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Littlegreenman
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Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese binocs
      #1190169 - 10/10/06 03:08 AM

This is a brief report on a pair of Orion 25x100mm binoculars. These were almost certainly made in Japan, probably in the mid to late 1990's. I bought these from a friend who found them on Ebay. When these were sold the price ranged from around $750 to $1500. Very few Japanese 25x100mm binoculars have shown up on the used market in the past several years. Little in the way of reviews or information in general about these and similiar binoculars 25x100mm binoculars is available.

Overall appearance is good fit and finish.
Leather-like covering
Multicoated.
FOV 2.6 degrees.
BAK-4 Prisms
Weight approximately 7.5 lbs, (scale not too accurate)

These came supplied with a mounting plate that fits under the binoculars. The plate has vertical post with a captive threaded knob that threads into the front of the center post just like an L-bracket. The plate weighs about 1 lb.

There is a sticker on the plate that says "Japan". There is no other indication of the country of origin, other than assumptions made based on when Orion was selling these.

These came in a nice aluminum case that opens on the top. The case is lined with a dense foam and about an inch of egg crate foam on the inside of the lid.
Two soft dew caps with Velcro fasteners are included.
The eyepieces have soft rubber eyecups. The eyecups are fairly shallow.
The person I bought them from told me he collimated them, using visual testing. I could see nothing 'wrong' or defective with them.

Mechanics: Center focus. Focus needed frequent adjusting. Enough to be slightly bothersome. If I did not have other binoculars that hold focus extremely well, I may not have noticed this. Focusing was relatively easy. I was able to bring mag 3-4 stars into focus in the middle of the fov with a 'snap.' I've had and have used some other binoculars that were difficult to find the right focus point or didn't want to stay in-focus to the point that it was major complaint. The loose focus with this pair is a minor complaint.

The undercarriage mounting plate has three in line holes running front to back that are threaded with 1/4-20 threads. The balance point is a little behind the most forward hole. The soft dew shields are beneficial in cutting down stray light.

Eye-relief. Using my glass was a non-starter. Eye relief is too short for eyeglasses. Fortunately my eyes are good enough to use binoculars without eyeglasses.

Quality of view.
First off, my 55 year old eyes are not as sharp as they used to be. I have mild astigmatism in my right eye and early cataracts. The astigmatism does not allow for tack sharp focusing with my right. The astigmatism has shown up in the past year or so a need to clean the right lens of my glasses all the time. Weird. My left eye has been very dominant as far back as age 10 or earlier. I'm sure someone with better eyes would be able to discern more.

Secondly, as I edit this and compare to what others have written about other binoculars, I notice there are specific optical faults I didn't look for or recognize. These would be specific defects such as coma, curvature of field, even false color. Another would be what percent of the fov is 'useful' or starts to loose quality. Instead I pay attention to the overall impression and mentally compare optics with other optics I have used. It's the holistic vs analytic approach. I do know that if forced to choose I would take a smaller central area of excellent quality at the expense of the outer quality, over a view that would show a better average overall quality without an area of excellent quality. Hopefully I can revisit these with a more analytical review in the future. With those limitations, here is what I can report.

Stars are sharp, brighter stars are point like. Vega, is globby but roundish. I've had other optics, even telescopes, that were unable to bring bright stars to a roundish shape, giving you instead a choice of flared this way or that way as you focus it. It is not as sharp as a couple of APO retractors I own (duh!), but, very nice for a binocular.

Mizor split nicely, hint of a third star.

Lagoon Nebula, nice, globular clusters above Ophiucus nice.

Double cluster very nice.

Andromeda Galaxy rising over the horizon: If this won't motivate you to seek out a pair of giant binoculars, nothing will!

Quality of image: very nice center area. Stars in the outer 10-20% become seagull shaped. This is more noticeable on medium size stars. Maybe more noticeable when viewing horizontal than vertical? As-if the optics sag when vertical? Or is it the pinching off of the blood to my head when I crane too look upward?

Flaring. Bright stars outside the fov exhibit a flare on the opposite side, and also cause a faint ghost-like flare that moved across the fov as you move the binoculars. I didn't notice it at first, until I was near Vega. These flares and ghost images are near star like or small seagull shaped, and do not exhibit any prism shapes for example. I haven't tied these on the moon yet.

Edge darkening. These binoculars fade at the outer 10% of the fov, quickly getting darker with a fuzzy indistinct edge.

I've used these a few times. The first time was on a Majestic tripod with a geared center column and pan head. This was sturdy enough for viewing but I was always worried the tripod would tip over. Viewing up was a literal pain in the neck. The second test was with a UA T-Mount on a UA Heavy Wood Tripod. The T-Mount is a parallelogram mount with a shorter arm for greater stability and capacity. Viewing up is still a pain in the neck, but not as bad.

There is a review of a Pro-Optic 25x100mm binocular in the Reviews section under binoculars. The binocular picture there looks the same as the binoculars I have.

I hope this is of some value to anyone! This is my first attempt at a serious binocular review. I'm discovering that it's harder than it looks to do a good review. Questions, comments, pointers, criticisms, etc. are welcome.

See also a thread above on "Parks $1895 25x100mm binoculars" for some discussion on these and Pro-Optic binoculars.

Thanks to Eric D for the link below:
http://observers.org/reports/2000.07.24.html

Littlegreenman


..but the trouble with an alarm clock is that what seems sensible when you set it seems absurd when it goes off.

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KennyJ
The British Flash


Reged: 04/27/03
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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese binocs new [Re: Littlegreenman]
      #1190692 - 10/10/06 01:41 PM

Littlegreenman , ( or black in the case of MY typing ! )

The title BRIEF REPORT does not do justice to this .

For a FIRST ever mini - review , I think it represents a very fine effort indeed , so thank you and well done !

The fact that this is a model rarely covered in binocular reviews adds even more value to it .

I find it strange , when one considers that a decade or so ago , this family of Orion binoculars seemed to be by FAR the most commonly available amongst " giant binoculars " yet so few reviews of ANY of them seem to exist , and applies to the 20 x 60 , 15 x 70 , 20 x 70 , 11 x 80 , 16 x 80 , 20 x 80 , 30 x 80 , 14 x 100 , 20 x 100 and 25 x 100 .

Although I have no way of KNOWING , so I don't REALLY KNOW for sure , I get the distinct impression that ALL of those 1990s era " Orion " binoculars I've listed came from the same factory , and most , if not all , had similar characteristics , which would appear to be generally summarisable by saying that the END PRODUCT , optically speaking , never quite seems to match up to the sum of the parts , if you know what I mean ?

Also , many are restricted by what I consider to be seriously insufficient eye relief .

For some reason , while some , if not most of the 1990s era , Japanese manufactured , FMC , Bak4 Porros up to 50mm in size seem to live up to expectation , all the larger models of similar build , it would appear , do not .

From what I've READ ( and trust me , I've read a LOT ! ) and from what few models I've had the opportunity to compare , it seems that these TYPICAL Japanese made GIANT binoculars are not really " superior " optically to the Chinese offerings from the likes of Oberwerk , which are less than half the price .

Regards , Kenny

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


Milton Wilcox R.I.P






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Littlegreenman
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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: KennyJ]
      #1193807 - 10/12/06 03:58 AM

Hi Kenny,
Thanks for your input. Would you think the Nikon Astrolux line and the 70mm Fujinon's are in the same boat: not quite as good as expected and or have been surpassed by the Chinese offerings?

I've had the pleasure of looking through a few dozen binoculars over the past few years. Most were 7x50's and smaller, but I have seen several Orion, Celestron, and Meade binoculats up to 80mm. Most were made in Japan. The standout's were:

1. 11x80 Celestron, although I had to go through several to get a good one. I like the low power, and yes I know the exit pupil issues. But I like it.

2. A friends Orion 'mini-giant' 12 x 60 or something like that, a cut above the most of the rest.

3. Best of all is a Stellarvue 15 x 63!

I'd love to try out the bigger Nikon's and Fujinon's, not to mention do a direct comparison of my Orion 25 x 100's with an Oberwerk or Garrett of the same size.

Littlegreenman


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KennyJ
The British Flash


Reged: 04/27/03
Posts: 20139
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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: Littlegreenman]
      #1194239 - 10/12/06 12:14 PM

LGM ,

Again based purely on what I've READ as opposed to TRIED in person , in almost every respect , I don't think the Nikon Astroluxe or Fujinon FMTSX ranges , in either 50mm or 70mm sizes , have been even EQUALLED , let alone BETTERED by ANY other make or model , let alone by far less expensive models from China .

I'm slightly surprised and disappointed that there has not been more response to this thread .

Don't let that put you off writing binocular reviews , LGM , as you do it very well .

Regards , Kenny

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


Milton Wilcox R.I.P






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EdZ
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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: KennyJ]
      #1194377 - 10/12/06 01:32 PM

Quote:

Would you think the Nikon Astrolux line and the 70mm Fujinon's are in the same boat: not quite as good as expected and or have been surpassed by the Chinese offerings? LGM




Quote:

I don't think the Nikon Astroluxe or Fujinon FMTSX ranges , in either 50mm or 70mm sizes , have been even EQUALLED , let alone BETTERED by ANY other make or model , let alone by far less expensive models from China . KJ




I certainly think they are as good as expected. And, I agree with Kenny. I don't have first hand experience with the Astroluxe, few people do, but based on (consistent reports) and my experience, I haven't seen anything in an equal size that equals or surpasses the Fujinon.

edz

--------------------
Teach a kid something today. The feeling you'll get is one of life's greatest rewards.
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Glassthrower
Vendor - Galactic Stone & Ironworks


Reged: 04/07/05
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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: EdZ]
      #1194409 - 10/12/06 01:49 PM

Quote:


I certainly think they are as good as expected. And, I agree with Kenny. I don't have first hand experience with the Astroluxe, few people do, but based on (consistent reports) and my experience, I haven't seen anything in an equal size that equals or surpasses the Fujinon.





That is something that I noticed pretty early on when I starting obsessing over binoculars - and that is, the apparent "HOLE" in the giant binocular market between the low-priced Chinese imports and the high-end Japanese/German glass. I am speaking strictly of GIANT binoculars here, 80-100mm. The options, up until recently, were :

1) Spend $200-300 on a bargain-bin Chinese giant and get mediocre build and mediocre optical performance.

2) Spend $1500-$10000 on premium Japanese or European giant glass to get quality build and superior optics.

There was, and to some degree there still is, a hole in the market between #1 and #2.

Oberwerk and Garrett Optical have stepped up to the challenge nicely, and have offered some quality Chinese imports that outperform the mass-produced giant glass of Orion, Celestron and others. The Obie and Garretts reside in the $400-$500 price range. But beyond that, there is still a HOLE in the market.

Consider, if you want a 80mm binocular that is NOT a bargain-class glass AND will outperform the better Chinese glass like Obie or Garrett, then where do you go? Fujinon makes the 16x70 for around $700, but the next bigger Fujinon model costs over $6000. One cannot find a new Miyauchi, Fujinon, Kowa, Zeiss or other premium GIANT 80mm+ binocular without spending thousands of dollars. The only option that remains is the ~$400 Obie and Garrett giants, which are great for what they are, but they are a long way from being compared to best Japanese/European glass.

I think some people are trying to fill that HOLE by purchasing these older, Japanese-made giants from the 1980's and 1990's. They have the much-vaunted "Made in Japan" sticker on them, which carries with it a mythical aura of superiority over Chinese-made optics. However, as LGM, EdZ, and other reviewers have noted, these older Japanese giants may have a more robust build, but they do not have noticeably-superior optics compared to the better models of currently-available Chinese giants like Obie. Buying a pair of these Japanese vintage giants may give some "bragging rights" to say "My binocular is not Chinese bargain bin, it's Japanese and therefore better.", but when placed side by side against today's quality Chinese glass, it just doesn't run away in terms of performance. The differences seem to be primarily in build quality, which most will agree is better in the vintage Japanese offerings.

Sorry if this wandered off-topic, but I am fascinated by these older Japanese binoculars and there is so little about them on the web, compared to the mass of reviews available for the current lot of Chinese glass.

Clear dark skies...

MikeG

--------------------
Michael Gilmer - Member of the Meteoritical Society & Collector of Falling Stars.



☄ ⒼⒶⓁⒶⒸⓉⒾⒸ ⓈⓉⓄⓃⒺ ☞ www.galactic-stone.com


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Littlegreenman
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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: Glassthrower]
      #1194588 - 10/12/06 04:11 PM

Quote:


I think some people are trying to fill that HOLE by purchasing these older, Japanese-made giants from the 1980's and 1990's. They have the much-vaunted "Made in Japan" sticker on them, which carries with it a mythical aura of superiority over Chinese-made optics....

Clear dark skies...

MikeG




I've certainly been in the that camp, seeking vintage Japanese binoculars to fill the "hole." My experience has been that there is a variation in quality level. Some quality issues appears to have been as manufactured, while some appear to have been from wear and tear. I and one of my friends have gone through several (4-6?) of Japanese 11x80's to find an outstanding one.

Darn, the more I think about this the more tempted I am to buy an Oberwerk or Garrett just out of curiosity.


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Glassthrower
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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: Littlegreenman]
      #1194770 - 10/12/06 06:07 PM

Quote:


I and one of my friends have gone through several (4-6?) of Japanese 11x80's to find an outstanding one.





I think it was Bill Cook who said much of these mass-produced optics are "cookie cutter glass" that goes almost straight from the factory to the retail shelf without much (if any) final polish, inspection, testing, or QA (quality assurance, as opposed to quality control) ... Even these Japanese-made older Orions and Celestrons likely went from Japan to the retail shelf with only a precursory look-over, if that much. This would explain the wide variation in quality between units, both vintage and today. Figuring and polishing glass is an art and a science to use the old idiom - and random variations in the glass manufacturing and polishing process can manifest in different manners to different observers. Without rigorous post-manufacturing quality assurance, testing, and inspection, then one is simply rolling the dice and taking a chance when purchasing. That is why we see so many complaints and collimation threads about the Celestron Skymaster 15x70 current Chinese offering, and at the same time we see a roughly-equal number of threads gleefully extolling it's virtues.

I think what is needed in today's optics import market is rigorous quality assurance. How can a company as big as Celestron possibly inspect each and every binocular it sells for collimation and other issues. This level of attention would require a full staff of qualified techs operating in a dedicated facility to handle large numbers of inspections on a daily basis. Such attention is not economically feasible with a $200 binocular. One cannot expect it either, a knowledgeable consumer should fully realize they are rolling the dice when buying such a binocular.

We have companies like Stellarvue, Oberwerk, Garrett Optical, and AstroPhysics to thank for re-introducing the element of "quality assurance" to the binocular market. These are vendors who are actually consumers of astronomical optics in their own personal lives, they are not simply corporate types looking to maximize the profit margin. They attach their label to a binocular and one can be assured that the binocular has had SOME level of personal (and qualified) attention that is not found with the mega-dealers. In my mind, these companies have done a great service to the binocular astronomy community.

I only wish that in the beginning, when I first entered this hobby (and before I found CN), that I had done my homework a little better and bought a binocular from one of the vendors I just mentioned. It would have saved me a lot of disappointment and headache down the road.

Gentlemen (and ladies), we truly are living in exciting times for binocular optics. This is a market that is rapidly evolving before our eyes on a short time scale. It's quite interesting to watch and chatter over.

Clear dark skies...

MikeG

--------------------
Michael Gilmer - Member of the Meteoritical Society & Collector of Falling Stars.



☄ ⒼⒶⓁⒶⒸⓉⒾⒸ ⓈⓉⓄⓃⒺ ☞ www.galactic-stone.com


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Phillip Creed
Idiot Seeking Village


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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: Glassthrower]
      #1194779 - 10/12/06 06:13 PM

Quote:



Gentlemen (and ladies), we truly are living in exciting times for binocular optics. This is a market that is rapidly evolving before our eyes on a short time scale. It's quite interesting to watch and chatter over.

Clear dark skies...

MikeG




Mike,

Just wait until the Chinese find a way to mass-produce 125- and 150-mm lenses for binos

Speaking of which, has anyone out there actually looked through the 110mm glasses that are on the United Optics website?

Clear Skies,
Phil

--------------------
"The hopeful depend on a world without end, whatever the hopeless may say"--Rush, "Manhattan Project"

Wilderness Center Astronomy Club member since 1995
ICQ Comet Observer Code: CRE01
*****
12" f/4.9 Skywatcher Collapsible Dobsonian
8" f/4.9 Orion Newtonian on alt-az mount
Oberwerk 15x70 Binoculars
Minimalist Eyepiece Collection: 30mm ES-82, 22mm Vixen LVW, 14mm Delos, 10mm Delos, 2X GSO ED Barlow, 4X Powermate


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Erik D
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Posts: 4066
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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: Glassthrower]
      #1195882 - 10/13/06 12:05 PM

Quote:

]
I think it was Bill Cook who said much of these mass-produced optics are "cookie cutter glass" that goes almost straight from the factory to the retail shelf without much (if any) final polish, inspection, testing, or QA (quality assurance, as opposed to quality control) ... Even these Japanese-made older Orions and Celestrons likely went from Japan to the retail shelf with only a precursory look-over, if that much. This would explain the wide variation in quality between units, both vintage and today.

MikeG




Mike,

I think anyone reading the product description of the CURRENT 80mm Orion Megaview binoculars would expect premium optics and high level of QC:

http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/entry.php?sectionid=21&entryid=142

I did. I ordered my Orion 20X80 from them because of this passage in the Orion catalog:

"Each binocular is tested prior to sale on a laser collimator to insure proper optical alignment. A sturdy, hinged, metal bridge between the objective cells provides added rigidity and insures that the mechanical axes of the binocular remain perfectly aligned."

I don't know if they are still checking collimation after Cory left Orion. I never had a problem with collimation of my Orion 20X80mm bino. It's just that my Chinese 20X80 LW is more comfortable to use, has wider FOV, is lighter by 2 lbs and cost 60% less... Competition is good for the end user.

Erik D


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Glassthrower
Vendor - Galactic Stone & Ironworks


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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: Erik D]
      #1195913 - 10/13/06 12:25 PM

Hi Erik -

The latest version of the Orion catalog makes no mention of the passage : "Each binocular is tested prior to sale on a laser collimator to insure proper optical alignment.", so perhaps that is something no longer done by Orion.

But I agree, the Orion advertisement even as worded today would imply greater optical performance than the competing Chinese giants. But notice how the language is short on specifics and heavy on complimentary adjectives.

Garrett has both a collimator and Cory Suddarth - two reasons to seriously consider them for giant binos.

Clear dark skies...

MikeG

--------------------
Michael Gilmer - Member of the Meteoritical Society & Collector of Falling Stars.



☄ ⒼⒶⓁⒶⒸⓉⒾⒸ ⓈⓉⓄⓃⒺ ☞ www.galactic-stone.com


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Mike Rapchak
professor emeritus


Reged: 11/17/06
Posts: 568
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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: Glassthrower]
      #1279462 - 12/01/06 08:03 PM

Mike,

I don't know if you're familiar with them but Vixen has a nice set of 12x80, 16x80, and 20x80 binos that go for $500-600 that AFIK are made in Japan.

http://vixen.binoculars.com/site_search/index.php?&keywords=&display=&cur=1&cat=2&sort=&brand=306&lp=&hp=

Mike Rapchak Jr.


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EdZ
Professor EdZ


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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: Mike Rapchak]
      #1279573 - 12/01/06 09:28 PM

The Vixen Ark binoculars have been written up here several times for there rather poor quality optical performance. Search out some of the Vixen reviews.

edz

--------------------
Teach a kid something today. The feeling you'll get is one of life's greatest rewards.
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Erik D
Post Laureate


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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: Mike Rapchak]
      #1279581 - 12/01/06 09:33 PM

Anyone considering spending $500-$600 for the Vixen 20X80s should take another look at Bill T's report post on CN last year: Vixen 20X80 Review

Erik D


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Mike Rapchak
professor emeritus


Reged: 11/17/06
Posts: 568
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Re: Brief Report: Orion 25x100 older Japanese bino new [Re: EdZ]
      #1279749 - 12/01/06 11:24 PM

edz,

Hello. Yes, I read the reviews here and noted not only Bill T's unfortunate experience but also Claudio's much more positive review.

I received my 12x80s just this afternoon. They are very nicely constructed (see my description in my post to the "comet king" thread). We've had terrible winter-storm weather here in my area the past day or so, but it cleared off tonight, so I took the Vixens out for a short viewing session. I'm happy to report that I found no flaws with these binos - at least nothing that was immediately apparent (unlike the pair of Zhumell 25x100s I bought last month and soon returned; quite a disappointment there!). Good collimation, sharp images, large FOV - and bright! So far I am quite delighted with their peformance. I'm going to write a more detailed review soon; I'll try and be as thorough as I can.

Mike Rapchak Jr.


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