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Is IS for the birds? (2 Viewers)

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
I've been using my 12x32 IS III a lot more the past two weeks, now that I live a couple of blocks from a large body of water. With the IS off, there is no question that my Canon has inferior optics to every bin I own that cost over $500. For birding open country, though, the Canon's middle of the road optics but modern technology absolutely trounce my alpha bins. It's not even funny how much better the Canons are for actually seeing and ID'ing birds out past about 15-20m than my EL 10x42 or any other bin I own.

The 10x42L is an alpha bin, but certainly the oddball looks, the now dated electronics, the questionable ergonomics, and the bulk and weight make it a hard sell. I've pondered getting one many times but never have, for all of the above reasons.

Canon definitely has the knowhow to modernize it and make an absolutely killer instrument. Trim 100-200g off the weight, keep the FOV the same or slightly larger, hopefully add 1-2mm of usable eye relief, and mostly make it more compact and streamlined, and it would be an absolute class leader.

I genuinely think that IS optics absolutely trounce standard optics. The camera lens world has seen this proved out to its logical endpoint where almost every zoom lens, and increasingly a lot of shorter lenses, is image stabilized.

I really hope that Canon will update the 10x42 or will offer a new alpha model or series of models. If not, hopefully Nikon, Swaro, Zeiss or Leica will. It's almost surprising that such a widely understood, well developed, proven technology has been largely ignored by sports optics manufacturers.

I've been pondering selling my EL 10x42 and buying the NL 10x42, mostly just because I like binoculars. But I can't convince myself that the NL will offer any advantage what so ever in the field... So then I think about the 10x42L but it is so bulky, fairly hefty, and ergonomically kind of mediocre. So for now I find myself sticking with my EL and the 12x32 IS and hoping for a better IS bin to come along.
 
Last edited:

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
What IS binocular did you have? Was it the Canon 10x42 IS-L? How do you like it, and what would you change on it if you could?
The Canon 10x42IS-L has been my birding mainstay since 2008, heavy, clunky and with imperfect ergonomics, but robust, waterproof and with excellent optics that really give the full measure of the transformation that IS allows. I believe they are the most capable birding binoculars currently offered. When my first pair went wonky about two years ago, I bought another one, because I could not find better. I'd note that I looked at the Fujis and the related Nikons, but did not see sufficient advantage from the higher magnification offered, or the extended stabilization sufficient to offset the greater Fov and the brighter optics of the Canon.
Apart the IS, which really puts this glass into a different performance category, the good includes very neutral and sharp presentation, superb glare control , a relatively wide Fov and good eye relief. The built in tripod fitting is useful and the objectives are covered by a flat glass, so cleaning is less fraught. I'd note that the objectives are threaded for 52mm hoods or filters, hoods are more useful imho.
The focus is very slow, more than 2.5 full turns end to end, but also very exact. I like it as it allows one to peel through a shrub, but others may chafe at the effort needed to go from near to far.
For glasses wearers, the eye cups are fine, just rest the rubber surrounds on the glasses. Others may need to develop wider eye sockets or pug noses, the eye pieces are wide and clad in sharp cornered rubber surrounds.
The IS is actuated by a recessed button which is theoretically easily reached by the right pinky finger. It is poorly placed, but at least the IS stays on once it is pressed until the binocs are allowed to hang again. The Kite approach, IS on when the glass is lifted, off when it gets released, seems better to me.
Service is iffy, this is not a Canon profit leader, but rather a relatively peripheral product of an enormous company (Number three for US patents last year).
So this is not an heirloom glass, the IS will fail eventually, leaving behind a very good 10x42 with weak ergonomics.
At the current price, I'm happy replacing as needed, about every 10 years thus far.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
I've been using my 12x32 IS III a lot more the past two weeks, now that I live a couple of blocks from a large body of water. With the IS off, there is no question that my Canon has inferior optics to every bin I own that cost over $500. For birding open country, though, the Canon's middle of the road optics but modern technology absolutely trounce my alpha bins. It's not even funny how much better the Canons are for actually seeing and ID'ing birds out past about 15-20m than my EL 10x42 or any other bin I own.

The 10x42L is an alpha bin, but certainly the oddball looks, the now dated electronics, the questionable ergonomics, and the bulk and weight make it a hard sell. I've pondered getting one many times but never have, for all of the above reasons.

Canon definitely has the knowhow to modernize it and make an absolutely killer instrument. Trim 100-200g off the weight, keep the FOV the same or slightly larger, hopefully add 1-2mm of usable eye relief, and mostly make it more compact and streamlined, and it would be an absolute class leader.

I genuinely think that IS optics absolutely trounce standard optics. The camera lens world has seen this proved out to its logical endpoint where almost every zoom lens, and increasingly a lot of shorter lenses, is image stabilized.

I really hope that Canon will update the 10x42 or will offer a new alpha model or series of models. If not, hopefully Nikon, Swaro, Zeiss or Leica will. It's almost surprising that such a widely understood, well developed, proven technology has been largely ignored by sports optics manufacturers.

I've been pondering selling my EL 10x42 and buying the NL 10x42, mostly just because I like binoculars. But I can't convince myself that the NL will offer any advantage what so ever in the field... So then I think about the 10x42L but it is so bulky, fairly hefty, and ergonomically kind of mediocre. So for now I find myself sticking with my EL and the 12x32 IS and hoping for a better IS bin to come along.
That is a good pair of binoculars. The best of both worlds. The EL 10x42 is one of the better roof prism binoculars and the Canon 12x32 IS is giving you a little more reach with the advantage of IS to help you stabilize the higher magnification. Do the eye cups work for you on the Canon? I had difficulty with the eye cups on the Canon 14x32 IS.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
The Canon 10x42IS-L has been my birding mainstay since 2008, heavy, clunky and with imperfect ergonomics, but robust, waterproof and with excellent optics that really give the full measure of the transformation that IS allows. I believe they are the most capable birding binoculars currently offered. When my first pair went wonky about two years ago, I bought another one, because I could not find better. I'd note that I looked at the Fujis and the related Nikons, but did not see sufficient advantage from the higher magnification offered, or the extended stabilization sufficient to offset the greater Fov and the brighter optics of the Canon.
Apart the IS, which really puts this glass into a different performance category, the good includes very neutral and sharp presentation, superb glare control , a relatively wide Fov and good eye relief. The built in tripod fitting is useful and the objectives are covered by a flat glass, so cleaning is less fraught. I'd note that the objectives are threaded for 52mm hoods or filters, hoods are more useful imho.
The focus is very slow, more than 2.5 full turns end to end, but also very exact. I like it as it allows one to peel through a shrub, but others may chafe at the effort needed to go from near to far.
For glasses wearers, the eye cups are fine, just rest the rubber surrounds on the glasses. Others may need to develop wider eye sockets or pug noses, the eye pieces are wide and clad in sharp cornered rubber surrounds.
The IS is actuated by a recessed button which is theoretically easily reached by the right pinky finger. It is poorly placed, but at least the IS stays on once it is pressed until the binocs are allowed to hang again. The Kite approach, IS on when the glass is lifted, off when it gets released, seems better to me.
Service is iffy, this is not a Canon profit leader, but rather a relatively peripheral product of an enormous company (Number three for US patents last year).
So this is not an heirloom glass, the IS will fail eventually, leaving behind a very good 10x42 with weak ergonomics.
At the current price, I'm happy replacing as needed, about every 10 years thus far.
After having the Kite 14x42 Stabilized I don't think the IS system is a reliable as the Canons or as functional. I kept having problems with it not coming on when I would raise them because the computer in them gets confused if you raise them too quickly after you lower them. I think the switch as used in the Canon is more reliable. I didn't feel the Kite was worth the $1000 price tag because the build quality just seemed kind of cheap to me. I also had severe glare problems with them in a lot of different situations so glare control is another advantage of the Canon. The Fujinon does have a better IS system than the Canon, but I agree with you that the optics in the Canon are a little brighter, and it does have a larger FOV. There is really not a lot of choices when it comes to IS binoculars. The market is so small because not too many people choose them for their main birding instrument.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
That is a good pair of binoculars. The best of both worlds. The EL 10x42 is one of the better roof prism binoculars and the Canon 12x32 IS is giving you a little more reach with the advantage of IS to help you stabilize the higher magnification. Do the eye cups work for you on the Canon? I had difficulty with the eye cups on the Canon 14x32 IS.

The eye cups are pretty well terrible, and the eye relief is honestly not adequate. I either take my glasses off and flip the outer half of each eye cup up, winged style, for longer sessions, or I flip the eye cups down and mash my glasses into my face to get the full field of view. Except for the eye cups and eye relief, I don't find the ergonomics too awfully terrible, but would be much happier with the bins if they had modern eye cups and 2-3mm more eye relief.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
The eye cups are pretty well terrible, and the eye relief is honestly not adequate. I either take my glasses off and flip the outer half of each eye cup up, winged style, for longer sessions, or I flip the eye cups down and mash my glasses into my face to get the full field of view. Except for the eye cups and eye relief, I don't find the ergonomics too awfully terrible, but would be much happier with the bins if they had modern eye cups and 2-3mm more eye relief.

[/QUOTE
 

edwincjones

Well-known member
Just a followup to this thread
I have had the Fujinon TSX 14x40 for a month and am very happy with it for birding.
Quality of optics, IS, construction, is very good.
I am using it, and my 6.5x32s as complementary, primarily for birding now.

edj
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Just a followup to this thread
I have had the Fujinon TSX 14x40 for a month and am very happy with it for birding.
Quality of optics, IS, construction, is very good.
I am using it, and my 6.5x32s as complementary, primarily for birding now.

edj
Of all the IS binoculars I tried I feel the Fujinon TSX 14x40 and TS 14x40 have the best optics and the best stabilization. I don't think there is much difference in the older TS and the newer TSX model outside of the ergonomics, and you can get the TS for less money. I decided I liked the ergonomics of the TS a little better myself because it fits my hands better than the TSX, but that is just personal preference. Glad you like them, edj.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
A negative, or maybe a positive, the 14X TS-X decreases the need/use for a spotting scope.

edj
It doesn't replace a spotter for sure, but it is nice for long distance static birding, especially Pelagic. With a spotter I can watch Eagles in their nests from several miles away in their nests in the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park. No way with the 14x40 TS-X.
 

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