Bruce's Binoculars for Astronomy, with notes about phase coatings and old leather cases at page bottom

These 12x60 inexpensive "Visioner" brand binoculars are in some respects even better for astronomy than the 10x50s, although a bit more difficult to hand-hold and not quite up to the same high optical/mechanical standards as my 10x50 Pentax or Swift models....These Visioner brand 12x60s can be gotten new for about $130. These were a big hit at the 2000 RTMC event in Southern California (Riverside Telescope Makers Conference). Also in a similar category are the 15x70 "Bear" binoculars, which cost about the same, perform even better, but are a bit more than most people can effectively hand-hold. "Oberwerk" brand binoculars are one step up in quality from Bears and Baraskas, and are backed by great customer service. Oberwerks are sold on-line by Kevin B. at, where an extensive collection of astronomy-size binoculars are sold, all for good prices.



Here is a tiny pair of very high quality West German binoculars, "only" 8x30s, but the exquisite images and huge field of view make for luscious Milky Way cruisin'--- and a side benefit of such small, and very lightweight binoculars is that on cold, dew-filled nights, you can easily keep them warm and dew free all night long by wearing them under your down jacket---- you can't try that with your average 11x80s!.....Optolyth 8x30, 15 ozs., or try their wonderful 10x40 all-arounder size at a very light 20 ozs. I have owned both models and can testify without reservation about their quality and ease of use. Both sizes used to be available from Deutscheoptik. com, which also carried the even more desireable Optolyth astro models such as a 10x50, a 12x50 and their "Zeiss Killer" 15x63 roof prism model, which I review elsewhere on my site, click here for that set of reviews.

And here's a pair of old, but good quality 8x30's by Asahi Pentax

Pentax 8x30. All-metal construction, solid, reliable, and can be found for around $50 on places like eBay or AstroMart. Their only real drawback is old-fashioned, basic lens coatings, which makes their images somewhat less lively and a bit dimmer than modern multi-coated models. Below is a similar but larger version of the Asahi binoculars, an 8x40. This one has an extreme wide-angle view of 9.5 degrees.... I've had it recollimated and serviced by Cory Suddarth and while it is heavy, it's solid and easy to hold and quite sharp in the center part of its very wide FOV...And like the 8x30, I picked it up for under $100.

An educational note-- despite huge hype for "phase coatings," porro prism binoculars DO NOT need them to perform! (but the hype is true in relation to roof prism binoculars, where even the very best brands benefit from the addition of good phase coatings to their roof prism systems)....

Finally, there is this comment--- Another plus of old binoculars is that they usually come equipped with those neat old leather cases with the wonderul plush red or green linings-- you get a real case, not those stupid, cheap fake rubber plastic cases with the velcro that most modern binoculars sport. If you get an old binocular with a great old case that needs repair take it to Fink's in downtown Portland, Oregon, if you live anywhere close. They do all sorts of repairs to heavy leather things, suitcases, purses, packs, zippers on outdoor garments, etc.

Page last revised 11/14/2021


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