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Hello All,

I am new to this forum and find this forum extremely useful. I have gone through almost all the threads requesting advice on the binoculars for stargazing and hopefully I will not frustrate someone for this additional thread.

I live near San Francisco, CA, USA and in my early 30s. I am planning a trip to Bryce Canyon in 2 months. That place is supposed have very less light pollution and is recommended for Astronomy/Stargazing. I have bought the Sky Safari 5 android app to get me started into astronomy and hopefully I will continue this as a hobby for a long time to come. 

I have decided to buy 10x50 bins and have found few of these below that are in my sub $99.99 range. I am looking for the best value for the $$ in this range. I will be carrying them in flight and will not be able to baby sit them.

Please let me know your recommendations, if you have any.

Thanks a lot

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Difficult to say one over the others. I have a set of Bushnell's, not the ones you give but the Natureview Roof Prism set at 8x42. They are very good, also have the H2O's in 8x42 and they are good but not up to quality the Natureviews. Say this as the Naturviews at the site given are $103. And looking at the others these just match the top priced one you give, well $1 more.

Think Bushnell have updated the front objective covers, really they had no option as they were the biggest joke ever. But the binoculars are good. Maybe better say were good, they mau have a different source now.

Porro prism binoculars are said to be better, one lump of glass rather then two, but I cannot fault mine.

Apologies for having thrown another option into the consideration. You will not find any real difference between 8x42 and 10x50, and the 8x42 market has more and greater competition so you could get better optics.

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I hope I don't sound too much like a politician by not answering your question directly ! But I don't have hands on experience of the Binoculars you've listed. But I would like to provoke a little lateral thought too if I may ?

@Mrs Racey and I have 10x50 and 8x42 (and a pair of 8x32) Binoculars (as well as a pair of 20x60). 

More often than not, and particularly when we hike or fly away, it's the 8x we reach for. 

There are 3 reasons for this. 

1) Convenience. Size and weight. 

2) Although we can hand hold the 10x50 easily, the 8x are that bit easier. 

3) Field of View. At 8* the 8x provide a wonderful wide field vista. 

I'd consider auditioning a few pairs at that magnification level too. 

I won't drone on about which we use in detail as ours are a little outside your stated budget but those we use currently are:

Swarovski 8x32 EL, Hawke 8x42 Frontier ED, Pentax SP 10x50 WP and Pentax SP 20x60 WP. 

As I say, in all instances of hiking or flying it's the 8x that are reached for...

Hope you find something. 

(By the way, Bryce and Zion Canyons are sensational both by day and by night... ?)

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Skaikru welcome to SGL. I have a son and his family living in Livermore so I know your location very well. If you want binoculars solely for astronomy you may also wish to consider some 15x70 binos - Celestron make this size and are very reasonable in price.

I took a pair of 15x70 and 8x32 to Yosemite for astronomy and using the larger binos just gave so much more in resolution. The delights of Scorpio and Sagittarius were incredible.

I am sure there is an astronomy shop near San Jose - is it worth a visit to try different binos to see which suits you best.

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@ronin @Racey Makes sense. I hike a lot too and would like it to be easily portable. If what I see through 10x50 vs 8x42 are almost the same, I don't mind going for the smaller one. I read a post here which said 50mm gives 40% more light/stars and will give a feeling of floating in space, which made me decide on 10x50. Also, one of the website showed how a Galaxy will look through 10x50, it was already tiny and thought lower mag will make it just look not nice. 

Thanks

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6 hours ago, Mark at Beaufort said:

Skaikru welcome to SGL. I have a son and his family living in Livermore so I know your location very well. If you want binoculars solely for astronomy you may also wish to consider some 15x70 binos - Celestron make this size and are very reasonable in price.

I took a pair of 15x70 and 8x32 to Yosemite for astronomy and using the larger binos just gave so much more in resolution. The delights of Scorpio and Sagittarius were incredible.

I am sure there is an astronomy shop near San Jose - is it worth a visit to try different binos to see which suits you best.

@Mark at Beaufort thanks! I think that's a good idea. Let me see if I can visit a store.

15x70 will be large I think and I will also need to carry a tripod or monopod. I also have a DSLR that needs space in my bag when I fly. Will go to a shop and see how much of a difference in size they are to 10x50 and 8x42. Larger aperture and mag will surely be a delight if I can carry them around and fly easily. Also, going to Olympic National Park and weather permitting, would like to use the bins.

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As someone who wears glasses, an important point for binoculars is the eye relief (how far 'behind' the eye pieces can you still see the full frame), I look for at least 17-18mm - this is something best checked by looking through them in a store. From what I've read, the best astro bins for handholding are either 7x50 or 8x56 - however both of these are kind of specialised and may be expensive. This really leaves 'general purpose' bins of 8x42 or 10x50 options - I have a pair of ED 8x32 roof prism bins but my 10x50 porros are much better for astro. I also have a pair of 15-80x70 zoom bins - ignoring the zoom bit - they are good 15x70 bins but heavy to hold up and hard to hold still.

Best advice is to visit a store and compare a few pairs (outside if possible) and try to buy the best you can afford (within reason). My preference would be 10x50s - mine are Nikon Action EX (waterproof, nitrogen filled, armoured, spin up eye-cups etc.) which I feel are very good but the objective lens covers often fall off.

 

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On ‎29‎/‎05‎/‎2017 at 16:49, Skaikru said:

@ronin @Racey Makes sense. I hike a lot too and would like it to be easily portable. If what I see through 10x50 vs 8x42 are almost the same, I don't mind going for the smaller one. I read a post here which said 50mm gives 40% more light/stars and will give a feeling of floating in space, which made me decide on 10x50. Also, one of the website showed how a Galaxy will look through 10x50, it was already tiny and thought lower mag will make it just look not nice. 

Thanks

8x40's and 10x50's might not be that different in hiking but the advantage of the extra magnification and diameter is clear in stargazing. I do own an 8x40 as well as a 10x50, and I have tried all those my friends and visitors brought to observing sessions. 10x50 shows more stars in clusters, and the amplification is the same with nebulas and galaxies.

Hiking doesn't show the difference that much because sunlit scenes are saturated with light, whereas stargazing never has too much light, nor even enough light. Thus, always go for the larger lenses in nighttime viewing. I prefer to separate problems, so I use my 8x40 for Earth, and my 10x50 for space. Last week I had trouble identifying a moving red light as a thai lantern through the 8x40, but the 10x50 removed the doubt.

Edit: I have not tried them personally, but the Scenix and the Legacy have the best reputation among those you mention.

Edited by Ben the Ignorant
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On 29 May 2017 at 15:49, Skaikru said:

@ronin @Racey Makes sense. I hike a lot too and would like it to be easily portable. If what I see through 10x50 vs 8x42 are almost the same, I don't mind going for the smaller one. I read a post here which said 50mm gives 40% more light/stars and will give a feeling of floating in space, which made me decide on 10x50. Also, one of the website showed how a Galaxy will look through 10x50, it was already tiny and thought lower mag will make it just look not nice. 

Thanks

Ever heard the saying: There are lies, damn lies and statistics!

10x50's will gather 40% more light, but they also give a bigger image that is 1.5625x bigger so the effect in simple numerical terms is the image is a little dimmer. So we are at the "statistics" bit of the lies.

You will not see any galaxy as anything other thenm a faint grey smudge, well maybe a bit more if it is really really dark. M31 will be the best and not sure if that will be high enough in CA, it has disappeared here for viewing but you would be a bit further South. None of the rest will be of any significant impact.

Would say that you will not realistically tell the difference between 8x42 and 10x50, everything tends to just about cancel each other out.

I never like suggesting binoculars for astronomy, I use them a lot but the final "use" is different. One way of putting it is "Binoculars are for looking around, a scope is for looking at."

If it has to be binoculars then ultimately your decision, jsut (in my opinion) make sure you want to look around the sky and not look at an object. If you wanted an inexpensive scope, fully manual and a reasonable option I would suggest you look at the ES Firstlight AR80640 appears to be $149:49. Not sold here so I have no real information on it, but it appears  to be a reasonable item. 80mm is OK as a start and the 640mm focal length is neither fast nor slow. I notice it does not mention eyepieces. Bit strange, so you may have to get one or two. Suppose a 25mm or 30mm plossl and say a 12mm plossl.

AR80640

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30 minutes ago, ronin said:

10x50's will gather 40% more light, but they also give a bigger image that is 1.5625x bigger so the effect in simple numerical terms is the image is a little dimmer. So we are at the "statistics" bit of the lies.

It is true that 10x50s have a 5mm exit pupil and the 8x42s have a 5.25mm exit pupil so the image should appear a little brighter.

However the extra resolution of the larger aperture will allow it to show more stars and a little more detail, plus the smaller exit pupil can be a benefit under all but the darkest skies.

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