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Binocular upgrade from Celestron Cometron

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#1 kas20amc02

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Posted 22 May 2023 - 09:18 PM

Hello everyone.  I am looking for some binocular advice.  

I am going to start by saying something that may be unpopular-I do not like observing with binoculars.  For about 2 years I have had a pair of Celestron Cometron 7 x 50 binoculars.  I find the views so-so at best.  My AstroTech 50 mm finderscope with a 25 mm EP is what I prefer for wide FOV browsing.  It is sharper and steadier with a similar FOV (5 degrees with my ancient 25 mm EP).  

That being said, is it worth upgrading from a base model to something in the middle?  If so, what would that size and model be?  If I had something with better performance, I might use it more often.  I would not want them to be so large that I need a tripod to use them.  

I am trying to complete the binocular Messier program.  It has been a very long haul, partly because of my lack of enthusiasm for using the binoculars I own.  Would upgrading help?

 

My only good experience with binoculars was last fall.  We had a houseboat on a lake in Arkansas that is surrounded by government land, probably Bortle 3-4.  I was laying on my back in a chaise lounge on the 2nd deck and I got some pretty nice views of some southern M objects.  

 

Any advice would be appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Karl  


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#2 sevenofnine

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Posted 22 May 2023 - 09:54 PM

The binoculars you have are considered very basic quality. They are suitable for locating objects then going for a closer look with a better quality telescope. Your AT50 finderscope is much better quality and is why you like it much better with the interchangeable eyepieces. If you want hand holdable binoculars then I would move up to 10x50 porro prism for night sky use. Roof prism are more compact but much more complicated to make and correct for optical problems. They are more expensive for these reasons. A good step up would be Nikon AE 10x50 porro prism. A larger upgrade would be the Oberwerk 10x50 Ultra. Everyone here has their favorites and a lot of it has to do with personal preference. Try before you buy is great advice.

Good luck with your choice! borg.gif


Edited by sevenofnine, 22 May 2023 - 09:54 PM.

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#3 Danny Linguini

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Posted 22 May 2023 - 09:55 PM

Lots of very good and reasonably priced alternatives! I recently shelved my Cometron for a couple of better binos for nighttime viewing. The Cometron are very nice for what they are, but I think an upgrade would definitely help your situation. Rule of thumb for nighttime viewing, the bigger the aperture, the better … within reason. 
 

What I learned between asking the same questions here and a little actual experience - if you’re going to stay strictly hand-held, stick with 7x50 or 10x50. If you want to go with something bigger, like 70mm and up, you’ll probably want to look into some kind of mounting system. Porro prisms will get you more bang for your aperture buck, but I personally find roof prisms more ergonomically friendly - smaller and lighter. You also don’t want to go too high on magnification, unless, again, you’re going to go with a mounted system - the higher you go, the more the human shake is amplified, making for an unpleasant viewing experience.

 

Long story short, after a couple of 10x50 porros and roofs, my favorite turned out to be a Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 8x56 - lots of aperture, very little shake, manageable size and weight for hand-held. If you don’t mind a little more bulk, the Oberwerk 10x50 Deluxe was also a huge step up from the Cometron. 

 

You will see a very big improvement with anything in the $150-$200 range, enough to help you decide if binos are for you or not. I wouldn’t go any higher than that until you’re sure you want to stick with binocular viewing. The Cometron is pretty decent, especially for the price. But bottom line, a better pair will give you a much better viewing experience. 
 


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#4 Traveler

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Posted 22 May 2023 - 11:25 PM

+1 Nikon AE 10x50,

They are very nice given the pricetag...and not that heavy. However, when you want to use it for hiking, then others might be a better fit.


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#5 Binojunky

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Posted 23 May 2023 - 10:38 AM

A good 10x50, the Nikon Action Exteme as mentioned above or for a bit less money Pentax do a nice one, the  SPWP11 narrower field of view than the Nikon but a brighter image and a focus lock, also consider the Oberewerk 10x50 Deluxe with center focus , a bit heavy but nice optics,Dave



#6 sevenofnine

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Posted 23 May 2023 - 10:39 AM

Another consideration is a pair of binoculars with a lot more "umph" than 10x50's. 15x70 or 20x80 on a solid, tall tripod would be my choice. Good luck! borg.gif



#7 jrazz

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Posted 23 May 2023 - 10:46 AM

Silly question, why observe with binoculars if you don’t like it?

This hobby is supposed to be fun, why do something you don’t enjoy?

 

Or maybe a different question, what is it you don’t enjoy about binocular observing? 


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#8 Sebastian_Sajaroff

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Posted 23 May 2023 - 11:10 AM

I can identify two different issues :

1. Celestron binoculars are plagued with misalignment and chromatic aberration, both will ruin your observing experience. I had three, and had to return them all.
Better go with Nikon Action Express or Pentax SP WP or Oberwerk.
2. 7x50 is not a good size for suburban and urban astronomy, their large exit pupil gives a grey sky background, many stars and dim objects are lost in the greyness. Better go with 10x50 or 12x50 (the latter may require some mount)
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#9 kas20amc02

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Posted 24 May 2023 - 09:27 AM

Silly question, why observe with binoculars if you don’t like it?

This hobby is supposed to be fun, why do something you don’t enjoy?

 

Or maybe a different question, what is it you don’t enjoy about binocular observing? 

People say binoculars are great.  Surely I am missing something?  I like every type of astronomy I have done so far (except doubles and variable.  I just don't get the allure of that).  If most people like binocular observing, maybe I just need better gear.  

 

 

Negatives so far in my experience: The view is not sharp.  The limiting mag is not great.  No ability to mag up.  It shakes more than a scope.  



#10 kas20amc02

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Posted 24 May 2023 - 09:28 AM

Another consideration is a pair of binoculars with a lot more "umph" than 10x50's. 15x70 or 20x80 on a solid, tall tripod would be my choice. Good luck! borg.gif

What sort of tripod works with binoculars?  Doesn't it have to be specially designed?



#11 dnrmilspec

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Posted 24 May 2023 - 09:37 AM

People say binoculars are great.  Surely I am missing something?  I like every type of astronomy I have done so far (except doubles and variable.  I just don't get the allure of that).  If most people like binocular observing, maybe I just need better gear.  

 

 

Negatives so far in my experience: The view is not sharp.  The limiting mag is not great.  No ability to mag up.  It shakes more than a scope.  

I with the "if you don't like it don't do it" camp.  I dislike viewing with binoculars.  I have several  good ones.  I have a parallelogram.  I have a fancy chair.  I find the views uninspiring and frankly boring particularly when compared to my 120mm widefield scope with one of Mr. Naglers gems in it.  Then, after yet another try at enjoying binoculars because "all these folks can't be wrong", my neck is sore.  And now I am banned from the bino forum probably. 

 

Get a really wide field scope and don't look back. 


Edited by dnrmilspec, 24 May 2023 - 09:37 AM.

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#12 jrazz

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Posted 24 May 2023 - 10:19 AM

People say binoculars are great.  Surely I am missing something?  I like every type of astronomy I have done so far (except doubles and variable.  I just don't get the allure of that).  If most people like binocular observing, maybe I just need better gear.  

 

 

Negatives so far in my experience: The view is not sharp.  The limiting mag is not great.  No ability to mag up.  It shakes more than a scope.  

If you don't have the enthusiasm or want to use binoculars nothing we will say will change that. Yes, you can get sharper views and yes, you can get more equipment to help reduce shake but don't expect miracles. If you prefer to use your finderscope than do that. It's a hobby, you should enjoy it, not think about what others are doing.

 

If you want recommendations for better binoculars then there are a couple of better options:

Canon 15x50IS - Image stabilized, no need for a tripod. Expensive.

Oberwerk 12x50 SE. Sharp but you will see more shake.

Oberwerk 8x42 SED. Small, sharp but limited magnitude advantage.

Maven B5 10x56. Really sharp but much more expensive. 

Any Binocular Telescope will give you the ability to see much farther but they all have to be mounted and cost a lot.

 

I kinda feel empty suggesting these to you simply because if your heart is not there it'll ultimately be a waste of money. It's ok not to like binoculars, really. 


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#13 ihf

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Posted 24 May 2023 - 11:02 AM

In cities one has to overcome light pollution. And that means aperture (you have that), magnification (not enough for cities), optical quality (what does one expect from USD 28 binos?)  and overcoming shake that comes with magnification (electronic image stabilization if hand held, or tripods with clever mounting, both costing more money).

 

I think a lot of bino users enjoy super vision. Many already understand they have eye defects and they are using often expensive glasses to correct them. Binoculars are just more of that on steroids. Some really like hand holding with tricks, practice and a little residual shake, others prefer ultimate stability to enjoy the both eyed view.

 

Problem is, you would need 10x or more for your task and that can be too shaky on point sources for longer views. But then again 10x is not quite enough yet compared to 7x.

 

The good news is that one only needs one small bino as a finder and one larger bino for detailed views. You seem to not want to commit too much. So maybe a Celestron 20x80 mounted on a tall tripod with elevated column could do. You will have to collimate it. (There are instructions in the archives.) Or return several times to Amazon if other peoples experience with them is a guide. I'd suggest side mounting it by epoxying or strapping an Arca Swiss plate to one of the barrels and sitting in a chair under the tripod. This is cheap and can show you what aperture can do for the Messier program.

 

Notice though this is not going to make up for the lack of quality and joy that that can bring (see super vision). People here often find that Oberwerk is a good compromise between quality and price for US customers. That said it is perfectly fine to just keep using your Dob. It is a great instrument and you will see more in it.


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#14 Sebastian_Sajaroff

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Posted 24 May 2023 - 01:51 PM

In fact, tripods are not the best way to mount astronomical binoculars.

 

Tripods are great for terrestrial binoculars (like sailors, hunters, bird watchers, etc.) because their targets lie close to the horizon.

But, that's not the case for astronomical targets.

 

Tripods are OK for objects between 0 and 30 degrees high

Objects between 30 and 45 degrees are a bit painful.

Astryoga black belt certification is needed for objects between 45 and 60 degrees.

Anything higher than 60 degrees becomes pure pain.

 

So, (for me) the best way to mount astronomical binoculars are parallelograms or a monopod.

My personal preferences : laying down on a gravity chair (or flat on the ground) while holding the binoculars with a monopod.


Edited by Sebastian_Sajaroff, 24 May 2023 - 01:51 PM.


#15 Astronoob76

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Posted 24 May 2023 - 02:00 PM

What's the price limit? I like my 400€ DDoptics "Nighteagle" 10x56 for hand-held use. But I also do like 7x50 EWA porros from the 70's (somethin like these isn't made anymore -- the only extra wide 7x50 of today would be the Nikon WX). Or old USSR optics like the Komz 12x45 -- those are really sharp but have a narrow FoV.

12x magnification would also be the maximum I'd ever used hand-held.

A sweet spot for me is 9x63 -- a bit more reach than a 7x50 but not as much shake as a 10x. A lot depends on weight and ergonomics though. The 9x63 I have is an old Japanese roof prism bino with AK-prisms. Those are very long and nicely balanced. Useless during the day but really great at night. Another size to look into might be 10x70 -- but those get heavy. So I stick with 10x56 or lower magnifications.

If I wanna go deeper I use the 18x50 Canon stabilized. And if I wanna view planets I schlepp out the good old 8" Dobsonian.

But I also very much enjoy the super wide 2x54 "starfield" binos sold as "Orion" or "Omegon" and probably under a few other brand names. They are really nice for looking at constellations. But I think people either love or hate them.

Under heavily light polluted skies you could even go for a wide angle 8x30 or something. It would darken the sky a bit more and give you nice wide views. Heck, I even used an old "skeleton" 6x25 super wide angle (11.5°) and saw the Galilean moons of Jupiter with them.

So I think one can have fun with binos of almost any magnification.

If I had to narrow it down on just a few:

2x54 "Orion" (or Omegon in my case), 7x50 (I have the Fuji FMTR but my 150€ "Noblex" Inception is not far behind in optical quality and my old "Scope" 7x50 EW is sharper than both but not as bright), 9x63 (used for 60€), 10x56 (400€), 12x50 (Komz 12x45 for maybe 60€ -- Vortex Diamondback around 200), 18x50 (stabilized Canon -- about 1k€).

I think the old rule of thumb to pay twice as much for a roof to get the same optical quality than a porro might still be true.


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#16 Danny Linguini

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Posted 24 May 2023 - 04:56 PM

Nobody ever said binoculars are for everybody. I like them for the convenience, but I also have a 5” SCT for when I have the time and desire to set it up for a little more detailed viewing. I use a zero gravity chair if I’m going to use the binos for anything over 5 minutes, and have had no neck problems. But if that’s not for you, it doesn’t make you wrong, it just means it’s not for you. Like camping - some people love it, I hate it. 
 

In your case, the cheap binos could have something to do with it, but now I’m thinking maybe you’re just not a bino kinda guy. Nothing wrong with that at all. What I’d suggest is, find somebody with a really nice pair (of binos!) and give them a peek. It won’t take long before they either wow you or reaffirm that you can easily live without them. 


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#17 kas20amc02

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Posted 25 May 2023 - 01:13 PM

These are good ideas.  

 

I think some of the posters may be correct-perhaps I am just not a binocular guy.  I will see if someone in my club has moderate quality binoculars I could borrow.  If it still isn't a wow moment for me, I will finish my AL binocular messier program and relegate them to the closet most of the time.  Thanks!

 

~Karl



#18 kas20amc02

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Posted 28 May 2023 - 09:46 PM

For those who are interested, I completed the Messier binocular program this weekend.  That was one of the main goals for binoculars.  I appreciate everyone's tips and may look into some of those higher quality options.  Thanks!


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#19 Traveler

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Posted 29 May 2023 - 12:18 AM

Did you enjoy your binocular and the views?

 

And (of course)  congrats with your Messier completion. You are now part of the binocular elite flowerred.gif



#20 kas20amc02

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Posted 29 May 2023 - 09:09 AM

Did you enjoy your binocular and the views?

 

And (of course)  congrats with your Messier completion. You are now part of the binocular elite flowerred.gif

  The conditions were fair and it was Bortle 2 but I just don't see much when I use binoculars.  I do like how fast you can target objects.  Milky Way details were visible (bumps and contours) and I like how fast you can examine an interesting area.  I tried lying on my back on a tarp to look towards the zenith and I sat in my observing chair at other times.  I could not see all the M objects that I attempted and many were "fuzzy patches."

 

  Overall, I would say it was a mixed bag.  As someone stated above, a $20 set of binoculars has a hard time competing with a $400 finder scope set up or a $1200 OTA + EP combo.  My Lunt is nearly as portable as the binoculars and gives great views but is more than 200x more expensive.  I might still see if I can borrow a better set of binoculars from a friend, but will probably stick to my other gear for the most part.  

 

  That may be too blunt and I apologize if it is.  



#21 ihf

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Posted 29 May 2023 - 12:32 PM

I think that is fair. You used the instrument with the largest handicap and still got the job done. I think that is great! We don't always get to choose. Some people admire the sky, some admire the instrument, and some like to complete lists. We are all in it for different reasons.


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#22 revans

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Posted 02 June 2023 - 08:02 PM

Binocular astronomy covers more ground than most people think and equipment can start at as little as $30 and go into the multiple thousands for large mounted binocular telescopes.  Binoculars are probably most popular for the sweeping low power views that small and medium sized hand held models give under dark skies. 

 

But larger binocular telescopes can be equipped with filters and even night vision monoculars.  They can be mounted on tripods with pan, fork, or robotic (i.e. goto) heads.  Larger binocular telescopes can be used on the moon or planets at 150x and some people go higher still.  They provide bright views of deep sky objects that are comparable to the binoviewer view through significantly larger telescopes. They are also more portable than traditional telescopes giving a comparable view using binoviewers.  And they are more efficient at sweeping the sky than telescopes and give you greater ease of precise movement manually. 

 

Most people with binoculars have and use telescopes as well.  They actually complement each other and have different strengths.  I think we need both, so don't be too quick to completely abandon binocular astronomy and all that it can offer.  But if you do, you'll probably discover binoculars again.... just later in life (as I did).

 

Rick


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