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When will the current alphas become 'obsolete'

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Old Monday 28th January 2019, 05:53   #176
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Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post
I was out on a short hike scanning some distant ( ~300m/1000ft) cliffs yesterday with the 8 Zens, and for the life of me despite bracing against something solid, I couldn't hold them steady enough to determine if the dark shape I was looking at was a falcon, or just some crack and shadow or something ...

Chosun
If the terrain won't let you get closer, just sit around an hour or two. It's most gratifying when that shape that looks right takes flight - though less so when you look away for ten seconds and find that it's Chosun that moment to Juan!

This thread has been quite an interesting read. My thoughts - for what they're worth - are that with the bulk of R&D almost certainly going into smartphones (especially) and cameras, binoculars as we know them will likely stay the same, or at least functionally very similar, for some time to come. Most every development in binoculars - multi-coating, ED glass, image stabilization - has showed up first in camera lenses, so I suppose lens technology today is the best guide to what might come in the future. But it's quite hard, for me at least, to see what might filter down to binoculars. Diffractive optics have helped make some long lenses shorter, but that's not such an issue in binoculars; and their apparently poorer light transmission would no doubt be seen as a negative. Image stabilization in a more user-friendly package could come along relatively soon, but if it's from one of the top manufacturers would almost certainly be extremely expensive. Electronic displays would be hard to make totally fieldproof; and today's electronic viewfinders are certainly good enough to use for photography but would need significant improvement to equal alpha image quality for long observing sessions. Frankly, I think the traditional alpha is going to lead the pack for some time yet. Which is in some respects a shame - it would not be a bad thing in my book for the experience of observing with high-end binoculars to be "democratized" in the way that the improving quality of smartphone cameras has done with photography.
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Old Monday 28th January 2019, 07:47   #177
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Patudo

Looking at tech in photo lenses that hasn't filtered across to binos yet, what about aspherical lenses? They might not have been applied to binos just yet but Zeiss has put one in the Harpia scope so perhaps they are coming soon.

Lee
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Old Monday 28th January 2019, 20:14   #178
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Patudo

Looking at tech in photo lenses that hasn't filtered across to binos yet, what about aspherical lenses? They might not have been applied to binos just yet but Zeiss has put one in the Harpia scope so perhaps they are coming soon.

Lee
Iirc, the WW2 Zeiss 8x60 submarine binoculars included hand figured aspherical components, so the concept is very well understood.
Dr Hans Seeger's monograph notes that the then Zeiss representative characterized this item as the 'tip of the flagpole' technically, so what was once the unique prerogative of state is now becoming accessible to the consumer.

Even so, for binoculars I'm not sure what aspherical adds practically. It does simplify zoom optical designs without excess cost, thanks to molded lenses. However, there are no alpha zoom binoculars afaik.
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 07:45   #179
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Iirc, the WW2 Zeiss 8x60 submarine binoculars included hand figured aspherical components, so the concept is very well understood.
Dr Hans Seeger's monograph notes that the then Zeiss representative characterized this item as the 'tip of the flagpole' technically, so what was once the unique prerogative of state is now becoming accessible to the consumer.

Even so, for binoculars I'm not sure what aspherical adds practically. It does simplify zoom optical designs without excess cost, thanks to molded lenses. However, there are no alpha zoom binoculars afaik.
I am not sure what benefits aspherics could bring to binos but I find the following encouraging:

Aspherics are used in fixed focal length lenses as well as zooms and in fact the first lens I remember as having aspherics was a Canon 55mm way back in the early 1970s. I'm pretty sure I remember reading they can do a better job at bringing all wavelengths of light to a common focus than extra-low dispersion glass, as well as controlling spherical aberration better as well, and at the very least an aspheric can combine two conventional lenses so may allow a more compact and lighter design. Whether any of these is transferable to binos with sufficient benefits and at a reasonable cost is another matter.

Lee
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 08:36   #180
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Aspherical lenses would help in reducing aberrations, as Lee says, and are used in high-end astronomical refractors.

With binoculars, I don't see them coming soon, as most manufacturers seem to think that aberration levels can be rather high without anyone noticing. There's still a lot of room for improvement with just tighter quality control, without which aspherical lenses would not add anything meaningful anyway.

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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 11:30   #181
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Docter, the firm that picked up the Zeiss Jena binocular line, did use aspheric lenses in some of their small models.
They highlighted using a precision molding process to produce these lenses, but gave no details about any limitations. However, they never extended this technology into the rest of their offerings.
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 13:59   #182
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With binoculars,......... There's still a lot of room for improvement with just tighter quality control...........

Kimmo
Definitely.

Lee
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 16:02   #183
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Aspherical lenses would help in reducing aberrations, as Lee says, and are used in high-end astronomical refractors.

With binoculars, I don't see them coming soon, as most manufacturers seem to think that aberration levels can be rather high without anyone noticing. There's still a lot of room for improvement with just tighter quality control, without which aspherical lenses would not add anything meaningful anyway.

Kimmo
Kimmo,
In the past I know you have lauded the Canon IS binoculars for the perceived increase in detail. Do you think IS would be a good trend into the future?

I ask mostly because I've switched back to 7x for the improved stability, but I certainly miss 10x views and have been considering pairing the 7x with one of Canon's models.

It seems odd that Fujifilm, Canon, and a few other oddball manufacturers and oddities (such as the ancient IS model from Zeiss) are the only ones even messing with IS. That to me (along with your mention of improved/tightened QC) would be a huge boon for a lot of users.

Justin
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 19:16   #184
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I am not sure what benefits aspherics could bring to binos...

Lee
The first binoculars I recall advertising the use of aspherical elements were the Nikon Diplomats way back in the early 1990s. Then came Pentax (still used on some models) and Minox (apparently already come and gone). I'm sure there are a few others.

The benefits would depend on the location of the element: reduced spherical aberration if used in the objective group (no binoculars do that to my knowledge) or reduced field curvature and maybe astigmatism if used in the eyepiece. Minox seems to have used aspherical elements in the eyepiece not to improve performance but just to reduce the number of elements required for the same level of off-axis corrections.
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 20:12   #185
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Kimmo,
In the past I know you have lauded the Canon IS binoculars for the perceived increase in detail. Do you think IS would be a good trend into the future?

I ask mostly because I've switched back to 7x for the improved stability, but I certainly miss 10x views and have been considering pairing the 7x with one of Canon's models.

It seems odd that Fujifilm, Canon, and a few other oddball manufacturers and oddities (such as the ancient IS model from Zeiss) are the only ones even messing with IS. That to me (along with your mention of improved/tightened QC) would be a huge boon for a lot of users.

Justin
Justin,

My opinion ever since I got my first pair of IS binoculars over fifteen years ago has been that non-stabilised binoculars are obsolete for most uses. I just no longer bother to bring this up as often as before, as it is not a popular opinion and tends to get flaming responses from people with usually only passing and brief if any experience with good IS binoculars.

Kimmo
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 21:00   #186
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There must be a reason that there are not too many vendors who choose to make IS glass, they certainly have the opportunity. So to me there is no high demand, while I have used IS glass while viewing at night and liked it, I still prefer a simple optical (but costly) instrument for my viewing experience.
I think it is a matter of individual taste. Different strokes....

Andy W.
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 23:19   #187
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Kimmo,
Thank you for your comments. A few members of the Indiana Audubon Society utilize the IS L WP 10x42 and seem very happy with its performance. I wish somewhere around here would stock them so that I could potentially try before buying, but that seems unlikely. I found only 1 distributor within 100+ miles, and they do not actively stock them.

I may order a pair of the 10x30 IS to replace some work binos that are no longer serviceable; at least this way I could get a feel for IS binos, but the 10x30 EP does not seem particularly appealing as compared to that of the 10x42.

Justin
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Old Wednesday 30th January 2019, 09:25   #188
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The first binoculars I recall advertising the use of aspherical elements were the Nikon Diplomats way back in the early 1990s. Then came Pentax (still used on some models) and Minox (apparently already come and gone). I'm sure there are a few others.

The benefits would depend on the location of the element: reduced spherical aberration if used in the objective group (no binoculars do that to my knowledge) or reduced field curvature and maybe astigmatism if used in the eyepiece. Minox seems to have used aspherical elements in the eyepiece not to improve performance but just to reduce the number of elements required for the same level of off-axis corrections.
Thank you for this Henry. So it sounds like some of the benefits found in fixed focal length lenses and mentioned in post 179 might also apply to binos. The next question is whether the benefits would be worth the cost. I wouldn't be surprised if none of Leica/Swaro/Zeiss have grinding machines capable of producing aspherical lenses so it would either be a substantial capital investment based on a hope that the market would be willing to pay the extra for the binos or they would have to turn to a company already equipped to produce aspherics. I don't know for sure but I would be willing to bet Meopta can do this.

Lee
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Old Wednesday 30th January 2019, 13:09   #189
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Hi Lee,

I'm pretty sure the ones I mentioned were/are molded plastics, so most likely cheaper than spherical glass lenses. Even cheaper if a single molded plastic lens replaces two glass lenses.

Henry
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Old Wednesday 30th January 2019, 15:16   #190
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Hi Lee,

I'm pretty sure the ones I mentioned were/are molded plastics, so most likely cheaper than spherical glass lenses. Even cheaper if a single molded plastic lens replaces two glass lenses.

Henry
But would the market welcome plastic lenses? Some folks did not view Zeiss's FL with favour due to the 'plastic' body. Wouldn't plastic lenses (even if they performed well) be a step too far?

Lee
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Old Wednesday 30th January 2019, 17:40   #191
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I expect the marketing of aspherical lenses in binoculars will continue to shy away from the word plastic.

The real point of my post was to note that binocular models with aspherical lenses in the eyepieces have come and gone for quite a while without really catching on, much less creating a revolution in binocular design.

Henry
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Old Wednesday 30th January 2019, 18:23   #192
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I expect the marketing of aspherical lenses in binoculars will continue to shy away from the word plastic.

The real point of my post was to note that binocular models with aspherical lenses in the eyepieces have come and gone for quite a while without really catching on, much less creating a revolution in binocular design.

Henry
Plastic lenses are widely used for eye glasses, to cut the size and weight of the lenses, but rational considerations often go out the window when contemplating binocular purchases....

That said, if a combination of plastic aspherics could produce an 8x60 that is really lightweight while still optically top notch, it might get traction.
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Old Thursday 31st January 2019, 19:21   #193
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Minox seems to have used aspherical elements in the eyepiece not to improve performance but just to reduce the number of elements required for the same level of off-axis corrections.
One wonders whether that was cost-effective, perhaps just an experiment (for/by Leica?). With today's high-transmission coatings, few seem to worry about how many conventional elements it takes to do the job. Then again, as costs inevitably come down...?

(Edit: Re: plastic... I believe Leica was using molded glass aspherics in camera lenses a decade or two ago.)

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Old Thursday 31st January 2019, 22:17   #194
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tenex,

A little more research turned up a few extra wrinkles. I forgot that Pentax used hybrid aspherical elements (a plastic aspherical layer bonded to a glass lens.) Some Minox material from 2004 claims that their BR ASPH binocular series used real glass for the aspherical elements. I'm still going on memory about the plastic lens in the old Nikon Diplomat, but I notice that the current cheapest Nikon binoculars, the Aculons, use aspherical elements. Those must be very inexpensive to make, so almost certainly not glass.

Henry

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Old Thursday 31st January 2019, 23:28   #195
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Henry:

This thread has drifted to talk about construction of lenses, and optical systems. And if you notice the main references are with camera names, some with over 100 years of experience.

I suspect they do have some experience.

Back on topic, and I may have mentioned it already, none of the alpha optics are obsolete, some that have been
out for many years. They still do a great job.

The word "obsolete" is not appropriate here.

Jerry
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Old Friday 1st February 2019, 07:51   #196
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Henry:

This thread has drifted to talk about construction of lenses, and optical systems. And if you notice the main references are with camera names, some with over 100 years of experience.

I suspect they do have some experience.

Back on topic, and I may have mentioned it already, none of the alpha optics are obsolete, some that have been
out for many years. They still do a great job.

The word "obsolete" is not appropriate here.

Jerry
True Jerry, and on the ferry ships off Scotland I regularly see Leica BA/BNs and Dialyt 7x and 10x still being used and enjoyed today. No reason to think that the current crop of alphas will be any different in 10 or 20 year's time.

Lee
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Old Friday 1st February 2019, 12:52   #197
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Henry:

This thread has drifted to talk about construction of lenses, and optical systems. And if you notice the main references are with camera names, some with over 100 years of experience.

I suspect they do have some experience.

Back on topic, and I may have mentioned it already, none of the alpha optics are obsolete, some that have been
out for many years. They still do a great job.

The word "obsolete" is not appropriate here.

Jerry
Yes Jerry, I agree that obsolete was not the correct terminology (I mentioned this in a previous post, and also made sure to include the term in quotation marks in the title), but it was the simplest way I could think to describe the purpose of this thread.

I still use a 10x42 Bausch and Lomb Elite as a car binocular, and don't think I've found any pair of binoculars I yet prefer to the 7x42 Victory T*FL.

Justin
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