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Which 20x80 binoculars - budget <£500


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I am thinking of getting some 20x80 binoculars to mount on my camera tripod - this will give me something to observe with while my telescope and camera are imaging. I already own some 10x42 so want a bit more magnification and light gathering ability.

I started off looking at the Celestron Skymaster Pro, have read some reviews on the internet and at binocular sky and just managed to get myself confused. I would like to buy once so I am now thinking of moving the budget up, but don't really want to go over £500 as I do also use my telescopes for observations, so the binoculars are for intermittent use, and probably also when travelling.

Any suggestions or comments on a shortlist to assess gratefully received!

Edited by Shimrod
correct binocular from 10x50 to 10x42
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9 hours ago, KevS said:

I would be inclined to get a small ED telescope and altaz mount, probably pick them up within your budget. Using 80mm binoculars at or near the zenith is literally a pain in the neck. 

Thanks for the reply. I already have a Skywatcher 80ed ds pro and an EdgeHD 8". I am looking for something a bit more portable - and I always travel with my camera and tripod, so binoculars would seem to be a better fit. I should also have said I would want to use them occasionally for wildlife as well.

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2 hours ago, Shimrod said:

Thanks for the reply. I already have a Skywatcher 80ed ds pro and an EdgeHD 8". I am looking for something a bit more portable - and I always travel with my camera and tripod, so binoculars would seem to be a better fit. I should also have said I would want to use them occasionally for wildlife as well.

If you want to use the binocular for wildlife, even occasionally, then I reckon that tends to rule out all the models with individual eyepiece focusing, as trying to re-focus both eyepieces as wildlife moves around could get rather tiresome!  Probably also worth checking out the close-focus distance of the various options, as many of the 20x80 models show 20m as their closest focus, which might also be a tad limiting for wildlife.  The Pentax 20x60 gets down to 8m, has centre focusing, and is relatively lightweight, but has limited field of view - plenty of positive reviews around.  Might also be worth considering some of 15x56 models, such as Vortex Diamondback HDs - there's a thread on CN that's worth a read.  Best of luck with your search!

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15 minutes ago, Chinapig said:

If you want to use the binocular for wildlife, even occasionally, then I reckon that tends to rule out all the models with individual eyepiece focusing, as trying to re-focus both eyepieces as wildlife moves around could get rather tiresome!  Probably also worth checking out the close-focus distance of the various options, as many of the 20x80 models show 20m as their closest focus, which might also be a tad limiting for wildlife.  The Pentax 20x60 gets down to 8m, has centre focusing, and is relatively lightweight, but has limited field of view - plenty of positive reviews around.  Might also be worth considering some of 15x56 models, such as Vortex Diamondback HDs - there's a thread on CN that's worth a read.  Best of luck with your search!

Thanks for the reply and interesting point on the individual eyepiece focusing. The use for wildlife is optional, so if the best pair for me has individual eyepiece focusing I wouldn't let that stop me buying them. I did look at spotting scopes as an alternative (which would also address KevS comment above about zenith viewing), but they don't offer a wide enough FOV.

Interesting that your suggestion includes 15x56, as I thought 20x80 would be a good fit in between my other binoculars (Opticron 10x42 Discovery, not 10x50 as in my original post) and telescope.  Would I be better looking for slightly higher magnification but better specification binoculars instead? Apart from comet Neowise, I have not used binoculars for astronomy observation other than for casual glances when I have been on holiday in dark sky locations without any other astro equipment.

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Have you had a look at the Helios Stella ii. They come in x20 and x16, I've always preferred the x16 for a slightly wider FOV - but as others have said, most larger bins don't have a central focus wheel..... So no good for wildlife.... Helios of course have the Apollo's and the Lightquests - but the price does jump up on these and also the weight..

Mark

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1 hour ago, mark81 said:

Have you had a look at the Helios Stella ii. They come in x20 and x16, I've always preferred the x16 for a slightly wider FOV - but as others have said, most larger bins don't have a central focus wheel..... So no good for wildlife.... Helios of course have the Apollo's and the Lightquests - but the price does jump up on these and also the weight..

Mark

The stellar II look interesting - I'll have a bit more of a look around for reviews, but the first couple I've read have good reports.

44 minutes ago, Stormbringer said:

What about these ?

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/helios-binoculars/helios-apollo-high-resolution-85mm-binoculars.html

They are heavy about 4+kilos and are 22x85

I use these myself for stargazing and ship spotting down at the shore really like them clear views but they wont focus under about 50 odd metres tho

I think at just short of 5kg they're probably a bit too heavy. Although my tripod is rated for 7kg I don't think it would be stable enough.

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Thanks for all the feedback so far. Based on the reviews, I think the most likely candidates are the Helios Stellar II. Quite a few reviews were for the 16x80 rather than 20x80, and I am now wondering about the relative merits of more magnification of the 20  vs the brighter, wider FOV of the 16.

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9 hours ago, Shimrod said:

Thanks for all the feedback so far. Based on the reviews, I think the most likely candidates are the Helios Stellar II. Quite a few reviews were for the 16x80 rather than 20x80, and I am now wondering about the relative merits of more magnification of the 20  vs the brighter, wider FOV of the 16.

I seem to be in a similar decision making process to yourself, were there any major reasons for choosing the Helio Stellar 11 over the LightQuest which were also within your budget?

As I currently own 10x50 and 15x70 bins I was looking for the extra step up in mag, so 20x80s make more sense than 16x80s. As you already have the stability of a tripod would you regret the extra mag at the expense of FOV? I can't remember from the excellent Binocularsky reviews if there was any noteable mention of the difference in magnitude of 16x80s vs 20x80s - will have another read now!

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59 minutes ago, Woking said:

I seem to be in a similar decision making process to yourself, were there any major reasons for choosing the Helio Stellar 11 over the LightQuest which were also within your budget?

Frugality! They are within budget, but I can't get any real handle on whether they are twice as good. It is a difficult metric to measure and I at the upper end of my budget I think I would really like to get hands on to decide. Mrs Shimrod has kindly offered to have a pair of hand-me-down binoculars should I decide to upgrade in the future!

59 minutes ago, Woking said:

As I currently own 10x50 and 15x70 bins I was looking for the extra step up in mag, so 20x80s make more sense than 16x80s. As you already have the stability of a tripod would you regret the extra mag at the expense of FOV? I can't remember from the excellent Binocularsky reviews if there was any noteable mention of the difference in magnitude of 16x80s vs 20x80s - will have another read now!

I read it more than once, although not just related to the Helios binoculars - rather comparisons between 20x80 and 16x80 - it could have been in one of the sky at night reviews on the website although I've a feeling it might have been part of a general round up of binoculars as well.

edit: I've just looked back through my history for yesterday and can't find anything relevant - I wonder if I have misread a comparison between 16x70 and 20x80? A quick google search and the first link to a thread on cloudy nights says the exact opposite to my statement on relative brightness. So the choice may just be down to FOV.

Edited by Shimrod
update on search!
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58 minutes ago, Shimrod said:

Frugality! They are within budget, but I can't get any real handle on whether they are twice as good. It is a difficult metric to measure and I at the upper end of my budget I think I would really like to get hands on to decide. Mrs Shimrod has kindly offered to have a pair of hand-me-down binoculars should I decide to upgrade in the future!

I read it more than once, although not just related to the Helios binoculars - rather comparisons between 20x80 and 16x80 - it could have been in one of the sky at night reviews on the website although I've a feeling it might have been part of a general round up of binoculars as well.

edit: I've just looked back through my history for yesterday and can't find anything relevant - I wonder if I have misread a comparison between 16x70 and 20x80? A quick google search and the first link to a thread on cloudy nights says the exact opposite to my statement on relative brightness. So the choice may just be down to FOV.

If you wear glasses to observe, the amount of available eye relief might also be an issue.  I've also been looking at these models and formats, and - for example - the 16x80 version of the LightQuest has more useful eye relief that its 20x80 equivalent, which wouldn't work for my eyes.  Bit of a juggling act!

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On 27/07/2020 at 22:13, Chinapig said:

If you wear glasses to observe, the amount of available eye relief might also be an issue.  I've also been looking at these models and formats, and - for example - the 16x80 version of the LightQuest has more useful eye relief that its 20x80 equivalent, which wouldn't work for my eyes.  Bit of a juggling act!

A quick follow up - I've ordered the Stellar II 20x80 from FLO tonight, so hopefully will have something to play with next week!

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1 hour ago, Shimrod said:

A quick follow up - I've ordered the Stellar II 20x80 from FLO tonight, so hopefully will have something to play with next week!

Excellent 

let us know how you get on

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On 31/07/2020 at 00:12, Woking said:

ditto on reading your opinion of them. They look a quality pair of bins for the price 

A quick update - I managed to get out for 15 minutes of clear sky tonight. I can see Saturn and Jupiter over an neighbour's house so a couple of easy targets to aim for. The binoculars feel light for their size, but obviously need a tripod to avoid movement - my camera tripod serves ok, but lacks a bit of stability when the column is at full extent.

Jupiter and moons were clearly visible - I like the individual eye focussing which makes it easy for me to use the binoculars without glasses, although I now understand why they will not be too useful for wildlife. Saturn is a much smaller target, but it was possible to make out the rings as your eyes adjust. And then the clouds rolled in and everything disappeared.

Overall impression - very pleased with the purchase!

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14 hours ago, Shimrod said:

A quick update - I managed to get out for 15 minutes of clear sky tonight. I can see Saturn and Jupiter over an neighbour's house so a couple of easy targets to aim for. The binoculars feel light for their size, but obviously need a tripod to avoid movement - my camera tripod serves ok, but lacks a bit of stability when the column is at full extent.

Jupiter and moons were clearly visible - I like the individual eye focussing which makes it easy for me to use the binoculars without glasses, although I now understand why they will not be too useful for wildlife. Saturn is a much smaller target, but it was possible to make out the rings as your eyes adjust. And then the clouds rolled in and everything disappeared.

Overall impression - very pleased with the purchase!

Great start. It's always nice to get the first session done so you an get a feel for the bins.  I had the x16 versions out last night... Fantastic around Cassiopeia..

Glad your enjoying them...

Mark

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Glad it was a good first light and no QC issues with them.

Both planets and their moons are useful for checking the entire FOV.

My preference is handheld for wildlife so the individual focus just reinforces 20x80s for astro only.

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  • 2 weeks later...
7 hours ago, kamikaze said:

Why not raise your budget to £ 800?

At this price you can have excellent quality binoculars that you will be satisfied with and that will serve you for many years. 

 

Thank you for your response - I have already bought binoculars which I am very pleased with. As to why I didn't have a budget of £800 - the binoculars are for occasional use while imaging with my telescope so it is difficult to justify the extra cost. Perhaps more importantly, I did not want to spend that much!

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