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02-11-2019, 03:06 AM   #1
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Binoculars as part of wildlife photography kit

Hello all.

I am not much into birding and wish to buy a decent pair of binoculars simply as a way to scan the surroundings to spot wildlife.

Can anyone suggest a decent make/ model which is not too expensive? I don't know the price range of these, but anything that does its job reasonably well while not creating a big hole in the pocket :-)

Thank you all.

02-11-2019, 03:35 AM   #2
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Take a look at the Pentax Papilio. They were unique when we bought our pair. They are a fascinating variant of standard binoculars, bringing into focus things at feet level as we walk around, also up close and intimate (ie flower parts, insects etc), and being good enough for distance too. Way more useful than standard bins for a walkabout ...
02-11-2019, 04:16 AM - 1 Like   #3
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you might want to review this thread:

Binoculars - good for birding ? - PentaxForums.com
02-11-2019, 04:40 AM   #4
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Do some research. 8x magnification would be good for hand holding, some people see more detail with 8x over 10x because your hand shake is slightly less noticeable.If you will be carrying them for long periods then a compact pair might be best for you, keep in mind smaller objective lenses mean less light. If your looking early morning and early evening then larger objective lenses and larger binoculars might be a better choice. I've been looking at Vortex binoculars, i compared them in store to a pair of Nikon in the same price range and i was impressed with the Vortex and they have a lifetime transferable warranty. No paperwork needed if you should have a problem, they get very high reviews everywhere i have looked for them. Don't get too cheap and then wish you had bought something better because you probably will, buy the right pair the first time around!!

02-11-2019, 05:27 AM   #5
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Google binoculars and do some research so you know what you are looking at. It can explain all of the numbers and different types. I would caution you on autofocus binoculars, I bought a pair and returned them because the autofocus didn't really work. Watch the camera stores as they sometimes have deals on binoculars. You can pay as much as you want, or not that much and still get a pair that will do what you need. I usually go on a birding shoot to Magee Marsh every May, and binoculars are a good thing to have.
02-11-2019, 07:04 AM   #6
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I agree go with 8x, not 10 The problem with having good binoculars is that there is no way that you can get as good a shot with even a decent telephoto lens as good as the picture is through the binoculars. But I agree go with a decent, not cheap, one. You will enjoy scanning around so much more and might even become a birder. It is catching
02-11-2019, 07:21 AM   #7
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8'ish mag x 40'ish diameter objective is par for birding etc. I have a pair of 10x42 viking vistrons: rubber coated body, roof prism. Very satisfied with them. I haven't tried "digiscoping" with them, only with my spotting scope, and TBH I have not been impressed with the results from that even though it is relatively top of line (opticron HD). You're better off picking up a cheap vintage 400mm f6.3... Like all optical products the price of binocs escalates alarmingly for incremental increase in performance.
For daytime use in India (I imagine the light is typcally very bright) you would probably be fine with a smaller, lighter (and cheaper) pair eg 7x25's or similar.
02-11-2019, 07:33 AM   #8
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I got myself a Pentax UP 8-16x21 ZOOM binocular, as I wanted the extra magnification in a compact and light binocular for my daily bag. But for 16x you need extra support.
It is not the perfect binocular, but for the price it is better than I expected. I believe I payed $70-80 for it.

If you only need 8x magnification you can probably find better binocular for the price.

02-11-2019, 10:56 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by BarryE Quote
Take a look at the Pentax Papilio. They were unique when we bought our pair. They are a fascinating variant of standard binoculars, bringing into focus things at feet level as we walk around, also up close and intimate (ie flower parts, insects etc), and being good enough for distance too. Way more useful than standard bins for a walkabout ...
I too have these. Great for the price.
6 Days Ago   #10
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As regards magnification: I have very good technique holding camera for longer exposures, and yet I find I cannot hold 8x sufficiently still.
-- I like the Pentax Papillio 6.5x21 (about $100), and have used them for many years, but they are some what bulky (likely because they can close focus/act as a a magnifying glass), and eventually they get trashed as they are not sealed/ not water resistant (I use them canoeing).
-- I recently purchased a Fuji-film glimp 5x21 ($40) that seem quite nice--but I have not used them in the field yet (also not water resistant, but very small).
Both have crisp images but likely best in daylight. I think either would allow you to scan and pick out reasonably close wildlife. If you mean to find far off prey and stalk them, then I would think not. I think the glimps size and price point would make them a good starter pair. And if they turn out to be too low in magnification, they can be used for theatre, opera, spots events, etc. (as can the Pentax 6.5x21).
6 Days Ago   #11
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Thanks everyone. You have given me good food for thought. I shall research more and pick up an optimal product.
6 Days Ago   #12
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The Pentax binoculars I own are the reason I chose a Pentax camera. My Pentax bins (many years old now) easily compared with Swarovskis at half-again the price. I would buy them again in a heartbeat.
6 Days Ago   #13
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The wirecutter offers recent reviews of binoculars and has some recommendations.

I bought some Pentax binoculars based on reviews and they are absolutely top notch. There are reviews of them online at binocular sites comparing them to binoculars costing thousands more (aka Swarovskis).

I would go for a higher magnification (10 or 12x) if doing it again - but I like using it for wildlife as in yellowstone/yosemite, etc.
6 Days Ago   #14
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Michaelina2, AggieDad & 2techsans....Thank you very much.
6 Days Ago - 5 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by leonine Quote
Hello all.

I am not much into birding and wish to buy a decent pair of binoculars simply as a way to scan the surroundings to spot wildlife.

Can anyone suggest a decent make/ model which is not too expensive? I don't know the price range of these, but anything that does its job reasonably well while not creating a big hole in the pocket :-)

Thank you all.
I used to be a hardcore birder back in the day. Some things to consider, in no particular order:

Exit pupil: this is the amount of light that hits your eye. Calculated by taking the diameter of the objective lens and dividing by the magnification factor. So a 8X40 bino has an exit pupil of 5 mm, meaning a 5 mm diameter circle of light is hitting your eye. Bigger is better, but really comes into play at dawn and dusk or when you're chasing after birds hidden in the brush in shadow when the light is dim. Binos with larger objectives are going to be more expensive, generally.

A magnification of 8X or 10X is generally good for birding. 8X gives a wider field of view, so better for scanning. 10X gives you more reach but you'll need a steadier hand since it also magnifies vibration.

Weight. Just like cameras, the best binos are the ones you'll carry with you in the field. An optically superior bino is useless if it's heavy and stays at home.

Roof or porro prism. Porro prisms are the classic bino design. Roof prisms are the "two tubes" design. Roof prisms are generally more expensive by a factor of 2 or more. But, the design lends the optics to be housed in waterproof casings (focusing is internal).

And if you wear glasses, eye relief is an important factor. Longer is better. Eye relief is how far your eyeball can be to see the entire field of view through the eyepiece.

As with any kind of gear, set a price point you want to be at. Then see what you can get at that price point, and adjust up or down. As for brands, Pentax has always been a great value brand (good bang for your buck, just like with their cameras). Swarovski, Leica, and Zeiss are the premium brands, and to a lesser extent, Nikon. Vortex and Celestron are good value brands.

Oh... another piece of advice. Go to a birding outing with your local Audubon Society. Birders are friendly folks. Doesn't matter if you show up without a pair of binos. Chances are someone has a spare pair. Plus, they will let you look through their main pair so you can try before you buy.
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