First light with Zhumell 25x100 on D&S Provista18
Posted 02 February 2013 - 03:26 AM
I mounted this on the $163 Davis & Sanford Provista18 with the FM18 fluid head. I feel this is an excellent low-cost, but good-performing choice for mounting a 100mm bino and one that should get more attention on this forum. The tripod carries an 18lb capacity, 78" max height, and a geared center column with nice smooth action. For my purposes it is plenty solid - more than I expected, really. The dual adjustable pan handles provide excellent ergonomics. I reversed them to make them more comfortable to use when the head is pointed skyward, and to move the hardware that captures the handles away from the ratcheting altitude lock knob. Very flexible. The fluid head pans very cleanly, providing a very stable image while looking through the binos. The mounting plates (two included) are slotted so that you can position the plate to the front or rear of the tripod mount on the binocular with a total of about 3" of travel. In addition, the plate itself slides fore and aft on the head by another 2", providing plenty of options for balancing the binocular and/or positioning the eyepieces just where you want them. My only two complaints are relatively minor. First, the lock screw that fixes the mounting plate in place can get in the way when you are trying to clip the binocular onto the head, requiring you to back it out a few turns. This wouldn't really be a problem, but once you get the binoculars attached to the head, this lock screw is right up against the left tube. This requires you to repeatedly engage the ratcheting knob on the lock screw to get the binocular+plate locked to the head. This could be easily overcome by installing a short column extension to the bottom of the binocular mount for more clearance between the binos and mounting plate.
During the day yesterday I set this up and scanned the bare tree branches in the meadow below my backyard, looking for birds. There was a bit of CA but honestly not as much as I was expecting based on what I'd seen through Celestron 20x80s (that I returned). I was satisfied and even impressed with the overall daytime performance. I easily pulled in a couple of red-breasted robins that were barely more than two specks in the shadows to the naked eye. Plenty of sharpness from edge-to-edge for most daytime uses. Contrast and color were decent, but not top notch. That's OK, this is a $230 instrument, delivered, in a hard case that would likely set you back $30-$40 if you had to buy it separately. It's easy to see how these have earned praise for the value they offer, if not for their pure performance, which is still more than adequate in my view.
Tonight we finally had clear skies. I set up in my back yard, pointed toward Jupiter and was very pleasantly surprised. There was some CA, but you could clearly make out a nice round disc with two brownish stripes and four orbiting moons. I added two yellow filters which helped resolve the bands even more. However, the filters subtract from eye relief so I was forced to view without my glasses. The astigmatism in my right eye will keep me from enjoying the best this set has to offer with filters installed. Next, I completely defocused the left tube and looked again with both eyes. The sharp disc in my right eye was perfectly centered on the large fuzzy circle in my left. That's great news.
After removing the filters, I pointed down and to the east towards a fuzzy blob that turned out to be M45. I was shocked at how many stars I was able to resolve there given the fact that I'm in the suburbs of a good-sized city and my next door neighbor had what looks to be a 100W light *blaring* directly into my back yard from only ~25 yards away (we are going to have to talk to them about that). Despite these handicaps, the view was amazing. The image is plenty sharp for the central ~70% of the image with some noticeable distortion in the outer portion. I suppose this is as expected for an instrument in this class.
Finally, I saw the orion nebula for the first time. What an impressive sight through these binoculars. You could very clearly make out the overall shape and a very subtle greenish hue. It filled the entire FOV, which is stated to be 3*. All four stars in the trapezium were cleanly resolved. This view of the orion nebula alone was worth the price of admission. I was floored. By this time the dew and frost started to form so I headed inside.
Very pleased with the value offered by this setup. But as a newbie I suppose it could simply be that I'm easy to please having not looked through the better glass yet...if so then I consider myself lucky because for under $400 this setup offers a pleasing view, even under some relatively poor lighting conditions.
Posted 02 February 2013 - 06:54 AM
-the 100mms open up a whole new world
-and birding is not bad either as long as they come to you
Posted 02 February 2013 - 12:48 PM
Let me be the second to congratulate you on first light. Sounds like you will be happy with the 25x100s. Do you still have the Pentax 20x60s? And if you do, did you get the opportunity to compare the 20x60s with the 25x100s?
Posted 02 February 2013 - 01:23 PM
Thanks. Yes I still have the Pentax 20x60. Unless I find something wrong with them under the stars (doubtful) I plan on keeping both. I am still waiting for my Orion Paragon p-mount to arrive before getting out under the stars with the 20x60 - I currently do not have a way to mount them and hand-holding a 20x when it's 18 degrees out is not an option
Posted 02 February 2013 - 01:31 PM
. . . hand-holding a 20x when it's 18 degrees out is not an option
You are having a heat wave!
Posted 02 February 2013 - 01:40 PM
There's a bottom mount binocular riser specially made to create more clearance between your binos and tripod head; here's one listed on this page:
Enjoy those new binos; they'll open up a new world of wide field observations. Just wait 'till summer when you can scan the Milky Way star clouds that are studded with nebulae, globular and open clusters!
Posted 02 February 2013 - 01:46 PM