When at sea, marine binoculars are necessary to ensure the vessel’s safety. Though SOLAS makes no specific requirement for the number of binoculars on board, it is critical that all vessels are equipped with the best marine binoculars.
As a mariner, it is critical to understand the binocular (and its features) you are using at sea in order to ensure you have the correct one and to determine if an upgrade is necessary.
What should you keep in mind when using or purchasing a marine binocular?
When it comes to binocular knowledge, there are typically five critical points to remember. They are as follows:
- Magnification and Diameter of the Lens
- Viewing angle
- Waterproof/fog resistant
Marine binoculars of the 750 type are the most frequently used. This equates to a magnification of 7x and an objective lens diameter of 50 mm for the binocular.
If you’re looking for the best marine binoculars, the magnification and lens diameter are the first things you’ll consider.
Let us dissect each of the aforementioned characteristics.
Magnification and diameter of the lens:
Binoculars are classified numerically – 750, 735, 825, and so on – with the first digit indicating the magnification and the second indicating the lens diameter.
At sea, it’s self-evident that the higher the magnification, the more information our eyes can gather.
However, it is worth noting that as magnification increases, it becomes more difficult to keep an object in focus, causing it to blur as the brightness decreases. To avoid the reduction in brightness, a higher lens is required to boost the image’s brightness. As the lens diameter increases, the camera’s size increases proportionately, making it bulky and inconvenient to use.
Additionally, the distorted and blurred image is exacerbated by shaky hands and the vessel’s swaying movement.
As a result, marine binoculars with a conservative magnification of no more than 7x and an objective lens diameter of 50mm are recommended.
Concentration on the centre or on the individual
Marine binoculars are typically available in two configurations: centre focus and individual or fixed focus.
In centre focus binoculars, a knob in the centre adjusts the focus on both eyepieces simultaneously. This is a more traditional style of binocular and is advantageous if your binocular will be shared with the rest of the crew (As everyone can adjust focus according to their need).
Center focusing binoculars are the most common type on the market.
However, the majority of marine binoculars feature individual focus.
– Ergonomically the simplest – The knob is simple to operate.
– Concentrate on extremely close objects
– They are suitable for travel over even the shortest distances.
– They also have higher resolutions.
– Ideal for those who wear glasses ( have movable eye cups)
– They are difficult to waterproof. – Suffer from a lack of watertightness and internal fogging
– Each time it is used, it requires time to focus.
Focus on an individual (Fixed focus):
Individual focus marine binoculars allow for independent control of each eyepiece’s focus.
This eliminates the need to adjust the binocular’s focus each time it is used. This saves considerable time, particularly during maritime emergencies.
– Maintain a single point of focus. There is no reason to refocus. Even at varying distances, the eyes focus for you.
– In low light situations, centre focus binoculars are difficult to focus, whereas individual focus binoculars are simple to focus on the object because the focus has already been accomplished.
– The vast majority of them are waterproof (more easier to make them waterproof)
– Difficult to focus up close
– Difficult for those who wear glasses to use. Most have non-adjustable eye cups.
Typically, the field of view is measured in feet or metres from a fixed point. It refers to the image visible horizontally through a binocular without moving the binocular.
At a distance of 1000 yards or metres, the field of view is measured in feet. At 1000 yards, each degree of view corresponds to 52.5 feet.
It’s worth noting that magnification and field of view are inversely proportional. Which means that as magnification increases (due to the smaller objective diameter), the field of view of the marine binocular narrows, resulting in a smaller image.
It is critical to have the largest field of view possible when purchasing marine binoculars.
Relief for the eyes:
Another consideration is the marine binocular’s eye relief. It is the distance between the pupil of the eye and the ocular lens of the eye (eyepiece). It is critical to maintain the proper viewing distance in order to view a sharp image.
Typically, eyecups are installed on the eyepieces to maintain the proper distance between the viewer’s eyes and the eyepieces.
Those who wear glasses should exercise caution because the eyepieces will be positioned beyond the eye relief distance, resulting in a blurred image and reduced image quality.
Almost all marine binoculars, however, include adjustable eyecups that can be pushed back inside to allow for closer alignment of the eyeglass lens with the ocular lens while maintaining eye relief.
Given the harsh environment in which marine binoculars are used, they must be waterproof and fog-resistant.
Binoculars are waterproofed by completely sealing all openings with O-rings. This helps prevent the ingress of dust and moisture into the binocular body.
Almost all waterproof binoculars are inflated with dry nitrogen gas at a pressure greater than that of the surrounding air. This positive pressure keeps outside air or moisture at a lower pressure out of the binocular. Additionally, because nitrogen gas is impervious to moisture, water cannot enter the binocular body. While waterproof binoculars are fog-proof on the inside, moisture can condense on the exterior of the lens.
It is worth noting, however, that just because a binocular is waterproof does not mean it can be completely submerged in water. Certain superior binoculars are waterproof up to a specified depth and duration of submersion, as specified on the binocular.
Bear in mind that all fog-proof binoculars are technically waterproof. Not all waterproof binoculars, however, must be fog-proof.
Additional features include the following:
Numerous high-end marine binoculars now include advanced features that may make life easier at sea.
Among the features to look for are the following:
Strap that floats:
Some marine binoculars include a floating strap, while others require you to purchase one. If you are investing a significant sum of money in a marine binocular, it is critical to add a few dollars to the cost of an adjustable floating strap that will protect your binocular if it falls overboard.
If your marine binoculars are waterproof, that’s great, but if they fall overboard in the deep sea, that’s the last time you’ll see them.
Floating straps are constructed from materials with a high buoyancy, which prevents them from floating if they fall into water.
A few marine binoculars on the market include an integrated compass. They superimpose a compass directly beneath the image when viewed through the binoculars. This is extremely useful when observing a vessel from afar and determining its direction. The compass feature is extremely beneficial from a vessel’s safety standpoint.
Additionally, some marine binoculars include digital compasses that are illuminated.
Reticle of a rangefinder
A rangefinder is an optional feature found on a number of marine binoculars. This pair of binoculars features an integrated infrared laser system that assists in determining the distance between a vessel or object and the binocular. They are extremely useful on board, particularly in emergency situations.
Generally, the distance is indicated in metres or feet, and the readout is visible directly through the eyepiece.
Certain marine binoculars also include inclinometers.
Stabilization of the image
Digital cameras were the first to incorporate image stabilisation technology. Several major manufacturers of marine binoculars have incorporated this technology into their products, which aids in compensating for the observer’s movement or the vessel’s swaying.
Marine binoculars equipped with image stabilisation technology include a gyroscope, which aids in the reduction of movement in high-powered binoculars.
The Best Marine Binoculars
Consider the top ten marine binoculars on the market today.
Marine Binocular Bushnell 7×50 Waterproof
Bushnell is a leading manufacturer of high-quality marine binoculars on the market today. The majority of marine binoculars aboard ships will be of the Bushnell brand.
Bushnell’s 750 marine binocular is corrosion-resistant and waterproof, making it ideal for use in harsh environments. This rugged, fog-free, individual focus binocular features a non-skid rubber armour that makes it extremely convenient and comfortable to hold.
The Porro prism system combined with Bak-4 prism glass provides the best clarity and range for open waters.
At this price point, this is the best marine binocular on the market today.
Steiner 8×30 Military-Marine Binocular
The 8×30 Steiner 2033 is the ideal outdoor companion. The 8x magnification provides a bright, clear image with a wide field of view.
Steiner marine binoculars are renowned for their durability, and the Steiner 2033 is no exception, with its rugged polycarbonate body and waterproof and fog-proof features.
The Steiner 8×30 features floating prism technology, which employs a flexible silicone lens mount to absorb shock and impact.
Most importantly, it features auto-focus, which enables it to maintain focus from a distance of 20 yards and beyond without the need for constant focusing.
BARSK Deep Sea 7×50 Waterproof Marine Binocular
BARSKA Deep Sea Waterproof Floating Binoculars is the best value for money.
With an internal rangefinder and compass, these water- and fog-proof marine binoculars are designed for use in all weather conditions. Additionally, they float on water in case they fall overboard.
The 750 Deep Sea Binoculars feature a BAK-4 prism that produces images with exceptional clarity and contrast.
Marine Binocular Steiner 575 7×50
Binoculars Steiner 575 7×50 are designed specifically for marine activities. Additionally, it features an auto-focus system and a floating prism system, which provide additional protection and ease of use.
Additionally, the Steiner 7×50 marine binoculars are fog-resistant and waterproof, allowing them to withstand the harshest conditions at sea.
The lightweight and impact-resistant polycarbonate body provides the toughness associated with the Steiner brand.
Bushnell 8×42 H2O Porro Prism Marine Binocular
This is the best and cheapest option for waterproof binoculars for marine use that you will find.
Bushnell 8×42 H2O waterproof and fogproof binoculars. They feature a large central focus area that facilitates adjustment.
It features a durable non-slip rubber armour that absorbs shocks and improves grip.
7×50 Hooway Waterproof Fogproof Military Marine Binocular
The Hooway 750 marine binoculars feature a Porro prism system for a wide field of view that is ideal for use at sea.
It features an anti-slippery rubber body that provides a secure grip and shock absorption.
The marine binocular is completely waterproof and fog proof, as well as being floatable in water.
Fujinon Mariner 7×50 WPC-XL Porro Prism Marine Binocular
The Fujinon Mariner 750 marine binocular is completely waterproof and equipped with a compass and reticle display.
It includes an integrated LED light for use in low-light conditions.
It includes a floating neck strap that protects the binocular in the event that it falls overboard.
Aomekie 7X50 Marine Binocular
The Aomekie 7×50 marine binoculars are among the best waterproof, fog-proof, and low-light binoculars available. They feature a high-index BAK4 prism with an anti-reflective coating that enhances image clarity and minimises light reflection.
This floatable marine binocular is waterproof to a depth of 1m for up to 30 minutes.
Additionally, they include an illuminated rangefinder and compass for use in low-light conditions.
7X50 ESSLNB Marine Binoculars with Illuminated Compass
The ESSLNB marine binoculars feature a built-in illuminated rangefinder and compass.
They float, are impervious to water, and are fog proof. However, keep in mind that they are waterproof to a depth of one metre and can float for 30 minutes if dropped in water.
The ESSLNB 7×50 features a BAK-4 prism and multi-coated green wideband film technology that minimises reflected light and image distortion.
The non-slip rubber coating contributes to the shoe’s improved grip and handling.
USCAMEL Marine Binoculars 10×50
USCAMEL 1050 marine binoculars are one of the best values in that price range.
With a magnification of 10x and a large objective lens of 50mm, the USCAMEL marine binocular produces bright images with minimal image stabilisation issues. Individual eyepiece focus capability combined with an autofocus system eliminates the need to refocus.
They feature foldable eyecups, which makes them ideal for people who wear glasses.
This waterproof and fogproof marine binocular features an integrated rangefinder and compass.