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Review: generic native 1 X 2-7 binary oculars

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#1 Bill Huot

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 09:25 PM

Last night I pulled an all-nighter watching the Perseid meteor shower. Observing meteors does not require magnification and it benefits from a very wide field of view, so I primarily used my 57 year old generic native 1 X 2-7 binary oculars for this session. Viewing meteors gives one a lot of time to think, and it occurred to me that no one has yet posted a review of this common bin optical devise.

The initial price of a generic native 1 X 2-7 is extremely low compared to other binocular alternatives, so most readers of this Forum probably already have a pair. The fact that they are so common belies the degree of sophistication in this optical system, which includes automatic focus and a unique integrated mounting platform. They are useful for both daytime or nighttime observation, and have unsurpassed portability and ease of use.

The extremely low level of magnification (1 power) produces a very wide TFOV and AFOV. However, the small size of the objectives even at their widest expansion means low light gathering ability. Very few Messier objects are visible in the 1 X 2-7s, but their extremely wide FoV makes them the ideal instrument for viewing extremely large astronomical objects such as constellations and the Milky Way Galaxy.

Unfortunately there are considerable inconsistencies in quality control with the generic native 1 X 2-7s. Mine have mild astigmatism in the right ocular. There is no warranty provided, and due to their unique organic design, replacement parts are not readily available nor user-installable. However, custom-made corrective lenses (similar to those installed on the Hubble Telescope) can be nasally mounted and are readily obtainable.

Automatic focus is one of the many sophisticated standard features on the 1 X 2-7s. This is very convenient and I wish that other binoculars had this feature. However, the auto focus mechanism is particularly prone to quality control problems, and the inefficiency of the auto focus tends to worsen with the age of the instrument. Fortunately, this problem can also be addressed by the nasally mounted corrective lenses. When it is not desired, the auto focus can be over over-ridden.

An automatic mechanism stops down the size of the objective based upon the level of ambient light. This variable objective size is more useful for daytime applications than for astronomical observation. In fact, slow response in this mechanism, with no override available, is generally considered to be a disadvantage for astronomical observation.

It has commonly been noted that the 1 X 2-7's size adjustment mechanism's ability to dilate to optimal levels for dark situations deteriorates with age. In my case, the maximum objective size has probably reduced from 7 to 5 mm over the past 30 years. There does not appear to be a maintenance program to prevent this problem or a correction available for it, however I have heard that certain illicit drugs enhance dilation. Further research on this may be in order. On the positive side, the dilation mechanism comes in assorted decorative colours, although they are not user selectable.

The edge performance in mine is better then could be expected for such a wide angle view. I do not have access to any other units to assess whether this performance is typical. I do not recall having had problems with edge performance when mine were newer, but it might be that the the performance has improved since the maximum objective size has been masked down from 7 to 5 mm.

Ironically, one factor that makes edge performance difficult to assess is one of the 1 X 2-7's greatest strengths -- its sophisticated and ingenious integrated system of co-ordinated intra-cranial mini-mounts. The mini-mounts operate semi-automatically, moving the oculars' "sweet spot" to whatever target it perceives to be user's the principle object of attention. This greatly enlarges the 1 X 2-7's effective TFOV and AFOV.

This auto-pilot function in the mini-mounts can be programmed for astronomical targets, and under normal circumstances it is relatively easy to take over conscious control from the mini-mounts' auto-pilot if desired. However, a built-in override that is largely beyond the user's control instantly re-positions the 1 X 2-7s to point towards unexpected movements or other pre-programmed priority targets that are not necessarily in the control of the user. For the purpose of viewing meteors, this is a positive feature.

The mini-mounts are available only in white. They are outside of the oculars' FoV so reflections from them are not a problem during astronomical observations. A temporary decorative red lightning bolt pattern can appear on the mini-mounts to acknowledge a night of astronomical observation or some other accomplishment.

The integrated intra-cranial mini-mounts have quick response and very smooth altitude and azimuth movement, but only a limited range of motion. Fortunately, they are complemented by fairly good provisions for moving the supporting framework which enable the entire cranial structure to be repositioned and oriented towards a desired target. This mechanism is not, for the most part, controlled by the auto pilot function. Bipedal motor capability of the entire supporting structure both enables 360 degree rotation and gives the entire system great portability.

The generic native 1 X 2-7s have integrated, automatically-deployed lens covers. They also have built-in dew guards, and the lens covers serve as windshield wipers for dew removal.

The 1 X 2-7's overall support platform includes facilities for flexible positioning of its integrated digital manipulation devises. This system is somewhat like the Canadarms on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. While the multi functional digital manipulation devices are not primarily designed for this purpose, they can be readily positioned as glare guards.

In favour of small binoculars, it has sometimes been said that for any given task the best binocular is the one that you will have with you. The 1 X 2-7 is very small in comparison to all other binocular alternatives, and it gets top marks for availability, portability and convenience of use. The 1 X 2-7s are not likely to be lost or left behind in the dark at the observing site, however, as could be expected from such a sophisticated optic system, they are rather delicate and can be subject to damage. Maintenance requirements are few, but since they can be difficult or impossible to repair or replace users should take certain precautions against damage. For example, 1 X 2-7 users are advised against running with sharp sticks.

The overall performance of the generic native 1 X 2-7 binary oculars is unexcelled for situations where a very wide field of view is valued more highly than magnification or light-gathering ability. Taken as a whole, and within their inherent limitations, the 1 X 2-7's design sophistication exceeds that of all other binocular systems available for amateur astronomers, and it rivals that of professional grade astronomical equipment. :rollgrin:

#2 Joad

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 09:38 PM

While the mounts on the generic 1X2-7 oculars are only white (with that occasional red lightning bolt upgrade), the generics do boast color options in brown, blue, green, hazel, grey, and black. These options are supplied by the provider (see Gregor Mendel on generic native ocular manufacturing processes), however, and are not within the choice limits of the owner. :jump:

#3 Glassthrower

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 09:43 PM

Bill -

:roflmao:

Nice review. That should be included on the list of mini-bino reviews in this forum.

MIkeG


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