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Bino Thoughts (1 Viewer)

WJC

Well-known member
Hopefully, I am going to be busier than usual for the next few days. So, I wanted to offer a few thoughts. I know that although it has a reason, some people don’t appreciate my cut to the chase style of writing. So, if you came away thinking the worse of me because I’m not a snowflake, please ask Lee, Chosen Juan, NDhunter, Dries, Etudiant. They know I love you all. Gosh, I hate it when my tongue goes all the way through my cheek, like that. :cat:

Cheers,

Bill

***********************

— When people talk about wanting advice on buying a “decent,” “good,” “average,” “upper end,” or “mid-priced” binocular, are they asking for opinions from the users of Barska and Zhumell or the users of Zeiss and Swarovski? The difference may vary by $2,000 USD (1,533 GBP) or more. At one time, each of us was a beginner but—garbage in /garbage out. Wanting useful information, inquisitors need to offer specific applications, apertures, magnifications, and budget.

I saw this inquiry on Cloudy Night:

“I just want a binocular for looking at the moon, stars, planets, comets, galaxies, and nebulas.” I guess he thought that assessment would narrow things down. It didn’t.

— The same folks should—before querying—understand there is a correlation between aperture, magnification, and the laws of physics. One can get the idea from eBay offerings that a binocular of ANY SIZE can render ANY MAGNIFICATION. I would like to have a 1,000,000x binocular with a .25-inch aperture. But then, as Dave Ramsey has said, “Common sense is so rare these days, it’s considered a superpower.” If you think, a 1,000,000x binocular with a .25-inch aperture is a stretch, please visit the bino auction sites to notice that the first few pages are dominated with nonsensical to massively fraudulent ads geared to dupe the terminally trusting novice.

— Visiting Internet binocular forums, one could come away with the notion that “upgrades” to binocular optics come along once or twice a month. The fact is that in the last 100 years there may have been a half dozen upgrades that could be recognized by the spectrum of observers who often try to justify their observations with homebrew TESTS.

But:

Different tests performed at different times with different subjects having different ranges of accommodation for different visual acuities under different conditions will produce different results. Thus, most are fairly useless. At least in trying to compare observers.

Probably the most prolific of the upgrades discussed are in anti-reflective coatings. Although AR coatings are valuable to any binoculars, so much of the perceived improvement in images is not due to AR coatings but to:

Baffling, Edge Blackening, Slotted Prisms (in Porro prism binoculars), Size and Position of the Field Stop, Knife Edge on that stop, Design of the Objective lens, Glass types in the Objective, Design and Number of Elements in the Eyepiece, and other considerations.

— AR coatings are transparent and don’t have a “tint.” That which is seen as a tint is really the wavelengths reflected from the surface.

— BaK4 is NOT BAK4, bak4, Bak4, Bk4, BA K4, or Bak7 (which is not found in my Schott Optical Glass catalog but is a glass produced in China.

Despite what the optical geniuses of Wikipedia say, BaK4 (barium crown glass) is NOT a “better glass” than BK7 (borosilicate crown glass, now N-BK7) BaK4 Nd 1.56883 is “better” than BK7 (Nd 1.51680) for short focal ratio instruments and most binoculars work at f/3.7 and f/4.1.

Even then, much of the difference is the result of stacking BBs. Those wanting to sell more expensive binoculars—and those buying into the charade—are quick to show the exit pupil of Porro prism binoculars illustrating the attendant cropped image of BK7 prisms. Mathematically, this can be quite meaningful. In a practical sense ... not so much.

During the day, our eyes are stopped down to the point that the light actually reaching the retina is from the center of the non-cropped area. At night, and in low-light situations, our peripheral vision can be 40% more sensitive than our axial vision (as reported by experienced astronomers). Thus, the light from the cropped area is of little or no consequence. See attached.

— In my first binocular book, I offered empirical proof that was impossible to see the center of the field of view and at the edge of the field IN THE SAME INSTANT (page 50) because those who claim they can are not taking into consideration the millisecond eye movement that shifts our vision from axial to marginal. Even though I have spoken from sound/proven scientific doctrine, some have claimed not to believe sound doctrine because they, “know what they have seen.” Their assessment is as intuitive as it is wrong.

“it’s important to learn when to stop arguing with people and just let the be wrong.”

— The quality of a binocular depends entirely on 5 criteria: 1) a limited budget, 2) A lack of optical knowledge, 3) having penned less than 5 posts on any given binocular forum, 4) believing everything they have read on said forum, and 5) their need to have their ego stroked and to be “part of the pack.” The latter is important; the prior ... possibly.

— CoAl (conditional alignment) and clinical, 3-axis collimation are two different things. CoAL may be all you need. However, at this writing 100% of all the binocular “collimation tips” on the Internet are wrong. If the alignment error is small, CoAl may be all that is needed for one person or others with nearly the same IPD. Even so, the willy-nilly screw-tweaking alignment method fostered by so many people can damage the instrument and more often than not takes the instrument farther from 3-axis collimation. See attached.

— Finally, “Porro” should be capitalized. Ignazio Porro, 1801-1875.
 

Attachments

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WJC

Well-known member
CAVEAT:

One of the previous posts have had a small addition to the text. The other one did not have the two graphics.

I have spent much time trying to DELETE both—as I have done so many times in the past. However, computer geekism being what it is, that option was in no way available to me this time. So, I’m adding it each of the two. Maybe Lee can figure out how to blow off both and I will try for the 5th time to get the post as I want it to be.

Sorry,

Bill
 

Torview

Well-known member
Experts fell out of fashion here in the UK for while Bill, Covid 19 has made them popular again recently though.

Personally I like your straight talking posts and try to take on board the knowledge.

Thanks.

John.
 

aengus4h

Well-known member
I'd agree with John here Bill, you shoot from the hip and call out the myths out on the web, as well as impart your years of knowledge and skills for us lesser mortals to raise our game. I've read many of your posts here and elsewhere and do appreciate your words of wisdom. I'd like to think they've helped me along with the efforts I've made to repair the older binos I've collected over time, for that I humbly thank you for the time you've spent and gift you bestow on us.

I've certainly a lot more understanding of how things work or are supposed to be than just a coupled pair of tubes with lenses and prisms in them and some tiny screws to twiddle when the mood takes ;-)
 

wllmspd

Well-known member
Common sense isn’t hereditary... both sons (still young) though that a cheap “144x” binocular was a great idea!

I have work to do.

Peter
 

WJC

Well-known member
I'd agree with John here Bill, you shoot from the hip and call out the myths out on the web, as well as impart your years of knowledge and skills for us lesser mortals to raise our game. I've read many of your posts here and elsewhere and do appreciate your words of wisdom. I'd like to think they've helped me along with the efforts I've made to repair the older binos I've collected over time, for that I humbly thank you for the time you've spent and gift you bestow on us.

I've certainly a lot more understanding of how things work or are supposed to be than just a coupled pair of tubes with lenses and prisms in them and some tiny screws to twiddle when the mood takes ;-)

Before you came to Birdforum, I was kicked off because a couple of members could READ much faster than they could REASON.

But this is the payoff for me to enter the lion’s den:

“When I first came to this forum [Cloudy Nights], I thought you were the biggest jerk in the world. Since then, I have used several binoculars and spent a lot of time on the forum. I see you have been right about things straight down the line. You have taught me a lot and I thank you.” — mttafire

Cheers, :cat:

Bill
 

Billj123

Member
Hi Bill, hopefully your new venture keeps you busy but not too busy to post. I enjoy your posts, have learned a lot from them and I hope you continue to do so. As far as the rest of your post goes though I don't think it's fair to expect someone new to optics to have read your book or correctly spell or even care what glass is in their optics. In truth, as I've learned from you, no one really cares what glass is in their optics - I'm confident we'd all pick our favorites from a pile solely on how well they worked for us if all we cared about was the view. Unfortunately, even those who can afford the time and expense have a hard time trying all the different offerings, especially in the COVID era.

I think one thing you could start or at least help with that would benefit the forum would be a sticky for new members and visitors who are just starting out or are casual users. If nothing else, if such a sticky existed, you could quickly post a link for a newbie rather than have to spend your time explaining it each time anew. I know there are several members here who could and probably would help on something like this if it moved forward.

Something that succinctly and clearly explains that no one here can pick optics out for anyone else as eye relief, eyecup fit, vision issues and ergonomics are just too personal and too varied to guesstimate over the web and will have to be tried in person, just like a new pair of glasses. Includes a quick overview of popular styles (Porros vs roofs) and magnification formats with general recommendations for different applications. Contains a brief primer on how the optics market is currently setup (a small handful of companies actually making the components and assembling finished products with a much larger number selling finished products). Features a short essay on your "90-95% of the performance for 50-60% of the price" and why the remaining 5-10% of performance won't even be detectable to many (most?) before offering a list of recommended models.

The list should be limited to models known to to be of generally acceptable quality in different price brackets. Optimally the list would be in spreadsheet format, would include known clones for those in different markets, include basic dimensions, weight, close focus, FOV, IPD range, best use (all around, good lighting, dim lighting, astro) and any other info important to list.

Then a section with info on and advice regarding reputable places to buy with links (this could be setup to benefit birdforum with associate links through Cameraland or other vendors). Another section on or link to simple directions on setting up their new purchase to best fit them and tips on cleaning and maintaining their purchase. Then a section of common problems people might encounter, how to evaluate and differentiate common problems, possible tests or solutions, when to return optics and finally a list of reputable aftermarket repair shops.

Not asking for much am I? I've learned all the above from posts here (many were yours) but it wasn't always easy and it took way longer than I'd have liked. Expecting anyone looking to purchase their first optic to even know the terms or spelling conventions is unrealistic and counterproductive. I don't expect anyone to give away all their knowledge for free but unless there's an easily found starting point that lays out the basics it's unfair to expect a productive conversation.
 

WJC

Well-known member
Hi Bill, hopefully your new venture keeps you busy but not too busy to post. I enjoy your posts, have learned a lot from them and I hope you continue to do so. As far as the rest of your post goes though I don't think it's fair to expect someone new to optics to have read your book or correctly spell or even care what glass is in their optics. In truth, as I've learned from you, no one really cares what glass is in their optics - I'm confident we'd all pick our favorites from a pile solely on how well they worked for us if all we cared about was the view. Unfortunately, even those who can afford the time and expense have a hard time trying all the different offerings, especially in the COVID era.

I think one thing you could start or at least help with that would benefit the forum would be a sticky for new members and visitors who are just starting out or are casual users. If nothing else, if such a sticky existed, you could quickly post a link for a newbie rather than have to spend your time explaining it each time anew. I know there are several members here who could and probably would help on something like this if it moved forward.

Something that succinctly and clearly explains that no one here can pick optics out for anyone else as eye relief, eyecup fit, vision issues and ergonomics are just too personal and too varied to guesstimate over the web and will have to be tried in person, just like a new pair of glasses. Includes a quick overview of popular styles (Porros vs roofs) and magnification formats with general recommendations for different applications. Contains a brief primer on how the optics market is currently setup (a small handful of companies actually making the components and assembling finished products with a much larger number selling finished products). Features a short essay on your "90-95% of the performance for 50-60% of the price" and why the remaining 5-10% of performance won't even be detectable to many (most?) before offering a list of recommended models.

The list should be limited to models known to to be of generally acceptable quality in different price brackets. Optimally the list would be in spreadsheet format, would include known clones for those in different markets, include basic dimensions, weight, close focus, FOV, IPD range, best use (all around, good lighting, dim lighting, astro) and any other info important to list.

Then a section with info on and advice regarding reputable places to buy with links (this could be setup to benefit birdforum with associate links through Cameraland or other vendors). Another section on or link to simple directions on setting up their new purchase to best fit them and tips on cleaning and maintaining their purchase. Then a section of common problems people might encounter, how to evaluate and differentiate common problems, possible tests or solutions, when to return optics and finally a list of reputable aftermarket repair shops.

Not asking for much am I? I've learned all the above from posts here (many were yours) but it wasn't always easy and it took way longer than I'd have liked. Expecting anyone looking to purchase their first optic to even know the terms or spelling conventions is unrealistic and counterproductive. I don't expect anyone to give away all their knowledge for free but unless there's an easily found starting point that lays out the basics it's unfair to expect a productive conversation.

Hi Billj123

You have been right on with most, if not all, of your observations.

I just hope you will consider I have reasons for doing what I do the way I do it. So much has been calculated based on what has been proven to work best. If people can expect to get the answers they seek or participate in meaningful conversations, novice of postdoc, they should be willing to accept equally meaningful answers; even if it pushes them out of their comfort zone and alters preconceived but erroneous notions. :cat:

“Fast is fine but accuracy is everything.” — Wyatt Earp

“You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.” — Winston Churchill

“The truth is not always popular. It is, however, always the truth.”

Cheers,

Bill
 

edwincjones

Well-known member
I hate to disagree with Bill Cook--but

the quality of of a binocular depends primarily on one's personal preference

edj
 

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