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Old 25-06-2016, 11:52   #1
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Lightbulb Binoculars

What are good binoculars for a sailor? What features should I look for?
There are huge price differences.
My old clunkers are heavy and scratched up.
Thanks
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Old 25-06-2016, 12:01   #2
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Re: Binoculars

7x35. But I would stay away from Nikon. While they are quality products their service philosophy sucks. I have a pair a year old and the rubber eyepiece cups both split. Nikon requires the unit be returned to replace these $3 items and no you can't get them any place else. I told them I traveling full time and need them daily. Too bad they say, send them in.


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Old 25-06-2016, 12:02   #3
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Re: Binoculars

Quote:
Originally Posted by WolfgangSeaLife View Post
What are good binoculars for a sailor? What features should I look for?
There are huge price differences.
My old clunkers are heavy and scratched up.
Thanks
This forum has countless comments on so many topics. I encourage you to try the Google Custom Search field found under the Search menu at the top menu bar shown if you are using a browser to view CF. it is very easy and will usually give you many threads and comments to view, without waiting for answers.

Here is one such search on term "binoculars."

https://cse.google.com/cse?cx=011403...ars&gsc.page=1
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Old 25-06-2016, 12:02   #4
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Re: Binoculars

Most people seem to like 8x50. Waterproof is good, so is a compass. I have the mid-priced Nikons, which seem fine. I used to also have a little pair of 10x25 Leicas, which were cool as they would fit in your pocket, although if you have just one pair the 8x50s are much more useful.
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Old 25-06-2016, 12:49   #5
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Re: Binoculars

Steady Hand is right on target about searching. That said, you're best served by starting out with a pair of 7x50's to keep onboard. And then adding in other items later, as funds & taste allows for. Especially after you get to try out some other gear, owned by your neighbors.

The reasons why, & also on what to look for, are laid out in this thread. And I'm linking to it as, based on the feedback that I got from the pieces that I wrote, they helped a lot of people. Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!
It's a long thread, with a lot of info. And most likely it'll more than answer most questions that you can think to ask on bino's & glass. I wrote full page "optics 101 & 201+" on 3+ pages of the thread.
Hope it helps... without melting your brain ;-)
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Old 25-06-2016, 13:01   #6
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Re: Binoculars

thanks, so 7x50 with compass?
Still does not explain the huge price differences.
I want to use them on the boat
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Old 25-06-2016, 13:04   #7
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Re: Binoculars

Binoculars are one of those things you're going to have to shell out some cash for if you want a nice pair. Cheap is cheap when it comes to binocs. Do yourself a favor and get a pair with the gyro stabilizer.
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Old 25-06-2016, 13:09   #8
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Re: Binoculars

Whoa! Not 7x35. Those are birder glasses. 7x50, waterproof, and if possible rubber coated and floating. 7 power is about all you can steadily hand hold. 7x50 gives you a light gathering index of 7.1, which means they collect more light at night than your naked eyes do, so you can see dim lights and boats and beaches through them that you can't see without them. You don't need center focus because you are not concerned with close objects; focus each eye and use your own accommodation for shorter range. Barska and West Marine sell good examples. They don't need to be terribly expensive - at $200 list the failings are largely barrel or pin cushion distortion of straight lines near the edges of the field. Do check any pair for mis-alignment - with your eyes relaxed, you should not see two images. Also check that the image doesn't get fuzzy at the edges. I use WWII US Navy 7x50s; my wife uses floating armored 7x50s from WM, which often has them on sale.
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Old 25-06-2016, 13:31   #9
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Re: Binoculars

I don't envy you going through this. It's not easy to find the right solution.

For whatever it may be worth, I'll share my experience. I've had a ton of binocs come and go on my boat.

1. Entry level Fuji compass binocs (Mariner XP I think) -- total rubbish, Chinese carp. Electronics failed in months, eyepiece fell apart. Poor optics. They were in the trash bin before a year was out. I was surprised because Fuji generally do such excellent optics.

2. Entry level Nikon non compass 7x50. Poor optics, poor construction, crap, given away.

3. Leica Trinovid 8x20 -- magnificent optics. Daylight use only. Narrow field of view. Extremely compact -- will fit in your pocket. Not suitable for primary optics, but wonderful to have in your pocket in case you need to have a quick look at something. A keeper for sure.

4. Vintage Fuji Meibo 7x50 binocs, handed down from my Dad -- Wonderful!! Wonderful optics, a warm but high resolution view with subtle tones, wide field of view, individual focus, not pocket size by any means but manageable size, beautifully constructed. These are my primary binocs these days. In fact, the imagery from these is so beautiful, that at anchor sometimes I just look around with them, enjoying the beautiful images.


I'm still in the market for a pair of 7x50 compass binocs, because these make a superior kind of hand bearing compass, which in my opinion is a primary tool.

I concluded after a lot of research that the Steiner binocs are overrated and overpriced, and that the right choice would be the Fuji Polaris compass binocs, even if they are a bit bulkier.

Another thing to consider in binocs is stabilized ones. They are not actually all that expensive anymore, and make a world of difference from a moving boat at sea.
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Old 25-06-2016, 14:03   #10
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Re: Binoculars

Fuji has made some really good optics if you can afford them and that extra punch is worth it to you. And, yes, if you are in that market stabilized optics are great. I also agree that Steiners are over-rated. They were all the rage when they first came out, and I got a pair of Commander 7x50s, but soon found I preferred my old Navy 7x50s to them. But, what are we looking for here? You want the best, you can spend $5,000 easily. If you need respectable working 7x50s that will hold up to cruising use, $200 will do.
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Old 25-06-2016, 14:14   #11
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Re: Binoculars

I've used quite a few over the years and have also owned a few.

You get what you pay for.... esp in optical quality.

My pic - and what I have on the boat -would be a pair of Fujinon Polaris 7x50 FMTRs... not cheap but best bang for the buck and worth every penny
Fujinon 7x50 FMTR-SX Polaris Binocular 16330586 B&H Photo Video

I wouldn't bother with an inbuilt compass.
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Old 25-06-2016, 14:16   #12
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Re: Binoculars

FWIW .. the US Army used to use Steiners... now they use Fujinons.....
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Old 25-06-2016, 14:42   #13
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Re: Binoculars

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
Whoa! Not 7x35. Those are birder glasses. 7x50, waterproof, and if possible rubber coated and floating. 7 power is about all you can steadily hand hold. 7x50 gives you a light gathering index of 7.1, which means they collect more light at night than your naked eyes do, so you can see dim lights and boats and beaches through them that you can't see without them.
Ah, I wondered if this was going to come up. Many years ago an old ex military instrument technician told me to divide the diameter of the lens by the magnification with an ideal of 7 giving the greatest amount of light the eyes can use. Hence why so many binos are 7 x 50.

However, you need to be able to hold them still whilst standing on a moving object looking at other moving objects.

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Old 25-06-2016, 15:56   #14
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Re: Binoculars

If you divide the objective diameter (50mm for 7x50 binoculars) by the magnification (7x for 7x50 binoculars) you come up with the exit pupil diameter. 50 divided by 7 is 7.1mm.

If the pupil size of your own eye under low light conditions is greater than 7.1 mm (this is rare) then an objective diameter of greater than 50mm or a lower magnification will provide a brighter image at night.

Unfortunately pupil size gets less with age. So while 7x50 is necessary for maximum light gathering power in younger observers, middle aged members can get away with a smaller objective diameter (say 7 X 40) which gives an exit pupil of 5.7mm.

My personal preference is for around 8x50. This gives an exit pupil of 6.3 mm which is larger than my personal maximum pupil diameter (your own pupil size under low light is worth measuring if you are contemplating purchasing expensive binoculars) Hence there would be little or no advantage in my case in going to larger objective diameter.

While 7x magnification is standard this was determined when yachts were small. Personally I find a slightly higher magnification better, probably because a sail a larger and therefore more stable yacht (48feet).

In terms of quality the best optics not surprisingly are the high end brands like Leica and Swarovski. Many of these models are aimed at bird watching (of the feathered kind ). These users are very demanding and the binoculars typically have superb optics. They are generally rubber coated, nitrogen filled, and completely waterproof so are suited for marine use even if they are not marketed as such. The cost is considerable, but the optics are noticeably superior to the marine brands like Steiner. At least take a look before you buy. The differences in image quality is not subtle.

The high end "bird watching" binoculars are not produced with a compass (but personally I prefer my Autohelm fluxgate compass) or have a graticule (but a laser rangefinder is much more useful).
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Old 25-06-2016, 16:12   #15
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Re: Binoculars

If you don't want to measure your personal pupil size here is a graph of the average maximum pupil size verses age.
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