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Image Stabilised bins (1 Viewer)

amears

Well-known member
Apologies if there's an existing thread I should be adding to...

A few weeks ago, I posted somewhere on BF that IS bins aren't really suitable for birding. I said they were heavy and ungainly, and the image quality was not up to the best (or something along those lines). I also said I had little experience and was just remembering a pair of Canons I tried about 10 or 20 years ago and quickly dismissed – I stood to be corrected. I also noted that virtually no keen British birders use them.

I then asked around and got the responses I expected from my very experienced and capable birding mates:
# Too heavy…
# Make me feel sick…
# Ugly!
# etc

All except one who, it turns out, loves them. He’s a very well-respected and well-known British birder with an enviable pedigree – but I will keep his name back at this stage just because I’m prompting this post and not him (he was pretty laid back about this in fact).

So here’s his take on it, word for word - hope it's of interest:

“ Canon 10 x 42 L IS WP – a personal perspective

“ There are many high-end binoculars on the market – I have reviewed several of them for [website a] – and those that I have not I have actively looked through either at the BirdFair or when leading clients on tours for [company b]. However, for the past five years I have used Canon 10 x 42 L IS binoculars as my every-day binocular.

I never honestly thought about using these until I was leading a tour with [esteemed euro-birder c] in Morocco, when he told me to have a look though his, which I did and I was hooked. Through the image, with the IS turned on I was able to clearly see the emarginations on the wing of a Moroccan Blackbird that I could only just see with my Zeiss. They were amazing and for the rest of the tour I kept on nicking them off [c] to look through. When I got home I bought a pair and have not wanted to change since. [c] and I are amazed that so few birders seem to use them…

Looked through without the IS turned on these are already a pretty damned good optically (the L means that some of the glass is of the same quality as their very expensive lenses) – easily a match for most of the high-end binoculars on the market. However, with the IS turned on the image stills and the clarity has to be seen to be believed. A good test, which I often use to illustrate this to those that think they are just a ‘binocular brick’ is to put a piece of paper with fine and small print at c. 20 m distance (a bank note is good). Use a non IS pair then switch to the Canons: what the stillness of the image is able to do is to enable you to see the details much more clearly as it reduces or eradicates the shake. Any movement of your binoculars, no matter how good they are optically, degrades the quality of the image, so to remove it (or virtually so) is a major step. Imagine handholding a telescope compared with putting it on a tripod…

On moving objects such as raptors, the pressing of the button that turns the IS on has an enormous effect on the quality of the image you see. The bird is clear the image is smooth and the details observable far greater than with any binocular I have tested alongside them (even the very best). The fact they are 10x magnification is also important – I doubt I would choose a 10x non IS binocular due to the image shake, but on the Canon 10 x 42s that is more than compensated for by the IS.

I appreciate that they are not the best-looking pair of bins around and neither are they the lightest – they hang heavy on the neck during a long two weeks of touring – but I can’t do without them. I have found looking though leaves in a forest at, for example, Striped Wren-babbler the IS in having a still image makes the finding and watching of the bird easier – the leaves in front of the bird do not appear to be as distracting as they are not moving about as the bins shake a little – seeing the bird is easier and also with a stiller image any movement is likely to be the bird and not you!

I could go on for ages, but won’t. They have one or two downsides, I admit. They are heavy as I said, but perhaps no more so than the first pair of Swift Audubons I had as a boy. When used in hot temperatures with lots of heat haze, the IS seems to exaggerate the effect of the haze – this may be because you are seeing it more clearly. They are bulky and pressing the button to turn the IS on and off (clunk and click) when in a quiet setting or group might seem annoying at times. However, for me the benefits are so great that I cannot ever think about changing.

What I dream of is that Canon would improve the size and weight, yet still keep the high quality glass. I know there are new Canon IS bins about to be released, but the Canon 10 x 42 L IS WP binoculars will still be the yardstick against which they will be judged.

[I then asked about waterproofing…]

I have used mine incredibly heavily and have never had any moisture problems. I am aware that others have had issues, but mine have yet to let me down. You are also meant to get them serviced every 3 years, but neither myself nor [c] have ever done so. This can be pricey - I have heard costs of £500 bandied about, but not sure. At that price it is worth buying a new pair for £1000!

I do a lot of birding from my bike in [an English coastal county] and having cycled 10 miles or more, bins carried across my back, to have IS is essential. On boats they help with vibration but swell not so much.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
I'm a keenish British birder and I have used the Canon 10x42 IS as my main binoculars for the past year or two. I would agree with everything that the person Andy quotes is saying about them. When I have lent them to other birders to use they have invariably been amazed at the obvious difference IS makes. If you want to get a better view of birds then you should try them.
 

edwincjones

Well-known member
It is all personal preference.
Some like them, some do not.
There are good reasons for both sides.

edj

as Andrew says, try for yourself
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
It is all personal preference.
Some like them, some do not.
There are good reasons for both sides.

edj

as Andrew says, try for yourself

And I think the important thing is to try them. The problem (and I guess it's why Andy started the thread) is that few birders (at least in the UK and I suspect elsewhere) have actually tried them. Not everyone will like them, but quite a few will have the experience described in the first post if they allow themselves to.
 

DMW

Well-known member
As a wider point, I think it's easy to underestimate the amount of increased "resolution" (for want of a better word) that comes with stabilisation of any form. I often think that a lot of the benefit with a scope comes from the fact that it is usually bolted to a tripod.

I knew one very good birder who routinely used a lightweight monopod to steady his binoculars, and it does make a big difference. Perhaps this is a reasonable alternative to buying an expensive IS bins if you already own high-end bins?
 

Mono

Hi!
Staff member
Supporter
Europe
Chris Packham uses Canon ISs but then does do a lot of press puff for their cameras. That said the BBC guidelines are clear that presenters shouldn't use sponsored kit on screen.
 

dipped

Well-known member
I say amears the birder using the 10x42L IS bins wouldn't happen to have the initials B.S. and live around these parts (Suffolk)?
 

amears

Well-known member
I couldn't possibly comment...!

I guess I started the thread because I was quite bullish in writing IS bins off but after some thinking and 'research', am opening my mind a little. I'd also love it if someone produced a lightweight and beautifully designed pair. I think they would then become the proverbial no-brainer.
 

wllmspd

Well-known member
I have used 12x36 IS for over a decade, as my only instrument if I am not taking my scope, in which case I bring some old ultrawide angle 7x35. I can examine tiny details with one hand use. I admit I have almost never seen anyone else using them.... their loss. I keep mine in a pelicase to keep them safe. Not sure about water proofing, no obvious openings, I don't normally observe in pouring rain and never had any problems. The 12x are lighter than the 10x and give you a bit more extra power. Most TV people use zeiss or Swarovski bins... I guess lack of awareness and expectation of "quality" hinders people getting better views.
 

kabsetz

Well-known member
amears,

The testimony of your birder acquaintance pretty exactly mirrors my experience over the past ten or so years. I regularly test other top binoculars and use them in the field for a while, and am always happy and relieved to come back to the 10x42 L IS, no matter how good the others may be. Most likely I will eventually upgrade, but only to a better image-stabilized binocular once such a thing becomes available. Lighter weight, better looks or better ergonomics are for me a poor trade when one must accept shake and jitters in return. This despite me having pretty strong and stable hands on average.

Kimmo
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
amears,

The testimony of your birder acquaintance pretty exactly mirrors my experience over the past ten or so years. I regularly test other top binoculars and use them in the field for a while, and am always happy and relieved to come back to the 10x42 L IS, no matter how good the others may be. Most likely I will eventually upgrade, but only to a better image-stabilized binocular once such a thing becomes available. Lighter weight, better looks or better ergonomics are for me a poor trade when one must accept shake and jitters in return. This despite me having pretty strong and stable hands on average.

Kimmo
Ditto for the Canon 10x42 IS-L's.
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
I'm a keenish British birder and I have used the Canon 10x42 IS as my main binoculars for the past year or two. I would agree with everything that the person Andy quotes is saying about them. When I have lent them to other birders to use they have invariably been amazed at the obvious difference IS makes. If you want to get a better view of birds then you should try them.
Andrew - I thought the mystery man Andy was talking about ..... was you! 3:) :eek!: :-O



Chosun :gh:
 

Patudo

Well-known member
I was able to try these at the recent Birdfair. I have the greatest respect for knowledgeable and experienced observers like kabsetz and their strong recommendations were the main impetus for looking through them. In short I found the image stabilization works pretty much as advertised - a remarkable and impressive feature - but the top alphas and I think also the Conquest HD had perceptibly superior image quality (to my eyes anyway). I've noted some more detailed comments in the Birdfair thread. I did only have about 10 to 15 minutes of viewing under mostly quite overcast conditions, though; I'd certainly like to have a more extensive trial. I was also mainly using the IS following distant flying birds rather than looking for intricate plumage details or identifying features on birds at close to medium range, where this binocular probably excels. My brother (who commented after first trying them that the IS was a "game-changer") spent more time viewing birds at the feeder and commented that the IS worked even better when the binocular was aimed at a perched or feeding bird than when panning.
 

amears

Well-known member
Anyone who puts out consistently prompt and useful news on, say, a White-winged Scoter in Scotland, ranks pretty highly in the prestige ratings in my book.

But as someone else suggested, my IS mate (if you know what I mean) hails from much further south.

Andy
 
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Nixterdemus

Well-known member
They sound nice I'm sure the view is outstanding and I know of one that enjoys auto races viewed through 12x36 IS. For me I do not see any in the foreseeable future as I'm no fan of leasing anything. That's all you're doing as they are by design going to fail. Only a matter of when.

The warranty is but a year though Care-pak+ at roughly 12% of cost, new 12x36 IS III, surcharge is good for four years. Not an additional four years on top of factory one year mind you. And that four year guarantee states that any service required in the manual must be performed or no dice. I read where a service is required at three years. The prohibitive cost of that service, Care-pak+ not included, leaves little option save new purchase.

You could always take your chances on one year or 12%/whatevah cost for an additional two w/o three year mandatory for Care-pak+ factory service which would only buy you another year.

If my understanding of terms is correct the IS models are leases for all intents and purposes.

Have I drawn the wrong conclusion?
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
They sound nice I'm sure the view is outstanding and I know of one that enjoys auto races viewed through 12x36 IS. For me I do not see any in the foreseeable future as I'm no fan of leasing anything. That's all you're doing as they are by design going to fail. Only a matter of when.

The warranty is but a year though Care-pak+ at roughly 12% of cost, new 12x36 IS III, surcharge is good for four years. Not an additional four years on top of factory one year mind you. And that four year guarantee states that any service required in the manual must be performed or no dice. I read where a service is required at three years. The prohibitive cost of that service, Care-pak+ not included, leaves little option save new purchase.

You could always take your chances on one year or 12%/whatevah cost for an additional two w/o three year mandatory for Care-pak+ factory service which would only buy you another year.

If my understanding of terms is correct the IS models are leases for all intents and purposes.

Have I drawn the wrong conclusion?

You are quite correct.
Canon's relatively short product life cycle is reflected in the relatively niggardly warranties offered on the IS glasses.
It is surely one of the major impediment to broader acceptance of this superior product.
Unfortunately, the binocular business is irrelevant to Canon financially and no one at Canon has recognized that that makes that business an ideal place to pioneer new marketing approaches, such as long duration warranties.
So we're stuck with a throwaway binocular philosophy.

The only consolation I can offer is that my 10x42s worked flawlessly for 8 years before they had a glitch. The product appears to be designed to last considerably longer than the warranty. Hopefully that will remain so in the new models as well.
 

Nixterdemus

Well-known member
I am a happy bunny using various Canon IS binoculars for almost 20 years.

Two bad ones. So what.


Unto each their own.

How many, including the two bad, have you purchased over the last almost twenty years?

Do you use then until failure and scrap them or resell whilst still operable after a predetermined period of time as in a new auto purchase cycle?
 

Binastro

Well-known member
Never sold one.

Perhaps nine or ten.

Give them to family members, who still use them.
Some get considerable use, some don't.

First one was the 12x36 Mk 1.

My neighbour also got the 10x30 Mk ! which I think still works after ~ 10 years.. I set it up for him, attached straps, very fiddly, etc.
He asked me to recommend a binocular for viewing cruise ships from a high rise building.

Eventually I suppose all might fail, but I think quite a while yet.

Also a secondhand Bushnell 10x35 stabilized with warranty. It had been sent back to Bushnell U.S.A. for repair. Then back across the Atlantic. A load of junk.

Also the wierdest Russian IS with a gyro that speeds up to a demented speed. Sounds like a banshee? Military product, but certainly not stealth.
If you want crazy, try Russian optics, say a Kiev 10 or 15 camera.
But at least they are innovative, not conservative like most Western binoculars.

I.e. Yukon 30x50 folded refractor binocular. Probably Russian design but made elsewhere.
6x to 100x 100 lightweight Yukon folded refractor scope.
If only they had good multicoatings.
And unusual 5 inch astro refractor and unusual compound astro scopes.
 
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