I was over at a friend’s house the other day and he was pointing out an owl (one of several) that he had in his backyard. From his deck I could eventually see the owl perched up 50 feet or so in one of the trees at the far end of the yard. He handed me a pair of Canon 18×50 IS binoculars and said “You can get a better view through these.”.
Anybody who has ever used binoculars knows that, without a tripod or some sort of bracing, looking through any pair of binoculars with over 10 times magnification is an exercise in jerky frustration. And these were no exception… until I pressed the IS button. WOW! The image suddenly calmed right down to a pristine, still image that impresses. The owl was visible in all of his slumbering glory and the view was spectacular.
Now, I’m not the worlds greatest ornithologist. Truth be told I’m not particularly interested in bird-watching. But I am interested in astronomy and a good pair of binoculars is great for someone who has such an interest – they are handy and powerful enough to see some very interesting celestial items but they are not so unweildy as telescopes and tripods tend to be. You can just grab your binoculars and head outside, no setup required.
I did some research and decided that, as lovely as the 18x magnification of the binoculars that I’d sampled was, that needed to be tempered with a reasonable field of view. It’s challenging enough finding something as big as an owl in a backyard tree through an 18x pair of binoculars but trying to zero in on pinpoints of light dozens to thousands of light years away can be pretty difficult. After doing some research (thanks Google!) I determined that the 15×50 IS binoculars would suit my purposes nicely.
I ordered them from Amazon a few days ago and am eagerly awaiting their arrival!