Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Africa & the Middle East (
-   -   Binoculars (

skinnimin May 12th, 2008 10:27 PM

We want to purchase a pair of binoculars for Africa. We don't want the very best, but something adquate. We will probably not use them extensively after the trip but want something servicable and satisfactory. Any ideas - and should they be "roof lens" - is tht a stipulation. Something in the moderate rate. I know they have binoculars. Do you feel we should have an extra pair or two. There will be six in our party.
Thank you.
(And did you find all those filings of necessary papers somewhat trying? No problems with that?
Did you put down Kensa as l entry and obtain Visitor's Pass?
thanks fo much. There is a lot to consider.
Look forward to your help.

DonTopaz May 13th, 2008 01:55 AM

For me, binoculars are the single most important thing I take with me -- even more so than a camera. I used to think that binoculars were binoculars were binoculars until I got a pair Image Stabilization, and that changed everything. Fuzzy and shaky became vivid and clear.

If you're headed to a place such as the Masai Mara, which tends to have lots of flat and treeless areas, good binoculars become even more important, because you'll have the opportunity to see creatures at much greater distances than at more hilly or treed locations.

I can recommend the Canon 10x30 IS binoculars -- they're $340 at B&H.

ann_nyc May 13th, 2008 05:02 AM

I've always been annoyed by binoculars in the past -- somehow they seem hard to focus. But I was really happy with the pair I used on safari.

I used Bushnell Hemisphere binoculars. Obviously there are better (and more expensive) binoculars around, but I was looking for something that was compact, easy to focus, and under $100, and that worked even if you wear glasses.

For 6 in the party you definitely want more than 1 set.

sniktawk May 13th, 2008 05:32 AM


I heartly agree with your endorsement of the Canon IS binoculars, although a lot of birders do not endorse them. They are now remarkably cheap my pair bought 4 years ago were in excess of Sterling 500.

lbodem May 13th, 2008 05:58 AM

I have the Canon 10x30 IS and I love them. I agree that birders don't like them but I think they are great.

tuckeg May 13th, 2008 06:10 AM

I have let more than 100 guests try my Canon 10x30 IS on game drives and most said they were going to buy some. the rangers kidded me that I would have made a fortune if I had been selling for Canon on comission.

skinnimin May 13th, 2008 06:27 AM

Thanks to all of you; I will probably go with the Canon 10/30 IS which you recommend. There are so many different types and prices, so I appreciate your help!

Mohammed May 13th, 2008 07:00 AM

Nothing beats a Leica or a Swarworski but at a close second best are the Nikon Monarch's - try the 8-42.

Londonres May 13th, 2008 11:13 AM

I love my Leica Ultravids 10x42, but these are for really fanatical birders and wildlife watchers. A lot of friends go for the lighter 8x38 sizes. I also have a pair of Zeiss 7x50, but they are now too heavy for me.

Bushnell are great for entry level and Opticron are good for medium level. I think that you should try to buy a pair each, then you have more spotting power and they can be adjusted to suit your own eyes. One pair between 6 would be hoplessly frustrating. You could try to get some second hand. Even if they are older in style, they would be perfectly servicable for your needs.

isabel25 May 13th, 2008 11:19 AM

Why do birders not like the Canon IS 10-30s? I'm not a birder yet, but I may become one on my trip, and I don't want to be stuck with the wrong expensive binoculars!

cary999 May 13th, 2008 11:20 AM

Good question I25, wondering same myself.

regards - tom

bobbieharv May 13th, 2008 11:36 AM

Do the Canon 10x30 IS work well with glasses?

lbodem May 13th, 2008 11:40 AM

I think the birders prefer larger optics such as 10x42 which lets in more light for low light situations. You can get 10x42 IS Binocs but they are quite expensive (>$1000). I suggest you try out the Canons and see for yourself. I am really sold on the value of IS.

sniktawk May 13th, 2008 12:12 PM

Do not worry what birders think, see if you can find somewhere to try them yourself and see if youi like them. IMHO I think it is because they arec not traditional I have Swarovskis also the optics are good but I just prefer the no shake.

isabel25 May 13th, 2008 12:44 PM

The Canon IS 10-30s look great. I noticed they use batteries; do you go through a lot of batteries with these? Also, do you know if they still work (without the image stablization) if the batteries run out?

tuckeg May 13th, 2008 12:55 PM

Birders are fanatical about seeing the most detail possible. Without going into boring details about lenses, high end binos like Swarovski's have better quality lenses than the less expensive binos like the Canon IS's.
So the image quality is better and more detail can be seen, if and it's a big if, you can hold the Sawrovski's steady enough to make use of their optical advatage.

Expert birders practice tricks to help them steady the binos, including bracing their arms, controlling their breathing, etc. The average person will not have these skills and their environment will not be conducive to being steady. You will be doing most of your viewing in a vehicle with other people who will be moving and causing the vehicle to move. So for the average person, IS binos are usually the best fit.

To make a bad anology, think of the Swarovski's as a F1 car, in the right hands nothing can beat it but give it to the average person and they would wind up in a ditch. The IS's are a Corvette, not as high end but everyone can drive and enjoy it.

The IS's do require batteries and are a little heavier than other binos but their advantage more than compensates for these issues. In any event, go to a store where you can try different types and make your own decision. If you try the Canon's, don't turn on the IS at first, look at something and then turn it on. I think you'll be pleasantly suprised when you press the button.

bevor May 13th, 2008 01:10 PM

I use lithium batteries in my Canon 10x30 IS. They are more expensive, but much lighter and long-lasting than alkaline batteries. On safari, I also used my rechargeable AA camera batteries, since I was constantly charging batteries and always had spares. But I have since discovered how great the lithium ones are. I use them regularly, and the batteries last for many hours of constant use. I would never buy another pair of non-IS binoculars. The binoculars still work when the batteries run down, but the image stabilizer does not.

For what it's worth, I also bought a binocular harness -- available for around $20 or so at B&H and others -- before my safari. It takes all the weight off the neck and shoulders, and prevents the binoculars from swinging when walking. It's the best $20 I ever spent, and I will never have binoculars hanging off my neck again.

Enjoy everything you will see clearly with your new binocs!

Londonres May 13th, 2008 01:58 PM

I've never yet seen a birdwatcher put batteries in their binoculars. For birdwatching, you should have binoculars in the range 7-10x32-50. Try them out before you buy, to get a pair that suits you. Top brands are Leica, Zeiss and Swarowski and some of their ranges are fairly lightweight, but they are expensive. However, you can buy second hand bargains. Look for binoculars that have adjustable eyepieces, so that you don't have to remove your glasses when using them.

tuckeg May 13th, 2008 02:21 PM

Don't know about the UK, but on most pelagic birdwatching trips in the US, you'll see birdwatchers putting batteries in their binos.

KIBOKO May 13th, 2008 02:28 PM

The Canon 10x30 IS are the best binos we have ever owned and we have many. A new set of lithium batteries lasted us 12 days on safari with constant use.


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:26 PM.