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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

IS x2 (...and other amazing things IS) (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Over the last couple of years I’ve learnt to appreciate what IS binoculars offer: unmatched handheld resolution (and ability to ID and study bird's plummage and features), a calm, relaxed and steady view, unforgettable “space walk” views of the starry night sky, etc. Yes, I’ve also leant to live with the many drawbacks (need for batteries, awkward ergonomics, lack of waterproofing, bulk, etc.). But then, after hundreds of hours of “IS life” I must say that I really enjoy using my 12x36 Canon IS III (I've also had the 10x30 IS II and the 8x20, but the 12x36 just fits my needs better). And on the way I’ve discovered unexpected virtues that come with an IS binocular, the last one of which has been how well it works with a doubler/booster.

I’ve had a couple of doublers, but using them with conventional binoculars has usually left me wanting. And now, it turns out that my 12x36 IS is a surprisingly valid platform to use an Opticron 2x UTA doubler. Well, yes, it’s obvious; the Canon stabilizing system is powerful enough to deal with handheld 24x, so now I can have an emergency/ultralight long range system.


I’ve been playing with this setup for a couple of weeks now, and I’m frankly quite impressed. At first I found the experience a little underwhelming, I thought there was hardly any difference or improvement (I perceived it as "empty magnification"), but when I started using more demanding subjects for my tests, the unexpected capabilities of IS binoculars have left me in awe. I’ve been doing resolving tests with text or other objects, and the last one has been no other than Saturn. To my surprise, you can see Saturn ring (as in a hula-hoop separated from the little “planetary ball”). I’m quite sure some of the astro folks must have tried this eons ago, but for me it’s been quite an eye opener.

I have an Opticron padded cylindrical case that came with an SDLv2 eyepiece, which is quite convenient and also has a belt loop, so in my walks I can carry the doubler inconspicuously on my belt while the Canon hang from my neck. So without the need for any further kit (no tripod or other device) I have access to some serious reach even while standing, and if I lean or something or simply sit down, the view is quite simply remarkable.

I don’t know much about the Opticron UTA 2x in terms of image quality. To my untrained eyes it seems to do the job nicely. Yes, the FOV is obviously narrower, but the image is neither terribly dim nor distorted. Maybe someone with more experience can chime in and comment on where does the UTA 2x sit within the doubler landscape (if there is such a thing). I had a Bushnell 2,5x doubler a while ago, which also seemed nice, but I can’t say which one is best. One thing I do remember is that the Bushnell doubler was shorter, which makes for an easier use, the Opticron UTA 2x is on the long side, so coupled with a Canon IS it sure makes for a pretty daunting optical creature, as you can see in the picture).

Any comment regarding quality doublers is much appreciated. As a matter of fact, given the Canon 36 mm objectives, I wonder if the Bushnell 2,5 could give it an edge and show more detail, or even if a 3x could give a noticeable increase in resolution... and I can't help thinking about what a Canon 15x50 can do with a doubler :D Any experiences around?

“Single handing”. As the title says, other amazing things IS can do is reaching insane levels of detail while “single handing” a binocular. Usually you get the highest level of detail when you hold your binocular still with both hands, preferably while seating or leaning on something. Well, it’s just an amazing feat to single hand a 12x and get a comparable level of steadyness to using a non-IS 8x.

"On the go". As a result of the above, IS does a terrific job while on the move… well, if you can overcome some of the drawbacks of many IS models (size, weight and lack of waterproofing… as in my Canon 12x36). Anyway, you’ve probably experienced that if you’re going up a hill (or cycling) and suddenly see a bird soaring by and you quickly get your binos, the image is pretty shaky due to your heart rate being above what you’re used to in “stationary mode” while birding. Again, IS is just a phenomenal ally to help you get your ID or simply enjoy the view (like yesterday when I catched a booted eagle "hidden" in a flock of starlings).

View attachment VID-20231028-WA0000.mp4

Documenting what you see through your binos. Yes, I know taking pictures with your smartphone using your binos usually produces crappy images, but I’m not interested in winning any award, only in being able to document an ID or getting some detail that I can examine later on at home. And I must say that after hundreds of pictures and videos through my IS binoculars, I’m beyond pleased. As a matter of fact, I’ve been able to confirm a rare sight several times thanks to the steady view through my IS binocular that has allowed me a reasonably detail snap.

View attachment VID-20231029-WA0012.mp4

Those are some of my findings, what else have you unexpectedly discovered while using IS binoculars? I'd love to hear from other uses and hacks regarding stabilized optics.

(No interest here in spurring the usual battle between the pro and against IS folks, just trying to add some remarkable experiences that I hope are worth sharing.)
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Well done.

You are lucky, you have an optically good 12x36.
The IS is also probably good.

I have the Opticron 2x and Swarovski 2.5x, I think.
A longer doubler is probably optically better than a shorter one.

My old 18x50 is not good with a doubler.

I have the more modern 10x30 Mk2. That might be good with a doubler, as the IS is very good, probably the best I have.
But why bother when I have the 18x50.

However, I have seen Saturn's rings separated with the 18x50, but now the rings are closing and the planet is rather low.
I think I have seen the rings separated with the Nikon 10-22x50 at 22x but with awful CA.

I have in the past used a Japanese Celestron 20x80 with a Soviet 7x50 behind it to reveal a hotel sign at 11 miles or 18km.
Braced on thick telephone catalogues.
The image was good even at 140x as both binoculars are optically very good.

Enjoy the new found 24x scope.

If you are happy with the Opticron UTA, not much can be gained by hunting for a better one. With boosters, having good coatings, which the UTA has, having a sample with a good-enough roof prism to not cause spiking, and FOV are just about what matters optically. I use a Zeiss 3x12 as it has the best prism of the ones I have tried, but the coatings are not as good as in the Opticron. Pretty much any and all on-axis aberrations that you see will come from the binocular or scope that you boost, not the booster.
Another option is the opticron is "30 monocular that you can screw a hr3 zoom eye piece directly onto giving 8-24x zoom.
Oohh, interesting, the zeiss is £££. The 12x is a useful half-way between binos and a scope, with the ability to use them one-handed! I normally now carry 8x bino and a 60mm scope, but this is interesting.


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