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NY Times Binocular Report


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We have lots of posts on what binoculars to buy.  Here is the most recent NY Times Wirecutter report on binoculars .  https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/the-best-binoculars/

 

This is sort of long but it is a copy of the actual report.  Note that none of the choices are less than $100 and none of the recommended ones include the $20 cheapie ones that some people have considered buying.  Also note that all of them are a very reasonable power of 8x and not the 20x power binoculars thatsome people have looked at.  Stuff in italics is my additions to the NY Times report.

 

DON

 

Athlon Optics Midas ED

The best binoculars for nearly everyone

Relatively affordable with great optics, these binoculars have comparable performance to many models that cost thousands more.

$315 from Amazon.  Current price on Amazon is $269. The eye relief on these is also very good.

The Athlon Optics Midas ED 8x42—along with nearly all of the other binoculars we tested—are the beneficiaries of a revolution in optical quality caused by the falling costs of precision manufacturing and optical treatments. For just over $300 you can get a pair of binoculars that matches—that’s matches, not comes close to—products that cost hundreds, or even thousands, more. The Athlon Midas ED pair’s optics aren’t its only strong suit: These are exceptionally durable binoculars that easily withstood the humid, dusty, and hostile environment of the Mexican rain forest and harsh sun of the Californian desert. And their focus dial adjusts reliably and smoothly across a wide range of depths, making it easy to focus on what you’re trying to see, no matter where it is.

 

Runner-up

Celestron Trailseeker ED

For a smaller grip

These binoculars are a close second to the Athlons, with just-as-clear optics, solid construction, and easy-to-use focusing. They also have a slightly smaller grip than the sturdier Athlons.

$326 from Amazon

$329 from Adorama

If you prefer a slightly smaller grip or the Athlon Optics Midas ED pair is out of stock, the very similar Celestron Trailseeker ED 8x42 Binoculars are a sharp, easy-to-use choice. After the Athlons, these were the binoculars I most often grabbed when trying to see a new bird. Like the Athlon set, the Celestron Trailseeker features crystal-clear optics (even around the edges of the field of view), comfortable ergonomics, and predictable focusing, all in a slightly smaller package.

 

Budget pick

Carson VP

Splendid views at a great price

Proof that binoculars have undergone a quality revolution, these are high quality at a price that once would have gotten you little but junk.

Buy from Amazon

$133 from Walmart

*At the time of publishing, the price was $231.

If you’re on a supertight budget and are willing to see less of a scene at a time, you can get the Carson VP 8x42 for around half the price of the Athlons and get almost all the performance, with only a slight compromise in field of view (how much of the landscape you’ll see through the binoculars).

Also great

Pentax AD 8x25 WP

 

The best compact binoculars

Compact binocs aren’t the best for birding, but these combine pocket-size convenience with enough magnification to actually identify things.

$120 from Adorama

The low-cost Pentax AD 8 x 25 WP are ideal for day hikes or airplane travel, where you want good-quality optics in a small package. Everything worked—the eyecups felt solid and comfortable, the hinges weren’t too loose, and focusing was quick and surprisingly accurate at any distance. Of course, this is not the pair for serious birding, stargazing, or anything requiring exceptional detail. But if you want inexpensive, very compact binoculars, this is the pair for you.

 

Edited by donaldsc
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Hey thanks for sharing this informative piece from NYT Wirecutter! Just adding in the author's name, Daniel S. Cooper, so author credit is visible within the topic. 

 

🙂 

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  • 3 months later...
On 6/8/2022 at 3:58 AM, donaldsc said:

We have lots of posts on what binoculars to buy.  Here is the most recent NY Times Wirecutter report on binoculars .  https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/the-best-binoculars/

 

(quoted material edited for brevity)

 

 

Thank you, donaldsc, for the post.  Binoculars are a fantastic addition to a cruise!  I'd like to piggyback on your discussion.

 

Once you get over 8x magnification, binoculars will show you just how shaky your hands are!  Years ago, when I started birding, I did some research on binoculars.  Lots of great pairs our there, including stunning clarity from manufacturers like Swarovski.  But our human inability to hold things steady over 8x means that unless you have a tripod/bipod/monopod, you won't be pleased, regardless of the lens quality (and who wants to carry extra stuff around). 

 

There was only one solution:  Canon binoculars with image stabilization. 

 

My pair is the Canon 12x36 IS III, made in Japan.  It's absolutely stunning what happens when one presses the stabilization button on top!  It's so good you can use it in a moving vehicle!  They are expensive (~$700) but they'll be the last pair you buy and will greatly increase the pleasure of using binoculars to pick out details.  I'll never go back to unstabilized binoculars, period.

 

-Eric

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, JAFM said:

Once you get over 8x magnification, binoculars will show you just how shaky your hands are!  Years ago, when I started birding, I did some research on binoculars.  Lots of great pairs our there, including stunning clarity from manufacturers like Swarovski.  But our human inability to hold things steady over 8x means that unless you have a tripod/bipod/monopod, you won't be pleased, regardless of the lens quality (and who wants to carry extra stuff around). 

 

There was only one solution:  Canon binoculars with image stabilization. 

 

My pair is the Canon 12x36 IS III, made in Japan.  It's absolutely stunning what happens when one presses the stabilization button on top!  It's so good you can use it in a moving vehicle!  They are expensive (~$700) but they'll be the last pair you buy and will greatly increase the pleasure of using binoculars to pick out details.  I'll never go back to unstabilized binoculars, period.

I have to mention that there is also another, cheaper approach to stabilize binoculars (and this could be even combined with those image stabilized binoculars!): a finnstick. It is basicly a short pole used to hold binoculars on the eye level. Originally these have been hand-made (often from wooden ice hockey sticks), but these days there is even few commercial models available (disclaimer: I'm talking from my Finnish perspective, situation might be slightly different elsewhere) and one approach is also tripod attachment for binoculars and a light monopod (generally in non-extended form). If my explanation is too vague, please do an image seach for "finnstick" and you'll find several pictures of the device, often in use.

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2 hours ago, Hezu said:

I have to mention that there is also another, cheaper approach to stabilize binoculars (and this could be even combined with those image stabilized binoculars!): a finnstick. It is basicly a short pole used to hold binoculars on the eye level. Originally these have been hand-made (often from wooden ice hockey sticks), but these days there is even few commercial models available (disclaimer: I'm talking from my Finnish perspective, situation might be slightly different elsewhere) and one approach is also tripod attachment for binoculars and a light monopod (generally in non-extended form). If my explanation is too vague, please do an image seach for "finnstick" and you'll find several pictures of the device, often in use.

 

As long as we are talking about unorthodox support methods - how about a chain pod.  

 

DON

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9 hours ago, donaldsc said:

As long as we are talking about unorthodox support methods - how about a chain pod. 

I not sure that sort of solution works that well with binoculars and at least that does not offer one of the benefits of finnstick: making holding binoculars less strenuous as you can keep your hands down while holding the stick and not raise them to hold the binoculars.

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20 hours ago, Hezu said:

I have to mention that there is also another, cheaper approach to stabilize binoculars (and this could be even combined with those image stabilized binoculars!): a finnstick. It is basicly a short pole used to hold binoculars on the eye level. Originally these have been hand-made (often from wooden ice hockey sticks), but these days there is even few commercial models available (disclaimer: I'm talking from my Finnish perspective, situation might be slightly different elsewhere) and one approach is also tripod attachment for binoculars and a light monopod (generally in non-extended form). If my explanation is too vague, please do an image seach for "finnstick" and you'll find several pictures of the device, often in use.

 

If using monopods, tripods, etc on a ship, you need to be aware that the ship's movement is still present and it also adds vibration transmitted through the deck.

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8 hours ago, Hezu said:

I not sure that sort of solution works that well with binoculars and at least that does not offer one of the benefits of finnstick: making holding binoculars less strenuous as you can keep your hands down while holding the stick and not raise them to hold the binoculars.

 

No argument on those points.  However for those people who buy cheap 12x binocs that are not image stabilized it would be better than nothing.

 

DON

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