Ideal for birding, stargazing and safari, these bins deserve a place in your backpack
A good pair of binoculars can help you get close to the action, but you need to be able to understand them. A pair that’s advertised as 10×25 can magnify the object you want to look at 10 times using an objective lens of 25mm. The latter is all about how much light is let in, and so how bright the image is, though choose wisely; binoculars with a big objective lens can be heavy and hard to both hold and travel with.
For more info, read Jamie’s book – A Stargazing Program for Beginners: A Pocket Field Guide (Astronomer’s Pocket Field Guide)
01 – Zeiss Victory 8×42 HT
The high-transmission lenses in the Victory binoculars are designed to allow more light in when they’re used in deep twilight and into the night. Great all-round binoculars that are just as good with bird-watching and other observations as astronomy.
02 – Canon 10×42 L IS WP
These all-weather binoculars from Canon (HK$10,080) are super-steady. Thanks to its built-in – and exceptionally impressive – image stabilising software, the image is electronically held steady in your view. Perfect for safari and stargazing (they work a treat with the Moon), you just focus them on an object then depress a button on the side.
03 – Swarovski Optik CL Pocket 8×25 B
For those who don’t want to carry a lot of gear about, it’s tempting to go for as small a pair of binoculars as possible. What you sacrifice is aperture, which means a dimmer image, which is why the high quality glass inside the Swarovski Optik CL Pocket 8×25 B binoculars are so useful. Boosting brightness while remaining compact, these waterproof and fog-proof binoculars are ideal for a backpack.
04 – Vixen SG 2.1×42
Easily the most travel-friendly binoculars around, these tiny binoculars are all about doubling your vision for landscapes, but are also ideal for studying constellations in the night sky. Their 2.1x magnification is bright, though it does fray around the edges of the lenses. Best of all, they’re no bigger than a compact camera.
05 – Celestron SkyMaster 15×70
Although also designed primarily for stargazing, these are all about the close-up, with a 15x magnification and an aperture of 70 mm. The optics’ coatings increase contrast and light, while the extra magnification lets you see not only Jupiter, but its moons too, while star clusters like the Pleiades fill the field of view. However, since they’re heavy and hard to hold steady, they’re best used on a tripod (there’s a tripod thread in the base).