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Highburymark

OVL v MkV - cheapest v priciest binoviewers

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I do much of my solar and lunar observing with a binoviewer. Last year I managed to get a good deal on a Baader MkV. It’s taken a while to get it set up perfectly for my eyes, but am now very happy with it. Mostly use 15/20mm plossls, or 25mm orthos and Barcon barlow, but recently purchased a second Delite 18.2mm - the first time I’ve actually made use of the lovely expansive views that the Baader offers. This morning I had a couple of hours birdwatching with the Delites - have to say it was absolutely stunning. Peering around the full fov with two eyes felt like a completely new and luxurious visual experience.

But the MkV is a heavy lump. The stock focuser on my Equinox 80ED - now sold - was not really up to the job of handling it, and made observation frustrating. The weight also makes the MkV impractical for travel. So a few months ago I picked up a pair of OVL binos very cheaply. This is the entry-level unit stocked by many UK retailers - and seems to have replaced the Skywatcher and Revelation offerings in this regard, though clearly they’re all sourced from the same Chinese factory (ditto the WO/TS/Celestron binos). These are much lighter instruments than the MkV. Cheap case. Slightly plasticky feel. But actually built very well. Even offers eyepiece adjustment, and does an excellent job of centering the two EPs - which is particularly important for merging views at higher magnifications. It comes with a 2x Barlow nosepiece, so delivers more magnification than the MkV, which I use with a 1.7x GPC (in practice this gives around 1.5x). The MkV is therefore more flexible. 

But the OVL is no less sharp or contrastful. Comparing both during the day and on the Moon earlier this week in the TV85 refractor, there’s almost nothing between them on axis. The Baader gives slightly warmer and more faithful colour tones. It’s a bit brighter too. But it’s difficult to test both units at precisely the same magnification, so not a great deal in it. However, when I start to really ramp up the powers, the Baader retains sharpness when the OVL starts to go soft. Particularly useful for lunar and white light solar, where higher magnifications can be employed.

So the Baader wins in several key areas. Don’t think I’ll forget my first MkV/Delites session for a very long time. My scopes are set up with T2 adapters and diagonals, so the Baader is more practical too. But the price difference new between these two binoviewers is staggering - over £850. For around £150 the OVL offers incredible value - if you’re after a cheap binoviewer, buy with confidence.

 

 

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Interesting review. I have found similar in that for high power solar observing my Baader Mark IVs maintain sharpness and show very fine detail in the granulation even when there is not much else to see. Makes it all the more rewarding.

I have the TS version of the OVLs and as you say? Very good value and excellent performers for the price.

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So as a gateway product, that will not put you off, would the OVL and / or other flavours of branding,
be a good starting point?  

Sorry this is a thread rejuvenate,
but I looked at binoviewers at Astrofest yesterday, the Baader unit looked great, but my pockets are not that well lined.

Edited by Alan White
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On 01/02/2020 at 08:53, Alan White said:

So as a gateway product, that will not put you off, would the OVL and / or other flavours of branding,
be a good starting point?  

Sorry this is a thread rejuvenate,
but I looked at binoviewers at Astrofest yesterday, the Baader unit looked great, but my pockets are not that well lined.

It would be ideal Alan. I used to own a pair of William Optics too, again more expensive than the OVL, and the OVL branded pair are just as good. Though don’t come with their own eyepieces.

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On 09/02/2020 at 09:06, Highburymark said:

It would be ideal Alan. I used to own a pair of William Optics too, again more expensive than the OVL, and the OVL branded pair are just as good. Though don’t come with their own eyepieces

+1 for that, Alan.

I have used Baader Maxbrights, WO, and currently have a pair of Revelations (these are a later version, with compression rings in each eyepiece holder, and individual focusing capability).

I've found that all are very similar optically, ie pretty good: they do have some feature differences, for example the Baaders have T2 connectivity, which, like Mark, I am a big fan of..but I disliked the very fiddly 3 screws per eyepiece holder arrangement, while really liking the focusing compression rings holders of the Revelations. However, the Revs have a fixed 1.25" nosepiece, which is less flexible. The WO felt the classiest built but this is largely cosmetic I felt, ie to do with bits of external trim/finish. Optically, if they are well collimated, I'd say there is little to choose between them and other variants.

You can pick up a used pair of these cheaper bv's for around £100 or so, so for the price of a decent eyepiece you can try them out for yourself.

Finally, binoviewing isn't for everyone. Not everyone seems able to merge the images into a single clear image: also, it can initially be frustrating, with what seems like a plethora of small screws to check for tightness (or risk eyepieces dropping out, for instance!). And longer focal length eyepieces (15mm or more) tend to work best, I find.

But bvs can be superbly comfortable to use for extended periods, and I can say with confidence that twin eye viewing helps me with my deteriorating single right eye vision: my left eye definitely seems to pull my right eye up in performance versus cyclops viewing.

But if you don't give it a try, you will never know!🤔🙂😀👍

Dave

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3 minutes ago, F15Rules said:

+1 for that, Alan.

I have used Baader Maxbrights, WO, and currently have a pair of Revelations (these are a later version, with compression rings in each eyepiece holder, and individual focusing capability).

I've found that all are very similar optically, ie pretty good: they do have some feature differences, for example the Baaders have T2 connectivity, which, like Mark, I am a big fan of..but I disliked the very fiddly 3 screws per eyepiece holder arrangement, while really liking the focusing compression rings holders of the Revelations. However, the Revs have a fixed 1.25" nosepiece, which is less flexible. The WO felt the classiest built but this is largely cosmetic I felt, ie to do with bits of external trim/finish. Optically, if they are well collimated, I'd say there is little to choose between them and other variants.

You can pick up a used pair of these cheaper bv's for around £100 or so, so for the price of a decent eyepiece you can try them out for yourself.

Finally, binoviewing isn't for everyone. Not everyone seems able to merge the images into a single clear image: also, it can initially be frustrating, with what seems like a plethora of small screws to check for tightness (or risk eyepieces dropping out, for instance!). And longer focal length eyepieces (15mm or more) tend to work best, I find.

But bvs can be superbly comfortable to use for extended periods, and I can say with confidence that twin eye viewing helps me with my deteriorating single right eye vision: my left eye definitely seems to pull my right eye up in performance versus cyclops viewing.

But if you don't give it a try, you will never know!🤔🙂😀👍

Dave

Good analysis. Thanks Dave!

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 Thank you Dave for these thoughts and your experiences, very helpful.

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