The Boating Forum - Best Marine Binoculars?

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View Full Version : Best Marine Binoculars?

07-30-2008, 09:02 PM
I'm looking to get some binocs for the boat. Would be interested in hearing what other members believe top of the line, or at least really high quality.


07-30-2008, 09:22 PM
Steiner and Fujinon are top notch. Steiner has a pair with a built-in compass if that is important to you.

I would consider image-stabilized binocs as it is much easier to see with them. Check out Nikon and Cannon.

07-30-2008, 09:23 PM

07-30-2008, 09:59 PM
I'm looking for some too. But I'm looking for best bang for the buck, and not the most expensive.

07-30-2008, 10:05 PM
I am very happy with my Steiner's.

Didn't pay an arm and a leg either...

07-30-2008, 10:17 PM
How much do you want to spend?

Come up with a budget - whatever that may be. That is step 1. Figure out how much you want to spend.

Now that you know how much you want to spend, look at 7x50 binoculars. The first number is magnification. The second number is how big the main lenses are. You do not want more than 7x magnification because it will be next to impossible to hold them steady on anything in a rocking boat.

You do not want the second number to be larger than 50 because of weight. Larger lenses work better in low light, but they get heavy. You could go with a pair of 7x35, but I would not go with any lenses smaller than 35. I have a set of 7x35 and they are light - but they do not work as well in low light as my 50mm binoculars do. But I accept the trade off in low light performance for lighter weight.

The most basic features you want to look for are "fog proof" and "waterproof".

Everything else is just gravy.

Image stabilization works, but do not expect miracles. Keep the magnification to 7x or 8x to be useful on a boat. Higher powers just do not work on a boat - unless the water is glass flat and the boat is as stable as dry land. But if the boat is rocking one inch from side to side then under 10x magnification that rocking is now 10 inches. Try to look at something 1/2 mile away and the rocking seems even greater. Image stabilization HELPS, but is not a perfect solution. Rock the boat enough and even with stabilization you are going to have trouble keeping a distant object steady in your sight.

07-30-2008, 10:30 PM
Capt Jack Sparrow's mini monocular. Nuf said. :-)

07-30-2008, 10:38 PM
West Marines catalog has a pretty good info page on binoculars. I bought a pair of theirs a couple of years ago, the Tahiti model I think. They were on sale for about $100 (might have been clearance priced). Comparing them to my buddy's Steiners, we both thought they where pretty even. We were offshore about 3 miles looking back at the beach and picked out the same things, swapped and did the same. His did have built in compass which I would opt for if I was to buy a new pair, figuring a back up compass wouldn't hurt.

07-31-2008, 07:04 AM
We really like our Fujion image stabalized binocs. Because they are stabilized, you can use the 14X on a moving boat and read the buoy numbers at a real distance. Helps these old eyes.

07-31-2008, 07:32 AM
Go look at some Fujinon 7x50 FMTR-SX at about $600 or $100 more for the compass version. Nothing even close, imo.

07-31-2008, 07:41 AM
I have the fujinon 12X stabilized and they are super on a rocking boat. They have saved many fishing days by finding birds that I would have missed with my old binos.

If you don't get IS, stay at 7X50

07-31-2008, 08:04 AM
try this website... they have pretty good deals on binoculars that were dealer demos/samples. (

07-31-2008, 08:49 AM
If a built in compass is not important. Look at some of the waterproof, fogproof, prism Binoculars used on land or for hunting. From 8x and up. 7x is really not that powerful in open water. There are some 10x42 with zoom capabilities up to 20x that are great for closups and real distance. You know anything of quality with Marine written on it will cost much more. So I say as long as they are waterproof, fogproof and of quality they will work fine. Check out Nikon. :thumbsup:

Striper In
07-31-2008, 09:21 AM
How do these look? eticle.cfm#ReviewHeader

westfield 11
07-31-2008, 12:33 PM
I have the 10X50 steiners and find that they work very well at sea, but we boat on vessels over 50 ft. I also have a pair of canon 14X IS binocs and i wish I had gotten the Fujinon since they have a better stabilization system.

07-31-2008, 01:35 PM
I have a set of 20 year old Steiner 7x50 with compass. They still are very good.

My Charter boat son with 20,000 hours is on his second set of Fujinon FMTRC-SX,, 7x 50.
Original set still operates but battle worn.

Has excellent 23 mm eye relief and a very clear.
Both are rubber coated and heavy. He still has his original 1990 fujis.
All 3 are rugged ,ie military grunt proof.
Tried IS but prefer to stop the boat periodically and scan for birds with ours.

One of the things that good glasses do is they will be in focus near the outer ring of the glass.
Cheapys will only be in focus well near the center.

07-31-2008, 05:51 PM
The better binoculars will have bright images in dim conditions. For smaller boats, avoid the powerful binoculars. 4 power is about as much magnification as you can use with the boat bouncing around. I like having a compass in the binocular. I have found nav bouys on the horizon and been able to take headings. This all said, I haven't used my binos as much as I would have thought.

07-31-2008, 06:11 PM
I agree. power is way overrated for marine use. It's about brightness and clarity, that's why most boaters still prefer the satandard 7x50's for all around use. There are no bargains out there, Fujinon Zeiss, Leica, Swarovski and Steiner are the "quality" brands and will outlast the best of boats.

07-31-2008, 07:07 PM
I have 10X Canon digitally stabilized. DO NOT recommend them. Excellent optics and mechanical reliability. It's just that the stabilization is NOT ENOUGH for a boat.

Heard of other brands that are more aggressively stabilized.

08-01-2008, 07:47 AM
Power Boat Report tested 8 brands with internal compass; all were 7 X 50. The top two were Steiner followed by West Marine's Tahiti. The Steiner's cost $500 more than the Tahiti ( at $270) making the WM brand the best buy.

08-01-2008, 08:32 AM
If you intend to use them in low light or at night get 7x50's. Higher powers are awfully hard to hold stable and the ratio of power to aperture (50 divided by 7 = 7 vrs 35 divided by 7 = 5) determine the light admitting qualities. The higher the ratio the more light the glasses will admit.

08-01-2008, 09:52 AM
A vote for image stabilized binos. I have the Fujinons.

08-01-2008, 10:00 AM
Pentax 8x42 DCFWPII. Audobon picked them as one of the top for birding some years back. I love them on a boat as well. Rinse off with a hose and dry with a microfiber towel.

Everybody that looks through them is impresssed. I'd like just a little more depth of field when focused, but I got used to that pretty quick. Really like the twist up or down eyepieces for use with or without eye glasses.

Not a bad price either.

08-14-2008, 02:22 AM
If used for fishing, does anyone have a preference as to whether the binos are equipped with a compass or not? It might be convenient to be able to relay where a target such as breaking fish is relative to the boat but, then again, it might be overkill and distracting if they are used all day long.

C Skip R
12-09-2008, 01:50 PM
I recently purchased the Fujinon 14x40 stabilized binoculars and they are outstanding. On the boat even with rocking seas of 3-4 ft they are great. Haven't tried them on anything rougher. You can see birds and markers at least out 2 miles.

12-09-2008, 07:41 PM
I am another happy West Marine Tahiti user. I got them new on Ebay for $100. No doubt my brothers Steiners are nicer, but $500 nicer?

The image is actually suprisingly good. I don't have Much use for the compass for navigation, but it is nice to get withing 4 5 degrees or so. The image quality/price sold me (checked it at west against the steiners, and realyy struggled to see that much of a difference). BAK4 Porro, and waterproof. tough to beat that for $100

12-09-2008, 09:11 PM
From a cost/value standpoint, you might want to take a look at the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42. Their waterproof, fog proof, shock proof, light weight, and have great lenses. Plus, they're not going to break the bank from a cost standpoint. You should be able to pick them up for $250-$300.

IMO the performance of these binoculars are comparable to ones costing two to three times as much. Go toa binocular web site and look at the customer reviews.


12-09-2008, 10:00 PM
If you are looking for the best, get Gyros. Fraser Volpe is what the Bad Company team uses and they have won millions and millions of dollars in the big money tournaments. Not cheap, not by a long shot but they work really well for guys who spend the whole day looking through them.

12-10-2008, 04:51 AM
I have the cheapest pair of West Marine binos. I think they are called Hauhnine and were $60. They are 7x50 and are not waterproof. For as much as I use them, they are perfect.

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