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12x50 Trinovid BN

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Old Saturday 16th January 2010, 05:34   #1
ronh
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12x50 Trinovid BN

I tried a used 12x50 BN in a store in Tuscon recently, and was very impressed by the central sharpness, 68deg field, and compact size (exactly the same width and thickness as a Zeiss 8x42 FL, and only 1/2 inch longer). I just couldn't resist, and bought it. I'll be using it for stargazing, handheld, sitting comfortably and steadied, reared back in my big wicker armchair.

I really didn't believe such a high powered binocular could be this good. The star images are so tight, they are just beautiful. I love double stars, so that is the main thing to me. I've been using a 10x50 Fujinon for this range. In comparison, the Fujinon's higher transmission is noticeable, as is its sharper edge view. The two are equal in central star image quality. But, my eyes vary from night to night, so I can't just set focus and forget it like some astro buffs claim you can, but have to tweak every session, sometimes midway as my eyes tire. The easy center focusing of the BN makes its sharpness easier to realize. The BN's 12x, still not too much to steady when well braced, its 10 oz lower weight, and wider field, are enjoyable. With its excellent stray light control (a "glaring" weakness of the Fujinon 10x50) and very good CA suppression (how can this be with normal glass at 12x??) it could also be some fun for long-range seated duck spotting.

I also use a 16x70 Fujinon for stargazing in the same way, but its optics are not as good as the smaller binoculars, deep as it will take you in the sky. I usually stop it down to 60mm so the stars aren't so blobbly. Plus it is so arduous to handle that monster.

The 12x50 may well turn out to be my ideal hand held astro binocular. Of course there is the Nikon SE 12x50, which is brighter, lighter, and narrower fielded but sharper at the edge. But something about Trinovids calls to me, despite my injured (by a Zeiss FL) relationship with my 8x42 BA. I am not happy that the FL beats it, more like mad. I wish I would snap out of this CA-sensitive, brightness-loving phase.

The 12x50 Leicas of all series, BA through HD, have been discussed here by several forum members with never a bad comment. Thanks for the consciousness raising.
Ron

Last edited by ronh : Saturday 16th January 2010 at 05:36.
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Old Saturday 16th January 2010, 07:15   #2
Kevin Conville
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Sounds like a great candidate for a Finnstick. Funny, I've been daydreaming about a 12x50 Leica lately myself. My dreams include the Uvid HD version for it's theoretical better correction, but a deal on a Trinovid BA or BN could sway me.

Very cool Ron
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Old Saturday 16th January 2010, 11:42   #3
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Ron, yr such a pushover......
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Old Saturday 16th January 2010, 15:13   #4
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Congratulations on a great choice.

I've bought a 12x50 BA and a 10x50 BN, both used. Identical externally, as far as I can see. In view, though, the 12x50 BA seemed noticeably better, specifically more fine detail and color transmission. Oddly, though both required effort to hold steady, the 12x50 BA seemed a bit easier to steady.
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Old Saturday 16th January 2010, 21:13   #5
John Russell
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Ron,

If you contemplate using the 12x50 Trinovid terrestrially, I can recommend the Leica tripod adapter on a monopod. I know it's a lot of money for a bit of plastic and a rubber band but IMO, it's the best solution for a roof prism bin without the 1/4" thread on the hinge.
I use mine with a Manfrotto 234 tilt head but the head is not essential.
Even if the monopod is not extended the extra inertia has a significant steadying effect.

Regards, John
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Old Sunday 17th January 2010, 00:04   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Russell View Post
Ron,

If you contemplate using the 12x50 Trinovid terrestrially, I can recommend the Leica tripod adapter on a monopod. I know it's a lot of money for a bit of plastic and a rubber band but IMO, it's the best solution for a roof prism bin without the 1/4" thread on the hinge.
I use mine with a Manfrotto 234 tilt head but the head is not essential.
Even if the monopod is not extended the extra inertia has a significant steadying effect.

Regards, John
Have you tried the Nikon Bino-Q-mount? Seems more durable than the Leica sling shot and it's only a third of the price.

http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Binoc-U-...ews/B00006LQAI

Not the best for midsized binos, because you end up "chinning" the mount, but I would imagine the Leica mount is the same way, but it is good for full sized roofs and porros. Even my 7" x 8" CZJ 8x50 Octarem fit!

"Q" gave me one but then snatched it back and disappeared into the Continuum .

Last edited by brocknroller : Sunday 17th January 2010 at 00:09.
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Old Sunday 17th January 2010, 16:31   #7
John Russell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brocknroller View Post
Have you tried the Nikon Bino-Q-mount? Seems more durable than the Leica sling shot and it's only a third of the price.
Well, it would appear to be more universal (Porros) but the Leica (€75 here) is good for any roof up to 50mm objective size, perhaps larger, is very secure and does not change IPD. An irrelevant use perhaps but it will even hold an old 8x20 Zeiss Classic.
My initial sample started to crack but the replacement from Leica had been modified in the sensitive area.
The Zeiss Binofix btw is better made, twice the price, and an ergonomic disaster.

John
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Old Sunday 17th January 2010, 20:17   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Russell View Post
Ron,

If you contemplate using the 12x50 Trinovid terrestrially, I can recommend the Leica tripod adapter on a monopod. I know it's a lot of money for a bit of plastic and a rubber band but IMO, it's the best solution for a roof prism bin without the 1/4" thread on the hinge.
I use mine with a Manfrotto 234 tilt head but the head is not essential.
Even if the monopod is not extended the extra inertia has a significant steadying effect.

Regards, John
It works well for astronomy, as well, but then I think that a tilt mount and a tall monopod are required as well, for viewing near the zenith. I use a 12x50 BA for astronomical observation with that equipment.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood
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Old Tuesday 19th January 2010, 05:21   #9
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Today, like a complete idiot I thought, I strapped on the 12x50 and hiked down into the big canyon to the Rio Grande. This isn't even what I bought it for at all. This may seem odd, but I loved the views and simply didn't notice the dreaded shake.

Just as a low powered Zeiss or Fujinon amazes me with brightness and sharpness, this one did it with its magnification. I know from direct comparisons that the hand held 12x really doesn't show appreciably more detail, if you get down and really scrutinize the smallest thing that is annoyingly difficult to make out, like printed script. But, it seems easier to see things when they are big, like when they are bright. And from the same comparison, I know that I first notice things with the 12x that I don't with the 8x.

I also found that the view is very well designed. One would hope that Leica could do something with a 7-element eyepiece! The in-or-out eyecups were just right clicked out, allowing the whole 68deg field to be seen with only the faintest trace of dimming at the edge. The eye could wander, without feeling disciplined to fix near the middle, with no blackouts. And the central region of full sharpness is generous.

So once I got adjusted to the fact that sparrows were not really turkeys, it was really a lot of fun, not the big mistake I thought I was making. OK, most of the birds were distant ducks, no tiny overagitated types. A 1 or 2 yr old bald eagle flew over, woah!

It seems like even 10x is looked at with suspicion here. How come the 12x shake didn't drive me crazy? Buyer's rationalization run amok? Do any of you use such power freehand?
Ron
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Old Tuesday 19th January 2010, 22:55   #10
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Welcome to the club, Ron!
I've been very happy for years birding with a Docter 12x50BGA. Higher power glass gives a better view, imo. The only glitch is that keeping up with hoppy little warblers in the spring. is challenging .
While my main glass now is a Canon 10x42IS, I have only fond memories of the big Docter porros. They are superb, for astronomy as well as for birding..
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Old Monday 25th January 2010, 18:05   #11
Kevin Conville
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How are you getting on with those big Trinovids Ron? I'm considering picking up a pair myself. Maybe a mild case of bino fever has struck me

I've always been intrigued by them but the size and weight have put me off in years past. Now I'm thinking of a Finnstick application and I think a roof bin will be a little better here than a porro, and, a Leica Trinovid is one of the most affordable high quality big bins. Also, frankly, I'm sort of a Leica guy

So come on, give us some more feedback so that we who might be tempted, can fall off the fence.
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Old Tuesday 26th January 2010, 05:41   #12
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Kevin,
I've had a few nights under the stars with the new 12x50, and it certainly does well at that, my intended purpose. Also, I've been back down to the river again. My first impressions have not changed, but I have learned a bit more about it, and since you ask, I'll share that.

Daytime use is undoubtedly what Leica intended, and I believe your main interest as well, so that's what I'll talk about.

What should one expect of such a big high powered binocular? I own three of and have looked through two others of the Fujinon FMT-SX series which, being high and even across the board in quality and yet spanning a huge range, provides perhaps the best example of the effects of magnification and aperture on view quality in all binoculardom. I agree with Henry Link's arguments concerning his 8x56 Zeiss FL, namely, whatever makes the effective focal ratio larger makes a better view, in his case, the stopping of the 7mm exit pupil down to perhaps 2.5mm in daylight, for an effective f/10ish, and similarly with my 7x50. I also believe that the optical quality, re resolution and star test quality, of binoculars, even the best, is "engineered" to be only good enough at typical binocular magnifications. So, between these two effects, a 7x50 should be expected to beat a 16x70 in terms of color saturation, contrast, and apparent sharpness, and indeed does. I see this trend uniformly across the whole FMT-SX lineup. And from my little experience with the Trinovids, I see it in the jump from 8x42 to 12x50. The view through the 12x50 doesn't have quite the snap of the 8x42. I forgive it, because it is still sharp, well lit and contrasty, just not quite superior in those areas. But my goodness the view is big, and with expected Leica strengths of excellent field correction, eye comfort, glare reisistance, and tolerable color fringing--less than, say the 8.5x Swaro. So I think the quality is all that could be expected, but the view is not quite "just like the 8x42, only 50% bigger". You get the sense that 12x is starting to push it a little bit.

What's it like using such a big powerhouse in the field?

12x is quite critical to focus, and Leica recognizes that by making the focus gearing about 1.5x slower than the 8x, so it is not a quick "birder" in that, nor any other way. But the focus works nicely, with the typical Trinovid brass against aluminum feel--not "notchy", but with some sticktion--a two fingered, stay put knob.

Next, pointing and holding it. I don't think I could deal with a stick or monopod and a binocular at the same time, hiking in very rough terrain often having to duck under brush, and not knowing at what angle I might want to look--just not enough body IQ for that, I'm afraid. But for freehand use, the very wide field makes 12x almost no liability in quick target location, and provided I'm not winded and heart racing, steady holding isn't near the bugaboo I feared. I think a lot of it is that my eyes have been training at following a jiggling image at 8x a long time, and are ready for a step up in shake. Also the binocular is long and heavy, so if I grip it with both hands out near the end, that helps, lots of rotational inertia there. This is comfortable, there being a hands worth of barrel beyond the hinge, and the big barrels offer plenty gripping space for two hands. The noggin end is well supported due to the eye relief, which requires a snug contact with the eye sockets. I have also found that it is steadier, instead of remaining as relaxed as possible, to grip the barrels quite firmly for the duration of an observation. That seems counter intuitive, and I discovered it quite by accident, but it really works.

Then there's the mighty 40 oz thereof. I have not carried it for more than 2 hours yet, but for that, I find a wide neoprene neckstrap is all that is needed. I have my doubts about all day long.

Not much of a sales pitch I'm afraid, but I really like this binocular!

Finally a few observations on the differences between my 8x42 BA SN 111... and the 12x50 BN SN 146...
The metal parts of the focus carriage in the BA are bare aluminum, but exqusitely multiply knife-edge baffled, while those parts of the BN are merely crackle-finished, but covered with a black paint. (The Zeiss FL is bare crackle finished, that's it.)
The eyecup material of the BA is a relatively stiff and slick compound, while on the BN it is gummy, like inner tube rubber, perhaps a bit more comfortable but attractive to dust and dirt.
The finger surface focus wheel of the BA is relatively hard and slick, compared to the BN which is a more grippy rubber finish, an improvement. The outer objective lens coating on the BA is quite reflective, while on the BN is a deep blue. The other interior and eyepiece coatings look the same, however.
And the "main advertised thing", near focus, well how odd that the 12x50 BN focuses much closer than the 8x42 BN! But, the BN does have the claimed 4 diopter focus overrun, because with my eye's 1 diopter of nearsightness, there's still 3 diopters past infinity left.

Well, Kevin, did I talk you out of it? Did you perhaps fall off the fence from just going to sleep?
Ron

Last edited by ronh : Tuesday 26th January 2010 at 05:46.
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Old Tuesday 26th January 2010, 07:38   #13
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Nice report Ron. I appreciate your level headed and objective evaluation.

I'm a little surprise that they aren't snappier than you characterize. I thought that was one of the primary reasons for these big dudes. "You get the sense that 12x is starting to push it a little bit" isn't what I expected to hear.

I was already aware of the difference between BAs and BNs having had both contemporaneously. Neither would be a deal breaker, but I have a slight preference for the BNs as I don't need the amount of focus over-run of the BA.

Yeah, I don't really know if I could get along with using a Finnstick either but I'm getting a little geez'd out to be handholding something like that much, even accounting for the ballast effect. Carrying them is another issue.

I think I need to get a little face time with 12x bins generally as this (for me) is largely an abstract idea with little seat of the pants experience to go on.

So, I guess I'm still on the fence about big Trinovids specifically, and 12x bins generally. Your experience and feedback are especially appreciated however as you are both a Leica guy -and- a Fujinon guy, as am I. An astronomer and a birder. Thanks.

Cheers,
Kevin
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Old Tuesday 26th January 2010, 13:51   #14
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I will concur with RonH’s overall view of the 12x50 BN. Several (many) years ago I bought a 12x50 BN and use it regularly for longer distance viewing, mostly watching eagles across the Tennessee River Valley. This is not a strenuous birding activity, there are usually a few of us get together and carry a card table, chairs, scopes and some very large cameras. We set up near a parking area and glass the cliffs across the river.

Since I have been using the BN’s, I have not used 10x, I find the 12’s more usable for me.

I am not sure of what RonH means by "You get the sense that 12x is starting to push it a little bit", I find the BN’s have better contrast/resolution than either my 8x42 or 7x42, maybe just a tad dimmer because of the 4 mm exit pupil or lack of dielectric coatings of the others. Mine are the older version, I bought them just after the change from BA to BN. I guess he means that 12x may be suited better to a little larger aperture.

He may be referring to the fact that 12x is at the point of really needing steadying. I usually try to find a tree limb or other support, or at least lean against a tree with the back of my hand against the tree, though I do not find it too much different than a 10x, maybe the image size helps compensate.

Anyway, I find the 12x50 a more useful format than 10x42 for my uses.

Best
Ron

PS: Forgot, they image scale of the 12X is a good representation of picture size of the 600 mm IS Canon lens.

Last edited by Surveyor : Tuesday 26th January 2010 at 14:11.
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Old Tuesday 26th January 2010, 15:47   #15
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Thanks for your comments guys.

Ron,
To me at least, there appears to be a slight loss of color saturation or contrast if you prefer, and a bit of apparent sharpness in the 12x50, compared to the 8x42, in normal daylight viewing. I accept that your eyes see it differently, but cannot guess why.

I had thought that what I was seeing could be explained, or at least made plausible, not by a difference in construction or optical quality, but by two effects. First, a smaller exit pupil suffers less encroachment by the eye's pupil and therefore there is less of an effective focal ratio increase from the eye's stopping-down effect. Second, the higher magnification is starting to act a little like a "boosted resolution test", where the optical defects of a system are made easily visible. Optical defects aren't hidden as well at 12x as at 8x. But maybe my whole viewpoint is clouded by too much "speculative reasoning"--I will keep looking, and attempt to think only pure thoughts as I do so! It is a very enjoyable instrument in any case.

If you have any lab test results on the 12x50 that you'd care to share, they would be very interesting here.
Ron
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Old Tuesday 26th January 2010, 16:53   #16
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Hi RonH;

I have not made any tests recently on the BN’s and did not do much when I got them. The only two I remember doing was a collimation check since the higher the power, the better the collimation needs to be. Do not remember the numbers, but well within the allowable for General Purpose Instruments and very close, maybe better than the limits for High Performance Instruments, that would be near 1.6’ vertical and around 5’ divergent horizontal. I also did a rough resolution check but only used a 3x Zeiss booster, not really enough for me to get to limiting resolution with my eyesight. Best I remember, both tubes were at or a little better than 3”. This was before I had built my collimator for resolution testing. May be worth the time to clean the lens and re-check them.

This was when my visual acuity was probably in the range of 100-130; so about 10” was the best for my un-boosted vision or about 3 times lens capability, so doubt that 12x is acting as boosted for me. Your vision may be like Henry’s, Kimmo’s or Edz’s, about twice as good as mine.

Best
Ron
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Old Tuesday 26th January 2010, 18:31   #17
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Ron,
I doubt that the eye's "resolving power" fully expresses its ability to see, but only to clearly separate objects. Indeed if the binocular resolves 3", and this is increased by 12x to only 36" apparent, then it might seem odd that someone with normal eyesight could see any problem with that. But Henry has remarked that 5" in an 8x binocular is visibly soft, even though I seriously doubt his eyes could separate features only 5" x 8 = 40" apart. So I think he might find a 3" binocular soft at 12x. I doubt my eyesight is a good as his, but I can see something like that in my 12x50, although it is hardly objectionable. And I doubt your eyesight is anything like twice as bad--or you wouldn't be hanging out here, but down on the "Others" forum! Maybe I tend to forgive my 12x50 too easily, because it all seems to make sense, and the honeymoon isn't over yet either. But I don't know of, nor would I be willing to pay for, a binocular consistently better than 3" resolution.
Ron the H
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Old Friday 26th February 2010, 02:45   #18
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I'd love a piar of Leica's best 12's but I think they're something like 440z and at taht weight I'd almost never have them with me.

Not to mention I can't afford them
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Old Friday 26th February 2010, 05:06   #19
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"Leica's best 12", being the Ultravid HD, has

1)magnesium body (vs aluminum in the Trinovid)

2)titanium focusing axle (vs steel)

3)trim rubber cladding (vs full grain rhinocerous kneecap)

4)lead free glass instead of "flint"(for tree hugging weight saving)

and thus gets the weight down to a still fairly ridiculous 36oz for the 12x50, (vs 40). Not the ideal companion for an all day bird walk, even if you had $2600 to kick around.

But the old used BN is turning out to be great for seated stargazing. $950 was plenty bad enough. My wife tells me I really ought to sell something.
Ron
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Old Wednesday 3rd March 2010, 02:24   #20
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I had thought they were at 44oz, 36 isn't so bad?. . . .

I hear they are the best 12 in the world but wonder how they get so much brightness out of that 300FOV.
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