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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good - but could be better.
I read a lot of reviews on different brands and models before buying these binos. I read about the caps being loose and ill-fitting - not a problem as I generally store the caps with the retail box - never to be seen again until I intend to sell them. I keep the binos in the soft case and they stay clean. I also read about the diopter eyepiece being a bit stiff. Not a...
Published on August 8, 2011 by Golfer

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars one wasn't waterproof
Bought one of these and really liked it despite one lens would fog up if I got water on it. really liked the clarity though. easy to focus. A bit heavy though but rugged with rubber protection. Bought a second and that pair is fine. meanwhile, the first pair went overboard and I was lucky to find it about a week later. One side is ok, the other has sea water in it. have...
Published 13 months ago by Deb


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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good - but could be better., August 8, 2011
By 
Golfer (Ephrata Wa.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nikon 8220 Trailblazer 8x42 ATB Binoculars (Electronics)
I read a lot of reviews on different brands and models before buying these binos. I read about the caps being loose and ill-fitting - not a problem as I generally store the caps with the retail box - never to be seen again until I intend to sell them. I keep the binos in the soft case and they stay clean. I also read about the diopter eyepiece being a bit stiff. Not a problem I can't handle if the glass is good - and it is.

The only rubs I have with these binos are the strap and diopter adjustment. The diopter is very difficult to turn if they've not been used for some time. I've gotten used to just turning them back and forth a few times before using them. This seems to loosen up the o-ring seal inside that protects the optics from moisture. Fine - I can deal with that. Much better than binos that you gently bump and the diopter is off. Grrr! I hate that even more!

The other rub I mentioned is the strap. Why the hell can't Nikon come up with a better way of attaching the strap to the binos? I have another pair of Nikon binos - 7x35 and they have the same crappy design. Nikon isn't alone in this - Canon must share the same 'strap engineer' to design their straps. Camera straps? Same thing - the cheesy little plastic thingy is supposed to lock the strap and prevent slipping - it doesn't.

OK - on to the optics. The optics are first rate - almost. There is some out of focus on the very edges but mostly I'm using the middle portion of the field of view the soft edge isn't a bother to me. The only times this is noticeable is when I'm viewing the night sky. Stars on the edge are a bit blurry. Other than that these binos excel under the night sky - not as good as my 16x80s but well enough and I can hand-hold these - the 16x80s - no way. They go on a tripod. With an exit pupil of 5.25mm these are about as bright as you are going to get unless you go for 7x50 binos with their 7mm exit pupil. Forget the 'toy' binos' for the night sky. An 8x30 binos net you 3.75mm exit pupils. The smaller the exit pupil the darker the image. Focusing is easy once you get the diopter eyepiece limbered up - see the 'rubs' paragraph above for more. The center focus knob turns easily with one finger - and the turn-down turn-up eye cups work great. No fumbling around when passing between people to share the view - give em a twist and they are adjusted.

A quick word on buying binos - look for BAK4 glass prism - much better quality than the cheaper BAK7 glass prism. How do you tell? hold the binos up in front of you at arms length and point them towards something bright & observe the shape of the exit pupils. The BAK7 pupils will be shaped like a stop sign - STOP there and keep looking - BAK4 binos are round and aren't all that much more expensive and the quality of view is much better. BAK4 glass is maybe a dollar or two more per binos vs the cheaper BAK7. Many first time buyers of binoculars make the same old mistake - buying too high a power such as 10x50s. Any shake you have is amplified by 10. Unless you have very steady hands you'll see more shake than you will detail. A good 7x35 or 8x42 are hard enough to hold steady - those glamorous 12x50s might look appealing but unless you intend to mount them on a tripod forget it. And chances are those 'ruby coated' 12x50 binos hold BAK7 prism glass. A good pair of binos can be something you'll be reaching for for a very long time - maybe the rest of your life. A cheap pair are usually laid aside and forgotten and you never knew what you were missing because you were seduced by those ruby coated 12x50 lenses that held so much promise - and delivered so little. Buying binos looks complicated - it isn't.

The only exception to buying high powered binos used for hand-held viewing is the image stabilized models. Canon makes a very good 8x25 - a 10x30 which I owned for 6-8 years before selling - and a 15x50 which I owned for a few years but found to be way too heavy for anything but short viewing bursts. Putting them on a tripod seemed a ridiculous waste. What was the point? Nikon and some other makers also make image stabilized binos. I'd opt for the Canon 8x25s if I were to buy another set. I'm happy with what I have - I own 7x35 and 8x42 Nikons and a Pro Optic 10x50 I use on a tripod (Adorama brand from the 80s-90s - and the Celestron 16x80s also used on a tripod. The 10x50s are very sharp right to the edges and excel under the night sky. At 10 power they are a bit more than I can hold steady - the stars are doing a 'racetrack' on me. The 16x80s aren't as sharp as the Pro Optic but give some wonderful wide angle views of the Milky Way and Sagittarius and a bit closer.

When you see focus-free binos - RUN - do not walk - away. Think about it - your eyes need to refocus whenever something is a different distance than what you were previously looking at. Same with a camera. Even cheap cell phone cameras have a focusing system. With focus-free binos there is a happy spot where everything is in focus - closer or further than that and everything is a bit out of focus. The 'focus' on focus-free binos is at infinity. I've spent a lot of time watching small birds from 20-30 feet away - focus-free binos rob you of that.

One trick I've found handy for when you want to take a picture of some far off animal and you only have your binos and cell phone is to stick your cell phone camera up to the binos lens and take a picture with that. Not the clearest pic you'll ever take with your cell phone but I bet you the pic taken without the binos can't be blown up enough to look better than the one taken with the binos. Just something to think about next time you think that bird is too far off to get a pic of because all you have is your cell phone and binos. Try it! Be sure to hold the cell phone square to the binos. Just make sure the binos are focused to your eye - the cell phone sees much the same way you do.

One last thing - never clean your optics with your shirt - and NO - not your finger either! Think about this - your lenses have the best coatings the maker could afford to place on your optics and you want to use a dirty gritty shirt on those fragile optics? Go the the drug store and buy some optical cleaner and some optical tissues. The coatings are easy to scratch - they will haze over in a few cleanings using that shirt. I've had my Pro Optics binos for over 20 years and have cleaned the optics ONCE. A bit of dirt won't make much difference in the views and can be cleaned off next time you are home and have the cleaning supplies handy. Smudged up coatings will be on there for ever.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect starter optics, May 29, 2010
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This review is from: Nikon 8220 Trailblazer 8x42 ATB Binoculars (Electronics)
As a recent student of bird-watching I was badly in need of some binoculars. Not really knowing all the facts I kind of took a flier on these models. I was far from disappointed. The price is great, the quality is excellent, and if they hold up to their all-terrain name, you have a fairly complete package. The optics are great. The lenses pick up lots of light and present a very clear picture. This also makes them nice for star-gazing. You can easily see stars not visible to the naked eye. The eye relief feature is great too. If you wear glasses (as I do), you simply leave them screwed down. If you do not simply screw them up to the level you desire. This makes them easy to pass around with folks of different optical acuity. It comes with a decent case and neck strap. My only complaint is the lens caps. The fore caps attach to the neck straps (awesome.) The eyepiece caps however do not attach and are just a hair too big to fit snugly onto the fore caps, meaning you have to put them in your pocket. Not the biggest deal, just an easily foreseeable design flaw. All-in-all I am very happy with my purchase.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsung Great Binocular, April 9, 2010
By 
Norman Sohar "Norm Sohar" (Orrville, Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Nikon 8220 Trailblazer 8x42 ATB Binoculars (Electronics)
These are great binoculars that seem to not hit the radar screen for birders. I have been looking for a new pair of binoculars and when I found these with nearly identical optical chariteristis as the Nikon Monarchs. The only significant optical diffrence is that they don't focus as close up as the Monarchs. I would highly recommend these for birding.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden Gem, January 4, 2011
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This review is from: Nikon 8220 Trailblazer 8x42 ATB Binoculars (Electronics)
I reviewed a lot of binoculars in the under $300 dollar catagory. The Nikon Monarchs kept coming up as one of the nicest pair to have. I also saw some good reviews for the Trailblazers, but they were half the price. I was thinking there must be a big difference between the two. I went to a sporting goods store and tried out the Monarchs and was really impressed, but I was not able to find the Trailblazer in the 8x version I was seeking. None of the stores were carrying them. I finally just took the chance and ordered the 8x42 Trailblazers.
Wow, just as good as the Monarchs that I had tried out and at half the price. I have been using them for birding and wildlife and find the optics to be excellent. What a bargain.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible value and a joy to use, September 3, 2012
This review is from: Nikon 8220 Trailblazer 8x42 ATB Binoculars (Electronics)
As a Canon fanboy, I was reluctant to switch over to Nikon products when purchasing binoculars for my Ornithology class when I was an undergraduate. I was shocked at the quality of these binoculars when I first tried them out. Nothing else in the price range seemed quite as good. While birdwatching in class, my classmates and I compared the Nikons to Zeiss and Swarovski binoculars (they were avid hunters). Although there were differences in the $100 or so Nikons and the top of the line models retailing at thousands of dollars, the Nikons were performing scary close to their much more valuable counterparts.

The Nikon optics are fantastic. As I am sure many reviews have said, in order to get a better image, you will have to shell out quite a bit more and that is for only a liiiittle better. The image is bright and clear. On numerous occasions, I remember being able to identify birds by features that were clear as day to me while my classmates with similarly priced binoculars were left bewildered. While on optics, I would also recommend the 8x magnification. The 10x magnification on some of my classmates binoculars were prone to frustrating them with a shaky picture that accompanies such a zoomed in image with lenses held by the nervous hands of humans.

The controls: juicy. Turning the focus and adjusting the eyepieces feels better than turning the A/C or volume dial on my BMW (not trying to sound snobby...this is actually true). This makes using these binoculars more like a fun activity than an annoying task. Even the obscenely expensive binoculars I have used have not been quite as satisfying to adjust. The diopter ring is firm but it is firm for a reason. You want the diopter to stay where it is. The eyepieces are rubbery and incredibly comfortable and feel very natural when placed over the eyes.

I can nitpick, however. At the plastic buckles, the straps seem to undue themselves over time. They have never really affected me but if you bird all morning, you might have to take up an inch or so in the neck strap. You might as well throw away the lens covers or put them in a drawer. They will come off. However, I have used my binoculars on several treks and football games and my lenses still do not have one scratch on them. When I am done with the binoculars, they go back in the case. These little negatives are nothing compared to the overall quality of this product.

These binoculars converted me. I still use my Canon D-SLR, but when I get my new hunting rifle, you already know what type of scope will be sitting on top of it. If you are in the market for a decent pair of binoculars but don't want to take out a loan, look no further. My experience with dozens of binoculars always leaves me wanting to put them down and pick up my Nikons. This product brings near top shelf performance and puts it in an affordable package that you will not be afraid of taking with you on whatever expedition you can conceive. Just don't be caught somewhere without them. I guarantee you will wish you had them with you.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great binoculars, horrible strap, February 11, 2010
By 
Jointerman (Mountain View, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Nikon 8220 Trailblazer 8x42 ATB Binoculars (Electronics)
I got these binoculars for whale watching and the optics are really nice. Very bright compared to my Pentax binoculars. Because of the size, they are also easier to keep steady than my smaller Pentax binoculars.

The major issue that I have is the strap. The strap came undone and my binoculars hit the ground! Luckily they are armored and the only thing that got scuffed up was the plastic eye cover. I couldn't get the strap to stay attached to the binoculars by themselves. I eventually had to wrap scotch tape around the straps (the only tape I had access to) in order to keep the strap from sliding free of the plastic clip.

Lastly, the binoculars are olive green and not black as pictured.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trailblazer review, March 6, 2011
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This review is from: Nikon 8220 Trailblazer 8x42 ATB Binoculars (Electronics)
I really wanted the Nikon Monarch Binoculars for hunting, but could not afford them so I purchased the Trailblazer Binoculars, the best prices were on Amazon. I own two Monarch scopes which are really nice (I purchased one last year on Amazon and was impressed on pricing and quality)they compare to my Leupold VXIIIs for light gathering capabilities and clairity. The Nikon Trailblazers are made in China compared to Nikon Monarchs made in Japan and Leupolds in the USA, I have used Leupolds warranty and it is a great process, don't know about Nikon's warranty process.

I compared my 8x42mm Trailblazers to my friends 10x42 Monarch binoculars; both pair are very close in clairity, I could not tell much differance in the light gathering capibilities during outside low light conditions, the Monarchs are a little smaller (both are nice medium sizes), I could not tell a lot of differance in the magnifications between the 8 power versus 10 power, the 10x42 where harder to keep still on the target (a little more gittery)the owner stated the same. I purchased the 8 power binoculars versus the 10 power because I am 50 years of age and was thinking while doing long periods of glassing it would be easier on my eyes, plus you get a larger field of view with the 8 powers, and this was the closest that my research came to on the recomended exit pupil size, the larger the exit pupil size the brighter the image, divide 8 into 42 = 5.25.

If I had the money, I would buy Leupould products because they are made in the USA and I have always had great success with Leupould, second choice is Nikon Monarch's (for me they are tried and true), the Nikon Trail blazers are really nice out of the box, and have met my expectation on my limited testing outside, but I have not tested them on a major Deer or Elk hunt yet, it is still to be determined on reliabilty and fogging tests. For sure the price was right!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent optics, March 7, 2013
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This review is from: Nikon 8220 Trailblazer 8x42 ATB Binoculars (Electronics)
I was looking for a binocular to watch wild birds. Birding experts recommend eye pupil size should be over 5mm. This one has 5.2mm (42 divided by 8).

This is my first binocular. I have a Nikon 300mm lens. The optics quality of this binocular is as good as the 300mm lens, which was sold $1,000+ years ago. It has compact size and weight. The build quality is good. It shows distance objects clearly. It comes with a bag, four lens caps, and a strap.

I love the quality of optics. But the final finish of rubber casing looks cheap. What should I expect from Made In China.
The diopter of right eye was sticky when I tried to adjust focus. Once it loosened, it turns like the center diopter.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MI antlerless, October 30, 2011
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This review is from: Nikon 8220 Trailblazer 8x42 ATB Binoculars (Electronics)
after looking at length for an affordable, lightweight quality pair of binos for hunting I finally decided on these and have been very satisfied. Im not an expert on optics but these are clear and crisp and easy to adjust in the field. The field of veiw is perfect for the the 100 yd or less shots you usually take hunting deer in the woods of MI
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I CAN SEE, April 12, 2013
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This review is from: Nikon 8220 Trailblazer 8x42 ATB Binoculars (Electronics)
I shopped for months to buy the best binoculars I could afford for my trip to Kenya. I wear trifocal glasses and I wanted to find a pair that I could find my subject quickly and clearly. Most of the stores I went to had them enclosed in plastic and I couldn't try them. I found a store had this product open among all their binoculars. I could try all they had and they even let me go outside to try it. I threw them up to the top of a tree and almost dropped them. There was a hawk in the top of the tree bigger than I had ever seen before and as clear as if we were nose to beak. I saw sold. I came home, looked on line and Amazon had them for a lot less money. They were great on safari and I keep them handy for bird watching at home.
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Nikon 8220 Trailblazer 8x42 ATB Binoculars
$216.95 $179.99
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