Surfing Binoculars

Surfing - Choosing binoculars to watch surfing

I recently had a question from someone who was looking for some binoculars to watch surfing with:

Have A Question For Me?Question:

I’m trying to choose binoculars to watch my son surf. I’m looking at the marine binoculars but not sure which ones to go with since he’s moving pretty fast. Haze and glare are both problems with the old binoculars we have but the marine binoculars reviewed on your site seem to address this problem. Please advise on what you’d purchase. He’s sometimes in the water with 50 other people and I’d like to be able to pick him out from the shoreline. Thanks for your assistance!


Answer

To be honest I have never been to watch people surf, but I would say that the principals would be similar to watching sea birds or even boats at sea and you also have to add into the equation that surfers will be fast moving, and so similar to watching many sporting events and again birds.

So what we are looking for is basically a binocular that:

  • Is powerful enough to enable you to identify the surfer
  • Has a wide enough field of view to make following them simple
  • Is water and fog proof to protect them from the elements
  • Offers a good quality image with great contrast to help with the haze and glare

Marine Binoculars to Watch Surfing
In some ways, I think that your idea to use marine binoculars for surfing is a pretty good one:

Most binoculars that have been designed to be used on board a yacht, boat or ship tend to have a pretty low magnification to help ensure that the image is as easy as possible to hold still on a moving platform (the boat). This has the effect of increasing the field of view that you get whilst looking through them. Which as we have already discussed is important when viewing fast moving objects.

Other benefits of using a marine binocular are obviously that they will easily handle pretty much any of the conditions that you experience from the shore, including any sand, spray or even rain.

My slight concerns would be the slightly smaller magnification (usually 7x) which helped with the field of view, but will obviously make it just that bit more difficult to pick out your son at further distances. I personally would opt for a 10x magnification to get you really close to the action, however you will be sacrificing the width of the view and if that is a major concern for you, you could opt for an 8x magnification.

Alternatives
So I think we can get a more all round pair of binoculars that are fog and waterproof that have a more powerful magnification AND a field of view that equal to or even greater than that of most marine binoculars.

As you did not mention price or if size was a concern, I will also suggest a few in different price categories as well as different sizes for you to take a look at:

Top of the Range

Kowa 10.5x44 Genesis XD Binoculars

 
 
  • Full Sized Binoculars
  • Water & Fogproof
  • Field of View – 324 ft at 1,000 yds or 108 m at 1,000m – not bad considering the 10.5x magnification
  • One of the best full sized binoculars I have ever reviewed, with a super high quality as well as bright image

Swarovski 8.5x42 EL Binoculars

  • Full Sized Binoculars
  • Water & Fogproof
  • Wide Field of View – 399 ft at 1,000 yds or 133 m at 1,000m excellent considering the slightly more powerful 8.5x magnification
  • One of the best full sized binoculars on the market using the highest quality optics, coatings available.

Very High Quality

Minox 8x33 BL Binoculars

  • Mid Sized Binoculars
  • Water & Fogproof
  • Wide Field of View – 421 ft at 1,000 yds or 140 m at 1,000m
  • Excellent quality optics and coatings that include fully multi-coated lenses for bright, clear images and BAK-4 prisms with phase correction coatings
  • One of the best mid sized binoculars I have ever reviewed

Vanguard 8.5x45 Endeavor ED Binoculars

  • Full Size Binoculars
  • Water & Fogproof
  • Field of View – 340 ft at 1,000 yds or 114 m at 1,000m
  • Slightly more powerful 8.5x magnification
  • Excellent value for money with very high quality optics including phase coated prisms

Mid Range

Nikon 8x42 Monarch ATB Binoculars

  • Full Size Binoculars
  • Water & Fogproof
  • Field of View – 330ft at 1,000 yards, for an 8x magnification this is not the best, but should be enough
  • Tough with good quality optics and coatings that include fully multi-coated lenses for bright, clear images and BAK-4 Precision-aligned optics

Vortex 8x42 Diamondback Binoculars

  • Full Size Binoculars
  • Water & Fogproof
  • Wide Field of View – 420 ft at 1,000 yds or 140 m at 1,000m
  • Tough binoculars with excellent field of view at a great price

I personally would not advise going to far below this price level as remember image quality as well as contrast were important features that we were looking for in a good surfing binocular, to help with the haze and glare. Lower cost binoculars tend to use lower quality glass and prisms as well as less anti reflective coatings on them to save costs. This has the effect of reducing the quality of the image produces in most areas including brightness, sharpness, colour definition, depth of view and contrast.

Binoculars for Surfing – More Options
Most of the binoculars for sports should also work well, just make sure that they are both fog and waterproof.

Photo Credit: Kanaka Menehune

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