Choosing Marine Binoculars can be confusing. What do all those numbers mean? What is the best size and magnification? Waterproof or not? With or without compass? However, there are a couple of general rules that apply to marine binoculars that may help answer some of those questions.
Firstly, 7 x magnification is acknowledged to be the maximum that can be handled at sea, simply due to the motion of the boat. As with any rule there is an exception – stabilised binoculars enable greater magnification but at a significantly greater price.
The size of objective lens (the big lens at the far end of the binoculars) most accepted for marine use is 50mm. Hence, most binoculars sold for marine use are 7×50 and this combination of magnification and lens size provides a clear, steady image at sea.
If you want a pair of smaller, lighter binoculars for keeping handy, in a pocket or around your neck, then a smaller objective lens will provide an acceptable image in good daylight conditions but it will be much more difficult to distinguish objects and colours in bad light. Consider 7×35 or 7×26 for a second pair of marine binoculars.
Waterproof binoculars tend to be more expensive but, due to the nature of the marine environment, water is likely to get into any binoculars that are not completely sealed. The performance will deteriorate over time with the image becoming less bright and less clear. Waterproof binoculars will be nitrogen filled or state that they are waterproof in the specification and are worth the additional cost for marine use.
Compass binoculars are a popular choice. The ability to take a bearing when looking through binoculars at a buoy or other vessel makes a lot of practical sense but will again increase the price of the equipment.
The most important considerations when choosing binoculars are clarity, brightness and comfort of use. It is essential to try before you buy and don’t buy a pair of marine binoculars that are not comfortable for you, no matter how good someone else finds them. Generally speaking, more expensive binoculars have better lenses, prisms and body construction but the final choice comes down to personal preference and budget.
A range of marine binoculars and optics are available from the following specialist suppliers and many good Chandlers. Simply follow the links below for more information and don’t forget to mention Alpha to Zulu when contacting suppliers.
Range includes marine binoculars
All Gadgets Marine
Range of marine binoculars
Wide range of binoculars and telescopes
Marine binoculars and telescopes
Range includes specialist marine binoculars
Specialist marine section
Compact and pocket binoculars and scopes
Marine and compass binoculars