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Nikon Sporter 8x36 arrived

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#1 Swedpat

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 04:33 AM

Last week I visited Warehouse express website and found they were selling out the discontinued Nikon Sporter 8x36 for 60£ which I find is a very good price. Including shipping the price was less for two than the cheapest I can find one here in Sweden!

I grabbed 2 of them. Day after my order the Sporter 8x36 were not more advertized. I guess I got the last 2 examples of them.

I knew since earlier that Nikon Sporter 8x36 is one of the most comfortable binoculars I have tried with a very good eye relief and an ease of view reminding of Swarovski SLC 7x42. I had never before compared them side-by-side so that would be interesting!

Two days ago they arrived.

The first impression is a reliable quality instrument. One could believe they are waterproof with the rubbering but they are only water resistent.
Sporter 8x36 is quite a large sized glass as well the outer format as the huge eye lenses of the eyepieces. The body size is like a typhical 8/10x42.
Using a transparent mm ruler I find that the eyepiece lenses have a diameter of close to 24mm, undoubtly one of the largest eyepiece lenses any binocular included.
The holding is good (but not that great grip as the Swarovski) and the size and weight of the body makes me feel like holding a larger aperture binocular than 36mm.

As I mentioned earlier Sporter 8x36 has some similarities with Swarovski SLC 7x42. The large eyepiece lenses provide a very open view with excellent eye relief.
So good that I actually experience blackouts with the eyecups placed at the bottom level though I am quite demanding when it comes to eye relief with eyeglasses! I get the best viewing with the eyecups wristed up ca 3mm. I find the image to be good over a large area and the image is sharp quite close to the edges, though not really as good in this respect as Swarovski SLC 7x42.
The apparant field of view is stated the same 56 deg.

When one have been used to really good phasecoated roof-binoculars the lack of phasecoating becomes obvious. Sporter 8x36 has not that very brilliant and contrasty image as Swarovski (of course), neither Leupold Katmai, though I experience sharpness is very similar to the Leupold Katmai 6x32.
The internal reflections of Sporter 8x36 is significantly stronger than as well Katmai 6x32 and SLC 7x42, which becomes obvious when looking at dark objects close to bright areas.
When I shine into the objective lens I can see at least one white reflecting surface which I suppose is an uncoated prism surface.
(In comparison Swarovski 7x42 provides a noticable brighter image even daytime, which also prove the difference of light transmission between them).

The image is very flat and I have hard to notice any neither barrel or pincusion distorsion.

The relatively large sweet spot of this glass coupled to the flat image and "open view" makes me feeling like it would just need a bit improvement of sharpness and contrast and I will have a high-grade instrument.

Last year I ordered Nikon Monarch 8x36 which is a much smaller sized bin than Sporter. The dissapointment was big. Eye relief wasn't adequate, and the image quality wasn't nearly comparable to my experience of Monarch 8x42. I send it back.
Though I have not been able to compare Sporter and Monarch 8x36 side-by-side I consider Sporter 8x36 as absolutely superior to Monarch 8x36, though the lack of phase coating.

My question is why didn't Nikon improved the Sporter with phasecoating and even better coating instead of making the Monarch?

Conclusion: I will definitely keep one of the Sporters. They have their shortcomings but are well worth even their normal price, in my opinion.
I will bring it with me in situations I don't want bring with me the Swarovski or Leupold. Many people have not any binocular (or many have some cheap junk model). If I want to go out in the nature for naturestudies/birdwatching/astronomy with friends I can use the Swarovski and I can also offer some of them their own loaner bin. And all of my binoculars are well suited for eyeglass wearers.

If you find Sporter(Buckmaster in US) 8x36 for £60 as I did, or as I read in US for $100, clinch the deal!

Regards, Patric

#2 Swedpat

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 04:39 AM

Here is a size comparison to Leupold Katmai 6x32 and Swarovski SLCNew 7x42B:

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#3 Swedpat

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 04:40 AM

Notice the huge eye lenses of Sporter 8x36 compared to SLC 7x42:

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#4 Francisco S.

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 10:25 AM

Hi Patric,
What's your opinion on Leupold binoculars as compared to others? I am thinking of getting either Olympic or Pinnacle for star gazing.

Thanks

#5 Swedpat

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 10:29 AM

Hi Francisco,

I think Leupold is great binoculars, but have not tried the models you mention. What i remember I have only heard positive opinions about Leupold.

Regards, Patric

#6 brocknroller

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 10:59 AM

Thanks for that fine review, Patric.

Your observations match mine. I liked all the features you mentioned, but found the Sporter's on-axis resolution "soft" due to the lack of phase coatings.

The other criticism I had was that they felt too heavy for a bin that size.

To me, roof bins "feel their weight" more than most porros.

A 45 oz. CZJ 8x50 Octarem feels lighter in my hands than a 36 oz. Nikon 8x42 LX, because the weight is better distributed in the Octarem's long and wide body but more concentrated in the LX's narrow and shorter body.

And I also find most porros easier to hold with my large hands, because they provide better thumb and palm support.

I haven't tried the 7x42 SLC, though I've tried Steve's 7x30 SL, and the thumb support is excellent for a roof. Swarovski makes wide, shallow thumb groves that can accommodate a variety of sized hands.

"My question is why didn't Nikon improved the Sporter with phasecoating and even better coating instead of making the Monarch?"

A question I've wondered about myself. A phase-coated, FMC 8x36 Sporter would have been better than an 8x42 Monarch, and it would have filled the long-time gap between the Monarch and the LX, which has been finally closed by the Monarch X.

I'm not certain if the Buckmaster is on par with the Sporter optically even though the body appears to be identical.

I've haven't seen any reviews of the 8x36 Buckmaster, but they are made in China, so that probably means lead-free optics very similar to the Monarch 8x36 (fuzzy edges), but without the p-coatings.

If that's the case, I doubt it would match the lead glass, sharp-edged Japanese-made Sporter 1.

I've tried the 8x36 Monarch and was not impressed. Given the choice of buying either at a good price, I'd rather have a Sporter even without the p-coatings.

#7 KennyJ

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 11:30 AM

Nice review , Patric .

Three years ago on my recommendation , when they were £99 at Warehouse Express , one of my daughters bought her step father a Nikon Sporter 8 x 36 for his birthday .

He ( and she ) was very pleased with it , and prefered it to his old Nikon Action 7 x 35 , but it was stolen soon afterwards when away on holiday .

By mistake , her mother re- ordered a replacement 10 x 36 version , which he seems to like , but my daughter definitely considers inferior to the 8x version .

Kenny

#8 dvb

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 04:53 PM

Thanks for the report. We also enjoy our pair - which are always on the counter and ready for quick duty.

#9 Swedpat

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 09:55 AM

Thanks for comments,

Brocknroller:

A question I've wondered about myself. A phase-coated, FMC 8x36 Sporter would have been better than an 8x42 Monarch, and it would have filled the long-time gap between the Monarch and the LX, which has been finally closed by the Monarch X.

I agree with you! Also Sporter has the advantage of larger AFOV. 56deg really increases the viewing enjoyment compared to 50deg.


I'm not certain if the Buckmaster is on par with the Sporter optically even though the body appears to be identical.

I've haven't seen any reviews of the 8x36 Buckmaster, but they are made in China, so that probably means lead-free optics very similar to the Monarch 8x36 (fuzzy edges), but without the p-coatings.

If that's the case, I doubt it would match the lead glass, sharp-edged Japanese-made Sporter 1

At my Sporters I it stands as well: NIKON VISION,JAPAN and MADE IN CHINA.

Considering the image softening is quite slight towards the edges(usually I don't react about it if I don't think about it) I suppose they have the lead glass you mention, though made in China? Not as good as SLC 7x42 in this respect but still decent, in my opinion.

Kenny,

I am not surprised if Sporter 8x36 is better than the 10x36 version. If I am not wrong it's quite usual with budget binoculars.

Regards, Patric

#10 Swedpat

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 04:10 PM

Today I brought with me the Sporter 8x36 out in the field. Looked the view over mountains and birds at a small lake.
I just have to say I like this binocular more and more.
Though not that razorsharp and contrasty image of a good porro or phasecoated roof glass but still not soft in my opinion, and I consider the sweet spot to be good.

More and more I suspect Sporter 8x36 is a very good roof-binocular to be without phasecoating.

It's the choice when I don't want to bring with me a monthly salary-priced glass, or when someone want to borrow a binocular. If I loose it or if it becomes damaged it's not the end of the world, as one could feel about a Swarovski...

Also the weight is 230 gram less than SLC 7x42, which can be an advantage...

Regards, Patric

#11 September Moon

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 08:45 PM

About 4 years ago I went looking for binoculars and noticed that they had a pair of buckmaster binoculars the image looked fantastic and I was suprised at the image. But I can not remember if they were 8x36 or 10x36. Did not buy them at the time, A year ago I bought the 8x36 monarch and am very happy with them. Focusing is one of the strong points I like about the monarch, smooth focusing from 5 ft to infinity. I have never looked back.

#12 litesong

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 06:24 PM

I'm late, but here's my report about the Buckmaster (Sporter in UK?) 8x36 binos:
Here's the Cons list for anyone who finds such faults a purchase block...... heavier than my 6 foot focusing Celestron or out-of-collimation TruGlo 8x42's & as heavy as my RedHead 10x42's!....... front caps can be lost, not being strapped to the optic (on short logging road trips while walking, I leave caps in the car--otherwise, the Buckmasters are cased with caps on)..... no tripod mount screw.... only water RESISTANT.... said to focus to 10 feet, my binocs focus to 12 feet..... 56 degree apparent field.... the durable & nice, but slightly slick surface is easier to drop than my Celestron, Redhead or TruGlo binos.

Now the Pros list...... repeatable focusing, without diopter-diddling every time (if viewing lots of birds or scenes--very important)...... solid Nikon construction gives confidence of durability (even if dropped?)..... brighter & contrastier image than my Celestrons or Redheads because of the Bak-4 prisms!....... the huge eyepieces make an unparalleled pleasant view straight ahead.......fairly large v. sharp central sweet spot, despite lack of phase coating that quells the need for a 9 or 10 power image...... an outer perimeter image that melds well with the sweet spot & not a blurry mess of distortion & incorrect color like so many porro binoculars...... a nice looking, if not eye-catching optic.

Think I'll have the Celestrons at the ready for the 6 foot close birds & other quick views, while the Buckmaster or Redhead is cased for leisurely, more pleasant viewing if the Celestrons say so. Yeah, I know. Get the TruGlo's collimated......yeah, yeah, yeah......still don't focus to 6 feet! & hey, I paid less than $80 for all the binoculars. So......... there!

#13 KennyJ

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 06:33 PM

An apt summary of a very useable little bino , litesong !

Kenny

#14 Mobirds

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 02:22 PM

The 10x36s, long gone, were my first cool pair. I got some 100 life birds or more with them. Before that I had embarrassing pocket binos. I only remember them being fairly sharp but a bit dim in winter. My next pair was a 10x42 Monarch.






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