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Review: 8x30 EII, 8x30 E, 8x32 SE

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Old Thursday 21st July 2005, 13:39   #1
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Review: 8x30 EII, 8x30 E, 8x32 SE

I apologize in advance for the length of this post. I know only a few other obsessed optogeeks will wade through all this, so for you healthy ones here’s the short version: As others have already said, the Nikon 8x30 EII is an excellent binocular. Buy it while you can.


Mechanical Quality- Something that I was surprised to see is that the EII and the SE share most if not all of the same eyepiece and focuser parts. The eyepiece housings and bridges are exactly the same, and all the exterior parts of the focusers look identical. It was probably simply cheaper for Nikon to go with already existing SE parts than to produce new ones, which has a very happy result for the EII’s mechnical quality. I can testify that the focuser and eyepiece bridge on the SE are very durable. I have used a pair for almost 8 years and they work exactly as they did the first day. There is no wobble at all in the bridge and no play in the focuser. The diopter adjustment ring is identical on the EII and SE and while it doesn’t lock it has enough friction so that it reliably stays in place once it is set. The eyepiece parts on the 8x30 E are completely different and not quite as good. The diopter adjustment ring wanders about easily and the eyepiece bridge tends to rock a bit. It appears to me that the basic mechanical parts of the E were passed down largely unchanged from the earliest Nippon Kogaku models of the 50’s.

At the other end of the binocular the EII appears to use the very same eccentric objective cell as the one in the old E, so this particular part has probably remained unchanged for at least 50 years. The binoculars are collimated by rotating these cells and that method is supposed to be superior for maintaining collimation over time. Looking inside, the prism shelf of the EII appears to be a different one from either the E or the SE. The SE prism shelf looks reassuringly heavy duty, but I can’t say whether it is actually any more shock resistant than the other two. The SE also has a nicely baffled objective tube which is not present in the other two. I can’t see why the moving parts on the EII won’t be just as durable as those on the SE, since they appear to be the very same ones. However, the rubber armouring and perhaps the difference in the prism shelves should make the SE more shock resistant. I think the SE could also be a bit more water resistant since the back of its prism housing has a seamless rubber covering and the eyepiece tubes and prism housings are all one piece rather than the tubes being screwed into the housings.


Optics- The EII uses a cemented doublet objective with what appears to be the same or very close to the same focal length as the old E objective. It wouldn’t make much sense to produce a new objective only slightly different from the old one, so I suspect they are probably the same. I’ve measured the focal length of the E objective at around 110mm (about f/3.7) which makes it quite fast even by binocular standards. The SE also uses a cemented doublet, but with a focal length that looks to be about 130mm (f/4). These exact numbers may be a bit off, but I’m certain the focal length is much shorter in the E/EII compared to the SE. This unusually short focal length has some advantages and some disadvantages. Physically it allows the binoculars to be smaller and lighter. Optically it results in a smaller scale image forming at the focal plane of the objective. This smaller image allows these binoculars to have very wide fields without the need for large prisms and eyepieces. Because the EII has adopted the larger eyepiece housings of the SE it can have eyepiece optics with larger lenses and a wider diameter fieldstop than the E, so it’s field can be even wider. The optical trade offs compared to the SE are reduced eye relief from the shorter focal length eyepiece needed to produce the same magnification and higher levels of chromatic and spherical aberrations from the lower focal ratio objective (which may or may not actually be visible at 8X). Off-axis eyepiece performance should also be a bit worse because of the steeper light cone.

I removed an eyepiece from each binocular to see what I could discover about their design differences. I have dissassembled the eyepiece of the E before so I know it is has 5 elements/3groups in a 2-2-1 arrangement. Looking at reflections of a light bulb returning from the elements I saw what I expected; 6 coated glass to air surfaces and two cementings. I was not keen to take apart the SE and EII eyepieces so I just tried to analyse the reflections I saw in them. The EII showed a somewhat diffrerent pattern from the E, indicating a changed design with what appears to be 8 coated surfaces and two cementings; so I think it has one extra element compared to the E. The SE was harder to read. I’m not sure, but I think it probably has 6 elements in 4 groups like the EII (but not the same design). I measured the field stop diameters as closely as my household measuring tools allow. The E fieldstop is about 15.8-16mm and the fieldstops of the EII and the SE are identical at about 17-17.2mm. These measurements tend to confirm that the focal length of the EII objective is about 110mm and the SE about 130mm The most interesting thing I discovered is that the eyepiece optics sets of the SE and EII are interchangable. You can simply drop the optics set from an SE into the eyepiece housing of an EII and vice versa. This opens up the possibility of some very interesting SE/EII hybrids. For instance, SE eyepieces placed into the eyepiece housings of a10x35 EII would produce the optical equivalent of an 8.5x35 SE. I think that could be an extremely nice birding binocular.

(Addendum: I played around with the hybrid idea today and found that it isn't workable. The EII eyepiece will drop into the SE focusing tube, but the cylinder that contains the eyepiece optics is actually about 1mm smaller in diameter than the SE cylinder so the fit is not tight enough for stable collimation. The larger SE eyepiece cylinder will not drop into the EII. I also noticed that there is a significant difference in the the workings of the eyepiece focusing tubes inside. The SE eyepiece cylinder fits snugly within its tube so that the cylinder and the tube slide against each other with a large area of contact. The EII eyepiece cylinder is smaller than its tube. At the end of the tube there is a thin ring inside which matches the diameter of the eyepiece cylinder and that is the only point of contact. I suppose a thin ring is perfectly OK just for keeping the eyepiece optics centered, but I would have to guess that the SE construction is more expensive. I should have looked at all this more closely when I wrote the original review.)

The E type was one of the few binoculars lines I know of that was originally coated with a single layer of MgF and then after about 1992 multi-coated. I have examples of both, which allows a clear demonstration of just how much brighter multi-coated bins are. The multi-coated version of the E, the EII and the SE all appear to use exactly the same type of multi-coating, which returns reflections which are mostly dark green or blue with occational magenta reflections from some angles. Color transmission looks identical in all three, very neutral with just a tiny bit of red. My impression is that there is very little difference in light transmission between the EII and the SE. Both appear to use the same coatings and have the same number of glass to air surfaces, however occasionally I fdid feel the EII was a tiny bit less bright. Both are very bright and contrasty in daylight, only approximately equaled in my experience by some other very high transmission porros and the Zeiss FL’s.


Measurements- I used my old “Sky & Telescope” resolution chart to measure actual resolution. I boosted the magnification by placing a Fujinon 8x30 FMT-SX behind the eyepiece of the binocular being measured which boosted the magnification to 64X. Both the SE and the EII had measured resolution of around 4” in both barrels. This is an excellent figure, not that far from diffraction limited. The SE might have been a tiny bit better (3.9 vs 4.1”?), but it was essentially too close to call. The old E produced a more “interesting” result. I should mention that the particular specimen of 8x30 E I am using in this test is a 20 year old MgF coated version that has spent most of the last 10 years sitting on a shelf. I don’t think I have ever measured it’s resolution or star tested it. I knew it wouldn’t have the brightness or contrast of a multi-coated example but it ought to perform just as well otherwise. I have a newer multi-coated 8x30 E, but unfortunately it has been transformed into a 9x35 by exchanging objectives with a 7x35 E. Anyway, the left barrel of the old 8x30 measured pretty well at about 4.5”, nothing alarming. But the right barrel was terrible. Resolution was between 6” and 7" and the magnified image looked much worse than the left barrel, very soft and gauzy.

Next I star testing the binoculars with an artificial star (reflection of the sun from a small glass ball at 100’). I used the same set-up to boost magnification. The left side of the old E looked OK, but the right side was a mess. Here was the explanation for its poor resolution. The star point resembled a long teardrop. Switching from one side off focus to the other caused the long axis of the teardrop to shift 90 degrees, indicatiing astigmatism. The EII on the other hand showed mostly nice circular diffraction patterns with only a little decentering of the Airy disc within the pattern in the right barrel and a minor flat spot at 7 o'clock in the left barrel and 5 o'clock in the right (the edge of a prism slightly impinging on the light cone?). There was as usual in binoculars lots of longitudinal CA, but also clearly visible diffraction rings on both sides of focus. One side had a bright outer ring, yellow tinged with orange, The other side had the bright pink central spot I see in almost every binocular with weak rings between it and a diffuse lime green outer ring. Altogether enough chromatic and spherical aberration to cause me to return an f/8 refractor as defective, but by f/3.7 binocular standards- excellent. It’s a pretty good sign to see a bulls eye of diffraction rings on even one side of focus in a binocular. The SE looked about as good, without the flat spots, but with a llittle pinching in the right barrel.

This experience is a good example of how star testing and resolution testing with a booster can reveal binocular problems that may not be all that visible in ordinary use. That’s why I always do this in a store before I actually buy a binocular now. When I look thruogh the right side of this 8x30 E in sunlight (without boosting the magnification) the image doesn’t look that bad, perhaps it’s a little softer than the left side. I expect low magnification to be forgiving when it comes to aberrations, but I thought the relatively good looking image might also be due to only the central area of the exit pupil being utilized in sunlight, so I fitted the objective with a 20mm stop down mask and star tested again. Quite a bit, but not all of the astigmatism was gone. Out of curiousity I tried the left side of the EII with the stop down. Beautiful! There was still some CA, but no flat spot , better symmetry between the diffraction patterns on each side of focus and a very clean in-focus Airy disc surrounded by a crisp evenly illuminated diffraction ring, essentially the performance of an excellent f/5.5 achromat . No wonder the image in this bin looks so good in sunlight.

I think at least in part owing to these excellent results I’ve found the subjective “sharpness” in the center of the field of the EII to be abouit as good as I have seen in any binocular and better than any roof I have tried other than the 8X42 FL. This particular specimen looks a tiny bit sharper and a tiny bit higher contrast than my particular 8x32 SE. Both the EII and the SE look a bit sharper than the E in the center. I’ve used various configurations of the E over the years and I have found them all to be slightly soft compared to the very sharpest binoculars; not bad but just not quite as good as the very best; perhaps comparable to the sharpness I see in most high quality roof prism bins. I don’t mean that they have less actual resolution. Virtually all good binoculars have more detail in the image than you can see, but some seem have a “tack’ sharp look and some don’t. For those who are especially sensitive to chromatic aberration I don’t think the EII presents any special problems. To my eye it looks quite similar to the SE in the center, with about the same amount of lateral CA resulting from the inevitable pupil decentering that happens when hand holding. There may be a little more lateral CA at 20-30 degrees off axis, but not much.

I tried to get some idea of off axis sharpness by placing a measuring tape about 40’ from the binoculars and perpendicular to the line of sight. At that distance 60” on the tape spanned the full 60 degree apparent field of the 8x32 SE, so each inch on the tape would correspond to 1 degree of apparent field for any 8X binocular. I focused at 30” and using one eye tried to judge how far I could move my eye along the tape and still see something close to the best center sharpness, maybe 90%. This is of course pretty subjective. My focus accomodation varies so I don’t always get exactly the same result with the same binocular on different days, but I ‘ve found that the rankings tend to stay the same. On this particular day I found I could see something close to the best center sharpness across 34 degrees through the SE, 28 degrees through the EII and 24 degrees through the “good” side of the E. I also tried a Zeiss 8x42 FL to see how it compared. It was a close match to the EII at about 28 degrees. As for the very edge of the field, as always the SE was best, but the EII was surprisingly good considering the 70 degree field width. It was a little better than the E at the edge of its 66.4 degree field and only a little worse than the Zeiss FL at the edge of its 62 degree field. I suppose the changes in the eyepiece design must account for the improvement in the EII’s off-axis performance compared to the E. Using the artificial star I could see that much of the off axis deterioration in the EII (and the FL and E) is caused by astigmatism, so the viewer’s focus accommodation can’t correct it very much. Almost all the off axis deterioration in the SE is field curvature, so the edge can be refocused to almost equal the sharpness of the center, and those with really wide focus accomodation will see even better off axis sharpness than I can see with it. There is surprisingly little pincushion distortion in the EII considering the field width. There is actually a little less than the Zeiss 8x42 FL and considerably less than the 8x30 E, which must be another benefit of the new eyepiece. The 8x32 SE has almost no distortion, just a touch of pincushion.

For my eyes close focus is 6.5' for the EII, 8' for the SE and a lengthy 17' for the E. 17' seems quite long for a birding binocular today, but 20 years ago it wasn't that unusual.

The eye relief of the E and the EII measured about 16mm from the center of the eyelens and 14mm from the rim of the folded down eyecup. The SE measured 21mm from the eyelens and 19mm from the eyecup. Like Kimmo’s friend I found that I could see virtually the entire 70 degree field of the EII while wearing reading glasses . Nikon’s eye relief figures seem to be conservative and are apparently measured from the eyecup. Beware that some manufacturer’s like Swarovski appear to take their measurements from the glass so that 2-3mm need to be subtracted from their specs compared to measurements from the eyecup.

Overall I found the optics of the EII to be right up there with the very best. I think it’s a worthwhile optical and mechanical improvement over the E; essentially the equal of the SE in every respect except off-axis sharpness and eye relief. Of course there are those, like Arthur, who will actually prefer its shorter eye relief and wider field, so perhaps it really should be considered an equally good alternative to the SE rather than a lesser sibling. There is something particularly gratifying to see a simple and elegant design like this easily matching or bettering binoculars of much higher cost and complexity.

Globilization is probably the main reason this binocular is so inexpensive. Mine has “AM” in the spot where “Japan” appears on the SE and E. I confess I don’t know what AM stands for (Malaysia?), but if the EII were made alongside the SE in the same Japanese factory I expect it would cost almost as much to produce. Even at its bargain basement price Nikon has evidently been unable to find a large enough market to keep it in production, which is a shame.

Last edited by henry link : Sunday 24th July 2005 at 16:18.
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Old Thursday 21st July 2005, 13:43   #2
SteveF
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Let me be the first to say Thank You, Henry!
I've been curious about the differences since the later two series came out. I'll read it with keen interest.
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Old Thursday 21st July 2005, 14:43   #3
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Henry,


Thank you for your thorough and interesting analyses of these glasses.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood
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Old Thursday 21st July 2005, 15:14   #4
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Fabulous, that settles it, I am getting an E2 and putting the rest into a scope. I don;t mind the off axis sharpness difference, and the bendy bendy at the edges, well, I never see it unless I am building watching, but I am a birdwatcher.

Otto, I suspect you will be the owner of a hybrid 8.5x35 SE in the near future?

Vielen Dank Henry!!!

Also, what other hybrids would be available with SE eyepieces and E2 bodies?
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Old Thursday 21st July 2005, 16:35   #5
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Wow. I doubt anyone will criticise you for being superficial. Very useful. BTW are you aware that BF has a reviews section? It has the advantage that users can find reviews more easily.

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Old Thursday 21st July 2005, 18:29   #6
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[quote=RobConnel]Fabulous, that settles it, I am getting an E2 and putting the rest into a scope.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobConnel

Didn't several people advise you to do just that a month ago? Check the Nikon Sky&Earth series of scopes, used Kowas, and the Meoptas (this one will be a nice surprise). The bino&scope combination that you can get for $800 will be very good for birding and will also put you through grad school if you take care of it. After that, you will be able to do better (write grants and get others to pay for your Swaleicas).

Otto, I suspect you will be the owner of a hybrid 8.5x35 SE in the near future?
No, i would be using two perfectly good binoculars for that. We have a 8.5x44 porro ED Swift in the house, and i like it very much when birding in the brush and the parks. Besides, i am happy with what i have.
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Old Thursday 21st July 2005, 20:07   #7
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Henry,

Truly an outstanding piece of work.

Thanks,
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Old Friday 22nd July 2005, 01:16   #8
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Henry,

A big thank you from me as well. Though some of it was a bit hard to follow for the layman I think it was also plain enough for just about anyone to get a handle. You may have convinced me as well to go out and buy an E2.

Out of curiousity though, and from your experience with the 7x35E, how do you think it would compare to the both the E2 and SE in your testing? I realize it isn't exactly apples to apples but any generalizations would be appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old Friday 22nd July 2005, 03:42   #9
Jonathan B.
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[quote=henry link]I apologize in advance for the length of this post. I know only a few other obsessed optogeeks will wade through all this, so for you healthy ones here’s the short version: As others have already said, the Nikon 8x30 EII is an excellent binocular. Buy it while you can.[quote]

Henry,

Wow. Thank you for setting a new standard for thoroughness on this forum (perhaps on any forum), and for keeping it interesting and understandable.

I think Nikon will owe you a percentage of the sales on the next 50 or so EIIs. I, too, will be buying one.

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Old Friday 22nd July 2005, 20:57   #10
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Henry,

As always, a great review.

Nikon is discontinuing the EII’s and the SE's may or may not suffer the same fate. This is a real shame because the EII offered an extraordinary view of nature in a price range ($300 USD) many can afford. At just under $600, I'm certain many potential buyers forgo the SE 8X32 and buy the roof prism of the month. In any case, Nikon won't maintain production if they can't sell them.

One afternoon I met a woman sporting an EII 8X30. When she told me she planned to buy a very expensive roof to replace her “old” model, I said she might be disappointed with the view. As an avid birder she paused for a moment and replied, “Come to think of it, when I’m out with a group I always seem to be the last one to put my binocular down.”

Thanks again for a good read!

John
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Old Friday 22nd July 2005, 23:51   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Traynor
Henry,

As always, a great review.

Nikon is discontinuing the EII’s and the SE's may or may not suffer the same fate. This is a real shame because the EII offered an extraordinary view of nature in a price range ($300 USD) many can afford. At just under $600, I'm certain many potential buyers forgo the SE 8X32 and buy the roof prism of the month. In any case, Nikon won't maintain production if they can't sell them.

One afternoon I met a woman sporting an EII 8X30. When she told me she planned to buy a very expensive roof to replace her “old” model, I said she might be disappointed with the view. As an avid birder she paused for a moment and replied, “Come to think of it, when I’m out with a group I always seem to be the last one to put my binocular down.”

Thanks again for a good read!

John
John,

The word I'm getting from several vendors is that Nikon is still filling orders for EIIs and will not confirm the rumor that they are phasing them out of production. I'm starting to think they may simply not be making them in Japan anymore, — as opposed to not making them. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

Elkcub
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Old Saturday 23rd July 2005, 01:13   #12
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Thank you all for the kind words. I think I'll just bask in the glow for now. I have a feeling the corrections and objections will be coming soon. ;-)

Rob,

The 3 possible hybrids would be (named by eyepiece used) 9.5x32 EII, 8.5x35 SE and 6.8x30 SE, provided the objective focal lengths are what I think they are. However, I wouldn't try this trick at home. Things might go wrong and the warranty would certainly be voided.

Frank,

It doesn't take much arm twisting to force me to play with the binoculars some more. I put a 7X eyepiece in the 35mm E body so I could at least evaluate it as a monocular. I measured its resolution as about 4", just as good as the EII/SE. Brightness and color accuracy also look about as good. I judged the best center sharpness to span about 25 degrees of apparent field, however the edge of its 53 degree field (it's actually about 2 degrees wider than Nikon's spec) was not much better than the edge of the EII's 70 degree field. Contrast was very good, but I think a little lower than the EII/SE. It probably has 4 fewer glass to air surfaces, but for some reason the field lens of the eyepiece was not multi-coated which must cut the contrast a little. Keep in mind that the competition here are two of the world's best binoculars. It's hard to imagine doing this well with anything else for $100.

Someone At Cloudy Nights pointed out to me that the hinge cap of the EII at the eyepiece end has "Japan" discreetly engraved on it, so perhaps it is made there which makes the price seem all the more remarkable.

Last edited by henry link : Saturday 23rd July 2005 at 11:45.
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Old Saturday 23rd July 2005, 05:10   #13
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Thaks for very interesting review - and also thanks to AceCameras of Bath who recommended and then sold an EII to me a few years ago. For ages they have been proclaiming it as "The best binos at any price?" - http://www.acecameras.co.uk/asp/web/...4/prodtype.asp. It is far from being the most expensive binocular they stock, so I would guess that customers that listen to them not only save money, but provide them with less profit.
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Old Saturday 23rd July 2005, 11:09   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elkcub
John,

The word I'm getting from several vendors is that Nikon is still filling orders for EIIs and will not confirm the rumor that they are phasing them out of production. I'm starting to think they may simply not be making them in Japan anymore, — as opposed to not making them. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

Elkcub

Elk,

I hear the E2 goes and the SE remains. Time will tell.

I'm sure it's pure economics and that Nikon will manufacturer only what's profitable for them. My guess is the E2 was losing sales to all the $300 roof bins that have popped up in the last few years. The SE, at $600, entices optical aficionados, not the consuming public. I’ve looked at E2’s and SE’s in several stores and only one salesperson had any notion of how good they were. Everyone else dismissed them as “little porros”, sometimes to the point of being insulting.

Happy Birding…

John
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Old Saturday 23rd July 2005, 19:12   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Traynor
Elk,

I hear the E2 goes and the SE remains. Time will tell.

I'm sure it's pure economics and that Nikon will manufacturer only what's profitable for them. My guess is the E2 was losing sales to all the $300 roof bins that have popped up in the last few years. The SE, at $600, entices optical aficionados, not the consuming public. I’ve looked at E2’s and SE’s in several stores and only one salesperson had any notion of how good they were. Everyone else dismissed them as “little porros”, sometimes to the point of being insulting.

Happy Birding…

John
John,

Frankly, I was just putting together what I heard from a few vendors with Henry's original comment about his E2s not being made in Japan. I looked at E2s carefully about two years ago, when they were selling in a camera shop for $300 + tax, and remembered the Japan logo. My impression is that manufacturers make a production run of who knows how many thousand binoculars, and then decide down the road whether or not to make another. So, in a way, a sword of Damocles hangs above them all.

Anyway, I got a look at Orion's Savannah Waterproof Porros the other day (http://www.telescope.com/shopping/pr...&RS=1&keyword=) and was impressed that they are not only waterproof and nitrogen purged, but also sport very nice retractable eyecups. These are the very qualities everyone would like to have on SEs. Notice that the Savannah's are made in Japan and retail well below $250. Obviously, there's a profit to be made. Oh, yes, the optics were very nice, but could probably use more expert evaluation than mine.

Enjoy the view whatever you do...
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Old Saturday 23rd July 2005, 19:41   #16
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Splendid, Henry, splendid!!

I'll let you bask and will not refute anything you say. Rather, I'll second it.

Now, my only question: if you make the 9.5x32 EII, do you see the entire 70 degree subjective field of the E II eyepieces, or does the smaller prism of the SE body limit the field? Since I have actually talked to E II owners who have bumped their binos out of collimation (probably shaking the prisms a bit in their housings), I might be interested in making a hybrid with SE body and E II eyepieces. Likewise, what is the magnification of a ?x42 E II, and would it provide a 70 degree subjective field?

Thanks again for your thorough work.

Kimmo
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Old Saturday 23rd July 2005, 21:42   #17
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Thanks, Kimmo. I expect your rather more concise Alula review really said all that needed saying.

Let me switch the SE and EII eyepieces again tomorrow and give the result a closer look. I wasn't that serious about pursuing the hybrid idea and really only checked the 9.5x32 combination very briefly. It's possible there will be a problem reaching infinity focus or something else I didn't notice. I don't think the extra field width will be a problem since the eyepiece fieldstops are identical. The extra subjective field in the EII comes from a shorter focal length eyepiece. If my estimates are correct the SE eyepiece has a focal length of about 16.25mm and the EII about 13.75. That would make a 42mm hybrid 11.8X and FWIW a 50mm hybrid 14.2X.

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Old Saturday 23rd July 2005, 22:36   #18
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Henry,

Again I must say thank you for taking the time to go the extra mile and compare the 7x35 E to the E2 and SE. Your technical findings definitely concur with my visual interpretation of the view that the original E provides. I find myself grabbing for them before the LXs nowadays. Alas, if they were only waterproof......:)

On a related note I went back to the store a few days ago to see if they had the other 3 models still laying around. All were gone.....either my comments caught some people's attention or some other folks decided to give those dinky little porros in the back of the case a try. There were some 7x50 Nikons there though that provided a spectacular image despite the fact that the eye relief appeared to be on the extremely short side...

...and the cost was listed at $350.

Thank you again and good birding.
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Old Sunday 24th July 2005, 01:10   #19
Raybo
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Great review Henry, just outstanding!

Just to let everyone (who does not know) know, I went to Wolf camera to look at bins and asked to see the SE's and the salesman was curious as to my preference........he looked through them and was in awe at the view they provided.

Just goes to show what the sales people are pushing.

I have a pair of E2's, (10X35) and could not be happier with my choice.

Good viewing and thanks Henry,
Raybo
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Old Sunday 24th July 2005, 02:16   #20
Sailcat
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Excellent review, Henry! I recently purchased a pair of the Nikon 8x30 EII binoculars, and I am very satisfied by their performance. It is gratifying to have that opinion reinforced by such detailed research.

Two thumbs way up!

Walter

Last edited by Sailcat : Sunday 24th July 2005 at 17:04.
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Old Sunday 24th July 2005, 14:48   #21
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Kimmo,

I added the following addendum to my review. Its a shame the hybrid idea is mechanically unworkable. I could see that the optics of a 9.5x32 are very nice. I imagine a certain WJC could enlighten us all about the differences in internal construction between the EII and the SE. Bill, where are you when we need you?

(Addendum: I played around with the hybrid idea today and found that it isn't workable. The EII eyepiece will drop into the SE focusing tube, but the cylinder that contains the eyepiece optics is actually about 1mm smaller in diameter than the SE cylinder so the fit is not tight enough for stable collimation. The larger SE eyepiece cylinder will not drop into the EII focusing tube. I also noticed that there is a significant difference in the the workings of the eyepiece focusing tubes inside. The SE eyepiece cylinder fits snugly within its tube so that the cylinder and the tube slide against each other with a large area of contact. The EII eyepiece cylinder is smaller than its tube. At the end of the tube there is a thin ring inside which matches the diameter of the eyepiece cylinder and that is the only point of contact. I suppose a thin ring is perfectly OK just for keeping the eyepiece optics centered, but I would have to guess that the SE construction is more expensive. I should have looked at all this more closely when I wrote the original review.)

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Old Sunday 24th July 2005, 18:15   #22
kabsetz
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Thanks again, Henry.

Too bad, I would have liked a 9.5x32 with an SE body and E II eyepieces.

It sounds from your description that the SE construction is more solid and would keep its diopter setting more consistently since there should be less rocking of the bridge. However, when I have used the E II, the bridge has been very solid and only has rocked a bit when I have specifically tried to make it do that.

Kimmo
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Old Monday 25th July 2005, 22:21   #23
RobConnel
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Henry, another few questions if you would?

You said that the EII and SE share many focus bridge mechanicals, so is it a myth that the SE has a stiffer focus than the EII? If there is a difference is it noticeable?

Also, you say that the field edges of the EII show some pincushion, but not much, can you make a comparison to the amount in the Swift Audubons (the only binoculars I have immediate access to)? Could you possible rate the curvature from straight somehow? I'm sure that would be tought to quantify, but maybe there is a way that I am not familiar with.

Thanks
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Old Monday 25th July 2005, 23:58   #24
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Rob,

At the high tempertures we've had here lately I can detect no difference in the action of the focusers, but it's certainly possible that the SE might be stiffer in cold weather since in it there is a much larger area of lubricated contact between the cylinder containing the eyepiece elements and the focusing tube. I can't say I've ever had much of a problem with the SE in the winter, but the winters here are not that cold.

I think pincushion distortion is really a non-issue in the EII. I just dutifully reported the little bit I saw. Most people seem to prefer a little pincushion distortion when panning, compared to the unpleasant "rolling ball" effect of barrel distortion. To see it at all I had to place a straight line near the edge and move it back and forth. In normal use I never noticed it. I'm sorry I don't have access to an Audubon to compare them.
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Old Tuesday 26th July 2005, 02:22   #25
Pileatus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobConnel
Henry, another few questions if you would?

You said that the EII and SE share many focus bridge mechanicals, so is it a myth that the SE has a stiffer focus than the EII? If there is a difference is it noticeable?

Also, you say that the field edges of the EII show some pincushion, but not much, can you make a comparison to the amount in the Swift Audubons (the only binoculars I have immediate access to)? Could you possible rate the curvature from straight somehow? I'm sure that would be tought to quantify, but maybe there is a way that I am not familiar with.

Thanks
Rob,

I can help you with a Swift/SE comparison.

At length, I compared the Swift 820 (non-ED) side-by-side to an SE 8X32 and the views were very similar. The Swift is soft on the outer edges and some will find that distracting, regardless of FOV. However, the pinpoint sharpness of these two models is exceptional, along with wonderful contrast and faithful color transmission.

I chose the SE because:
1. It has better eye relief for my eyes.
2. It has a rigid ocular bridge that eliminates focus deviation due to pressure on the eyecup. This is essential to me.
3. The overall build quality of the SE seemed superior.

Good luck!

John
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