Canon 15x50 IS vs Fujinon Technostabi 14x40 IS Binoculars
Submitted: Wednesday, 22nd September 2010 by Geoff Johnston
I had for some time been thinking about getting a good quality set of binoculars for astronomy and last year decided that the Canon 15x50 IS would be very suitable for my needs. Although quite expensive they should last a lifetime especially if well looked after (as I do with all my astronomy equipment).
I had read many reviews on the internet and most of these were positive so I decided to go ahead and purchase them. Cameras Direct were the obvious choice for me as I had purchased other Canon products from them in the past and had always received prompt and courteous service.
They arrived only a couple of days later and came with a soft carry case and 2 eyepiece caps. For some reason known only to Canon, they do not come with objective lens covers. These are available from Canon Dealers (58mm and are the same as the covers for Canon 58mm lenses). They were $16 each plus postage. When you consider the price of the binoculars, you have to wonder why they are not supplied.
Over the next few days and nights (no it didn’t cloud up and begin to rain, believe or not !) I was able to give them a good workout and overall was pleased with their performance, especially with the image stabilization which took out all hand shake. Star images were pinpoint in the centre of field and very acceptable right to the edge of field. These binoculars are quite demanding of the 2 AA batteries required and a spare set of batteries should be kept on hand. I haven’t yet tried rechargeable NIMh but think this could be an economical way to go. One thing that did become obvious (and has been mentioned many times in various reviews) is that when in image stabilized mode, the image appears to drift in and out of focus slightly. Apparently this is an artifact caused by the image stabilization system. If viewing terrestrial objects, the effect is to cause slight fuzziness. Astronomical objects such as stars go from pinpoints of light to small streaks of light, not unlike coma in some telescopes. While this is annoying, the steady image and removal of any hand shake more than compensates for it. If using the binoculars on a tripod with the IS turned off , this is of course not a problem.
Recently, an opportunity arose to be able to obtain a pair of Fujinon 14x40 Technostabi binoculars at a good price and so I took the chance and bought them, my reasoning being that if they outperform the Canons then I would most likely keep them and sell the 15x50's.
These binos employ a different system of stabilization and correct for 5 degrees of movement or hand shake as opposed to only .7 deg. for the Canon 15x50. They certainly are impressive to use and do remove most of hand shake but not all. They don’t seem to correct for rapid hand shake quite as well as the Canon system. This is more apparent when viewing stars. The Fujinons also had a small problem when held slightly off the horizontal (ie to the right) such as you might when sitting in a chair and viewing the night sky. In that position they would jump and judder a little when panning around. These binos don’t suffer from the focus problem like the Canons. Star images in the Fujinons were pinpoint in the centre of field and acceptable right to the edge.
Listed below are the PROS and CONS I have found for both models.
Canon 15x50 IS
Fujinon Technostabi 14x40 IS
In summary, the Canon 15x50 gives a more pleasing view of the night sky (IMHO) because of its extra 10mm of aperture, slightly higher magnification and slightly wider field of view (4.5 deg. compared to 4 deg for the Fujinons). A 10mm increase in aperture in the 40-50mm range certainly makes a difference. More stars are visible and the image just seems to “come alive” compared to the Fujinons.
The Fujinon 14x40 , with its superior image stabilization, will probably get more use with terrestrial viewing. Having said that, this is probably what they were designed for, especially marine use where they are superior at image stablization in rough conditions.
I am now the proud owner of 2 sets of binoculars and probably will be for some time.