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Equipment Discussions >> Binoculars

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ronharper
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 02/14/06

Docter 15x60 new
      #4607813 - 05/28/11 02:52 PM

I just got this 15x60 Docter, purchased new from Teleskop Service in Germany. I had to ask the price, and they beat everybody else badly, at 613 euros. Shipping was a pricey 39 Euro, but once it left the gate it was here in three days. It has a 30 yr warranty, but I know nothing of the details or the company's reputation for repair service. Docter, the spriritual remnant of Zeiss Jena, is a small company of about 100 people. Docter is a piece of Analytic Jena, a growing consortium of various research and industrial optics efforts. Mark9473 reviewed his 15x60 here in August 2009. My impressions are mostly similar, but I will add a couple of details.

MEASUREMENTS
I checked the aperture by using a 7x loupe to view, through the eyepiece, a mm scale placed across the objective, and could see the claimed 60mm.
Using the loupe's reticle, marked in 0.1mm increments, the exit pupil measured 4.0mm. It's really a 15x60.

The old fashioned rubber eyecups are right for my eyes, letting me see the whole field of view without blackouts. But if I put on glasses and roll them down, I can scarcely see half the field. Holding this binocular and my Zeiss 8x42 FL up to my two eyes in an act of supreme weirdness, the widths, and moderate pincushion distortion of the two binoculars appear identical. Spanning stars and using SA2000 with its measuring template shows the true field to be 4.2 degrees.

I used an accurate scale to weigh it, and also my 7x50 Fujinon FMT-SX (old style), a standard of heaviness.
7x50: 50.7 oz stripped, 54.6 oz with strap, caps, and rainguard
15x60: 55.3 oz stripped, 58.3 oz with stuff
The stripped weight of the Docter is within 10g of the advertised 1550g. The advertisements on the web say the body is aluminum. My box, however, has stickers saying this one is magnesium, so there is a little confusion there. But it's only a little heavier than well known 7x50 workhorse.

PHYSICAL IMPRESSIONS
It's not as big as a 16x70, but big for my armchair/handheld method. The barrels are so fat that it stretches my medium sized hands to hold it. The black rubber armoring covers everything, and I don't like it. It is softer than I like, and grippy to fault, to the point where the friction is so great it's like your hand is stuck to it. It is like a new tire, not like the smooth patina of high classed armor. The captive objective caps work okay, and did not fall off the couple of times I put it into and out of a daypack. The rainguard is too loose to do anything except sit there undisturbed, but that's enough to keep the dust off as the binocular rests on the table. There is no case, so Docter is either cheap or has a very high opinion of its stuff.

It is center focusing, with a knob that is buried deeply between the huge prism housings. This is bad for following warblers, but fine for set and forget astronomy. Although I end up resting most of the weight on my eye sockets as I relax my arms for the steadiest veiw near the zenith, the focus did not rock or slip, nor did the eyecups collapse. It's advertised as splash proof or rain proof, rather than fully dunk-waterproof. The eyepiece barrels make a fine fit where they slide against the body, but you have to wonder if water couldn't seep in there. Center focusing Docters are said to be popular in Europe with all kinds of outdoorsmen. I certainly don't expect any environmental problems from fair weather stargazing.

The eyepiece and objective coatings are dark purple on the outside, with some green coming from inside. The prisms are coated but less well, and show a pink reflection that is not in the class as my FL, nor the 10x50 FMT I once had, which showed a deep rosy color. The several FMTs I've owned have differed greatly in the prism coating department. That 10x50 looked the best, then my old 7x50 and 6x30, then the 8x30, and finally the new style 16x70 (now sold). The Docter is about like the 8x30, not the best, for sure. All the better, then, that the two halves of the Docter's Porro clusters are cemented together, so the whole erecting path requires only two air/glass boundaries. To my knowledge, Docter is the only company to do this.

The inside of the horse's mouth is clean and uniformly covered with the blackest paint that I have seen this side of science research gear. Ribbed surfaces abound, and there are no unblackened screws or other parts. There are no exposed prism edges or walls behind the prisms.

RUBBER MEETS ROAD
Optically, this IS a good daytime binocular if you can manage the magnification somehow. I was quite surprised by this! The view is bright, fresh, and colorful, and lateral color is virtually nonexistent in the middle third of the field, even on the harshest contrast boundaries. The color fringe correction is amazingly close to the small FL. You think I'm lying I know. I hardly believe it myself. Both my Leica Trinovid 12x50 and the new style FMT 16x70 are worse. Heck, even the FMT 7x50 is worse. The edge sharpness fall off is quite acceptable, and the resistance to scattered light is excellent especially considering the small exit pupil.

But it's the nighttime I got it for, and I was fortunate to have one of those super clear New Mexico nights at 7400 feet for the trial run. The "dim stuff test" really tells more about the sky and the size of the binocular, rather than its quality, but it was huge fun as these examples show:
I easily made out the Leo triplet.
I walked through Markarian's chain, barely resolving "the eyes".
M101 showed an uneven texture.
M51's companion showed a higher surface brightness than M51.

I adore sharp centerfield stars above all other qualities, and that is the reason that I took, gravely, the risk of abandoning the otherwise superb 16x70 for this little known Docter. This 15x60 fulfils this desire, where the 16x70 never did, even stopped down to 60mm.

I don't notice the fall off in sharpness at the edge unless I look for it, but it is there, and would be more easily noticed if the binocular were mounted and the eyes scanned the field, rather than the hands scanning the binocular, to look around and area in the sky. But it is certainly excellent out to over halfway, and bona fide double splitting over the central third. I tried a few doubles that were suitable.

Cor Caroli (2.9 and 5.5 mag, 19.4 arcsec) was split clean and stunning, the companion showing some dull coloration that I could not put my finger on.

Beta Scorpius, similar but harder (2.6 and 4.9 mag, 13.6 arcsec) also showed a clean dark space. The nice thing was, I didn't have to fight for it, tweaking eye position, position in the field of view, all that technique stuff--I just looked, and there it was.

It just shoots doubles right out the sky, I mean! Boom goes the binocular, pit, pat, go the components, falling in my neighbors yard.

I also looked at Saturn and Titan. I most certainly could not make out the rings, only an elongation. I spied Titan unawares at an elongation of 13.6 arcsec. I wonder how close I can see it.

I could not think of a good evenly matched double suitable for a test. But the remarkably sharp stars across the midfield, and the results on these unequals convinces me. A lot of it is just how a binocular happens to suit a particular observer's eyes. At my age of 60, my eyes are bound to be headed downhill, but for now, this is what I have been looking for. It may not provide the "religious experience" of the Zeiss B/GAT, but it wasn't cheap already, and is good enough for me.
Ron


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Mark9473
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/21/05

Loc: 51N 4E
Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: ronharper]
      #4607843 - 05/28/11 03:09 PM

Really nice report Ron. I almost want another one (did go and check the TS price for the 10x50).

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pedro
sage


Reged: 09/28/04

Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: Mark9473]
      #4608078 - 05/28/11 06:17 PM

Hello Ron

Congrats on getting it! I had once a Docter 15x60 and they are really very nice (I am an european optics addicted ever)!

Enjoy!! Pedro

Edited by pedro (05/28/11 06:18 PM)


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hallelujah
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 07/14/06

Loc: North Star over Colorado
Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: ronharper]
      #4608212 - 05/28/11 08:18 PM

Quote:

I just got this 15x60 Docter, purchased new from Teleskop Service in Germany. I had to ask the price, and they beat everybody else badly, at 613 euros. Shipping was a pricey 39 Euro
Ron




Is this the same one?

http://swfa.com/Docter-15x60-Nobilem-Binocular-P8927.aspx

tan


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ronharper
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 02/14/06

Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: hallelujah]
      #4608571 - 05/29/11 12:59 AM

Yes, that's it.

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Mark9473
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/21/05

Loc: 51N 4E
Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: ronharper]
      #4608787 - 05/29/11 07:11 AM

Their weight specs are just slightly off, only by about 30%!

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DaveL
member


Reged: 09/30/09

Loc: Madison, WI, USA
Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: ronharper]
      #4609046 - 05/29/11 11:30 AM

Hi Ron,

I have the Docter Nobilem 15x60 and your observations agree well with mine. The strong points of the nobilem are the on-axis resolution and the daylight performance (i.e. lack of chromatic aberration). Also it has huge prisms so it probably scores well on EdZ's off-axis illumination tests. The main weakness is the off axis sharpness. If you are looking for a Fujinon in this department, then you will be disappointed . The off axis resolution is not bad, but it's not good either. For quantitative measurements of off axis resolution see Mark's excellent review.

I would probably have a Fujinon except that the huge Fujinon eyepieces do not fit my face, so I looked into other options. For me, the Docter's are definitely very comfortable to look into although they would probably not work for a lot of people with glasses.

Personally, I find the on axis resolution of these binoculars addicting. I have a hard time using my other binoculars after using the Docter Nobilem. According to this review, the Docter is sharper than the Swarovski 15x56 (although the Zeiss 15x60 was the best binocular tested). Also, at allbinos, a reviewer finds the 10x50 Nobilem is sharper on axis than a 10x42 Zeiss FL T. (Sorry for just posting other people's comparisons, but I don't have any binoculars of comparable quality to compare my nobilems to.)

The specs here: http://swfa.com/Docter-15x60-Nobilem-Binocular-P8927.aspx are all wrong. Apparently they don't know know how to convert between metric and english. The real specs can be found here.

-Dave

Edited by DaveL (05/29/11 11:32 AM)


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Mark9473
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/21/05

Loc: 51N 4E
Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: DaveL]
      #4609302 - 05/29/11 01:33 PM

Thanks for linking to those external reviews, Dave. It's always nice to read an opinion about an optic you actually own as well.

I wouldn't mind to see more people post about the 10x50, but unlike the 15x60 they don't 'own' their niche of the market; there's just too many good alternatives for them to become very popular I'm afraid.

I once tested a Nobilem 10x50 and it was very poor at the edges. Later turned out to be a mechanical problem somewhere in the optical train - I think it was abused rather than just used - but I haven't seen another unit since.


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ronharper
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 02/14/06

Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: Mark9473]
      #4609795 - 05/29/11 06:21 PM

Dave,
I was familiar with the allbinos/optyczne review. I wonder how they measured a magnification of 13.6x, but otherwise I agree with them.

I wasn't aware of the Hardcore Outdoor review, and will read it.

Thanks for your comments on your binocular too. There are enough examples piling up now, it looks like the quality control is very good on these things.
Ron

Ron


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Keithdrengen
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 02/20/08

Loc: Nothern hemisphere
Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: ronharper]
      #4610369 - 05/30/11 02:24 AM

Quote:

Dave,
I was familiar with the allbinos/optyczne review. I wonder how they measured a magnification of 13.6x



If the mag is indeed 13.6x I wonder what the exitpupil measures. 4 or 4.4mm?


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ScumotheUniverse
sage


Reged: 12/02/08

Loc: first dark primordial pool.
Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: Keithdrengen]
      #4610466 - 05/30/11 06:06 AM

Excellent report. I have been contemplating the Docter for some time. I checked the price back on April 2nd and was quoted a price of $870.88 with shipping at $51.18 by Rudiger Maab. I wonder how often they adjust the price due to exchange rate. If they do adjust frequently making this purchase may be like playing the currencies. Current exchange rate is 1.4283.

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ronharper
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 02/14/06

Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: ScumotheUniverse]
      #4610745 - 05/30/11 10:49 AM

Thank you. Rudiger is the guy who answered my price request, too. They don't stock the binocular. It took four days for them to get it from Docter, then shipping to me, so a week altogether.

Security is high on overseas purchases, which is annoying, but for our own protection. TS required a FAX of my credit card and also another ID card. My credit card bounced on the first try. Visa called me immediately and asked what was up, but when I explained that it was really me, they approved the purchase. It was worth the trouble.

A careful web search failed to turn up a US dealer that I felt comfortable with. TS is a well known among European astro buffs
Ron


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ronharper
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 02/14/06

Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: ronharper]
      #4611483 - 05/30/11 05:01 PM

Mark, I imagine you have seen Holger's review of 10x50s, including the Docter. Here is another:

http://libertyoptics.blogspot.com/2008_09_01_archive.html

The reputation of resolution grows. How can you have a 15x60, and not want a 10x50?
Ron


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Mark9473
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/21/05

Loc: 51N 4E
Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: ronharper]
      #4611505 - 05/30/11 05:18 PM

How can I not want the Nobilem 10x50? Well, for starters I'd want it to be an 8.5x50

More seriously now, I don't know if I have enough use for a 10x50 to justify buying it. For any nighttime use even the most casual looks, the 15x60 are my first choice. The only exception is when I want to view something that requires a much larger FOV. That doesn't happen very often for me, and when it does the 7x35 or 8.5x44 I have serve me well.

I could manage quite well with just the Nobilem 15x60 for nighttime viewing and a 7x35 or 8x42 for daytime.


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Jae
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 04/13/06

Loc: New England
Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: Mark9473]
      #4611637 - 05/30/11 06:49 PM

Well for what it's worth, my Nobilem 10x50 would be the last of my Jena items that I would consider selling. It seems to have this amazing contrast, sharpness, wide fov.

I like my 15x60 Docter's as well as the 8x50 Octarem and 7x50 Navidoc, in that order.


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ronharper
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 02/14/06

Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: Jae]
      #4612203 - 05/31/11 01:17 AM

Thanks for your comments Jae. That's an enviable collection. For what it's worth, although the home company Analytic Jena is located in Jena, the current Docter plant is actually a new facility in Eisfeld.

I am more and more a birdwatcher, and want the Docter 10x50 mainly for daytime use. The edge correction sometimes gets criticized, but that is less noticeable by day, and of little concern to me anyway. The 68 degree apparent field should be impressive, and helpful for locating the target. Holger remarks on its resistance to scattered light, which I found to be a problem with the Fujinon 10x50 especially in sunset situations. The Docter is even center focusing, what needless luxury! I am "not too worried" about the optical quality either.

My 8x42 is a great birding binocular, light, compact, and quick, probably all I need especially if I am exerting or hurried. But sometimes I want more power, just for fun. I love strenuous all day birding walks where weight really is an issue, but many of my avian adventures are really small and easy, like 30 minute walks after work. On these frequent occasions, I would not mind something huge hanging around my neck, provided of course it was a great binocular, and I could enjoy a 10x50 then, I think.

Here is something stupid, but true. I have taken the 15x60 on two of these short afternoon walks, and loved it! I was seeing stuff my wife could not in her 8.5 EL, and not experiencing any difficulty locating targets, nor any particular annoyance at the "excessive shake". I was just digging the huge birds! I was even catching birds in flight. Oh man did the birds look great! (I bet you didn't know birds had eyelashes?)

This experience changed my opinion of magnification. The key to the revelation was how very good the 15x Docter is. My new point of view: If you use binoculars as much as many of us here do, and can easily locate a target in the "great beyond" with a big high powered binocular, and hold it steady enough to suit yourself, you may be underestimating your ability to benefit from a more powerful daytime binocular. High powered binoculars in the daytime are not bad things, rather, they are most effective in the hands of highly skilled users.
Ron


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Mark9473
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/21/05

Loc: 51N 4E
Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: ronharper]
      #4612282 - 05/31/11 03:45 AM

Jae, that's a nice collection of binoculars you have there. Have you considered doing a bit of a mini review of the Nobilem 10x50? (Or did I perhaps miss it? my own thread on the 15x60 never made it to the mini-reviews listing)

Ron, I've had great close-up views of birds with my telescope, but right now there's a pigeon sitting on top of a conifer about 20 meters away, and I'm far from seeing if it has eyelashes with my 15x60. Very nice detail and colour in the plumage, and when it flew off just now it was great to follow it, couldn't have done that with the scope, but eyelashes?? How close were you?

I like your philosophy on magnification, and fully agree with it, even though my own view has been quite the opposite: 7x or 8x binoculars are great during the daytime and it's a pity that in the night sky everything is so small and far away that we need more magnification.

Since you're using the 15x60 at various distances, how do you feel about the small dot on the focussing knob to bring it back to the infinity position?
I would like somebody to invent a distance scale for binoculars like we have on camera lenses. You'd have to be able to reposition it to allow for differences in vision, but then it wold be great even if just a crude scale say 10m, 50m, infinity.


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ronharper
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 02/14/06

Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: Mark9473]
      #4612799 - 05/31/11 11:38 AM

Mark,
That little spot is helpful, and just setting it gets me right on infinity. The problem is that there is only a small range in which it is visible.

You raise a very good point. Day and night observing have fundamentally different magnification requirements.

It is sometimes said that even a small binocular is enough to bring the user into a different world, whether it is used on the land or sky. I have said it myself.

But the fact is that it is harder to get a good view of deep sky objects than birds and scenery. The difference is that birds and scenery will appear at all distances, often plenty close for a good view with 6x or even naked eye. Galaxies are pretty much stuck where they are. In my experience, the 15x60/16x70 class is where such objects become more than just visible--their unique features become distinguishable. That, for me, is deep sky excitement!

So yes, a low powered daytime binocular is quite satisfying. My point is not to contest this, only to say, higher powers are not impossibly hard to use,and offer no real advantage, as some advisers would have us believe, and as I in fact have believed. If you are good with them, they can be a lot of fun. And we should face facts here. Some people are good with guns, guitars, motorcycles, paint brushes, you name it. Practice makes perfect. Some people are good with binoculars.

Now, I will agree that higher powers, hand held, offer little or no "real advantage" at certain common benchmark performance tests, like reading fine print. I know because I have tried. But look at a bird at 15x, and try telling yourself you can't see it better than at 7x.
Ron

Just kidding about the eyelashes. (I bet you didn't know birds had nose hairs)


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Jae
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 04/13/06

Loc: New England
Re: Docter 15x60 [Re: ronharper]
      #4613093 - 05/31/11 02:09 PM

Mark, Ron,

Sure. I'll see if I can get a mini review up on the 10x50 Nobilems. I'll post some pics and make some notes. Mine are the Zeiss in the leather case that I picked up from Deutsche Optik about 10 yrs ago when they stumbled on some old stock with the Zeiss name on it. Before that pair, I bought the earlier armour version of the Docter 15x60 otherwise I may have bought the one with the leather case from Deutsche. These even smell nice with the leather !

I actually have another pair of 7x50 that need repair as I messed up the diopter adjustment on them. Any recommendations for getting them fixed ?

Jae


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Jae
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 04/13/06

Loc: New England
Re: Docter 15x60 new [Re: ronharper]
      #4613100 - 05/31/11 02:13 PM

Ron, for bird watching the 10x50's will take your breath away. There's something about the view that I'll have to think about that makes it special.

It's interesting that they relocated to a new facility and continue to make the "classic" lineup.


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