Review of Lunt Engineering 16x70 Binoculars
By Bill Dellinges (9/13/15)
I had been waiting many years for 15x or 16x70 binocular to appear on the market that had long enough eye relief such that with eyepiece cups folded down, I could see all or most of the full field with eye glasses on. Until recently the best eye relief I had found in this size binocular was 18mm and that failed to meet my needs. Of course I could take my eyeglasses off and refocus any binocular regardless of eye relief, but I prefer to observe with glasses on so I can switch back and forth quickly between the binocular and seeking my next target in the sky.
This year, 2015, Lunt Engineering (www.luntengineering.com), a subsidiary of the Lunt Solar Systems company, makers of H-Alpha solar telescopes (www.luntsolarsystems.com), has introduced a line of binoculars including a 16x70 model with 20mm of eye relief. Specs are:
Real field: 4.1 degrees. Apparent field: 65.6 degrees. Exit pupil: 4.4mm.
Close focus: 33 feet. Bak 4 prisms. Fold down eyecups.
Individual eyepiece focusing. Fully multicoated optics. Tripod adaptable (adapter incl.)
Nitrogen purged. Water proof. Magnesium body.
Weight: 4.24 pounds/68 ounces. Made in China. Price $369. 1 year warranty.
I purchased this binocular based on the specs, especially the long eye relief. I was somewhat concerned about the relatively low price and their being made in China. I was delightfully surprised upon opening the box to see a well made, good looking binocular. The build quality is quite impressive. Coatings show a smooth consistent blue – purple color. The inter-pupillary adjustment, though somewhat stiff, is manageable and at least will not change once set. The individual eyepiece focusing is firm and not likely to change once set. I found setting them at the zero line set the focus perfectly for my glasses. The outer covering looks more impressive than its ad photograph and has that wrinkle look I like found on my Fujinon 10x70 FMT. Due to the summer monsoon season here in Arizona, IÕve only had a few hours of observation to assess the optics. But that has been enough to demonstrate to me the optics are close to being on par with other high end binoculars like my Fujinon 10x70 and certainly better than the similarly priced Chinese 15x70 I once owned imported by a high end American refractor company. Star images remained sharp to about 70% away from center before showing slight flaring. Only at about the last 20% do the star images seriously degrade. Not bad for this price point.
Having been used to a 10x70 binocular, I was stunned by the views of the moon and deep sky objects of this 16x70. I was quite surprised what a difference 6 power made! When comparing the views between the 16x70 and 10x70 everything in the former just knocked me out. I had always thought the 10x70 was a wonderful binocular but now realized what I had been missing all these years – everything was bigger and brighter (I didnÕt buy the Fujinon 16x70 years ago because of their stingy 12mm eye relief). The Moon displayed sharp, rich detail. The Pleiades were stunning, filling a third of the field, its dimmer stars conspicuous. OrionÕs Sword was breathtaking, as was the Double Cluster in Perseus. The LuntÕs 20mm eye relief does allow me, with eyecups folded down, to see about 90% of its 4.1 degree field. Oddly, even without glasses, it was difficult to see the field stop. I attribute this, rightly or wrongly, on its 65.6 apparent field, so wide that I was getting a Nagler type of experience; that is, the apparent field is so generous one has trouble seeing the field stops – not necessarily a bad thing. Still, the bottom line is that I really enjoy looking through these binoculars with or without glasses. In short, I highly recommend this binocular. Note: Due to its 16 power, you will definitely need to use these binoculars on a tripod.
Pros: Very good optics and build quality for the price (55% the cost of a Fujinon 16x70). A very nice well padded carrying case.
Cons: Rubber caps for objective lenses that fit within lens housing - I prefer hard plastic caps over the lens housing. I found these at scopestuff.com (EYCJ 83mm I.D, $4 ea.) to replace the stock rubber ones and they are much easier to get off and on. Open accessory pocket in case can catch on binocular as its being placed in case. Poor documentation and no indication of place of manufacture.