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Why Aren't the Image Stabilization Binos More Popular? (1 Viewer)

MUHerd

Well-known member
Hey all,

I have never had the chance to handle a set of the Image Stabilization binos from Canon and whomever else makes binos like that. I've always been interested in them though.

I just went to the Canon site and looked at the lineup and they have several models, many more than I thought they had. They even have a 12x36 which looks like they are small enough to be pretty handy. I can see why the larger magnifications are not more popular, they are HUGE in size and would seem to be unwieldy especially in close quarters in the woods or in a group where people are elbow to elbow.

Do any of you guys and gals own these IS binos? If so, which one do you you have or if you have owned more than one, which one is your favorite and why?

To a new person like myself, it would seem that a 15X IS bino would be ideal for a Birder. How am I wrong about that? Is there something about them that I'm not seeing or understanding? Please explain.

I'd like to know what you all think of them and why they aren't more popular in the birding world.

Thanks for your time and help.
Larry
 

Theo98

Eurasian Goldfinch
Hey all,

I have never had the chance to handle a set of the Image Stabilization binos from Canon and whomever else makes binos like that. I've always been interested in them though.

I just went to the Canon site and looked at the lineup and they have several models, many more than I thought they had. They even have a 12x36 which looks like they are small enough to be pretty handy. I can see why the larger magnifications are not more popular, they are HUGE in size and would seem to be unwieldy especially in close quarters in the woods or in a group where people are elbow to elbow.

Do any of you guys and gals own these IS binos? If so, which one do you you have or if you have owned more than one, which one is your favorite and why?

To a new person like myself, it would seem that a 15X IS bino would be ideal for a Birder. How am I wrong about that? Is there something about them that I'm not seeing or understanding? Please explain.

I'd like to know what you all think of them and why they aren't more popular in the birding world.

Thanks for your time and help.
Larry

Larry,

Getting right to your title question, probably because of extra weight, bulky size, awkward handling, lack of very comfortable eye cups, too long CF, slow focus speed, battery requirement for IS and a non-transferable "short" warranty period turn many off to the concept of these great optics.

I also never had the opportunity to try any stabilized binos, but was always curious as I do have plenty of equipment and time with Canon's L-glass top end SLR lenses. Prices dropped and decided to try the 10X42L IS. IMHO, any of these possible above mentioned turnoffs melted away as soon as I engaged their Image Stabilization Prowess...AMAZING! I can hand-hold 10X50's in the field well, or so I thought. The 10X42L possess excellent optics (close to my 10x50 SV's) and with their IS feature turned on, the marked increase in Details, Resolution and Clarity of FOV makes even my "glassing steady hands" Obsolete. For birding, wildlife, scenic terrestrial views or sky astronomy, the 10X42L, for me, can do it All!

Maybe one day a stabilized binocular with the ergonomics, full warranty and reliability of today's top glassing instruments will be a reality. For now, you have to "look past" the possible mechanical issues and just "Enjoy the View"!

Just my .02 cents,

Ted
 

ailevin

Well-known member
I love 15x45 IS for astronomy, not so much for birding. My issues during the day are field of view, handling, speed of focus, and close focus. The 4.5 degree field of view is not bad for a 15x, but at higher magnification you simply have less actual field of view. When I add to this the handling issues--I find them heavy, bulky, and harder to point-- I have difficulty getting on target quickly. The slower focus is not an overwhelming issue, but it is a downside, and they do not focus very closer either. The optics are good and relative to that the edge performance is very good.

I also have 10x30 IS, which I thought would be more appealing for birding as they are lighter, smaller, and easier to point. Yet I don't use them very much for birding either. They are first generation and the optics are good, don't seem quite to the same level as the 15x45 either on axis or at the edge. Field of view is 6 degrees, compared to 7.5-8.2 degrees for my 9x and 8x roof prisms, so the view is a little claustrophobic. I really should probably give them more of a chance in the field.

Alan
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Theo summarizes up the advantages and disadvantages of IS binoculars very well. I have tried just about all the Canon's and the 10x42 IS-L because of the better L glass is the only one that really compares very closely optically with alpha level binoculars including the 10x50 SV and once you turn the IS on it much easier to see detail and increases your resolution at least 30% over any other 10x42. I replaced my 10x50 SV's with the Canon 10x42 IS-L's because of these advantages. I still have a normal roof prism 8x32 and 8x42 for hiking but for long distance detail I like the Canon's.
 

Colin

Axeman (Retired)
England
They are worse than hopeless for flying birds. When I tried some, what you had to do was not use the stabilisation for moving birds. That is, releasing the button which activated the stabilisation. If not, what would happen was that the stabilistion tried to 'hold' the image you were looking at and then once the limit had been reached because you had moved the bins, the imaged 'jumped' to a new 'hold' which is very disconcerting when it suddenly happens. A bit like watching a tv programme and the cameraman knocks the camera and the image suddenly jumps and not in a smooth manner.

They are also very heavy for my taste.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
I guess a lot of birders are quite conservative when it comes to binocular choices. Plus there are very few models on the market and only one that can compete with the alpha binoculars most keen birders will otherwise opt for.

I think most birders probably don't realise the significant advantages that IS brings because they've never tried it. I was the same until a couple of years ago. Now I find it quite frustrating to use conventional binoculars. I'm always looking for the IS button when I do, and no matter what the optical quality I never feel like I'm getting as good a view.

I would add that, although I recognise the problems with the Canon IS binoculars mentioned above, they aren't particularly significant for me in the 10x42 IS. They're heavy but it doesn't bother me and I actually find them very comfortable, easy to use and precise to focus. I normally carry some spare, charged batteries with me and just have to switch them every few days of birding. I wear glasses but actually find that, for me personally, they work much more easily than most conventional binoculars, even ones with more eye relief. For me they are easily the best binoculars for birding in almost any situation that I've ever used. I can't imagine any conventional binocular being produced that would come close in real world use. I've never seen any other birder in the UK using them though!
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
They are worse than hopeless for flying birds. When I tried some, what you had to do was not use the stabilisation for moving birds. That is, releasing the button which activated the stabilisation. If not, what would happen was that the stabilistion tried to 'hold' the image you were looking at and then once the limit had been reached because you had moved the bins, the imaged 'jumped' to a new 'hold' which is very disconcerting when it suddenly happens. A bit like watching a tv programme and the cameraman knocks the camera and the image suddenly jumps and not in a smooth manner.

They are also very heavy for my taste.

Colin - which model were you using? Although I recognise the momentary judder that you describe, I'd suggest that you're basically using them wrongly. With the 10x42 IS you can do one of two things. Either you can switch the IS on while lifting the binoculars, in which case you will see no judder at all once they're at your eyes and you can pick out the bird very easily (more easily than other binoculars, given the stability of the view). Alternatively you can get on to the bird without IS and then switch it on. Although there's a judder, a bird has to move fairly erratically to be hard to follow.

I would counter your claim that they are worse than useless for flying birds. In my experience this is actually one of the situations where the advantages are most significant and obvious. It's far easier to see details on a flying bird with IS and this is also a situation in which the higher power of a scope is least practical. For things like visible migration, IS binoculars are extremely helpful.
 

edwincjones

Well-known member
I got a pair of 12x36s to see what I was missing.

I liked the IS's ability to use higher mag while handheld,
the optics were very good
but did not like the bulky shape and poor ergonomics.
I wound up giving to my son.

I see the benefit, but like conventional binoculars better.

edj
 

Theo98

Eurasian Goldfinch
Theo98,

May I add short eye relief?

Absolutely! The fact I have the eye cups out to just the 2nd position to obtain a full FOV (have 4 positions) means the 16mm eye relief is probably over stated. This can be challenging for eye glass wearers. With my other roofs, I extend eye cups out to max. setting to get the complete FOV!

Ted
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Colin - which model were you using? Although I recognise the momentary judder that you describe, I'd suggest that you're basically using them wrongly. With the 10x42 IS you can do one of two things. Either you can switch the IS on while lifting the binoculars, in which case you will see no judder at all once they're at your eyes and you can pick out the bird very easily (more easily than other binoculars, given the stability of the view). Alternatively you can get on to the bird without IS and then switch it on. Although there's a judder, a bird has to move fairly erratically to be hard to follow.

I would counter your claim that they are worse than useless for flying birds. In my experience this is actually one of the situations where the advantages are most significant and obvious. It's far easier to see details on a flying bird with IS and this is also a situation in which the higher power of a scope is least practical. For things like visible migration, IS binoculars are extremely helpful.
I agree 100% with you on flying birds. IS is a huge advantage when observing flying birds. That is one big reason I like them. As Andrew stated you must use the proper technique when activating the IS.
 

John Frink

Well-known member
...I'd like to know what you all think of them and why they aren't more popular in the birding world.

Hi Larry,

For me, the handing characteristics, or ergonomics, of a binocular are just as important as its optical characteristics. In the field, I reach for my glass dozens or possibly hundreds of times in an outing; usually I grab it with one hand and swing it up to my face to bring it to my eyes and add the other hand while I aim and focus and scan or pan in one smooth sequence of motions, without thinking at all about how it happens; it's an automatic action sequence that's been honed by years of repetition. The goal is to get on the target fast. And although IS adds a useful and valuable quality to the mix of features that a binocular offers, for my money it's not enough to offset the negative ergonomic aspects of the IS units that are currently available.

I have a Canon 10x42L IS WP; in my opinion its optical characteristics are the equal of any 10x42 out there. Bright, wide, flat field, sharp to the edges, with excellent aberration control. But its size and shape and physical design make it less useful, in an ergonomic sense, than any other 10x42 I can think of. If we take the Canon's dimensions and use them to calculate an imaginary "cube" of space that it occupies, we have 17.5cm x 13.7cm x 8.5cm = 2,038cc, or 2 liters. If we run the same calculation for a Leica 10x42 Ultravid for example, we have 14.2cm x 12.0cm x 6.8cm = 1,158cc, just over 1 liter; that's roughly half the volume of space the Canon occupies. If we include a comparison of weights, we have 1,110gm vs 790gm, with the Leica about 72% of the Canon's weight. Instead of a slender, lightweight object like the Leica, the Canon requires me to hoist and handle a rather larger, heavier object; and in return for the additional effort it offers me a stabilized image.

Everyone makes his or her own choice, of course, but for me the improved quality of the stabilized image is not enough to compensate for the poorer handling characteristics of the IS binocular. The smaller, lighter, unstabilized instrument is simply more useful to me in the field.

I hope this helps.

Cheers,

John

(disclaimer: I have no commercial connection with either Canon or Leica, except as a satisfied customer.)
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
It all depends on your priorities. Mine are optics and the view I get. Some people prioritize ergonomics more. Sure an 8x32 roof prism has better ergonomics and is lighter than the Canon 10x42 IS-L BUT you don't get the view. I have an 8x32 and 8x42 for their ergonomics and light weight. Some people will carry 50mm and even 56mm's binoculars to get the better view. Some people will only tolerate an 8x32.
 

Theo98

Eurasian Goldfinch
Hi Larry,

For me, the handing characteristics, or ergonomics, of a binocular are just as important as its optical characteristics. In the field, I reach for my glass dozens or possibly hundreds of times in an outing; usually I grab it with one hand and swing it up to my face to bring it to my eyes and add the other hand while I aim and focus and scan or pan in one smooth sequence of motions, without thinking at all about how it happens; it's an automatic action sequence that's been honed by years of repetition. The goal is to get on the target fast. And although IS adds a useful and valuable quality to the mix of features that a binocular offers, for my money it's not enough to offset the negative ergonomic aspects of the IS units that are currently available.

I have a Canon 10x42L IS WP; in my opinion its optical characteristics are the equal of any 10x42 out there. Bright, wide, flat field, sharp to the edges, with excellent aberration control. But its size and shape and physical design make it less useful, in an ergonomic sense, than any other 10x42 I can think of. If we take the Canon's dimensions and use them to calculate an imaginary "cube" of space that it occupies, we have 17.5cm x 13.7cm x 8.5cm = 2,038cc, or 2 liters. If we run the same calculation for a Leica 10x42 Ultravid for example, we have 14.2cm x 12.0cm x 6.8cm = 1,158cc, just over 1 liter; that's roughly half the volume of space the Canon occupies. If we include a comparison of weights, we have 1,110gm vs 790gm, with the Leica about 72% of the Canon's weight. Instead of a slender, lightweight object like the Leica, the Canon requires me to hoist and handle a rather larger, heavier object; and in return for the additional effort it offers me a stabilized image.

Everyone makes his or her own choice, of course, but for me the improved quality of the stabilized image is not enough to compensate for the poorer handling characteristics of the IS binocular. The smaller, lighter, unstabilized instrument is simply more useful to me in the field.

I hope this helps.

Cheers,

John

(disclaimer: I have no commercial connection with either Canon or Leica, except as a satisfied customer.)

Well stated, John! ;)

Probably for most birders (and other outdoor enthusiast), ergonomics of stabilized binos are the main deal breaker. If you can't "get along" with em, even their IS view isn't enough! Due to their handling quirks, trying before a purchase and\or dealing with a generous return policy vendor is highly recommended! :t:

Ted
 

wllmspd

Well-known member
I have used a pair of 12x36 for over a decade as my main bin, I bought them after being impressed by my dads IS camera lenses. They have stayed in a peli case for protection and still work fine. They are a convenient weight unlike the higher power and the 10x canons. You can use them one handed if you want to show off! The field of view is not huge, so I now use an ultrawide (I have been spoilt with >80degree apparent field of view Astro eyepieces and now find anything less as claustrophobic) pair of 7x bins when I plan on bringing a scope along, otherwise I just bring the the canons on their own.
The newer model is even more stabilising by reports. It really enables you to focus on tiny details unlike even good handholding.
They aren't waterproof, but I have never gone out in the pouring rain... you'd need windscreen wipers in any case!
I guess they don't have the popularity of Leica and Zeiss etc and so people don't see them and don't know to try... don't think I have ever seen another birder with a pair. I completely agree with the comment about looking for the IS button on normal bins... the 7x I got are just about acceptable as far as being able to hold them stably.

Cheers

PeterW
 

MUHerd

Well-known member
Thanks all. I'd love to look thru a set of them. Then again I'd love to lookbtgru a set of ALPHA binos too. I've never seen through any of those either. WAY out of my budget. Heck, I'm prolly down in the GAMMA or DELTA region!!!
|8)|

Larry
 
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wllmspd

Well-known member
Thanks all. I'd love to look thru a set of them. Then again I'd love to lookbtgru a set of ALPHA binos too. I've never seen through any of those either. WAY out of my budget. Heck, I'm prolly down in the GAMMA or DELTA region!!!
|8)|

Larry

Then look carefully for old Porro bins from the <1980s.... that's where my recent 7x35 came from, pretty much alpha quality but with huge field of view and a bargain!!!! (When I got my 12x36 I had noticed a crazy reduction in their price online, showed the guy in the shop who honoured it. Having said that I'd buy them again if I ever have to!)

Cheers

Peter
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
It all depends on your priorities. Mine are optics and the view I get. Some people prioritize ergonomics more. Sure an 8x32 roof prism has better ergonomics and is lighter than the Canon 10x42 IS-L BUT you don't get the view. I have an 8x32 and 8x42 for their ergonomics and light weight. Some people will carry 50mm and even 56mm's binoculars to get the better view. Some people will only tolerate an 8x32.

Maybe some people want good optics and good ergonomics at the same time, and maybe you value ergonomics less than this Dennis. When I was a bird spotter many years ago when it was enough to lift the bins up and then to name the species, ergonomics was not something I thought about much. But now I spend more time watching behaviour ie viewing for extended periods, ergonomics has gradually increased in importance for me so that I can be comfortable and steady for up to 45 minutes at a time or so.

Lee
 

kabsetz

Well-known member
When only going for quick ID's, I don't mind image shake quite as much, although I tend to activate IS then also. It is when spending more time watching behavior of birds or wildlife, and also when spending longer time scanning for interesting birds that image stabilization rapidly increases in importance for me. With a finnstick attached directly to the tripod thread underside the 10x42 L IS, I can view for several hours comfortably.

Kimmo
 
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