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Recommendations for lightweight binoculars

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We'll be taking a cruise from Vancouver to Whittier and then driving to Denali NP and back to Anchorage.  Any recommendations for decent quality light weight binoculars wild life viewing  for the trip?

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IMO, Nikon makes the best glass for imperfect eyes! In the midrange price category.  Leica, Swavorski for luxury.

 

Understand sizes. 8x means the view will be 8x closer than the naked eye. 7x probably not strong enough for large expanses like Denali. 10x means you need to have steady hands or you will see the shaking movement through the glass.

 

So you need to consider field of view, too. The wider the better in large areas - so you're not looking FOREVER trying to locate that elusive bear, etc. However,  you compromise lightweight and bulk for a larger field of view.

 

Anything is better than nothing, whether pocket binos like 8x21 or a pair of big 10x50. For a first pair, I recommend 8x 42 if you don't think they're too big. At 1.3#, the Monarch5 is easy to handle and Nikon's premium ED (Extra Low Dispersion) Glass provides a sharper, clearer and more brilliant field of view! This is important for those low light conditions - when animals are most active!

 

I have had Bushnell, Tasco, Pentax, & off brands but by far the best are my Nikons. I own two pair of Nikons - 8x and 10x. In a moving school bus the 10x are difficult to keep steady but whenever strangers borrow my Nikon binos they are AMAZED at just how good and crisp and clear they are! Every time I get compliments on them! Nikon makes glass for cameras so I suspect that is why their glass is so good!

 

(My glove box always has a pair of binos 8x21 - better than nothing and cheap!)

 

Go to a store like Cabelas or sporting goods. Try a few pair for feel and weight. Ask to walk to door with them and focus on something across the parking lot. Itll give you a sense of what feels right for you to handle. Consider a hands free strap so they're easy to grab while hiking and don't bounce on your chest. Waterproof is a plus, especially if outdoors in a rain forest like SE Alaska. 

 

If budget allows, and pocket size isn't required, give the Nikon Monarch5 a good look and compare them to other midrange brands. Their glass is superior IMO. I never regret the investment I made in my Nikons for a snowmobile trip to Yellowstone.  I use these binos often bc they're so easy. As I age, it's more difficult to see and these binos MAKE A DIFFERENCE for my aging eyes. The better the binos the more you will want to grab them! Low light conditions need good light grabbing binos with multi coated glass.

 

For pockets, look for 8x and greater than 25s if possible.

 

Good luck.

 

20191112_060418.jpg

Edited by nomadguy
Low light info

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My most important recommendation is that you do not ever buy binoculars on the internet unless they can be returned.  Even if they can be returned, a better idea is to go to a sporting goods store so you can try them before you buy them.

 

The problem is that there are many good objective measures of binocular quality but there are also non-objective binocular properties that you can only determine by trying out several different sets at the same time especially including how comfortable they are to hold.  The last time I bought binoculars, I spent did extensive on line research and then spent several hours at a large sporting goods store trying maybe 5 or 6 sets of binoculars before I made my selection. 

 

Even if you are planning to buy cheap ones and in my opinion, cheap binoculars are a total waste of money,  you should use same strategy.   In fact, it is even more important w cheap ones as the QC for cheap binoculars is very bad so the quality level between different "identical" binoculars can vary significantly.

 

Hope this helps a bit.

 

DON

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Some sage advice here. Thank you.

donaldsc: what do you define as "cheap", please? The range of quality and price seems enormous.

I have a pair of Bushnell 13-1056. They are 10 x 50. I find them very uesful but have nothing to compare them with.

My wife's very old pair is much smaller and produces two images to the eyes, not one, which makes them all but useless - unless you close one eye! 
If I focus the Bushnells on a very small, distant object - Jupiter, for example, it too shows two slightly separate images, which strongly suggests I am not getting as crisp an image as I might.
We are sailing to Alaska next summer and are thinking that investing in another, good pair of binoculars will be money well-spent, in terms of getting the most from the trip.

What would they use on the bridge?

I understand that there are binoculars that double as a camera. Any thoughts?

Edited by Canuker

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6 hours ago, Canuker said:

Some sage advice here. Thank you.

donaldsc: what do you define as "cheap", please? The range of quality and price seems enormous.

I have a pair of Bushnell 13-1056. They are 10 x 50. I find them very uesful but have nothing to compare them with.

My wife's very old pair is much smaller and produces two images to the eyes, not one, which makes them all but useless - unless you close one eye! 
If I focus the Bushnells on a very small, distant object - Jupiter, for example, it too shows two slightly separate images, which strongly suggests I am not getting as crisp an image as I might.
We are sailing to Alaska next summer and are thinking that investing in another, good pair of binoculars will be money well-spent, in terms of getting the most from the trip.

What would they use on the bridge?

I understand that there are binoculars that double as a camera. Any thoughts?

 

Total junk.  They combine a bad binocular with a horrible camera.  Don't buy them.

 

With regard to cost, my 3 pair cost me about $500 each but you can get decent binoculars for around $200.  You will find that this is a useful WEB site on binocs although there are other good ones - http://static.birds.cornell.edu/Publications/LivingBird/Winter2005/Age_Binos.html

 

DON

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Nikon offers some excellent binoculars at a reasonable cost.  You will want to buy some that are waterproof and fog proof.

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On 11/12/2019 at 1:45 PM, Canuker said:

Some sage advice here. Thank you.

donaldsc: what do you define as "cheap", please? The range of quality and price seems enormous.

I have a pair of Bushnell 13-1056. They are 10 x 50. I find them very uesful but have nothing to compare them with.

My wife's very old pair is much smaller and produces two images to the eyes, not one, which makes them all but useless - unless you close one eye! 
If I focus the Bushnells on a very small, distant object - Jupiter, for example, it too shows two slightly separate images, which strongly suggests I am not getting as crisp an image as I might.
We are sailing to Alaska next summer and are thinking that investing in another, good pair of binoculars will be money well-spent, in terms of getting the most from the trip.

What would they use on the bridge?

I understand that there are binoculars that double as a camera. Any thoughts?

In almost 40 years on the Bridge, most of my ships had Bushnell 7x35 or 7x50. Certainly not the best binoculars and generally found them susceptible to contact damage. However, they did the job were reasonable cost and easy to replace.

 

Tried to make a business case for Swarovski, but we could replace the Bushnells every 6 months and it was still cheaper

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After lots of research for the best binoculars for both land and sea in Alaska, I chose Celestron Trailseeker 8X32 for the following reasons:

  • compact enough to fit my camera bag (4.8 X 4.8 X 1.9) (16 oz)
  • fog proof (big problem when coming in and out of stateroom)
  • waterproof to combat all of that Alaska rain
  • not too powerful to cause focusing issues while in motion
  • wider angle (32) for scanning
  • attached lens caps
  • large amount of adjustment for glasses wearers
  • good case
  • good brightness in low light
  • Price $181

As a photographer, it is important to spot those distant animals first before using a long telephoto to grab a good photo (using a telephoto lens to scan just does not work because the angle is not wide enough).  My binocular choice worked quite well on the Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour, finding little harbor seals on ice flows, locating swimming puffins, etc.

 

Here is a link:  https://www.amazon.com/Celestron-71400-TrailSeeker-Binoculars-Green/dp/B00B73JN2K

 

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Thank you all for your insight and suggestions.  I will probably use whatever binoculars I get for this trip and then very rarely again.  I found these on Costco.  Any thoughts?

 

Your Price
89.99$
 

Shipping & Handling Included*

Features:
  • Bak-4 Glass Prisms Reflect More Light For Brighter and Sharper Images
  • Long Eye Relief For Eyeglass Wearers
  • Waterproof Protection in the Harshest Weather Conditions
  • Side Pocket, Clip and Hook
  • Magnetic Fold Down Cover

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BAK-4 is a designation used by the German prism manufacturer. It is higher quality glass than their cheaper BAK-7.  Hopefully you are purchasing from a Costco store and not online, so as to get the opportunity to try them out for comfort, ease of focus, etc.

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21 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

BAK-4 is a designation used by the German prism manufacturer. It is higher quality glass than their cheaper BAK-7.  Hopefully you are purchasing from a Costco store and not online, so as to get the opportunity to try them out for comfort, ease of focus, etc.

 

DITTO!!

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2x on the Nikon brand. I own more pair of binoculars than I can count but I rely on a pair of Action 7x35 Nikons for most of the general watching I do. 7x power (low enough to easily hand hold), wide field of view (good for finding what you want to see), and rather light weight. Also the cost is rather low. Next step up would be a pair of 8x42 Nikon Monarch but now your spending more coin.

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A word about binoculars; any good pair will have a right eye diopter.  Please read the directions that explain how to adjust the diopter so that you will have a sharp view through the binoculars.

 

BTW, you don't have to spend huge sum of money for a decent set binoculars.  The Nikon Prostaff 3s (8x42) can be purchased for $120.  They are waterproof and fog proof which is something you want for Alaska.  Just saying.

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How do you think about this one on Amazon?

 

https://www.amazon.com/12x42-Roof-Prism-Binoculars-Adults/dp/B07GF4JCDY

 

To be honest, this is probably be the only time to use the binocular in the next 2-3 years, so even $100 binoculars can be a bit much for me.

 

What I like about this binocular:

1. 10x42 seems to be powerful enough for Alaska.

2. Light weight and compact

3. IP55 water resistant - I understand it's not waterproof (IP67), but it should be OK to use under light rain as long as I don't drop it in water?

4. Price is right

 

Did I miss anything?

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1 hour ago, mkkao924 said:

How do you think about this one on Amazon?

 

https://www.amazon.com/12x42-Roof-Prism-Binoculars-Adults/dp/B07GF4JCDY

 

To be honest, this is probably be the only time to use the binocular in the next 2-3 years, so even $100 binoculars can be a bit much for me.

 

What I like about this binocular:

1. 10x42 seems to be powerful enough for Alaska.

2. Light weight and compact

3. IP55 water resistant - I understand it's not waterproof (IP67), but it should be OK to use under light rain as long as I don't drop it in water?

4. Price is right

 

Did I miss anything?

 

You might just as well go to Walmart and buy the binoculars there so you can try them out.  If you are going to do a once in a lifetime cruise in Alaska why are you trying to cheap out on something so important for viewing wildlife?

Edited by Oakman58

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2 hours ago, mkkao924 said:

How do you think about this one on Amazon?

 

https://www.amazon.com/12x42-Roof-Prism-Binoculars-Adults/dp/B07GF4JCDY

 

To be honest, this is probably be the only time to use the binocular in the next 2-3 years, so even $100 binoculars can be a bit much for me.

 

What I like about this binocular:

1. 10x42 seems to be powerful enough for Alaska.

2. Light weight and compact

3. IP55 water resistant - I understand it's not waterproof (IP67), but it should be OK to use under light rain as long as I don't drop it in water?

4. Price is right

 

Did I miss anything?

 

In general, you get what you pay for.  The stats don't tell the full picture of the binoculars.  Even at the same magnification, some binoculars will have sharper images than others.  Some will have more or less distortion at the edges.  Even with a big field of view, it's not as useful if the outside isn't the same focus as the middle.

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Unless you are experienced using binoculars in a marine environment at 12x they are way too powerful. You will tend to get blurry views due to ship motion & vibration. Most users should get 7x or 8 x.

 

Personally, I currently use 12x50 permafocus, but have used binoculars at sea for 40 years.

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1 hour ago, Heidi13 said:

Unless you are experienced using binoculars in a marine environment at 12x they are way too powerful. You will tend to get blurry views due to ship motion & vibration. Most users should get 7x or 8 x.

 

Personally, I currently use 12x50 permafocus, but have used binoculars at sea for 40 years.

Thank you Heidi13!

 

I believe this is exactly what my problem was. I was using a friend's 12x and it was a heavy duty one, but I felt the image was always blurry. I guess I drank too much coffee that day....

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We have also been trying to find a good, but not too expensive pair of binoculars...  I found the Nikon Prostaff 3S 10x42  for $133 on Amazon including a case & cleaning cloth.  Any opinions from the experts?  Dick's Sporting Goods also has them for around that price, but without the case... (Cabela's has a pair of Vortex Diamondback 10x42 on sale for $130 on Black Friday, but it's in store only and the sale starts at 5:00 am... so I am sure they would be gone before I got there since I have to be in Lowe's at 6:00 to get my washer/dryer.. LOL. )   Thanks!

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4 minutes ago, puppymama1 said:

We have also been trying to find a good, but not too expensive pair of binoculars...  I found the Nikon Prostaff 3S 10x42  for $133 on Amazon including a case & cleaning cloth.  Any opinions from the experts?  Dick's Sporting Goods also has them for around that price, but without the case... (Cabela's has a pair of Vortex Diamondback 10x42 on sale for $130 on Black Friday, but it's in store only and the sale starts at 5:00 am... so I am sure they would be gone before I got there since I have to be in Lowe's at 6:00 to get my washer/dryer.. LOL. )   Thanks!

 

Puppy Mama, if you don't mind refurbished ones, the 10x42 is $89.99

https://www.focuscamera.com/nikon-8x42-prostaff-3s-binoculars-black-1.html?irclickid=S8Sz3y0I2xyOWTF0UfQwQyYMUkn1Jk0QQSEHTE0&utm_source=10451&utm_medium=Impact&utm_campaign=Focus Camera Logo (2)&irgwc=1

 

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34 minutes ago, puppymama1 said:

We have also been trying to find a good, but not too expensive pair of binoculars...  I found the Nikon Prostaff 3S 10x42  for $133 on Amazon including a case & cleaning cloth.  Any opinions from the experts?  Dick's Sporting Goods also has them for around that price, but without the case... (Cabela's has a pair of Vortex Diamondback 10x42 on sale for $130 on Black Friday, but it's in store only and the sale starts at 5:00 am... so I am sure they would be gone before I got there since I have to be in Lowe's at 6:00 to get my washer/dryer.. LOL. )   Thanks!

 

Nikon makes pretty good glass.  It's slightly more pricey but the prostaff 7s is generally significantly better reviewed than the 3s and may be worth the increase.  Is there anyway for you to try them in person? How steady are your hands? You could consider trying 7-8x as well.  Also since most cruise excursions are in daytime with good sunlight, The smaller _x30 may be good enough compared to the _x42.

 

I have a monarch 7, and there are things that the specifications don't really get a picture of.  You can get a better feel for things if you go and take a look through some in person.

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Sorry, I don't know how to edit / delete my previous post.

 

So you guys convinced me to get a Nikon...:)

 

Just found out that LL Bean's is having a 25% off sale, and pulled the trigger on Nikon Prostaff 3S Binoculars, 8x42 for $89.96.

 

They also have other Nikon binoculars, including 8x, as well as 7S products.

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16 hours ago, mkkao924 said:

Sorry, I don't know how to edit / delete my previous post.

 

So you guys convinced me to get a Nikon...:)

 

Just found out that LL Bean's is having a 25% off sale, and pulled the trigger on Nikon Prostaff 3S Binoculars, 8x42 for $89.96.

 

They also have other Nikon binoculars, including 8x, as well as 7S products.

 

You caught those binoculars at a great price.  I know you will be happy with them.

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I now know what my Christmas present will be.
My wife (and thanks to the thread above) has bought me a pair of Prostaff 3S 10x42 binoculars, ahead of our Alaska cruise next year.
She got them at a very nice 'pre-black Friday' sale price, too. 
Ooh, she's a clever girl!

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