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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 17:52   #76
ticl2184
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Angry Zeiss 10x42 vs Hawke Frontier ED 10x42

Dear All

Concerning the Hawke Frontier ED 10x42.
I have recently had the chance to test the above binocular in comparison to my Zeiss 10x42 FL which I bought in 2007 for 979 pounds.

I'm not new to useing premium binoculars having owned Leica, Swarovski etc over the years, and I must say the Hawke ED are a damn good pair of binoculars.
In comprison with the Zeiss they held their own very well.
This has annoyed me somewhat, as the price of the Hawke is only 299 pounds in the uk, That's a third less than the price of the Zeiss.

Am I the only one who has observed this and is a bit cheesed off ? Additionally how the hell can Hawke produce a binocular to challenge the Zeiss FL at such a low price ?
It also begs the question what exactly am I getting from the Zeiss for the extra 679 pounds.

Reply's please

Tim
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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 19:26   #77
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Dear All

This has annoyed me somewhat, as the price of the Hawke is only 299 pounds in the uk, That's a third less than the price of the Zeiss.

Am I the only one who has observed this and is a bit cheesed off ? Additionally how the hell can Hawke produce a binocular to challenge the Zeiss FL at such a low price ?
It also begs the question what exactly am I getting from the Zeiss for the extra 679 pounds.

Reply's please

Tim

I think the question of what exactly do you get for the extra money you spend for the alpha glass vs the Hawke/Promaster is a valid one. It seems there should indeed be something. Whatever it is it is, it's not giving the buyer much optical difference as you noted. I guess that gets us down to durability. How well the less expensive binoculars hold up will likely be the difference. However the jury has some time to deliberate the question, since the new glass is just that, too new to see what the durability, service, and warranty levels will be. Also there needs to be a little wider dealer network developed to make these more readily available.

I do wonder what we get from the alpha glass. Prior to now we could always see that there was somewhat better optics and there was always the longevity of a superior brand name working in their behalf. Nowadays, who knows?
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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 20:01   #78
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Yikes, this scares me in an Emperor has no clothes kind of way. Are my expensive Leica bins going to de-value tremendously when it becomes apparent there isn't that Wow factor anymore over bins costing 1/3 as much?
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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 20:45   #79
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John,

I have no idea if expensive glass will de-value. Probably not. However all of the "WOW" for expensive binoculars went away for me when I first looked through a Pentax DCF WP in 1996. Since then, it has been, for me anyway, "wow, look how good these $500 binoculars are". I'm not saying I thought the initial phase coated Pentax were as good as the alpha. For me it was no longer is the alpha good enough for me to spend that kind of money for it. Prior to that I had lusted after a Leica Trinovid. Now I'm completely satisfied with the Promaster ELX ED, as I would likely be with the Hawke. Most of the newer optically terrific $500 glass will probably sell to folks with my attitude.
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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 21:49   #80
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Has anyone passed a geiger counter over a pair of these?
How about any toxicological tests?
Are these built by political prisoners?
Is a living wage paid?

I wouldn't rush to equate these bins with something coming out of Japan or Europe, regardless of their optical performance.
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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 21:53   #81
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Steve,
It's funny you say that about the Pentax DCF WP. There must be a big difference between the pre WP DCFs and those, as my 1995 DCFs were and are nowhere near as good as my old Leitz 7x35s when I had to replace my broken Leitz back then. I still have those old Pentax and all of my new bins are much better, including my little 6x30 Yoseimite porros. Were those pre WP Pentax not phase coated? I recently sent them back to Pentax for cleaning and adjustment and they are much better, but still significantly below the Ultravids. Even my wife who would like nothing better than good cheap binocs sees the difference.
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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 22:12   #82
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Kevin,

I "equate" these with nothing but themselves and have stated that they are optically very much closer to the alpha glass than anything else out there out there at $500. I realize the alpha crowd will have a hard time with that. I also have a hard time with the level of apparent optical quality in regard to the price. After of decades of thinking you had to spend 2-3X the money for good glass, that is a tough place to get around. For now I use them and will see how the work when not new.

John,

Whatever the year (might have been 1997, I know that is how I first heard about phase correction), what I looked at was the first Pentrax phase coated $500ish binocular Pentax put out, which I believe they called the DCF WP. Those were pretty good. Again not as good as the Trinovid I'd have liked to have had back then, but good enough to get my attention at the price difference. This was at one of the binocular displays at a Bald Eagle Conference.
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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 22:22   #83
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I still have those old Pentax and all of my new bins are much better, including my little 6x30 Yoseimite porros. Were those pre WP Pentax not phase coated?
The Pentax DCF WP were the first phase compensated bins series that Pentax made (startin gin the mid 1990s). Having recently got a cheap NOS WP 8x32 I noticed recently when I was out in an overcast late afternoon with a Promaster ED and Bushnell Elite and an Audubon porro (all 40mm-ish bins) that the WPs were noticeably darker than the others. I think that's due to more than a decade's worth of advances in AR coatings rather than my exit pupil being larger than 4mm and the 40mm-ish bins delivering more light into my eye (it wasn't dark, sun still at the horizon).

Interesting series of slurs, Conville. These bins are all made by ordinary optical company and by robots. Yes, the people get paid a much higher wage than they would get in the countryside. Have you checked your pre-FL/HD/ED Alpha bins for toxicological properties? They have pretty toxic materials (As and Pb) in the lenses. I try not to suck on the outside of my bins. How would you compare bins with other than optical and ergonomic performance? Country of origin? Badge on the outside? I just look through them and see how well they look? They're optical devices after all.

Do the Chinese EDs knock the Alphas into a cocked hat? They're just as sharp. Almost as bright. But unfortunatly, no. Not yet. The biggest issue is stray (off-axis) light. The Hawkes do a bit worse than the Promasters for stray light: reducing the FOV helps. And the Promasters do a bit worse than my Bushnell Elites (not Alphas but an example of a little more careful optical design and implementation). And the ergonomics could be improved a little too. But they're surprisingly close.

The win of these (and other Chinese ED bins) is they bring good performance at a much lower price. And depending on the design motivation they could fix some of those stray light problems.

I'd say that this round of Chinese bins is equal in build quality to the LOOM and similar Japanese OEM/ODMs. It's a notch above the previous generation. Even the "non-optical" bits (like the straps) have a more solid, ticker, more nicely made, "Japanese quality" to them.

Durability, service, and warranty are three remaining differentiators. I suspect the former isn't one. The way all bins are built today (UV-cured adhesive holding the prisms and lenses into plastic sub-assemblies that are then located in precisely made metal or composite enclosures lead to the same level of damage resistance for all of these bins. The latter two are good differentiators (and the Alpha bin warranties are getting short at least in the EU) and any maker can use these. Vortex is a good example of a non-Alpha bin maker that uses it's no-fault/no-hassle warranty as a selling point. On the other hand the Alpha bin makers can (and do) actually fix and repair their bins. You are more likely to get a replacement than a repair with a Chinese ED bin.

Do the Alphas have something to worry about? Perhaps. These and future designs (with improvements) will make people ask the questions you are asking: just what am I paying the extra 300% for in an Alpha bin? The Alpha makers might not care just like Ferrari and the like don't care. They make supercars. For a lot of money. For a very small number of people.

Do Alpha owners care? I doubt it. The Euro 3 (or even the Axis 4) badges still carry a lot of chic. And even the old bins. But people still ask silly money for the pre-owned bins especially those without PC. I think those prices might drop. A little. But as always if people want the badge then hey might even maintain prices.

The big turning point will be when the ODMs in China start to make their own brands and sell direct. Bosma, Xi'an Vision, United Optical any of them could do it.

In the meantime people with not much money to spend will get a much better view.

Last edited by Kevin Purcell : Wednesday 12th November 2008 at 22:31.
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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 23:03   #84
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Let's just say, Purcell , that I don't give the Chinese the benefit of doubt. For all we know they might be disposing of dioxin or PCBs by mixing it in the rubber armor. It would sound crazy if they haven't been doing that type of thing and worse.

How many times must we be poisoned before we get the idea? I'll assume because you're a smart guy that you've been paying attention so I won't create a laundry list.
Oh, and you've seen the plant where these are made?
You've seen the happy workers?

I'll drop this now as this place is about optics and birding, and not politics.

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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 23:14   #85
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Let's just say, Purcell , that I don't give the Chinese the benefit of doubt. For all we know they might be disposing of dioxin or PCBs by mixing it in the rubber armor. It would sound crazy if they haven't been doing that type of thing and worse.

How many times must we be poisoned before we get the idea? I'll assume because you're a smart guy that you've been paying attention so I won't create a laundry list.
Oh, and you've seen the plant where these are made?
You've seen the happy workers?

I'll drop this now as this place is about optics and birding, and not politics.
Your extraordinary claims require proof.

I think you are falling for an interesting form of propaganda. Make vastly overstated claims and call for proofs of innocence.

I don't trust the Chinese manufacturers to make foodstuff (for humans or pets) or perhaps cheap toys but then again I don't eat my bins.

I don't like the Chinese government. But the more the Chinese nation is bound into the economic fabric of this planet the less likely they are to threaten others and the more likely their people are to demand more freedoms.

As you say your comment is "just" a political one. It has little to do with binoculars.
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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 23:25   #86
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Originally Posted by Kevin Conville View Post
Has anyone passed a geiger counter over a pair of these?
How about any toxicological tests?
Are these built by political prisoners?
Is a living wage paid?

I wouldn't rush to equate these bins with something coming out of Japan or Europe, regardless of their optical performance.
Many of those European and Japanese made models are made of parts made in China. So are Leupolds.
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Old Wednesday 12th November 2008, 23:34   #87
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Your extraordinary claims require proof.

I think you are falling for an interesting form of propaganda. Make vastly overstated claims and call for proofs of innocence.

I don't trust the Chinese manufacturers to make foodstuff (for humans or pets) or perhaps cheap toys but then again I don't eat my bins.

I don't like the Chinese government. But the more the Chinese nation is bound into the economic fabric of this planet the less likely they are to threaten others and the more likely their people are to demand more freedoms.

As you say your comment is "just" a political one. It has little to do with binoculars.


Now who's going far afield? I never made any claims. I said they don't get the benefit of doubt. And I have doubts.

Look, the Chinese government and manufacturing have nasty habits. Would you agree? They imprison millions to work as slaves, they pollute on a scale the west can't even imagine, they have exhibited reckless disregard for human health and life, theft of intellectual property, and predatory business practices.

I don't want to shun them as you alluded to, I want their stuff to be inspected and be considered safe. I want them to show slightly more regard for the environment and humanity than they currently do.
I recognize that it's as much to do with us as with them. As long as we continue to not scrutinize what's being brought in, and we're getting it cheap, bad stuff will continue.

Oh, and you may not chew on your bins but you have them in your hands a lot and they spend time placed to your face.

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Old Thursday 13th November 2008, 10:19   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Conville View Post
Has anyone passed a geiger counter over a pair of these?
How about any toxicological tests?
Are these built by political prisoners?
Is a living wage paid?

I wouldn't rush to equate these bins with something coming out of Japan or Europe, regardless of their optical performance.
I don't know about radiation or toxicology, but I think Kevin's point regarding political prisoners and living wages [to which I'd add the freedom to join an independent trade union] are uncomfortable ones to contemplate. Frankly, I'm blissfully ignorant on both counts, but the recent reading of a book on the Stalinist terror gives me little confidence in the humanitarian impulses of communist regimes. Not that our individual actions will make much difference on a global scale, but it's always good to have someone like Kevin around to jog our consciences and make us think,
John.

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Old Thursday 13th November 2008, 13:48   #89
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Bought a pair of these online and will be field testing on Saturday in the Morvern peninsula, Scotland. Don't expect a detailed scientific study but I'll do my best to compare them to what I've used before. In my back garden use so far, I'm delighted with the level of true colour rendition. No stray light issues - but then, Glasgow seen sunshine for quite some time... Will let you know how I get on.
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Old Thursday 13th November 2008, 21:42   #90
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Bought a pair of these online.........I'll do my best to compare them to what I've used before......Will let you know how I get on.
Thanks Dave, Ill look forward to that. Not much light here, stray or otherwise, to get too worked up about.

Kevins P & C, the question of where and under what conditions the products we buy is definitely a political one, but its not off-topic, we influence the lives of others every time we make a consumer choice. Ive no answer, Ive lived in China and Mrs. Sancho is from there, we all know the lot of the average Chinese citizen has improved immensely over the last two decades. At the same time, the P.C. Im typing on has parts inside made by U.S. companies that manufacture in Ireland because they can get away here with denying unions. Lets face it, the rise of Capitalism was based on slavery, child exploitation, murder of union activists, genocide, and the theft by Empires of the resources of subject peoples. If we stripped from our daily lives all the products made under conditions which we abhor, wed probably end up naked, starving, and bereft of electronic goodies, and have nothing left but some Cheese and our Swarovskis......
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Old Thursday 13th November 2008, 23:20   #91
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Not much light here, stray or otherwise, to get too worked up about.
Yes, I was wondering where all this stray light was coming from. Not here either.
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Old Sunday 16th November 2008, 12:40   #92
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Hello all,

As promised, my quick and unscientific impression of these binoculars.

In a word, fantastic.

I managed to use these binoculars in a host of different conditions on Saturday. As you will all be aware, Scotland has the habit of throwing all possible forms of weather at you in the space of one day. Also, being the start of winter, the low sun makes for some interesting light conditions.

The first thing that struck me was the outstanding field of view. Scanning the ridges across Morvern and Mull for raptors was a skoosh. I've used my mum's RSPB 8x42 BG and both the field of view and the overall quality of the view is better in the Frontiers in my opinion. I had my Opticron ES80 ED scope with me and used it once the whole day.

Stray light - now I can't be particularly scientific about this. All I can say is that the user experience was not diminished in any way by stray light in the glass. The low sun conditions were always going to be challenging but I didn't notice anything to disturb my viewing pleasure. I must say that low light performance was excellent also. The sun fell behind the hills around 3.30pm and I was birding with the binoculars comfortably until 4.30ish. Glad I did too as my best sighting came right at the end of the day!

The quality of the build of these binoculars is really very good. I was throwing them around the front seat of the car, exposing them to wind and rain, not to mention sea water spray. For the price I paid, I am delighted.

Happy to answer any questions anyone may have about this.
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Old Sunday 16th November 2008, 14:31   #93
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Thanks Dave, congratulations and Im glad you like your new bins. Interesting to note that the stray light wasnt an issue, even with low afternoon Scottish sun. Id imagine the light here would be similar, and its precisely why Id like to try 8x42mm....today I was out with my EL8x32, but theres a gun-metal sky and a light drizzle, you know the kind of thing, and Id like bins with a bit more light-catching capacity. As a matter of interest, do you wear glasses when birding?
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Old Sunday 16th November 2008, 22:01   #94
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Hi Sancho, I don't wear glasses so can't help out there. That has actually reminded me of one criticism of my pair - the left eyecup isn't quite right, it's a bit sticky. Not enough for me to return them (can't actually be bothered with the hassle) but I suppose it's only right to mention everything about them. You're more than welcome to try my pair next time you're in Glasgow!
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Old Tuesday 18th November 2008, 19:56   #95
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I tried some in a shop last week and was impressed but sorry for being a bit slow, could someone please explain in simple terms what 'stray light' is, thanks.
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Old Tuesday 18th November 2008, 20:45   #96
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I tried some in a shop last week and was impressed but sorry for being a bit slow, could someone please explain in simple terms what 'stray light' is, thanks.
Stray light or off-axis light is light coming from out of the field of view that causes problems with your view. It can be controlled with careful design, good coatings (of optics and barrel) and good baffling.

You can also get "stray" light issues from brightness in the FOV though it's perhaps better to call these ghosts and flares for discrete images (like streetlights at night) and in some cases veiling glare (say a backlight bird in a tree). For example see this (but you wouldn't do this in a binocular because you'd have to sun in the FOV and that would cause a LOT of damage to your eyes).

http://www.imatest.com/docs/veilingglare.html

Off-axis stray light usually most troubling when you get within 20 degrees (a full hand span) of the sun but sometimes also shows up with overcast (light coming from all directions or brightly lit clouds or even reflections from water.

It usually causes one of few different types of effect:

veiling glare in which the contrast of the whole or a portion of the field is reduced by throwing light where there isn't light.

crescents or rings or loops of bright light often towards the edge of the field on the opposite of the FOV to the light source (often from scatter from the interior of the barrel or from the edge of a lens)

discrete flares that light up like starbursts from out of focus point reflections usually off the front barrel in front of the objective (and sometimes off the eback most element of the eyepiece. e.g. see my Promaster 7x32 review.

Dealing well with stray light seems to be the last thing to be "fixed" in less expensive bins. It takes some care in the design and implmentation of the bin (again, see the Promaster review ... a decent design let down by implementation).

It's perhaps one of the problems that people won't recognize in stores and perhaps not for a while in the field but eventually you do notice it when you can't make an ID (and even more pointedly when the bloke to your right has made the ID with his bins).

The top quality bins do an excellent job of minimizing stray light.

As usual trying out bins and forcing them to show less than good images can help you see this sort of problem.

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Old Wednesday 19th November 2008, 20:45   #97
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Thanks Kevin for that detailed explanation.

I struggle in most situations with my Bushnell Legends and I was greatly impressed how sharp and clear the Hawkes were when I tried them out but it was quite sunny and I believe more or less all decent binoculars perform well in such conditions. I aim to return when it is cloudy to test them again as well as close to dusk to see how much it would be worth dumping my Legends for these.

I was a little disappointed with the focus wheel, it moved smoothly but was a little bit 'massive' for me but I think I would get used to that.

Another thing was even being a bigger' binoucular I felt they were no heavier than my Bushnell 8x32s which surprised me.
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Old Tuesday 25th November 2008, 16:55   #98
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I finally tried the Hawke 8x43 out today. I was as impressed as everyone else by the quality. I compared them with the Opticron Imagic BGA SE 8x42 (120 more) and not only did I prefer the view from the Hawke, but I felt it was better balanced in the hand. I didn't like the slow focus or the close focus. It's supposed to focus down to 2m, but the one I tried didn'tor even come close.

What struck me most forcibly, comparing the Hawke to the Imagic and also to the Opticron Aurora 8x42, was that the image in the Hawke seemed noticably bigger than in the other two. Given that the Hawke's FOV is 142m as against 122m and 126m for the Opticrons, this is the opposite of what I'd expect. Have they slyly produced a 9x in disguise?

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Old Tuesday 25th November 2008, 17:24   #99
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Bigger AFOV gives the impression of more magnification. I have had 8x binoculars that seemed to magnify an object almost twice as much as others(like 8x32 Pentax vs. 8x22 and even 8x30 Steiners), though I do believe there can be variation, because my 8x32 Pentax DCF SP has more magnification than the ED version, or the Browning 8x32 that I passed on to my father, even though they all have the same FOV/AFOV. This is something that had me really confused eariler this year before I read up on it.
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Old Tuesday 25th November 2008, 18:41   #100
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I finally tried the Hawke 8x43 out today. [...] I didn't like the slow focus or the close focus. It's supposed to focus down to 2m, but the one I tried didn'tor even come close.l
Odd. With my corrected vision (glasses on) my Hawke will close focus down to 5ft from objective to target. Way closer than I really need.

e.g. when you really need close focus is when you are playing football ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aj7f3B1VCYM

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What struck me most forcibly, comparing the Hawke to the Imagic and also to the Opticron Aurora 8x42, was that the image in the Hawke seemed noticably bigger than in the other two. Given that the Hawke's FOV is 142m as against 122m and 126m for the Opticrons, this is the opposite of what I'd expect. Have they slyly produced a 9x in disguise?
Like OwenM I find the large FOV does give the brains visual system the feeling that the magnification is bigger. I've had this with a Celestron Ultima DX (with an 8.2 degree FOV). It took some swapping between bins looking carefully at the same target before I convinced myself this is an illusion and both bins were actually 8x.

The downside is the marketers realize this and demand a big FOV from the designers as the most important user perceived feature (big picture window view) to grab customers in the store without considering the downsides of the large FOV such poorer stray light control e.g. the top 8x bins with similar view quality all have a FOV in the 7 and a half-ish degree range.

This related to another phenomena seen in the Hawkes and mentioned in this thread.

I just can't see the full FOV with my glasses on (it's a case of almost but not quite all but as the field is so big it doesn't bother me) but when fiddling with the Hawke yesterday I managed to see the "ring of light outside the field stop" phenomena that FrankD described earlier in this thread. It's sort of "rainbowish" or "colorful" with some structure. And after looking at it for a while I speculate that it's scatter from/through the edges of the lenses in the eyepiece with some dispersion so it appears outside the field stop. It probably could be fixed by either blackening the edges of the EP lenses or by making the field stop (and so the FOV) a bit smaller.

Still as I can't see it most of the time ... so it doesn't both me (though the Hawkes are my secondary bin after the Promasters -- they're FOV is wide enough at 7.5 degree and avoids some of the stray light and field curvature issues at the edge of the field).

Last edited by Kevin Purcell : Tuesday 25th November 2008 at 18:48.
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