To begin with, I have 1st owned the 15X70 Ultra's now for about a year and a half and am always stunned at the optical quality of this model. The extraordinary sharpness of the stars contrasted against such a strikingly dark background, still puts me in awe every time I pull them out of their beautifully crafted custom aluminum case. (Yes, I am a little enamored with these.)
That said, I still would find myself sometimes wishing for that same level of quality, but in something a little bit more hand-holdable. My natural choice had the be the 15X70's little brother, the 10X50 Ultras. And these binoculars have now become my new favorite "grab and go" binoc! These are simply amazing. Just as crisp an image with only a little loss in brigntness and resolution, but the tradeoff... The freedom to not have to set up a tripod, to just step outside without a moments hesitation, is so wonderful. There is something to be said about the "convenience factor". I remember reading an article years ago in Sky and Telescope about a guy who bought a very high end but extremely bulky and heavy scope. It had amazing images but 9 times out of 10, he would grab his little 6" Newtonian reflector and run out to observe instead! Convenience!
Extremely comfortable to handhold, the 10X50 Ultras feel rock solid in your hands. I have tried some very expensive roof prism binocs which were almost 1/2 the weight. (Thinking this would be so much easier to hand-hold.) They had decent optics but the lighter weight and narrower profile actually made them harder to hold for stargazing. I think the broader shape of a porro prism itself lends towards a more comfortable gripping position and the additional weight is not at all deterrent. It literally helps stabilize the binoculars in your hands.
Now, with that said, on Kevin's recommendation, I did also grab Oberwerks 2000 Series Monopod with Grip-Action Ball Head, which is a fantastic addition, quick to set up, and it helps stabilize the 10X50 Ultra's even more, but without the bulkier full tripod.
But with or with out a tripod or monopod, these binocs stand completely on their own. They even look magnificent sitting out on my dresser. Like some sentient icon of the stars beckoning me to take them out and let them strut their stuff. You think I'm kidding? Set them out on your dresser and see if you don't go out stargazing about twice as often as you used to! :-)
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