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#96414 - 05/18/08 09:02 AM UL Binoculars
Salish Offline

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 129
Loc: Seattle, Washington
I thought some readers of TLB might be interested in this. I've been casually searching for an inexpensive pair of ultra light binoculars for the past couple of years, but I see very little under the 8oz weights unless the glasses are very expensive, or extremely cheaply made. I've seen many of the really cheap binoculars and they are very poor. The best UL binoculars I've seen are the Leica trinivoid series, which weigh in around 6.5 oz, but they are very expensive. I understand about great optics and if I was rich I wouldn't hesitate a moment to buy the Leicas, but I'm not rich and I tend to misplace things, so I go with optics that are "good enough". I found these tiny binoculars at the Rick Steves Travel Store in Edmonds, WA., for $29.00. The name on the product is "Carson", which I'm assuming is a line of super cheap off-shore glasses marketed for places like Big 5, K-mart, etc. They weigh about 4.5 oz and fit in the palm of your hand. I was quite surprised at the quality of the views, which was much better than I expected. I went ahead and bought them this weekend and I've been watching a Stellar Jay defend his territory all morning from crows, robins, my dogs, etc. These are not a choice for people who appreciate good optics, but if you don't care for monoculars (like me) and are looking for "good enough" binocs that weigh very little, you might want to take a look.

I'm attaching a photo and a link to the place I bought it. I have no special interest in Rick Steves place. I'm traveling to Africa next month and just stopped in to get some things.

Seattle, WA

#96415 - 05/18/08 06:48 PM Re: UL Binoculars [Re: Salish]
Franco Offline

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 1000
Loc: Australia
Carson, possibly a name chosen for the similarity with the well known Carton brand...
In China there are many bino manufacturers and most make for several brands. Often the same design (occasionally the same optics) used for a well known brand are also sold to "house brands" . That porro prism design is also cheaper to make, so usually better value than the narrow roof prism version. With binos what you see is what you get, but test them out before you buy.
Good comment about the Leica, I have recently misplaced my 8x20. Ouch...

#96416 - 06/09/08 07:03 AM Re: UL Binoculars [Re: Salish]
jshannon Offline

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 410
Loc: North Texas
I'll probably have to get me a pair of those. Thanks Salish.
Ten Essential Groups

#96417 - 06/09/08 07:18 AM Re: UL Binoculars [Re: Salish]
Dryer Offline

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3590
Loc: Texas
My Nikon Travelites are on their last leg, so I'm looking to replace them.
Are the Carson's optics glass? Sometimes in cheap optics, plastic is used to keep cost down. They work well in daylight but at night, a star test will produce halos and diffraction spikes. Have you tried the Carson's at night?
I prefer porro-prism glass's to roof prism designs for two reasons. 1) better light transmission in porro-prisms and 2) roof prism binos are trickier to make, thus making good one's expensive. I can usually work on (repair/collimate) porro-prism glass's but not roof prisms.

My astronomical binos are Fujinons and are about as good as it gets. Fujinon make some birders I'm interested in, as well as some travel binos. The Nikons have served me well but are not waterproof and the optics have slipped out of collimation (which don't seem to be repairable).'s hard to go wrong with anything Rick Steves recommends...we've used his advice for years with never a regret.
paul, texas KD5IVP

#96418 - 06/09/08 10:38 AM Re: UL Binoculars [Re: Dryer]
jshannon Offline

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 410
Loc: North Texas
Ten Essential Groups

#96419 - 06/09/08 02:30 PM Re: UL Binoculars [Re: jshannon]
johndavid Offline

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ
I had very light ones, dirt cheap, Bushnell brand I think, from Wal Mart I liked for a while until I stepped on them.

Then I got some for like $200. Nicer, but not necessarily worth it for my purposes.

I don't use them for backpacking. I use them a little for hunting and a little for tourism.

Good for examining architecture, like medieval churches for example, inside and out, and believe it or not, very useful for looking at paintings in crowded museums. Twenty feet away from something, it's like you can shove your nose into the paint, which wouldn't be a good idea otherwise. Also it creates some weird, flat perspective that can be interesting.

Stick with 8x & don't get 10x, expecially for looking at art, whether you get high or low quality or whatever.

They're nice enough for just gazing at the landscape, but sometimes they don't actually reveal very much more than otherwise.

One winter in Jersey City by Statue of Liberty, a bunch of birdwatchers were going nuts over something. I aimed my 10x $200 binoculars over there, and saw --- like maybe a seagull?

Then they let me look through their spotting scope. It was a snowy owl. Very nice.

#110921 - 02/09/09 12:12 AM Re: UL Binoculars [Re: johndavid]
eddie13231 Offline

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 12
Loc: Midwest
Awesome! I have been looking for something like this for a while. I didn't think that cheap (light) binoculars would work but it sounds like these might. I'll try them out and let you know what I think.

#111092 - 02/11/09 05:07 PM Re: UL Binoculars [Re: eddie13231]
eddie13231 Offline

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 12
Loc: Midwest
Picked up a pair...and they are awesome! They are tiny. About the size of my small camera and really clear when viewing through them. You're not going to see a few football fields away but they will do what I need.


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