24 July

High performance binoculars for the stars, asterisms, or for bird watching

I have a big telescope for star gazing, but have been hankering for something portable and with a big field of view. With the advent of image stabilized binoculars, it looks like itís time to take the plunge.

The Canon 10x42L is my pick, as it combines a solid and pleasing 10x magnification with a big 42mm front lens and uses Canon's top-quality L-series optics. It's a very expensive pair of binoculars, but seems supreme. Notably, one should note that with binoculars and telescopes, the temptation of a large magnification or aperture size, in a lower-cost but lower quality package, should be resisted. For optical equipment, quality optics is really worth it, and a low-cost option is generally a road to frustration and disappointment.

At magnifications greater than 7, holding binoculars steady becomes a real challenge, especially over longer time periods which makes the image stabilization so attractive. People who have the 10x42L IS model often say they could not imagine going back.

To save a bit of money, the 10x32 version is still very good, but lacks the waterproofing and L-series optics. It has a smaller aperture, but still sports the very valuable image stabilization.

A much lower cost option would be the Celestron Cometron Giant 15x70 Binoculars (or the related and perhaps-identical "Skymaster"). Both are reportedly slightly inconsistent in performance and have been reported to occasionally arrive improperly collimated (which means the image is blurry unless you take steps to adjust it). This is still an interesting purchase, especially if you can find it on sale (they've been seen as low as $70 CAD/$55 USD in 2021 and if I could find them again at that price I'd grab a pair). At that magnification one probably wants to put them on a tripod for extended viewing (hence the attraction of expensive stabilization), but for short viewing sessions then just resting the scope
your elbows on a solid surface should be okay

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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