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Binoculars vs telescope? Need help with buying.

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#1 johnsuomi

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 08:21 AM

Hello, all

 

I am a newbie in your world from Finland and I am here to get some help in buying either a telescope or binocular.

 

I am totally a layman and have no idea what does 8x42 or 10-22×50 or 25x100 binocular means. All I know is that I need an equipment for terrestrial viewing, preferably that works well under low lighting.

 

The objects for example can be at distance of about 300 meters, what would be the best way to get a good view of the objects? According to my research binoculars would be best but then I am not sure which one or would it give good field of view? How about a medium power telescope, would that serve the purpose for objects under 500meters?

 

Thank you so much for your time and I am looking forward for your humble opinions.

 

Regards, 

John



#2 lee14

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 08:44 AM

The first number is the magnification, the second is the aperture, or diameter of the lens. The larger the aperture, the greater the light gathering ability, i.e. the fainter the object that can be seen. Greater magnification and larger aperture also make hand held viewing increasingly difficult. The advantage of a telescope over binoculars is that the magnification is easily altered by changing the eyepiece. 

 

Lee



#3 johnsuomi

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 08:49 AM

The first number is the magnification, the second is the aperture, or diameter of the lens. The larger the aperture, the greater the light gathering ability, i.e. the fainter the object that can be seen. Greater magnification and larger aperture also make hand held viewing increasingly difficult. The advantage of a telescope over binoculars is that the magnification is easily altered by changing the eyepiece. 

 

Lee

Thank you! Lee, for your quick reply. I am also inclined towards telescopes but then I have no idea which one would be best for short distance viewing as well as for sky gazing etc. Can you please recommend any?

 

Thanks. 



#4 lee14

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 08:50 AM

For terrestrial viewing, the choice depends on what you're looking at. For stationary objects, say a distant building, a small telescope, or spotting scope, might be preferable. For watching things that move, like birds or aircraft, binoculars will be a better choice since their motion is more easily tracked with hand held optics. 

 

Lee


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#5 lee14

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 09:17 AM

Astronomical telescopes, because of their longer focal lengths, are not always able to focus on relatively close objects. Shorter focal length telescopes will also have wider fields of view (but lower magnification for a given eyepiece). An important component of a scope is the mount. Many scopes are equipped with an equatorial mount, which makes astronomical viewing easier, but is not at all suited to terrestrial viewing. Terrestrial viewing is best done with an alt-az mount.

 

I am hesitant to recommend specific models, it might be advantageous to look over a variety of instruments from different manufacturers and get a feel for the differences. The best solution would be to try out different types at a store or astronomy club before deciding, but I know this may not be practical. Astronomics, the host for this website, would be a good place to look at different equipment options. Skypublishing.com does not sell equipment, but does have a lot of educational content you may find helpful.

 

I'm sure others will follow up with specific suggestions, but I'd suggest becoming more familiar with what is available, along with the advantages and drawbacks of various scopes before making a final decision. You might take a look at some of the threads here in the Beginners Forum, you may find answers to questions you hadn't even considered!

 

Lee



#6 Migwan

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 09:47 AM

It's hard to beat a chair and a small telescope on a light weight tripod for the prescribed viewing.   Best to have a 45 degree diagonal for terrestrial viewing and a 90 degree one for stargazing.  

 

Short focal length scopes will give a wider field of view at somewhat less magnification.  For instance my 400mm focal length ST80 gives a 4 degree field at 16.6x with a 24ES68.  My 600mm focal length 80ED gives a 2.7 degree field at 25x with the same eyepiece.    I use the former and a pair of 8x42 binoculars for both terrestrial viewing and wide field stargazing.   The 80ED for stargazing only. 

 

I have considered replacing the ST80 with a smaller fast ED Scope, say an AT72, but might never pull that trigger.    Whatever you decide on, enjoy.

 

jd     



#7 f74265a

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 10:17 AM

Kind of depends on what you are trying to see several hundred meters away? A small bird? A large house?
For low light, terrestrial viewing either binoculars designed for hunting or a terrestrial spotting scope are appropriate. If you happen to have a high budget, Leica, zeiss and particularly Swarovski in my experience, make products that are amazing for low light terrestrial viewing. You would look for binoculars with at least 42mm aperture or larger for low light, 8 or 10x, with as high light transmission specs as you can find. If they fit your face (meaning your eyes are wide set enough) Swarovski 8x56 slc would be fantastic low light equipment.
The spotting scopes from these companies provide jaw dropping images.

#8 edwincjones

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 11:07 AM

It would be easier to answer your question if you could tell us what objects you wish to observe?

At 300m terrestrial a spotting may be better.

 

edj



#9 johnsuomi

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 11:22 AM

Kind of depends on what you are trying to see several hundred meters away? A small bird? A large house?
For low light, terrestrial viewing either binoculars designed for hunting or a terrestrial spotting scope are appropriate. If you happen to have a high budget, Leica, zeiss and particularly Swarovski in my experience, make products that are amazing for low light terrestrial viewing. You would look for binoculars with at least 42mm aperture or larger for low light, 8 or 10x, with as high light transmission specs as you can find. If they fit your face (meaning your eyes are wide set enough) Swarovski 8x56 slc would be fantastic low light equipment.
The spotting scopes from these companies provide jaw dropping images.

Thank you! Mariner 2 for your reply with excellent details & tips. I will definitely consider spotting spots.



#10 f74265a

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 12:37 PM

Great. In a spotting scope you will want at least a 60mm objective lens. The larger the lens, the brighter the image. But the larger the lens, the bigger and heavier the scope. Bigger is more costly too. Trade offs. You’ll need a zoom eyepiece, roughly 20-60x and a sufficiently sturdy tripod.
Recommend a 45 degree diagonal for viewing ease—especially if you also want to use it on the moon and other things in the sky— but the angle best you you depends on your intended target.
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#11 river-z

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 02:00 PM

Ideally this shouldn't be a vs. with an either/or, since switching from binoculars to telescope is a marvelous way to observe.  Certainly people's practical situations (i.e. budget) can means making some choices.  For all-around observing a 8x42 or 10x50 pair of binoculars works great.  Spotting scopes are also handy for doing both.  I don't think you'd be disappointed with either approach, because both would help you grow as an observer and learn what you like.



#12 f74265a

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 02:51 PM

Ideally this shouldn't be a vs. with an either/or, since switching from binoculars to telescope is a marvelous way to observe. Certainly people's practical situations (i.e. budget) can means making some choices. For all-around observing a 8x42 or 10x50 pair of binoculars works great. Spotting scopes are also handy for doing both. I don't think you'd be disappointed with either approach, because both would help you grow as an observer and learn what you like.


Agree both together are the best
I use 7x42s or 8x42s terrestrially and for astronomy I use a quality 85mm refractor along side 8x42 Swarovski slc binos
Would love a terrestrial spotting scope too but no budget or space

#13 Tony Flanders

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 06:45 PM

The objects for example can be at distance of about 300 meters, what would be the best way to get a good view of the objects?


I'm not sure what you're viewing. But for an object 300 meters distant, the best way to get a good view is to walk about 290 meters toward it. You will see it far better that way than you could with any optical instrument.
 
Of course this isn't practical if the object is going to fly away or run away. Or if it's at the top of a steep cliff.

It is truly impossible to answer your questions in a useful way until you tell us what you're planning to observe.
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#14 f74265a

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 07:29 PM

I'm not sure what you're viewing. But for an object 300 meters distant, the best way to get a good view is to walk about 290 meters toward it. You will see it far better that way than you could with any optical instrument.

Of course this isn't practical if the object is going to fly away or run away. Or if it's at the top of a steep cliff.

It is truly impossible to answer your questions in a useful way until you tell us what you're planning to observe.


But if one is lazy and does not want to walk, I think it is fair to say that this range is what hunting binoculars, spotting scopes with zoom eyepieces ( and hunting rifle scopes) are intended for.

#15 daniel_h

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Posted 23 November 2020 - 01:41 AM

you want a spotting scope for 300-500m objects imo, binoculars unless big powerful ones your view will still be small

 

note you will need a tripod for both high power binoculars (above 15x70) -and for spotting scopes

 

good spotting scopes a can give pleasing star views, but only expensive bigger units, 80mm or above will be able to give reasonable planet views, eg i had a nikon 82mm field scope which at 75x gave good views of saturn and jupiter, not to mention the moon



#16 Tony Flanders

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Posted 23 November 2020 - 10:42 AM

Okay, I just remembered what objects are often located 300 m away. If the intended purpose is to look for 9-mm bullet holes in a target 300 or 500 m away, then you need all the magnification you can get. In terms more familiar to astronomers, a 9-mm object at a distance of 500 m subtends an angle of 0.009/500 ~= 0.000018 radians, or 3.7 arcseconds -- roughly the apparent size of Uranus. You need at least 100X magnification, and more would be better. That is the realm of telescopes, not any normal binoculars. And it would require better-than-average daytime seeing conditions.



#17 f74265a

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Posted 23 November 2020 - 12:01 PM

Okay, I just remembered what objects are often located 300 m away. If the intended purpose is to look for 9-mm bullet holes in a target 300 or 500 m away, then you need all the magnification you can get. In terms more familiar to astronomers, a 9-mm object at a distance of 500 m subtends an angle of 0.009/500 ~= 0.000018 radians, or 3.7 arcseconds -- roughly the apparent size of Uranus. You need at least 100X magnification, and more would be better. That is the realm of telescopes, not any normal binoculars. And it would require better-than-average daytime seeing conditions.


Indeed spotting scopes are standard equipment for most members at my rifle range. On the 100 yard range, a basic, inexpensive 20-60 zoom spotting scope is more than adequate to see any caliber holes. Would be a lot harder to see tiny holes at 300m.
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#18 N3p

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Posted 23 November 2020 - 12:15 PM

Hello, all

 

I am a newbie in your world from Finland and I am here to get some help in buying either a telescope or binocular.

 

I am totally a layman and have no idea what does 8x42 or 10-22×50 or 25x100 binocular means. All I know is that I need an equipment for terrestrial viewing, preferably that works well under low lighting.

 

The objects for example can be at distance of about 300 meters, what would be the best way to get a good view of the objects? According to my research binoculars would be best but then I am not sure which one or would it give good field of view? How about a medium power telescope, would that serve the purpose for objects under 500meters?

 

Thank you so much for your time and I am looking forward for your humble opinions.

 

Regards, 

John

I have a pair of 8x42 to have wide fields of views of the night sky, but frankly the light collection is poor. BUT the 8x42 are lightweight enough for bird watching. And frankly I think they do the job for wide fields views of the stars as a secondary tool of observation, after the telescope.

 

My primary tool is a 8" Newtonian, my secondary tool is a pair of 8x42.

 

I follow a suggestion from Jon. When my observation is finished with my 8" telescope, everything packed in the car, before I leave, I get the binoculars out and look at the brightest naked eye objects for a couple of minutes.

 

It's a nice way to finish the observation.. and I could not live without my 8x42 for bird watching.. A pair of 10x50 would be a bit too heavy for bird watching (and astronomy without a mount), for me at least, I stick with the 8x42.

 

If this can help.


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#19 Mark9473

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Posted 23 November 2020 - 03:10 PM

Test for yourself what you need. An object at 300m, looked at through 10x binoculars, looks like you're standing only 30m away. So go stand at 30m and see if you need to be closer or not.

#20 LIVE LONG

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Posted 23 November 2020 - 05:46 PM

I have a pair of 8x42 to have wide fields of views of the night sky, but frankly the light collection is poor. BUT the 8x42 are lightweight enough for bird watching. And frankly I think they do the job for wide fields views of the stars as a secondary tool of observation, after the telescope.

 

My primary tool is a 8" Newtonian, my secondary tool is a pair of 8x42.

 

I follow a suggestion from Jon. When my observation is finished with my 8" telescope, everything packed in the car, before I leave, I get the binoculars out and look at the brightest naked eye objects for a couple of minutes.

 

 

   I like your response. I always finish an observation session, by taking out my 8x42 binoculars, and scan the night time sky. It's a great way to end an evening under the star's !


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#21 N3p

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Posted 23 November 2020 - 09:30 PM

   I like your response. I always finish an observation session, by taking out my 8x42 binoculars, and scan the night time sky. It's a great way to end an evening under the star's !

Right yeah? it helps transitioning away I think, in a smoother way.

 

It's a ritual now, a way to say goodbye.




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