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First pair of binos for a beginner


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Hi all

I want to buy my first pair of binoculars to help me start exploring the night sky. I would use it mostly in the city but with an option of sometimes getting in ok dark areas. I have read so much material, including this forum that my head started to spin. On top of choosing the right binoculars, there is a problem of almost all good models being out of stock at this moment. So i finally found a Nikon model i can buy and want to ask you guys if anyone have used them for astronomy and if they are a good choice. All my photo equipment is  Nikon so i kinda wanna stick with this brand. The model is Nikon Action EX 10x50 CF.

any thoughts? Any input is much appreciated :)

Edited by technocat
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I love binocular viewing... Bins are always great to take travelling, easy set up and use to scan the skies 🙂

My thoughts - 10 x 50 is a good portable size but 15 x 70 is what I found give the most pleasurable views. Nikon make great cameras and being brand loyal is good, so hopefully the bins would be great if you go that route. I've checked the price and for half that you could get a nice pair of Celestron 15 x 70s which will give more magnification and a wide field of view. As to whether they are available to buy at the moment, I'm not sure.

I bought a second hand pair of Helios Apollos after much research and for £170 they were perfectly aligned and give great colour and sharp views... I do use a monopod to steady them when sat down.

I bought a pair of 20 x 60 Pentax bins once in Australia after researching and reading the reviews... but for astro observing they awful, not very good... I took them back next day and replaced them (for the same amount of money) with two pairs of bins... a pair of 15 x 70's Celestron type - and a pair of Bushnell trophy 8 x 42... brilliant decision I got the best of both worlds... so be careful but also good luck

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11 hours ago, Patbloke said:

I love binocular viewing... Bins are always great to take travelling, easy set up and use to scan the skies 🙂

My thoughts - 10 x 50 is a good portable size but 15 x 70 is what I found give the most pleasurable views. Nikon make great cameras and being brand loyal is good, so hopefully the bins would be great if you go that route. I've checked the price and for half that you could get a nice pair of Celestron 15 x 70s which will give more magnification and a wide field of view. As to whether they are available to buy at the moment, I'm not sure.

I bought a second hand pair of Helios Apollos after much research and for £170 they were perfectly aligned and give great colour and sharp views... I do use a monopod to steady them when sat down.

I bought a pair of 20 x 60 Pentax bins once in Australia after researching and reading the reviews... but for astro observing they awful, not very good... I took them back next day and replaced them (for the same amount of money) with two pairs of bins... a pair of 15 x 70's Celestron type - and a pair of Bushnell trophy 8 x 42... brilliant decision I got the best of both worlds... so be careful but also good luck

Thanks for the reply! I also thaught about celestron 15x70 and they are actually available, but ive never used a normal sized binoculars and these are huge! Ill need to have a tripod with me at all times. I just want so,ething i can grab and go. Then again seenig things even closer is also appealing. Why is there never a perfect solution? :)

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7 hours ago, Louis D said:

Stick with 8x42 or thereabouts for handheld use.

Thanks for the advice, nikon aculon 8x42 are actually inexpensive and have good reviews. Maybe i should consider them

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I have a 15X70 binocular, but I wouldn’t recommend that spec for a first pair. You would find them heavy and, at 15X, impossible to keep steady if handheld. I use my big binoculars attached to a homemade binocular mirror-mount.

For handholding only, a 8X42 or 7X50 pair would be best. Higher magnifications than this register every heartbeat.

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This site is great for opinions and advice... There are ways to use binoculars that don't put stress on your arms. Nothing better than putting the blanket out laying back it gazing the universe, sitting in the garden chair leaning back and taking it all in. Don't be scared of the 15 x 70's the standard pairs aren't that heavy and the views are great 🙂 

Sometimes you just have to make the choice... if you keep the equipment in condition you can always sell and upgrade if you feel you need more 

 

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13 hours ago, technocat said:

Thanks for the reply! I also thaught about celestron 15x70 and they are actually available, but ive never used a normal sized binoculars and these are huge! Ill need to have a tripod with me at all times. I just want so,ething i can grab and go. Then again seenig things even closer is also appealing. Why is there never a perfect solution? :)

I bought a really substantial tripod with a pistol grip head when I got my Apollos and I found it really uncomfortable to use with bins... handheld or monopod supported works for me. 

Check out BinocularSky website - Stephen Tonkin! loads of tips and reviews 👍

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OK, so I don't know about those specific binoculars, never used them myself . Nikon cameras yes, but brand loyalty across such different instruments would be foolish.

I was dissatisfied with the 8x30s I was given when my dad bought some better ones 40 years ago for astro use, they are fine for general use, but  30mm aperture is small for astro use, and I'm in suburbia, I need all the light from objects that I can get !

I took the good advice from binocularsky who has actually used and compared all the ones he recommends. I bought the 10x50 opticron WP , for about £70 (this was 6 months ago) along with a simple tripod adapter for £10 .

This allows me to place the bin.s on top of a cheap, no-name monopod I already owned, with a small cheap ball head I also already owned . The monopod is light, easily transportable (it closes down to less than 60cm) and supports the weight of the bin.s , less wobble, no arm fatigue, better viewing. Last time I looked Amazon did a 'basics' monopod for £15, there are loads of cheap small ball & socket photo heads around, All you need to check with a monopod is if it would bring the binoculars high enough for you to look through, remembering you will be looking up 🙂 .

Heather

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If you are new to the hobby, I'd really recommend that you don't go above 10x50..and a good 10x42 or even 8x42 will show you loads of objects, and importantly, help you to learn the basics of the constellations by season.

The bigger bins are great, don't get me wrong, I also use a pair of 9x63s for Astronomy, both handheld for short periods and tripod mounted for longer sessions.. however, as stated above, I'd advise you not to run before you can walk.

You can't go wrong following Steve Tonkins' advice (Binocular Sky.com -  checkout his book on choosing and using binoculars, a goldmine of useful info and target objects for different sized instruments), and he would definitely recommend 10x50s as a great starting point.. 7x50s are good in dark skies, but in light polluted suburbia the 7mm exit pupil may show too bright a sky background and you will lose some of the precious contrast ("blackness" and sharpness of the image) that makes binocular observing so rewarding.

Be aware also that nothing is for nothing, so if you're tempted to jump straight in with "cheap" 15x70s or 20x80s, they often have poor quality control and the least knock can ruin the collimation (alignment) of the objectives. A decent pair of big bins like the Helios 15x70s mentioned above will cost several hundred pounds new, and at least c£175 on the used market..and they are heavy, so WILL need a tripod or monopod.

Finally, if you can't wait for other models of 10x50s mentioned to come back into stock, the Nikon Actions you referred to as being available will make an excellent first pair for you👍.

Good luck, and welcome to our wonderful hobby!

Dave

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Anyone who might consider using a binocular mirror-mount ( no stiff neck, shakes and vibes ) and can use a saw and pistol drill, can easily make one, as I did ( three in fact! ). First-mirrors can be had from www.scientificmirrors.co.uk .

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On 20/02/2021 at 08:39, F15Rules said:

Be aware also that nothing is for nothing, so if you're tempted to jump straight in with "cheap" 15x70s or 20x80s, they often have poor quality control and the least knock can ruin the collimation (alignment) of the objectives.

I've had my $69 Galileo 15x70s for over a decade and have traveled extensively with them and have yet to have them go out of collimation.  Sure, they only have 65mm of clear aperture, but they've given me and my family many great views both terrestrially as well as astronomically.

You can always rig up a reclining lawn chair for binocular observing like this guy on CN did to get better comfort and stability.

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13 hours ago, Louis D said:

I've had my $69 Galileo 15x70s for over a decade and have traveled extensively with them and have yet to have them go out of collimation.  Sure, they only have 65mm of clear aperture, but they've given me and my family many great views both terrestrially as well as astronomically.

You can always rig up a reclining lawn chair for binocular observing like this guy on CN did to get better comfort and stability.

wow thats very impressive! if thats the case then im sure the 8x42 vortex diamondbacks i ordered will will work just fine :) I wanted a very compact and versatile tool, no reclainers, no tripods/monopods, no lying on the ground. Just whip them out wherever you are, point up and start looking. Very excited to try them out :)

Edited by technocat
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7 hours ago, technocat said:

wow thats very impressive! if thats the case then im sure the 8x42 vortex diamondbacks i ordered will will work just fine :) I wanted a very compact and versatile tool, no reclainers, no tripods/monopods, no lying on the ground. Just whip them out wherever you are, point up and start looking. Very excited to try them out :)

Then the 8x42 bins will work great for that.  I have a Meade Safari Pro 8x42 from the late 90s that still puts up great views and is eyeglasses friendly with a 65 degree apparent field of view.  The Diamondbacks should be lighter being roof prisms instead of porro prisms, so probably even easier to use handheld.

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Regarding the choice between 8x42 or 10x50: that is very much a personal matter. I can hold 10x50 still really well, others struggle. I even use my 16x80s hand-held most of the time, without issues, but that may be the result of long practice. Regarding the cheap 15x70s: I have had two pairs, both of which got knocked out of collimation, but I collimated them again (not too hard on porro-prism bins). The EP bridge on one did break, so they are not terribly sturcy, but if treated with care can give many very enjoyable views for a long time. I stwitched to the much more expensive Helios Apollo 15x70s and never looked back, I must say. These are built like a tank. I only replaced them because I could get a good deal on a pair of Helios LightQuest 16x80, which are even better, and offer 30 % more light (at essentially the same magnification and weight). 

In conclusion: the Nikon 10x50 mentioned is a good choice, but there is indeed a dizzying array of choices available. I have a pair of Nikon bins for birding (Monarch 7 10x42mm) and can't fault them.

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On 23/02/2021 at 07:17, technocat said:

wow thats very impressive! if thats the case then im sure the 8x42 vortex diamondbacks i ordered will will work just fine :) I wanted a very compact and versatile tool, no reclainers, no tripods/monopods, no lying on the ground. Just whip them out wherever you are, point up and start looking. Very excited to try them out :)

Just to wade in late here – as a newbie who used binoculars for the first time (in a serious way) last night, I can say that I was definitely very glad I had a tripod. I couldn't really hold my 10x50 binoculars steady with my hands alone. It might have been different if I was lying on my back, or in a very stable reclining chair. But I'd advice getting that monopod, at least. 

Maybe with practice it gets easier, but I personally wouldn't have wanted to practice if all I could see was a wobbly blur.

However, with the smaller binoculars you've bought @technocat, you might be OK. A monopod should be pretty easy to whip out too, however, so it might be something to consider maybe for future.

 In the meantime, I had a great night of observing from the middle of a very, very bright city! Have fun 

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On 27/02/2021 at 09:45, Basementboy said:

Just to wade in late here – as a newbie who used binoculars for the first time (in a serious way) last night, I can say that I was definitely very glad I had a tripod. I couldn't really hold my 10x50 binoculars steady with my hands alone. It might have been different if I was lying on my back, or in a very stable reclining chair. But I'd advice getting that monopod, at least. 

Maybe with practice it gets easier, but I personally wouldn't have wanted to practice if all I could see was a wobbly blur.

However, with the smaller binoculars you've bought @technocat, you might be OK. A monopod should be pretty easy to whip out too, however, so it might be something to consider maybe for future.

 In the meantime, I had a great night of observing from the middle of a very, very bright city! Have fun 

you are right, im quite satisfied with 8x42

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