Binoculars for Safari


Jun 28th, 2004, 07:15 PM
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Binoculars for Safari

I currently am in the process of purchasing binoculars for my upcoming safari. I have been told not to bring binoculars with magnification greater than 10X because it is too difficult to stabilize your hands when the magnification is too powerful. Nonetheless, I like the Steiner 12X30 compact wildlife binoculars because they weigh only 11 oz. (as opposed to 2.24 lbs. for the recommended Nikon binoculars). Anyone have any experience with these binoculars on safari, or at least with binoculars with 12X or greater magnification?
jrruff is offline  
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Jun 29th, 2004, 03:51 AM
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We bought Steiner 8x30s (Safari) for our trip in May and they were perfect. They fit easily into my camera bag, along with my little digital camera, and were perfect for viewing game and birds. After years of using my father-in-laws ancient binocs, these are small, compact, and once you've got them adjusted to your eyes, you'll not have to mess with them at all!
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Jun 30th, 2004, 07:37 AM
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I have gone through a 3 pairs of binoculars now, and have finally settled on my personal favorite. There are a couple tradeoffs...first the one that you mention--magnification. Because of the "jitter" factor, it is true that most people do not go with 12X-- except keen birders. Personally, I find that 8X can be used the longest and most easily, BUT they don't give you enough power for small animals or birds. (And despite what you think now, there is a good chance that you will become interested in African birds. They are superb and interesting and you will want to see them! I finally settled on 10X and find them flexible -- perfect for my personal requirements.

The bigger issue is with the second number...remember that you will often be using these in the low light of early morning or dusk...and (depending on where you go) on night drives. Personally, I find that something in the 40s is much much better and worth the extra weight. ( I went with 10X42 and will never go back to anything smaller-- the extra lb of weight is worth it because NOTHING increases your enjoyment of a safari more than fine binoculars.

I'd suggest you find a store or vendor that allows you to return purchases (good camera shops will often allow you a week or two for binoculars) and buy a couple pair of your favorites. Take them home and use them at 6 am, at dusk, and after dark. Find some birds, and compare what you see and how comfortable you are watching them for several minutes. (And for goodness sake be really careful so those binoculars are in perfect condition when you take/send them back.)

I did this with several pair from B&H Photo (mail order place in NY) and found my perfect pair this way. (Just double check return policies before you buy.)

Good luck--- and remember that everyone needs their own binoculars. Sharing is just not enjoyable or feasible. (Why spend big money for a trip then try to be thrifty with binoculars? (And if there are two of you, it is easier to consider taking one pair of 12X, and another of 10X or so...but I'd still recommend avoiding the lightweight/ compact 20s or 30s....but you'll see for yourself if you test them first.

I finally chose 10X42-- which work
tashak is offline  
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Jun 30th, 2004, 09:31 AM
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I thank everyone for their input.

Prior to your responses, my choices had narrowed to the Steiner 10X26 compact safari binoculars (4.8"x4.1" @ 9.7 oz.) versus the Nikon 10X42 Monarch ATB (#7432) (6.3"x5.0" @ 26.3 oz.). I had abandoned higher magnification for the reason mentioned by Tashak and because I beleive that the safari vehicles will get us close enough.

Past experiences have led me to believe that size and weight are quite important, as pointed out by Uhoh Busted. In Kenya, I found myself going without binoculars because the ones I brought were too large, too heavy and too cumbersome. For those reasons, the Steiners seemed like a good choice.

On the other hand, I feel that the size of the aperture is important, for all the reasons given by Tashak. So, I became hot on the Nikon 10X42. They also were well recommended by B&H Photo in NYC.

And, coincidentally, out of the 2 people commenting, each of you has focused upon the good qualities of my competing choices. More important both of you have indicated your use and satisfaction on a real time basis - on safari. I guess that I'll just have to make a choice. Most probably, either will be good.

Thanks to all.
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Jul 1st, 2004, 08:15 AM
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When we went to Africa, we took two pairs of binoculars -- a 12x50 and a Bausch & Lomb 8-24x50 zoom pair. I ended up using the zoom binocs and loved them. "Shaking" was not too much of a problem, and I could just put my elbows on the side of the truck or whatever to stabilize when looking at high zoom.
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