In the Field – Hawke Endurance ED Marine Binoculars 7 x 50


Choosing the right binoculars for either your hobby or work is something you should spend time on. While using binoculars on dry land sometimes has challenges with poor weather conditions, if you then wish to use a pair of optics out at sea, you should consider some additional points. 

Wind, changing light conditions and weight are amongst the deciding factors on what makes a good pair of optics but add variable movement and changing landscapes to the list of elements to assess a pair of binoculars and you need to review your selection even more carefully. I’m very lucky to be able to have access to a boat for cetacean spotting and surveying. With that in mind, I decided to put the Hawke Maritime 7 x 50 binoculars through a test. But one thing that always makes it a challenge is the sea state, coupled with fast-changing light and weather conditions. Many of the points outlined below still form part of the normal considerations for use on land, but I’ve tried to extend the thoughts to the case of ‘at sea’. 

What to look for in a pair of marine binoculars? 

Crisp image 

I have found that some binoculars are let down, not by the amount of light going through the lens elements, but by the overall quality of the image. While a bright image is important, chromatic aberrations can cause issues with the identification of surface or flying objects, especially when they are near the edge of the field of view. When the sea state is above 1 (calm or glass-like), there is more movement in the wave height and the amount of time you have to determine the object on the far side of the wave is reduced. Is it a bird, or a dorsal fin? At certain times of the year, it becomes even more of a challenge when you have adult guillemots on the surface of the water with their black and white bodies that can look like the dorsal fins of cetaceans.  

This is also important with the large field of view. Maritime binoculars are all about the amount of vision you have. If you are a skipper on a boat and need to make decisions that affect the safety of your vessel, then seeing more of what is at a distance from you is critical. The choice of a BaK-4 Roof prism also plays into the quality of the image as this design of prism is reserved for higher-end products, and it shows with the quality of the image. 


The overall brightness of the image in all weather conditions is a big help. Timed survey periods for cetaceans rely on the confidence of the surveyor in deciding what they have seen. Whether the light is behind you or in front, the subject brightness needs to be enough to see markings, details of any dorsal fin damage (nicks, cuts), and for the assessment of age. Typically, the youngest calf will have fetal folds on its body, and a bright image will assist in making out those factors to allow assessment of age as they lose these folds after about six months. The Hawke Endurance ED Marine binoculars come in two sizes of front element, the larger giving a brighter image, but at the cost of weight (see below) with the larger binoculars being over 50 per cent heavier than the smaller version. I tested the 7 x 50 version which did not disappoint in brightness and, in my opinion, worth the cost in weight. 

Wide field of view 

The difference between the two main pairs of binoculars in the range from Hawke is dictated by size. The smaller version (not tested) is lighter in weight and contains a smaller front element (less brightness compared with their larger version) but with a greater field of view. This may be part of your decision for the selection as it is worth remembering that the amount of extra view may not be as much as you first thought. A useful tip to remember is that one degree of field of view equates to about 17.5 meters at a distance of 1000 meters. So the difference between the two versions of the maritime product is just under 23 meters of view!  


The binoculars have been rated IP67. Technically they are waterproof and can be immersed in water for a short period of time without any problems. Hawke have given consideration to this by adding a set of float-assisted neck straps. Coloured bright yellow, it makes it easy to spot should you accidentally drop them over the side of the boat. The strap will keep them afloat. Needless to say, I didn’t test this benefit! It is also worth keeping a cloth with you for wiping away the salt water as, no matter how durable a pair of binoculars can be, sea spray will eventually damage the product. 


The 7 x 50 binoculars compared with many others are no heavier than the average. However, my view on weight is reflected by the circumstances of use. If you intend to use them on a boat, and the conditions are less than calm, then holding them with one hand while using your other hand for stability is a great test. Long periods of time holding them in one hand can start to strain the wrist. Using the neck strap is important. 


I found the 7 x 50 binoculars to be a joy to use. Overall, the specifications have been well thought through, and provide the majority of what you would need to survey. They even produce a version with a compass built in, which I can imagine would be a further benefit for recording the sighting direction when surveying. They are comfortable to hold and generate a bright image, making it easy to identify the subject matter. It should also be noted that Hawke provide a lifetime warranty on product defects, which I feel is an outstanding part of the manufacturer’s services. 

The Hawke Endurance ED Marine Binoculars can be found here. Our full range of Hawke Optics binoculars can be found here.

If you have any questions about our range or would like some advice on the right product for you then please contact us via email at or phone on 01803 865913.

In the Field – Kite APC Stabilised Binoculars

Kite Optics has always been a provider of high-quality optics, and we were thrilled to be given the opportunity to test a pair of stabilised binoculars from their range. The Kite APC Binoculars are purported to be ideal for watching birds and other wildlife. The big draw is the construction and ability to stabilise the image for more accurate observation.


Opening the box, you find a neck strap, carry case, instruction manual and the binoculars themselves. The first impression of the binoculars is that they look and feel ready for anything. The binoculars’ rubber casing provides an incredibly easy grip while giving you the feeling that they could withstand a little rugged handling.

To start with

Before using the binoculars for the first time you need to take the necessary first steps, as you would with any pair of binoculars. Adjust the dioptre ring to take care of any sight needs, alter the width of the eyepieces if needed (which was simple as they are linked together mechanically to create a single round image when looking through the eyepieces) and insert some batteries.

This is essential to get the full impact of what these binoculars have been designed to give you. It should be noted that the manufacturer clearly states that you should not use rechargeable batteries in this product. As with all electronics that may be put away for periods of time, you should also not leave the batteries in the binoculars while stored. Though you only need to use two batteries to run the stabilisation, there is a compartment for another two batteries, effectively giving you double the length of use while out in the field by swapping over tired batteries with the spares.

To access the battery compartments, you need to look at the front end of the binoculars. On either side of the lens, you will see recessed openings with plastic lids that have flip-out handles. It was a little fiddly at first to get hold of these, but once raised, opening the compartments was easy. When replacing the lids on the compartments you cannot over-tighten them. When screwing them shut, you will reach a positive stop.

How we tested them

Originally the plan was to take the binoculars out on a boat to view birds, seals and dolphins. However, in the timeframe, it wasn’t possible as the weather stopped the trips going out. An alternative was to take the binoculars up to a local reserve in Devon, Berry Head. An ideal location for watching the sea traffic, scanning the water for cetaceans and viewing the local guillemot colony that is nesting on the cliffs, along with other pelagic species.

The objective here was to see how well they handled the windy conditions and the distance to the subject both on the water, in the air and on the cliffs.

What we found.

With a relatively clear and bright day to start with and a medium wind, it was easy to break the test down into three areas based on subjects. Walking to the edge of the headland, I started scanning the sea. Plenty of gannets were around in a couple of sea locations and, while watching them, they started to dive. Initially, I left the stabilisation off just to get a good understanding of how they felt based on having to compensate for any shake with my hands. It quickly became clear that was quite tiring on the wrists and fingers while keeping the image as steady as possible. These binoculars can be quite heavy, though you should take into account that they contain stabilisation technology. Turning on the stabilisation, using the horizontal dial, and raising them to view, I was amazed at the change in the viewing experience. If you have ever used a more recent phone to shoot video, you will understand the concept of the gimbal mechanism that is deployed in the binoculars. The image became a lot smoother, even with irregular gusts of wind. Being able to track the birds not only in flight but as they dived made the experience much more informative. While watching the gannets, the extra magnification enabled me to view them angling their heads to the side to look down on the sea while searching for fish.

A fortunate moment occurred while the birds were diving. Something I had hoped to test on a boat occurred with the appearance of a cetacean. There are five different cetacean species off our coast in Brixham. The one that is most difficult to spot because of their surfacing behaviour is the harbour porpoise. Typically, you get a fleeting glance as they surface and then they are gone, reappearing after some minutes in a different location. Harbour porpoises are more solitary in their behaviour which can also add to the challenge. But with the sharpness, contrast and stability of the binoculars I could scan around the area the birds were feeding and note any surface disturbance, sometimes pre-empting the moment the porpoise surfaced. This coupled with the clarity of the optics gave me the chance to identify the species, recognising the small angular dorsal fin before it submerged again. It should be noted that there was a slight chromatic aberration around the edges of the image, but this was outweighed by the image quality where it counts.

The final test was to visit the opposite side of the reserve and use the vantage point across the cove from the nesting colony. This is some distance away on the cliffs, so again I decided to turn off the stabilisation and try to look at the guillemots before switching it on. To provide a comparison I shot a couple of videos through the eyepiece to show the stability of the binoculars before and after activating the stabilisation. It’s apparent that, if you were trying to assess colony size, you could quite easily carry out a census using these binoculars.


These binoculars are built to withstand a good level of environmental bashing! With a waterproof construction (IPX7) and the rugged covering, I wasn’t afraid to use them out in the elements. The clarity of the view through the binoculars provided a level of confidence in judging the scene and the species within. Contrast and colour were well represented, which is incredibly important when bird watching as this will be the difference between identifying one species over another. The stabilisation was a real game changer, especially for identification purposes. I would feel good about using these on a boat to be able to survey cetaceans as when you halt the boat, the rocking on the sea would make this an ideal advantage for scanning the water. Good thought has been put into the design of the controls, with a large horizontal focusing wheel easily accessible and controlled using the tips of fingers. The stabilisation switch has been designed not to intrude on the use of the binoculars. Turning the stabilisation on lets you forget about the need to activate them. When you aren’t using the binoculars and they are in a vertical position, around your neck, for example, the stabilisation goes into sleep mode, improving the battery life. I would mention that they are quite heavy, without the stabilisation you could get fatigued trying to compensate to keep the image static, but with the stabilisation active, I know the stress on the hands would be less.

The Kite APC Binoculars can be found here. Our full range of Kite Optics binoculars can be found here.

If you have any questions about our range or would like some advice on the right product for you then please contact us via email at or phone on 01803 865913.

Equipment in Focus: Spring Frame Butterfly Net

The Spring Frame Butterfly Net is a compact net for anyone interested in studying butterflies or moths. Designed and built by NHBS in our Devon workshop, the net comprises of a short-handled frame, net and cover.

Bag, Net, Spring Frame and Instructions

Because of its lightweight metal frame, it can be folded down to fit into the supplied travel bag, neatly allowing it to be stowed away in a rucksack while out in the field. The main net is olive green and opens to a diameter of 30 cm. The short handle makes it easy to use at close quarters while trying to sample butterflies. 

When you receive your net, you will find it collapsed down inside its carry bag along with instructions for folding it back into the bag after use. To help you do this, I’ve gone through the process of collapsing the net in the steps below.

Steps to collapse your net

Start with a hand holding the open net with the bag draped below – held in the right hand.

Grip the top of the frame with your thumb ready to push from the underside of the frame.

Keep your right thumb over the screw that attached the frame to the handle.

Use your left hand to twist the frame into a figure eight. Your left thumb should help because it will be pushing from underneath the frame.

Twist almost completely with your left hand over the top of your right hand with your index finger ready to clasp the folded rim. The frame should naturally want to fold over itself.

With the frame folded, use your left hand to wrap the net around the folded frame to keep it from springing open. The net can now be safely stored in the bag provided.

Other equipment

It is also worth considering stocking up on a few supplies if this is the first butterfly net you have bought. 

A spare net: While the net is hardwearing, it is always worth considering keeping a spare net on hand. You can purchase additional nets on the NHBS website. 



A hand lens: Ideal for examining any butterflies that you have sampled. NHBS carries a selection of hand magnifiers that you can keep in your pocket. This particular lens is a 15 x magnification which is extremely good for viewing the beauty and detail of the butterfly.

Collecting pots: NHBS carries a selection of different types of pots that can be used for transferring a butterfly from the net to something you can view the butterfly with.

In the event that you wish to extend the handle, additional lengths and styles are available. For example, you can extend the handle to either 50 cm or 90 cm with the fixed length long handles such as the Professional Butterfly Net: Handle, or for a more flexible approach you can choose the Telescopic Handle that extends the range of the net between 82 cm and 125 cm reach.

The Spring Frame Butterfly Net can be found here. Our full range of butterfly nets can be found here.

If you have any questions about our range or would like some advice on the right product for you then please contact us via email at or phone on 01803 865913.