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In 2019, one of Canon’s most important additions to its line of optical equipment was an “entry-level” binocular with image stabilization in both the 8×20 and 10×20 sizes.
I wish they had christened them with a meaningless name, so it would be easier to talk about them without having to say, “Canon IS 8×20,” or “Canon Image-Stabilized 10×20.” But it IS is what it is. (See what I mean?)
In any case, in this review I’ll take a quick look at what Canon gives us with these binos, so you can see how you might use them yourself.
If you’re in a hurry and just want to check the pricing and availability of each model at Amazon, you can click (tap) the links below.
Light in Weight and Stable
Canon maintains that these new image-stabilized binoculars are the world’s lightest – lightest; that is, if you don’t include the required battery. I assume this means there’s some pair of binos out there in birding land that weighs a fraction of an ounce less after you insert the battery into your Canon IS 8×20.
So then, it’s not really all that big of a deal either way. The fact remains that, as of this writing, these are one of the lightest pair of IS binoculars available. You simply can’t get away from the fact that you need to include the battery to take advantage of the image stabilizing feature of your binos.
To take full advantage of the stabilizing property, you press an IS button that will activate the innards for up to five minutes at a time. There is a special lens inside that will move to compensate for any shaking of the binoculars as a unit.
Flat Is Good; Bias Is Bad
These Canon binoculars both use a field flattening lens to give you sharper images all the way to the edge of the circle. Normally, a curved lens blurs the image around the edges. This technology compensates for that, giving you a completely focused picture of your target.
Some binos will show you things called color bias, as well as lens flare and ghosting. All of these “features” are Bad Things. These Canon optics have “Super Spectra Coating” (Canon’s special phrase for something many companies use) to “suppress reflected light across a wide range of wavelengths.” What this means for you is that you get as clear an image as Canon knows how to give you.
Caveats for the Canon IS Binos
These binoculars are not waterproof – or any kind of proof, for that matter. That said, very few IS binoculars are. However, if you’re like me and never take your optics out in the rain anyway, this really doesn’t matter for you.
With the objective lenses on the small side at 20 millimeters, you’re not going to get the best optical performance with these binoculars, especially under low light conditions. This is just a plain fact of physics. You need larger objective lenses to let more light in to get a better picture. But if what you really want is compact binoculars, you know that fact going in and are satisfied with the image you get.
Many users are able to hold small binoculars steady enough against the face that they don’t need the image stabilizing afforded by compact binos like these. If you’re one of those people or if you tend to use a tripod for stabilization, you may not need either of these Canon IS models. If you’re really shaky, don’t use a tripod, and want small binoculars, then these are still for you.
The owner of Best Binocular Reviews explains these pros and cons of these binoculars in the video below.
Specifications of the Canon IS 20mm Binoculars
Here is a comparison of some of the more important specs of each of these Canon models.
|Field of View (degrees)||6.6||5.3|
|Exit Pupil (mm)||2.5||2.0|
|Eye Relief (mm)||13.5||13.5|
|Eye Width Adjustment (mm)||56 – 72||56 – 72|
|Close Focus (m)||2||2|
|Dimensions (in.)||4.6 x 5.6 x 2.7||4.6 x 5.6 x 2.7|
|Weight (oz.) – no battery||14.82||15.17|
Both models come with the following accessories.
- Eyepiece Cap
- Neck Strap
- Lithium Battery (CRA123A)
Keep in mind that that tiny “watch” battery isn’t going to weigh very much. For all practical purposes, you can consider the weight shown in the table above to be the real weight of the binoculars.
Conclusions about the Compact Canon IS Binoculars
As I already mentioned above, you may not need either of these models of image stabilizing binoculars if you have a steady hand or use a tripod almost all the time.
You should consider purchasing either of these – the 10x over the 8x, if you need a little more magnification – if you want a lightweight pair of binos that will be easier on your eyes and more tolerant of your hands, especially over longer periods of time.
If these Canon image stabilizing binos aren’t quite what you want, check out these Leica Ultravids instead.