Friday, November 4, 2011

F550EXR – The Moon and Jupiter through Oberwerk 10x60 Mariner Series Binoculars

Outside the Pho restaurant this evening, I tried shooting the moon with my F550EXR hand held from a standing position. The results were moon-like, but nothing to write home about. So I braced the camera on the car and shot this. Not awful I am thinking …

I decided then to try photographing the moon again through my Oberwerk Binoculars afocally (which means holding the camera to the eyepiece) once I arrived home. The clear, cloudless night was just too tempting.

I had received a new tripod adapter for the binoculars earlier this week and the difference is like night and day when observing. I can now see everything crystal clearly with no movement of the binoculars. I have been looking at the moon, Jupiter and at the Pleiades star cluster. Absolutely stunning views from these binoculars.

These binoculars have many special qualities:

Oberwerk Mariner Series Binoculars are the highest-quality hand-held binoculars we've ever offered. These extra-rugged waterproof mil-spec Oberwerk 10x60mm Mariner Series Binoculars are ideal for birding, hunting, surveillance, astronomy, and of course nautical applications.

The Oberwerk 10x60 Binoculars have a wide-angle 5.3 degree field of view. All air-to-glass surfaces are fully broadband multi-coated to decrease light loss due to scattering and reflections, a feature normally found only on binoculars with much higher price tags.

Oberwerk 10x 60 Marine Binoculars feature heavy-duty rubber-armored metal construction, oversize BAK4 prisms with shockproof mountings, extra-rigid and precise center-focuser, right ocular diopter adjustment, twist-up eyecups, brass 1/4-20 tripod adapter threading, caps, and hard case.

The objectives are larger than normal for 10 power (10x50mm is more typical) which means of course that their light-gathering power is improved. I can tell you that the view in these things is incredibly bright. The moon actually hurts your eyes when full.

Shooting images through these is a bit of a challenge of course. You have to align the lens with the eyepiece. You have to get the magnification just right and to switch on macro mode to get focus (at least, I did.) The exposure is not quite the same as it was through the lens alone.

But after some experimentation I came up with three usable images.

This one is pretty good top left, but is blurry everywhere else. Still, pretty magnificent detail for a 1/2” sensor compact long zoom.

The next one is much better. The same fringing on the bottom, but otherwise pretty decent. Not as much feeling of blur. The Apenninus mountains at the edge of Mare Imbrium are clearly visible, which I think is a pretty good feat with a 1/2” sensor.

And the big winner … only a small bit of blur at the very bottom … the rest is superbly detailed. Wow.

F550EXR  100ISO  f/6  36.4mm  1/160s

That last result came after I had figured out that a bit less zoom improved the view for the camera, which removed most of the blur. That revelation came when I was shooting Jupiter. I shocked myself by getting an extremely usable image of Jupiter and all for Galilean moons! This just blows my mind … I had to verify the position of the moons on the Juplet and low, and behold, this image is completely legit.

F550EXR  3200ISO f/6  1/25s  33.8mm

I have had shots form the D300 that required more processing than this one. This is testament to the quality of the optics in the Oberwerks. Amazing …

This proves again that the sensors on smaller cameras are just fine for shooting bright objects.