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Monopod and 15x magnification

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#1 Freezout

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 01:42 AM

Hello everybody,
 

In my quest to the lighter and faster to use, I’m selling some astro items, especially giving up the use of 2” accessoires for my mak, to finance a nicer pair of binoculars. The purpose is to have no worries about having room or not in the car when travelling and no worries about having time to set up when being wherever.

I have currently some 10x50 TS (same than basic Oberwerk) and look in the direction of 70mm TS Marine (from this serie https://www.teleskop...Binoculars.html ). They can be equipped with filters.
My purpose would be to use them with a monopod with ball head when sitting, or a self-made bipod to observe laying down. I want to use a support avoiding painful neck positions but parallelogram mounts are excluded.

I have been reading some dicussions about the debate 10 or 15x70 and would like some actual update or feedback, as many other people have been facing the same issue. If I can summarize:
1) 10x70: easy to hand hold as lower magnification, wider FOV, longer eye relief
2) 15x70: more light going in the eye as smaller exit pupil diameter, more contrast, biger magnification

Do some of you have experience with monopod and 15x70? Is it really too much magnification?
Thanks!
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#2 SMark

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 02:56 AM

I tried out a monopod with ball head with my 16x80 and struggled enough with it that I went back to a tripod. Some have better luck when bracing themselves against a building or a tree. I didn't try anything like that.


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#3 ButterFly

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 03:43 AM

I use the APM 16x70s on a Manfrotto 561BHDV.  I love it.  A smoothly moving head makes a huge difference.  I can grab them by the objectives and pan around the sky at night.  During the day, I'm mostly horizontal or slightly up for the raptors.  During the day, I prefer the pan handle pointing downward, when the binos are level.  A ball head needs very nice tension controls to avoid flopping.  A monopod won't be as stable as a tripod, but they are very compact.

 

What's difficult with the monopod is great changes in altitude.  You can get about 20-30 degrees without neck crimping by walking back and forth and side to side.  More than that and I like to readjust for the new altitude.

 

One can hand hold 70mms, even at 15x, but it's the weight that will make you tired and more jittery.  Hand holding while panning is much easier than hand holding steady.  Try holding up a big dictionary at eye level and holding it steady.


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#4 Tony Flanders

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 04:42 AM

In my quest to the lighter and faster to use, I’m selling some astro items, especially giving up the use of 2” accessoires for my mak, to finance a nicer pair of binoculars. The purpose is to have no worries about having room or not in the car when travelling and no worries about having time to set up when being wherever.

I have currently some 10x50 TS (same than basic Oberwerk) and look in the direction of 70mm TS Marine (from this serie https://www.teleskop...Binoculars.html ). They can be equipped with filters.
My purpose would be to use them with a monopod with ball head when sitting, or a self-made bipod to observe laying down. I want to use a support avoiding painful neck positions but parallelogram mounts are excluded.


I'm not sure that 15x70 binoculars are a good way to fill that niche for you.
 
Later in the post you talk about "avoiding painful neck positions." That implies to me that you're going to do one of the following:
 

  • Stand but avoid any target more than 20 or 30 degrees above the horizon.
  • Sit in a regular chair (with back) and avoid any target more than 40 or 50 degrees above the horizon.
  • Lie on the ground and avoid any target less than 40 or 50 degrees above the horizon.
  • Use a reclining chair with an adjustable back.

 
Of those, I find the reclining chair by far the most versatile option. But a reclining chair is a pretty big, heavy item -- likely to outweigh and outbulk any tripod or monopod. Have you considered a small, fast refractor like the ST80? It provides very much the same functionality as 15x70 binoculars, but with a comfortable 90-degree viewing angle. An ST80 on a sturdy photo tripod is far more portable than 15x70 binoculars plus a monopod plus a reclining chair. Only real disadvantage, as far as I'm concerned, is that you cannot use two eyes. Which for me is not a big deal. Others feel differently.

 

Anyway, in response to the original question, I have tried monopods but I find tripods more versatile. Remember that they can always be tilted back on two legs, a position that works supremely well in a conventional chair. No matter what you support you use, the feet are going to have trouble touching the ground when you're lying way far back, looking high in the sky. But somewhat to my surprise, a tilted-back tripod still provides surprising steadiness even when the tripod legs are just resting on my own legs as I lie back in a reclining chair.


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#5 TOMDEY

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 04:45 AM

Visual-use optical instruments, ergonomics... It's a very personal thing. Some (typically young/athletic/motivated) people can be very steady and able. As we get older and/or out of shape and out of practice, that precipitously deteriorates.

 

Ergo itself is an interesting topic:

>for binoscopic instruments, all six ~Degrees Of Freedom~ matter > (roll, pitch, yaw, x, y, z)

>monopod with secured ball joint head reduces that to three DOFs

>bipod reduces that to one

>tripod reduces that to zero

 

Anyway, that's the way the physiologists analyze it, and nicely explains why going from zero to one to two to three grounded legs helps so much.

 

By far, the biggest limiter is plain old fashioned fatigue. And that's where experience, practice and athletic conditioning engage.

 

[I worked on gun-sights and other such optical/ergo field-use instruments. Ergo is a huge and important topic. And no surprise at all, the best marksmen are practiced, conditioned, and motivated. Add to that, being a "natural", which may well be genetic!]

 

Here's my son, at the annual field machine gun competition, a few years ago. Note the (ungrounded) bipod up front. So, hand-held, he is dealing with all 6 DOFS; if he grounds the bipod, that becomes two (not one), because the bipod remains free to roll... but about the bore-axis, which is ideal! All this "common-sense" stuff is meticulously-analyzed by the designers, coaches, and practitioners. Note that, in aiming a rifle, one needs exactly two critical degrees of freedom to acquire the target (pitch and yaw).

 

For your binoculars, Buy a bipod and use it often, for a few weeks!    Tom

 

PS: Mark and Partner took 2nd place, in class.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 78 Vet Marksman Mark Machine Gun Competition BIPOD.jpg


#6 Albie

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 07:04 AM

Freezout,  I have the same 15x70 (Kunming BA8) as in the link you  provide .   I have always used it with a  monopod and get great results doing so .  I started with a budget priced monopod and head and eventually bought a more robust monopod and head as my 15x70's weigh roughly 5.5 pounds .  The upgrade  benefited mostly from the better and stronger pistol grip head .   I cannot imagine hand holding the 15x70  or even the 10x70 at 5.5 pounds .   Using a monopod is a night and day difference for me .

I imagine that a tripod or even a bipod would provide more stability but would also reduce the grab and go benefit a monopod provides . I guess it depends on what you personally need  OR  want , YMMV  .

These days it's getting harder for me to look up to zenith like it is for others here , having had whiplash a few times has made sure of that . Sometimes when I try to view close to zenith  moving my neck to accommodate the view causes a jolt (shock) to run down both arms to my hands .

 

I don't recommend freestanding the monopod as I have in the following picture ,  it's a recipe for disaster .

Attached Thumbnails

  • DSC00785 (Large).JPG

Edited by Albie, 02 June 2020 - 07:04 AM.

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#7 Freezout

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 07:07 AM

Have you considered a small, fast refractor like the ST80? 

I have been considering a small refractor, the reasons I am looking more into the binoculars solution are the following.
- Two eyes, offers me something different than my usual telescope use
- no inverted view
- no eyepieces to change and deal with, wondering what magnification to use etc, in a “simplicity” mindset, purely focusing on the view.

 

I have been using my 10x50 in laying position and was just going in sitting position on the ground (a camping air mattress) when looking at objects low on the horizon: this was not an issue. I am 35 so I can still afford to do that; an inflatable travel neck cushion could even improve it.

I think I will for now just buy the adapter and test the ergonomics with my 10x50 and the photo equipment I have (tripod and monopod). I will test the different positions, make a home-made bipod for laying position, and report!

Meanwhile I am always taking any advice, about these models (what is your experience with the 70mm binocular, 10x/15x) or the ergonomics. 
Thanks!



#8 astronomus1930

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:21 AM

Greetings!

I do not feel it is either too much magnification or, with the right binoculars, too much weight.

 

My Oberwerk 15x70 DeLuxe [~ 2 kilos] on the Oberwerk monopod works well.

 

The monopod is very solid and long [~ 2 meters]. By extending the monopod out ahead of me, tipping it back towards me and then holding the binoculars firmly, a tripod, of sorts, is created- the monopod + my legs. I find this reduces both strain and shake.

 

As a point of reference, I split K Herculis [27 seconds] the other night with my "tripod."

 

Clear Skies!


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#9 Binofrac

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 02:17 PM

I have the same binoculars as Albie which are heavy but have great views. It was these I used to experiment with when trying to find the easiest grab and go solution. My eventual solution is here- https://www.cloudyni...lar-stabiliser/ It's not tripod stable but I find it good enough and is very compact and portable.

 

When I read your post it occurred to me that your probable ideal solution (and mine) doesn't exist- a 90 degree version of the 15x70s. They would be easily transportable and would make viewing the night sky far more comfortable. You could make one of sorts by building a mirror mount that would fit on a tripod. Using it with a smooth pan and tilt head with a cranked centre column would be very easy whether seated or standing. It depends on how important a correct image is to you.



#10 Freezout

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Posted 03 June 2020 - 04:50 AM

Thanks a lot for your comments.

 

 a 90 degree version of the 15x70s. 

Oh YES... I do not understand why they don't manufacture fixed magnification binoculars with 90 deg view. I cannot believe there is no market for this. Clearly the astro market is flooded with things which look even more "niche" items to me than what 90 deg with fixed magnification binoculars would be. Maybe the distributors are scared that this product would cannibalize their interchangeable eyepiece binoculars (which are more expensive and open market for the relevant eyepieces... sold by pair!).

From my side I would buy directly such a model.



#11 Rich V.

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Posted 03 June 2020 - 10:47 AM

Thanks a lot for your comments.

 

Oh YES... I do not understand why they don't manufacture fixed magnification binoculars with 90 deg view. I cannot believe there is no market for this. Clearly the astro market is flooded with things which look even more "niche" items to me than what 90 deg with fixed magnification binoculars would be. Maybe the distributors are scared that this product would cannibalize their interchangeable eyepiece binoculars (which are more expensive and open market for the relevant eyepieces... sold by pair!).

From my side I would buy directly such a model.

Adding the necessary prism assys and body design to achieve 90° already adds to the complexity and expense so including 1-1/4" focusers to that makes sense to me and likely many in this group.  I think that's why even the small 70mm 90° BTs come with that feature.  It makes the bino much more versatile and I'd expect many would want that option over a "one trick pony" with one fixed magnification.

.  

The non-ED version of the 90° APM 70mm BT is in the same price range as a Nikon 18x70 traditional binocular.  The BTs are heavier by necessity but way more useful for astronomy.

 

https://www.apm-tele...ece-holder.html

 

Putting a 90° 16x70 on a monopod or even a bipod seems like it would be very awkward to aim so that would be out of the equation for me anyhow...

 

Rich


Edited by Rich V., 03 June 2020 - 10:53 AM.

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#12 Freezout

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Posted 03 June 2020 - 03:27 PM

Adding the necessary prism assys and body design to achieve 90° already adds to the complexity and expense so including 1-1/4" focusers to that makes sense to me and likely many in this group.

(...)

Putting a 90° 16x70 on a monopod or even a bipod seems like it would be very awkward to aim so that would be out of the equation for me anyhow...

 

Rich

You may be right, I admit I do not know much about the complexity induced by adding prisms to have 90 deg view. Maybe naive but as we do it in telescopes by just adding a prism at the back... I would have imagine it cheaper than binoculars with changeable eyepieces (which would be the main motivation for customers).

In any case I would not have use this on something else than a tripod. 



#13 John F

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 12:44 AM

My experience with using a monopod with binoculars over the years is:

 

With a relatively large, heavy and high powered binocular like the Nikon 18x70's I did not think it worked very well at all and only tried it one or two times. 

 

With a pair of the somewhat bulky and  heavy Zeiss 15x60s I could do it but wasn't as easy as I would have liked so I also seldom used them with a monopod.

 

With my pairs of 10x50s and 12x50s (and a former pair of 10x70s that I once owned) those worked well for me with a monopod that I used them that way a number of times.  However, if I'm going to be using my binoculars at a location where it is easy for me to bring along and setup my tripod rather than a monopod then that's what I much prefer to do. 

 

But if I'm going on a hike some place where I'll be a good distance away from my SUV (and with a tripod in the back of it) then I may carry a monopod with me on the hike and especially if I'm going to be bringing either my pair of 10x50 or 12x50 binoculars along with me on the hike.  If I'm just going to be bringing my pair of 8x32s then I just hand hold those.

 

John Finnan


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#14 jcj380

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 08:03 AM

I used a monopod with my Skymaster 15x70s.  I first tried a ballhead and didn't like it - too many degrees of freedom and it was either too tight or too loose - so I switched to a tilt-pan head.  That worked much better IMO.  The ability to tilt upwards without repositioning the monopod was a big advantage as was simply panning left and right.  Even better was using two legs of a tripod like Tom's machine gun.

 

Switching tracks, I use a correct image diagonal in my ST80, so there's no inversion, but it does need a tripod.  Multiple eyepieces can be replaced with a zoom.



#15 John Russell

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 05:05 PM

Agree with the above that the lateral tilt of a ball head on a monopod is just a nuisance. However, you don't need a panoramic function either. The monopod itself provides the pan function about its own axis.

The ideal solution is a simple tilt head such as the Manfrotto 234 or the Sirui L-10. I believe RRS makes something similar.

I use the Sirui tilt head on a Manfrotto 685B monopod, which offers the advantage of rapid single-handed height adjustment.

 

John


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#16 Howard Lester

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 11:15 AM

I use a Sirui P-424SR monopod that has three sturdy flip out legs. It's heavy and relatively expensive at $300 US:

 

https://www.bhphotov...er_monopod.html

 

I use it with an Oben BE-117 ballhead -- not the best choice, but I get by with it. I sit in a plastic "Adirondack" style chair. Its back is tilted quite a bit, and so is the seat, making it much easier to view high altitude objects. The beauty of a monopod is that its height is easily adjustable while you're seated. With the legs the monopod sprouts, I lean two of them on the ground, and lean the monopod back between my legs to rest on the front of the chair's seat. When tilted at the correct angle, it's now stable enough for me to let go of it completely. It is true that you're still limited in the area of sky you can view from any one position before having to make any kind of adjustment, whether to the monopod's height, its angle against the seat, or to the monopod's head. Note that the two legs on the ground prevents the monopod from twisting. That twisting motion creates an instability that a "legless" monopod cannot prevent.  



#17 ButterFly

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 12:27 PM

 

I ... a Manfrotto 685B monopod, which offers the advantage of rapid single-handed height adjustment.

 

 

That's a great feature, but it's specs only say 63" height.  Do you add any risers between the monopod and the head?



#18 Rich V.

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 01:33 PM

IME, a monopod needs to be at least as tall as I am at the QR plate height to work for bino astronomy use while standing.  I'm 6'2" and my Giottos 9180 monopod plus a tall Bogen/Manfrotto 3055 QR ball head puts the QR plate at 74.75" and that height allows me to look up at a maximum angle of about 55° with my 16x70s.  Higher angles require me to sit and lock the monopod's foot with my feet or ankles.  Leaning a tripod back on two legs is  even steadier for sitting.

 

My 16x70 bino is at the upper limit of a monopod's astro usability without excessive movement for my tastes, though for daytime use, it's still a pretty steady solution.  20x is pushing into tripod territory, IMO.

 

Rich


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#19 Wouter1981

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 01:50 PM

I have the 15x70 ts marine and almost sold it until I bought a monopod and a triggergrip. Now it's my most used piece of equipment. It's almost the same setup as sold by oberwerk

https://oberwerk.com...tion-ball-head/

 

It's also a great setup for traveling. Small but powerful.



#20 John Russell

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 04:08 PM

That's a great feature, but it's specs only say 63" height.  Do you add any risers between the monopod and the head?

The spec. is 170 cm (67") and with my 10x42 EL on a Leica bino adapter and the Sirui tilt head the exit pupil height is 182 cm. Mine is used mainly terrestrially (I'm a birder) and with my own pupil height of 180 cm (overall 191 cm or 6'3") it's a little uncomfortable at elevation, but I think it would be OK for astronomers under 6'.

 

John



#21 ButterFly

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 08:12 PM

The spec. is 170 cm (67") and with my 10x42 EL on a Leica bino adapter and the Sirui tilt head the exit pupil height is 182 cm. Mine is used mainly terrestrially (I'm a birder) and with my own pupil height of 180 cm (overall 191 cm or 6'3") it's a little uncomfortable at elevation, but I think it would be OK for astronomers under 6'.

 

John

For mostly level, that's great.  You can go from finnstick and shoulder strap to monopod quickly, as long as its done quietly.

 

For astro, at least a foot taller helps because the eyepieces go down as you point up, moreso with longer binos.  I would love to turn the top lever lock into a ring lock on my monopod somehow.  A button or trigger is even better.




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