Introduced in 2017 the Helios Stellar II 100mm observational binoculars are the perfect solution for long distance terrestrial, ship spotting and astronomical use. The oversized eyepieces and long eye relief make them ideal for spectacle wearers as much as non spectacle wearers. With 20x100mm and 25×100 variants, there is something for everyone. The 20x gives longer eye relief , wider FOV and larger exit pupil, where the 25x helps bring in distant objects.
BaK-4 prisms and fully multi-coated optics give outstanding clarity, and the waterproofing means you can use in all conditions. Note these weigh 3.6kg so you will need a sturdy tripod. Good news is they come with a tripod connection bar built in.
The new body has a very smooth and attractive look, and comes packaged in a hard case.
Had the pleasure of testing the Minox BF 8×42 binoculars and was not left disappointed. The BF range is targeted at the beginner at an affordable price, but this does not make them budget. FMC optics, phase coated BaK-4 prisms and nitrogen gas filled to 3m waterproof, they have similar specification to some brands premium lines.
At first glance the 105m @ 1000m may seem narrower than many others with 120 – 143m field of views, but do not let this put you off. You soon become acclimatised to this, and is still wide enough to quickly find your targets. On the subject of the view through the eyepiece, you get a very sharp view with excellent vivid colours. I did actually find less CA than a similar priced ED option from another brand. Well blackened internals helps with the contrast.
These are long eye relief at 18mm. The click stop twist eye cups are among the most solid I have used. The small click stops make it easy to find your own best setting. No problem for spectacle wearers with a full view with the cups down.
Handling is as good as they come with a smooth focuser with fast focus and a grippy rubber body. The case is semi soft and of a very high quality. The clip fastener is a little to use with gloves on though. It comes with a padded strap , small microfibre cleaning cloth, lens caps (eye piece only) and a 10 years warranty.
Summing up, excellent value for money. Maybe a wider FOV would have been better. But saying that the view you do get is superb
Optics 8.5 / 10
Value for money 10/10
Build quality 9/10
The height of the Astromaster AZ mount is often quoted at 41 inches. This is slightly misleading, as this is the height of the legs only. The important specs, the height to the top of the actual mounting plate is 49 inches. This is an ideal height for angled spotting scopes, telescopes and binoculars. For straight through optics, you may need to be seated.
The Celestron Astromaster AZ mount is perfect for both terrestrial , astronomy and looking at ships at sea. The no tool mount is easy to set up. It has a smooth pan and tilt head with a tripod adapter that can be removed to reveal a 1.75″ dovetail.
Subject to availability the Celestron AZ mount can be purchased HERE
As from Autumn 2017 the popular Minox BV 8×25 and 10×25 now come in a new open hinge design. This now means you get the same great optics with Minox M* lens coatings in a modern housing. Compared to years ago, modern 25mm binoculars can now match many 42mm options due to new technology with optics.
The BV 25mm range only weigh 365g and have a bright wide field of view with 105m – 121m @ 1000m. This range are built to last, and therefore come with the Minox comfort service 30 years warranty
A customer came to the Northern Optics weekend outlet looking to buy a set of high quality mid sized binoculars with very good eye relief. A number of 8×25 and 10×25 options were tried. One of which was ideal, with a long eye relief and good optics.
However we then tried something a little bigger. These were the Hawke Endurance ED 8×32. These immediately were a cut above the rest. The customer found the eye relief more than enough. Not only that, they felt great and and superb handling. In other words they ticked every box. They also commented on the quality of the hard case and comfortable strap.
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The North Lincolnshire astronomy society welcomed 2 fresh faces at the November 2017 meeting. Due to technical issues, Damian’s constellation of the month went AWOL. But all was not lost, as John gave us his usual monthly round up of the latest astro news, followed by Steve showing us an excellent downloaded lecture about astrophotography.
Around 21 turned up for this meeting. As always, thank you to Glenys and Malcolm for the refreshments and the Lincolnshire wildlife trust for the use of the venue. The ever present Northern Optics was available with the box of goodies , which this time included a selection of magnifiers.
Around 15 members turned up for the North Lincs astro AGM on Monday 2nd Oct 2017. This was a very informal meeting with the re-election of the committee and members. There was some very useful suggestions and ideas for the following year.
Thank you as always to Malcolm and Glenys for the teas and refreshments. This was followed by some delightful views of the Moon, which was quite dazzling through the large Dobsonian and the 25×100 Helios binoculars
For more information on the North Lincs astro society click on the following link North Lincs Astro
Had a chance to test the Levenhuk Wise 8×42 monocular, and was very pleased with the results. So firstly lets talk about the price. £35 at the time of this review. So for £35, surely you are going to get standard coated optics and BK7 prisms ?. Not in this case. What you get is multi-coated optics and BaK-4 prisms.
So what about build quality ?. Very solid with a rubber covering. Twist eye cup with a very generous 18mm eye relief. However these are not nitrogen gas filled. But hey, FMC, LER, BaK-4 prisms, 42mm objective lens. For £35 what,s not to like.
On to the all important handling and view through the eye piece. What you get is very sharp colours, nice contrast and a bright image, that is helped by the 5mm exit pupil. Yes you get a little red colour fringing around bright objects with dark back grounds (swans on a lake in this case) and a little fall off in sharpness on the edges. But that is also what you get on much more expensive monoculars. The top focus wheel is a little smaller and stiffer than some, but again lets go back to the £35 price tag.
You get as standard a wrist strap, lens covers at both sides (not all monoculars do), small microfibre cleaning cloth and a very nice soft pouch.
Overall. Optics 7/10, Handling 7/10. Value for money 10/10
The Hawke Sapphire ED 8×25 binoculars offer big performance results from a compact set. Features include ED glass with Dielectric coated BaK-4 prisms and water repellent glass.
It is difficult to believe how bright the image is from the small 25mm objective lenses. Colours and contrast are superb in all lighting conditions. Minimal chromatic aberration gives excellent sharpness with virtually no colour fringing.
Although compact and lightweight, they are extremely solid with excellent handling. Take a look at the video below for a closer look.
To connect a t-ring to a Celestron Regal M2 zoom eyepiece, you unscrew the twist eye cup anti-clockwise until it comes off. The attach the adaptor ring to the thread, followed by the t-ring for your camera. Note the t-ring is available separate, and the adaptor ring is supplied when you buy the spotting scope (not included with the eyepiece when bought on its own)
You can then enter the wonderful world of digiscoping. Note that with some cameras you will only be able to use manual exposure. Use live screen for more accurate focus. See video below for a hands on demonstration.