Image Stabilization Binoculars
Revised by BoatUS editors in April 2012
Binoculars are relatively new to boating and many different models are being introduced, seemingly to test the market. We suspect that two or three sizes will emerge as "standards" for boating. There appears to be no real track record yet for IS binos in terms of wear and tear and cost of repairs to help guide the consumer. For electronic models, battery life is a concern - keep spares at hand. Size, weight, and complexity of operation seem to increase along with magnification.
Even on the lowe end of the price spectrum, IS binos are revolutionary and even the smaller models are a huge improvement over hand-held binoculars. The only caveat here is the limited number of waterproof models available.
Weight and overall size is a consideration and we think it would prove cumbersome to keep some of the larger models around your neck for any length of time, particularly on a pitching boat. The gyroscopically stabilized models, by the way, reportedly provide added compensation for movement of the boat under you.
Our advice is to think about how you use your binoculars today and consider how much of an increase in magnification would be desireable to help you make your kind of boating safeer and more enjoyable. Then focus on IS binoculars as the way to do it.