|Steely-Eyed Missile Man
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 1:18 pm
Location: According to Heisenberg, I'm uncertain...
|So another set of bins mysteriously arrived at my house last week. (How did that happen?) These were the Vortex 8x42 Talons I had looked at along with the Vipers back in 2015.
Below is a quote from my previous post about the 8x42 Vortex Vipers.
OK so the reason I decided to revisit the Talons was initially the ridiculous FOV. True field is 8.1* and in an 8x42 bin that's damned near impossible to find unless you get the Swaro 8.5x42s. These were $299 at B & H. (Prices on both units have come down almost $100) What happened is the fact I have been using Delos EPs in my binoviewer, and also grabbed a 13mm Ethos. These wide fields have finally been enough that I really don't want any more narrow field EPs or bins, and since I acquired these EPs, the 53* AFOV of the Vipers has been bugging me. So following are my initial impressions after quite a bit of use over the last week...........
After mulling it over, despite the narrower apparent field of the Vipers (true field is still good at 6.6*), the optics were truly excellent and I found them to be the best overall choice. Went to the B & H website and ordered the next day. I took them to Laguna Beach in August, and it was great sweeping the summer MW. So easy to handle, very little shake and even my wife had a great time using them. Excellent daytime use as well, spotting birds as well as dolphins & seals off the coast.
Daytime, aside from the noticeably wider TFOV/AFOV of the Talons, there really was not much difference between the two sets with respect to optical performance. Both were nice and clear, both were sharp on axis and EOF started degrading right around the same percentage out from center (80%-85%), which means the Talons may have a larger sweet spot, despite most reports, which indicate about 87%-90% out from center for the Vipers. That is definitely not the case with mine. Level of CA & pincushion was virtually the same. Maybe it's my eyes, but one difference was that the Talons actually seemed noticeably brighter. I'm not sure if it was real, or just perceived because of the larger field (see me comments further down the review). I called Cindy out to get an unbiased opinion, and she noticed that right away - thought the Talons were brighter, but otherwise both were too close to call. When I told her the Vipers were nearly $200 more she asked "why?" Really, I am not seeing the differences I have read in the reports on the birding sites.
Low light at twilight - both were very good and very close. I didn't take the time to find something in the shadows that disappeared first in one unit, but maybe I should. Probably will eventually.
Glare control seems equal despite reports the Vipers are better. Once again, not seeing the difference.
I also noticed the astigmatism seemed worse in the Viper at the bottom of the field than the Talons. Not sure why but any astigmatism seems worse at the bottom on all the Vortex bins, so I'm thinking it might be my own astigmatism making it worse there.
On to night observations.......The Field in the Talons is just so much more aesthetically pleasing than the Vipers, which do seem straw-like in comparison. The Talons are immersive, whereas the Vipers just deliver a very nice image, but I feel far less connected to the narrower, more clinical view. Having said that, once again I was hard-pressed to tell the quality difference between the two. Edge performance, sharpness, CA & pincushion were all close. On resolution I had to jump back and forth several times as one time one seemed better, then the next the other seemed better. Too close to call. However once again the Talons seemed brighter. Stars seemed to pop more in those. Again, not sure if it's just the field creating a perceived feeling or if it's real, but either way I prefer the view in the Talons. I also felt that when I picked M31 out of the western muck, it seemed a bit easier with the Talons.
At one point I thought maybe one of the magnifications wasn't as spec'd. Objects in the Talon seemed a tiny bit smaller on the daytime test. This might indicate a lower mag and therefore brighter image. However I checked the TFOV of the Talons with M41. It's 4* south of Sirius and when I put Sirius at the top edge of the field, M41 was dead center, so 8.1* is correct. It seemed right in the Vipers too as it was 3/4 way to the other edge which would seem right for a 6.5* TFOV, so according to the Vortex specs these both seem to check out as 8x bins.
One thing where the Vipers are definitely better is the focuser. Much smoother, and sometimes almost too smooth as it is easy to blow by best focus, but also easy to correct. I'm hoping the focuser on the Talons loosens up a bit with use. It takes quite a bit more pressure to turn, but I wasn't really going by best focus either. The Vipers are definitely better for quick-focus situations. The Vipers are also 3 oz. lighter, and a bit smaller, so probably a touch easier to handle. However I really like the open bridge design of the Talons and I can grab the barrel easier.
The rubber armor also is better on the Talons. The Vipers are smooth with on-axis raised lines for grip, while the Talons are knobbly and look like a Swaro by comparison. In this case both form and function prevail on the Talons.
So for normal use for enjoyment I prefer the Talons. They are bright, clear, nice and contrasty, and the FOV is wonderful. The Vipers are nice too, just more clinical with the narrower view. Cindy has always liked those so maybe I just keep them both and let her use the Vipers since they are slightly smaller and lighter and probably easier for her. I was really surprised at how close these seemed to me. From what I was all week, I could have never justified the extra $200 for the Vipers. I don't know why I noticed a bigger difference in the store, but I am not seeing it with these two units.
My best guess at this point is sample variation. I think I got an excellent sample of the Talons, and a so-so version of the Vipers, because none of my observations match what I read on the bird forum reviews.
Oh, yeah. The Stifmeister's coming back to Grand Harbor. Deck the halls. Bye-bye, Great Falls. Wipe my a$$ and lick my ba!!s It's Stifler time, baby. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Whoo-hoo-hoo. ~Steve Stifler-American Pie 2