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Current Best Binoviewer?

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#26 Sarkikos

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Posted 20 March 2024 - 07:48 PM

One word says it all:

 

Zeiss

 

I have all of the higher end binoviwers:

Zeiss, Leica, Baader, Denkmeier

 

sold:

Baader Mk5, Denkmeier Binotron 27

 

Kept the Baader Maxbright and Denk II - for outreach

Kept Zeiss and Leica - personal use

Would you use more than one word - many more - and explain why Zeiss and Leica are best?  :grin:

 

Mike


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#27 vkhastro1

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Posted 21 March 2024 - 06:16 PM

Where do I start ?

I my opinion, here are the main reasons.

-Zeiss optical technology is world renowned - goes back well over a century

ie at the battle of Jutland on May 31, 2016 - biggest battleship naval battle in history. The Germans had smaller calibre guns than the British. The Germans managed to hit their targets more accurately on the 2nd or third salvo vs the British which took much more tries (sometimes over 8 or 9). The reason was the German Zeiss stereoscopic rangefinders. The British did not have this technology.

- Zeiss multicoatings are renowned in the medical and dental field. I am a dentist (recently retired) and my partner absolutely insisted on a Zeiss surgical microscopic for root canal, gum, restorative and surgical procedures. Most and if not all the current Zeiss binoviewers are actually the optical head of surgical microscopes.

 

- prism quality and mechanics. You really need to take the various binoviewer units apart and actually see the difference, I have. Zeiss has some of the largest prisms available (30mm clear aperture when “supercharged”) - allows use of longer eyepiece focal lengths (larger field stops) hence larger FOV. A lot of less expensive prisms are internally chipped which may or may not affect the quality of the view. I did not find any of these issues with the Zeiss. The Zeiss prisms are mounted on flat plates with set screws on 2 axes holding the prisms in perfect alignment. The Baader and Denkmeier prisms are not aligned this way - prisms are held in place by some sort of clear elastic material (not sure what it is). You can physical move the prisms around with your fingers (hope they stay in alignment). None of the Zeiss binoviewers that I purchased directly from Europe were out of allignment. A Baader MK V arrived from Europe out of allignment. After spending several frustrating hours trying to get it back in allignment, I returned it and bought another Zeiss unit which again arrived in perfect allignment.

The highest quality Zeiss also use mirrors instead of prisms which further reduces scatter and increased contrast.

 

- 1.25” eyepiece holders/bayonets - the Zeiss units used high quality Baader T-2 eyepiece holder (your choice) and Zeiss T-2 bayonet attachments (again your choice) allowing mating with Baader star diagonals (again your choice). The Baader T-2 also allows the use of thread in 2” or 1.25” nosepieces to use with conventional star diagonals 

 

- minimal to no spherochromatism ie chromatic aberration in the Zeiss “Apo” units - absolutely a must for serious lunar and planetary viewing. 

 

There are a large number of user reports on the Zeiss binoviewer units here on CN - just use the search engine.

Zeiss optics are legendary - in the same league as Astro Physics, Takahashi, Vixen Fluorite, TEC among others.

One look and you are hooked !


Edited by vkhastro1, 21 March 2024 - 06:17 PM.

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#28 betacygni

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Posted 21 March 2024 - 06:48 PM

I own multiple Zeiss APO units, Denkmeier Binotron units, and a set of binovues. Also used to have Maxbright II and older Denk II and the original Denk deepsky. I think the best way to think of binoviewers is like they are diagonals, because they basically are. Is a mirror better than a prism? Depends. I’ve never noticed an optical difference between any of these worth writing home about, similar to diagonals.

I suspect where some people find the Zeiss mirrored based units to perform better is when they are using faster systems without an amplifier, again same you’d see if you used a prism diagonal in a fast system, chromatic aberration and spherical correction errors with standard prism binoviewer. Mirrors perform better in fast systems. Slow focal ratio or using an amplifier? Prisms should be just as good, perhaps even better.

If you’re using an amplifier or a long focal ratio scope I suspect no one would see an appreciable difference, I certainly never have. The difference, if it exists, is less then the on axis performance differences of eyepieces, which is already tiny. I can notice differences between eyepieces, I never have between binoviewers.

My choice in binoviewers is purely based off which system provides the best system integration (ie, do you prefer the glasspaths and swapping eyepieces, powerswitch and having to refocus a lot, the Binovue that’s 100% parfocal in any scope, Linears that are parfocal, etc).

The other important consideration is the ease of achieving collimation. I’d never buy a unit that can’t be fixed by the end user. I believe only the Zeiss APO and Binotrons have this ability.

Edited by betacygni, 21 March 2024 - 07:04 PM.

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#29 denis0007dl

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Posted 22 March 2024 - 04:58 AM

I peronally always prefeer and love FAT GLASS, where refractors are only telescopes Im am willing to own.

There, in my heart, and in my eyes, there always is more shine by loving looking at prisms. Fatter, the better.

 

If we speak about binoviewers, despite my heart and my eyes like much more look AT binoviewers with all prism systems like Baader Mark V, and BIG Zeiss, they doesnt offer best optical performance for my eyes, and for any telescopes I had, have, and tried, including fast big dobsonians, slow and even FAST APO and ED refractors, no matter if Im using binoviewers with or without GPCs.

 

So unfortunately for my heart and eyes, if I want to achieving best possible optical performance, Im forced to use APO binoviewers with all mirror system (excluding mentioning there cube beamsplitter which is made from 2 cemented prisms inside APO binoviewer bottom), because only APO binoviewers can achieve optical performance like no others can (Mark V, Maxbright II, BIG Zeiss - Im still having and loving some of those all prisms binoviewers because Im in big love into FAT PRISMS heart.png + Im holding them for some tests Im doing):

 

1. best colourcorrection by FAR, keeping true apochromatic telescopes performance apochromatic, no matter if newtonian or refractor or MAK etc designs

2. best by far stray light/ghosting/glare controls 

3. lightest of all by far

4. possible easy to collimate anytime by end user

5. no for me annoying polarisation, while my Mark V, and my Maxbright II have it very strongly pronounced. Interestingly, and unexpected, BIG Zeiss dont have it as well, same as APO units.

 

What tottaly unexpectedly I discovered recently, APO binoviewer turned my Sharpstar 94EDPH refractor who have some false colours, to tottaly colourfree APO telescope, by using APO binoviewer + T2 Zeiss spec prism diagonal only.(tried also there Mark V, Maxbright II and BIG Zeiss and call combiantions with mirror diagonals, but none of these works good).

 

On my new APM 152 SD APO f/6 refractor, who have some small false colours because its very fst system + its doublet only, Im definetly reaching best colour correction by combining APO binoviewer + MIRROR diagonal + Baader GPC 1.25x and/or 1.7x.

 

On my TS-CF 155 APO telescope, best colourcorrection Im achieving by combining APO binoviewer + any diagonal and without any GPC needed.

 

By adding my Mark V, Maxbright II, and BIG Zeiss binoviewers to any combination, its immeadiately very noticable difference is false colours production difference vs direct comparation to APO binoviewer, especially by adding more and more magnification, no matter if GPCs are used or not.

 

Im loving, and keeping both Baader Mark V, BIG Zeiss, and APO binoviewer, while destiny of Baader Maxbright II is still not decided while its impossible to clean interior without breaking rubber and plastic wing sides, which is down below, where damaging metal part and paint is very often. I just wish Baader make that fix for easy opening binoviewer, while otherwise, Maxbright II is awsome binoviewer, and I love it very much.

 

Kind regards

Denis


Edited by denis0007dl, 22 March 2024 - 03:09 PM.

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#30 Doug Culbertson

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Posted 22 March 2024 - 02:18 PM


I suspect where some people find the Zeiss mirrored based units to perform better is when they are using faster systems without an amplifier, again same you’d see if you used a prism diagonal in a fast system, chromatic aberration and spherical correction errors with standard prism binoviewer. Mirrors perform better in fast systems. Slow focal ratio or using an amplifier? Prisms should be just as good, perhaps even better.



 

 

I am probably an outlier, but I have never been able to use a binoviewer for Ha solar until I bought one of Denis' mirror based binoviewers, whether on fast or slow systems. Russ Lederman at Denkmeier helped me figure out that my eyes simply can't handle the polarization of Ha in a prism based binoviewer after trying several of his products and suggestions when I had a Binotron.  Since I am mainly a solar observer, this binoviewer has been a godsend for me. 


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#31 Highburymark

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Posted 23 March 2024 - 10:16 AM

I’ve owned WO, OVL (same as Skywatcher), and Baader MkV binoviewers in the past, and currently have Maxbright II and Zeiss Apo units.
WO and OVL were the same optically, but I preferred the ergonomics of the WO. MkV were just too heavy, and I was never satisfied they were 100% collimated, despite testing well. My current two pairs are without doubt the best I’ve owned. I use the Maxbright for wider views of the Sun and Moon. Seeing a massive whole solar disk (in hydrogen alpha) creep into view (with Nagler 13mm eyepieces) at 115x is an experience you’ll never forget. But the Zeiss Apo is the choice for more critical work - for example high power observing of sunspots and active regions in solar white light, and lunar close-ups. I still tend to use single eyepieces for most planetary work.

#32 EboO

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Posted 29 March 2024 - 01:35 AM

I have a MBii and denis0007dl did a very nice mod with clearer aperture and far better collimation. Thanks to him.

#33 ABQJeff

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Posted 29 March 2024 - 10:43 AM

Binoviewers really depend on telescope and purpose.  So it is hard to say what is best.  

 

For instance a linear binoviewer is inexpensive and not the greatest optics BUT it allows use of binoviewers in a newtonian without an added optical path correction/barlow, so some could say that is best because of ease of use in a Dob.

 

A daystar Quark comes with a built in 4.2x barlow, so no glass path corrector needed, so a Denkmeier Binotron powerswitch wouldn’t be needed, and you can just pick a binoviewer that gives you a large clear aperture to get wider fields of view (so that would be Dennis Big Zeiss for top end or the  less expensive (and what I use) TS widefiels binoviewer that Dennis provided the design inputs for).

 

An SCT has a large focus range, so optical path correction is not absolutely required BUT doing so helps take out spherical aberration and aperture reduction due to the increased optical path length.  So a system with T-2 diagonals, small optical path length that can use optical path correctors is best, so Dennis APO zeiss or Denkmeier Powerswitch set-up for SCTs would be best, followed by mid-tier Baader MaxBright II (which I use and enjoy for planetary viewing in my C11).

 

These are just a few example use cases.


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#34 swsantos

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Posted 29 March 2024 - 11:34 AM

Binoviewers really depend on telescope and purpose.  So it is hard to say what is best.  

 

An SCT has a large focus range, so optical path correction is not absolutely required BUT doing so helps take out spherical aberration and aperture reduction due to the increased optical path length.  So a system with T-2 diagonals, small optical path length that can use optical path correctors is best, so Dennis APO zeiss or Denkmeier Powerswitch set-up for SCTs would be best, followed by mid-tier Baader MaxBright II (which I use and enjoy for planetary viewing in my C11).

 

Is a MaxBright II really "mid-tier" in an SCT? I really like mine but have never compared it with a Denk or an APO Zeiss.

 

The Maxbright II seems to have the shortest light path when used with a T2 prism diagonal on a short visual back and the views, as you yourself note, are enjoyable with an SCT as well. Just speaking optically, not about the magnification change convenience of a Powerswitch, nor about the ability to collimate it yourself.


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#35 denis0007dl

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Posted 29 March 2024 - 11:53 AM

Yes, Baader Maxbright II have shortest optical path, even shorter than Mark V.

Denis
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#36 betacygni

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Posted 29 March 2024 - 12:45 PM

Is a MaxBright II really "mid-tier" in an SCT? I really like mine but have never compared it with a Denk or an APO Zeiss.

The Maxbright II seems to have the shortest light path when used with a T2 prism diagonal on a short visual back and the views, as you yourself note, are enjoyable with an SCT as well. Just speaking optically, not about the magnification change convenience of a Powerswitch, nor about the ability to collimate it yourself.


Optical quality wise I couldn’t tell a difference between the Maxbright II and Zeiss APO. The biggest difference I noticed is Zeiss APO best at lack of internal reflections, while the Maxbright II worst in that regard and can create ghost images on brighter stars.

Edited by betacygni, 29 March 2024 - 12:45 PM.

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#37 denis0007dl

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Posted 29 March 2024 - 03:39 PM

Correct.

Except that, I can easily notice false colours production difference, where Maxbright II have obvious amount of them, on daytime objects, and Venus, Juipter, Moon, bright stars.
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#38 swsantos

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Posted 29 March 2024 - 07:18 PM

Correct.

Except that, I can easily notice false colours production difference, where Maxbright II have obvious amount of them, on daytime objects, and Venus, Juipter, Moon, bright stars.

How much of an issue is the longer light path of the Zeiss APO compared to the MBII?

So much written here about loss of aperture with a too long of a light path with an SCT that I, and perhaps others here, have gone to great lengths to minimize it by using prism binoviewers and T2 prism diagonals with short or even non-existent (think Baader lock ring) visual backs.


Edited by swsantos, 29 March 2024 - 10:55 PM.


#39 denis0007dl

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Posted 30 March 2024 - 05:44 AM

How much of an issue is the longer light path of the Zeiss APO compared to the MBII?

So much written here about loss of aperture with a too long of a light path with an SCT that I, and perhaps others here, have gone to great lengths to minimize it by using prism binoviewers and T2 prism diagonals with short or even non-existent (think Baader lock ring) visual backs.

Hello swsantos,

 

APO binoviewer (Ultrashort eyepeices holders) take only, exactly MEASURED 1.65cm more light path than Baader Maxbright II take, so its absolutely not a problem especially if you have telescope who is already binoviewers friendly.

 

In case user dont have binoviewers friendly telescope, there is one fantastic thing for binoviewers users:

Harry Siebert making 1x OCA, who not only does not add any magnification in whole system, but also compensate whole light path taken from binoviewer

https://www.sieberto...Optics-OCA.html

 

He also offer other different magnifications OCAs.

 

And there are also many other Glasspath correctors available from Baader, William Optics, TS, Denkemeier.....who also compensate more or less light path taken from binoviewers system, including barlows and Powermates.

 

Lastly, for refratcor, SCT, Maksutovs users, best is to use T2 system diagonals and attach binoviewer directly to it, to save max possible light path.

 

Kind regards

Denis



#40 swsantos

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Posted 30 March 2024 - 12:18 PM

How do the Ultrashort eyepiece holders compare with the stock eyepiece holders on the MBII and if they are not the same which set of the APOs eyepiece holders are most like the MBII's and what is their light path length?

#41 denis0007dl

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Posted 30 March 2024 - 12:46 PM

Ultrashorts does not have diopter adjustment, BUT if you need diopter adjustment on them, before locking eyepieces, find perfect focus on both eyes, and then lock them using side screws (holders have compression ring, so does not leave set screw marks) in desirable position, and "problem" is solved.

Otherwise, Ultrashorts are way stronger and hold eyepieces in place once locked way stronger than holders from Maxbright II and Mark V.

Another Ultrashort advantage is, you can do small collimation using/locking different screws to lock eyepieces.

Denis

#42 denis0007dl

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Posted 30 March 2024 - 12:48 PM

Eyepiece holders from Maxbright II, and after them on Mark V, looks more fancy than any others if you ask me.

#43 Highburymark

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Posted 30 March 2024 - 02:30 PM

I love the longer light path of the Zeiss Apo! It helps me reach higher magnifications with my favourite 25mm eyepieces. It’s just one of the features which makes the Zeiss complementary to a wider-field prism binoviewer.
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#44 vahe

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Posted 30 March 2024 - 02:44 PM

Here is my story;

.

Currently I have two Binoviewers, one and my favorite is original Zeiss, I bought this one from Astro-Physics back in 1994, the last year that Zeiss offered Astro equipment for amateur market, after that no more. One reason why I prefer this one to any other is its eyepiece slots, these are machined to be exactly 1.25”, there is no play once you insert an eyepiece which takes some effort, and it also takes extra effort to remove the eyepiece from the viewer. The beauty of such tight eyepiece slots is that any focal length eyepiece once inserted will remain in perfect alignment even the very shortest eyepieces. Many who bought the 1994 Zeiss viewers sent theirs back to Astro-Physics so that the eyepiece slots could be machined to be a bit wider for ease of inserting eyepieces in the viewer, big mistake if you ask me, I kept mine the way it was.

.

My second viewer is nearly the same but it was offered by Baader using Zeiss glass, this was the first viewer offered after Zeiss discontinued theirs (1997). Just like the original model the viewer had fixed eyepiece holders, no eyepiece focusers were available at that time. A fellow CN member , Richard Lapides, designed and produced eyepiece focusers for this particular viewer and I bought a set from him and installed it on my Baader binos ($350.00), in this system one eyepiece remains fixed and the other eyepiece will move up and down in relation to the fixed one, you can see it the attached picture, very high quality workmanship as you can see.

.

Vahe

 

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#45 denis0007dl

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Posted 30 March 2024 - 02:51 PM

I love the longer light path of the Zeiss Apo! It helps me reach higher magnifications with my favourite 25mm eyepieces. It’s just one of the features which makes the Zeiss complementary to a wider-field prism binoviewer.

Aha, got it.

I heard that from other users too.

But mainly why I like APO binoviewer longer path is that it makes my whole scope setup bit shorter



#46 denis0007dl

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Posted 30 March 2024 - 04:09 PM

Binoviewers measured light path, without Baader Quick Changer:

Without Baader Quick Changer:

Baader Maxbright II: 10.85cm
Baader Mark V: 11.35cm
APO SS with Ultrashort: 12.5cm
APO SS with Helicall: 13.4cm
APO SS with ClickLock: 13.7cm

Kind regards
Denis

#47 Highburymark

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Posted 30 March 2024 - 08:11 PM

Binoviewers measured light path, without Baader Quick Changer:

Without Baader Quick Changer:

Baader Maxbright II: 10.85cm
Baader Mark V: 11.35cm
APO SS with Ultrashort: 12.5cm
APO SS with Helicall: 13.4cm
APO SS with ClickLock: 13.7cm

Kind regards
Denis


That’s exactly what I calculated Denis - the Zeiss Apo (with a barlow or GPC) gives around a quarter more magnification than the MBII. Really useful when you’re trying to get 25mm microscope eyepieces up to planetary powers.


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