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KennyJ
The British Flash


Reged: 04/27/03
Posts: 20139
Loc: Lancashire UK
Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new
      #867650 - 03/13/06 04:26 PM Attachment (252 downloads)

ORION EXPANSE 7 x 32 Mini – Review


Extra wide field binoculars are nothing new .

Years ago , when I first became aware of some binoculars having true fields of view twice as wide as that of my trusty old 10 x 50 , some with apparent fields of view ( AFOV ) up to and in excess of 90 degrees , I thought to myself :
“ GREAT -- why don’t they make them ALL like that ? “

A little research into the subject soon taught me that wide fields come at a PRICE , not necessarily financially , but optically .

Sadly , perhaps , the laws of optics , coupled with the nature of human eye construction and what they actually see at any one time , dictates that anything outside what equates to an AFOV of probably around 52 degrees ( on average ) is not only outside a natural field of focus for our eyes , but outside the zone of optimum sharpness provided by most eyepieces .

This is probably a major reason why a standard Plossl type of eyepiece is often such a fine performer , relative to it’s price .
At least with it’s traditional 50* - 52 * AFOV , it is designed to work in HARMONY with , or within the parameters of these basic laws of physics and optometry !

Yes , some designers , most notably Al Nagler , have developed the technology to create SUPER wide angle eyepieces , such as the various lines of Naglers named after the man , which can provide stunning , clear images of more than 80 degree AFOV , but just one of this type of eyepiece generally comes at a price considerably higher than that of SOME very good porro prism binoculars as a complete viewing instrument !

However , around 2002 , when I became aware of this 7 x 32 Orion Expanse binocular , with an advertised TFOV of 14 degrees , priced at a little over $100 US , my initial reaction was that this MUST be some kind of GIMMICK binocular .
At the time there was another very similar looking , relatively low priced model on the market under the name of Bushnell Xtra Wide .

In spite of my instinctive , private reservations about what “ type “ of persons may be tempted to go out and buy this model , I was always optimistic that they would exist in sufficient numbers for the law of averages to dictate that at least one or two them would eventually write reviews of them and post their impressions to one or more of the various internet binocular review sites , which anyone likely to be reading this will probably be aware of .

As time passed by I came to realise such reviews were notable only by their absence , until eventually , quite recently , I noticed that a fellow member of the Cloudy Nights community , in a post about wide field binoculars , mentioned that he owned one , and following an exchange of private messages , he very kindly offered to send me the specimen on loan , to try it out for myself , along with , as it turned out , three other much larger binoculars , which I also intend to post my impressions of in due course , if time permits .

My usual custom at some point in a product review , is to list all the manufacturer – published technical specifications , with comments about any aspect of them I find to be any different in reality , which are USUALLY , if anything , of the “ over generous “ kind , such as the quoted figures for eye – relief and / or true field of view .

In this case , I’m afraid I’ve been unable to find any official manufacturer specifications for the Orion Expanse 7 x 32 , so if anyone can point me in that direction , I would be most grateful .

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Due to the way the four on – loan binoculars were packed , none arrived with their “ official cases “ – hardly the most important feature of a binocular , to be sure , but the absence of such DID deny me the opportunity to enjoy or otherwise the quality of the case , and of course , the unique aroma which often accompanies one : -)

It also removed the enticement factor , rather like a child experiences upon opening a present on Christmas morning , of GRADUALLY becoming aware of what a “ new toy “ looks like , and replaced it by what turned out to be an instant overall visual impression , when I finally exposed each “ goodie “ from it’s many layers , unravelled to several metres , of heavy duty bubble wrap . Regardless of the true monetary value of these binoculars ( which , I hasten to add is no more than what the UK customs insisted on me paying duty for ! ) the owner , quite rightly , wanted to make sure they were not damaged in transit !

My first visual impression of this model was that it looked considerably heftier than I’d expected it would , with the prism housing amongst the bulkiest I’ve ever seen ( see photo )

It is also so chubby , or squat , in appearance , and with such similarly sized eyepieces and objective lenses , that I can easily understand how some people unfamiliar with the model could instinctively find themselves holding them the wrong way round before realising the objectives will not come close enough together to line up with their eyes !

CASES , STRAPS and RAIN GUARDS etc.

The eyepieces are protected by a one – piece , slightly flexible , and extremely cheap looking plastic rain guard / cover , which to one side has an attached eye through which presumably the absent neck strap is intended to be threaded through , along with equally sized eyes in the absent case and the two sturdier looking attachment lugs affixed to the underside of the bulky prism housing .

The arrangement of all – in one package comprising carry case , rain guard and binocular all tied together with the neck strap , seems to have become something of a standard feature in recent times , and indeed , seemed like a good idea when I first encountered it with my Zeiss 7 x 42 BGAT . But I quickly became mildly irritated by two aspects of this .

I do not like the fact that the threaded lanyard tends to keep the rain guard wedged somewhere between the top of the case so close to the eyepieces that it can become a struggle to the rain guard away from the face when observing .

And I don’t like the fact the binocular is semi –constrained to it’s case when viewing , with an awkward two – handed job required to free the binoculars from the bottom of the case .

Whilst on the subject , although another seemingly GREAT idea , another feature I dislike with binoculars is tethered objective lens caps , which got in the way so often when looking through my Captain’s Helmsman 7 x 50 binoculars , literally blocking part of the objective lenses at times , that I ended up cutting them off , lock stock and barrel !

PHYSICAL PROPERTIES

The finish on the Orion Expanse binocular body APPEARS to be of a kind of greyish bronze gunmetal ( although I’ve seen a similar colour to this being described as “ champagne “ ) with a broad rubberised covering strip surrounding the prism housing , which bears , in white lettering , the ORION logo on top of one prism , with EXPANSE 7 x 32 Field Of View 14 * on top of the other .

There is no other information written on the binocular , apart from on the tripod adapter cover which I shall mention shortly .

I found the overall FINISH of the body not only unusual , but quite attractive , and giving one an instant impression of an item of not inconsiderable value and weight .
Regarding the latter , this proved to be no mere optical illusion when I picked them up , which is indeed what I did next .

The unit felt quite heavy initially , and cold to touch , and the sheer bulk of the prism housing felt strange in my hands at first , rather like it did when I first held the 7 x 50 Captain’s Helmsman , but even more so – probably because it is indeed even larger !

Straight away I noticed my thumbs automatically positioning themselves precisely against those large protruding lugs on the undersides of the prism housing , which was an instant annoyance !

The experience reminded me of the many complaints I’d read about the positioning of these lugs on the original Zeiss Victory models .

The large diameter plastic cover at the objective side of the broad central focusing shaft , bearing the words GKA China , with a serial number 0164 , is accompanied by a tripod symbol , which when twisted anti – clockwise and removed , revealed a standard tripod adapter thread .
It’s surprising how many people I’ve met who had binoculars without realising there was a tripod adapter hidden behind a plastic disc such as this one !

All in all , my initial impressions based on outer visual and actual feel of the binocular indicated to me that this looked and felt far LESS like any kind of TOY than I had , for some reason , imagined such a model might be , given several years experience of briefly checking out binoculars with “ novelty factor “ , manufactured mainly in the far east , at various markets , car boot sales and European package holiday resorts , being sold in many instances , for not a great deal less than the street price of this Orion Expanse .

Make no mistake – these look and feel like REAL binoculars , built for people to enjoy using for a long time ! Indeed they look and feel much more solid than they appear in the attached photographs .

I can only imagine that any hinge arrangement capable of adjusting such a hefty prism housing smoothly yet firmly , to the inter pupil distance ( IPD ) of the user i.e without being prone to slip due to being too loose , requires some thoughtful engineering . In this respect it is something which I think the designer and manufacturers deserve praise for . The IPD swing on this model I measured to be in the not uncommon 58mm to 72mm range .

The fact that the minimum 58mm IPD is almost certainly too wide for a younger person is more or less academic , as I cannot imagine anyone with small hands even being able to handle this model due to the sheer girth of the prism housing .

Two things I instantly found to be “ foreign to my fingers “ were how close to the eyes both the right diopter and the central focusing wheel are when the binocular is held to the eyes .

The right ocular which needs to be twisted to adjust for the right eye focus adjustment is extremely shallow , measuring only 10mm , which is a little too thin for my somewhat sausage – like fingers , and to exasperate this situation , to see the full field of view , the user , especially anyone with deep set eyes such as mine , needs to really scrunch the eyecups into the oculars , which in my case , caused my eyebrows to actually snag in the rubberised diopter adjuster as I twisted it !
The eyecups themselves are slightly winged , but too slightly to make any real difference , even IF the viewer is fortunate enough to have eyesight requiring no right diopter adjustment .

I mention this because these slightly winged rubber eyecups are fitted in such a way that if the diopter wheel is twisted fully to accommodate ( approximately plus or minus 5 diopters ) the winged section ends up at either the top or the bottom , thus not blocking any SIDE light out .

EYE RELIEF -- Be Warned !

The eye relief on this binocular is so short , shorter even than that on my Helios 15 x 70 , that I categorically do NOT recommend it for ANYONE who wears glasses or sunglasses when using binoculars .

Not having the manufacturer’s specifications to hand , I do not know what official measurement is given , but I would estimate it to be 7mm at the most . Notwithstanding , without glasses , it is JUST possible , if I really scrunch them into the oculars , to get my eyes TOO close , so as to see the very first signs of vignetting , or the kidney bean effect , as it is often referred to in the hobby .
This , though , is with my eyelids literally touching the eyepieces .

FIRST OPTICAL IMPRESSIONS

Upon removing the plastic rain guard and the unusually well – fitting 32mm plastic objective lens caps , my first quick checks of anything optically related showed lens coatings reflecting a rather unusual combination of colours I would describe as white with pale violet and a hint of blue , but no sign of greens or purples or combinations of both which usually appear in binoculars of better quality which I’m personally familiar with .

To be honest , apart from the advanced coatings being used these days on the very top priced binoculars , I have quite recently come to place less importance on the mere COLOURS reflected from the coatings on binoculars than I once did .
There is no indication on the binocular itself as to whether these are coated , fully coated or fully multi – coated , in any case .
Looking at reflections of myself in the objectives , I could see enough of my features to establish that it was clearly not Tom Cruise looking into them , but I could say the same thing about my Zeiss binoculars .

Having , as some readers may be aware , something of an obsession with exit – pupils , I was quick to notice that lining up the exit pupils with my eyes , so as to make them appear as ROUND discs , was not as easy as it usually is . In fact , however much I tried to line them up and have tried since , to MY eyes , I just can’t seem to get them to appear perfectly round , but always ever so SLIGHTLY flattened at one or two points around their perimeters .
By this , I do NOT mean with squared edges as one sees with Bk7 prisms – just ever so slightly OVAL , or rather with flat spots , when studied carefully . Again , for what it’s worth , the Zeiss 7 x 42 BGAT don’t have perfectly ROUND exit pupils either !

Another thing I instantly noticed about the exit – pupils , but probably only as a result of having carefully looked at so many , was that even taking into account the very slight flattening , they did NOT appear to be the 4.5mm or so diameter which a 7 x 32 binocular ought to provide . They looked LARGER – and when I checked out this impression , I found them to be the same size , in fact , as the 5mm exit pupils from my Swift 10 x 50 and the Oberwerk 12 x 60 I also have on loan at the time of writing .

I recently came across a similar phenomenon , albeit in reverse , with the 10 x 50 Bresser I bought in November 2005 . In that instance when investigating the reason for the smaller than expected exit pupils of around 4mm. , it quickly became apparent that the 50mm objectives had in fact , been stopped down to close to 40mm inside the objective tubes , which is why I have since usually referred to them as Bresser 10 x 40 or Bresser 10 x 50 ( 40 ) .

But yet again , as is my wont , I digress !

In the case of this Orion Expanse 7 x 32 , I checked that the objectives are indeed of true 32mm clear aperture . So the only reason for the increased exit – pupil size must be that the eyepieces are NOT of a focal length which provides a true 7x magnification , but of proportionately LESS magnification , and therefore of a slightly longer focal length !

Careful comparisons against my Zeiss 7 x 42 and Helmsman 7 x 50 viewing a street sign about 30 yards away , bore this out .
Although I understand from those with superior knowledge to myself that more accurate estimations of magnification ought to be carried out at INFINITY , using star fields , for example , I would estimate the true magnification of this binocular , or at least of the specimen I have , to be closer to 6.5 than 7x .

This , in turn , led me to look more closely into the stated FIELD OF VIEW , which being so exceptionally wide , is presumably the main selling point of this model .

Again , comparing the TFOV against other binoculars of KNOWN true field , in this case , against the Swarovksi 8 x 20 with it’s 6.6 * , the Bresser 10 x 50 with it’s 6.5 * and the Helmsman 7 x 50 with it’s 7. 2 * I was able to closely estimate that the ACTUAL true field of view is 13 degrees , as opposed to 14 degrees .

Not a lot of difference in the great scheme of things , for sure , but enough to deduce by the application of simple arithmetic , multiplying TRUE magnification by ACTUAL TFOV , that the AFOV is really 84.5 degrees as opposed to 98 degrees .

In practical use , this is no more than academic .
These are , indeed , VERY wide - field binoculars !

The model incorporates a combination of prisms and MIRRORS to achieve such a wide field of view without having to use what would otherwise be even bulkier prism clusters , which would also be more expensive to produce .

So while keeping the price and physical size down , the real price of this is reflected in the less than optimum optical performance .
At least , at that point , I was PRESUMING it to be the presence of the mirrors being CHIEFLY responsible for what I consider to be quite a dull image for a binocular with a 5mm exit pupil , less than REALLY sharp images even in the central “ sweeter spot “ and the most ineffective suppression of stray light I’ve ever come across in ANY binocular I’ve spent more than a few minutes with . More details about this coming up .

Regarding the lack of perceived brightness , much of this seems due to a distinct dirty yellow caste to the image , which , as can often be the case with these things , is not always so obvious when looking through a binocular as a stand – alone item .

Compare it side by side with the Zeiss 7 x 42 , looking out at a typical country scene , it looks as if you have been magically transported from a cloudy , warm dusky afternoon in an industry area ( through the Orion ) to a crystal clear , cool morning in the countryside ( through the Zeiss ) .

The actual close – focus for my eyes is about 10 feet – JUST close enough for me to be able to focus the picture on our 32 inch wide screen TV from a lounge chair , turning it into an APPARENT 208 inch wide screen , or a 17 foot wide cinema screen !
This has proved to be my most enjoyable occasional uses of this binocular .

Again , for reasons which I’ve yet to have fully and clearly explained to me , but which I suspect has more in common with the shortcomings of human eyesight and the effects of mirage , than with optics per se , I have found that all binoculars , regardless of their levels of quality or aberrations , always seem to produce better images when operated at their closest focus range .

As mentioned above , it was not difficult to notice that this binocular handles stray light less effectively than any other binocular I’ve tried for any length of time . When angled towards a rooftop with a bright sun above and about 20 degrees to the left of the rooftop , ghost images in the shape of whole spheres to the lower right of view , added to streaks of reflected sunlight , made it barely possible to resolve roof tiles which I could study the texture of looking at through the Zeiss or Helmsman from the same angle at the same time

Also , when looking away from the sun a few minutes later , I noticed that the image through the RIGHT side of this specimen was less sharp and of a different apparent brightness than through the left .
I hasten to add that this is something I’ve found not at all unusual in many binoculars , and it something I once asked about , but temporarily appear to have forgotten what explanation was given for the anomaly , apart from the fact that it is , apparently , quite common .

However , in this case , after turning the binoculars upside down to re – check it wasn’t an effect of my EYES , I noticed the culprit was a greasy smudge covering about two thirds of the right eyepiece , which presumably must have been transferred from either my thumb or my eyebrow , and after cleaning it off in a manner befitting a regular of the Cloudy Nights binocular forum , most of this problem was solved but not all of it . The image through the right side remained ( and remains ) slightly “ milkier “ than that through the left side .

Had I not had these binoculars on loan and been thinking of writing some kind of review of them , but rather been casually trying them out of curiosity for a few minutes , I would almost certainly have noticed long before I did any of the above points , what I am about to report next .

Sadly or unfortunately -- whichever the case may be , if not both , the specimen I have on loan is SERIOUSLY out of collimation !

I’ve checked this several times since , mainly because I could hardly believe just by how much it did appear to be out the first time I noticed it , which was when I mounted the binoculars on a tripod and mount and set the focus as best I could on a electricity pylon located about 1000 yards away .

Slowly moving my head back until I was about a foot from the eyepieces , whilst allowing my eyes to TOTALLY RELAX ( there is a bit of a knack to doing this , which is also required when comparing magnifications when looking through one side of different binoculars at the same time , or when comparing the image size through one side of a binocular to that as seen through the other , naked eye ) I saw ONE distinct pylon ( through my STRONGER eye ) and SECOND pylon , fleeting in and out of view , almost like a “ ghost “ at first , until the eyes became fully “ relaxed “ , at such “ apparent distance “ away from the image through the right eye , that I had to re – check by naked eye that there were not TWO pylons spaced what WOULD have been probably at least 20 feet apart had the second one actually existed .

I even checked through the Zeiss 7 x 42 just to be absolutely certain there was only ONE pylon in that location .
The true field of view of this binocular is about 680 feet at 1000 yards and a very rough visual estimation told me that the space between the TWO pylons seen through the binoculars probably represented about one 25th of the width of the field . This would equate to a 27 foot difference at 1000 yards by which collimation is out .
I did not need to refer to a handbook by Sidgwick to know that this was WAY beyond the limits of tolerance in ANYONE’S book !

So , in a way , that was it really – game set and match !

I wondered if there was any point in continuing with my effort to write a review , and for a couple of weeks I’d actually decided against doing so .

However , from the moment they had arrived , one event I’d been particularly looking forward to with these binoculars was a rock concert at Manchester’s 18,000 capacity M.E.N arena , featuring glam rock retro outfit The Darkness , a band my wife Kathy and I had thoroughly enjoyed seeing at the same venue 14 months previously .

On this occasion , as a special treat unknown to me , for a Christmas present , Kathy had bought two tickets for what had been advertised as being “ the best seats in the house “ !
The decision to take these binoculars along caused a little stir amongst a brace of burly doormen who collected our tickets upon entering the arena , both of whom seemed to take some convincing that rather than being no more than a binocular , this strange stubby item peeping from a large pocket in my ridiculously unfashionable overcoat , was not some kind of audio / video recording device , which apparently were not allowed into the event , even though probably 10,000 mobile phones with the capability of carrying out precisely such a thing , were allowed into the event without question , as in fact , was the tiny Swarovski 8 x 20 B Habicht pocket roof binocular , snug in Kathy’s handbag , against which I was interested to see how the Expanse would perform .

With that mildly embarrassing interlude behind us , we found our seats to be what surely must literally have been THE best seats in the house ! We were located no more than 15 yards from the front of the stage , to it’s left , in a seating arrangement which left the whole of huge floor area directly in front of it free for standing room for probably 3000 people . Our heads were comfortably two feet above even the tallest amongst the standing crowd , and we could not possibly have been closer to the stage without the huge PA speakers obstructing at least a part of our view .
The stage show of the Darkness is amok with ever changing coloured lights , laser beams and pyrotechnics , which in combination I can only imagine present quite a challenge for ANY optical instrument , not least , as I quickly discovered , a mirror – infested hybrid of a binocular with more ghost images than a web site dedicated to the paranormal , which also happened to be so badly out of collimation that I was half expecting to see TWO bands for the price of one !

Given my penchant for transposing angular fields of view into all manner of units at random distances , I ought NOT to have been surprised by this , but ( desperate by now for any kind of reference to astronomy ) during rare moments of “ good seeing “
I WAS in fact quite disappointed to realise that from a distance of 15 or 20 yards from the performers , even through these super wide glasses , only a section of the stage about 10 feet across could be seen at any one time , which on such a wide stage , even from the angle at which I was inclined to it , meant that rarely was I able to capture more than a single band member at any one time .

The intensity of the lighting , especially when seen through binoculars , was such that I was glad I remembered to take along my tinted prescription glasses , but of course , as soon as I put those on , the field of view through the Orion Expanse was not much wider than the 6.6 degrees of the Swarovski 8 x 20s .

The views through the Swarovski were superior in every way imaginable , when compared to the Orions . How much of this was a result of the exit pupil only being half the diameter in the former as compared with the latter I am not sure – there is just no comparison between the two glasses in any aspect of real quality , but since Kathy was hogging the Swarovksis for most of the show ( and does not like me altering the diopter adjustment to suit my eyes anyway ) I had to settle for the Orions or nothing for most of it .

CONCLUSIONS

I HAD intended to fill this review with reports of daytime and night time observations through the Orion Expanse binoculars , comparing them with views through a variety of other binoculars I own , but the collimation issue put paid to that plan .

IF they were perfectly collimated , I’m sure the 13 degree TFOV , combined with the easy to handle 6.5 x magnification , would prove a very interesting , and useful observing tool , for the complete novice or even for the more experienced amateur astronomer looking for a relaxing , super – wide OVERVIEW of the celestial areas known so much more intimately , but alas , there is nothing very RELAXING about views through twin telescopes aimed at different parts of the sky at the same time !

This was a real shame , and I apologise for having to cut this review so short , and to such an abrupt end , as a result of it .

At least , with one objective left with the well – fitting cap attached , there is still some use and some fun to be had looking through a 6.5 x 32 monocular with such a vast field of view . That COULD possibly make a finder scope for a larger binocular or smaller telescope .

Even if this binocular did not have the collimation problem it clearly has , I don’t think it would ever have become one of my personal favourites .

It’s shape , size , fiddly diopter adjuster , short eye relief , ghost images , lack of quality coatings and yellow caste would each be sufficient reason in itself for preventing that to ever be the case .

But each to his or her own !

Although it’s difficult to imagine right now , as I conclude this review on such a pessimistic note , trust me , I HAVE seen a lot WORSE than this particular binocular , selling for not much less !

If anyone is still reading this , or even still awake after trying to do so , thank you for taking the time to read it !

The photo attached illustrates the exceptional GIRTH of the prism housing . Here it lies next to the Captain's Helmsman 7 x 50 to it's left , with the Bresser 10 x 50 to the right .

I had intended to attach two further photographs of this binocular , but experienced problems transferring them to this review post .

They CAN be viewed however , in my PERSONAL GALLERY .

Regards , Kenny

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


Milton Wilcox R.I.P






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Mark9473
Postmaster


Reged: 07/21/05
Posts: 6459
Loc: 51°N 4°E
Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review [Re: KennyJ]
      #867679 - 03/13/06 04:50 PM

Thanks for that impressive in-depth review Kenny; you bring some aspects not often mentioned. I'm going to have to sit down to read that again at a more leisurely pace.

I wonder what we would have been in for, if you hadn't, as you stated, "cut the review so short".

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Mark
Leica 8x20; Nikon 7x35; Vixen 8x42; Orion 15x63; Docter 15x60
WO Megrez II 80 FD / APM 107mm f/6.5 / Mewlon 210 on DM-6 + Berlebach Planet


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EdZ
Professor EdZ


Reged: 02/15/02
Posts: 18806
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: Mark9473]
      #867714 - 03/13/06 05:16 PM

Excellent! thank you Kenny.

edz

--------------------
Teach a kid something today. The feeling you'll get is one of life's greatest rewards.
member#21


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SaberScorpX
Post Laureate


Reged: 01/12/05
Posts: 4224
Loc: illinois, usa
Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: Mark9473]
      #867726 - 03/13/06 05:22 PM Attachment (137 downloads)

Nice review, Kenny.

Thanks for re-affirming that alot of its monsterous FOV becomes useless and/or very painful to take-in with such a short ER. Minus lens recess, as stated, its probably more like 6-7mm.
An ironic and inexcusably torturous design flaw, IMO.

Here's the website specs...

Prism type: Porro, BAK-4
Anti-reflective coatings: N/A (None Applied?)
Eye relief: 9.0mm (To their credit, they at least warn us. Many do not.)
Field of view: 14.0°
Near focus: 7 ft.
Exit Pupil: 4.6mm
Weight: 1.0 lb. 8 oz.
Height: 4.3 in.
Tripod Adaptable: Yes
Waterproof: No



Stephen Saber
PAC/Astronomical League
http://www.geocities.com/saberscorpx/home.html

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pcad
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/17/05
Posts: 2447
Loc: Connecticut
Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: Mark9473]
      #867742 - 03/13/06 05:32 PM

Kenny,

Great review! Never knew that there'd be so much to write about on this model.

When you say you can't find the manufacturers data what do you mean? Most of the normal info is on the Orion website. I imagine those numbers were provided to Orion by the manufacturer, even if some are over optimistic, as you point out.

You aren't missing anything by not having the case or strap. The case is a simple softsided affair. I found the strap to be completely useless. In fact I doubt that I would use any strap with this bino. When a strap is attached, the bino does not hang straight down. Rather, it hangs almost horizontally, with the objectives pointing towards the user. Not very comfortable or practical to me. This is not the only bino that does this. The little Nikon 7x15 has this very annoying behavior too. Both of these binos are very short front to back.

I'm disappointed with the alignment issues. As you know I have a little soft spot for the 7x32. I wonder if there's any way to adjust them?

I agree with you on the eye relief issues. Very short, even without glasses. As you found out, oils from the eyelashes get on the oculars often and requires periodic cleaning to prevent blurring of the images.

Interesting comment about sharpness in binoculars when focusing at minimal distances. Have others noted this also?

Love the picture at the end. Looks like the 7x32 is wearing a hat.

Overall a quirky bino that won't be impressing anyone with its optical quality. But I still like mine despite its flaws.

Thanks for the indepth mini-review. Well done.

Peter

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Peter

Telescopes 25 - 318 mm
Binoculars 12 - 100 mm
Microscope 50x - 1000x


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KennyJ
The British Flash


Reged: 04/27/03
Posts: 20139
Loc: Lancashire UK
Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: pcad]
      #867775 - 03/13/06 06:01 PM

< Love the picture at the end. Looks like the 7x32 is wearing a hat. >

Peter ,

I was just experimenting with what it might look like with a sunshade attached to it to try to block out the worst of those ghosts :-)

It sounds like a great pity the strap wasn't sent along with my specimen . I'm sure I could have added another 100 words at least about THAT :-)

As with the other kind comments above , yours are very much appreciated .

Regards , Kenny

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


Milton Wilcox R.I.P






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Lew Zealand
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 06/28/04
Posts: 927
Loc: Pasadena, CA
Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: KennyJ]
      #867896 - 03/13/06 06:55 PM

Thanks for the review, Kenny! I've been curious about this model for a while but with the published eye relief specs, not curious enough to try out. My 2 eyes have a preference for multicoated eyeglasses so >16mm ER is necessary for me.

--------------------
8" LX90, StarBlast 6", 100mm f/6 achro, 60mm f/5.8 achro, 60mm f/11.7 achro, 10x50s, 15x70s


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Rick
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: SaberScorpX]
      #867938 - 03/13/06 07:21 PM

Thanks for the review Kenny. FWIW, the Vixen 7x32 Panorama sold here appears to be the same binocular. However, on its spec page it says it uses some combination of prisms AND mirrors to accomplish the widefield view. Perhaps this is why the prism housing is so much larger?

cheers,
Rick


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Joe Ogiba
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: KennyJ]
      #867963 - 03/13/06 07:39 PM

Great review Kenny . I feel my 7x32 Expanse are like my Apogee RA-88-SA's since they both have issues but are the only available ones in their class and price range. My pair's collimation is right on and I removed the winged eyeguards so I could see the full FOV and they look to have about the same 84° AFOV as my 20mm Widescan III eyepieces.My Celestron 7x35 Birders and Celestron Oceana 7 x 50 IF/RC Reticle/Compass binoculars both have better contrast and sharpness but a much smaller AFOV/FOV. It seems you have to pay alot more for quality when it comes to wide angle 7x binoculars like the 7x50 Miyauchi Binon's that also have some issues looking at this review were it came in behind the 7x50 Fujinon FMT-SX's.

Joe

--------------------
Pentax PF-80ED,Meade 102ED APO,Orion EON 72,120ST
Apex 127,C6 XLT,CR150,C9.25,XT10 ,Celestron Regal 100 F-ED, CT152
Zeiss 7x42 FL,Canon 10x42L IS WP,15x50 IS
12x36 IS II , Pentax 8x32 ED
Garrett Optical 28x110 HD-WP Signature Series
Oberwerk BT-80 45, Apogee RA-88-SA
Denk II Power x Switch binoviewer w/13mm Ethos, 20mm Pentax XW's, 20mm Widescan III's.
21mm Ethos,17mm Ethos, 22mm Nagler, 40mm Pentax XW, 14mm Pentax XL, 5.2mm Pentax XL, 8-24mm Pentax XL Zoom, 31mm Axiom LX
Member #17


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brentwood
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: Joe Ogiba]
      #867986 - 03/13/06 07:50 PM

No offense Kenny, but I think I'll wait for your full review!

--------------------
Big telescope.Small telescopes.
Ridiculous binocular collection

Be sincere, even if you don't mean it.


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Swedpat
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: KennyJ]
      #868048 - 03/13/06 08:21 PM

Thank you Kenny for a careful and interesting review, actually one of the longest I have ever read, I have to read it in rounds...

Regards, Patric

--------------------
*2,3x40 Constellation View Wide-Bino
*Leupold Katmai 6x32
*Nikon Sporter I 8x36
*Swarovski SLCNew 7x42B
*Bresser (Lidl) 10x50
*Oberwerk 11x70
*Stellarvue SV50 spottingscope
*Meade 5000 26mm Plössl, Vixen LV 10/5mm

Psalm 19:2


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Joe Ogiba
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: Swedpat]
      #868091 - 03/13/06 08:56 PM

I see Miyachi has a new Binon 5x32 13.2° FOV binocular.

--------------------
Pentax PF-80ED,Meade 102ED APO,Orion EON 72,120ST
Apex 127,C6 XLT,CR150,C9.25,XT10 ,Celestron Regal 100 F-ED, CT152
Zeiss 7x42 FL,Canon 10x42L IS WP,15x50 IS
12x36 IS II , Pentax 8x32 ED
Garrett Optical 28x110 HD-WP Signature Series
Oberwerk BT-80 45, Apogee RA-88-SA
Denk II Power x Switch binoviewer w/13mm Ethos, 20mm Pentax XW's, 20mm Widescan III's.
21mm Ethos,17mm Ethos, 22mm Nagler, 40mm Pentax XW, 14mm Pentax XL, 5.2mm Pentax XL, 8-24mm Pentax XL Zoom, 31mm Axiom LX
Member #17


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DJB
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: Joe Ogiba]
      #868630 - 03/14/06 06:23 AM

Hi Kenny,

Whew, what a review. I'm beginning to forget the few points I want to make, so I'll keep it short and dry, which is my style.

I purchased one from ORION as well as your lender. I was impressed to the point that I recently purched her bigger brother--the CARSON 8.5x42 11*--same design with the mirrors and all. Fantao demonstrates a pictorial of this design on his website. Yep, makes the binocular housing rather unusual. Can you imagine all prisms? But, to me, it's a TEMPORARY delight as I know the mirror surfaces will go long before the prism surfaces go. Probably, me too!

Now, both my units are in proper collimation; sorry your sample is not--maybe too much shipping 'round the world?

Yep, the ep is quite limited (remember, I won't wear glasses at the helm). It is okay for ME. I prefer 9mm to about 19mm, or less, to 16mm

I computed the TFOV of quite a few binoculars using my FUJI 7x50 FMT-SX as a standard (7.5*). These tests were conducted at ~10 meters (~33' in our home).

From MY measurements, I calculated a TFOV of 15.85* to 16.34*, and this surprised me. I repeated the measurement two additional times. But you know, it is dam____ difficult to get a good reading from side-to-side. The more I moved my eye, the larger the field obtained. I couldn't pull off an up-to-down measurement in our home.

Anyway, as a note of some interest, apparently the Bushnell used a quite similar design; the subsequent design philosophy was "acquired" I would suspect.

I like using these guys for a thrill, but I always feel happy when I lean back toward a standard model--you know what I mean when I say that you know what to expect.

Last two points. I always change eyeguards, caps, and straps for every binocular I plan to keep. Agreed: The bit of hinge on the eyeguard is irrelevant in my opinion as well, and I've corrected for this. Also, you are quite right-on in stating that it is NOT adjustable once corrected for diopter.

Last point: I was out front last summer (2005) observing an Iridium Flare with the 7x32. If I had been using any other binocular in my inventory, I would have missed the satellite which passed just in the outer two degrees or so of the FOV. I think that is when we became friends.

Thanks again, Kenny, for your effort on this review.

Regards,
Dave.


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Swedpat
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: Joe Ogiba]
      #868673 - 03/14/06 07:53 AM

Quote:

I see Miyachi has a new Binon 5x32 13.2° FOV binocular.




Thanks for the info Joe! I guess the Miyachi 5x32 is optically superior to the Bushnell 5x25 (also about 13 deg). I just have to get it, COOL binocular! Do you know where to buy?

Regards, Patric

--------------------
*2,3x40 Constellation View Wide-Bino
*Leupold Katmai 6x32
*Nikon Sporter I 8x36
*Swarovski SLCNew 7x42B
*Bresser (Lidl) 10x50
*Oberwerk 11x70
*Stellarvue SV50 spottingscope
*Meade 5000 26mm Plössl, Vixen LV 10/5mm

Psalm 19:2


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Steve Napier
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: Swedpat]
      #868793 - 03/14/06 09:29 AM

Kenny,a truly great review with all of your customary humour.It actually took me two seperate trips to the library today {Im off work this week} to read it all.
No wonder you won the contributor award after a review like that.
Steve.

Edited by Steve Napier (03/14/06 09:39 AM)


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werewolf6977
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: Steve Napier]
      #868806 - 03/14/06 09:40 AM

Good review, Kenny! In a month or so, I'll do one of the Orion Outsider 8X40's here. Wonder if they use the same mirror/prism arrangement?

--------------------
Pete
6" Apogee/LXD55
Starhopper 6" Dob
Spaceprobe 130EQ
Black C8 OTA
WO Zenith Star 66 Patriot Edition
Sun Pak Pro 7500 Platinum Edition
8X42 Bushnell H2O Porro
7X35 Tasco
10X50 Nikon Actions (Type 7)
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dgs©
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: werewolf6977]
      #868833 - 03/14/06 10:02 AM

Hoo Boy!! That's a lot of words for a two finger typist.

No small effort went into coming up with all that. I'm sure I would have grown frustrated and given up long before you did.

I take it collimation is not user adjustable, or at least not easily user adjustable?

--------------------
- david
8"Ø Newtonian on SVP, Moonlite CR2, Telrad
PST Oberwerk Ultra 15x70 Orion Ultraview 10×50
Hand-me-down Sears Refractor (Discoverer) 60mm×900mm



"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world, remains and is immortal." --Albert Pike


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Swedpat
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Technical specifications of Miyauchi 5x32? new [Re: dgs©]
      #869067 - 03/14/06 12:22 PM

Does anyone have this information? Eye-relief, weight? Any review somewhere?

Patric

--------------------
*2,3x40 Constellation View Wide-Bino
*Leupold Katmai 6x32
*Nikon Sporter I 8x36
*Swarovski SLCNew 7x42B
*Bresser (Lidl) 10x50
*Oberwerk 11x70
*Stellarvue SV50 spottingscope
*Meade 5000 26mm Plössl, Vixen LV 10/5mm

Psalm 19:2


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Joe Ogiba
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: Swedpat]
      #869608 - 03/14/06 06:15 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I see Miyachi has a new Binon 5x32 13.2° FOV binocular.




Thanks for the info Joe! I guess the Miyachi 5x32 is optically superior to the Bushnell 5x25 (also about 13 deg). I just have to get it, COOL binocular! Do you know where to buy?

Regards, Patric



Patric, it's available in Japan and shown here on Miyachi's Japan website.

Joe

--------------------
Pentax PF-80ED,Meade 102ED APO,Orion EON 72,120ST
Apex 127,C6 XLT,CR150,C9.25,XT10 ,Celestron Regal 100 F-ED, CT152
Zeiss 7x42 FL,Canon 10x42L IS WP,15x50 IS
12x36 IS II , Pentax 8x32 ED
Garrett Optical 28x110 HD-WP Signature Series
Oberwerk BT-80 45, Apogee RA-88-SA
Denk II Power x Switch binoviewer w/13mm Ethos, 20mm Pentax XW's, 20mm Widescan III's.
21mm Ethos,17mm Ethos, 22mm Nagler, 40mm Pentax XW, 14mm Pentax XL, 5.2mm Pentax XL, 8-24mm Pentax XL Zoom, 31mm Axiom LX
Member #17


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Swedpat
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Re: Orion Expanse 7 x 32 Mini - Review new [Re: Joe Ogiba]
      #869680 - 03/14/06 06:54 PM

Joe,

I don't know how to order and the price. There is just somewhat much japanese on that site...;-)

I visited www.bigbinoculars.com and they sell Miyauchi, unfortunately not the 5x32 model. MAYBE because a 5x32 isn't including in the BIG BINOCULARS area...

Patric

--------------------
*2,3x40 Constellation View Wide-Bino
*Leupold Katmai 6x32
*Nikon Sporter I 8x36
*Swarovski SLCNew 7x42B
*Bresser (Lidl) 10x50
*Oberwerk 11x70
*Stellarvue SV50 spottingscope
*Meade 5000 26mm Plössl, Vixen LV 10/5mm

Psalm 19:2


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