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  #1  
Old 10-09-2007
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Binoculars? Recommendations.

Did a search and nothing came up on this subject, so here goes. Recommendations for Binoculars for the boat. Minimum mag and other must haves? What About Brands? I am frugal. I'll spend money if I have to fro good/best stuff, but not unnecessarily.

Thanks.

DrB
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Old 10-09-2007
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Binocs are a necessity, but having expensive ones may not be. It depends on where you boat, how big your boat is, how much you have to spend and who will be using them. When I bought my first boat I was talked into buying a pair of 10x70 fuji marine, very nice quality, expensive and completely useless on a 30 foot boat. I still have them and they are great for stargazing at home. I have always coveted a pair of 7x50 with compass, but for some reason I have never decided to fork out the cash for one, the Nikon OceanPro seem reasonable at ~$350. I have ended up using a 50year old pair of Nikon 7x50, they are small and light weight.

If you sail familiar waters the need for an expensive pair is less important. I pull mine out very seldom, and then usually just out of curiosity.

I think it makes sense to have a cheap pair on the boat anyway, it can be used as a backup later or the one you let the guests or kids use.

So, I would buy a cheap marine grade 7x50 made by Bushnell or the like, even used is OK if you can check them out first. Then you can evaluate what you need. You may decide a stabilized unit is necessary, big$$$ but some believe they are a must have.
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Old 10-09-2007
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Fujinon or Cannon waterproof and stabilized would be my choice in that order. I have a pair of Steiners that must be 15 years old that are still working fine. Cheap binocs last only a short while.
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Old 10-09-2007
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Unless you are sailing in extremely calm waters, you'll probably want to keep the magnification down to around 7 - this is about the limit that most people can hold steady on a non-stationary platform like a boat. These days you can spend quite a bit more and get binocs with built-in optical image stabilization which would allow you to hand hold a higher magnification, but you may not really need that much magnification. The other number (the "50" in 7x50) is the objective diameter, and affects how much light they will gather. Since for marine use, you'll likely want to use them to help spot landmarks and navigational aids in low-visibility conditions, like at dusk, a big number here is good, although it does result in a bulkier binocular. The 7x50 size is pretty popular and works well; I think that with modern manufacturing methods there is less difference in optical quality than there once was, so even the relatively inexpensive ones are pretty usable. I have a pair of Nikon Ocean Pros with compass, and I like having the compass in there (if for no other reason than it is one less thing to lug around). Remember that while you can get a lot of binoculars that are waterproof, most don't float, so it's worth adding a floating strap (I've watched too many things splash and then sink!).
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Cost no object, hand them down to the grandson, what makes Germany, Germany, you just love the best, or you were a U-Boat commander and haven't gotten over it-Zeiss.

Intermediate. good blend of quality and affordability-Nikon.

What everybody is sailing with that works pretty well and are reasonable quality and reasonable cost-Tasco.
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A few years ago when the budget wasn't too tight and I was in a boat spending mood I purchased two sets of 7X50 marine binoculars.

The first, and reputedly the best, was the Fujinon Polaris model, with built-in compass. After many thousands of sea miles, I like them OK. Built like a tank, great optics, like the built-in compass. These are supposed to be a U.S. Navy favorite, and are roughly equal in quality and price to the Steiners which I found to be bulky and unattractive.

The second, and much less money, was the Navy One model, built by Pioneer. I bought these for the crew/watchstander, and all aboard know not to touch my Fujinon's. These binocs are great to handle, have very good optics, and no built-in compass.

Truth is, except for the compass I really like the Navy One's more than the Fujinon's, because:

1. they have a great shape and are very nice to handle;
2. they have optical performance which I can't distinguish from the Fuji's; and
3. they are much less sensitive about eye placement.

The Fuji's require your eyes to be pretty well centered, and are unforgiving in this aspect. The Navy One's are far less demanding; just slap them up to your eyes and they see very well. No adjusting necessary.

Bottom line: to save money, if I were buying now I'd probably buy a pair of the Navy One's and a Weems & Plath hockey-puck hand bearing compass.

Bill
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Love my Steiners.. we have two pair on board. one pair of 7x50s with the compass and a pair of light weight 8x30s. The 7x50s rock and we use them when picking anything up is really important like at night. the 8x30s are great for when at anchor or just casually examining something.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
The Fuji's require your eyes to be pretty well centered, and are unforgiving in this aspect.
Musta dropped my Fujis a time or two 'cause now I can see through 'em just fine!
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Last edited by cockeyedbob; 10-09-2007 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 10-09-2007
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It's pretty much covered - I am also a big Steiner fan and have an old 7x50 with compass and a new 7x50 commander IV (?) - love the optics esp in dim light and at night (redundant?), don't think stabilization is worth the price and firmly believe in floating straps and insist that they be around a neck or below.
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Previously posted under "Stabilized Binoculars"

When you get ready to buy, you might want to check with Eagle Optics at URL http://www.eagleoptics.com/

The birders I know use Eagle, and we have bought several binoculars from Eagle. They were very helpful answering our questions on the pnone, and the prices seemed as good as we could find.
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