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Binoculars for those 'identify number far away' caches.


terratin
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I'm considering buying binoculars for those 'what's the number on the buoy far out from the beach' kind of caches, and wonder if they'd be sufficient for such aim. What kind of magnification would I need in general? What kind of kit? I'm not tall and don't have a car. Thus huge and heavy binos would be useless for me. I guess I'd need a tripod for anything above 8 or 10x? What's the max I can do by hand?
I've tried my phone camera in the past, but the photos are too grainy when just taking a photo, or zooming in when taking a photo, and then zooming in on the photo - especially on non-sunny days. Thus that's not suitable. I generally don't take my big camera along on caching trips either. Thus I need something small-ish and light-ish that I can throw into my small backpack. Basically, is a small and cheap 8x25 sufficient for these things?

Edited by terratin
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3 minutes ago, on4bam said:

When I know in advance we'll need binoculars (yes, we read complete listings and logs most of the time ;)) I often take my DSLR D7000 (previous D90) with zoom/telelens, that way we also have a photograph for our caching documentation. Keeping it compact we'll take our Samsung B-8x25N which is light and small .

 

Yeah, that's usually not what I do as my big camera is too big and heavy to drag around in a small bike bag all day and I don't have a small camera with good enough zoom. I need a cheaper and lighter solution to this as it won't happen a lot.

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10x can be handheld but it’s not pleasant. However instead of a tripod, a stick such as this is enough to stabilize it 

https://www.fotofennica.fi/kauppa/cat/p521-finnstick-ff-staijauskeppi-levylla-vm15-fi.html

 

The idea is to keep your arms and hands low and against your body, which provides the stabilization. Without any kind of stabilization, I wouldn’t go above 8x, and personally I use 6x (though not for geocaching :)).

 

Opticron Traveller is a small, good quality binocular and not stupid expensive. If that’s still significantly more expensive than what you had in mind, I’d suggest checking out monoculars instead. E.g. Opticron Trailfinder T-4 monocular is tiny compared to any binocular and has great quality for the price.

 

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24 minutes ago, mustakorppi said:

10x can be handheld but it’s not pleasant. However instead of a tripod, a stick such as this is enough to stabilize it 

https://www.fotofennica.fi/kauppa/cat/p521-finnstick-ff-staijauskeppi-levylla-vm15-fi.html

 

The idea is to keep your arms and hands low and against your body, which provides the stabilization. Without any kind of stabilization, I wouldn’t go above 8x, and personally I use 6x (though not for geocaching :)).

 

Opticron Traveller is a small, good quality binocular and not stupid expensive. If that’s still significantly more expensive than what you had in mind, I’d suggest checking out monoculars instead. E.g. Opticron Trailfinder T-4 monocular is tiny compared to any binocular and has great quality for the price.

 

Yeah, I was thinking of an 8x25, maybe 8x30ish if I can get it at small weight and size. But it seems unlikely. I have to say, what you suggests, at around 450 euro is possibly a bit too expensive for something that just gets thrown into a bike bag and used a handful of times each year. But useful info. Thanks a lot. Thus a 10x is certainly out of the question here.

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10x image stabilized are wonderful.  My ex had a Canon model that I talked her into, instead of the much more expensive Swarovsky with the fancy name but no technology.

 

At 10x, until you press the button, you can't tell if that sparrow has 2 or 3 wing bands due to the shake.  Press, and no shake, nice stable image, and your eyes+brain can do their own magnification.

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The problem with "cheap" binoc's is that they are cheap.  I had one small set I bought, tossed it into the luggage for a trip, and found them broken (the bridge between) when I got where we were going - I should have opened the box before I purchased, not just looked at the display model.  Also the optics can "interesting" - another pair had a halo in bright light that didn't show up in the store.  I eventually spent the extra money to get a better (not top of the line, but way above the bottom) pair.  They've lasted several years now being tossed in the bike bag, the cache kit and backpacking.  Don't just think of the cost, but the cost spread across how long you have them.  A good pair should last for years (I have a full size pair in the car that I've had for over 40 years).

 

Which power you want is very individual.  I can handhold a 1/4 second exposure with my camera's, I've handheld a picture using a 800mm lens, but that's me.  Also the higher the power the narrower view you'll see.  I don't know if they are available in the mini size, but I've seen adjustable power binoc's.  Lower power to see a larger range, then zoom in on a particular object.

 

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17 hours ago, terratin said:

Basically, is a small and cheap 8x25 sufficient for these things?

What do you consider cheap?  As far as 8x25 goes I think that's an ideal size, enough magnification to be useful and small enough to carry all the time.

 

Edited to add: I've always found that a small pair of binoculars that I have with me when I need them is way better than a full size pair that's back in the car. 

Edited by MtnGoat50
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I believe as well that non-stabilized 8x is the upper limit to be able to hold it with acceptable shaking.

 

A year ago I bought Vortex Solo 8 x 36 monocular.  It is small enough to have it in my EDC bag all the time. Good field of view (the higher the zoom number the narrower the FOV), quality picture and great luminosity. I like it. :)

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For this kind of thing, I believe binoculars are not the best/cheapest/easiest solution.   IMO, a camera with decent optical (not digital!) zoom works great and has other uses.  4x is probably enough for this kind of thing.  My phone (Samsung S9) has a 2x optical zoom that works pretty well.  You take the picture and zoom in until you can see what you need.

 

Ubiquitous smart phone cameras have a lot of geocaching applications you might not consider at first.

 

Phone cameras work as well as mirrors for looking under things and into small spaces.  I also use them to record signs used for multis or mysteries, and when doing earthcaches or virtuals I take a lot of pictures of the details and the surrounding area to jog my memory when I log them.

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5 minutes ago, fizzymagic said:

Ubiquitous smart phone cameras have a lot of geocaching applications you might not consider at first.

It's been ages since I've written down a trackable number. Now I just photograph the trackable and use that to get the number. (If I'm going to take a photo to post, I take a different photo without the number, of course.)

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3 hours ago, fizzymagic said:

IMO, a camera with decent optical (not digital!) zoom works great and has other uses.  4x is probably enough for this kind of thing.  My phone (Samsung S9) has a 2x optical zoom that works pretty well.

I'm just going to say that on a binocular the magnification is compared to the naked eye, whereas on camera lenses it's compared to the lenses widest setting, which on a fixed lens camera is usually going to be way wider than the naked eye. That is to say, a 4x camera typically doesn't magnify half as as much as an 8x binocular.

 

If even more magnification is needed, it is possible to shoot a phone camera through the binocular (or monocular) but that's a bit fiddly if you don't have purpose-built mounting. And the optical quality of the lens gets really important, though I'd say it already is in this use case (reading letters from far away). We don't have caches of this type where I live so I have no practical experience; my kit is primarily for birding.

 

 

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