early afternoon, late afternoon)
Rainy day -- once
Night sky -- once
Night landscape -- once
Sunny morning -- once Comments about the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63 and Pentax DCF ED 10x50
Briefly, the ZCF 9x63 presents a unique viewing opportunity. There are targets and conditions when it clearly beats or barely edges out other models in my collection. And there are targets and conditions when it fails in comparison.
Generally, the Pentax DCF ED 10x50 roof delivers more superior views over the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63, except when depth of field comes into the comparison equation. The Pentax DCF ED 10x50, a $1000 roof, is the most expensive binocular in my collection and I can rely upon its performance in most viewing situations. It is extremely nice.
However, the Pentax DCF ED has very little depth of field (DOF is distance in focus, not to be confused with FOV). This limited DOF in some observing situations, such as a specific feather arrangement on a bird or blooming flower, is desired over extended DOF, which brings other details into focus and sometimes distract from the aesthetic study of a brightly colored feather or the contours of a flower petal.
Return to My First Embrace with the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63
I have returned to the location of my first comparison between the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63 and Pentax DCF ED 10x50 at a tree line 35 yards behind my den window. Each time, with this target, I find myself preferring the Vixen Geoma ZCF over the Pentax DCF ED. And the reason, I have come to admit, is the extended DOF of the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63. However, when I do other comparisons (different targets, different light conditions), the Pentax DCF ED always delivers a better view.
Litter on the Forest Floor
Except for a study of white paper litter in a dark wooded lot 200 yards away. In this exception, the white paper litter is whiter in the low light of the forest floor through the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63 than in the Pentax DCF ED 10x50. However, the surrounding trees, limbs, and brown leaves on the ground are seen better with the Pentax than the Vixen.
Confessions at the Woodpile after Twilight, a Rabbit at Midnight: Study in Surface Brightness and Detail
Another interesting comparison, somewhat to my surprise, appeared an hour after twilight a few nights ago. The target was a wood pile in my neighbor's backyard, 100 yards distance. The woodpile has a clear plastic covering to keep the wood dry. This plastic covering reflects the porch lights of nearby houses. On top of the plastic covering are individual cut logs serving the purpose to hold down the plastic and keep it from blowing away. I am sure many of you do something similar with your own wood pile (if you have a wood pile), or at least have seen a similarly covered wood pile at one time or another. I chose this target because it presented a study in surface brightness and detail.
A few years ago, around midnight I was scanning my yard in summer with a 7x50 and was surprised to notice how aglow the grass was in the eyecups. I commented upon the brightness on this forum and another forum. Others suggested I view the scene with 10x50 and 16x70 binoculars to compare detail with the 7x50 binoculars. At the time I was hopelessly in love with the 7x50 size. I followed the suggestions and discovered the power of a 10x50 to pick up detail in low light situations. In the 7x50, late at night, the green grass again was aglow. Except there was a small patch, less than a foot in length, that was not aglow. I switched to the 10x50s and noticed the grass across my backyard was not as much aglow as with the 7x50s. Then with the 10x50s I also noticed a rabbit in the grass at the same location as the dark patch in the 7x50s. I grabbed the 16x70s (handheld) and noticed even more detail in the rabbit. After reporting my observations, GlennLeDrew explained the green glow effect of grass at night in the 7x50s was due to surface brightness. I do not pretend to understand this. If you want to learn more, I suggest you contact Glenn or one of the other optical engineers who hang out on this forum.
So, fast forward to the other night and the woodpile and some of my binoculars. I looked at the woodpile (handholding, but elbows propped on the roof of a car) with the following models.
Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63
Vixen Foresta 7x50
Pentax DCF ED 10x50 The plastic cover on the woodpile was the brightest with the Vixen Foresta 7x50. However, detail was greatest of the logs holding down the plastic in the Pentax DCF ED 10x50. Where was the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63 in this woodpile comparison? Plastic was not as bright in the ZCFs as in the Vixen Foresta 7x50 and the view of the log "plasticweights" was not as detailed in the ZCFs as with the Pentax DCF ED 10x50.
Wild Turkey Fence: Maggie May Shows Her Wrinkles in the Morning Sunlight
Today is a sunny, partially cloudy day. This morning I observed another one of my favorite targets--what I call the Wild Turkey Fence. Actually, the Wild Turkey Fence is the edge of a farmer's field backed up to some woods, 1000 yards distance southwest of my living room window. Usually the Wild Turkey Fence does not disappoint. And this morning was no exception. The purpose of this comparison started out to catch a daytime view of the Wild Turkey Fence with the Orion GiantView 25x100, Fujinon FMT-SX 16x70, and Celesron C6 SCT (6-inch). I will try to record more about that another time in another thread. With the larger aperture optics, I noticed a rack (flock) of wild turkey foraging along the farmer's fence, along with some of the farmer's cows. There were 20 wild turkeys in the rack, some of the males had their tail feathers spread in a fan, quite nice as the colors in the feather fans appeared to reflect the morning sun. I put the large binoculars and scope aside and brought out three of the smaller binoculars to mount on a tripod for comparison. The mount setup was as follows.
Manfrotto 3246 camera tripod
Carry weight: 9.0 lbs
Maximum support load: 27.2 lbs
Manfrotto 501HDV pro video head
Carry weight: 3.5 lbs
Maximum support load 13.2 lbs
Total carry weight: 12.5 lbs
Total maximum load: 13.2 lbs
Total practical load: 6.5 lbs (50% of maximum)First on the mount was the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63. The view was very clear--and the turkeys were much smaller than in the 6-inch scope and giant binoculars. I switched next to the Pentax DCF ED 10x50--turkeys a wee bit larger. And finally in the Vixen Foresta 7x50--I got to watch wee bit turkeys as they continued their foraging and disappeared out of view; their new location covered by some foreground trees 300 yards distance.
After the turkeys moved off and were no longer available for viewing, I decided to study two targets along the fence: a metal ladder leaning against a tree, and the bark of a different tree. The Pentax DCF ED 10x50 delivered the most detail of the smaller binoculars, followed by the Vixen Foresta 7x50; with the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63 delivering the least amount of detail at 1000 yards.
This comparison revealed a weakness of the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63 at distant viewing (compared to the other two binoculars). The metal ladder appeared to be a 20-foot double ladder size. Why it was leaning against a dead tree in the back of the farmers field--I am not really sure. However, yesterday, I did notice four Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus) in this same tree. What was the farmer up to?
This morning the metal ladder reflected the morning sunlight and was quite bright. The Pentax DCF ED 10x50 handled the extreme brightness quite well. The Vixen Foresta 7x50 also handled the bright metal ladder without degradation. However, the brightness of the metal seemed to white-out in the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63.
Next, I concentrated upon a second tree, still living, with a ridged bark--probably an oak of some species. Again the bark ridges came through the best in the Pentax DCF ED 10x50. The weakest study of the bark ridges was in the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63. And finally, although the ridges were much diminished due to reduced magnification, I must report that my study of the oak bark--at 1000 yards, in the morning light--with the Vixen Foresta 7x50 surpassed the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63.
End of Comparisons.
What to do with the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63?
There are two weeks or so in my 30-day trial with the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63. There are other binoculars laying about after my buying spree. Another pair on the way. What should I do about the ZCF? Is it over?
I look forward to the comments, criticisms, and suggestions from others on this forum.
Posted 11 January 2013 - 04:14 PM
Thank you for providing those details, which whetted my appetite for even more details.
I am particularly interested in learning more about the individually cut logs.
1. What type of wood was it? All the same or varied ?
2. What is the estimated mean diameter of the logs?
2a. in inches
2b. in millimetres
3. Where all the logs laid parallel to each other, randomly placed or carefully arranged in some other definite pattern ?
Also, were you able to estimate the weight of the turkeys any easier through the10x50 than the 9x63 or vice-versa or through neither ?
Did you discover what the farmer was up to, or do you think night vision optics would be in order to make any such conclusions from afar ?
Posted 11 January 2013 - 05:51 PM
It would seem that which binocular you will prefer is unpredictable, but that's exactly what such tests are for. You freely looked at the kind of things you like to look at, and chose the winner on each view for your own subtle reasons (ah, the egalitarian spirit), a process all your own which I will not question and need not understand (and don't!). But I will suggest a simplification of your report, by a numerical rating based on which binocular was preferred, how many times. Scanning down the review and tallying up the fave for every scene and every nuance thereof, I get:
10x50 5 wins
9x63 3 wins
7x50 2 wins
But, the RINGER is that the 7x50 did not participate in every view. In no case where the 7x50 was used did the 9x63 win. Taking that into account, I would say the 7x50 would have beat the 9x63 overall--if only the 7x50 had been involved in all the views it would undoubtedly have stolen some points from the 9x63.
It was perhaps tempting to think that the 9x63 would be such a perfect melding of the 3-D emphasis, large exit pupil, and high transmission of the Porro 7x50 and the high power of the 10x50 that it might replace both. And in a practical sense, it actually might, but practicality isn't what we're here for is it? In fact (in your mind I should say), the 7x50 and ED 10x50 have distinct and strong personalities. The 9x63, although not a bad binocular, muddies the water.
I will try to make it easy for you: The 7x50 is a prize among Porros, a waterproof center focusing triplet. The ED 10x50 is Pentax's fine and sleek state of the art modern binocular. You are a lucky man, right there. That 9x63 is a fragile relic design of little distinction, bleah. Don't let it into your heart.
Posted 11 January 2013 - 08:22 PM
For instance, depth of focus *must* differ simply because of the differing magnification.
And during daytime testing, your smaller irises will stop down the systems, thus utilizing differing objective areas. The bino having the larger exit pupil will have a smaller portion of its objective (and other elements) contributing to image formation. This will result in its aberrations being more strongly suppressed, and so will seemingly deliver better performance, other things being equal.
Posted 12 January 2013 - 12:29 AM
However, I see 95% in my Hi-spec., but heavier, Orion Resolux 10x50 [K/U BA8] when compared to the M.G. 9x63's.
On rare occasions and with very dark skies I do see incrementally more stars with the 9x63's.
[My 57 year old eyes go to 6.5 mm]. The Resolux 10x50's at 65 degree Afov certainly do give a more panoramic image.
Sometimes I do find it hard to justify keeping the 9x63's but on those really dark sky nights I still bring them out ahead of the 10x50's.
Posted 12 January 2013 - 12:56 AM
That old post (from 2004) you linked to has one fundamental error, and another error of not such fundamental importance.
The claim that the portion of the exit pupil used by one's smaller iris is brighter with a larger aperture is bunkum. Take for example a 7X50 and a 14X100. Both have a 7mm exit pupil. Let's say that in the daytime your iris is 2.5mm. This means each bino works as a 7X17.5 and a 14X35. Fiske claims that the larger bino will deliver a view of higher brightness just because of the larger portion of the aperture delivering light to that central portion of the exit pupil. But we all know that the image surface brightness in each case will be identical (differing only due to any differences in system transmission, which is usually small enough to be of no great import.)
The second error has it that for a binocular aperture is the primary determinant for resolving power. Not nevessarily so. At the larger exit pupils typical for binos, even considering the generally poorer optical quality, it's actually magnification which controls resolution. A 20X50 will resolve better than a 14X100, and a 10X50 and 10X70 will resolve equally well. Assuming reasonable and equal quality of fabrication.
Posted 13 January 2013 - 09:00 AM
Yes, Kenny, perhaps I did go overboard in the details. But for me, details about what I like to observe are not boring. However, I must confess to the optical engineers, that details about the optics themselves can sometime leave me a bit glazed.
And I did a bit of wordsmithing to hint at the passion we sometimes feel about our optics, particularly new optics right out of the box. And as we use those new optics, the newness wears off, and we see the optic in a new light when we step back and think about the practicality of the instrument for our personal use. I temporarily placed a link to a recording of Rod Stewart singing Maggie May in my last post to suggest how some might feel after the newness wears away and we find ourselves wanting rid of the optic when it dawns upon us the new optic fails to meet our expectations or deliver as advertised or both. Oh well--you either like the Maggie May analogy or don't like the song or don't quite get what I am trying to say. If you are not familiar with the song Maggie May, you may google the song or go to YouTube and listen to several good recordings of Rod Stewart doing what he does best.
Regarding a comparison between the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63 and the Vixen Foresta 7x50--I did several comparisons and found the Foresta always a bit ahead of the ZCF in most situations.
And finally, I think the ZCF 9x63 is best for observing birds in tree tops (think tall oaks) when you want to handhold a binocular and desire increased magnification over a 7x50 and extended depth of view over a premium 10x50 roof. I think I remember the legendary Joe Ogiba posting something similar about a 9x60 in his collection. But one may find the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63, with a 5.4° FOV and 30-foot minimum focus, of limited use at observing what goes on in the tall tree tops.
Tomorrow, I will return the Vixen Geoma ZCF 9x63. This has been a good ride. However, I am now ready to switch trains and spend some time with those other trial binoculars laying about.
Thanks all for your time and interest.