Last month I encountered a group of trees absolutely packed with bats. The sound was tremendous, but I couldn’t see the dang things! Even with a 70–200mm lens, I couldn’t make out much difference between the leaves and the leather. It’s times like these—when you’re not quite close enough to experience the moment in which you’re trying to be present—that a quality pair of compact binoculars would be the perfect tool to have in the gear bag. Sometimes, just being able to see something better is more important than capturing its image!
To that end, I’m pleased to present Canon’s latest options for those of us who don’t need all the bells and whistles a dedicated birder might. For those who won’t carry binoculars because it doesn’t make sense to budget the weight or space, the ultra-compact Canon 8×20 IS or Canon 10×20 IS might just be the right option to throw in the car or backpack—just in case!
The 8×20 IS is actually (without the battery) the lightest pair of stabilized binoculars, period. Nice work, Canon!
The key feature of both models, aside from their size and weight, is the built-in stabilization system. Drawing from their extensive experience helping you get steady, sharp photos, Canon has crafted a combination of powered and mechanical image stabilization to make for a massively more enjoyable viewing experience. (Without that shake, it’s much easier to look through binoculars for an extended period of time, too: these are perfect for concerts, plays, sporting events, and other Big Deals for which you might not be standing front and center.)
The Shift-System stabilizer provides full-time improvement over non-stabilized binoculars, and each model’s battery provides enough juice for up to five minutes of continuous powered stabilization for critical moments.
Both binoculars feature Canon’s signature coating and field-flattening lens technology for a crisp, vibrant image from edge to edge, and they can both focus on a subject as near as 6 feet. If you can get that close to something and look at it with a 10x magnification, you definitely won’t miss a single detail!
A quick note on the numbers
If you’re more photography-oriented (and I’m guessing most of you are), the standard nomenclature used for binoculars may seem a little opaque. Here’s an easy explanation!
The first number is the magnification factor, using non-enhanced human vision as the base. So, while a compact camera with a 10x zoom is basing its magnification factor on its widest-angle position (having, for example, a 24–240mm equivalent field of view), the magnification factor on a pair of binoculars is based on approximately a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera. The 8x is like looking through a 400mm lens, and the 10x is like a 500mm lens! That 70–200mm lens I mentioned would be 1.4–4x in binocular terms.
The second number is the diameter of the opening where light comes in. The bigger they are, the brighter the image you’ll see, but the more massive the binoculars. These are both 20mm objectives, squarely in the “compact” category.