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VistaPix 8x22 Digital Camera Binocular | B&H Photo Video Pro Audio
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Capture images with the Celestron's VistaPix Binoculars

By Jarod Connerty

There are many digital cameras combined with a binocular to choose from nowadays, but Celestron's #72218 VistaPix 8x22 Binocular with Built-In Digital Camera is likely the most practical of the gadgets for casual users.

Celestron's VistaPix 8x22 Binocular with Built-In Digital Camera
Celestron's VistaPix 8x22 Binocular with Built-In Digital Camera

While keeping the weight and the price as low as possible, Celestron listened to consumers' comments regarding these devices and came up with a pragmatic winner.

Everybody wants high quality in both the optics and the camera, but everybody also wants a small device to tote around to the zoo, kid's recitals, sporting events and the like. So Celestron decided to keep the objective lenses smaller, at 22mm, meaning that this particular VistaPix is meant for daytime use. With an 8x magnification and an exit pupil of just under 3mm, you'll be comfortable using the VistaPix whenever conditions are better than outright overcast. That's okay, because their customers told them that that's when they wanted to use it anyway.

Beyond the compact size of 22mm objective lenses, Celestron was able to pack a very respectable 3.0-megapixel sensor into that tiny frame. With 2048 x 1536 native resolution, this little binocular can capture an image that makes a fairly good 4x6" print. Lots of other digibinos don't have enough resolution to make a 4x6" you can live with. And most of the models that will make a decent 5x7" print are too large to tote around for many enthusiasts.

Instead of building a telephoto lens into the body of a small-sensor camera to get the far-away stuff, Celestron chose to package an accessory 8x lens that you screw onto the body of the binocular when you need it. Thus you'll get a 400mm-equivalent lens in the old 35mm camera terms, plenty long enough to get a tight close-up of your kid at the park. I've used it with pleasant results in bright light-it requires a good amount of illumination to get the images you're after; but at least it is better at this than many of the other digital camera binoculars which usually use a shorter, darker lens and rely on digital zoom (which any camera can do, and which none really should). Remove the auxiliary lens and you're left with a 50mm-equivalent standard lens which can focus on objects almost as close as arm's length.

Breathtaking images shot at the Grand Canyon with the Celestron VistaPix Binoculars

Another thing Celestron's surveying revealed was that customers want to make videos with sound, something Celestron hadn't incorporated into their prior efforts. So now the #72218 VistaPix can record standard VGA-resolution (640 x 480) videos with sound, for up to a maximum of 3 minutes. It isn't the sort of thing you'd want for your wedding memories, but it is entirely appropriate for little laughers on youtube. Knowing how popular these binoculars are for spectator sports, Celestron thoughtfully put an FM radio into the body of the VistaPix. You can use the headphone port or play the audio through the built-in speaker.

To keep costs reasonable and size at a minimum, Celestron chose a 1.5" LCD screen for the VistaPix. You can zoom in on images on the screen, and frankly you'll need to if you want to critically examine a shot in the field. But mostly the LCD is there for composing images and for you to view the images and show them to your friends on the spot. Everything's recordable to the built-in mini hard drive, but there's also an SD slot; and considering how cheap an SD card is today it makes the most sense to take advantage of this capacity.

The VistaPix runs for quite a while off of a pair of "AAA" batteries. In playing with it I was able to get an entire afternoon's enjoyment with many videos, stills, and screen use from a pair of old rechargeable AAA's; I'd imagine that with 2 of Energizer's newest AAA lithium batteries that you would be able to get an entire vacation's worth of use out of it.

 

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