Jump to content


Photo

New to binoculars, need some advice.

  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Schaaf

Schaaf

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 18
  • Joined: 29 Nov 2012
  • Loc: MSP

Posted 29 November 2012 - 01:36 PM

Hey everyone.

I've been reading around on here for a while trying to make a decision on a new set of binoculars.
I've wanted a telescope for some time, but at this point it's not financially feasible. So I figured the next best thing were a set of binoculars.

I started out looking at the Celestron and Meade offerings of the 100mm variety, but after reading on here, it seems that they're really not very good from an optical quality stand point. I've read so many reviews and looked at so many different options, its hard to keep them all straight and make an informed decision.

Im trying to keep these around 200-250. I want the best optical quality possible for the price. I assume that means taking a hit on the magnification or the aperture.

I'm more interested in viewing nebula, galaxies and star clusters, with solar system viewing being a very close second.

So far my short list consists of:

The Oberwerk 20x80
Pentax 20x60

I'm willing to entertain other suggestions, but would like the aperture to be greater than 50. (Unless this is bad? I just assumed that it followed the old "bigger is better" adage when it comes to aperture.)

Thanks everyone!

#2 Rich V.

Rich V.

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4122
  • Joined: 02 Jan 2005
  • Loc: Lake Tahoe area, Nevada, USA

Posted 29 November 2012 - 02:03 PM

Hi, Schaaf, welcome to Binoculars.

You can get a decent 20x80 like the Oberwerk Deluxe III for $300. if you can stretch your budget a bit. It's built to a higher level of quality than the Obie LW, Celestron and Meade offerings and well worth the extra money, IMO.

A number of members seem to like the lightweight Pentax 20x60 but the FOV is quite a bit narrower than the Obies; 2.2° vs. 3.2°.

Of course, if you are considering these higher mag. binos, a tall tripod is needed for best results. If you don't have one, Garrett Optical sells a 20x80 similar to the Obie Deluxe and they offer a discount on a tripod when purchased together. Their 5000 tripod/head would be my recommendation.

20x80s should give you some nice, deep views if you have access to a relatively dark site. They'll probably whet your appetite for a telescope sometime down the road, though, so be warned! ;)

Rich

#3 Schaaf

Schaaf

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 18
  • Joined: 29 Nov 2012
  • Loc: MSP

Posted 29 November 2012 - 02:24 PM

Hey,

Thanks for the feedback and suggestion. Those look great, but seem to be on back order. If they're worth the wait, I can do it, but what other options might I have in that "stretched up to 300" budget??

Thanks

#4 ronharper

ronharper

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2216
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2006

Posted 29 November 2012 - 02:34 PM

Large mounted binoculars have their pleasures, and are hugely popular here, but seem a strange choice as a first instrument to me. Optically complex and prone to trouble unless rather expensive, and limited in their magnification capabilities, they do excel in outstanding view aesthetics and dimmest object detection. But it seems like something you'd come to after getting grounded with more traditional instruments. Am I starting to sound like an old fogey or what?

If you are going to buy a binocular that must be mounted, then for the cost of binocular plus mount you could buy a good simple telescope, like a 6" f/8 Newtonian on a Dobsonian mount. Personally I'd recommend a simple telescope over a large binocular as a first instrument.

Don't dismiss smaller binoculars lightly. A $150 10x50 is a good quality instrument, can be easily handled, and will let you see most of the Messier objects. The views won't be detailed for sure, but you'll learn the sky fastest that way.

Oh well, it's all fun. Take what I say with a major grain of salt.
Ron

#5 Schaaf

Schaaf

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 18
  • Joined: 29 Nov 2012
  • Loc: MSP

Posted 29 November 2012 - 03:31 PM

Thanks for the guidance Ron, but one of the other reasons I failed to mention a smaller scope like a dob is space. Im running out of it. We just had twins so theres exponentially less space than there was a year ago! I belong to the local astronomy club, and am not a total newb when it comes to looking at the skies, but like all things, there's only room for improvement.

Id love to have a 10-12" dob or a 6" SCG, but I just dont have the funds or space for the scope, and the eyepieces and all the accessories. I do have a very sturdy video tripod that would work with a new head/mount, so that's covered there.

So what would be your recommendation for a 50-60mm binocular then?

Thanks

#6 RichD

RichD

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1986
  • Joined: 08 Nov 2007
  • Loc: Derbyshire, UK

Posted 29 November 2012 - 04:27 PM

Ron's advice is sound, but in your case I think a good 15x70 would fit the bill.

#7 Tony Flanders

Tony Flanders

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11303
  • Joined: 18 May 2006
  • Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA

Posted 30 November 2012 - 06:53 AM

Thanks for the guidance Ron, but one of the other reasons I failed to mention a smaller scope like a dob is space ...


But it doesn't have to be a Dob. A small, fast refractor can do everything that 20X binoculars can do except support two-eyed viewing. And it will also do many things that hardly any binoculars can do, like provide detailed views of the Moon and planets. And assuming equivalent optical and mechanical quality, it will probably end up being cheaper and more convenient.

This is not to deny the value of 10X binoculars -- I love them! Every stargazer should own a pair, and they don't have to be expensive at all. I've seen good ones for as little as $50, though that was a bit of a fluke.

But if you're pulled toward instruments with significantly greater light gathering and magnification, you should definitely consider small refractors. Especially since you already own a suitable mount -- the hard part.

See my blog One Eye Versus Two. And here's an index to several of my binocular-related blogs

#8 Plan9

Plan9

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 573
  • Joined: 28 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Northern VA

Posted 30 November 2012 - 09:45 AM

I'd like to second Tony's comment - I have an 80mm refractor that fits in a case that is slightly larger than the case my 15x70 came in. I sold the binocular; kept the scope. The key for me is that the scope is easier to use (on a tripod, there is no neck-craning) and the bin was too heavy for much handheld use.

What no one has mentioned yet is the importance of magnification vs aperture. If you want to look at planets or nebulae (other than the handful of real biggies out there), you will want more mag - the 15 or 20x won't be satisfying.

What I really like binoculars for is the big sweep of the sky, where field of view is more important and aperture matters less. A really wide 7x35 could be cool for that purpose, and a 10x50 (or even 10x42) would be great for that.

A few other random points to consider:
- use Adler's index; basically you rate the night sky performance of a binocular as the mag X the square root of the aperture. You will find there is relatively little difference between 50 and 70mm using that scale.
- check your max pupil size at night; I was shocked to discover I don't go above 4mm in any test I've tried. The benefit of large aperture is lost on me if the magnification isn't fairly high to compensate.
- a lot of binoculars have less effective aperture than advertised - sometimes 60mm is closer to 50mm.

Hope that's useful!

Bill

#9 Schaaf

Schaaf

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 18
  • Joined: 29 Nov 2012
  • Loc: MSP

Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:23 PM

Ok. Still stuck.

Am I going to notice any difference between 20x60 and 20x80 binoculars? (Pentax 20x60 vs Oberwerk LW 20x80s) The Pentax seems to be of a higher quality, but the 20 extra mm of aperture is tempting. (if it pays off anyway.) The Pentax also comes with a tripod, so I wouldn't have to fix my current one that, upon inspection, is missing some crucial parts.

I've used a dob before, but I believe it was either an 8" or 10". Am I going to be disappointed with only 6" of aperture? I know it's larger than binoculars, but it now takes up more space and becomes less portable, so it's kind of a trade off I guess. I'd like to swing the 8", but its about $100 more than I wanted to spend. (Zhumell only makes an 8", 10" and 12" so I'd have to go with the orion XT series... Im not a fan of the springs on the mount. The Zhumell seems like a nicer set up.)


Any thoughts?

Thanks for the insight!

#10 Plan9

Plan9

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 573
  • Joined: 28 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Northern VA

Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:41 PM

The 20x80 has a 3.5 degree FOV; the 20x60 is only 2.2 - that would be a big deal to me. Not sure the aperture difference will be highly noticeable (maybe in very dark skies on nebulae), but it will look brighter. Can't speak to the optical quality or how good it is across the FOV (but I'm sure it's been reviewed here).

A 6" dob is infinitely better than no dob. I'm sure the 8" would be a noticeable improvement (probably not that much bigger, if space were the issue), but I would use a 6" scope - oh wait, I do :)

Bill

#11 ronharper

ronharper

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2216
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2006

Posted 04 December 2012 - 12:54 AM

Several CN members use the 20x60 Pentax. That proves it's a great binocular, right? Seriously, some rather critical observers here are satisfied with it.

Sure you might be disappointed in a 6", or 10", 20" etc, it's all in the mind of the beholder. Some people fall into the aperture game, some don't. I did. Once you discover the universe you want to really see it all right now. At some point, I got a grip. Now, my daily driver is a 5".

A 6" dob is not too hard to store and deal with, steady, and comfortable to view through near zenith, but is very low to the ground. You might set it on a sturdy stool or similar platform, to bring the eyepiece up to comfortable height to use while standing.

If you do get the scope, don't forget that a small binocular, like a 7x35, shows the sky in a different way, and is a real aid in finding stuff.
Ron

#12 guangtou

guangtou

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 358
  • Joined: 27 Mar 2010

Posted 04 December 2012 - 06:49 AM

You seem to have the following criteria:

1. Something that is portable and easy to use.
2. $250 max budget.
3. Highest useful magnification at that price point.

I assume the pentax 20x60 and tripod deal you are talking about is this. If not, you may want to have a look
http://www.bhphotovi...60_PCF_WP_II...
And that is indeed a good deal. Keep in mind that tripod mounted binoculars are not comfortable to look through for an extended length of time above 45 degrees. And this tripod does not seem to have an adjustable center column to raise- often the tripod legs will be where you want to be for viewing. The 2.2 degree angle of view will make it difficult to find objects, and even more so if you decide to try and use them handheld in a pinch.

Have you considered the Pentax 12x50 PCF WP II Binocular? I know you want greater magnification, but 12x can show a lot. The 4.2 degree angle of view will make locating objects infinitely easier. If you find a mount necessary, a monopod would keep things light and portable. However, I do not have these binoculars and have never looked through them.

#13 Man in a Tub

Man in a Tub

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11402
  • Joined: 28 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Fogpatch, CA

Posted 04 December 2012 - 01:05 PM

Good Morning or Afternoon, Schaaf

Please take a look at these binocular sketches:

Rony's Binocular Sketches

Rony's sketches portray at best what you can see with binoculars. The sketches are based upon 8x and 15x observations. 20x is not qualitatively better — just a little bit more visually. That's all.

If views at this scale and detail level would be satisfactory, then get a binocular. If not, don't waste your money. Seriously.

I enjoy the Pentax 20x60 PCF WP II, but I don't recommend it as either a first or only glass. It's great as part of a collection.

Best regards,

#14 labmand

labmand

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 483
  • Joined: 08 Feb 2011
  • Loc: West Michigan USA

Posted 30 December 2012 - 12:25 AM

Hi, Schaaf
I have many scopes and started with 10x50 binocs, One thing
about binocs is that they are very portable, and for a quick look at the skies they see more light then all my scopes, with my weather in Michigan it's just not worth the effort to drag out the scope, but the binocs are easy. I too have been trying to decide on an upgrade and thinking of
15x70's to use with my homemade monopod to steady them. Am having a problem deciding between Celestron, Meade, Garret Pentax or Oberwirks the reviews on CN are prety dated, so I'm going thru some of the posts. I as you want the most bang for the buck, Best quality, least weight, best deal out there today, help us out guys.
thanks
Dave

#15 Man in a Tub

Man in a Tub

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11402
  • Joined: 28 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Fogpatch, CA

Posted 30 December 2012 - 06:29 AM

Schaaf bought the Pentax 20x60 and posted a brief report on 12/12.

I suggest you make a separate post. What's your budget, etc.?






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics