7×50 binoculars – Buying guide & Comparison
If you’re in the market for a pair of good 7×50 binoculars, the type most commonly used when at sea, but don’t have the time to browse through dozens of reviews to find a proper one then you came to the right place. We read through a large number of marine binoculars reviews, product comparisons and customer reports to narrow down the list to a handful of top-scoring product. Among these, the Orion 09332 Scenix would be our first pick, thanks to its great definition made possible by the BAK-4 Porro prism, wide field of view, which should be a given for marine binoculars, and good fog proofing, offered by the two watertight O-rings, attached to a durable metal body. If the Orion product isn’t available, then you might be inclined to go for the Fujinon Mariner WPC-XL, an equally viable choice, although a little pricier.
7×50 binoculars represent the standard for marine use and are recommended as such by the US coast guard, but thanks to their remarkably wide field of view and good brightness, offered by a substantially large exit pupil diameter, they can fit well into a large series of applications, such as bird watching and stargazing. They can also contain a number of additional features to increase their functionality when out to sea, like an integrated compass or the ability to float.
Field of view
This is one of the most important metrics to look for, as by its very nature, the sea offers quite a deal of horizon to gaze at. The best 7×50 binoculars should allow for a lot of background for the ship you’re focusing on, in order to judge its speed and heading appropriately.
The relatively large diameter lenses, combined with a somewhat small magnification power should fit in plenty of scenery. The precise figure is expressed either in linear dimensions, meaning feet at a standard distance of 1000 yards, or through the actual angle of view, which hovers around 7 degrees for the best marine binoculars.
Things like brightness, contrast, and image clarity are important for all applications but will prove especially welcomed when trying to identify a ship, no matter the weather and light conditions.
7×50 binoculars should provide a bright enough image in all lighting conditions thanks to the wide exit pupil diameter they provide for. This is basically the light surface that falls on the surface of your eye passing through the binoculars, and its size is calculated by dividing the lens diameter (50, in our case) to the magnification power (7x).
To further increase the amount of light that binoculars can absorb, manufacturers also use high-quality optics glass and special coating for the lenses in order to prevent glare or light reflection. Expectedly, any light reflected by the lens won’t end up hitting your eye, making the image appear darker than it actually is.
Image clarity and the prism
Image clarity is affected primarily by the prism that is used to correct it (naturally, the image would appear upside down and mirrored due to the distorting effect of the lenses). The material which offers the best results is BAK-4 glass, followed by the somewhat cheaper BK7 variety.
For 7×50 binoculars the most widely used prism system is the Porro. This is relatively cheap, allows for a wide angle of view and all other things being equal, offers a crisper image when compared to other types of construction.
Frame and dedicated features
Since they are so closely associated with naval use, some 7×50 models are designed with a couple of extra features aimed at increasing their functionality when at sea.
Waterproofing and fog proofing are the most obvious additions, usually achieved by reinforcing the O-rings to provide a hermetical seal. Additionally, the space in the ocular is filled with high-pressure gas (generally hydrogen or argon) to keep the humid atmospheric air from entering and potentially fogging the lens on the inside due to condensation.
A lot of marine binoculars are designed to float, but this can sometimes conflict with their overall durability since plastic material is generally used for this in order to cut down on the weight. Ships offer plenty of tight spaces, and protruding objects to hit the binoculars on, so physical resistance is likewise important.
An integrated compass is rather common, and most often display true north directly on the binoculars’ main view. However, this might add additional weight and cost to provide you with data you could get from your actual compass.
Top 7×50 binoculars reviews in 2018
So you’ll have an easier time choosing the right binoculars, we’ve narrowed down the list of available options to just a handful of top choices, selected based on the praise they received in 7×50 binoculars reviews and the good feedback from users.
Orion 09332 Scenix
Offering a crystal clear picture and a remarkable 1000 feet field of view, this Orion pair is well suited to handle a wide range of functions.
Thanks to fog proofing and a sturdy, metal body it will resist well to being knocked around in the cramped confines of a ship, under the especially corrosive salty air.
The high-quality BAK-4 Porro prism will give crystal clear images of the stars or small birds, with enough contrast to distinguish minute details.
In addition to a wide exit pupil diameter, the brightness level of its image is supplemented by light absorbing coating, which prevents glare and also adds color correction.
At only 1.8 pounds, the model is light enough to be held to eye level without offering too much fatigue to your hand, and also comes with a premium neck strap for extra comfort.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($99.99)
This Fujion piece is bristling with features which give it a lot of extra functionality when used on board a ship. It is, of course, waterproof so you won’t have to worry about rain, but it can also float when the strap is attached, so you won’t see your money sinking when dropping it in the water.
You won’t need to take it off if you want to check the heading because the Mariner comes with its own integrated compass and a light that will help you see it at night.
Speaking of which, the Porro prism design and low lens size to magnification ratio means that the Mariner allows for a high view angle, perfect for scouring the horizon.
It also has independently focusing lenses, to adapt to the needs of people that don’t have the same focusing point in both eyes.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($204)
Celestron 71198 Cometron
Whether you want to scour the sea or the huge night sky, this Celestron model is bound to deliver good performance for a very reasonable price.
A wide field of view is a given for the magnification and lens diameter, and so is a large exit pupil, which gives a brighter image, making it suitable for use throughout the day and night.
To supplement this, the lens is multicoated, ensuring that little light will be reflected and the colors you’ll see will be adequately close to nature. The image clarity is reported to be good, and the lens can be focused independently to match the precise focal distance of either eye.
With a sturdy metal frame, the build quality and resilience are acceptably good, especially for the price, but some customers reported receiving binoculars pieces with factory defects, so it would be a good idea to closely check the warranty and returning policy before purchasing.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($34.95)
Bushnell 137501 Marine
Built with durability in mind, the Bushnell Marine is tough enough to survive an amphibious landing. It’s hermetically sealed, so no water or atmospheric air gets inside the oculars, while also corrosion resistant so it doesn’t get affected by the salty environment over time.
It features a non-skid, non-slip rubber armor to protect it from scratches and bumps, which constitute a significant risk when walking through the narrow corridors of a ship.
Its specifications are nothing to scoff at either, as the BaK-4 Porro prism will make for a very sharp image, and the multi-coated optics will let plenty of light in for adequate use at any hour.
However, the field of view is somewhat narrow, at only 380 feet at 1000 yards, but this is really the only aspect where the Marine leaves room for improvement.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($136.52)
Barska AB10798 Deep Sea
The Deep Sea from Barska is an all around good product, well adapted for use on the high seas. It has adequate sealing for a waterproof rating and thanks to the nitrogen environment inside the ocular no salty air will get in either.
This also gives it good corrosion resistance, while the rubber armor covering will help it deal with mechanical forces and also provide a secure grip.
The built-in rangefinder and compass will prove very useful when trying to determine the course a ship or the distance to various obstacles.
Its lenses are fully multi-coated, and it uses a high-quality BAK-4 prism, which gives it good contrast and definition, as well as superior brightness.
The field of view is rather narrow for a 7×50 mm Porro, however, at just under 400 ft., but it does still outcompete most alternative designs in the same price range.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($121.61)