The 10 Best Image Stabilized Binoculars

Updated February 21, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best Image Stabilized Binoculars
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
For those interested in the long view, image stabilized binoculars are definitely worth looking into. Whether for bird watching, reading the tail numbers on approaching aircraft, or star gazing, they enhance image clarity and sharpness with superior optics while reducing the movement that diminishes the viewing experience. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best image stabilized binocular on Amazon.

10. Nikon 16x32 StabilEyes VR

For those who don't let inclement conditions dampen their spotting spirit, the Nikon 16x32 StabilEyes VR have many notable advantages. Waterproof and fog-proof, they even float. A servo-controlled gimbal prism system delivers remarkable stability.
  • vr pause button
  • turn and slide eyecups
  • they are a bit bulky
Brand Nikon
Model BAA-623-EA
Weight 4.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Fraser Optics Stedi-Eye 14x40

The Fraser Optics Stedi-Eye 14x40 reduce hand or platform movement by up to 98% using an advanced gyro-stabilization system. With a wide field of view, they incorporate fully coated optics to deliver superior light transmission.
  • waterproof and buoyant
  • include a neoprene cover
  • relatively expensive
Brand Fraser Optics
Weight 8 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Nikon 7457 StabilEyes

Noted for their optics, the Nikon 7457 StabilEyes offer superb detail resolution and light transmission with their cut and polished lenses. Using their exclusive pan and tilt feature, they provide color-faithful images with strong contrast.
  • fog-proof lenses
  • includes case and neck strap
  • quite hefty at 6 pounds
Brand Nikon
Model 7457
Weight 4.8 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

7. Canon 10x30 IS II

Canon 10x30 IS II are compact, making them ideal for performance and sporting events as well as field work. For distortion-free images they employ a doublet field-flattener, providing superb image stabilization while offering optics equal to Canon EF lenses.
  • 9 hours use in optimal conditions
  • rubberized coating becomes sticky
  • no caps for the objective lenses
Brand Canon
Model 9525B002
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Fujinon Techno-Stabi TS 1440

The Fujinon Techno-Stabi TS 1440 will appeal to consumers tracking things that are on the move. Waterproof and fog-proof, they provide 5 degrees of stabilization with a 40mm objective lens diameter. A sharp-looking package, they are compact, yet a little heavy at 4 pounds.
  • feature a 14x zoom
  • rubber armored housing
  • ebc coating for light transmission
Brand Fuji
Model Techno-Stabi TS1440
Weight 8.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Canon 18x50 IS

For serious magnification, the Canon 18x50 IS will get you up close and personal even in harsh conditions. Canon’s most powerful IS binoculars, they're like twin telescopes, and are excellent for terrestrial use and even astronomy.
  • multi-coated lenses
  • shock- and weather-resistant
  • wide field of view
Brand Canon
Model 4624A002
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Carl Zeiss Optical 20x60

If price is no object, then the Carl Zeiss Optical 20x60 could be looking glasses worth a closer look. German-made Zeiss lenses are famed for their integrity, and their high-performance optics provide remarkable clarity and focal sharpness at a 20x magnification.
  • premium lens coating
  • strong image even in low light
  • metal carrying case
Brand Zeiss
Model 526000
Weight 10 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

3. Canon 12x36 IS III

The Canon 12x36 IS III come with 36mm, 1.42- inch objective lenses, which deliver bright, high-definition images and a high ratio of magnification. Weighing less than a pound-and-a-half, they are excellent for bird watching, providing practically distortion-free viewing.
  • up to 4 hours continuous use
  • edge to edge sharpness
  • water-resistant
Brand Canon
Model 9526B002
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Stabileyes 14x40

Nikon, famed for their photographic optics, has set their sights upon IS binoculars with the Stabileyes 14x40. The vibration reduction system minimizes eye fatigue, providing greater enjoyment during extended viewing, and all optical glass is treated to reduce reflections.
  • roof prisms with phase correction
  • 13mm eye relief
  • auto shut-off preserves batteries
Brand Nikon
Model 8211
Weight 4.6 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Canon 10x42 L IS Waterproof

The Canon 10x42 L IS Waterproof are compact, lightweight, and deliver superb versatility, whether for bird watching up close or star gazing from afar. A sturdy construction combined with Canon's superior optics make these a solid choice.
  • comfortable to hold
  • padded case with strap
  • excellent for marine use
Brand Canon
Model 0155B002
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

What Are Image Stabilized Binoculars And How Do They Work?

Image stabilized binoculars have very much the same function as standard hunting or astronomy binoculars. They allow users to view far away objects in much greater detail than would be possible with the naked eye alone. The notable difference between image-stabilized binoculars and traditional models is the integrated image stabilization technology. This is extremely helpful when using high-powered binoculars, as the greater the zoom capabilities of a pair of binoculars, the more prone they are to image shaking. Any time the magnification of an image is greater than 10 times on a pair of binoculars or a camera, even the slightest of hand movements can create a disorienting amount of unsteadiness.

Image stabilized binoculars automatically compensate for unwanted hand motion, without the user having to perform any actions. They can reduce tilt and panning, which minimizes the blurring and jumping of the viewed images. There are two main categories of image stabilization: active and passive. Active image stabilization systems use electronic sensors to detect any movement of the binoculars, and adjust some part of the viewing components to correct for it. Depending on the type of active image stabilization used, it may shift the position of one of the lenses or adjust the angle of the prism. Passive image stabilization systems don't detect motion in the binoculars, but rather produce a stabilizing effect on the binoculars at all times. This may be through the use of an internal gyroscope that minimizes movement of the body, or by disengaging the prisms from the housing so that they are less effected by binocular movement.

Anybody who is purchasing a high-powered pair of binoculars can benefit from choosing a pair with image stabilization technology. They are an especially smart choice for someone who plans on using their binoculars from a non-stationary surface or a moving vehicle, such as a floating deck, boat, or plane. Image stabilized binoculars are also useful for astronomers viewing celestial objects, as lens-shake is often amplified by variations in the atmosphere.

The Magic Of Lenses And Prisms

The combination of lenses and prisms inside of binoculars is what makes them capable of magnifying images and displaying them in the correct orientation. Lenses are simply curved pieces of glass. They can affect the direction of light rays, and the way they are curved dictates which direction they bend the light rays. Convex lenses, which are the kind used in binoculars, are curved like a dome, meaning the outside is slightly thinner than the center. When light passes through a convex lens, it bends in towards the center. When a lens is thinner in the middle and thicker on the outside, it is called a concave lens. Instead of bending light in towards the center, concave lenses send it shooting outwards.

Every pair of binoculars has two convex lenses placed one in front of the other. The one nearest the object being viewed is called the objective lens. The one nearest the user's eye is called the eyepiece. The objective lens gathers rays of light from the distant object and brings them together in to a focused image just behind the lens. The eyepiece is responsible for magnifying that focused image.

Unfortunately, something else also happens to light rays when they pass through a convex lens, they cross over. This results in an image that is flipped upside down. To correct this, binoculars contain a pair of prisms. Each prism rotates the image 90 degrees, effectively rotating the image a full 180 degrees and making it right side up again. Binoculars use either roof or Porro prisms. Porro prisms, while slightly less durable and compact then roof prisms, tend to produce a brighter image. On the other hand, roof prisms tend to create a more vivid image. They also allow for the creation of compact and lightweight binoculars that are easier to transport.

The Birth Of The Binoculars

Binoculars are essentially just two telescopes mounted side-by-side, so in order to understand the history of binoculars, we must look to the history of telescopes. It is hard to tell exactly who first invented the telescope. Jan Lippershey, a Dutch eyeglass maker, filed for the first telescope patent in 1608. But another Dutchman and eyeglass maker by the name of Zacharias Jansen, who happened to live in the same town as Lippershey, also created a telescope at roughly the same time. Adding to the confusion, a third Dutchman, Jacob Metius, filed for a telescope patent just weeks after Lippershey. Ultimately, the government of the Netherlands denied both patents due to the confusion over who invented the device first. They also cited the ease in which the telescope could be reproduced as making it hard to patent. Almost as if in testament to their statement, Galileo managed to create a very similar device of his own, having only heard of the Dutch version, and never having seen it.

While the telescope was a major technological triumph, it had a very significant drawback. It did not allow for any depth perception. Galileo and Lippershey both quickly realized this and set to work creating a twin telescope that allowed users to view far away objects with both eyes. This eventually led to the creation of the binoculars.

The earliest binoculars were capable of creating a three-dimensional image, but couldn't magnify objects very much. They also had a very narrow field of view. Galileo worked to combat this by combining an objective lens with a concave eyepiece. Another inventor by the name of Johannes Kepler worked to combat this by combining an objective lens with a convex eyepiece. Ultimately, Kepler's design was more successful and binoculars are still based on it today.

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Last updated on February 21, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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