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I'm a beginner who needs help choosing a binocular

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#1 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 01:09 AM

I just started getting serious about astronomy a couple of weeks ago. I don't have a telescope, and at this point don't intend to for around one year. I started with a pair of oberwerk 22x100mm binoculars. I veiw them as the best binoculars I could possibly buy at a reasonable price (If I'm wrong please let me know). I had already known that a 7-10x50mm or similer binocular would be the best way to start, but I wanted to have more fun. Even so I decided I might like to have a 'hand-holdable' pair. Since I was on a budget I thought I would buy a bigger pair than everyone else and be better off than people who spend $500 on a good 50mm pair. I had already been looking at the Oberwerk 15x70mm and these seemed to be just about the max possible holdable binoculars. They haven't arrived quite yet, but I already think I should get a third pair. This time I want to go with the classic size of 7-10x50mm. It seems that the best pair possible of 7x50mm binoculars is the Fujinon Polaris 7x50mm.

As I'm just a bigginer, I'm not too great at estimating sky magnitudes, but I would say mine are a little over 5 with my eyesight, and I expect to improve. I know that a slightly higher magnification would probably be better, but I figure that's what I have with my 15x70mm. I want to have the best available. I'm 17, so I think the big exit pupil size will be good, and even if I don't always take full advantage of it, it will be nice to have the 'best' for use under very dark skies. Plus the wider FoV is helpful.

Is the improvement in this pair over similer sizes too small to spend twice as much for, since I'm only a bigginer? I'm willing to pay an extra $100 just to have the best basic astronomy binocular, but if I have to spend $600 I'm not sure it will be worth it. There's a chance I can get a used pair for $400. They are seven years old. Assuming they are in perfect condition, is there any difference between the used pair and a new one do to age? If anything at all has been changed, I'd rather just get a new one, but I don't know if in seven years the binocular model has been improved.

Here's how I got to this point. I thought the Nikon Action 10x50mm would be nice, but then decided I might as well get a better pair. Now I'm excited about owning the 'best' and also plan on buying the 16x70 fujinon or similer before I get a telescope. I don't really have the money to buy this, it will take a few months to save up. But I don't really have any use for money, other than buying other astronomical instruments. So I just need to know if this is a good way to spend my money. Plus, if I ever want to sell them, they should go faily close to what I buy them for right?

Please let me know if any of my assuptioms are incorrect, and what you think I should do: buy these, or get a pair for a few hundread less, and save the rest. Thanks.

#2 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 02:00 AM

Daniel

Go to this site and read the binocular reviews. Check out his rcomendations at hte end. Then pick the highest quality pair you can afford. When in doubt a 10x50 pair would seem to be the best all around, keep forever, size.

#3 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 01:46 PM

Thanks for the help. I'll need to wait for my 15x70's to arrive(Monday), but if I find that I can easily hold them without a tripod, all I will need is a pair of binoculars that have a wider field of view right? The only reason 7x50/10x50 are so popular is because they're considered the max holdable binoculars right? I like the Oberwerk 12x60 binoculars for this(I would prefere the 11x70's, but for some reason the field of view is smaller). So, my question is: if I can hold two pairs of binoculars equaly steady, one 12x60mm, the other 7x50/10x50 are the different FoVs the only difference? And is the 5.7*(Probably less) FoV enough to complement my 4* 15x70's, or should I get something in the range of 8x42 for a huge FoV? 12x60's seem to have the best FoV for anything of their size, but is this true? And if you think 12x60 is a good choice, are the Oberwerks good enough, or should I look at another brand?

I measured my 22x100mm at 2.8* FoV incase it makes any difference.

#4 EdZ

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 02:50 PM

Given equal quality:

You would be able to see nearly 0.75 magnitude fainter with 12x60 vs 8x42, mostly due to the increase in magnification.

Likewise, you would be able to see nearly 0.75 magnitude fainter with 12x60 vs 7x50, mostly due to the increase in magnification.

You would be able to see almost 0.5 magnitude fainter with 12x60 vs 10x50, again mostly due to the increase in magnification.

For low light diffuse extended objects, the 7x50s will excel because of their larger exit pupil. All the others 8x42 (5.25), 10x50 (5.0) and 12x60 (5.0) have equivalent exit pupil.

You will gain a full magnitude or more by mounting ANY binocular. I've tested more than a dozen of all sizes from 7x35 up to 20x80. Every single one shows more when mounted.

I can't imagine hand holding 15x70 binoculars. It's not the weight, it's the magnification. Stars are going to be jumping around like fire-flies.

A 5.7° fov will show twice as much sky area as a 4° fov.

The 15x70s are going to be hard to beat, but the Oberwerk 12x60 I understand is a pretty good binocular.

edz




#5 KennyJ

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 02:52 PM

Hi Daniel,

The Oberwerk 12 x 60s do have an exceptionally wide TFOV at 5.7 degrees --but I'm told they are uncomfortably heavy to hand -hold .

Also , don't think that even 10x binos are easy to hold steady , regardless of their weight , size or quality.

Even if you THINK you can hold 10x steady -- you'll see much more if you mount them.

You have a mount and young eyes with wide pupils , and a desire for top quality and flat -field,so why not consider the Fujinon 10 x 70 FMT SX ? --this one seems to get by-passed a lot in discussions of that excellent series but those who own them are usually thrilled with them.

Alternatively perhaps you would enjoy an occasional change from higher -powered tripod / mounted bino viewing and may well enjoy something that is truly hand -holdable.

The Fuji 7 x 50s are very highly rated as you say , but are hardly wide -field ( around 50 degree AFOV )and are quite heavy really, but still probably one to keep on your short-list.Some changes were made to that model about 2 -3 years ago but I don't believe it amounted to much.

Surprisingly ( to me at least ) the 10 x 50 Fuji introduced in 2002 doesn't seem to have "taken off"

If you do decide to go this way my advice is to narrow this list down to "truly hand -holdables" and take it from there.

Think 7x to 8.5 x power and no larger than 50mm.

Remember that most of the VERY best binos out there in addition to Fujinon are probably certain models from Leica ,Nikon,Swarovksi and Zeiss but if these are out of your intended price range then there is another list that includes :Canon ,Celestron ,Kahles ,Kowa ,Minox,Opticron,
Pentax and Swift , to name but eight manufacturers that spring to mind , all of which make binoculars in this specification range that are likley more than adequate.

Good Luck with your choice -- Kenny







#6 EdZ

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 02:59 PM

Hi Kenny,

I just purchased a used pair of 10x70 Fujis. They haven't arrived yet. I thought I'd get something with the largest exit pupil feasible to include in my next round of Lim mag tests. As Ed Ting says, The 10x70 Fujinons are in a class all their own.

edz

#7 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 05:37 PM

Thanks very much for your help EdZ and KennyJ! It seems that picking a good basic hand-held pair of binoculars is going to be my hardest decision yet. Given so many options, I think I'll spend a little longer on this choice than my others, and try to find stores that have them, so I can test them first. I definitely won't go over 8.5 magnification and 50mm aperture without first testing it in person.

I'm going to test how well I can hold different sizes/magnifications, knowing that no matter what I choose, using my mount will still be a very big help when I can. Then buy the highest magnification and aperture that I can comfortably use which still has a reasonable FoV and exit pupil.

I like the 10x70 fujinon, but I'm afraid that they'd be too hard to handhold, which is what I want this time. I might be able to though, I'll have to see.

Thanks again for all of your help, I'll be sure to let you know what I decide to get.

#8 KennyJ

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 06:07 PM

Thanks for the prompt acknowledgment Daniel.

You sound as if you are already remarkably "on the button" for one so young .

Due to your general approach ,thirst for knowledge and appreciation of patience, I shall be very surprised if you will be dissapointed with whatever you decide upon.

Keep in touch --Kenny.

#9 wilash

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Posted 05 December 2003 - 11:49 PM

What about a pair of 10X50 porro prism binos and then a 80mm Chinese refractor (Celestron spotting scope, Orion short tube) a little later. The 10X50s you will be able to use for life and the perfect complement to a scope. The 80mm refractor will show you more and you can start collecting eyepieces for your "perfect" scope.

I started with 20X80 Vixen binoculars and then bought a Chinese 80mm refractor. I wish I got the refractor first. With that I could see the phases of Venus, as well as Saturn and Jupiter. I had fine views of the double cluster, Orion nebula, and many other fine DSOs. The fixed magnification of the binoculars were limiting. I mostly use 7X50 and 10X42 binos now, both at the scope and for a quick look.

Now you can get 10X50 porros and and 80mm f/5 refractor with a few nice eyepieces for less than a pair of Fujis. The difference in optical quality between good and excellent binos are much closer than you think. Very experienced observers can (sometimes) appriciate the fine views great optics can bring. But like an appreciation of fine wines, this is not something beginners notice. The 80mm refractor is not exactly the final word in optical quality, but they were a hell of a lot more satisfying than the Vixen 20X80s. The 80mm refractor can be used on a photo tripod at the beginning. Then you can start the long road to collect the space junk most of us collect - mount, eyepieces, scope, eyepieces, diagonal, eyepieces, atlases, and eyepieces.

I decided to buy my OTA and mount separately because most of the packages did not look very good - low price, but you get what you pay for. I ended up with a Takahashi EQ mount and a Russian 5" Mak. I still use the 80mm refractor. I mount it side by side with the Mak for low power views. I seldom use the 20x80s. But I do use the other two binos often.

Now one of the secrets of the bionocular market is that most of them are manuafactured by few companies you have never heard of like Kamakura. But you have seen them with the Nikon, Olmypus, Pentax, Vixen, and Orion name on them. Usually, only the really expensive models from Nikon and Fuji are made by the manufacturer. If you get a pair from a major "manufacturer," they will be good.

#10 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 06 December 2003 - 08:40 PM

Thanks for the complement Kenny.


wilash,

I was thinking of getting the Meade ETX-90 with UHTC coating and the $99 eyepiece set when I feel I'm ready to start using a telescope. Do you think I should get a spotting scope even if I'm going to get this soon? This seems to be pretty close to what you were suggesting except that it's f/14, if all this does is make the field of view smaller, I think I can stand it. And then get something around 8 inch for a small f value later.

Right now I'm seriously considering getting the Fujinon 10x70mm binoculars. The weight probably won't be a problem (I like heavier binoculars), but I'm waiting for my Oberwerk 15x70's to arrive, so I can compare the size to a 50mm and also make a more accurate weight test. After your post it seems I need to decide whether I want to get a slightly better pair of binoculars, or a pair of binoculars and a small telescope/spotting scope. I'm excited about using higher magnifications, but am not in any great hurry, so I think I would prefer to get a more expensive one now (I eventually would anyway, so this will end up saving me money) and the small scope later.



I'm assuming that the fujinon are the same size as 70mm oberwerk, but I'll be sure to check first. If anyone here knows how they compare in size please let me know. My decision is going to be based heavily on my impressions of the 15x70's I ordered. I now know that I can hold 10x steady enough, but these will give me a good estimate at the max magnification I can hold.

Also, I've been wondering about something lately, so if anyone can answer me, please do. Why does the object I'm looking at through my binoculars go out of the FoV when I adjust the tripod height? It seems like changing the height only a few feet shouldn't make any noticible difference. I haven't thought deeply on this, so if it's a 'stupid' question, that's why.

#11 wilash

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Posted 06 December 2003 - 09:19 PM

What is your expectations with the binoculars? What do you think they will show you? What are your sky conditions (Where do you live - in a city, in the country)?

Try out the Oberworks for a while. And see if they show you what you want. You will also find out about hand holding instruments. Most people can hold a pair of binoculars to look at the horizon for a few moments quite steadily. However, when pointing them into the sky for five on ten minutes, fatigue can be a very different story. This can be improved with practice and age and physical conditions are an important factor. Even what you eat can be important - coffee gives me the shakes. Also, a nice deck chair will make this easier as well as more comfortable.

Binoculars are fun, but telescopes are the primary astronomy tool (and more satisfying). When I'm at the scope, I use the binoculars for a quick search. At other times, they are just used for quick peeks - sky conditions are not great here and the binos remind me there are still stars out there.

No, you do not need the spotting scope. I just thought for the money you will spend on the Fujis, an inexpensive binoculars and spotting scope are more satisfying and will give you greater exposure to the sky. I found my 20X80s limiting. I had and still have a lot of fun with the spotting scope. By simply being able to change the magnification, I can see so much more. (Using a diagonal is much more comportable as well.)

About the f-number, that has to do with image brightness/exit pupil. The focal length is related to FOV. A 10" f/5 scope and my 5" f/10 Mak will have the same FOV as your soon to be ETX. The exit pupils for any given eyepiece will be bigger in the other scopes - local length of the eyepiece divided by the focal ratio of the scope.

You last question is simple. When you change the height of the tripod, the direction of the binoculars has changed. Not the vertical shift which has no real affect, you have simply moved the direction the binoculars are pointing. We you look at your tripod it may not appear that way, but even binoculars have a narrow FOV. Just try doing that with a telescope.

#12 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 06 December 2003 - 09:59 PM

Oh, I see. Thanks for clearing up the difference between focal length and f-number. I don't know why I thought it would make a smaller FoV, but now I remember reading about what it does. Also thanks for answering my tripod question.

My skies aren't great (around 5 magnitude, but my eyesight is very good, so maybe the binoculars would perform worse here then they would at a place for someone with worse eyesight who also said they had 5 magnitude skies?), I'm expecting them to work at about the same level as a high quality 10x50 pair. But I like that when I can get to a dark site, they will be much better. If I can get almost as much out of a nice 10x50 for a lot less, I would be willing to. I had just assumed that it was better to use binoculars for a while so that I get more familiar with the sky. And if that was the case, I can afford the most expensive.

But it seems like you think I should get a nice 10x50 for a little over $100 and then get the telescope. I'd definitely be happy to do that, I was worried that I wouldn't really be doing myself a favor in the long run. So if you give me the 'go ahead' that's what I'll do.

Thanks for all of your help.

#13 EdZ

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Posted 06 December 2003 - 10:40 PM

I'm going to test how well I can hold different sizes/magnifications, knowing that no matter what I choose, using my mount will still be a very big help when I can.
I like the 10x70 fujinon, but I'm afraid that they'd be too hard to handhold, which is what I want this time.


Fujinons are heavy. The 10x70s are the exact same size as the 16x70s 4.75#. But if you know you can handhold weighty binocs easily, they may be no problem. Shake is much less visible at 10x than in a 16x binoc.

I can't even hand hold 2# 12x50s without shake. I never use 15x70s hand held.

edz

#14 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 06 December 2003 - 10:55 PM

Thanks EdZ. Also, since you have both the Oberwerk and Fujinon can you tell me if the body is the same size(length by width by height). I want to know so that if I decide I can hold something that heavy (I'm going to hang a 2 lb. weight on my oberwerks, and see how well I can hold them), I will know how big they are to hold with my hands.

Also, what do you think I should do as a beginner: get a high quality pair of binoculars or get a good pair and a portable telescope?

#15 EdZ

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 08:31 AM

This will annswer any questions you have about the differences between 15x70 Oberwerks and 16x70 Fujinons. Fujinons are bigger.
http://www.cloudynig...iews/4way-2.htm


A big part of the ability to hand hold binocs is the balance of the weight in the hands. You'll never be able to duplicate that feeling with a hanging weight.

edz

#16 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 05:07 PM

Thanks for the link EdZ. Very useful.

My 15x70 Oberwerk binoculars just arrived a little over 15 minutes ago. I ordered them from Optics Planet (free shipping). I was a little worried when I opened the package as there were very few pieces of foam to protect it (the black oberwerk cardboard binocular box they come in was in a bigger one that had maybe 100 of the small '8' shaped foam pieces), fortunately collumination seems to be good enough for me. I tested these outside for a little while, but first let me just say that these are much smaller than I imagined after looking at several 50mm binoculars in stores (even after reading EdZ's reserch where he stated that holding these is very close to holding 50's). I was expecting these to be much bigger for some reason, probably this is due to my 100mm's.

There aren't many clouds out, so I'll be able to do some real testing in several hours. The AFoV is huge, I really wouldn't need any more than this. Just using them now while looking horizontal I don't have any trouble holding them steady enough (I can easily hold them with only one hand!), but I'll need to wait for it to get darker before I know. I have several other things to say, but I'll wait until I can actually test them out. So far I'm VERY, VERY impressed with these!

#17 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 09 December 2003 - 12:07 AM

I went about 30 minutes out of town for more fun, but the sky wasn't nearly as clear as it has been the last few days (the moon was also annoying, and I can't even look at it without fear of burning out my eyes), so I was somewhat dissapointed. I was able to hand hold my 15x70's decently enough. I'm sure it wouldn't be good enough for more serious observers such as yourselves though. Also, for some reason I forgot to mention that I do most of my viewing on my roof (lying down). I went up for 15 minutes just a while ago to see how well I can hold them, and it was very good. Overall I'm very pleased with these, and am now looking at the 12x60's as a good option again. That way I can have a slightly steadier view and big FoV, but still have a nice magnification. My arms did indeed get tired and I was taking breaks regulary, so I think this is pretty close to the perfect weight for me. I'm going to use these a few more days until I decide, but those 12x60 oberwerks look much nicer now that I have these.

Thanks for all of the help everyone! Because of your advice I waited longer so I could do some testing, and now I will make a much better choice than I otherwise would have. I'm going to use these a few days first (they're so good!) just to make sure, but I think a bigger FoV will be useful. I may also buy a blow-up raft, or something similer to lay on for the times that I do travel to other places as I seem to be a bit steadier while lying down. I also bought a tripod adapter from big binocular, but it's taking a few days for them to ship it. Thanks for taking the time to help me again, I really appreciate it. Now I'm going to start eating more carrots and save up for a nice telescope.


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