Image Stabilizing Binoculars Pros Cons [Are They Worth It?]

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If you are looking at getting a pair of binoculars for astronomy purposes, it can be difficult to find the right type for you. There are a lot of different options, styles and variants available on the market. There’s also a lot of technical jargon and terminology used to describe each pair which can complicate your decision further. Thankfully, with a bit of extra research, you can determine exactly what you need. If you have come across and are considering Image Stabilizing Binoculars, you’re probably wondering what they actually do and the pros and cons of them. This is what this article will help you do.

To discover if Image Stabilization Binoculars are going to be best for you, then they’ll be some things you need to consider. Generally, for astronomical observations Image Stabilization is largely beneficial and will help you in a number of ways.

However, if you are in the market for a pair of binoculars for land some casual observations, like when you are out hiking, then they’re probably not worth the extra investment (unless you have the budget of course).

So before you decide to invest in a pair of Image Stabilizing Binoculars, you’ll need to consider when, where and how you’ll be using your Binoculars. What are your preferences, budget, what styles and brands do you like etc. Lets now take a look at this piece of equipment in further detail.

What Are Image Stabilized Binoculars?

The clue is in the title – Image Stabilization (IS) Binoculars do exactly what their name suggests. They are designed specifically to stabilize and help you focus, taking away any blur and helping you observe in much greater detail and clarity.

Due to their ergonomic design, Image Stabilization Binoculars will be particularly beneficial for you if you are interested in highly magnified viewing (like observing objects in the sky).

Typically, the higher the magnification, the more you will benefit from image stabilization because it is generally harder to keep an image still as magnification increases.

For the most part, if you are looking to observe above 15x Magnification, Image Stabilization is highly recommended. At the very least, you should be considering a Tripod.

How do Image Stabilization Binoculars Work?

Image Stabilization Binoculars are designed with premium electronic sensors which automatically adjust as you observe. When using Binoculars, as they move your image begins to distort and become blurry. This can completely ruin your observations and can lead to you missing out on specific phenomenon that can happen in the split of a second.

With Image Stabilization Binoculars, the sensors adjust the optics through a sensor whenever the Binoculars are moved or lose stability. They do this by altering the Lens Group or by shifting the Prisms that are inside (especially for Roof Prism Binoculars).

Pros and Cons of Image Stabilization Binoculars 

Image Stabilization Binoculars

Pros

Pros
  • Easier to use, automatic refocusing.
  • Near-perfect image stability and increased image brightness.
  • Able to observe moving objects more easily.
  • Capture moments you would have missed without IS.
  • Maximum field of view and constant image section.
  • Minimized Eye Fatigue
  • Generally, IS Binoculars are better built, more durable and consist of higher quality components

Cons

Cons
  • Cost; IS Technology is expensive to manufacture and this in turn is reflected in the higher price of IS binoculars.
  • Weight; tend to be slightly heavier than non-IS equivalents

When are Image Stablization Binoculars Best?

Astronomy – stable images are without doubt one of the most important aspects of astronomical observations. The higher the magnifications you go, the more stability you will need and astronomy is all about leveraging magnification. This is why the majority of telescopes have a mount and sturdy tripod. Image Stabilizing Binoculars are therefore very effective and useful for astronomy.

Bird-watching – is another pursuit where you will need your images to be stable. Tjhis is especially true as birds move and you need to quickly refocus. While you can bird-watch with cheaper pairs of binoculars, if you want to view further afield or get clarity in an instant, Image Stabilizing Binoculars are going to be very useful.

Hunting – Just like bird-watching, hunting is another hobby that will require you to be quick and dynamic. There’s a limited amount of time that you are going to have when observing. Having stabilized binoculars will help you focus on a target clearly and quickly.

Boating – due to the nature of boating and the environment, Image Stabilization is going to be very helpful (particularly in times of choppy water or high winds). Due to their bi-vision, binoculars are superior to monocular devices (which have only one eyepiece) even though the latter are commonly used for boating.

Are Image Stabilized Binoculars Worth the Investment and Higher Cost?

Now, this will all depend on a multitude of factors; mainly your experience, preference, budget and what you will ultimately be using them for.

Nonetheless, Image Stabilizing Binoculars are considerably more superior so if you have the budget, they’re going to be preferable and provide better performance than non-image stabilizing binocular equivalents.

That being said, if you just do not have the budget, your hobby is not on the list above, or you just want an entry-level pair to begin with, a great and suitable alternative can be getting a Tripod.

Who are the Best Image Stabilized Binocular Manufacturers?

If you are looking at purchasing a pair of IS binoculars then Canon, Nikon, Zeiss and Fujinon are some of the best manufacturers. These are not the only companies that make them, but they have the best reputations in terms of great design, superior optics and IS technologies.

If you are looking for the best pair to get right now, I would thoroughly recommend the Canon 18×50 All Weather Binoculars. Due to their 18×50 specification, they’re great for Astronomy, Bird-Watching, Hunting and Boating although I personally use them for Astronomical Observations. You get 18x magnification and the 50mm objective lenses ensure you gather maximum light to observe more objects in the sky.

Now whilst they are on the expensive side, these were built to last and I’ve found them to be very durable. I’ve actually had mine for over 3 years and they perform as well as they did on the very first day. Plus, IS binoculars are going cost around the $500, even the cheaper models that are available on the market.

If you’ve decided that a pair of IS binoculars are for you, then I would strongly recommend you conduct some further research. Looking at Amazon Reviews is a terrific way to see what other users opt for and then what they experience having purchased a specific model.

Final Words and Verdict

Image Stabilized Binoculars are specialist equipment, and they are will not necessarily be right for everyone. If you are a beginner to Astronomy for example, getting a pair of Celestron Skymasters would be an excellent and cost-effective alternative. Plus, if you wanted to increase your stabilization with them, you could purchase a good quality and sturdy Tripod (they’re cost effective too).

However, if you are an intermediate to advanced, have the budget or just want the best equipment you can get, then a pair of image stabilized binoculars will be a brilliant investment.

Whether you’re looking to get into Astronomy like me, or you want to use them for another hobby that requires stabilization, they’re without doubt a serious improvement to your standard and typical pair of binoculars.

4 thoughts on “Image Stabilizing Binoculars Pros Cons [Are They Worth It?]”

  1. I think it depends on the needs. For me, I don’t see a value in a stabilizer but can understand why some people need it. Great article.

    • Good to hear and pleased you benefited from my article.
      All the best with your new binocs!

  2. Great article, thanks. Purchased IS binoculars and they are a great improvement on standard ones. Have questioned why the most expensive models don’t have IS.
    Models costing £2000 + have images inferior to my £500 pair of IS.

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