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can optical quality be improved?

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Old Monday 22nd December 2003, 18:14   #1
tomreid24
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can optical quality be improved?

What's your opinions on how optics (bins mainly) can be improved?
Can what we see through the top bins at this time actually be bettered,if so how? I'm not talking about shape,size,weight or things like stabilising and integrated gimmicks like cameras.Have manufacturers reached the pinnacle of optical qualities and have to promote products by such things as size etc ?
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Old Monday 22nd December 2003, 18:40   #2
Edward woodwood
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Hi Thomas

you've got a point here; not sure how much what you actually 'see' thru bins or scopes has improved that much over 15 years....

my old Zeiss 7 x 42 will give any of today's bins a run for their money on optical quality. (see better view desired website if you need convincing) Even construction and hard-wearing wise they are still almost as new despite years of use in some extreme places.
recently tried the ED78 orig. from about 10 years ago and can't see a difference optically from the new 82
likewise the old Nikon ED11 from way back.

is there an optical quality gain that's worth what people are expected to pay?
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Old Monday 22nd December 2003, 19:33   #3
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I've probably got this terribly wrong, but I seem to recall that the largest optical telescope in the world (inevitably in an atronomical observatory) consists of an array of concave lenses angled to reflect and focus the light onto a single collecting lens.

Given that sort of technological finesse I would have thought that it's not so much whether the fiddling little things that we use can be improved, but the price at which it's worth improving them any further. There's probably always room for improvement in theory, but there must come a point where our eyes wouldn't be sensitive enough to perceive the difference.

Personally I wouldn't expect to see any noticeable improvement in optical quality unless and until someone invents a material with better light transmitting qualities than glass.

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Old Monday 22nd December 2003, 19:51   #4
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Now don't knock the Nikon ED82, Tim - I've just bought one and it... cost me a lot of money!

At Rutland Water nature reserve they have an old style Swarovski for public use and I doubt it's much different from the new model.

In truth, I bet the new scopes show themselves well in difficult conditions such as into the light, in the dusk, etc. Well - I hope they do!
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Old Monday 22nd December 2003, 19:54   #5
Edward woodwood
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I think the 82s worth the cash Steve - just saw that cheapo 78 and couldn't resist it! After all that was a similar price a few years ago.

and when you add up the amount of hours use and the unquantifiable pleasure get from it there's no argument.
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Old Monday 22nd December 2003, 20:06   #6
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If Warehouse Express took p/ex I'd have had one without doubt. At those prices they are a bargain - but when you add on the cost of a new style zoom, it does add on quite a bit - yet still a bargain.

You'll love using the scope, for sure - to mke you feel even better, did you see the review of it on the Finnish site:

http://www.alula.fi/GB/index.htm ?

You'll be very impressed with your choice once you've read this! By the way - it's never a ten-year-old design, is it?
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Old Monday 22nd December 2003, 20:17   #7
Edward woodwood
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the ed78 was around in early 94 at least.....

can't stand zooms though - like looking down a tunnel

it'll probably only get an outing if I do any seawatching or raptor roosts though - bit of a shame
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Old Monday 22nd December 2003, 20:48   #8
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I agree with Tim about the Zeiss 7 x 42s. Their optical quality is up with the very best of today yet they were introduced back, I believe, in 1981. I also could not resist a cheapo ED 78 from Warehouse Express. For me, this stunning scope has to be the scope bargain presently.

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Old Monday 22nd December 2003, 21:24   #9
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I agree - those who haven't tried a truly wide angle eyepiece, only ever owning a zoom, don't know the pleasure they're missing. But surely you agree that a zoom can be useful? The new Nikon zoom is far less of a tunnel view - like Swarovski, Zeiss and Leica, their designers have worked hard to give a view that seems wider.
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Old Monday 22nd December 2003, 21:55   #10
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Quality can always be improved, but has already been mentioned it is a performance/cost trade off. I think that any worthwhile improvement will come as computer power is used to calculate the light path through the optics - use of aspheric elements, HD glass and lens coatings for example. Just think of the advances made in big zoom lenses, these days we have 50-500mm at reasonable prices,- 20 years ago they would have been unthinkable.

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Old Monday 22nd December 2003, 22:23   #11
Helwith
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomas reid
What's your opinions on how optics (bins mainly) can be improved?
Can what we see through the top bins at this time actually be bettered,if so how? I'm not talking about shape,size,weight or things like stabilising and integrated gimmicks like cameras.Have manufacturers reached the pinnacle of optical qualities and have to promote products by such things as size etc ?
IMHO No! There's a limit & to be honest bins have not improved optically for a few years and probably are at thier optimal resolution, no matter what people some pontificate about blooming/coatings etc.

It's in the eye of the beholder! and capitalism

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Old Monday 22nd December 2003, 22:31   #12
tomreid24
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Given that manufacturers produce their products to exacting tolerances,i.e. the goods should perform exactly the same,then i assume that each individuals eyesight will affect their perception of performance?Can a persons pupil dilation affect optics performance?Would pupil dilation less than an optics stated exit pupil mean that an individual wouldn't see the difference at dusk between a small or larger objective?
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Old Tuesday 23rd December 2003, 00:34   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomas reid
Given that manufacturers produce their products to exacting tolerances,i.e. the goods should perform exactly the same,then i assume that each individuals eyesight will affect their perception of performance?Can a persons pupil dilation affect optics performance?Would pupil dilation less than an optics stated exit pupil mean that an individual wouldn't see the difference at dusk between a small or larger objective?
Perfectly put I have considered that there 'aint any great gain for mere mortals, such as me purchasing the bees-knees in optics Because my eyesight is A1.

After "testing most optical bins" I'd say not much to choose between Mid/High ranged priced optics!

As for BO's et al recommendations; He/she is getting paid to endorse them So not a good guide to thier optical performance [Rant Off]

CB
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Old Tuesday 23rd December 2003, 06:59   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CravenBirds
Perfectly put I have considered that there 'aint any great gain for mere mortals, such as me purchasing the bees-knees in optics Because my eyesight is A1.

After "testing most optical bins" I'd say not much to choose between Mid/High ranged priced optics!

As for BO's et al recommendations; He/she is getting paid to endorse them So not a good guide to thier optical performance [Rant Off]

CB
of course BO is being paid to advertise them. Same reason that any number of celebs are paid to endorse any number of products - they reckon the consumer is gullible and thinks that because some minor celeb advertises a product they really use it. At least Bill uses the Bins - and isn't Leica getting some good product placement for the Ultavids in the new BO Goes Wild series!

I think the best statement on the difference between bins was made by Andy Bright, in response to a request of mine, when he said that between bins of a similar price it was how comfortable they feel in the hands that would be the biggest distinguishing point.
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Old Tuesday 23rd December 2003, 08:52   #15
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Contrary to the replies so far regarding binoculars, I think we will continue to see advances in optical quality as well as 'ergonomics/usability'.

I've a pair of Zeiss Dialyt BGAT 10x40 from the 1980s. At the time, they were the 'bees knees'. At the time, I though t I'd bought a pair for life.

I recently bought a pair of Nikon HG DCF 8x20 compacts for walking etc. Quite frankly they compare very favourably with the Zeiss. I've also looked through the full-size models and the new Swarovksi EL 8x32. These new binoculars are brighter, sharper, more contrasty and the image is somehow more 'alive'.

What I'm getting at is that 15 years ago, I thought we'd reached the pinnacle of performance. Who's to say what can be achieved in another 15 years.

Optics manufacturers will be continually researching new ways of improving their products in order to keep ahead. I'd be confident we'll see better binoculars in the future.

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Old Tuesday 23rd December 2003, 09:32   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CravenBirds
As for BO's et al recommendations
Osprey, who is this a reference to?

Andy.
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Old Tuesday 23rd December 2003, 19:07   #17
william j clive
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Originally Posted by satrow
Osprey, who is this a reference to?

Andy.

No, it aint body odour, its Bill Oddie
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Old Wednesday 24th December 2003, 01:09   #18
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Originally Posted by william j clive
No, it aint body odour, its Bill Oddie
Who said that? Not me, I might get sued

Body odour nice one, that's my personal opinion of BO

God, he's terrible in his new morning show and uses bad language when infants are watching! Probably he's a manic depressive so he has an excuse.
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Old Wednesday 24th December 2003, 01:14   #19
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Originally Posted by satrow
Osprey, who is this a reference to?

Andy.
Osprey! Never heard of him I'v protected 'em in the past though!
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Old Wednesday 24th December 2003, 20:47   #20
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I think that Optical performance is probably as close to perfection as possible. I recently looked through some 'old' Zeiss 7x42's - fabulous!...things have NOT moved on that much.
The new 'race' between manufacturers seems to be lightness and ease of handling issues. I believe that the weight of optics, and reducing this will be a big goal over the next few years (and will persuade many birders to keep spending their ready's!). It's already started on bins. Can you imagine the popularity of a Svaro/Leica scope weighing 500g's (or less)!!
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Old Wednesday 24th December 2003, 22:06   #21
Adey Baker
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There are a number of areas where bins might be improved - more use of low-dispersion glass, aspheric elements, diffraction optics, etc, all as used in camera lenses, but whether they would be of any practical use is another matter.

If you go beyond the limits of the human eye's ability to utilise the improvements then they'll just be a waste of money.

Improved coatings, giving higher light transmission, are very useful in dull light conditions but when you use the same bins with, say, a bird against a bright background, the extra light coming in makes your pupils close up more so you still get a silhouette effect, anyway!

Perhaps some way of giving variable contrast might be useful under these circumstances.
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Old Saturday 27th December 2003, 20:20   #22
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For a demo of radical binoculars see a brief segment of the original Star Wars, or the Quidditch world final in the Harry Potter books. Most of this is doable now but impractical (size, battery power) and ridiculously expensive. I know some of this could be described as gimmicks, but I believe that it would make identifying and appreciating birds easier for all users, from beginner to professional ornithologist.

Add-ons: rangefinder, built-in recording. Recording is always on and provides slow motion replay with zoom on request. Rangefinder not only helps survey work (transect sampling) but allows accurate measurement of bird size without visual cues for the first time.

No optical path to eyes - everything is digital and fed from a single objective, making a 70mm objective practical - not so much for light as to push back the diffraction limit to resolution. Signal processing can add not only image stabilisation and digital zoom but contrast control, eliminating silhouetting (requires either hugely better CCD exposure lattitude than today or clever edge-detection and contrast circuitry directly on the CCD chip, as in the human retina). Making the resulting binoculars as long as a current 8x30 not a current 70mm scope will keep the optical designers as busy as the computer people - or am I breaking some theoretical limit there?
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Old Saturday 27th December 2003, 22:07   #23
Leif
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomas reid
What's your opinions on how optics (bins mainly) can be improved?
Can what we see through the top bins at this time actually be bettered,if so how? I'm not talking about shape,size,weight or things like stabilising and integrated gimmicks like cameras.Have manufacturers reached the pinnacle of optical qualities and have to promote products by such things as size etc ?
I was out duck watching today with my Nikon 8x32 SEs and to be honest the optics are sublime and a pleasure to use. It really is like being 8x closer. They are almost as sharp as Swaro 8.5x42 EL and just as bright even at dusk. (No, I'm not a Nikon rep. and I have no connection whatsoever with Nikon. Honest!) The shortcomings are all mechanical: the focus wheel is stiff in cold weather and the eye tubes are floppy rubber.

I reckon the future is an 8x32 roof prism binocular that matches the Nikon 8x32 SE. The Leica 8x32BN doesn't even come close.
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