The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Steiner Binoculars

Steiner is one of the few companies left (it seems) that is still building good quality equipment and then standing behind it. We have had the same pair of Steiner Commander RS2000 binoculars for over 20 years.

They have lived in the cockpit for a good part of those years, banging and crashing around, without ever showing any signs of wear and tear except for the rubber coating, which twice now has gotten sticky and unpleasant. When that happens we just send them back to Steiner (Pioneer Research in North America) and, for a very modest charge, they are freshly coated and back to us within a few weeks—along with a free re-adjustment and overall clean-up. They may be over-size and out-of-style (sort of like me!) but they still do a great job.

Our only criticism is that we have found the built-in bearing compass to be pretty useless, except in very smooth water.

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A friend this summer bought a pair of image stabilised Canons for £600 and they don’t work any better than the 7×50 Plastimo auto focus ones for £20 we have. As far as I am concerned 7×50 bis are what you need and auto focus works so well if you all have different eyesight.

Tom Hildebrandt

Until last week, I had nothing but praise for my Steiner 7×50 Marine binoculars and the Steiner service. Two years ago, after 6 years of in cockpit life, lots of use and abuse, the lens started to fog up and the coated was deteriorating. I returned them to Steiner (the repair facility in Colorado). I was informed, much to my surprise, that they were still under warranty. Due to time constraints of my own, they sent me a replacement pair that they alleged was the next level up. This pair was indeed a newer version but with an “improved” harder case, and clip on neck strap.

The first of the clips on the strap broke in about six months, and just three weeks ago, the second clip broke which caused the binoculars to fall from about waist level to the deck of the cockpit. My binoculars had turned into two monocular s!

I returned them to the same repair facility to be informed that this damage was not covered as the damage was not normal wear and tear as it was caused by the drop, and even though they dropped because of the break in the clip on harness, that damage was expressly not covered by warranty.

They have offered a shopping list of new binoculars at 35% off the MSRP which is a substantial saving, so I am seriously thinking of purchasing another pair as the optics are truly superior to anything else in this price range, but of the 7×50 Commander series that are reputed to be of a more robust construction. In the interim, while I was waiting for the 3/4 week turn around for repairs, I purchased on EBAY a pair of 7 x 50 Steiner RS 2000 (military grade but with an inoperative compass) for under 50% of the MSRP for the same non military pair mentioned by Phyllis in the original article.

My thinking here is that although I will have a significant bit of cash tied up in binoculars, a decent back up pair is really essential and my little pair of light weight birding binos which I use for field trips proved to be useless for navigating as a backup!

Robin Atkinson

When my boat sank in a tornado my Steiner Commander Electronic binocular was only recovered after 24 hours in the salty Mediterranean. Steiner of Germany made them like new again, free of charge. Since then they have re-covered the rubber coating twice for a fee. They are over twenty years old now but still under the manufacturers 30 year guarantee.
That’s what you get for buying quality.

Tim Gift

Steiner 7×50 Skippers are about eight years old and the compass has been gradually getting harder and harder to read. I finally contacted them to see about getting it fixed and they quoted me up to $140, depending on what was wrong. I debated on whether the compass was worth $140, but finally sent it in. I received no word from Stiener about the repair until Fedex showed up today with the binoculars. Compass fixed, no charge, still under warranty.

Dick Stevenson

Dear Phyllis,
It is always nice to read about a company building good products and standing behind them, even if I am reading it 5 years down the line. I could have written your piece while inserting Fujinon in the correct spaces. I do not know about their product support because in 25 years or so they have had no problems (short of replacing protective rubber eye caps and the strap).
A fun story: We were anchored in Luperon and friendly with the boat next to us on a Wharrem cat. They had Steiners that we’re extremely ratty having lived exposed for years. Another acquaintance asked to swap a new pair of Steiners for Mike’s ratty pair. Swap consummated Mike was happy with a brand new pair of Binocs and his old were sent off by Mr. Steiner/ Mr. CEO to be photographed for an advertising campaign showing the abuse they could withstand.
Dicke Stevenson, s/v Alchemy