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Digital-camera-binoculars.....are they any good for UFO hunting?

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posted on Jan, 26 2008 @ 08:25 AM
I was looking into buying a pair of digital camera-binoculars lately as on clear days I usually do a bit of UFO hunting. Even taking a photo or video-clip of aircraft using bino's would be good, so I was wondering if anyone out there has got a pair and got any decent pics?

I looked on the web to see any reviews and they all seem fairly bad. The build quality reviews for Celestron, Meade, Bushnell etc are poor and the pictures taken were stated by all to be unusable.
Iam not sure whether things have improved as the reviews seem several years old, but from what information I found, the problems seem to be:
Poor build quality and optics.
Poor resolution.
Shaky image inherent when holding bino's.
The camera not being part of the bino optics.

The best reviews seem to be for the Barska 4 & 5MP ones but they didn't indicate anything about the picture quality and usage.

So, please reply with any info you have as to whether any of these bino's are worth getting or shall I have to look for a camera with zoom lens.

posted on Jan, 26 2008 @ 05:44 PM
Hi St1234.

You’ve asked a question and whereas I will attempt to help though I’m not sure if it will be the kind of help you were looking for.

First off, I would s advise that before you want to go and splash money out on any particular product consider very strongly just exactly what it is you wish to achieve.

Do you want to watch the sky?


Do you want to take good photos?


Are pictures of UFO’s the only reason you’re willing to look into the subject?

And do you have any real experience with either of the first two?

Remember there are a variety of tools for the job and with the optics game you really do get what you pay for so, you should consider how much you are willing to gamble ‘cash wise’ if the only thing you can answer yes to is question 3.

Sky-watching is a science, photography is an art and UFO’s are luck.

Unfortunately you will probably find that luck really doesn’t count for a hell of a lot. (though I may be wrong, you could just turn out to be the luckiest guy in the world

If you are interested in sky-watching there are an enormous number of ways to get into the habit. And yes, despite what people might believe binoculars are a good starter.

But… Binoculars are not cameras.

Those digital-camera binoc’s you are looking at are hybrid devices. They’re binoculars with a camera stuck in the middle.
The optics you might be looking though may well be reasonable to a degree but don’t think that the camera is doing the same.

In a lot of cases the camera component has exactly the same lens sitting in front of its sensor as the average point ’n’ shoot holiday crappy-snapper.

If you went out and bought a good pair of binoculars would you want to glue a cheap camera to the top of them?

In short… if you want binoculars, buy binoculars. For the price you are looking at with the compromised hybrids you could pick up an excellent set of ‘real’ glass because with binoculars it’s what you see that counts, not what you capture.

Now… that said with Binoc’s there are a few things you will want to consider.

1. Their nature is fixed. You want a 10x, you get at 10x.. It’s not going to grow just because you want it to. You spend a little bit more and get a variable 10 to 22 magnification set. Still, that’s it. A max of 22x. Will you be happy with its limits or will it frustrate you? If you think it would frustrate you consider what you will have to do to make the frustration go away.. Either quit your hobby or.. that’s right, buy a bigger set.

2. Zoom… Bigger zoom means bigger glass. More glass means more weight so yes, large zooms means a shaky image. That’s why high zoom binoc’s and high zoom cameras spend their lives living on tripods. If you want a high zoom capable set using actual lenses instead of computer trickery without having to use a tripod you should resign yourself to a fate of spending half of your life in a gym. (like digital zooms – which are awful by the way, avoid them like the plague). They are all front heavy since that’s where the main glass lives…. Just to give you an idea. Roll up a bit of newspaper and make sure the resultant tube is at least 14 inches long. Now tape 1 or 2 kilos to the end of it and see how steady you can hold the thing to your eyes. As an example the meade 9x astro binocs weigh 1.4kg and it doesn’t get any lighter as you get bigger.

That’s is.. real glass, no compromises and if you want big use a tripod.

If you want to grow your sky-watching and you find it addictive enough you can always move up to something slightly heftier like an 8 inch telescope, most of those things are even light enough to carry!


posted on Jan, 26 2008 @ 05:46 PM
If, on the other hand your interest in capturing an image. The tool for that job is obvious.

A real camera.

Again, Camera land is a land where you get what you pay for and again here you have to make a choice with regards to what it is that you want. Do you want to just point and shoot? Do you want a long zoom? Do you want to be fixed with what you’re doing and with what you’ve bought? Etc etc…

A camera you can get almost everywhere and anywhere now, even on your phone, so you probably have a few already.

But, as I’m sure you’re already aware. A shot of a light in the sky taken on your phone will convince just about no one. (…what? It’s that wee dot? Squint, Squint. Blurry Mess-Blurry Mess et al) After all ‘You Tube, Rense and just about every other web site on the planet is full of examples of their kind.

So here we are looking at real cameras and more importantly the ability to use them.

Yup, welcome to the wonderful world of SLR’s.

For these toys, I can only recommend that you go over watch_the_rocks wonderful post at:
How to take pictures of UFOs

Or if you want hard info from a thousand sources consider the forums at DPReview

Yes, it can be expensive to get into, and no, despite what people may say it’s not that much to start.

Photography and sky-watching go hand in hand in a lot of respects but where you start from depends only on your ultimate goal and in cases like this Ebay can be your friend.

The one thing you do not want to do is compromise on your position from the onset. Here the middle road is the worst road because it manages to produce mediocre results and frustrates in both.

Real tools that can do both jobs at once cost real money but a good tool that excels in one area is available to anyone for surprisingly little.



posted on Jan, 26 2008 @ 06:52 PM
Most of these binocams were around the .3 mega pixel range so the picture will be sort of crappy (640-480). They have been coming out with 1.3, 2.0, 3.1 and (software) interpolated 5 mega pixel camera binocs and at least you have some resolution to zoom in on an object in the picture when looking at it in a photo - graphics program. The higher the mega pixel of the camera the better the image zoom in quality will be from a graphics program.

If you have the money and find one under $50.00, try it out.

posted on Jan, 26 2008 @ 08:43 PM
Thanks for your reply 'Absence of Self '

In answer to some of your questions:

Basically, I just scan the sky generally with a compact pair of binoculars (8x21) and look out for any objects and mostly view aeroplanes.
I thought it would be good idea if in the event of seeing something unusual, I could take a picture or two without all the trouble of getting a camera out,locating,zooming etc; hence the idea of using a camera-binocular combination.

The main drawback I see to using a camera with zoom is the time factor involved in taking a picture. For example, a few days back, on a windy day I was looking at planes when a round object entered my left field of vision and so I quickly tried to get it in my binocular view; It actually took a while as this thing was moving low and fast. When I finaly got the view, it turned out to be a silver flattened kids balloon. But, if it was something more interesting, there is no way I would have the time to set a camera ready.

The perfect solution I thought would be these camera-binos, but after looking into them, like you said, they appear to be a pair of binos with a crappy camera attached that is not even taking the picture using the bino optics.

I was hoping someone who has used one would tell me I may be wrong and that they are great, but I think not.

With regards to using a bigger set of binos or telescope, I did try that and like you said they are too arm heavy and the field of view can be small.

So, it looks like I will have to use a compact bino for spotting and a separate (hopefully compact) camera with zoom to take a pic if time permits.

In reply to 'WorldShadow' :

Yes, I seen on ebay you can get cheap 0.3Mpixel combos, but the 4MP+ ones cost upto and over $200. And that's without even seeing any proof that they can take decent pics!

Looks like I will spend a few days researching cameras with zoom and give up the combo idea.

posted on Jan, 27 2008 @ 07:46 AM
Hi there, there other than what's been posted on this thread above, there's more info on taking pictures listed on the top of this forum. It may also help with your question.


posted on Jan, 27 2008 @ 08:03 AM

Originally posted by st1234
Looks like I will spend a few days researching cameras with zoom and give up the combo idea.

No need to research. Just get the cheapest DSLR you can find with a long range zoom (12x+).

For a little less money there is the pseudo-DSLR class (such as the Canon S3) and they have the zoom (10-20x) but they are often lacking the features (RAW mode in particular) and quality as they are just bigger digicams.

A DSLR is the only way for serious UFO hunting.

Oh and when you do get around to posting pictures... A 100% crop in RAW format (link to RAW, post a jpg) and maximum resolution thank you very much

[edit on 27-1-2008 by merka]

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