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To Zoom or not to Zoom?


davo
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OK, it's time to replace my cheap and trusty 12x50s. They have been getting worse and after trying them last night i have discovered the focuser completely doesn't move anymore and the eyepieces stuck where they are and this restricts what i can see :-D I have had some great finds thro these and so cannot be without some binos to hand. However this does give me the opportunity to upgrade :-D My old 12x50s were a bit on the shaky side and 15x70s really require a mount of some kind so 10x50s are calling me for my grab and go outside and dart back in when i get cold style of observing.

So to continue my tours of the nights skies i am looking at the "Helios Naturesport Plus 10x50WA" as i have read good things about them on here... but... i have also seen some "Helios 8-20x50 Zoom" binoculars

both here

http://www.green-witch.com/acatalog/Porro_Prism_Range.html

I like the idea of gathering light from the 8x50s but then reverting back to the steadiness of the 10x50s. I've heard Zoom binoculars are not very good for astronomy.... is this still the case?? Anyway i'm pretty sure it's out of these two but should i go for the zoom or fixed magnification?

:icon_scratch:

cheers

Dave

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There is no such thing as a decent zoom binocular for astronomy. The end.

(and binocular repairman Bill Cook tells me off when I say that, on the grounds that "for astronomy" is redundant)

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I am not a binocular expert as I have only ever owned 7 pairs in my life inc 2 zooms but I have never found a set of zooms to be any good and I can certainly think of no high end binoculars manufacturs that make them. there must be a reason for that

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I'd go for the fixed magnification :-)

I think it is the consensus that zoom binoculars have the disadvantage of

-less light passing through

-narrow afov depending on the setting

-high magnification setting has a tiny exit pupil

-high magnification >10x can't be held free hand (at least for comfortable viewing), so requires a tripod

There are some pretty cool binoculars with exchangeable eyepiecs though :-) But as usually, you get what you pay for.

Also Bresser (and Lidl) sell an inexpensive spotting scope 20-60/60 or something like that. 20-30gpb iirc, if you want something portable that is suitable for moon and planets, but no budget- or backbreaker ;-)

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Advertisers say a lot that whilst not untrue may not be accurate. I have no doubt you could use them for astronomy but I very much doubt they would be a good choice. When Zeiss, Leica and swarovski start making them then I will believe you can get good zooms

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There is no such thing as a decent zoom binocular for astronomy. The end.

(and binocular repairman Bill Cook tells me off when I say that, on the grounds that "for astronomy" is redundant)

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Actually I wonder why that's still the case. We get some decent zoom eyepieces nowadays, so why not small decent zoom binoculars. If they equip the binocular with slower objectives (>F6), I can't see why they can't make a decent zoom for under £1k.

PS. Docter Aspectum 80/500 has a 20-50x zoom option, but it costs €3.9k and it's straight through.

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Advertisers say a lot that whilst not untrue may not be accurate. I have no doubt you could use them for astronomy but I very much doubt they would be a good choice. When Zeiss, Leica and swarovski start making them then I will believe you can get good zooms

Actually I wonder why that's still the case. We get some decent zoom eyepieces nowadays, so why not small decent zoom binoculars. If they equip the binocular with slower objectives (>F6), I can't see why they can't make a decent zoom for under £1k.

PS. Docter Aspectum 80/500 has a 20-50x zoom option, but it costs €3.9k and it's straight through.

Ok so ziess do make zooms but it seems not very affordable

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As i'm thinking my next binos should be a decent replacement i just thought i'd add these in to the mix...

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/porroprism/opticron-imagic-tga-wp-porro-prism.html

Are they worth the extra over the "Naturesport's"? I believe the "Imagic's" are nitrogen purged. Also I am recently a spectacles wearer but haven't used any binoculars or telescope with them yet but feel i will do soon. Don't know if that makes a difference with either pair. 19.5mm on the Imagic's and not sure what mm on the Naturesport's.

The field of view is 6.5 degrees on the Naturesport's and 79m on the Imagic's... what does 79m mean??? how many degrees is that? can anyone help? I'm liking the sound of 6.5 degrees though :smiley:

Generally though are "Opticron Imagic's" a better choice?

Dave

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I always find the best bin reviews outside tetenterre's and cloudy nights are birders ones unfortunately they don't tend to use 10x50s because of weight but they do give a pretty good indication of a ranges optical and build quality. I tend not to worry about it when they go on about field of view birders tend to obsess about how wide you can see. Instead look for how much they can see clearly. That review talks about clear and sharp to 90% which for astro is plenty good. Yes you can get better but its getting that last 10% that makes the price shoot up. Like telescopes and eyepieces getting to 90% is only relatively expensive. getting over that is what makes the alpha glass and prices

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We get some decent zoom eyepieces nowadays, so why not small decent zoom binoculars. If they equip the binocular with slower objectives (>F6), I can't see why they can't make a decent zoom for under £1k.

PS. Docter Aspectum 80/500 has a 20-50x zoom option, but it costs €3.9k and it's straight through.

Nikon and Minolta made some apparently reasonable 25mm zoom binoculars in the past. I've never actually handled one, and I would not consider a 25mm as "good" for astronomy. The main issue is that the current crop of zooms are centre-focus and zoom lever type. Just to make a 30x centre focus binocular that holds collimation is an engineering feat. Leitz used to make one -- I can't find my blurb on it at the moment, but it was pricey; there have also been other mounted military ones, but as far as I know there have been no other "commercial" offerings. Add in the complication of needing to zoom the eyepieces so that they maintain magnifications within 1% of each other, holding collimation to better than an arcminute at 30x and half that at x60 and you are looking at something that is going to be prohibitively expensive to make.

My understanding (someone please correct me if this is wrong!) is that the Docter Aspectem 20-50x has individually focusing and zooming eyepieces, not a "zoom lever" like your usual zoom binocular. And, as far as I'm concerned, it is prohibitively expensive for an 80mm binocular! :laugh:

Edited by tetenterre
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When I mention modern zoom eyepiece, I was thinking about independent click stop zoom eyepieces rather than the common single lever zoom. Something like replacing the eyepieces on a Kunming BA8 with a pair of clickstop zoom. I guess technically this would make it a binocular with multiple magnifications rather than a true zoom. I agree a binocular with continuously adjustable zoom operated with a single lever will be very expensive to make.

A small zoom binocular isn't going to be very useful for astronomy. Magnification over 10x will be difficult to handhold, while magnification less than 7x will produce an exit pupil that's too big. However, a larger mounted binocular with multiple magnification can be quite useful.

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When I mention modern zoom eyepiece, I was thinking about independent click stop zoom eyepieces rather than the common single lever zoom. Something like replacing the eyepieces on a Kunming BA8 with a pair of clickstop zoom. I guess technically this would make it a binocular with multiple magnifications rather than a true zoom. I agree a binocular with continuously adjustable zoom operated with a single lever will be very expensive to make.

A small zoom binocular isn't going to be very useful for astronomy. Magnification over 10x will be difficult to handhold, while magnification less than 7x will produce an exit pupil that's too big. However, a larger mounted binocular with multiple magnification can be quite useful.

So, are you going to put two Baader click-stop 8-24mm zooms in one of these

http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p1796_TS-APO-Gro-fernglas---100mm-Oeffnung---90--Einblick---1-25--eyepieces.html

beasties?

Should be interesting. :D

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The only 8-24 zoom I've owned (Vixen LV) was fun to use, but had a very small FoV at the 24mm end, a lot of ghosting on bright objects and wasn't brilliant below about f/7. Presumably the modern crop is better, but, apart from convenience, I'm struggling to see an advantage over interchangeable fixed eyepieces. (I have x20 and x37 eyepieces for my Miyauchi -- the x20 haven't been in it for years -- the x37 is just so much nicer to use. They also did a x26 set.)

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... but, apart from convenience, I'm struggling to see an advantage over interchangeable fixed eyepieces. ...

I think that's the only reason why anyone would be interested in zoom eyepieces.

Interchangeable eyepiece binocular is another rare beast. I wonder why? I thought it would be quite sensible to have interchangeable eyepieces in large binocular over 70mm. As far as I know, the only ones on the market are Miyauchi (and clones), and the VERY expensive Kowa Highlander and Docter Aspectem.

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There is no such thing as a decent zoom binocular for astronomy. The end.

Steve - I would tend to agree with you on that point (even though we do have some zoom binos in the Opticron range) but I was very pleasantly surprised at how well the new Nikon Aculon compact zoom performs:

http://www.nikon.com/products/sportoptics/lineup/binoculars/compact/aculon_t11/index.htm

Try to get your hands on one and let me know that I didn't just happen to look through the one and only, hand-crafted, cherry example :-)

Cheers, Pete

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Interchangeable eyepiece binocular is another rare beast. I wonder why?
Probably a combination of cost and demand. An interchangeable-eyepiece binocular is going to be more than twice as expensive than an equivalent interchangeable eyepiece telescope -- and most people will be satisfied with the telescope. Oh, and add Borg and Binoscopes to your list.
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Try to get your hands on one and let me know that I didn't just happen to look through the one and only, hand-crafted, cherry example :-)
I've heard similar praise from another source, so maybe not a cherry-picked example :laugh: . What's the FoV like at the 8x end?
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