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Vixen HR 6x21 ED monocular and two 6x32 binoculars comparison

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#1 Swedpat

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Posted 15 May 2015 - 04:35 PM

Because I have not found any review at english of this monocular I am happy to post my own impression of it. Since I regret I sold the Zeiss 6x20B monocular I have searched for a similar monocular.
Too bad that Zeiss discontinued the classic 6x20B. The newer design selection 6x18 has not as good eye relief as 6x20B. At least I tried the 4x12 and it didn't work good with eyeglasses, and I think these share the very same ocular. Then I found that Vixen offers a 6x21 monocular. That seemed good. Not only that it's an ED lens, the price tag seemed to show  that this is a quality product.

 

While monoculars don't provide the same ease of view, neither as stable view as binoculars, they really have their use and advantages: much more compact size and no collimation issues like binoculars. And here I just want to say: 6x is perfect for a small monocular, in my opinion. The image will be stable enough, and the brightness and FOV will be better as well.

A 6x21 has almost twice as bright image at low light than an 8x20. That is according to my experience a valuable difference at these small exit pupil sizes. Also I remember that Zeiss 6x20B provided a pretty clear image at dusk and dawn.

 

So how does the Vixen HR 6x21 ED compare to Zeiss 6x20B? Well;  I can't compare them side by side and it's several years ago I used the Zeiss. Still I can give some opinion. Vixen has significantly beefier body. Vixen has significantly wider FOV.  Both have a long eye relief adequate for eyeglasses. Both provide a razor sharp image.

I am pretty sure the Vixen is optically at least on par to Zeiss 6x20B.
Vixen HR 6x21ED has a rubberised body cover with twist up eyecup. The focusing wheel is in patterned rubber. This makes the instrument very good in the hand and it will hardly slip out of the hand.

While the aperture is 21mm the body diameter is ~35mm. According to THIS SITE Zeiss 6x20B is 26mm thick and weights 53g. Vixen HR 6x21ED is stated to weigh 141g. With my digital kitchen scale I measure 147g. Whatever is correct the Vixen is more than twice as heavy than the Zeiss, and almost a cm thicker.
 

This indeed makes the Vixen more bulkier in a small pocket than the Zeiss. But with the advantage of a better hold comfort. Vixen fills upp the hand in a good way which contributes to the stability. And the Vixen has much wider FOV: 8,7/52deg compared to 6,8/41deg AFOV of the Zeiss.

 

When I have two 6x32 binoculars since earlier: Leupold Katmai 6x32 and Vortex Viper HD 6x32, I think it may be interesting to compare them to this Vixen monocular. 

 

Field of view

 

Katmai and Vortex HD have the same stated FOV of 8deg. HR 6x21 ED has slightly wider with 8,7deg. My test confirms that Katmai and Vortex have very much the same FOV, while the 6x21 is slightly wider.

 

Image quality

 

All these three have some amount of sharpness loss towards the edges. What I can perceive the image is sharp to 70-80% of the FOV and then it gradually worsens. No issue in any case if I don't really look for it and the difference between them is in my eyes very subtle.
Viper HD is clearly sharper than Katmai, and that's what I appreciate with the Vipers despite it's a bit bulkier to carry around. The 6x21 is in my eyes very in par to Viper HD. Yes; when I compare carefully I find the 6x21 to be even sharper than Viper HD. Not a big difference, but it's there. When panning I can sometimes see a field distorsion with Viper HD but have not yet seen it with HR 6x21 ED.

 

Brightness

 

When I earlier compared Katmai to Viper HD I could not detect any brightness difference under low light conditions. The HR 6x21 ED will of course be dimmer due to the significantly smaller exit pupil. At daytime all of them look the same in my eyes.

 

Eye relief

 

All three have long eye relief fully adequate for my eyeglasses use.
Ease of view is very similar with all three models. All provide an open and relaxed view with eyeglasses on. When I compared them without eyeglasses I found that the eyecup of 6x21 can't be twisted out enough to avoid blackening, however. I need to hold the eye a bit from the eyecup rim to get it good.

 

Focusing

 

I have no complaint about the focusing wheels of Katmai and Viper HD. Both have a certain resistance, maybe it could have been slightly lighter. But there is no play and the resistance is same at both directions.The focusing of the monocular is smooth and good as well.
It's very noticeable that focusing with a monocular is not as easy as with a binocular: with the binocular it's easy done with a finger while the monocular requires both a finger and the thumb.

All these models have a close focusing range, with the monocular as the clear winner. Measured distance for me with glasses on:

 

*HR6x21ED: ca 56cm
*Viper HD: ca 100cm
*Katmai: ca 130cm

 

Without eyeglasses the close distance is even shorter. At closest distance with the monocular the exit pupil is noticeably decreased, to 3mm, maybe a bit less. Which means the magnification becomes slightly higher, I guess 7-8x.

 

Chromatic abberation

 

This is a matter often discussed among "binoholics". Personally I have never found it an important thing with binoculars. Maybe I am insensitive to that, but I usually never notice CA with binoculars at normal handhold magnifications. Also the CA increases with higher magnification. Consequently it should not be an issue with 6x instruments. And when it comes to this Vixen monocular it's an ED, so CA really should be a non-issue...

 

Waterproofness

 

Both Katmai and Viper HD are claimed to be waterproof. But I find no information whether HR 6x21 ED is waterproof or if it's only water resistant.

 

Summary

 

In the comparison between Zeiss 6x20B and Vixen HR 6x21 ED both have their advantages. For the portability the Zeiss is the clear winner.
The vixen provides better FOV and better hold comfort. If I get the possibility I will get the Zeiss again, it will probably be available at the used market for long time. Still the Vixen HR 6x21 ED definitely is a keeper. If you want a high grade monocular Vixen HR 6x21 ED definitely is a good choice.

 

While Viper HD is optically superior to Katmai it's bulkier. As well a bit heavier, but not much: I measure~ 530g/560g. This is done when I holding the straps up, so it's difficult to get it perfect.

The hold comfort is better with Viper; it fills up the hand in a better way. But as soon I want to place it in the jacket pocket the Katmai is better.
There are of course more to tell about these three instruments, but I think it's enough for now. Hope this was of interest, and you are welcome with questions. 

 

Regards, Patric

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Edited by Swedpat, 16 May 2015 - 07:59 AM.

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#2 Swedpat

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Posted 15 May 2015 - 04:50 PM

Unfortunately it's not possible to add more than a certain numbers of pictures in row in single post, not even comment between the pictures. But I will complete the pictures here, I think you will get a good understanding of the size difference between these instruments.

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Edited by Swedpat, 15 May 2015 - 05:18 PM.

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#3 KennyJ

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 02:33 AM

Patric,

 

Thank you for producing one of the best written, most thoughtful, clearly presented and superbly illustrated reviews I've EVER had the pleasure of reading, for ANY optical instruments.

 

The fact that English is only your SECOND language puts many of us monolingual writers to utter shame!

 

As I suspect you already know, I share your enthusiasm for lower magnification optical aids, but only ones of good optical quality, with adequate eye-relief and exit -pupils to compare with most regular higher magnification binoculars.

 

There aren't very many of those to choose from in my opinion, so you have done very well to search out and obtain the instruments you have already have.

 

Wishing you many hours of enjoyment with all of them!

 

Kind Regards,

Your friend, Kenny



#4 Swedpat

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 07:16 AM

Thanks Kenny for the kind words!

 

By the way: while I consider items like cases and lens covers as less important I easily forget that. Not that I don't think that's important at all, but these are things who never contribute to my decision to get an optical instrument or not. Actually I usually don't bring with the lens covers out in the field, I think the lenses are pretty well protected inside the case. 
Apart from that, I am bored of all the unboxing Youtube videos where it takes 3 minutes until you even see the binoculars, and with a careful demonstration of the case and lens covers while the ocular lenses are hardly shown at all. Wrong priority, in my opinion.

 

Anyway; here is a photo where you can see the significant size difference between the cases of Katmai and Viper HD. You also see the hard case and lanyard included with the Vixen monocular. The cap of the hard case is held in place with a magnet.

I find the included lanyard unnecessary long and use the monocular with a shorter lanyard from a flashlight instead.
Worth to note may be that the attachment for the lanyard is on a rotating ring, that's good.

 

Regards, Patric

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Edited by Swedpat, 16 May 2015 - 02:56 PM.


#5 plyscope

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Posted 17 May 2015 - 02:42 AM

Thank you Patric for the very interesting review. I have almost no experience with monoculars however I think I want to try the Vixen!



#6 TomCorbett

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Posted 17 May 2015 - 07:01 AM

Patric...

 

Thank you for giving us an excellent review of the Vixen HR 6x21 ED monocular. 

 

*****

 

Can you also give us a few words about your use of a small monocular?

 

  • Observing situation or environment?
     
  • Objects?
     
  • Strengths and weaknesses?

 

*****

 

I still find your 2008 review of the Leupold Katmai 6x32 most relevant, although the binoculars have disappeared from the Leupold website here in the U.S. 

 

 

Thanks again.

 

...Bob (still in Kentucky)



#7 Swedpat

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Posted 17 May 2015 - 08:12 AM

Andy, thanks for your comment. Hope you will find a monocular useful!

 

And thank you Bob for reminding me of my old review, I had forgot I done it! 
Soon it's 7 years ago, what time passes!

 

*Observing situation or environment

That's the advantage with a small monocular. The size and weight makes it possible to carry with you in the inner pocket of a summer jacket, or side pocket of working pants. The monocular is ready to use almost everywhere.

*Objects?

Whatever I find interesting; a bird or an airplane, or something happens a few hundred meters away. Or just look at the view from the harbour or a hill.

*Strengths and weaknesses?

A small monocular can be held in the hand when you are walking, without making attention, it's not like binoculars hanging around your neck. 
No out of collimation issues like binoculars.

 

A weakness is that it's harder to hold steady than binoculars. Also the lack of stereoscopic view(but doesn't matter for me because I have slightly squinting eyes and use only my left eye even with binoculars.) Still I find it more comfortable to use binoculars because my right eye "relaxes" in the right ocular.
The focusing is not performed as fast with a monocular as with a binocular.

 

Regards, Patric


Edited by Swedpat, 17 May 2015 - 08:39 AM.

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#8 MartinPond

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Posted 17 May 2015 - 10:48 AM

I was tipped off to this subforum by KennyJ.

Awesome review.  I'm a monocular fan.  Many folks aren't, but monocs are the best for

portability and speed.



#9 Swedpat

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Posted 22 May 2015 - 11:21 AM

Thanks Martin.

 

If you get this Vixen I am looking forward to know your impression!



#10 Scott99

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 09:31 PM

I just ordered one of these bad boys!   Thanks for the review.  I'm tired of seeing cool birds when I'm walking my dogs, and not being able to figure out what they are.   Just the other day I was 95% sure I saw an Indigo Bunting but couldn't confirm due to have no binos.

 

I'm trying this and the 5X15 Nikon one.   Planning to carry one on all my dog walks and maybe leave one in the car.

 

The Vixen one seemed best because of the 6x.  The 6X18 Zeiss doesn't even have helical focusing, it's just push-pull which is silly on something this expensive.  The 8X20 Zeiss is too much power, so is the Leica 8x20, and the Vixen is cheaper.  Should be good for the backpack also, I'm always traveling light.


Edited by Scott99, 14 July 2015 - 09:32 PM.


#11 mooreorless

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Posted 16 July 2015 - 07:06 PM

Hi Patric,

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to post this excellent review and pictures to go with it!!!



#12 kozmik frakture

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Posted 18 July 2015 - 01:00 AM

I use a LOMO 10x30 Little Mak.  It's a bit dim compared to most mono; it is a small Maksutov scope.  But, when I consider I've had it for more than a dozen years & it only cost $30, I can't complain.  It has a nice close focus.  I also rig it up to my iphone 5S, although this can be finicky to work.



#13 Scott99

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Posted 18 July 2015 - 10:13 AM

I used it a few times - wow, the optics are very high quality.  I was a little disappointed by the edge softness, but contrast and sharpness are outstanding.  No false color visible even on bright edges of things.  Coatings look outstanding.  Stars are tight points.  I would say this is on par with Zeiss/Swarovski bino quality optics.  The little case for it is worthy of Gucci, very nice w/ magnetic closure.

 

Compared to the Nikon 5X15, the Vixen is much larger but has a better eye guard to shield glare.  The Vixen's larger aperture makes everything look better and eye relief/positioning is better.  The Nikon does have better edge sharpness, which is similar to their binos.  Both have superb optics IMO with no false color visible.  

 

*edit, I just noticed that the Vixen has much larger AFOV, that explains why the edge isn't as sharp.


Edited by Scott99, 19 July 2015 - 02:33 PM.


#14 Swedpat

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 12:52 PM

I used it a few times - wow, the optics are very high quality.  I was a little disappointed by the edge softness, but contrast and sharpness are outstanding.  No false color visible even on bright edges of things.  Coatings look outstanding.  Stars are tight points.  I would say this is on par with Zeiss/Swarovski bino quality optics.  The little case for it is worthy of Gucci, very nice w/ magnetic closure.

 

Compared to the Nikon 5X15, the Vixen is much larger but has a better eye guard to shield glare.  The Vixen's larger aperture makes everything look better and eye relief/positioning is better.  The Nikon does have better edge sharpness, which is similar to their binos.  Both have superb optics IMO with no false color visible.  

 

*edit, I just noticed that the Vixen has much larger AFOV, that explains why the edge isn't as sharp.

 

I agree with your opinion. 4 weeks ago I for the very first time got the possibility to try and compare the new Zeiss Victory SF and Svarovisions. I wrote about it HERE. Viper HD 6x32 and Conquest HD 8x42 are great binoculars and just a slight step below the very best models like SF and Swarovision. Also a slight step below Vixen 6x21. I have not compared it side by side to the new Zeiss and Swarovski models, but I dare to say that the image sharpness is comparable. No doubt: Vixen HR 6x21 ED is alpha optics, and definitely one of the best monoculars ever made. Maybe the very best sport optics Vixen ever made?



#15 mooreorless

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 06:36 AM

Hi Patric,

 

The one NY store has a review of this same Vixen HR 6x21 ED monocular. The person that reviewed it is from Switzerland.  He likes the monocular a lot.



#16 Swedpat

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 09:05 AM

Steve M,

 

I forgot to mention that the price tag of this monocular also is at "alpha level" so it should be that good! 

Is the review by the NY store available at the web?

 

Patric



#17 Scott99

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Posted 14 August 2015 - 05:50 PM

Steve M,

 

I forgot to mention that the price tag of this monocular also is at "alpha level" so it should be that good! 

Is the review by the NY store available at the web?

 

Patric

 

Patric here you go:

 

http://www.bhphotovi..._monocular.html

 

So this monocular is part of Vixen's "Artes" series, they also make a 8.5 X 45 binocular in the series for around $1000…if it's like the mono it should be a good deal, I like the extra 3mm too.   The prices for the best from Zeiss/Swaro/Nikon/Leica have gone through the roof in recent years, these Vixen binos could be a good alternative.

 

Interesting review of Zeiss vs. Swaro.  We have a good birding store in town that stocks all these, I'll have to go and do some comparing soon.  I am using a pair of 8X42 Nikon EDG, I think the 2nd version that came out about 10 years ago.   I got them for very cheap used - less than half of new price.  The sticker shock on the new ones is harsh.  I would definitely try the Vixen Artes if I was shopping for a new pair of these.

 

Vixen also makes cheaper monoculars that are probably very good, they have good reviews around the internet.   I also discovered this brand "Specwell" that are apparently Japanese-made monoculars for good prices….I was thinking of trying the 7X25 out:

 

http://www.lssproduc...well-monoculars



#18 Swedpat

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Posted 18 August 2015 - 12:42 PM

 

Steve M,

 

I forgot to mention that the price tag of this monocular also is at "alpha level" so it should be that good! 

Is the review by the NY store available at the web?

 

Patric

 

Patric here you go:

 

http://www.bhphotovi..._monocular.html

 

So this monocular is part of Vixen's "Artes" series, they also make a 8.5 X 45 binocular in the series for around $1000…if it's like the mono it should be a good deal, I like the extra 3mm too.   The prices for the best from Zeiss/Swaro/Nikon/Leica have gone through the roof in recent years, these Vixen binos could be a good alternative.

 

Interesting review of Zeiss vs. Swaro.  We have a good birding store in town that stocks all these, I'll have to go and do some comparing soon.  I am using a pair of 8X42 Nikon EDG, I think the 2nd version that came out about 10 years ago.   I got them for very cheap used - less than half of new price.  The sticker shock on the new ones is harsh.  I would definitely try the Vixen Artes if I was shopping for a new pair of these.

 

Vixen also makes cheaper monoculars that are probably very good, they have good reviews around the internet.   I also discovered this brand "Specwell" that are apparently Japanese-made monoculars for good prices….I was thinking of trying the 7X25 out:

 

http://www.lssproduc...well-monoculars

 

 

Hi Scott99,

 

I would like to try some of the other models in the Artes series. Yes; if 8,5x45 has comparable optical quality as 6x21 monocular it's really a good deal I think. Actually I am also interested in the cheaper Vixen 4x12 monocular. The size is considerably smaller than the size of the 6x21. And yes; I would like to try the new Nikon EDGs as well!

 

Patric


Edited by Swedpat, 18 August 2015 - 12:42 PM.


#19 Scott99

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 12:12 PM

Looks like the Vixen Artes binos are a bit heavier than the higher-end competition but not by too much.

 

Also my 8X42 Nikons pre-date the EDG series, they are actually called "High Grade", they have a tiny bit of false color that was cleaned up with the EDG series.

 

You might want to check out the 5X15 Nikon, it needs brighter light to excel than the 21mm Vixen but has very nice optics.  Reminds me of a mini-orthoscopic with its fine optics and 43 degree AFOV.   It's tiny compared to the Vixen 8X21.


Edited by Scott99, 19 August 2015 - 12:13 PM.


#20 tom6

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Posted 05 November 2015 - 05:34 AM

I used it a few times - wow, the optics are very high quality.  I was a little disappointed by the edge softness, but contrast and sharpness are outstanding.  No false color visible even on bright edges of things.  Coatings look outstanding.  Stars are tight points.  I would say this is on par with Zeiss/Swarovski bino quality optics.  The little case for it is worthy of Gucci, very nice w/ magnetic closure.

 

Compared to the Nikon 5X15, the Vixen is much larger but has a better eye guard to shield glare.  The Vixen's larger aperture makes everything look better and eye relief/positioning is better.  The Nikon does have better edge sharpness, which is similar to their binos.  Both have superb optics IMO with no false color visible.  

 

*edit, I just noticed that the Vixen has much larger AFOV, that explains why the edge isn't as sharp.

      Finally whats your decision Scott between Nikon and Vixen or you try and the Specwell 7x25?  I have Zeiss 6x18 its very good but the fov[6.8[ and er[15mm] are  in the limit for me.I wear glasses.If i understand vixen is comfortable for glasses, how is nikon 5x15?. Or Specwell 7x25 with the massive FOV[10 deg]? Any thoughts ? I like the idea for one more monocular because they are more comfortable.                                                                                 Swedpat your review about VIXEN is very helpfull and analytical. You think its the best for eyeglasses?You get it  from EUROPE[400euro ] or from STATES[260 dollars]


Edited by tom6, 05 November 2015 - 07:28 AM.


#21 Albie

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 08:46 AM

This thread makes me want a monocular.



#22 Scott99

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 09:18 PM

 

      Finally whats your decision Scott between Nikon and Vixen or you try and the Specwell 7x25?  I have Zeiss 6x18 its very good but the fov[6.8[ and er[15mm] are  in the limit for me.I wear glasses.If i understand vixen is comfortable for glasses, how is nikon 5x15?. Or Specwell 7x25 with the massive FOV[10 deg]? Any thoughts ? I like the idea for one more monocular because they are more comfortable.                                                                                 Swedpat your review about VIXEN is very helpfull and analytical. You think its the best for eyeglasses?You get it  from EUROPE[400euro ] or from STATES[260 dollars]

 

 

Tom - haven't tried the Specwell yet, too busy buying & selling off some other astro gear. 

 

I would go with the Nikon 5X15 for extreme small size and portability.  The Vixen is larger but has better views, the eye relief seems longer too.   Your Zeiss 6X18 is going to be similar to the Nikon I would think.



#23 tom6

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 07:46 PM

Thanks Scott.If i understand you choose the Nikon ,or both?



#24 Swedpat

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Posted 15 November 2015 - 08:29 AM

Swedpat your review about VIXEN is very helpfull and analytical. You think its the best for eyeglasses?You get it  from EUROPE[400euro ] or from STATES[260 dollars]

 

 

Thanks tom6!

 

Yes; Vixen HR 6x21 ED is great with eyeglasses, long useful eye relief. I can see the entire FOV even with the eyecup one step up, but it's best fully downfolded, fully open and clear view. And I am pretty demanding in this respect.

 

Patric


Edited by Swedpat, 15 November 2015 - 08:30 AM.


#25 Galicapernistein

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Posted 30 November 2015 - 08:33 PM

 

Swedpat your review adery helpfull and analytical. You think its the best for eyeglasses?You get it  from EUROPE[400euro ] or from STATES[260 dollars]

 

 

Thanks tom6!

 

Yes; Vixen HR 6x21 ED is great with eyeglasses, long useful eye relief. I can see the entire FOV even with the eyecup one step up, but it's best fully downfolded, fully open and clear view. And I am pretty demanding in this respect.

 

Patric

 

Patric,

 

 I had a significant problem with glare in my Nikon 5x15 monocular. The optics were good, but the lack of any kind of eye guard meant that glare had to be controlled by cupping a hand around the eyepiece. The eyecups in the Vixen 6x21 sounds like a great idea after my Nikon experience.

 

   I've been testing the Vixen 6x16 non-ed monocular I got this week. The optics aren't quite as nice as the Nikon, but the rubber eyeguard is better at blocking stray light. The wider field of view is nice, and the extra 1x really seems to make a difference in showing extra details, more than I would have thought. That said, I wouldn't want a monocular more than 6x. Any more detail would be lost in the magnified shaking of the monocular.

 

  Even so, I'm going to return the 6x16 and get the 6x21 ED Vixen instead. You make some excellent points about the advantages of the ED, especially as a viable alternative to the sturdier but over magnified 8x20 Leica monovid. I really appreciate your thorough review and photos. 


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