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Old 06-11-2009, 07:33   #1
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Binoculars or Telescope ?

I know this is an odd question.

I was doing some research on binoculars. They do get expensive. I was wondering if anyone carries a telescope on board rather than binoculars? Or if investing in better binoculars is the best way to go.

It just seems to me you want just a little bit more power when you are attempting to identify things and a telescope is a better tool?
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Old 06-11-2009, 07:46   #2
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more power is not your friend on a moving platform such as as boat. Quickest way to make yourself seasick would be to spend time gazing through a high-power telescope. Stick to a quality pair of 7x50 binoculars, and you'll actually find yourself using them rather than avoiding them.
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Old 06-11-2009, 12:55   #3
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hey - a friend showed me his birdwatching binoculars the other day, and they had a button for image stabilization. I tried them out and it made a *remarkable* difference for me, I drink a lot of coffee and don't have what I'd consider stable hands.

What are your thoughts on image stabilization binocs? Great advancement or easily-broken toy? Any recommendations on a rugged pair for use at sea?
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Old 06-11-2009, 13:07   #4
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Past about 7 power you get too much shaking, which of course makes it impossible to see what you are looking at anyway. I have a pair of Canon 18x50 stabilized binoculars that work great. I can even see Jupiter's moons with them and if I use my imagination and squint my eyes really hard, Saturn's rings. The problem is they are pretty expensive...about $1000 Canon - Binoculars 18 x 50 IS - Black

You can get a pair of non-stabilized, good quality 7x50's for around $200-$300. Don't waste your money on the Crapola brand kiddie binoculars....they have horrible optics to begin with which always go from bad to worse after being jarred a few times....unless of course you can turn your eyes like a chameleon.
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Old 06-11-2009, 15:01   #5
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I have a spotting scope on-board (bird watching sort) and it is very seldom useful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jacket_fan View Post
I know this is an odd question.

I was doing some research on binoculars. They do get expensive. I was wondering if anyone carries a telescope on board rather than binoculars? Or if investing in better binoculars is the best way to go.

It just seems to me you want just a little bit more power when you are attempting to identify things and a telescope is a better tool?
It just moves too much, even at anchor, unless it is VERY well protected.

I had it, so it is a fun thing to play with in a quiet cove with eagles or such, but it is just worthless on open water. Binoculars I use frequently when away from home waters.

Yes, the high dollar binoculars are very nice, but if you treat them with respect some of the low-end 7x50 binoculars from West Marine or Defender are quite serviceable. Don't get the smaller ones - terrible in low light.
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Old 06-11-2009, 15:46   #6
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Telescopes might be more expensive as they are little used on yachts except for teh Johhny Depp types.

A good deal on binoculars with a bearing compass made us very happy.
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Old 07-11-2009, 05:24   #7
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I got almost brand new Fujinon 7x50's on ebay for about 2/3 the new price. Somebody had gotten them for their kid but they were too heavy for a 5 year old. It is worth checking ebay before buying - there can be some great deals on there
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Old 07-11-2009, 05:45   #8
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I have determined that the best deal going is the Stiener (Steiner?) 7x30 with the internal compass for about $350 as primary. They weigh in at 20 oz. If I were going to be in harms way, or if I find really need them, I will save my cans and bottles, pennys and dimes for some high power stabilized ones.
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Old 07-11-2009, 07:27   #9
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Don't even consider a telescope. Your best VALUE on a boat is a good pair of standard 7x50 binoculars with built-in bearing compass.

You want 7x50 because (as others have stated) 7x magnification is the best compromise between maximum magnification and manageable "shake" while on a moving platform, and a wide field of view is also desired on a boat (for spotting buoys etc.). The reason you want a 50mm objective lens is for maximum light gathering at night, and while the larger objective lens makes the unit heavier, you will find you can see much more at night with 50mm binos than with the naked eye (or with compact "opera glasses"). Great for spotting buoys etc.

An integrated bearing compass is another very useful feature: By taking a bearing (compass directional line, in degrees) to an object, then another a few minutes later -- you can use it as a quick check to know if you are on a collision course with another boat or ship... it the bearing remains constant you are on a collision course, but if it changes over time you are safe. Of course you can also use it to plot your position on charts using triangulation relative to fixed charted references, as a fall-back to GPS navigation.

I strongly recommend you spend the money for a quality brand, such as Nikon, Canon, Steiner, Fujinon and avoid low-end "house brands". (If the normal market price for the brand/model is cheaper it is certainly of lower quality.) The difference in optics is significant when you want to read details, but even more obvious will be the precision of the alignment between the two sides in binoculars. Even slightly misaligned binos can drive you to distraction and eye strain to a point where you won't feel comfortable using them. Don't cheap-out! A quality brand will last many years, so think of them as an investment.

We have Nikon 7x50 with integral bearing compass and keep it handy mostly for the bearing compass function and for night vision. We also have the Fujinon 14x40 image stabilized and they are so good it is amazing! (Expensive though.) If we want more detail or want to hail a boat by name, we pull out the Fujinons.

Even though they are more powerful, the image stabilized Fujinon is definitely less useful than the 7x50 standard binos for general navigation.
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Old 07-11-2009, 09:18   #10
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Tahiti Waterproof 7x50 Center-Focus Binoculars with Compass

I have a pair of these, they are excellent and this is a great price.
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Old 07-11-2009, 09:48   #11
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I have a pair of the top end Fujinon's with compass I bought 25 years ago which have seen thousands of miles at sea and numerous bumps and shocks with hard use - their rubberized cover is a bit duller than it once was but they still transmit an image with perfect clarity. Three years ago I spent a lot of money on a pair of the top end Fujinon stabalized binoculars in an effort to counteract some of the loss in nighttime visual acuity which age has slowly eroded away. In third or fourth use at sea they accidentally fell about one and a half feet onto a wooden deck, sufficient to break the stablaizing mechanism, rendering them useless. (I have stabalized telephoto camera lenses which would managed the kind of shock this represents). Sent them to the authorized Fujinon repair facility and $250 later they came back working again. The very next time I used them I set them down on a wooden surface, reasonably gingerly at that, and they broke again. After an initial contact with Fujinon customer service, they have not returned my calls or emails.

I enjoyed looking at the moon through them in my back yard. In my experience, that's about the most riogouous use they are good for. I'm back to using the dependable old optics.
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Old 07-11-2009, 12:29   #12
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NOAA binoculars are held for 10 year life cycles. If you don't mind imperfections in the aesthetics department, then some GREAT deals can be had. I picked up a pair of Zeiss 20 x 60 image stabilised binoculars that were put up for sale when the Miller Freeman was due for decommissioning. $300 bucks for a $5000 pair of binoculars. They're 16 years old with some nicks in the casing - but work flawlessly. Naval autions are so popular that you don't find awesome deals like these, but not many people follow NOAA auctions/sale. Worth a look. NOAA is in the process of moving their West Coast headquarters from Seattle to Oregon - so might want to have a looksie to see if anything of interest won't be making the trip!
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Old 07-11-2009, 13:27   #13
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My primary binocs were issued to my grand father in ww II I think. Other then the outer casing pealing away they work great. I imagine what he had seen through these. Dad served in Korea but I think gramp hadn't let go of them yet. Nice memories when they are on deck. I have this great picture of dad and gramps fishing off point Judith and the binocs are seen in the backround. They are marked as m16 stock no. 7578343 they work great after all these years. Anyone who can identify these markings i would love to know mire of the history.
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