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/ First Impressions: Orion 30x80...
First Impressions: Orion 30x80 MegaViews
February 27, 2005 1:03 AM
First Impressions: Orion 30x80 MegaViews
A lot of binoculars carry the description ‘giant’ only in reference to large aperture or as
a clue to their tripod-dependence. But I was ready for some serious (25+) bino-power to match that macho ‘giant’ adjective. Although my venerable and ever-faithful Orion 16x80s have been with me almost from the beginning, this recent bout of magnification-fever (and a healthy tax return) triggered my purchase of the 30x80 Orion MegaViews. However, at $499 I would be especially critical of their performance. Their following audition was indeed admirable, but not flawless.
Out of the box, as expected, the 30s are physically very similar to my aforementioned 16x80s with a couple of exceptions. The slightly heavier weight (just under 6 lbs.) is a product of the center rod bracing the binos lengthwise, along with the adjustable captive weight-balancing pedestal that couples directly to a tripod. Another elegant and functional addition are the extendable thick rubber dewshields at the end of each barrel. Even when retracted they make for excellent ‘bumpers’ to protect the objectives while bringing their total outside diamaters to 92mms. Deploying the dewshields also takes the full height of the formidable and solidly constructed instrument to 14 inches. The trademark leather-textured surface of the main body compliments an efficient and attractive all-black design.
The supplied hard-case is nice, but the MegaViews and I would feel more secure with a thick, foam-lined aluminum case to protect their crucial collimation during transport.
While the snug fit of all four eyecaps was a plus, I wouldn’t trust the suprisingly thin neckstrap provided with supporting the binos’ substantial bulk. (I’m sure the token neckstrap was thrown-in for completeness’ sake. Very few people would enjoy being repeatedly jabbed in the chest with that pedestal.)
The fully-multicoated instrument reflects deep blues and greens at the business ends and
yields the perfect circles of an unobstructed light path at the lenses. The hinge, center-focus, and diopter all adjusted smoothly, securely, and with no play (I’ve actually come to expect this from Orion. I now own four of their binos and, if not top-of-the-line optically, their consistant mechanical quality has been very commendable). The good-sized 20mm eyepiece lenses also sport 14mms of eye relief. This is close to ideal for me, although probably a bit short for eyeglass wearers to take-in the entire field.
I’m a nitpicker for collimation, and 30x binos leave little room for error, especially after a
5-day FedEx journey. So I was immensely relieved to receive these MegaViews in perfect alignment. Abberation tests did reveal slight but noticable pincushioning across an otherwise very sharp (to about 80%) field. There was an expected and substantial amount of false-color on high-contrast daytime objects and our moon attributed to the high magnification (for 5 bills it’d be nice if they’d spring for some apo lenses), but it was no more offensive than the inherent chromatic aberration found in some comparably fast 80mm short-tube scopes at lower powers. And for me, the CA took a backseat to the increased resolution, wealth of additional stars, and depth of detail seen on Luna under the night sky.
The 50% jump in magnification from 20 to 30x seems even more significant than that noticed between 10 and 15x power binoculars. Catching our moon at the right illumination, Clavius’ arched quintet of inner craters are obvious and distinct. Orion’s Trapezium splits cleanly and effortlessly into it’s 4 major components and, while Cassini’s is just out of reach, a well-resolved Saturn presents a crisp disc and ring system. Jupiter’s main belts are prominent and on the verge of showing structure. Despite their relatively small 2.7mm exit pupil and Luna’s gibbous interference, the MegaViews still gathered a respectable conglomeration of stars while previewing the Double Cluster, Pleiades, M46/47, the Auriga clusters, and M35. I eagerly anticipate watching them gobble-up these treasures and more under a dark sky, and plan on letting them run wild thru a moonless Messier Marathon this spring. Upon receiving their Solar filters, I’m also looking forward to my enhanced views of our sun’s daily activity.
I’m always tickled-pink when a bino’s actual field-of-view exceeds it’s specs. While the 30x80s are advertised as having a 2.3 degree FOV, I could almost- but not quite- squeeze Orion’s belt stars within the field-stop yielding a more accurate and happily accepted 2.5 degree field.
A tripod is, of course, required for unwavering views with this instrument. Any generic but heavy-duty model should work fine. My ProMaster 6600 bought at a local camera store provides more than sufficient support. Call me crazy (I’ve been called worse), but with over a decade’s worth of manual 80mm bino use and conditioning, I also enjoy impromptu handheld excursions thru the 30x Giants for casual browsing and starhopping.
First Impressions verdict: Four out of five stars. While pricey, they are only $20 more than the 15x80MVs, solidly-built, mechanically excellent, and ready-to-mount without an adapter. The beneficial and protective extendable dewshields are a welcome feature. They lose points for heavy CA on Luna, Jupiter and the brightest stars (adjusting one’s eye position to find the sweet spots at the exit pupil minimizes this). But aside from the lack of color-correction on those targets, the 30x80 MegaViews give rewarding and impressive binocular views of our moon, brighter planets, and the many Messier-class nightsky treasures. -S.S.
February 27, 2005 8:50 AM
SS, thanks for sharing your impressions. This will make a fine addition to the forum's ever growing mini-revew section.
February 27, 2005 9:51 AM
S.S., Thanks for the review. You mention that the jump from 20x's to 30x's seem like a bigger increase than from 10 to 15 although the same 50% increase in magnification. May I ask what 20x's you are using for a comparison and how would you rate the overall quality between the two.
I jumped from 16x to 20x and liked the difference better and then added 8x32's for better optical quality for casual daytime viewing. But, the 30X seems to be a way to go to satisfy maganification fever.
More maganification versus more contrast or quality??--I want, I want, I want.
I now have both, just not in the same size. I'm not sure anyone has one binocular that does everything and has all the ideal features that are needed or desired.
If you had to pick one, would it be the 20x's or 30x's based on optic quality, ease of use, portability, etc, etc.?
Thanks again---How's the Quad Cities--Retired and moved from Rock Island 8 years ago.
February 27, 2005 4:48 PM
Good to hear from a native homeboy!
The QCs (and it’s light pollution) continues to grow, forcing us to drive farther and farther to 6+ mag. skies. And I’ve spent enough time observing out west to be very envious of your Colorado skies. It’s always tough coming back. I plan on retiring to CO or AZ myself someday.
The magnification statement was reached from countless views thru various 20x models over the years. Not knocking 20s at all, but already owning 16x80s, I just haven’t found the extra 4x to be significant enough to warrant the additional purchase. The most obvious optical differences are pretty much as expected: The 30x80s have better resolution and show an appreciable gain in detail and stars at the expense of a (usually) smaller field and increased chromatic aberration on the highest-contrast objects. More personal preference.
If I had to pick one? Wow. I like big binos too much to consider parting with quality 16s or 20s. But the sweet views of the Orion Nebula and floating, crisp Saturn alone are almost enough to justify choosing the 30s.
March 26, 2008 6:35 PM
I wonder if you ever got around to that Messier Marathon with these binoculars? I did it this year and scored 109, only missing M30 due to the early March sunrise. Of course the Telrad was a huge help!
The review is spot on.
March 26, 2008 8:25 PM
I'm afraid you might not find out if Stephen (SaberScorpX) did use these binoculars for a Messier Marathon - as he hasn't been around Cloudy Nights for sometime (his profile gives his last post as 5th May 07).
/ First Impressions: Orion 30x80...
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