Sunday, February 24, 2013

Binocular Meeting Concludes...

Today this weekend's Binocular History Society came to a conclusion.  The final wrapup day included a series of talks and demonstrations at host Steve's house where we also met yesterday.  The 17 or so attendees found his living room the perfect venue.  If the crowd were much larger is would have been less comfortable, but a private home worked out great.  With a temporary screen set up for the video projector we heard 5 presentations today.  A panorama picture of the group is shown at left.
My buddy Dick, who supplied the group shot from yesterday, today gave a presentation on the state-of-the-art of wide-angle eyepieces.  One of the things I noticed in the binocular shootout yesterday was that the high-end binoculars had both wide fields of view, yet a reasonable eye relief so that you could wear glasses while using them.  A lens designer himself, he showed new eyepiece designs that need to use large elements to provide super-wide fields.  Unfortunately, while these work well with telescopes when used by themselves, in binoculars when you need 2 of them side by side there is no way to mount them close enough to look through one with each eye.  So there is no way presently to build binoculars with these newer 100 degree+ eyepiece designs.
And speaking of the binocular shootout from yesterday, today Steve (another Steve, not our host) presented the analysis of yesterday's optics judging.  The results of best image quality and best overall portable binoculars are shown.  The blue lines show the relative quality, the red shows the standard deviation of the results - the smaller the red bar, the more we agreed with the results!  Of the 13 pairs compared, the overall winner appears to be a pair of Zeiss 8X30s.  As I said yesterday, most were high-end and of very good quality.  The Bresser 10.5X45s were just about my favorite of the group, small, yet very sharp with a wide field of view.  Interestingly, these were donated to the society to be auctioned off to help cover expenses of this week's meeting.  They sell on Amazon for over $900, and I e-mailed my offer this afternoon, substantially less than that, unfortunately.  There are some pretty deep pockets in this group, so we'll see if there are others that liked it as much as I did.
Overall it was a fun, enjoyable meeting, and I learned a lot, especially from some of the primo examples of binoculars that some folks brought in for display and for the shootout.  And our host's garage was full of some very unique optical devices - good thing he agrees with me, that garages are NOT for vehicles!  They expect up to 80 people to meet in the Netherlands in October for the next meeting.  We've got a friend that lives there we've been looking for an excuse to visit - might be fun!

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