Helios 20x80 Stellar

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Brand and Model:Helios 20x80 Stellar
Price ($USD):£459.00
Attributes:un-checked Waterproof checked Armored
Objective Lens Size:80 mm
Magnification:20 x
Prism Type:bak4 porro
Coatings:fully multi-coated
Field of View:0.0 degrees
Eye Relief:0 mm
Near Focus:0 ft
Weight (lbs):oz.
Dimensions (w/h/d):
Description:Top quality Japanese observation binoculars ideal for medium to long range terrestrial and astronomical viewing. These star performers all feature superior BaK-4 prisms and are fully multi-coated on all lens surfaces for maximum light transmission, contrast and sharpness of image. The large objective lenses combined with high magnifications provide breathtaking optical performance. All models are fitted with an integral tripod mounting bush, except the 100mm models which have a built-in platform for tripod mounting. Supplied with neck-strap and deluxe hard case. (NB only 100mm models are supplied with aluminium case).

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Helios 20x80 Stellar
(NB) I have only ever used cheap Japanese binoculars, so bear this in mind when reading my comments.

These are the cheapest 20x80 binoculars I could buy new in the UK (249), so I set my expectations accordingly.

The carry case is a fairly solid construction, although it has a number of design flaws:
1) The binoculars are held objective lens up (i.e. all the weight at the top). Naturally enough the case falls over with little provocation.
2) The catch 'pops-open' too easily. This causes some distress when standing the case upside down to stop it falling over (see above).
3) The strap looks like it will not last too long.

The binoculars are very well made. All moving parts move freely and inspire confidence in their ability to do so, without further maintenance, for the foreseeable future. Once again, there are a couple of design flaws:
1) The focus knob is out of reach when holding the binoculars comfortably.
2) Eyepiece separation in a little limited. I am going to modify my binoculars to make them open a little wider. I had the same problem (only worse) with a pair of Sunagor 20-120x70 binoculars - maybe I have an excessively large head.

I looked at the design specifications of many large binoculars before choosing these. Other than being very cheap, they appear to offer a good compromise with respect to overall size, weight and eye relief. I am 6' 2" and do not wear glasses; I find I can use these binoculars without a tripod for about an hour before my arms fall off. I have never suffered eye strain when using them.

I have been generally content with the images provided. Sadly, stars are never quite points (no matter how you fiddle with the focusing), there is a lot of chromatic aberration and very bright objects are surrounded by a faint glow. In addition, I suspect that the image degrades as you reach the edge of the field of view.

In the field they are especially good with large bright nebulous objects and star clusters (i.e. most Messier objects down to M57), but not so good on planets and tighter double stars (shows two ovals blobs when looking at the double-double in Lyra - although that could be the down to the optics). You might suggest that looking at planets is a job for a telescope (and I would agree). However, I had hoped for better views of Venus and Saturn's rings; I remember using some 20x80's years ago and being amazed at the (albeit small) views provided.

I would recommend these binoculars to anyone who:
1) Is reasonably well built; anyone else should go for something lighter. I imagine that the 15x70s that are available are much more manageable, give comparable views and cost around 100 less.
2) Wants to take a meaningful piece of equipment on holiday (fits in hand luggage).
3) Is happy to look at very good images of bright deep-sky objects.
4) Is happy to have large sums of money left over after enjoying the purchasing experience.
5) Pre-telescope beginners (or again maybe some 15x70s).
6) Lazy astronomers who, like me with my Meade LX10, find setting up something bigger a chore (especially when you know the clouds will appear before the eyepiece is in).

Overall Rating: 7
Weight: 3 (Unreliable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=41724

Helios 20x80 Stellar
Low price giant binocs are not intended to produce pinpoint star images across the entire field of view. The image quality does deteriorate seriously from 70% and stars will not come to perfect focus even at the centre, but it would not be fair to expect otherwise in this price range. The false colour present on the brightest objects is hardly an issue because 20x80 binoculars are not meant to be used as a serious instrument for planetary observation. What you get for your money is a highly portable deep-sky instrument that gives wide field,aesthetically pleasing views of the brighter DSO's that a telescope cannot match.

I used the 20x80s on a recent trip to East Africa and caught more Messier objects in a couple of hours observing than I would in a month at home in light polluted U.K. There is of course no set-up time other than mounting them on the tripod. Eta Carinae nebula in particular was spectacular. With x20 you can see little or no detail in galaxies,planetaries or globulars, but this is more than made up for by the performance on open clusters, and nebulae. The experience of sweeping the milky way or any other rich part of the sky with these is unforgettable and will probably divert you from whatever else you planned to observe that night.

Anyone considering an airline-portable, no hassle scope for travel which will not exceed the price of the plane ticket should look into these before forking out for a Mak or small Apo, though at £220 they have strong competition from 25x100 binocs of similar quality which are now available for around £300.

Overall Rating: 7
Optics:2 Value:8
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=418150

Helios 20x80 Stellar
Reasonable price for a reasonable performance

Overall Rating: 7
Optics:7 Value:8
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=391127

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