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Expecting too much from roof prisms?


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For a while I've been looking out for a decent pair of 10x40 or 50 binoculars, but have hit lots of obstacles along the way and am not really any closer to be honest!

At first I was only looking at porros and followed advice on SGL and got a pair of Opticron TGAs. Crucially, they didn't reach infinity focus without my glasses, but also I found the focus painfully stiff and collimation was way out. So they went back.

I'm not keen on the Pentax WCF due to weight. I could not find any other recommended porros, so I started to look into roof prisms.

Wow, much more choice here, and I was aware I would need to spend more to get performance, but how much more?

I bought a pair of 10.5x45 Vanguard Endeavour EDs and they're very nice overall, but there's much more CA than on my dad's £10 Lidl Bresser porros, and looking at Jupiter last night, astigmatism got very severe off-axis.

What experience do you have with roof prisms for astronomy? Any particular models that deliver the goods at the £300 price mark or am I expecting too much?

Cheers

Andrew

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Well, further experience on the stars with the Vanguards shows they're not too bad at all. The CA is very subtle at night, and lack of off-axis sharpness doesn't really bother me in practice.

Any other roof prism experiences?

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Had quite a lot of experience with roof prisms in this sort of area. I think Jimmyjam has hit the nail with the Hawke EDs for around the £300 mark. There really are loads to chose from in this price range, so it can be a bit baffling. A decent pair of 10x40s (usually 10x42s) will outperform poorer quality 10x50s. I currently use a pair of 8x42s and can quite easily see the likes of M81/81 along with most OCs, nebs and globs. Just to repeat the point, for £300 the Hawke EDs would certainly be my choice... I wouldn't be tempted to spend any more as there really are little improvements in terms of optical quality till you start hitting the £700+ mark.

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Have some Bushnell roof prism binoculars, 2 sets, and they are very good.

Best are the Nature View's, they are 8x42's.

Cost is presently around £160 and I cannot fault them.

Have found that to some extent even the expensive ones may not suit a person. Have tried Nikons and Swarovski and neither have ever impressed, Leicas I found were brilliant - but £1400. Another I never thought lived up to the hype were the RSPB binoculars.

I have to wear glasses as well owing to the inability to focus when I take them off, the wind up/down eyecup of the Bushnells are fine in this regard.

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It's strange but I think you're exactly right Ronin. My partner uses the new Swarovski ELs and loves them... I just can't quite to seem to get on with them. Equally, I didn't get on with Leicas, replaced them with a pair of Zeiss victories and never looked back! It really is some A+ glass in those bins!

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Don't know...There's not many people who don't like Ethos', for example. And if they do it's because they don't like the experience of the large FOV. With binoculars there's many more factors involved, and they're harder to put your finger on.

Not had the pleasure of trying high-end binoculars, so it's really difficult to know where my bins fit on the scale...

The issue is really having no opportunity to compare different bins. There's not a shop ANYwhere nearby to go and try them out. Neitiher in Aberdeen nor Edinburgh. There must be a niche there.....

Andrew

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  • 4 weeks later...

I only use one set of binoculars for any use now. They are my 10x40 Vortex Vipers.

I have had a lot of binoculars in the past and have enjoyed all of them but the vipers are in a different league.

For once I did go to a shop and try some other bins out. I originally had the idea od getting the Hawke ED's. I tried some cheaper bins first, including the pentax PCF and they were all pretty good. The Hawke's were clearly better though and i decided were definatley worth the extra. Then I tried the Vortex.

There was a noticable step up again over the Hawke. At this point I realised These were as good as I could get with out going to the Zeis/leica price point.

I see more with these 42mm bins than i ever saw with budget 60 and 70mm bins. Everything I see is brighter sharper and clearer.

Binoculuar observing is now very rewarding and easy due the small physical size of the bins.

It's just effortless fun with no compramises that com with budget bins.

So in short, roof prisms are at least as good for astro as any porro.

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I bought a pair of 10x42 roofs for £140 not as bright as 10x50 porro but much better colour correction and off axis sharpness than the porro's. I oused to own It turned out that the bins I bought for 140 second hand from ebay were over 600 new. It seems that you can still pick up bargains on ebay binoculars if you do your research a pair of carton adlerblicks went for a ridiculously low price the other day and with just a little research you will see they are a very good set of bins.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Horses and courses I'm afraid. Think what is important to you and read up plenty.

I bought a pair of Leica 8x32 Ultravids in haste as the price was good (as the new HD version had just been released). Mail order shopping has its drawbacks.

When they arrived, only the central sweet spot was sharp, and all the tests said that the glasses were pin sharp.

Here's my mistake, the tests I read were on BIRDING sites, apparently they only really worry about speed of focussing and the sharp spot being sharp.

In the end I got some factory refurbished Nikon EDG from the States (erm, after more thorough reading up!), and they are edge to edge sharper than any bino I've used.

I know it wasn't your original question I answered, but I thought it might help you to learn from my mistake.

ie, do lots of research, then if possible, try out your short list.

But be sure of what you want, FOV, AFOV, sweet spot size, weight, bulk, waterproof, etc etc.

Incedentally, some of the nicest binos I've used are Porros, they are great value, more robust than they seem, and are usually brighter, size for size than roofs of the same quality. I have Nikon EII 8x30 (amazing AFOV and FOV), and some gorgeous Swaro waterproof 8x30.

Good luck!!!

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Definitely echo the last thread about doing thorough research. I bought a pair of Nikon Monarch 10x56 roof prisms a couple of years ago for astronomical as well as terrestrial use (£250-£400 depending on retailer). I bought them for the large exit pupil (5.6mm), lens quality and good reviews. Tried them in the shop and they were fantastic - been very happy with them. Only problem was that when I tried using them for astronomy the CA was appalling, especially on the brighter stars and planets. Also the weight (1155g) and magnification (x10) meant that I couldn't hold stars steady enough for more than a few seconds.

As bins for terrestrial use though can't fault them.

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I picked up a pair of Tasco 9x63's and have been very impressed with them.

They were advertised as having a double image which meant an hour or so setting them up correctly.

Not a problem as they only cost me £20.00 as opposed to £109.00 for new ones.

Solid construction and good focussing, they also have fold back eye cups.

Very little CA on the moon and planets and will easily resolve 4 of Jupiter's moons.

They are however quite heavy at 1.3kg and benefit from a tripod.

The best lightweight inexpensive binoculars I have used have been Tento 10x50's Porro Prisms. Worth a punt at about £40.00 secondhand.

They are very very sharp.

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Research helps but experience is better. I turned to bins after years of disappointing nights setting up only for the clouds to roll in. I attended eight star-parties in 2011-2012 and each was disappointing viewing wise and so I decided to renew my acquaintance with binos which I gained from my experience of birding. I took only bino's to Galloway last November and glad I did. Now as for kit. Someone mentioned Frontiers. I have had every derivative (8) and cannot find fault with them at all especially for the money. Check LCE as I have had a few sets at around £200. Those who look through them at the moons of Jupiter have trouble believing that they can resolve them so well via bino's. I sold what I consider the best bino's on the planet to a member on here last year (Svarovski Swarovision) and the gap between the latest Chinese ED bins is minuscule, certainly not the £1500 difference, not even close. I have a mint pair of Zeiss Dialyt 8 x 56 which for years have wowed the twitchers of this world but even these (£1200) can't compare with the Frontiers. Tonight I will be trying my newly arrived (today) Hawke Pro-Stalk 8 x 56 which in daylight even out-perform my 10 x 43 Frontiers. I will let you know how they perform tomorrow.

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Research helps but experience is better. I turned to bins after years of disappointing nights setting up only for the clouds to roll in. I attended eight star-parties in 2011-2012 and each was disappointing viewing wise and so I decided to renew my acquaintance with binos which I gained from my experience of birding. I took only bino's to Galloway last November and glad I did. Now as for kit. Someone mentioned Frontiers. I have had every derivative (8) and cannot find fault with them at all especially for the money. Check LCE as I have had a few sets at around £200. Those who look through them at the moons of Jupiter have trouble believing that they can resolve them so well via bino's. I sold what I consider the best bino's on the planet to a member on here last year (Svarovski Swarovision) and the gap between the latest Chinese ED bins is minuscule, certainly not the £1500 difference, not even close. I have a mint pair of Zeiss Dialyt 8 x 56 which for years have wowed the twitchers of this world but even these (£1200) can't compare with the Frontiers. Tonight I will be trying my newly arrived (today) Hawke Pro-Stalk 8 x 56 which in daylight even out-perform my 10 x 43 Frontiers. I will let you know how they perform tomorrow.

looking forward to that review
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My review is the shortest possible as they had to go back in the box. I have acquired a 10 x 56 and not the 8 x 56! Fortunately my order shows 8 x 56 so these go back Monday. No wonder they were so very comparable with my Frontiers. Have to say that the terrestrial viewing through these things is simply stunning, slightly brighter than the MKII Frontiers and crisper out to the last 10% edge. Colour rendition is also warmer than the Frontiers. The center diopter has caught me out a few times so something that I will have to get used to. Seems a shame to send them back they really are that good.

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The centre diopter is the only thing I dont like with mine.. with gloved hands its easy to adjust the Diopter when adjusting focus...

Oh and perhaps the fact theat the Front lens caps are dead easy to lose as they walk of the barel of the bins...

Other than that and as a relatively inexperienced Bino User I find then stunning... They are also buitl to take soeme punisment... I forgot to sling mien round the back when belly crawling through the undergrowth once...

Peter...

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