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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Weight in relation with steadiness? (1 Viewer)

spiralcoil

Well-known member
May I ask those who are fortunate to have more than one or few good binoculars, have you compared the hand-held steadiness between the heavier vs the lighter weight of your binoculars? Do you feel (or in your experiments) the heavier weight help or make worse for holding steady the binoculars?

E.g. between your same make models of binoculars 8x42 vs 8x32, 10x42 vs 10x32, which one is easier to hold steadier, the 42 or the 32?
Or between a pair of heavier 8x42 vs a pair of lighter weight 8x42? And so on...

Other words, does the "weight" help to dampen the hand-held shaking or the opposite?
 

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
Hello,

My personal experience has been among a Leica 10x50BN, a Zeiss 10x40 Dialyt ClassiC and a Zeiss FL 10x32. I found the 10x32 the easiest to hold steady. This is contrary to what many expect.

Stay safe,
Arthur
 

Boogieshrew

Well-known member
I find it is not just a matter of weight but also size and shape of the binoculars. How they fit my hands is important in relation to how steady I can hold them. Can I get a good grip with both hands while still keeping fingers free to move the focus wheel?
Weight effects how long I can hold them up.
For me, the lighter the better.
 

dorubird

Well-known member
Romania
I also noticed that the shape and weight distribution matter a lot. In general, I noticed that I stabilize a porro better than a roof one due to the rounder shapes and my hands fit better on the rounder and more voluminous shapes. Skinny binoculars usually are harder to stabilize for me!
Regarding weight, I noticed that the sweet point for me is around 650g-850g. What is below does not have much inertia in my hands, and what is above becomes too tiring. Everyone has their own technique and preferences!
 

Ries

Well-known member
Netherlands
Yes, I do notice a difference in steadiness in relation to weight. I have the light Nikon mhg 8x42 and I can keep it less steady than the Meopta Meostar 10x42. Might also be that the more damping rubber padding of the Meopta helps, combined with handling of a bit more rugged design vs slender. I notice the same with my light Kite lynx 8x30, planning to change that for a bit heavier, bulkier Zeiss Conquest 8x32.

So it seems there's a combination of weight and design, that helps steadiness. Weight sure is one of it, lighter is not perse better for handling. It is for transport.
 

Binastro

Well-known member
For me it depends on age, strength etc.

I had no trouble at all hand holding the 1970s Celestron 20x80 for ten minutes or more.
The lighter Soviet 20x60 was less steady.

I think it depends on the moment of inertia or moment of momentum.
Weight, size, shape and fit.
Also how long the observation lasts.

Although my Canon 10x30 IS Mk 2 has a better stabiliser than the 20 year old Canon 18x50 IS, it is the larger binocular that is steadier because of weight, size and moment of inertia.
However, I cannot hold it as long as the smaller binocular.

It is, as with most binocular topics, dependent on the individual.

Regards,
B.
 

DrewskiMT

Observer
As a small frame weak homo saipien I prefer binos in the 20-25oz. range. I hear the full size 42mm SF from Zeiss are wonderful to hold due to balance point. I sometimes prefer 42mm barrels filling my hands. But stability also requires the ability to hold the eye cups to the brow/face and that is a very case by case fitment. When hiking I need 8x or less, and when observing from the car or stationary I enjoy no more than 10x handheld.

I am strongly of the opinion that lighter is better, less shake, easier on the neck and lower back, better for walking and hiking. Most of the full size 42 and 50mm alphas and sub alpha binos are pushing 32oz - 2lbs.... meanwhile the 32 alphas are descending into 20-24 territory.
 
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Mike F

Well-known member
For me there’s a direct relationship between weight and time with regard to stability. Heavier binoculars are more stable - it’s harder to induce shake when there’s more mass, but weight also induces more fatigue which at some point leads to less stability. It’s a trade off which will vary greatly from one individual to another.
I personally like heavier binoculars. My 12x50’s are around 1050g and I love the ergonomics and stability of that binocular, but if I had to hold them up all day (or hike with them) I’d rather take my 10x25 Trinovid BCA’s.
 

Patudo

Well-known member
May I ask those who are fortunate to have more than one or few good binoculars, have you compared the hand-held steadiness between the heavier vs the lighter weight of your binoculars? Do you feel (or in your experiments) the heavier weight help or make worse for holding steady the binoculars?

E.g. between your same make models of binoculars 8x42 vs 8x32, 10x42 vs 10x32, which one is easier to hold steadier, the 42 or the 32?
Or between a pair of heavier 8x42 vs a pair of lighter weight 8x42? And so on...

Other words, does the "weight" help to dampen the hand-held shaking or the opposite?

This is going to be a very individual thing amongst users. The feel/ergonomics of one binocular in your hands might not be the same in mine, and vice versa. The relationship between size/ergonomics/weight is quite a complex one and each of us is different too in terms of how we handle and use our binoculars. Then you have the larger exit pupil of a 8x42 compared to a 8x32, or 10x42 vs 10x32, that also contributes to perceived steadiness.

With regard to different models of the same series, the two I have used most often and can compare between them best are the 8x32 and 8x42 Zeiss FL. The 8x42 is steadier, but with a number of important caveats: the closer the range and the shorter the time you are looking through the binoculars, the closer the two are in terms of steadiness. For that kind of birding where the birds are not too far away and often detected by eye first, with the binoculars used to confirm ID, the 8x32 is in most cases just as good and in some respects (field of view, compactness) better. If your birding requires you to spend lots of time looking through the binoculars searching for more distant targets the 8x42 is more comfortable to look through, but, although not a truly heavy binocular, I can hold the 8x32 to my eyes more comfortably because it's smaller and lighter. But if it's possible to brace your elbows to steady the view it becomes much easier to use a heavier/larger binocular.

A heavier binocular is often claimed to be more stable, and to some extent I agree with this; but I find factors such as balance and shape (how the binocular fits your hands) more important. I can hold roof prism binoculars more steady than porros because my hands are closer together. As between the different roofs, generally speaking I find a more compact binocular easier to hold steady (hands closer together again). However, binoculars that have their balance point further back, and the focus wheel further forward (Zeiss SF and presumably also the Swaro NL, though I haven't tried the latter myself) seem to me very pleasant to use even though the dimensions of the SF x42 are quite large. It also seems that newer binoculars are easier to hold steady - when comparing the Monarch HG, Meostar and Conquest HD with my 10x40 Dialyt I did notice the newer binoculars were a little steadier, probably because they were designed with more attention to ergonomics.

So that's what I've found for myself, but having said all that, whether you'll find a heavier binocular more steady really depends on you.
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
May I ask those who are fortunate to have more than one or few good binoculars, have you compared the hand-held steadiness between the heavier vs the lighter weight of your binoculars? Do you feel (or in your experiments) the heavier weight help or make worse for holding steady the binoculars?

E.g. between your same make models of binoculars 8x42 vs 8x32, 10x42 vs 10x32, which one is easier to hold steadier, the 42 or the 32?
Or between a pair of heavier 8x42 vs a pair of lighter weight 8x42? And so on...

Other words, does the "weight" help to dampen the hand-held shaking or the opposite?
I think this is going to be a very individual thing with a number of other factors coming into play, and also exhibit temporal variance. Everyones frequency response of vibration is going to be very different.

As (or more) important as any slight variations in weight is ergonomics, and the steadiness and suitability of the grip.

Then there are physical properties such as the centre of mass, and polar moments of inertia of the binocular, and the biomechanics induced by its relation to the grip point of the binocular.

I find rock-like binoculars with small polar moments of inertia far steadier to hold than large 'airy' low density binoculars. For example I found the glass dense, physically smaller 10x42 Prime HD to be much steadier to hold than the 'wings out' low density 8.5x44 ED Swift Audubon.

There are those that rave about the contrived ergonomics of bins such as the Zeiss SF, and now the Swarovski NL pure with their forced hands forward focusing position. While this does indeed induce a moment of force which acts to tip the binocular backwards (a bonus when looking ahead) , it also forces the hands and hence arms away from the body - this induces a detrimental moment of force tipping forward due to the weight of the arms. This must be balanced with a reactionary moment in the user's body by a contactionary force in the shoulders (less than ideal since these are small muscles which fatigue easily) and the core muscles. Not ideal.

By far the best solution is get the ergonomics right (some individual variation there) , have the grip position, balance point, and centre of mass as close together as possible without contrived positioning of mechanisms. Forget the marketing bunkum.

For me, I find good ergonomics come with hand filling tube diameters. I like the Swarovski x50 SV sized tubes much more than the x42 size. However, I don't like the weight so much (particularly in carting around). I much prefer the weight of the x32 SV, however the tube diameters are so small as to feel quite dinky for me. If I wrap my beach volleyballer's hands and fingers right around to the opposite barrel then the grip steadys up a bit, but is pretty unnatural and annoying.

Magnification also plays an important part. Higher magnifications being harder to hold steady even with the exact same design. For example, I find the Swarovski 10x50 SV to be one of the steadiest bins to hold - it fills my hands nicely with it's fatter tubes. However, I usually find the 12x50 SV a bit of a step too far - mostly (but not always) being a bit jittery of a view - sometimes enough to make me uncomfortable (beginnings of the effects of motion sickness).

An individual's frequency response of vibration is affected by all of these factors as well as having it's own natural frequency tendencies. These can also be influenced by condition, biological and biochemical variations, as well as temporal variations. Whether frequency, amplitude, or waveform pattern affects the view to a greater or lesser degree can also depend of physical factors which magnify these effects, like exit pupil size, design of binocular with relation to randpupille (greater bringing ease of view) , and whether distortions and other aberrations outside of the sweet spot become noticeable.

Size of the subject also comes into play. I'm sure I've forgotten to mention other factors too.


Chosun 🙅‍♀️
 
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yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
I concur with other forum members about weight not being the only key factor.
As Chosun Juan says, there's a lot to be said about the way the tubes "fill" your hands, and the overall grip.
Personally, I find extremely small binoculars more difficult to hold steady, but this doesn't necessarily mean they're the lightest (since there are long-and-light and short-and-heavy binoculars). I've never tried the 8-10x42 SF, but I'm really curious about it's long design. However, while the long design of the 7x42 Zeiss Dialyt usually receives a lot of praise, I don't think I was able to hold it steadier than any other more compact 7x42, like the FL or the UV.

As for the pure weight, it's a bit of a mixed bag: some binoculars I've been able to hold steady with ease were actually pretty light for their specifications, for example the 10x42 Nikon SE (at 710 g, a reasonably light 10x42) or the Nikon 12x42, which at 600 g are a feather weight, but the combination of size/shape made for a good grip and steady view. On the other hand, the old Trinovid BA felt really great in the hands and offered a rock solid view. So there you go: weight can be important, but in my personal experience is just a factor.
 

Rg548

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I have some Zeiss T*FL 8x56..... they weigh about half a tonne, but I have to say they have, without doubt, the steadiest image of any binoculars I have used.
For any lengthy viewing, they can become heavy, but I tend not to do this, more often just using them for quick looks.
I also have very large hands so these fit well.
They are more steady to hold than my Swaro CL8x25, but nearly 4x the weight!!!!
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
I have some Zeiss T*FL 8x56..... they weigh about half a tonne, but I have to say they have, without doubt, the steadiest image of any binoculars I have used.
For any lengthy viewing, they can become heavy, but I tend not to do this, more often just using them for quick looks.
I also have very large hands so these fit well.
They are more steady to hold than my Swaro CL8x25, but nearly 4x the weight!!!!
This shows how different we are and so I suppose how difficult it is to answer the question. The very same binoculars I sold because though I can safely say I am fit, active and reasonably strong I just couldn't hold their weight steady! But a little 8x32 FL or SV or a 7x42 or 8x42 - no problem. But go even smaller with a pocket 8x20, and it all goes skittish again!

And Chosun Juan finds the 10x50 EL the perfect handler; again for me it didn't work. Oh well, no surprises here really! Learning from mistakes if nothing else :)
 

ZDHart

Well-known member
Supporter
United States
For me, steadiness is somewhat less about weight, than it is about barrel girth/length, ergonomics and haptics. These are factors which influence steadiness for me:

1-Barrel size and shape (bins with ample, hand-filling barrels aid my steadiness)
2-Armor stiction (armor which secures nicely to the skin aids my steadiness)
3-Balance (bins with ocular end-weighting balance seem aid my steadiness)
4-Weight (a moderate degree of mass seems to help resist unintended movement)

I think given factors 1-3, a lighter-weight binocular can be fairly easy to hold steady. Though perhaps somewhat steadier, if not too-light in weight.

FOCUSER TENSION
One other factor in steadiness, for me, is focuser tension. When the resistance is light, the focuser is easily moved with light finger pressure, and the binoculars move very little, if at all, when adjusting focus.

With heavier resistance in the focuser, requiring greater finger pressure to adjust focus (particularly with smaller/lighter-weight binoculars), more binocular movement can occur while making adjustments to focus.

EXAMPLES in my experience
Zeiss x42 SF binoculars are quite easy for me to hold very steadily. These bins possess all the qualities I described above. And nearly as steady, for me, are the x32 SF binoculars, though their narrower barrel diameter takes a moment longer to get securely stable inside my hands. The barrel length in x32 SF bins helps my hand hold quite a bit. I believe this is why Zeiss designed the size of their x32 SFs the way that they did. Size/hand hold is key, weight not quite as critical. My hands are somewhat on the large size, but not huge.

Leica UVHD+ 7x42 are also very easy for me to hold steady, as they possess the above qualities. Ample size, great stiction, good mass.

Leica UVHD+ 10x32 - With more compact binoculars like these (which still have some fair mass), I have to work a little bit to get them deep and securely filling into my palms. Once I get a pair of bins deep and securely surrounded by my palms (made easier with somewhat larger barrels) I can tend to steady them pretty well. My only quibble with these is that the focuser could be a little bit lighter to operate, to my preference. Lighter focuser = less movement while focusing.

Pocket x25 - With small size and skinny barrels (like all pocket-type bins have), it helps to steady the parts of my hands which are against my face (forefingers and thumbs), against my eyebrow area and bridge of my nose. For me, the small size, skinny barrels, and light weight make holding pocket bins a little more challenging - but with some careful hand positioning and face contact, a degree of reasonable steadiness can be achieved.

So for me, steadiness largely comes down to how well I can secure the barrels deeply and firmly throughout my palms. Thus ample-enough size and haptics/ergonomics count more for me in steadiness, with weight alone somewhat less.
 
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AlphaFan

Well-known member
United States
Agree with theme that overall steadiness and comfort in the hand are a confluence of many factors - physical dimensions, focuser placement, balance, the size and shape of the user’s individual hands, strength and fitness of user, etc. However, while overall weight and mass distribution aren’t the only factors, they are definitely significant. Fatigue certainly sets in faster while using some binoculars over others. Like most things concerning optics the “sweet spot” on handling weight will vary somewhat between individual users.

BTW - for now I find more binoculars in the 42mm class seem to fit me better than others. But I do own other configurations for different purposes.
 
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bockos

Well-known member
Swarovski NL Pure 8x42 и 10x42 с добре направен FRP .. е много по-стабилен от всеки друг бинокъл, държан на ръка
 

b-lilja

Well-known member
I appreciate the discussion. More weight definitely offers resistance to shake. But I also think length is really important...if you are holding the bins towards your face, more length = more shake. I'm surprised more folks don't comment on this. I think it's one reason why flat 8x32 porros offer such a good view (among others).
 

spiralcoil

Well-known member
I appreciate the discussion. More weight definitely offers resistance to shake. But I also think length is really important...if you are holding the bins towards your face, more length = more shake. I'm surprised more folks don't comment on this. I think it's one reason why flat 8x32 porros offer such a good view (among others).
Therefore the Leica 8x42 HD (very short body) could be less shake than a longer tube of the similar size/weight 8x42 (with longer binocular body length) ?
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
Therefore the Leica 8x42 HD (very short body) could be less shake than a longer tube of the similar size/weight 8x42 (with longer binocular body length) ?
Usually - As I detailed in post#10, it depends on the mass distribution and polar moments of inertia, among many other things.

The Zen-Ray Prime HD is another good example ~825-850grams (from memory), but a shortish compact body, full of glass (to achieve the flat field optics). It was very rock-like and steady to hold, but grew tiresome and less steady after a while due to it's outright weight, and ergonomics. I may have also had an underlying bias against it because of it's CCW focuser, so it never 'felt' quite right ......


Chosun 👧
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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