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Some 16x70s- APM MS ED 16x70 compared with Fuji FMT and Lunt MS

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#1 Rich V.

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 08:44 PM

I received a package from APM the other day, just in time for an autumn rain/snow storm to pass through the Sierras.  In the well packed box was an APM MS ED 16x70.  smile.gif  They've had good reviews since they became available last January.  I'm looking forward to spending time with these binoculars and the weather forecast is looking is good.  I've still got to go to Reno to pick up a friend's Lunt MS to add to this comparison.

 

A couple of summers ago at OSP, I compared Mr. Bill's Lunt MS with my 16x70FMTs and found the views very comparable.   After a few casual glances, I already know the MS EDs clearly outperform the FMTs regarding daytime CA.  I think they have a bit flatter field than the FMTs also; the FMTs were my previous "flat field champs".  The MS ED's coatings look real nice, too.  I'm already impressed...

I'll get back after I spend some time with these binos and make some notes.  I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

Rich

 


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#2 rockethead26

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 08:55 PM

Looking forward to your report. That may be the last bino I buy for my collection. Just a curious question. I have the APM ED APO 10x50 and I notice that there is a name change with the 70mm MS ED APO versions where they use MS in the name. Do you have any idea what MS stands for? Both have magnesium bodies, so that's not it.



#3 SMark

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 09:13 PM

That may be the last bino I buy for my collection. 

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#4 rockethead26

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 11:07 PM

 

That may be the last bino I buy for my collection. 

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No, really!


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#5 rockethead26

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 09:09 AM

Markus sent me a PM and said MS stands for "Magnesium Series". It's just a bit of inconsistency on Lumicon's site.



#6 Rich V.

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 01:00 PM

The MS ED I received is from the latest shipment which includes a new, streamlined clamshell type case with a zipper that goes around three sides making access to the binos much easier than the old "bag" type case.  I think this is a big improvement over the original case.  The objective caps snap inside the outer objective rings so they stay firmly attached and don't fall off like the Fujinon's external caps.  On the flip side, when cold, the MS ED's caps get stiff and are hard to remove, though they still go on easily.  They won't fall off accidentally.

 

Included is a new L bracket that is an extension of the hinge axis going out another 4" or so towards the objectives.  The extension screws onto a threaded hub on the hinge so that a sliding "foot" like the one used on larger binos can be moved fore/aft for balance.  There is a small thumb screw provided to lock this extension in place and the sliding "foot", allows some freedom to move the binos in the "roll" axis as necessary.  There is also a 1/4"-20 center screw hole provided for other mounting options.  A downside, though, is that this mounting hub is ever so slightly recessed between the prism housings, causing my ordinary L brackets (Oberwerk HD and UA Dlx) to hit the prism housings if I roll the binos.  A thin washer between the hub and bracket was needed to provide the necessary clearance.  If this threaded hub were extended out a couple of mms like the FMTs, there would be no clearance problems at all.  My favorite adapter, the Nikon 7806 "hinge grabber" that I use on my FMTs and Nikons, will not fit the MS EDs as the prism housings are closer together and interfere.  Only good if you have an IPD of 72mms...   tongue2.gif

 

I spent some time with the MS EDs and FMTs mounted side by side last night.  It wasn't the best of conditions due to humidity from the recent storm and the usual so-so seeing we get here along the mountains.  SQM-L reading was 21. MPSAS; about mag 6.  I studied M45 attempting to compare star magnitudes shown using EdZ's LM chart and tables.  Both binos showed stars down to about mag 10.5 viewed directly and the views were surprisingly similar on these fainter stars.  Star size and color were the same to me.  Checking flatness of field with doubles in M45, the FMTs started to deteriorate at about 80% of the field width but the APMs were reaching 90% before stars started to blur.  Excellent performance and the APMs unseated the FMTs as my "flat field champs".  The edge sharpness was very similar to Mr. Bill's APM BT70 apo with the 24mm Flat Field eyepieces which give 16x also.  Markus says the ED's eyepieces are the same as the MS but are better matched to the new ED objectives.  I'm a good judge of FC because my 68 yr old eyes don't have their youthful accommodation any more and FC is quite apparent to me.  Younger eyes should find the APMs pretty much "sharp to the edge";  a real feat for a "standard" binocular in my experience.

 

The substantially longer eye relief of the APMs clearly makes tripod mounted binos easier and more comfortable to use.  I don't have to squish my eyes into the eyepieces so much which allows my eyes to provide some of the upward viewing angle instead of just my neck.  The differences in ER are quite apparent and heavily favor the APMs.

 

More to follow and I'll get some photos of the new case and L adapter when I get a chance.

 

Rich


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#7 Mike Harvey

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 03:42 PM

Pretty good turnout at Chiefland this week. I'd "guestimate"

50+ observers.

Interesting that everyone I got into a conversation ragarding binoculars considered the Fujinon 16X70 FMT-SX to be the " Gold Standard" (full disclosure...I once felt the same way).

 

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to compare a brand-new pair of the Fujis against the new APM 16X70 ED's for several weeks (my report is probably still on this board somewhere).

 

The bottom line is that (to my eyes) the APMs are simply in another (higher) class of performance. With the same UF eyepieces, there simply was NO blur or aberation of any kind until the "perfect stellar point exited the field".

The Fujis, on the other hand, were just as Rich described.

I can only assume that the disparity might be due to differences in our individual eyesight (I have 20/15, Rich. How about you?).

 

The APMs also exhibited noticeably improved contrast vs. the Fujis...consistent, edge-to-edge.

 

For me, this experience was similar to the first time I used a Unitron refractor (after lusting for one since I was 12 years old) and finding that modern optical design and exotic glass has rendered what was once considered The King to a mere Commoner!



#8 Rich V.

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 07:31 PM

My Fuji 16x70FMTs have performed reasonably well for wildlife observations under most condtions over the years but CA can really become bothersome with them under high contrast situations.  Winter eagle watching at a bright, snowy pasture can put up some pretty bad purple fringing.  The same goes for pine trees against snow.   Eye position and critical focus can help but a higher magnification achro bino is far from being "color free" in any way during day use.  My friend's APM MS 16x70s perform in a very similar fashion to the FMTs, as I found a couple of summers ago at OSP.

 

In comparison, the APM MS ED performs very well under bright daylight conditions; the views are crisp and sharp and appear to show the finest details.  A slight amount of color fringing becomes present at the far outer portion of the FOV in high contrast conditions but compared to the FMTs and MS achros it is minimal.  I found myself having to look for CA rather than being smacked in the face by it as with the two achro binos.  The EDs were not as color free as the f6 WO 22x70EDs but the much smaller form factor of the MS EDs overcomes the minimal CA it presents, IMO. 

 

Since the last outing, last night the Moon had waxed to first quarter.  I set up the three 16x70s side by side and spent some time comparing them on this brightest of night objects.  As with the daylight comparison, the ED stood out above the others as expected.  Luna was free of CA on axis with just a faint purple/green fringe out approaching the field stop.  The two achro binos struggled with fringing on axis; eye placement could eliminate most but there were always fringes sneaking in and out when I lost the exact eyepoint.  Off axis there was abundant, brilliant fringing in both.  The CA present in these binos is predominantly lateral CA, exhibiting the usual purple/yellow-green fringes depending on position in the field.  I don't see longitudinal CA in binos at 16x as far as I can tell; the defocused, soft "blue blur" around objects seen in higher magnification views through achro instruments just doesn't stand out enough at 16x for me. Perhaps under darkest skies and steadier seeing, the bit of extra light being focused by the EDs would result in picking out otherwise invisible stars but not for me at home. The MS ED binos clearly were head and shoulders above the achro binos for clear, sharp views of the Moon.  No sign of Rupes Recta at 16x at first quarter +1 night, though...   wink.gif

 

Ghosting several degrees outside of the Moon was minimal in the APM/Lunts.  At a point, a wash of veiling glare would come into the FOV but there were no reflections of the Moon itself entering into the view.  The FMTs also showed similar veiling glare but there were several points where a reversed and slightly out of focus image of the Moon would pop up.  This reflection could be attributed to the fact that the first prism face in the FMTs doesn't appear to be coated, unlike the APM/Lunts which clearly are.   There was no sign of any prism intrusion into the exit pupils of any of these binoculars.  Previous "flashlight tests" of the FMTs and MS binos show they operate at full aperture.

 

Taking a break from the Moon and waiting a while to recover my night vision, I moved back to M45 to compare field sharpness between the three binos.  I took out my SQM-L and aiming towards M45 the reading was down to 20.3 from the 21.0 last outing.  The mag ~10.5 stars seen directly last week were gone in the 16x binos but for the fun of it, I brought out the 22x70s and instantly, the stars were back!  It's amazing how jumping up to 22x from 16x brings out the "missing" stars.  It clearly shows how much influence magnification has in picking out fainter stars.

 

Checking for field sharpness/curvature again, now with all three binos, my observations using a double star from last week were pretty much confirmed but I might have been a bit conservative last time.  The FMTs could get a bit more credit than the 80%; perhaps approaching 85% but their terribly short eye relief made observing the field stops difficult due to eye placement.  It was hard to get my eyes scrunched in close enough to get a good view of both field stops simultaneously.  The ample ER of both MS binos made examining the field stop much easier.  I'd say the Lunt MS approached 90% and the MS ED at 95%.  Not perfect as Mike states above but pretty close with just the slightest blurring right before the field stop.  The FC could be focused out so it was the primary aberration.  I have 20/20 corrected vision with my contact lenses but I don't think FC cares about that.  Maybe Mike has a bit more focus accommodation than I have.  The APMs clearly have the best edge performance I've ever seen in a standard binocular.  Period.

 

The long ER eyepieces used in the APM/Lunts are a joy to look through after looking through the stingy FMTs and WOs for many years!

 

Rich


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#9 Rich V.

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 08:06 PM

Some measurements that might be of interest:

Weights:
FMTs--       78 oz.
APM ED--  75.73 oz.
Lunt MS--  69 oz.

Outer objective diameters:
FMTs--            97.5mm (rubber armor rings)
MS/ MS EDs-- 84mm

Eyepiece diameters:
FMTs--         51.75mm
MS/MS ED-- 50.7mm

Eye lens diameters:
FMTs--         22.5mm
MS/MS ED-- 28mm

Effective eye relief (from inside face of eyecup):
FMTs--           9.0mm
MS/MS ED-- 18.5mm

MS ED close focus--  81'

Rich


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#10 Rich V.

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 09:58 PM

Some photos of the 16x70s---

 

Group portrait

 

 

 

 

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#11 Rich V.

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 10:02 PM

Objective ends, top to bottom; FMT, MS ED, MS.  Note the similarity of coatings between FMTs and EDs.  

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#12 Rich V.

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 10:04 PM

Eyepieces;  FMT top, MS ED bottom.

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#13 Rich V.

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 10:10 PM

New APM tripod adapter.  Screws onto hub at hinge and allows good balance range and some roll axis.  Manfrotto RCO plate attached.

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#14 Rich V.

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 10:17 PM

APM threaded mounting hub.  Outside threads are for the new adapter; inside a 1/4"-20.  Flush with prism housing so some wider 1/4" adapters will rub against prism housing as there is no clearance.

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#15 Rich V.

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 10:20 PM

Original MS mounting hub; 1/4"-20 but recessed so it needs a narrow adapter to fit between housings.

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#16 Rich V.

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 10:24 PM

FMT mounting hub.  Notice it protrudes away from the housings allowing clearance for most any L adapter to fit.  The way an ordinary 1/4" hub should be, IMO...

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#17 Rich V.

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 10:27 PM

MS ED objective caps.  Fit into a groove in the objective housing; don't slip off like some external fit caps.

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#18 Rich V.

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 10:29 PM

New clam shell case for easy access. Pocket for adapter inside.  Much nicer than earlier "bag" case.

 

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#19 Rich V.

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 10:36 PM

Nice package!  Straps included with quick releases. 

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#20 Mike G.

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 01:19 AM

Great job with h the photos and review, Rich!  Thanks. 



#21 Rich V.

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 11:55 AM

I think Markus has done a terrific job in bringing a wealth of new binoculars into the marketplace.  He has listened to our needs regarding the features and performance levels that are important to us.  He has brought well made and engineered mounts to support them. We now have so many new binocular options that may not have ever made it to market without his efforts.  bow.gif

 

The MS EDs provide a step up in optical performance over previous KUO produced binoculars I've seen.  Over the BA8 "Ultra" binoculars of the last decade, eye relief has been greatly improved; a much needed feature that had been ignored by the likes of Fujinon.  Fujinon saw the need for "flat field" eyepiece designs to overcome the short focal lengths necessary for practical binoculars; the MS binoculars have met that need and surpassed the Fujis.  The addition of a line of FK-61 ED doublets has raised the bar again.  Fujinon and Nikon have been resting on their laurels selling the same basic binoculars over the last 20 years with little or no changes being made.  Sooner or later this policy catches up with you.

 

I'm now coming to the one factor that still needs some improvement if these new higher quality binoculars from China really want to compete with the Japanese "big boys".  They've passed the innovation test clearly but now the challenge is to bring the quality control up to the highest Japanese standards I've come to expect from brands like Fujinon, Nikon and Miyauchi.

 

I only have a couple of complaints about the MS EDs I received; one is relatively minor and the other more bothersome.  Both issues would be easy fixes, IMO, but a higher level of quality control would be necessary before they leave the factory.

 

The first is the feel of the focusers.  Unlike the buttery smoothness of the Fujinons and my several Nikons, the MS EDs (and MS as well) have a bit of a scratchy, gritty feel as you turn them in comparison.  On the EDs, the right side is relatively smooth but the left has an irregular, "metal to metal" gritty feel and scraping sound that doesn't inspire confidence over the long haul.  The MS focusers are smoother like the right side of the ED but the amount of effort required to move them is different between the two focusers.  Maybe just a niggle, but we're competing with some high quality binoculars here and inconsistencies like this matter to me.  Quality has a "feel".

 

Next is the more bothersome problem as I see it.  Though the EDs are well collimated, the fields of view do not overlap concentrically as I'd expect.  I thought something was a bit odd the first outing when I was evaluating the edge of field sharpness on M45.  I noticed a dimming of stars approaching the left and right sides of the FOV; it made it hard to evaluate the sharpness.  While doing the daylight tests I couldn't help noticing half illuminated "arcs" on either side of the binocular FOV which clearly indicates that each barrel is looking in a slightly divergent direction.  In this case, the FOV of the left side is looking left of the FOV of the right side, similar to what I'd see due to parallax when viewing a close target but this was at long distance/infinity focus.  The binos are "wall eyed", so to speak, producing an image a little like the "figure eight" rendition of binoculars made in the movies but to a much lesser extent, of course. Using a very distant rail fence line as a yardstick, I determined that the FOVs of each side are divergent by about .25° out of 4.1°.  That's 4° difference out of 65° apparent.  Perhaps some can live with this degree of FOV misalignment but for me, it takes away from the quality of the view, particularly in daytime where the half illuminated "arcs" on the sides are clearly noticeable.  I really want one round, merged binocular field of view that's well collimated; that's what I expect quality binoculars to be all about.

 

If more attention was placed on QC issues like this at the production level, I think we have a great binocular line at a really fair price.  I don't want to think I have to send a new binocular to Cory S. to tweak them for me.  I know it's difficult and costly to test each individual binocular by the vendor; this is something that should be happening right at the point of production.  I'm sure Markus doesn't want to send every bino to Wellenform to have them tweaked before shipping.  This would add a substantial price increase.  It's best to be done at the factory in the first place.

 

The MS EDs are outstanding binos in every way otherwise. The optical design can't be faulted; a new level of performance is now offered.   At the price point here, and taking the competition into account, I believe we have every right to expect a high level of quality leaving the factory. If QC can be trusted, we're going to see a lot of folks opt out from Fujinon and Nikon in favor of longer eye relief, better color correction and the sharpest to the edge FOV available in this binocular size range.

 

Rich

 

 


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#22 EverlastingSky

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 02:17 PM

Excellent review waytogo.gif  

 

APM has done great things in recent years with new binocular offerings.

I hope even more exciting designs await us in the future!



#23 Damo636

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 05:40 PM

Excellent review Rich, thanks for sharing.

I have an example from the first run of these with the standard tripod adapter bush and find it optically superb. My only gripe with my example is the objective caps are very loose, I wouldn’t get out the door with the binocular around my neck before they’d be on the ground! By comparison, the caps on the Lunt MS it replaced almost had to pryed off at times. The problem is the screw on barrel ends are machined slightly oversize on the APM, approx 0.4mm bigger than the Lunt. I must admit, had the colour schemes been the same, I’d have swapped them before selling the Lunt wink.png



#24 RichD

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 06:47 AM

wow some incredibly useful info there. Thanks Rich.

 

It seems very much like the Fujis are somewhat outdated now - still a great bino but things have moved on. The APMs sound incredible optically.

 

Slightly disappointing to hear about the divergence issue, like you I would expect a perfectly circular FOV as well as collimation, I'm not sure I could live with that long term. Your other comments re. the eyepieces seem to back up my suspicion that Chinese mechanical construction is not yet quite at the level of the good Japanese stuff.

 

thanks for a very interesting review.


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#25 jrbarnett

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 01:25 PM

wow some incredibly useful info there. Thanks Rich.

 

It seems very much like the Fujis are somewhat outdated now - still a great bino but things have moved on. The APMs sound incredible optically.

 

Slightly disappointing to hear about the divergence issue, like you I would expect a perfectly circular FOV as well as collimation, I'm not sure I could live with that long term. Your other comments re. the eyepieces seem to back up my suspicion that Chinese mechanical construction is not yet quite at the level of the good Japanese stuff.

 

thanks for a very interesting review.

It is very interesting.  My perception is that the Japanese are in the process of abandoning the Porro market wholesale on account of declining market segment spend.  The high margin part of the binocular market has shifted to roof prism designs.  The innovation/R&D that is happening in binoculars in Japan seems to be happening places other than Porros.  Other indicia include Nikon and Fuji cancelling certain Porro models entirely or limiting their continued sale to the home market.

 

The Chinese have moved in to fight over the abandoned niche and will use commoditization tactics to divvy up the marketshare.  They have borrowed innovations from the still-evolving roof prism high end of the market - utilization of nicer, complex, LER, wide field eyepieces, low dispersion glass in objectives, etc.  Many top level Japanese and European roof designs use multiple ED elements in the objectives in fact.

 

So in a way the situation is bittersweet.  The writing for Porros is on the wall.  On the sweet side, you will get some innovation in the form of borrowing from adjacent segments, which has resulted in some very nice designs.  On the bitter side, though, when firms compete in a rapidly commoditizing segment, they largely compete on price.  Such segments are characterized by thin and thinning margins so cost control is essential.  The products are by necessity built to a price.  Hence the execution of otherwise mildly innovative designs is under continuous cost constraints.

 

I can't imagine ever needing a 10x50 binocular better than the Fuji Polaris, so I've "opted out" of chasing commoditization and hoping for value plus further innovation in that slot.  Likewise, I'm very happy with the Nikon 18x70s in the 70mm slot.  Unlike the Fujis which try and mostly succeed at delivering a balanced highly oprtimized experience (flat, corrected, immersive, wide-field, precise, rugged, durable, etc.), Nikon's designers on the 18x70s struck a different balance.  To maximize FOV and immersion at 18x, they traded some flatness and off axis correction.  Not much, but some.  What they offer instead is a very wide, slightly uncorrected field of view with a massive immersion quotient (the complex interplay between ER, AFOV, eye lens dimensions, ergonomics, etc.).  Again, I can't imagine wanting anything different in the 70mm higher magnification class.

 

It's in between that I'm looking.  I have Poseidon 10x70s which are effectively a 2 generation old design.  The current generation Porros use wide field, flattening eyepieces and low dispersion glass, the last generation used wide field eyepieces with some flattening, but no ED glass.  The two-back generation, like the Poseidons, used less wide less corrected eyepieces and no low dispersion glass.  Everything else is top drawer - build, robustness, manufacturing precision, etc. - but the design lags by a couple of generations.  Still thousands of pairs of rebranded Japanese Porros that follow this formula are turned out each year by firms like OEM manufacturing firms like GKA that follow this old formula (units like Orion's Mini Giant 9x63 and 15x63 are GKA's for example, and are very much of like-design-generation with the Poseidons).

 

I understand that I missed the boat in the 10x70/11x70 space on having anything like the 18x70s.  Apparently Nikon's original 10x70 Astroluxe prescription was more like the 18x70s - maximize FOV and immersion at the expense of a little off axis correction.  The newer (current) 10x70s are better corrected but a bit narrower in FOV, and therefore less immersive.

 

My problem is that I like my innovation but insist on execution quality too.  That has become fleeting in Porros.

 

Best,

 

Jim   


  • RichD, Uwe Pilz, Paul Morow and 1 other like this


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