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Helios Stellar II with bino bandit


Stardaze
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I've been using this combo for a good year now and whilst I agree with the negative elements that Steve @BinocularSky  raises in his review, they're pretty solid performers and I've actually found myself using these mostly rather than the 10x50's. The one issue however that I have found is the fairly loose focusing on the eye pieces, which is exasperated when using the bandit. For the bandit to work best, it really needs to be pulled to the top of the eye relief. When folded back down for storage, inevitably some movement happens which means refocussing every time. That can be a faff with a monopod as you need both hands, one to hold the bandit whilst the other focusses, it is really more of an issue with the BB I find. So, it left me wondering how much stiffer is the focussing on the Lightquest HR model? I'd possibly consider the upgrade for this, if the focussing would hold better. The sharper image across the field is the obvious real gain with a little more light transmission. The HR seems to be worth spending that little bit more for, over the Apollo?

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1 hour ago, PeterW said:

I’ve had bandit issues with my IF 10x50, I have plans to deal with this by replacing the bandit which is otherwise very handy to improve the view.

Peter

I'm not sure you can get away with it anyhow. The bandit grips quite tightly and so it's probably just a downside to them. I haven't used any other eye focussing type binoculars to conclude whether the stellar's are a little looser than normal. 

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For centre focus you need to set the dolioptre adjust and then get the bandit on without it twisting anything, for Individual focus its plain annoying. The eyepieces are a bit bigger than some other bins, so it’s worse than other people might find. I use the bandits in the daytime on other binocukars and they’re very handy.

Peter

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11 hours ago, Stardaze said:

So, it left me wondering how much stiffer is the focussing on the Lightquest HR model? I'd possibly consider the upgrade for this, if the focussing would hold better.

I don't have a binobandit to knock the focus between sessions, but I don't remember having to focus my lightquests aside from the first time I used them. I've got some field optics eye shields on the eye cups at the correct angle for my focus settings and I just flick them up and down as needed. 

Field optics eyeshield

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14 minutes ago, Ricochet said:

I don't have a binobandit to knock the focus between sessions, but I don't remember having to focus my lightquests aside from the first time I used them. I've got some field optics eye shields on the eye cups at the correct angle for my focus settings and I just flick them up and down as needed. 

Field optics eyeshield

I might try a pair of those for what they cost. 
How do you find the lightquests? 15x70’s?

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8 hours ago, Stardaze said:

How do you find the lightquests? 15x70’s?

I've got the 16x70s. I think they're very well made and optically very, very good. Correction isn't perfect across the whole field of view but it is good enough for an instrument of this type and I'd have to specifically go out and test them to describe which aberrations are present at the edges of the field. Coatings are excellent as far as I can tell, transmission seems high and scatter is low. I think if you put the full moon just outside of the field of view you can get some reflection off the inside walls. I've just had a look down through the objectives and discovered that only the first 3-4 inches past the objectives are blackened, with the rest of the walls being grey, although there are ridges/micro baffles the whole way down. However, looking right next to the moon isn't something you usually do and during general use there are no issues with reflections.

Part of the reason I went for these over the cheaper options is the lighter weight, but as far as I am concerned they are still not something you would want to hand hold and so you would still need to mount them on your monopod. I have been sufficiently impressed by the quality of these binoculars that I've Manfrotto fluid foot monopod to mount them on and have an ebay saved search so that I can consider any 10x50s that might appear on the used market. I don't feel like I would ever need to upgrade from these to another ~15x70 binocular.

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10 minutes ago, Ricochet said:

I've got the 16x70s. I think they're very well made and optically very, very good. Correction isn't perfect across the whole field of view but it is good enough for an instrument of this type and I'd have to specifically go out and test them to describe which aberrations are present at the edges of the field. Coatings are excellent as far as I can tell, transmission seems high and scatter is low. I think if you put the full moon just outside of the field of view you can get some reflection off the inside walls. I've just had a look down through the objectives and discovered that only the first 3-4 inches past the objectives are blackened, with the rest of the walls being grey, although there are ridges/micro baffles the whole way down. However, looking right next to the moon isn't something you usually do and during general use there are no issues with reflections.

Part of the reason I went for these over the cheaper options is the lighter weight, but as far as I am concerned they are still not something you would want to hand hold and so you would still need to mount them on your monopod. I have been sufficiently impressed by the quality of these binoculars that I've Manfrotto fluid foot monopod to mount them on and have an ebay saved search so that I can consider any 10x50s that might appear on the used market. I don't feel like I would ever need to upgrade from these to another ~15x70 binocular.

Thanks for the feedback. I assumed that I’d use my Nikon 10x50’s more than the Stellar 15x70’s due to weight but I’ve been using the latter with a manfrotto monopod and ball head 95% of the time. Do the HR’s still suffer with bloat on planets? I think the HR’s are probably the binos for life, I like the idea of buying keepers. The Stellars are only really sharp for around 30% from Centre and light scatter is definitely there, sometimes from a stray lamppost for example, but it’s not a regular problem, just something to be aware of. There’s an 85mm version of the HR too, which may be worth looking at.

 

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3 hours ago, Stardaze said:

Do the HR’s still suffer with bloat on planets

I don't recall any but at only 16x they're not particularly suited for the task and so I don't tend to use them for it. Jupiter shows a couple of bands and moons, Saturn shows a disk and "single" ring if I recall correctly. If I remember I'll have a look with them the next time it is clear and get back to you. 

3 hours ago, Stardaze said:

There’s an 85mm version of the HR too, which may be worth looking at.

Personally, if I was to buy a bigger binocular it would be one with interchangeable 90° angled eyepieces. It's a lot more money to do that though. 70mm is as big as I'd like to go on a monopod so anything bigger would need an more substantial mount, which takes more time to set up and warrants a longer session than I tend to use the HRs for. 

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29 minutes ago, Ricochet said:

I don't recall any but at only 16x they're not particularly suited for the task and so I don't tend to use them for it. Jupiter shows a couple of bands and moons, Saturn shows a disk and "single" ring if I recall correctly. If I remember I'll have a look with them the next time it is clear and get back to you. 

Personally, if I was to buy a bigger binocular it would be one with interchangeable 90° angled eyepieces. It's a lot more money to do that though. 70mm is as big as I'd like to go on a monopod so anything bigger would need an more substantial mount, which takes more time to set up and warrants a longer session than I tend to use the HRs for. 

That's a fair comment regarding going bigger. I think the 15x70 size is probably the sensible, workable size. I don't get that kind of detail from the Stellar's, I can just about make out Saturns ring but there's no definition with some bloating. By that I mean that even Jupiter isn't completely round, there's almost a disc running through it. I've focussed on the tripod but can't eliminate it, just assume that the next grade would do better in this regard. 

 

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I bought a pair of Bino Bandits back in February for use with my Orion Mini Giant 9x63s on a Ravelli (Amazon) tripod with centre column. A great combination for me with a nicely corrected 5 degree field, excellent Japanese optics (very little CA at all) and solid centre focusing. They are still available, still MIJ, and also available as a 15x63 version (full aperture, no stopping down).

I read Steve Tonkins' mini review of the Bino Bandits, and the only real negative he mentioned was a slight tendency to fog up on very cold nights. I agree with Steve on this point: I find wearing a Covid type mask useful, as it is the exhalation of warm air onto the vicinity of the eyepieces' that I think causes the fogging up.

The gain in contrast and general elimination of stray light is remarkable when you see it for the first time. I think they would work well on binoviewers too, I intend to try this soon on mine.

My bins don't have Independent Focusing, but your problem does sound as if your focusers are too loose..I had a pair of Kunming BA8 10.5x50s several years back which had IF, but they did not move at all between sessions.. I didn't have the Binobandits at that time though, so couldn't say for sure that they wouldn't move the IF focusing point a little..but I doubt it.

I almost always use my bins with the tripod, the combination is so light and easy to use, and the centre column/adjustable legs  combination allows a great range of height adjustment, whether seated or standing.

IMHO any pair of high quality Kunming BA8 type bins are so heavy that they need a tripod to really get the best from them. The combination of tripod and Binobandits has transformed my enjoyment of using binoculars for astro use👍.

Dave

Binobandit2.jpg

binobandit3.jpg

binobandit4.jpg

Bino Bandit 4.jpg

Edited by F15Rules
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1 hour ago, F15Rules said:

I bought a pair of Bino Bandits back in February for use with my Orion Mini Giant 9x63s on a Ravelli (Amazon) tripod with centre column. A great combination for me with a nicely corrected 5 degree field, excellent Japanese optics (very little CA at all) and solid centre focusing. They are still available, still MIJ, and also available as a 15x63 version (full aperture, no stopping down).

I read Steve Tonkins' mini review of the Bino Bandits, and the only real negative he mentioned was a slight tendency to fog up on very cold nights. I agree with Steve on this point: I find wearing a Covid type mask useful, as it is the exhalation of warm air onto the vicinity of the eyepieces' that I think causes the fogging up.

The gain in contrast and general elimination of stray light is remarkable when you see it for the first time. I think they would work well on binoviewers too, I intend to try this soon on mine.

My bins don't have Independent Focusing, but your problem does sound as if your focusers are too loose..I had a pair of Kunming BA8 10.5x50s several years back which had IF, but they did not move at all between sessions.. I didn't have the Binobandits at that time though, so couldn't say for sure that they wouldn't move the IF focusing point a little..but I doubt it.

I almost always use my bins with the tripod, the combination is so light and easy to use, and the centre column/adjustable legs  combination allows a great range of height adjustment, whether seated or standing.

IMHO any pair of high quality Kunming BA8 type bins are so heavy that they need a tripod to really get the best from them. The combination of tripod and Binobandits has transformed my enjoyment of using binoculars for astro use👍.

Dave

Binobandit2.jpg

binobandit3.jpg

binobandit4.jpg

Bino Bandit 4.jpg

I do use my tripod for times when I want to view something for a good amount of time or when sharing with others, I guess the monopod is used for evenings where I tend to pan around a lot, both work well. I will say that finding the critical focus isn't so easy with the Stellar's. That could be down to me (most likely) or some of the imperfections in sharpness, they never really provide a perfectly sharp star as far as I can tell. Are there masks available for bins? 

I found that by pushing the bandit to the bottom of the EP's helped eliminate the fogging up, but, they're just not as effective at all so it largely defeats the purpose. They still remain effective from the side but I found too much stray light coming in from below. I'm guessing you don't clip your bandit up Dave, yours looks brand new there. Mine haven't kept their shape that well.

 

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Hi Stardaze,

I'm not sure what you mean by "are there masks for bins"? ..if you're referring to the Covid mask I mentioned, I just use my ordinary cloth mask that I bought during the pandemic..it's not perfect, but does seem to help with my particular bins. As you can see from the last photo, I have my BBandits snug up against the bin's eyepiece rubber caps, and I like to get my eyes in quite close to the EP rubber caps..I do realise, though, that that is probably the position most likely to contribute to fogging up.. sometimes, the only way I can make it work (especially in damp conditions) is to have a few minutes Bino observing, and then give them a rest to defog naturally while observing through my scope..(not ideal, I know).

I don't clip up my BBs, just personal preference, but I should say that the pictures were taken soon after I bought the BBs.. they're a little less pristine now, although have held their shape pretty well.

I think that this sort of product, by it's nature, will probably be sort of "semi-disposable", ie might need to be replaced every couple of years, more if heavily used? I don't know if they wash well, but I imagine that wouldn't help their shape retention!😱😊.

Dave

Edited by F15Rules
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On 03/12/2021 at 07:02, Stardaze said:

Do the HR’s still suffer with bloat on planets?

I was just able to have a quick look at Jupiter through gaps in the cloud. There is no bloat as far as I can see, but I may have overstated the visible detail as I couldn't see any banding tonight, just a bright disk and four moons. 

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3 hours ago, Ricochet said:

I was just able to have a quick look at Jupiter through gaps in the cloud. There is no bloat as far as I can see, but I may have overstated the visible detail as I couldn't see any banding tonight, just a bright disk and four moons. 

But a perfect sphere, no less? I don’t get that with the Stellars. 

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On 02/12/2021 at 10:22, Stardaze said:

I've been using this combo for a good year now and whilst I agree with the negative elements that Steve @BinocularSky  raises in his review, they're pretty solid performers and I've actually found myself using these mostly rather than the 10x50's. The one issue however that I have found is the fairly loose focusing on the eye pieces, which is exasperated when using the bandit.

...

So, it left me wondering how much stiffer is the focussing on the Lightquest HR model?

...

The HR seems to be worth spending that little bit more for, over the Apollo?

Yes, I can imagine it must be a real pain. For anyone else considering the S-II, though, they do seem to have sorted out that loose focus (sorry, @Stardaze, I realise that doesn't help you); ditto with the Bresser-branded equivalent (Astro Spezial)

LQ HR was pretty similar to my Lunt (essentially same bino, but different branding) - I have the 10x50 and the 16x70, both fine with BBs. Ages since I've focused either - a side-effect of  C - I've not needed to share them for nearly 2 years. 🙂

I think the 70mm LQ is noticeably better than the Apollo. It's lighter, gives a better image, and has adequate eye relief for spectacles.

HTH

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@Stardaze - just a thought: I've not tried this on IF binos, so I don't know if it's even possible. With things like the SW Heritage 130P Flextube, the rotating focusers tend to be a bit loose. Standard fix is to put a few turns of plumbers' PTFE tape onto the threads. With a bit of trial and improvement, you can get that sweet spot of being stiff enough not to accidentally self-adjust and buttery smooth enough not to need a lot of force when you want to adjust.

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