Optics for the ageing eyes

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First, let me apologize for posting this. I used the search function to find some info but being 100% honest I hate using the search function. I did look though. For about a minute.

Need some optics. My once "incredible distance vision" isn't holding up the way I had hoped. Don't really have any personal thoughts on this. Could go for a bino or a mono. I don't hunt anymore and Chick has the bird-watching thing covered so the specific purpose would be for canoeing.

I really don't have too much of a problem in the ADK's - with some exceptions nothing is that far away, however as I return to Michigan and revisit BWCA/Quetico and start canoeing WCPP I'm gonna need some help. In my mind I have established a price point of $300, but I would spend more if 1.) it is warranted due to a spectacular piece of gear, or 2.) my price point is just ridiculous.

Having written a bit of ad copy I know you can't trust that, (kidding, my fellow copy writers) so once again I ask the experts.

What do you/would you use for my application?

Thank you.
 
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The prices for quality optics have come down quite a bit over the past few years as a result of computer-aided automation... $200 to $300 will get you some decent optics now with binos when previously it was $1000 plus.

Yes, the Monarch 5s are an established standard with birders but for me they aren't as comfortable to hold as an open bridge design... if you're going to be using them often, an easy & secure grip adds value and steadier viewing. Comfort and ease of use really counts as time goes on.


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Back in 2012 I went with the Vanguard Endeavor 10x42s as a result of some good reviews at the time.... best value for the money, $600 quality selling at $300, etc. They do have some chromatic aberration with color fringing appearing (not often) in high contrast sharp objects like tree branches against a cloudy bright sky but this appears so infrequently I don't notice it. Some are really sensitive to CA effects and can't stand seeing it. The Monarch 5s are also reported to have CA, mid-priced optics. Vanguard has since produced newer Endeavor binos with higher quality glass but at a higher price, maybe $450... I haven't had a look through them.

The full-size 8x42 and 10x42 binos will provide brighter views than the lighter compact 8x20s (the subject-facing objective lens is 20mm vs 42mm which being smaller, gathers in less light to the eye), but heavier on ports and larger in a pocket. Monoculars for me don't provide quality viewing but are the most compact if all that's needed is quick campsite identification along with occasional use. I can hold higher-magnification 10x binos steadily, others will want 8s or 7s since shaky viewing makes seeing detail difficult.

The B&H listing and the two reviews that made me buy back in 2012 are below... good quality optics are worth the $$$, seeing the world and there's plenty to see out there, esp when sitting around at campsites, birds, wildlife, enjoy.



https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...D_10x42_Binocu lar.html

https://www.bestbinocularsreviews.co...avorED-106.htm

https://www.birdwatching.com/optics/...nguard_ed.html

PS... if you want to save $$$ and still have quality optics at a reduced price, choosing traditional-style porro design binos (the traditional design where the eyepieces are closer together than the objective lenses further apart) over in-line roof prism types will be cheaper, but bulky and maybe heavier.
 
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For a long time I carried a monocular. Then I got one of these https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...7d3f066a3c4ef9 . Has the side benefit of taking pictures.

I have a similar Lumix with a big zoom. It can work as well or better than a monocular/binocular with 2 issues: it only works as long as the battery has a charge and it isn't waterproof. I ended up buying a pair of waterproof/fogproof binoculars. I'm not at home so I can't tell you the brand/model right now.
 
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I find binoculars are quite clunky to have at the ready. I tried a sportsman/hunting straps arrangement which is great for hiking. However, it keeps the glass close to my chest were it adds to the bulky PFD and it tends to get in the way of my paddle strokes. Smaller binoculars that fit in PFD pockets (in my humble opinion) defeat the benefits of even having binoculars. I use a monocular most of the time. They are small enough to keep at the ready around my neck without much weight, or I keep it in a PFD pocket. Good luck! :)
 
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I went inexpensive and was surprised with the quality. It was much better than I expected at the price point. I bought pair of compact 10x32 and a bigger pair of 10x50. Both are REI house brand and were the XR 10x32 and XR 10x50 respectively. I think the price was about $140 for the 10x32 and $190 for the 10x50, but I got the 10x50 with a 20% off member deal so I paid $152 for them. I was torn over whether to spend more, but I have been very happy with both.

I don't think either are available at this time though.
 
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I find binoculars are quite clunky to have at the ready. I tried a sportsman/hunting straps arrangement which is great for hiking. However, it keeps the glass close to my chest were it adds to the bulky PFD and it tends to get in the way of my paddle strokes. Smaller binoculars that fit in PFD pockets (in my humble opinion) defeat the benefits of even having binoculars. I use a monocular most of the time. They are small enough to keep at the ready around my neck without much weight, or I keep it in a PFD pocket. Good luck! :)

Yeah, I never actually paddle with mine unless the reason for the trip is specifically something where they are needed (birdwatching, hunting, ...). That is kind of a shame because I fairly often wish I had them along. I really need to at least start putting the compact ones in the dry bag. My 10x would be kind of hard to hold steady enough in any kind of chop though. For in the boat I might prefer 7x or 8X a lot of the time.
 
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I think the Nikon Aculon series is a pretty good budget binoc. I've got a full size pair. They're quite nice, and at under $100 I don't feel a need to baby them.
 
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I find binoculars are quite clunky to have at the ready.
Smaller binoculars that fit in PFD pockets (in my humble opinion) defeat the benefits of even having binoculars. I use a monocular most of the time.

Samesame.

I had a pair of (large) high quality binoculars, too big to be convenient in the canoe, although they came on some birding canoe trips; initially in a padded ammo box, getting to them was damn noisy inconvenient.

Had, I did that thing where I was unpacking from a day hike in the mountains, set them “temporarily” on the cap roof and drove 50 miles before I thought “Where are those binoculars?” Not by the side of the road when I drove back 50 miles. (Same stretch of road six months later, north out of Big Bend, I managed to leave my best dry bag on the cap roof. Didn’t find it either. Rte 385 is cursed)

For paddling purposes I replaced them with a set of inexpensive Minolta compact 10x23’s. That compact has (barely) acceptable optical clarity, but even “compact” is still too big for a PFD pocket and, more importantly, is not intended to waterproof.

For paddling use I bought a (accent on the) cheap “waterproof” monocular that fit easily in the slender chest pocket on my PFD, a Brunton 8x22. Piss poor optics, but I’m not trying to spot a yellow eye patch on some warbler, I’m looking for an opening in the trees, a channel in the marsh grass or a campsite.

It’ll do, except, advertised as “waterproof” that monocular wasn’t even water resistant; first rainy trip, monocular in the little case, in the PFD pocket, pulled it out to see nothing but blur. It stayed watery blurry for the length of the trip, and after residing in a bag of rice at home was never the same.

Current solution is a waterproof Orion 10-to-25 zoom x 42. Waterproof so far; I haven’t taken a swim with it, but it’s been plenty rain soaked. It just barely fits in that slender PFD pocket with some stuffage, and has OK optics, but unless you are a lot steadier of hand than I good freaking luck zooming out to 25x with a handheld monocular. Or, really, anything over 10x,. But it does what I need it to do for canoe trips, and was less than $80. Would buy again. Would not drive back 50 miles to look for it.

For a lot of gear I believe in Buy once/Cry once. But for binoculars/monoculars in a watery tripping environment I can’t see parting with three Benjamins. Tent, sure. Carbon paddle, sure. Good sleeping bag, sure. But not ‘oculars.

I went inexpensive and was surprised with the quality. It was much better than I expected at the price point.

I agree with that as well, although it depends on what you are accustomed to, and your intended use. The binoculars left on the cap roof were ancient Leica 10x42’s; I would not have driven back and forth 100 miles for cheap Bruntons or Tascos, especially with the nearest gas station still a long ways off. The Leica optics were still crisp and clear and the cheaper replacement stuff has been a disappointment in comparison, but good enough for my paddling purposes.

A sea kayak guide friend carries waterproof binoculars from West Marine, mostly so he can hand them to clients to observe bird or animal life. Tip your guide.

https://www.westmarine.com/binoculars

He is a long knowledgeable gear head, and swears by them, even in constant salt water use. They are truly waterproof and armored rugged, and I’ve been impressed with the optics when I’ve used them. But they are huge, and beyond anything I want or need to carry.

Long rambling way of saying that my specific criteria for paddling magnification is different than for birding/hiking/hunting/spying on ex-girlfriends/etc; compact is good, compact and waterproof even better. Magnification power, field of view and light gathering come in a distant 3[SUP]rd[/SUP], 4[SUP]th[/SUP], 5th, especially with anything compact.
 
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I find that more than 6x is shaky when using it afloat. I take a small lite Audibon brand 6x monocular. its not waterproof and I keep in a small plastic bag in my chest pocket. Real cheep 30$??.
 
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I bought a pair of Steiner 9x40 “Safari” binoculars 21 years ago for an Africa trip and have never regretted the price, which was $200 back then. Yes, they are full size but a great FOV and rubber armored waterproof tough. I just had them out on a duck hunt off Hatteras last month; rain, salt water, no problem.

But i also use an 8x Russian monocular or my 8x Bushnell range finder instead as they are easier to carry. So maybe get a good pair of tough binos and add a smaller mono later. Whatever you do, buy waterproof and quality. Buy once, cry once.
 
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I highly recommend the Leica 8x20 ultravids. Small, lightweight, and waterproof they live in my thwart bag. More than your budget so maybe you don't want to spend that much. I previously had the Trinovids (same but earlier generation optics and not waterproof) and upgraded to the Ultravids when I decided to start taking them canoe tripping (for waterproofness). Definite step up in image quality.

If you wear glasses they have great eye relief, better than all the other compacts.

I used to be a birder so image quality was important to me. It's not as important on a canoe trip but it still helps when trying to view distant shorelines and I'm always pulling them out to bird while tripping too. Viewing through high quality optics in good light is a very pleasurable experience just for site seeing.

Alan
 
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www.opticsplanet.com has a large selection of all types of optics. I like their selection tools rating, price range, manufacturer, max magnification, in-stock...etc. I bought optics from them before and would do it again if needed something. My mono is close to this one https://www.opticsplanet.com/vortex-8x25-solo-monocular-vmn-0825.html

Someone said it earlier, trying to keep anything > 8X steady is challenging. Come to think of it, I believe my mono' max mag is only 6X. Sometimes I wish it was 8X but besides trying to steady an image with a higher magnification optic, consider that the field of view goes down as magnification goes up! Acquiring the object may take longer and an opportunity may be missed. Lots of pros and cons. What fun! :)
 
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First of all, thank you everyone for your replies.

I didn't know 99% of the information provided and that is just what I was looking for. My original plan has been highly modified (i.e. scrapped) all for the better, based on this.

I will get Chick involved at this point - I always value her input.

At present I am thinking about getting a pair of bino's and a mono. As you folks pointed out, the prices are pretty attractive for some decent quality gear and by adding a bit to my original price point I can do both.

For the new folks on the forum, this is just one of the great benefits of Canoetripping. Great input from multiple sources providing real-world examples. Use the resource - "all of us knows more than one of us".

Thank you all again!
 
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I've used a mono someone gave me decades ago, I couldn't tell you the power or even the brand because the labels were worn off years ago, but I do know that they're all I need to see that little portage sign or scrap of flagging tape from about a mile away. the only bad thing is my eye starts to water after about 5 minutes.
 
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Dagger,

...trying to keep anything > 8X steady is challenging.

This might help reduce shake, bracing the hands against the bony sides of the eye sockets or against the cheek bones... "place the first knuckle of your thumbs into the indentations on the outside of your eye sockets"... see in the link below. This is shown for stargazing but works in other situations, IIRC military training uses this method.

BTW, when looking at night skies, it's surprising how many more faint stars become visible when binos are absolutely steady, mounted on a tripod... there may be a threaded socket on the center hinge to fasten a tripod mounting attachment.

triangular.jpg


http://binocularsky.com/binoc_hold.php
 
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