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Choosing 8x32 vs 7x42 vs 8x25 (3 Viewers)

Hi, I am hoping for some advice on purchasing my first decent binoculars.

I have to admit I am not a bird watcher but I like to travel and I’m a nature lover. I’m 32 M. Normally I like to travel very light with just hand luggage at 10kg, and have bought my first decent binos Leica UV 8x20 and also Zeiss victory 8x25 for this purpose.

I have a trip coming up sailing on someone elses boat 5 weeks onboard, and am wondering if I will be ok with the smaller binoculars or I should use this opportunity to get a larger pair, like 8x32 or 7x42.
Now If I had my own boat it would be simple to buy the best bins for the job which seem to be the Leica Ultravid 7x42. But I am thinking, after this trip, that size may be too large for general use. But also, being on a boat for 5 weeks, looking through decent binoculars may be a very good thing to do.

Sorry if my questions are a bit daft but I am quite inexperienced and also, these are rather expensive so can’t really afford to make a mistake.

Thank you.
 
Hello Blastermaster,

How big a boat and in what waters are you sailing? Any 8x binocular would be difficult to use on the sea, when a boat may be unstable, but would be fine for canal cruising. Another consideration would be image stabilised (IS) binoculars, of which I have no experience.

Stay safe,
Arthur Pinewood
 
We should distinguish between how bins are needed on boats and how you may enjoy using one. If conditions are pleasant enough for viewing, you should have little difficulty using your VP 8x25. If they're not, you're unlikely to enjoy even a 7x50. But do try whatever full-sized bin the boat owner has, for comparison with yours.
 
Great thoughts everyone, thank you.

The boat is a sailing 40’ catamaran in the Bahamas, and we may stop at some islands but mostly be away from ports. I will definitely bring my 8x25 VP. And ask to use the captain’s binoculars. Depending on the changing weather conditions, there could be some strong winds to move the boat around.
 
Lucky you, that sounds like an amazing trip! Question - why do you think you'll need different binoculars at sea from on land?

I do think some 42mm binoculars would be nice, I tend to like larger aperture. I would try to buy whatever binoculars you like best for a larger, second pair and go with that. It's 5 weeks on the boat and then years of use afterwards for other stuff.

I happen to really like 7x42, my 7x42 EDG are my favorite daytime binocular. Can't go wrong there. The other high-end 7x42 is the Leica UVHD.
 
Thank you. It’s not an opportunity I have had before and maybe not again, so I want to make the most of it.

Because of the movement of the boat, I read it will make viewing difficult. But I don’t really know if that is true.

There is a pair of used UV 7x42 HD on auction site, but the seller has not posted any pictures of the lenses. He just claimed great condition.
 
Aren't marine binoculars specifically waterproof for the harsh conditions of seafaring? Even though this seems like an only one-time event for you, could the planned Leica's survive such conditions? Salty air corrosion? Moisture? What happens if you accidently drop your leica's into the water? Are they just splashproof or are they waterproof? Are you planning on getting a flotation strap for the bins? Just some thoughts.

If your heart says Leica then go for Leica. That said, you mention that the 7x42mm might be too large for general use for you. Perhaps the Zeiss sfl 8x40, which are reported as svelte, could be an alternative? Or one of the GA Swaro Habicht such as 7x42 for waterproofing albeit with a less accessible focuser?

I concur to consider IS as well. Personally I sway enough as it is normally standing -- I can't imagine on choppy waters.

Good luck with your search, looking forward to reading on which you decide and how it ends up for you.
 
Aren't marine binoculars specifically waterproof for the harsh conditions of seafaring? Even though this seems like an only one-time event for you, could the planned Leica's survive such conditions? Salty air corrosion? Moisture? What happens if you accidently drop your leica's into the water? Are they just splashproof or are they waterproof? Are you planning on getting a flotation strap for the bins? Just some thoughts.

If your heart says Leica then go for Leica. That said, you mention that the 7x42mm might be too large for general use for you. Perhaps the Zeiss sfl 8x40, which are reported as svelte, could be an alternative? Or one of the GA Swaro Habicht such as 7x42 for waterproofing albeit with a less accessible focuser?

I concur to consider IS as well. Personally I sway enough as it is normally standing -- I can't imagine on choppy waters.

Good luck with your search, looking forward to reading on which you decide and how it ends up for you.
Leica 5m waterproof, combined with a floating strap, probably as good as it gets. Maybe a less expensive pair would be better.

The risk in borrowing someone else’s binoculars on a boat is that they end up damaged and this could lead to animosity, especially on a small boat, can’t be falling out with the captain.
 
You're not going to drop them in the water, I don't know, I've done a lot of sailing, we never dropped the binos at all. The more expensive they are, the more careful you're going to be! If you think they'll end up being circulated among the passengers on a regular basis it might be good to get some cheaper binos, bad things might happen.
 
When using binoculars afloat the stability (or instability) of the viewing platform has a real effect on your choice of binoculars. The key question I would ask is - how exactly are the binoculars going to be used? If you are only going to use them when the boat is at anchor or tied to a mooring buoy, enjoying the view of scenic harbours and such, any of the binoculars you mention, particularly lower magnification devices, should be fine. But if you're going to use them for such jobs as spotting navigation markers while under way, especially early and late in the morning, the requirements will be very different. That is where the traditional 7x50 shines - it's not small or light, but has proven to be effective for those jobs.

The requirements for use afloat are somewhat specific and if you are going to be a guest (as opposed to crew) I would consider getting a decent 7x50 and leaving it as a gift to the skipper or crew after your trip. For general purpose use (travelling etc) the 8x25 you already have is hard to beat in that size class.
 
Besides heavier binoculars being easier to hold steady on an undulating boat (the weight gives some ballast that smooths things out a bit), a larger pupil will make viewing easier as well. There's a reason why 7x50s are popular marine bins.
Going ashore, those 8x25 Zeiss you already have should work a treat. I'd take both. No one optic will be very good for both situations.

Probably not what you might be expecting, but Fujinon 7x50 porros might be your best choice. $6-700. US, not sure over there. The individual focus is not an issue at distance viewing, and there are a few tricks to this as well. The optics are just excellent and they don't mind getting washed in a sink.

Two tricks to share...
Keep one barrel focused at infinity and the other somewhat less. It'll give you big depth of field, especially at 7x, and your brain will surprise you with how quickly and well it adjusts. For a longer look, just tighten up the focus!

The other trick is just focus one barrel. This is quick. Then just turn the other eyepiece to match. The eyepieces have calibration numbers and lines so it's easy. Once you familiarize yourself this way it's a piece of cake.

This is all in the context of a marine environment or moderate to distant viewing. This method will suck for chasing warblers in the bush!
 
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I use bins on a small sailboat and i'd recommend 7x if it's a boat that's going to move a lot. If it's a bigger boat (ship really) then 8x is fine. We used 8x all up the inside passage in AK (ferry) and in Patagonia, with no problem. The extra reach is nice since a lot of wildlife may be further away.
Unless you will be in dark forest all the time or viewing dawn/dusk, 8x32 is superb as it's smaller and more compact.
Unless you are de-bording often on pangas or RIB's, you don't need floating strap. Just keep them around your neck of course!
Unless you are expecting to be on deck in foul wx all the time, nothing more than typical waterproof modern bins are needed.

The most important thing is for you to have time to evaulate the binos before trip to make sure the ER, ergos, etc. work for YOU. Personally, I'd go with any of the 'big three' 8x32 or 8x40/42. All are spectacular by any measure in spite of the nitpicking on BF.

PS I've never used IS and I suppose of a LOT of your viewing is from boat, they're worth considering. The size/form-factor, dependence on batteries, etc. are a total turn off to me but ymmv.
 
Blastermaster,

Have you considered something like 6/7x32?
There are a number of models of these configurations. You will get a pretty lightweight and unbulky binocular with stable image and pretty large exit pupil.
No I hadn’t considered it, I didn’t see any on my internet research! I will have another look.
 

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