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Excellent Binoculars

Started by odinero, 12/17/2009 12:51PM
Posted 12/17/2009 12:51PM Opening Post
Hi all,

I'm looking into purchasing some binoculars for viewing the sky. Any recommendations?

Mauricio Alvarez
Bronx, NY
Posted 12/17/2009 01:21PM | Edited 12/17/2009 01:24PM #1
How much $$ do you want to spend? I very much like
the Canon Image Stabilizer binos -- 10x30, 10x42, or 15x50
models. Probably other people have different ideas.
Posted 12/17/2009 06:05PM | Edited 12/17/2009 06:08PM #2

I had the Fujinon 16x70 for 10 years. Sold with regrets now.
Currently have Swaro 8x50. No dissapointment at all with either. Just tired arms sometimes.

Good luck,
Posted 12/18/2009 02:46PM | Edited 12/26/2009 10:20AM #3
As we have learned at CloudyNights and the Binocular Astronomy Forum, it is all about your eyes and their MAXIMUM dialation at night. I have 5mm maximum eyes, So, with 10 Power ,that is 5mm X 10X = 10 x 50 Binoculars. We all know that binocular exit pupils are aperture divided by power. Therefore, the common and desirable all-around 7x35 Binoculars have an exit pupil of 5mm. Now it is really not that simple, as the CloudyNight Binocular moderator Edz is about Prism Cage Size, Baffling, and does all the beam of light pass through, etc. etc.The common statement that 7 X 50 binoculars as the best in 7 power for astronomy is a myth..they are the best if you want 7 Power , 50mm aperture, and you have young eyes...i.e. 7.1 maximum pupil dialation. When I use 7x50 binoculars, with my 5mm eyes, they are the same as 7x35 Binoculars. Seven power times 5mm eyes is 7x35 binoculars. Yes ! Believe it < G > This is why one of my choice binoculars are the Swift 8.5 X 44. Be aware, however, the 7x50 binoculars are called "Marine Binoculars" because when you are bouncing around on a boat, the huge 7mm exit pupil is very welcome on 5mm eyes. In Daylight, your eyes would reduce to about 3mm in "aperture". So, go to CloudyNights, mess around, and get filled in. There are alot of misconceptions out there. BTW, the 16x70 Fuji are the best for old guys..if 70mm is what you want..
Posted 12/18/2009 05:07PM #4
Mauricio Alvarez said:

Hi all,

I'm looking into purchasing some binoculars for viewing the sky. Any recommendations?

In my experience, binoculars are a very personal item, similar to shoes, comfort is critical, binoculars that are perfect for me may be awkward and uncomfortable for you. So it is important to get some experience with different binoculars before making a decision, try as many as you can but even then preferences change. Most people own several pair.

There is quite a variety in binoculars. Price wise, very useable binoculars are available for under $100, very nice for $300 and one can spend $1500 or more for high end binoculars. It's good to have an idea of your budget before asking this question. There are binoculars at each price point that could be considered an excellent choice.

Size wise, it is also good to have an idea, what are you going to do with the binoculars? Are you planning hand holding them and using them to sweep the sky or are you going to mount them on a tripod. For a general purpose pair, something in the 8x42 to 10x40 range is a good choice, The can be comfortable to use for long periods, provide nice wide fields of view, 5 to 7 degrees TFoV and are useful for other pursuits like bird watching.

For tripod mounted binoculars, more aperture and magnification is desirable but how much is still the issue, as magnification is increased, the field of view diminishes. Bigger binoculars require larger, heavier tripods. And even with a solid mount, the vast majority of binoculars are straight-thru rather than angled so viewing towards the Zenith is awkward.

Finally, one can choose between Roof Prism and Porro Prism binoculars...

The Canon Image Stabilized Binoculars that John recommended are popular because that image stabilization really works. Sharp Optics are a wonderful thing but if you are unable to hold the binoculars steady, one cannot take advantage of those sharp optics. Since binoculars generally operate at larger than optimal exit pupils, increasing the magnification without increasing the aperture will show more if the image is steady... That's why the image stabilization really makes a difference, it's like having an invisible tripod.

I have several pairs of binoculars ranging from some Minolta 8x21's up to some Orion Mini-Giant 15-63's. But my favorites are the mid priced (~$300) Meade Montana 7x42's and Eagle Optics Platinum Ranger 10x42's. These both roof prism birding binoculars, they are water proof and nitrogen purged, they have ample eye relief, nice twist up eye cups and I find them very comfortable to use. For birding they both offer close focusing to under 10 feet. For me, these are a good choice, I use them along with a telescope, both just to enjoy the view and to help with star hopping. But I don't spend a whole night looking only through binoculars, more a couple of minutes here getting the sky figured out so I can find something in the scope and 5 or 10 minutes a few times a night just enjoying the view.

So, after all that... I suggest clarifying in your own mind exactly how you plan to use these binoculars, deciding on a budget and taking some time to try a variety of binoculars. If you do that, I am sure you will make an excellent choice.


Posted 01/01/2010 02:11PM | Edited 01/01/2010 02:12PM #5
Mauricio Alvarez said:

Hi all,

I'm looking into purchasing some binoculars for viewing the sky. Any recommendations?

Basic questions...
1) How much do you want to spend?
2) Do you want a pair you can hand hold, or are you willing to put them on a mount?
3) If you want to hand hold them, what power can you hold for reasonably steady, agreeable views?

My choices for astronomy...
Swarovski 7x42 SLCs for a low power, wide field that often provides some context.
Canon 15x50 IS binoculars so I can hand hold a reasonably high power.
A Lafuma reclining chair for comfortable viewing, and occasional naps.

Clear skies, Alan