Wednesday, March 20, 2013

15x binoculars on a tripod

Eagle Optics,

I have a very good spotting scope, a fairly new Zeiss 85mm w/20-60x eyepiece, but I find hours of one-eyed viewing to be uncomfortable. I almost always use 20x, 90% of my scope birding is over water, and I find distortion and shake to negate any advantage from higher magnification.

I was considering mounting a 15x50 Vortex Viper on a tripod, but am reluctant to spend $650+ on an experiment that may be a failure and I have no experience with the stability or durability of bin/tripod adapters. I'm also a little reluctant given that I've seen only one or two folks in my 37 years of birding with a bin/tripod set-up.

Do you have any insight on this matter, pros or cons? Will you have any reps in Michigan, perhaps at a festival or show, where I might have an opportunity to try such a set-up? Thanks for any information you can provide.



Dear Matt,

Thanks for your interest in Eagle Optics. The tripod and binocular setup should work well for you and reduce eye fatigue since you’ll have both eyes open.

You’re right that most folks don’t use these setups. I’d argue that there are two reasons for that. Most of the time, people like the light gathering of a scope (bigger front lenses) and there is not a wide selection of binoculars in similar front lens sizes.

I guess a lot of folks also don’t mind the one-eye viewing. But if if is a problem for you, I think the bin/tripod setup might be your ideal fix.

We don’t have any upcoming festivals in Michigan, but we do have a full 30-day return policy. You have 30 days from the time you receive the order to set it up and check it out. If you’re not happy for any reason, you can return it in original condition for a full refund or exchange.


Eagle Optics


  1. Matt:
    I use a 16x60 Pentax PCF WP and a 20x60 Pentax PCF WPII binocular on a tripod, and both work really well. They may not transmit the light of an 80mm scope, but I find them plenty bright for all but the very dimmest conditions. This setup works great for birding, other wildlife spotting, whale watching, and night sky viewing. Just be sure to use a good, stable tripod. Also works well from a vehicle window mount. I have an old metal Pentax tripod adapter that is very durable. I also made an adapter out of a block of oak, and appropriate sized bolt for the binocular, and T-Nut for the tripod screw. You can probably find plans to make a simple mount on the Internet. I highly recommend this setup. The view through high power binoculars seems much "richer" than the view through my Leupold scope. Good luck with your purchase!
    Clair, in Oregon

  2. Matt,

    When I bird along the shore or in open, non-woodsy areas, I bring my Canon 12x36 image stabilized binoculars. We usually also have a couple of scopes set up in the group. Most of the time I see the bird as well as the people with the scopes, and much quicker. Of course, it's not as bright, but with two eyes worth of light, it's pretty darn good. Since the scopes are usually set at 20-25X, my binoculars see an image about 1/2 the size of the scopes. They're heavier than average, take a little getting used to, and aren't for everyone. However, when I press the stabilize button, the world stops shaking immediately, and everything is quite clear. In fact, if it's a windy, I get better views than with scopes shaking in the wind. I frequently set my scope (Vortex Razor) down and grab the binocs to see a bird before it flies away. If it sticks around, I'll set the scope on it so others can see it. As I said, it's not for everyone, but you should consider how it would fit with your birding, it just might work for you.
    Jack, near San Francisco.

  3. I've been thrilled with my Canon 15x50 image-stabilized binoculars for more than 7 years now. They're much lighter and more versatile than a scope and tripod, although you do have to support them with your arms (unless you mount them on a monopod or tripod, or just find something to rest your elbows on). When I spot a bird flying by rapidly, I can usually turn and find it quickly in these binocular's relatively wide field of view and engage the stabilization to accurately discern the bird's diagnostic features. It amazes me after I've gotten a good look at a bird after it lands 1/8 or more of a mile away and lower the binoculars to find that I often cannot see the bird at all with the naked eye. I realize they cost considerably more than Matt was planning on spending, but I rarely use my excellent 7x42 binoculars or spotting scope on birding trips anymore.
    Bob in Illinois

  4. The issues associated with traveling quick-and-light and hauling a tripod are commonly an excessive amount of of a hassle for me.
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