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Canon ISIII 12x36 First impressions: amateurs vs professionals (1 Viewer)

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Thanks all for your comments and suggestions, it's really helpful, especially coming from users with many years of IS under their belt.
I had started the process of returning the binoculars (the seller had a 30-day-return-policy) but I've finally decided to give the IS III a go, although I'm really finding it harder than I thought. I guess that, since Summer is already here, and I do daily stargazing sessions over this season, I could use them through the Summer and see if I learn to love them. So far their performance during daylight has proven disappointing. Every time I do a test to try and see detail (like reading distant signs) the IS remind me of the reason I bought it: I simply see more, they do give something no other handheld binocular can, but then, usability is so poor (in my case). Any way, thank you very much.

Well, make your own eyecups. That's a simple solution. Or take them off and put better fitting eyecups to the eyepieces. If necessary just tape them to the eyepieces. That's even simpler.
Interesting suggestion. I've done some mix'n'match in the past, so I'll try to improve on the default (which shouldn't be that difficult, given the appalling standard). However, it's not just the size/shape/location of the eyecups, I think there are two other aspects that make the eye position and use of the IS III particularly difficult for me: first is the fact that, since there is no central hinge, the whole eyepiece swivels in a radial way, which is a bit awkward, and then there's the fact that the eyecups are (vertically) offset, a bit like a periscope, which makes aiming different than in regular Porros or roofs.
Imho, the massive oculars of the Canon 10x42ISL work best when people are wearing glasses.
The eye relief is sufficient and there is no need to dig the hard edged rubber eye cups into the physiognomy. If you don't need prescription glasses, just use them while wearing polarized sun glasses .
I've tried using (other) binoculars with sunglasses, but the experience has been far from pleasing. Maybe I'm used to the hassle-free, wide and comfortable view I usually get with binoculars, so having a piece of glass between my eyes and the eyepiece feels kind of weird, and makes the experience not so nice. I guess you get used to it (or else, try to get a better combination of glass/binocular), because there are thousands (if not millions) of binocular users that are spectacle wearers.

I don't use glasses with the Canons, and both with my current 10x42 and my former 15x50 I mostly use/d the eyecups fully twisted in or folded down, and then just tilt my head ever so slightly down and lean the flat eyecup upper edge against my brow. With little practice this makes it easy to get proper placement and eye relief distance, and I don't have to worry about pain on my nose or IPD.
This was actually my first reaction (I did it instinctively) and while that eases the view somehow it also creates a new set of challenges (neck position, tilting of the binoculars, stray light, etc.).

It might seem that I'm overly picky when it comes to using comfort and eye position, but the eyecups (and their relationship to the eyes/face) are the main point of contact and use so (probably together with focus action/feel) are the most crucial bits of my relationship with any given binoculars, and the Canon are not proving to be particularly friendly.
Again, thank you all for your input, it's much appreciated.
 
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wllmspd

Well-known member
I found some sunlit things to go finding CA. Yes there was more CA compared to my APO spotter, noticable, but not as aggressive and distracting as I had on some old 15x70 I had. I agree the eyecups are different and not easy to fold, though the field of view is fine (not as wide as I like, but not an issue).

Peter
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
I found some sunlit things to go finding CA. Yes there was more CA compared to my APO spotter, noticable, but not as aggressive and distracting as I had on some old 15x70 I had. I agree the eyecups are different and not easy to fold, though the field of view is fine (not as wide as I like, but not an issue).

Peter
Yes, I do agree that the field of view poses no problem to me either. No, it's not the widest FOV in the world, but I see 5º for a 12x binocular reasonable. Not only that (and this is utterly personal), but because the way some binoculars are made (I guess eyepiece design + my particular facial features) I am unable to see the entire FOV in some binoculars, in many wide angle like the Nikon EII 8x30 8,8º or the Minolta 7x35 11º... or even the more mundane FOV of the Nikon SE 10x42, which at 6º is no wonder either. Don't ask me why, but try as I may, I get a hard time reaching to see the field stop of those binoculars within my FOV (without doing strange and uncomfortable things). So a 12x that offers 100 % usable 5º is OK for me.

As for CA, I'm sorry to confirm that my unit has the strongest CA of any binocular I've used. I guess it is logical (and to be expected to a certain extent) that a 12x binocular displays more CA than a 7x, given that magnification many times makes flaws more obvious, but the level of CA on my Canon is really annoying. Maybe I've been unlucky and my unit is a bit sub-par and this has come in the worse possible of scenarios: the bright Summertime in Ibiza. Most of my observations with the IS III 12x36 are distant birds against the raw and blinding sky of June, which only makes things worse. Maybe if I was watching birds against a leafy background in Sweden in February my experience would have been different. Whenever I see a bird on the ground it's actually not that bad, the worse bit is when the bird is silhouetted against the sky, I'll try to make a picture.

As for eyecup comfort, I'm clocking hours with the IS and slowly learning how to use them, and there are a couple of things worth noting:
  • Vertically offset eyepieces. I get the feeling that, because the eyepieces are offset vertically (like a periscope) it is harder to aim at the bird correctly, like you need a correction. I've been using it almost daily for backyard astronomy side by side with other 10x42 and 10x50. I've been locating birds or stars for years with binoculars, so it's become second nature to look at a target and, bingo, simply put the binoculars to my eyes and have the subject perfectly centered (is something I remember being a bit of a chore at the beginning), but with the IS III it's not that easy. The other day I was looking at M39 and doing side by side (to check for brightness and star count) it was like: instant location with both the 10x42 (porro), 10x50 (roof) but with the IS III I always aimed at other point and had to readjust my position.
  • The eyecups are not particularly comfortable, not even for a fold down eyecup. I don't know if it's the rubber itself, the thickness and texture of the rim, but I find it to be more tiring that say a Nikon EII or SE, or a Vixen Ultima 7x50 I use very often. I get the feeling that the eyecups of the Canon get into the flesh of my eye socket more aggressively.
  • And then there's the fact that getting the IPD right is not as straight forward as with any other roof or porro I've tried, because the body of the Canon is a brick and only the eyepieces rotate "radially", which in my experience makes it harder to find the right IPD, which in these binocular I consider a crucial part of getting the view right (well, this is valid for any binocular, but I guess a 7x50 classic porro is more forgiving).
 

Pomfretian

New member
United Kingdom
Can any one tell me if canon are about to launch a new pair of 18 x 50 supplies of old model are non existent and my enquiries to canon seem to be brushed over don’t want to spend a grand plus if a new pair out soon many thanks
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Can any one tell me if canon are about to launch a new pair of 18 x 50 supplies of old model are non existent and my enquiries to canon seem to be brushed over don’t want to spend a grand plus if a new pair out soon many thanks
Canon seems to have a very tenuous relationship with its IS binoculars, perhaps because they are a small specialty line.
There have been intervals when even the 10x42ISL flagship seemed to be out of production, but then a new batch appeared.
So I don't think that one can tell whether the 18x50 is getting a successor just because it is currently unavailable.
Fortunately although the IS could be modernized and the ergonomics improved, there is not a whole lot of optical improvement possible.
So I don't think you benefit much by waiting for a new version.
 

AlanFrench

Well-known member
A good example of why it's good to try before you buy or make sure the dealer has an agreeable return policy.

I used the Canon 12x36 IS II for about 16 years as my main birding binocular (now replaced by the 12x32, mostly for the improved close focus). In my hands the ergonomics were fine. The button simply rested nicely under a finger tip, so holding it wasn't an issue. I wear glasses and the eye relief was just fine with the eyecups rolled flat.

As for chromatic aberration, there was only a touch of lateral color near the edge of the field on high contrast edges. (My wife once complained about it, and adjusting the IPD cleared it up.)

Clear skies, Alan
 

edwincjones

Well-known member
I'm curious about other brands IS offerings. I've always read that Canon has a lead over the rest, in particular the new breed of Fuji/Kite/Opticron. I wonder about the small Nikon 10x25. A 2,5 exit pupil doesn't sound very promising, but at least it looks like that could have a more reasonable ergonomics and ease of use.

I am very happy with my Fujinon TS-X 14x40 IS for large birding at a distance, still or soaring;
better optics and IS than my 12x36 I , but they are heavy with narrow FOV and poor ergonomics.

edj
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
I am very happy with my Fujinon TS-X 14x40 IS for large birding at a distance, still or soaring;
better optics and IS than my 12x36 I , but they are heavy with narrow FOV and poor ergonomics.
Thanks for the input, edwincjones, very interesting.. I'm pretty impressed with the IS on the Canon 12x36 IS III. I wonder if the Canon IS III has closed the gap with the Fujinon, otherwise, the Fujinon must be really something. I understand you are talking about the older "box-shaped" Fujinon (I see it has a retail price around 1400 €). Fujinon has released a series of extremely light and small IS (12 and 16x28) that retail for a similar price as the Canon IS 12x36 (around 600 - 700 €), but the reports on those seems to be a mixed bag, although my take is that they're one step below the Canon. Your Fujinon seems to belong to a higher specification, maybe aimed to compete directly with Canon top of the range?
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
A good example of why it's good to try before you buy or make sure the dealer has an agreeable return policy.

I used the Canon 12x36 IS II for about 16 years as my main birding binocular (now replaced by the 12x32, mostly for the improved close focus). In my hands the ergonomics were fine. The button simply rested nicely under a finger tip, so holding it wasn't an issue. I wear glasses and the eye relief was just fine with the eyecups rolled flat.

As for chromatic aberration, there was only a touch of lateral color near the edge of the field on high contrast edges. (My wife once complained about it, and adjusting the IPD cleared it up.)
I've been using the 12x36 IS III on a daily basis and I must say it's growing on me, I can see how many people could use it as a primary device (except maybe for some very specific close encounters in bushes/forest). It's pretty versatile and the weight is surprisingly low (taking into account all the electronics inside). I can also see the appeal of something like the 10x42 if you want to spend big money on a "big view". I'm getting used to holding the binoculars in such a way that the index/middle finger of my left hand just rest on the button while holding the binoculars, while I use the right hand for focusing.

However, one of main complains is still CA. At least in my unit is pretty obvious (I don't know how bad can unit sample be with IS Canons). Yes, fine tuning IPD can mitigate it, but it's just there (a simple test is to take a picture through one eyepiece -where IPD plays no role- and seeing what my eyes see, colour fringing around the subject). Maybe I live in an very sunny area with very bright conditions that pose a real challenge (when the day it's not so bright or I'm not watching birds against the sky/branches is not that bad).

So, getting better :) Once I've put more hours on it, I'll do a middle-term review.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Middle term assessment of the Canon IS III 12x36

Following up on my original post nearly three months ago, here is a personal middle term evaluation. As always, no aspiration of professional approach, just the impressions of an amateur user who enjoys his optics.

I got the IS III 12x36 nearly 90 days ago, I’d say I’ve used them nearly 2/3 of those days, both for birding and astronomy, so I’ve come to know the binoculars better and have a well-informed opinion about them.

In the field
After carrying them many hours I must say that I find their weight (and probably weight distribution) friendlier than many 8x42, so that’s a plus. Since the accessories that came (or simply didn’t) with it are just appalling (the strap and the case are a bit of a joke, no rain guard and no objective covers whatsoever) I have used things I had lying around at home. The strap from a Vortex Viper 10x50 and for carrying it I use the case of the Swarovski 8x32 ELSV (which, incidentally is the same one used for the 8x42 SLC) and which makes a terrific job at keeping it safe and at hand. I wear it bandolier style, with the strap nearly stretched to its maximum, and it’s really very comfy. I have to find a proper rain guard among the ones I have at home, I still haven’t had time for that, but it’s a must, since dust and debris just accumulate on the eyepieces.

Grip
The bulky shape and lack of central hinge make for an awkward grip that takes some getting used to. I think I just got used to it, but whenever I’m back to my 8x32 ELSV I feel a certain relief, to be honest. Anyway, I have somehow learned to to hold them in a relaxed way (which is important to make the most of the IS system; if you can hold them still, the feeling is nearly that of using a tripod). I lay my left hand around the left side so that my index finger rest naturally on the IS button (without actually making any effort to press it), and then do the same with the right hand, but in this case the right hand index finger is set on the focus wheel, this way, because of the overlap/clutter of fingers on the top side, the right hand somehow presses the left one and and this creates enough pressure for the IS button to be activated. This saves me the “active” effort of actually feeling/thinking I’m pressing a button (and the strain it creates). It may sound weird, but this works for me, given that having to press a button all the time is one of the biggest flaws of the binocular.

The view
This is what everything boils down to. After testing the IS III against other binoculars, comparing it with other friends’ binoculars and doing many tests… I have to wholeheartedly agree that you simply "see more”. I am able to resolve more details, and this is paired with an extremely relaxed view, that I’d describe as ever more still than a 7x. As a matter of fact, I’ve done “stillness tests” holding 7x, 8x, 10x and IS12x binoculars, and the latter simply produces a more stable image, this was a bit of a shock, since my impression when using some 7x has always been that of “almost enjoying an IS view”. This is the main point of all this, and the reason I’m keeping them in spite of the many and very serious drawbacks and flaws.
So, the IS III simply show more, this could be the “what”, and now about the “how” they do it: pretty terribly to be honest. When IS is not engaged, the imaged is pretty sharp, but when IS in active, the image quality decreases, it’s suddenly softer. However, this doesn’t mean that you loose the ability to resolve more (which is somehow counterintuitive: a “worse” view that shows more… wow. Before trying IS, usually a better binocular showed more detail together with a sharper view and quite often less flaws).
I remember reading some criticism about the limited field of view (5º), but I find it more than acceptable, taking into account that it’s a 12x, and there are many 10x with a 5º FOV. Personally, this has not bothered me, to be honest I haven’t even thought about it for a while.
Regarding the use of IS. The stabilization works amazingly fast and trouble free. There’s hardly any lag, which is way better than I had read/imagined. However, when the IS first kicks in, until you locate the subject and place it on the center of the image and focus on it, there is a moment of extreme high CA, and the CA dissipates the moment you stay still and take your time to study the bird or object in question, it’s hard to explain. So, the level of CA (one of the biggest flaws of the IS III) somehow evolves as you watch the subject. As with other binoculars (but maybe more pronounced) the level of CA depends a lot on weather/light conditions. Summertime by the coast in Spain is probably not the best “natural habitat” to make the Canon IS III performance shine, and a dark background (such as fields/trees) on a cloudy day helps reducing CA dramatically. I can see how many people who use the IS III in Northern Europe with the background of green fields or rocky cliffs can remain unaware of the CA issue (at least most of the time).
To sum it up: incredible resolution and reach, soft image and worrying CA that can be improved with a bit of care.

Battery life
Having never used IS binoculars before, one of my main concerns was batteries: the fact of using (and disposing of) them, the cost (both in terms of money and environmental impact) and the hassle of having to always carry spare batteries with you and the fear of running out of batteries at the most inconvenient of times. It turns out I didn’t have to worry. As much as I tried, I hardly remember reading how long batteries lasted (I understand this is so variable and depends on so many factors that it’s impossible to give a fair and accurate estimate). And then there's the fact that I've always loved and admired binoculars for their pure optical/mechanical condition, no electronics, no batteries, something that works all the time for decades (in the case of very good binoculars). In my case, this was one of the biggest obstacles/prejudices to overcome.
Thanks to forum members I discovered that contemporary rechargeable batteries are worth it and last really long, so part of the battery issue was solved. And then my case: to my surprise, I installed a fresh pair of Energizer in early June… and have been using them through the Summer. I’ve read that you can tell when batteries are dead by the strange wonky things binoculars make. So here’s a thing: since I’ve never experienced it, I’m not 100 % I’ve got to that point. However, I think I saw some “hesitation” in the IS system, and I changed the batteries on August 19th, this is more than two and a half months of use. I’m beyond impressed. Actually, since I got the Eneloops after starting using the Canon, I haven’t had a chance to test how long they last compared to the Energizer. Anyway, this has exceeded my expectations and then some.

Bonus track 1: astronomy
I’ve mainly used the Canon IS III 12x36 for birding, but over the Summertime they’ve also seen some astro use. I’d say that between 2/3 and 1/2 of the nights I’ve used them on the stars… and their performance is simply stunning. I can understand why Roger Vine rates them as on of his favourite handheld astronomy binoculars, because the IS makes for a magical feeling of floating through fields of stars. I was able to enjoy impressive dark skies in the province of Teruel, in Central Spain, some of the best skies in the country (at nearly 1000 m of altitude and with hardly any light pollution) and the Canon delivered stunning views of the Summer sky. This is really something remarkable. Leaning back on a reclining chair you can spend hours drifting between constellations, and in spite of their humble objective size, they can show quite a lot. Interesting fact: while their performance for birding is something like “WHAT they show is great, HOW they show it is poor, due to soft image and CA”, in astro use it gets reversed to “WHAT they show is nice, but HOW they do it is mind-blowing”.

Bonus track 2: digiscoping
I regularly use my binoculars to take pictures of what I see, simply for documenting purposes. Yes, the images are sometimes quite poor, but often they do help me identifying or remembering what I saw. Using a smartphone on binoculars is a severe test for the binoculars, and the best ones sometimes create amazing pictures that make you think you were using a nice camera with a lovely objective (in terms of sharpness and bokeh). Well, the Canon IS III can’t compete on sharpness with any top level non-IS binocular, but the fact that you have IS really helps taking a picture, especially if you think you’re "single-handing” a 12x binocular while you hold the smartphone with the other hand. I’ve done several very nice pictures that have help me identifying species back home with some guides and books. So another added bonus.

Summary
They’re ugly, they have the ergonomics of a potato, they’re bulky, the image is flawed in several ways (softness, CA), they need batteries, they’re not waterproof (and are probably less shockproof than similarly priced non-IS binoculars), they’re not cheap, the accessories are a joke… but they simply show you more or the world around you, which I believe is the first and foremost goal of binoculars. So, for me at this time, they are a keeper. They give me what I always wanted 10x binoculars to give me (and never really found), so much so that I’ll be selling my 10x binoculars and keep a 8x and this IS-12x, which I think make a great combo.
 
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wllmspd

Well-known member
… ergonomics of a potato…! Love it! For longer term users there is risk of “sticky rubber”. If I can only bring ONE optic then the trusty 12x36IS are it.
Peter
 

wdc

Well-known member
Yarelli, Thanks for taking the time to write such an insightful and amusing report of this binocular. Much appreciated.

-Bill
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
CANON IS III 12X36 - ONE YEAR REVIEW

In a few days it will be one year since I bought the Canon IS 12x36. Since then, they have been my most used binoculars, I’ve probably used them every 3 out of 4 times I grabbed an optic. I reckon I’ve used the Canon more than half of the days of the year, so say between 180 and 200 days. It’s hard to estimate the number of hours, because some days it has been used for a brief 30 minutes check on something, while others I’ve used it for 3 - 4 hour birding sessions. All in all, several hundred hours using it, so I can now say I have a pretty accurate feel of what is it like to live with it, and these are my findings, hope it can be useful for other forum members. The good, the not so good and the right down awful.

Re-accesorizing
Let’s begin with the first impression, say accessories. I wrote about it earlier in this thread, but a short reminder that both case, neck strap and objective covers (well, lack thereof) are appalling, probably among the worst I’ve seen, especially considering it’s a +700 € device. I really think Canon must reconsider its strategy here. Many 300 binoculars € come with lovely neck straps and cases that fulfill their purpose, offering protection and ease of transportation. Anyway, I’ve provided the Canon with much needed improvement in those areas, as can be seen in the following picture).

DSC_9589.jpg


I use the case of the Swarovski EL 8x32 (the same one used in the SLC 8x42) that is ridiculously large for a 8x32 model). It fits the Canon really well, a snug fit but not too tight, and the lid offers enough room to accommodate the strap, given that the case has a very long “safety belt style” strap that makes wearing it bandolier style a real pleasure.
For the rain guard, I use on from a Zeiss Conquest HD with the little loop-connector system from the objective covers of the same Contest HD, which is my favourite way of carrying the rain guard. It’s super fast and convenient to flip it open and, when you don’t want the rain guard at all (say you are in an observatory, or simply feel you don’t need it) can be easily clipped off and kept in a pocket, without the hassle of de-looping/re-looping it.
Finally, the neck strap of a 10x50 Vortex Viper HD is way wider (and cushioned!) than the ridiculous strap provided by Canon, so that it’s way more comfortable to carry it for long hours. Loaded with batteries, my unit weights 695 g.

DSC_9594.jpg


Battery life
The specs say the batteries last 9 hours. But what does that mean on the field? If I watch a warbler pass by and press the button… is that 5 seconds? Does it add up linearly? Or is it like a car that consumes more the moment you start it and then the rate is at a steadier pace? Even after reading everything I could find about the IS III I just couldn’t imagine how it would perform in the field. I remember reading few testimonies about an average battery life, which for me was a crucial aspect. I guess like many other binocular lovers, what I love about conventional binoculars is that they’re mechanical devices, and I admire the pure beauty of the engineering and design solutions put in place in different models. I love that they don’t need batteries to operate, and thus are not tightly bound to obsolescence and fail as electronic gadgets and appliances. So, spending a reasonably big amount of money on an electronic gadget was a pretty big pill to swallow. In my case, these are my battery life figures over a year of use. I’ve used them mostly in the mild Mediterranean weather. I took them to the Pyrenees for Christmas, but even there I don’t think they ever were below 0º C.
Battery change dates (Energizer batteries)
  1. 10.06.21
  2. 19.08.21
  3. 3.01.21
  4. 9.04.21

So, between 2 and 3 months, and I’m still using the 4th pair, which I reckon will last until somewhere in late June or early July. So, 4 battery changes in one year. The funny bit is that I bought a set of Eneloop rechargeable batteries, but while they arrived, I bought a set (8) of regular disposable batteries, by fear of running out of juice before the Eneloop arrived (I simply didn’t know what to expect in terms of range). It turns out my fear was unfounded. Truth be told, I’ll be using my first set of Eneloops after the current Energizer dies, so at the moment I don’t know if there’s a difference between them and the disposable ones. I have a set of the white Eneloop and in my Speedlite flash I have a set of the black ones that I’ve been using over the last 7 years and that have worked great (and continue to do so).

All in all, I’ve been really surprised with the life of the batteries. I don’t know if other users may get more or less use out of a pair of batteries, maybe different temperatures and birding styles create big differences (what’s your change rate?). I don’t do a lot of observatories, I’m usually on the move. Maybe if you’re watching migratory birds for hours, or sitting in an observatory watching waders for a long time, the batteries will last less. I’m really pleased. As a matter of fact, I never use the Canon without the IS; the moment I grab them, I press the IS button. In fact, I’m not 100 % sure that I’ve actually exhausted the life of the batteries I’ve used. The Canon have never stopped working. I’m under the impression that they started working less well, less efficiently, so I changed the batteries, but I’m not 100 % (they could do with an orange LED indicating the need for a change).

Stabilization IS
Regarding the stabilization itself, I must say that I’ve also been pleasantly surprised. Maybe it’s because the stabilization in the 12x36 IS III was the last iteration of that model, but I’ve found it to be really fast, no lag whatsoever and amazingly stable, sometimes you got the feeling of being on a tripod. It’s that good. This simply allows to see more. I’d say (and this could be the summary) that the Canon IS III accomplish the ultimate goal of binoculars: they bring closer distant objects so that you can see them in detail. And they do this in a way that simply puts to shame any “alpha” from the big brands. I’ve lost count of the opportunities when out birding with brother/friends/relatives there was this moment of someone saying “What is that sitting on that ledge on the cliff… I just can’t…”, and I went: “It’s species X. Oh, and, by the way, it has a prey on its claws”. This has to be experienced. For me, this is what justifies the many (MANY) drawbacks of this model (more on that later): you simply see more, more detail, closer… but not “better”. When in use, the image quality is nowhere near the 700 € price tag would suggest.

A couple of notes.
  • Singlehand.When I’m birding, sometimes I carry my scope or other thing, so that sometimes I have to “singlehand” the binoculars. Some models are better at this, especially compact 8x32, I can hardly singlehand a 10x with enough quality… and here comes a 12x that you can singlehand and get an incredibly detailed image.
  • Astro. IS is an absolute game changer for astro. Yes, you’ve probably read it before, I found it to be true. Well, I’d say it’s a game changer for appreciating detail, be it splitting a double star or making out details on plummage that help you identify a bird.
  • Pictures. I very often take pictures through my scope an binoculars, they serve as reference, to remember something, to show to friends, to justify a “rare” sighting, or to check a detail back home. IS makes this so easy and is able to provide amazing detail for such a rudimentary technique.

So, how’s the view?
Well, there are two aspects to this. When you first test the Canon with IS turned off, like watching a tree, bush or object, the image is pretty good, I’d say as good as many 400 - 500 € binoculars: sharp, good contrast, field of view is OK (I’ve read negative reviews of this aspect, but 5º for a 12x seems reasonable to me, after all, there are many 10x50 with 5º). However, the second part is not that nice: if you start using the Canon on more challenging situations (basically, birding), objects on the move, against the sky, on a branch, and activate IS you discover a serious amount of colour fringing. I remember well the first swallow I saw with the Canon. I mean, I knew it was a swallow, but had I not known that bird species, I might as well have thought it was a colourful bee-eater, given the incredible amount of colour fringing of a dark silhouetted bird against a bright Summer sky. However, it has to be said that colour fringing is specially strong on back-light/high-contrast situations, and specially when you are panning or following something swiftly. The moment you “locate”/acquire the bird, even if you are panning, the level of CA diminishes, it’s hard to explain. While using the Canon 8x20 IS Canip might have experienced something similar, this is what he wrote:

The 8x20 shows clearly less CA than the Canon 10x32 (in the latter, the higher magnification of course may contribute a bit o). I noticed that while the IS is switched on, a little more CA becomes visible during panning than when the device is without moving. The increased CA disappears as soon as the panning movement stops. Incidentally, this finding also seems to appliey to the 10x32 (and possibly also to other Canons ?? Or stabilized binos in general ?? Or just an impression in my eyes?? To be explored further).

Then, when IS is ON I don’t think the sharpness and contrast compare favourably to contemporary roofs costing 700 € (let alone to a similarly priced Porro like the Habicht). The image is soft and many times lacks the sparkle and punch you can experience for that sort of money. It’s a weird finding: you can see more detail with a worse quality. Up until using IS, my impression was the opposite, my experience told me that the better the image quality (in terms of sharpness, bright, costrast) the more detail you could see. Strange, revealing.

Focusing is OK. I find the focus wheel on the small side, compared to most x42 binoculars (the natural rivals of this very peculiar 12x36). Action is good, soft, but when changing direction is not as good as similarly priced roofs (or classic porros, like the Nikon EII or SE, for example, with their flawless mechanical action). It somehow reminds me of the Pentax Papilio. While focus is OK, it gets the job done. Bear in mind that, being a 12x with the shallow depth of field of 12x, there is quite a lot of “job” to be done. So maybe that’s the reason you use the focus more than in any other binoculars, and the reason why in this particular device it’s under quite a lot of demand. And then there’s the minimal close focus distance. I know there’s a lot of debate about this. While I do enjoy some of the binoculars that I have (or had) with a short close focusing distance, say 1,8 m (6 feet), it’s not something I would deem essential, and I’m perfectly happy with about 3,5 m (11 - 12 feet), but this have a whooping 6 m. I was a bit intimidated by it, and it is true that I’ve lost several sightings because of that. How many? It’s hard to say… maybe 5 to 10 in one year. While you could argue it’s not terrible, one or two were migrants that could have been a rare sighting. So not happy about it. I would not recommend them for intensive close range use, obviously.

What about low light conditions? Well, in those conditions my 8x32 appears brighter but, again, that’s the “how”, the “what” (can I see more?) is still on the Canon side. As a matter of fact, in poor light conditions you have to get used to the image not being as bright as you’re used to. There’s a lot of useful detail, but it’s more tiresome than another brighter pair with a larger exit pupil or larger objectives. In fact, I’d say this is a constant when using the 12x36 (probably has to do with the fact that they’re 12x as well as being IS). It gives you a lot, but you have to “work harder”, the view is not so peaceful and effortless. Coming from the 12x36 Canon to an 8x32 or something like a 7x35 is like going to a SPA for a massage and a warm bath, so relaxing.

Usability
Fail. Move on.
I could very well end up this section like that, but let me elaborate. When you first put the IS III to your eyes you feel you are holding a brick, then you naturally try to find the right IPD, and this is something the Canon are not brilliant at (to say the least). They lack the traditional bridge, so you have to move the eyepieces. OK, doesn’t seem much of an issue, but it turns out the eyepieces don’t move smoothly as your typical bridge, they’re hard to move and have very little play to fine tune your IPD. The result is that whenever I pass them on to my partner so she can enjoy a quick glance of something special, I spend way more time that I’d like readjusting the IPD back. It’s a bit of a pain.

OK, so you’ve finally adjusted the IPD, now you encounter those soft rubber eyecups… Argh! I’ve used many classic Porros, and the Canon are not among the most comfortable. And then there’s the issue with the dioptre adjustment. It’s not as if you had to adjust it every single day you go birding… it actually moves at the slightest touch (like rubbing agains your chest), so I’ve found I need to re-adjust it several times even in the same session. I’ve never seen anything like that. Obviously many times they move when you take the binos out of the case and so on. A stupid design fail: they turn to easily.

And then there’s a simple and terrible fact: you have to push a button (all the time) to make it work. Imagine you buy a nice 700 - 800 € Opticron, Leupold, Meopta, etc… only to find that it does not provide its full potential unless your finger is constantly pressing a button. I find the mere idea of putting this into production ludicrous. But there you go, I guess you learn to live with it. Even after one year of use I’m still amazed of how an engineer (or a budget controller) at Canon thought this was acceptable.
So, the ergonomics are terrible, it’s like holding a Fax machine from the 90s in your hands, the eyecups are quite horrible, the dioptre adjustment moves inadvertently, the focus wheel is too smal, adjusting the IPD is far from ideal (or far from what any 100 € device can do) and you have to constantly press a button to make it work.
Finally, there’s the lack of waterproofness. And yes, there have been several times (I’d say maybe 4 or 5) where I wanted to bring the IS but the sensible thing was to leave it at home and bring something more rugged. It’s a real pity when you want to use it but you know you shouldn’t. I have indeed used it under a slight drizzle, and it coped well. I dried it with a cloth and let it to dry on a rack (like you do with baked goods) in good ventilation.

Condition after one year of use
As I said earlier, I’ve used the Canon probably more than half of the days of the year, and to my surprise it can be noticed more than I’d expected (or more than I have experienced with other armoured binoculars). No I haven’t had any issue in the entire year, no electronic or optical fail, good reliability here. Maybe less important, but worth noting is the cosmetic part. The outer layer of plastic (the soft one that “melts” in many units) has started to disappear in areas where the binoculars rub against the case (I suppose) or my clothes.

DSC_9597.jpg

More worrying, but to be expected at some point due to the lack of weatherproofing, is the fact that there already is a noticeable amount of dust inside the objective tubes. Nothing terrible, but visible nonetheless. I’ve read many testimonies of Canon IS binoculars lasting in excess of 10 years. I wonder how my unit will last if it accumulates 10 times the amount of debris it has right now.

DSC_9606.jpg


Conclusion
This is one of those times in life when you are confronted with a serious set of drawbacks to overcome one big advantage.

If you list all the things I don’t like and then the things I like it goes like this:

CONS:
Price
Ergonomics
Usability
Image quality (soft)
Chromatic Aberration
Dioptre adjustment moves
Need for batteries
Close focus is pretty bad
Lack of waterproofness
Lack of shockproofness
Depreciation of an electronic gadget
Durability

PROS:
You see more

One of the ideas I gathered while first using the Canon IS III 12x36 (I think I wrote about it some months ago) is that WHAT they do is amazing: they show you more, simple as that. You can see more than with a 2500 € non-IS state-of-the-art alpha. In fact, they show you more than anything but a binocular on a tripod could do. This is just mind-blowing and a true revelation. But then, the HOW they do it has many, many, many bends (read the list of cons again). After one year, I’ve been amazed by what the Canon have given me, but also frustrated by some of the shortcomings mentioned. I remember the strong wish of selling it after the first week of use, and how that wish went slowly fading off the more I used it. After one year, and several hundred hours in the field, I think of the Canon IS as an old friend whose craze, shortcomings and shades you know well, but you have learnt to live with. Whenever I go from the Canon to my 8x32 EL SV is like if someone had just switched the 4K button on. The image is sparkling and vivid, but there’s something missing. Even when using 7x (which is something I love) I can feel a very subtle jitter that can become irritating.

As an everyday pair, the Canon are very nice, probably a little too bulky, although not terribly heavy (at 695 g with batteries), maybe the close focus and lack of waterproofing are the worst. The cons are a lot, but IS can give you so much more, that in my case I think it’s worth it. So much so, that I’ve decided to try the 8x20 IS that has gathered good reviews (I remember Canip’s positive comments), that model overcomes two of the shortcomings: size and close focus, while there is a new one: small exit pupil and tiny objectives (well, it seems you can’t have it all). In fact, I’m thinking that a compromise could be the new10x32 IS. A 3,2 exit pupil, a good 6º FOV (nearly as good as the 8x20), but again, it has grown a lot fatter (+800 g with batteries).

(Sorry for the lenghty post, a little longer than I anticipated.)
 

Binastro

Well-known member
8x25 IS is discontinued.

At least two different versions with different stabilizers.

Some are very good, but the front optical windows can fall out.

B.
 

Binastro

Well-known member
Somebody just won £184,000,000 on the Lottery in the U.K.

It would clear out most makers stocks of binoculars.

But where will I put them?

Regards,
B.
 

Hermann

Well-known member
Yarrelli, first of all let me thank you for your excellent and very thorough review. It's a far cry from the many "reviews" posted here where people write up their "experiences" after a couple of weeks with a binocular.

A couple of comments:

One of the ideas I gathered while first using the Canon IS III 12x36 (I think I wrote about it some months ago) is that WHAT they do is amazing: they show you more, simple as that. You can see more than with a 2500 € non-IS state-of-the-art alpha. In fact, they show you more than anything but a binocular on a tripod could do. This is just mind-blowing and a true revelation. But then, the HOW they do it has many, many, many bends (read the list of cons again). After one year, I’ve been amazed by what the Canon have given me, but also frustrated by some of the shortcomings mentioned. I remember the strong wish of selling it after the first week of use, and how that wish went slowly fading off the more I used it. After one year, and several hundred hours in the field, I think of the Canon IS as an old friend whose craze, shortcomings and shades you know well, but you have learnt to live with. Whenever I go from the Canon to my 8x32 EL SV is like if someone had just switched the 4K button on. The image is sparkling and vivid, but there’s something missing.
Great summary. If you tried the Canon 10x42 IS you'd find its optical quality is far better than that of the 12x36 - in an even more unwieldy, heavier package. The 10x42 IS is a true alpa though, I find the optical quality on a par with the best binoculars on the market. But like I said, you pay a heavy price (pun intended).
Even when using 7x (which is something I love) I can feel a very subtle jitter that can become irritating.
You can say that again. Even when using 7x the jitter is irritating, I agree. However, now that I'm slowly becoming used to the 10x42 IS I think the only "muggle binoculars" (to borrow Kimmo's term for binoculars without stabilisation) I use on a regular basis are 6x and 7x binoculars. I find 6x and 7x are manageable magnifications, at higher magnifications the jitter just gets on my nerves.
As an everyday pair, the Canon are very nice, probably a little too bulky, although not terribly heavy (at 695 g with batteries), maybe the close focus and lack of waterproofing are the worst. The cons are a lot, but IS can give you so much more, that in my case I think it’s worth it. So much so, that I’ve decided to try the 8x20 IS that has gathered good reviews (I remember Canip’s positive comments), that model overcomes two of the shortcomings: size and close focus, while there is a new one: small exit pupil and tiny objectives (well, it seems you can’t have it all). In fact, I’m thinking that a compromise could be the new10x32 IS. A 3,2 exit pupil, a good 6º FOV (nearly as good as the 8x20), but again, it has grown a lot fatter (+800 g with batteries).
Try the 8x20 by all means. I've got one as well, and I fully agree with Canip's assessment of it. However, now that I've got the 10x42 I find it difficult the use the 8x20, it's so much weaker optically than the 10x42 IS. Still, the Canon 8x20 shows me more detail than ANY unstabilised 8x32 on the market. It nowadays lives in my pack whenever I don't expect to do any real birding, just in case something flies by.

Once again, thanks a lot for your thorough review. I really enjoyed it.

Hermann
 

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