at a Sensible Price
A high power pair of binoculars can provide wonderful views of many objects. Having been recommended Strathspey binoculars - and read promising reviews on the internet, I bought a pair of 15x70 Strathspey binoculars for deep sky viewing.
Note that these binoculars need a mount. They are too heavy and too high a magnification for hand held use.
The binoculars arrived in good time, however, one eyepiece had a glue strand in the lens! Strathspey were extremely apologetic and promptly sent a replacement pair without waiting for the first pair to be returned so 10 out of 10 for customer service.
At £90, these binoculars are extremely good value and compare in price to some less exquisite Chinese machine-manufactured models. Their excellent optics offer stunning views - excellent contrast and pin point stars across a flat field.
They do suffer from loose fitting dust caps, a stiff focuser and no dew shield. Being superficial, these details are easily rectified.
In summary: excellent value for money, excellent customer service and well recommended.
The binoculars are extremely well made - especially considering their price. The mechanical assembly is rigid, the optical collimation is excellent, and the lens coatings are superb. The body is coated with thin rubber, making the surfaces extremely non-slip - useful with dew.
I did find adjusting the inter-pupillary distance, right eyepiece focus and focuser a little stiff but that is just my opinion. I imagine that they may slowly drift or separate during the observing session if they were looser.
The binoculars come with a soft pouch, lanyard, lens cloth and dust caps. Perhaps a more robust case would be beneficial but hard cases are readily available from other sources.
The objective lens dust caps were a secure fit and will not come off when not in use. The eyepiece dust caps however are a different story. They are quite insecure and have frequently come off - without undue harm.
Binoculars of this quality would also benefit from dew shields. These can be readily made and would protect against stray light and dew.
So three niggles that are quite easily addressed.
So how they perform?
Having waited for a clear night for some time, Friday 11 November was stunningly clear and cold. My garden observing site suffers from moderate light pollution. I can only see 4 stars in the square of Pegasus with the naked eye and the Andromeda Galaxy can just be glimpsed.
The first target was the Pleides, M45. What a stunning view! The field of view was full of dazzling diamonds with excellent contrast against the dark sky. I did have to halt the revie at this point to produce this sketch.
I then moved on to the Andromeda Galaxy, M31. Again, the view was stunning! I could easily see M32 and believed I could make out M110 as a fuzzy star. I took great pleasure in tracing the outline of the galaxy. It is massive, far bigger than I had appreciated. The superior light grasp, excellent contrast and wide field of view made this view one to remember. It is at times like this that I wish I am better at sketching!
I found the three bright open clusters in Auriga - M36, M37 and M38. Again these binoculars provided an outstanding vista. Each cluster was semi-resolved with sharp stars across the field of view. I did enjoy having M38 and M36 in the same field of view. It was at this point that I noticed the smaller and fainter open cluster NGC 1907 making three star clusters in one field of view. Amazing!
At this point, the Orion Nebula, M42 had cleared the house roofs. Knowing that the view was going to be stunning, I quickly lined the binoculars up. The detail in this view was unbelievable - and this was from a light polluted sight. I could see the nebula extending far beyond its traditional boundaries, the binocular's light grasp and contrast are first rate.
My only problem is that my neck aches from looking up so much! I need to investigate a more suitable mount than a camera tripod for viewing the zenith!
Comment from Strathspey
We would agree that for extended use a tripod is beneficial. But they are light enough to hand hold for short or medium term use.