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Help me decide on intro astronomy binos under $200

Binoculars Beginner
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#1 Taylor Allen

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 08:44 PM

Hello, newbie here. I've been trying to buy some entry level astronomy binos for about six months, but every time I started shopping I read so many forum posts and got so overwhelmed by the options I couldn't make a decision. So I decided to finally make an account and just directly ask what your recommendations would be.

 

I figure more info about what I am looking for is better than not enough info, so please bear with me on this longer post.

 

What I want binoculars for:
I will be visiting a lot of national parks this summer and want a pair of binoculars I can mostly use for astronomy viewing at night. The parks will mostly have bortle 1-3 skies, so not a lot of light pollution. I may occasionally use these binos for wildlife viewing during the daytime or for night sky viewing in areas with more light pollution. But my primary usage by far will be stargazing at dark skies.

 

I am relatively young (in my late 20s) so my pupils are still pretty big. I do wear both contacts and glasses, and usually prefer to wear contacts for stargazing because my glasses can fog up at night. So eye relief shouldn't be a huge factor I think.

 

I already own a pair of Nikon 8x25 Trailblazers that I use for hiking, so portability isn't a huge concern for me, though still a factor. I also already own a small tripod that I could use for larger binoculars so that does not need to factor into the price.

 

I also travel a lot, mostly road trips. While I am very careful with my stuff, these binos will be packed into luggage a lot vs. sitting in a house all the time, so rugged construction is a plus. I will also visit more humid and rainy areas at some point, so it's probably a good idea for me to pay a bit more for a waterproof/fogproof model that won't get ruined by a little drizzle.

 

My budget is around $200 USD. Anything much over that and I figure I might as well wait to save up more and get an entry level telescope for when I am not moving around as much (and when scopes finally start coming back in stock again).

 

Binoculars models I am considering:
Originally I was looking at the larger Oberwerk LW binoculars (9x60, 12x60, 11x70, 15x70) with the idea of mounting them on the tripod. However, after reading dozens of posts here it sounds like a smaller pair of binos, such as a 10x50 model, might be a better choice to start. I am also concerned about the lack of waterproofness on the LW line.

 

The Nikon Aculon 10x50 and the Bushnell WP 10x50 seem to be well-liked budget picks towards the lower end of my price range. Similar to the Oberwerk LW line, I am concerned about the lack of waterproofness on the Aculon line, so Bushnell would probably be the better option at this price point.

 

I was also looking at the Nikon Action Extreme 10x50 or the Nikon ProStaff 10x50 as upgrade picks to get the more rugged, waterproof/fogproof construction. Also maybe the Pentax WP 10x50. Out of these, the Nikon AEs seem to be the most recommended on this forum.

 

I also briefly considered the Celestron Skymaster DX 8x56, but it sounds like Celestron has a quality control problem so maybe it would be better to stay away from that brand altogether.

 

Finally, I have found the older version of the Vortex Diamondback 10x50s on sale for $180, close to the same price as the Nikons and Pentaxes. Again, this is the old version, so it lacks the HD glass plus whatever other upgrades Vortex made. It seems like the new HD version is well reviewed here, but I couldn't find a lot of posts on the old DBs so I don't know if it would be worth it.

 

My questions:
1. Is my reasoning to go with the 10x50s vs. the bigger binoculars sound? Are there other models I should consider (I see 8x42s and 7x50s get recommended a lot as well)? Or maybe go up to 56mm or 60mm?

2. Out of the 10x50 models I listed, are any of them substantially better picks over the others, or are there ones that I should definitely avoid? Also are there any 10x50 binos I should be considering in my price range that I didn't list here?

Thank you in advance!


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#2 72Nova

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 08:51 PM

Welcome to cloudy nights Taylor!
 

I’m not a bino expert but I do have 4 sets of astronomy binoculars and can offer my opinion.  All of my binos were $200 or less.

 

I really like my Nikon 10x50 action extremes.  I also have oberwerk 20X80lw, Celestron 15x70 and 8x56.  The Celestron 8x56 are ok but the FOV is smaller than I like.  The Celestron 15x70 have been nothing but trouble for me.  Oberwerk makes excellent binos but my 20x80 are very large and need a tripod imo.  If you will be using a tripod I do recommend the oberwerks.  

 

The Nikon 10x50 are my goto binos for astronomy and I like everything about them except for the lens caps.  I think 10x50 is the best choice for hand held Astro binos. They are my constant companion when I’m doing visual. I wish I purchased them first instead of last.

 

You will get some good advice from others.

 

Good luck with your purchase


Edited by 72Nova, 19 May 2022 - 09:09 PM.

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#3 DeanD

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 09:10 PM

I think your reasoning is sound wrt build quality and water proofing. You can't really lose from getting the AE's, or maybe the Oberwerk 10x50 Deluxe.

 

I think 10x50's are ideal for a first-timer. A quality 10x50 can be a forever bino, regardless of any telescope or larger bino purchases down the track. They are simply a very useful all-rounder that will give you nice dark sky and daylight views. You should be able to see nearly all the Messier objects with them, as well as very nice wide-field views. Many of us have a pair that we keep next to our telescopes for locating objects and getting a wider perspective.

 

Once you have used them for a while, then you will be in a better position to determine whether you want something more powerful, like 15x70's or 20x80's: and you will be able to be more discerning about the actual view you get from different binos.

 

All the best,

 

Dean


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#4 photoracer18

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 09:25 PM

Having used almost every size over the years I have stuck with an older pair of Vixen 11x80s for the last several years. Used they would be right near the top of your range. Even though I am older there are other things that can be more important than exit pupil size.  One is low enough power so you don't need a tripod to keep the jigglies in control. That means 9x-12x. 11x80 works because rather than a tripod or parallelogram mount all you need it a little slope in the grass or a lounge chair with an adjustable back and prop your elbows on your chest. Also the LW version without the center rod or objective bridge works well. Pentax 9x63s are decent along with some others of the same size. 10x60s are good also.



#5 ECP M42

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 09:25 PM

At these prices I recommend a Porro-prism, the highest quality at the dollar, although I don't really trust the declared WP. But above all, since you already have an 8x, and there are so many things you could see in the parks, I recommend at least a 12x50 (10x would be too close to 8x).
And among the ones you have listed, I would be oriented between Nikon AE and Pentax SP ... maybe even in 16x50 format.

 

If you can, buy two and compare or try them in store, then return the other.


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#6 Cali

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 09:39 PM

Don't go with anything stronger than 10x unless you plan to use a tripod/monopod. Going with a binocular greater than 10x holding with just your hands will produce nothing more than Squiggly Lines. Even the moon will jump around. Others will chime in on this.

 

Best of luck.

 

- Cal


Edited by Cali, 19 May 2022 - 09:56 PM.

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#7 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 09:49 PM

I think everyone should have a good pair of 10x42s or 10x50s. They're good, all around binoculars and can be handheld by most people. 

 

Larger binoculars like my 10.5 x 70 Orion Resoluxs sacrifice field of view, 5° versus 6.5° for the 42s and 50s.. And you can buy a rugged 10x50 like the Nikn AEs for under $200.  Quality 70mm binos are significantly more. 

 

Jon


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#8 WillR

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 09:50 PM

I hand hold the Oberwerks LW 15 x 70 all the time, no problem. I have them on a monopod, and when I lay back and look up, the monopod is not on the ground but acts as a counterweight/stabilizer. I hold the bins in my left hand, and the monopod (collapsed) in my right about 12-18" down. 

 

I can easily keep them steady enough for observing. Maybe not steady enough to split a close double star, but steady enough for panning around the sky and picking out Messier objects.


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#9 cookjaiii

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 10:22 PM

I also vote for the Nikon 10x50 AE.  It's a good all-around tool for both terrestrial and astro.  

 

Welcome to Cloudy Nights!


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#10 tony_spina

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 10:28 PM

Another very good option is the bushnell legacy wc 10x50 only $98.  I have a pair and they are very good

 

https://www.amazon.c...=8-3&th=1&psc=1


Edited by tony_spina, 19 May 2022 - 10:35 PM.


#11 Bkoh

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 11:22 PM

Since you have a 8x25 for day use, a 10x50 or 12x50 could be an ideal complement for astronomy. If you are OK to bring the tripod, the 12x would be better.

For USD 200, besides Nikon AE 10x50/12x50, also look at the Svbony SV202 ED 10x50. Reviews on CN are positive.
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#12 Mark Y.

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 11:55 PM

The Opticron Adventurer TW P 12x50 binoculars are absolutely superb and very reasonably priced.I own them along with Oberwerk and APM.

 

The nicest thing about the Opticron,aside from extremely good optics,is they only weigh 1.7 pounds and can be hand held fairly easily.

A nice 2 year warrantee says the manufacturer expects these to hold up.

 

Good luck


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#13 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 May 2022 - 12:25 AM

I hand hold the Oberwerks LW 15 x 70 all the time, no problem. I have them on a monopod, and when I lay back and look up, the monopod is not on the ground but acts as a counterweight/stabilizer. I hold the bins in my left hand, and the monopod (collapsed) in my right about 12-18" down. 

 

I can easily keep them steady enough for observing. Maybe not steady enough to split a close double star, but steady enough for panning around the sky and picking out Messier objects.

 

I handhold my 15 x 70 Orion Resolux (Oberwerke Ultras).  They weigh 5 pounds.  But they only have a 4.4 degree field of view and they are not what I consider an all-around binocular.  My 10x42s get a lot more use.  

 

Jon


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#14 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 May 2022 - 12:30 AM

The Opticron Adventurer TW P 12x50 binoculars are absolutely superb and very reasonably priced.I own them along with Oberwerk and APM.

 

The nicest thing about the Opticron,aside from extremely good optics,is they only weigh 1.7 pounds and can be hand held fairly easily.

A nice 2 year warrantee says the manufacturer expects these to hold up.

 

Good luck

 

2 years ... The Vortex Warranty is forever and for everything... 

 

https://vortexoptics.com/vip-warranty

 

There is no paperwork, if you have the binoculars, they are warranted for everything..

 

Jon


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#15 Mark Y.

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Posted 20 May 2022 - 02:34 AM

I have to admit that Vortex 12x50 Diamond back is a nice bino,but a lot more than the Opticron.I don't expect any malfunctioning issues the way I handle my binoculars and the savings allowed me to buy the APM MS34x80ED's I just received.

 

It's all good any way one looks at it....No arguments here.



#16 Binofrac

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Posted 20 May 2022 - 03:43 AM

Just to add to the fray,  if I was buying again I would go for the Svbony 10x42. It's waterproof, has ED glass and is more compact and portable than my (porro) 10x50. I doubt very much that I would notice the difference from my 10x50 view (which is actually 10x45). It has great reviews from reputable sources- https://www.cloudyni...2-ed-binocular/ My brother in law has one and is very pleased with it but I've yet to have a look at it. I have their 8x32 and have been very impressed by the views, build quality and value. They also have a 10x50 version for which I've seen equally high ratings.

 

I do benefit from mounting any binocular from 8x to my 15x. I use a simple diy stabiliser as I don't like to be anchored to a tripod or parallelogram, etc. I often use the same method as WillR in #8 above.



#17 Tony Flanders

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Posted 20 May 2022 - 04:35 AM

Originally I was looking at the larger Oberwerk LW binoculars (9x60, 12x60, 11x70, 15x70) with the idea of mounting them on the tripod. However, after reading dozens of posts here it sounds like a smaller pair of binos, such as a 10x50 model, might be a better choice to start. I am also concerned about the lack of waterproofness on the LW line.
 
...

Is my reasoning to go with the 10x50s vs. the bigger binoculars sound? Are there other models I should consider (I see 8x42s and 7x50s get recommended a lot as well)? Or maybe go up to 56mm or 60mm?


Waterproofing is a non-issue for astronomy binoculars, since nobody does stargazing in the rain. The Obie LW series are amply water-resistant to handle dew.

I own a pair of Obie 15x70 LW that I adored until they went out of collimation. My attempts to collimate them only made them worse, and now they're sitting in storage waiting for somebody eager to whip them into submission. I replaced them with the Obie 15x70 Deluxe, which are much sturdier and have somewhat better optical quality -- though the LW do have outstanding optical quality for their price. And I prefer the ergonomics of the LW due to their remarkably light weight.

As for 10x50 vs 15x70, here's the calculus. If you already owned 8x40s, I would say that the 10x50s are too similar in performance, and you should take the jump to 15x70s. But 25 mm aperture is truly marginal for astronomy; the jump from 8x25s to 10x50s is pretty dramatic. And while 15x70s are great for astronomy, that's pretty much all they're good for. 10x50s are much more versatile. And there are a fair number of great celestial targets that fit in 10x binoculars but not in 15x, such as the Coma Star Cluster and Orion's Belt-and-Sword region.


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#18 Echolight

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Posted 20 May 2022 - 09:09 AM

With $200, I'd look for a used mid-level roof prism.

 

These are the kind of binoculars I prefer as all-arounders.

 

Both the 10x42 on the left and 8x42 on the right were bought used. They're so much easier to look through than a 25mm, and small and light enough for all but the most challenging day hikes. Not too bad for astronomy either. Light enough to look through all night.

 

The 8x56 in the middle is a little chunky to carry around all day. But not bad for short hikes. Great at twilight. And terrific for pulling in fainter stars than a 42 or 50mm. But an 8 or 10x50 is lighter, and would probably be a better all-arounder.

3B2D36CE-9242-4281-B5B2-56C09B3C3BE8.jpeg

 

The 10x70's, also bought used, are awesome hand held richfield astronomy binoculars. But heavy. A bit much for extended viewing by hand. And not something I would ever carry around on a trail,. Or subject to any kind of abuse like I might with one of the smaller roof prisms.

 


Edited by Echolight, 20 May 2022 - 09:46 AM.

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#19 Binojunky

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Posted 20 May 2022 - 01:22 PM

Nikon Action Ex,s, Bushnell Legacy, Pentax SPWP11, all in the 10x50 size, Bushnell often have a mail in rebate, Dave.


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#20 Blue72

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Posted 20 May 2022 - 01:58 PM

Lots of options from the Nikon refurbished store


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#21 rgk901

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Posted 20 May 2022 - 04:14 PM

I use 8x30's and love them for hand held.

 

My wife has the oberwerk 11x70 LW's on a mono pod and they are a nice gain in aperture but I for one can't hold them steady enough and everything jumps around on me.

 

If they were mine, I'd have a regular tripod or better yet on a Parallelogram mount so I could lay on a recliner and sip my pina colodas while I observe :)

 

I am looking for 10x50's for the middle ground myself...

 

Have fun with whatever you buy!


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#22 Taylor Allen

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Posted 20 May 2022 - 11:22 PM

Thank you to everyone for all the thoughtful responses! After reading through the comments, you all have convinced me to get either a 10x50 or 12x50 to start due to the versatility (probably a Nikon AE but not 100% sure yet). If I really enjoy using the binos for stargazing then I can look at getting a bigger pair dedicated to that, such as the Oberwerks.

 

I actually went to a local store to try out some binos today per your suggestions, but they had a very limited selection and nothing bigger than a 42mm. Might to have to just order both the 10x50 and 12x50 to try them out in person, then decide which one I like best.


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#23 Cali

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Posted 21 May 2022 - 12:08 AM

Lots of options from the Nikon refurbished store

That's how I picked up my 8x42. 

 

Good deal.

 

- Cal


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#24 Cali

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Posted 21 May 2022 - 12:11 AM

Waterproofing is a non-issue for astronomy binoculars, since nobody does stargazing in the rain. The Obie LW series are amply water-resistant to handle dew.

I own a pair of Obie 15x70 LW that I adored until they went out of collimation. My attempts to collimate them only made them worse, and now they're sitting in storage waiting for somebody eager to whip them into submission. I replaced them with the Obie 15x70 Deluxe, which are much sturdier and have somewhat better optical quality -- though the LW do have outstanding optical quality for their price. And I prefer the ergonomics of the LW due to their remarkably light weight.

Ack Ack on waterproofing. (DOH - slap forehead.)

 

Re: "Obie 15x70 LW that I adored until they went out of collimation."

 

Couldn't you have sent them back to Obie to fix?

 

- Cal



#25 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 21 May 2022 - 09:04 AM

I own a pair of Obie 15x70 LW that I adored until they went out of collimation. My attempts to collimate them only made them worse, and now they're sitting in storage waiting for somebody eager to whip them into submission. I replaced them with the Obie 15x70 Deluxe, which are much sturdier and have somewhat better optical quality -- though the LW do have outstanding optical quality for their price. And I prefer the ergonomics of the LW due to their remarkably light weight.

 

 

The light weight of the 15x70 LWs and they're going out of collimation are directly related.. 

 

Jon


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