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Review: Maven B2 9x45: Has the $1,000 game just changed? (1 Viewer)

Steve C

Well-known member
Hi Alan ... I am curious about the eye piece(ocular size) & the relief on the 6x30. Would it be possible for you to post a picture of both the 6x30 & the 8x30 binos side by side showing their ocular lens ? .... Thanks, gwen

Alan can post if he needs ;). He has both and I don't have the 6x30 on hand. However the actual ocular assemblies of the 6 and 8x B3 are the same in external appearance. There is a difference as I recall in the height adjustments on the eye cup extensions.
 

ailevin

Well-known member
Gwen: These twins are identical in all external respects except for the marking 8x30 vs 6x30. The oculars appear the same and are the same width. The eyecups are the same, outer diameter 40mm, inner diameter 28mm. The height adjustments are the same with the eyecups rising 7mm with three click stops. It is also clear that even with the eyecups completely down I would estimate that 3-5mm of eye relief is is "buried" if the eye relief is measured from the outer surface of the ocular. (I didn't want to use my micrometer anywhere near the glass surfaces.)

Steve: Does your B3 focus clockwise or counterclockwise to infinity?

Dennis: Let me clarify the tests that I did, and why I did them that way. I did tests a few weeks ago using signage of a variety of sizes that were from 30 meters to 400 metersaway comparing my ability to discern resolution using 7x, 8x, and 9x in daylight. These tests were done standing, not sitting, and with no bracing of any sort. Not quite quick draw, but I was trying to see what I could see if I raised the binoculars to my eyes, held them as steady as I could with no bracing, and read the finest print I could make out within about a minute. I wanted to test my own ability, both visually and in terms of stability to make out fine detail free standing while out in the field. I was mildly surprised that I could make out no finer detail with 8x or 9x than I could with 7x. I have IS binoculars and understand the improvement, but that was not what I was trying to test. I will do more tests when conditions are decent outdoors to add the 6x into the mix. I considered my indoor test a preliminary. Perhaps for me 7-8x is optimal for hand held. Also, I have a tendency from my experience with astronomy to prefer the lowest magnification where I can discern the details I am interested in, because the contrast always seems better for extended objects. The exception is a point object where you get an increase in detectability because the sky background is darkened. I have no sense yet to what extent that holds for daytime viewing. Obviously ymmv, both in terms of your vision, your steadiness, how you read detail, and your general viewing preferences.

Alan
 

ailevin

Well-known member
I went out this morning with some experienced birders at Madrona Wetlands in Torrance, CA. I brought both my Sightron 8x32 and the Maven 8x30. It was a great experience, and I actually had my eyes on more than 40 species over about two hours.

I discovered long ago in astronomy that having two telescopes out during an observing session, is less than half as much fun as just using one telescope. At least for me, the same seems to be true for birding. I started out trying to do comparisons between binoculars, but it quickly became a pain in the butt, and I ended up predominantly using the Maven. I think a guided trip is not the time to do a side by side comparison. But I will do a more careful comparison of both the 6x30 and 8x30 Mavens in the next few days.

I thought the views through the Maven 8x30 were excellent, and it was quite comfortable to use though I found it slightly harder to point accurately and it does not yet feel as natural in my hand as the Sightron. It may be self-hypnosis because I was not able to do careful enough side by side comparison, but the Maven 8x30 seemed to produce that B2 feeling of being in the scene rather than watching the scene. I can't quite put my finger on an specific feature I saw with the Maven that I could not see with the Sightron. I will have a better idea in a few days. I thought that the 8x30 gave up nothing in brightness to the 8x32, and if anything the 8x30 seemed brighter. Also, the 8x30 has a wider field than the 8x32.

I am totally fogged in tonight, so no sky observing yet. Weather is supposed to be clearing for a day or two, so I should be able to do some testing and I will report.

Alan
 

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
...

I thought the views through the Maven 8x30 were excellent, and it was quite comfortable to use though I found it slightly harder to point accurately and it does not yet feel as natural in my hand as the Sightron. ...

Alan

Hello Alan,

The Sightron's slightly larger objective yields a .25 mm larger exit pupil, which makes it a little easier to align objective, the eyepiece and you own eye.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood:hi:
 

typo

Well-known member
Alan,

Detail levels at different magnications is something I've checked out a few times over the years, swaping different binoculars in and out of the test group, and the result can be really quite variable.

I use a line chart to get a fairly pricise estimate of the limit of detail I can see. The first occasion I did it standing, hand held, I got pretty much the same value for 7, 8, 9 and 10x, which wasn't too much of a surprise given the consensus on the forum at the time. The odd one out was the 12x which was a very useful 30% better than the others. The key point was that, while heavier than I would like, it was well balanced in the hand and was less affected by shake.

Since that time, my 7x, 8x and 10x have been replaced, and now I'm close to getting the same proportional increase in detail as would go with the magnification. In fact it's the 8x that is now slightly out of line and is the leading candidate to get replaced again. However, I do have my eye on another 12x50 I've tried which was even steadier than my old one.

I fully accept that other users will have quite a different experience of how much detail they can see at different magnification, but you might just get a better result using different binoculars?

David
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Alan,

Detail levels at different magnications is something I've checked out a few times over the years, swaping different binoculars in and out of the test group, and the result can be really quite variable.

I use a line chart to get a fairly pricise estimate of the limit of detail I can see. The first occasion I did it standing, hand held, I got pretty much the same value for 7, 8, 9 and 10x, which wasn't too much of a surprise given the consensus on the forum at the time. The odd one out was the 12x which was a very useful 30% better than the others. The key point was that, while heavier than I would like, it was well balanced in the hand and was less affected by shake.

Since that time, my 7x, 8x and 10x have been replaced, and now I'm close to getting the same proportional increase in detail as would go with the magnification. In fact it's the 8x that is now slightly out of line and is the leading candidate to get replaced again. However, I do have my eye on another 12x50 I've tried which was even steadier than my old one.

I fully accept that other users will have quite a different experience of how much detail they can see at different magnification, but you might just get a better result using different binoculars?

David
My detail KING is my Canon 10x42 IS-L. It even beat out my Swarovski 10x50 SV. When I want detail I get out the Canon.
 

Steve C

Well-known member
Alan,

The B3 (mine anyway) focuses clockwise to infinity. This is opposite of the B2. EDIT: There is also considerable travel past infinity, at least a half turn.

Different strokes for different folks. One of the reasons I got the Theron Wapiti instead of the Sightron is the god awful Klingon style ridges on the Sightron. I simply did not like the way they either look or feel.

Your advice on two telescopes being half as enjoyable as one is perhaps even more germane to binoculars. Your astronomy targets are basically in the same place. Birds and such are constantly, not in the same place. The best way to see if the Maven, or any other binocular is right for you is to go use IT, not try to wear yourself out going side by side birding. It will either grow on you or it won't. As I have evolved in my review period, I find that after using static side by side comparisons that it is best to take the new on all by itself out for as much use as I can give it. Then do the same thing with a glass I have experience with. Ask the question is the new better than the old. Lots of things factor into the answer to that question. Time is needed.

I think you will likely find that your observation of the Maven putting you more in the view will prove to be correct. While I certainly like the Theron for much the same reasons as everyone likes the Sightron, the Maven is ultimately the better glass. Different ergonomics from the Sightron certainly.

One of the reasons people prefer certain binoculars to others of similar quality is the ergonomics. It may well be that the Sightron has better overall feel for you.
 
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ailevin

Well-known member
I've determined that neither of the Maven 30mm binoculars nor the Sightron 32 can penetrate fog. Visibility is about 100 yards. Yet with the Maven, I can feel the fog surrounding me and chilling me to the bone. No wait, that is from a Victorian novel, not a binocular review. Yet with the Maven, I can feel the depth of the fog in a way that ..., no wait that is from a thread arguing about 3D effect in Porro and roof prism binoculars.

Seriously though, since the fog is coming in from the ocean and I am looking more or less out to sea, I cannot see far, but it is relatively bright as I view nearby trees and bushes and the occasional sparrow or humming bird. I notice that the view through the 6x30 is the easiest whether that is larger exit pupil, less magnification or better collimation (I will test that at night when the sky clears). It is a bit difficult because of the fog to be very specific, but the 6x does have better depth of focus than either 8x. Both Maven binoculars have similar if not identical actual field of view, and it is marginally but noticeably larger than the Sightron. What I found more interesting is the difference in apparent field of view of the 6x compared to either 8x. With the 6x, the field stop sharply frames the image, but this is not the case in either 8x binocular. I think this is a statement about the sharpness of peripheral vision or at least my peripheral vision. I have noticed this as well in eyepieces that have very wide apparent fields, like the Nagler 82 degree and Ethos 100 degree eyepieces. Part of the attraction is what they call the port hole effect--you actually have to move your eye and look around within the field of view to see the whole thing.

The 6x has an apparent field of about 50ish degrees while the 8x Maven is around 65 and the Sightron is around 60. To some, seeing the sharp field stop may produce a framing that is less immersive, but there is also a very positive feature here. In the 6x30 I can see as much actual field as the 8x30, but I do not have to move my eyes to see all of it as sharply as the binocular will present it. This may add to my initial impression that the 6x30 is easiest to use.

More later.

Alan
 

ceasar

Well-known member
FOG

BY CARL SANDBURG

The fog comes
On little cat feet.

It sits looking
Over harbor and city
On silent haunches
And then moves on.

:cat:
 

ailevin

Well-known member
David: You are certainly right that balance and weight influence my ability to hold a binocular steady. I noticed this when comparing the Athlon Midas 8x42 with the Sightron. I could hold the heavier 8x42 somewhat steadier. I also thought the B3 was nicely balanced though heavy and my Fujinon 7x50 is a three pounder that is tiring to hold but again well balanced.

Steve: Your advice is good. I will end up doing enough obsessive comparing at home. From now on it is one binocular per outing and I will stick with the 8x30 Maven for the next few days. I'm fascinated by the 6x30, but I want to give the 8x30 a workout since I've been regularly using an 8x32. If the fog doesn't lift tomorrow, I will probably head inland or try to gain a little altitude without traveling too far.

Arthur: I need more time with the 8x30. I was thinking it had to do with the Maven being shorter and having a different body design (single vs dual hinge). This influenced how I held it. However, you may be right that my problem was that the smaller exit pupil made eye placement more critical. And it may be just a matter of getting used to a new binocular. Thanks for the good wishes. I have gotten an amazing amount of birding done in the past week, thanks to help from local folks who have been most helpful. It really is a terrific community. I am heading to the Bird Festival down in San Diego in a couple weeks primarily to get a chance to meet people and learn.
 

ailevin

Well-known member
I spent some time with the Maven B3 8x30 today between rainstorms. It was overcast with a low ceiling, but visibility was good out to about 1 km.

The field is wide and the sweet spot (area that is in focus when center is in focus) is large. The only aberration that I could find before the very edge was field curvature, that is, out to at least 95% I could bring the edge to sharp focus, but it was not the same focus as the sweet spot. Once I do some night time testing on stars I can say more about aberrations across the field. There was little or no darkening of the image toward the edge of field either; this was the first time I have seen that in a roof prism binocular, though my range of experience is limited. My interpretation is that the prisms are oversized relative to the field stop of the ocular, as in no vignetting; the very nice round exit pupils seem to confirm that. Using nearby street lights at night I see no ghosting, no internal reflections, and no scatter of light from outside the field of view. Staring directly into a 50 watt halogen bulb at about 15 feet indoors, I do see some small artifacts (diffraction lines) that I assume indicate scattering at prism interfaces. This is typical of what was seen years ago in any non-alpha roof prism's star images before phase coating became available to the common binocular. As this is a very extreme test, I don't consider that it reflects badly on the optical design. (I don't know enough optics to decide whether that was a pun or not; perhaps refracts badly?)

This binocular does share several features of the wonderful view through the B2 9x45, though the B2 is more impressive. This is one bright 30mm binocular. It is definitely brighter than my Sightron 8x32, and the Sightron kept up pretty well with mid-range 42mm binoculars that I tried. I have had more than my share of low light viewing over the past couple days and I've been very pleased with the Maven. I also found it much easier to perceive colors when a bird was perched high in a tree at dusk viewed against the much brighter sky. I feel as though I have not only a bright view, but I have more dynamic range in the colors. Even in lower light, I see many shades of white in the sea spray over the rocks, and I believe this makes the colors seem very live. The color of the Maven is more neutral (perhaps merely bluer) than the Sightron, which tends toward the red side of the spectrum. But I believe that this is a minor aspect of the Maven color advantage. The earthen and reddish colors of the rocks on the channel showed more shades in the Maven.

The Maven B3 has a nice snap to focus and the focus is fast to my way of thinking. While it takes getting used to, I like it. I get from infinity to 60 ft in a fraction of a turn (10-15 degrees?), from infinity to 18 feet is a quarter turn, and infinity to close focus is about three quarters of a turn. This seems about twice as fast as the Sightron. The Maven focus is very precise and by comparison the Sightron feel a bit spongey.

I am gradually figuring out how hold this binocular. At first there just didn't seem to be enough real estate for fingers, thumbs, noses, etc. Using the 8x30 and nothing else for a day I found my grip (thanks Steve). I still prefer the feel in hand of the Sightron, but it may just be a matter of more time with the Maven.

I didn't mention accessories earlier, but both B3s came with cloth bag case, hard case, and nice padded strap that fits both binoculars and case.
 

ailevin

Well-known member
Got in some night viewing with the Maven 8x30 tonight. Sky conditions were fair to poor with both mild ground fog and scattered high clouds, but I did see stars, the Moon, Venus, and Mars.

I have to start by saying that this is obviously not a "night glass," but night viewing is another test of optical performance. Also, I am more familiar with issue that optics have at night.
  • The 8x30 was quite good on the Moon with no ghosting and nice sharp boundaries, again indicating lack of internal reflections and decent baffling. However, the objectives are not set very deep and this binocular would benefit from lens shades to keep it from picking up the odd reflection from a bright light very far out of field. I hadn't noticed this during the day but it is a common issue with refractors and catadioptric telescopes at night.
  • The collimation appears to be good, but I will need to tripod mount it for a better test.
  • The field is wide and the sweet spot is wide, about 75%-80%, but this is always a judgment. The only major aberration I could see was field curvature, essentially all the way to the edge. Like the daytime view, you have to look for the curvature and and the sweet spot seems even larger than it is.
  • Viewing at night accentuates issues with holding the binoculars steady. Not sure if it's light weight, compact size, single bridge design or some combination. Oddly the binocular seemed easier to point and hold during the day today, so it may just be that I am still getting used to the binocular.

I've decided that I do like the cloth bag "case." After all these are somewhat ruggedized, and I usually carry them in a backpack or a coat pocket. With the RYO harness wrapped around them and in the little pouch, it makes a nice compact carry.
 

ailevin

Well-known member
Sorry for taking over the thread with B3 stuff, but I have some new data today. I spent the morning with the 6x30 which is externally a twin to the 8x30. The colors, snap to focus, mechanical, ergonomics are all the same too. The differences are depth of focus, ability to resolve detail, exit pupil, and apparent field of view. From infinity to 60 feet is the slightest touch of the focus and in fact if you split that hair and put the focus in between it is just about within range of focus accommodation of my eye (ymmv). It appears that I can hold the 8x binocular steady enough, that I see considerably more detail at distance compared to the 6x. The larger exit pupil does make the view marginally more comfortable and I would expect it to be brighter in low light.

To me, the most interesting difference is the apparent field of view. I am much more aware of the field curvature in the 6x30 and the sweet spot seems smaller than the sweet spot in the 8x30 although I don't believe it actually is. As I watch a distant bird fly through the field of the 6x30, I see it blur as it approaches the edge. I'm not sure if this is correct, but my explanation is as follows. In the 6x30 the 8+ degrees of actual field is presented within a 50ish degree apparent field over which my visual acuity is quite good and I can easily see the field curvature with out shifting my gaze at all. In the 8x30, the same actual field is presented within a 65ish degree apparent field of view, and the portion of the apparent field within my region of good acuity is pretty much entirely the sweet spot. The portion of the apparent field outside the sweet spot is mostly peripheral vision which is not all that sharp anyway. So as the bird flies through the field I perceive it as being sharp much further out because I never see anything that sharply in the periphery anyway. The natural instinct is to track the bird which maintains the sharp view. However, if I hold the binocular fixed and consciously shift my gaze to the edge, I can see that the bird is in fact blurred.

So my initial impression is that the blur in the outer portion of the 6x field is a deal breaker for me, especially combined with the additional detail I can see in the 8x. I will spend some time with the 6x30 in the field and see if my opinion changes.
 

Steve C

Well-known member
Alan,

Interesting observations. I agree that the B3 is maybe not the best astronomical binocular, but then again, I'd not see choosing that small of an objective size for an astronomy session.

Aside from the very expensive class of glass, there is not, at least in my experience, a 30-32 mm glass that can match the brightness of the 8x30 B3. That is likely the most effective strong point of the B3.

While I think 6x is enough magnification for many purposes, I agree that 8x excels in detail. However different eyes react to magnification differently. Personally I do not see much, if any appreciable detail difference between 8x and 10x, unless you go to a tripod. Just because it has a bigger image does not mean you get better detail, not unless you have a corresponding improvement in brightness and contrast.

The 8x B3 does have a significantly "poke you in the eye" noticeably wider afov than does the 6x. That is the primary reason I didn't add the 6x30 to my collection. I just would not have used it that much.
 

chartwell99

Well-known member
Alan,

The 8x B3 does have a significantly "poke you in the eye" noticeably wider afov than does the 6x. That is the primary reason I didn't add the 6x30 to my collection. I just would not have used it that much.

Steve - I agree entirely. As I said in in earlier post, I have tried over the years to like the 6 x 30 format but always came back to the 8 x 30/32 configuration. The 6 x 30 format actually worked well for me as a theater glass but I simply didn't use my examples enough to justify hanging onto them. Some years back I sold (and promptly regretted doing so) my Zeiss 8 x 30 BT* Classic. The Maven B3 8 x 30 presents a strikingly similar image for me and has now erased that regret.
 

ailevin

Well-known member
I took a more extended view of the night sky with the B3 8x30 last night and the skies were better as well. The field of view was just over 8 degrees as advertised (Sigma Orionis to Rigel is 8 degrees 10 minutes). I did side by side comparison with the Sightron 8x32. Not only is the Maven field wider, it is brighter to the edge with fewer edge distortions. It is also brighter in the center of the field. I found stars that I could only see with averted vision in the Sightron, but I could see them directly with the Maven. This is all the more impressive since the objective of the Maven is smaller. Also, I could not hold the Sightron any steadier than the Maven. A few days using only the Maven 8x30 and I am pretty convinced it is a keeper. Not shocking that the $500 binocular outperforms the $175 binocular. I still like the Sightron, but expect it is about to be demoted to car binocular. Now I have to give the 6x30 a proper chance to compete. I have a couple morning birding expeditions coming up in the next few days.

Steve: I agree that the apparent field is noticeably wider in the 8x. My comment was that the narrower apparent field of the 6x influences my perception of a quite similar actual field--the blurred edge is much more apparent to me. I see very much the same phenomenon when something moves rapidly across the field in my Fujinon 7x50 which has a 50ish apparent field of view. Perhaps this is why Fuji went to the FMT model and a more complex flat field eyepiece.

Alan
 

ailevin

Well-known member
I have been birding with the B3 6x30 several times in the past three days, and I definitely prefer the 8x30 model. In park or in the woods where most of the viewing is close in, I'm not sure I would notice the difference in scale or detail between the 6x and 8x. The 6x spec says it has 3mm more eye relief, but that is a non-issue for me as I don't wear glasses while observing. I do find the larger exit pupil more comfortable. The increased depth of focus while not dramatic is a help in the middle distances. I never had both binoculars out together under low light conditions, but I did use the 6x well after sunset one evening one evening, and I thought it performed very well. The color, brightness, optical/mechanical quality and feel in hand are identical, and both models are a pleasure to use.

It is when I look out over an open field or along the shoreline that the differences becomes noticeable, and my preference with the 8x becomes stronger. In addition to the increased detail, the 8x creates a better presentation of the field of view as being wide and crisp. The "width" of any scene (feet at 1,000 yards for instance) is pretty much the same for both models. But that scene is presented in a more panoramic way by the eyepieces in the 8x30 and seems more constrained and less crisp at the edges in the 6x30. This is due to the difference in apparent field of view in the two models as mentioned earlier. I won't theorize further about eyeball optics and perception. I will merely state that for the reasons cited above, I much prefer the 8x30 B3 and the 6x30 is packed and ready to be returned.
 

PeteQuad

Well-known member
Thanks for all your notes on the B3 ailevin. I am thinking about these for my birthday in June and am hoping they are sufficiently better than the ~$200 crowd to warrant the extra money, and not obviously worse than the Conquest HD level (so as to avoid buyer's remorse). I intend for these to be my smaller counterparts when not carrying the Conquest 8x42s and don't want to feel I am downgrading in quality/optics when I switch up.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Thanks for all your notes on the B3 ailevin. I am thinking about these for my birthday in June and am hoping they are sufficiently better than the ~$200 crowd to warrant the extra money, and not obviously worse than the Conquest HD level (so as to avoid buyer's remorse). I intend for these to be my smaller counterparts when not carrying the Conquest 8x42s and don't want to feel I am downgrading in quality/optics when I switch up.

Pete

I don't want to over-complicate your choices and I am not sure how far your budget will stretch but I find the Conquest 8x32 a super companion for my SF/HT because the little Conquest is about twice as fast at focusing which makes it perfect for habitats where there are things like dragonflies and butterflies nearby as well as bird popping up in the distance and you need to move quickly from one to the other and back again. I don't know if the Conquest 42 is as fast as this and if it isn't then do consider adding the Conquest 32 to your list to try out. For me it is a distinct instrument in its own right, not just bins that are not as heavy and not as big as a 42: different.

Lee
 

chartwell99

Well-known member
Thanks for all your notes on the B3 ailevin. I am thinking about these for my birthday in June and am hoping they are sufficiently better than the ~$200 crowd to warrant the extra money, and not obviously worse than the Conquest HD level (so as to avoid buyer's remorse). I intend for these to be my smaller counterparts when not carrying the Conquest 8x42s and don't want to feel I am downgrading in quality/optics when I switch up.

My thoughts on your issues: the B3 8 x 30 is dramatically better than the ~$200 crowd to warrant the extra money. The Zeiss Conquest HD is an excellent binocular but the B3 will not be a downgrade in optics or quality and will not induce buyers remorse. The real answer is to try the B3 (especially a demo model). If it doesn't work for you, it can be returned for full credit. My B3 was a demo model that arrived in absolutely pristine condition with a hard case and a savings of 10%. I have been a fan of Zeiss optics for decades but I am totally happy with my Maven binoculars (a B2 9 x 45 bought new and the demo B3 8 x 30).
 

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