Nikon Sporter EX 8x42

  • Sharp, bright image, even in low light
  • Natural colour, and little chromatic aberration
  • Lots of eye relief adjustment available
  • Smooth, precise focus mechanism
  • Nikon quality at under £200

Nikon do a good job of producing binoculars that challenge the big boys at very reasonable prices, but here they’re targeting the lower end of the market, with a sub-£200 waterproof/fogproof model. So how well do they compare with the excellent budget bins already on the market?

These binoculars did take a bit of getting used to, but they had a lot going for them once I had. The image is sharp and bright, even in fairly low light, and the colour is generally pretty ‘real’ – there is a hint of a yellow cast, but you really have to go looking for it. Contrast is good, too, and there’s little evidence of chromatic aberration. Focus is easy to find and to hold, with a good depth of field, but although close focus does come in somewhere below the quoted 5m, it’s nothing special. The field of view is fine, if nothing outstanding, but there was an issue with edge softness that threatened to be a major drawback.

It was largely resolved, though, by finding the right eyepiece position among the four on offer (there’s a maximum eye relief of 19.7mm). Once I had, the halo disappeared and the milkiness at the edge of the image ceased to be distracting, so it’s worth taking your time in setting them up when you’re trying them before you buy. The chunky, ribbed focus wheel (almost two fingers wide) travels impressively smoothly and just loosely enough, taking 1.25 turns from close focus to infinity. The dioptre is also chunky, a wide, ribbed twist-ring below the right eyepiece, and it stayed in position well at all times, although there’s no marked scale. At 670g, they’re light enough to remain comfortable throughout a long birding expedition, and they’re well-balanced, too. The rubbery armour is easy to grip. The accessories are fine – there’s a reasonably wide strap, objective lens and eyepiece covers, and a roomy fabric case.


FACTFILE

  • Price: £179.99
  • Dimensions: 154mm x 131mm
  • Weight: 670g
  • Close focus: 5m
  • Field of view: 122m@1,000m
  • Warranty: 10 year limited
  • Also included: Neck strap, fabric case, eyepiece and objective lens covers
  • website: www.europe-nikon.com/home

My main complaint concerned the rubber-covered eyepieces. Although it’s great to be offered such a range of positions on budget binoculars, they could have done with being much harder to dislodge. Too often, out in the field, I raised the bins to my eyes only to find that the eyepieces had been depressed by an extra notch, meaning I wasted vital time trying to re-find the right position. It’d be a shame if this couldn’t be tweaked a little bit in future. Otherwise I had some concern over edge softness on the image, with a very definite halo at times, but it’s fair to say that I was able to get rid of both of these once I’d found the perfect eyepiece position, so it’s not a major worry. A rainguard would have been nice, too.

Good, solid optics in a largely well-built pair of bins, marred a little by the loose eyepieces. Well worth trying against some of their competitors, but for not that much extra, you could also consider Nikon’s excellent Monarchs.

REVIEWED BY MATT MERRITT