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Bushnell 16x50 Binocular Review

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Bushnell 16x50 Binocular Review



On this page I review my 16x50 Bushnell binoculars. I got them as a present, and intended to use them primarily for astronomy. In the review I give the good and the bad, and it's been mostly good.

If you want to know more of my experience with Bushnell, read on.



A Christmas Present

Bushnell Binoculars

I received my pair of 16x50 Bushnell binoculars for Christmas one year. I had been hinting, thinking that they would be a nice supplement for my old 7x50 Compass binoculars. They would give me a closer view of some of the comets that become visible.

Having used them for some time now, I can give the good and bad. The bad may be peculiar to the particular pair I have, as I've not had the opportunity to view through any other Bushnell binoculars.



The Good

Bushnell Rocker Focuser

The good is that the binoculars are a handy size. They are physically about the same dimensions as an old pair of 7x50s that I own. They have a conveniently placed adjustment on the center bar (red arrow in above image) that can be operated quickly to achieve focus. It's a rocker that needs a finger from each hand to work, but it allows for very fast focusing.

Like most binoculars, the right ocular can be further focused by rotating it. This lets the user accommodate the fact that his two eyes may not require the same focus.

The unit has a small plug on the front of the center post that can be removed to accommodate a tripod bracket. The unit came with a soft plastic carrying pouch. The pouch seems padded well enough to be of some protection.

Individual lens caps for front and rear were provided to protect the lenses when not in use.

The unit was well aligned, and I've had no issue with alignment during use. That may seem to be a surprising statement, but I've had experiences with binoculars that suggest you can't take alignment for granted (see my Barska review).

The binocular housing has a kind of tough, rubbery covering that gives the binoculars a rugged look and feel. The covering has held up well to use.



The Bad

On the bad side, I have one barrel -- the right-- that doesn't come to as crisp a focus as the left. Even though it's the right ocular that has a twist focus, the right barrel simply doesn't come to as good a focus as the left.

In practice I've found that the binoculars do augment the old 7x50s, and provide that additional magnification for smaller objects. But as I describe in my binocular tutorial, at 16 power the binoculars are difficult to hold steady.

I need to lean my arm against the corner of my garage or the top of my car to hold the 16x50s steady enough. When an object is at an elevation lower than 45 degrees or so, I mount the binoculars to my camera tripod, and then I get some excellent viewing.



An Excellent Solution

Binoculars mount with 16x50 Bushnell

I've found that one very good solution to using binoculars for astronomical work is the mirror mount pictured above. It is shown with my Bushnell 16x50 binoculars attached.

While especially good for binoculars that magnify over 10 times, it's good for even the venerable 7x50 binoculars.

Why? Because it lets you view any area of the sky without changing the orientation of the binoculars. You can simply place the mount on a table or camera tripod, rotate the base to change azimuth, and tilt the mirror to change the viewable elevation. Note that when viewing through the binocular/mirror arrangement, objects appear upside down. This of course is of little consequence when studying astronomical objects.

I used to have to really crane my neck for glimpses of the Andromeda galaxy before using this device. Now I can view the Andromeda wonder in total comfort, even though it might be nearly straight up. If you use binoculars for star gazing, consider one of these.

There's a fine commercial version of this mount at Sky Window.

If the cost of the Sky Window is it bit over your budget, you can use these excellent Binocular Mirror Plans and make your own, as I did.



Recommendations

As to recommendation, I have found the Bushnell binoculars to be well aligned and solid. That is, they stand up to use well. And as I originally envisioned, they do a good job of supplementing my 7x50s. I often take both pair out, because the are relatively compact, and use the 7x50s to peer around, and grab the 16x50s when I run across something of interest.

I would recommend them as an inexpensive set of optics with the caveat that you look through any pair you intend on purchasing before buying. If you find good focus on both barrels, you should have a good pair of binoculars for a long time. Depending upon your budget, you will find these to be very handy for viewing astronomical objects that need just a bit more magnification to appreciate.

I've also used the Bushnell binoculars quite a bit for nature observing. In so doing, I've found that if the binoculars are mounted to a camera tripod, they are excellent for nature viewing given their decent optics, rapid focus, and robust design.