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Old 30-09-2020, 09:10 PM
Terranova (Adrian)
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New to the stars - Binos or Telescope

I'm new to Astronomy and stargazing. I've been told that a good place to start might be a good pair of binos.
Alternatively, should i sink that money into a telescope?

cheers

TN
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Old 30-09-2020, 09:32 PM
sunslayr (David)
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I started with a second hand telescope from Gumtree and have never looked back. It gives you the option of taking a few astro photos too.
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Old 01-10-2020, 05:46 AM
warpsl (Jason)
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I started with a scope,but do more observing with bino,s these days.using both eyes is much more relaxing.and the 3d views are superior. But for planetary most bino,s wont give enough magnification. So you need both.just be careful where you buy bino,s from,as a lot of the Chinese made glass is out of collmation/barrel alignment. Or less aperture than advertised.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:45 AM
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mental4astro (Alexander)
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Hello Adrian,

to IIS

Binos are a fantastic introduction to the night sky. Binos are the most underestimated visual instrument that there is. I have some 8 scopes, from 2" up to 17.5". But when ever I go bush my binos always come with me, regardless of what scope I take. Even from home, if I am chasing something just below naked eye, like a comet, my binos are the first item I grab.

Binos also show something a big scope cannot - context. But that I mean what surrounds a particular object in the sky, its immediate neighbourhood, all because its field of view will be larger than most scopes. Yes, while a big scope can show a lovely image of just the open cluster M7, what it cannot show you is the intricate lacework of dark nebulosity that surrounds its, set upon the mottled background glow of the Milky Way, nor the soft glow of the Milky Way surrounding the giant globular cluster Omega Centauri and the soft variations in that glow.

And because you are using both eyes, not one, our brain is so powerful that it combines the image from both eyes into one, giving a net image that is brighter and deeper than when using just one eye!

AND, binos can even show objects in the night sky that larger aperture scopes struggle to show, or even remain invisible to them! All because of the image being of low magnification, the available light of an object is condensed into a small patch, and the object can be much easier to see!

Think you can't see galaxies with binos? Think again! No, of course you won't see the spiral arms of most of them, and for that matter most scopes cannot until you start pushing the aperture to 10" and over, but there are dozens that are easily within the grasp of a set of 7X50mm binos. Even more with a set of 11X70. Still doubt this? The Sombrero, the Southern Pinwheel, Centaurus A, all of these are easy pickings with just a 30mm finder scope, and visible in 7X50 binos from all but the most light polluted skies - I can see them from my home in Sydney.

The thing you should consider about binos if you don't have a set already is finding a pair that will be good for both astro and terrestrial viewing. The first number in a bino description, such as 7X50 and 11X70, is the magnification, the second is the size of the front lens in millimeters. You would want to keep the size of the binos no larger than 70mm if you are going to use them for terrestrial viewing otherwise they start getting much too heavy. Magnification, below 15X or your hands will shake way too much to be usable (much of the shaking is actually due to your pulse). If you are considering a set of binos just for astro, then you will need to also look for a suitable tripod or other mount to put them on. But even with 7X50 binos, extended period of hand holding them at night can be tiresome and shaky, so you can either also set them on a tripod, or rest them on a post, your car, anything really, and this will make things much easier.

If this is you first foray into astro, binos make for a brilliant introduction. If the astro bug bites hard after you start using binos, great! and the binos will still remain relevant and a useful tool. If the astro bug doesn't bite, then the binos still won't go to waste as they are always a handy terrestrial tool. Win win really

My very first optical bit of astro gear was a set of modest opera glasses. Small, low magnification, but they were certainly capable of showing me dimmer things than I could see naked eye I still have them too, though my kids use them today, and I am glad they look after them too. But like I said at the very start, my binos go with me everywhere. If forget some bit of gear needed for the scope I planned to use and turns out I can't use it, the binos mean the session is not a bust .

Yep, binos are a good intro to astro

Alex.
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:03 AM
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mental4astro (Alexander)
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Here are a few sketches I've done using my 11X70 binos to show just a little of how capable binos are as an astro tool. The one of the comet (Lovejoy) and of M8 & M20 were from a dark site and it shows the soft mottling and dark nebulosity that a scope just showing M8 or M20 alone just cannot show. The one of Eta Carina was from my home in Sydney.
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (Lovejoy C2014 Q2 - Copy.JPG)
165.7 KB41 views
Click for full-size image (Wide field M8 to M20 Hill End (2) - Copy.JPG)
134.0 KB37 views
Click for full-size image (NGC 3372 to NGC 3532.JPG)
195.8 KB40 views
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:13 PM
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mental4astro (Alexander)
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Adrian?
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Old 03-10-2020, 12:00 AM
sunslayr (David)
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Some gorgeous sketches there Alex, Maybe I need to grab my binos more often. I have a pair of 11x70s too, do you use one of those fancy counterbalancing mounts, tripod or do you just hand hold? I feel like I should have gone for 50mm I'm far too shaky.
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Old 03-10-2020, 05:45 AM
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I have a twelve inch scope for visual but I prefer my big 80 mm binos ..not only do I get a great view but a workout for many mussels. Binos and dark sky is fantastic. I love nothing more than cruising around the Milky Way at my dark sight..take last night..cloudy so no good for photos but a cruise with the small binos o er parts not clouded out..only 15 minutes while waiting for some contact glue to go off ... nevertheless plan to get a scope they have a different role to play.
Alex
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Old 03-10-2020, 06:59 PM
Terranova (Adrian)
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Thanks

Hi Alex, thanks for all to his great info and taking the time to help a newbie out. I've got my eye on a pentax 20x60 SP. Will prob need a tripod. It has good reviews.
Have you had any experience with this particular binos?
Cheers
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Old 04-10-2020, 11:25 AM
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I have not heard or experienced them however 20 x 60 sounds very appealing to me...you could try using a stick to support your arms or use a bit of rope to hang either your arms or binos from...You may find a tripod is hard to use generally but certainly directly above...I often pit out a bed roll and lay on my back ... balancing the binos is a little easier.
Anyways good luck ..but hurry so you dont miss the Milly Way views available right now...plus M31 is starting to appear...
Some will advise against such high mag in binos but I bought a pair with 20 x at a market only $20 or maybe less...they turned out to be 20 x and ironically I would not have bought them if I had noticed they were 20x ..I just picked them up looked around and as they gave clear views comfortable etc I thought why not. When I noticed at home 20x I thought "oh no" but they are fantastic.
I expect they got to the markets because folk make nly would not buy such high mag and they were sold off and turned up in markets..I wish now that I had bought all that were there.
Alex
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Old 05-10-2020, 01:44 AM
warpsl (Jason)
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I used to have the pentax 20x60.excellent build quality. Probably the best of the Chinese glass.i got tired of the narrow a f o v.but most people don't mind.they are light and easily hand held.
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Old 05-10-2020, 09:11 AM
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mental4astro (Alexander)
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Adrian,

Myself, no I have not tried the Pentax 20X60 SP binos. I have tried another set of binos that was also 20X, and from that experience I can only share a word of caution.

Such high magnification binos are pretty much entirely a tripod situation. Hand held you not only need to rest your arm somewhere to have any chance of using them, and even then it will not be an easy proposition.

Such high magnification can make aiming the binos difficult. The field of view is also very narrow, 2.2deg from what I've been able to find about these Pentax ones. Remember the higher the magnification, the narrower the field of view will be. This was the main aspect of why I didn't like the 20X binos I did use. Binos are a different proposition from a telescope - they are supposed to be for rich field view in astronomy, and the narrower the field of view, the less of the sky you actually get to see.

Astro is not all about magnification! This is a trap most new players fall for! Many times when using my scopes for deep sky objects, I'm pushing the lowest practical magnification I can get from any given scope of mine. The use of high magnification is not best in most instances, with many conditions dictating how high you can go and why. Binos are in a way the opposite, in that high magnification is not what you want! Instead, high mag binos are a more specialized niche of binos use, and not one I honestly would recommend for someone new to astro.

In all sincerity, I would advocate you look at a set giving between 7X and no more than 10X for a couple of reasons:
1, It will be much easier to aim the binos. Even on a tripod set up (more talk about this later!), lower magnification is a lot bloody easier to aim, and when panning it is much easier to find your way again if you lose you way across the sky.
2, If the astro bug does not bite, binos in this range of magnification is MUCH easier to use for terrestrial, with high magnification being just too impractical
3, You won't see more. Not for you any time soon. High magnification is just too specialized, they really are.

The binos I have now are 11X70. Before them it was a 10X50 set that I had for many years until my kids dropped them one day - crap happens. When looking for a replacement set I looked at a 20X80 set, yes much bigger in size than 20X60, but the bulk was not the killer issue, it was entirely the 20X magnification - just wayyyyy too much to be practical. The set I settled on ended up being the best compromise for larger aperture from the 50mm I had to something that was both more manageable when holding them by hand (20X is next to impossible) and a field of view that was also practical and useable - 20X is too narrow and just too specialized.

I have looked through larger astro specific binos too, 25X100 and larger that friends of mine have. The views these instruments provide is gorgeous, no doubt, but it has not made me reconsider getting high mag binos...

As for a tripod mounting, the often sold "bino tripod adapter" is bloody aweful and actually dangerous for astro!

Click image for larger version

Name:	bino adpater.jpg
Views:	9
Size:	84.7 KB
ID:	266244

These put the binos way above the pivot point of the tripod head, meaning that when you want to view something high up in the sky, you need to put a huge amount of torque on the head clamp to stop the binos from tipping back, an the higher you aim the greater the torque/force you need to exert on clamp, which does not do the clamp any good, and leaves the binos susceptible to tipping back and even tipping the the tripod over if the do fall back with some force.

These bino adapters are fine for terrestrial viewing, but not for astro.

A much better solution for astro is a simple little rig made from a strip of plywood! The binos are attached not on top but slung underneath the plywood strip. This places the binos in line with the altitude pivot of the tripod head, meaning there is no undue force placed on the tripod head and the clamp would need bugger all tightening up. In fact, with the rig I made I leave the clamp totally unengaged/open and I can freely move the binos and they remain nice and steady for me.

There are more complex bino holders, but these are more expensive and significantly larger, but they do work very well.

Whatever tripod system you do use, you will need to be seated for astro.

Alex.

PS: to give you a further idea of a field of view comparison with 20X60 binos, the pics of the sketches below, 20X60 binos will produce an image "hole" roughly of half the diameter of the sketches. You now begin to see how you are actually losing the broader detail by increasing magnification. Higher magnification binos are very much a niche instrument, not one I would recommend for newcomers to astro. Using high mag binos is a lot more complicated than just sticking them on a tripod too.

Alex.
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (bino rig (3).JPG)
54.2 KB25 views
Click for full-size image (bino rig (4).JPG)
66.8 KB16 views

Last edited by mental4astro; 05-10-2020 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 05-10-2020, 11:59 AM
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I am glad you made that post Alex as I think your attitude is very representative of most folks views on high mag binos...Last night was rather clear but as I have been working rather hard I thought to forget photos and enjoy some visual and perhaps in part due to this thread used my 20 x 50 binos...maybe because I am used to the 20 x 80 binos I had no trouble holding these lighter 20 x 50 but eye relief is not as good as it could be..however most enjoyable..The point I would make is that I have now been using 20 x either via the 50 or 80 mm for so long I guess I am now used to it and I think I enjoy the narrower field of view ... Well I have to I now do not have any low mag binos all lost by accident over the years...

Although simple with binos you can require other things like a decent chair or a specialised tripod if you want very steady and comfortable viewing.

I have not used such but I think one of those setups where you sit at a table and direct your binos at a mirror would have to be the best set up.
Excellent post keep up the good work.
Alex
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Old 05-10-2020, 08:36 PM
Terranova (Adrian)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xelasnave View Post
I have not heard or experienced them however 20 x 60 sounds very appealing to me...you could try using a stick to support your arms or use a bit of rope to hang either your arms or binos from...You may find a tripod is hard to use generally but certainly directly above...I often pit out a bed roll and lay on my back ... balancing the binos is a little easier.
Anyways good luck ..but hurry so you dont miss the Milly Way views available right now...plus M31 is starting to appear...
Some will advise against such high mag in binos but I bought a pair with 20 x at a market only $20 or maybe less...they turned out to be 20 x and ironically I would not have bought them if I had noticed they were 20x ..I just picked them up looked around and as they gave clear views comfortable etc I thought why not. When I noticed at home 20x I thought "oh no" but they are fantastic.
I expect they got to the markets because folk make nly would not buy such high mag and they were sold off and turned up in markets..I wish now that I had bought all that were there.
Alex
Quote:
Originally Posted by mental4astro View Post
Adrian,

Myself, no I have not tried the Pentax 20X60 SP binos. I have tried another set of binos that was also 20X, and from that experience I can only share a word of caution.

Such high magnification binos are pretty much entirely a tripod situation. Hand held you not only need to rest your arm somewhere to have any chance of using them, and even then it will not be an easy proposition.

Such high magnification can make aiming the binos difficult. The field of view is also very narrow, 2.2deg from what I've been able to find about these Pentax ones. Remember the higher the magnification, the narrower the field of view will be. This was the main aspect of why I didn't like the 20X binos I did use. Binos are a different proposition from a telescope - they are supposed to be for rich field view in astronomy, and the narrower the field of view, the less of the sky you actually get to see.

Astro is not all about magnification! This is a trap most new players fall for! Many times when using my scopes for deep sky objects, I'm pushing the lowest practical magnification I can get from any given scope of mine. The use of high magnification is not best in most instances, with many conditions dictating how high you can go and why. Binos are in a way the opposite, in that high magnification is not what you want! Instead, high mag binos are a more specialized niche of binos use, and not one I honestly would recommend for someone new to astro.

In all sincerity, I would advocate you look at a set giving between 7X and no more than 10X for a couple of reasons:
1, It will be much easier to aim the binos. Even on a tripod set up (more talk about this later!), lower magnification is a lot bloody easier to aim, and when panning it is much easier to find your way again if you lose you way across the sky.
2, If the astro bug does not bite, binos in this range of magnification is MUCH easier to use for terrestrial, with high magnification being just too impractical
3, You won't see more. Not for you any time soon. High magnification is just too specialized, they really are.

The binos I have now are 11X70. Before them it was a 10X50 set that I had for many years until my kids dropped them one day - crap happens. When looking for a replacement set I looked at a 20X80 set, yes much bigger in size than 20X60, but the bulk was not the killer issue, it was entirely the 20X magnification - just wayyyyy too much to be practical. The set I settled on ended up being the best compromise for larger aperture from the 50mm I had to something that was both more manageable when holding them by hand (20X is next to impossible) and a field of view that was also practical and useable - 20X is too narrow and just too specialized.

I have looked through larger astro specific binos too, 25X100 and larger that friends of mine have. The views these instruments provide is gorgeous, no doubt, but it has not made me reconsider getting high mag binos...

As for a tripod mounting, the often sold "bino tripod adapter" is bloody aweful and actually dangerous for astro!

Attachment 266244

These put the binos way above the pivot point of the tripod head, meaning that when you want to view something high up in the sky, you need to put a huge amount of torque on the head clamp to stop the binos from tipping back, an the higher you aim the greater the torque/force you need to exert on clamp, which does not do the clamp any good, and leaves the binos susceptible to tipping back and even tipping the the tripod over if the do fall back with some force.

These bino adapters are fine for terrestrial viewing, but not for astro.

A much better solution for astro is a simple little rig made from a strip of plywood! The binos are attached not on top but slung underneath the plywood strip. This places the binos in line with the altitude pivot of the tripod head, meaning there is no undue force placed on the tripod head and the clamp would need bugger all tightening up. In fact, with the rig I made I leave the clamp totally unengaged/open and I can freely move the binos and they remain nice and steady for me.

There are more complex bino holders, but these are more expensive and significantly larger, but they do work very well.

Whatever tripod system you do use, you will need to be seated for astro.

Alex.

PS: to give you a further idea of a field of view comparison with 20X60 binos, the pics of the sketches below, 20X60 binos will produce an image "hole" roughly of half the diameter of the sketches. You now begin to see how you are actually losing the broader detail by increasing magnification. Higher magnification binos are very much a niche instrument, not one I would recommend for newcomers to astro. Using high mag binos is a lot more complicated than just sticking them on a tripod too.

Alex.
Hi Alex. Some great info again. Thank you. Last night I used my vanguard hunting binos which are 10x42. I could see mars ok but I'm still trying to get a handle on what is where...also thanks to a motorcycle accident 25 years ago, I have a permanent hand tremor so regardless of the binos I choose I'll need some sort of stabilisation. Maybe 7x50 might be a better choice???

Cheers
Adrian
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Old 05-10-2020, 11:03 PM
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Hey Adrian,

7X50 binos are the quintessential astro binos. Such a set will be a very good start. Even from under urban skies they will reveal a lot of detail.

If you have some physical difficulties, stabilization by any means is a good idea. Stabilization even with no difficulties is a good idea too for astro as hand-holding binos above your head is difficult at the best of times, and trying to do so with a steady hand for a good couple of minutes or longer, it's not just hands that become heavy, but your neck isn't going to be especially happy either

Whatever set you do end up getting, just be patient with them and yourself. Using binos AND telescopes at night is a totally different proportion from using your eyes during the day. Viewing things at night that are of low illumination means having to re-train your eyes on how to see again.

This following link will take you to a thread I started that will show you how to make the most of your human eyes, and a whole lot of other observing tips:

Understanding Nebulae - what it is you are looking at

Alex.
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Old 06-10-2020, 01:05 AM
Renato1 (Renato)
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Hi Alex. Some great info again. Thank you. Last night I used my vanguard hunting binos which are 10x42. I could see mars ok but I'm still trying to get a handle on what is where...also thanks to a motorcycle accident 25 years ago, I have a permanent hand tremor so regardless of the binos I choose I'll need some sort of stabilisation. Maybe 7x50 might be a better choice???

Cheers
Adrian
Hi Adrian,
I wouldn't advise the 20X60 Pentax you mentioned below. I had the 16X60 Pentax pair and the field of view was too narrow (though very sharp), and the 20X60's field is narrower. I gave the 16X60s to my wife who found them okay for bird watching. If I found them frustrating to use (and I have 30 or 40 pairs of binoculars) I think a beginner would find them very frustrating.

As you have a pair of Vanguard 10X42 hunting binoculars - you are set. I have three pairs of 10x42s and I love using them. They'll show you most of the brighter nebula, globular clusters, open clusters in the sky, and the Andromeda galaxy. 10X50 binoculars are meant to be able to show up to 50 galaxies at a very dark sky site (can't say I've been that successful) but your 10X42 pair would show less, though I suspect there would be five to ten you could see.

As you have shakiness issues, you may try getting a cheap tripod and tripod adapter. I always mount the binoculars backwards so as not to have the tripod arm hitting my chest. You will obviously get a steady image with the tripod on the ground. But I also find that holding the tripod itself up and against my chest, gives me steadier views than just holding the binoculars themselves, because of the extra mass of the tripod.

The biggest problem is what star charts to use for your 10X42s. I was lucky, coming across an old book called Astronomy With Binoculars by James Muirden. The back of the book had charts of the sky which only had deep sky objects marked that could be seen with 7X50 to 10X50 binoculars - and that kept me happy for years.

Most charts or atlases I've seen lately have way too many objects marked on them, which a beginner would find frustrating, as he or she wouldn't be able to see most of them. But maybe someone else here has found something that would suit you.

That said, if the binoculars wind up not suiting you, I always recommend a short tube refractor with say 80 to 100mm diameter and 500mm focal length. These are fine for wide field views of the sky, will still remain useful even if you get a bigger telescope, they don't cost that much, and if you find the hobby isn't for you - you will still find it useful for terrestial viewing when you add an erecting diagonal.
Regards,
Renato
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Old 06-10-2020, 09:41 AM
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Renato, how could I miss the bleeding obvious??!!!

YES! Adrian, if you already have a set of binos, 10X42, you are already on the road and driving! You don't need another set of binos. Use what you have first! Those 10X42 binos are certainly very capable You might like to get something a little larger in aperture, or a little less magnification, but use what you have first.
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Old 06-10-2020, 09:52 AM
glend (Glen)
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To the original poster, binoculars are only good if you have two good eyes, and many older people Don't. Consider your vision situation. Vision problems in one eye can degrade what you see through binoculars as the brain averages the images coming from the eyes and processes a blend. If you have uneven vision acuity go with a telescope and use your good eye.
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Old 06-10-2020, 11:31 AM
Terranova (Adrian)
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To the original poster, binoculars are only good if you have two good eyes, and many older people Don't. Consider your vision situation. Vision problems in one eye can degrade what you see through binoculars as the brain averages the images coming from the eyes and processes a blend. If you have uneven vision acuity go with a telescope and use your good eye.
Good point. I have astigmatism in my right eye but I do wear prescription glasses which correct this. Just need to find binos that can accommodate this.
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Old 06-10-2020, 11:33 AM
Terranova (Adrian)
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Renato, how could I miss the bleeding obvious??!!!

YES! Adrian, if you already have a set of binos, 10X42, you are already on the road and driving! You don't need another set of binos. Use what you have first! Those 10X42 binos are certainly very capable You might like to get something a little larger in aperture, or a little less magnification, but use what you have first.
Hi Alex. These binos are not tripod friendly. I can't keep them still enough making it very frustrating to see things.
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