Join Date: Jul 2002
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There seem to be a huge spread of opinions, preferences and subjective ''take'' on binocs so I''d encourage you to narrow your field to those you can inspect and trial first-hand. Some rave about bargains (for which birding magazines are a good source), some want brand cachet or a certain ethnic heritage (swiss, german, etc.), some think a given choice is good ''cause it was on a boat that''s seen lots of miles and still work. In short, I''d encourage you to clarify your own preferences and go from there. And you definitely don''t want more than 7x or 8x magnification.
FWIW we''ve used a pair Fujinon Mariner XL''s for a few years now. They float, claim to be waterproof, have a lighted compass, are easy to handle and Fuginon provides excellent after-sales support. (Don''t underestimate this last criterion; we''re talking about gear with delicate optics that can fly across a cockpit or be dropped on the sole). Our Mariner''s have been returned twice in 5 years due to a capsized compass card (an apparent weakness in the design since we treat them pretty decently), both times for free repairs.
At $200 (today''s price) I think they represent good value but they aren''t what everyone is looking for and have their faults. I find the built-in compass *very* useful on occasion. And FWIW we carry a back-up pair we got thru a birding organization and, after 15 years, they remain completely functional. Given their $70 cost and water-tight, rubber-covered design, I think they illustrate well what a value purchase can look like.