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Pentax PCF WP 7x50 or Canon 12x36 II IS

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#1 tomhole

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Posted 08 May 2004 - 03:30 PM

I stopped by Hands on Optics today for their Celestron day, mostly to meet Russ Lederman from Denkmeier and thank him for all of his help he has given me re: binoviewers. But I also wanted to check out handheld binoculars. They had a full line of Celestron (it was Celestron day) and the Pentax PCF line. The Pentax PCF were much more comfortable to view through and had a much sharper view at the edges. I fell in love with them and if I get a pair of handheld binoculars (likely) then I will probably go with them. I was glad to get the opprotunity to try several models and decided the 7x50's were the most compatible with my ability to hold a still image.

But there was still more shake than I would prefer. They didn't have any Canon's there so I couldn't try the IS binoculars. I would love to compare the 7x50 PCF's to the 12x36 Canon IS II's, but no one around here sells them. Adorama has them for $500 with a $50 rebate. That price is ok if the IS is all that.

So, if anyone has compared these (or similar binocs) can you let me know what you thought?

Thanks,

Tom

#2 ailevin

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Posted 09 May 2004 - 01:06 PM

Tom,

I currently have Canon 15x45 and 10x30 IS. I compared them against 7x50 Fujinon and 7x42 Celestron Ultima that I used to own. (That is a hint as to the answer.)

I had always preferred 7x binoculars for hand held since I could not hold 10x steady enough to make the extra detail worth the shakes. The 15x45s were my fist purchase and they quickly became my most used binoculars, though I kept my 7x50 and 7x42. Later I bought the 10x30 IS because of a rebate. I was very skeptical about whether 30mm was enough aperture to even consider using at night, but I figured I would not lose much on the experiment if I had to resell them. Well much to my surprise the 10x30 IS were at least the equal of my 7x binocs in terms of seeing detail. The Fujis had better coatings and brighter images and even the Ultimas had somewhat brighter images, but in every case of close comparison, I could see more with the 10x30s because of the added detail with 10x and IS. BTW, both Canon IS binoculars have much sharper edge detail than either the Fujinons or Celestrons. I assume the same would be true of the Pentax, since I have never seen any binocular with edge sharpness to match the Canons.

I am definitely a believer in the figure of merit that says binocular utility goes something like magnification*(aperture)**0.5. Of course, that assumes tripod mounting or IS.

Good Observing,
Alan

#3 tomhole

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Posted 09 May 2004 - 05:43 PM

Alan,

Thanks for that input. It sounds like the optical quality of the Canons is first rate. These will be my primary hand helds. I was thinking of the 7x50's or 12x36 IS to keep the TFOV over 5 deg so they would give me a different view than my Fuji's. The 12x36 IS are 5.6 deg, the 7x50 PCF's are 6.5 deg. The new 12x36 IS II's are down to 5 deg. So, right now I'm leaning towards the 12x36 IS's.

Clear skies,

Tom

#4 KennyJ

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Posted 10 May 2004 - 04:00 PM

As a "neutral" observer of this and other similar discussions in the past , I remain intrigued by the almost enigmatic reputation of Canon IS binos.

I am well aware of their "edge performance" rated almost to the point of "incomparison" by several reviewers , including Todd Gross , yet I also know of people who have been quite dissapointed with them ,even for astronomy.

When I say "even for astronomy" I can say from personal experience that whilst the 10 x 30 IS impressed me for terrestial use , I found the 18 x 50 version a major dissapointment in daylight in almost every way imaginable.

I can only assume that these Canon IS binos have the effect of "kicking into another gear" when used on the night sky, an experience which sadly , I have never been able to confirm for myself.

In spite of personal dissapointments , I maintain that Image Stabilisation is a wonderful development , and hope that one day the technology can be extended and refined to the point where EVERYBODY is happy with a IS bino.

Clear skies , Kenny.

#5 ailevin

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Posted 10 May 2004 - 11:09 PM

Tom and Kenny,

I'm not sure how other folks evaluate binoculars for night viewing, but I can understand being put off by smaller apertures based on common wisdom and common sense initial impressions.

It is certainly true that when I did a side by side comparison of Fuji 7x50 and Canon 15x45 IS, the image was brighter in the Fuji. This was initially a big disappointment, but as I used the IS binoculars more, I realized that because the image was larger and steadier I was seeing more. Not only more detail, but more stars in open clusters. I also found that many more objects were interesting to view at 15x, that were only interesting to detect at 7x. Even with the Fuji 7x50s on a parallelogram mount, I saw more with the 15x45 IS hand held. The Fujinons had a significant throughput advantage. My best estimate of my own fully dilated pupil at that time was just less than 6mm. This meant that the Fujis really had no aperture advantage, and they still were brighter. I had a similar experience comparing the 10x30 IS with the 7x42 Ultimas hand held. The Ultimas were brighter, but I saw more with the 10x30 IS.

My conclusion is that more magnification and IS can trump aperture and throughput to some extent. We all have the experience that any optic well mounted shows you much more than the same optic mounted poorly. In my view, the magnification advantage has a steeper slope than the aperture advantage for binoculars, and image steadiness is almost a step function. If the image is moving too much, your eyes cannot correlate out the motion and you lose detail. That is why I always used 7x for hand held before IS.

Good Observing,
Alan

#6 KennyJ

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 01:45 AM

Alan,

You and I are apparantly reading from a more similar hymn sheet than it may appear.

I too find 7x to be far easier to hold steady than even 8x , as I've stated mnay times in various posts to these forums.

Also , long before this forum was created I had posted several messages to other forums stating my genuine surprise at what could be seen even through 12 x 25 compact binoculars when turned towards the night sky, in spite of the "shake factor".

Some of that "surprise" I believe was accounted for by the reduction in astigmatism and increased apparant contrast due to the smaller exit -pupil , as well as the increased magnification of course !

I agree entirely that magnification and image stability not only "can" but DOES trump aperture and throughput , not just to "some extent" , but in my opinion "in most cases".

Professor Edz's detailed reports confirm this.

See the BINOCULAR ARTICLES section.

I got the impression that the 50mm Canon Image Stabilised would prove a little too heavy for extended hand -holding in an upward direction anyway , but perhaps these factors relating to astigmatism amd exit -pupil remain valid points when comparing them to , for example a 15 x 70 mounted.

The latter provides quite a satisfactory platform for me personally , and I'm sure for many others too , and whilst the Canon IS COULD always be mounted of course , it seems to me that such an action would be paramount to "wasting" money on stabilisation technology rather than spending money on optical quality alone.

I might add that from what I've seen through stabilised binoculars , the image was not what I define as ABSOLUTELY STILL in any case , but more of a "slowly -floating" one. perhaps as one might see through a 2x binocular , if such a thing existed.

Another aspect of hand -holding binoculars,about which very little seems to have been mentioned, is that there is s tremendous difference between hand -holding in an horizontal or slightly downward -inclined plane , as one might do at a sporting event for example , than holding one pointing UPWARDS for any length of time.

I find this to be true REGARDLESS of weight.

It is because of the angle at which the arms and head must be held for looking at the sky, and applies even when assimilating the position WITHOUT binoculars.

I also contend that studying most celestial objects is a far more taxing activity on the eyes and brain than is enjoying a distant landscape or bird -watching.

Of course , it wouldn't do for everybody to be of the same opinion. Variety of such is what makes these forums such interesting places.

I suspect from the tone and content of your two posts to date that your presence is likely to make this an even more friendly and enlightened place that it already is.

I look forward to further contributions from you Alan.

Good Observing to you too !

Regards , Kenny.

#7 tomhole

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Posted 21 May 2004 - 08:08 PM

FYI, I ended up getting a pair of 12x36 IS off of Astromart. Only terrestrial viewing so far, but that is great. Might clear up tonight.

Clear skies,

Tom

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Posted 21 May 2004 - 08:42 PM

I recently purchased the new 12x36 IS II canons. They are very sharp . Having owned both 10x30 and 15x50 IS I find them to be an excellent compromise. Comfortable to hold like the 10x30's and clearly being able to see as much as a nice 42mm with stabilization...A keeper...JIM

#9 tomhole

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Posted 21 May 2004 - 08:58 PM

Jim,

I think I will probably end up getting the 12x36 IS II if these turn out to be the cat's meow. They are supposed to be 26% lighter, 10% smaller and the battery is advertised to last 270% longer. All good things from what I've seen of the non IS II's so far.

I just had my first look at the night sky. I could split Mizar with the 12x36 with IS on and sitting down. No chance with IS off. Jupiter showed all four moons with IS on and only 2 with it off. While this might be interesting quantitative data, there is no measure that can convey the qualitative effect of IS on binocular viewing. I discontinued testing sharpness, contrast, brightness and all that jazz after about 5 minutes. It's just obvious once you turn IS on the value it has.

Clear skies,

Tom

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Posted 22 May 2004 - 01:25 PM

Tom:
I owned / compared the Pentax PCF 10x50 and CannonIS 10x30.
The Cannon and the Pentax had similar clarity and sharpness to field edge when I viewed the Beehive and 7sisters. I handheld both and, naturally, the IS has a steady image when I pushed in the stabilization button. The Pentax, due to it's larger aperture, was a little brighter, but not much. When I used the Burgess Bino mount with them they were steady and equal to the IS set and had nice clarity. The IS series would be a slam dunk for similar aperture. They cost a lot more but the optics are equal to the Pentax quality. Comparing them when handholding is like comparing apples to oranges where one moves and the other doesn't. I sold my Pentax and kept the IS binos due to my wife's preference to a quick grab and go view on a clear night - without shaking. My Tak Astros at 22x60 blow them all away with tak sharpness, clarity and dark background, but they are meant for viewing with a mount and cost a much as the top of the line IS. The 50mm IS is a wonderful bino, if you can go for the extra bucks. Best of luck with what you decide on. Clear skies. :rainbow:

George
NY

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 05:28 PM

Ken

I prefer to use my Canons at night rather than in the daytime for terrestrial use. A couple of years ago I took them to an airshow and was disappointed with them, especially looking at the edges of the aircraft against the light cloudy sky.

I am almost convinced that the designer of the IS range designed them for astronomical use. I don't know for certain, but the IS range seems to have had its greatest impact in astronomy.

Best wishes,

Bruce

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Posted 28 May 2004 - 08:31 AM

Some mentioned that the image was brighter and more detailed in smaller, higher magnification binoculars than 7x50.

This could be due to the stability, or it could be due to the LARGE exit pupil of the 7x50s

#13 ailevin

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Posted 28 May 2004 - 12:44 PM

"Brighter" is a tricky word in this context. My own experience with 7x50 Fujinons and 15x45 Canon IS was that the Fuji showed extended objects to be brighter, but the Canons allowed me to see more stars and better detail in almost every extended object. The point is that the sky background is also an extended object, so it is brighter with a larger exit pupil too.

The eye's ability to distinguish detail depends on both brightness and image scale, and for the 15x45s the increase in image scale seems to help much more than the decrease in aperture hurts. Also, the steadiness of the image is very important is seeing deeper and seeing more detail. Almost any optic at any power benefits from being securely mounted. The IS is almost as good as mounted and much more portable, which is the big draw to me.

Good Observing,
Alan


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