The world of image-stabilizing (IS) binoculars is a multi-faceted one, full of nerdy niches and a need for technical excellence. Any activity that requires one to see something that’s moving, and is at a distance, falls into this surprisingly broad category — bird watching, aircraft spotting and hunting chief among them.

Canon’s third go at an image-stabilizing binocular is easily its best — the III is compact, packs plenty of zoom (12×36) and remarkably clear and bright throughout the viewing area. Unlike many more expensive IS-capable binoculars, the Canon III’s IS is manually activated via a small button on the crown of the product. Press the button once you’ve got your target scoped in and, using the same technology in its EF lenses, immediately identifies the target and clears the view.

Having owned the binoculars, their size, ease of use and relative affordability (IS binoculars can easily reach absurd prices) make for a rock solid long-time buy. One word of caution — the rubber coating around the eyes of the binoculars can begin to degrade a bit if left out in extreme heat, so it’s best stowed away when not in use, or capped at the very least.

The Canon IS 12×36 III, which usually retai for $850, are at an all-time low price on Amazon of $608 right now.

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