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Odd request: small, light, inexpensive but still adequate binos

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#1 Sleestax

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 12:45 AM

Odd request as per the topic title.  Family member is staffing a wilderness therapy program in a back-country backpacking camp site in the American southwest. By her report, incredible night skies with horizon-to-horizon Milky Way. She would love to be able to incorporate some bino astronomy as an activity for the kids -- most of whom are troubled and hail from metro areas. She needs some small, light-weight binos that she can toss in her already-too-heavy pack -- and ones that are not so precious that passing them around to inexperienced teens would be anxiety-provoking. Back in the day, I might have thought Nikon Venturer II's, or even smaller.  Obviously 50mm and probably even 35mm objectives are out, weight-wise.

 

This group may be too sophisticated for this type of request -- would probably need to be plastic housing with decent lens caps -- but still good optics and pretty durable.

 

I'm also thinking a small plastic planisphere and red LED light (staff are discouraged from using phones, etc.)  She's had very little astronomy exposure, apart from our few dark-site vacations and camping trips.  Oh, and the two comets I showed her when she was < a year old but doesn't remember :)



#2 hallelujah

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 12:58 AM

https://www.bhphotov...ASAAEgI5NvD_BwE

 

8.2 degree FOV


Edited by hallelujah, 22 July 2019 - 11:51 AM.

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#3 B 26354

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 01:46 AM

Bought my great-nephew a pair of these, but had them sent to me first, so I could check them out:

 

https://www.amazon.c...k/dp/B004KM82GS

 

Very solid rubberized-metal-body construction, and surprisingly sharp. Weight is 11oz.

 

I initially ordered a plastic set of 8x25s for him. Absolutely worthless. Don't do it.

 

For astro use, you might consider the 8x42 version of the Outlands. Although they're 22oz... they're only $10 more.

 

Small Planisphere and red LED light would be very useful. waytogo.gif


Edited by B 26354, 22 July 2019 - 01:53 AM.

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#4 Foss

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 10:28 AM

I'd recommend the Oberwerk 6.5×32 LW. Excellent 8° field of view. 


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#5 ihf

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 11:09 AM

I think you want the lowest magnification possible:

1) No reason to waste pristine skies with anything less than 7mm exit pupil. This ain't your big city light pollution anymore.

2) The kids don't have training to hold high magnification. Especially they won't be able to correlate the different image scales (unmagnified/magnified) if all they see is a few white dots in the bino.

So something like 2.1x42, 2.3x40, 4x30, 5x25 or at most 6x. Search for "constellation" binos.


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#6 hallelujah

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 11:49 AM

I'd recommend the Oberwerk 6.5×32 LW. Excellent 8° field of view. 

+1 waytogo.gif

 

https://oberwerk.com...ght-binoculars/

 

Stan



#7 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 04:33 PM

+1 for the Oberwerk 6.5x32, at just over 1 lb. and $69.95, and being waterproof is a nice plus.

 

The Oberwerk 8x32 HD Sport is only an ounce or two heavier, a little more compact, but more expensive at $139.95.


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#8 Sleestax

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 06:08 PM

My thanks to all -- those are all terrific suggestions! 

 

The Oberwerk 6.5x32 seems ideal (wide FOV, big EP, long ER, waterproof, integrated lens caps!) but might be heavy in a pack at 17 oz. Pentax Papilio II is lighter but seems like this forum does not love them for astronomy -- I guess the name gives that away. The 2.1x42mm clones -- Vixen and Omegon -- sound totally cool but they're spendy, hard to pass around without fingers on the objectives, and I'm guessing there's a learning curve to individually focus each "telescope." Diving down this rabbit-hole, I also found the inauspiciously-named Fuji Glimpz 5x21mm -- not a lot of info on those but certainly low-stakes.

 

I'm really impressed how few low-power binoculars there are out there.  I guess it's all about the "power"!  :)



#9 pat in los angeles basin

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 06:21 PM

If you have found the fuji glimpz (which is discontinued, I think), take a look at visionking 5x25- the glimpz has a 9.3 degree FOV, the visionking is much wider.(12.5/13??) Reviews however are a mixed bag, most seem to think they are worth the price of admission.I have a glimpz that stays in the backpack. The one caveat I have on the 5x glimpz is the limited diopter adjust. If one  eye is much more than 1 diopter different than the other, there's no further adjustment available. I solved the problem  by carving the stop adjust to allow more variation. Most peep don't like to take sharp xacto knife to their new toy, but it didn't bother me in the least... Regards, Pat


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#10 ihf

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 07:10 PM

To save weight maybe use a single Nikon TC-E2/E3 teleconverter lens? When I bought mine they were about USD 30 shipped from eBay:

https://www.cloudyni...idefield-binos/


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#11 edwincjones

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 04:12 AM

I would not use the compact binoculars with kids-harder to use

32mm size better with lower mag and wider FOV

 

edj


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#12 B 26354

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 09:13 AM

Ran across these yesterday:

 

https://www.amazon.c...B01MYF5RDI?th=1

 

6X30, 8-degree FOV, 50-70mm IPD, 18.5mm eye relief, 17oz.

 

Liked 'em so much, I ordered a pair.


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#13 pat in los angeles basin

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 09:45 AM

Ran across these yesterday:

 

https://www.amazon.c...B01MYF5RDI?th=1

 

 

 

Now how the heck does a Leupold porro advert end up having "phase coated prisms" in it? 

                                                                                                               Regards, Pat


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#14 pat in los angeles basin

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 09:47 AM

Let me correct myself (definitely not the  1st time !) - amazon/ leupold advert.........                     Regards, Pat


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#15 Binojunky

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 09:49 AM

The Yosemite 6x30 or one of the many clones out there, Oberwerk, Kowa, Bushnell to name three, D.


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#16 Foss

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 10:59 AM

If 6x30 +/- are off the board due to weight, this < 10 oz compact with 8.2° FOV would appear very intriguing.

Also, major props for your family member's work with disadvantaged children.


Edited by Foss, 23 July 2019 - 11:01 AM.

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#17 Sleestax

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 11:47 AM

I did come across that 6x30 Leupold -- i wouldn't mind one for myself (!) but too heavy, imo, for the present needs of tucking into an overloaded backcountry pack.  Plus, I'd really miss that *extra* 2mm of aperture that Oberwerk squeezes into the same weight and form factor.  :)

 

I'm also looking into that 2X teleconverter approach for maximum space-saving -- thanks!



#18 jrbarnett

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 12:39 PM

Odd request as per the topic title.  Family member is staffing a wilderness therapy program in a back-country backpacking camp site in the American southwest. By her report, incredible night skies with horizon-to-horizon Milky Way. She would love to be able to incorporate some bino astronomy as an activity for the kids -- most of whom are troubled and hail from metro areas. She needs some small, light-weight binos that she can toss in her already-too-heavy pack -- and ones that are not so precious that passing them around to inexperienced teens would be anxiety-provoking. Back in the day, I might have thought Nikon Venturer II's, or even smaller.  Obviously 50mm and probably even 35mm objectives are out, weight-wise.

 

This group may be too sophisticated for this type of request -- would probably need to be plastic housing with decent lens caps -- but still good optics and pretty durable.

 

I'm also thinking a small plastic planisphere and red LED light (staff are discouraged from using phones, etc.)  She's had very little astronomy exposure, apart from our few dark-site vacations and camping trips.  Oh, and the two comets I showed her when she was < a year old but doesn't remember smile.gif

Not cheap, but good:

 

https://www.bhphotov...6x32.html/specs

 

8.1 degree FOV, long eye relief (19mm), waterproof/fogproof, 12.9 oz, 4.6"x3.9" dimensions, made in Japan.

 

Alas, $300 though.

 

For cheap, but maybe not as good:

 

https://www.bhphotov...lack.html/specs

 

8 degree FOV, long eye relief (20mm), waterproof/fogproof, 16.5 oz, 6.3"x4.5" dimensions.

 

A more reasonable $100.

 

Best,

 

Jim


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#19 Sleestax

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 04:42 PM

Not cheap, but good:

 

https://www.bhphotov...6x32.html/specs

 

...

 

For cheap, but maybe not as good:

 

https://www.bhphotov...lack.html/specs

Two good suggestions -- thank you! $100 is my (mental) max -- it's a gift but I don't want her to feel they're too precious to use or share.

 

So my 5x21 Fujifilm Glimpz arrived.  Amazingly light and small -- and the one eye that worked seemed quite sharp. And I love the hand-held stability of 5X over 8X -- really made a difference.  Alas, the other image was undermagnified and rotated 45 degrees (and the prism was rattling around inside the housing!). So kind of a no-go :).  These were sold as "new" but may have been returns.  Oddly, they were just shipped in a flimsy vinyl case in a big bubble-pack envelope so who knows what happened in transit. Another copy might be fine but the first good knock inside the pack or out could do them in so I'd hate to risk it.

 

Back to the drawing board.  I may go with the Kowa or Oberwerk if they're not too big and heavy for the backpack, where every ounce counts.

 

I'm realizing the ER is important -- contacts, if kids or staff wear them, are typically left at home since it's dusty and there's no running water. I guess I'm making this sound like prison but it's not -- it's mostly just getting kids off the grid and into nature and they enjoy it.


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#20 ihf

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 09:34 PM

I think the problem is that you want too lightweight. Even if your budget wasn't restricted it is really hard to get lightweight and usable binos. If you can accept 500g-600g then there are many usable binos in your price range. Say one of the mentioned 6.5x32 can be had for under USD 50 as the Eagle Optics Kingbird. Or the VisionKing 5x25 for USD 55. Everything else lightweight is pretty much crap. Getting a decent bino for night use that weighs less than 300g and contains prisms (=weight and expense) is currently even on unlimited budget pretty much impossible. If you insist on low weight try opera glasses (but the view will be narrower than their constellation cousins). Or go straight to a pound of weight and check out Bushnell Spectator 4x30 for USD 50-ish (focus, which may be fine with kids).


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#21 sjbolton

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 10:44 PM

Pentax UP 8x25

I spent time a few years ago to find a great affordable pair of binos for someone. These Pentax were a sweet spot of every feature and so good I got my own too even though I have small Leicas. These outperform my Leicas annoyingly and the price was dirt cheap. There is nothing I can find wrong with them, they are just not "best possible" at any one task, but a king of jack-of-all trades. You will be hard pressed to find something that performs at your eyes for the same price. I wanted something lightweight I could chuck in a bag as grab and go so I dont care about the body getting scratched. The optics are super sharp and crisp with no hint of fringing at all. Fantastic day or night I cant recommend them enough. There is a water proof version too but much higher price and at that price point may no longer be best choice.
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#22 jrbarnett

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Posted 29 July 2019 - 07:46 PM

Two good suggestions -- thank you! $100 is my (mental) max -- it's a gift but I don't want her to feel they're too precious to use or share.

 

So my 5x21 Fujifilm Glimpz arrived.  Amazingly light and small -- and the one eye that worked seemed quite sharp. And I love the hand-held stability of 5X over 8X -- really made a difference.  Alas, the other image was undermagnified and rotated 45 degrees (and the prism was rattling around inside the housing!). So kind of a no-go smile.gif.  These were sold as "new" but may have been returns.  Oddly, they were just shipped in a flimsy vinyl case in a big bubble-pack envelope so who knows what happened in transit. Another copy might be fine but the first good knock inside the pack or out could do them in so I'd hate to risk it.

 

Back to the drawing board.  I may go with the Kowa or Oberwerk if they're not too big and heavy for the backpack, where every ounce counts.

 

I'm realizing the ER is important -- contacts, if kids or staff wear them, are typically left at home since it's dusty and there's no running water. I guess I'm making this sound like prison but it's not -- it's mostly just getting kids off the grid and into nature and they enjoy it.

Howdy.

 

If the binoculars have screw-down eye cups, and relatively short ER, most glasses wearers will still have room to view.  Also young glasses wearers (moreso than older ones) will have great visual accommodation such that many of their optical problems can actually be compensated or even corrected by focusing and adjusting the diopter to balance imbalanced eyes.  That means even kids that wear glasses (I was one of 'em) might not need their glasses when they use binoculars (I didn't).

 

The other poster's point was a good one.  I'd summarize it as:

 

Good.  Cheap.  Lightweight. Pick any two.  :grin:  That is, you won't find all three together.

 

If I was going to compromise on one of the three, I'd take on a little extra weight and volume (I'm an avid backpacker) to gain good image quality at a lo price.

 

This is a great astronomy binocular for sharing:

 

https://www.bhphotov...culon_a211.html

 

Under $70.  Big 8.3 degree FOV.  Brightness and 3-dimensionality of Porro prisms.  Medium ER (11.8mm).  Screw down eye cups.

 

The downside is size and weight:  7.3" x 4.6" and 1.55#.

 

I also don't find your request "odd" at all.  A bunch of us are hunting for that elusive good, cheap and light binocular.  :)

 

Best,

 

Jim   


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#23 B 26354

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Posted 30 July 2019 - 11:13 AM

Some follow-up to my post (#12), regarding the Leupold BX-1 Yosemite 6x30 Binocular.

 

1) Terrible, flimsy, wobbly, loose-fitting eyecups that do not retain their position, and move inward at the slightest touch.

 

2) Super-stiff right-eye diopter-ring that I was barely able to sufficiently position to match my requirement, due to its limited range of adjustment. My eyeglass prescription is quite mild.

 

3) Very stiff focus.

 

4) Major lens flare with bright stars, Jupiter, and Saturn... even when positioned dead-center.

 

Disappointing, to say the least. I've returned them.

 

I've been using binoculars for astronomical and terrestrial viewing for more than six decades. Small binocs with 21mm-25mm objectives are fine for terrestrial use... but even under astonishingly dark skies (SE Utah wilderness), my pinpoint-sharp Nikon Diplomat 10x25s just didn't produce a satisfactorily-bright image for stargazing. But other than those, the minimum aperture I've used for stargazing has always been at least 50mm... so I thought I'd give the wide-angled-view 6x30 Leupolds a try.

 

In the mag 5.3 skies where I live, M7 was not at all spectacular, M22 was "visible", and M8 was undetectable. M13 was barely there... and at 2am, M31 was invisible, while being very apparent in the Zeiss 10x50s.

 

My conclusion then, is that 35mm would probably be the absolute minimum aperture necessary to give your family member a decent chance of showing her backpacking charges something about which they'd become excited. Being a lifelong wilderness backpacker myself, the size/weight issues to which Mr Barnett alludes with the Nikon 7x35s are real... but I'm thinking that the views they'd provide would be worth the trouble.

 

Now if I could just find a pair of high-end 5x50s....

 


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#24 ihf

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Posted 30 July 2019 - 11:18 PM

On third thought may I kindly suggest that it is hard to wow kids with some cheap, mediocre optics? Even high end I think it is hard and requires interest. I have not tried very often though, but I have tried.

 

I think what does wow them is to install SkySafari etc on their Apple phones/pads (I think those usually have better callibrated gyros than Android) and use those in augmented reality mode. Then each can zoom on their screen into the planets and Messier objects and enjoy the sky at high resolution/magnification that way. Weight: zero, cost zero. In my experience lots of wow.


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#25 Cajundaddy

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Posted 30 July 2019 - 11:46 PM

On third thought may I kindly suggest that it is hard to wow kids with some cheap, mediocre optics? Even high end I think it is hard and requires interest. I have not tried very often though, but I have tried.

 

I think what does wow them is to install SkySafari etc on their Apple phones/pads (I think those usually have better callibrated gyros than Android) and use those in augmented reality mode. Then each can zoom on their screen into the planets and Messier objects and enjoy the sky at high resolution/magnification that way. Weight: zero, cost zero. In my experience lots of wow.

Reasonable enough points except the focus of this wilderness therapy camp is precisely to get these kids off their phones, off the apps, off the game boys, and connect with nature, trees, stars, and people face to face.  Very different objectives.

 

To the TS, I second the suggestion of 7x35s.  Small enough to backpack with, large enough aperture to open up the skies a bit.


Edited by Cajundaddy, 30 July 2019 - 11:50 PM.

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