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Old 08-10-2012, 06:11   #1
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Binoculars

Can anyone share suggestions on which binoculars are best for sailing. I am also wondering how crucial night vision binoculars are?
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Old 08-10-2012, 06:22   #2
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Re: Binoculars

I'm sure you'll get a lot of different answers here. My advice is to buy the best you can afford. But you really should test them if you can. The greater the magnification, the "further" you can see, but the less stabile a view you get, especially on a bobbing boat.

I have 7.5 x50 which suits me fine. Some of the more expensive binoc have a much greater light sensitivity, meaning you can see better in twilight.

I have two pair, one which was fairly cheap and one set which blew the bank account wide open. The cheap set is virtually just as good at the expensive ones, except at twilight.

I use the cheap ones when I go ashore. If I drop or lose them - I won't cry.

Night vision? I don't have it so difficult to comment on. Might be worth it if you sail places where there are no navigation lights etc. Otherwise, it might just be an expensive toy.

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Old 08-10-2012, 06:40   #3
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Re: Binoculars

Weight is a very important factor. Don't forget that. I use West Marine's, 'cuz they have a lifetime warranty. And they're comparatively light. I tried a friend's Funijons last week: great, great view, heavy like a rock.

There is no "best".
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Old 08-10-2012, 06:56   #4
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Re: Binoculars

Unless you are a serious bird watcher or similar, there is little benefit from a navigational viewpoint in buying squillion dollar binos with range finders, compass and other such bits.

Anything more powerful than about 7 x 50 will not be stable when you zoom. However, if you want to go better than the $99 special as the discount chandleries, look for gas filled, coated lenses and the biggest possible diameter lens you can find. The more ability to capture light, the better they will perform in low light conditions.

My old binos which cost very little have kept me going for two decades. A few years back, I was given a set of self focussing binos which are brilliant. Don't know how much they cost though.

The only other thing I think is important is the impact resistance. Rubber guards are very handy as binoculars often cop some accidentally very rough treatment.

Night vision I find is an interesting toy, but in truth I simply dont like them and see little benefit. They see in 2 dimensions and it is difficult to gauge distance. I guess they are okay if you lose your cat or something. Outside of a crowded marina, they have virtually no practical navigational use....and crowded trailer parks...er marinas, are usually well lit at night.
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:03   #5
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Re: Binoculars

I have a pair of $75 waterproof binos 7x50 from Defender that are pretty good. I have a pair of non-stabilized, but amazing binos from Steiner that cost 10x as much. The big difference (apart from the integrated compass, and the easy to use fixed focus in the Steiners) is in light transmission. While both are pretty good, the Steiners really excel to the point that with barely any starlight you can still see pretty well in the dark. Compared to night vision (which I only tried once!!) binos give you a much bigger field of view and much better distance vision. Perhaps military grade equipment is much better (??)
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:06   #6
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Re: Binoculars

As far as binoculars, that discussion is going to be like comparing anchors... We have a pair of Steiner 7x30 "Navigators", which are coated with rubber and have polarized lenes. They work great in all conditions and the eye pieces are individually adjustable, which accomodates people with different vision in each eye.

I disagree with Auzzee on the practical uses for Night Vision Devices... I have used them and it is on the wish list for my boat.

If you are sailing a lot at night or are planning long passages they are a great tool.

Seeing floating objects in the water, manuavering through and anchorage on moonless night or even looking for a mooring in the dark. All of which I have expereinced and wished I had night vision at the time.
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:22   #7
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Re: Binoculars

I bought a pair of the Fujinon Techno Stabi Jr binocs a few years ago. They are motion dampening. I highly recommend these. They are great for use on a moving boat. I got them on sale on line somewhere for about $750 I think. Pricey compared to standard 7X50 binocs, but worth every penny to me. I agree with Carsten above - buy the best your budget allows.

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Old 08-10-2012, 07:30   #8
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Re: Binoculars

Just sop yo know, my expensive binocs are Steiner Navigators. Blew my bank account. And they are good at twilight. And have lots of other features. Worth the money? Probably , but the cheap ones are good too.


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Old 08-10-2012, 08:25   #9
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Re: Binoculars

stabilized. all others are quite inferior..
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:27   #10
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Re: Binoculars

we have image stabilized Canon 15x50 with compass. They are heavy and expensive but are worth every penny. Very helpful coming through unfamilar channels in bad weather where you can't see the markers. We get a relative bearing on the chart plotter and then search with the binocs. Works great if you are like us and don't trust the chart plotter alone. Concerning night vision goggles, they also are great for the reasons Jeremiason mentioned
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:23   #11
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Re: Binoculars

Quote:
Originally Posted by stacy View Post
we have image stabilized Canon 15x50 with compass. They are heavy and expensive but are worth every penny. Very helpful coming through unfamilar channels in bad weather where you can't see the markers. We get a relative bearing on the chart plotter and then search with the binocs. Works great if you are like us and don't trust the chart plotter alone. Concerning night vision goggles, they also are great for the reasons Jeremiason mentioned
Thanks for all the feedback folks. I now know how long a piece of string is . I guess we need to get a few pairs in our hands and test them to see what we feel will be the best. Even a $99.00 pair would be better than not having a pair.
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:44   #12
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Re: Binoculars

We have 2 pair, I use a 2nd world war set of 7-50 navy binoculars, which I have compared to a lot of other 7-50s over the years ! and except for the weight of them nothing Ive found is as good ! Connie has a pair of 7-30 Smits from germany she found in a pawn shop in Seattle about 20 yrs ago she loves them light and just seem to pull the light in !! Dont think we have the cost of a cheap set today in both of these old timers ! but they work for us ! we take em with us when we sell a boat ! and use em on our nrw one ! just our 2 cents
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:03   #13
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Re: Binoculars

Usually took my old 7X50 Tasco Offshore 54's with me which have worked well for 20 years, considerably lighter than the navy issue 7X50's I grew up with and bobconnie has... Had the opportunity to try a stabilized dampened pair of 7X35's Steiners aboard a delivery recently (don't know how old they were) but the stabilizing feature I found was a real plus in rough weather. Not sure of the price but it was an interesting side by side comparison of the two products. If the price was comparable, I'd go with the stabilized version.
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:06   #14
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Re: Binoculars

I recommend 4 x 30 "birder's glasses" (like the cheapo yard sale Bushell models with the "near" and "far" eyepieces). They are light and rubber coated and are good enough to confirm buoy markings or "is that a CS 30?" queries at a half mile in daylight.

The big-buck, all-in models, like Fujicons or Steiner Commanders, are superior for nav purposes, like seeing unlit land at night and getting better bearings than using a hand held compass.

A power of 10 is about the limit, however, and a diameter of 50 is similar. I have 7 x 50 and 10 x 50 Mullers (post-war Zeiss lenses and "baby U-Boat Commander" style and weight. I use the 7 power ones more often.

I take 20 x 50 Tascos (cheap but strong) ashore, because I can brace my arms on a wall and see my boat in the harbour from miles away...pretty well useless aboard, however.
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:08   #15
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Re: Binoculars

Here is a link to a site with lots of expert advice on binoculars.

Telescope Reviews: Viewing forum: Binoculars

Here is a link on that site with some very specific stuff folks should know before they buy binoculars

Telescope Reviews: Affect of Eye Pupil on Binocular Aperture

The short version is stuff like pupil exit distance varies from person to person so what may be a great pair of binoculars for one person will be unusable by another person. Another thing I have noticed is some folks think a pair of binoculars is way too heavy for them while someone else will not notice the weight at all. If possible try before you buy.

This is my favorite all around pair of binoculars. They are small, light, fit in the pocket of my utilities, have a very close MFD and crisp views

Butterfly Binoculars From Pentax | Better View Desired

I also have a couple of real astronomy binoculars, one pair of 80mm and one of the Canon IS 18X. Both are great for their purpose and the 80mm especially are light buckets. But they are much heavier and the 80mm are probably too fragile for use on a boat in heavy weather. On the other hand on a clear night at anchor in a remote site I can see things like M42 in all its glory.

YMMV
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