PDA

View Full Version : Waterproof binos



troutman
06-09-2007, 09:10 AM
For kayaking and flyfishing. Criteria: totally waterproof, not too big, $150.00. Just for spotting birds and scanning for rising fish. Not looking for U boats or Zeros coming out of the sun. Any advice. Old cheapos have gone south. thanks

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
06-09-2007, 09:37 AM
Max magnification I can hand hold is 8x and there's a better case for 7x.

Nothing is utterly waterproof forever - I like nitrogen filled for the non-fogging - a nice wide field of view makes picking up the target much easier and an appropriate eye-relief figure can make life better for spec wearers.

If you're looking at relatively stationary things then there's a lot to be said for the handy pocket sized 8x21 monocular.

Lew Barrett
06-09-2007, 11:01 AM
Steiner and Fujinon are the big names in marine binoculars around here. For kyak work, a case could be made for something in the 6X30 range; lighter, smaller and cheaper than the 7X50 standards commonly used for handheld ranging on board a larger boat. You might be able to find something near your price point in one of those brands. I'd advise spending as much as possible on your glasses. A good pair is a lifetime buy, and cheap ones invariably don't last in the field and are not as comfortable to use.
If you want a compact 7X50, it's hard to beat the Steiners. Their principle advantage is that they are far more compact than the Fujinons, There is a cheaper range of 7X50 Steiners available as well, but they don't use the same prism and are bulkier. The higher end Steiners will start at about $400 and go up from there. A smaller pair might be available closer to your price range. Leitz, Swarowski and Zeiss are out of your budget. I've had my Steiner 7X50 Commander IIIs for about 20 years, and they are still working as new, and remain a pleasure to use.
Spend the money on a great pair if you can. A fine pair of glasses is a joy to use. Make sure you look through the glasses (get permission to take them out of the store for a few minutes if possible). Last time I checked, the high end 7X50 Steiners were marginally brighter and more comfortable to hold with better overall sharpness in the center of their field, while the Fujinons had better field correction edge to edge. It's not hard to see the differences if you compare them side by side. Avoid the cheaper Japanese brands if at all possible. Canon (apart from Fujinon) is probably the best name in standard Japanese glasses, but they also make a cost conscious range that doesn't meet the standards of their better glasses.

LeeG
06-09-2007, 11:02 PM
I wish there were 6x30. I've got their 8x42, very nice for the money

http://www.telescope.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=279398&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=5&iSubCat=16&iProductID=279398

http://www.telescope.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=328&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=5&iSubCat=37&iProductID=328

http://www.just-binoculars.com/

Bob (oh, THAT Bob)
06-09-2007, 11:29 PM
I've had very good experience with the Nikon 8x42 Monarch (waterproof) and the predecessor 8x42 Attache models (not waterproof). Both use roof prisms so have straight barrels and are compact for their power. Both seemed bright compared to anything else I tried in the store, at the time I would have had to spend 3-4 times as much to get any detectable increase in brightness. And a 5mm+ exit pupil (42/8) is plenty big for kayak work in daylight (actually more than you will need, but you will love it if you ever use them in the dark).

One thing that is a biggie to me: Most binoculars have too wide an angle, they give me a headache. Hold steady and look through one lens. Then switch eyes and look through the other. If the image is too far off, they are too wide angle for me. Good for watching football, but bad for looking at something stationary. The Nikons are 6 degrees divergence, the ones I mention below have only 4, I think. I wish I could get 0 degree divergence.

I also have earlier 10x25 Nikon Sportstars but they have cheapened that model and I don't like the new ones. And even mine are too dark to use at night, too small an objective.

I should also say that for my dirty work, I bought a pair of 8x20 or 25 compacts for $10 on sale (regularly $25) a few years back, and, while cheap bino's used to be absolute junk, these newer ones compare not bad to the sportstars in optics, I use them where I don't want to risk the Nikons. Drawbacks: When reversing the focus, both lenses don't always stay perfectly synchronized.

Google the model for the best price. I just saw the 8x42 for $279, the 10x42 for $239 (backwards, but evidently the 8s are more in demand). I also saw the 8s on ebay for $239 buy-it-now price.

Lew Barrett
06-10-2007, 01:07 AM
Steiner does have a 6X30, but I checked and they're more money than they used to be (No surprise there); gasp a staggering $500. Here's an 8X30 Steiner in your price range though.
http://steiner.binoculars.com/products/steiner-8x30-military-marine-679.html

Very high quality stuff. I've had Bushnells and other lesser brands and they don't stand up to rough treatment. The Steiners will hold up in the field. Can't speak to the Orion product, though their astronomy instruments are good value.

Here's the Steiner 6X30. (The price is a gagger!) Not that long ago they were under $250.
http://steiner.binoculars.com/products/steiner-6x30-military-r-14582.html

There is a difference in durability, be clear about that. I have had many cheaper pairs by recognized otherwise good names in optics fail without having been noticably abused. The Steiners will hold up, as I suspect, will Fujinons.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
06-10-2007, 03:25 AM
For Kayak use I'd go cheap[ish] and expect to need to replace them
7x50 well suited to posing (http://steiner.binoculars.com/products/bushnell-7x50-marine-willuminated-compass-rangefinding-reticle-5680.html)
Lighter 8x42 (http://meade.binoculars.com/products/meade-8x42-wilderness-waterproof-32928.html) and very good.
Does 97% of the job (http://meade.binoculars.com/products/alpen-8x21-monocular-17867.html) for nearly no money and can live in the jacket ready for use whenever its wanted. It gets crunched lunched or sunk - so what? - it won't ruin the day - just get another one. Few people can take the loss of a good pair of bins with the same equanimity.

Thorne
06-10-2007, 03:28 AM
Cabela's carries most of the big expensive brands, but I've had good luck with their house brand waterproof models -

Here's their 8x42 in your price range of $150 -
http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A&_DAV=search_redir&id=0039490712562a&navCount=1&podId=0039490&parentId=cat601539&masterpathid=&navAction=push&catalogCode=

Bob (oh, THAT Bob)
06-10-2007, 03:57 AM
The customer feedback ratings on the Nikon Monarchs are all 5/5 with regard to the optics; same experience as me, can see some superiority on $1000+ competitors but fantastic deal for the money. However, I can't speak for the durability of them, I treat my gear too well and use cheap stuff when I expect abuse (when performance is not mission-critical). The Fujinons seem comparably priced. I liked the website Lew, good prices and always good to read the customer feedback when available. Perhaps the price creep on the Steiners is due to exchange rate? (Cheap dollar)

Ian McColgin
06-10-2007, 07:28 AM
Go monocular. You can get better optics for the price range you want and it's far more compact.

My sister and brother both have compact binocs for canoe trips. Neither actually uses both eyes as the narrow angle field of view makes it hard to get the ocular distance right. Since I'm really used to binocs, I managed to get both sets to work and they are correctly columnated when you get it right, but it's really hard. Also, the small roof prisum units have just about no eye relief, which prevents use while wearing glasses. With glasses and getting ocular distance right you're left with a field of view as small as one eye anyway. So, simplify, get better optics for the cost, and get a monocular.

Some spotting scopes have the old-fashioned reticular inscribed - a vertical and horizontal scale. The proper ones are universal. If you know the height of an object, for example, aim the bottom of the scale - "0" - at the bottom and note where the top of the object is. The scale is in 5's so interpolation is necessary. You divide the assumed height by the scale number and multiply by 1000 to get the distance off in the same units - meters, feet or whatever. Say you're looking at a moose that you figure is 6' at the withers and the withers subtend a bit above the five mark - Bullwinkle is about 1000 feet away.

Frank Wentzel
06-10-2007, 08:35 AM
In "The Compleat Cruiser" Herreshoff made a point about using a monocular. Put your money into a single optical system rather than half as much in two systems. They are also smaller, lighter, and easier to stow.

/// Frank ///

Ian McColgin
06-10-2007, 09:42 AM
That's one place where I deeply disagree with LFH. Good quality 7x50 binocs - Steiner, Fujion etc. - are just the right compromise for a boat. Great field of view. Big enough exit pupil (optic divided by power will give the exit pupil in the ocular) at 7mm to about match the widest a human eye will dilate in low light, so 7x50 gathers all the light you can use. Enough power for use but low enough to hold still enough in an jumpy sea.

But if budget is the deal breaker, it's true that a quality mono beats indifferent binocs any day.

paladin
06-10-2007, 10:01 AM
Gotta agree on the Steiners.....the Commander series was listed at Boat U.S. at about 800 bucks......I was travelling through Berlin and they were $2500 in the duty free shop.......I got them for $500 in Saudi....damned nice glasses......and 10 years on the waterproofness.......;) I would suggest 7 x 50's.....

KNOCKABOUT
06-10-2007, 10:07 AM
Steiner does have a 6X30, but I checked and they're more money than they used to be (No surprise there); gasp a staggering $500. Here's an 8X30 Steiner in your price range though.
http://steiner.binoculars.com/products/steiner-8x30-military-marine-679.html

Very high quality stuff. I've had Bushnells and other lesser brands and they don't stand up to rough treatment. The Steiners will hold up in the field. Can't speak to the Orion product, though their astronomy instruments are good value.

Here's the Steiner 6X30. (The price is a gagger!) Not that long ago they were under $250.
http://steiner.binoculars.com/products/steiner-6x30-military-r-14582.html

There is a difference in durability, be clear about that. I have had many cheaper pairs by recognized otherwise good names in optics fail without having been noticably abused. The Steiners will hold up, as I suspect, will Fujinons.

I used these Steiners when I was in the navy, and use them now sailing. They are great, and the 8x30 is the best range, as there is little wobble. I highly reccommend them.

Lew Barrett
06-10-2007, 12:21 PM
Gotta agree on the Steiners.....the Commander series was listed at Boat U.S. at about 800 bucks......I was travelling through Berlin and they were $2500 in the duty free shop.......I got them for $500 in Saudi....damned nice glasses......and 10 years on the waterproofness.......;) I would suggest 7 x 50's.....

As I said, I've had mine for the better part of 20 years, (also paid about $500 if memory serves) and we still fight over who gets to use them. 7x50 Commanders (with compass) are clearly not in the price range troutman's talking about but every time somebody does a test of field glasses, they win the kewpie doll.

Mine fell off a shelf in a rolling sea, landed with a huge thud on the very corner of the armor. With a lesser pair of glasses, that would have been the end; gooey stuff would have leaked out and the glasses wouldn't be able to focus properly anymore. Not so the Steiners. Real armor and superior build meant no dent on the floor, no dent in the binocs. I sent them back to the factory (thought maybe the collimation should be checked). They were returned to me with a handwritten note from their tech saying; they're fine, no charge.


Best advice I can give is to go to a place that carries a few different models and give them a whirl. The ergonomics are the third factor; optics, durability, ergonomics. There isn't any more to the story. All other things being equal, you'll like the lightest most compact pair that gets you through.

Monoculars are fine and the arguments for them make sense, but binoculars are just more fun! Best use for binos? Laying on your back on a dark, calm, dry moonless night, and looking up at the stars. Heaven!

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
06-10-2007, 03:08 PM
The most astute deal on a pair of bins I've seen in some time was this one (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Rare-Nautical-English-Binoculars-Sestrel_W0QQitemZ330127928562QQihZ014QQcategoryZ10 955QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem).

I considered sniping but got caught up in the Montreal GP.....

Lew Barrett
06-10-2007, 09:50 PM
Wow! For $15 one can afford an occasional indulgance.

rbgarr
06-10-2007, 11:59 PM
I thought this thread was going to be about albinos.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
06-11-2007, 05:29 AM
Umm, bird watching and scanning for rising fish.

And waterproof...

A point made by Claud Worth in the early years of the last century, and still true - it is much easier to waterproof binoculars with separate eyepiece focussing, but these are only useful at long ranges, such as in navigation.

For bird watching, for example, where the range is relatively small and may change abruptly, you are much better off with centre wheel focussing, but these are much harder to waterproof.

The monocular represents one solution to this dilemma, in that it is eyepeice focussed and can thus be made waterproof, but you only need to make one adjustment as the range changes.

It depends if you can get on with them, of course.

More generally, with binoculars, you are fighting to combine four desirable optical features, which conflict with each other:

Magnification (this is obvious)

Light gathering power (coated lenses are a big help)

Field of view (important for bird watching, less important for navigation

Diameter of exit pupil (how big is the picture that you see)

High magnification reduces light gathering power (do you want to use them at dawn and at dusk, or even at night?) and reduces field of view and exit pupil.

A small exit pupil makes them difficult to use (very difficult indeed if you wear glasses) as you have to line them up with your own pupils very exactly.

To which we can now start adding other features, like waterproofing, light weight, etc!

By way of illustration from a the sailing field, I have two pairs of 7x50 binoculars - the best spec. for sea use.

One pair are the Barr and Stroud CF41 model, used by the RN in WW2.

The other pair are 1980's Zeiss BGAT - US$1,800 worth of binculars (and incidentally descended from those supplied to the Kriegsmarine in WW2;) ).

The Zeiss pair are just about perfect in every way. The Barr and Stroud optics are almost as good (both firms were right at the top of the league, and competed with each other in naval rangefinders and such) but due to their age they are heavier and have a smaller exit pupil.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
06-11-2007, 06:00 AM
Since the original $150 budget is now history and the discussion has moved to Steiner, Zeiss and Barr&Stroud I have a couple of questions.

1. How come nobody has mentioned Leica? - Every birder I've known in the last thiry some years has either owned or lusted after Leica's gear - I can't think it's just the trendy colour.

2. For the last fifty some years, the best of the japanese optics have stood honest comparison with anything the west had to offer - notably Nikon and Cannon but you'd count pentax and some others.
Anyone tried a set of the Cannon image stabilised jobs?

3. "Sestrel"? - in house or badge-engineered? and if so, by whom?

Andrew Craig-Bennett
06-11-2007, 06:23 AM
(2) Agree about Japanese optics.

(3) "Sestrel" binoculars would have been badge engineered, I think. Certainly their clock movements were bought in. I'll know for sure this time next week. I'm hoping that a pair of Galilean glasses by Sestrel will turn out to be a "night glass".

You can pick up Barr and Stroud CF41's fairly cheaply and I would think that for sailing (not canoeing or bird watching) they would be good value. Mind you, they were what the young Bill Oddie started his bird watching career with!

Andrew Craig-Bennett
06-11-2007, 08:52 AM
PIST - see PM

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
06-11-2007, 09:03 AM
Thanks, not quite my thing. how does it work?

Lew Barrett
06-11-2007, 10:14 AM
Since the original $150 budget is now history and the discussion has moved to Steiner, Zeiss and Barr&Stroud I have a couple of questions.
1. How come nobody has mentioned Leica? - Every birder I've known in the last thiry some years has either owned or lusted after Leica's gear - I can't think it's just the trendy colour.


There's no indication of course that the budget is history; only our discussion of what's available has drifted.

Leica has been mentioned, but there's no way they'd be in the budget at any configuration. Leica glasses are marketed as Leitz in the US. Canon's IS range is very well regarded but not in the budget as well.


Leitz, Swarowski and Zeiss are out of your budget.........
Canon (apart from Fujinon) is probably the best name in standard Japanese glasses.....

Andrew Craig-Bennett
06-11-2007, 10:33 AM
I think the thread drift was probably my fault, but I was trying to make tghe point that bird watching glasses are, for good reason, centre wheel focussed, and this type is hard to waterproof.

Thorne
06-11-2007, 11:22 AM
Hey, my suggestion came in $1 under budget (not counting shipping)!

Again, for rough use and possible exposure to theft, I like the small house-brand ones from Cabelas. My pair has worked well and been abused for over a decade and I still love 'em -- light enough to carry comfortably around the neck while boating or birding.

http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/content/Item/71/25/62/i712562sn02.jpg

Brian Palmer
06-11-2007, 12:02 PM
I have a pair of waterproof Bushnell that were about $90. At that price, I won't choke my self to death if they go overboard.

--Brian

Lew Barrett
06-11-2007, 12:27 PM
I think the thread drift was probably my fault, but I was trying to make tghe point that bird watching glasses are, for good reason, centre wheel focussed, and this type is hard to waterproof.

No reason to take any blame...for anything! Ever.

As you point out marine binoculars are generally focused (for the individual users eyesight) to infinity because they're used to find marks, verify distant objects and search horizons.

The drift is inevitable as people weigh in with their individual preferences. I consider my binoculars a precious "investment" and their loss would be if not tragic, at least weighty, but I still prefer to use a really nice pair.

If I were to have a pair not designated for marine use, I'd probably want a pair of Trinovids (Leitz-Leica) but then, that's a preference, not a factual need. I doubt I'll ever acquire such an indulgance at this point in my life though.

I do have a Questar 3.5" Maksutov telescope that I rarely use anymore. Now there's a monocular for you!

Bruce Hooke
06-11-2007, 12:34 PM
One point to keep in mind is that in a kayak space is often at a bit of a premium. Once you've also stowed your snacks, bird book, water, etc. around you in the cockpit, you will really appreciate a compact pair of binoculars instead of the big, chunky ones that are common on larger boats. What you sacrifice is a wide field of view, which means you will have a harder time finding something you saw with your bare eyes once you bring the binoculars up to your eyes. Also, trying to scan for things with the binoculars will be less effective. Finally, if I remember how these things work, the larger binoculars are better at gathering light and so more effective in low-light situations. This is more of an issue on larger boats were you are more likely to be using the binoculars in low light situations to pick out aids to navigation and other vessels.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
06-11-2007, 12:40 PM
I don't think anyone in particular deserves the praise or the blame for thread drift...

One of the seldom mentioned horrors is that of the age of the user - the oft quoted maximum size of the dark-adapted pupil of 7mm - is true if the pupil is under 25 - I can remember being that age.

here are some links
http://amateurastronomy.org/EH/Apr96.PDF
http://www.iovs.org/cgi/content/abstract/35/3/1132

http://refractivesource.com/doctors/clinical_pearls/role_pupil.htm Lasik customers should read this first.

Another odd point is the number of people who buy decent to good optical equipment - and then never use it - where does it all go? is it , like the telescope, destined to sit in a cupboard unused until house clearance time? are people buried with them - as grave goods? why have I never seen a pair of Leicas at a boot sale?

mark s.
06-11-2007, 01:05 PM
I'll second...or third, the Nikon Monarchs. Waterproof, very bright for dim light, and not too large or heavy. Can't beat 'em for the money in my experience.

paladin
06-11-2007, 02:16 PM
I have a set of Pentax 7 x 50's which are fine binocs......they're the ones I leave visible in the boat when I went away...hid the steiners....but I also have a set of Russian binocs that seem to be direct copies of Steiners, and they cost me less than 100 bucks in Odessa......and I actually like them better than the Pentax optics...

Hal Forsen
06-11-2007, 09:58 PM
7X50's are great on ships and large boats but on a small boat or kayak 8X30's will serve better.
I have the Steiner 8X30's and am very happy with them; they are great bino's for the money.

dredbob
06-12-2007, 10:47 PM
Leupold has a 6x30 waterproof model (the Yosimite) for under a hundred bucks. I know that their rifle scopes are highly thought of, but I have no idea what the opinion on their binoculars is.

Bob

Bob (oh, THAT Bob)
06-12-2007, 11:59 PM
OK I may have the best deal. Maybe. I was just at Walmart, they have a pair of *roof-prism* (straight barrel, normally more expensive) 10x42 (they didn't have 8s) Bushnell Sportsman, $29.86 + tax. They are NOT waterproof, at least the don't say they are so I assume not. I had to buy a pair to evaluate as replacement for my cheapie Tasco 8x21s for dirty work. The optics are pretty good (amazing for the money, though, while fully coated, I'm sure the coatings are not as good as the premium ones), the focus stays synchronized left/right, they are rubber armored. I can't find the model on binoculars.com, I think they might just be Walmart's ultra-volume-quantity-purchased version of this one:

http://bushnell.binoculars.com/products/bushnell-10x42-powerview-roof-prism-49801.html

Not certain, but if so, $30 is a hellava deal. Man that's cheap for roof prisms in this size. Very compact for the lens size, 5-5/8" x 4-1/4", that's why I love roof-prisms. Wish they were available also as 8x42, they would be a little less shaky and a little brighter. The Powerviews above are, but for that money I would want waterproof.

I'm keeping the ones I bought, they are that good. Equal to what I would normally pay $100 for.

For 2.5x what I paid, you can get waterproof similar 8x42 roof prisms with better prisms and coating I think:

http://bushnell.binoculars.com/products/bushnell-8x42-waterprooffogproof-roof-prism-14129.html

Your mileage may vary.

Bob (oh, THAT Bob)
06-13-2007, 01:55 AM
Leupold has a 6x30 waterproof model (the Yosimite) for under a hundred bucks. I know that their rifle scopes are highly thought of, but I have no idea what the opinion on their binoculars is.

Bob

Leupold has a great reputation for scopes. (Which as I recall are made in USA, I don't know if the binos are as well or made in China (which may not be bad, Nikons are made there now on spanking new equipment.)) When I was in Walmart, I compared the $30 Bushnells to the Leupold Wind River Binos at $267, the Leupolds were brighter, nice looking binocular, but to me, not worth 9x the money unless I used them all day long. I'm guessing if the Leupolds are less than $100, they are not made in USA.

LeeG
06-13-2007, 01:58 AM
Leupold has a 6x30 waterproof model (the Yosimite) for under a hundred bucks. I know that their rifle scopes are highly thought of, but I have no idea what the opinion on their binoculars is.

Bob

those look like the perfect kayak binocs, cheap enough at $100, lower power for bouncy platforms but big enough field of view. Not tiny but tiny binocs with 8 power are hopeless on a wobbly platform. I took some 8x25 kayaking and had to really steady them on land.

Lew Barrett
06-13-2007, 10:09 AM
I have an older Leupold spotting scope, 20X80 and it's not bad at all.
I don't know if they're still making the same sort of product or not; mine's made in the USA. Color correction is a bit off, but that's only obvious if you point it at the moon. For terrestrial work, it's quite acceptable.

Bob (oh, THAT Bob)
06-13-2007, 02:27 PM
This morning I compared the $30 Bushnell 10x42s (mentioned above) to the Nikon Monarchs (only had 8x42s to compare to so was not comparing brightness). The Monarchs were a bit sharper in resolution, you could tell. But the cheap Bushnells were not as bad as the price would suggest, I'm still impressed enough with them to keep them. I especially like their small size. Great Binos for your kids or extras for onboard guests.

Bob (oh, THAT Bob)
06-13-2007, 03:19 PM
Good info (I went looking to find out performance differences between porro prism and roof prism designs):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binoculars