Binos that allow you to look around in the FOV

buckdandy

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Dec 6, 2021
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I would like to start a discussion about which binos are the most forgiving in terms of eye placement (ie getting the full FOV without being dead center and staring straight ahead). I have young, sharp eyes and a tendency to want to look around in the FOV, rather than move the FOV.

When I started looking for my first set of binos, my sole focus was maximum glass quality for the price. That approach landed me a set of Kowa Genesis 10.5x44s -- with the decision largely based upon the experience of others here on rokslide. They are an objectively nice set of binos, with sweet spot clarity that rivals the very best. My one criticism is that I found them somewhat finicky about eye placement. Slight movements of my face and any attempt to move my eyes within the FOV resulted in blackouts.

Instead of going the incremental route or looking in the same price range, I went straight to the Swaro EL SV 8.5x42. By all accounts this was the easy choice for eye comfort. I thought that bumping up glass quality and increasing exit pupil from 4.2 to 4.9 would give me the relaxed view I was looking for. Unfortunately, I found them to be nearly as finicky. There was also a sharp ring that appeared around the center of the FOV when panning around (in my uneducated opinion, a possible result of the field-flattening lenses). They were promptly sent back.

After my experiences and some reading on the birder forums, I'm currently thinking that an oversized exit pupil might be what I'm looking for. Do I need to go with the comically large Swaro SLC 8x56, Zeiss Victory HT 8x54, etc? Or is there another way to get what I'm looking for?
 

JakeSCH

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Jun 14, 2020
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It sounds more like the angle of your head. Stick your chin forward, get really close to the glass and only move your eyes to look around. You may need to get the binos higher with the tripod and close your eye cups all the way.

Those EL SV 8.5x42 are incredible binos with a huge FOV and extremely forgiving.

When my binos are to low and i hunch over to look through them, it significantly reduces their capability and I run into issues like you are having.
 

BBob

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No idea why you had trouble with an EL with 20mm of eye relief. I've owned a couple generations of EL's in 10X and no problems all with less eye relief than the 8.5's. I started in the 80's with Zeiss 10x40's and no issues, same for early Leica Trinovid's in 10. NL 12X is a breeze. Are you glassing with eye cups all of the way down? I've glassed since the 80's with eycups rolled down or retracted all the way for this reason. Are you hand holding or using a tripod?
 

MaraviaDave

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Oct 5, 2015
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To echo the posts above….put your eye cups all the way in. Also, the amount of eye relief a binocular has is the criteria you should be looking for, as opposed to exit pupil diameter.
 
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ReddingArcher

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May 22, 2014
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878
Yep another vote for eye cups all the way in. For years the first thing I did was extend the eye cups out fully and would get the blackout edges when I’d move my eyes around. I tried with the cups in fully and it’s a world of difference! My hunting buddies still roll their eye cups out and I’ve tried showing them the difference but they just don’t want to try it.
 

Matt G.

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I have the the 8.5 els and the FOV is stunning especially with eye cups in when on tripod.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk
 

Newtosavage

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In someone's favorite spot
Only time my eyecups are out (I don't wear glasses) is when I'm hand-holding them as it helps me steady the bins a bit and it does block out stray light. When my bins are supported, I always twist the eyecups in, as if I was wearing glasses, so I can "look around" the FOV better. Works great.

After two full years with only my 8x32 Conquest HD's, I'm still not interested in any other binocular anymore. On a tripod or window mount, I can see things with them that most folks wouldn't even think was possible with "just" 8x bins. They are incredible.
 

Browninglover1

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Agreed with all the comments above about twisting in the eyecups. As an added bonus they fog less in the cold with the eye cups twisted in.
 

ZackP

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Dec 1, 2019
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What everyone up there 👆🏻 said is spot on. Turning them all the way in makes a world of difference.
 

Brewski

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Apr 12, 2018
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I agree with the above posts, the combo of FOV and eye relief on the 8.5 EL's is great and a tripod takes to the next level. If the OP still had them I would suggest trying the eye caps in the second position, spending more time fine tuning the diopeter focus, and then center focusing as clear as possible at say 300 yards. Once I focus at 300 yards, I can see very clear from 100 yards to 1500 yards without bino adjustment.
 
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buckdandy

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Dec 6, 2021
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Thanks for the replies, all.

I used both pairs handheld and mounted on a tripod. When handheld, I find the eye cup position that gives me the most comfortable view. When on the tripod, I have the eye cups all the way down.

I try every conceivable position when test driving glass, adjusting for IPD, head position, eye cups, diopter, etc. I'll try what JakeSCH suggested concerning chin placement, this evening.

Eye relief was surely not the EL's problem for me, although I can't say I'd want any more than 20mm. The ring in the FOV was the primary issue.

Does anyone have experience with large exit pupil binos (>5.2)? It seems this gives you more room to roam. All of this is likely more on me than the glass, but I'd like to find something comfortable to use.
 
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buckdandy

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Dec 6, 2021
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I gave the head repositioning with the Kowas a try on the tripod. Still getting blackouts when I make even the slightest move.

The quality I'm looking for is something that I've seen in a Leupold VX-5HD (likely can be found in many others too, this is just from personal experience). I could barely tilt my head into the eyebox and get an immediate, full view of the FOV. It was maintained even when moving my head back and forth. Granted, we're talking about an exit pupil of 14+, but I was floored by how easy it was to look through it.

Can anyone with a monster set of binos (8x w/ 54+ objectives) confirm/deny that they provide a similar kind of easy view?
 

Spiral Horn

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Oct 19, 2019
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Hi Buck,

A number of factors (eye relief, shape of exit pupils, eyecup design, etc) contribute to the phenomena of “blackouts,” “kidney-beaning,” or just plain finicky eye position with a particular binocular model. Unfortunately, just looking at a spec sheet won’t tell the whole story. However, it does seem to occur most often with short eye relief (personal IPD also comes into play). But like you I just won‘t settle for a binocular that I have to fight or struggle with. If it doesn’t give me a full and easy view when holding in a natural position I‘m just not going to get the binocular’s full potential, and it also leads to quicker fatigue. Also, don’t think it’s a good idea to flatten the eye cups to make up for a poor fit. If one doesn’t wear glasses - this will introduce additional stray light into the view.

As you’ve already noticed the Kowas (claimed 16mm ER, but some reviewers found less) are pretty well-known for these issues. Folks can take steps to adjust to it, but why bother when there are so many other quality choices. IME NLs are quite finicky and the ELs have a bit of tunnel-vision and globe effect - but these issues don’t show up in my view through the SLCs. With Zeiss, the 42mm SFs and the FLs give me a very full and easy view; but I struggle with the 32mm SFs and a smidge with the Conquests (here I’ve heard getting the longer eye cups makes a big difference).

You asked about big objective binoculars. I have two 56mm and a 50mm. All else being equal these bigger objective binoculars often provide a smidge greater detail saturation than their smaller siblings. It is simply a matter of more light - greater brightness in low light but not necessarily in full daylight. If shopping for a big OBJ glass, pay special attention to super-high light transmission rates (Abbe-Koenig prisms help). I also like to stay with at least 18mm ER. A few that get rave reviews are 56mm SLCs, 56mm Zeiss FL (discontinued), 50mm Ultravid HD+, and the 50mm ELs (but I’ve noticed RB effect in these). A great new offering is the Maven B6 10x50. I have a set - 18mm ER, no blackouts or positioning issues, crisp/bright/detailed/easy image, and very compact for a 50mm - size/weight similar to a 42mm.

Sorry for the long-winded response but wanted to provide a full perspective.
 

swavescatter

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Apr 3, 2021
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162
I think you're expecting too much from optics. Have you ever been able to achieve this Oculus VR level of eye relief before?

A phoneskope might be your only option for freedom of movement.
 
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buckdandy

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Dec 6, 2021
Messages
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Hi Buck,

A number of factors (eye relief, shape of exit pupils, eyecup design, etc) contribute to the phenomena of “blackouts,” “kidney-beaning,” or just plain finicky eye position with a particular binocular model. Unfortunately, just looking at a spec sheet won’t tell the whole story. However, it does seem to occur most often with short eye relief (personal IPD also comes into play). But like you I just won‘t settle for a binocular that I have to fight or struggle with. If it doesn’t give me a full and easy view when holding in a natural position I‘m just not going to get the binocular’s full potential, and it also leads to quicker fatigue. Also, don’t think it’s a good idea to flatten the eye cups to make up for a poor fit. If one doesn’t wear glasses - this will introduce additional stray light into the view.

As you’ve already noticed the Kowas (claimed 16mm ER, but some reviewers found less) are pretty well-known for these issues. Folks can take steps to adjust to it, but why bother when there are so many other quality choices. IME NLs are quite finicky and the ELs have a bit of tunnel-vision and globe effect - but these issues don’t show up in my view through the SLCs. With Zeiss, the 42mm SFs and the FLs give me a very full and easy view; but I struggle with the 32mm SFs and a smidge with the Conquests (here I’ve heard getting the longer eye cups makes a big difference).

You asked about big objective binoculars. I have two 56mm and a 50mm. All else being equal these bigger objective binoculars often provide a smidge greater detail saturation than their smaller siblings. It is simply a matter of more light - greater brightness in low light but not necessarily in full daylight. If shopping for a big OBJ glass, pay special attention to super-high light transmission rates (Abbe-Koenig prisms help). I also like to stay with at least 18mm ER. A few that get rave reviews are 56mm SLCs, 56mm Zeiss FL (discontinued), 50mm Ultravid HD+, and the 50mm ELs (but I’ve noticed RB effect in these). A great new offering is the Maven B6 10x50. I have a set - 18mm ER, no blackouts or positioning issues, crisp/bright/detailed/easy image, and very compact for a 50mm - size/weight similar to a 42mm.

Sorry for the long-winded response but wanted to provide a full perspective.

I appreciate your thorough and thoughtful response.

I've tried an older generation SLC 10x42, but not a newer one, so that may be worth a look. Also tried the conquest, which needs longer eye cups or relief for me. Other Zeiss will be explored as well.

Ultimately I need to test drive all these options. The trick is finding a store that carries them. Maven should be easy enough with their demo program.
 
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