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It seems very much like the Fujis are somewhat outdated now - still a great bino but things have moved on.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