Jump to content

sgl_imaging_challenge_2021_annual.thumb.jpg.3fc34f695a81b16210333189a3162ac7.jpg

Is it time to buy a set of modern binoculars?


Guest
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have just visited the new nature centre with bird hides at Fishers Green in the Lea Valley at Waltham Abbey.

A wonderful resource on the outskirts of north London. I took my very good 10 x 50 Opticron HR binoculars.

While they have been good. The close focus is very far away, they lacked the brightness of s set of Hawke 10 x 40's.

I must admit that I struggle a bit with 10 x binoculars not giving a steady image/view. I did'nt have the Hawkes long enough to see if modern 10 x binos suffer the same shakes or not.

Looking at the specs of the Helios Lightwing, they seem impressive. With a close focus of two metres and a generous field of view compared to the older 5°. I would like to use them for astronomy aswell. Wondered about monoculars aswell.

Christmas is coming soon.

Any tips on what might be an improvement over the older Opticrons would be welcome. Are modern 10 x binoculars more stable image wise than the older models.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a pair of Helios Lighting HR 8x42ED binoculars that I picked up from Lockie (@Chris) a couple of years ago and I've been very impressed by them, but only tend to use them for general daylight observing, mostly birding but Chris posted how impressed he was with them under the night sky if I remember correctly.

I also have a pair of Vortex Optics Diamondback 10x50s which I use for astro and they are very excellent but I find that they tend to suffer from reflections on the large eyepiece lenses during the day and I found I needed a Bino Bandit to solve that problem, but as I prefer the Lightings for daytime use as they're smaller, lighter and I can hold them steadier so this isn't too much of a problem.

Ade

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

54 minutes ago, AdeKing said:

I have a pair of Helios Lighting HR 8x42ED binoculars that I picked up from Lockie (@Chris) a couple of years ago and I've been very impressed by them, but only tend to use them for general daylight observing, mostly birding but Chris posted how impressed he was with them under the night sky if I remember correctly.

Put it this way Ade...if you ever want to sell them back? 🤩 Seriously though they are an excellent small binocular. Roof prism bins don't usually have that pseudo 3D effect, but the Helios LightWing ED's could focus tiny pin prick stars on the edge of visibility which gave the view nice depth.

If I recall correctly the field was nice and flat over a good portion of the AFOV and reflections weren't a problem also. 

I find myself recommending them quite often :)  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Grumpy Martian said:

Looking at the specs of the Helios Lightwing, they seem impressive.

Here's my first light report for the LightWing ED's, in case you would like a second opinion :)

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unless we introduce mechanical stabilization, a 10x binocular is what it is in terms of image stability. Maybe an increase in field of view would give a tiny impression of greater stability but really the instability lies in the hands of the observer and the ability of their eye-brain to compensate for it.

Most people - and this certainly applies to me - get a better experience from reduced magnification as they age. I used to like 10x binoculars but now I don't, I much prefer 8x. (This is hand holding non-stabilized instruments.) 

Comfort in the hand and the right eye-relief do matter but, in the end, not everyone benefits from 10x. I now go for 8x42 rather than 10x50. Weight works both ways in that ultra-light binos lack the 'anvil effect' which damps out small vibrations but, of course, too much weight is tiring to hold well.

Olly

Edit: Chris's review above rings very true indeed for me. I have a different make but entirely agree with what he says.

Edited by ollypenrice
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Chris said:

Here's my first light report for the LightWing ED's, in case you would like a second opinion :)

 

Thanks Chris. How are you? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would feel that with the 8 x 40 with the wide 8° field of you. You would enjoy a fully immersive viewing experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For daytime use I a pair of 8x30 as they are light, wide and compact. I then back this up with “heavier artillery”. This could be an old 66mm William optics refractor or a pair of 70mm APM angled binoculars (if I don’t want to walk too far), both take astro eyepieces for wide angle sharp views. 
I do have some (very) old 12x36 image stabilised binocular which still come out when I only want to bring ONE optic.

 

Thanks for the heads up of the new site, near my parents, so will need to pay a visit sometime!

 

Peter 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Chris said:

Good thank you Martin :) Keeping busy with plenty going on. I hope you're well also? 

I am well thankyou Chris. I have recently been travelling past that service station where we met for me to buy your Revelation 80mm years ago near Ipswich.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, Grumpy Martian said:

I am well thankyou Chris. I have recently been travelling past that service station where we met for me to buy your Revelation 80mm years ago near Ipswich.

I remember that well because the Revelation was pristine until I dropped the metal objective cap during the sale! 🙈😅

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I bought some new Kenko waterproof 10x32 binoculars about 2 years ago in a sale at a camera shop in the UK and they are fantastic quality. If you can find any of these still around I would highly recommend them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can get some excellent bino's now at extremely reasonable prices and they do seem to outperform older models..............in most cases.

After reading a review by Neil English on some SVBONY binos  - I got hold of a pair of 8x32 (£89) and 10x42's(£125) both great performers and super value for money - comparable with more expensive binos. But I find binos a bit like shoes - some fit, and some, despite the spec for some reason do not 'feel' right.  So, despite having these two and a couple of other premium binos, the ones that give me a bit of a thrill every time I use them is a battered pair of Swift Audubon 8.5x44's - part wrapped in waterproof tape where the original plastic type covering is torn and with dents in the metal body. The image however is bright, vibrant and sharp and the FOV massive - and for astro use they are excellent and can be held steady without effort despite their bulk. I would jump at the chance of a pair in better condition but I think used ones in good condition are not cheap. So do not write off the old duffers, there are some gems out there, but you would be best to try before you buy a used model.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, despite having these two and a couple of other premium binos, the ones that give me a bit of a thrill every time I use them is a battered pair of Swift Audubon 8.5x44's 

 

 

Hi Barry. Thanks for your advice. May I ask if the Audubon are the older Porto prusm type?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, Porto, the end of  long series of slightly improve s models over the decades. Probably a deal heavier than modern fare and the eye relief is likely less too. I have some old Porto and they have wonderful wide views... though I have to glue my eyeballs to the eyepieces.

 

Peter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, PeterW said:

Yes, Porto, the end of  long series of slightly improve s models over the decades. Probably a deal heavier than modern fare and the eye relief is likely less too. I have some old Porto and they have wonderful wide views... though I have to glue my eyeballs to the eyepieces.

Yes - quite agree about the eye relief - pretty small, so the lenses do tend to steam up quite quickly at times which can be irritating, and the eye cups do not extend at all. They are just a shade over 1kg which puts them in the 'chunky' category, so not something to take on a long walk either.

As far as second hand binos go however I am always wary of the dreaded miss-collimation, not always easy to spot very minor poor alignment in daylight, but quite obvious when used for astronomy - so a vendor might describe them (in all good faith) as 'very good' but they might end up needing some maintenance which could cost as much as the binos themselves (been there, done it!). So second hand can be a bit of a lottery unless if they look pristine.

If I were after a single pair for astronomy, and did not want any risk of getting a lemon as far as quality goes I would probably end up going for some of the new offerings (like the SVBONY or VORTEX range offered by FLO) with modern optical coatings, lightweight chassis and so on, and with an option to return them if they did not fit!  Even the smaller modern 8x32 class binos can give older models with bigger objectives a run for their money.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 09/10/2021 at 16:59, Grumpy Martian said:

Any tips on what might be an improvement over the older Opticrons would be welcome. Are modern 10 x binoculars more stable image wise than the older models.

For hand-held-only observing, I oscillate among three binos (well, four if you count the 2.1x42, but that's a bit different):

* Opticron BGA 10x42 - had these for a very long time; they are my walking/birding/travelling binos; get astro use when I'm away from home.
* Lunt Magnesium 10x50 - brightest 10x50 I've used, and I see more through these than any other hand-held, despite the slight wobble. When I can no longer hold them sufficiently steadily for my liking, I'll probably go for an IS option.
* Vixen 6.5x32 - certainly the nicest to use, and give a wide, steady field with excellent colour rendition (but show me less than the others).

I've used Vortex Crossfires and Diamondbacks; the latter in particular are extremely nice mid-price-range binos.

 

On 10/10/2021 at 14:29, Barry Fitz-Gerald said:

Swift Audubon 8.5x44's

I think there were two incarnations of those; Mk1 black-covered, and Mk2 grey-covered with a mounting point on the underside of one of the objective tubes. The "little brother" of the Swift Newport 10x50s. In the early '90s made the silly mistake of selling my Mk1 Newports to fund a modern lightweight bino; didn't get on with it (what you said about being like shoes 🙂 ), but couldn't find another Mk1 Newport in good nick, so compounded my silly mistake by getting the Mk 2 - wider FoV. Absolutely awful!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I dropped down from 10x to 8x and enjoy that a lot more. I also switched from porro prism to roof prism and smaller apeture (42mm) just to have something more compact that I would be more likely to carry/use. This has paid off and I'm very happy with 8x42.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a pair of Barr &Stroud ‘Savannah’ 10x 56 they’re not too heavy and that little extra bit of glass brightens the image nicely.

I find I use them most to find stars near my target when low down and the finder scope can’t find!  Also like to sit back and trawl down the MW while the imaging rig gathers photons.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm a bit late to this thread, but hopefully I can provide another recommendation. 

Not sure if they're in your price range, but I love my image stabilising Canon 10x30 IS binoculars (as seen here: https://www.cliftoncameras.co.uk/Canon-10x30-IS-II-Binoculars). I bought them 5 years ago at around £369 (today, they are £469) to supplement my other hobby (target shooting) and I can tell you they were worth every penny. When I apply the stabilisation, I can see the vapour trails of my friends shot out to 1,000 yards, which is extremely handy if there is no splash impact when you miss the target. Without image stabilising, it's much harder to see them! Each time I handed them over to someone to spot me, they were amazed by the difference once they applied the stabilisation.

For casual use like birding etc, these really do excel at seeing the details more clearly. We have a number of birds which come around the garden feeders (Wood pigeons, gold and green finches, sparrows to name a few) and I find it incredible seeing the colours of their feathers and their eyes, looking around. Sure, there's some minor chromatic aberration in the corners but I'm happy to compromise a bit of optical clarity for more stability. 

You should still aim to have a stable positions on elbows or similar because although the image stabilisation significantly reduces the shakes, it doesn't completely remove them. 

For astro, this is still fairly new to me and I've not spent enough time observing. With my young eyes (but crap eyesight, corrected by contact lenses) I was recently able to make out the four galilean moons of jupiter quite clearly! I checked stellarium to make sure I was actually seeing the moons and not something else and I can confirm I was right. I could just make out the elliptical shape of saturn, if only slightly, so that should be your expectation of resolution. I had a lot of fun looking around the night sky that evening whilst my camera was snapping away and I enjoyed looking for M31 Andromeda. I haven't observed the night sky with any other instrument so I can't compare to anything else. I can only say that I was able to observe much better with image stabilisation on versus it being switched off, the only thing stopping me putting them down was a stiff neck from looking up for so long! 

I'd definitely recommend trying them out if you get a chance and they're in your price range. They're available on amazon for £469 and if you don't get on with them in the first 30 days, you can always return for a full refund. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.