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glasses

Jun 14, 2010
1,726
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
7x50 with integrated bearing compass for general use and improved night vision (50mm objective lenses gather a lot of light, and magnification stronger than 7x adds too much image movement to be be helpful unless stabilizing is in use). This is your ”quick grab” pair. If budget allows, Steiner Commander is great quality. I own some mid priced Nikons with integral compass - not as good, but very adequate and they have held the optical alignment through the years (handled with reasonable care).
edit: the compass adds usefulness.
If your budget allows, for a second pair; Fujinon 14x40 image stabilized binos are “the bomb” that will let you read names and numbers at a distance. Only Fuji, not Canon or anything else. These lack a bearing compass, don’t have as much light gathering capability at night, and depend on batterie, so these shouldn’t be the only pair. I have these, since 2001. Worth it.
 

capta

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Jun 4, 2009
4,309
Pearson 530 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
I was so sure image stabilized binoculars were a con I made triple sure I could return them. Boy was I wrong!
They were the best investment I've spent since I bought my first GPS (after I checked it with my sextant). Normal marine binos are 8 or 10X35 but since the stabilized ones are lighter and smaller, moving up to 10X50 is easy. However, I suggest you do not go bigger.
You will thank yourself when searching for that fl2 x10 sec mark on a particularly dark and unpleasant night for spending that money. I would never go back, even if given the best standard binos made, for free.
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,726
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
Normal marine binos are 8 or 10X35 but since the stabilized ones are lighter and smaller, moving up to 10X50 is easy.
I think "normal" marine binos are 7x50, and anything more powerful than 7x has too much movement on the water unless it's stabilized. Who makes a 10x50 I-S bino?
 
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Jun 2, 2004
147
Beneteau 393 Lake Texoma, Texas
Several years ago, I purchased a set of Fuji 12X32 stabilized binocs-one of the best boat items I have ever purchased. We have used them on multiple offshore trips and they are invaluable. Once you use them and then revert to the traditional 7X50's, you wonder why you even bothered to pick up the older unit. The down side is that the stabilized models are electronic devices and those electronics can fail. I experienced a failure with the stabilizing feature and they were ultimately sent back to the factory for repairs at the tune of approx. $400. After another four years, I have experienced a failure with the power to the unit and was advised that it will require another repair at the factory, again for an additional $400. I have elected to pass on that second repair and will just use that fund towards a new set of 14X units.

If you have never used a set of quality stabilized binocs, try out a set and be prepared to either shell out the $$ or live with the disappointment of reverting to the traditional 7X50's:)
 

dLj

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Mar 23, 2017
1,831
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
If you have never used a set of quality stabilized binocs, try out a set and be prepared to either shell out the $$ or live with the disappointment of reverting to the traditional 7X50's:)
I've been using my old 7X50's for many years. Perhaps you can give me an idea of the cost associated with these lovely binoculars and that may help me decide to go there, or simply remain ignorant in my current state of bliss....

dj
 
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CarlN

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Jan 4, 2009
577
Ketch 55 Bristol, RI
Once you try a Fujinon stabilized binocular you'll never go back to unstabilized. I've had a pair of the Techno Jr's (12x32) for almost 10 years. The only negative is it goes through batteries quicker than I'd like (about three sets a year).I do keep an old pair of 7x50's for night time use but find the Fujinon's are vastly superior even at night when looking for ship lights and lighted buoys.

I think the Techno Jr's have been replaced by this 12x28's. I wouldn't pay double the price for the 14x40's. And the Jr is smaller and lighter than a 7x50 - it's less tiring to hold and my wife greatly prefers it.
 
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dLj

.
Mar 23, 2017
1,831
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
I don't know. Let's see, I've used the 7X50 binocs that I currently own since I was a kid. They were an excellent pair at the time of purchase (from before I was born I believe, my father gave them to me). I have put them side by side modern 7X50 ones and now only within the past about 5 years, I have finally seen some new ones, that are high end, that may be slightly better, but really hard to say. So I've been using these, hard by the way, for over 50 years and they still work. Quite well in fact. They are indeed now getting old and I am looking to replace them. But $1400 for a binocular that comes with a one year warranty and runs on electronics? I'm looking for a pair I can use for more like the next 10 to 15 years and don't want to have to worry they just stopped working.. I don't think that's going to be my next pair... I guess if somebody I know has a pair and I could do side by side testing over a range of conditions, that might change my mind.

Now, the binocs that have the built in compass, that interests me a lot more. But I'm definitely more the simple reliable kind...

dj
 

SG

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Feb 11, 2017
1,670
J/Boat J/160 Annapolis
I have had both Steiner Commander 7x50 with integral compass and a Fujicon 14 power image stabilized sets of binoculars on our boat. I have the Steiner Commanders with integral compass for over 3 decades. My children gave me the Fujicon's as a birthday present, about 20 years ago.

If I have reach for a set to use, the Steiner 7x50's are my go-to set. When I put both out for crew to use (usually offshore), people use the Fujicon's a bit, but also seem to just migrate to the Steiners.

I find scanning with the Fujicon's in a seaway causes a sense of vertigo in a seaway. They are wonderful if you want a long-range sniper view of something. They're bulkier though -- and the 4 AA batteries need to get replaced if you use them for any time (and they seem to need to be replaced regardless, every season).

In my opinion, if you to buy only one set -- go with 7x50's. If you can, get the Steiners -- they even make the same model without a compass which you can get discounted for about 1/4 of the price of the Commander's. If you can afford the Commander's you won't be sorry.

The image stabilized models are fun to check-out the fauna, flora, and do select target spotting. If you rely on them, I'd clearly be careful to get a very durable model, like I've found the Fujicon's to be. (I've held other manufacturers models, I haven't found set that seems as weatherproof and durable feeling. I'd clearly not consider ones that aren't very well made. Without the image stabilizing feature working, you really can't use them on a boat that's moving or without bracing them on a fixed object.

If you go with a 10x (or greater) non-stabilized or stabilized set of binoculars, its really tough to use on moving vessel or without a tripod/bracing when not moving. Also, the field of view at greater than 7x isn't as useful for scanning. I think the 7x magnification is the most optimum.
 

dLj

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Mar 23, 2017
1,831
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
I am very interested in the 7X50 with compass. Now that to me sounds like the way to go. Indeed, 7X is about the highest mag you can hand hold and works well on a moving boat - now I'm not talking about stabilized but I have no knowledge of those. However, there are some simple optical laws you can't get around as in field of view will be greater with the lower mag.

Thanks for the input. I'm going to take a look at the ones you've recommended.

dj
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,726
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
I found this pair on the West Marine website and they are 7x50 by Steiner. It appears they have image stabilization and are compass bearing.

N0 - read again. The compass is stabilized. Not the image. (Also, WM's price is not competitive on those)
 

dLj

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Mar 23, 2017
1,831
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
For my go to equipment I am a fan of simple, robust, reliable. Image stabilization would not fall into that category. From my perspective, that may be a back-up or specialty niche but I personally would not use them as my primary. I think SG just wrote a really nice blurb.

I will be evaluating the Steiners mentioned. I like the range finder lens in the commando model, and am interested in the compass. I also want a 50mm objective lens for it's light collecting capability.

But that's just my opinion.

dj
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,726
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
So, the comments and reviews from cruisers and captains about those are amazing. Would they not be a good choice while on the water? If not, if you had to select one pair, would you go with the Steiner’s or with a pair of Fuji’s with image stabilization?
If one one pair - definitely the Steiners (they are the best IMHO, or a if they don’t fit your budget, choose a good quality 7x50 bino)
 

dLj

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Mar 23, 2017
1,831
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
You basically have to figure out what you use binoculars for. It is generally accepted that any magnification above 7X - unless it has image stabilization - is too high a magnification to hand hold without some kind physical stabilization - a tripod, or something. On a boat, I don't see any way to do this since the boat moves, you can't be still.

As you increase magnification, your field of view decreases. So as you go above 7X, it becomes harder to use as a "spotter" - or finding something you are looking for. As you drop below 7X, while your field of view increases, the size of the objects gets smaller and the ability to identify what you are looking at gets more difficult. As SG said, 7X seems to be the sweet spot for hand held binoculars.

The other number, you mentioned the 30, then the image stabized ones talk about a 40 and often the 50, that is the size of the objective lens in mm. The objective lens is the big lens away from your eyes. Above you mention a 12X50 and a 8X30. So those two would be a 12x magnification bino with a 50mm objective lens and the second one would be. 8X magnification with a 30mm objective lens.

The smaller the objective lens, typically the smaller and lighter the binoculars get. However, the size of the objective lens really affects the amount of light getting into the binocular. This really becomes noticable at dusk or in low light conditions. The larger the objective lens the better you see as the light goes down. Here the 50mm lens really can give you much better results - with or without image stabilization. There is simply more light to work with being passed into the binocular.

I hope I'm not boring you with too many details, but I thought for anyone that may not understand what the two numbers mean, might help.

Another thing about binoculars not talked about a lot is the two sets of lenses, the side for each eye, must be well aligned. When I am evaluating a set of binoculars, I will put them on a stable platform in some way. I then pick an object with good detail in it and get them focused on the spot. Without moving the binoculars, I'll close one eye and then the other, usually several times, while watching to make sure some specific point in the image I'm looking at does not move at all from one eye to the other. It's amazing how many binoculars fail this test!

dj
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,130
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
I visited the Columbia River Coast Guard Station on Point Disappointment. The CG person on duty was watching the bar with Fixed binoculars. They looked to be 3 plus feet long with a lenses that might be 500 or maybe 1000mm in diameter. They were huge. Sitting on a fixed platform. He could look out to see and count the persons on the bridge of an incoming ship some 6 miles away. I only wish I had taken a picture of them. I have never seen anything like them.
 

dLj

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Mar 23, 2017
1,831
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
They may have been binoculars for astronomy. I don't think I've seen any quite as large as you are describing but would love to to see them!

Binoculars are really nothing more than two telescopes hooked together so that you can get stereo imaging as each telescope aims at each eye, producing an double image from two different angles such that a stereo image can be formed. The way our brain interprets the signal coming in through our eyes is amazing. And not at all as one might surmise... That subject can get me going for hours...

dj
 
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capta

.
Jun 4, 2009
4,309
Pearson 530 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
I think "normal" marine binos are 7x50, and anything more powerful than 7x has too much movement on the water unless it's stabilized. Who makes a 10x50 I-S bino?
You are right, I don't know what I was thinking.
Mine are Canon.
 

dLj

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Mar 23, 2017
1,831
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
I'll be looking at Steiner binoculars Thursday in Annapolis. I'd quite enjoy hearing your take on them, I'll share mine also once I look. I'll be comparing to my "antiques" that have been serving me well for decades... I'll probably get laughed out of the show, but hey, they still work well although they now look like they shouldn't even function...

dj
 
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