I know absolutely nothing about binoculars, but we need a pair to watch the cruise ships passing by. Anyone got any suggestions for affordable ones? Or have any idea what the numbers (eg. 10 x 25) mean? We want to be able to see quite a ways. We're also considering a telescope instead -- one of the smaller ones not designed to study Mars or anything.

Jo Canadian
I would suggest e-bay, you can find anything there... Even celebrity breathed air in a jar.
Quote: Originally Posted by Jo Canadian

I would suggest e-bay, you can find anything there... Even celebrity breathed air in a jar.

Jo ... you may want to ask Pea about that.

I am the eBay queen of the world. I have several on my "watch" list on eBay right now, but I have no idea if they're any good.

Here's one I'm looking at:
Binoculars: Item # 7532223509

and a telescope: Item # 7521232723

Dexter Sinister
Quote: Originally Posted by Cosmo

any idea what the numbers (eg. 10 x 25) mean?

10x is the magnification, 25 is the diameter of the main lens in millimeters. And of course bigger numbers mean they cost more. Don't get anything smaller than 7x, you won't be happy with what you can see, and anything bigger than 10x will need a tripod to hold it steady enough to see anything. The best size for most general purposes I find to be 10x50. The larger lens means more light gathering, so you can see better in dim light. With 10x50 binoculars you can easily see the four largest moons of Jupiter, for instance, with 7x25 you can see only three of them. Can't see Saturn's rings with any size of binoculars, that needs about 30x.

Expect to pay around $200 for a good pair of 10x50 binoculars. Nikon and Bushnell make good ones.

Have fun.
Cool, Dex, thanks. Exactly what I was looking for. I'm watching a pair of 10x25 Bushnells on eBay now. I can get them for about $10 plus shipping at this point, but who knows how high the bidding will go. I'll keep an eye on them, tho ... 7 hours to go.

The other one I'm watching is a 50/100 SPTEL telescope, with tripod. It's about $50 US including shipping. That one might be cool to check out both ships and stars. We get to watch the moon rise every night and when it was full we could see the craters with the naked eye. Really wished I had telescope last week!
Dexter Sinister
Be really careful buying used optical equipment without seeing and handling it. There's too much that can go wrong: condensation inside, prisms out of alignment, dirty scratched lenses... Though for $10 you can hardly lose, I suppose.

A telescope's going to have a very narrow field of view for something as close as a cruise ship going by. Watching the moon with one can also be a little dodgy, depending on its magnification and the field of view. The moon actually moves fairly quickly, and you might have a hard time keeping it in view. Cheap telescopes also tend to have very poor quality mountings, sloppy and imprecise, that make tracking anything doubly difficult, and poor quality optics. Good telescopes, i.e. good quality optics and a sturdy equatorial mount, start at around $500 retail.
Dexter Sinister
I just looked up that 50/100 SPTEL on Google. Suggested retail price of it is around $100 U.S. at most places, which indicates a high probability of it being very poor quality.
Thanks Dex ... you probably just saved me some money. Much obliged.

Will probably go for the binoculars ... as you say, they are not very expensive and may provide a starting point for me. Once I have a pair, I'll be able to figure out what kind would best suit our needs before I invest any money.
I think not
I have that same pair of binoculars, they are very good. Although I don't use them for watching cruise ships :P
Dexter Sinister
Quote: Originally Posted by Cosmo

Thanks Dex ... you probably just saved me some money. Much obliged. .

Service with a smile... And hey, if you can't help out people you like, what good are you?
Vanni Fucci
I'm just guessing, but probably one of the early signs that your radarscope is wearing out is something I call "image fuzz-out." But I've never even seen a radarscope, so I wouldn't totally go by what I've just said here.
Reverend Blair
You mentioned 10x25 binoculars, Cosmo. You want to careful with that second number....the lower it is, the less light is allowed in. The higher the magnification, the more light you need to be able to see, so on overcast days or at dusk you may find the image monotone and dim.

8x25 is good, 10x50 is good. 10x25...not so good.

A feature I found to be dandy, and I don't remember the maker, was a red coating on the lenses. It didn't really affect the colour, but worked much like a polarizing filter to cut through haze.

You also might also want to consider spotting scopes. They aren't as powerful as telescopes, but give you better magnification than binoculars. They also tend to be pretty fairly weather-proof, so if you forget it on the balcony overnight, it's generally okay. Some also have a zoom feature. A tripod is a good idea for them as well.

If you go to a good photo retailer or hunting supply store, there should be somebody there who can give you a quick course on optics, what will suit your needs, and what's available on the market. If you go to a bad photo retailer or hunting supply store, they'll sell you whatever the salesperson gets the best spifs on.
FYI there is a bed and breakfast in Osoyoos which has a huge telescope and it takes pictures of the heavens. Reservations are recommended as they are booked for the next 2 1/2 years, especially for all the astrological events.

But enjoy your telescope, we got one a few years back and we bring it out for BBQ's and such, it's a huge conversation piece and everybody walks away learning something just for seeing something kewl.
Well, at the moment I'm high bidder at a whopping $12.49 CAN for the Bushnells. Even if they aren't ideal, they're a good starting point.

I have used lots of spotting scopes, Rev ... have spent a zillion hours on mountain tops seeking out grizzly. I find them a bit tough to aim and they absolutely have to be mounted on something solid. I considered that, but we need something we can grab quickly and aim to see the herons a block away or the ships half a mile away.

Of course we're going to need a second pair so we're not out on the deck squabbling like four year olds ... will definitely put all this good info to use!!

Thanks everyone!
Dexter Sinister
Quote: Originally Posted by Cosmo

we need something we can grab quickly and aim to see the herons a block away or the ships half a mile away.

Nikon 10x50 model CF, or equivalent, $199.95 at retailers around here, is what you want. That's what I've got, and they're excellent for bird watching, spying on the neighbours across the lake, admiring the moon, seeing Jupiter's Galilean satellites (i.e. the ones Galileo saw with his first telescope 400 years ago), finding nearby galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae in the night sky, and marvelling at my huge-breasted neighbour. For an another $50 or so you can get a sealed nitrogen-filled version guaranteed never to suffer internal condensation, but as long as you treat them with respect you don't need that.
Canon also makes some good binocs. Pricey ...but the image stabilization system is a nice feature if you are scanning a lot of different areas.
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