Image-Stabilized In the same way that digital cameras can have image stabilization, so too, can binoculars. Image stabilization compensates for operator movement, the swaying of a boat, or the vibration inside an aircraft, that normally prevent the viewer from having a steady image.
There is an inevitable wobble in any handheld binocular’s image. The higher the magnification, the greater the wobble. At some point, the wobble negates the increased resolution that magnification provides. Image-Stabilized binoculars are perfect for those of us that do not have the steadiest of hands.
Stabilized binoculars usually contain a gyroscope that requires power to provide stabilization, or a pendulum-type device that provides stabilization without being powered. Most often, this type of binocular is used by boaters to reduce the disorientation common with high-power optics, or while using them in choppy seas. They are also popular with aviators and search-and-rescue professionals.
One would think that the more magnification, the more you could see. But it’s not necessarily so. The usable power of a binocular is limited by the steadiness of the hands that hold it.
And even a birder with normally steady hands won’t be able to hold a binocular as still after running up a steep hill to see a bird as the same person sitting quietly on the back porch.
Magnification to Distance: Magnification indicates how large an object appears when viewed through the binoculars.
For example, a magnification of 4x means that an object viewed at a distance of 100 m through the binoculars appears at the same size you would view the object at a distance of 25 m with the naked eye.
(This means viewing with the actual distance scaled down to 1/4). Essentially the higher the magnification, the larger the object appears, but as the magnification increases the field of view decreases.
Or say, with a 10x Magnification Binocular, an object viewed at a distance of 100 m through the binoculars appears at the same size you would view the object at a distance of 10 m with the naked eye.
What hobbies do I need image stabilized binoculars for?
- Astronomy – For astronomy more so than any other hobby, you need a stable viewing point. Ever seen a telescope without a mount (not a spotting scope, a telescope)? There’s a reason for that – highly magnified viewing requires stability, which is why IS binoculars can prove to be extremely effective for astronomy.
- Birdwatching – Birdwatching is another hobby that benefits from IS technology. When you get into more advanced and are focusing on long range bird-watching, IS binoculars can be very helpful.
- Hunting – Hunting prioritizes ease of use in the equipment that you need – you don’t have unlimited time like you do with astronomy and other hobbies. So, being quick to the draw can require stabilized binoculars to help you see your target clearly. There’s been a massive increase in quality in hunting binoculars in recent years, due to the technology being used getting gradually cheaper.
- Boating – As you may have guessed, boating is another environment which can get particularly choppy. Whilst some people prefer a monocular device for a boat, binoculars are still the better choice due to their bi vision.