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Beyond the horizon of the places we lived when we were young

In a world of magnets and miracles

Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary

 

Floating weightless like a Pink Floyd song, magnetic suspension binoculars seem to be a treat; I wish I could try one. Unlike traditional stabilized binoculars, they work without motors, electronics and dying batteries, and they have been around for a while, now. But they still cost a fortune, so several questions arise.

1. Does anybody have schematics of their mechanism? I searched but found none. I hate not knowing the inner workings of the things I might use, and I hate not knowing the inner workings of any machine, anyway.

2. Seeing that mechanism, is it possible to have an idea of their shock resistance and long term resistance to wear?

3. Again, seeing their mechanism, is it possible to tell if the price is justified? Or is it maybe people want them so bad the makers charge a lot?

 

The no-longer available Farvision (Newcon) 20x50 performed very nicely, almost no loss of sharpness at the edge, and no bothersome chromatism either:

 

The newer Zeiss electroless stabi has a whiplash of a price, 7,200€ but it's not even a flat-field, it's not an apochromatic binoc, and it lacks the nitrogen filling (though it is waterproof):

https://www.binomania.it/zeiss_20x60/

So, how can someone know if the price is justified? Is this system likely to be sold for less anytime soon, and what are the limitations in diameter and field compared to our regular binocs?

Edited by Ben the Ignorant

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I didn't know they existed so thanks for an intriguing post! Not a clue how they work.

Olly

Edit: could the system get its information on the current position of the instrument from the Earth's magnetic field? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetorquer

Edited by ollypenrice

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As I understand it, the magnets in these are not the core part of the stabilisation system, but are used to dampen the motion of a cardanic suspension system. So the prism assembly will be mounted using a 3x gimbal arrangement, with some sort of counterweight to stablise it, and the magnet is somehow used to damp any rocking (I don't know exactly how, but that's the principle).

Quite an old system (I think it's how ship's chronometers work too, though I may be wrong).

Billy.

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Thank you, Billy, your spies are better than mine. So that mechanism is complicated, that could justify the eye-popping price, but does it really? I understand fine clockwork is not cheap, but a huge price requires a lot of hard info to be accepted.

Next, when it is miniaturized, does it remain tough enough to resist a hard bump? Does it require maintenance, or is it really "eternal" as the italian reviewer says?

And, how is it that many electronic stabinoculars (Fujinon, Canon, Vixen) which also contain fine mechanisms cost only a few hundreds? I find it very frustrating that a purely gears-and-levers instrument would cost so enormously more than an electro-mechanical one. With the added obligation to hire ninjas to get a blueprint to see how it works inside, on top of that.

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The Russians designed a binocular for the military that used a mechanical stabilising system.  I think an internal gyroscope did the job. Possibly a windup one.

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My digital watch cost £10 and keeps better time than those lovely mechanical ones you can get for ££££.

Canon IS work nice, the newer models reported to have even better stabilisation. If you look after them they should last well (mine is around 15). Why do people always seem to wonder if they can use their binoculars as a hammer?!

Peter

  • Haha 1

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1 hour ago, PeterW said:

My digital watch cost £10 and keeps better time than those lovely mechanical ones you can get for ££££.

Canon IS work nice, the newer models reported to have even better stabilisation. If you look after them they should last well (mine is around 15). Why do people always seem to wonder if they can use their binoculars as a hammer?!

Peter

The IS is certainly a good step. I can’t see an astronomical reason for investing in these. Surely, you would buy a much bigger pair with cracking optics and a decent mount? For use at sea, nature spotting, covert stuff; yes. Maybe....

I’d be really interested what sort of Bino setup the more creative members of SGL could cobble together for the same money!

Peter - you are sooo right. I’ve got over £5k worth of Superlative Cronomatical Swiss self winding mechanical paperweights sitting in a draw (from a greatful sponsor in a previous life). Kept lousy time, then one stopped working altogether about 7 years ago and the other followed suit 6 months later! Can’t afford to get them repaired and buy Astro gear. Fortunately my phone seems to tell the time perfectly well.

Just don’t get me started on noise cancelling headphones. Grrrrr. 

Sorry this wasn’t supposed to be a rant thread.

PauL

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1 hour ago, PeterW said:

Canon IS work nice, the newer models reported to have even better stabilisation. If you look after them they should last well (mine is around 15).

I know but I prefer manual mounts over electric ones, and manual dobs over go-to dobs, and I don't like to worry about batteries. Until I know what's inside these magnetic stabinoculars I don't know if they're interesting or not. Could be they're grossly overpriced, could be not. Could be they're not durable, could be they are. The lack of information is as frustrating as the price.

Another area of doubt is the Canon and Fujinon electric stabinoculars are no larger than 50mm, is it a marketing choice or is there a technical limit to their diameter? I control binocular shake well with my 10x50 and 8x40 but the 16x70 is harder to control. Right now I wouldn't buy a 70mm costing more than the Helios Stellar II 15x70, that is 200€. If I stumble upon a bag of emeralds on the sidewalk I might go as high as 600€ for an APM apo 16x70.

But as long as my doubts about the magnetics are not cleared I'm stuck. The lack of the usual cheaper chinese competitor is a bit strange.

1 hour ago, PeterW said:

Why do people always seem to wonder if they can use their binoculars as a hammer?!

I don't use my binocular as a hammer but gravity might. 😥

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 Phones have a network and GPS to keep right. Stabilising binoculars are mainly for daytime usage and don’t need big exit pupils, makes it easier to get sharper optics.  Can’t see why they could go larger, the stabilisation is a moving optical element.

I have some old (pretty cheap) 15x70, the peripheral quality of which is now bugging me, as in the past few years I have “discovered” good wide angle 7/8x bins! Have to start looking for bags of emeralds....

For the Zeiss money you could get a pair of the worlds best bins, the Nikon 10x50WX (with spare for a tripod to mount the, on).

... my my ears are not perfect either, so I own no expensive HIFI kit either!

 

PEterW

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Worth bearing in mind that the bino alone would not be cheap. A low production run Zeiss bino with 60mm objectives probably isn't going to get you much (if any) change from £5k.

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Interesting video. I love Zeiss optics, but 7200 euros for a 20x "fixed" power binocular of limited use is questionable, and better stability than shown in the video could easily be provided by a tripod.  When temperature on warmer days rise enough to create mirage 20x magnification would be useless; even 12x would struggle to provide a discernible image. 

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Lots of valid answers but still no clue as to why these batteryless stabis cost so much. The Farvision 20x50 was tagged 2,500$ in 2015; I expected that would drop, and competitors would show up, but no. No explained reason why they are so rare, looks like that 7,200€ Zeiss is the only magnetic on the market for now. No view of what's inside, no nothing. Not even a clue why there is no clue.

I guess I'll just wait and see if some other maker proposes a nice version of this system that doesn't cost as much as a good used car.

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Perhaps a compromise would be to buy the Canon IS and use the money saved to employ someone to worry about the batteries for you.

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How does it answer those questions?

On ‎11‎/‎01‎/‎2019 at 22:13, Ben the Ignorant said:

Does anybody have schematics of their mechanism?

 

On ‎11‎/‎01‎/‎2019 at 22:13, Ben the Ignorant said:

is it possible to have an idea of their shock resistance and long term resistance to wear?

 

On ‎11‎/‎01‎/‎2019 at 22:13, Ben the Ignorant said:

is it possible to tell if the price is justified?

 

On ‎12‎/‎01‎/‎2019 at 13:44, Ben the Ignorant said:

Does it require maintenance, or is it really "eternal"

 

On ‎12‎/‎01‎/‎2019 at 13:44, Ben the Ignorant said:

And, how is it that many electronic stabinoculars (Fujinon, Canon, Vixen) which also contain fine mechanisms cost only a few hundreds?

 

On ‎12‎/‎01‎/‎2019 at 21:57, Ben the Ignorant said:

Could be they're not durable, could be they are.

 

On ‎12‎/‎01‎/‎2019 at 21:57, Ben the Ignorant said:

electric stabinoculars are no larger than 50mm, is it a marketing choice or is there a technical limit to their diameter?

 

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18 hours ago, Ben the Ignorant said:

How does it answer those questions?

The problem is they are a very niche product - certainly at that price. Most consumers requiring image stabilisation will just buy the vastly cheaper electro/optical battery powered variant and move on. You will not find teardown info on this product. Not because of the price (YT is full of expensive teardown videos) but because the viewing audience is so small and will not generate any revenue.

Due to the lack of information I would say any answers would largely be conjecture and opinion. If you really want to find out how these work I suggest trawling patent applications. New and novel optical designs are sometimes registered with schematics. Might be a huge time sink though.

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Or find someone with a pair and a CT machine to scan them! 

PEter

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8 hours ago, Prador said:

Most consumers requiring image stabilisation will just buy the vastly cheaper electro/optical battery powered variant and move on.

Yep, I suppose that is what's going on, and it will for a long time if we project the current situation in the future. Problem is, for me personally, I already have a good 10x50 that I hold steady enough, so even the largest electronic stabis wouldn't get me much more; their objectives are 50mm, too. I also have an old achromatic Fujinon 16x70 which weighs more, so I dream of either a much lighter 70mm, or a much more stable one.

The Zeiss 60mm stabi costing 7200€, a larger - and apo - one is out of the question, but at least I wanted the satisfaction of knowing how these work, which I can't have. That's not military technology or it wouldn't be sold in stores, so I believe Zeiss and Newcon should show us nerds that intriguing machinery, they love tech and we love tech, too.

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5 hours ago, PeterW said:

Or find someone with a pair and a CT machine to scan them!

Someone did that to compare the lens layout of a Tele Vue 100° and an Explore 100°, so there is hope! 😁

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Our CT machine is generally a bit busy unfortunately.

PeterW

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