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Anyone seen a review of the Celestron Skymaster 20x80 Binoculars that are 'on special' at the mo.

(I have in the past used big binos, so I know about needing a good fulcrum upon which to steady it ! just wondering , , ,  )

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I haven't read any reviews of the Celestron 20x80's, but here is my personal experience with them:

I've had a pair of Zhumell 20x80's for several years and love them.  They only cost me around $110 and perform perfectly.  On a good night, I can split the trapezium with them!

A few years back,  I thought that I had damaged them using the projection method to observe the Sun, so I thought I would get another pair.  Back in the 80's, I always had good experiences with Celestron products, so decided to purchase a pair of their 20x80's.  Boy, was I disappointed!  Their performance was no where near as good as with my  cheap Zhumell 20x80's, even in their damaged state!

I was going to give the Celestron 20x80's to a newbie to the hobby, but thought better of it, as the abysmal performance of these Celestron bins might discourage their pursuit of the hobby, so they've just been sitting in my storage shed collecting dust for the last five years.

But, then again, there are many people out there who think they are fantastic bins.  Maybe I just got a bad pair, but considering the sub-standard quality of every Celestron product I've purchased over the last six years, I think it is more a case of Celestron's lack of concern for quality control.  It seems that their idea of quality control is to have the customer keep sending back their shoddy products until the customer finally gets what they originally paid for, without so much as offering a discount to the customer for the trouble and expense of sending the defective product back!

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1 hour ago, StarSapling said:

 Back in the 80's, I always had good experiences with Celestron products, so decided to purchase a pair of their 20x80's.  Boy, was I disappointed!  Their performance was no where near as good as with my  cheap Zhumell 20x80's, even in their damaged state!

It seems that their idea of quality control is to have the customer keep sending back their shoddy products until the customer finally gets what they originally paid for,

Thank you, very useful, yes that all sounds dreadfully familiar !

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As mentioned the other day on your microscope thread, I recently picked up a pair of these Kunming BA1 class Celestron 20x80's in the sales. I've used them quite a bit already albeit hand held, maybe 6 times now, so enough to form an opinion compared to the more expensive Kunming BA8 class binos I've been previously used to. These are all from the same factory but each designed for different ends of the market.

Are they as good as the £400-500 binos I've used previously? Err..No....but they are very good for just £79. You can easily pay £79 for a semi reasonable eyepiece, but in the case of these binos you get 2 eyepieces, 2 objectives, some prisms, a structure to hold all this together, an integrated sliding tripod adaptor bar thingy, a good strap, soft case, cleaning cloth, and a bunch of lens caps. Now I think that's pretty good for £79! :) 

Mine luckily arrived collimated, I've heard the stories of many peoples BA1 class binos arriving out of collimation whether they are badged Celestron, Revelation, Bushnell etc. I'm guessing shipping budget binos half way around the world with their budget prism fixings/housings means a number of these would get knocked out during transit, so it's probably cheaper and in a way more practical to let the customer do the QC with the understanding that they can be returned for a replacement without much trouble if they customer is one of the unlucky ones. Obviously different companies could put in QC steps between the factory and customer at extra cost. This is just me thinking out loud but it makes sense to me at least.

My first pair of Opticron 10x50's arrived a bit out of collimation and I didn't like using them at all. Thankfully the replacement pair was issued hassle free through FLO (Thanks FLO :) ) and the replacement pair are pretty good. I've even had BA8's arrive out of collimation before now and I think these have proper cages for the prisms making them more robust, so it's not just the BA1's that can arrive out!

Now my view of my particular Kunming BA1 class 20x80 badged Celestron binos - Bonus points straight the way for arriving well collimated (I'll shut up about collimation now). All moving parts such as the central hinge for adjusting IPD, focuser, dioptre feel well dampened so they are smooth but firm enough to stay where you put them. The rubber objective caps are a firm fit, the eyepiece cap is loose by comparison and prone to just falling off. The supplied strap is nice and padded, the soft case is basic but functions to store them in and carry them around as long as they don't get knocked hard as it isn't padded. The whole binocular is covered in the type of black rubber which seems to be standard issue now days. The objective coatings are even and green tinted but do reflect a bit of light. The barrels are micro ribbed to help prevent stray light. The exit pupil is round with no diamond shaped cut off segments indicating that they are Bak4 prisms. I've not tested this myself but hear that the prisms are under sized so like many cheap 20x80 binos they are more like 20x72mm.

Under the stars: You don't get that snap to focus of premium binos but they are definately sharp enough unless you are directly comparing them to BA8's you wouldn't be dissapointed in the sharpness. They are sharp to around 70% out from memory. There is a bit of scatter stray light etc but nothing you wouldn't expect at this end of the market. On the Moon they show reasonable detail, but they do give a slight yellow cast to the Moon if I'm being critical. I'd heard this prior to owning these binos so was looking for it else I'm not sure it would have occurred to me to be honest. I've found that you need to fold down the rubber eye cups even if you don't wear glasses, but they are comfortable to use like this and my eyelashes don't touch glass which is a pet hate of mine with certain eyepieces. I can see the whole field of view with the eye cups rolled down but not when up...this is why I rolled them down. Looking at Jupiter I could see a bright disc and 4 moons, can't say in more detail than that as I was using them hand held. Other than that I've just been star sweeping hand held and these things bring out a lot of stars. I'm looking forward to mounting them so a can more easily go after specific deep sky objects.

I don't think I can say much more about what they show and how they show it until I get them mounted, but that's going to need to wait unless very cheap. car MOT today, estimated £500-600 in work on the brakes, wheel bearings, and stearing bushes :(  

Back to the bins, I think they are well worth £79 pounds :) 

 

Edited by Chris Lock
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55 minutes ago, Chris Lock said:

brakes, wheel bearings, and stearing bushes :(  

Back to the bins, I think they are well worth £79 pounds :) 

 

Oh dear, if it is any consolation I once used the wheel bearings, disc brakes and Mcpherson struts out of a Ford (so long ago I cant remember if it was a Zepher or a Zodiac ) to make an equatorial mount, and it was before its time in that it was a single fork-arm design by me :)  it was only for a 6" Newt a bit over-engineered ! Hmmm no consolation at all I suppose :(

Thanks for the comprehensive report, very good food for thought, at £79 it isnt going to break the bank, sooooo,  I shall re-read that a few times, the finer points of BA1 and BA8 escape me at the mo. will have to research for education.

Thanks very much.

 

Edited by SilverAstro
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32 minutes ago, SilverAstro said:

Oh dear, if it is any consolation I once used the wheel bearings, disc brakes and Mcpherson struts out of a Ford (so long ago I cant remember if it was a Zepher or a Zodiac ) to make an equatorial mount, and it was before its time in that it was a single fork-arm design by me :)  it was only for a 6" Newt a bit over-engineered ! Hmmm no consolation at all I suppose :(

Thanks for the comprehensive report, very good food for thought, at £79 it isnt going to break the bank, sooooo,  I shall re-read that a few times, the finer points of BA1 and BA8 escape me at the mo. will have to research for education.

Thanks very much.

 

That sounds very interesting, any pics of the mount? 

Lots of info on the net about Kunming United Optics, although categorising the binos looks tricky other than BA1's are budget and BA8, BA9 etc are premium. Kunming seem to have a monopoly of the bino market hence their BA series is often referred to and used to describe the quality.

Edited by Chris Lock
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10 hours ago, Chris Lock said:

That sounds very interesting, any pics of the mount?

Sadly not, and it all (apart from the A frame which enabled the Az and El alignment, leg-ex-lathe, on which it was mounted) went to the scrap about 20y ago :(

Edited by SilverAstro
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5 hours ago, Chris Lock said:

so it's probably cheaper and in a way more practical to let the customer do the QC with the understanding that they can be returned for a replacement without much trouble if they customer is one of the unlucky ones. Obviously different companies could put in QC steps between the factory and customer at extra cost. This is just me thinking out loud but it makes sense to me at least.

Yes I see your thinking but, also thinking out loud, it is a day out of the life of the customer to receive the item and a day out to wait to be able to return it !

I have however, meanwhile, found one that will deliver to a 1hr slot in the day with ability to confirm, which is eminently more sensible !

ho hum

EDIT : and I hope the poor vendor/up-front seller  has a suitable agreement with the importer/sole agent to recoupe the expense*, for he is between a rock and a hard place ?!  *eventually ours

 

Edited by SilverAstro
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