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Pro-Optic 11x70 Binoculars
My wonderful wife gave me a pair of Pro-Optic 11X70s last night as an "appreciation gift" (I've been kinda nice lately). These are the binoculars I wanted, at least given the price. They were $159.95 from Adorama Camera.
In short they are worth twice the cost. I feel like buying the 11X16s just so I have two pair!
They came in a plastic bag, in their hard case, in another plastic bag, in a Pro-Optic box, in popcorn, in a shipping box. I don't think they were adequately protected (popcorn moves around too much). My wife unpacked them, so I couldn't tell how much shifting had occured.
When I pulled them from their case, I heard a rattle. It was coming from the left optical tube. There was a loose screw rattling around in there! I just knew that the left objective would be scratched on the inside. That was confirmed, with about 15 nicks and scratches. Poop. I'm not sure that the screw came from the binoculars. It's a small black screw with a spring fixed to it. The bottom threads are silver, as evidence that the screw was installed in something sometime. Mechanically, the binoculars seem perfect, so I think that maybe the screw got in there during assembly.
Well, I unscrewed the left objective to plop the screw out, and was unable to detect any scratches on the left prism's first surface. This seems possible since the prism doesn't rest against the tube at that point, so the screw would go beside the prism rather than on it unless it bounced.
Looking in the tube, everything is flat black, and their are grooves going down the tube presumably as baffles. Even the normally frosty edges of the prism (in cheap binoculars) were blackened.
The objectives have a plush rubber armored cell. The eyecups (which also fully armor the eyepieces) extend about 3/8" of an inch, as evidence of the exceptional eye relief. I can see the entire field edges with my eyes 1/8" off of the eyecups. The focuser and the right diopter adjustment are both firm and smooth. Focus travel is comfortably slow.
I reinstalled the objective and went outside to look through them. In Salt Lake City last night, it was mostly cloudy, but Jupiter was available. There was a touch of flare off the planet, but no ghosting. The four large moons of Jupiter were easy to see. I did notice that when I was searching for Jupiter (that first couple of seconds before you acquire it) there was a reflection of it moving in the opposite direction. There's someting shiny in there, but the reflection was probably 1/10 as bright as the planet, so it will be insignificant on deep space objects. It could be one of the nicks in the left objective, but I didn't realize that possibility until I came in for the night.
For a few moments, M31 was available. It was probably the best view I've had of the galaxy. I have an 8" Star Hopper, but don't have any EPs to get me below 49X, so I have a narrow field, even if the image is bright. The image in the Pro-Optics seemed as bright as in my telescope, but because I had the entire galaxy in my FOV (4 degrees) and two 70mm objectives pummeling my retinas.
These are great deep space binoculars. Hand holding is possible and not uncomfortable, but I find it impossible to hold even small binoculars steady enough to enjoy long views. The Pro-Optics are light for their size (I think they are 2.5 lbs., but they just don't feel very "weighty"). I didn't take the time to pull out my parallelogram mount because of the clouds and the scratched objective, but I'm certain that the view will have me grinning.
THE SAGA BEGINS:
This morning I called Adorama to exchange them. The salesman was very polite (in his fast talking New York accent) and helpful. They'll cover shipping for the exchange, and have already updated my "file" with the damage I described over the phone. I anticipate only 1.5 weeks of downtime and a pleasant experience (given the fact that I have to send my new binoculars away!).
I'll post again when I get a good pair out to dark skies. If you're debating
buying the Pro-Optics because "you
get what you pay for," buy these binoculars. This is one of those rare deals.