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/ Binoculars for children

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aln - on 07 May 2018

On a recent (unsuccessful) whale whale spotting day out my son seemed to enjoy looking through my binoculars. I'm thinking about buying him bino's for his upcoming 9th birthday. Mine are 40 years old, still good but big, heavy and unwieldy, are there more compact ones folks can recommend? Just for general looking around at views thinking it's cool, but then maybe good enough for a few years where they might be useful if he continues to take an interest. 

3
Big Ger - on 07 May 2018
In reply to aln:

Binoculars for children.

Fair swap.

 

ericinbristol - on 07 May 2018
In reply to Big Ger:

Could be something much creepier - binoculars for children. Eeeewww 

webbo - on 07 May 2018
In reply to aln:

my grandson has nockulars but he is only 3.

 

aln - on 07 May 2018
In reply to Big Ger:

Fair play. 

3
aln - on 07 May 2018
In reply to webbo:

That's great but doesn't help me. 

3
Jenny C on 07 May 2018
In reply to aln:

One thing to watch for is that they close small enough that a child can line up both eyes (even as an adult I find some pairs don't) go small enough over the bridge of the nose. Also for most situating small and light enough to bother carrying is more useful than perfect optics or super high magnification. 

aln - on 07 May 2018
In reply to Jenny C:

That's exactly what I'm looking for. Can you recommend a pair for £50 ish or is that too cheap? 

3
keith-ratcliffe on 07 May 2018
In reply to aln:

In my experience children often have difficulty finding things through binos, especially if they are the compact type. They are classified by two numbers e.g. 8x30. The first figure is the magnification the second is the diameter of the front lens (objective). Generally the lower the magnification and the higher the lens diameter the better for finding objects. My kids found my old pair of 8x30's OK but struggled with the cheap 10x40 compacts that I bought. Lots of stuff on the net 

Another point worth noting is that the compact ones are prone to small knocks that put the two parts out of alignment. It is worth spending a bit more to get a better quality pair. Incidentally if they do get damaged you can take them apart and have 2 monoculars!

Dr.S at work - on 07 May 2018
In reply to aln:

My FIL is an optics snob and selected some Pentax 8x22 ones - I think Jupiter lII’s - for my son as his first pair. They are light and robust, optics are ok in the pair we have and light enough (160g) that I thought about a pair for the rucksack. Look to go for 30 - 40 quid.

looking at reviews it looks like there may be a fair bit of variation in optical quality from pair to pair, so maybe try in a shop and make sure the ones you buy are good?

Tom V - on 07 May 2018
In reply to Dr.S at work:

Bought my mother in law a pair of RSPB 6 x 17 kids' binoculars for her 90th birthday and have since inherited them.

They are ultra light, very close focussing and easy to grip.

Don't be misled by the seemingly puny power and lens size - they are more than adequate and designed for what you want. They are my permanent patio window pair.

Still on sale. £27.50.

Edit ; sorry, Doc, this was directed at Aln.

Post edited at 20:42
oldie - on 07 May 2018
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:

My wife and I have recently started taking binoculars on walks for added bird watching interest. Perhaps because we are also in our childhood (2nd) we too find it hard to find objects and  x8 is easier to use than x10. Children often have more acute eyesight anyway.

Incidentally my wife has difficulty using both eyes together after cataract surgeries so we got her a monocular Viking 8x42 Cygnus (about £60). Both of us prefer using it to our binoculars. Getting a higher objective diameter was really worthwhile especially for less bright light conditions.

I tried using a friends £1500 binoculars....they were incredibly good, but would never be worth it to me and I would carry them less often due to their larger size.

 

Dave Todd - on 07 May 2018
In reply to aln:

For what it's worth my kids each have a pair of these and have been using then for a couple of years (mostly for bird-watching);

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Olympus-FBA_8-40-DPSI-Binocular/dp/B0001M3612/

My kids are now 9 and 12, but even a couple of years ago they were able to cope with the size / weight.  I've now bought myself a pair as well - as they are a bit of a bargain.  I know they not what you were asking for (they couldn't be described as particularly light or compact) but my kids are happy to use them - and I'm happy with the price and performance.

aln - on 08 May 2018
In reply to aln:

Good advice, thanks. 8×30 seems the way to go. 

2
Philip on 08 May 2018
In reply to aln:

My son had "toy" binoculars since 3 ish, little magnification. When he was 4 he was given the RSPB explorer pair, but even at 5 he finds focussing hard and using both eyes.

I think learning to use them is quite hard for little ones. He copes with a spotting scope but the binoculars are trickier.

wercat on 08 May 2018
In reply to Tom V:

I've got a pair of 6 x 30 Barr & Stroud bought at penrith market for a tenner, similarly low magnification but very bright and easy to use for birds and animals in the near distance - turned out from the serial number they were made around 1935-6!   Very usable indeed and a little smaller than the usual 8 x 30.

 

Second hand can be great but you need to check them very carefully for optical quality, smooth mechanical action and that they are not clouded with dirt/moisture - I did actually clean the internals (prisms etc) of the Barr & Stroud but it was a fairly tricky process.  Note 6 x 30 is nice for looking at the moon but 10x will give you a nice view of the Galilean moons of Jupiter on a clear night if the optics and eyes are up to scratch, though you definitely need to rest them on something to get a steady image.

Post edited at 08:41
cb294 - on 08 May 2018
In reply to aln:

Do  not waste any money on cheap binoculars, especially if you want your son to develop an interest in Nature. Any 30 quid children's scopes are bound to be rubbish and are more likely to put your son off bird or whale watching. My recommendation would be Zeiss Terras, 8x32s should be narrow enough for a child's eye distance and have good optics that you may both enjoy for years, and they can be found used on the internet at a reasonable price. 

CB 

1
MarkJH - on 08 May 2018
In reply to aln:

> On a recent (unsuccessful) whale whale spotting day out my son seemed to enjoy looking through my binoculars. I'm thinking about buying him bino's for his upcoming 9th birthday. Mine are 40 years old, still good but big, heavy and unwieldy, are there more compact ones folks can recommend? Just for general looking around at views thinking it's cool, but then maybe good enough for a few years where they might be useful if he continues to take an interest. 

I wouldn't be afraid of buying something on the cheaper end (i.e. £25ish). They are very likely to get bashed around, and you want something he isn't afraid to use.  As a wider  point, the quality of cheap optics is pretty good these days.  I use a £300k microscope at work, and was astonished at just how good an image I could get with my sons £35 'toy' microscope.  The same with binoculars: we bought our kids cheap compact pairs and they were fine for what they wanted.  Good enough clarity and magnification and we weren't too upset when they inevitably got damaged.  They are likely to compare well with a moderately expensive pair from 40 years ago!

Toerag - on 08 May 2018
In reply to Philip:

>  he finds focussing hard and using both eyes.

> I think learning to use them is quite hard for little ones. He copes with a spotting scope but the binoculars are trickier.

Is it possible that his eyes are different and don't focus the same?

To the OP - As per Keith's comment, bins are rated for magnification and aperture size. Go too strong in magnification and you can't find stuff or keep it in the field of view. For this reason boat binoculars are normally only 7x magnification, the motion of the vessel makes using anything more powerful difficult. If you're whale watching at sea then bear this in mind. The aperture has a bearing on brightness of the image - boat bins would be 50mm to enable you to pick out features in poor light. However, they are heavy for kids to use and if you need low light capability then a 7x50 monocular would give you something useable at sea that doesn't weigh too much.

alx on 08 May 2018
In reply to MarkJH:

I would agree with the keep it cheap options for the binoculars for the kid, and buy yourself a very nice pair. This way the kid can borrow yours under supervision or use their own pair as they like. A decent pair of binoculars will keep their value for resale, a cheap <£200 pair will unlikely get you anything for resale. 

With regards to setup, if you can do it go with big objective lens diameter (50mm) as suggested so that you can deal with looking around within the view and it gets lots of light in for dealing with grey overcast winter days, twilight or early morning. Go for 8x magnification, I use this for wildlife in the UK and safari and it works well with the exception of really skittish animals or birds of prey which typically stay quite far away.

Lastly if you live near a good camera shop, check to see if they have a selection of second hand binoculars.

Spartacus on 08 May 2018
In reply to aln:

If you wanted a cheap pair you could make them out of 2 toilet roll tubes and some tape. 

For objects further away you could use the tubes oven foil comes on.

Tom V - on 08 May 2018
In reply to aln:

Just checked and Opticron do a 8x23 Savanna for less than £100 which is designed with children's interpupillary distance in mind.

If they are anything like as good as my similar but late lamented Taigas they will be outstanding value and extremely comfortable in the hand.

aln - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Spartacus:

> If you wanted a cheap pair you could make them out of 2 toilet roll tubes and some tape. 

> For objects further away you could use the tubes oven foil comes on.

F*ck off smartarse. 

4
Billhook - on 11 May 2018
In reply to aln:

  RSPB Puffin® 8 x 32 Pink binoculars   (£50) In pink but I think they do other children's models. There are others of course and a wide variety of prices.  

I'm not too sure about paying for real quality ones for a child though!  My grandson got through two pairs of my older spare 'noculars before he learned that swinging them around, dropping them, anv variously abusing them turned them into useless bits of plastic/glass.  That said non of these were expensive ones.

Low magnification - no stronger than X8 for kids because as already been said they find them very difficult to use and hold steady.

 

wercat on 11 May 2018
In reply to Billhook:

that's why I think carefully bought second hand is a decent idea, proper binoculars but not too expensive.  My 80+ year old Barr and Stroud x6 in excellent condition cost me a fiver.

Spartacus on 11 May 2018
In reply to aln:

> F*ck off smartarse. 

A few lines from your profile...’Grumpy old man. Less grumpy, and mellowing as the years go by.’

F*ck me, what did you used to be like?

Post edited at 17:13
1
wercat on 11 May 2018
In reply to wercat:

sorry that should have been a tenner

aln - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Spartacus:

> A few lines from your profile...’Grumpy old man. Less grumpy, and mellowing as the years go by.’

> F*ck me, what did you used to be like?

A lot worse. Or better. Depends on your point of view. 

3
Eric9Points - on 11 May 2018
In reply to aln:

The best thing to do is to go to a binocular shop, like the one in Rose Street in Embra and select a few about the right price and then start looking at things with them.

Look at things like TV arials and see which pair allows you to see the the fine detail at the furthest distance. Good magnification is fine but if the lenses aren't good enough to keep fine details sharp then you're wasting your time. 

aln - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

I know. It's just so hard finding the time. There used to be a great shop near Glasgow Cross that sold new and used optical equipment, don't know if it's still there. 

2
Jenny C on 11 May 2018
In reply to aln:

I think I was 7 when I got my first pair of binoculars. Boots own brand and knowing parents  good quality but not stupidly expensive. I was a fairy gentle kid and respected my things, so looked after them and 30+ years on they are still in great condition. 

But as said above you do need to look after them and bumps our banks can destroy the optics. The serial binocular breaker in our family is my mum, but if you have heavy handed kids it's not worth paying a lot. 

Tom V - on 12 May 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

He's buying them for a nine year old .

 


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