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Nikon 10x70 IF HP WP brief review

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#1 charen


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 12:17 AM

I had a lucky 'find' recently. I picked up an 'as new’ Japanese made Nikon 10x70 IF HP WP binocular for the excellent equivalent price of US$250 dollars. I ‘discovered’ them in a second hand dealers shop. They had some light dust on the lens but otherwise they were in pristine condition. It was one of those ‘Wow’ moments.
They came with the large felt lined Nikon case and front caps.
I believe they are approximately 15 years old.

I cannot understate the optical and build quality of these binoculars.
‘Almost’ sharp to the edge, a primarily flat field, no obvious CA and stars are a fine pin point on axis. There are no obvious internal reflections or flaring even on bright objects. The image is bright and displays excellent resolution, contrast and color fidelity.
With very critical day time observation very minor pin cushioning and field curvature is observed.
There is no obvious roller ball effect when panning.

To clarify the edge sharpness and internal reflections more critically with the Nikon’s I can detect mild deterioration from approx 85-90 % out and even then the image is still useable. This is superior to the 35 + odd medium to high end binoculars I have. [I am aware this is a ‘generalisation’ but it is indicative of there optical clarity].
The only one equal in edge performance would be my Japanese Swift 7x50 WP 7.1 degree ‘Sea Kings’.
The Nikons 10x70’s are also superior to my Oberwerk F.M.C. Ultra 10x50 and Nikon F.M.C 10x56 Monarch phase coated roof binoculars when minimising internal reflections on bright objects.
Aberrations really are at a minimum with these Nikon’s - as to be expected in Hi-quality 5.1 degree 10x70 binoculars.

They are comfortable to use. They are ‘relatively’ easy to hold at 1.9 Kgs [68 oz]. The lens has a deep blue. They are Multi coated on all lens and prisms. They are Bak- 4 prisms and ‘O’ ring sealed with nitrogen. The F.O.V. is 5.1 degrees.
The Afov is a non wide 51 degrees but this never felt restricted as the F.O.V. was primarily all usable
There is no obvious prism cut off. They are no white reflections looking down the objectives. The IPD is 56-72mm. The E.R. is a ‘medium’ 15mm. The ‘HP’ refers to ‘High-eye point’ design.
The close focusing distance is 50 mtrs. / 160 ft. These are not birding binoculars.
The I.F. is firm and precise. Once the I.F. is ‘set’ I did not need to adjust them for astronomical or terrestrial viewing.
The depth of field is excellent.
They feel solid and robust. The build quality is excellent.
They look like classic large black porro prism design astronomical binoculars.

They came with the large Nikon winged eyecups but I exchanged them for some shorter soft rubber versions which give me a more comfortable full field of view image.
In fact if there is one criticism of these binoculars it is that the Nikon winged eye cups vignette the view significantly and they are not particularly comfortable.

The exit pupil is 7 mm which can be an issue - however in New Zealand we do get very dark pollution free skies.
My dark sky pupils measure 6.5 mm. [Via metric Allen wrench set test at night].
Scanning the area around Scorpion and Sagittitarius reveals a wealth of detail with the bright star fields.
Other spectacular southern binocular sights include – the Smaller and Larger Megellanic clouds - both companion galaxies to ours, 47 Tucane - a spectacular globular star cluster near the SMC, and the ‘Jewel Box’ near the Crux [Southern Cross] - a star cluster with many contrasting colors.
Even when using in semi suburban skies I never noticed any obvious ‘washed out’ effect or any major deterioration in contrast.
In mag. 4.5 -5.0 skies I resolved slightly more stars in M6 and M7 with the 10x70 Nikon’s then with my Oberwerk 10x50 Ultras which have a more ‘appropriate’ 5mm exit pupil for those seeing conditions.

This is a brief review as there is actually not a lot to fault with these Nikon 10x70 IF HP WP binoculars in fact they are a joy to use.
There was no buyer’s remorse with these binoculars.
They have that heirloom quality to them.

The Nikon 10x70 IF HP WP is obviously a highly recommended hand hold able astronomical binocular especially if you have the advantage of young eyes or dark skies and you are looking for high quality life long astronomical binocular.

Keep looking – affordable gems like these do turn up.

Chris from New Zealand

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#2 charen


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 12:19 AM

Additional note:

Nikon still list the Nikon 10x70 IF HP WP binoculars in the international on line catalogue under ‘Marine Binoculars’. They are called 10x70 ‘Tropicals’ on some web sites however they are not officially called that by Nikon.
They are the larger version of the well regarded 10x50 IF HP WP 7.1 degree ‘Tropical’ binoculars.
These binocular I have tested - the Nikon 10x70 IF HP WP [or even the 7x50 ‘Tropicals’] do not appear on the USA ‘on line’ Nikon catalogue.
The ‘upgraded’ versions of the above models are termed ‘Prostar’ and ‘Astroluxe’ these names are used on the current USA online catalogue only. These binoculars are highly regarded.
The International site uses the ‘IF SP WP’ designation for the 7x50 7.3 degree [Pro Star] and 10x70 5.1 degree [Astroluxe] versions.
The USA Nikon Pro Star 7x50 and Astroluxe 10x70’s have field fattening oculars, closer focus ability, magenta colored lens, mildly increased E.R. and are heavier. They have the front red rings on the front barrels. The same specs apply to the IF SP WP international versions.
The UK / European Nikon web site does not list the above HP or IF SP WP models at all. I am aware however they are available in these markets.
To complicate matters the current USA ‘Astroluxe’ 18x70 XL - which is called ‘18x70 IF WP WF’ internationally - has no field flattening oculars. They have 4 degree F.O.V. They remain with the red rings on the front barrels however.
None of these binoculars have E.D. glass.
The 7x50 Tropical and 10x70 H.P’s have no red rings on the front of the barrels so as to distinguish them as ‘standard’ versions. These versions do cost significantly less. The cost variations however appear to vary considerably as does the availability for these various models.

Nikon have produce these various ‘hi end’ models for nearly 25 years under different names and specifications for the world wide market.
The marketing of these various models has been and still is confusing. Also various web sites from Nikon dealers at times also supplies incorrect specifications which adds to this confusion. Some continue to indicate that the ‘Astroluxes’ have E.D. glass - which is incorrect.
There are a several reviews in the C.N. binocular review section on these variations.

[Please correct me if I have made errors in the above Nikon binocular information. I have researched it to the best of my ability but as I have mentioned Nikon marketing is confusing].

Chris from New Zealand

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#3 ronharper



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Posted 04 November 2008 - 12:28 AM

You must have been living right. It's not all luck though, you were hitting the second hand shops. Absolutely gorgeous!

I love my 7x50, and I suppose a 10x70 has the same attributes, just bigger. One of these days I've gotta have something like that.

#4 DJB


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 02:24 AM

Hi Chris,

You, for that cost, obtained a really good deal. Amazing!
You will enjoy this one for years to come. Great deal.

Best regards,

#5 Mike Rapchak

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 02:43 AM


Wonderful find!! And I love your detailed comments on the Nikon line of binos.

Except for the exit-pupil and eye-relief specs, they sound a lot like my Vixen ARK 16x80s.

Congratulations! :)

Mike Rapchak Jr.

#6 RichD



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Posted 04 November 2008 - 03:34 AM

Great binos. Must have been a very nice moment when you saw those.

#7 Wes James

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 05:20 AM

I can only imagine your immediate reaction when you found them.... congratulations on a heck of a find!

#8 EdZ


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 05:42 AM

easily worth more than double (perhaps triple) what you paid for them. nice find.


#9 Rafael


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 10:15 AM

Hi Chris, congratulations for your new bino!

Yes, there is some confusion in the names of those Nikon IF models 7x50, 10x70 15x70 and 18x70. You can find a large number of discussions on those models in the thread "Mini Reviews of Binoculars" by EdZ, in particular at:

I do have a Nikon 7x50 IF HP WP Tropical and your description of your 10x70 IF HP WP matches my impressions on my bino regarding optical quality and general feeling.

An expert told me that there are very small differences, if any, in the optical quality of both the standard 7x50 IF HP WP Tropical and the superior 7x50 IF SP WP (Prostar). The constructive differences of these both models are:

- The Tropical model has blue coatings while the Prostar has got multicoating treatment. Therefore the contrast is better in the Prostar.
- The Prostar has an additional lens to flatten the field and to make it distortionless. (This flattening lens is not present in the 10x70 IF SP WP).

Absence of distortion may not be necessarly a good feature, because it leads to the so-called "globe effect" when you pan around to smoothly change the field.

Reagarding chromatic aberrations, both models are similar, since the objective lenses of both models are the same (no ED glasses are used in the Prostar).

Kind regards

#10 milt


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 11:12 AM

Scanning the area around Scorpion and Sagittitarius reveals a wealth of detail with the bright star fields.
Other spectacular southern binocular sights include – the Smaller and Larger Megellanic clouds - both companion galaxies to ours, 47 Tucane - a spectacular globular star cluster near the SMC, The ‘Jewel Box’ near the Crux [Southern Cross]

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your nice review and O.R. I don't know which I am more jealous of - your finding these great binoculars at such a bargain price or the skies you have to use them. When we visited your country I had only my Nikon 12x36 (also 5°) and the above objects were beautiful even in that small aperture. 70mm, 4x the light gathering, must be spectacular. Enjoy!


#11 binman


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 11:59 AM

theres a pair of these going on ebay for £830 UK pounds! lucky find. i can imagine how you felt when you spotted them!!!

#12 RichD



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Posted 04 November 2008 - 03:02 PM

I think the pair on ebay are the astroluxe version with the uprated coatings and red rings round the objectives.

#13 orbitaljump


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 04:25 PM

I dont really care for the "flat field" optics on the Prostars. I like the Fujinon wide afov eyepieces much better. And I regularly use lighter weight and/or cheaper 7x50s, almost always.

Great Deal!

#14 Les


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 07:07 PM

Wow! What a great deal, Chris. As a former owner of a pair of Nikon 18x70, I share your enthusiasm.

Yes, there is much confusion surrounding the Nikon 70mm lineup. There is much dealer advertising of the 18x70 as "Astroluxe", but Nikon correctly labels only the 10x70 as "Astroluxe".

#15 Fomalhaut



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Posted 13 December 2008 - 03:30 AM

The Nikon 18x70 is a beautiful glass for deep sky. If it is not quite as sharp at the edge as the Fujinon 16x70 then this is mainly due to its FOV being wider. The same angular distance off-axis it is as sharp as the Fujinon.
The 18x70 has got better coating, hence better transmission and also better viewing comfort. But in order to achieve the latter quality the winged eyecups have to be removed (and replaced by a pair of soft rubber ones, if you like).
I know Phil Harrington rated them 3rd after the Fujinon which he rated 2nd. My personal mileage varies :-). I would never exchange them for the Fujinons. Under dark skies, my 18x70 provides a superior "WOW-factor" of its large and easily accessible FOV combined with its slightly higher magnification despite its approximately same TFOV as the Fujis.
I have never understood why Nikon themselves didn't rate the 18x70s as astronomical binoculars.
If they had done so and combined this with a little lower price, then they may have sold a lot more of them than they actually did - which subsequently could have justified the price to have been decreased and eventually could have allowed to lower it further on. Thus the 18x70 may have become a very strong competitor to the Fujis IMHO...
Chris, Switzerland

#16 apollo13


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Posted 07 August 2009 - 12:04 PM

What an excellent review!!!!! It has helped me greatly. Thank you Chris.


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