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Old 08-11-2015, 18:25   #76
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
OK, I had a very weird day!

B&H wouldn't return some bung headphones this morning so I wasn't in a good frame of mind when their staff had zero product knowledge of binoculars.

Their prices:
Fujinon $619
Steiner navigator $499
Steiner commander $1,187

The Striners at West Marine were $380 incl tax (see post below).

West Marines were 90% light, the Fuji 94% but no compass light; the Steiner commander also 94% and the best but expensive.

The price difference was so dramatic and the B&H sales price so woeful that I kept thinking $1,300 incl tax equals AUsie $1,850. What it I dump them overboard? Or drop them down the companionway?

So I went the West Marine Stieners.

Just checked them in low light and there are as good as my old ones so they are fine.

Yes the better ones are better but why pay an extra $1,000 USD?

Thanks for everyone's advice.
It was a different outcome than I expected!

Mark
That really is a shame Mark, that you had a desk jockey at B&H that was so inept. I paid $179 for my Fujinons from B&H online which are still available.
Fujinon 7x50 WPC-XL Mariner Binocular with Compass 7107751 B&H
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Old 08-11-2015, 18:39   #77
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

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That really is a shame Mark, that you had a desk jockey at B&H that was so inept. I paid $179 for my Fujinons from B&H online which are still available.
Fujinon 7x50 WPC-XL Mariner Binocular with Compass 7107751 B&H

Individual lens focus on any glasses are a pain. It is like a military spec ones are great for young eyes but totally wrong for us old ones.







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Old 08-11-2015, 18:47   #78
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

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Individual lens focus on any glasses are a pain. It is like a military spec ones are great for young eyes but totally wrong for us old ones.







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I'd argue with that (and I have oldish eyes!). A major reason for individual focus is to aid water and dust proofing. Also, most individual focus binos are set and forget and don't require constant twiddling between near and far objects to keep focus.
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Old 08-11-2015, 19:25   #79
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

Guys, since it's been asked for in this thread, plus since I filled in the OP on some move info via PM, here's part II of The Binocular Tome :

The differences in optical quality, in each new generation of binocular, & especially of those made now vs. those of 20 years ago is primarily this;
- Nowadays, it's pretty easy for optics manufacturers to do what's called Index Matching (of) the coatings which they use on the lenses in optics, to each specific batch of glass that they make/recieve.
Something which until the last 15yrs+/- was reserved for use pretty much only on high end European optics.

What Index Matching is, is this. Each batch of glass which is made for optics has slightly different properties. Most prominently, what frequencies of light with which the bare glass transmits light best.
It used to be that optics makers would simply use their best generic, high end coatings process on all batches of glass which they made/recieved. And usually, that yielded pretty dang good optical properties.

But now, with the proliferation of computer aided manufacturing & testing, it's easy for them to measure the light transmission properties of each batch of glass. And then apply custom formulated coatings, specific to each batch of glass, so that you get truly optimal pairings of the coatings with the glass. This maximizes the optical quality & clarity of the item.

What that does in the real world, is to cut down on the numerous sets of lenses inside each pair of binos, from reflecting, or scattering the incoming light @ each lens.
So, the coatings act in a manner which aligns the incoming light, so that more of it reaches you eye. Instead of a lot of it being lost at each lens, due to inevitable inconsistencies in the glass @ the microscopic/molecular levels.

This matching of the coatings to each batch of glass is why it's common for light transmission rates in good binos to be north of 90%. Where as 20+ years ago, it was rare to be able to achieve much over 80%. And binos with 70-something % were quite common.

But back then, makers like Swarovski, Steiner, & several other (high end) optics makers DID index match the coatings which go onto lenses, to the specific glass batches which they were using.

Also, they used MUCH higher quality glass to begin with. The most common being Schott glass. And several other makes, especially that made in Eastern Europe, if it could be had (it was the Cold War, remember).
But Schott glass is still top of the heap, although there's some great stuff coming out of Japan as well. In addition to a few other, lesser known companies.
Making GREAT glass is still a bit of an art (as much as it is a science).

Couple all of the above with the fact that literally, every 5yrs or less, glass quality, & lens coatings technology makes big strides forward. So that mid grade binos that you can buy now, are likely better (optically) than high end ($1K) binos of 15yrs or even a decade ago.

Okay, on to real world use & performance (as shared with the OP via PM):

One other thing which I forgot to post about binos is this. A few brands on the higher end, especially if they have adjustable magnification, & or swappable eyepieces to get you more magnification, have a threaded hole on their underside. It's designed so that they can be mounted on a photographer's tripod, or a similar mount which clamps to the window of a vehicle.

When you mount a pair of binos like that, they're rock solid, & allow you to glass better, with more image clarity, for a much longer time (since you don't have to hold them up).
The window mount being for game viewing, such as for animal researchers & the like.
~ I have friends in wildlife conservation who've schooled me in a lot of this. Ditto on old school, professional navigators having educated me. And, I've also taught such stuff myself, as well. Having skiippered Big ships, & held most of the key positions on them.

If one does get a pair of binos with such a fitting, you can convert a cheap tripod to a monopod (or buy a monopod). And set it up so that it just slots into a socket on the deck, or one meant for say, a fishing rod, or a piece of dodger frame.

So that when configured thusly; you have one less item that needs hanging onto. Plus, you can sit or kneel down for viewing (Braced; so again, more stability), & then only have to move the binos gently with the motion of the boat (on your braced monopod), in order to better see things.

IE; You're taking one or more shaky variables out of the viewing equation, & thus improving your long range image quality. As stability's the name of the game in such pursuits.

Also, when you're trying to view something, where seeing it is critical. Anything that you can do in order to smooth out, & or make the motion of the boat more predictable & stable is helpful.
For example; heaving to, decreasing or increasing sail area for a smoother ride, putting the boat onto a gentle reach, etc. Is yet another piece of the puzzle. And one which you'll probably rarely hear espoused, or see in print.

A site called Optics Planet is good for; gaining knowldege on almost ALL type of glass. As well as being a great site to use as a reference with regards to checking the prices of things. Because, generally, they have some of the better/best prices around. Due to their being a volume, optical dealer.

While I've never spoken to them live, it might be worth a couple of calls, to find a friendly old curmudgeon there, who'll spend the time to share a lot of knowledge with you, on various optic types & brands.

As, yes, even in this electronic age, the old school, genuine & friendly, live interaction with someone who's been @ a company for 20yrs, & is a fountain of knowldege; it's still nearly the best, if not THE top type of resource out there.
Particularly as guys of this type have forgotten more about optics, & tricks for viewing things, than most of us will ever know.

One parting thought, & it's KEY. Stabilized binos aren't cheap, although the prices have dropped a lot since their intro into the market. But, budget wise, if you buy a solid, mid range set of fixed binos, & a reasonably prices set of Night Vision or Thermal equipment. You may wind up spending about the same as if you'd bought both a high end set of standard binos, & a high end set of stabilized binos, together.

PS: Here's a couple of examples of optical test patterns. Though with a bit of Googlefu, you'll likely come up with a better & or bigger one.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped..._USAF_1951.png
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=...rt&FORM=RESTAB
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Old 08-11-2015, 19:36   #80
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

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Originally Posted by Sailor Doug View Post
Individual lens focus on any glasses are a pain. It is like a military spec ones are great for young eyes but totally wrong for us old ones.
What you want on individual focus ones is called a Diopter lock. It locks the adjustment in place at the eyepiece, once you've set the binos for your vision.

But... there's one other KEY thing. With individual focus binos in particular. As the light grows more & more dim, you want to slowly adjust the eye piece (diopter) focus, as it'll increase your ability to discern things better as ambient light disappears. Sometimes by quite a significant amount. And... each of your eyes is different, thus the reason for this system.

It does have it's purpose(s), & is designed in order to assist you in viewing things, not the other way around.
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Old 08-11-2015, 20:03   #81
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

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Hav just ordered a pair of these after extensive reading suggests they are the best for marine use. They were supposed to be with us for this cruise, but alas they didn't turn up...and we're hoping they'll be safe until we return in 10 days! Will keep the 'old' 7x50 Braun as they work fine, but keen to add the image-stabilizing aspect.

Anyway, we probably can't help your time-frame Mark, but can only suggest where our enquiries lead...happy hunting!
YOU will love them when you get them!!!
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Old 08-11-2015, 20:12   #82
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

For everyday we like Fujinon 7x50. This is the most power that one can hand-hold on a moving boat. And the optics are really good.
When we really need to see something we get out the Fujinon 14x40 TS1440 Techno-Stabi image stabilized binoculars. They really are something!
Happy sailing
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Old 09-11-2015, 04:12   #83
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

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Originally Posted by Muckle Flugga View Post
But most importantly they have an almost supernaturally deep field of focus. Basically once adjusted simply to your eye quirks, they never need to be refocussed!
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Individual lens focus on any glasses are a pain. It is like a military spec ones are great for young eyes but totally wrong for us old ones.

I agree with Muckle: individual focus is the bees knees.

Center focus sucks.

Focus each eyepiece for yourself and leave them that way -- and then don't share your binocs.

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Old 09-11-2015, 04:20   #84
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, ScubaMuse.
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Old 09-11-2015, 05:26   #85
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"I am in New York with a bucket of cash to buy new bond's. Yippee!"
Got any muni's paying six percent at par, with a AAA rating and non-AMT status? (G)


About those binocs...I'd say it comes down to two things. First, warranty and supplier. The folks who made mine--with a lifetime warranty--went bankrupt and unfortunately, mine were there for service at the time, almost got back nothing at all. I suspect West and Steiner both will be around for a while.


But even within one brand (i.e. Nikon) there can be six quality levels all with the same numbers attached. The difference is warranty, construction, weight, coatings on the glass, and the type of glass itself, as well as the precision of the lenses. A maker may say, quietly, their best lenses have a shape that is polished within one micron...anything they pull from the same batch that doesn't spec up, goes to the secondary brand. Pull one of each from the display case, and maybe you can or cant see any difference, maybe in fact both passed the better qc level.
So you really have to look closely at the specs, and then actually TRY OUT the binocs to see if you can tell ay difference.
When I bought mine, that particular pair happened to be just as sharp as Steiners costing twice as much. After the "warranty" repair (an internal prism shattered during indoor winter storage, from stresses in bad mounting one assumes) they couldn't compare--the company didn't have a very tight quality control level, and the replacement prism simply wasn't as good.
BTW Steiner, like Nikon, my offer many price points with "the same" spec. Compare with your eyes, and the warranty terms. "Better" binos may simply have a larger exit pupil size, and if your eyes have smaller pupils? That's just wasted on you. Some eyes dilate out to 7mm at night, most only go out to 5-and-change.


Not so. A larger ocular does more than simply transmit light directly into the pupil as if it were a pipe. This would only be the case if the pupil did not move around the field of view. However, of course, the reality is we look around the field of view within the binoculars. This means that the effective pupil is FAR larger than what you are suggesting, and binoculars with undersized oculars are extremely hard to use on a moving platform for this reason, and are finicky and irritating. Sorry, but I wholeheartedly disagree with you. I mean… why do you think the more expensive binoculars have large oculars? For fashion?
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Old 09-11-2015, 05:39   #86
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

I haven't read through the whole thread so if this has been brought up already I apologize, but check with Defender, they often sell refurb Canon's, Nikon's and Fuji's, I bought my Nikon image stabilized for about half price through Defender that way, I have no idea what is actually refurbished, I suspicion many if not most are display models as they don't have a scratch on them or any other signs of use.
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Old 09-11-2015, 06:13   #87
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
I am in New York with a bucket of cash to buy new bond's. Yippee!
But the range is huge!

West Marine has West Marine branded Steiner 7x 50's for $399 and exact same West Marine 7x 50's not Steiner for $599. Sounds weird!

What's the "best"?

What about image stabilization and night vision that's affordable?

Thoughties puleeeeeze.


Mark

Sent from a stupid phone that replaces words with weird stuff.
Best I have found, by a substantial margin, are Russian binoculars. I was in the queue to buy a pair of binoculars at the National Game Fair some years back, and in line with the queue was a long table of sample binoculars to try out (some over 1,200 pounds - about $1,850). The pair I was interested in (around $900 equivalent with a good Show discount) had a few people ahead of me, and I had tried most of the others up to that point. Well there was one pair nobody was picking up - the Russian 7 x 50's, so rather than not have anything to look through, I picked them up.

It was a hot day, with a heavy heat haze, looking South over the Bristol Channel, and the pair I had used just prior (one of the $1,800+ binoculars) hadn't spotted anything in that haze, 20+ miles offshore.

Well with the Russian ones, I could make out a large cargo ship in the haze. So I turned to the guy using the pair I had just put down, and asked him if he could see the cargo ship in the haze. He couldn't, so I said see if you can find it with these, and I'll see if I can still find it with those.

Well he found that ship right away with the Russian binoculars too (and I couldn't find it with the expensive ones). We swapped back and forth again with different test subjects.

Both of us bought those Russian binoculars, at under $45 equivalent a pair. They have been superb.

Another extremely good buy in binoculars, if you want to buy something bigger, are the Chinese 15 x 70's with labels such as Celestron and Revelation. I bought my father a pair of these for Nebula spotting, with a heavy duty tripod, for his birthday, and they have been very good, with excellent coatings:

Celestron Cavalry 15x70 Binoculars - First Light Optics

A tip for spotting rubbish lenses, which are used even in very expensive (cheaply made) binoculars, is to hold them at arms length with the objective lens towards you, so you can see the eyepiece clearly through them.

If they have diamond or square shapes to them, it shows they are extremely cheap and not polished to the edge of the lenses. If they cut that sort of corner, then the coatings along with everything else, are also in doubt.

If you can't find the Russian binoculars (remember the Russians make superb astronomy telescopes and eyepieces too, that are excellent value for money), then there are a lot of Chinese binoculars with superb glass, coatings, and prisms available, with different labels. An example of their 7 x 50's is here:

Bresser Hunter 7x50 Porro Prism Binoculars

Go somewhere that sells astronomy gear, they usually also sell binoculars, and try them in the shop before buying them. Even expensive binoculars can get shoved out of alignment when being shipped, and it is best to try the ones you want in the shop, and if the optics look out, ask to try another pair. It is rare to get one that is out of alignment, but it does happen, and you can get a false impression of the optics as a result, and be unhappy with your purchase.

PS Sometimes Aldi and Lidl's have a 'special' on Chinese 10 x 50's. usually for $15 to $20 equivalent. For general knockabout use, they are much, much better than people expect. Good glass, coatings, and prisms. Again, try before you buy, in the shop. You might be shocked how well they compare with extremely expensive labels on glass. You can pick up Nebulas at night with these too (useful for spotting before turning the telescope to the subject). I think that speaks volumes . . . .

I wouldn't be surprised if outfits like Walmart carry these binoculars at good prices too.

PS Yes they have Celestron 7 x 50's for $41.68.

Something else, DO NOT buy 'zoom" binoculars, no matter the price or name. The extra lenses for variable magnification lose you a lot of efficiency, which counts for a heck of a lot in low light. In a telescope with a decent objective lens or mirror (e.g. my 200mm Newtonian) they can be handy for zeroing in.
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Old 09-11-2015, 06:49   #88
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

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Guys, since it's been asked for in this thread, plus since I filled in the OP on some move info via PM, here's part II of The Binocular Tome :

The differences in optical quality, in each new generation of binocular, & especially of those made now vs. those of 20 years ago is primarily this;
Thanks! Very Civil presentation.
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Old 09-11-2015, 07:10   #89
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

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Thanks! Very Civil presentation.
You're welcome, & the kind feedback/words is appreciated.


Also, to be crystal clear on the Objective Lens size issue:
You really do lose a HUGE amount, by going to a smaller size. If you compare 7x35's to 7x50's, the amount of light which reaches your eye is 1/4 as much with the smaller lenses. Here's why.

The math to calculate an optic's Exit Pupil goes like this. Objective lens size, divided by optical magnification = Exit Pupil (in mm). And when your eye's fully dialated, the average pupil is about 7mm.

So with the 7x35's, it's 5mm. And with the 7x50's, it's 7mm. And since the area encompassed by a circle is a squared function, the 35mm lenses are only letting in 25% of the amount of light, as compared to the 50mm lenses. Which is HUGE, after dark.

Take some out & try it. I have, & the difference is amazing. It's literally comparable to the difference in what you can see from when you first turn out the lights somewhere dark, & what you can see after sitting for 15 or 30min in the same room.

The ONLY reason that some Military binos have smaller lenses than 50mm, is so that they're easier to carry around. Like in the cargo pocket of BDU trousers. That, & that it's very rare to find any field Military units which don't have Spectacular Night Vision, Thermal, & other (fancy), low to no light, optical gear.
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Old 09-11-2015, 07:12   #90
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Re: Binoculars? Which ones? Heeeellllpppp!

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[/B]

Not so. A larger ocular does more than simply transmit light directly into the pupil as if it were a pipe. This would only be the case if the pupil did not move around the field of view. However, of course, the reality is we look around the field of view within the binoculars. This means that the effective pupil is FAR larger than what you are suggesting, and binoculars with undersized oculars are extremely hard to use on a moving platform for this reason, and are finicky and irritating. Sorry, but I wholeheartedly disagree with you. I mean… why do you think the more expensive binoculars have large oculars? For fashion?
The objective lens is about light gathering. Put simply, its the focal length, that determines the maximum practical magnification that can be used. For example I use a 120mm short tube telescope which has a focal length of 600mm, for deep sky observing (it is great for Nebulas). What determines the Field of View, is the design of the eye piece, and this is independent of the actual size of the eye piece.

For example you can have a good image quality with a Plossl eyepiece, but a limited FoV, such as a 40mm eyepiece here, has a FoV of 42 degrees:

Skywatcher SP Plossl eyepieces - First Light Optics

But a differently designed eyepiece, that's also 40mm, can have a FoV of 70 degrees, such as with this SWAN (bigger FoV are also available):

William Optics SWAN Eyepiece - First Light Optics

Design also impacts the length of the eye relief offered by different lens types too (can be important, if for example you are an eyeglass wearer).

Now in an 80mm objective lens telescope with that SWAN eyepiece, I will get the same 70 degree FoV as I do when I use it in my 200mm Newt. AND my 120mm ST. But with the 40mm eyepiece, I will get different magnifications in my 120mm ST (600mm focal length, so 15x mag), and my 200mm Newt (1,200mm focal length, so 30x mag).

To get the light gathering/image brightness ratio with the exit beam size, divide the magnification into the objective lens size, to get the size of that exit light beam, so 7 x 50 puts you around optimum at around a 7mm exit, for example (as you get older, and your eyes change, the usable extent of the exit tends to reduce, but you will still have about an optimum image brightness - greatly assisted or not, by lens size and quality, prism quality, along with coatings). To contrast, the 15x mag 40mm eyepiece in my 120mm ST, has an exit of 120 / 15 = 8mm.

While it shouldn't have made any practical difference, the best fixed magnification telescopic sight for night shooting I ever owned, was a 2.4 x 40. I almost never used variable magnification 'scopes on my rifles, tending to stick with a high quality 6 x 42 (notice the 7mm exit again) that was frequently rebranded into extremely expensive labels (e.g. Swarovski, which cost 6x more than I paid for the ones I used, and they were the same 'scope made in the same Eastern European factory - Meopta). If it's low light, you do not want variable magnification 'scopes.

Hope that helps.
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