Apogee RA-88-SA

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Brand and Model:Apogee RA-88-SA
Price ($USD):699
Attributes:un-checked Waterproof un-checked Armored
Objective Lens Size:88 mm
Magnification:20 x
Prism Type:
Coatings:Fully Multi-Coated
Field of View:0.0 degrees
Eye Relief:0 mm
Near Focus:0 ft
Weight (lbs):
Dimensions (w/h/d):

Vote Highlights Vote
Apogee RA-88-SA
I’m very pleased with my RA-88-SA’s. They are very sharp to the extreme edge of the field. At 20x I’m just able to make out the rings on Saturn. Only a trace of color fringing on the Moon and Jupiter. I would compare them to the views I get with my Fujinon 7x50’s. I have all three sets of eyepieces and all seem to work well but the 26x is best and has almost the same fov as the 20x. I use the 26x eyepieces 90% of the time. They come in a very nice fitted case. The only problem I have had is coming up with a tripod and head that can handle these as they weigh almost 14 lbs. You will defiantly need one of the really big Bogen tripods and a 501 head at a minimum. They have provisions for a fork mount but Apogee has yet to offer one for them. Adjusting the ip spacing will change the focus which can be annoying if constantly switching between observers. The 90 degree eyepieces are a real pleasure to use. Apogee doesn’t list the specs but I believe this to be the manufactures website: http://www.binocularschina.com/binoculars/88BT.html

Overall Rating: 9
Optics:9 Value:10
Weight: 5 (Veritable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=467144

Apogee RA-88-SA
The Apogee RA-88-SA binoculars that I've received yesterday were very impressive looking and not as difficult to use on my medium duty tripod as I thought it would be. The left side is very sharp and contrasty. The right side was a bit fuzzy. I inspected the objectives with a flash light to check the multi-coating witch turned out to be fine. I could see three small green reflections. This is where I found problems... FOG. The objectives were covered with it on the inside. This explains the fuzzy image. I also noticed dust fibers inside and small scratches on the lens surface. This was too much for me to handle. I thought if I ordered it directly from Apogee Inc. I would get a good one, but this was not the case. I called them and they said they would ship me another one, but I didn't like the fact that no one there even looked at there product before shipping it to me.
So I'm getting credit on them. I'm so very disapointed in Apogee because there is nothing close to this type of binocular in this price range.

Overall Rating: 2
Optics:2 Value:2
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=500952

Apogee RA-88-SA
In the end I think I have a very nice set of binos, but it
was a long effort to get there. The first pair was badly
out of collimation when it arrived, but otherwise had
very sharp optics. I returned them, and got a second
pair, but these were just no where near as sharp as the
first pair, so I sent those back also. They would not have
more in stock for several months, but I was told they
had fixed the first pair, so I tried those again. They
were closer, but still not right.

At this point I decided to work on them myself and
took them apart. The root problem was that one
of the prisms was improperly glued into its holder.
They had not repaired this, but instead tried to
compensate by making forcing the other prisms
far out of proper alignment. I managed to fix it all,
but it took alot of learning and time. The collimation
screws are deep inside, and every iteration meant
taking them half apart to get to the screws inside.
I cannot recommend anyone else doing this, but I
took it on as a challenge. I already had alot of
experience building and repairing telescopes, etc.

OK, thats the bad news. Good news is that they
are very sharp on axis, and quite acceptible off-axis.
The entire center region is very sharp, and then
rolls of quickly near the field edge. I put a 6x
telescope behind the eyepieces to get the power up
to about 200x and there is a reasonable Airy disk
with a bright first ring in both tubes -- superb for a
set of binos meant to be used at 32x. And the
Airy disk holds up over a surprisingly wide area
at the field center. This just confirmed my
overall impression that they were very sharp.

Chromatic aberration is very minor. Theres a tiny
purple flare or halo on bright stars like Vega, but no
where near objectionable, and you really have to look
for it.

The optical design has a triplet lens in front, a
pentaprism at the rear, and pair of cemented
porro prisms in the rotating "cams", and then
some interchangable eyepieces. Decent
multicoating throughout.

The right angle feature makes for very comfortable

The moon is just breath taking. Incredible
detail on the craters -- more than my eyesight does
justice to. Mars at 12 arcsec is a tiny
gibbous disk at 32x. Crusing around summer M-objects
is a wonderful treat. It is really much more like
having a pair of telescopes than binos.
Views reminded me a bit of the Takahashi 22x60,
but brighter images and more versatile.

The mechanical construction is fairly robust.
Strong metal everywhere. Lots of glue on
the internal screws. These look like they were
built to last a long time.

A couple other nits:

The exit pupil is not round, but has one edge
slightly cutoff. One exercise I did was remove the
piece of tape inside that does this. There were
then some odd ghost images. I eventually put
something back inside to block the ghost image.
It is not a big deal; the light loss from the cutoff
is only a few percent.

The clear aperture is closer to 80mm than the
advertised 88mm. There is a circular stop that
blocks the edges of the pupil between the penta
prism and porro prisms. Still, a very nice set of binos
even if a bit smaller than 88mm.

They are outrageously heavy and will need a
very strong mount. I put them on a Helix
Hercules mount on a Bogen 3046. I've got a
Rigel finder on the Hercules to help point them.
I can barely carry the whole assembly outside.

Optics -- a solid "9" after the extra work. You
could not ask for much better.

Value -- a definit "9" given what I paid and
my free labor.

Overall score? I would give them a "9" overall if
they came from the dealer this good, but alas I could
only go a "6" based on my overall experience.

Was it worth all the trouble? Yes, I think so.
But if I were starting over, I might look around
before buying these again. But who knows --
maybe I was just unlucky -- I only tried
three interations with the dealer. Maybe 4th or 5th
one would have been perfect? They do have a
very good return policy. If you can get
a good one it will definitly be worth the effort.

- John B.

Overall Rating: 6
Optics:9 Value:9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=450797

Apogee RA-88-SA
got my ra-88 in feb 2005 i/p stif ajustment brok 2nd time i used them sent back sill wating for retune 14 april ron frome england

Overall Rating: 3
Optics:8 Value:9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=433280

Apogee RA-88-SA
I bought these on the basis that a semi-apo 90 degree bino for $700 was a lot better deal than a semi-apo refractor with a bino adapter and multiple EPs. I haven't been disappointed. I first used these at the Winter Star Party (2005) and knocked off a bunch of my Astronomical League Messier Bino Club objects with them.

In terms of the optics, I find them to be basically color free on all but the very brightest objects (like the moon). For deep-sky observing, they are very good.

As to workmanship, they are built like a tank. The Inter-Pupil Distance adjustor has some play in it. At first I thought this was cheap construction, but in thinking it through, a more finely machined adjustor could actually result in binding if tolerances were too tight. It works just fine as designed and is all metal construction, which will last (no plastic to break).

I found the EPs to be tight fits in the holders. One of the 32x EPs is a really tight fit, the other is just right. The implication is that the machining tolerances on the barrels are a bit "lenient" but this has no affect on the optical result. The handle also does not fit snuggly, but it is very secure and will not come off inadvertently, which is the main thing. Hopefully someone will make a bracket for holder a sighting instrument (laser pointer, Rigel Quickfinder, Red Dot finder, etc.).

The first time I picked them up I almost dropped them (14 LB!). Do not pick them up without the handle attached! They definitely need a HD mount. I first put them on my Bogen 3020 tripod with my three-way pan head - forget it! The tripod is OK, but you need a really good head to mount it on. I went with the Bogen 503 Pro Video Fluid Head. It's rated for 13 LB and is adequate for these binos. The next step up ( Bogen 505, rated at 17.7 LB) would work better, but it costs another $500 - so that was out. My tripod is adequate, but one with leg braces would be a better choice. If you go with a Unimount, definitely get the HD model.

If you are a binocular user, it is no joke that these make viewing at zenith not only possible but enjoyable without having to spend huge bucks for a Unimount or equavalent. I had a pair of Oberwerk 22x100's which I really loved, but viewing anything near zenith was more than my neck and back could stand.

All-in-all, I expect to keep these binos for a long time.

Overall Rating: 9
Optics:9 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=429990

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