can be heavy pieces of equipment, especially those providing the higher
levels of magnification.
A good pair will generally tip the scales at between 2 and 3 lbs. The
job of holding them steady enough for clear viewing, even for
relatively short periods of time, can become a feat of muscular
When you add in low light levels, wind, the cold and excitement, very
often the combination of any or all of these variables, can render
detailed observation nigh on impossible.
So what's the answer? Holding the binoculars on a tripod, is one
solution. But what if circumstances don't permit the use of a tripod.
Besides, using binoculars on a tripod can, in certain circumstances, be
a very real 'pain in the neck', particularly when trying to view the
night sky at angles greater than 30 or 40 degrees above the horizon.
Observations from moving vehicles of any nature, also tend to rule out
the use of a tripod as a means of stabilization. All vehicles suffer
from vibration, to some degree or another. So any observation from such
a platform, even with a tripod-type solution, will still face image
degradation, due to vibration.
The answer is Image Stabilised Binoculars.
Developed initially for high-end video cameras, the application of
image stabilization technology has spread to include still photography,
and both telescopes and binoculars, as well as more specialised areas,
including medical imaging.
By utilising image stabilization in binoculars, it is now possible to
hand hold binoculars with magnification powers, well in excess ot the
previously accepted upper limit of 10x magnification.
This means that binoculars with magnifications up to 18x can now be
hand-held, without the degradation of image quality, previously
experienced at magnifications of this order.
The stabilization process is most commonly achieved by the use of small
piezo-electric motion detectors, also known as gyroscopic detectors.
These detect motion in the horizontal and vertical planes and feed
information to tiny motors that move the prisms within the light path
to compensate for this motion. This system will compensate for angular
movement up to 0.7 of a degree.
Image stabilized binoculars are, as a result, more expensive than their
non stabilized counterparts. The improved viewing experience, is, in my
opinion, well worth the additional cost