Steiner Binoculars Reviewed
Steiner binoculars are another very popular brand found at the helm of many commercial vessels. A few versions of the Commander line are also a top choice of charterboat captains and recreational anglers.
Cruisers, fishermen, and sailors will find a number of binoculars in the Commander line to be well suited for small boat operations. The majority of the Steiner marine binocular line uses 7x magnification, one pair does use 8x.
Marine Electronics Reviews testers take a look at a pair from the Commander-Series. The standard Steiner Commander V has two additional model number designations.
We tested the compass equipped model 392; the same binocular minus the compass is the model 292. We also looked at an upgraded version called the Steiner Commander XP.
Steiner Commander V
When compared to the hulking Fujinon FMTRC-SX binocular the Steiner Commander V looks small and compact.
According to Steiner they feature high definition optics and new blue plastic armor coating for with increased longevity. Older Steiner binoculars in the Commander line sometimes had issues with deterioration of the protective armor coating.
A wet compass about 2.5 inches in diameter and about an inch thick sits atop the right-hand lens tube. Most of our testers found the compass interfered with their grip of these binoculars. Weighing in at 40 ounces, the Commanders are nearly 30 percent lighter than the Fujinon FMTRC-SX binos.
We did have one problem with these Steiner Binoculars, when we unpacked the brand new sealed box, we found the right eyecup and its base became detached from the ocular. This would require a return and repair or replacement, as the eyecup would not stay in place.
Focusing is accomplished with individual diopter adjustments on each eyepiece that carry a range of adjustment from +5 to -5. When we set the diopter index to the known correction of our single myopic tester they appeared to be off slightly and required some further adjustment to gain sharp focus.
A movable and lockable memory ocular on each eyepiece can be set to a particular correction as a memory aid. The eyepiece focus still needs to be set manually as needed. None of our testers decided to use the memory oculars regularly, they just seemed too cumbersome. Focusing rings operated smoothly and held their position when set.
Soft contoured eyecups form fit around the eyes and provide a side shield to limit light coming back into the binoculars through the eyepiece. That is a nice feature and all of our testers found the eyecups did a very good job of eliminating sidelight. Non eyeglass wearing testers found the eyecups comfortable.
The eyecups fold in two sections. First the contoured wing folds down easily, then eyeglass wearers can roll down the remaining eyecup for better viewing with glasses. Eye relief in this pair of Steiner binoculars is a very ample 22 millimeters.
The Steiner Commander V binoculars received an excellent rating for day/night viewing. Testers found they provided a clear, sharp view with no color aberrations.
This Steiner binocular compass is well dampened and easy to read. We still found that a rapid swing would stop the compass for a couple seconds followed by a swing of the last 20 degrees or so to the final bearing. A battery operated compass light improves night readings.
Steiner provides a hard-sided zipper lock case with Commander V and a 1-inch wide web nylon strap. The strap is attached to the binocular case via clip locking system that facilitates easy strap installation and removal.
We found the front lens covers fit well and were easy to use. They are hinged off the center pin of the binoculars.
This compact lightweight binocular offers excellent optics and rugged construction. Steiner claims the Commander Vs are waterproof to a depth of 15 feet.
Steiner Commander XP
The 2007 release of the Steiner Commander XP added another top notch binocular to the Commander lineup.
As stated in a Steiner press release the Commander XP binoculars feature the same high definition optics of earlier Commander binoculars plus they have added a new outer lens coating to further enhance optical performance.
XP also has a new type of plastic armor designed for a longer service life. According to Steiner Marketing Representative, Robert Fancher, “The new exterior lens coatings on the objective and ocular lenses are hydrophobic and cause water, fresh or salt, to bead and virtually fall off of the lens surface reducing distortion from water droplets sticking to the surface.”
We dunked these Steiner binoculars to test this effect and found the water drained off almost immediately.
Visually the XP binos appear very similar to the Commander V with only a few minor cosmetic changes noted by our testers. The XP uses the same compass as the Commander V and weighs in at 39 ounces.
Focusing is done in the same manner too. We found the diopter index and marks to be accurate when set by our myopic tester. The memory ocular on the XP is silver in color with chartreuse tabs but operates in the same manner as the all black units on the Commander V. Focusing rings operated smoothly and held their position when set.
The Steiner Commander XP ships with three different types of eyecups. The factory-installed eyecup was the contoured version with the blocking side wings. For regular eyeglass wearers Steiner supplies two different round eyecups, one very flat to maximize available eye relief and the other slightly higher. A horseshoe shaped tool is also standard and used to help remove the flat eyecups. We found changing the eyecups on these Steiner binoculars easy, just snap one off and snap the other one on.
The compass action we mentioned on the Commander V is also present in the XP model. The Commander XP has a battery operated compass light to improve night readings.
Steiner provides a hard-sided zipper lock case with Commander XP and a bright yellow 2-inch wide floating neck strap. The strap is attached to the binocular case via the same clip locking mechanism used on the Commander V.
Front lens covers are identical to those found on the Commander V. Steiner says the Commander housing is purged and pressurized with nitrogen to make water intrusion virtually impossible.
The Steiner Commander XP is another well built, compact binocular with top quality optics.