Bino Reviews - Nikon Extreme 10x50
Posted 01 March 2004 - 01:21 PM
Okay, here goes, I have evaluated the new Nikon Action Extreme 10x50 at night, here are my impressions -
They are good, a bit better than the Orion UltraView. They have stars which are more pinpoint at the field center. The field of both seems identical, as it should be as they are both 6.5 degree field binoculars. That checks out too (using "Desktop Universe" as a reference). The edge of field of both is equivalent, fairly good for a widefield design, but positively not great. Stars were of good
quality in both up to within about a degree of the field edge (using stars in the Pleiades as reference). At that point the stars began to break down. At the field edge they were poor in both illustrating that the field was not flat. Edge stars could be improved by focusing, but then central stars were slightly out of focus. Coma seemed to be more a feature of the Nikon and astigmatism at the edge, more of a problem with the Orion. (Note that the new Nikon has new "click stop" rotate up eye cups. There are 4 setting in all - bottom, 2, 3, and top. Each elevation level is 3 mm higher than the one below it. I subsequently found that the 2nd to highest works best for me. I believe this type of eye cup is much better than the traditional rubber fold down eye cup.)
As a reference, the Pentax PCF V 10x50 held star quality better. Stars were essentially stars to within about 2/3 degree from the field edge. (Note - I also evaluated this using the Pleiades with my Carton Adlerblick 7x50 and Fujinon FMT-SX 7x50. Both of those held stars together fairly well to within 1/2 degree of the field edge.
While the field of the Orion UltraView and the Nikon Extreme were clearly wider than the Pentax PCF V, it was not markedly so. The Nikon Extremes are good for the money, but the Pentax PCF V remain my favorite 10x50 binocular. Others may find that the additional 1+ degree field of view is more important and they will defer to the Nikon's. The Nikon's are very well built and at about $30 less than
the Orion UltraView, are a better performing pair (marginally) with the additional benefit of no light cone cutoff which seems to be a feature seen by many with the Orion UltraView.
I have to say that while the Pentax PCF V and the Nikon Extreme are nice, I am having trouble justifying 10x50 binoculars period. I say this because the extra aperture is clearly not needed for most applications in the daytime, nor does the extra aperture and the 25% increase in magnification seem to make that much of a difference at
night. I also pulled out my Carton Adlerblick 8x42 and critically compared them to the 10x50's on the same star fields. I took special care to seek out some faint stars in and around the belt stars of Orion. I could see the same very faintest stars in all the 10x50's, but I could see the same stars with the 8x42 Adlerblicks. The Adlerblicks have the same 6.5 degree true field, and are easier to hold.
7x50's fair very well too. The stars seen thru both the Adlerblick 7x50 and the Fujinon FMT-SX 7x50 were tinier pinpoints than with the 10x50 binoculars. The Adlerblick is extremely sharp, and the field, while smaller (1/2 degree less) has better correction and does not seem smaller. The Fujinon's have a larger 7.5 degree field and while they only have an apparent field of 52.5 degrees, it seems much
larger. The view thru these binoculars does not seem too bright because of the 7 mm exit pupil, I guess because the suburban light pollution is restricting my pupils to the point that the sky looks reasonably dark thru these 7 mm exit pupil binoculars.
So in summary - the Nikon Extremes are good, but not "blow away" great. They do seem to be slightly better and a better value than the Orion UltraView. Nicer eyecups, more rugged, slightly better central sharpness and a better price. They are however, not as good, at least for me, as the Pentax PCF V (love those Pentax ergonomics).
Additionally all the 10x50's seem to fall short of the Carton Adlerblick 8x42 on the sky which offers a great combo of objective size and magnification for hand held use. For the old "navy" purists among us, the traditional 7x50 binoculars have some merits which make them very usable on the night sky. I could see stars just as faint
with the 7x50 Adlerblick and Fujinons as I could with the 10x50's; the 7x50's all had very nice optics with very crisp, tight stars, and the background was not too bright. The lower power had the advantage in terms of hand hold ability.
If you must have a 10x50 and you want to spend something in the $100 to $200 price range, either the Pentax PCF V (now superceded by the PCF WP) or the Nikon Extreme are good performing examples of the 10x50 binocular. The Orion UltraView is also good, but not quite as good as the Nikon and Pentax binoculars. Your final selection should be based upon what features are important to you.
Posted 04 March 2004 - 08:55 AM
In my first review of the Nikon Action Extreme during daytime, (that review is on BinocularAstronomy) I said the following -
"In respect to central sharpness, all were good, but the Pentax and Nikon were better than the other two, with the Pentax the best."
I have to retract that statement. I was able to do a lot more evaluation since that report and at least for targets anywhere from 25 to 50 feet away, the Nikon has a clear cut advantage over the Pentax PCF V in respect to central sharpness. Not that the Pentax is bad, it is not, in fact it is darn good - better in earlier testing than the Minolta Activa 10x50, and better last Friday and confirmed yesterday than the Orion UltraView 10x50 and the long
discontinued Fujinon 2000 10x50's. It is jut that when looking at fine detail on bricks at about 50 feet, both painted and unpainted and reading writing of various sizes on a plastic jug on the kitchen counter about 25 feet away the Nikon was the clear champion. It could also pick up subtle detail in shadowed area a bit better than any of the other binoculars.
The Nikons seemed so good that I broke out my pair of Swift Audubon ED 8.5x44 and compared them on the same targets. The Swift Audubon has a great reputation for resolving fine detail. This is one of the reasons it is so highly prized as a birding binocular. Surprisingly the Nikons did slightly better than the Audubons. Likely due to the
slight increase in magnification of the Nikon pair. (To confirm this I tried my Pentax 16x60 on the same targets and found that the increased magnification does help.) So in a nutshell, the Nikons had the best central resolution of all the 10x50 binoculars I have tested so far. With the Pentax 10x50 (with no comparator)likely no one would ever be wanting for more resolution or walk away with the feeling that it could have been just a little bit better; but the Nikon's view would prove them wrong. I did find with the Orion UltraView that I could never quite get the
feeling that the view was as sharp as it could be and that could easily be seen even without having a comparison pair of binoculars.
Moving on to sharpness at the edge, the Pentax was the winner here. While not as sharp centrally as the Nikon, it deteriorates less as your view moves to the edge of the field. So in essence it has a more even view with less fall off of resolution. It is important to remember though that the Pentax field is just 5.0 degrees true, while the Nikon has a 6.5 degree true field. By area, the Nikon field is 69% larger!
So what does this all mean in terms of getting a pair? Well for me it means that these are keepers. I broke open the little bag that contains the neck strap after I did this testing and attached the strap. They are mine now. I believe they are the best performing all around pair of 10x50's in the $100 to $350 dollar price range. The build quality is fantastic; very well done, water proof, nice features. For what you get, they are underpriced.
I had always thought about getting one of the Nikon Superior E binoculars, either the 10x42 or the 12x50. However I would have preferred either 8x42 or 10x50 and I did not like the high price or the placement of the focus wheel. The new Nikon Extreme series addresses those obstacles for me. At a price that is about 1/5 to 1/6 that of the Superior E series, and with packaging and performance that is respectable in comparison, I think many will be very happy with the Nikon Extreme series.
I would think too that the 8x40 Nikon Extremes should hold their own fairly well against the Swift Audubon 8.5x44. At about half the price of the regular Swift Audubons and at about 1/3 the cost of theAudubon ED, they should do very well.
Posted 04 March 2004 - 12:45 PM
These are the kind of informative reviews / observations that I just LOVE reading !
Full marks to you for sharing this information , and especially for being honest enough to admit that you needed to amend your original opinions.
These really do sound like a "best buy" all round.
By the way the "long discontinued Fujinon 2000 10 x 50 " you mentioned and include in your attached photo -- has this been replaced by the FMT SX 10 x 50 ?
Apart from the review by group member Holger Merlitz I have not heard anything else about Fujinon 10 x 50s until now.
Thanks again -- Kenny.
Posted 04 March 2004 - 07:22 PM
Posted 04 March 2004 - 08:24 PM
Posted 04 March 2004 - 08:51 PM
Here is some additional info regarding the Fujinon 2000 Series 10x50 - I first heard about these back in 1992 when I was in a nautical supply store called "Baker-Lyman". One of the sales people told me that Fujinon gave them a pair of their new 2000 series binoculars because of the size of the order that they placed. This was a pair of Fujinon 2000 series 7x35. It had some features that I really liked and it was available at a very attractive price so I bought them.
First, they were very ruggedly built and looked like they could really take a pounding. They were attractively finished with a black rubber skin and they have a very wide 11 degree field. Image quality looked pretty good in the daytime. However one of the things that really appealed to me was how far the objective lens was recessed from the end of the barrel. Real nice and quiet different from the Swift Audubon Kestrel 10x50 which has objective surfaces disturbingly close to the end of the barrel. In addition, and you may be able to see this in the photo of the 10x50 Fujinon 2000 above, the focusing wheel is molded so that it is a large diameter up near the eyepieces and is a much smaller diameter below that - trying to please everyone I guess. These became my hack around binoculars and also my football game binoculars and they still are. I am adamant about this point - wide angle 7x35 binoculars are the ideal football game binoculars.
Anyway, within the next year, Orion briefly carried the 10x50 versions so I ordered those too. I am not using them as much as I used to, but will never sell them. I have sold Minolta Activa 10x50's, Carton Adlerblick 10x50's, Bushnell Explorer 10x50's, Swift Kestrel 10x50's, but not these. They are decent, well built, dependable and somewhat unique.
(I have noticed that Donald Rothman @ TeleTrade has had a pair of zoom 40's in the Series 2000 Fujinons for quite awhile if anyone is interested.)
Note too that this series was relatively short lived and is a completely different series than the individual eye focus FMT-SX and MT-SX Fujinon binoculars.
Posted 05 March 2004 - 02:34 AM
Very informative as always.
I agree that wide -angle 7 x 35s are a great choice for sport -watching , and indeed for many other terrestrial uses
My older brother swears by his old Nikon E 7 x 35s.
There is much to be said for the compactness too.
In fact I am quite saddened by the dearth of new good quality 7 x 50s ( and of 6 x 30s for that matter )
I am of the minority opinion that the apparant recent trend towards higher power binoculars in general is somewhat sad too. Perhaps only people who have ever used REALLY good quality lower -power binoculars truly realise how much easier to use they are , and how even a 7x power bino can almost provide as much resolution as a 10x when the quality is top notch.
I too own Swift Kestrel 10 x 50s and intend to write a review on it soon.
As regards those rare Fujis , I think you are very wise NOT to have sold them !
Thanks again -- Kenny.