10×30 Canon IS Binoculars Review
- Summary of the Main Specifications
- Safari Guide Opinion
- The Image Stabilization
- The Body
- The Optics
- Cost & Where to Buy
- Similar Binoculars
When it comes to my binoculars, I must confess to being a bit of a traditionalist. Apart from the odd tweak here and there, the occasional reduction in weight and improvements in optical quality, their overall design has not changed that much over the years.
So even though Image Stabilized binoculars have been around for a while and I know that this technology is far more than just a gimmick, I had not had the chance or indeed actively sought out the opportunity to use a pair.
This recently changed when Canon kindly sent me their compact 10×30 IS binoculars to test and review, that in theory, should make ideal safari binoculars.
- Size: Mid Size Binoculars
- Prism Type: Porro Prism Binoculars
- Magnification: 10x
- Objective Lens Diameter: 30mm
- Exit Pupil: 3
- Twilight Factor: 17.32
- Eye Relief: 14.5mm
- Weight: 21.2ozs (601g)
- Length: 5.9in (15cm) Height: 2.8in (7.1cm) Width: 5.0in (12.7cm)
- Real field of view: 6.0°
- Apparent field of view: 60.0°
- Field of View: 105m at 1,000 meters
- Field of View: 314ft at 1,000 yards
- Close Focus Distance: 13.8ft
- Waterproof: No (weather resistant)
- Fogproof: No
- Image Stabilization: Yes
- Extra Low Dispersion Glass: No
Of course the main feature on these Canon IS binoculars is their Digital Image Stabilisation that is designed to either reduce or in some circumstances completely eliminate image shake.
So before I review the rest of binocular, I thought that it would be useful to talk a little about Canon image stabilisation binoculars and IS in general.
Whilst you can find other makes of image stabilization binoculars, Canon have been at the forefront of this particular technology since it came into existence and currently offer a fairly wide range of binoculars all with image stabilization.
Canon first developed their IS technology with photographic lenses in mind and it is now found in many pro-photographer’s camera bags. The Image Stabilising in Canon’s binoculars gives you the same advantages as the lens IS, making it easier to hand-hold the image steady for extended periods of time making viewing easier and far more comfortable with their binoculars.
How the Canon Stabilizer Binoculars Work
A couple of sensors within the body are designed to perceive any movement and if there is any the information is then immediately transferred to a processor that is in charge of a pair of Vari-Angle Prisms, which then instantaneously changes the inbound light’s angle of refraction which has the effect of maintaining a motionless image.
In order for you to turn on the Image Stabiliser, you only have to push a button which is located on the top of the binoculars. If you don’t want to use or don’t need the IS, or indeed if the batteries run out, these Canon binoculars can be used just like standard ones, without the IS switched on.
How Well Does the IS Work?
The short answer is really well, and it really is not just a gimmick. As you turn it on, you can just barely spot a tiny image shudder as the IS starts and then the view becomes far more still.
For a quick idea, take a look at the video below that clearly shows just how effective the image stabilisation is. Please note that this video was taken through the smaller Canon 8×25 IS binoculars, that have a less powerful magnification than this 10x version and therefore have less image shake.
Why you may need Image Stabilisation
The magnification on your binoculars are what enable you to view more details on distant objects, but on the flip side, any movement is also magnified, which can make the image you are looking at unsteady.
Unless you have really unsteady hands, or are on a unsteady platform (like a boat of vehicle) Image shake for me only gets really bad once you start to use powers of about 15x and over and it is only then that you really start to need something to steady the image.
So you have to ask, do you need IS on a pair of binoculars with only a 10x magnification?
The answer for many uses would be No it is not vital, but is a nice feature to have – However there are also a few areas, including on a safari where IS is not only a nice feature to have, but can also be very beneficial even on a 10x powered binocular:
- If you use your binoculars on a moving platform – things like watching wildlife from a slowly moving safari vehicle or if you use them on a boat
- If you spend long periods looking through your binoculars, even the smallest movements eventually make your eyes feel tired – the IS has the effect of reducing this. The additional comfort you get from viewing still images really can’t be overstated
- If you are trying to look at fast moving and/or erratic birds through your binoculars – especially if you want to track them across the sky
- If you have unsteady or shaky hands
Alternative to IS?
Body & Outer Construction
The downside to all this clever technology is that the electronics require a batteries – Two size AA batteries, to be precise, which according to Canon will last for about 20 hours of observation using the stabilizer. As the IS is only activated when the button on the top is held, you will probably get many months of use out of the binoculars before they need to be replaced.
A small LED next to the button lights up whilst it is pressed, so even if you don’t notice the difference in viewing when the IS stops working (which you will), when the light no longer lights, you will know that it is time to replace the batteries.
Holding these Canon 10×30 binoculars, I thought that they were not only really comfy but were also nicely balanced. This, a reasonably lightweight body and the IS make the Canon 10×30 IS bins a great option for longer observation periods, say from a hide or overlooking a waterhole whilst on safari.
In my hands, I found that the IS activation button on top of the bins was simple to reach without having to change my grip using either hand.
Weight & Dimensions
Considering the extra electronics that they have, they weigh only 600gr/21.2 oz (excluding batteries, which compares very well to other mid sized binoculars and even with batteries they could not be described as heavy.
They are not as compact when you compare them to the average mid sized binocular, (15×12.7×7.1 cm), so if you are really pushed for space in your travel bag, that may be a point to consider.
Whilst Canon say that they come with a coating that is water-resistant, they are not fully fog or waterproof which I have to say is a little annoying. They do however make fully water proof versions of these IS binoculars: the 10×42, 15×50 and 18×50.
Interpupillary Distance Adjustment
Unlike most binoculars that have a central hinge running down the length of the body that is used to adjust the distance between the eyepiece lenses to suit your eyes (Interpupillary Distance Adjustment), these eyepieces can adjusted independently from the body, which works well and I had no problems with.
To adjust the focus and as with most binoculars, you simply rotate the central focusing wheel. It takes just over one full turn to go from infinity to the near focus, which is reasonably fast and I thought that the mechanism was nice and smooth.
Eye-Cups & Eye Relief
The rubber eye-cups on these Canon binoculars were comfortable even when pushed firmly against my face and they also did a pretty good job of blocking out light from the sides.
These Canon binoculars don’t have twist up eye-cups common on many binoculars these days, but they still offer a good 14.5 mm of eye relief. This should be enough for most people who wear glasses to be able to use the binoculars without having to remove them – to do this you would just roll down the eye-cups.
Field of View (FOV)
These Canon IS binoculars have a FOV that is 314ft wide at a distance of 1000 yards / 105m wide at 1000m (angle of view = 6°) which I must say is fine but not spectacular for a 10x binocular.
These Canon 10×30 IS bins use 30mm objective lenses, whilst a more common size of objective lens for a mid binocular is 32mm.
These smaller objectives help to keep the size & weight of the bin down, but on the flip side, they will not be able to gather as much light as ones with larger lenses.
However it is also important to keep in mind that whilst light gathering potential is important, what is more important is the transmission of the light and just how much of that light gathered actually gets to your eyes. this is where the quality of the glass in the lenses, prisms, as well as their coatings can really help make a big difference:
Canon state they their lenses are multi-coated with their own "Super Spectra" coating, that according to them "maximises contrast and minimises colour smear". We will have to take their word on this, but I can say that I thought that the image contrast was good and it’s colours felt natural, and was far removed from the sometimes quite artificial hues that I have observed on cheap binoculars.
The image brightness for me was also impressive and as good as my benchmark which has slightly larger 32mm objective lenses that I was comparing them with. So whilst they may have less light gathering potential, than say a binocular with larger 32mm objective lenses, they make up for it when compared to other cheaper binoculars with the quality of their glass and coatings.
Image sharpness was also very good as was the contrast and colour reproduction.
The amount of softening of the image around the edge of the view was pretty non-existent and there was no noticeable colour fringing which is excellent and is an indication that the doublet field-flattener lenses that they use is worth it.
As well as this, these and indeed all the other Canon’s IS series binoculars are equipped with doublet field-flattener lenses. These are designed to lower the distortion as well as improve the sharpness at the edges of the image by reducing the curvature of the field.
Best Binocular Video Review of the Canon 10×30 IS Binoculars
This video above is part of a full review that I did for the Best Binocular reviews website, you can read the full Canon 10×30 IS Image Stabilized Binocular review here.
At their RRP of £499/$590, these Canon binoculars were in my opinion a little pricey, but now you can find them for less than £300/$350 (check current prices below), which when you take into account how well the IS works, they make pretty good value for money.
As a safari binocular these make a lot of sense, the 10x magnification is ideal and the image stabilization has some real advantages, both in a safari vehicle and for using over long periods of time in a hide or looking at wildlife at a waterhole for example.
As with most mid-sized binoculars, their smallish size makes them far easier to pack in with your luggage and carry around with you whilst on safari than full sized binoculars.
Weak points for me are the fact that they are not 100% waterproof, so they may not be ideal if you plan on getting wet whilst out in the bush, but fine if you are a fair weather observer of wildlife. I would have also preferred it is they had a closer minimum focusing distance, but this is only a minor point.
So on the whole, for many people, especially those who like their technology, these will make ideal binoculars to take with you on safari.
One of my favorite Safari Binoculars
Fully multi-coated lenses and phase corrected Bak-4 prisms, waterproof, fog-proof, lightweight, with their ergonomic open bridge design that enables comfortable operation even with one hand.
In the Minox BL 8×33, you have a binocular with very high spec quality optics that produce an excellent quality image that are really bright for a mid-sized binocular. This combined with the very comfortable, robust and good looking body that is well balanced makes them one of the best mid-sized binoculars that I have ever reviewed.
Another top of the range Mid-Size Binocular, this time from Kowa – a fantastic safari binocular:
High-End mid sized roof prism binoculars featuring Prominar XD Lenses (extra low dispersion glass), fully multi-coated lenses and phase corrected Schmidt-Pechan prisms to ensure excellent optical performance. The view through them is nothing short of sensational and definitely some of the best and brightest mid sized binoculars with a magnification of 10x or more that I have ever used.
This Kowa Genesis binocular is also fully waterproof, fog-proof and lightweight, with a durable and tough rubber coated armour exterior.
If you are after a cheaper Mid-Size Binocular:
Mid to entry level mid-size binoculars that feature high quality Bak-4 phase coated roof prisms and fully multi-coated lenses. They are fully waterproof as well as fogproof with a tough rubber coated exterior. Ideal traveling companions.
This combined with a very competitive price tag is why I highly recommend them to anyone looking for an entry level mid-size binocular ideal to take on safari:
Or if you are looking for a more compact and cheaper binocular? You should consider the excellent 10.5×28 Steiner Wildlife Pro Binoculars:
Could these be the ultimate safari binoculars?
The perfect combination of shock resistance, visual performance and comfortable handling. Designed with glare and UV blocking, these Steiner Wildlife binoculars also have the ability to offer clear, distortion free images in bright sunlight. The High-Contrast Optics offer excellent visual experiences and all at a reasonable price.