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08-28-2015, 10:28 AM   #1
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What binoculars or monocular/spyglass for a wildlife photography

Hello Pentaxians,
I have been roaming with my 300mm for past 5 months and I love it. However I need advice as to which near vision device I need, either binoculars or spyglass. I am not a birder per se, and am not looking to roam and spy. I am looking to be able to scan the horizon/trees/sea/nests for birds, before I set up to photograph them.
Example: I went to a shore, where a huge nesting colony of terns, skimmers and plovers is..I took photos, and some of them I later discarded thinking they were useless. But upon pixel peeping examination, I found several baby skimmers embedded in the sand. Glad I did not discard all photos.
Next time if I go to such place I want to be able to scan the nests, to know what I'm photographing.
Also, when i do go out, I often use my lens as a binocular, scanning the area...but I think I would rather not keep using the expensive autofocus mechanism just to see if there are indeed any birds in the trees.

Do you have recommendations on types of oculars that are small, light, half decent? Or even a spyglass? When I drag my camera around the last thing I need is added neck weight. Maybe some pocket style nearing device?

Thank you,
Kat

08-28-2015, 10:43 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I'm biased I have had several pairs of Pentax Binoculars and loved them. I have also had cheap binoculars and hated them. The main thing to look for in my opinion is something that is durable AND has good coatings to preserve contrast and make it easy to spot your subjects. I've used 7x35, 7x50, 8x42, and 10x42 and I would lean towards 8x or 10x for what you are describing.
08-28-2015, 12:36 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I shoot both wildlife and landscape. When out in the field stalking wildlife, binoculars are indispensable. I've got several sizes, but these are the ones I use the most. Great quality, wonderful FOV, waterproof/fogproof, perfect magnifcation for my needs (don't go too strong, or you'll spend all your time trying to overcome vibration):

Amazon.com : Nikon Sport Optics 7543 MONARCH 5 10x42 Binocular - Black : Camera & Photo

I don't like to have my binos flopping around my neck, so I use this sytem from Crooked River. It holds them gently against your chest. Their bino shield keeps them protected and out of the way. You just lift them right up out of the little case, very easy:

https://crookedhorn.com/store/optic-accessories/bino-shield-detail.html

Make sure you order the harness with it, or the kit that comes with all.

BTW, I have a pair of Nikon 9x25's that fit your idea of small, light, half-decent and pocketable. But I would caution you against using these for the purpose you're describing. They're just not strong enough. They're great for scoping out birds in the yard or taking on hikes when I'm not shooting.
08-28-2015, 12:40 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by KatPal Quote
Hello Pentaxians,
I have been roaming with my 300mm for past 5 months and I love it. However I need advice as to which near vision device I need, either binoculars or spyglass. I am not a birder per se, and am not looking to roam and spy. I am looking to be able to scan the horizon/trees/sea/nests for birds, before I set up to photograph them.
Example: I went to a shore, where a huge nesting colony of terns, skimmers and plovers is..I took photos, and some of them I later discarded thinking they were useless. But upon pixel peeping examination, I found several baby skimmers embedded in the sand. Glad I did not discard all photos.
Next time if I go to such place I want to be able to scan the nests, to know what I'm photographing.
Also, when i do go out, I often use my lens as a binocular, scanning the area...but I think I would rather not keep using the expensive autofocus mechanism just to see if there are indeed any birds in the trees.

Do you have recommendations on types of oculars that are small, light, half decent? Or even a spyglass? When I drag my camera around the last thing I need is added neck weight. Maybe some pocket style nearing device?

Thank you,
Kat
I have had this unit for about four years now: Pentax 10x42 DCF-CS. It is light and stays in my camera bag most of the time.

It is selling on Amazon for a lot less than what I paid for it. I had cheap binos and decided to get a serious one. Did much research and being a Pentax fan got this unit. No regrets. It is optically and mechanically superior.

08-28-2015, 02:40 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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Check out EagleOptics.com. They are to binoculars what B&H and Adorama are for cameras. I am a birder and for the price the Vortex Vipers are great binoculars at a reasonable cost. Almost high end binos but not a high end price.
08-28-2015, 03:55 PM - 1 Like   #6
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First: do not go for a spyglass or telescope unless you want to mount it on a tripod. These are MUCH, MUCH harder to hold steady than binoculars and commonly have a much smaller FOV.
Second: There are many fine binoculars out there. I have a Nikon 8X30 ED that is excellent, but heavy. I also have a Pentax 9X63 that is even bigger/heavier and really best for wide-field astronomy on a tripod.
Third: For a good combination of size-weight-price and overall versatility, consider the Pentax "Papilio." These focus down to 18" (great for insects and also getting close to objects in museums). I really like the lower magnification unit (6.5X) because of its substantially wider FOV, and the lower magnification makes it easier to hold steady. It also makes a decent theater glass.
Fourth: Image stabilized binoculars have a good reputation. You can hand-hold a steadier view at higher magnification, BUT, higher magnification means smaller FOV, which IMHO is a real downer. Canon seems to have the best reputation for image stabilized binos.
Fifth:The "gold standard" in binoculars is probably Swarovski followed by Leica and Zeiss, but expect to pay over $1000, and even over $2000 for these nobody-makes-better binos.
Sixth: There is no substitute for holding and looking through binos to decide if you like the clarity, FOV, magnification, brightness, size, weight and "feel." Big hunting supply stores may have a decent selection (near me, at Cabela's). There's a decent selection in the hunting department at Dick's Sporting Goods.
Finally: I would recommend a large FOV over a higher magnification BY A WIDE MARGIN. I would recommend an objective diameter of 20 to 40mm, depending on whether you want something compact or something that will work better in dimmer light.
08-28-2015, 06:13 PM - 1 Like   #7
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I have the Brunton 7x42 "Macroscope" or close focusing monocular (to18 inches). I like the ergonomics of it and the quality seems really good. I have had medical monoculars/wearable binouculars before for my vision impairment as well as ~$100 Busnells. I much prefer the Brunton overall. The exit pupil of 6mm is great for lower light situations. I also appreciate the rotating tripod collar. Now that i think of it I should maybe try screwing it to the bottom of the slr... I suppoe I could cut the head off a 1/4 - 20 machine screw.

Sadly after getting my slr, I don't use it anymore and its been on ebay for a few months.

Here's the amazon link for specs if you're interested.
http://www.amazon.com/Brunton-F-7040-MACRO-Macroscope-Single-Scope/dp/B000P4...ton+macroscope

08-28-2015, 06:36 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I suggest you look at Eagle Optics for a wide selection of prices and brands. They carry Pentax and their house brand is also very good. You want binos with roof prism design, straight - not zig-zag. If you wear glasses make sure you get a pair with plenty of eye-relief (allows you to see a full view with your glasses on). Also you want a magnification of 8 to 10 with an objective lens diameter around 40mm to give you a good field of view (325 - 350 ft at 1000 yds).
08-28-2015, 08:21 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Thank you all for the tips-I'm going for a shorebird festival tomorrow
I hope that birds got the invite and RSVPd too. I will do my research into all the links and names you all supplied and will make my decision soon...

Here are some cute rewards for you...

Kat
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08-28-2015, 08:32 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I purchased the Pentax DCF NV 10x36 they are compact, and very sharp I compared them to the similar Nikons and felt they were certainly contenders at a much more reasonable price. I went down to a shop and physically tried out a number of different glasses. I've been very pleased with these glasses but the lens covers are garbage. I tossed the covers and simply keep them in the soft case.
08-28-2015, 09:17 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by KatPal Quote
Here are some cute rewards for you...

Kat
Great shots!
08-28-2015, 11:33 PM - 1 Like   #12
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I use this:


A Zeiss 8X20 monocular - it is small, light, doesn't take up as much space in your camera bag. Has excellent optics and good construction quality.

Anything over 8X magnification is going to need some tripod support, never accept any binocular with an entrance pupil smaller than 20mm

Last edited by Digitalis; 09-25-2015 at 08:53 PM.
08-29-2015, 09:54 AM   #13
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On the really cheap side, I used a Tasco monocular 10X25. Far from the best but really small and only 10$. Next I was given a Bushnell Trophy XLT. Great value, not too expensive and so much brighter than the tasco. I Love it.
08-29-2015, 10:02 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by KatPal Quote
Hello Pentaxians,
I have been roaming with my 300mm for past 5 months and I love it. However I need advice as to which near vision device I need, either binoculars or spyglass. I am not a birder per se, and am not looking to roam and spy. I am looking to be able to scan the horizon/trees/sea/nests for birds, before I set up to photograph them.
Example: I went to a shore, where a huge nesting colony of terns, skimmers and plovers is..I took photos, and some of them I later discarded thinking they were useless. But upon pixel peeping examination, I found several baby skimmers embedded in the sand. Glad I did not discard all photos.
Next time if I go to such place I want to be able to scan the nests, to know what I'm photographing.
Also, when i do go out, I often use my lens as a binocular, scanning the area...but I think I would rather not keep using the expensive autofocus mechanism just to see if there are indeed any birds in the trees.

Do you have recommendations on types of oculars that are small, light, half decent? Or even a spyglass? When I drag my camera around the last thing I need is added neck weight. Maybe some pocket style nearing device?

Thank you,
Kat
if you generally use a 300mm you already have a fair "ocular".


for what I think you want/need there are very few quality (full-size) glasses that are light. Nikon's monarch atb's are notable exceptions.
mine are old but can still resolve detail at night if there is any ambient light at all.


eight power is about as much as most people can use handheld. I use 8x42 as my regular carry.


for long distance I carry either a 10x42 binocular or a 20-60x80 scope (vortex). however both are very heavy.


you should look for optics that are close focusing.


never be satisfied with optics that are focus-free.


the real trick here is to decide how much you can afford.
try out as many glasses in as many environments as you can.
most shops selling optics will let you wander around to experiment.
then buy the one you felt most comfortable with.


the best advice I received was to buy what works for you.
not the "best" because something will come along tomorrow that really is better.


that's all I think I know.
so, good luck.
08-29-2015, 11:00 AM - 1 Like   #15
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if monocular is what you want you can get a K mount eyepiece and add it to a lens. Typically 5x TC effective so a 50mm 1.4 becomes a 250mm f/5.6 or so. Honestly I prefer the binoculars, but a DA 50mm 1.8 on the thing might be fun since it would be reasonably light and double as another lens.

Nope. Just tried it. FOV too narrow to work.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 08-29-2015 at 12:21 PM.
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