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Old 29-01-2018, 01:22   #1
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Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

Yes another binocular thread...

A post in the current thread regarding the value of Steiner's after sales service causes me to raise this direct question rather than continuing to go further off topic in that fine thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
......

Stabilized binos are not really INSTEAD of a solid pair of compass binos for general use and taking bearings. Rather IN ADDITION TO.
This was in response to my quandary of trying to decide between a traditional marine bino (Fuji Polaris 7x50) or go to a stabilised unit (Fuji 14x40 IS). I know the traditional bino will last many lifetimes and will be simple, robust and dependable. I am also certain that I will see more detail and more clearly with image stabilisation but I can't believe the electronics will last for more that a decade or two.

I always considered the question was an "either or" rather than considering both compliment each other. For the record, having both is not possible for me - you can guess why

Leaving aside the compass question, what are your thoughts for a new set of binoculars - traditional or image stabilised?
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Old 29-01-2018, 01:42   #2
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

I recently bought a 100 pair of binos and after 6 months perfectly happy with them. I would find it hard to justify a really expensive pair for use on a small boat often bouncing around and covered in spray.

Perhaps there is a case for two, one cheap pair in the 100 bracket that can be left on deck during a watch and if dropped won't cause a hissy fit and for the occasional need to identify that cardinal or a wave breaking on a rock then out come the expensive pair. However, no point in having $700 binos if they are always secured away in their case below decks.

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Old 29-01-2018, 02:02   #3
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

The stabilized binoculars are really nice for long distances. They will make the useless un stabilized magnification of the binoculars crystal clear when the stabilization is turned on. The real issues is you seldom have a need for that much distance on a boat. They are also heavy to hold to use for any length of time.

Another issue with the Fujinon stabilized is they have a small current drain when turned off and will flatten the batteries over time. When AA batteries are discharged they will leak acidic liquid that will destroy the electronics if left in the binoculars. I discovered this early on and was religious about disconnecting the battery case and removing the batteries. Got lazy once and just disconnected the battery case but didn't remove the batteries. Apparently there was still an electrical connection, the batteries were drained, leaked into the binoculars and now I have a very expensive pair of non stabilized binoculars. Haven't contacted Fujinon to see if they are repairable so may not be a fatal error.
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Old 29-01-2018, 04:28   #4
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

Very good answers so far!

I have used both types of binoculars (Canon Stabilized and marine compass type). The stabilized made a significant difference in comfort of viewing and acuity of the scene, making it easy to see fine lines and tiny details, read letters and numbers, etc.

One time I compared a pair of very expensive Leica binoculars with a pair of Canon Stabilized, while outside observing birds. The stabilized made a huge difference, and would have been my preference, every time for viewing. I quickly swapped the binoculars, back and forth, several times, and the experience convinced me of how much easier it was on my eyes, and how much more fine details I could see, with the stabilized.

If money is not a problem, then having both is a nice solution.

If you have the money to get a stabilized binocular, do it. I don't think you will regret having them, and will likely enjoy the viewing more. I would. I would use good practices for storage and battery use, as mentioned by Peter, but I would not be worried about longevity of the set as an issue. I would not expect the electronics to last a lifetime (how long is that?), but if they last 10 years or twenty years with care and typical use, and they could, I would enjoy them as long as they did.

If money is limited, and the stabilized seem too expensive, then my choice would be a 7x50 marine type with compass and nitrogen filled with BAK4 prisms and Fully Multicoated glass and good field of view, good eye relief, and high percentage light transmission. Be aware that not all "marine type" binoculars have those features, which I consider important..
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Old 29-01-2018, 04:42   #5
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

Wot: Both. Sorry.

But regular 7x50s first and then stabilized later, perhaps much later if necessary. I use the 7x50s many, many, many times throughout a normal cruising day... way more often than I'd use the (heavier) stabilized binoc.

I'd look at heavier, bulkier stabilized models only to solve things the 7x50s don't, e.g. resolving boat names or nav aids at distances, from our unstable platform.

FWIW, there's been a long thread or two recently on trawlerform ref binocs; one interesting comment there was about how Fujinon stabilized models will handle a much larger degree of movement than Canons... hence more useful onboard when both boat and target are moving asynchronously.

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Old 29-01-2018, 05:07   #6
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steady Hand View Post
One time I compared a pair of very expensive Leica binoculars with a pair of Canon Stabilized, while outside observing birds. The stabilized made a huge difference, and would have been my preference, every time for viewing. I quickly swapped the binoculars, back and forth, several times, and the experience convinced me of how much easier it was on my eyes, and how much more fine details I could see, with the stabilized.

..
I found that I make out details with my stabilized Canon equivalent to that achieved when placing a standard pair of 7x50 on a flat surface (for stabilization) - that benefit alone increases the distance I can make out details with the Canons substantially. However, at night, the smaller light-capturing aperture of the Canons mean that the 7x50s are more useful resolving power.
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Old 29-01-2018, 05:11   #7
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

My experience.

Non-stabilized.

- A good pair of 7X50 is essential for the light gathering ability of the lens. It makes a huge difference in marginal light conditions, even at night.
- Do well for seeing the big picture, wide area etc.
- Even in relatively calm conditions I have found that 7X50 non stabilized I cannot read the numbers on channel markers or lettering on any signs. In fact by the time I could read with the binoculars I could read them without as well.

Stabilized.

- Are invaluable for trying to determine if the channel marker is #16 or #18.
- I think the Fujinons are the best and have a greater degree of stabilization in rougher conditions but if budget is an issue the Canon 10X30 will do the job for 99% of my uses which is usually in a channel, inshore or other places where it is usually not as rough and I need to read a marker.
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Old 29-01-2018, 05:42   #8
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pirate Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

Wottie.. look at it as creating beneficial competition.. at our age its a race to see which lasts longer.. us or the bino's..
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Old 29-01-2018, 05:56   #9
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

I have a Fuji 14x40 image stabilized since 2001. I treat them carefully, clean only when needed, and restore to the case between each days' use. I also remove batteries for longer layups (e.g. winter). They still work perfectly and are crystal clear. Never been serviced. 17 years is a good run, and cost per year of ownership has been good.

I agree with "both" and have a pair of moderately priced Nikon "Action" 7x50 with built in bearing compass, which I use for "quick grab" and keep in a holder just inside the companionway (with only eyecup covers). These are my "go to" when I want to see something better at night, or just need more detail. But when that's not enough I pull out the Fuji's.

The Fuji's have a narrower field of view and more detail but the 7x50s have better light gathering and wider field, and (because of lower magnification) don't need the added stabilization as much.

PS - The bearing compass is generally used for determining if another vessel is on a collision course, but I also have AIS which is preferred when the other is AIS broadcast-equipped. Of course it could also be used for manual chart-plotting but I'm generally lazy and trust my electronics.
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Old 29-01-2018, 08:56   #10
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

I have both. The Fuji 10X50 rangefinders I have had rebuilt once in the 30+ years I have owned them, by the factory service in San Diego, USA. BTW they will sell you their version with supposedly the exact same components for less.
I just bought the cheaper of the fuji stabilized one (12x34) and love them. Interesting to hear about the small current drain. I will have to keep an eye on that. They are a major upgrade and the price dropped $100 to $399 THE WEEK after I bought them.
I have both pair with me when I am on my boat but carry the stabilized ones in my sail bag when I am skippering on another boat.
They have more power and can see much easier numbering and shapes which is mainly what I use Binos for now days.

With GPS and modern electronics the need for a good pair of rangefinders has diminished. I have a hand bearing compass to give me a radial for coastal navigation
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Old 29-01-2018, 09:37   #11
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

I've got both and that's a good thing. If one or the other (even if the same price) I believe an armored pair of 7 X 50 binoculars ( Fuji,, Baker, Zeiss, Steiner in that order) make for the "best" small boat optical enhancement devices. I believe that their ruggedness trumps any other quality. I had a pair of Fuji binocs stolen off a boat in a port in Portugal (Peniche, 1983). The thieves had already made a couple of trips in an inflatable (mine) from the mole out to the moored boat carrying stolen stuff ( real nice guitar, clothing, hand-held electronics etc) : at some point they got spooked and threw some small stuff in the harbor ( 15 foot tidal range low water depth 15') the Fuji binocs included. Couple of weeks go by, I'm dinghying to shore at low tide, look over the side and lo and behold there are my binoculars layin on the bottom (obviously good visibility). Dived them up and they were fine, and in fact I'm still using them 35 years later.
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Old 29-01-2018, 10:36   #12
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

My experience is that if the reason for using a pair of binoculars is actually to see something then stabilised every single time.

However, on the point of longevity, my issue is not the electronics, which have been fine, but the covering of the Canon ones. They were sold to me at a boat show for, err, use on a boat. What I did not expect is that if left in sunlight the covering of the case would degenerate into a sticky mess.

These are expensive bits of kit. Were Canon UK helpful about replacing the coated plastic? Not in the slightest. They charged me several hundred pounds to make something perfectly usable something one could hold again without sticking to it and leaving black gunk everywhere.

So, warned. Don't leave the things in sunlight even with the optics covered. Don't expect sympathetic service from Canon.
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Old 29-01-2018, 10:39   #13
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alita49DS View Post
My experience is that if the reason for using a pair of binoculars is actually to see something then stabilised every single time.

However, on the point of longevity, my issue is not the electronics, which have been fine, but the covering of the Canon ones. They were sold to me at a boat show for, err, use on a boat. What I did not expect is that if left in sunlight the covering of the case would degenerate into a sticky mess.

These are expensive bits of kit. Were Canon UK helpful about replacing the coated plastic? Not in the slightest. They charged me several hundred pounds to make something perfectly usable something one could hold again without sticking to it and leaving black gunk everywhere.

So, warned. Don't leave the things in sunlight even with the optics covered. Don't expect sympathetic service from Canon.
Sorry to hear that about the Canons.

The other reason for binos is the ability to see better at night. For that capability you need 7x50, as the large objective lenses have better light gathering capability. IS types have smaller objectives lenses.
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Old 29-01-2018, 11:11   #14
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

My father gave me a pair of Canon 10X30 stabilized binocs the year (2013) before we sold it all and shoved off. He had them for bird-watching, but he & my mom weren't doing that much anymore.
We've had them aboard now for coming up on three years - and we use them daily. The only maintenance issue is that we have to keep an eye on the batteries - if they're getting weak (the optic will quiver when you first engage it) then we replace them immediately - and pull the batteries if we're going to lay up more than a couple days. We got lucky because I caught the first leaking (Duracell) battery just as it was letting go, so the contacts were not compromised - made us very twitchy about it.

If they were damaged/lost/destroyed, I would have no qualms replacing them immediately with new ones!

IMHO, they are not great night glasses, but the 10X30 isn't a very large objective. We do have a set of 7X50 glasses for night work.

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Old 29-01-2018, 11:14   #15
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Re: Binoculars - Traditional or Stabilised???

Wot SailfastTri said ^^^^^^ ''The other reason for binos is the ability to see better at night. For that capability you need 7x50, as the large objective lenses have better light gathering capability. IS types have smaller objectives lenses.'

Wotname... ask yourself... where you sail how often do you need to read numbers on distant buoyage? In my case it would be a very rare event. However I often want to make out what lights I am seeing on the horizon on dark nights....

That is why I have 7x50s.
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