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You might not be familiar with the Come Home to the Sea reference in the title of this Steiner Commander binoculars review. If that’s so, let me introduce you to a wonderful piece of music by Mannheim Steamroller. (You probably know them from some of their Christmas tunes.)
Steiner Commander binoculars are intended for use on that open sea. Let me show you why they are especially suited to that environment.
If you are already quite sure you want one of the sets of binoculars in the Commander series, just click the corresponding link below.
- Steiner Commander 7×50
- Steiner Commander 7x50c
- Steiner Commander Global 7×50
- Steiner Commander 7x30c
If you need more information to make an educated purchase, keep on reading. You can skip to a specific section by clicking a link in the box below.
What Are the Differences in the Steiner Commander Binoculars?
There are surprisingly few differences from one pair of Commander binoculars to another. In fact, depending on how you count, you could say there are more similarities than differences. Yet those differences are significant and are related to the price point of each.
As you’ll soon see, most of these differences only apply to three of the four models, making them even more similar overall.
According to a Steiner representative, here are the chief differences you find when comparing the Global model to the other Commanders.
“The Globals are our top of the line optic with HD Diamond coatings and worldwide digital compass as the primary differences. The Commander 7x50c has a compass zone specific compass that will not function properly outside of the compass zone it is calibrated for. The Global compass will work in all compass zones.”
The built-in compasses are a major selling point. The 7x50c, 7x30c, and Global (sometimes called the Global C) each have a compass. The compasses are not all the same, however.
This is where the Global model earns its name. The Global’s compass will function properly anywhere in the world.
As noted, the compass in the 7x50c and 7x30c are based on zones related to magnetic north. Steiner sells you the binoculars with the compass calibrated to the zone in which you live.
“All of the compass-equipped models are sold by region, so in Australia, you would be sold Zone 5 binoculars.”
“Steiner binoculars sold in the US come with Zone 2 compasses.”
A Steiner rep gives this advice for using the compass.
“You’ll want to hold the binoculars level to the horizon when scanning, but when you need an accurate bearing, you may need to tip the binoculars in order to see the compass capsule – it will be in the right side, on the bottom edge of your field of view. The button on the side activates a light to allow the compass to be used at night.”
While all the models have high definition optics, only the Global has special “diamond” coatings. Exactly what that includes is not readily available, but it must be better than the coating on the other binoculars, making them even clearer than the rest.
The size and weight are a major difference between the Commander 7x30c and the others. This is likely one of your main reasons to prefer them over the others.
The 7x30c binoculars weigh just under 20 ounces (19.6 ounces, to be exact) which is merely half the weight (or less) of each of the other Commander models. Part of what contributes to the lighter weight is the smaller objective lens size – 30 millimeters.
The 7x30c measures 4.8 by 6.5 by 2.2 inches (H x W x L). Each of those dimensions is more than an inch smaller than those on the larger models. So while you probably would be wearing any of the Commanders around your neck or on a harness, the Commander 7x30c will give you fewer neck strain problems than the big guys.
The field of view (FOV) as stated on the Steiner site is 438 feet at 1000 yards for the 7×50 and 7x50c models and 392 feet for the Global and the 7x30c models. I wonder though if that is a mistake for the Global binoculars. I don’t know why all three 7×50 pair wouldn’t have the same FOV.
The models with a compass also need a battery. Each requires a slightly different kind. That’s not a big deal. You just have to know which kind your model takes.
- 7x50c = CR1/3n
- Global = CR2
- 7x30c = CR 1225
Finally, only the compass models have a ranging reticle (aka precision reticle) that helps you determine the distance of your target.
You can see Steiner’s own take on the Commander line in this video.
What Are the Similarities Among the Commander Binoculars?
At first glance, the 7 times magnification might not seem like much. However, you don’t really want more than this when you’re on the water. A more powerful magnification factor would make your binoculars to hard to use when trying to settle on your target object. That’s why 7x magnification is the marine standard. You will be able to track other ships, find buoys, and read bridge numbers even if the waves have you rocking.
Steiner’s Sports-Auto-Focus™ System gives you “set it and forget it” capabilities. You focus each eyepiece diopter to your specific vision once. Somehow the optics inside the Commander then keeps things in focus from 20 yards to infinity for you.
You should rarely, if ever, have to touch the diopters again. In fact, you can even store your personal diopter setting for future use. If you share your Commander binoculars with a shipmate, you can easily reset them for your eyes later.
Steiner says the close focus of the binoculars in the Commander line is 66 feet. That doesn’t quite jibe with the 20 yards mentioned above, but it’s close. Perhaps the actual close focus is 22 yards (66 feet), but the auto-focus system works all the way down to 20 yards.
All lenses have Nano-Protection® which is a hydrophobic (fear of water?) molecular coating. This repels all the bad elements – water, dirt, dust, snow, fingerprints – that would otherwise harm your lenses or at least make them less useful.
If they ever do become dirty, cleaning them is a breeze.
Steiner’s ClicLoc® system lets you attach and release either a neck strap (see below) or a harness easily with just the push of a button. This is especially handy while on the water where you might otherwise be fumbling with them due to the motion of the water.
You get a padded, bright yellow, floating neckstrap with your Commander binoculars. It has 3M reflective trim that makes them easy to find on the off chance that they do take a dive overboard.
If they ever fall to the deck, the Makrolon® housing, which is a durable polycarbonate with NBR Long Life armoring, will protect them from dents and scratches. The chassis can take up to 11 Gs of impact. It’s very unlikely that you’ll ever get to accidentally test that sturdiness.
The Steiner N2 injection™ system fills the tubes with nitrogen making them both waterproof to a depth of 33 feet and fogproof. They can withstand a wide variety of temperatures – from arctic cold to desert heat.
All models (in fact, all Steiner binoculars) have Ergoflex eyecups, which is why Steiner no longer specifies an eye relief measurement. You can adjust the eyecups as needed for use with or without glasses.
Finally, you get both objective and eyepiece covers, a carrying case, and the standard Heritage Warranty. You are covered and protected in virtually every situation.
Conclusions about the Steiner Commander Binoculars
If you need the best for use on the high seas anywhere in the world, you want the Commander Global binoculars.
If you stay on the waters near home most of the time but still need the compass, check out the Commander 7x50c or (if size and weight are a concern) the Commander 7x30c.
If you don’t need the compass because you’ll probably always be in sight of land, the Commander 7×50 without the compass should work just fine.
All of these German-made binoculars are top-of-the-line and will satisfy your seafaring needs.
If you have determined that you don’t really need or want the power built into the binoculars in Steiner’s Commander series, check out this article about other Steiner binoculars. There is probably something there that will better fit your purposes.
But if you know that one of the Commanders is just right for you…