• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

IS binoculars or scope for higher magnification? (1 Viewer)

LucaPCP

Well-known member
I currently do all my birding at 8x: primarily, 8x25 and 8x32, for which I have very good binoculars.

This works very very well for me, except that occasionally (not that occasionally) I have difficulty identifying birds due to low magnification.
Example: this Sunday I went to visit a pond in a place where I hadn't been so far. I saw several new (to me) species, but I also had difficulty identifying:
  • Ducks that were in a far part of the pond I could not reach. I could see them with my 8x, but it took me a lot of squinting to decide they must have been Blue-winged Teal.
  • Birds high up on a tree. If I went under the tree, they were behind foliage. If I climbed a small mound to have a better view and be more at the proper angle, they were small with the 8x. Only after a LOT of effort did I identify some of those as yellow-rumpled warblers.
So, I am thinking, for when I need more magnification,

Should I get a Canon 15x50 IS? Or a Nikon scope ED 50? Or nothing?

In favor of the Canon, I think it would be easier to point. Yes, I would have to pull it out of the backpack (I would likely continue to use the 8x32 normally), but once out, when the birds land again e.g. on the tall tree, it would be easier / faster for me to acquire them with the Canon 15x50 IS.

In favor of the ED 50 scope, it is lighter to carry in the backpack (and as I mentioned, I am likely to continue using my 8x32 for my normal viewing). Yes I would need also a tripod, and I wonder in fact if I could get away with a monopod. But once with that, it would give me higher magnification. The fear I have is that neither the duck, nor the warblers, were staying put, and I am afraid that tracking or acquiring something with the scope is going to be tricky. I can afford, if I really wanted, the more expensive Leica / Zeiss scopes, btw, but I am not considering them now -- I would only get them once I truly know that a scope is what I need, and once I already had experiences with other scopes.

A scope might also enable me to more easily identify squirrels etc from my home -- but again, those also do not stay put, and tracking them with a scope might be challenging.

In favor of doing nothing is the fact that overall, I still in the end managed to identify most of what I saw (exceptions made for some farther away ducks, and some birds on other farther trees). Challenges are nice, and there is much to be said for a simpler setup that allows me to enjoy the outing more.

At the moment, I am leaning towards "nothing". Do you have any advice for me?
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Think you are approaching this properly, focusing on what incremental value is added by the extra gear.
Price is one issue, the Canon will be almost 2x the cost of the little Nikon ED50, a little less bad if a tripod and head are factored in.
The Canon wins hands down on portability and convenience. Put it on an over the shoulder strap ( https://www.amazon.com/StatGear-BOO...1&keywords=boomer+strap&qid=1606262098&sr=8-1 ), it will be a comfy carry and always ready to hand. At 15x, I think you would get your IDs very comfortably. My experience with the 10x42IS is that it it transforms the viewing experience.
Against that, the little Nikon on a tripod is just plain better for prolonged scanning of shorelines and the zoom feature of the basic 13x30 eye piece is really quite valuable. Also, if you ever plan to digiscope, the little Nikon is a great basis, throw in a decent phone adapter and you are on your way.
I think either piece would widen your birding horizons, with the Canon more observation oriented, while the Nikon is more recording focused.
Good luck and please keep us focused on what you decide.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
There is no substitute for a scope at very long distances but an IS binocular with higher magnification has a lot of advantages over a scope in comfort, portability and stereoscopic view because you are using both of your eyes when you just need a little extra reach to ID those distant birds like the Teal. A Canon 15x50 IS is better than a scope for those occasions but it weighs 42 oz., uses an old outdated vari-angle prism for stabilization and only stabilizes to .7 degree. I would suggest the new Kite APC 16x42 stabilized binocular. It only weighs 28 oz. and it has 2 degree of stabilization giving you a more stable view than the Canon and it is fully waterproof and fog proof. Kite is virtually unknown in the US, but they are a well respected brand in Europe, and they are made in Japan. They are available from the Kite Website and they have fast shipping and excellent service. The binocular itself has a 30-year Unlimited Warranty. I compared a lot of different IS binoculars and for distant and Pelagic birding and this is the one I would recommend.

 

Attachments

  • KITE_APC_42-down.jpg
    KITE_APC_42-down.jpg
    1 MB · Views: 5
Last edited:

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
Slightly Off Topic . . .

The larger Kite IS binocular is offered in both 16x42 and 12x42
In terms of functional stability and therefore resolution, the Kite 12x42 could be an interesting alternative to the the Swarovski NL 12x42
- with no forehead rest needed!


John


p.s. somewhat strangely in the Kite spec's table, the FOV of the 12x is listed as less than that of the 16x
(in stark comparison, the NL 12x42's FOV is 6.5 degrees and 113 m at 1 km!)
 

Attachments

  • Kite x42 spec's.jpg
    Kite x42 spec's.jpg
    225.5 KB · Views: 5
Last edited:

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Slightly Off Topic . . .

The larger Kite IS binocular is offered in both 16x42 and 12x42
In terms of functionality in the field, the Kite 12x42 could be an interesting alternative to the the Swarovski NL 12x42!
- and with no forehead rest needed


John


p.s. somewhat strangely in the Kite spec's table, the FOV of the 12x is listed as less than that of the 16x
(by comparison, the NL 12x42's FOV is 6.5 degrees and 113 m at 1 km!)
That is why the Kite APC 16x42 is the one to get because it has a 62 degree AFOV and the Kite APC 12x42 only has a 46 degree AFOV. It is strange isn't it. The Kite APC 12x42 could never compete with the 71 degree AFOV of the Swarovski NL 12x42! What is even stranger is the Kite APC 12x42 outsells the 16x42. I guess the buyers don't care about the FOV.
 

Royfinn

Well-known member
We have ED50 scope and Nikon p900 zoom camera as a light weight option to long distance identification. Overall the zoom camera is best option, if you just like to walk around with minimum gear - you can get good (and smaller than p900) zoom cameras for 300€. As a bonus you get the picture, so you can identify the bird with computer. Zoom camera is best you have a bird far away that you want identify. If you have tons of duck or waders to go through, the scope is more suitable tool to start with. I have my camera always with me while birding, because if I see something rare, I have the proof of seeing it. If I bike to the lake, I have also my scope in the backpack in case that there is lots of ducks and stuff. I am not familiar with IS binos, but I am afraid that 15x is not enough. With ed50 we have 27X and with p900 40x (or more in practice).
 

AlanFrench

Well-known member
Keep in mind that IS binoculars are advantageous both because of increased stability and higher magnification. The advantage of even a 12x IS view over an 8x standard binocular view for making identifications may surprise you.

I have the Canon 15x50 and it's not something I like to carry in the field. For that I have the new 12x32, replacing a well used 12x36 IS II. I had hoped to try the 14x32 at a trade show, but that, of course, did not happen.

But if you're looking for identifications over a long distance a good spotting scope is the best choice.

Clear skies, Alan
 

LucaPCP

Well-known member
Many thanks to all!
I am very intrigued by the Kite binoculars, but the suggestion about the camera is spot on. Especially because in truth, I have most doubts about species I am not fully familiar with (for familiar species, a glimpse is often enough for ID), and in that case, having the photo to study later really helps.
I have an Olympus E-M1ii, which has half-size compared to full-size, and a very decent light zoom that goes to 300mm, or 600mm equivalent. The Oly has very good IS, and with 20MP, I can crop quite a bit; in the end there's 2x more detail than I can see with binoculars. So since I very often take the camera with me already, perhaps I should simplify and not consider IS binoculars for now. They would be fun to have, but also heavy in addition to all the rest.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
I've never used IS binoculars, so my comment will solely cover my experience in using a scope coming from 8x32 binoculars, in case it is of any help.
For many years I was hesitant about getting the scope. On one hand, there was the bulk, the expense and the fact that I simply didn't know if that was going to be worthy; on the other hand I had always heard that with scopes, it was mostly very good (and expensive) devices or nothing. So I was held in that dilemma for years, until I decided to go for a small scope, the Opticron MM3 50 ED. In the end, having both in my hands I chose the MM3 60 ED, I thought that the weight/bulk difference was not that large, and that the performance gain outmatched the disadvantages. In my case this has been the best thing I've done in order to enjoy birds (of course, coming second to having nice binoculars). I regret not having done it earlier. I don't know what level of detail you can get with a 15x IS binoculars, but with scopes I think that 30x is just great. A compact 60 mm scope, under 1 kg will deliver that (I've read around here that binocular vision sort of makes for an augmented sense of magnification, so that a 15x binocular will feel more powerful than a 15x monocular/scope).
Well, that's my experience. I have to admit that the idea behind something like a P900 is really appealing, however, since I always carry a camera with me (my phone) I find it is simply easier to carry the scope (which doesn't need changing batteries or replacing SD card) and a simple smartphone adapter.
I hope this helps.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top