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need a small set of binos

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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 00:44   #1
matemike
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need a small set of binos

I have joined this forum to discuss my optic situation.

Recently I started a new job as a harbor pilot which consists of guiding ships in and out of port. I deal with a 12 mile straight section in the channel every trip where I need to look as far down a buoy line as possible to aid in keeping the ships in the middle of the channel. Of course there are electronic navigation tools that are used and relied upon, but I will always verify with my eyes and in case the electronics ever go out, I want to be brisk with using the terrestrial bodies solely for navigation.
Every ship carries binoculars on the bridge for pilots to use. Steiner 7x50 seem to be a common choice and are a good standard. However, this is not always the case. Many times there isn't a pair of binos on the bridge that don't make you go cross-eyed when looking through them. I also fear contracting conjunctivitis from sharing binos between so many people.

I brought my own pair of Swarovski SLC 15x56's for one trip. They were way too high in magnification power. I could not see the whole width of the channel from left to right at closer distances with their 236' FOV. The buoys are 450 ft apart. In addition, the 15x SLC's weight will not work for me. I have to climb a rope ladder from a moving pilot boat for every ship. My backpack needs to be as light as possible.

I am presently borrowing my fathers Swarovski 8x20B pocket binoculars. Way better size for tossing in a backpack and carrying with me every day. Beautiful picture and perfect magnification. 357' FOV worked pretty well. They are crisp enough from edge to edge so the buoys appear straight, which is extremely important. I need the buoys to appear like straight lines /\ when looking down the channel and not like curves or fuzzy edges. i.e the buoy lines cannot look like this ().
My dislike about these little pocket binos is that they have two hinges and a small sweet spot for pupil placement. About half the time I needed to make a quick glance I'd get a blackout picture in one eye or extreme tunnel vision. So during several occasions I found myself wasting time to readjust to my eye spacing and having to hold them perfectly to my eyes. No glasses.

For this reason I have been looking into the Swarovski CL companion 8x30's. Their 396' FOV should only be an improvement. And the single hinge will handle better for a snappy look, check, then put them back down. Coming in at just at a pound+ an ounce will still be okay for weight and size should work. I'll need to find a more compact case though; might even make my own out of neoprene or leather. Their price is high, but I know swaro is good glass.

I looked into the Zeiss Victory 8x25 pockets as they are single hinged. Hinge is offset though. Is that an annoyance, or do you just get used to it? Will my pupil placement need to be spot on like with the 8x20 swaros I'm using now? Size is smaller than the CL's, and weight is less than a lb., so that's a plus. The 394' FOV will work, but is that realistic? Will I get the needed crisp clear picture from edge to edge as I do with Swarovski?

Or the cheapest option but heaviest set I looked at are the Zeiss Terra 8x32. 404' FOV weighing 18 oz. I like the price, but will I like the glass?

I ask this about the Zeiss binos because I researched Vortex 8x32 Diamondback binos and I really liked the paper specs, but I came to understand that their 425' FOV comes with a sacrifice. They are crisp in the middle (small sweet spot) with heavy field curvature happening at the edges. I cannot have that. So I'll pass on those $150 bins.

Apologies this is not a bird discussion, so FWIW there are millions of pelicans and seagulls I look at from time to time while transiting the ship channel. Thanks for all your help.

Last edited by matemike : Friday 1st June 2018 at 01:12.
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 05:28   #2
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Have you checked Alexis Powell's thorough review of the Zeiss Pocket on the Zeiss thread? It may be many of the questions regarding the single offset hinge are answered in there. The relatively wide view might seem to be a winner for your circumstances, and the easy eye placement (not that i've tried them - yet!)
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 05:50   #3
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I tried the Zeiss Victory Pocket 8x25 and the Swarovski 8x30 CL B side-by-side, admittedly in less than ideal conditions, and the Swarovski didn’t blow me away compared to the Zeiss. I’d go for the Zeiss and save half the weight and half the cost for minimal optical compromises if any. It does seem eyeglass wearers like me take to the Zeiss easier, so keep that in mind.
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 06:09   #4
jring
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Hi,

if you want a light 8x30, I would certainly try a pair of Nikon M7. There's very few things wrong (eye relief is too short for some glasses and some glare) and most are done right with them plus the price is great.

Joachim

Last edited by jring : Friday 1st June 2018 at 06:12. Reason: speling
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 06:51   #5
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Hi...

I suggest you consider binoculars with objective size of 40mm or larger, such as 8x42. The blackouts you experience with the 8x20 are the result of a small exit pupil size.

There is a reason the 7x50 is a traditional favorite with mariners -- the exit pupil is larger than the user's pupil -- and the large exit pupil size can accommodate the up-and-down movement of the dock, ship, or even a car traveling. This constant rocking, bouncing, swaying movement can easily lead to bothersome blackouts with a small exit pupil size -- and a throbbing headache if you look through them for long periods of time or frequently during a work day.

Here are a few links to understand exit pupil.
Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Link 4

Link 5
Hope this helps.

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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 10:11   #6
edwincjones
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matemike,

the pocket binoculars
(most popular are the Zeiss Victories, SW CL 8x25 and the cheaper zeiss terra 8x25)
have the convenience of fitting in pocket, or at least on your belt;
but the smaller size limits low light conditions.
You might consider 8x32s as a compromise between the pockets and the 7x50s;
but as Crusty says there is a reason for the 50mms.

edj
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 13:38   #7
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Do you really need 8x?

Will a 6x30 with a wide 8.5º FOV and 18mm eye relief that weighs 16 ounces and is Nitrogen purged and costs about $500.00 work for you? You can also get it in 8x30 or 10x30 if you like.

Check the specs out for the Maven B-3 Series 6, 8 and 10x30s here:

https://mavenbuilt.com/b-series-binoculars/

Bob

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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 13:41   #8
WJC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matemike View Post
I have joined this forum to discuss my optic situation.

Recently I started a new job as a harbor pilot which consists of guiding ships in and out of port. I deal with a 12 mile straight section in the channel every trip where I need to look as far down a buoy line as possible to aid in keeping the ships in the middle of the channel. Of course there are electronic navigation tools that are used and relied upon, but I will always verify with my eyes and in case the electronics ever go out, I want to be brisk with using the terrestrial bodies solely for navigation.

Hi, Mate:

Most of the following is an OBSERVATION with only one recommendation.

First, while Steiners are without a doubt a big deal with mariners, only some of their associated hoopla is warranted. Hey, and don’t worry about being cross-eyed; after all they are Steiners ... and Americans in general, and mariners in particular, would enjoy looking through a rusty pipe if it had a German name on the side—collimated or not. It doesn’t matter that the majority sold in the states today come from China, are the product of Beretta Holding (since 2008), and are imported by a company in Wyoming. Not only are the unwary swayed by the traditional wisdom of buying German, in the 90s they set the hook with that “auto-focus” fraud that the optically unwary bought into hook, line, and sinker. As Navy Opticalmen in the fleet, we referred to them as “the disposable binocular” but selling optics at Captain’s Nautical Supplies, I learned some myths die hard.

Having known a number of pilots, I have no sympathy for your wallet but I certainly can appreciate your desire for a compact binocular. However, regardless of your location, most pilots don’t have the pleasure of working strictly in stable, well-lit weather, and trying to see a buoy at 12 miles through even a light drizzle is iffy at best.

You might try a 6 or 8 power X30 Fujinon FMT-SX. It is RELATIVELY light, has a REASONABLY large objective, has a single hinge (a good thing), and is worth repairing even if you chip a couple of prisms when you drop it onto a steel deck and knock it out of collimation.

Baker Marine on Harbor Island in San Diego is Fujinon’s contracted repair facility for such, but Cory Suddarth in Henryetta, Oklahoma (Suddarth Optical Repair) is closer and could do the job in his sleep. And if you want to enjoy a little “bling,” get a Fujinon (the Steiner killer) 7x50 FMT-SX—first choice of the Alaska fishing fleet. I know mariners traditionally like the rubber “armored” version. However, rubber armored or not, an egg is still an egg, and lying near a wheelhouse window makes that rubber miss being a dinosaur and when the decomposition process starts you can’t stop it. You won’t have that problem with the pebble finish.

‘Just thought I would offer another option.

Cheers,

Bill

PS The Steiner Peregrin is excellent for birding in several ways. See, I can say nice things ... when they are warranted.
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 14:11   #9
Binastro
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Canon 10x30 IS Mk II.
Not waterproof, but should be steadier.
The 8x25 IS is smaller, but less rugged and the optical windows fall out, but are rather easily stuck back.

I'll see if they provide a rectilinear view, but maybe not.

A Fujinon or Nikon stabilised might work. But heavy.

I suppose a rectilinear view might be needed and I think that some Swarovskis provide that or the Russian 7x30 with 7 element eyepieces. These binoculars are pretty sturdy and seem to cope with bad weather.

The 6x24 Russian Porroprism binocular has a 12 degree view and is pretty rugged. One was dropped in the Thames, I think, and was fished out with no water ingress.
The 12 degree field is I think 630ft at 1000 yards. It is a good binocular, although some ghosting or glare in some situations.

There are good 8x30 Porroprism binoculars with 8.5 degree fields, or 445ft.

The Nikon E II 8x30 has an 8.8 degree field, or 460ft.

Opticron have Marine 7x50 binoculars with 30 year or 10 year warranties.
Opticron Marine 8x30 seem to have 10 year warranties.
Opticron service is good.

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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 16:19   #10
ljclark
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Will you be using the binos to look for the "Texas Chicken"?
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 17:05   #11
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Originally Posted by WJC View Post
Hi, Mate:
You might try a 6 or 8 power X30 Fujinon FMT-SX. It is RELATIVELY light, has a REASONABLY large objective, has a single hinge (a good thing), and is worth repairing even if you chip a couple of prisms when you drop it onto a steel deck and knock it out of collimation.

And if you want to enjoy a little “bling,” get a Fujinon (the Steiner killer) 7x50 FMT-SX—first choice of the Alaska fishing fleet.
‘Just thought I would offer another option.
.
Salty Bill, i am not being contentious because you know i am ignorant on these matters, but polite and trying to learn on these bino threads which can get opinionhated.
(i see you also suggested the 7x50 and 6x30 which may answer this) it seemed to me Crusty had a good point about the exit pupil thingy. can i get your take on why you said possibly 8x30 as that is smaller exit pupil
not querying except as request for explanation please?
thanks

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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 17:17   #12
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Hi,

the two little Fujinon FMT-SX are warmly recommended - but they're long out of production and quite collectible, so finding either one will not be easy...

An accessible option for a user without glasses would be a used german army Hensoldt DF 8x30 - these are 50 years old but still plentiful and available at less than $100 on ebay, relatively light for the amount of armoring at 23oz, waterproof and very rugged and the view is quite nice. It's not a swaro though, it's a rugged pair of professional optics which has survived 50 years of abuse by german armed forces (and some US troops too) and will probably last another 50. But of course they're single coated and come with a reticle (which might actually be useful to the o.p to measure distances). On the plus side, they don't have laser protection (which was one of the reasons they were finally phased out), so the color balance is as one would expect of a piece of optics made by the Zeiss group.

My pair is lying in the car as a beater/loaner pair and all who have used it without glasses liked the view - best 50€ spent on optics...

Joachim

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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 17:24   #13
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Salty Bill, i am not being contentious because you know i am ignorant on these matters, but polite and trying to learn on these bino threads which can get opinionhated.
(i see you also suggested the 7x50 and 6x30 which may answer this) it seemed to me Crusty had a good point about the exit pupil thingy. can i get your take on why you said possibly 8x30 as that is smaller exit pupil
not querying except as request for explanation please?
thanks

Yep ... availability. It had nothing to do with exit pupil.

In optics we have theory, practicality, and realism. Availability usually falls under the last two. He had been given other ideas and I wanted to TINT not MUDDY the waters.

Bill
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 17:27   #14
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The 1977 Soviet 6x24 Mk 2 has some multicoated surfaces, some uncoated.
This one is almost as new.
The field is more like 600ft at 1000yards than 630ft.

There is only a small amount of barrel distortion at the edge, but it is almost rectilinear.
The magnification does change near the edge.
The view is lovely.

It weighs 1 pound and 1 ounce.
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 17:30   #15
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Hi,

the two little Fujinon FMT-SX are warmly recommended - but they're long out of production and quite collectible, so finding either one will not be easy...

Joachim
That is a very kind way of tweaking a fellow who was put out to pasture 10 years ago, THANKS; I didn't know. Landlocked in Twin Falls, I might have led others astray. Not the FLAT FIELDS, buy the 6x30 and 8x30 has also been imported by Celestron, Swift, Bushnell, and others. But, I don't know if they're still being imported either.

Bill
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 17:38   #16
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Yep ... availability. It had nothing to do with exit pupil.

In optics we have theory, practicality, and realism. Availability usually falls under the last two. He had been given other ideas and I wanted to TINT not MUDDY the waters.

Bill
thank you
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 17:43   #17
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Will you be using the binos to look for the "Texas Chicken"?
explain to the poms please? i guessed slang for call girl or tuna but turns out it is a fried chicken brand and i still dont get it!
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 19:09   #18
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America is a BIG place.. you need bins to check how many blocks away the fast food place of choice is...?!

PEter
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 19:19   #19
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For actual work as a harbor pilot I'd pick a big size 7x50 for sure. Fujinons FMT SX-2 might be my choice. A small bin might be lightweight but you pay with very limited low light performance. That's what you need most at least as an option. Plus it must be robust and seriously watertight and being mil spec doesn't harm. I have a german mil spec Steiner 7x50 and I can recommend it as well. It's not that heavy from my experience.
Magnification above 7 times is pretty hard to hand hold with winds and on a moving ship plus running engine.

If it has to be smaller you might consider the former east german army binocular Zeiss (east Germany) EDF 7x40. Super robust, smaller form factor and a weight of one kilogram. Some people dislike it's yellow tint but it's actually a very good optical performer in low light or tricky sunlight at sea. Many sailboat owners use them because it's easy to look through no fiddling or long eye adjusting.

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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 19:53   #20
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Hello,

Yes, I have a Fujinon 6x30 8.5º binocular. I am not certain of the model but I recall that the U.S. Coast Guard recommended it for those with small boats. It was assembled in the USA to give it a domestic flavour.

Under good seeing conditions, I recall see on of the Galilean moons using it. It was a frost clear night in New York City, looking across Central Park. I have a 7x50 glass which is lighter. If the pilot is using his binocular at night, go with a 7x50, like the top of the line Fujinon but probably without the compass,

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 20:04   #21
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Hoopla over "Sports Auto Focus" aside, I do appreciate Steiner 7x50s stubby construction, which lessens the effects of hand shake. They're also robust.

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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 20:30   #22
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Hoopla over "Sports Auto Focus" aside, I do appreciate Steiner 7x50s stubby construction, which lessens the effects of hand shake. They're also robust.
Hi, Foss:

That, of course, is one of the selling points. However, that stubbiness comes at a price. Ask other amateur astronomers, telescope makers, or photography experts what results from reducing the f/ratio to make it that stubby.

I will give the German models a thumbs up on robustness. Even so, the first Steiner rep that came to me was proud to show me a Commander that was MANY TIMES out of the maximum tolerance for collimation. And with the prisms being cemented at the factory, I pointed out that if such an instrument were brought to me for repair, I couldn't do it cost-effectively.

That was a deal breaker for me. Some of their models are great glasses, but they're all longer. To each his own.

Cheers,

Bill

PS Are you related to the Seattle Foss family?
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 20:58   #23
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I will give the German models a thumbs up on robustness. Even so, the first Steiner rep that came to me was proud to show me a Commander that was MANY TIMES out of the maximum tolerance for collimation. And with the prisms being cemented at the factory, I pointed out that if such an instrument were brought to me for repair, I couldn't do it cost-effectively.
Hi,

Steiner committed the Fero D12 - the 8x30 bins which the german army acquired to replace the Hensoldt DF. They were not serviceable (at all) and not as stable as promised... Plus the optics kinda sucked...
Which lead to the interesting situation that the DF never really was phased out since everybody did their best to keep their old DF in service - if needs be by paying a case of beer or two to the repair guys to fix it with some parts squirreled away...
Until the need for laser protection led to the introduction of the Fero D16 - once again from Hensoldt aka Zeiss military.

Joachim
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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 21:13   #24
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Okay the Steiner (and federal army) approach back then was to request a cheaper binocular that would (could) not be repaired but be just thrown away if broken. I can imagine that some way more expensive top quality Zeiss-Hensoldt is in fact better and nicer to own.
But I have a Steiner 7x50 in use for over 30 years now and it is still as new. Maybe not the very peak alpha like some HT or Noctivid, Swaro or similar but working without any problem. It just doesn't need repairs or maintenance. Think of how soldiers use their stuff and something for a third of the price but with two thirds of the capabilities makes sense.

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Old Friday 1st June 2018, 21:58   #25
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Well, actually it didn't work out since the D12 broke easily in normal use... broke like in half for a total loss... in situations which the old DF usually shrugged off or maybe needed some TLC from an optics guy like the ones in my platoon who always got those cases of beer for fixing the DF (I gladly helped them getting rid of the beer ;-)

The army admitted defeat and got the even more expensive Hensoldt D16 next...

Joachim
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