Canon 10×30 IS Binos

Canon 10×30 IS Binoculars

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Canon 10 x30 IS Binoculars

When Canon launched the IS range of binoculars they were ground breaking, there was (as far as I can recall) no others with image stabilisation. They were expensive, although the prices seem to have plateau ‘d to a sensible level. Mine are several years old, but still perform perfectly. And a set of batteries seems to last for ever.

Made of polycarbonate, they are quite light in weight, there is very little in terms of weight penalty for having the IS, a similar traditional pair of 10×30 will weight about the same, with the disadvantage that they will have a lot more metal in the construction.

One of the principle advantages of polycarbonate is its ability to deform on impact and return to shape, therefore providing greater protection for internal optics and electronics. Image Stabilisation has been used by Canon lenses for some time, however when they introduced it in to Binos it really made a huge difference. The Binos are acclaimed by many including bird watchers and sports fans worldwide. I had used several binoculars over the years and even I struggled at times to hold a pair steady enough to be able to use for more than a few minutes without getting a headache.

Any pair of Binos will exacerbate any movement by the same amount as their magnification factor, so a few millimetres movement on a 10x pair of Binos will appear to be a few centimetres. The IS counteracts this movement superbly. I have a pair of binoculars that I can use for hour after hour without tiredness.

They are very ergonomically designed and sit comfortably in the hand, the eyepieces are also much more comfortable than many I have used, there is a protective eyecup that should also make using these with glasses easy.

One of the advantages of the Canons over traditional Binos is that in cold weather the casing is not freezing cold to the touch (unlike a pair of Zeiss ones that I had). On a cold day with the Binos on the outside of your clothing, your hands would feel like they were sticking to the casing.

When in use the image is very bright, the optics have a good quality coating (as to be expected with Canon Glass) that kills internal reflections, and ensures that as much light as possible makes it through to the exit pupil.

“With higher magnification binoculars, the image shake would quickly become intolerable. However, with Canon’s Image Stabilizer turned on, the image shake becomes tolerable even at magnifications of 15x and 18x. Such high magnifications were previously unthinkable in a pair of binoculars without the use of a tripod”.– Optics for Birding

The only downside that I have heard mentioned about the Canon 10×30 IS Binos was from some anal retentive about the close focus distance which is 3.7 metres, but I have to disagree with him as If I wanted to look at something that close, I wouldn’t bother with the Binos. He also claimed that IS was heavy (strange that the Canon IS Binos weigh the same as the Leica Ultravid 10×32) He also came out with some other nonsense about warranty but seeing as the Leica’s cost £800 and the Canon’s cost half that I personally think that for the most part he was doing the obscene ventriloquist act.

As with anything in this life try it for yourself, if you like it, buy, I did and don’t regret it. I am also planning on getting a pair of the 15×50 IS but that will have to wait, other things are calling out for money to be spent.

* If you have never used a pair of binoculars before you will need to know how to get the best out of them. First set the inter-pupillary distance i.e. the distance between the the eyepieces to match your own eyes, failure to do so properly will mean that no matter how expensive your binos are they will not produce a decent image.

Secondly set up for your own eyesight, select a target and view and focus using only your left eye, when it is sharp, using your right eye and the adjustment on the right eyepiece adjust the view until it is also in focus. Do this without squinting, as it makes it more difficult for the eye muscles to relax.
Eyestrain and the headaches that can follow are caused by your eyes and brain trying to overcome some optical deficiencies by themselves. Incorrectly set-up binoculars, those set for somebody else’s eyes will cause a strain.

The two most important aspects of binoculars are their magnifying power and their objective size. These are normally written together as power x size (e.g. 10×50 binoculars have a magnification of 10 diameters, and 50mm objective lenses). Larger objectives mean more light gathered, so larger sizes are generally better. Power is generally less important than objective size. Additional magnification can make small objects easier to see, at the cost of making it harder to hold the view steady.

Other parameters are field of view, eye relief, and exit pupil. Field of view is how much of a scene is visible through the binoculars (normally around 5-8 degrees). Eye relief is how far from the eyepieces you can be and still see focused images. This is most important if you wear glasses, since you need to focus the binoculars with your glasses on.

Exit pupil is computed by dividing the objective size by the power (10×50 binoculars have a 5 mm exit pupil). Exit pupil is important because people’s eyes dilate to different sizes depending on ambient light conditions, their age, and the health of their eyes. The “average” dilation for fully dark-adapted eyes is about 7 mm, although this varies substantially between individuals. If the exit pupil is larger than your dilated eyes, light will be “wasted”. If the exit pupil is smaller, light will not reach as many rod cells, and you won’t get as bright an image.


TypePrism Binoculars


Objective lens effective diameter30mm

Real field of view

Apparent field of view 60°

Objective lens construction 2 elements in 1 group

Eyepiece lens construction 5 elements in 4 groups

Exit pupil diameter 3mmEye relief

14.5mmEye width adjustment

55mm ~ 75mmFocusing method

Manual focusing by turning the focusing knob

Closest focusing distance 4.2 meters/13.8 feet

Image Stabilizer Vari-Angle Prism

Correction angle ±1.0°

Power source 2 x AA

Weight 630g/22 oz. (excluding batteries)

Dimensions 150 x 127 x 70mm/5.9 x 5.0 x 2.8 in.

Canon 10×30 IS front view

Top view shows IS button and Battery Check Light

Focusing wheel and IS Button fall easily to hand, rubber eye cups

Eye-sight adjustment on right eye-cup * see text

Close up of IS button, Battery Light and Focusing dial

Side View

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