Today I want to talk about the highly specialized Steiner Military 20×80 binocular. I got to my hands on these binoculars last Friday and was surprised at their performance.
The optics are amazing; although the eye pieces have to be focused individually. The 20×80 is like the Incredible Hulk compared to other binoculars with massive lenses and a body length of 12 inches. Just like the shirtless Hulk the binos come without a case. At 20x you have to stabilize them, so they do come with a tripod adapter in the box.
This was pretty easy to set up and really enhanced my viewing experience. I used them in the late afternoon and was impressed at the color clarity and crispness of the tree line I was gazing into. I also pointed them at the half moon and enjoyed the full texture and tones of its surface.
Now make no bones about it, these binoculars are the real deal; a marriage of quality construction with high performing optics. However, I’m not sure where they fit in the world of binoculars outside of highly specialized military use (and even then, I’m not sure what that application would be).
I wanted to write this article for the backyard astronomer who thinks that the Military 20×80 would be a great tool for the hobby. I know you guys are out there; you’ve called me before. These binoculars are set at 20x so other than the moon you are not gonna see any of the planets…I don’t care how much they cost or how great the glass is.
Also, the exit pupil of 4mm is too small for gazing into the dark abyss of space, so mark that off. Next, the field of view is too small for the most popular star clusters and nebulas…stick with a good quality 10×50. Let’s go back to the magnification which is the point of binoculars…20x is an impressive number and I can see how you might think that these would be great for your hobby…but 20x also the starting point on most spotting scopes and telescopes.
This is where I feel that the Military lands out of place. Why not just buy one of those and have the ability for more magnification?
I’m sure that the Steiner Military 20×80 has a great function somewhere or they wouldn’t be produced. They just aren’t for everyone. They aren’t your Dad’s binoculars (or your cousin’s, aunt’s or uncle’s) If you have some…please post back a reply to me and let me know (and other readers) how you use them and how you like them. Maybe my vision of their usefulness is impaired and needs some enlightenment.