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best binoculars for whale watching from our lanai

Carman, Canada
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best binoculars for whale watching from our lanai

Regular "reader".... first time "poster". Was wondering if anybody has a recommendation for a pair of really good binoculars for whale watching from our lanai. We are staying at the Papakea and have ocean front, Yippee!!, so we are right in line with an awesome view of the whales. Had to share with hubby last time we came, and don't think that's going to happen again. :-) So... I'm willing to spring for an extra set of binoculars for myself... anywhere from $100 - $150 ish if I can find some that would work well for this. Heard that 8x42 is a good place to start. Have done a bit of research, but wanted to ask the "experts" on TA for their opinions. Thanks in advance to all of you. (still waiting to begin countdown... not coming until Jan.10, 2015 and it seems like forever away!!)

Minnesota
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1. Re: best binoculars for whale watching from our lanai

Bumping for you.

You also will probably see then easily without binoculars!

S.F. Bay Area
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2. Re: best binoculars for whale watching from our lanai

Have a pair of Nikon Trailblazer 10x42's that were priced in your range - I prefer the slightly larger than compact for stability, and these are actually pretty decently sized for travel.

Here is a list of some additional options in the <$150 range - the Bushnel 7x50 marine model looks intriguing: …about.com/od/…tpbegbinoc150.htm

Alo)(a, NKO

Edited: 23 August 2014, 16:02
hudson valley
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3. Re: best binoculars for whale watching from our lanai

$150 isn't going to get you a great pair of binoculars, and as magnification goes up it's going to cost more for good optics. Higher magnification also means that any movement of the binoculars makes the image more jittery, and if image stabilization is available on anything in that price range it will be at the expense of something else. I think you may find that you'll get better quality with 7 or 8 x 40 to 50 than with 10x.

I'd suggest trying to find a store where you can actually look through some, but if that's not possible do a lot of online research. Note that reviews that compare binoculars are better than ones that just say a particular pair is great; a lot of people who've never used a really good pair may rave about a mediocre pair that's better than the lousy pair they used to have.

S.F. Bay Area
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4. Re: best binoculars for whale watching from our lanai

<<$150 isn't going to get you a great pair of binoculars>>

I agree, but it got me a pretty darn good pair of $150 binoculars. Like anything else, the consumer pays for what they get. One simply either has to have a fat budget, or utilize the item frequently enough to justify the expenditure required for a truly decent optical device.

One could easily spend a grand or more if they wished, but for double their max budget (~$300,) the OP could get the (still entry level, but viable) German engineered, nitrogen pressurized, Steiner 7x50 marine model. binoculars.com/binoculars/marine-binoculars/…

Some enjoy their production-made China crafted laminate Ukes just as much as one of my obscenely priced solid Koa 'K-models' -- whatever makes the individual happy is the important factor. :)

California
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5. Re: best binoculars for whale watching from our lanai

Not much to add other then I agree about bring binoculars on vacation to Hawaii, whales or no whales. I started bringing my pair years ago and it always fun to hang out on the Lani and watch the world go, by especially if you have a ocean view.

Menlo Park...
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6. Re: best binoculars for whale watching from our lanai

we take our old trusty 9x25 Nikon that has great optics and is very compact. But if i were to buy again, I'd look for a spotting scope. It doesn't have the bi-ocular feature, but who needs that? And if you are viewing from a fixed spot instead of hauling them around, I'd also get a small tripod for it. It should be cheaper than binoculars since there is only single optics. Some have zoom features and you can easily find 20 power scopes for not a lot of money. I'd skip the zoom feature and find one that's compact with good optics.

Denver, Colorado
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7. Re: best binoculars for whale watching from our lanai

There are many considerations to take into account when selecting a pair of binoculars. There is a trade off between magnification power and the field of view. The higher the magnification, the smaller the field of view. A 12 power pair of binoculars usually has a field of view around 300 feet at 1000 yards. A 7 power pair roughly has a field of view of 400 feet at the same distance. My current thinking is that I want the wider field of view as whale breeches happen very quickly and I might miss them with the narrower field of view.

Once you have the magnification figured out, there are a couple of other factors to consider. The first is the objective lens diameter. The larger the lens, the more light passes through the binocular. This is particularly important in the evenings as the sun starts to set. So, a binocular that says its 7 x 50 has 7 times magnification and a 50 mm objective lens. A compact pair of 7 x 30 binoculars will have poorer low light performance.

Binoculars have different types of prisms in them. Without going into too much detail, porro prisms are generally considered to be optically superior to roof prism design, BUT roof prism binoculars are generally more compact than porro prism designs. If compact is what you're after, go with a roof prism binocular.

finally, there are niceties such as captive lens caps, rubberized coatings, etc to consider.

All of the above is moot if you choose a cheap pair with poor glass. Make sure you have the opportunity to handle the binoculars (as opposed to purchasing online) so you can make sure the image is bright and sharp to the edges of the field. Good places to shop are REI, Bass Pro Shops or Cabella's if you have any of those where you live. They each have large selections to choose from.

Scottsdale, Arizona
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8. Re: best binoculars for whale watching from our lanai

We have a pair of Canon image stabilizing binoculars. We love them. I think they were about $800, but the best part is you push a button and it eliminates much of the shake giving you a very clear image. We live on the South Side in Wailea, and have wonderful vies of the whales.

San Diego...
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9. Re: best binoculars for whale watching from our lanai

It is also nice to have a zoom feature

Boston, MA
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10. Re: best binoculars for whale watching from our lanai

I'm going to go against the grain here. Watching whales from your lanai, on Maui, is about the easiest conditions for binoculars to work in. The lighting is almost always perfect, they don't need to be water proof, size and weight is not a big issue. I think you can have a very good experience, in these conditions, without having to go $300+ for "Entry Level." I think you can have a lot of fun and enjoyment, in these conditions, with basic Busnell or Tasco lens. I wouldn't rush to spend big money, if this is your planned use.

Personally, I would get something reasonably priced in the 7x50 range or, if you have steady hands, 10x50.