Which of these binoculars are best for my needs?
Posted 26 July 2005 - 08:52 AM
I'm hoping to get some good advice on which binoculars to purchase. I normally like to do lots of research on a new purchase, but due to my forthcoming wedding and honeymoon, I'm in a bit of a hurry so thought I'd post on here!
Ultimately I'd like to be able to use these for star/planet gazing - this is probably what I'll use them for mainly (it'll give me an idea of whether to invest in a telescope in the future sometime if I enjoy these) - but I'm also going to be using them on my honeymoon in America (doing a roadtrip)...
I want to use them for watching animals in Yosemite National Park and San Francisco coastline, gazing out from tall buildings in NYC and Vegas, sky watching and general gazing at the Grand Canyon and just having fun with them wherever I can!
I've seen these on ebay which seem like a good spec and seem like a great price:
Am I on the right track here? Will these suit my needs?
Thank you very much in advance for any assistance!
PS - I'ver actually posted this on the beginners board too as wasn't sure which board to use - happy to remove one if no double posting is allowed
Posted 26 July 2005 - 09:26 AM
Now that all of that is out of my system...buying 10x50 bins would probably be a good choice given your statements. They are all around good for astronomy and day time use. Other form members may have slightly different suggestions, but I think the 10x50 sized bin is a good choice.
Now, WHICH 10x50 bin to buy is the hard part. And it will largely be determined by your budget.
Other members will join in I'm sure to provide more help. Perhaps our UK members can give you specific advice to make a good purchase and where.
Are flying with bins easy to do given the airport security?
...and congrats on your marriage!
Posted 26 July 2005 - 09:27 AM
One question, do you need to wear eye glasses when you look through a binocular?
It is hard to go wrong with a good 8x42 roof prism binocular. You could pick one up in the U.S. An Orion 8x42 Savannah roof prism binocular should be fine. If you wanted to get a high end (expensive) binocular a nice Leica Ultravid or Zeiss FL 8x42 or 10x42 would be very nice.
All the best,
Posted 26 July 2005 - 09:45 AM
Considering your mention of potential future use of your binos for star gazing, here are a couple of suggestions.
As others have stated, stay away from the "Gimic-Glasses", the Zooms, Ruby Coated, and such often seen on eBay. Although they seem like "bargain prices", performance is not considered anywhere near that of better quality single power binos. It is also getting harder and harder to judge optic quality by the build and mechanical quality of some modern binoculars, so you would be wise to stick with the well known manufacturers which will give you a much better chance of getting a good pair. These might include some of the high-end European makes or longer established Japanese brands.
For stargazing, however, and performance to dollar cost, porro prism types will usually perform as well or better than roof prism glasses for that purpose. Two excellent examples in a decent power for your later handheld stargazing would be Fujinon 10x50 FMT-SX or Nikon 10x42 SE, or even the 12x50 Nikon SE if you are looking for a bit more power. Remember though that once you hit or exceed the 10 power range, handholding the optics for steady viewing becomes more difficult for some. If I were to pick one "best" all-around handheld bino primarily for stargazing, it would have to be the Fujinon 10x50. They are no slouch for terrestrial viewing either.
Congrats on your upcoming marriage.......
Posted 26 July 2005 - 10:11 AM
Are flying with bins easy to do given the airport security?
Had a friend bring me a 10x50 Leupold (a veeeeeery good binocular, still have to write a review on them) on his hand luggage from Washington to São Paulo and he had no trouble at all.
As for the binos mentioned, I'm very biased AGAINST any Sakura branded bino. About 5 friends bought themselves some in the past, and up to now, three of them had major problems with their binos, including one, whose bino literally fell apart after 3 or 4 months of normal use.
Happy marriage, happy star hunting!
Posted 26 July 2005 - 10:30 AM
Wow - although I want a great pair, I think that £500 is a bit out of my budget what with all the wedding expense...
I've just been looking at the NIKON 10X42 SE as recommended (£500) and did a search on eBay. I couldn't find any of these, but did find some NIKON ACTION 10x50
What are the main differences between these Nikon bins, as the price difference is huge!
I'm wondering whether it will be best to take Rich N's advice and buy a set when I arrive in New York at the beginning of my honeymoon.
Posted 26 July 2005 - 10:43 AM
1) What exactly is the difference between porro prism type bins and roof prism types? Can you tell when you are looking through a pair which type they are, and if so, what are the noticeable differences? Are these the only two types of bins?
2) I have also heard the words refractor and reflector mentioned by astronomers when choosing a telescope. Does this apply to binoculars too? Which are best?
3) Are zoom bins really to be avoided like the plague? I like the idea of being able to zoom RIGHT IN on a subject.
4) This really is a stupid one, but seeing as you're all so helpful; how exactly does the specification work? 10x50 = 10xmagnification x ?
Thanks a million!
Posted 26 July 2005 - 11:27 AM
1. A big question. The difference is the arrangement of the prisms. There are two or three different types of roof glasses. The most common is the Schmidt-Pechan and the other is Abbe-Koenig type, used in some Zeiss binoculars. Porro prism binoculars look like an "M," while roof glasses look like two straight tubes. The roof glasses cut down weight and size but cost rather more. They lend themselves to being made truly waterproof and shock resistanct. The roof prism binocular will generally have a narrower field of view but a first class, read expensive, roof prism binocular can be just as good as a Porro glass.
2. All portable binoculars are of the refracting type.
3. In general yes. Leica Duovids and some others with a small zooming range are enjoyed by some. Most have a narrow field of view.
4. Magnification x diameter, in millimeters of the front objective. From those specifications, others like exit pupil, relative brightness, and twilight factor may be deduced.
I have bought binoculars on ebay, even from the UK, but I no longer do so. Too many of the used ones, required some work, usually involving collimation, the alignment of the images to produce a single view, which is not cheap, when done properly.
I will take a clearly minority view that even a ten power binocular cannot be held steadily.
A good binocular for your U.S. trip may not be the best for astronomical observing. For astronomy, the bigger the objectives the better, but any binocular with a 50 mm. objective is going to be bulky.
You may want to buy in the U.S. In the States, local sales taxes are added to the posted price. The rate in New York City is 8.625% What is your first stop? There are good camera shops in New York, and Chicago , and sporting goods vendors all over the country. Many have web sites.
I have probably generated far more questions for you. Please note, I have recommended neither any model nor have I recommened any vendor.
Posted 26 July 2005 - 11:41 AM
Arthur pretty much answered your questions. As for the reason(s) why the SE is more expensive than the Action I am not totally sure. The quality is far far better, which had better be the case if they are THAT much more expensive.
Posted 26 July 2005 - 11:48 AM
I wish we had the time to have a chat for about THREE WEEKS !
Alas we haven't.
I wish I knew how much you were seriously willing to spend.
Basically , my advice for YOU at THIS point in time :
1. DON'T BUY FROM E -BAY
2. Don't expect to find a VERY GOOD binocular for much less than at least £250 UK minimum.
3. Don't expect to get ONE binocular that will be perfect for EVERY different type of use.
4. For a basic " starter " bino that will not be too big to carry around , which has good optics and will WOW you for around £250 -- consider a Canon 10 x 30 Image Stabilised model. It uses batteries , so get a few spare ones too.
5. If you have NOT that much to spend , consider either a Nikon Sporter 8 x 36 ( £99 from www.warehouseexpress.com )
or a Swift Ultralite 8 x 42 ( will check prices and UK availability for you as soon as I've finished this post )
6. Concentrate on an ASTRO - SPECIFIC bino AFTER your honeymoon ( most of them are too expensive or too bulky for you right now )
7. If you wear glasses -- let us know ASAP and look for a model which has generous EYE RELIEF ( at least 15mm )
8.. If you POSSIBLY can -- TRY BEFORE YOU BUY.
Oh -- and have a GREAT WEDDING and honeymoon ( both are which are far more important than a new binocular )
Regards , Kenny
Posted 26 July 2005 - 11:52 AM
First stop is New York, we land on 31st August. We're in New York for 4 days before flying to LA to start our road trip.
I think I can cope with a bulky, heavy pair of binoculars for the trip - it's important that I get the right kind for astronomical observing. I definitely don't want to go lower than 10x50, I'm pretty sure of that. I just need to find something the right price and quality in this specification.
Thanks to everyone for the fantastic response, please keep any advice/opinions/recommendations coming!
Posted 26 July 2005 - 11:54 AM
8x42 Ultra Lite - reduced
All Ultra-Lite binoculars feature lightweight bodies (21 oz.), BAK-4 prisms. Rubber coating, low interpupillary adjustment of 51 mm allowing virtually anyone to use them, padded cordura cases, wide woven cloth neckstraps, and our Lifetime Warranty. Both the 761 and the 762 Ultralite glasses have received the "Best Buy" designation from Better View Desired.
• Rubber armoured
• Magnification : 8x
• Dia : 42mm
• Weight : 620g
• Type : Porro prism
• Field of view : 115m @ 1000m
• Closest focus : 5.0m
• Eye relief : 22mm
Ultra-Lite 8x42 NOW ON OFFER - £125
THIS is also at WAREHOUSEEXPRESS.com
Posted 26 July 2005 - 11:55 AM
Kenny hit on some good points that I constantly over look, like eye relief. If you wear glasses this is important. And I would also shun you from using Ebay. I have grown to not like Ebay, but personal reasons aside, for binoculars, you definitely want to follow Kenny's #8. Try, then buy.
Posted 26 July 2005 - 12:00 PM
KennyJ - thanks so much for posting. You're pretty local to me; I'm in Cheshire!
I don't wear glasses.
Budget: I'm a sucker when it comes to gadgets/electronics/new toys, so I'll spend £250 if I have to, or $500 in NYC. I'd like to spend more but I've so much expense at the moment as I'm also moving house. But I really want to get myself a pair this summer.
I'd really like to get a pair for the honeymoon and observing the night sky, as I heard about a star party thing that you can do in the Grand Canyon - imagine the clear skies!!!! I would love my own binoculars for this as dark skies aren't that readily available near me. I think I can cope with the bulk. I'd rather get a slightly worse view from the top of the Empire State Building than jeopardize the views of the moon, planets, stars and galaxies in America and when I get home.
I'll avoid eBay - message received loud and clear!
Posted 26 July 2005 - 12:08 PM
Posted 26 July 2005 - 12:09 PM
I'm sure you COULD get yoruself some VERY good binos at a place " somewhere in New York City " for $500 US.
You New Yorkers out there -- how much are Nikon SEs there ?
PLEASE remember that for practically ANY bino above 10x magnification , you need either image stabilisation technology OR a GOOD TRIPOD and GOOD HEAD ( which together might cost half the price of a VERY good bino )
Tripods and heads and GIANT binos are NOT recommended for international travel , and especially during a HONEYMOON for Cantona's sake ! :-)
I would seriously consider the Canon 10 x 30 IS
Or perhaps a Canon 12 x 36 IS mark 2 in the US ? ( price ? )
You will always use them later , for all kinds of uses , even if you buy 6 telescopes and a 150mm Fujinon !
Posted 26 July 2005 - 12:11 PM
Hope I've helped.
P.S -- Welcome to Cloudy Nights !
Posted 26 July 2005 - 12:28 PM
you all certainly have given good advice.
Posted 26 July 2005 - 12:53 PM
Welcome to CN. Other regulars on this forum have given you excellent info. I will add this:
1. Since you are arriving NYC on 31 Aug you might consider selecting one or two models from a NYC retailer web page and pick up when you arrive.
Friend KJ has been Lamenting the high cost of optics in the UK for sometime. A year or two ago we were comparing prices of either the Nikon 12X50 SE or the Fuji 16X70 in the UK and USA. I think the cost difference was such KJ could easily consider purchasing a discount air tickett to NYC, purchsed the bino here and spend the weekend and still save money. You may want to consider shopping here:
or Here when you arrive:
both carry several hundred models. Just make sure the model you are interested is in stock. NYC camera retailer usually close for the Sabbath on Friday afternoon and Saturday but are open on Sundays.
2. The Pentax PCF WP and Nikon Action Extreme 10X50s are consider top picks as good beginner astro binos. Both are porro prisms. I take 3-4 overseas trip each year with binoculars. Since all of my business trips take me to urban locations I prefer something more compact. I think 8/10X42 roof prism binos make excellent all around travel binos. I have a pair of Leupold Windriver Olympic 12X50 Roof Prism as my high power travel bino. Some people feel 12X is too high power for handholding. Try a pair before you buy....
The Canon 12X36 IS II is worth considering too if you are thinking Image Stablized binos. It's US$ 499.95 plus 8.25% sales tax if you buy in NYC.
Posted 26 July 2005 - 01:47 PM
Welcome to CN, and *just in case* Kenny's recommendation that you will need a good head puts you in mind of a brain transplant, he's referring (I think ) to the device that will attach your binocular to the tripod. On the other hand, if I could find a good head (better brain, better looking than the one I came equipped with), for only half the price of a very good bino, I'd buy it.
Oh yes, some of us like to kid around a bit on Cloudy Nights. Don't mind us.
Posted 26 July 2005 - 02:22 PM
My friend loaned me his Canon 10X30 IS for serveral weeks a few years ago. The optics are very sharp and the size is compact. However, I am quite comfortable holding 10X42 and 12X50 binos so a 15X50 or 18X50 IS make more sense if I am going with IS binos. Each person is different.
I recommend going to a retail store and try holding 8X32, 8X42 and 10X50 binos to see which one you prefer. Also think about how you'd feel carrying that bino in you backpack with book, travel kit, snacks on a 24 hour international flight connecting thru 4 different airports, carrying one around your neck on a two hour hike, etc....There is no "best" bino for every application. That's why I have a dozen+. ;-))
Posted 26 July 2005 - 02:37 PM
The 10 x 42 SE is $799 US plus the 8.3% state tax.at both of the NY shops.
From Warehouse in the UK the same model is £479UK inclusive , with the 12 x 50 SE now also available at £499
I'm not sure of today's pound to dollar exchange figure , but when one considers having to find and travel to the NY store etc. , on the face of it , not THAT much difference there !
Posted 26 July 2005 - 02:47 PM
Allow me to offer a bit of a dissenting opinion. (Please note: the following is my subjective wisdom. Your mileage may vary!) I use 10x70 binoculars for stargazing and all'round day duty. They're Fujinons that I ordered from Oberwerk. Set me back less than $600 shipped. In my personal, subjective opinion - these are lightweight, easy to hand-hold well with a few nights' practice, and the 70mm optics give me the light grasp I want. While smaller objective sizes are more portable - if you intend to use these at night a lot, the light grasp (and the top-shelf optics of the Foojes) is a major feature. Maaajor.
And the 10x70s fit my definition of "packable" in terms of size and durability. If you're road tripping, they'll be nice to have on the dashboard ... for the passenger, of course...
Using such binos to explore the night sky is just about as much fun as I can have with my clothes on. (Append honeymoon humor HERE)
One other bit of Free Advice while I'm on a roll.
Do try to plan your stay in Yosemite when there's not much moon. The skies from Yo Valley are astoundingly dark if the weather plays nice. Of course, in California we reserve the term "weather" for the anomalies!
I am two hours from Yosemite. If ya'd like to meet me and my 20x100s, I'm sure that can be arranged for a remarkably modest fee ...
The Fujis are porro prism binos. I have no real experience with roof prism designs. Please apply appropriate Poster Ignorance Corrector.
Posted 26 July 2005 - 03:56 PM
I have no doubt that Fujinon 10 x 70 FMT SX is a truly GREAT bino.
Runnin the risk of sounding contrary , jaded , cynical , and even non - helpful to a " newbie " , I have one or two reservations about recommending this model as a first purchase for a buyer who only 3 hours ago had to ask questions such as " what the numbers mean " and what was meant by Porro and Roof prisms etc etc etc.
I could be wrong , but I'm not sure that Steve or anyone else new to the hobby would expect ( or be overly delighted about ) a hand -held binocular having a weight of close to FIVE POUNDS !
Also , although a 7mm exit -pupil bino might be pure bliss in the darker areas on the US for a couple of weeks stay ,I cannot imagine it being necessary in the suburbs of light - polluted Cheshire for the remaining few thousand weeks of the man's life !
Make no mistake , I LOVE larger exit -pupil binos myself , my two current favourites having 6mm and 7mm respectively , and I would LOVE to own a Fujinon 10 x 70 FMT SX , probably more so than the 16 x 70 ( due to eye relief )-- and I know that our friend Steve could do MUCH MUCH worse than get himself one of these for " less than $600 shipped "
In some respects , for some people , that COULD be THE best bargain currently available in astro - binos .
But if I DID find myself with one , it would sure as anything be mounted on my Manfrotto tripod and 501 Bogen head before I could say " Jack Robinson ".
Still , variety is the spice of life , and I am thrilled that a newbie has received such a lot of help and suggestions from so many caring members.
Regards , Kenny
Posted 26 July 2005 - 04:12 PM
I am making " eye - relief " comments based on several specification lists I've seen which list the 10 x 70 FMT SX has having 23mm of eye -relief ( same as the 7 x 50 )
The 16 x 70 is now stated from at least one source to have only 12.4mm eye -relief , which would be too short for me and MY glasses.
Surprisingly , there is no mention of this by EdZ in his CN mini -review 10 x 70 v 16 x 70 comparo ( in which the two models are described as being " almost the same " apart from exit - pupil and magnification.
Ed's is , also surprisingly , the ONLY representation of this model in the CN review section.