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Yet another request for advice


JulianFR
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Apologies in advance...  I realise this question has been asked several times before, but I would appreciate thoughts on budget 10×50 binoculars for astronomy, for portability and to keep in a car.

Specifically, which of these would you recommend... Or an alternative?:

* Helios Naturesport Plus

* Strathspey Marine

* Olympus DPS1

Also, is the fact that some binoculars are nitrogen-purged significant beyond keeping the damp out? For instance does it imply better optics or manufacture and is it worth having if there is no intention of being somewhere wet?

Many thanks.

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JulianFR..........Hi, I've Just been down this same route and in the end,  I purchased the Helios 8x40WA to join my collection.


I looked at all  of the brands  you have chosen and the Marines are sold by a vendor very near to me (well a two hour return trip ?). The marines have IF ( Independent / Individual Focus ) this could be a problem with fast focusing during terrestrial observations, It must take twice as long to focus, because they are separate, although with practice, you could become proficient. I still wan't to try and test the Marines, but also I have just seen a Nautical pair of Binoculars from another dealer near Inverness who has a binocular that is a 'best buy' 


The DPS-I (DPS=Deluxe Porro Prism) has 'Monolayer' coatings on its optics, whereas most other binoculars would say Fully Multi Coated- FMC) and without too much detail on the subject, I would choose at this moment in time the letters FMC!


The  8x40's I now own are very good, and very cheap at present, and available in 10x50 format. I assume the Naturesport-Plus in 10x50 would be just as good, but a narrower angular field of view.


Nitrogen purging leaves the inside of the binoculars 'Dry' so nothing can condense on the "inside" of the binoculars, which could occur during extremes of temperature difference, ie leaving your 22°C house in Winter to a -12° Winter garden, and back again. Somewhere along that path, your optics will mist up. The Nitrogen purging helps to prevent  condensation forming.


Fully Water Proof  binoculars can we washed in the shower, if contaminated with sand or sea salt, so is an added protector to your binoculars. Purging doesn't make the optics any clearer, the optics themselves have to be off decent quality. BaK-4 is often quoted as the better optic? There is advice available on their differences.

Edited by Charic
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That's very helpful both, thanks for the information. I see the Binocular Sky link mentions the Helios and the Strathspeys. And I can now certainly see the value of nitrogen purging.

I'm leaning towards the Strathspeys... I like the idea of the individual focusing (I struggle a bit with centre-focus/dioptre arrangement). But does anyone know if there is much of a difference between the Waterproof and the more expensive Marine models, with astronomy in mind? They seem to have identical specs, although externally they look different.

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I don't doubt that any of these optics are really bad. Your own eyes alone, will tell you if the binoculars are any good. They have to feel right and work well for your conditions. That's a major problem of buying without trying. Have a word with Strathspey, see if its possible to buy them, on the grounds that if they don't feel right, you could return them, or just sell them on via an auction site, but their you lose out, and will get less than you paid? I've spoken with them, and I'm trying to arrange a date to view them, some time soon. Even if I don't buy on the spot, at least I`ll have an idea of what to buy next for my 10x50 slot!


'IF' focusing  is ok for Astronomy, because focusing at infinity is not an issue. It only becomes an issue when following nature or aircraft at various distances and often rapidly changing distances, But once set, if your the only user, they should be ready to go straight from their case.


water proofing should withstand a shower possibly, but Marine quality are supposed to be able to take extreme submersion ( like you would want too ?) doesn't mean you go swimming with them, just means, their better than water-proof. 


The marines are built to last. If you overcome the 'IF' focusing, then they should be fine. BinocularSky still has a pair in "his Van"! So they'll take the abuse. He's mentions taking the Waterproofs as being the "Cheaper Option" if he were to buy some today?. . Building Mil-Spec or Marine quality often ensures that the binoculars are much more sturdier, and quite often heavier due to the extra protection they afford. I think their about £55 dearer than when he first purchased his 'Marines'



Considerations:.........If you live on a Boat, its a no-brainer, you would need something fully waterproofed, could float,  wide enough angle of view to use whilst "Under-way" This makes them easier to use over higher magnification..

Next do you need waterproof? If its raining, then rain needs clouds and clouds block stars.

If you need the utmost protection, water-proof / shock proof ect, then normally Mil-spec (Military spec) or Marine is the way to go.


I live on the coast so Marine is still a favoured design for me, just not sure If I need 'IF'. If that works for me, then I would possibly get the 10x50 Strathspey Marine, for their write-up alone, but seeing is believing, and If I like them they would be more for general observation work combining coastal observations in all weathers, even sand/dust storms, and given the 10x50 is still very much hand holdable for me at night time, and under perfect dark sky conditions, should offer better contrast over my lower powered binoculars. Like my EP's, i have binoculars for various tasks, one binocular cannot master them all!

Edited by Charic
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Thank you Charic ... That is great advice and very helpful. I don't 'plan' to be submerged any time soon so it sounds like the Waterproofs and the centre-focusing may be the best choice. And you're right... It does make sense to see through them before buying.

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JulianFR,

I have the Strath Marines (United Optics BA6)  and have used the others. The Marines are very sharp over most of the field, but this is at the cost of the aperture being masked at the entrance to the prism housing, effectively stopping it down to about 41.5mm. The waterproof (United Optics BW7) is also stopped down, but only to about 45mm. I didn't think to test the Oly DPS when I got my hands on one. With the stopping down of the UO versions, it may be worth considering the smaller versions (e.g. 8x40 and 8x45 respectively - the former is unstopped, the latter stopped to an effective 8x40) for the advantage of wider FoV and being significantly lighter.

The WP has the interesting (irritating?) "feature" of focus lag. The eyepiece bridge rocks quite a lot and, when you focus the binocular, the eyepiece tubes take a second or so to stop moving. This is due to the waterproofing O-rings doing their job. Once you have your focus fixed for astronomy, there is no need to change it, so this is not a huge issue. They are noticeably brighter than the Marine, but not nearly as robust.

When the DPS are at the low end of their seemingly wild price fluctuations, I think they represent very good value for money.

Don't worry too much about coatings and BaK-4 prisms on any of these binoculars. On budget binoculars (as these all are) there are more important considerations; I go into this in some (too much? :laugh: ) detail here. If you do try out various binoculars, this page may help you compare them.

I hope that helps.

Edited by BinocularSky
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I bought a pair of Helios Weathermaster III 10x50's for keep-in-car duties, and i love them.Tried alongside the Naturesports and the Weathermasters had the edge: great view night and day, solid-feeling and rubbery-grippy, BAK4, nitrogen-purged and dew-proof. I put a review on here somewhere.

Binoculars are very personal things so if you can try before you buy I'd recommend doing so.

Enjoy the choosing!

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Thanks for that further suggestions Simon and Liav. I'll investigate those.

Steve, I appreciate the advice and the further links, which I have looked at now. Binocular Sky is such a brilliant site. Many thanks for creating it!

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