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Old 19-03-2019, 07:16   #1
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Binoculars?

What are the best binoculars that are helpful for a sailor? Can I get one under $500?
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Old 19-03-2019, 07:19   #2
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Re: Binoculars?

I bought these on Amazon for $125, they are bright and very nicely made.
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Old 19-03-2019, 07:26   #3
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Re: Binoculars?

I use
https://www.svb24.com/en/seatec-targ...l-compass.html just 155 euria
Very happy with them .
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Old 19-03-2019, 07:40   #4
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Re: Binoculars?

anything more than 7-8X will get shaky on a boat
you want large (50mm minimum) aperture for reasonable night use
I went with non-focusing (set on infinity, if it's any closer I don't need the binocs)
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Old 19-03-2019, 07:45   #5
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Re: Binoculars?

We use the Nikon 7x50 Ocean Pro's I think they were maybe $250. They have been great. I like the compass in them because I can find my marker and see what bearing to take to get to it. Also, if you're ever in a situation where you have to use dead reckoning the compass allows you to do that as well. We also have some less expensive bushnell, they are the same 7x50 with no compass and I don't think they are waterproof either that we leave in the cockpit all the time, you can definitely tell the difference in quality, but when you're at anchor and just trying to see what boat is coming in or leaving they'll do.
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Old 19-03-2019, 09:27   #6
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Re: Binoculars?

"Best" is a topic for religion or millionaires. "Good enough" is what you want. As noted by Pete17C, anything over 7x is useless on a small boat. You can really tell quality when its low-light, or poor weather. Personally, I prefer the quality / price trade-off offered by cheaper Steiner and all Nikon, and you can get pretty good ones for $3 - 400. I've never used, or been able to afford, the image stabilized ones, but others rave over them.
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Old 19-03-2019, 09:38   #7
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Re: Binoculars?

We have used these for 3 years with no problems. Good at night with a lighted compass. Just pick them up and look. The no focus is clear from 25ft on.
https://www.amazon.com/Bushnell-BN13.../dp/B00009X3S2
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Old 19-03-2019, 09:43   #8
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Re: Binoculars?

My opinion and experience, I keep three, the reasons.

- 7x50 is the most you can even hope to hold steady enough to be useful on a bouncing boat and even that can be a bit much in really rough conditions.
- Stabilized because I have found that even with a 7x50 in pretty calm water I can read the numbers on a channel marker or buoy better with the naked eye. With stabilized I can read signs and markers at twice the distance.
- An old set of Bushnells for whatever when I don't want to risk the good ones.


1. Nikon Ocean Pro with compass. Very good light gathering so very helpful for spotting things like markers, channels and other boats in dim light and even at night. Compass I find only somewhat useful as it isn't damped and it's really hard to get an accurate bearing. +/- 5 degrees at the very best.

2. Stabilized. Canon 10x is the most bang for the buck and work very well. If you have the money get the Fujinons. One negative on the Canons, over time the rubberized coating melts and has to be cleaned off.

3. Old Bushnells have very good optics and you can find the cheap on eBay.
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Old 19-03-2019, 09:48   #9
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Re: Binoculars?

Pretty hard to beat Fujinon Polaris 7x50 for image quality and brightness. Check eBay - some gently used ones for $500 or less.
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Old 19-03-2019, 11:35   #10
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Re: Binoculars?

We have four binocs on board. Steiner 7x50 with compass constant focus. Steiner 7x30 with compass, constant focus. Fuji 12x28 stabilized, center focus. Redfield 7x35, center focus.

7x50 for general purpose and especially at night. The Fuji mini-stabilized is for making out nav aids at a distance. (Latter chosen for lighter weight and slightly better eye relief; there are models with high magnifcation, heavier.) Neither can replace the other, for us.

There are several long threads on the topic, with observations, pros/cons of various models, recommendations

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Old 19-03-2019, 11:57   #11
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Re: Binoculars?

Yes, there are some very long threads on this subject. I read them all and could not come up with any clear winner.

I finally chose a pair of Steiner Navigator Pro 7x50's. They run $460 on Amazon. I'm absolutely delighted with them. https://www.amazon.com/Steiner-Model...+navigator+pro
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Old 19-03-2019, 12:02   #12
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Re: Binoculars?

Another vote for 7x50 Steiners. They can be had for under $500, they're shock and waterproof and you won't believe the quality of the optics.
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Old 19-03-2019, 12:11   #13
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Re: Binoculars?

Dale-
7x50 is by far the most recommended. 50mm lenses to gather more light, anything wider gets expensive and heavy fast. 7x power because it is "enough" and again, things get heavier and expensive fast.
If you plan to do any piloting or need to tell someone "the bearing to the mark is..." then binocs with a built-in compass are invaluable, I'd call them the only way to go.

But as to which brand...a lot of the cheaper ones have very wide quality control. One pair may look like junk, the pair in the next box may be razor sharp. With *any* budget brand you want to be able to return them if you can't try them out in person before buying.

And a lot depends on your eyes. A set of $2000 Leica lenses is visibly very different from a $150 binoc, if you have great eyes. Fuzzy vision? You won't notice the difference.

There's also the matter of weight. Holding up a pair of 22-ounce binocs for ten minutes, no problem. Holding up a pair of 32-ounce binocs, surprisingly more tiring. So the lighter prism-type binocs have some advantage.

You may also want center focus, which adds cost, or different ways to adjust each lens to the diopter needs of the eye. A lot of the little stuff might matter to you--or not. It can be very much worth getting your hands on a range of different ones, to see how these things add up. And then, there's the warranty. Any decent binocs on a boat should be sealed, waterproof, and warrantied for a long time, by a maker that is likely to be around to honor it.

At a certain point ($200?) your wallet will probably decide when it has found "enough" for your needs.(G)
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Old 19-03-2019, 12:17   #14
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Re: Binoculars?

If B&H don't have it it probably doesn't exist... https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/B...534123/mnp/100
The ones 'in stock' would I imagine be the most popular models.

I would consider Fujinon, Nikon, Steiner.... I don't know the others... they may be very good.
Spend money on optics rather than a compass..

Look for fold down eyecups if you wear glasses.... the new Nikon 'Twist-Up Click-Stop Eyecups' as found on more expensive Nikons are even better... not sure if any of those in your price range.
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Old 19-03-2019, 15:47   #15
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Re: Binoculars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by landlockedgm View Post
We have used these for 3 years with no problems. Good at night with a lighted compass. Just pick them up and look. The no focus is clear from 25ft on.
https://www.amazon.com/Bushnell-BN13.../dp/B00009X3S2

I've got the slightly older version of those and I'm very happy with them.
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