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Equipment Discussions >> Binoculars

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SMark
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 08/29/11

Loc: Atlanta, GA USA
How much magnification can you hold? new
      #5519135 - 11/14/12 07:35 AM

This question goes around every few months or so, but I've noticed something about myself in this regard that seems strange to me. I've always been one that struggled hand-holding more than about 10x without being so shaky that it's just not worth the effort. I had a fairly nice 12x50 that I sold because of this. I even struggled enough with my 8x56 that I let it go as well. My 8x40 and 7x35's were fine though. So after selling the 12x50 and 8x56 I chose to replace them with a lighter weight 8.5x50 roof prism, thinking that the weight reduction would help my situation a bit. However I've finally come to the conclusion that the 8.5x50 roof is actually worse than either of those other two were. I've tried all sorts of different ways of gripping and supporting the 8.5x50, but it just seems to jump all over the place on me unless I can also provide some sort of elbow support.

I'm wondering if the roof prism design doesn't have something to do with this? Porro prism designs are wider and just seem to be easier to support against my face with only minimal shaking. What brought this home for me was when I got my Nikon 10x70 and found that those bat wing eyecups seemed to really help me hold it steady against my face. I can actually hold the 10x70 much steadier than the 8.5x50.

I really like the sharp, bright images of the Vortex 8.5x50. But unless I can find some sort of arm support I can't really use it effectively. Makes me wonder if I'd be better off with one of the smaller Canon IS models (I already have the 15x50 IS.)

Anyone else have any experiences or theories on this?


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RichD
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/08/07

Loc: Derbyshire, UK
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: SMark]
      #5519161 - 11/14/12 08:18 AM

Is this astro use? If it is you owe it to yourself to get a nice comfy sun lounger type chair with elbow support. I have one with an adjustable back and it makes holding even a bulky 10x50 porro a breeze. I think I could go up to 12x, but i've never owned one. I have a heavy 16x70 that is handholdable for a few minutes in this way too, but the jitters and bounce caused by my heartbeat gets annoying quickly.

During the day I never really use anything more than 8x as the 10x gets irritating after a while and doesn't seem to provide that much more detail.

Ultimately it's all about supporting the elbows. If they have a comfortable platform to rest on your arms don't get tired. I have observed from my chair with my heavy fuji 10x50 FMT for 5 hours or more in summer with no probs.


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Binojunky
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Reged: 12/25/10

Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: RichD]
      #5519307 - 11/14/12 10:25 AM

A roof prism design tends to offer a more compact instrument compared with a porro style and as such when held results in the handlers arms being tucked in closer to the body , well that my theory anyway, as such it results in more stability, binocular weight plays a big part as well, in some cases a slightly heavier glass is easier to hold steady then a lighter one.
I find x8 is pretty well my choice for use however I recently bought a pair of Cannons 10x30IS and the system works, no doubt about that,DA.


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KennyJ
The British Flash
*****

Reged: 04/27/03

Loc: Lancashire UK
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: Binojunky]
      #5519473 - 11/14/12 12:28 PM Attachment (62 downloads)

Although for night-sky viewing,like my fellow north English countryman Rich,I'm a great advocate of sitting with elbows supported,there are however various tricks and techniques that can be used that help to hold binoculars steadier when standing,which would also help when sitting.

This is a photo I took of fellow CN member Swedepat(alias Patric)during his visit in the summer of 2009.

Note the way he is resting his thumbs against his cheekbones and using his cap as a steadying point for his forefingers,both of which help to steady the binoculars when applied at the same time.


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daniel_h
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Reged: 03/08/08

Loc: VIC, Australia
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: KennyJ]
      #5519583 - 11/14/12 02:03 PM

Smart, I can't hold 12x power successfully, or even 10xpower, bought the 12x36IS & am very happy with them-no more shakes but can get close up bird terrestrial views

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dan_h
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/10/07

Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: SMark]
      #5519602 - 11/14/12 02:22 PM

Get an adjustable monopod. Inexpensive, lightwieght and it can be used well above 10X to end the shakes.

dan


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*skyguy*
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: SMark]
      #5519623 - 11/14/12 02:41 PM

I enjoy using my 20x60 bins ... handheld ... although, most would say it's not possible. I need to be in a near to fully inclined position with my head/neck and arms full supported. Of course, the view will never be as steady as when they are used mounted ... however, that can be said for just about any binoculars.

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Simon S
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Reged: 01/07/07

Loc: Crawley West Sussex UK
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: *skyguy*]
      #5519725 - 11/14/12 03:43 PM

I can hold 16x IF I hold the binoculars at the objectives. Comfortably a 10x binocular without shake.

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Lane
Post Laureate


Reged: 11/19/07

Loc: Frisco, Texas
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: Simon S]
      #5519749 - 11/14/12 04:06 PM

My 9x63 mini giants are pretty easy to hand hold but I have to be sitting down to keep them steady.

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Mark9473
Postmaster
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Reged: 07/21/05

Loc: 51N 4E
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: Lane]
      #5519781 - 11/14/12 04:40 PM

I use the thumb support technique, that Kenny showed above, with my 15x60, but I'd need to be sitting down for an acceptably steady image. The main reason this works so well for me with my Docter 15X60 is that the balance point is not up front at the objectives. Large prisms do have advantages other than purely optical.

Holding technique and experience is probably the most important factor, with the binocular's shape / ergonomics / balance point / inertia a close second. Magnification is, within reason, not the main issue for me.


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Plan9
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/28/08

Loc: Northern VA
Re: How much magnification can you hold? [Re: SMark]
      #5520040 - 11/14/12 07:39 PM

IMO, there's not a simple answer to that, but there are a few principles. Sitting, especially if you can lean your arms on something, helps a lot. I find, within reason, a bit heavier and larger is steadier than smaller and lighter. For example, I could subjectively hold my 15x70 at least as steady as my 8x42 (meaning that the jiggle didn't seem any worse and I could distinguish much more detail in the view). The only binocular I can say feels 100% steady for astronomy is a 6x; beyond that (for me), it's a matter of how much jiggle you want to put up with.

I find a somewhat heavier 10x binocular to provide a somewhat better view (more detailed) than the 8x42, so again, it's not quite a linear phenomenon.

Pushing the IS button on my Canon 12x36 is always a thrill - everything settles down and a multitude of stars suddenly appears were there didn't seem to be any before.

Hope that's useful!

Bill


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ronharper
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Reged: 02/14/06

Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: Plan9]
      #5520346 - 11/14/12 11:29 PM

Daytime, I can freehand a 12x50 enjoyably, but my typical birdwatching usually provides only brief views. High power helps catch little details on a bird, like an eye stripe.

On the stars the jumping seems worse by far because stars are so tiny, their sizes swallowed up in the motion. Dim objects and doubles benefit from long periods of study. And, much of the sky is too nearly straight up to view comfortably on my feet, regardless of the shake issue. So, I have become a complete slave to my steady, comfy, and supportive observing chair, even with 7x, and can handle up to 15x like that to good advantage, my observations comparing well with those using mounted binoculars, but 15x is a bit of a struggle.

Comfortable to a fault I should say, since I sometimes doze off. But I'm not suffering, that's for sure.
Ron


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Jawaid I. Abbasi
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Reged: 06/19/07

Loc: LEVITTOWN, PA
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: ronharper]
      #5520472 - 11/15/12 01:47 AM

holding the breath will also help. caution do not forget to breath again

Well, all the technique above works but I am also slave of using tripod if observing the night sky.


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Dave Hederich
sage


Reged: 09/12/07

Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: Jawaid I. Abbasi]
      #5522057 - 11/15/12 10:30 PM

There must be a point of diminishing returns on added weight producing more stability from small shakes vs. difficulty of holding a heavier weight for extended periods that would vary from individual to individual.

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SMark
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 08/29/11

Loc: Atlanta, GA USA
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: KennyJ]
      #5522118 - 11/15/12 11:33 PM

Quote:

Although for night-sky viewing,like my fellow north English countryman Rich,I'm a great advocate of sitting with elbows supported,there are however various tricks and techniques that can be used that help to hold binoculars steadier when standing,which would also help when sitting.

This is a photo I took of fellow CN member Swedepat(alias Patric)during his visit in the summer of 2009.

Note the way he is resting his thumbs against his cheekbones and using his cap as a steadying point for his forefingers,both of which help to steady the binoculars when applied at the same time.




I have to say Kenny, that technique makes a big difference. I will use that from now on. With my roof, it seems putting my thumbs into those shallow indentures they make on the underside of each barrel is the worst place for me to put them. Putting the thumbs to the cheekbones instantly steadies the binocular and improves the view.

Thanx!


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SMark
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 08/29/11

Loc: Atlanta, GA USA
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: Mark9473]
      #5522135 - 11/15/12 11:50 PM

Quote:

I use the thumb support technique, that Kenny showed above, with my 15x60, but I'd need to be sitting down for an acceptably steady image. The main reason this works so well for me with my Docter 15X60 is that the balance point is not up front at the objectives. Large prisms do have advantages other than purely optical.

Holding technique and experience is probably the most important factor, with the binocular's shape / ergonomics / balance point / inertia a close second. Magnification is, within reason, not the main issue for me.




I think you're exactly right, Mark. My porro prism models with their oversize BaK-4 prisms are very much "back-loaded" with regard to their weight, and that makes them much easier for me to hold steady against my face. Roofs may be lighter overall, but the weight that remains is mostly out at the end with the objective lenses. With smaller sizes it likely isn't so important. But with my 50mm roof, much of the weight is out there at the end where it's not being adequately supported by my hands.


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Bob P S
member


Reged: 04/04/09

Loc: Jakarta, Indonesia
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: SMark]
      #5523566 - 11/16/12 10:35 PM

KennyJ
Quote:

(snip)This is a photo I took of fellow CN member Swedepat(alias Patric)during his visit in the summer of 2009.
(snip)



Thanks very much for posting that picture KennyJ. I will definitely try that the next time I birdwatch.

Highest magnification I can handhold is 10x, but it's not comfortable to me. 8x or 7x, I can handhold them comfortably.

dan_h
Quote:


Get an adjustable monopod. Inexpensive, lightwieght and it can be used well above 10X to end the shakes.



I'm thinking about the same solution. Fujinon 16x70 on a monopod for birdwatching. The only problem is (if it's a problem) the fuji's individual focusing mechanism would make focusing a bit slow. And it would not be a light set up for hiking.


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Jae
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 04/13/06

Loc: New England
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: SMark]
      #5524357 - 11/17/12 01:19 PM

This suggestion requires some work but I think the rewards may be surprising - your mileage may vary.

I started to change the way I do exercises by doing them in slow motion. So say you do pushups or chair / table pushups but take 10 seconds to go down and then 10 seconds to come back up. You don't need to do many before you are tired. It's similar to the slow motion Tai Chi where they move slowly and their legs are very steady.

You only need to do this max 2x a week. A complete exercise routine would take 20min. For binocular holding, you can think of what would make sense, push ups, dumbells, etc. I was amazed how much steadier all my binoculars are. I started using IS 15 years ago but now regular binoculars are fine. I even use 12x.

Just a different twist.....

Oh yes - must continously breathe during the exercise and just doing it so after 6 or 7 reps, your muscles feel somewhat exhausted with that burning feeling. 5 mins 2x week should be enough to help steady the arms. AND as they say - check with a doctor before starting any exercise program....

I meant to start a thread on it but didn't get around to it.

Jae

Edited by Jae (11/17/12 01:42 PM)


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Mapleton
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/06/09

Loc: United States
Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: Jae]
      #5528230 - 11/19/12 03:41 PM

I can hold my 15x56 Kaibabs pretty well.

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George9
sage


Reged: 12/11/04

Re: How much magnification can you hold? new [Re: Mapleton]
      #5528377 - 11/19/12 04:49 PM

There is how much it shakes, how much that annoys you, and how much extra you can see despite the shaking. For me, 7x does not show enough, 15x shows more but gets annoying, and 10x is the sweet spot of seeing a lot without noticing the shaking.

Also depends on your state of mind. If I start thinking "shaking," then even the 7x binocular seems to shake too much. If I am just looking, then 10x shaking is not particularly noticeable.

George


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