Three pairs of luxe binoculars - how good are they for travellers?
When you're travelling, observation is everything - and a good pair of binoculars can help you get much closer to the action than even a super-zoom camera
When you buy a pair of binoculars, size, weight, aperture, magnification, whether or not they are waterproof, and - of course - price are factors to consider. We run our eye over three pairs.
Swarovski Optik CL Pocket 8x25 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 the size of the aperture, which means a dimmer image. That's why the high-quality glass inside the Swarovski Optik CL Pocket 8x25 B binoculars (tincheungcamera.com.hk, HK$5,444) is so useful. Able to boost brightness while remaining compact (as well as waterproof and fog-proof), these top-class general use binoculars are ideal for putting in a backpack and taking anywhere, any time. Available in black, green and sand-brown.
Celestron SkyMaster 15x70
Offering 15x magnification and an aperture of 70mm, the Celestron SkyMaster 15x70 (HK$639, price.com.hk) are designed primarily for stargazing. The optics' special 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. Thankfully, there is a tripod thread in the base. Although water resistant and great in daylight, these quality but cumbersome binoculars aren't ideal for travel.
Canon 10x42L IS WP
Are you getting the shakes? The bigger the binoculars you hold, the more unsteady the view is, and there wasn't much you could do about it until Canon's clever Image Stabiliser tech came along. On these large, waterproof binoculars (tincheungcamera.com.hk, HK$9,600), the touch of a button freezes whatever you've got in the field of view, allowing you to see so much more detail and creating a bright image that's so steady it's almost surreal. Both birdwatchers and stargazers will find these binoculars life-changing — they're that good. They also include a tripod thread, but there's really no need.