Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Marine Product Review: Waterproof Binoculars

Girl with binoculars on boat
Binoculars for Boating
In this week’s Marine Product Review, we test a set of binoculars made for boating...
For the latest installment of the Daily Boater's weekly Marine Product Review, Mark Sutton of put the Tahiti Waterproof 7x50 Binoculars from West Marine to the test.
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Read on for our review of the Tahiti binoculars, which were designed specifically for boaters and use in the marine environment....

Binoculars for Boaters

The West Marine Tahiti marine binoculars are essentially the Raiatea binocular model with the addition of a built in bearing compass and range finder to aid navigation. The compass enables you to take a bearing similar to using a hand bearing compass.

In determining which binoculars to buy for use on your boat consider the following check list… the quality of the binocular optics, the proper magnification for use on a boat, you want anti-fog and waterproof binocs to endure the marine environment, they should also be rugged and will ideally float.

The Tahiti 7×50 marine binoculars scores well in all these areas.

Binoculars for boating
Tahiti Binoculars

Quality Optics:

The optics of the Tahiti 7×50 binoculars are terrific quality that present a bright and crisp image even at night. They feature fully multi-coated lenses for brightness in low-light conditions and BAK-4 prisms for sharp images. The multi-layer coating allows for transmission of more than 90% of visible light. There is also an anti-reflective coating that improves night time and other low light situations.

Center focus:

The Tahiti 7×50 marine binocular has a center-focus which makes this binocular easy to focus and adjust with one hand. The center focus is a great feature aboard where you often need one hand for you and one for the boat. In center focus binoculars, one eyepiece adjusts to accommodate the difference between your eyes. A central focus knob then adjusts both sides simultaneously for distance. In this binocular review, we see convenience as a significant benefit, for this reason we like center focus binoculars.

Waterproof binocular:

The Tahiti binocular is waterproof and they float (you’d hate to have a pair of floating binoculars that wasn’t waterproof!). The damp marine environment, combined with changes in temperature, causes interior lenses of non–waterproof binoculars to fog. Waterproof construction, with the interior o-ring sealed and filled or “charged” with dry nitrogen protects your binoculars if they fall overboard. West Marine offers a life-time anti fog warranty. If they fog up you can bring them back for a new pair. West Marine reports low return rates for the Tahiti 7×50 binocular.

Affordable marine binoculars:

The West Marine Tahiti 7×50 marine binoculars are very reasonably priced for the quality and type of binocular. These binoculars retail at West Marine for around $299. Other binoculars in this category and of this quality could easily cost you a few hundred dollars more. The Tahiti 7×50 waterproof binocular is only available from West Marine.

West Marine Tahiti 7×50 Magnification:

A binocular with 7×50 magnification is well suited for use on the water because it offers a great combination of magnification, brightness in low light and accommodates a boat use with movement caused by waves and weather. The 7 in the 7×50, refers to the magnification. With the Tahiti binoculars, the image is magnified 7x which is the practical magnification limit for small boat. Magnification greater than this are great for land based usage like bird watching but provide too much magnification for marine usage with pitching and rocking.

Objective lens:

The 50 (in the 7×50) refers to the diameter of the objective lens (the larger lens). The larger the binocular objective lens size is the more light is gathered and the brighter images are. This is particularly useful on a boat in low light conditions such at night, dawn, dusk or in the fog.


In our Tahiti binoculars review, we found that the lens caps fit quite loosely and often came off. This is a common concern reported by people who own the Tahiti. Admittedly a minor point but one to know about before you purchase the binoculars. There have also been reports of the compass illumination failing. This is something that should be covered under West Marine’s warranty. As for the internal compass, if you require precise accuracy, you will be better off using your hand bearing compass.

West Marine Tahiti Waterproof Binocular Review Summary:

The Tahiti 7×50 waterproof binocular is a terrific quality binocular at a great price. Marine product Reviews recommends the Tahiti as a navigational tool onboard any boat.

Here’s what we like:

Quality optics – Multi coated lenses grab 90% of the light and protection against reflection. Provides a sharp and bright image even in low light conditions.

We like a 7×50 for marine use – A great combination of magnification and grabs lots of light.

Water proof – The Tahiti binocular is designed and constructed for use on the water. It stands up to a moist environment, spray and even being in the water (they actually float).

Center focus – Convenient focusing with one hand.

Price – The low price of the West Marine Tahiti binoculars combine with their quality make them a great value for the money.

Below specs of the Tahiti waterproof binocular from West Marine’s web site:
•         Bearing compass and range finder
•         27.4mm eye relief
•         350' at 1000 yds. field of view
•         Center focus
•         7 x 50 magnification
•         BAK-4 prisms deliver sharp images and reduce glare

On the web:

Enjoy and happy boating!


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