Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A good tripod for star-gazing binoculars?

Moon and Jupiter, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Road, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Skyline, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Winter, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

A few days ago I got a new toy, Celestron 15x70 SkyMaster Binoculars, which are especially designed for astronomical watching, a.k.a. star-gazing. It is said that these binoculars offer "incredible value for money", and I think this is not far off the mark.

Problem is, I don't have a tripod to use with the binoculars. The binoculars weight 1.36 kg, and you really need a support for viewing the sky.

One suggestion is a tripod made of ash wood, namely Berlebach 3042, but I'm not yet convinced this is the one to use. It does have good properties, such as ability to view without too much stooping, and the center column in a rotating base seems to be a workable design. And a wooden tripod is nice to handle when the temperature is below freezing.

However, I would like to get a second opinion on this. I might use the tripod for photography as well, although I'm not too keen on lugging one around on long walks. The Berlebach weights 3.5 kg, and 4.5 kg with a good video head (Manfrotto 128RC).


Bruno said...

Hello, I've been following for a while your blog, since I got my LX3.

I think the weight limit for using binoculars without tripod is usually 50mm, over than that as you noted is uncomfortable to use for a prolonged period of time.

There are alternatives that allow you to use the binoculars without your hands, but they are not that common and are for that use only.

Either a tripod or a lighter binocular :) 8x50 are cool for being light, but you will get better seeings with the 70mm.

Greetings from Argentina.

Juha Haataja said...

Yes, 70 mm is good for gathering light. Have to see what to do with the tripod.

Markus Spring said...

Juha, I know some good photographers who find their wooden Berlebachs superior to any other tripods made of more "modern" material because of the damping abilities. As slight trembling kann ruin the view of stars, this is probably an important factor. However it is definitely not a tripod to lug around.

Tessar said...

I had a Berlebach tripod and liked it very much. As you say, the wood is much more pleasant than metal in cold weather. I don't remember what model number my tripod was, but it was well made and easy to use. I finally sold it because it was too short for me. I am 6'2". I used it mostly for my Rollei and Mamiya TLRs, and it was great for waistlevel viewing. It also folded down into a fairly compact configuration for carrying. So I would say, yes, it's a good choice, as long as you get one that is tall enough so that you can stand comfortably and look upwards to the sky.

Juha Haataja said...

@Markus and Tessar: Thanks, I guess I have to go and chenk the tripod personally. It should be tall enough for me (goes up to 189 cm).