Fujinon TechnoStabi 16x28 – first impressions

Fujinon TechnoStabi 16x28 – first impressions
25 February 2020
Arkadiusz Olech

1. First impressions

To be honest I've never been especially keen on pairs of binoculars with exit pupil of about 2 mm in diameter. In their case a combination of magnification and physical dimensions is such that the device seem to me too cumbersome to handle and not especially comfortable to look through.

Models with optical stabilization are an exception to this rule (and perhaps the word 'rule' is not the best here but I can't think about any better term) – no matter what their dimensions and design are, a special mechanism is responsible for the stability of images and comfort of observations.

Fujinon TechnoStabi 16x28 – first impressions - First impressions

Regular Readers of Optyczne.pl and Allbinos.com and our discussion forum know pretty well my pet aversion: 8×20 or 10×25 class binoculars. I've repeatedly said that, in my opinion, a real pair of binoculars starts from 28-30 mm objective diameter. Smaller instruments feature a list of flaws which, in my view, is too long and it isn't by any means compensated by their small physical dimensions. What flaws, you might ask. First of all you deal here with images of low surface brightness, then a narrow field of view, and a not especially impressive transmission which stems partially from using roof prisms . Add to that problems with a firm grip of such a midget and small eyecups that often don't fit your eye sockets well and you have a recipe for worsening your observation comfort in a significant way.

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Fujinon TechnoStabi 16x28 – first impressions - First impressions

Why then I got interested in the Fujinon TechnoStabi 16×28 ? Once again for several reasons. Firstly, it features just one flaw plaguing small sets of binoculars which I listed above, namely low surface brightness. It's to some extend recompensed by efficient reverse Porro prisms which performance is based on total internal reflection without any noticeable losses of light. What's more, the objective diameter, amounting to 28 mm, allows me to count that instrument among rightful, fully-fledged sets of binoculars. Its size also allows you to handle it steadily and use in full comfort, even when image stability system switched off. The weight of the Fujinon, amounting to 510 grams, still allows you to categorize it as a small instrument, after all such a weight is typical for 30-32 mm devices deemed appropriate for tourists and trekkers. It's important that you don't deal here with a 'keyhole effect', caused by the field of view of eyepieces of 50 degrees or less, typical for 8×20 or 10×25 instruments. The Fujinon 16×28 offers you a field of as much as 4 degrees; with magnification of 16× it means using wide-angle eyepieces with an apparent field of view amounting to 64 degrees.

Fujinon TechnoStabi 16x28 – first impressions - First impressions

There is also one factor which encourages you to look closer at the Fujinon. The market of stabilized binoculars is small, dominated by just two companies, Canon and Fujifilm. Don't be mislead by the fact that there are stabilized binoculars with Nikon logo – they are produced by Fujifilm anyway. In such a situation it's always worth getting to know products which are rare on the market and produced by just few manufacturers. The extreme magnification, amounting to as much as 16×, is very demanding for stabilization mechanism; all these facts made us very curious how the Fujinon TechnoStabi would fare in practice.

Fujinon TechnoStabi 16x28 – first impressions - First impressions

The casing of this pair of binoculars makes a very solid impressions. Edges of objective lenses, positioned very close to each other, are made of metal; right beneath them you can find a CR2 batteries socket plug. The proper body of the binoculars is covered by rubber armour slightly rough to the touch which sticks to your hands very well. At the top of the main barrel you see a cylinder inside which there is a ribbed focus wheel and a stabilization switch. The wheel's working range, reaching over 600 degrees, is very wide and, with such a high magnification, it means images are sharp already from a distance of 3 meters (a bit less than 3.5 meters, the official minimum focusing distance, stated by the producers).

On the side opposite to objective lenses you see movable parts of the prisms which stick out from the barrels of the binoculars and eyepieces are attached to them. The eyepieces feature significantly big eyecups, rubberized and quite comfortable to use. They can be extended with four possible extension levels. On the right eyepiece you find a comfortable, ribbed ring for diopter adjustment that moves the outer element.

Fujinon TechnoStabi 16x28 – first impressions - First impressions

According to the producers all air-to-glass surfaces are covered by antireflection multilayer coatings. Indeed, when you examine carefully the interior of the binoculars both from the side of objectives and the eyepieces you won't notice any air-to-glass surface which shines too brightly. Most of them are covered by green coatings but there is also a hint of purple in eyepieces. The coatings are of medium intensity but they perform sensibly well – we didn't notice any problems connected to brightness of images; colouring is also very good and there is no problem with white balance which remains on a very high level. What's more, during night observations against bright light we didn't notice any unwanted glare.

When it comes to the interior of the lens, however, there is room for improvement. Inner tubes and prisms casing are in many places gray, not black. I think they could have been a bit more matted too. Still the cleanliness of the optical system inside the binoculars seems to be beyond reproach – we didn't find any dirt or damp patches and also the number of specks of dust was very low.

When you look at the exit pupil and the area around it you might start to complain but just a bit. The area close to the pupil is really dark and the pupil itself looks perfectly round, with just a slight truncation from one side.

Fujinon TechnoStabi 16x28 – first impressions - First impressions

It is not easy to assess the optical prowess of stablized optics. The way the edges of an image look depends strongly on how hard the stabilization unit has to work and how significant is the tilt of particular elements outside the optical axis. If your grip is firm, the work of the mechanism can be easier and the binoculars produce images of better quality. On the other hand, when the observer's grip is not that firm there are more vibrations and stabilization has to work harder. As a result images get fuzzier in places when the tilt of the optical system is the greatest. Then you can notice more blurry areas and chromatic aberration becomes more pronounced. Still it shouldn't be treated as a serious flaw – it's rather a characteristic performance connected to the presence of the optical stabilization unit.

As we are already speaking about the stabilization system we must add that it works exceedingly well. When Fujinon announced two new models I had no reservations concerning the 12×28 device but the 16×28 parameters seemed to be going a tad over the top. I expected serious flaws: too dark images, constantly overloaded stabilization which had to work too hard because of relatively small dimensions of the device and a less stable grip. Meanwhile the system performs really well and provides really crisp, sharp images. It's also worth mentioning that a battery ensures you get up to 12 hours of continual work. If you forget to switch the stabilization off the binoculars system will deactivate it after 10 minutes of idleness in order to save battery life.

Of course you have to get used to a specific mode of work, typical of a stabilized set of binoculars. With such a big magnification you can compare it to getting very sharp images of planets and the Moon by choosing the best frames from a lot of different shots. When you look at an object positioned far away e.g. a plane or the Moon, the image, even if it is stable, shifts a bit, changing its sharpness. It's a natural effect stemming from the performance of the stabilization unit. You have to be a tad more patient, waiting for these moments when all factors are perfectly aligned with each other, delivering an image of a very high quality.

Fujinon TechnoStabi 16x28 – first impressions - First impressions

There are a lot of movable parts in the optical construction of the Fujinon, described here; as a result the device has a lot of problems with astigmatism correction. Coma surprised me very nicely for a change. With such a wide field of view and optics complexity we expected a much worse result and here coma appears very far away from the field of view centre and is medium at most on the very edge.

Stabilized pairs of binoculars are recommended most often for very specific and limited number of applications like, e.g., observation of planes. In such a case you need high magnification which, with traditional, hand-held observations from the ground, poses a lot of problems and efficient stabilization can solve them all. Fujinon TechnoStabi models show that stabilized pairs of binoculars can also be widely used for example by tourists. Their dimensions and weight don't differ significantly from physical dimensions of bigger 8×32 or 10×32 instruments so typical tourist devices. A small exit pupil provided by 16×28 parameters and surface brightness, stemming from it, might be problematic in poor lighting conditions but if you go for a trip on a sunny day you should be pleased with the Fujinon's performance.

The price is a separate matter. Over 1000 USD for a midget with the 28 mm objective lens is a lot. At such a price point you can find many classic 25-32 mm binoculars produced by the most renowned manufacturers. Still, in their case the maximum magnification amounts to 10× at the maximum; if you need more, you have no other choice than stabilized binoculars and here the Fujinon might be a very tempting option.

It's also worth reminding that if 16×28 parameters seem to be a tad too extreme for your liking you can always consider buying another model from this series, the Fujinon TechnoStabi 12×28.

Fujinon TechnoStabi 16x28 – first impressions - First impressions

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