View Full Version : Binoculars anyone?

2006-Jul-18, 03:31 PM
Hi folks!

My astronomy interests include about 50% of my observing time spent with binoculars, which I really enjoy, esp. during summer. My current inventory consists of:
1) Orion Ultraview 8X42's (general use, but do surprisingly well on the Milky Way)
2) Orion 15X70 little giants
3) Celestron 25X100's on Universal astronomics unimount heavy duty deluxe

I'm thinking of selling the 15X70's and 25X100's and going with either a 15X63 (less weight than most 70mm), or an upgraded 15X70 (and get a smaller mount), or a 20X80 (and keep the universal astronomics mount). What I'm interested in from you folks is: What binocs do you own/have owned/have looked through, and how did they perform (particularly those sizes I list above)? I'm particularly interested in FOV, eye relief, contrast, and edge performance (doesn't have to be perfect). I'm looking to downsize from the 25X100's, but my current 15X70's could use more eye relief, contrast, and better edge performance, they go soft about 2/3 out from the center of the field. Thanks!!

2006-Jul-18, 04:27 PM
I think Phil Harrington has written a book on binocs that should have tables of different models and some of the stats you are looking for.

Of course, any book would be out of date before it was published because models come and go all the time.

Might google for his web site.

2006-Jul-18, 04:41 PM
Thanks for the comments! I've seen stats and have a few pairs on my 'consider' list, but I'd love to hear from users who can comment on their binocs' performance in the field. I've looked at reviews on cloudy nights, Todd Gross's site, and scopereviews.com.

2006-Jul-18, 10:48 PM
Thanks for the comments! I've seen stats and have a few pairs on my 'consider' list, but I'd love to hear from users who can comment on their binocs' performance in the field. I've looked at reviews on cloudy nights, Todd Gross's site, and scopereviews.com.

I have a pair of 15 to 30 power 50mm Barska binoculars. They are very nice, though I notice some darkening at 30 power. They are heavy and require a mount. Even at 15 power I am to shakey to hold them steady. They give me a perfect circle view, which I have not found in other binoculars.

I also have a pair of 10 x 30 Bushnell. These are small folders that I keep in the glove box of the car. I find I use those when chance gives me a great view on some dark stretch of road somewhere. Great for comets etc.

Then I have several pair of old 7 or 8 by 30 to 40 binoculars that I have picked up over the years for the optics in them. I have used them all at one time or another.

I would like a pair of say 40 x 150 somethings. But, who has that kind of money.

David Davis
Toledo, OR 97391

Charlie in Dayton
2006-Aug-15, 07:19 AM
Here we go...

8x21 minis that stay in the car, just to have something at hand if the view looks good while heading home in the middle of the night
7x50 Binoluxes off eBay (in absolutely MINT condition, straps etc never even unwrapped!)
9x63 Barskas with roof prisms, got 'em on a three way trade deal
10x50 Tascos, about 30 years old, bought back in my military daze, now relegated to solar use with a pair of homemade solar filters
12x60 Apogees, with built in nebula filters
Oberwerk BT-80-45's, won at the 2006 Apollo Rendezvous (they came with 20x/26mm eyepieces...I have scored a matched set of Televue 8-24 zoom eyepieces that give me 21x-65x, and they work excellently)

For show'n'tell use, I have a box of eBay junker 7x35's that are clean, in decent shape, and relatively collimated, along with a utilitarian yet still very good pair of 7x50 Binoluxes (not my good pair, this is another one). When I teach binocular astronomy at camper stargazes at the state park, Rule #1 is "The strap ALWAYS goes around your neck".

I enjoy sitting in my favorite sling chair out at the club dark sky site and just watching the stars go by. The pair of binos of choice for the evening depend on what I'm looking for. Just general lookin' around? The 7x50's or the 9x63's. Nebula or galaxy hunting? The 12x60's with filters. I have a monopod type mount I can use, but generally just use the broomstick trick to steady things.

Some semi serious planet watching or M-object searches? The Beasts (the BT-80-45's) come out of the case and go on their tripod. Now it's time to either stand up, or sit on the padded plastic bucket.

Having all these optics for various purposes doesn't mean I'm rich, just lucky. Almost all of what I have are either eBay specials or winnings in a raffle. So far, I've been very lucky in that things are in good repair. I do have a few pair that desperately need collimation, so the spanner wrenches and strap wrenches and books are on hand...

I'm slowly learning to evaluate clarity and sharpness of fields of the various instruments. This will be a long process, but I'm willing to learn.

All these instruments give somewhat varying views, but none is objectionable. The newer ones have a brighter view, and of course I'll take 60 mm aperture over 50 mm or smaller any day.

As they say, the best set of binoculars for you is the one you'll use. For general use, a small(er) handholdable set comes in handy, and not just for astro uses. Those 8x42's fall right in the range for this. I'd keep 'em.

For just one pair of hi-po's, let's see...what can your wallet stand? If we're talking a fantasy budget here, go for the biggest ones you feel comfortable with. The 20x80's you mention sound like a nice compromise between 15x70's and 25x100's. Keep the monster mount. If you ever decide to upgrade, you've got it, and it's not ridiculously big for what you have.

As far as manufacturers go, I'm personally partial to Oberwerks, but I'll leave that part up to you.

There's my $.02 -- hope it's of use to you.

2006-Aug-16, 07:25 PM
Thanks Charlie! I've actually decided to keep the 25X100's since they have great contrast and can easily pull in any binocular object. They do need a substantial mount, but the heavy duty Unimount could handle another 5lbs, so it's up to the task. I think what I'm gonna do is sell my 15X70's and get a 12X63 pair for casual scanning with something relatively hand holdable. The 15X70's are marginally hand holdable but the 12X63's have about 20% wider FOV and are 10oz lighter. I'll definitely keep the 8X42's; they're great for casual daytime observing or birding, and are OK for scanning the milky way.

Charlie in Dayton
2006-Aug-23, 04:17 AM
Don't forget to teach the young'uns...