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Old 08-17-2015, 05:37 PM   #1
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Binocular Recomendations

So the only casualty from our 9-day cruise came when I accidentally knocked our binoculars off the pilot seat yesterday. We have Nikon 7x50 marine binocs that we bought in 2001 for an Alaska cruise. Waterproof, and nitrogen filled. Have been very happy with them, and when friends borrow them (including other boat owners) they are always impressed by the optics. I'm going to send them out to be repaired, but I don't want to be without, plus this trip really made me realize that my wife and I need two pairs on board so we don't have to constantly share. I'm interested in recommendations.

I've been happy with the Nikon's so I'm considering a new pair of Nikon Oceanpros, which I can get on sale right now for $212 plus shipping. Am also looking at the Steiner Marine 7x50 on sale for around $250. This is without a compass. I've never used binocs with a compass, so am open to the idea but not sure if I'll really use it. I've also heard good things about Fujinon, but have not seen them in person. No interest in image stabilization. I guess my real question is whether there is going to be much difference between the two I've mentioned above, and what benefit I would see by going to the Steiner Navigator Pro for around $370. Would prefer to keep this under $400-$500 at most, so that eliminates the Steiner Commanders.

Lastly, I've heard that some people will have one pair of 7x50s and perhaps something like an 8x30 or 8x42 as a second pair. Would that make more sense? I can get a pair of Steiner 180 Marine 8x30 right now for less than $150.

What says the group?
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Old 08-17-2015, 05:53 PM   #2
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We have a couple different flavors of Fujinons, one being the high end Polaris with compass outside of your range, much beloved by us for the past 11 years; spectacular optics. Well within your range is the Mariner, which we have one pair without compass and one with. Other than low light conditions, it is hard to see a difference when comparing side by side. I like having a compass as it replaces the need for a hand bearing compass (or having one on the Whaler) and makes taking fixes easy.

One of the best values of all are the West Marine private label binocs when they put them on sale; we have a variety of friends with them and they are really very very good. I think they may be Fuji's and Steiners in drag depending on model, but I don't know. Realistically, you can't go wrong with Steiners, the on-sale Wests, Fujis or Nikons in your price range.

Marine 7 x 50 Magnification on Sale

http://www.westmarine.com/marine-binoculars
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Old 08-17-2015, 06:06 PM   #3
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I have the first year Fujinon offered the high end binocs with compass...back in 1983 I think...still one of the best pair I have used on a bazillion commercial and rec boats.


Their light gathering is tops...


I love the compass even though the Fujinon compass I have didn't last long...the compass is very multifunctional...but the best is "look at the XYZ at 110 degrees high up in the dead tree"...very hand when your partner or crew are a little direction dysfunctional.
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Old 08-17-2015, 06:29 PM   #4
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I have a set of Steiner 7x50 that are over 25 years old. Still going strong with no fogging. I also have a set of Fujinon stabilized binoculars. The Fujinons eat batteries and are rarely used. One nice thing about the Steiners is that you set each eyepiece once and they never need focusing.
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Old 08-17-2015, 06:35 PM   #5
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I wear Nikons or I wear nothing at all.
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Old 08-17-2015, 06:41 PM   #6
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I have the Steiner 7x50 navigator and they are extremely good, particularly in lower light situations. The compass is also very good, but I have not really had to use this feature. That said, it is very good to have should the electronics on my boat fail.
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Old 08-17-2015, 06:42 PM   #7
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I have a couple of the rubber covered Steiners (Military/Marine?), they have been knocking around on various boats for the last 15 or so years. they are roughed up but work as well as new.
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Old 08-17-2015, 07:28 PM   #8
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+1 Fujinon FMTR-SX. I've had them for years and they still work like new, and bright!
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Old 08-17-2015, 07:56 PM   #9
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If you are serious about a set, take a look at Canon's 15X50 IS All Weather Image stabilized pair. When approaching San Francisco Bay I could read the buoy numbers when the captain could tell the buoy colors with his 7x35's. I can read the bridge names. 1/4 of a mile away. On a moving vessel! It doesn't get any better than that. Click image for larger version

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Old 08-17-2015, 07:58 PM   #10
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When I was an air traffic controller in the tower, we had some of the best binoculars available. Can't remember the type or model, but they were excellent quality. Today I can't afford the very best but I have a pair I'd test against any others on the market at thrice the price. Here's what I have onboard. They're available at Amazon for $129.

Oceana 7x50 Marine [item # 71189-A]

When I visited Codger2, I used his gyro stabilized binocs and was very impressed!! The stabilization allows you to see more detail without the need for great magnification. If I had no budget, I'll look for a stabilized pair.
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Old 08-17-2015, 08:14 PM   #11
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PS: 8 x 30's don't cut it on the water in my opinion unless it it is dead calm and sunny.

The stabilized binocs (off topic now, give the OP) by Canon, Nikon and Fuji work really great, until they don't. Money no object a good set of those as mains, and a couple pairs of good 7 X 50 are an ideal combination; you'll end up using both types.
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Old 08-17-2015, 08:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
I have a couple of the rubber covered Steiners (Military/Marine?), .
Same...7x50's here. My second pair. The original pair I sold a few years back thinking I wouldn't get back into boating. They had the compass, current ones don't. I really don't miss that feature. I do love the ruggedness and design of the Steiners..... I had an 8x30 pair of Steiners that I used as a back-up...LOTs lighter but no where near the light gathering capability and field of vision of the 7x50's...but an excellent choice to supplement the bigger, heavier glass...
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Old 08-17-2015, 08:29 PM   #13
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I have the Fujinon stabilized battery eaters and a basic 7x50 set as a spare. I never seem to use the backup and always keep a supply of batteries on hand. The stabilization makes all the difference to me.
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Old 08-17-2015, 08:57 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by MikeD View Post
I have the Steiner 7x50 navigator and they are extremely good, particularly in lower light situations. The compass is also very good, but I have not really had to use this feature. That said, it is very good to have should the electronics on my boat fail.
Ditto, but I've thoughts of purchasing the stabilized version.

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Old 08-18-2015, 11:34 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the suggestions. Decisions, decisions . . .

I think I have narrowed it down to another pair of Nikon OceanPro (probably this time with the compass) or the Steiner Mariner. Anyone have any experience with the Steiner Mariner version? They are just a bit more than the Nikon OceanPro, so I'm wondering if I'm just paying more for the name.
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Old 08-18-2015, 11:52 AM   #16
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Don't underestimate the convenience of not having to focus the Steiners.
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Old 08-18-2015, 12:12 PM   #17
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I have steiners. good overall binocs for the price. I always leave them in the wheelhouse when i'm working so they are used by crew as well. If i spent a lot of money for a really nice pair, I would have to keep better track of them. The individual eye focus is handy because i'm near sighted in one eye, and far sighted in the other.
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Old 08-18-2015, 12:33 PM   #18
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I have come to love the stabilized binoculars. They are expensive, but are a huge improvement and I think worth every penny. Without stabilization, 7x is about the greatest magnification that works. At that magnification, I can seldom read the name on a boat when they are still far enough away to call and arrange a pass. I'm more often on top of them before I can actually make out the name.

With stabilized binocs 14x provides a better view than 7x without stabilization. Now I can actually see things clearly when they are still far enough away to do something about it. I can't see ever going back.

As for brands, we have Fujinon and they perform very well. They are bulky, but work well. I briefly tried a friend's Canon stabilized binocs and they were much easier to handle, but my friend said he still preferred the Fujinons. Trouble is I don't remember what his reason was.

The one complaint I have about Fujinon is their service. My wife managed to drop ours, twice, so I went through the repair procedure two times, and it was a very poor experience both times. Their voice system directs you to the wrong division, nobody answers the phone, ever, and nobody returns phone calls when you leave a message. And repair time was very, very slow (order 2 months). So the binocs perform well, but whatever you do, DON'T DROP THEM.......
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Old 08-18-2015, 12:46 PM   #19
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A friend gave us a Fujinon Mil-Spec Polaris as a present not long after we bought our PNW cabin cruiser. They are excellent binoculars but my wife doesn't care for them. She prefers the compact Nikon binoculars we bought when we bought the boat. The Fujinon has a compass but I've never used the compass for anything.

The best binoculars we've ever had from an optical standpoint is an 8-power Cabela-branded set we bought this year that sells for just under $300. They are made by one of the big names- Steiner or Fujinon or similar-- and they are outstanding. We bought them for land use.
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Old 08-18-2015, 01:05 PM   #20
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My waterproof Bushnell 7 x 50s have been very satisfactory. B&H Photo has them for $135.00, with illuminated analog compass.

Bushnell claims they float in salt water (not fresh?), but I'm not planning to test the claim. One caveat, also from Bushnell: "Analog compass intended for use in northern hemisphere." Good to know!

See: Bushnell 7x50 Marine Binocular with Analog Compass 137500 B&H
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