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RichD
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/08/07
Posts: 1782
Loc: Derbyshire, UK
Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review new
      #1974932 - 11/10/07 11:04 AM

Hi all,

I have had both the above in my posession now for a while and have put together a few opinions and thoughts on them based on a year or so of observing.I hope this may be of use to someone researching either of these bins.

The Helios Stellar 15x70 sells in the UK for around £130 and i believe is marketed in the US as the Orion Little giant.Straight out of the box the first thing you notice about these is the weight - very light for a 15x70, at around 3 lbs they feel almost suspiciously light! They feel well built and look pretty well finished.Coatings show a greenish hue and show little reflection.I tried to see details in my face in bright light, but could really only see a dark outline, for the price these coatings appear superficially at least, to be of good quality.Diopter movement is good and i could not rock either eyepiece even with strong pressure.

In use the Helios shows a few of its failings. Even though the focus mechanism (centre)is very smooth and precise in action, it never quite "snaps" into sharp focus either at night or day.I find myself constantly fiddling with the focus to try to achieve sharp images. I find this quite annoying in a binocular. Edge performance is also poor. Even at 50% out from centre stars are degraded and become stretched into seagull shapes at 75% + out- This is particularly bad because i suspect that the FOV is only around 3 ish degrees not the 4 stated.I could barely get orions belt in the FOV in full and this is just under 3! There is quite alot of false colour on bright objects - venus and the moon all showed plenty of CA but as has been stated before CA is only an issue on around half a dozen objects in the sky, so it is not something i let put me off a binocular.

This binoc is not waterproof or N2 purged.It also shows a slight "clipping" of the exit pupil, although small.Where this binoc did do well though was on faint extended objects.i have suburban/rural skies here of around mag 5.0-5.3 and 5.5+ rarely and first time out i saw M101 and M33 pretty easily before my eyes had completely adapted. M33 especially very easy. other faintish spirals such as M65 and M66 were also seen.M1 was within range and surprisingly bright.

The Helios stellar comes with a faux-leather case and a 2 year warranty.

I purchased the Fujinon 16x70 FMT-SX after becoming a little frustrated with the Helios and after hearing so many rave reviews about them. Well, guess what here comes another rave review!
These are basically everything i have been looking for in a 70mm binocular. Battleship like build, superb coatings (very little reflection visible),100% waterproof, N2 purged and limited lifetime warranty just for starters.Much bigger, heavier and solid than the helios they tip the scales at around 5 lbs and are noticeably larger in dimensions.The prism housings in particular are enormous.

In use they show a true 4 degree FOV and this is sharp out to around 85 - 90% of the field. after this stars are degraded slightly but nothing like as bad as the Helios. The oculars are gigantic (50mm at their widest point) and users with largish noses and an IPD of around 60mm may struggle with them.Eye relief is fine, (although i don't wear glasses)and is stated as 15mm. I suspect it may be slightly less than this however. It is more generous than the Helios though which is around 10mm - spectacle wearers will want to try both these bins out first!

The IF eyepieces feel perfect in operation, neither too stiff or too loose and never shift focus once set.Images are excellent in the fuji and reach a sharp focus very easily- in stark contrast to the helios. Baffling is excellent also with a baffle ring and matt ridges and the exit pupil is not clipped.

Under the stars the fuji excels. All objects are brighter than in the helios (not massively but noticeably) and image scale seems larger. The pleiades seem much larger and smaller open clusters such as M37 seem closer and better resolved.I suspect that the Helios is probably around a 13.5 or 14x70 (maybe 14x65 given the clipped pupil) and the fuji a true 16x70.Extended objects are amazing and the views rival those in much larger instruments.These are the equivalent of some 20x80 bins.M31 is incredible,both companions seen easily, and the veil (NGC 6992)was seen this summer on several occasions.I never saw the veil in the helios.There is a small amount of false colour visible - less than the helios and really, almost unnoticeable.On axis it is completely absent from what i can see.
In the UK the fuji FMT-SX sells for around £600 ($1200) but in the US it can be yours for half that.I think that is a bargain given the fact that barring serious abuse you will be handing these down to your kids.It comes with an excellent hard case and limited lifetime warranty.

In short, i rate the helios as an ok buy at their price in the UK(they probably sell for considerably less in the States and if so they represent a good buy, just be aware of their limitations).
The fuji represent a bargain at $600 and if picked up second hand for less in good nick they become a steal.In the UK only you can decide if they are worth £600.

I apologise if this has been a bit of a rambling review but i used this site and others to research many optics purchases over the last couple of years and i hope that this helps someone else choose the right binocular for them.

--------------------
So this cabbie says: "Know who I had in this cab last week? Bertrand Russell! Wisest man in the Western World. And I says to him 'Bertie, what's it all about?' And do you know, he couldn't tell me..."

Kenneth Williams


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KennyJ
The British Flash


Reged: 04/27/03
Posts: 20139
Loc: Lancashire UK
Re: Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review new [Re: RichD]
      #1974958 - 11/10/07 11:25 AM

Rich ,

Welcome to the forum , and thank you for joining with such a well written , honest two - way review .

I must confess I was holding my breath a little when I saw the title of your thread , as I've seen several almost rave reviews of the Helios / Orion LG 15 x 70 and only this morning posted about 10 things which I don't particularly like about the one I've had for 6 years or so , but feel your critical comments are all well justified .

The only apparant difference would be the eye - relief , which once upon a time I measured to be 7mm on mine .

If it wasn't for the inadequate eye relief of the Fujinon FMTSX I would always certainly have bought one before now .

Do keep in touch with us here .

Regards from Lancashire
Kenny

--------------------


Milton Wilcox R.I.P






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hallelujah
Post Laureate


Reged: 07/14/06
Posts: 3980
Loc: Colorado Rocky Mountains
Re: Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review new [Re: RichD]
      #1974962 - 11/10/07 11:28 AM

Rich,

Thank you very much!

I just purchased the Orion LG II 15x70mm, used, and really like it during the daytime, except for the eye relief. Haven't had a chance to use it much at night as it was cloudy yesterday evening.

I have been wanting the Fujinon 16x70mm for some time, but, because of the price have been dragging my feet.

Your reviews are excellently timed, as I was just talking with KennyJ about my experience with the Orion 15x70mm, and he was sharing his disappointment about purchasing a used Helios 15x70mm.

What a small world we live in.

Great reviews!

--------------------
Nikon7x35GoldSentinel 9.3*(2)+Pentax8x40PCFWPII+MinoxBD10x44BP+FujinonFMTRSX7x50
Nikon10x50GoldSentinel+Pentax12x50 5.5*Japan+Pentax12x50PCFWPII+Vixen8x56Geoma
Fujinon12x60HB+Pentax16x60PCFWP+Pentax20x60PCFWP+Pentax20x60PCFWPII
Tento20x60USSR+Orion12x63MiniGiant+Spectrum I 20x65+Orion15x70LittleGiant II
Orion20x70LittleGiant II+Orion16x80Giant+Orion30x80MEGAView+Barska30x80X-Trail
BurgessOptical20x90SeriesII


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RichD
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/08/07
Posts: 1782
Loc: Derbyshire, UK
Re: Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review new [Re: hallelujah]
      #1975017 - 11/10/07 12:05 PM

Hi!

Thankyou for your kind words - i wasn't sure the review read too well so i'm pleased to hear you got something from it.

Kenny - nice to talk to you, i have read many of your posts before and found them to be informative and interesting.I was probably wrong about the eye relief as i measured it hurriedly.Greetings from wet and windy (and cloudy) Derbyshire!

Hallelujah - Although in my review i may have come across as quite scathing of the Helios, i am actually quite fond of them and don't plan on selling them.I have had some wonderful nights over the past couple of years with these up on the moors a few miles from where i live.

With regard to the Fujinon, all i can say is that i do not regret buying them one bit and i doubt you would either.If you can live with the eye relief and huge oculars they are superb,in a different league to the vast majority of 70mm binoculars.Either way i hope you find the right ones for you!

--------------------
So this cabbie says: "Know who I had in this cab last week? Bertrand Russell! Wisest man in the Western World. And I says to him 'Bertie, what's it all about?' And do you know, he couldn't tell me..."

Kenneth Williams


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danielgolite
member


Reged: 09/29/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Erie County, PA
Re: Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review new [Re: RichD]
      #1975664 - 11/10/07 05:36 PM

Rich,

Thank you for your informative review. I'm interested in hopefully purchasing a Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX sometime. I've used binoculars for astronomy for about 10 years and have grown to really appreciate what a binocular can show.

For the past year I have been enjoying my SkyMaster 15x70's. I've been pleased with the views through the SkyMasters for their price. In fact, this past summer at the Black Forest Star Party I saw a dealer selling these same binocs for $49.95.

My thought has been, if the SkyMasters do this good, what would the high quality Fuji's do? I know a lot of Fuji owners on this forum have been pleased as you are. Observing reports such as yours that describe what you saw on specific objects are helpful in understanding what a high quality binocular can show.

Please keep the Fuji observing reports coming.

--------------------
-Daniel

"For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything." -Hebrews 3:4

Celestron 6" reflector/eq. mount
Tele Vue Ranger
Celestron 10x50 Ultima & 15x70 Skymaster binocs


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DLitster
member


Reged: 09/16/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
Re: Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review new [Re: RichD]
      #1975696 - 11/10/07 05:56 PM

Hi Rich,
you point on the large oculars for prospective owners is a very valid one. I also have the 16x70's and like them so much I've just treated myself to the 10x50 variant.

One thing I really like is the way they hold their focus so well - if just used for astronomy you could set it once and forget about it.

Regards.. David.

ps.
Sorry Rich, seeing my post again I left out the important bit - how much I enjoyed your comparo review. Its always nice to hear co-owners discuss/review binoculars you have - so when I see the word Fuji mentioned I normally go straight for it! . I'm an newbie here too and just learning the ropes. Take care. . .D.

Edited by DLitster (11/11/07 05:49 AM)


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charen
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 05/28/05
Posts: 1446
Loc: New Zealand
Re: Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review new [Re: DLitster]
      #1975781 - 11/10/07 06:50 PM

I was in the London recently and viewed the Helios 15x70 and decided not to buy them. 1/ the price was UKP160 which I thought was 'excessive' 2/ I was not keen on the eye relief 3/ they did not feel 'comfortable' and 4/ there was noticable edge distortion.
When I came home to New Zealand I thought umm.. maybe I should have got them !
So really glad to read the review which reinforced my original descision.
[Kenny - thanks for you original correspondence advising me against them ! ]

Edited by charen (11/10/07 07:09 PM)


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mttafire
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/02/06
Posts: 1114
Loc: midwest
Re: Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review new [Re: charen]
      #1976098 - 11/10/07 09:48 PM

Top notch review. Folks appreciate it! Welcome aboard.

--------------------
God Bless America

Binocular astronomy
for me ONLY.
8x45 Garretts
15x70 Skymasters
2 eyes!


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JohnnyC
member


Reged: 05/25/06
Posts: 69
Loc: London, UK
Re: Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review [Re: mttafire]
      #1976658 - 11/11/07 07:42 AM

Rich,

Thanks for the review, which I found most interesting as someone who also has a pair of the Helios. I actually think they are quite well made for the price but find them frustrating to use due to the appallingly short eye-relief (and other reasons). Consequently, I do not use them anymore.

Unfortunately, as you rightly point out, high quality optics are generally more expensive in the UK than in the US and it is up to each person to decide if they are worth the money (assuming they can afford it). When I bought the Helios I was not expecting great things from them due to their price but I was unsure how much they would be used and as a consequence didnít want to spend much more money. I do sort of agree with you when you say they are ďan ok buy at their price in the UKĒ but for me, I think it would have been better to buy a higher quality instrument at the time.

In my defence though, the fact is that I didnít know any better! Which is one reason why this forum is of such great value.

John


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RichD
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/08/07
Posts: 1782
Loc: Derbyshire, UK
Re: Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review new [Re: JohnnyC]
      #1976759 - 11/11/07 09:19 AM

Thanks for the kind words. It seems reading these posts that the eye relief on the helios is a major problem for many here - personally it never really bothered me unduly but then i don't wear glasses.A great example of a product you should try before you buy!

David - i can see myself also treating myself to the 10x50 fuji as well. I don't have good quality finder binoc right now to use with my scope. better get saving...

Charen - Hi! i think if you noticed the poor edge correction in the shop then you probably wouldn't enjoy these long term and certainly not under the stars.I think you made the right decision and i'm glad if my review helped validate that.

I actually did a side-by-side comparison of them this morning at 5.30.The rain had cleared up and the sky was incredibly transparent so i had them both trained on M44 (my first view of it this year)and all the points i listed in the review were plain to see. Larger image scale of the fujis and pin sharp nearly to the edge. I spent about 5 minutes just trying to get the helios to a satisfying focus! i never regret spending the money on the fujis.

--------------------
So this cabbie says: "Know who I had in this cab last week? Bertrand Russell! Wisest man in the Western World. And I says to him 'Bertie, what's it all about?' And do you know, he couldn't tell me..."

Kenneth Williams

Edited by RichD (11/11/07 09:20 AM)


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ronharper
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/14/06
Posts: 2065
Re: Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review new [Re: RichD]
      #1978448 - 11/11/07 11:02 PM

Rich,
Thanks for the very nice review. Welcome to the forum. Having made a good contribution right off, you are now free to say something stupid.

With perserverance much good can be gotten out of a modest instrument, as it's really all about the sky. But with experience it is impossible not to become critical of one's instrument. Congratulations on the fine bino, and on the not inconsiderable decision to pay the sum you had to part with for it. Jeez, is the pound that weak or are just bino fans getting screwed? I recently bought a beautiful new kitchen sink, made in a black "granite" material, and wonder of wonders it is made in the UK! Go England! Sorry to get slightly off topic here.

I use a Fuji 16x70 myself, and agree with you. With more use, you will probably realize that even it is not perfect. Look out for the 10x50 though, which comes pretty doggoned close.
Ron


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RichD
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/08/07
Posts: 1782
Loc: Derbyshire, UK
Re: Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review new [Re: ronharper]
      #1978853 - 11/12/07 03:42 AM

Hi Ron,

you are right - the sky is all that matters really, and over time i have become much more picky about optical quality. I bang on about the Fujis to anyone who will listen but then i have never even looked through a zeiss or swaro.Probably not a good idea to either as i would no doubt start thinking the fujis are second rate.

With regard to the price of the fuji i actually bought it online in the states, It was a new old stock model (the one with the yellow rings round the oculars - should have mentioned that in the review) for $495.It is a late 90's one i think but in otherwise perfect condition.

I think it is more a case of optics in general being very expensive over here - scopes,bins,eyepieces everything is a 50-75% dearer over here. The great thing is though that the pound is so strong right now against the dollar ( i got $2.03 to the pound exchange rate)That even with import duty and VAT on top of the purchase price the fuji was too good to miss.

Thanks for the welcome Ron!

--------------------
So this cabbie says: "Know who I had in this cab last week? Bertrand Russell! Wisest man in the Western World. And I says to him 'Bertie, what's it all about?' And do you know, he couldn't tell me..."

Kenneth Williams


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Dhst
newbie


Reged: 04/01/07
Posts: 4
Re: Helios Stellar 15x70 Fuji 16x70 FMT-SX review new [Re: RichD]
      #1987770 - 11/15/07 06:14 PM

Good thread. I have Celestron 15x70s and Fuji 16x70s. My thoughts on the two are as follows:

1. My Celestrons are actually very good, but the Fuji's are quite noticeably brighter, sharper and have better overall contrast and image quality on night sky targets. This is based on side by side comparisons. I also like the IF for skywatching - set it once and pretty much never touch it again.

2. The build quality of the Fuji's is great - as has been said, very heavy and well made. The Celestrons are fine, but I doubt they are lifetime investments.

3. The Celestrons are much lighter, which makes them easier to hand hold, although neither one is really great for handholding at least for astronomical use. (I handhold anyway often just because I don't like tripods)

4. The Celestrons are actually quite fun to have for terrestrial use - the center focus works fine and their short focus is reasonable given the magnification. They give very nice bright sharp images in the day. The Fuji's, by comparison, are pretty much useless for most terrestrial applications due to the IF and the much longer minimum focus.

5. All in all, for any astronomical use, I don't use the Celestrons any more - other than being heavier, the Fujis are just all around better for that use.

6. Having said that, the Celestrons are very respectable and enjoyable binos for about 1/10 the cost,and they are worth having just for daytime use (I keep them in my office now, for looking out the window on the 36th floor).

Edited by Dhst (11/15/07 06:24 PM)


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