• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

NL 12x42 Optimisation (1 Viewer)

crinklystarfish

Well-known member
Ireland
I've been using an NL 12x42 on an almost-daily basis for about two-and-a-half years now. It's my main optic and it sees use in all habitats. For context, I'm very much of the view that when birding a bin should be quick and easy to deploy and then equally quick and easy to return to a state of 'protected readiness'.

For what it's worth, through a process of experimentation, experience and gradual evolution I've probably arrived at the point where - for my use anyway - my 12x42 is now as workmanlike as it's ever going to be.

Naturally and understandably my 'solutions' - detailed below - will not work for everyone. Indeed they might only work for me. Nonetheless, I'm happy to share in the hope that someone, somewhere might benefit.

Issues

I found the main drawbacks of the NL12x42 initially were the awkward-to-use accessories and rather too much veiling glare. Of course, 12x magnification is also generally more difficult to steadily hand hold than your average 7x…

Regarding 'improvements' to the supplied strap, case and eyepiece guards in particular, I described some thoughts on this previous thread.

In that post I also touched on steadiness of image and mitigating veiling glare. It's with regard to these aspects that I now offer the following.

Steadiness of Image

I've found the steadiest grip essentially involves holding the bin towards the eyepiece end with the web of both thumbs / fore-fingers nestled against the strap lugs: perhaps a little unconventional, but hey-ho. My preference for any bin is to grip / bring it to my eyes with my left hand and then use my right to augment grip and operate the focus wheel. I always use my right forefinger to focus.

The image shows my optimised NL left-hand grip. It might look awkward; but it's now completely natural, comfortable and instinctive. When viewing, my elbows are just a little wider than shoulder width. I've tried every-which-way to hold the NL 42 and - for me anyway - this is consistently the steadiest. It also allows for excellent bin control, resulting in very rapid and accurate tracking.

As something of a bonus, if wearing gloves or a woolly hat (I often do), then the left index finger (behind the bridge) can be used to create a physical connection with the forehead, which serves to steady the image further still. For what it's worth I tried one of the (very expensive) proprietary forehead rests but found it mainly just added hideous clutter whilst very effectively preventing the wearing of hats.

Veiling Glare

I think it's now pretty much accepted that the NL line is pretty poor in this regard. As per the link to the thread above (and as is now fairly widely done), I've personally optimised the glare / beaning knife edge at 2.5 stops out using 'O' rings. As is referenced by many-a-poster, IPD and ER really are that critical with the NL. For many users, being 1mm out can result in an incredibly frustrating lightshow.

So critical is the setting, that any attempt to pan and / or roll eyeballs around the image can readily conjure the spectre. When panning, I've found adopting a lead-with-the-bin technique can help. Let me explain.

In simple terms, if I want to pan left I'll keep the bin perpendicular to my eyes but rather than turn my head and bin as one, I instead apply the tiniest bit of pressure to the right hand side of the bridge of my nose with the inside edge of the right eyepiece. To help with visualisation of the technique, it can be thought of as gently pushing the head in the panning direction, using the eyepiece to do so. Seemingly, the effect of this is to slightly move the exit pupil a miniscule amount in a way that - for me, anyway - means the inevitable slight rolling of the eye that panning tends to induce doesn't quite so readily trigger the troublesome crescents of unwanted light, which instead largely stay where they belong: behind the field stops. I see no reason why glasses-wearers shouldn't benefit similarly if they can replicate the general technique. Of course, panning right, or in any other direction, just means the logical adaptation to the point of pressure that instigates the panning movement.

I fully accept that different physical attributes may have a significant effect on the efficacy of this technique.

A WOW! moment

It's hardly a revelation to point out that, if held very still, a binocular of any magnification suddenly reveals detail previously unseen. With the NL 12x in particular, I almost accidentally found that the results can be very rewarding indeed. My brother is a professional photographer and whilst waiting for him in some wetland recently I plonked my 12x on one of his monopods. There was no head on the pod, just a fairly standard plasticky pad of about 60mm in diameter with the exposed attachment screw sitting unused in the centre. I simply rested the body of the bin on the pad and applied a little downward pressure through the bin to steady the whole thing. Well, just wow!

I hate the clutter of pods and rests etc and use a CTC 30x75 drawtube scope precisely so I don't have to cart cumbersome paraphernalia around, but wow. I might just be persuaded that a simple naked walking-stick / monopod might just be worth the faff when in open country with the NL 12x.

In conclusion

This stuff may or may not be useful: just putting it out there.

As an aside, I'm mindful I'm posting on a forum for people who are by and large in comfortable life-positions and who have the privilege of using (sometimes numerous very high quality) binoculars for leisure. I'm not enjoying seeing the lack of tolerance and basic decency ever-more frequently demonstrated by some users bring the whole thing tiresomely down. Some would do well to take a breath and count their blessings: it's just a forum about binoculars. Be nice, be happy!
 

Attachments

  • NL Grip 2.jpg
    NL Grip 2.jpg
    1.8 MB · Views: 46
Last edited:
I can imagine you like them a lot!
I split it up in having a NL 10x32 as a lighter option and an EL 12x50 as a brighter option. The NL 12x42 is more allround bin.

I am one of the few fieldpro fans around here on Birdforum I think :). The strap of the NL's is a bit too long for my linking though. Always having two loose bits dangling on the strap. That's why I prefer the EL strap.

I get some glare with the NL 10x32 as well, but at difficult light I take the 12x50 or 8x42 with me.
 
I've been using an NL 12x42 on an almost-daily basis for about two-and-a-half years now. It's my main optic and it sees use in all habitats. For context, I'm very much of the view that when birding a bin should be quick and easy to deploy and then equally quick and easy to return to a state of 'protected readiness'.

For what it's worth, through a process of experimentation, experience and gradual evolution I've probably arrived at the point where - for my use anyway - my 12x42 is now as workmanlike as it's ever going to be.

Naturally and understandably my 'solutions' - detailed below - will not work for everyone. Indeed they might only work for me. Nonetheless, I'm happy to share in the hope that someone, somewhere might benefit.

Issues

I found the main drawbacks of the NL12x42 initially were the awkward-to-use accessories and rather too much veiling glare. Of course, 12x magnification is also generally more difficult to steadily hand hold than your average 7x…

Regarding 'improvements' to the supplied strap, case and eyepiece guards in particular, I described some thoughts on this previous thread.

In that post I also touched on steadiness of image and mitigating veiling glare. It's with regard to these aspects that I now offer the following.

Steadiness of Image

I've found the steadiest grip essentially involves holding the bin towards the eyepiece end with the web of both thumbs / fore-fingers nestled against the strap lugs: perhaps a little unconventional, but hey-ho. My preference for any bin is to grip / bring it to my eyes with my left hand and then use my right to augment grip and operate the focus wheel. I always use my right forefinger to focus.

The image shows my optimised NL left-hand grip. It might look awkward; but it's now completely natural, comfortable and instinctive. When viewing, my elbows are just a little wider than shoulder width. I've tried every-which-way to hold the NL 42 and - for me anyway - this is consistently the steadiest. It also allows for excellent bin control, resulting in very rapid and accurate tracking.

As something of a bonus, if wearing gloves or a woolly hat (I often do), then the left index finger (behind the bridge) can be used to create a physical connection with the forehead, which serves to steady the image further still. For what it's worth I tried one of the (very expensive) proprietary forehead rests but found it mainly just added hideous clutter whilst very effectively preventing the wearing of hats.

Veiling Glare

I think it's now pretty much accepted that the NL line is pretty poor in this regard. As per the link to the thread above (and as is now fairly widely done), I've personally optimised the glare / beaning knife edge at 2.5 stops out using 'O' rings. As is referenced by many-a-poster, IPD and ER really are that critical with the NL. For many users, being 1mm out can result in an incredibly frustrating lightshow.

So critical is the setting, that any attempt to pan and / or roll eyeballs around the image can readily conjure the spectre. When panning, I've found adopting a lead-with-the-bin technique can help. Let me explain.

In simple terms, if I want to pan left I'll keep the bin perpendicular to my eyes but rather than turn my head and bin as one, I instead apply the tiniest bit of pressure to the right hand side of the bridge of my nose with the inside edge of the right eyepiece. To help with visualisation of the technique, it can be thought of as gently pushing the head in the panning direction, using the eyepiece to do so. Seemingly, the effect of this is to slightly move the exit pupil a miniscule amount in a way that - for me, anyway - means the inevitable slight rolling of the eye that panning tends to induce doesn't quite so readily trigger the troublesome crescents of unwanted light, which instead largely stay where they belong: behind the field stops. I see no reason why glasses-wearers shouldn't benefit similarly if they can replicate the general technique. Of course, panning right, or in any other direction, just means the logical adaptation to the point of pressure that instigates the panning movement.

I fully accept that different physical attributes may have a significant effect on the efficacy of this technique.

A WOW! moment

It's hardly a revelation to point out that, if held very still, a binocular of any magnification suddenly reveals detail previously unseen. With the NL 12x in particular, I almost accidentally found that the results can be very rewarding indeed. My brother is a professional photographer and whilst waiting for him in some wetland recently I plonked my 12x on one of his monopods. There was no head on the pod, just a fairly standard plasticky pad of about 60mm in diameter with the exposed attachment screw sitting unused in the centre. I simply rested the body of the bin on the pad and applied a little downward pressure through the bin to steady the whole thing. Well, just wow!

I hate the clutter of pods and rests etc and use a CTC 30x75 drawtube scope precisely so I don't have to cart cumbersome paraphernalia around, but wow. I might just be persuaded that a simple naked walking-stick / monopod might just be worth the faff when in open country with the NL 12x.

In conclusion

This stuff may or may not be useful: just putting it out there.

As an aside, I'm mindful I'm posting on a forum for people who are by and large in comfortable life-positions and who have the privilege of using (sometimes numerous very high quality) binoculars for leisure. I'm not enjoying seeing the lack of tolerance and basic decency ever-more frequently demonstrated by some users bring the whole thing tiresomely down. Some would do well to take a breath and count their blessings: it's just a forum about binoculars. Be nice, be happy!
Thanks for posting!
 
Excellent post with some wonderful insights. I’m surprised you’re not using the NL‘s forehead rest (FR) for stability.. The FR also offers incredible versatility allowing one to “instantly” and “continuously” control glare when scanning a wide arc In horrid light conditions if used in the manner I described in an earlier (October 28, 2023) thread: post #9 in “More problem solving magic when using the NL forehead rest.” Thanks again for your informative post.
 
Last edited:
Excellent post with some wonderful insights. I’m surprised you’re not using the NL‘s forehead rest (FR) for stability.. The FR also offers incredible versatility allowing one to “instantly” and “continuously” control glare when scanning a wide arc In horrid light conditions if used in the manner I described in an earlier (October 28, 2023) thread: post #9 in “More problem solving magic when using the NL forehead rest.” Thanks again for your informative post.
Just read your earlier thread which you cited in the current thread. Great stuff there too, including your reason for not using the forehead rest. Your insights on use of the 12x NLs left me with a strong hankering to spend an afternoon in the field with a pair of them
 
Thanks, and I hope my thoughts can help encourage a bit of experimentation and thereby improve enjoyment of the NL12s for others.

I wouldn't normally persist with finicky / glare-prone optics but the 12x really is quite special and, because the rewards can be so great, I've somewhat resentfully persisted.

I acknowledge that the forehead rest is found useful by many but it didn't meaningfully assist with steadiness or eye placement for me. Indeed, because I tend to wear either a peaked or woolly hat pretty much year round - even if it had have helped - it just wasn't practicably useable.

Regards.
 
I understand few are able to comfortably handhold 12x in the long run. I have been a 8x guy since long time and actually enjoy even 6x32 which has the advantage of very stable image and the same brightness as 8x42.
There are different opinions about the forehead rest, and my personal experience(I have had NL Pure 8x42) is that it definitely helps for me. This to the level that I seriously consider to get a NL Pure 10x42 if I get an NL Pure again.
And it would be very interesting to try how 12x feels with the forehead rest.
 
For me, with the 12X42 NL, and (my) glasses, I’ve got to have the eyecups turned out one step, I loose a tiny bit of the FOV, but not enough to make me feel like I’m missing anything, keeping my eyes centered is mandatory, and just a little tricky, but not too bad, obviously Interpupillary distance is extremely important, overall they take a little work, but so far I think it’s worth it.
 
My brother is a professional photographer and whilst waiting for him in some wetland recently I plonked my 12x on one of his monopods. There was no head on the pod, just a fairly standard plasticky pad of about 60mm in diameter with the exposed attachment screw sitting unused in the centre. I simply rested the body of the bin on the pad and applied a little downward pressure through the bin to steady the whole thing. Well, just wow!

I hate the clutter of pods and rests etc and use a CTC 30x75 drawtube scope precisely so I don't have to cart cumbersome paraphernalia around, but wow. I might just be persuaded that a simple naked walking-stick / monopod might just be worth the faff when in open country with the NL 12x.

I can enthusiastically confirm that a walking pole adapted into a monopod makes a huge positive difference with a 12x. I have tried various 'platform' ideas - some working better than others but none adding any appreciable weight because they use plastics and rubber - and the weight of the binoculars balanced on their centre of gravity, along with hands over it resting my weight and focusing, makes it both very stable and easy to pan in all directions with a good setup. I always have a walking pole with me anyway when out and about so it's for free and is almost as good as a tripod when also seated.

M
 
I understand few are able to comfortably handhold 12x in the long run. I have been a 8x guy since long time and actually enjoy even 6x32 which has the advantage of very stable image and the same brightness as 8x42.
There are different opinions about the forehead rest, and my personal experience(I have had NL Pure 8x42) is that it definitely helps for me. This to the level that I seriously consider to get a NL Pure 10x42 if I get an NL Pure again.
And it would be very interesting to try how 12x feels with the forehead rest.
Here also. Think the forehead rest is a great addition to the NL pure. Always used 8x42, now I have a 10x42. Not only great for a steadier image but also great if you're wearing glasses. Have my bin right away in the best position, putting it to my glasses and forehead. Will keep it it attached to the bin the rest of it's lifespan and, while expensive, in my opinion certainly worth te money.
 
...and the weight of the binoculars balanced on their centre of gravity, along with hands over it resting my weight and focusing, makes it both very stable and easy to pan in all directions...

Well described! That's exactly my experience. The 'simple rest' concept also has the huge advantage that you can instantly revert to a full hand-held scenario if something should pop up behind you, or otherwise beyond the operable range of a tilt/pan/ball head. Essentially, should you need to, you can basically just drop the rest and be on a bird in an instant.

...and is almost as good as a tripod when also seated.

By chance, I've been out to a hide this late afternoon / evening and used the monopod as described above whilst seated. I agree it's very stable. It made for very enjoyable and flexible viewing. Sometimes less is more!
 
I can enthusiastically confirm that a walking pole adapted into a monopod makes a huge positive difference with a 12x. I have tried various 'platform' ideas - some working better than others but none adding any appreciable weight because they use plastics and rubber - and the weight of the binoculars balanced on their centre of gravity, along with hands over it resting my weight and focusing, makes it both very stable and easy to pan in all directions with a good setup. I always have a walking pole with me anyway when out and about so it's for free and is almost as good as a tripod when also seated.

M
An excellent concept, especially since I sometimes have an adjustable-height set of hiking poles with me. But even setting my hiking pole to its highest setting, I still have to stoop over, negating for me — with a bad back — any advantage. What exactly are you using? Thanks.
 
An excellent concept, especially since I sometimes have an adjustable-height set of hiking poles with me. But even setting my hiking pole to its highest setting, I still have to stoop over, negating for me — with a bad back — any advantage. What exactly are you using? Thanks.

If I'm standing there is often a fence or stump or gate or rock or mound or something else that it can be raised on. You can also put it in your belt or the cargo pocket of your trousers and then it becomes a Finn-stick. It's so easy to get the length right with walking poles.

Otherwise I don't mind stooping a little - I don't even remember if I have to but I suppose I do sometimes. A lot of the time when I really want to work a spot I have a light stool with me and then the setup is both very easy and stable. You end up leaning forward slightly onto it which makes the image very stable. Difficult to describe but it happens naturally.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Back
Top