For Comparison's Sake: Binoculars

Three bare-bones binoculars are tested and compared.

History has it that Hans Lippershey constructed the first binocular telescope in 1608. Now, 400-plus years later, the basic science hasn’t changed, but the advances have been enormous. We tested these three bare-bones (no compass, no stabilization) 7x50 models to literally see for ourselves how they compare to one another.

Fuji Mariner WP-XL
Our Take: From Fuji, this quality-made, waterproof, nitrogen-purged binocular weighs just shy of 32 ounces — light enough for extended viewing without arm fatigue. Fold-down eyecups make using them while wearing glasses easier, a problem some of us face as we age.

The Buzz: It has a slippery finish, and a carry case is not included — that's an additional 55 clams (list).

Bushnell Marine (No. 137501)
Our Take: Well-made, comfortable, though heavy at 39-ounces, its unique indents for middle fingers add security when bouncing in a chop. It's nitrogen-purged, saltwater corrosion-resistant and waterproof. Fold-down eyecups allow people wearing glasses to get closer to the lens. It's rubber-coated and comes with a soft-vinyl carry case.

The Buzz: The lens caps are not attached.

Steiner 7x50 Marine
Our Take: This is German-made with German optics. Who could ask for more? It's waterproof, fog-proof and shockproof. Features include a black rubber coating for a sure grip, fold-down eyecups and a rugged, super-padded, nearly bullet-proof zippered carry case.

The Buzz: A little on the chubby side — it's heavy, 37-ounce weight could make extended viewing a chore.