- My Experience using SkyWatch for the Alphea All Sky Camera from Alcor Systems
- Astroart 7 - A Review and "How To" (Part 1)
- My experience using two 80-millimeter long-focus refractors
- GSO 8-inch TRUE CASSEGRAIN
- Celestron Regal 65ED M2
- Review: The Vixen FL55ss
- PrimaLuceLab Eagle Review
- interstellarum Deep Sky Guide Desk Edition
- Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy: A History of Visual Observing from...
- Omegon Mini Track LX2 Review
- Review of the APM 152 ED serial number 245
- THE BURGESS 24MM MODIFIED ERFLE & 10MM ULTRAMONO
- APM 140mm DOUBLET APO REFRACTOR
- Comparison of the Boltwood II and Sky Alert Cloud Sensors
- Chile Dilly!
CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.
FUJINON 25X150 MT BINOCULARS
Having had the opportunity to use these binoculars one evening, Dave asked that I include my comments in the article also. First, these are the best corrected binoculars I have ever used. Flat field (I could detect no field curveture) with stars crisp points of light almost to the edge of the field. Secondary color was only apparent on mag 2 and brighter stars which manifested itself as very slight spikes of red color. This level of color correction in a non ED glass lens is incredible. I really see no reason to purchase the ED glass version for twice the price. It's truly a shame that more amateurs aren't exposed to these binoculars as they exemplify what a large pair of binoculars should be.
When not so young Dave last addressed all of you on the subject of LARGE binoculars, he had fallen in love with a pair of Miyauchi 20X100 Fluorite binoculars. After a promising and exciting honeymoon, we got a divorce. The whole, sad story is on this site as an update to my earlier review of the Miyauchi 100s, see the update at the end. Basically, the first real workout of the Miyauchis under completely dark skies showed a focus/collimation problem. My dealer, Astronomics, took them back. A second set snapped into focus perfectly under dark skies and were as wonderful as my first night with my new bride, er; I mean my new binos. Then I tried looking at the Moon, and saw a yellow/green ring with blue highlights around it. Either poor fluorite or poor lens alignment or who the hell knows. No color in the first set under the same circumstances, so second pair back as well.
Like most divorced men, I was not ready to give up on the concept, and talked to Mike at Astronomics about alternatives. The 141 Miyauchis were a thought (you always go for a better body on wife number 2) but the bigger aperature would not mean that I would not have the same problem again with the same basic design. What then? I had heard good things about the 20X120 Nikons, but they were a special order item. While thinking about those, I had an e-mail talk withe several of you hear on the group and whom I had run into elsewhere including Siegfried Salat, who had a pair of the older 25X150 Fujinons. Surfing and running through Dejanews, I decided that the giant Fujinons were a 'safe' bet, with none of the collimation or other problems noted with the Miyauchis. And, the thought of a pair of side-by-side 6" tubes to look through was also a consderation, they simply don't make them any bigger and the boys in Japan sure found a hell of a lot of comets with these puppies.
Next question was price and model. The 40X150 were out of the box even without price being an issue. The idea of getting these binos in the first place was to obtain the best possible FOV and the most light into both eyes. The 25X had a 2.7 FOV and a 6mm-exit pupil. The 40X picked up magnification at the expense of FOV and relative brightness. No go, and the price was about twice that of the lowest priced 25X model. The 'cheapest' 150mm Fujinon is the 25X150 MT. All of the giant Fujinons use state-of-the art multicoating and are said to be designed to be flat and crisp to the edge of the field. The 25X150 MT is a 'straight through' eyepiece model, no ED glass and lists for $6600. ("Street" price is about $1000 less than list.) The next step up (25X150 EDMT-SX) is the same, but with ED glass (not Fluorite) and a list price of $10,620. The top of the line is the 25X150 EM-SX, with ED glass, and the eypieces at a 45deg angle, for a whooping $16,500!!!!!
Time to talk to Mike again, and then consult with Tom Back, Siegfried, and others. The concencus was that these binos are intended for deep sky where the flat field and light grasp of all of the three available models should be the same. Tom noted that the ED glass models offer some additional color correction, but were not Fluorite and not Super ED. Kind of like a pair of side by side Meade 'APOs'. So, since the color on really bright stars in the 'plebian' version was said to be really not all that bad, and as even the planetary or lunar views were said to be okay (and the one set of Miyauchis were not real good here to start with) and all had the same flat field optics and light gathering ability, I decided that $4,000 for the ED model was a non-starter.
The 45-degree eyepieces were real tempting. However, they were $10,000 more than the base model, or a factor of nearly 2.5 to 1! Could I live with the bother of the straight through eyepieces at that price? Since I normally sit when I observe, the answer was yes.
So, Mike at Astronomics ordered a set of the 25X150 MTs for me at a very reaonable price savings, after learing they were in stock for immeadiate delivery from Fujinon in the US. Now what to mount them on?
Larry at Universal said no way these 40 pound, 36" long monsters would fit on even his top of the line mount. He offered to look into building an upgraded version, but that was some months away. Fujinon offers a pedastal mount that is designed for these binos, for a list price of 'only' $2200. Then, to add insult to injury, that price is for the mount only, the tripod costing another $2200. ("Yep, we'll get even with you Yankees for Hiroshima if it is the last thing we do!")
Talked to friends again. Read the review of the system in the Monk Optics site, and read a report from a very
happy user of the pedastal mount. Then, a ray of hope! The tripod in the report looked exactly like the Meade Field
Tripod. Checked an article in an old S&T on Japanese astronomy, which had several pictures of this setup and
**** if it wasn't a Meade. Mike had a like new Field Tripod in stock, and got the dimensions of the base of the
tripod mount. 200mm with a 148 bolt circle. The top of the Meade is flat, with six smaller holes. The tripod head
is slightly smaller than the Fujinon pedestal base. A good machine shop needs only a few hours to turn out an adapter
by taking a 200mm /8" piece of 2" aluminum plate, punch
A center hole for the center screw and several holes to mate to the top of the Meade tripod, and then drill 3 12mm coarse holes in the plate for the mounting bolts in the pedestal, and you are in business. The whole thing looks just like the factory mounting and tripod in the various web sites that show a picture of the factory mounting and tripod. Works great for about $1800 or 1900 less.
Now, a short statement of how these binos perform in what passes as a clear night here in light-polluted Chicagoland.
Okay, now that I got that off my chest, the skies here are clear, but hazy and as dark as it ever gets (dark gray, and enough light to walk around safely without a flashlight at midnight.) I went out as soon as I got home, set the big Fujis out on their pedestal mount, took off the integral and tethered lens caps (a large figure 8 the size of a Pronto) and went in to eat dinner. Came out and decided that the haze was worse than I thought. I couldn't see anything but the brightest stars in the grayish sky (Moon not up at 8:30- 9 pm.) Well, let's try anyhow.
Point the binos up at about 50 degrees and look towards the brightest star in the Eastern sky and --- whoaaaaa-there are all kinds of stars out there I couldn't see bare eye! Individual focus each ep (which I need as I am near sighted in one eye and far sighted in the other) and the stars snap into focus like a charm. And there are lots of them out there, more than I have ever seen at one time.
At this point, there isn't enough room to discuss the basic philosophy behind binocular astronomy. Suffice it to say that through these side-by-side 6" refractors, the 2.7 degree FOV and great light throughput shows you not just one star clearly against its background, or even a small, tight group of stars. All of a sudden, you have vast fields of stars, all picked out in the legendary 3-D view and you get whole groupings, constellations, stars EVERYWHERE you look, filling both eyes and showing you patterns and whole clusters that just won't show in a telescope even with the view available in a big Dob with a Nagler in the focuser.
I spent two hours just roaming the skies. Now I know why the Japanese love these Fujinons for comet hunting. They show you a clear, wide view of large chunks of sky in each bite. You see the patterns of the sky, not just one or two stars or small groupings of stars. The 25X magnification and the pair of 150mm objectives would let you see the first glimmering of a comet easily, and you find yourself moving from one horizon to the other, and then up and down towards the zenith. There is no such thing as 'empty' sky, even with all this pollution. I can't say I saw as 'deep' into the sky as I have through my Dobs. I can say I saw more of the overall sky tonight than ever before. These Fujis see much deeper into the sky than the 100mm Miyauchis, and the light grasp and FOV shows the sky, to quote Peter O'Toole in BECKETT, "pocked with stars."
Of course, the size of these objectives and the magnification still lets you split some of the easier doubles, as I found out tonight. The 'reach' of these big objectives is impressive, even in light polluted conditions. I can't wait to get them out under REAL dark skies.
As I said before, these are the non-ED model, but the stars showed true rather than false color, and they were flat and crisp viewing to the extreme edge of the field, just as they were billed as. I didn't have any Moon or planetary to check for color problems, but even the brightest stars showed only the barest hint, or that could be my astigmatism peeking through. (Will have to let my 20-year-old son put them to the test later. He has uncanny vision, and lets me hear about it whenever we observe together. Time does indeed wound all heels!)
Some quick mechanical notes to end this commentary: The fit and finish is excellent.
The pedestal mount works great in handling 40 pounds and 36" of binoculars. The AltAz movement is smooth, and the locking levers let you keep enough tension on the binos that you can move them up and down and they stay where you want them to be when you stop.
You can lock them in position (if you insist on doing so, but it isn't really necessary) without having them move off the desired position and then unlock them to move on again. The weight of the binos is nicely concentrated and they are perfectly balanced on the mount. The whole thing is designed to and does move easily and smoothly, and this contributed to my viewing. The balance of the binos and their mount gives you the classic "it gets out of the way and just lets you lose yourself in the view" result we all want, but rarely get.
The mount goes up to about 82 degrees, but this is more a perceived problem than a real impediment. You need only wait a few minutes for whatever you are looking for to pass the zenith, and they work fine, and the binos move smoothly on the mount all the way up to their limit of elevation. Thus, there is very little drawback to this mount at all, and it is a lot more stable and "stay where you put it without much effort" than any parallelogram mount I have ever used.
Mounting is relatively quick and easy. Set up the tripod, attach the pedestal (or leave it attached to begin with) and just swing the nicely balanced binos up and hook them onto the base of the pedestal on the 'hooks' provided. If you follow the directions in the manual and set the mount at 50 degrees first, the binos are steady enough on the hooks to allow you to tighten the restraining knobs towards the eyepiece end. A one man job, although you must take care as with any assembly of this size. More familiarity should make it faster for me, but I managed to do it in about 2 minutes this evening, and that was the first time I took it out to observe!
Fuji offers a set of nebula filters. They snap into the eyepiece cups, which are themselves large, 'bat wing' style, and quite effective. I haven't had a chance to use these yet, but will update later.
All in all, these binos and their mount live up to their reputation as the finest two-eyed observing tool you can buy. They will never replace a telescope, and were not intended to. However, if you have the chance, you should take a look through a pair. Under dark skies, they should provide a unique experience.
Thanks for the chance to share my thoughts with all of you.
Review copyright © 2000 Dave Novoselsky, used with permission, all rights reserved.
(UPDATE AND OBSERVING REPORT:) 01/20/01
Allister St. Claire, my friend and the owner/editor/webmaster/chief cook and bottle washer of CloudyNights came over last night to try out the big Fujinon 25X150 MT binoculars that I have had since the middle of last year and reviewed above. Allister was particularly interested in the big Fujis, as he is a big bino fan and has had several inquires as to what had happened since my initial review. ("Never hear anything about them. Is Dave having a problem. How come no update, Allister.") I realize now that since I have had several e-mails of late asking 'How they doing', and as I got a whole lot of calls before AstroFest this year asking if I was bringing these big binos, I realized two things: There are not a great number of these 6" binos out there, and also that my silence since the first review has been misinterpreted.
Nope, no problem, I just love them and spend a lot of time using and enjoying them. I haven't posted any updates
simply because I was too busy having a good time with them, and using them alongside my other equipment in most
Last night (1/20/01) was no exception. Allister and I have been discussing just how well the new Sky 90s perform. He had seen the scope at breakfast last week, so I invited him over to try them out in comparison with the Tak FSQ-106. His first response was, 'will the big Fujis be up too?' So what follows is a report of a typical observing session with these binoculars.
Location: Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin (Extreme S.E. Wisconsin, approx 2 miles N. of Illinois border. Actual observing site on a second floor deck facing out over the edge of the Western Shore of Lake Michigan, offering an unobstructed view to the Eastern horizon over 100 miles of (this evening) calm lake water, with an equally unobstructed view to the NE and SE horizon. Remaining sight lines good, albeit with the sky glow from Chicago to the South.
Time: Beginning at 6:00 pm CST and calling it quits (frozen stiff) at about 8:45-50pm.
Temperature: 9 F. with a wind chill of -20 F. Dropping during session.
Seeing: Good to very good early, haze to the North developing about half way through the session, but not obstructing the primary observing targets during the session. Stars steady to naked eye, no shimmering or 'twinkling' evident at beginning of session. Seeing begins to deteriorate on Jupiter and Saturn towards end.
Equipment used: Fujinon 25X150MT binoculars on Fujinon pedestal mount and Meade Field tripod. Takahashi FSQ-106 and Takahashi Sky 90 refractors mounted on opposite arms of a Tele Optik Giro-2 Deluxe, Bogen 3036 tripod. Nexstar 4, Maksutov GOTO on Nexstar tripod. Eyepieces used on telescopes -- Takahashi LEs (5mm, 12.5 and 18mm) and Vixen Zoom in Nexstar. Takahashi/Lumicon diagonal in 106, AP Maxbright in Sky 90. Starbound observing chair. (Plus lots of warm weather clothing, gloves, etc. ) [The photos below show the Fujinons and the other equipment up on the deck. I usually observe from the observing circles down at the lake level as there is no obstruction to view to the North, South and East at all, and the view to the West is much easier over the house. Too much residual snow and the fact that we could go in to warm up faster off the deck made the choice of observing last night a snap.]
Narrative: We started with the Fujinons. I go first. Four stars clearly and distinctly showing in the Trapezium.
M42 looking like I am used to seeing it in this pair of side by side 6" refractors -- large, bright, what
my wife calls "powdered sugar and tiny diamonds." Stars are resolved to points, not smears. . The binos
(which have individual ep focusing -- which is fortunate since I am near sighted in one eye and far sighted in
the other, a gift from my Army days) snap nicely into focus.
Allister has to refocus, and bring the eyepieces closer together (proving what many of you have long suspected, that I am a fat head) and lets out a 'wow' when he gets his first glimpse. He has the same number of stars in M42 I see, and remarks on the breadth and the contrast shown by the binos.
Allister takes the lead at that point, and locates the smug that is M-78 at this relatively low power. The central
star/stars are faintly seen, with the background setting it off well. We trade views briefly, and he then embarks
on a tour of M-36, M-37 and M-38 and the other clusters around and in the general area of Orion and near Castor.
He discovers the same joy in using this giant binoculars as I have noted from the first day I got them.
The unique ability of these giant binos lie in the power to give large, comfortable views of the deep sky, and do so in large chunks of it at a time rather than the 'bites' delivered through an equivalent single tube of a telescope, even with a binoviewer. I am not eloquent enough to describe it properly. Allister (who is a big bino buff and owned a pair of nearly-as large Vixens) shares my appreciation of this unique opportunity, but it is almost something that must be experienced, and cannot be described.
At this point Allister notices what I have always experienced with these binos, and which I described in my initial review. While stars are resolved to crisp points, and this model delivers crisp, beautifully contrasted deep sky images, they were quite expensive to start with, but only about half the price of the ED model and the ED/45 degree viewing models. Allister notes that on brighter stars (but only the very brightest) there is just a touch of false color and some 'spiking' of color can be seen. Entirely consistent with well coated, but non-ED optics and not intrusive at all. Field is nice an flat including the edge, with no light scatter. (More on the viewing angle issue and the mounting issues below.)
Allister then shifts over to Sigma Orionis, and it splits clean and wide into its components at 25X. The same target shows its components better in the refractors at the higher power available, but the performance of this bino, a dedicated deep sky instrument, on this binary is nonetheless impressive.
I point up at M45 nearly at the zenith and say, "Allister, you should try that target." He doesn't think that I can get the Pleiades in as he has heard that the limits of the pedestal mount preclude observing objects near the zenith and he wonders if the straight through eyepieces will make viewing at that angle impossible.
I take over at this point and show him that you can get up near 90 deg (close to 85-88 at least) with ease from this mount and that the straight through viewing is not the handicap it is thought to be by some.
I then get M-45 (my favorite bino target) in focus and turn it over to Allister. "Sweet," he says. (Allister isn't the old fart of the operation, I am! And I have some different things I say when I am excited.) This cluster is something all of you should take the opportunity to observe through a large pair of binoculars if the chance ever presents itself. Truly spectacular, with the big Fujis picking out the stars of the Pleiades as distinct points in a marvelously contrasted background.
Colder and colder, and Allister and I reluctantly tear ourselves away from the big binos. Since I normally observe of a pair of large, brick observing circles down by the water, giving a less restricted view and being much larger, we decide that if we want to compare the 106 to the 90 mm Tak, we need to take the binos and tripod down to give us more room to get at Jupiter and Saturn which are now nearly overhead.
The pedestal mount itself, as Allister noted, is very smooth and easy to use, whether at the horizon or near the zenith. The friction locks and nearly perfect balance of the pedestal mount and scope allow you to control the movements with precision and with very little effort. Taking down the big Fujis -- and putting them up -- is something that is very simple and not nearly the problem one would expect.
(I was set it up late in the afternoon, and set it so the eyepieces were at my eye level when they were horizontal -- and I was rewarded by a view of several tall buildings in downtown Chicago, thirty or forty miles to the South and heretofore invisible to the naked eye in the haze. I then watched an Air Force or Air National Guard tanker refueling a pair of F-16s about ten miles or so off the Chicago shoreline, at about 8 to 10 thousand feet. The Boeing 'shape', the boom of the tanker and the accompanying fighters was very distinct. Sorry for the digression, but the sight was fascinating.)
At this point, Allister and I are now (in yet another one of his eloquent phrases,) "turning into popsicles." So we goof around with the Nexstar 4 for a bit (and since this one was going back because of what may have been problems in shipping, we really didn't test it at all, rather than just played around a bit) it is time to call it a night.
Concluding thoughts: I haven't had much to say about the big Fujinons since I got them. Until Allister mentioned it last night, I just didn't see the point of posting an update since these binos have been chugging along without a problem and making me very happy since I got them. They have gotten a lot of use since I got them last year without much mention as they are easy to use, do a great job, and (yes despite their size) are a relatively fast set up that requires little preparation and little fuss.
In a like fashion, I am having a lot of fun and have gotten a reasonable amount of very, very -- VERY- good views with my TMB 203 f/9. Same answer on that, no need to update or post, as I am having no problems and having a blast whenever the weather cooperates and I can get an entirely clear evening so I can take the time to get the mount out, set it up, put the big refractor up, and then spend more time than I did tonight observing with the TMB.
Do I want to do it on a night like last night when Allister's tea froze in
his cup!!!!!!! Well perhaps thee, but not me :-) No, things in the big TMB
department are great, and I will get a report and update out as the
weather -- hopefully -- continues to be clear and -- again hopefully -- warmer.
Thank you and clear skies to all of you.