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Vixen New Foresta 10x56: A more thorough test


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Having got these bins as replacement for my ancient Bresser 10x50s, for a mix of birding and astronomy, I have mainly been checking them out on terrestrial targets. As I regported before, the centre is very sharp indeed, but in the outer field it seems to lose crispness, in part due to field curvature because I could improve the outer field sharpness by refocusing. They are clearly better in this respect than the Bressers, but I had a nagging feeling that the Vortex Viper 10x50s I had seen in a shop were distinctly better. I went back to the shop and they kindly let me do a head to head comparison. My memory suggested the Vortex was very sharp at the edges, but renewed testing showed this wasn't the case. There was definitely a drop off in sharpness in the outer field. They were a touch sharper at the edge than the Vixens, but the Vixen has a larger field, so the effective field was almost the same. My memory may have been cheating me, but I do know I tested the Vortex initially in bright sunshine, not the dull weather we have been having this last week. The contracted pupil in bright sunshine effectively cuts down the aperture reducing aberrations and increasing depth of field. Yesterday evening I did another test of the new bins on terrestrial targets in the garden, and noted again how comfortable the open hinge design is, and how steady the view. I then spotted a bird with a orange breast land in a branch of a pear tree overhanging the water behind the garden, and thinking it was a robin pointed my binoculars there. I was treated to a brief vision of orange and several shades of saphire as the kingfisher moved into view. For a brief moment I was stunned by the superb detail in the plumage, before it darted away.

So now celestial targets. This morning the skies were finaly clear, and I managed a look at Venus, Jupiter and Mars with the new binoculars, and I made a comparison to the old Bresser 10x50 and Helios Apollo 15x70. I first went for the Vixens, and was very pleased at the quality of the image. The outer 20% of the field is less sharp, with some seagulls appearing, but the centre region is very nice indeed. I could make out the phase of Venus and the disk of Jupiter much more easily with the Vixens than with the Bresser. The colour of Mars was also much more distinct in the Vixen, partly I think because Venus looked pure white in the Vixens, while it had a distinct yellow cast in the Bressers. I then switched to the Helios Apollo, and that picked up the phase even better (obviously), and showed the moons of Jupiter much more clearly.

All in all I am pleased with the Vixens, though they are by no means perfect. The outer field could be better, but I have a feeling you will need to spend a lot of money to get that better. The Vixens were 449 euro at www.fernrohrland.de, whereas the smaller Vortex was 649 here in the local shop, and that seemed roughly on a par, or perhaps a shade better. Of course, the larger optics of the Vixen (which gave a subtly, but distinctly brighter image than the Vortex) do make aberration control more difficult.

Comfort of the new bins is great, with eye relief good enough for those with glasses (the Vortex Viper has a shade more). Focus is rock solid, unlike the wobbly bridge of my Bressers. Colour neutrality is excellent. Only if a super deal on second hand Leica or Zeiss 10x56 bins comes along will I replace these, I feel.

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Thanks for posting! That's given me a lot to think about as I've been idly looking at the Vortex Vipers, although I'm more in the 10x42 range for general use but have been taking a look at the 10x50s too. I've read very glowing reports with oddly no negative opinions at all about the 10x42, but can find very little on the 10x50. From what you say, I think the Vortex and Vixen would be more or less equal if it weren't for the wider field and the extra aperture of the Vixen, except for the fact that the Vixens are significantly cheaper. Which makes me wonder how their 10x42 model stacks up.... more research I think!

Edited by spike95609
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Managed a look at stars yesterday, and was well pleased. I do not notice much in the way of seagulls, except on brighter stars in the outer field (10-15%). There is some loss of sharpness before, but not too bad. This is better than what I expected from the earlier test. Venus does seem to show some "wings" a bit earlier, but given its brightness that is probably to be expected.

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