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sprocket

Binocular and Camera Lens Recommendations

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There seem to be a lot of people with outdoor photography experience on this site and I assume many of you use binoculars while scoping routes.

 

I’m looking for some help/recommendations for a pair of binoculars and a lens for a Canon SLR camera.

 

Binoculars would be under $200 unless there is a vast improvement for spending a little more.

 

Quality optics and waterproof are priority, weight secondary. General use, 8x magnification.

 

I wear glasses, stigmatism, so eye relief is important.

 

I’ve looked at Nikon Monarchs and have found the 3’s for under $200 and like the optics.

 

Have read reviews praising the Vanguard 8x42 Spirit ED Series since they have the ED glass and can also be found for under $200.

 

The camera lens question might be more problematic. My GF has a Digital Canon SLR, older model, with a couple of basic lower priced zoom lenses, 28-80 & 100-300. The optics aren’t great for these lower end lenses.

 

What I’m wondering is if there is a modest priced fixed length lens that would really produce sharp bright images. I know there are great zoom lenses for $1,500 and up but this is not in the budget right now.

 

What focal length would you recommend and at what price point would you really start to see the difference in photos?

 

Thanks

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Can't help with the binoculars, sorry.

 

A few friends (myself included) have been having great luck with Rokinon lenses for outdoor and landscape/nightscape stuff. They produce some exceptionally sharp and clear images for their price. Some good examples here from a TR I wrote a few months back. Most of those images were taken with a 17mm or 24mm Rokinon.

The only drawback of the Rokinons is that they are manual focus only. It cuts down on the cost for sure, but has it's limitations with moving subjects. I haven't found any problems with only using MF, especially for climbing and outdoors photos. With a little practice, it becomes second nature.

FYI: They market these lenses under three brand names; Rokinon, Samyang, and Bower, but they're all the same thing. I've read some complaints on the interwebz about there being lemons out there and you have to "get a good one", but nobody I know has gotten a "bad one". I think it's just photo geeks being picky about nothing.

Personally I have the 24mm f1.4 (Bower label); bought it new for $400 and it's been great. Definitely recommend it or similar if you're on a budget.

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I myself shoot Nikon DSLR, but I have friends who shoot Canon who have gotten great pictures with the 50 mm f/1.8 "nifty fifty" for a cost a little over $100. The choice of lens depends on so many factors...but for me I often choose based on weight (use an "all-in-one" type of lens like an 18-200mm) and terrain (technical climb) vs. primary photographic trip where I'll take multiple lenses (wide angle prime, mid-range zoom, telephoto and tripod etc. You can often go to a camera store and try lenses out. Hope that helps.

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I use binoculars for fieldwork regularly - but it depends on what you want to use them for. Scoping out routes and need to be compact? Longer distance critter watching? Birding in the forest at closer range? My advice would be to wander over to the Seattle Audubon Society's office in Wedgwood where they have a good range of optics and a very informed staff person that can help you out and you can step outside and try a few pairs.

 

Camera - again depends. I shoot with a Nikon 7100 - you can pick up a body for about $1k. My very strong advice is to not scrimp on a lens and stick with the brand lens whichever company you go with. For when I want a lighter setup I just love my Sony RX100 - this camera sticks in my chest jacket pocket or side softshell pant pocket and it just takes great pics in .jpg or RAW format. One downside - no viewfinder but great optics. About $700.

 

 

Oh - BootsandPants - FYI - loved that Iceland report and pics - may be emailing you in future for some trip advice. Awesome trip report.

Edited by Jim

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Oh - BootsandPants - FYI - loved that Iceland report and pics - may be emailing you in future for some trip advice. Awesome trip report.

 

Ditto on that, loved reading that and the photos. Forwarded that onto my GF since we had just decided to go to Iceland when you posted that. No skiing for us but definitely some nature viewing.

 

Thanks for the input so far.

 

Binoculars would be for general viewing, travel, sporting events etc. Definitely want optical quality over weight saving and not too powerful so stability would be an issue.

 

I just saw the Seattle Audubon Society's website so may have to take a look at their selection. The Nikon Monarchs seem to be featured on their website and are favored by a lot of birdwatching websites. I've looked at these and really liked them but the recommended model (5) is a little out of my budget unless I go with a used pair.

 

As far as camera lenses go I have a lot to learn in this area. My GF expressed an interest a few years ago. Based on info from a couple of friends who are avid photographers I got her a used Canon body and a couple of zoom lenses off of BH Photo and she's played around with that set up a bit.

 

Obviously the image quality isn't the same that our friends are getting with set-ups that are in the thousands of dollars for newer electronics and better lenses.

 

I was just wondering if there was an affordable lens I could get her that would be cool for our upcoming trip to Iceland and Croatia. Budget is a bit tight right now with travel expenses but I thought I'd ask since I see a lot of really great photography on this site.

 

Thanks again.

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re binoculars -- several years ago I compared glasses in your stated price range, and chose a Leupold over the Nikon Monarch - can't remember the model name of the Leupold, but I carry them most of the time, find them easier to adjust/focus than Nikon's Monarch, and I prefer the Leupold image. (the image may not, for all I know, be any better, but I liked it better). I've had good experience in general with Leupold optics - but I don't buy "brand" -- always go with what looks/feels best to me.

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Thanks for all the input. I need to make a trip to Glazers and talk to them and look over what they carry.

 

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