Author Topic: Recommend a pair of binoculars  (Read 1568 times)

Recommend a pair of binoculars
« on: July 25, 2020, 09:10:35 am »
I did some cycle touring last year and when my sleeping bag comes out of store (on Tuesday) I plan to do some more.

I would like a pair of lightweight binoculars I could put in a pannier. To be used at stops and at night time. Also to be used walking.

I have no idea how to choose binoculars or what to look for.

Cost within reason is. It a great problem as I would rather get really good once than buy twice.

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2020, 09:54:15 am »
I have a pair of nicely compact Praktica Sport 10x25 (10 = zoom, 25mm = lens diameter), 341g including the neck string and padded pouch they come in. Look at the bottom row of binoculars here to see the newer 10x26 version. I bought once and am very happy with them. The price now is £60. I cannot compare them as I don't have any others.

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2020, 10:00:24 am »
Nikon Travelite are great. I have some bigger Nikon Sportsters but the Travelites V 8x25 get used more. will fit in a pocket and are light. I've had them over 10 years and they are as good as new.
I had some Prakitcas but they died of rubber diseases (where it goes all tacky and horrid).

edit: Looks like the Travelite EX are the current versions of these.

Bins are one of those things that you can spend a serious amount of money on. You also have to factor in size / weight versus portability and convenience. I think the Nikons are robust and have good enough optics (smallish field of vision but that's a trade off for the portability) and not so stupidly expensive that it would be a disaster if you lost them so are afraid to actually bung them in a pocket or bag.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2020, 10:17:26 am »
You might need to be a bit more specific about reasonable cost and really good, it may mean different things to different people
I've settled on Opticron Discovery 8 x 32, about £150 and around 450g, they're a compromise that suits me, having previously had some excellent but huge things and some lightweight £50 10x25 that were little more than toys.  I also have a 8 x 30 monocular, also Opticron, it's not as good but if I could only have the one it'd be this.  I have to think about packing and/or carrying the binoculars, but on most rides the mono is with me. 
Opticron do some field events, you get to have a play on all levels of kit in real world situations, if there's one near you I'd recommend it, the one I went to was very informative and no hard sell.

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2020, 10:28:26 am »
If you don't really know what you want, I would suggest a cheap 8x25 pair until you are sure what suits you.  The "25" is the objective lens size and makes the bins small. The huge disadvantage of that size  is the field of view is small too, and finding what you want to look at is difficult although better with practice.

8x30 is the size which is still portable but practically useful, the increased magnification of say, 10x  doesn't make a huge difference in what you see, but it does in size and weight.  Monoculars are tempting for size, but I have only one good eye and even with that restriction the reduction in field of view makes a monocular unpractical.

The birdy magazines carry useful advertisements and you can spend as much as you want to, but like cameras, bins are no use in a pannier.


T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2020, 10:36:24 am »
8x30 is the size which is still portable but practically useful, the increased magnification of say, 10x  doesn't make a huge difference in what you see, but it does in size and weight.

^^^ That. I'd add, too, that 10 times your natural jiggle is much more noticeable than 8x, so that in the end you see less with the 10x than with the 8x.

BTW: the poor man's stabilizer is a length of cord with a loop in one end that goes round the binox. You stand on the other end and pull up against it.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2020, 12:40:25 pm »
In normal times I would say get along to a specialist shop (several RSPB reserves and shops have them but there are others) and try some out.
As an example, MrsC and I completely disagree about the priorities for bins. She trades higher magnification for a smaller objective and a darker image, I go for x8 with what was the largest objective I could afford at the time (not that large!).  Comfort and feel can be as important as the technical specs.
"No matter how slow you go, you're still lapping everybody on the couch."

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2020, 12:42:53 pm »
>snip<

BTW: the poor man's stabilizer is a length of cord with a loop in one end that goes round the binox. You stand on the other end and pull up against it.
I like that  :thumbsup:

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2020, 12:53:47 pm »
D seems to have had recent trouble with binoculars; he found he couldn't really see celestial objects clearly with them, however when he wanted to investigate the pigeons roosting on the roof, he could see fine.

Seems 'close up' distance and distant distance don't work the same; I don't know whether this is optical axes or what. Make sure you check whatever you get for the application you intend..

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2020, 12:57:38 pm »
I am an Opticron fan boy with two pairs of their bins and a monocular.  Opticron don't come  cheap but for touring I used to take the monocular considering both space and weight limitations.

You 'll be dipping for at least a couple of hundred if you choose Opticron but the quality is rather good.

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2020, 03:26:06 pm »
It is also worth remembering that better quality lenses are a better investment than larger cheap lenses, or increased magnification.

Find a good optics shop and try, not all binoculars are the same. I cannot use some makes as they cause double vision.

I ended up with an opticron monocular

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2020, 03:52:07 pm »
I've had the same Nikon 10x25 compact plastic bodied binos for 25yrs!  They weigh ~200g.  Great optics.

8x30s would be much brighter, but possibly heavier (400-500g?).   x25 objectives may give lower weight if req'd.
Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.  EOW.

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2020, 05:32:49 pm »
you say to use at night, but to look at what?

Night-time sky use I guess falls into three main categories

- looking at the moon
- looking at the stars
- looking at planets and their moons

The light side of the moon is a bright object so that the image from a good pair of 8x30s is plenty bright enough; with bigger objectives you may start wishing for dark filters. Stars can require better resolution and a larger objective if they are faint stars, but with any half-decent set you will see about x10 more stars than with the naked eye. If you have a really good set of bins mounted on a tripod you can make out Saturn's rings (badly) and the four largest moons of Jupiter, that kind of thing.   I guess I've owned several dozen pairs of bins but the best ones have been Zeiss models; 8x30 for hand-holding, 10x50 for tripod use. However unless you buy them used, and buy them well, the best value for money lies elsewhere in all probability.

For something lightweight when touring, a monocular is pretty good. BITD some of the Russian-made Zeiss knockoffs were pretty good value, especially in monocular form; no alignment issues! I often take an 8x30 monocular when touring.

cheers


Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2020, 11:47:40 pm »
I was a bit surprised when Polar Bear said you wouldn't get Opticrons for under £200. I have an expensive pair of Opticrons (8*42), bought second-hand, and a much cheaper pair (8*25?), bought new. From memory, the cheaper pair, which come with me when cycle camping, were in the region of £80. That was quite a few years ago.

Looking at the Opticron website, I see that these are listed at £119. https://www.opticron.co.uk/our-products/binoculars/oregon-4-pc-binoculars/oregon-4-pc-8x32 . I would imagine that htey are OK. There doesn't seem to be anything on their website which is quite like my cheaper pair.

I don't think that my eyesight is worth spending much on as far as binoculars are concerned.
Eating's a serious business. Don't bollocks around wagging your tail.

T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2020, 08:17:39 am »
If you have a really good set of bins mounted on a tripod you can make out Saturn's rings (badly) and the four largest moons of Jupiter, that kind of thing.

I once saw a home-made set consisting of twin 17" Cassegrain telescopes.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2020, 09:08:00 am »
Quite so Wow.  I was being a range snob.  😊

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2020, 12:05:38 pm »
I too have Opticron 8*42s at under £200, which I’m quite happy with. My choice was a bit limited by IPD, but I certainly favoured a compact and light style to avoid wobbly stars.

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2020, 07:04:27 pm »
I have a pair of Carl Zeiss Jena, Jenoptem Multi-Coated, 8x30, that I bought from a work colleague
back in 2006 for £40. I then took them to a specialist shop to clean them up. They charged £40 too.
I still have the case, instruction booklet and original guarantee.



I also have a Russian-made monocular, 8x30, that I bought at a market stall on the eastern side of the
Brandenburg Gate (whilst serving in the RAF) in 1991. They're pretty good too.



Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2020, 07:11:41 pm »
How about a monocular ?

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2020, 07:22:20 pm »
I have a pair of Carl Zeiss Jena, Jenoptem Multi-Coated, 8x30, that I bought from a work colleague
back in 2006 for £40. I then took them to a specialist shop to clean them up. They charged £40 too.
I still have the case, instruction booklet and original guarantee.


My Daddy has/had a pair like that!

slope

  • Ride Fettle Ride
    • Current pedalable joys
Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2020, 08:08:33 pm »
Having bought a pair of Leica Trinovid BCA 8x20 Compact Binoculars for walking and cycling with ~23 years ago and having forgotten how much they cost a very long time ago, they've never been anything but entirely satisfactory. That's 29p (as in pennies) per week of ownership.

If compact 8x20s are suitable to one's needs?

https://www.birders-store.co.uk/leica-trinovid-bca-8x20-compact-binoculars.html

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2020, 11:13:52 pm »
If you have a really good set of bins mounted on a tripod you can make out Saturn's rings (badly) and the four largest moons of Jupiter, that kind of thing.

I once saw a home-made set consisting of twin 17" Cassegrain telescopes.

Blimey!

Having bought a pair of Leica Trinovid BCA 8x20 Compact Binoculars for walking and cycling with ~23 years ago and having forgotten how much they cost a very long time ago, they've never been anything but entirely satisfactory. That's 29p (as in pennies) per week of ownership.
I don't think you can have entirely forgotten, else you wouldn't have been able to do the calculation.....?  ;) ~£350 is a big wadge alright....

But you can spend more...  a lot more.... bins with image stabilisation are very impressive indeed but yoicks they are enough to bleed you white....


I also have a Russian-made monocular, 8x30, that I bought at a market stall on the eastern side of the
Brandenburg Gate (whilst serving in the RAF) in 1991. They're pretty good too.




I have a couple of Russian monoculars which are similar to that; I think I paid about £7 (new) and about £3 (used) for them in the 1980s.  These days they seem to go for about £40-£50 a pop on ebay, which is a bit silly if you ask me.

Looking ebay right now if you want a Zeiss monocular this might be a cost effective route...?

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Monocular-Carl-Zeiss-Jena-Silvamar-6x-6-x-30-975803-half-binocular/114315645560

OK it is really just half a pair of Zeiss 6x30 'silvamar' bins, but no centrewheel focusing to start with means it works like a monocular OK and five minutes work with a hacksaw would make it look about right too....?

Lots of interesting websites about Zeiss etc including this one

http://www.greatestbinoculars.com/allpages/reviews/vintage8x50/vintage8x50.html

cheers

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2020, 11:34:07 pm »
thinking about it if you want to spend about £30-£50 on a used set of bins you could do worse than to look at a set of 'Swifts', preferably of the sort (there are several models made this way) which have a one-piece housing for the prisms and objective; these seem to be quite resistant to getting knocked out of alignment by comparison with many. They also handle well, have good coated lenses and most models have a  generous field of view too.  They are not quite up there in terms of absolute optical quality but they are pretty good, typically not at all fatiguing  in use, presenting a very naturalistic image.


Swift 'Neptune' 7x35

If you get a chance to compare two models with the same magnification but different fields of view, it can (especially if the image remains sharp and true to the edges) make a surprising difference, much less like peering down a tube and much more like 'just seeing better'.

cheers

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2020, 09:03:25 am »
Another plug for Nikon Travelite.  Have had mine for years and cosmetically they're battered but functionally perfect. Tough with a very sharp image.  And they are light. 
Sic transit and all that..

Re: Recommend a pair of binoculars
« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2020, 11:00:50 am »
I am thinking sort of non Specific use. Looking at the church across the fields. Looking at the bird in the hedgerow, looking at the night sky whilst lying in my Bivvy.

Never thought about monoculars before but they seem a good idea. I can get a slightly larger field of view and Magnificat for less money and lighter than equivalent binoculars. Am I correct?