Canon 8x20 IS binoculars review

Billed as the world's smallest image-stabilized binoculars, do Canon's 8x20 binos make too many compromises in order to keep the size down?

Canon 8x20 IS binoculars
(Image: © Gavin Stoker / Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

Something of a rarity still in today’s market, the secret weapon of this bulbous contemporary Canon 8x20 IS binocular is its battery powered, lens shift image stabilisation feature. This is activated with a button press when required and immediately compensates for any user handshake. The compromise is a slightly bigger binocular than a bog standard non-IS incorporating 8x20 specification model. Also, at this relatively modest magnification, we may not arguably need ‘IS’ under the majority of circumstances, especially as it comes at a premium price. One you really need to get hands-on with for yourself before buying.

Pros

  • +

    Image judder noticeably improved when activating IS

  • +

    Such eye-strain reducing in-body anti shake remains a rarity

  • +

    High quality construction and user-friendly operation

  • +

    World’s lightest image-stabilised binoculars at time of writing

Cons

  • -

    Not much in the way of grip on the smooth surface of this binocular

  • -

    Slip-on protective eyepiece caps are easily mislaid

  • -

    Not waterproof

  • -

    Modest 20mm objective lens not the best for lower light viewing

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Although the technology is very much available, image stabilised, anti-shake binoculars remain a rare beast. That’s even when it’s widely acknowledged that viewing subjects at increased magnification can also magnify the effects of any slight wobble of the user’s hands. This results in subjects appearing to judder or ‘dance’ within our field of view. 

While binoculars with battery and gyro sensor powered image stabilisation can counter balance external shake and deliver smooth results, meaning that formerly ‘dancing’ subjects now appear to merely glide as we pan from left to right, having this anti shake feature both increases overall bulk and, inevitably, price. So the question is, are image-stabilised binoculars actually worth it?

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DesignRoof prism
Exit pupil2.5mm
Eye relief13.5mm
Weight15.4 oz / 437g with battery
Dimensions4.6x5.6x2.7 in / 118x142x69mm
Magnification8x
Objective lenses20mm
Field of view at 1000 yards346.5 feet
Field of view at 1000m115m
Image

Though the asking price is inevitably higher, we’d recommend taking a look at Canon’s own <a href="https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/reviews/canon-10x32-is-binoculars-review" data-link-merchant="digitalcameraworld.com"">10x32 IS (pictured left) and <a href="https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/reviews/canon-10x42l-is-wp-binocular-review" data-link-merchant="digitalcameraworld.com"" data-link-merchant="digitalcameraworld.com"">10x42L IS WP models that both offer body integral anti-shake, but a higher spec in terms of magnification and objective lens size. 10x42L IS WP model gives the added advantage of being waterproof.

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Gavin Stoker

Gavin has over 30 years’ experience of writing about photography and television. He is currently the editor of British Photographic Industry News, and previously served as editor of Which Digital Camera and deputy editor of Total Digital Photography


He has also written for a wide range of publications including T3, BBC Focus, Empire, NME, Radio Times, MacWorld, Computer Active, What Digital Camera and the Rough Guide books.


With his wealth of knowledge, Gavin is well placed to recognize great camera deals and recommend the best products in Digital Camera World’s buying guides. He also writes on a number of specialist subjects including binoculars and monoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes, trail cameras, action cameras, body cameras, filters and cameras straps.