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Pocket binoculars that fit in your pocket! (1 Viewer)

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Dennis;

Could you explain to an amateur exactly how that works, so that a bigger aperture results in "better optics"?
There are a lot of advantages to a bigger aperture binocular. For one thing they bring in more light. For example, an 8x25 compact will bring in approximately 20% more light than an 8x20, so it will always be brighter especially in low light. An 8x25 has a bigger exit pupil of 3 mm versus 2.5 mm for the 8x20 so the cone of light reaching your eye is bigger which means eye placement will be easier because it is easier to center a larger cone of light over your eyes light receivers. A bigger aperture binocular will usually have fewer aberrations because they will pass the field stop and will never reach your eye. A bigger aperture binocular will usually have a more quality image. Here is a good article called "Size does Matter" which discusses the advantages of bigger aperture binoculars. There is a reason some people choose to carry an 8x56 even though they are very heavy and big.

"Contrary to what some of us would like to believe size really does matter. Flight, for example, imposes strict limits on size. Ostriches cannot fly because they have exceeded the size limits within which flight is possible. If, for example, I were a bird I would need a fused sternum (or “keel”) which is six feet deep to serve as the attachment point for the massive pectoral muscles I would need to operate my wings well enough to become airborne. Supporting the muscle mass and fueling the metabolism I would need for flight would require so many calories that I would have to spend virtually all of my time eating. I would, like the ostrich, give up trying and allow my flight apparatus to atrophy as the Ostrich has done. Just as size matters to birds it also matters to birders. For birders bigger, even super-sized, is better -- a lot better. (I am, of course, talking about binoculars, not Big Mac-scarfing bird watchers). A basic and immutable law of optics is that, all other things being equal, (magnification, quality, engineering, etc.) bigger objective lenses will give you a brighter, more satisfying view than smaller lenses. They will yield more detail and better color rendition than you can possibly obtain from smaller objectives. Big objective lenses allow you to see more detail in deep shadows. In a recent conversation with Clay Taylor of Swarovski Optik, Clay asked if I had tried Swarovski’s new 8x56 SLC binoculars. “Are you kidding? I’m sure they are great, but I can’t afford to hire the middle linebacker I would need to carry them for me.” But he was somewhat insistent, and I have learned to listen when Clay insists. In the years that I have known Clay he has never been wrong about optics. So I asked for a loaner pair and took them with me as my binoculars for a long weekend in Cape May which happened to coincide with Cape May Bird Observatory’s annual Spring Birding Weekend. CMBO’s Spring weekend feels like a festival. It attracts the entire population of dedicated birders from the Eastern United States -- people who spend a lot of time looking through binoculars, and who often estimate the bona fides of a stranger by what he or she is wearing around their neck -- so you can imagine that my super-sized bins provoked more than a few looks and lots of comments questioning my self-confidence. (Actually, it takes quite a bit of self confidence to carry such outlandish looking monster optics in such competitive company.) More typical comments were something like: “ Wow. I’ll bet those are really bright.” Well, yes they are very bright, but the real point -- one that most people miss -- is that they are better. I did see one other birder sporting out-sized binoculars – a pair of Leica Ultravid HD 8x50s. After a few tentative glances we struck up a conversation. I wasn’t surprised to learn that this fellow is an amateur astronomer because astronomers understand that optics are all about aperture, and they are willing to give up a little practicality to get the last iota of optical truth. So, let’s start with the weight because size and weight are limiting factors for what most of us are willing to carry. At 44 ounces these bins are heavy. They are almost a pound heavier than Swarovski’s new EL Swarovision bins. I carried them around my neck for seven or eight hours a day over the past four days, and I can’t really say that I ever got used to or forgot about the weight. These bins are not for the feint of heart. But weight does have the advantage of inertia. (Remember your high school physics?) Weight confers stability because it’s a lot harder to set a heavy object in motion than it is to move a lighter object, so the little movements of your hands have less effect on heavy binoculars than they do on their lighter cousins. That’s why rifles designed for competition are heavy. Like a really fine competition rifle these bins feel very good in the hand. They are fast focusing, and I can see the entire field while wearing my eyeglasses. The rubber armor is the same material as Swarovski used in its new EL Swarovision. I can hold them steady for a long time. But they are just beyond the limit of what I am willing to carry around for everyday birding. Yes, the 8x56 SLCs are amazingly bright, but how much brightness do you actually need? For most birding needs mid-sized binoculars (8x32) are more than adequate. In fact, when I started birding 7x35 was pretty much the standard configuration. Full-sized binoculars (7x42 or 8x42) will allow you to see incredible detail in very dimly lit environments. But keep in mind that you can only use as much brightness as your eye will admit, so any binocular whose exit pupil is larger than your eye’s pupil (if you are over 50 your eye only opens to 3 or 4mm while a 7x42 binocular has a 6 mm exit pupil) is probably providing more brightness than you can use -- even at night. So why bother schlepping these monsters around? Because it isn’t only about brightness. It’s about the quality of the image, and Swarovski’s 8x56 SLC offers perhaps the best image that I have seen in any binocular. Despite their considerable weight I found them almost impossible to put down. (And make no mistake. I really wanted to put them down.) Holly and I spent a lot of time looking at shorebirds this weekend, and I found that I was perfectly happy to let her hog the spotting scope for much longer periods than usual because I was so happy to be looking through the SLCs. These binoculars are difficult to write about because any sensible birder will need to be hypnotized into buying something this big and heavy, but keep in mind that there can be no great art without suffering. This reviewer's suffering was lost in the sheer joy of the magnificent image produced by these binoculars. The Swarovski 8x56 SLCs will not be anybody’s choice for his or her only birding binocular. But if you love shorebirds, waterfowl, hawks, or owls, you will really want to find a way to get a pair of these because they will add immeasurably to your birding enjoyment."

Wayne Mones
May 24, 2010
 

Sprite1275

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Hi guys

Not looking for bins anywhere near the same league as those discussed above but can anyone suggest a reasonable robust light pocket binoculars for an elderly lady who just enjoys watching birds in the local area - I had a cheap pocket roof prism pair many years ago that I kept in a handbag (for emergencies) and they were pretty good quality for the price but I gave them to a friend’s kid. - I paid about £80 if I remember rightly but that was 25 years ago! I wish I could remember the make. There’s no point in me ordering her a decent pair, she just wants to look at birds out of her window and while sitting in the garden occasionally. An autofocus pair might work too as she has quite shaky hands and it’s not for long distance. Her budget is anything up to around £120. Thanks! 🙂
I would say the pentax papilio ii 6.5x21 binoculars in my pictures would be a good shout. They are small enough for a hand bag and easy to use. Being 6.5x this would also help a lot with hand shake. The focus wheel is very easy to turn and the quality of image through these is great with also having crazy close focus also. Can be had for under a £100.
 

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1VabugM.jpg


Lovely little things. They are small enough to fit in my trouser pockets thankfully. Im also surprised how easy I find it to look through them. I thought they would be a little fiddly but there fine, and that's with glasses on. Focus wheel turns nice and easy and the dioptre is pretty cool.

Anyway here are some more pics for reference incase anyone is searching.

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A couple of points in relation to Dennis’ post #61:

A) A 25 mm objective has an area 56% larger than a 20 mm one verses ' . . . bring(ing) in approximately 20% more light’

B) And Wayne’s article, in a far more readable form, can be found at: https://www.audubon.org/news/size-matters-case-really-big-binoculars


John
An 8x25 is 56% larger in area than a 8x20! Wow, a small increase in diameter leads to a BIG increase in surface area of a circle, doesn't it? Thanks, John.
 

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I would say the pentax papilio ii 6.5x21 binoculars in my pictures would be a good shout. They are small enough for a hand bag and easy to use. Being 6.5x this would also help a lot with hand shake. The focus wheel is very easy to turn and the quality of image through these is great with also having crazy close focus also. Can be had for under a £100.
The only problem I have with the Pentax Papilio 6x21 is they are great for close up nirding and insect watching but not so good for distant birding. The resolution is not as good at distance as a good 8x20 or 8x25 roof prism like the Leica Ultravid 8x20, Zeiss Victory 8x20 or Swarovski 8x25 CL-P. I think it is because the optical design is optimized for close up viewing so distant viewing is compromised a little.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
A couple of points in relation to Dennis’ post #61:

B) And Wayne’s article, in a far more readable form, can be found at: https://www.audubon.org/news/size-matters-case-really-big-binoculars
I couldn't help thinking that Henry Link has been advocating for this for quite a while, IIRC, it is exactly a 8x56 FL what blows his mind, just like the Swaro 8x56 amazed Wayne.
When I'm home, for any observation from the window/balcony I've learned to use a porro 7x50 even in the bright of day, when I theoretically don't "need" the 50 mm or the 7,1 mm exit pupil. The view is just mind-blowing, in spite of the modest FOV of 7,1º - 124/1000 m (quite typical for this format). However, hard as a try, I don't think I'd take it for long birding days, where I prefer a compact. But I think I understand what Wayne, Henry and Dennis mean.
 

Sprite1275

Well-known member
United Kingdom
pAn 8x25 is 56% larger in area than a 8x20! Wow, a small increase in diameter leads to a BIG increase in surface area of a circle, doesn't it? Thanks, John.
All the maths is great and the UV are definitely duller than my Hawkes but I wouldn't say by much. Thing is when your in your... Let's say 40s that could be 50% of your life lived, your eyes are maybe 30% less effective than when you were 30% younger. So your eyes maybe can't tell that much of a difference.

Or maybe I'm talking a 100% load of ........ :D

All I know is that I'll now have my 8x20 about 80% more of the time when I'm out than my 8x32 (y)
 

Sprite1275

Well-known member
United Kingdom
The only problem I have with the Pentax Papilio 6x21 is they are great for close up nirding and insect watching but not so good for distant birding. The resolution is not as good at distance as a good 8x20 or 8x25 roof prism like the Leica Ultravid 8x20, Zeiss Victory 8x20 or Swarovski 8x25 CL-P. I think it is because the optical design is optimized for close up viewing so distant viewing is compromised a little.
I don't know they seem pretty good to me. I was just thinking that if there for an old lady sitting on a bench they were a good cheap option which should reduce the shakes and fit in her bag.
 

tenex

reality-based
The 8x56 SLC (whether old or new and slightly smaller) is definitely not a pocket binocular.
"This reviewer's suffering was lost in the sheer joy of the magnificent image produced by these binoculars."
What I keep noticing in all these comments about "unnecessarily" large bins is that no one claims they're better (in daylight) for a practical purpose like ID'ing birds, rather it's purely about subjective enjoyment of solid handling and certain qualities of the view. That's also my own experience of a 10x56, which frankly I don't carry enough in daytime, versus either its 15x sibling or a svelter 32mm. When I do carry it I love it. (I once had it on a mountain trip when my wife was using my 32, and that big exit pupil was fabulous for steady viewing on a windy ridgetop where I could barely stand straight.)

Edit: on second thought, I think I have read one post here about someone who felt the 10x56 SLC was actually better at spotting birds in the shadows of distant bushes. But that seems unusual.

The optical compromises involved in producing pocket binoculars are obvious. I suspect that there are still significant (though less perceptible) compromises inherent in the competitive size/weight of even 42mm models that most consider "full-sized", and it's only 50-56mm bins that finally become free of them. (Perhaps this was less true in the days of Porros.)
 
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lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
I don't know they seem pretty good to me. I was just thinking that if there for an old lady sitting on a bench they were a good cheap option which should reduce the shakes and fit in her bag.
Are the shakes bad with a pair of bins too 'small or light" ....just as shakes can be bad with a pair of bins too heavy?

I haven't had a pair of monoculars or the 8x20's.... I have had the Zeiss Victory 8x25's and with the design, they seem to not have an issue with shakes but with the little Leica or others, is it just too light to prevent shakes. Essentially at 8 ounces you are holding next to nothing up to your face. ?
 

mwhogue

Well Known Member
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Are the shakes bad with a pair of bins too 'small or light" ....just as shakes can be bad with a pair of bins too heavy?

I haven't had a pair of monoculars or the 8x20's.... I have had the Zeiss Victory 8x25's and with the design, they seem to not have an issue with shakes but with the little Leica or others, is it just too light to prevent shakes. Essentially at 8 ounces you are holding next to nothing up to your face. ?

This probably varies from person to person but yes, IME a small bin that is "Too light" can be harder to hold steady. Size and shape also play a role. The tiny Nikon Mikrons, particularly the 7x for example, while pleasantly heavy for their size take some practice and a different hold to get a steady view. The UV 8x20 is heavy and ergonomic enough for me to hold very steady. The Papillio despite being very light is easy for me to hold steady given the size, shape, eyecups and 6.5x.

Mike
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
How would you say the optics compare between the victory and Leica UV? I'd imagine the victory are easier to use but how does the image quality compare?
Chuck....in your 'home store'...would you happen to have a picture hanging around of the Zeiss Victory compared to the Leica 8x20 UV?

I love the Leica 8x20 Ultravid but the Zeiss 8x25 Victory just kills it. The Zeiss is in a different category, more like a 8x32 (or better!) in ability. Although the Zeiss is larger, I am able to pack it (cased) in exactly the same pockets in which I used to carry the Leica (in its case).

See my photos of the bins and cases here:

--AP
 

willisoften

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Are the shakes bad with a pair of bins too 'small or light" ....just as shakes can be bad with a pair of bins too heavy?
My tuppence worth: I have two pairs of 10x. The ultravid 10x25 which I find easy to hold steady enough freehand and Vortex Viper 10x42 (2018) which I cant. I need to brace my elbows off my knees or a table or fence. Especially if I wish to observe for a while rather than just a quick look.
Generally for a nice steady comfortable grip I like 8x Porros rather than roof. A little extra mass would normally damp your heartbeat shakes etc (I would think). Of course a big really heavy pair of binoculars is going to give you muscle shakes or add a really tall monopod to your kit.

Will
 
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Sprite1275

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I love the Leica 8x20 Ultravid but the Zeiss 8x25 Victory just kills it. The Zeiss is in a different category, more like a 8x32 (or better!) in ability. Although the Zeiss is larger, I am able to pack it (cased) in exactly the same pockets in which I used to carry the Leica (in its case).

See my photos of the bins and cases here:

--AP
Do you have any pics of them folded up side by side?
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
IMO, they shouldn't really be seen as direct competitors as they fill somewhat different niches. The Zeiss to me slots in more in between 8x32's and "true" compacts. The Zeiss is perfect for someone who wants something that has comfort and handling close to an 8x32, but with a significant reduction in size/weight. The Leica is for when you need something that is more literally "pocket sized".

The photo below from the birdwatching.com review tells the story, as well as the subsequent image which I took when I had the Zeiss 8x25, next to my wife's UV 8x32 HD. The 8x20 UV is MUCH smaller, and with the double hinge folds up even smaller when collapsed.

The Zeiss, on the other hand, is (when opened for use) basically the same size as the Ultravid 8x32, albeit with slimmer barrels and a ~40% reduction in weight. It is obviously much smaller than more "full sized" 8x32's, as the Leica is among the smallest, but it's not any smaller (if at all) than the proliferating 8x30 class that's become popular recently.


1615421911516.png

1615422025102.png

So to me, the Zeiss 8x25 is really competing with binoculars like the Opticron Traveler or Nikon MHG -- i.e. a small, light binocular for when you want to minimize size/weight while still retaining handling and optical quality "close enough" to a normal-sized 8x32. The Zeiss is still large enough, and optically good enough, to function as an optic that's used for more than just casual views, more like an 8x32. Whereas the Leica UV 8x20 is a for when you want something truly tiny, at the expense of some ergonomics/handling comfort.

The reason I sold the Zeiss 8x25 was that (for me) they weren't small enough to be truly "pocket sized", which reduced their value as something I could have on me at any time even in non-birding contexts.... but when used for normal "I'm birding but I don't want to carry a big 42mm" outings, where I'm not putting the binocular in a pocket or bag, I would rather have a slightly larger 30/32mm with the superior ergonomics and more meat to grab onto.

In other words, if I'm not going to stuff it into a pocket, the small size / light weight is a negative, not a positive. I'd rather carry an 8x32 and benefit from the superior handling, larger exit pupil, fatter eyecups, etc. And if I am going to stuff it into a pocket for "emergency use", I would rather have something even smaller (like the Leica).

It also should be noted that I don't wear glasses, so the long eye relief and small eyecups of the Zeiss didn't work out that well for me, and I much preferred the handling of my wife's Leica. I can totally understand how someone who wears glasses would prefer the Zeiss, as I found it to be virtually the equal of the little Leica optically. Especially if you're more of a "look occasionally at stuff" binocular user, not a hardcore birder who is using them constantly when out in the field.

I have a Leica UV 8x20 on its way, so I will see how I mesh with that one. I'm not expecting it to have the viewing comfort and handling of the Zeiss, but I also expect I'll be more likely to tote it along to random places where I otherwise wouldn't have any binoculars on me.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
This is a good response that I feel hits upon much here.... The Zeiss is more of a usable all purpose bin that is competing more with. the 8x30 / 8x32 lineup while the Leica is more a true pocket. So the decision that has to be made is what are you really 'after' as both of these, while akin, perhaps have a different purpose. I too was looking at the 'pocket' or 'on my bike or whatever' and while the Zeiss is doable for sure, ...is the Leica just that 'much more' doable in terms of being a true emergency/pocket bin. Just look at the image below. There is a huge difference between the Leica and the Zeiss/Swaro....I have had the Nikon HG and it was more comparable to the Zeiss, which I also had for a week or so at home, (with the CL and Traveler and others). Just by looking at the images, I can only imagine how small the Leica is.

I am tempted to get one in and just see how they are. Are they too light, too small....not enough eye comfort etc etc , or do they really fit 'my need'. And, I need to figure out my need perhaps, if any.
IMO, they shouldn't really be seen as direct competitors as they fill somewhat different niches. The Zeiss to me slots in more in between 8x32's and "true" compacts. The Zeiss is perfect for someone who wants something that has comfort and handling close to an 8x32, but with a significant reduction in size/weight. The Leica is for when you need something that is more literally "pocket sized".

The photo below from the birdwatching.com review tells the story, as well as the subsequent image which I took when I had the Zeiss 8x25, next to my wife's UV 8x32 HD. The 8x20 UV is MUCH smaller, and with the double hinge folds up even smaller when collapsed.

The Zeiss, on the other hand, is (when opened for use) basically the same size as the Ultravid 8x32, albeit with slimmer barrels and a ~40% reduction in weight. It is obviously much smaller than more "full sized" 8x32's, as the Leica is among the smallest, but it's not any smaller (if at all) than the proliferating 8x30 class that's become popular recently.


View attachment 1373643

View attachment 1373644

So to me, the Zeiss 8x25 is really competing with binoculars like the Opticron Traveler or Nikon MHG -- i.e. a small, light binocular for when you want to minimize size/weight while still retaining handling and optical quality "close enough" to a normal-sized 8x32. The Zeiss is still large enough, and optically good enough, to function as an optic that's used for more than just casual views, more like an 8x32. Whereas the Leica UV 8x20 is a for when you want something truly tiny, at the expense of some ergonomics/handling comfort.

The reason I sold the Zeiss 8x25 was that (for me) they weren't small enough to be truly "pocket sized", which reduced their value as something I could have on me at any time even in non-birding contexts.... but when used for normal "I'm birding but I don't want to carry a big 42mm" outings, where I'm not putting the binocular in a pocket or bag, I would rather have a slightly larger 30/32mm with the superior ergonomics and more meat to grab onto.

In other words, if I'm not going to stuff it into a pocket, the small size / light weight is a negative, not a positive. I'd rather carry an 8x32 and benefit from the superior handling, larger exit pupil, fatter eyecups, etc. And if I am going to stuff it into a pocket for "emergency use", I would rather have something even smaller (like the Leica).

It also should be noted that I don't wear glasses, so the long eye relief and small eyecups of the Zeiss didn't work out that well for me, and I much preferred the handling of my wife's Leica. I can totally understand how someone who wears glasses would prefer the Zeiss, as I found it to be virtually the equal of the little Leica optically. Especially if you're more of a "look occasionally at stuff" binocular user, not a hardcore birder who is using them constantly when out in the field.

I have a Leica UV 8x20 on its way, so I will see how I mesh with that one. I'm not expecting it to have the viewing comfort and handling of the Zeiss, but I also expect I'll be more likely to tote it along to random places where I otherwise wouldn't have any binoculars on me.
 

[email protected]

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All the maths is great and the UV are definitely duller than my Hawkes but I wouldn't say by much. Thing is when your in your... Let's say 40s that could be 50% of your life lived, your eyes are maybe 30% less effective than when you were 30% younger. So your eyes maybe can't tell that much of a difference.

Or maybe I'm talking a 100% load of ........ :D

All I know is that I'll now have my 8x20 about 80% more of the time when I'm out than my 8x32 (y)
I agree. If you bird mostly in the daytime which is probably most of us it is surprising how good an 8x20 or 8x25 works. Especially an 8x25. A 3 mm exit pupil can bring in sufficient light in the daytime for most birding duties.
 

[email protected]

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This probably varies from person to person but yes, IME a small bin that is "Too light" can be harder to hold steady. Size and shape also play a role. The tiny Nikon Mikrons, particularly the 7x for example, while pleasantly heavy for their size take some practice and a different hold to get a steady view. The UV 8x20 is heavy and ergonomic enough for me to hold very steady. The Papillio despite being very light is easy for me to hold steady given the size, shape, eyecups and 6.5x.

Mike
6.5x is really easy to hold steady versus even 7x or 8x. If it is enough magnification for the detail you need to see it does have advantages.
 

[email protected]

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I love the Leica 8x20 Ultravid but the Zeiss 8x25 Victory just kills it. The Zeiss is in a different category, more like a 8x32 (or better!) in ability. Although the Zeiss is larger, I am able to pack it (cased) in exactly the same pockets in which I used to carry the Leica (in its case).

See my photos of the bins and cases here:

--AP
There is a difference optically between an 8x20 and a 8x25 and if you can carry an 8x25 in your pocket you are going to enjoy the view more.
 

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