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Thoughts on the UP ZOOM Series Binos?? (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Hey all,

I had a set of these small, lightweight, zoom binos and then gave them away to my Niece to start her journey observing Mother Nature in all her splendor.
The one I had was a Bushnell, 8-21X and they were decent binos to have in your truck, tackle box, hunting bag and so forth where you wouldn't worry if they were dropped or got soaking wet or any other conditions might show up.

Now that I am without them, I have been thinking of getting another set of these binos, but this time try the Nikon or the Pentax models.

Has anyone owned or tried either the ZOOM or the fixed magnification in these binos? I'd really like to know how they match up and if they were a nice bino for the purpose it was designed for.

If you were going to get another set of this type bino, what would you get and why? Or, would just just skip over these types all together?
Has anyone ever had the chance to compare them to the Nikon binos of this style?

Please share any info you have on these types of binoculars.

Thanks for your time and help.

Steve C

Well-known member
Friends don't let friends buy zoom binoculars. ;)


Nice gesture to your niece, but get her something like a Leupold Yosemite if you want to get her a decent glass for not a lot of $$. You didn't state her age, but the Yosemite was designed for a 4 yr old girl. Nice kids binocular, you might also want to get one for yourself.

You could not give me a zoom binocular. Fell for the idea once. Never again. Second worst binocular money I ever spent.
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Well-known member
There were only two small zoom binoculars that I found good, one was one of the three Pentax 8x-20x24.
This was excellent, say on the Moon even at 20x. The other two were optically not good.

The other was a small Minolta 8x-16x25??

I have found all the small Nikon zoom binoculars that I have had to be poor, mechanically at least.

The Nikon 10x-22x50 I find to be O.K. at 22x but with a lot of CA. But at least it shows the gap between the globe and rings on Saturn. I have had maybe three.

I do not have the bad vibes that most here have with zoom binoculars.

What they may provide is adequate eye relief at high magnification.

A Japanese 25x-125x80 Porro binocular is good on a tripod up to 80x, but after that it is empty magnification, but still aligned for me up to 135x, the actual top power.
A scope is better.

The problem with zoom binoculars is the extra mechanical complication.
They are not good for hard or repeated use, even if they actually work.

They are also probably not good for bird watching.
The fields of view are small at the lowest power.
The only real advantage is if they work near or at the highest power.

There is a well liked old Nikon, maybe 8x-16x40?? but quite expensive.

The small 10x-70x30 or other mad binoculars are awful and sold only to make money from the inexperienced.
Vast numbers are sold and I estimate that only 2% actually work and are aligned near the top magnification.
In my opinion this is rogue trading.

So in short, don't get a zoom binocular unless it proves to actually work in use, and don't expect it to last well.
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Well-known member

the problem with the few good zoom binoculars (that means neglecting the mechanical difficulties mentioned above) is that due to construction limitations a zoom eyepiece has a quite narrow apparent and thus true field of view at the lower magnification end. Usual values are around 40 deg afov.

The apparent field gets wider with higher magnifcation but of course the true field gets even narrower then (rough formula with all fov values in degrees: afov = tfov * mag). Values for high mag are often around 60 deg.

Unfortunately the low end tends to be the most useful magnification hand-held and thus you're stuck with tunnel vision most of the time.



Well-known member
My thoughts on zoom binoculars are the following.

I have had about 30 zoom binoculars over many years.

The price has been from about £12 to £100.
At this price level they would not be a bird watchers choice.

For me the whole point of a zoom binocular is to use moderately high to high magnification.

Maybe 8 years ago I gave my milkman and his son each an 8x-24x50 Porro binocular.
These cost £12 or £14 new from a top newspaper ad.
I bought six. I still think in dozens or half dozens.
I paid £1 comprehensive insurance.
Two were out of collimation. I rang them and the next day 2 new ones arrived and I returned the faulty ones.
So I had six working zoom binoculars.

Despite asking regularly the milkman and his son say the binoculars are fine. I am waiting for them to break so I can replace them but without any luck yet.
The are used for horse racing at a fixed 14x or 16x, which is where the sweet spot, if any, is.

I have only made serious observations with the Pentax 8x-20x24 and the Nikon 10x-22x50.
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Well-known member
Further, for those who think that zoom binoculars are useless.

Jessops cleared Opticron Sopera compact roof prism binoculars, jumelles, prismaticos at 1/5th price.
Naturally I bought five.

3/4 Jan 2003 test.
Surprisingly good.
Very steady 15x hand held.
15x17 collimation good on the moon.
Objectives 17mm round measured. (Unlike similar rectangular Minolta pockets).

White light edge quite good.
Pincushion distortion.
Some small colour error edge of field.
Little magnification change in performance.

15x to 8x same focus.
5x a bit different focus.
Objective focus good.
Smooth controls.
Eye relief not good.
Light green, white coatings objectives.
Light green, blue, white eyepieces.
Consistent colours.
Matt/shiny plastic housing.

Saturn rings clear but not the ring gap.
Close focus ~7ft.

Tried today.
Still good, but at 5x small round image, which quickly expands to fairly wide.
Eye positioning a bit difficult due to cigarette box shape.
Made in China.
Tiny pocket binocular.
Easy to read small distant print.
compact zoom, field 5.2 degrees at 5x. (Small round circle image with clear 3D inside the small circle of street light).
Much bigger AFOV as magnification increases, but dimmer image with high magnification.

Not for glasses wearers as the whole field, which is then small, is only visible at 5x to 7x.
I don't use glasses with binoculars, so I see the full field at all magnifications.

If one needs to read a distant road sign, zoom binoculars work, whereas a fixed 8x might not.

I can't remember how much they cost but it wasn't much.

Not surprised the original Jessops went out of business as the regular deals were too good to be true.
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