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Let’s talk about eyecups (comfort, dimensions, preferences, etc.) (1 Viewer)

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Let’s talk about eyecups (comfort, dimensions, preferences, etc.)

When reading binoculars reviews and experiences you hear a lot about the optical performance of a certain device and also about its physical aspect: usually the dimensions and in particular how the focus wheel works (whether it’s fast or slow, soft or grainy, etc.) and also a mention about the eyecups. But I find that mostly eyecups are dealt with in terms of eye relief expressed in mm (which is of course relevant for spectacle wearers). This is all correct. However, I think little attention is put on the design, dimensions and shape of the eyecups, except for the odd case where eyecups are on an extreme (enormous, really clunky, too small, too hard, etc.).

If I was to compare binoculars with bicycles (to give an example helping me make my point), both are devices formed by many parts, but where the user has only a couple of direct contact points with the tool itself. In a bicycle, the saddle is a really important bit of the bike, as it can completely ruin your experience, even if you’re riding a 10.000 € bike. As an avid cyclist, in my personal experience, a similar thing can be said about eyecups. I know many will disagree (and that’s what a forum is all about), while there will probably be some for whom eyecups have never been worth a particular attention. After all, we are all different. I recall reading several times in this forum how a focus wheel that focus counter clockwise to infinity is simply a deal-breaker for some forum members, while for me that’s just a no-problem. I don’t mind which way the focus wheel turns as long as it works properly (soft, no play). But I’m really curious to know the experience, preferences and dislikes of forum members regarding this issue.

Over the course of the last 6 years of so I must have bought/sold/owned/tried more than 100 binoculars and have come to appreciate some of its characteristics and something keeps coming back. Some models that get a great deal of praise (and for good reason) just don’t work for me… and after giving it a thought, in many notable cases it was simply the narrow eyecups. I can think of the Meopta Meostar 8x32, Swarovski Habicht 8x30 (the green ones improved the experience), Swarovski CL Companion 8x30 (new), Leica “Retrovid” 7x35 to name a few. Lately I’ve started the quest to find some nice pocket binoculars and have experienced how finicky eye position is and how little user-friendly some models are, even very good an expensive ones. But, alas, the other day (what finally sparkled this thread) I tried a very compact 7x20 (the old Nikon CF III) where things were different: eye confort was good, and the use, even for extended periods of time, was almost like that of a regular size device. When I measured the eyecups, the mystery was unveiled, they share the same inner diameter dimensions a my much loved Swarovski EL SV 8x32, and on full size binoculars territory, nearly like a 7x42 Zeiss Victory FL. My experience with this 7x20 is that what makes eye position finicky is not that much the 3 mm exit pupil (my 12x36 Canon IS work fine with that), but the narrow eyecups. To add insult to injury, many compact 8x20 - 8x24 with narrow exit pupils also share a dual hinge design and a tiny focus wheel, which makes using them a bit of a chore. So, out of curiosity I’ve measured the eyecups of some binoculars I have at hand (inner diameter; a +- 1 mm error is fully possible). In this list (-) means “probably a tad less” and (+) the opposite.

Inner diameter of the eyecups of some binoculars, measured in mm

Leica Ultravid 8x20: 20 mm (-)
Swarovski Habicht 8x20: 21 mm (+)
Zeiss Terra 8x24: 23 mm
Leica “Retrovid” 7x35: 24 mm
Opticron Traveller BGA ED 8x32: 27+ mm
Kowa YF 8x30: 27 mm
Vixen New Foresta HR 8x56 WP: 29 mm
Swarovski EL SV 8x32: 31 mm
Nikon CF III 7x21: 31 mm
Zeiss Victory FL 7x42*: 32 mm
Nikon A (Gold Sentinel) 7x35: 35 mm
Canon IS III 12x36: 35 mm (+)
Vortex Diamondback HD 8x32: 25/36 mm (they have a "double rim" design)
Nikon EII 8x30: 38 mm

Some interesting surprises. As stated before, the tiny 7x20 Nikon CF III shares the eyecup inner diameter of a Swarovski EL SV 8x32, and nearly that of a full sized Zeiss Victory FL 7x42… and it’s bigger than those of a huge Vixen New Foresta 8x56!
Looking back at some pictures I took of the Leica “Retrovid” 7x35 I discovered that they nearly share the same inner diameter of the pocket 8x25 Zeiss Terra ED, which I found too narrow an uncomfortable for a “big” pocket binocular (with little advantage over some compact 8x32). I'm pretty sure we all have a wide array of facial features, nose size/structure and preferences, so this can be fun. And, well, obviously bigger is not always better, I remember the eyecups of the Vixen Foresta (porro) 8x32 and 7x50, those where so big and chunky that I found them to be just too big (like in "not particularly comfortable).

So, what are your thoughts and experiences? I remember reading some forum members who prefer the old style rubber fold down design, since it is less likely to catch sand/dust/debris in hard conditions, like twist-up can. Some other bulk up their narrow eyecups with tyre rubber, etc... I'm guessing many spectacle wearers won't have as much issues as non-users, because they don't actually have direct contact with the eyecups (if you do comment, it could be interesting to note if you use glasses or not). So many preferences for something that gets less attention than it should.

Why not demanding binoculars with 2 or 3 different sets of eyecups?
A final thought. While using the Swarovski Habicht 8x30 and being frustrated by the narrow eyecups, I remember following the advice of getting the eyecups of the green rubber armoured version, those happened to be wider and screw in perfectly in the faux leatherette black version. So, here’s a thing: as a matter of fact, the Swarovski Habicht has 2 different “sizes” of eyecups, narrow and wide. I find it at least plausible that manufacturers could include (or at least offer as an option) 2 or 3 different sets of eyecups, the same way you get earphones with 3 silicone plugs of different sizes, or the same way some shoe manufacturers offer 2 or 3 different width of the same size. Obviously not in an entry level 150 € pair of binoculars, but I don’t think it’s crazy to demand such a thing in a 1500 - 2500 € top of the line binoculars from brands such as Zeiss, Swarovksi, Leica, etc. that include every known sophistication. Since they all have unscrewable/replaceable eyecups, I think it could be done. After all, the little Habicht shows its possible.

(Sorry for the lengthy post, I think it’s an interesting subject that’s widely overlooked)
 
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BKoh

Well-known member
Singapore
I recall some people mentioned the Zeiss Conquest HD has longer eyecups available for non-eyeglass wearers, so manufacturers are aware that eyecups can be an issue. It is probably a matter of the beancounters approving the provision of an alternate set of eyecups.

And the question is then how many alternates to provide eg fold-down vs twist-up, large vs small outer diameter etc. 2 such choices would already produce 4 combinations and I am sure the manufacturers do not want to deal with more possibilities. Since it is possible to buy 3rd party rubber eyecups, binocular manufacturers may not bother with those. So perhaps at most small/large outer diameter eyecups.

Personally I am not holding my breath. For Zeiss and Leica, sport optics is a small business. Swarovski has 2 eyecup options for the Habicht, but this seems to be a happy accident rather than deliberate design.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Eye cups are so variable on binoculars, I have just reached the point where I deal with them by using different hand holding techniques to compensate for size differences and lengths. The manufacturers are not going to supply different size eye cups, it would be too much trouble. I am not going to disregard a superb binocular like the Habicht because the eye cups are too small. I just use the MOSFET technique where you rest the binoculars on your eyebrows and deal with it that way.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
I recall some people mentioned the Zeiss Conquest HD has longer eyecups available for non-eyeglass wearers, so manufacturers are aware that eyecups can be an issue.
Yes, it's true, I totally forgot about that one. I guess that came as a solution to an unexpected problem (blackouts complains from many users).

Swarovski has 2 eyecup options for the Habicht, but this seems to be a happy accident rather than deliberate design.
Yes, that's what I meant, sorry if it wasn't clear. I don't think Swarovski intended to provide the Habicht with two different widths of eyecups, but (as you say, by accident) it's living proof that it can be done.


Eye cups are so variable on binoculars, I have just reached the point where I deal with them by using different hand holding techniques to compensate for size differences and lengths. The manufacturers are not going to supply different size eye cups, it would be too much trouble. I am not going to disregard a superb binocular like the Habicht because the eye cups are too small. I just use the MOSFET technique where you rest the binoculars on your eyebrows and deal with it that way.
While I understand and could agree on some of what you say, I also think that if I spend 1000, 2000 € in a top of the class device, the least I could ask for are eyecups that fall into a "middle-ground" in terms of width size or else a solution. I've tried different holding techniques with better and worst results, but simply put: nothing matches a "good fit" (just like with shoes or bicycle saddles). I understand that, since binoculars come in so many shapes and sizes, you have to adapt to a certain extent (for example, in order to enjoy the stunning details that the Canon IS III 12x36 I've had to get used to a pretty particular grip/holding technique), but when using them simply becomes an exercise for the mere fact that eyecups are too narrow, then I guess there's room for improvement from the manufacturer's. Take the 7x35 Retrovid. Yes, I understand that it's an exercise in "retro-design", and that a lot was sacrificed for the sake of looks and retro-appeal, but to have a 35 mm objective and a 5 exit pupil with similar eyecups to an 8x25 pocket binoculars like the Terra ED doesn't make a lot of sense to me (actually, they lost a sale here). So, while asking for multiple sized eyecups is probably wishful thinking, I think is worth mentioning this issue.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
As for focus wheels, I am left-handed, so I never know which way to turn anything. :(
Interesting. I know some tools, such as scissors, are very difficult to use for left-handed people, but it never occurred to me that focus wheels in binoculars were in that category. Can you actually tell they're more difficult to use due to you being left-handed? Or that right-handed have any advantage for that matter?
 

Maljunulo

Well-known member
I’m not altogether sure they are “more difficult to use” but I have trouble remembering which way to turn the wheel to go which way.

I gather that this is not a problem for right-handed folk.
 

---

Veteran of the Battle of Peppa Pig World (2022)
United Kingdom
Focussing with your left hand shouldn't be a long term problem though!
When I'm familiar with my binoculars, and am using them intensely, I tend to leave them in a certain position, and focus as I'm lifting them. (Left handed) however my latest have a very sensitive/fast focus, so I might lose this skill.

One thing I would say about eye cups is we all have different size faces, of different shapes. So a fixed pair of eyecups is always going to be a rubbish design, unless your face has average dimensions in every aspect, and the sun is behind you.
They should be adjustable to lock onto you, blocking out all stray light from all directions.

(Similar to the fact that cameras are designed for people with flat faces and no nose!)
 

Patudo

Well-known member
When using glasses - eyecups don't really matter so long as they are firm enough not to move under normal use (and don't mark my glasses, of course). Ideally, I would like to have twist style eyecups fully down - but many of today's designs have long enough eye relief that I need to use them with eyecups raised, making firmness of position critical. Meoptas have the firmest eyecup tension I've seen, I really like them - no chance of pushing them down accidentally even in intermediate settings between the main stops.

When using binoculars direct to my eyes I really like rubber eyecups of large diameter with a slight outward flare. I can live with the hard style eyecups of the old Zeiss and Leitz porros, but the rubber eyecups of something like my Nobilem Spezial block off side light better and are more comfortable. I agree with yarrelli in that I find small eyecups uncomfortable.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I’m not altogether sure they are “more difficult to use” but I have trouble remembering which way to turn the wheel to go which way.

I gather that this is not a problem for right-handed folk.
I am right handed but many years ago I had the same problem: I couldn't seem to remember which way to turn the focus wheel to focus closer or more distantly. At the time my bino's focus wheel needed turning clockwise to go towards infinity and anti-clock to focus closer. Since I use the first finger of my right hand on top of the focus wheel I developed a little phrase to remind me which way to turn it: "Push-in closer, Pull further out". So I would push the top of the focus wheel to focus closer and pull it to focus further away . Within a short space of time this little trick had embedded the knowledge of which way to turn the focus in my memory. Maybe if you did something similar it could help you in the same way.

Lee
 

---

Veteran of the Battle of Peppa Pig World (2022)
United Kingdom
Or left handed, if it is clockwise for greater distance... You point further away, and pull your finger towards you for closer!
 

dorubird

Well-known member
Romania
The MOSFET technique works for me with the Habicht 8x30W.
I'm sure it works for you! But, Habicht 8x30 binoculars are one of the most demanding binoculars when it comes to ergonomics and eye position. Of course it depends on everyone's physiognomy. The small eye relief and the appearance of the glare at certain angles make it very demanding when positioning and must be tested before buying (like any binoculars). If it suits you when you add to the Habicht 8x30 "Binobandits" + "MOSFET technique", than it's ok for YOU! But for the most people I think not. Most people who spend 1000 euros on binoculars expect an easy, simple and ready-to-use tool, not with all sorts of additions and "survival" techniques in front of the eyepieces. On top of that, the "Binobandits" or other larger eyepiece cups disfigures the design of this beautiful jewel porro binoculars! That's why I've always said that the Habicht 8x30 is a niche binoculars, being more of a technical curiosity with its surreal transmission, aspect that makes us to close our eyes for many weaknesses of this binoculars. It seems that you are a happy case and this Habicht fits you very well! I wish you to enjoy it because it is a pair of binoculars with a strong personality that can sometimes bring a smile to our face, and captures our admiration!

yarrellii,​

I also agree with you that the diameter of the eyepiece cups is very important! Especially for those who do not wear glasses. For example, my wife is not wearing glasses. I wearing glasses, and I didn't think that the Zeiss Victory 8x25 might not fit to her. And so it was! It was not comfortable at all due to the small eyepiece diameters what they were pressing on her eyeball. So I bought for her a Nikon HG 8x30. Just for that "minor" aspect of the larger diameters of the eyepieces, the Nikon HG is for her an infinitely better pair of binoculars than the Zeiss Victory 8x25.
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
I'm sure it works for you! But, Habicht 8x30 binoculars are one of the most demanding binoculars when it comes to ergonomics and eye position. Of course it depends on everyone's physiognomy. The small eye relief and the appearance of the glare at certain angles make it very demanding when positioning and must be tested before buying (like any binoculars). If it suits you when you add to the Habicht 8x30 "Binobandits" + "MOSFET technique", than it's ok for YOU! But for the most people I think not. Most people who spend 1000 euros on binoculars expect an easy, simple and ready-to-use tool, not with all sorts of additions and "survival" techniques in front of the eyepieces. On top of that, the "Binobandits" or other larger eyepiece cups disfigures the design of this beautiful jewel porro binoculars! That's why I've always said that the Habicht 8x30 is a niche binoculars, being more of a technical curiosity with its surreal transmission, aspect that makes us to close our eyes for many weaknesses of this binoculars. It seems that you are a happy case and this Habicht fits you very well! I wish you to enjoy it because it is a pair of binoculars with a strong personality that can sometimes bring a smile to our face, and captures our admiration!

yarrellii,​

I also agree with you that the diameter of the eyepiece cups is very important! Especially for those who do not wear glasses. For example, my wife is not wearing glasses. I wearing glasses, and I didn't think that the Zeiss Victory 8x25 might not fit to her. And so it was! It was not comfortable at all due to the small eyepiece diameters what they were pressing on her eyeball. So I bought for her a Nikon HG 8x30. Just for that "minor" aspect of the larger diameters of the eyepieces, the Nikon HG is for her an infinitely better pair of binoculars than the Zeiss Victory 8x25.
There is no doubt you have to accept the idiosyncrasies of the Habicht's to use them with the small eye cups, occasional glare and tight focuser, but for me the surreal light transmission, superb on-axis resolution and 3D are worth it. I go back to a regular roof prism even like my Noctivid 8x42 and for me, it is a let-down compared to the Habicht's in optical performance. I always said it is NOT the best birding binocular out there, but it has one of the best views.
 

Stephen Prower

Well-known member
When reading binoculars reviews and experiences you hear a lot about the optical performance of a certain device and also about its physical aspect: usually the dimensions and in particular how the focus wheel works (whether it’s fast or slow, soft or grainy, etc.) and also a mention about the eyecups. But I find that mostly eyecups are dealt with in terms of eye relief expressed in mm (which is of course relevant for spectacle wearers). This is all correct. However, I think little attention is put on the design, dimensions and shape of the eyecups, except for the odd case where eyecups are on an extreme (enormous, really clunky, too small, too hard, etc. ... So what are your thoughts and experiences?
Thank you for taking up the issue of the width of binocular eyecups in such specific terms on the Forum!

I'll slip in first that the Nikon 7x21 Sprint III has the same, 31mm wide, eyecups as your Nikon 7x20 CF III's 31mm eyecups. The Sprint III affords a second exception to your criticism of the very narrow eyecups often featured on other compact binoculars.

Ergonomicists used to say that all models of Ford motorcar sold in Britain were manufactured to fit the dimensions of an ergonomically identical 'Ford man'. From your list, Nikon's Ford man seems to have wider eye sockets than other brands' Ford men!

More to the point, I suspect that the 38mm width of the eyecups of the Nikon EII 8x30 may contribute to the general satisfaction of its owners with their purchase. Ie Nikon may be closer to the ergonomic norm of their customers in the specification of their binoculars than some other manufacturers.

In summary, the object of the designer who specifies the height and width of binocular eyecups is, or should be, that the binocular comes comfortably to the eyes of as many purchasers as possible with the eyes consistently positioned exactly at the point of eye relief.

You ask for other posters' thoughts and experiences.

You ask, as a means of answering the need of customers whose facial dimensions do not correspond to the dimensions of the Ford man chosen by the designer of their selected model of binocular: 'Why not demanding binoculars with 2 or 3 different sets of eyecups?'

But what in the mean time is the customer who does not accept the mismatch of performance, and fit to face of his or her binocular, and wishes to improve the fit to face of the binocular, to do?

For me it has been an issue of materials. I ride a bicycle, and am a regular customer of a nearby bicycle shop, so I have a source of discarded bicycle butyl rubber inner tubes ready to hand.

I sleeve layers of tube of inceasing diameter over the original eyecup. For the final layer I double over the tube to provide a rounded over rim.

Could another poster propose some other suitable material? It doesn't need to be pretty in the field -- So long as it sleeves over the original eyecup, back home it can readily be sleeved off.

I don't have access to hard foam sheet. But for instance couldn't the ends of a strip of hard foam sheet be butt-joined and glued together in a ring? One could then skin the foam cosmetically with duct tape, or some other durable tape with a more attractive appearance. Etc.

Stephen
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Thank you for taking up the issue of the width of binocular eyecups in such specific terms on the Forum!

I'll slip in first that the Nikon 7x21 Sprint III has even more generous, 35mm wide, eyecups than your Nikon 7x20 CF III's 31mm eyecups. The Sprint III affords a second exception to your criticism of the very narrow eyecups often featured on other compact binoculars.

Ergonomicists used to say that all models of Ford motorcar sold in Britain were manufactured to fit the dimensions of an ergonomically identical 'Ford man'. From your list, Nikon's Ford man seems to have wider eye sockets than other brands' Ford men!

More to the point, I suspect that the 38mm width of the eyecups of the Nikon EII 8x30 may contribute to the general satisfaction of its owners with their purchase. Ie Nikon may be closer to the ergonomic norm of their customers in the specification of their binoculars than some other manufacturers.

In summary, the object of the designer who specifies the height and width of binocular eyecups is, or should be, that the binocular comes comfortably to the eyes of as many purchasers as possible with the eyes positioned exactly at the point of eye relief.

You ask for other posters' thoughts and experiences.

You ask, as a means of answering the need of customers whose facial dimensions do not correspond to the dimensions of the Ford man chosen by the designer of their selected model of binocular: 'Why not demanding binoculars with 2 or 3 different sets of eyecups?'

But what in the mean time is the customer who does not accept the mismatch of performance, and fit to face of his or her binocular, and wishes to improve the fit to face of the binocular, to do?

For me it has been an issue of materials. I ride a bicycle, and am a regular customer of a nearby bicycle shop, so I have a source of discarded bicycle butyl rubber inner tubes ready to hand.

I sleeve layers of tube of inceasing diameter over the original eyecup. For the final layer I double over the tube to provide a rounded over rim.

Could another poster propose some other suitable material? It doesn't need to be pretty in the field -- So long as it sleeves over the original eyecup, back home it can readily be sleeved off.

I don't have access to hard foam sheet. But for instance couldn't the ends of a strip of hard foam sheet be butt-joined and glued together in a ring? One could then skin the foam cosmetically with duct tape, or some other durable tape with a more attractive appearance. Etc.

Stephen
The Bino Bandit serves the same purpose and will help fit a binocular to your eye sockets better than many eye cups on binoculars because the soft foam conforms to your face.
 

Stephen Prower

Well-known member
Denco

Thank you!

I've tried the Bino-Bandit approach in the past.

I'd need to compare the two approaches side by side though to be able to answer your post.

I've posted elsewhere about the special problem I had for many years with the Swift Osprey 7.5x42: The Osprey is ultra-sensitive to the exact positioning of the eyes at the point of eye relief. 'Blackouts to the Right of me' if I am out of position one way, 'Constricted field of view to the Left' if I am out the other!

I finally cracked the problem by suck it and see: I implemented a precise combination of bulking out the width of the eyecup by so much, and elevating the rim of the eyecup by so much.

I would indeed like to see if I could achieve the same successful result using a Bino-Bandit or similar item.

When I made the first effort to crack the problem I did use simple wings cut from inner tube. But I suffered discomfort from the cut edges, and did not have any furry or similar material to glue to them.

I now realise that I could also have cut pieces out of a chamois leather cloth, and glued them to the wings. But again I did not have a scrap chamois leather cloth to hand at the time (or realise that poor quality patched chamois leather cloths only cost a pound or two in a pound store!).

When I get time I shall certainly have a second go, this time incorporating a chamois leather liner, and post again.

Stephen
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Denco

Thank you!

I've tried the Bino-Bandit approach in the past.

I'd need to compare the two approaches side by side though to be able to answer your post.

I've posted elsewhere about the special problem I had for many years with the Swift Osprey 7.5x42: The Osprey is ultra-sensitive to the exact positioning of the eyes at the point of eye relief. 'Blackouts to the Right of me' if I am out of position one way, 'Constricted field of view to the Left' if I am out the other!

I finally cracked the problem by suck it and see: I implemented a precise combination of bulking out the width of the eyecup by so much, and elevating the rim of the eyecup by so much.

I would indeed like to see if I could achieve the same successful result using a Bino-Bandit or similar item.

When I made the first effort to crack the problem I did use simple wings cut from inner tube. But I suffered discomfort from the cut edges, and did not have any furry or similar material to glue to them.

I now realise that I could also have cut pieces out of a chamois leather cloth, and glued them to the wings. But again I did not have a scrap chamois leather cloth to hand at the time (or realise that poor quality patched chamois leather cloths only cost a pound or two in a pound store!).

When I get time I shall certainly have a second go, this time incorporating a chamois leather liner, and post again.

Stephen
What we need is custom molded eye cups that are made from a mold of our face and eye sockets, then it would fit our face perfectly.
 

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