Feb 13, 2008 at 9:50 am #1227283
While not a necessity, I'm thinking to get a pair of binoculars for my trip to Glacier National Park this summer. I'll get as nice a pair as I can afford as long as they don't weigh a too terribly much.
Do any of you have experience with nice light weight binocs? All opinions are welcome.
DaveFeb 13, 2008 at 10:39 am #1420466
binos will be great in Glacier, definitely lots of high mountain terrain to scan. I don't have any particular recommendation. I remember lots other people over the years recommending eagle optics, so you may want to check them out.
I recently got a monocular, which is very lightweight, so I might bring this on trips in the future. For binocs, when you are getting small light ones, field of view is key, and get 8x power instead of 10x. I can use 10×25 binocs (and have them), but most people find them unstable and hard to use in terms of locating anything you see. 8×25 or 7×25 would be much more stable.Feb 13, 2008 at 10:47 am #1420467
I routinely carry the Brunton Monocular. It weighs 2.4 ounces in it's protective case, and cost about 30 bucks up here. I believe it is 6×30 or 7×40, but can't remember off hand. Anyway, a great buy in my opinion and the quality is really great.
Remember, that after a certain point, the extra magnification will become a nuisance as you won't be able to hold your binoculars steady enough. I think someone told me 8x was the max to go for handhelds.
HTHFeb 13, 2008 at 11:11 am #1420469
Thanks for the tips on magnification.
It looks Brunton makes some decent stuff. Some of it is affordable, ranging up to $40. Some of it is a bit insane. The $1,600 binoculars for example…Feb 13, 2008 at 11:33 am #1420473
I should say that I think Glacier justifies carrying binocs over a monocular. I would rather see a griz charging in my binocs then in my monocular. The extensive and varied wildlife and the opportunity for long range views put you in binocs range. I would actually considering carrying mid (8×35) or full size (10×42) binocs on a trip there, since you will want to see the mountain goat up on that cliff face, etc.Feb 13, 2008 at 11:40 am #1420475
I bought Vortex Twister binocs, took off the bridge and have two waterproof, fogproof monocs at 2.4 oz apiece : ).Feb 13, 2008 at 2:06 pm #1420487
Monoculars. Before buying one I always strongly suggest trying it out. Not everyone can get used to them. I happen to have one of the best compact monocular available (the Zeiss 8×20) and never use it because I can't get used to the flat (non 3d) vision.
Binoculars. You should just get one not a pair…..
For backpacking I would suggest something like a 7×25 or 8×25 or the more common 8×20.
The first number is the magnification, the second is the diameter in millimeters.
Divide the diameter by the magnification and you have the exit pupil, the size of the circle of light that will hit your eye. The bigger, the better. (IE 7×25 = 3.5mm, 8×20= 2.5mm) In bright light your pupil is about 2.5mm wide ,opening up to 5-7mm (depending on your age) at night.
Look for a BAK4 prism and multicoting. Avoid zoom and "in focus/permafocus" binos most of all the "infrared" coating.
My advice is always to go to a specialist, start with the cheapest bino that fits the above description, look through progressively more expensive units and stop when you cannot tell the difference in quality. Look at some detail in the distance such as writing, check the usable (sharp) field of view (up to a point the wider the better) and colour accuracy , particularly look for chromatic aberration ( an out of focus purple/blue tinge at the edge of a sharp line).
Note that a lot of the cheap units are out of collimation right from the box. This will give you an headache when you use them for more than a few seconds. What it means is that the two "monoculars" are out of alignment, so your eyes (brain..) keep re-focusing to put the images together. To test just alternatively open and close your right and left eye, if the image seem to jump, avoid them.
FrancoFeb 13, 2008 at 4:11 pm #1420503
I have a Zeiss monocular. I like it a lot but it is expensive. If you have a chance, try to find a store (camera store maybe) where you can try out the various choices. One thing you might consider is not getting the most magnification (I forget what I got). It is hard to keep my hand steady enough (especially if I'm trying to look at something far away). I taped a bolt on mine so I can screw it into a mini tripod.
Steiner used to make a great little monocular that sold for about $100 (way cheaper than the Zeiss). Unfortunately, it is discontinued. I had one and lost it in Zion. If you see one on on Ebay, you might consider snagging it (although you always have to be careful about it being scratched).
Finding ratings for monoculars is difficult. I started by looking at reviews of binoculars and then just buying the same company's equipment.Feb 13, 2008 at 10:28 pm #1420537
If you want a quality binocular at a mid-level (for binoculars) price, I suggest the Nikon Monarch 8×36 ATB. Not UL, but with the Crooked Horn Bino-System they are manageable when you need them.Feb 14, 2008 at 10:15 am #1420573
@einsteinLocale: Big Apple
In addition to the other excellent advice, I'd avoid the super-compact and light (4.5 oz.) "opera" binocs like the Minolta UC and Pentax FB series as these lack proper eye-cups for use in bright sunlight.
Avoid the advice of birders or anyone else that uses binocs as part of their non-backpacking core outdoor activity: they'll poo-poo all the 7 oz. wonders and set you up with a great pair of 19 oz. behemoths.
Most binocs are sealed somehow, but I'd lean towards waterproof ones, as it's simply just a matter of time before they go swimming.
And I second the Brunton scope. Not good for gazing at wildlife, but good for spot-checks on routes, blazes, bear bags (yup, still there), etc. Probably good for spotting bears too. I have a pair of Brunton Eterna's (8×25) that are fantastic, but I rarely bring them, opting more for the scope instead.Feb 14, 2008 at 5:39 pm #1420628
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
OBJECTIVE LENS > The larger (front lens) the brighter the view. Thus the small 25 mm. lenses are much less bright than 40mm lenses.
LENS COATING > The best are "Fully Multi-Coated" (all lenses coated on all surfaces)GOOD lens coatings are color corrected so birders, for example, can see colors accurately.
WATERPROOFING > The standard of industry is fully nitrogen purged and sealed optics. Thus NO inside condensation.
EYE CUPS > Twist-out eye cups with several tactile detent stops are far better than flip out rubber eye cups.
PRISIM TYPES > Old style PORRO PRISM binocs heve "L-shaped" tubes. Aside from their bulkiness they are the best style, optically simpler, that is,& require less color correction.
New style ROOF PRISM binocs have straight tubes and much more complex prisms to get the image to your eye. They require the BEST lens coating for color correction. They are also nicely compact.
In a nutshell, for equal money the "L-shaped" PORRO PRISM binocs have the best image and color.
Basically, if the binocs are less than $200. you may be disappointed in the end.
ME? I carry an 8 power by 25 mm objecive lens monocular when backpacking. Small & light.
But birding & hunting I carry a $700. 8X42 Pentax DCF-SP and suffer with the weight for the needed clarity. For the money they are amazing. The rest of Pentax optics are only just "OK".
Oh, yes, go to the "Better View Desired" website for great, unbiased optics evaluations.
EricFeb 14, 2008 at 6:21 pm #1420635
@page0018Locale: Southeastern USA
Ahh, I love binoculars – mainly for stargazing. But also for wildlife. I go walking to dark places to get good stars, galaxies, nebula, clusters, etc.
The best light weight binocs I have are Minolta 8×23, about 9oz. I recommend shopping by looking out the store window at a bright sunlit scene with all the binocs they have. Pick the ones with the best true color and sharpest images.
But if I'm going to bother carrying binocs at all, my favorite are Canon 10×30 IS. These are heavy, 1' 7", without strap or case, but they are "image stabilized". Push the button and all jiggle goes away. They really work, especially for stars, and give a very stable vibration free image. They use AA batteries. They are also expensive – about $325, but worth it if you love looking at things.
Otherwise to get rid of vibration, hold binocs against a tree, or tight against your trekking pole. I have a tripod adaptor that I screw into my pole to hold even bigger binocs steady.
I take off all straps and case and use only zip lock bag for protection when hiking. I tape a bottle cap over the IS button to make sure it doesn't turn on in my pack.
Check out the 110 Messier objects!Feb 16, 2008 at 10:48 am #1420842
@sawtoothLocale: Southern Colorado Rockies
For light weight: Zeiss Monocular. I tried one of these out last summer and it was pretty good and very lightweight.
If weight's not such an issue: Pentax DCF-SP 10X43 These are what I use for hunting.Mar 4, 2008 at 10:17 am #1422960
I have a question on this subject. Does the eye relief measurement matter for people that dont wear glasses? Thanks in advance.Mar 4, 2008 at 10:27 pm #1423059
No as long as you can see the full view with the eyecups in position. (to avoid stray light and touching the glass with your eyelashes)
FrancoMar 5, 2008 at 2:10 pm #1423137
@brianleLocale: Pacific NW
There are advantages to a monocular apart from weight.
The smaller size (and weight) allows me to keep my monocular very handy, quick to pull out from off a pack strap. You might find that binoculars work for you on a waist belt, dunno, but IMO optics are only worth carrying if they're very quick to pull out, particularly if you hope to see wildlife.
Another factor is that binoculars have to be tuned to your individual eyes. I can pass my monocular to my wife and it sort of self-adapts to whichever eye it's being used on. My left eye is weaker in distance vision than my right, and I find it challenging sometimes to get binoculars adjusted well enough for me.
I'd also say that if you're thinking about a fairly lightweight binocular, my (admittedly limited) experience is that full sized binoculars are much more inherently stable, whereas the smaller "backpacking" type of binoculars are hard to hold still. In that context, I don't find them better, and in many ways worse than a monocular even in the fundamental "quality of viewing experience" aspect.
So I'll take a monocular everytime when backpacking.Mar 5, 2008 at 3:20 pm #1423147
I hunt and so my optics are very important.
I have a pair of 10×42 Swarovskis that come in at a svelt 2 poundds… They are worth they weight in gold, and cost about as much…
Dont use a nck strap with binoculars. A harness is MUCH better for carrying them and they also aid in helping to get a steady hold.
This is the brand I use but there are numerous types out thereMar 5, 2008 at 6:34 pm #1423175
I can zero into a subject like a flying bird much faster with a binocular than a monocular, but I don't know how it works for other people, I will look into that.
As far as holding them, yes a heavier and larger pair (up to a point) will be steadier than a smaller one, but in my experience two hands will do a better job than one. Then again, that is why I recommend people to try them out for themselves as we perceive things in a different way.
FrancoMar 6, 2008 at 12:47 am #1423209
@fangtoothLocale: ventana wilderness
nothing better than a good pair of binoculars i think the best bang for your under valued dollar would be the steiner safari at 8.5 ounces and very small. steiner has a ten year warranty. specs-8×22-center focus-369 field of view-11.5 close focus-10mm eye relief-2,7 exit pupil-13.26 twilight factor-dem:3.7L,4.3W,2.2HFeb 19, 2009 at 2:11 pm #1479105
This model has some extra features and also is light weightFeb 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm #1479142
I used to sell that, never field tested the extra bits but the optics are not particularly good.
The best way to choose, if possible, is to look through one. At some point going up in price you will find hard to tell the difference, stop there.
Hiking, weight and size becomes as important (if not more) than quality (good advice about avoiding birders) , so since having lost my Leica 8×20 I tend to hike without because my 8×32 are 700g (24oz) are a literal pain in the neck to carry.
FrancoFeb 19, 2009 at 4:48 pm #1479147
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I have a pair of Nikon 7X20 Travelite 2 binoculars that I have carried with me for many years. Weighs 7.9 ounces without the case (lost the case and eye piece caps a long time ago). They have been through all kinds of abuse and still do a good job. I usually keep the cord around my neck when hiking and clip them to a shoulder strap with a biner. I think they still make the Travelite series and should be under $100.
I have a pair of Nikon 8X42 Monarch ATB that I only use on day hikes. Weight is 25.8 ounces. Too heavy for backpacking. The quality is better, but I usually grab the Travelites for day hikes.
I am not an optics expert, I just like to see things that are far away. I am happy with both, and they were fairly inexpensive.
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