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Best 10x50 Binoculars for Astronomy?

Started by Glenn N. Smith, 05/26/2002 08:03PM
Posted 05/26/2002 08:03PM Opening Post
I really appreciate all the great comments made on the "Best 7x50 Binoculars for Astronomy?" thread. If you haven't read that thread, I recommend it.

In the book BINOCULAR ASTRONOMY by Crossen & Tirion, they say in the preface that 10x50 binoculars are probably the "ideal" astronomical binoculars and that their book is slanted toward use of that size instrument.

My first question is: in your opinion or experience, what are the best 10x50 binoculars for astronomy?

My 2nd question (not as important to me) is whether you agree or disagree with Cross & Tirion that 10x50s are the "ideal" size astronomical binoculars?

Feel free to address either or both of these questions.

Thanks for the comments in advance.

Glenn N. Smith
Posted 05/26/2002 08:29PM #1
BTW, on the "Best 7x50 Binoculars for Astronomy?" thread, the 10X50 aus Jen (Zeiss) Jenoptem binoculars were very favorably mentioned. These binoculars do not have a place for a tripod adapter, but they are great hand holding binoculars if you can keep them steady enough.

Any other candidates for best 10x50 binoculars for astronomy?

Posted 05/28/2002 07:22PM #2
I'm a big proponent of 10x50 binoculars. To me, (and I stress that this is my personal opinion, not fact), the 10x50 size is the ideal merger of contrast, image scale, handholdability and reasonable FOV. To me 10x50 represents not only the best all around general use configuration, but the best configuration for handheld astronomy as well. Much of my enthusiasm for the size may be due to the increased contrast that 10x provides over 8x or 7x from my suburban location. However, there is a big drawback to 10x50's that is far more of a practical nature than an ideal. That is that really good ones are hard to find.

I've searched for several years for "the best porro prism 10x50 available for under $500", and I'm here to tell you that the pickings in that price range are really pretty slim if you want clear views to the edge of the field. As you've noted, there may be one or two really worth looking at if you're able to go substanially beyond the monetary limits that I was looking at. Nonetheless, the news isn't all bad. The reality is that from many typically light polluted observing locations, a mediocre 10x50 still shows more stars than a really great 7x50 or 8x42. So it really comes down to where you will be doing most of your observing. If your skies are truly mag 6 or better most of the time, then maybe a great 7x50 makes sense. But if mag 5 or worse is more typical of your location, then even a $200-$250 10x50 may show you more than a $600-$700 7x50.

Personally, after much searching and many false starts, I chose the Nikon Superior E 12x50's as "the best 10x50" that I could afford. They're not for everybody. Any problems with shake with 10x50s are, of course, magnified in the higher power. They're not waterproof. They don't have a built-in tripod adaptor, but can be mounted with a proprietary mounting doo-hickey available at extra cost. They're expensive for their limitations, but their crisp clean optics make up for all of their shortcomings. I use them for astronomy. I use them for birding. I use them whenever weather and conditions aren't limitations.

But still, I really wish that I could find a truly worldclass, waterproof. porro prism 10x50 for my all around general use binocular. It stuns me that the market isn't flooded with contenders for this obvious niche.

Good luck,
Mike Swaim