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Performance of 8.5x44 vs 9x63 vs 10x50?

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#1 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 12:43 AM

:question: For strictly astronomical use, how would the following compare with regard to the brightness of the view, number of stars seen, etc (ignoring the debate over hand holdability):

8.5x44 vs 9x63 vs 10x50

Does magnification provide more benefits over aperture?

Does exit pupil really play a significant role in a light polluted sky (5mm on the 8.5x44 and 10x50 vs 7mm on the 9x63)?

In direct comparison on say the Orion Nebula (or star clusters, etc), what would be the visual differences in the view?

The can of worms is now officially opened (I hope)

#2 KennyJ

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 05:43 PM

Frilby,

I cannot attempt to answer your question accurately as I've never used 9 x 63s and have only the used the other two specification pairs years apart from each other , in different locations , different conditions and before and after my eyes became troublesome.

I'm sure Ed could provide an incredibly accurate answer if he happens to read your post.

BUT -- you know what I'm thinking though don't you ?

IF you are going to IGNORE "hand-holdability " , then WHY restrict yourself to these specifications ?

Why not go for 20 x 80s ?

--- as another can is cracked open !

P.S if you can hold on just a few years longer(trust me they soon pass) before actually buying a pair -- I'll leave you my 10 x 50s in my WILL -- but you'll have to pay the postage and packing charges !

clear skies -- Kenny :-)

#3 brocknroller

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 07:27 PM

Frilby,

Yes, exit pupil makes a big difference in brightness/contrast when viewing from light polluted skies. I have an 8X42 Ultralite (had the 8.5X44 Audubon but sold it), a 9X63, and several 10X50s.

The skies are terribly washed out with the 9X63 (and I'm sure my own exit pupil is less than 7mm so I'm not seeing the entire aperture). The 10X50s give pretty good contrast, at least when there's no moon or when the moisture is low. When there's a lot of moisture, the local light dome grows and contrast goes down sharply.

I like 10X50 for the light gathering power, but the 10X35s do give better contrast. So there's a trade off, but I don't find star counts to be that important for low to medium power binocular observation. I'd rather see less stars against a darker background. And when light pollution is really a problem (bright moon and high moisture), I can actually see MORE stars with the small binocular.

In fact, the smallest aperture binocular I own -- the 8X32 Superior E -- provides the best contrast for stargazing. The best medium power binocular I've had that both increased contrast and star counts was the 12X50 Superior E. If you can afford it, the 12X50 SE is one of the best astronomy binoculars made, and it's light enough and ergonomic for handheld use during the day.

While smaller exit pupils will certainly increase contrast, and as an added bonus compensate for eye aberrations, coatings are very important too. Although the 8X32 SE has a larger exit pupil than the 10X35 E2 (4mm vs. 3.5mm), the "superior" coatings provide better contrast. Similarly, the contrast in my 15X70 '03 Oberwerk is better than my 20X80 Burgess though the exit pupil is larger (4.6mm vs. 4mm), because the Obies have better coatings.

Another way to increase contrast is to use skyglow filters. I have a 1.25" Baader skyglow filter that fits the EPs of some of my binoculars (you'll need two, of course, and you may have to add a "collar" to make them fit).

As far as what's more important magnification vs. aperture, I will refer you to Alan Adler's Astro Index for that answer:
http://www.weatherman.com/binadler.htm

Brock

#4 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 08:09 PM

Fantastic post Brock... Many thanks!
What was your reason behind selling your 8.5x44 Swift binos?

P.S. Kenny, I might just take you up on that offer... :lol:

#5 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 11:03 PM

Frilby, are you in analysis paralysis? Go to the local sporting goods store, get a cheap pair of glasses and enjoy them while you pull your hair out trying to figure out what to get. Which Bushnell binocs was Kenny excited about???

#6 brocknroller

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 11:49 PM

Frilby,

Check post # 26159 in the Eye Relief thread for a detailed explanation about Audubons (and other Asian-made bins) and European faces.

Brock

#7 KennyJ

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Posted 11 December 2003 - 06:04 PM

When it comes to Astro applications our friend Brock is an invaluable source of very useful information.

So too is Ed .

Although I've not used binos for celestial purposes anything like as often as these two have I have done so enough to KNOW without a shadow of a doubt exactly what they trying to say in every message they post.

I tend to agree almost entirely with whatever these guys say, not out of blind faith , but out of respect and a special confidence factor that can only be enjoyed after many years of using and researching binoculars.

My personal comments of enthusiasm for any given glass MUST be tempered on THIS forum by the fact that probably around 95% of my 40 years of useage has been TERRESTRIAL.

I will repeat something I said what seems like weeks ago now but may not have been THAT long ago.

Why not beg , borrow , busk , scrimp or save --do whatever it takes -- go get yourself a Nikon Superior E .

The choice is 8 x 32 , 10 x 42 or 12 x 50

I happen to think that if there was such a thing as a Nikon 15 x 60 it would probably be as good as the Zeiss 15 x 60 --if not better -- but for around half the price.

EVEN in the highly unlikely event of you not liking them for any reason -- you could always send them back --or sell them for minimal loss.

But if you don't like Nikon SEs --you probably won't like ANY binoculars.

These binos deserve truly legendary status IMHO.

All the best -- Kenny







#8 EdZ

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Posted 12 December 2003 - 08:54 AM

Hi Kenny,

Your repeated reference to the SE has got me looking at a used pair up for sale. But I hesitate.

By the way I answered Frilby in another forum.

edz

#9 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 12 December 2003 - 11:14 PM

Well Fril....by this time thought u'd hv taken the plunge and at least gotten something to get out in the yard with and started yr cosmological tour...but anyway, I think you're going about making the big decision from the wrong perspective. Instead of looking at the numbers (mag/aper) you maybe should decide the price point, as that will dictate more on yr choice than anything. To go over the models u'v mentioned, this wd be the Swift Audobon, a few clones of the Celestron Ultima (none of which are anything to get real excited about, from a quality of view standard) and then a fair selection of 10x covering a huge price range. I can tell you this from long experience....you will see just as much, if not more, with the Swift 8.5x than with many of the current crop of 10x50's, and you will see it better....there is no substitute for sound optical design, engineering and assembly. Certainly, if you get up in the price stratosphere of the 10x (Leica, Swarovski, et al) you will get sterling performance, but that's why I mentioned the price point. If u want to get hung up on specs, numbers, this vs that, ad infinitum, you will into a common rut that many folks step into when they first get really interested in something. I know 'cause I've been there...with optics, guns, motorcycles, audio, cameras, cars, you name it. To illustrate, about 30 yrs ago, I was first in sales, then sales mgr of a small chain of stereo stores. We had the full range of stuff, from Sylvania (some of which really wasn't that bad) and other low-end brands, thru the mid-priced stuff (Sansui, Marantz, Pioneer, etc), on to the hi end merch (Crown, McIntosh, Bose)...also all the name brand speakers, decks, headphones, turntables....there were a lot of guys who really became regulars and bought a lot of fine equpt, but they wd get hung up on the stuff itself rather than the use for which it was made, that is, listening to tunes, whether it be Bach, Bacharach or Black Sabbath. They would get a really fine setup and take it home, listened to a little of this, a little of that...then maybe drop back in a few weeks (or days) later to chit-chat, pick up new tapes or records, get more spkr wire, etc. If I had a particular system on, they wd listen then start wondering if their speakers were quite as good as what was playing, or if their turntable had more wow and flutter....whatever. Then they'd come back with a particular lp, tape, etc, want to play it on a system with this amp or deck hooked up...or bring in the latest audiophile magazine and ask what we thought about the review of receiver A vs receiver B...yadayada. They sometimes wd sell a particular piece of their system to a friend and come down to get this cassette deck or that equalizer, cause they thought it was just a little better...or neater, whatever. Some of them wd spend a few thousand in the span of a yr of two trying to get the system "really fine tuned...so I can hear everything!". They spent so much time fartin' around with the volume, balance, bass, treble, equalization, tape bias controls, etc, I don't think they ever really heard the music. I made serious commissions off these folks, many of whom became friends, but I'd try to get them to realize that if ya just get the best system u can afford, take it home, set it up and listen to the music, you will then get the enjoyment and full use out of yr investment, whether you spent $400 or $1400. Getting consumed with watts, specs, signal-to-noise ratio can drive u nuts...if u have reasonably good stuff and play it at liveable volume, the differences are not that great. Listen to the music, not the stereo. So it is with optics....you can get immersed in whether this glass will show me more than that one, this power vs that aperture...on and on. You'll drive yrself nuts...you won't see anything until you just get a decent bino and get outside and start using it. I can tell you from long experience and having tried nearly every make and model of them currently made (either owning or dropping by Astronomics or Outdoor America and trying them out enough to make a reasonable judgement of each)....you simply can't go wrong with either of the Audobons (8.5 or 10x)...you can get either for well under $300...also the new B&L Porro Discoverers (8x42 & 10x42) are fine for about the same $. If u can part with upwards of $600-800, the Nikon SE's are almost unbeatable...or for something in that range you probably didn't consider, the Canon 15x50 IS. I forced myself to pare down my inventory to 4 binos (wasn't easy, as I had a lot of faves)....those which I really needed for various uses. All are used regularly and enjoyed and I don't miss anything that I'd see if I had something else. Tell ya what....if you can spend $300, go to Astronomics website, click on binoculars/spotting scopes tab, click on Celestron, order an 8x40 Ultima (the one really good, versatile unit left in that line) and a 15x70 Skymaster and you'll have it covered...for a very reasonable investment, and you can enjoy the night sky. Oh, and you really can't separate things like magnification and ability to hold steady, cause they're inseparable...one is dependent on the other...unless you just want to talk hypothesis or theory and not really have it go anywhere toward getting some glass and observing. We could then discuss how many spirits could dance on the head of a pin...n 'cest pas? Hope this will help you get off dead center, get you a spyglass or two and start in...that's the main thing....

#10 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 08:38 PM

Spyglass (Doug),

Thanks for the great feedback... and you're right! Everyone is right! - It's about time I actually bought something to look through...:bigshock:

I've been stuck in the "should I or shouldn't I" spiral that never seems to go anywhere and just gets more and more complicated :shrug:

Having said all that, I am 90% sold on the Swift :waytogo: but have one small (or big depending on your perspective) issue of concern... Warranty!

As I would need to order these internationally from the US, the warranty will only be valid in the US. Any problems (not that I am expecting any?) and I'm either stuck or I need to ship the binoculars back to the US at a cost of around $60US (nearly $100 here). They can be ordered in Australia, but the Aussie price is nearly $200US more than I can buy over the internet from the US (even after exchange rate conversions, etc) - Work that one out!

I think I just need to bite the bullet and hope for the best! :praying:

I've sent a couple of emails to B&H and Adorama (they have a pretty good price at around $240) but neither will "pre-check" the binos before shipping (just too busy). I would prefer it if someone could do this to ensure that when it finally gets here it is actually all OK (shipping damage aside). The problem here is that the price jumps significantly $300+ at other sites I have found that may offer such a service.

Well... back to the "bite the bullet" decision point :shrug:

I think it will need to be the cheaper "hope for the best" international order option... maybe? :thinking:

Frilby :winky:

#11 brocknroller

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 11:27 AM

Frilby,

As Doug mentioned, your ability to hold a bin steady is important. It's rare, but some people shake so much they need a mount for a 8X bin. Equally important are hand fit and ergonomics of the binocular. My Nikon 10X35 E2 was easier to hold steady than my Nikon 8X36 Sporter 1 because the E2 was lighter and had better ergonomics (roof-like camfering). The Sporters were roofs, but the barrels were so narrow that I could wrap one of my XL-sized hands around both barrels and couldn't get a comfortable grip with both hands.

Regarding the ability to handhold bins, the 8.5X of the Audubons seems to be my limit, though I can steady the 10X35 E2 for reasons already mentioned (not so with most 10X50s, particularly for astronomy). Unless you have small hands, I think you'll find that the Audubons are very nicely balanced and the round prism housings will allow you to hold the binocular with the "elbows in" characteristic of roof prisms so that you can rest your elbows against your ribs for better control and less fatigue. The factor that didn't fit for me were the hard, oversized eyecups. Couldn't get them into my eye sockets. Accordingly, if you have a high-bridged nose and/or deep set eyes, you'd better find someone who has a pair to try out before ordering. I'm sure there are birding clubs in the UK, someone is bound to own an Audubon, given their popularity.

You might also consider buying a used Audubon from a UK seller on eBay. I've seen several of the old style (804) Audubons for sale by UK sellers. This way, if for some reason you are not happy, you can return them without incurring the transatlantic shipping costs. If they need repairs in the future, you may be able to get them repaired in the UK for about the same cost as a US warranty with transatlantic shipping.

Doug's comments on how any hobby can turn into an expensive obsession is well taken. I intend to pare down my own collection to four bins (I have twice that now). However, it took a lot of research and trying a lot of binoculars to get to the point of finding out which ones best fit my face, hands, eyes, and observing needs. For example, I didn't realize how much more practical wide field binoculars were for birding. Starting out in astronomy, I was more interested in sharp edges (another factor afficiados can get hung up on). A bin with fuzzy edges seemed "inferior" to me. But as I tried wide field bins, I found that I could live with about 20-25% fuzzy edges as a trade-off for the wider FOV to locate birds in trees and follow them in flight. The Audubon is not sharp to the edge, but the "soft" edges are not that bad and well worth the trade off for the wide 8.2* FOV and exceptional centerfield resolution.

Most of my binoculars were bought at low cost on eBay or Astromart (and more than half of those were out of collimation and cost me between $32 and $70 to repair). Still, most were bargains compared to how much they cost new. And I was also able to trade up through trade plus cash deals to buy my Nikon SEs and XL Zooms, which I could never afford to buy new. So there are ways to buy good quality bins without a fat wallet.

Fortunately, you are getting the benefit of others' experience and will be starting out with one of the best porro binoculars made, so you may not have to worry about catching "quality fever". If you don't get seriously into stargazing, you won't have to worry about "aperture fever" either.

As far as the warranty and making sure they are handchecked... some discounters (resellers) offer international warranties on the gray market bins they sell. If they sold a gray market Audubon, for example, they would have to be shipped back to Japan for repairs. However, I don't know any discounters that do handchecking. A full service store like Eagle Optics will handcheck the Audubon, though the bin will cost you a bit more ($259), but that's about the average "street price" in the US. Not bad at all for such a high quality binocular. According to Stephen Ingraham of Better View Desired, the Audubons are on par with $1,000+ Swavorski ELs:
http://www.bettervie...on/audubon.html

Good Luck! with the Audubons. Give us a report after you get them.

Brock (the Bargain Hunter)



#12 KennyJ

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 01:14 PM

Hi again Brock,

A minor point ( but probably major to Frilb ) is that Frilb lives in Australia -not the UK !

If he lived here in the UK I would have posted my 10 x 50 Audubons to him to try for himself.

Also ,I have quite a broad -bridged nose AND deep set eyes , but found no problem with mine until I started wearing eye glasses.

That said the eyecups on mine are soft rubber fold -backs and not the type you describe, so perhaps they have changed.

Good luck anyway Frilb -- Kenny


#13 dimfam

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 08:13 PM

Are any of these usable on a boat for astronomical observing? :question:

#14 KennyJ

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 02:43 AM

Any would be USEABLE , but the old tradition of sticking with lowest power and largest exit pupil did not come abou by pure chance.

Image stabilised binos would probably be my choice for such a specialist situation .

I tried that once whilst on holiday in Australia -- out all night on a little fishing boat -- truly awesome experience but the sky doesn't half "move about" quickly on a small boat ! -- without the knowledge of the southern skies I lost all sense of direction within a minute of losing sight of land.

Clear skies -- Kenny

#15 dimfam

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 09:47 PM

Well I'm going to give it a try. I want to maximize the opportunity of virtually no light pollution for six nights. :jump:
Hopefully the weather will cooperate. :praying:

#16 brocknroller

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 11:32 PM

Kenny,

You're right, Frilby's Aussie. :foreheadslap: Perhaps the Intern'l warranty might be better for future repairs if shipping is cheaper to Japan than the US?

From what you've described about your features, the new model Audubons might be uncomfortable for you. The eyecups are very BIG, and unlike the older model they are hard so they might butt up against your eye sockets instead of fitting inside them. I couldn't get the EPs close enough to see the entire FOV. However, if the older model fits your face, it might fit my face as well. Found a US dealer that still sells the #804 (for the same price as the new model). Be worth it for the comfort.

From what I've read, the only difference in the 804's optics is a slight yellow color bias compared to the more neutral 820. I don't mind the yellow. I find it brightens up the image on dreary rainy days, which is when I'd be using the Audubons rather than my 8X32 SE.

Brock

#17 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 11:30 PM

Hiya Fril....didja check the Astronomics/Christopher's website? I'm serious on the Celestrons...the 8x40 and 15x70's together will set u back less than $300, even with int'l shipping....if u want, I'll personally call Barbara there and have her check both for collimation, etc, before packing them to ship....you can't beat their deal and will have all the bases covered optics-wise until u get the itch for a scope...yrs Doug
p.s. I don't work there....just know them to be knowledgable and trustworthy


#18 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 08:05 PM

Doug,

I contacted Astronomics, but unfortunately they do not ship internationally :(

I'm waiting on a reply to an email I sent to B&H a few days ago (not holding my breath :crazy:) just to clarify a couple of things, but will most likely place an order for the Swift binoculars through them.

My only other real contender locally that is tempting is the new Pentax 10x43 DCF SP (roof prism). I can pick this one up locally for about $750 Aussie Dollars (compared to about $400 Aussie Dollars for the Swift including shipping etc). It only has a 6 degree FOV but is a bit better than most with a 60 degree AFOV, aspherical lenses (very flat field), fully multicoated (including phase coating), rubber protected, waterproof, fogproof, and great 4 step click stop eyecups. Weighs about the same as the Swift as well.

It's tempting as it would be covered by a local warranty and overall would give a better quality view to the edge when compared to the Swift (except for the significantly narrower FOV (6 vs 8.2), although 6 degrees is still not too bad).

Overall though, for value for money, I think the Swift still wins out (even though I have yet to hold one in my hand - a bit of a scary thought when ordering from overseas).

Thanks again for your help my friend...

Frilby :winky:

Attached Thumbnails

  • 31682-p1043s.jpg


#19 KennyJ

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Posted 23 December 2003 - 02:33 AM

To add extra "nag" factor to your lingering doubts Frilb, a very respected and knowledgeable contributor to another forum I frequent seems to absolutely swear by his Pentax DCF SP 10 x 43 Roof prism bino , which I must say from your inserted image is quite "Swarovski" -like in it's appearance.

I have few doubts this is likely one of the very best real value roof prism binos currently available , and especially given the warranty factors and your desire for flat field
design , might be worth the extra money in YOUR situation.

I would certainly be VERY tempted by this particular model of Pentax.

Regards --Kenny

#20 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 03:22 AM

Wow, my rugged exposure 10x42 bino's look EXACTLY like those. They are basically Barska Atlantic 10x42's I believe.

#21 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 January 2004 - 09:02 PM

Frilby, I have slowly been pushed away from the 8.5x44s the more I have read here and from websites posted here. Where does that leave the Swifts for astronomical use. If I was just birding or any other daytime terrestrial viewing, I think these would be perfectly acceptable...but I want them to be as sharp as they can as close to the edge as they can get for looking at stars and Messier objects!

I still have not held these binocs in my hand and looked through them, only my inexpensive Nikon Action 8x40s (that do ok) have been used in earnest.

Now, the Minolta 10x50 WP will be hunted down!!! Still would also like to see the Pentax 16x60 and 20x60 WPs.

#22 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 January 2004 - 10:12 PM

Tom,

I agree, the Minoltas may be worth a look. They don't have them locally here (not sure if they can order them in either, but I would be suprised if they can't).

The specs are pretty good (6.5 FOV for a 10x50 is pretty good as well).

I've managed to get my hands on a "loan" pair of very old Hanimex brand 10x50's with a 7 degree FOV. I don't think they are multicoated and they have a VERY loose focus action (one of the fast action toggle types). It moves even with the slightest pressure on the eyecups - Frustrating!

Other than this MAJOR problem, the view is actually very good quality from an image sharpness point of view with very little distortion right out to the edge! If they didn't have the drawbacks of the focus and no multicoating, they would be great!

Anyway, back to the drawing board as they say!

It's frustrating not being able to have a look through a pair of the Swift binos... but we will eventually get there! I hope...

Frilby :winky: (The search continues...)

#23 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 05 January 2004 - 01:06 PM

Frilby,

Consider the Pentax 16x60 or 20x60. The views are going to be larger for not much more$$.
Otherwise, how are things going? You seem to agonize ( in a good way) over your choices. Believe me, I did the same thing for what seemed like months! You just want the power with the view, Right?
Pentax is the ticket!
Happy New Years,
Ray A.

#24 KennyJ

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Posted 05 January 2004 - 01:34 PM

Hi again Frilby and a Happy New Year to you !

I trust this will not become a WHOLE YEAR of agonising !

Ray A. may well be right -- but only if you are prepared for an EXTREMELY narrow F.O.V and tripod mounting for all but the most casual glances.

IF you still consider yourself to be "finding your way around the night sky" however , I recommend lower power and wider field.

Since you seem ( for very good reasons ) to be moving away from the idea of Swift Audubons and steering instead toward
somethin with flatter field and better edge performance , I will re-state my advice to you from way back when , which is

CONSIDER Canon 10 x 30 Image Stabilised !

Clear skies --Kenny.

#25 moynihan

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 08:55 AM

Interesting thread. My Swift Audubon 8.5xx44 are the second sharpest, contrasty binos I have. The best I have are Zeiss 7x42 "classics" (roof). Any bino i have looked through has soft edges. If they are "wide-field" there has to be some trade off in the design, no matter what you pay for them. The Swifts are sharper and have better color correction than my (excellent) Leica 10x42 roofs.
I use binos alot. In addition to astronomy, I participate in raptor counts and study crows. Every year I get a chance to compare dozens of binos at a migration site. The criteria for handheld binos for migration counting or bird study are basically the same as for astronomy.
What I have learned:
1. A person's choice of binoculars is very subjective, within a price range.
2. The expensive roof models (from the big 4) really are better performers than nearly all less costly porros.
3. A good birding bino over 40mm is a good astro bino.
4. Any non-ED bino shows false color under some condition.
5. 10x is harder to hold, unless you yourself are large.
6. All binoculars have "soft" edges, some have more than others.
jay


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