Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15×70 Binoculars with Tripod Adapter – Product Review:
Binoculars come in a wide range of shapes and sizes these days, and an even wider range of prices. It’s easy to spend less than $100 or more than $500 for what may appear to be, at least outwardly, comparable models. While they may look the same, they are probably quite different on the inside.
Recently, the binocular market has seen a flood of giant binoculars at prices that were unheard of just a few years ago. In general, giant binoculars are defined as those that magnify the view 10 times or more and have 70-mm or larger front (objective) lenses. It used to be that the least expensive giant binoculars cost in excess of $150, even $200. All that changed not long ago, when the bottom fell out of the price cellar. Now, several companies import giant binoculars that sell for half that, or less.
Celestron’s 15×70 SkyMaster binoculars are one of the leaders in the low-price giant binocular arena. They certainly sound good on paper. The SkyMasters include multicoated optics and BaK-4 internal prisms, two features that promise brighter, better images, and key points to look for when judging a pair of binoculars. They also come with an adapter for attaching them to a photo tripod, which is a must to use them to their fullest, and a soft carrying case. But just because they are cheap doesn’t always mean they are worth the price. Would it be better to save up for a more expensive pair?
To find the answer, I had an opportunity recently to judge the SkyMasters against a pair of Fujinon 16×70 FMT-SX binoculars , one of the finest pairs of giant binoculars sold today. Like the SkyMasters, the Fujinons feature BaK-4 prisms, but also have fully multicoated optics. As a general rule, superior coatings mean superior image sharpness and contrast. But then, that should be expected, given that the Fujinons cost many times more than the Celestrons.
While the Fujinons were clearly the better performer, the Celestron SkyMasters held up admirably. Image brightness, quality, and contrast were all remarkable considering their bargain price. Although images were a little soft across the outer 25% of the Celestron’s field, the overall view was impressive nonetheless.
Some inexpensive binoculars have very sloppy focusing, causing the eyepieces to tilt and shift. Not so with the SkyMasters. I found that their center-focusing mechanism worked smoothly, with no apparently backlash or wobble. Eye relief (the distance you hold your eyes away from the eyepieces to see the full field) is stated to be 18 mm, a good distance for higher power binoculars and an important consideration if you must wear glasses when viewing. The SkyMasters are also light enough to support by hand for short periods of time, although buyers would be well advised to mount them on a sturdy photo tripod.
The bottom line is, if you are considering a pair of giant binoculars, whether for bird watching, stargazing, or another recreational use, and have a limited budget, Celestron’s giant 15×70 SkyMasters represent an excellent value. —Phil Harrington, author of Star Ware and Star Watch
- Exceptional value for the price
- Light enough to support by hand
- BaK-4 prisms
- Multicoated optics
- Outer 25% of the field is soft and a little blurry
- Requires a tripod to use for extended periods
Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15×70 Binoculars with Tripod Adapter – Product Description:
Celestron and ;s SkyMaster Series of large aperture binoculars are a phenomenal value for high performance binoculars ideal for astronomical viewing or for terrestrial (land) use – especially over long distances. Each SkyMaster model features high quality BAK-4 prisms and multi-coated optics for enhanced contrast. Celestron has designed and engineered the larger SkyMaster models to meet the special demands of extended astronomical or terrestrial viewing sessions. The 15×70 version is one of the most popular models in the series. It offers serious large aperture light gathering in an affordable and reasonably lightweight configuration.
|Product Features :
Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15×70 Binoculars with Tripod Adapter – Review:
I’ve been an amateur astronomer for about 23 years. I have a broad amount of experience with the kind of optics that are used for astronomy. I have used most every type of instrument and have visited some of the great professional telescopes. I have hand built my own newtonian telescope including machining the german equatorial mount. Soon after completing this instrument I took it to a star party and ended up on my back with a pair of Fujinon SX binoculars. To make a long story short, I preferred the binos to the view in my telescope. Telescopes are expensive, they are big, heavy, hard to move, hard to store, complicated to set up correctly, and the view through the eyepiece can be crowded and dissapointing. For the casual observer binoculars are the superior choice. They are everything that a telescope is not…relatively cheap, light, easy use. And because they are so easy to use, you will end up using them much more often than you would a cumbersome telescope. That aspect of binoculars alone will make them show you much more than a telescope ever would. The Celestron 15X70 Skymasters are by far and away the best amateur astronomy instrument for the money on the market right now. They are truly and incredible value. You could spend $600+ on Fujinon SX binoculars and have a very fine instrument, but after using these, that would be a hard argument to make. Most everyone’s eyes are not able to discern the fine differences between the two instuments. Mind you, I am not telling you that these are as good as the Fujinons, but at about a 10th of the price…well you get the idea. My experience with Celestron is that they are a first class operation. And now with their lifetime no-fault warranty, the best in the industry, you can purchase products from them knowing that if anything ever goes wrong for whatever reason, they will always stand behind their product. If you are looking to get started in astronomy or looking for an excuse to leave your telescope in the closet, these binoculars are a great value and with proper care will last a lifetime and show you more wonders than you will ever see frustrating yourself with a high magnification-small field telescope. Get them, take them outside at night with your kids and wonder why…….