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User mini-review Nikon Action Extreme 12x50

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#1 chgomonitor


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Posted 02 January 2009 - 08:33 AM

So much has been written on the Nikon Action Extreme line here that I won't attempt to re-hash the many decent reviews and praises. While the case could certainly be made that I really didn't badly need them I was so entranced with the test views I did through the AE 12x50's while shopping for my AE 8x40's that on Christmas eve morning I relented to temptation and bought myself a pair as my gift from Santa.

I basically got ripped off at a local camera outlet, paid full retail price for a demo pair, again... The manager refused to do a price match with the much better price from Helix because they weren't in stock. But they did throw in a micro fiber cleaning cloth pad, wow. Oh well, at least you get that instant gratification thing.

I'm extremely pleased with my 12x50's. Very bright, well defined field at the center and quite good out to the last 15-20 percent where the focus softens. At the last ten percent stars take on that "sea gull" effect which Ed Zarenski described. At center and mid field the focus is notably razor sharp.

I'm probably using the term inaccurately but these appear to me to have a very high contrast image, which does help out with my local pollution.

The apparent field of view is quite large. I can see the field stops, but just barely.

I think what I like most about all the models in the Nikon AE line is the amazing eye relief. It's a real pleasure to be able to keep my glasses on (comfortably) while doing even serious observing. This also helps when observing with someone else who has good vision or contacts since we don't have to keep changing focus and I can pre-focus for them when pointing out the attractions.

I did have one good, clear moonless night and sketched the area of the belt stars of Orion. I then cross checked them against the Triatlas chart of the area. I'm seeing well through 8th magnitude stars and perhaps just an averted vision glimpse or suggestion of brighter 9th's. That's actually very, very good for the generally horrible skies in northwest suburban Chicagoland. I know Ed Z has had these 12x50's down well into the 10's under dark skies.

I'm really impressed with this light grasp, my Garrett 20x80 ULW's only get me about 1 or 1.5 mag's deeper, and while I love my Garrett's the Nikons are certainly a good deal handier.

The true field of view is pretty darn good for 12x50's, but I'm not sure I'm really getting the advertised 5.5 degrees. I think Ed Z measured them at a little less. They easily cover the Orion belt stars with plenty of room to spare well within the usable field. Perhaps more telling, my wife and I had them out at about 7:30 pm CST local on New Years Eve to spy on the close pass between the crescent moon and Venus. We were still about an hour and half short of the closest separation, but the two objects did fit in the field of view with a tiny bit to spare.

The quality of the view on these is good enough that my (very novice observer) wife instantly commented (unprompted) on the distinctly blue-ish color cast to the earthshine on the un-illuminated lunar disc. And yes, I got a very satisfactory "OMG!" from her first glance.

My only knocks on these binocs;

-Sturdy, but rather heavy for 12x50's. Specs describe a sturdy inner metal frame.

-Flimsy snap-in objective plastic cover caps

-Somewhat flimsy / cheap looking case

-Whatever lubricant Nikon uses in the AE line for the both their focusers and the right eye diopter adjustments - it really stiffens up pretty badly when out in the real midwest cold. Still usable and smooth, but quite stiff.

I know some folks find x12 power in binocs to be too high for practical hand held use (too shakey). They work for me, but I would suggest test viewing a pair prior to buying if possible. Their 10x50's are a pretty nice alternative, but I very slightly preferred the quality of the image in the 12x50's, really quite breath taking.

I think the Nikon Action Extreme line is a perfectly fine choice for the serious beginner who doesn't have the mega bucks to spend. For 100 - 200 dollars you get a lot of optics bang for your bucks.

Happy New Year and Happy Sky Scanning! - Ted & Kim

#2 BobinKy



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Posted 02 January 2009 - 08:49 AM

Ted & Kim--

Thank you for posting your review of the Nikon Action Extreme 12x50. The review is written in such a way that the rest of us are there with you in Chicagoland holding the AE's in our hands.

I agree that AE offers an excellent line for beginning binocular observers.

Thank you again for posting your review.

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