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70mm "Shootout", Part 1: Daylight


BinocularSky
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The Lunts arrived for review today. In short: darned nice. If we ever get a clear Moonless night again before I pop my clogs, there'll be a "Part 2: Night" to follow. This is mostly a photographic report to allow you to draw your own conclusions, largely unencumbered by my bias (if you want that, you'll have to wait for the full reviews).

Meet the contenders:

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R to L (yes, I know.... :shocked: ): Strathspey 15x70 (Strath), Helios Stellar II 15x70 (S2), Helios Apollo 15x70 (HA), Lunt Engineering 16x70 (LE)

(They'll be in the same order Top to Bottom in the images below )

Unlike many similar-looking binos, t he Strath has the "Level 4" coatings, ie.e is nominally FMC. The S2 and LE are binos I have for review purposes, courtesy of TBS (FLO); the other two are mine.

They are all made in the same factory; consequently, they all come with the same microfibre cleaning cloths and generic instruction leaflet. The Strath has an effective aperture of 62mm; the others have a full 70mm. There the similarity ends. The specs are publicly available, so I won't parrot them here. But the S2 has the nicest strap and by some margin! It also has tethered objective caps. The HA objective caps are notorious for popping out. The LE caps fit well and have little tabs to help you remove them. The S2, HA and LE have identical eyepiece covers/rainguards.

I tried to photograph the objectives (and coatings) in near-identical conditions. What a difference!

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You can also tell the difference in coatings  when you shine a bright light down the tube to have a shufti at the prisms. Note how HA and LE have identical prism cages. Bloomin' tricky to make out anything in the Strath (it is easier with the eye than with  the camera).

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A view of the exit pupils reveals a "cat's eye" in the Strath.

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I find it difficult to photograph through the bino. They are all very sensitive to eye placement for CA; if your eye isn't on-axis, fringing is rife. I set the camera to manual for these, so they are all the same exposure (but, unfortunately, not an identical bit of my neighbour's roof - but close).

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I really want to get that LE out under some stars!

Edited by BinocularSky
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Also looking forward to seeing a 'Part 2' to this review.

I'm surprised to see that the S2 seems to have slightly bigger eyepiece lenses than the HA, they seem to be the same as the LE pair. Is that so, Steve?

Mark

Edited by trynda1701
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Nice post Steve, looking forward to part 2 under the stars. It'll be interesting to hear how the Helios Apollo stacks up against the Lunt. I only last week managed to reacquire a 15x70 Helios Apollo (thank you FLO clearance offers  :laugh: ),  and to be honest had forgotten just how much bang for buck it represents! I'd expect the Lunt with its built in field flattners to pull ahead in terms of edge of field sharpness,  but otherwise it should make for a very interesting comparison.

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Yes, the Lunt definitely has a flatter field in daylight tests. I want to see if it's as bright on-axis as the Apollo - as you know, the Apollo is exceptionally bright. If it's as bright as the Apollo and as flat as it seems it might be, I may be very very tempted.

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If it's as bright as the Apollo and as flat as it seems it might be, I may be very very tempted.

Short answer: It is and I am. :grin:

Long answer will have to wait until I have the time to write it up properly. Give me a few days. :laugh:

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  • 4 weeks later...

Did you ever find dark skies and time to do a Part 2 Steve?

Wonderful evening here in Cornwall last night - total Messier Fest and a great way to start the new year.

It did rather help that I've since got a 10" dob so the evening was full of wide field views as well as detailed light bucket fun.

Happy New Year to you all.

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Great post Steve, I'm about to read part 2 but impressed so far. Look at those huge eyelenses of the Lunt! and the Stellar II arn't far behind. Nice demo of the house roof through the exit pupil also, the view through the Strath's is noticably duller which is only to be expected, but it certainly shows where the extra money is. 

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EVERYTHING seems to be £140 more in the U.K.than in the U.S.A.!

 Or does it just seem that way in 'rip off Britain'?

  End of rant.

 Interesting first review Steve!

Partly because we have 20% VAT and the Yanks have between 0 and 11% sales tax depending on state.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All,

Could any luck lucky Lunt 16x70 owners tell me what the diameter of the eyepiece barrels are please? I'm looking to compare to Helios Apollo 15x70 where I am getting quite a bit of pain clamping my nose in between the eyepieces in order to get them up close to my eyes - I think I must have wide bone in my nose. I was wondering if the barrels are not as fat as the HA and I think the rubber eye cups look longer and more malleable.

Thanks, Will

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Hi All,

Could any luck lucky Lunt 16x70 owners tell me what the diameter of the eyepiece barrels are please? I'm looking to compare to Helios Apollo 15x70 where I am getting quite a bit of pain clamping my nose in between the eyepieces in order to get them up close to my eyes - I think I must have wide bone in my nose. I was wondering if the barrels are not as fat as the HA and I think the rubber eye cups look longer and more malleable.

Thanks, Will

Hang on, just seen the full review on Steve's site: http://www.binocularsky.com/reviews/Lunt_16x70.pdf 

47mm width against 45mm (I make) on the HA, but only about 6mm of travel in the rubber eyecup on the HA until you hit hard material I wonder if the fold down eyecup is still better on the Lunts.

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Will, it must be your query that Steve at FLO emailed me about with the same question. Here is my reply to him:
 

Curiously, I have a spreadsheet with all these data (measured, not taken from spec) . I measured the actual "nose relief" as follows: 
Lunt: 6mm (Barrel diameter 50mm,  min IPD 56mm)
Apollo: 6mm (Barrel diameter 51mm, min IPD 57mm)

However, the Apollo eye lens is more deeply recessed and the Lunt therefore has a longer eye-cup (10mm vs 6mm) which may make it more comfortable.

Note this is the diameter of the barrels themselves, not the eye cups, which are  47mm on the Lunt, 46mm on the Apollos.

HTH

Edited by BinocularSky
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