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Is Collimation a generic problem with Canon IS binos?

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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 20:02   #1
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Question Is Collimation a generic problem with Canon IS binos?

As a serious wildlife photographer who has used many Canon image-stabilized lenses over the last decade, I appreciate how good IS is, and how very good it has become over the last several years on camera gear.

I have also owned Canon IS binoculars (10x30 IS, 12x36 IS, 10x42 IS L and most recently the 10x32 IS binos. The new 1032 IS binos have excellent image-stabilization (two types) but appear to have a rather large collimation problem; the image in the right eyepiece is misaligned higher than the image in the left eyepiece, and slanted a bit.

I was checking by looking at a straight roofline about 50 yards away then pulling the binos back from my face, and also just using double vision with the binos to my eyes. I also tried looking at them with the mirror test.

I then went back at looked more rigorously at my 10x30 IS and 10x42 IS L binos. They both showed collimation errors, although to a lesser extent.

A few years ago, I had a pair of Canon IS binos (12x36 IS?) that had collimation problems. I sent them back to Canon for repairs and Canon returned them saying there was no problem and the binocs were performing to specifications. I took them to a binocular repair expert in San Francisco, who tested them formally, and wrote a letter I sent back to Canon, saying that YES the binoculars definitely had a collimation problem. Canon then fixed them.

I suspect that collimation becomes more difficult with all the moving parts of IS systems. This may explain why other manufacturers (Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss) have either not produced IS binos or done so in very, very limited ways (Nikon, Fujinon).

Any thoughts?
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 22:29   #2
doug el10x32
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Hi Jim.

Sorry to hear about your collimation issues with Canon IS binoculars. Over the years I have owned six pairs and still have three and have never had or experienced such problems.

I always check for this when I acquire a new pair of binoculars. Although not the most scientific method, I mount them on a tripod and focus on a post or the very top of a fir tree at infinity and then step back from the eyepieces to see how far I can still view merged images. Even when up to 18” inches away, the images are still merged even after opening and closing or blinking an eye to see if there is any image movement or lack of merging.

Either I have been very lucky or you have not been so.


Last edited by doug el10x32 : Thursday 20th December 2018 at 23:08.
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 23:40   #3
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Hi Doug, I also own a pair of Zeiss 8x42 Victory SF and they are perfectly aligned, no separation at all in the images.

When I looked at the Canon 10x32 IS binoculars, I did mount them on a tripod and looked at a horizontal roofline about 50 yards away. The left and right eyepieces were misaligned by about 8 inches vertically. If I pulled my head back even a few inches from the eyepieces, the misalignment became increasingly obvious.

I did the same thing with the 10x30 IS II and 10x42 L binoculars and had similar, though less severe misalignment.

Last edited by Troubador : Friday 21st December 2018 at 12:29.
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Old Friday 21st December 2018, 00:05   #4
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Do we know whether the IS could offset collimation errors or is that entirely separate?
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Old Friday 21st December 2018, 09:24   #5
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The IS can offset collimation errors if adjusted by the manufacturer to do so. However, doing so would compromise image quality - more or less depending on how much error would be there inherently.

With Jim's sample, it would be informative to repeat the visual experiment with the IS on as well as off, to see whether the misalignment remains the same is would perhaps be "corrected" with the IS.

From my experience with Canon IS binoculars, they tend to be no worse aligned than most other binoculars. With a stable/ized image, however, you become more aware of any and all defects in the image, and checking for alignment becomes a breeze even hand-held.

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