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Nikon Naturalist IV

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#1 luca

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Posted 30 July 2005 - 08:11 PM

I bought these binos 3-4 years ago at a local department store, yes, I know... :)

They are 7x35, with an advertised 9.3 deg. FOV, supposedly made in Japan. I'd be curious to know what would be an equivalent bino from the current Nikon line, but I can't find any refs to this particular model on the manufacturer's site.

thanks,
Luca

#2 brocknroller

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Posted 30 July 2005 - 09:52 PM

Luca,

Here are the specs on the Nikon 7X35 Action Extreme, Nikon's latest "Action" 7X35.
http://www.adorama.com/NK735AE.html

The 7X35 Extreme is WP/FP, has twist-up eyecups, and better ER than the Naturalist IV, but weighs 4 oz. more.
http://www.opticspla...binoculars.html

I was recently reading Terrence Dickinson's book Nightwatch (he will be the keynote speaker at my club's Black Forest Star Party in Sept.). This edition was published in 1998. In chapter five (Stargazing Equipment), he writes, "The most common binoculars are the 7X35 size...". I don't know if that was true in 1998, the reference might have been lifted from a previous edition, but it's certainly not true today (except on eBay, where there's always a 7X35 Naturalist for sale). However, there was a time when 7X35s were very popular among birders and stargazers, and for good reason. They are usually compact, lightweight, easily handheld, and provide a 5mm exit pupil, which is good for the adult dark-adapted eye or for peering into dark bushes for birds during the day. The 7X35 will deliver as much light as a 7X50 binocular to most middle-aged eyes, which open on average to a max. of 5mm.

Being a Nikon fan, I considered buying the Nikon 7X35 EX when the Extremes first came out, but after reading a review that compared the 7X35 EX to the Minolta 7X35 Activa WP/FP, I chose the Activa, because it allegedly has better depth of field. The DoF on the Activa was very good and the optics were sharp and very bright, however, they suffered from barrel distortion, most noticeable while panning. Not sure if the Extreme is the same, though barrel distortion is fairly common in wide field binoculars. Even my Audubons have some.

Awhile back, I bought a Nikon 7X35 WF on eBay, and although it was apparently made before 1992 when Nikon switched to multi-coatings on its binoculars, the views are very sharp (sharp as the 7X35 E but w/ a wider FOV -- 9.3* vs. 7.3*). The edges very good for a wide field bin, and it shows very little barrel distortion.

So... Nikon CAN make a wide field bin with sharp optics, good edges, and low distortion, w/out charging an arm and leg, but they don't, probably because 8X42 is a more popular configuration these days. However, I'd bet a Nikon 7X35 WF w/ multi-coatings would be a big seller (especially in the over 40 crowd and particularly among birdwatchers if they made the CF 15' or under). It would also be nice for handheld stargazing under light polluted skies.

Someone wrote on another thread that Nikon planned on discontinuing its "E2" series. Too bad if that's true, it's a "best buy" in quality optics, and if anything, they should add a 7X35 E2 (w/ 9.3* FOV), not kill the line. The dearth of good quality mid-priced porros like the E2 series is already too severe!

#3 Swedpat

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Posted 31 July 2005 - 03:31 PM

I have seen both the Nikon AE 7x35 and the Minolta Activa 7x35 WP FP, but didn't compared them side by side. Both are very great binoculars for the price. The ER of the Nikon AE is on the short side for eyeglass wearers, however. If you wear eyeglasses the Minolta is better.

Patric

#4 lighttrap

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Posted 31 July 2005 - 08:01 PM

Ah, the Nikon Naturalist 7x35s. What a blast from the past! You see, my first "adult binocular" was a Japanese made, camoflaged, armored Nikon Naturalist 7x35. As far as I know, they had no Roman numeral designation. They were large for the aperture, and were actually quite decent for the birding and naturalist uses that I put them to. After using them hard for several years, they were stolen from my truck, along with a backpack containing some 35mm gear. When I sought to replace them, I was confronted with the Nikon Naturalist IVs. At first, I thought Nikon had really made some great improvements. The new Naturalist IVs were significantly lighter, shorter, and less clunky and cost less. But, their aspheric lenses gave a sort of funhouse effect that I later learned was spherical aberation, most probably due to the wide angle eyepieces used in the newer series. I don't think I was ever aware of a Naturalist II or III series, but I wasn't a certifiable binoholic back then, just a guy that liked to keep a set of medium decent optics around to look at, well, whatever. Anyway, the funny thing is that I wasn't all that impressed with the 1st set of Naturalist IVs that I had, so I gave them away and started down a very long quest to find really satisfying binoculars. Well, .... long story somewhat shortened, a few years ago, I found another Nikon Naturalist IV 7x35 on sale brand new for something well under $100, (and possibly half that), and so I gave them another shot. I'm not sure if it was just that I'd really changed my tastes in binos, or whether they'd really gone significantly downhill, or what, but that 2nd set of Naturalist IVs, (3rd Naturalist, but only 2nd set of IVs), was an extreme disappointment, and I just couldn't see that I'd ever use them. So, they found another owner.

After looking through literally dozens of the slightly larger Nikon Action Egret 8x40s, I came to the conclusion that quality control was really all over the place with these Action line binos. (I've owned 3 of those, as well. Don't ask why.) I've seen some that were really quite good for the money, and some that really weren't. I used to recommend them for folks starting birding, or those who just wanted a good all purpose bino on a budget. Unfortunately, I no longer feel good about recommending them.

If you do a Google search on Nikon Naturalists and Egrets, you'll still find a good many places that'll sell you one, presumably from old stock. For about $20 more, you can get the "new, supposedly improved version" in the form of the Nikon Action EXtreme 7x35's. But, like some other supposed "improvements", one has to be careful for what one wishes for. The new EXs are waterproof, have a bit better eyerelief, but weigh about 4oz more than the IVs. To me, the beauty of a 7x35 or 8x30 is that it should be able to deliver both a bright wide FOV , and be considerably lighter and more compact than it's 40mm competition. A 28.2oz 7x35 just leaves me wondering. If you can step up considerably to a very reasonably priced binocular, the Nikon EII 8x30 with 8.8* FOV for about $300 is a MUCH better binocular. I recently bought one, and can recommend it heartily for anyone considering a binocular in this basic size category. They are a svelte 20.3oz and have MUCH better resolution, close focus and brightness than any of the Naturalist series.

Mike

#5 luca

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Posted 31 July 2005 - 09:14 PM

If you can step up considerably to a very reasonably priced binocular, the Nikon EII 8x30 with 8.8* FOV for about $300 is a MUCH better binocular. I recently bought one, and can recommend it heartily for anyone considering a binocular in this basic size category. They are a svelte 20.3oz and have MUCH better resolution, close focus and brightness than any of the Naturalist series.


I thought about replacing the 7x35, and so far at the top of my list were the 8x32SE. Of course my wife is part of the decision process. :shocked:

I am reading wonders about the EII in a parallel thread. Are they comparable to the SE at all? Hope that this question is not too naive, I understand that this two models are priced differently.

Luca

#6 Robert Ellis

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 09:54 AM

SE gets you a flatter field, although narrower, a little less CA at the edges, longer but more tricky eye relief, and a more rain resistent body. The EII gets you a wider field with just as much centerfield resolution and color saturation for half the price. For the extra money of the SE you mostly seem to get an improved housing and a flat field element. You might also consider the Swift Audubons, designed for birding but many like them for astronomy and an ED version is available, for under $400 to boot.


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