Are Image Stabilized Binoculars worth it?

The decision to opt for a pair of binoculars isn’t always an easy one. It can be difficult to understand exactly what the technical terms used around binoculars mean, especially if you haven’t used a set before. Fortunately, with some thorough research, we can determine whether we really need a set of image stabilization binoculars.

To determine whether image stabilization binoculars are going to be the right choice for you, we need to determine your activity. If you’re looking for some binoculars for astronomy, then image stablization is definitely something you’ll want. But if you’re looking for a cheap set of binoculars to take hiking with you, then it’s probably not necessary (or financially viable) to get yourself a set of IS binoculars.

Before you get yourself a set of IS binoculars, you’ll need to take a few things into account like your budget and criteria. Is there a specific brand you’re looking for, or is something cost effective more important to you? Let’s run through some of the

What are image stabilized binoculars?

Image stabilization binoculars are well, exactly as they sound. They’re designed to help stabilize your vision, very similar to what you’ll find in high quality DSLR cameras. Everyone that’s own a camera has experienced the annoyance of taking a blurry picture. This is due to the photographer not keeping the camera still at the time of the photo.

Image stabilization is designed to prevent this, which makes them a particularly good choice for people interested in using their binoculars for highly magnified viewing. The higher the magnification, the more difficult it is to keep the image stable. If you’re getting more than 15x magnification, then in my opinion it’s a necessity to either have image stabilization technology, or at the very least a tripod.

How do image stabilized binoculars work?

Image stabilization binocular work by using an electronic sensor which is built into the binoculars. When the binoculars begin the move, usually the view that you would be seeing would begin to blur. This can get extremely frustrating. So, IS binoculars have an inbuilt electronic sensor that goes off whenever the binoculars get a little shaky.

The binoculars will then either adjust the lens group of the binoculars, or in some cases, even shift the prisms that are built into the binoculars (this is more common in roof prism binoculars than porrop prisms binoculars.

What hobbies do I need image stabilized binoculars for?

  • Astronomy – For astronomy more so than any other hobby, you need a stable viewing point. Ever seen a telescope without a mount (not a spotting scope, a telescope!)? There’s a reason for that – highly magnified viewing requires stability, which is why IS binoculars can prove to be extremely effective for astronomy.
  • Birdwatching – Birdwatching is another hobby that benefits from IS technology. Although personally I appreciate birdwatching (or birding) because you can get involved in it no matter what your budget is, when you get into more advanced and long range stuff, IS binoculars can be very helpful.
  • Hunting – Hunting prioritizes ease of use in the equipment that you need – you don’t have unlimited time like you do with astronomy and other hobbies. So, being quick to the draw can require stabilized binoculars to help you see your target clearly. There’s been a massive increase in quality in hunting binoculars in recent years, due to the technology being used getting gradually cheaper.
  • Boating – As you may have guessed, boating is another environment which can get particularly chopping. Whilst some people prefer a monocular device for a boat, binoculars are still the better choice due to their bi vision. When buying boating/marine binoculars, it’s worth doing your research, as not all devices have image stabilization.

Are image stabilized binoculars worth it?

The answer is that it depends on what you are looking for. If you have the budget, then IS binoculars are always going to be a good option and perform better than standard binoculars. But if you don’t have the budget, then you can consider getting a good pair of binoculars along with a cheap tripod.

Who makes the best image stabilized binoculars?

The four main brands that spring to mind when considering image stabilized binoculars are Canon, Nikon, Fujinon and Zeiss. These aren’t the only brands that are out there, but they’re certainly considered to be the most established.

If you want my personal opinion, then I like the Canon 18x50 All Weather Binoculars . They’re pretty expensive, so they’re very unlikely to be suitable for a new user unless you have a significant budget. Though, IS binoculars do tend to be particularly expensive anyways.

The best thing to do if you’re looking for a good pair of IS binoculars is to have a browse online. You can often find them secondhand online, or you could even head down to your local astronomy society and ask them what they recommend. They may even let you try out some of the equipment there to give you a better idea of what it is you actually want.

Conclusion

You don’t need a set of image stabilized binoculars. This is especially true when you’re first starting out, and just getting a cheap pair of Celestron Skymasters is a better place to start for most people. If you’re using 15x magnification binoculars, you should be fine using them with a steady hand. Any more than that and you’ll want to get a tripod, too (but they’re not too expensive, either).

But if you do want something a little special, then a pair of image stabilized binoculars can be an awesome investment. Whether you’re interested in astronomy like me, or you want them for another hobby, they’re sure to be a step up from your standard set of binoculars.

Last update on 2018-12-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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