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Stu

Helios Apollo 22x85 First Light

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Having recently acquired some nice Opticron 20x80 binoculars, I of course could not resist the temptation of a larger pair when the opportunity arose. I did buy some 25x100's from AstroBoot but they arrived out of collimation so were returned. Perhaps someone picked them up cheaply to re-align?

Anyhow, the Helios Apollos seem to get excellent reviews, so I nabbed these 22x85s when they came up on ABS. They are big, but more manageable than the 25x100s and sit quite nicely on my Trigger grip ball head thingy. Once I had tightened the tension adjustment a little it holds firm even pointing towards the zenith. Not that it's easy to observe up there without significant contortionism! (The smaller binoculars in the image for comparison are B&S 8x56.)

These binos have Bak 4 prisms, individual focusing and are described as waterproof; I hope I don't have to test that though. The field of view is three degrees which seems reasonable for this mag, I would rather have a smaller, sharper field than a wider view which suffers from nasty distortions.

The exit pupil should be 3.86mm from straight calculation. I have not attempted to measure it, but viewing through the eyepieces shows a nice round disk of light, free of any intrusions which would indicate under-sized prisms. The objective coatings seem good, not that I am any sort of expert, but they appear a deep purple, blue or green colour depending upon the angle of view. Being used, they could do with a bit of a clean but any marks are just dew spots, not coating damage.

The central tripod mounting point is solid and holds the binos very firmly, whilst also being adjustable front to back to get the optimum balance point depending upon the type of viewing you are doing. Adjustment of the interpupilliary distance was smooth and easy to set. The focus adjustment on each eyepiece was also smooth, easy to use and seemed to hold position once set.

The final nice feature to point out are that the eyepieces are threaded to take 1.25" filters. I splashed out on an ES OIII and UHC filter to put in there for better performance on nebulae. They were a little fiddly to thread in but once engaged they were a good fit. Easier with smaller fingers than me though!

So far I have only had a fairly brief first light and am happy with the views. I had no issues with merging the images, collimation seems spot on. I found the separate adjustment of each eyepiece a little fiddly. I am used to adjusting the diopter and then just using the centre focus. I normally tweak the centre focus quite regularly so the concept of setting and leaving is one I am unfamiliar with.

When I viewed, I don't think the seeing was particularly good. I was seeing three stars clearly in the Trapezium, but perhaps not as sharply as I expected. I think this may in part be to do with getting used to the focusing though. I must get my eyes checked again soon though, it has been a while and it is possible that I may have developed some astigmatism. Performance on the nebula itself was lovely though. A gentle green glow and plenty of nice detail with averted vision. Under a dark sky I can see these will be amazing.

I need to spend more time with these binos but my impression so far is that they seem pretty sharp across most of the field which is very nice. Mizar split with little problem in the centre and if I remember correctly also near the edge but I will confirm this. The field of view is plenty big enough to show M45 framed with enough sky to be taken in in all its glory.

That's about all for now, I will update when I have a more extensive session with them, plus get to use the filters.

Observing at higher altitudes will probably present a bit of a problem but potentially reclining in a chair with the tripod set widely over them would have a chance of success. If dark enough I may consider lying down too ??

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Thanks for the review. Are you still planning on getting a 25x100?

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20 minutes ago, Oli said:

Thanks for the review. Are you still planning on getting a 25x100?

No, I think these will do me fine. They are actually quite manageable, and probably not so far off the 25x100 lesser quality ones because they will likely be stopped down more. I think the Helioa are pretty much full aperture from what I've read, 84mm.

If I did get something bigger in future then they would likely be ones with 45 degree angles eyepiece holders and replaceable 1.25" eyepieces.

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Very nice Stu :) have you placed the UHC on one side and the OIII on the other? If so I would be interested to hear how you get on with them?

  I've owned a few BA8's in various sizes from big to huge, they are built like tanks and all optically very good. They hold collimation well but if they ever go out give me a shout, I've fixed a couple of pairs in the past so can advice on that front :) 

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3 minutes ago, Chris Lock said:

Very nice Stu :) have you placed the UHC on one side and the OIII on the other? If so I would be interested to hear how you get on with them?

  I've owned a few BA8's in various sizes from big to huge, they are built like tanks and all optically very good. They hold collimation well but if they ever go out give me a shout, I've fixed a couple of pairs in the past so can advice on that front :) 

Thanks Chris. Yes, couldn't justify buying two of the same filter and have done this before with my Canon Binos to good effect ie a UHC on one channel and OIII on the other.

Looking forward to giving them another try out soon, they seem very good from what I've seen so far.

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I think you'll be very happy with them. If you've read the comparison I did between a friend's 22x85s and my 15x70s you'll know that they were easily better on M42 and a bit better on star clusters, not so much for the extra light brought in but for the magnification being able to make more sense of the smudge. From what I've read, with the 22x85s more or less actually measuring 22x85, they should be very close in performance to comparably priced 25x100s as those should actually measure something in the region of 23x90-ish and I am sure the Apollo's have much better coatings to probably more than make up the difference. You'd have to pay a lot more, or get the 20/28x110 Apollos, to better them.

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Great report Stu! I was sorely tempted by these on ABS, but resisted because they would probably require a rebuild of the P-mount I made. I am glad they have gone to a good home.

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Any update to this after second light last night for around 30 mins.

I have cracked the focusing I think, just some careful adjustment on a not too bright star in the centre of the field and I'm now happy with leaving it set where it is. I do think they benefit from a short period of cool down time too which I guess makes sense. The trapezium was clearer last night than previously, and Mintaka split nicely (not too tricky though that one!)

I tried the filters out but suspect conditions and my dark adaptation were just not good enough to make the most of them. From past experience with my Canons it should work well from a dark site.

Going back to my comment about splitting Mizar, I was wrong. The stars are sharp and clear in the centre of field, but beyond about 50% of the way out I could no longer split them and there is distortion in the star shapes from there to the edge of the field. Actually this is not too much of a problem. Generally with binoculars you move them rather than moving your eyes around the field so the overall effect is still nice. M45 for instance looked great, as did the Double Cluster. Not like viewing through the Tak obviously, but definitely nicely resolved into stars.

The Auriga clusters were another example of the benefits of the added magnification and resolution, resolving into stars rather than just being faint fuzzies in smaller binos. NGC457, the Owl or ET cluster was another excellent example of this, very nice and relatively large in the fov.

CA is actually surprisingly well controlled, though still present obviously. It was most extreme on Jupiter's disk, but the Gallilean moons themselves were very clear and all four were seen quite readily. I'm used to squinting at them in binos trying to work out home many I can see, not with the big Apollos though.

Gripes? As I expected from past experiences, observing above a certain altitude is tricky and uncomfortable. I need to have a think about both mounting and seating to get the best out of them. At one point, observing at the zenith, I saw a few more stars than I wanted! I released the trigger grip without having them supported properly and smacked myself on the nose! Won't do that again!! ??

Setup and pack down is very quick though, faster than using the Tak and for times when I can't take a scope, they will be very good. Scanning the Milky Way with them, or grabbing M33 or M101 under a dark sky should be great.

I shall report back in the future when that happens. Hopefully I can get some use out of them at SGL11 though so shouldn't be too long.

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I will have my 25 x 100mm bins so we can do a comparison if you like.

Mark

 

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15 minutes ago, mdstuart said:

I will have my 25 x 100mm bins so we can do a comparison if you like.

Mark

 

Sounds good Mark ??

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I find I use mine more in the daytime, than at night.

They are great terrestrial   binos. I go to Beachy Head &

do a bit of ship watching, in the channel. The focusing

is a bit of a pain. The moon is amazing, through these.

 

Steve.

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Hello,

 For wide angle vistas is best the 22X or the 15x85 model ?

I hear that 15X70 is very good in this sense, but the 85mm is more bright..

Thank you

Paul

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You get an extra half a degree with the 15x85s, 3.5° vs 3° of the 22x85. In the test I did with my 15x70s against the 22x85s I didn't find there to be a massive difference in brightness. It was pulling in a little bit extra, but only in the sense that objects which were on the edge of visiibility in the 70s were just a touch brighter in the 85s, but averted vision was still needed to see them. For me their great strength was the additional magnification it gave as it helped to break open star clusters a little more.

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18 minutes ago, spike95609 said:

You get an extra half a degree with the 15x85s, 3.5° vs 3° of the 22x85. In the test I did with my 15x70s against the 22x85s I didn't find there to be a massive difference in brightness. It was pulling in a little bit extra, but only in the sense that objects which were on the edge of visiibility in the 70s were just a touch brighter in the 85s, but averted vision was still needed to see them. For me their great strength was the additional magnification it gave as it helped to break open star clusters a little more.

I would agree that the extra mag certainly helps with resolving open clusters, very nice.

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