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Old Wednesday 1st August 2012, 19:32   #1
barshnik
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Stabilized Nikons

I see very little written about Nikon's stabilized offerings but am curious about them - a friend has the Canon 10x42 L IS's, and they are very good optically, and wonder how the Nikon's would compare the the Canon L. Thanks,

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Old Thursday 2nd August 2012, 19:51   #2
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I see very little written about Nikon's stabilized offerings but am curious about them - a friend has the Canon 10x42 L IS's, and they are very good optically, and wonder how the Nikon's would compare the the Canon L. Thanks,

John F
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As far as I know the stabilized Nikons are really Fujinons Techno-Stabi 14x40. They are FAPP identical except Nikon has an extra setting for "less" stabilisation. Nobody seems to know what it does and why it's there. When I got my stabilized binoculars, I went for Fujinons simply because they are the inventors of the technology and their bins are used by sailors, law enforcement, and military a lot. (NB: avoid the 12x32 version as it's much less rugged, there were complaints).

The basic difference between those and the Canons is that Canons use a variable-angle prism to deflect the light rays up and down while Fujinons rotate their entire erecting prisms (Schmidt-Pechan) sitting in a gimbal mount. So Fujinons compensate for both vertical and horizontal movement (like the swaying of a boat), the Canons only for vertical (hand tremor).

Finally, the range of the compensation is different: Canons are about 1 degree, Fujinons about 5 degrees (i.e., the shake can be the size of the entire visual field). Because of that the Fujis can be used from a moving car, it really works and looks spooky.

The disadvantages of Fujinons: heavy (+ 4 AA batteries) and the apparent field of view is only 56 degrees. Being thoroughly spoiled by Nikons 8x30 EII (70 degrees), I find it a bit too tunnel-vision-like. Very comfortable to handle otherwise. One can get used to the weight, just accept that for the first couple of weeks you won't be able to hold them up comfortably for too long. After you build up your arms, you'll be fine for several minutes

Canons have a wider apparent field of view (65 degrees) and are easier to handle because of the weight. I suspect optically the 10x42 L are better although some users complain about an intermittent fuzziness problem due to the variable prism action. The 10x42 may be immune to this, I forget.

Test them both. The Fujinons (and the corresponding Nikons) are great but idiosyncratic.

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Old Saturday 4th August 2012, 19:12   #3
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Excellent post, Jan, thanks for your help. I've never seen the Fujis at any sporting goods stores, but never really looked for them, either. Again, thanks.

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Old Wednesday 8th August 2012, 20:01   #4
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Excellent post, Jan, thanks for your help. I've never seen the Fujis at any sporting goods stores, but never really looked for them, either. Again, thanks.

John F
LV NV
General sporting goods stores don't carry them but most good marine-type places will, like this one. Also note they have the Fujinon Stabiscope for a mere $6,000... (note the error on the Techno-Stabi page: the FOV should be something like 210' at 1,000yd., not 342').

I forgot to add that they don't fit people with a high nose bridge too well (this comment applies to the Fujinons, I don't know about the Nikon version which has a bit different housing). Again, test both of them before committing.
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Old Wednesday 8th August 2012, 20:49   #5
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This question has come up many times over the years, but I never bookmarked the answer because it wasn't of interest to me; however, from what I remember, the marine IS bins are not as well suited for terrestrial applications as the Canons.

Something to do with "pitch and yaw" for you yachtsmen out there. IOW, they correct better for the kinds of large motions you experience on boats rather than the micro vibrations that Canon IS bins were made to correct.

One buyer reported seeing the object he was looking at pulsate in either the Nikon or Fuji, which must look weird.

Perhaps if you use them while swaying side to side and singing "Blow the Man Down," the Nikons or Fujis could be useful for birding, but otherwise, they don't seem to be as well suited for landlubbers.

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Old Thursday 9th August 2012, 10:57   #6
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This question has come up many times over the years, but I never bookmarked the answer because it wasn't of interest to me; however, from what I remember, the marine IS bins are not as well suited for terrestrial applications as the Canons.

Something to do with "pitch and yaw" for you yachtsmen out there. IOW, they correct better for the kinds of large motions you experience on boats rather than the micro vibrations that Canon IS bins were made to correct.

One buyer reported seeing the object he was looking at pulsate in either the Nikon or Fuji, which must look weird.
No, they don't do it at all. What happens is that when the batteries are weak, the system cannot operate properly and some people have reported swaying in sync with their pulse. I've never seen it but I do keep my rechargeable AAs happy. I suspect the usual marketing types decided that adding a "low battery" indicator would annoy the customer.

It's also easy to follow a bird in flight with them, no annoying overcorrection. The non-annoying overcorrection does happen but in real life it's simply not an issue. In fact I noticed some nice details watching a hawk in flight: the bird wanted to look back for some reason so it turned its head. I thought their eyes could see back reasonably well without turning the head but never mind... Naturally this changed the aerodynamic profile so the bird corrected for it by curling one of its wings to symmetrise the drag. Obviously something instinctive. Then look forward again and straighten the wing. This sort of thing would be harder to see with a hand held 14x bin.
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Perhaps if you use them while swaying side to side and singing "Blow the Man Down," the Nikons or Fujis could be useful for birding, but otherwise, they don't seem to be as well suited for landlubbers.

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Old Thursday 9th August 2012, 17:11   #7
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Jan,

This isn't the thread I was referring to where those comments about the "swaying motion" were made, I'll look for that when I have more time, but if you read post #2 by UTCbirder in the thread below, you'll find some comments on the perceptual effects of the Fuji stabilization he noticed. Also, his unit starting falling apart after a only a month, and Fuji wouldn't cover the repairs.

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=132931

Plus, they only come with a year warranty, so if the electronics fizzle after that, it's on your tab. Canon IS bins' warranty isn't much better.

The short warranty period is my main reason for not buying IS bins, other than the 10x30 IS, which I bought for $300.

Paying $1,300 for an IS bin and then having it fizzle after the warranty period expires would be frustrating, just as it is when other electronics such a computers and peripherals break down after the short warranty expires.

At least with computers, I can get extended warranties, but they ain't cheap, my two-year extended warranty cost nearly half the price of the laptop, but it paid for itself when I had to order a new battery and a new AC adapter. The keyboard also went, but that was after the warranty expired, so I bought an external wireless keyboard as a replacement.

With IS bins, you pays yer money and you takes yer chances. You might get a good unit that lasts a decade or more, or you might not. I've read happy tales and bitter experiences.

Alan has had his 12x36 IS II for quite a while now and is a happy camper, but there was a guy on Cloudy Nights, whose 15x50s expired shortly after the warranty did, and the bill for repairs was nearly as much as what he paid for the bin new.

The other shortcoming of IS bins is the small exit pupil size. Only the 10x42 IS L has a decent sized exit pupil, the rest are ~ 3 mm or less, which I find too limiting in my cloudy area, and also in the winter.

I also found that batteries drain faster in the winter. I kept a fresh pair in my pants pocket under my winter coat.

Like you said, they are an acquired taste, but so far they haven't been tasty enough for me to take another bite.

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Old Thursday 9th August 2012, 22:47   #8
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Jan,

This isn't the thread I was referring to where those comments about the "swaying motion" were made, I'll look for that when I have more time, but if you read post #2 by UTCbirder in the thread below, you'll find some comments on the perceptual effects of the Fuji stabilization he noticed. Also, his unit starting falling apart after a only a month, and Fuji wouldn't cover the repairs.

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=132931
That post is about the 12x32 bin, a well-known lemon in the family. That's why I said stay away from those. The 14x40 OTOH are apparently rugged enough for use in Iraq. They exhibit no waviness and their stabilization range is 5 degrees (not 3).

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Plus, they only come with a year warranty, so if the electronics fizzle after that, it's on your tab. Canon IS bins' warranty isn't much better.

The short warranty period is my main reason for not buying IS bins, other than the 10x30 IS, which I bought for $300.

Paying $1,300 for an IS bin and then having it fizzle after the warranty period expires would be frustrating, just as it is when other electronics such a computers and peripherals break down after the short warranty expires.

At least with computers, I can get extended warranties, but they ain't cheap, my two-year extended warranty cost nearly half the price of the laptop, but it paid for itself when I had to order a new battery and a new AC adapter. The keyboard also went, but that was after the warranty expired, so I bought an external wireless keyboard as a replacement.
That I totally understand. I'm originally from Europe where there is a slight cultural difference in that people pay relatively little attention to customer service, warranties, and the like. People couldn't care less if the clerk at the checkout counter smiles or says "hello" or not, what's important is whether those apples or cheese have a taste. Product quality is most important. I think I've never paid an extended warranty for anything and this policy has served me extremely well in the long run. I read somewhere that electronic stores (digressing from binos for a moment here) make most money nowadays from selling extended warranties to products they offer as profit margins are so impossibly narrow.

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With IS bins, you pays yer money and you takes yer chances. You might get a good unit that lasts a decade or more, or you might not. I've read happy tales and bitter experiences.

Alan has had his 12x36 IS II for quite a while now and is a happy camper, but there was a guy on Cloudy Nights, whose 15x50s expired shortly after the warranty did, and the bill for repairs was nearly as much as what he paid for the bin new.
I've had no problems after 2 years (bought them used too). Of course YMMV.

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Old Friday 10th August 2012, 00:22   #9
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The Fujinons are indeed idiosyncratic, beginning with a very different physical layout, with side handles and focus knob, so it takes getting used to. Afaik, the Nikons are the same glass.
The 14x power is also a bit much for a 40mm objective, so the exit pupil is small and eye placement somewhat finicky.
That said, it is a fine glass, with a much greater range of stabilization than the Canons, something wich really matters if you are observing from a boat or some moving platform.
I find the Canon 10x42 easier to use ergonomically, but believe the Fujinon (or Nikon) would also work well as a birding glass once one was used to it and could instinctively point it.

The warranty issue is a problem for many, I know, because repairing something this complex is so difficult. It is just bad news to need repairs on these stabilized glasses and the buyer hopes never to need it. However, we are conditioned by bitter personal experience to expect that the product fails shortly after the warranty expires, so a 1 year warranty for a glass that we hope will be good for decades is a red flag.
The only ray of light is that the experience with other electronic gear is that after getting through the infant mortality period, which presumably the 1 year warranty is designed to catch, it lasts a long time. The warranty period is perhaps misleading in that sense, although that begs the question of why do the manufacturers not lengthen their warranties if the longer term reliability is good.
A personal data point is that my Canon 10x42s are 5 years old and have not given me any trouble, even in the cold. They are powered by lithium AA batteries, which gives them a bit of extra cold weather margin.
I recommend these glasses happily as a superb birding tool.

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Old Friday 10th August 2012, 12:09   #10
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I bought a pair of the Burris 16x32 IS at a bargain price off ebay. The Burris appears to be the same as the Fuji and Nikon. The IS worked surprisingly well. The optics were horrible. So, I returned them.
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Old Friday 10th August 2012, 18:59   #11
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I bought a pair of the Burris 16x32 IS at a bargain price off ebay. The Burris appears to be the same as the Fuji and Nikon. The IS worked surprisingly well. The optics were horrible. So, I returned them.
If the optics were horrible, it was not the same bin. The Fujis are excellent optically, only their AFOV is smallish (56 degrees).

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