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Birding with a 12 power (or even a 15) (1 Viewer)

MacHector

Active member
Hi All

I'd be really interested in people's advice. Is there ever a case for birding with a 12-power binoculars (or even a 15)?

I was doing some forest birding in Ghana recently, which involved looking into the canopy of lots of tall trees. Tropical trees are much taller than puny European trees and my 8-power bins were really struggling to pick out detail on small birds way up in the canopy. A scope wasn't much help either. The birds generally moved too fast, so I am considering getting some more powerful bins for such situations, but birders never seem to go beyond 10-power. Why? What goes wrong? Is it a weight thing or is your field of vision so reduced so that you can never find the bird?

Is the answer to the problem of taller trees really more power or would a better quality pair of 8-power bins be more effective?

Words of wisdom greatly appreciated.

Machector
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
No words of wisdom, but I used a 12x50 Docter Nobilem for years as my birding glass and was very happy with it.
The extra reach came in handy for hawk watches and shore birds,
Also, I did not think the reduced FoV was a problem when tracking warblers in the tree tops, those little sprites will pop out of view just as easily with an 8x glass.
The main knock on the 12x50 imho is the weight of the glass and the reduced eye relief, so if that is no problem, you will appreciate the extra power.
Mind you, I also did try the big Zeiss 15x60. It was a dismal experience, too little field, too little eye relief, too much jitter and too heavy. So try it before you make a switch.

PS Binastro is quite right. I too now use a Canon 10x42.
 

Hauksen

Forum member
Hi MacHector,

birders never seem to go beyond 10-power. Why? What goes wrong? Is it a weight thing or is your field of vision so reduced so that you can never find the bird?

The Nikon ED50 is a small spotting scope that, in the straight version, can be used in field-glass fashion (to avoid the term "binocular", since it's obviously monocular only).

It's not really as easy to use as lower-magnification binoculars since you have to make an effort to keep the image stable, and you won't see as much detail at any given magnification as when having the scope on a tripod.

The field of view also is so narrow that often it's more convenient to use binoculars with smaller magnification for searching.

I recently tried it with a shoulder stock and found that it noticably improves image stablity. It's a bit less convenient to carry around with the shoulder stock, though.

Regards,

Henning
 

wllmspd

Well-known member
I used a pair of 15x70 bins as my first pair, well balanced, needed to be careful to hold them still. Then upgraded many years ago to 12x36IS and I can resolve far smaller details and are then only instrument i bring if I leave my scope at home. Not too heavy, good field of view. I like wide fields of view so when I bring my scope I usually bring a pairnifnuktrawide 7x bins for finding things.

Cheers

peter
 

Maljunulo

Well-known member
I carry a pair of Fujinon !6X70 with me for a bit of a boost from my 10X regular binoculars, for a (somewhat) closer look.

They are almost as good as my Fieldscope III with a low magnification wide field eyepiece, and have the tremendous advantage of using both eyes.

I bird from my car so a partially rolled up window comes in handy to (sort of) steady the 16s.

They do show a bit more detail, or make it easier to see, but the image does not have the same "snap" as the image in my 10X glasses.
 

Rathaus

Well-known member
I sometimes use a late model Zeiss 15x60 BGAT in a seated position with fully braced elbows and head. I've stopped using this bin with a tripod. The view is absolutely stunning. Image wise, I feel like I'm using a big 15x60 Noctivid.
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
No words of wisdom, but I used a 12x50 Docter Nobilem for years as my birding glass and was very happy with it.
The extra reach came in handy for hawk watches and shore birds,
Also, I did not think the reduced FoV was a problem when tracking warblers in the tree tops, those little sprites will pop out of view just as easily with an 8x glass.
The main knock on the 12x50 imho is the weight of the glass and the reduced eye relief, so if that is no problem, you will appreciate the extra power.
Mind you, I also did try the big Zeiss 15x60. It was a dismal experience, too little field, too little eye relief, too much jitter and too heavy. So try it before you make a switch.

PS Binastro is quite right. I too now use a Canon 10x42.
Mac,

I agree with what Etudiant (and Binastro) have said here. The little geewhizzits will pop out of view at will even using a 150m Fov binocular. :h?:

The issue with binoculars higher than 8x power is usually image shake reducing the extra magnification benefits so that in practice no more detail is revealed. This effect can be reduced by sometimes finding a bin that's a good ergonomic marriage for you - so that you can hold it unusually steady, or to use it braced against a tree, building etc, or as has been mentioned, supported on a sand bag etc, or braced elbows against knees etc (okay for long distance shore work - a bit hard to do when you are gazing skyward! :) Or, as also has been mentioned, by using some sort of support mechanism - shoulder stock, sling, monopod, or tripod - even a chair! The other answer is image stabilized (IS) binoculars.

I have used the Canon 15x50 IS in certain specialist situations and found it quite nice :t: It's large size seemed to suit me with a very steady hold - weight may become an issue for extended periods, but I found it suprisingly okay during varied viewing. I also tried the new 12x36 IS III - the weight seems very light, and the detail revealed very high, but I just could not hold its small size steady in my hands due to the ergonomics for me - the IS system was working overtime!

I have found that I can also hold the 50mm size Swarovski 12x50 SV quite steady too. I'd recommend having a look at one of those 3 and see which one works for you :t:

The only consideration not mentioned so far is that higher magnification has lower depth of field (dof) and so usage on fast moving birds can require a lot of focus wheel see-sawing and refocusing. The smaller exits pupils can also make the view seem less bright if your pupils are opened way up in heavy canopy and shade, and alignment is critical (snap viewing is not really their forte) - the steady views and detail though are wonderful comprises in certain suitable situations. :cat:


Chosun :gh:
 
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John Frink

Well-known member
I'd be really interested in people's advice. Is there ever a case for birding with a 12-power binoculars (or even a 15)?

I've been a high-power fanatic at times in my birding career; the close-up views can be addictive. Many years ago I birded with a B&L 15-60X60 zoom scope on a shoulder stock; the narrow field made it a challenge to aim, but when you got a bird in view the image was spectacular.

I'm a big fan of the SV 12X50; the field (61.7° ISO) is nearly as wide as the SF 10X42 (62.2°), and the view is big and bright and sharp to the edges. I like the view through the Leica 12X50 (UV or BN) every bit as much, and 12X BNs can be found second-hand for very reasonable prices. The Vortex Razor HD 12X50 is a really good deal at less than half the price of an SV or HD; it has a slightly narrower field (59.0°), and lateral CA is not controlled quite as well, but it's a lightweight (825 gm) compared to the big ones (999-1210 gm). Finally, the 12X42 Nikon Monarch 5 is a real bargain, in my opinion; it's very light (605 gm) and compact, with a decent field (55.3°), and the view is really good considering the price.

Cheers,

John
 

Nixterdemus

Well-known member
I drafted a response lost it then drafted another. Upon completion I found the first. Rather than combine the twain into a dreary yarn I'll offer little advice.

Buy a modest porro, or two, of your desired power(s) and take 'er for a spin 'round the block.
 
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humakt

Well-known member
I'm another one who regularly uses a pair of 12x bins.
They're easily my most often used ones.
That said, most of my viewing will be on coastal areas or over large fields, so that extra power is needed.
When in woodland or 'closer' terrain I use a 10x.

I'm lucky in that I am able to hold the binoculars quite steady with very little shake and don't have too many problems tracking moving birds. So as others have said, you may want to try before you buy to ensure they're right for you.
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

the reason is that for most persons 10x is the limit of what can be hand-held without the shaking making the extra resolving power futile. Even at 10x stabilisation will help a lot.

Also higher magnifications mean smaller true field, which makes finding birds more difficult... Last but not least it's usually not very bright under a canopy, so a larger exit pupil would be a good idea.

So Canon 10x42 or 15x50 would be obvious choices...

Joachim
 

Patudo

Well-known member
Observing birds high up in very tall trees sounds like a very specific application - maybe too specialist to buy an expensive pair for unless you expect to be doing a lot of it? That would probably be the perfect situation for an image-stabilized binocular - higher magnification is desirable in such a situation, as you said, and angling them upwards nearly vertically is the very worst position for inducing shake/wobble. When I tried the Canon 10x42L recently I found the image stabilization feature worked pretty much as advertised and the difference it made on the 18x50 was amazing.

I've considered using a 12x or higher to follow far flying raptors (probably as specialist a situation as the one the original poster outlined) - it's frustrating to see a peregrine wink out into the far distance and wonder how much further you might have been able to follow it, and what you might have been able to see (hunting etc) with more magnification. I can hold a 12x fairly steadily with elbows propped up; but all things considered I would probably rather use a wide field 10x and hope the birds don't fly so far. I'd like to try a tripod-mounted 15x, but unfortunately one of the best vantage points for that doesn't allow a tripod to be set up.
 

Maljunulo

Well-known member
Lately I have begun to take the attitude "If I can't see or identify it with my 10X42, then I don't see or identify it, and to hell with it." Then I move on to the next.

It makes for a much more relaxing time.
 

RobMorane

Well-known member
I'd like to try a tripod-mounted 15x, but unfortunately one of the best vantage points for that doesn't allow a tripod to be set up.

Patudo, I have 15x56 and if I go for long observation sessions, I take my Sirui P204 monopod with Berlebach bino mount with me.

The whole thing looks like Thor Hammer :smoke: but I either use it as a Finnstick but more often than not as fully deployed monopod.

You need to get the trick but after few hours, it's easier to follow birds this way.
 
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