Customer Review

123 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great View at a Tremendous Value, April 21, 2010
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This review is from: Nikon 7266 Action 10 X 40mm Binoculars (Electronics)
Most purchases in life are compromises - you give up something to get something. I think that's what the guy that came up with the adage "There's no free lunch" had in mind when after he accepted that offer of a free meal and then had to sit through a one hour multi-level marketing spiel.

Such is the case with binoculars. There is no free lunch. You give up something in order to get something. In the case of these Nikon Action 10x40 binoculars, however, what you get is a lot for what you give up.

What you GET:

1. Aspherical lens. This is a good thing. Most inexpensive binoculars come with spherical lens shapes because they are easier to make. Essentially, the curve of the lens is rounded in a constant curve, like that of a ball or sphere. This is easy to make because the manufacturer only has to use one shape of grinder in order to shape the lens and one shape of polisher to polish it. The problem occurs when you look through it. Objects seen through the middle of the lens are more or less in proportion. However, as you get near the edge of the lens, the image becomes distorted relative to the center because the light has much less glass to pass through near the thin edge than in the thicker part near the center of the lens. You notice this as distortion when looking at vertical or horizontal lines near the edge of your field of view. Aspherical lens correct for this distortion but require the manufacturer to use a more complicated, and expensive, set of grinders to make the lens elements. If you're bird watching or using these for football games, a little bit of edge distortion might not bother you. However, if you are looking at buildings or bridges, you'll definitely notice the distortion.

2. Ergonomics. The nicely shaped, lightly rubber coated body feels substantial and of high quality. There are no sharp edges to worry about. Very organic feeling.

3. Multi-coated lens elements that work to transmit as much light as possible resulting in a very bright picture that is useful well after dusk.

4. A very wide field of view and a very pronounced depth of field. Images look three dimensional instead of flat. You can see a very large portion of a football field even though these are 10 power glasses. (Much more than 10 power makes binoculars difficult to use due to your hands shaking.)

5. Very close focusing - down to ten feet(!) if you need it. (The better to view the markings on a rattlesnake's head while staying out of its strike zone, maybe?)

6. High quality control. The result is a set of binoculars that work right out of the box as they are adjusted properly at the factory and designed to be rugged enough to withstand transport from the factory to your house by the gorilla (or gorilla-ette) in the big brown truck without getting damaged or misaligned.

7. A very nice padded nylon case that is large enough to slip the binoculars in easily and a neck strap for the binoculars that is wide, strong and comfortable for long wear.

8. The Nikon name and a 25 year warranty to back it up.

9. A terrific value at under forty dollars!

What you GIVE UP:

1. Weatherproofing: These binoculars do NOT have O-ring sealing of all the joints and nitrogen purging of the interior. What this means is that you shouldn't be using these binoculars outdoors in the rain or even in very high humidity for long periods of time or you will be disappointed. Sealing the interior prevents moisture from getting inside the binoculars and prevents the internal elements from fogging up. Foggy binoculars are annoying at best, a heavy paperweight hanging around your neck at worse.

2. Ruggedness. The coating on these binoculars is NOT a heavy rubber outer covering to protect against significant knocks and bumps. All it provides is a more secure grip. The eyepieces also move in and out of the body when you focus them. The lens holders are made out of plastic that can flex. This could result in slight mis-alignments between the left and right eyepieces as you focus. (In practice, I didn't notice any problems with it. I just wish it would have been made out of aluminum instead of plastic.) A more rugged design would have the focusing mechanism inside the binoculars where it is protected and not prone to flexing. However, this is more expensive to make.

3. Screw down eyepieces. These have fold down rubber cups for eyeglass wearers. They get the job done but aren't as elegant or durable. (On other inexpensive binoculars I have owned, the rubber eventually cracks, the fold down eye-cups break off and this feature becomes a non-feature.)

4. Small size and lightweight. These are fairly wide and moderatly heavy. More expensive binoculars use lightweight metals like aluminum and magnesium for ruggedness and reduced weight. These have a thermoplastic body that is less rugged but less costly to make. More expensive binoculars use more compact but complicated lens and prism designs and simpler tubular shapes for ruggedness and lighter weight. These use a less expensive design that result in a wider but shorter binocular. Then again, more expensive binoculars are ... more expensive.

5. Attached lens covers. I know this is a small thing, but it bugs me none-the-less. The front lens covers are friction fit into the front of each objective lens tube and are not attached in any other way. I can easily see me losing these in the next hour or two.

I bought these Nikons to replace a pair of Steiner 8x30s that I've had for over a decade. The Steiners are o-ring sealed, nitrogen purged and waterproof to one meter underwater (or so they say). They have a heavy rubber coating that has never degraded or cracked. They have few moving parts and no focusing knob as the eyepieces are individually focused and, once adjusted for your eyes, they are good for a range of 10 meters to infinity. They are so rugged that you don't need a case for them, they are their own case. The lens covers are attached and cannot get lost unless you lose the whole binoculars. The US Army and Navy use them (and they can afford to buy just about any binoculars they want). Steiners are made in Germany and cost five times more than these Nikons. They are worth every penny.

But I'm getting old and my eyes aren't what they used to be. I use binoculars primarily for observing competitive air rifle shooting at a relatively fixed range of 10-20 meters or for the occasional football game. When shooting indoors, the light is so poor that the image through the 8x30s were too dark and I got tired of straining to see the targets. I wanted something that would provide a brighter image (meaning larger objective lens) without too high a magnification. I originally wanted something as rugged as my Steiners but I didn't have the budget for them. I tried another brand (see my other reviews) that had all the features I wanted at a price I was willing to pay, but they were a disappointment. I decided to try these Nikons and am glad I did.

The view is bright and clear and they focus easily. There is still some very slight spherical distortion but, because of the wide field of view, I don't notice it because it is outside of my field of interest. There is some chromatic aberration (visible as a pale thin blue halo around a black object against a white background) but I don't find it annoying. I suspect that more expensive coatings on the lens elements would take care of it, but this isn't a high end optical device.

What these Nikons are is a great optical instrument for the casual user than won't be spending much time in adverse weather conditions. Activities like football games, little league, NASCAR and beach babe/dude watching. This is the market that Nikon aimed these binoculars at and, IMO, they hit it out of the park.

If you want more ruggedness than these, get the Nikon Action EXTREME models of these same binoculars. They have more bells and whistles but you will pay more for them. These are for the guys that will be mucking about in the Amazon rain forest.

If you need more light gathering power to use at night and don't mind the extra size, weight and expense, get the Nikon Action 10x50s. (These are great for looking at the moon and other heavenly booties... er, uh... I mean bodies.)

If you can afford them, get a set of Steiners. You won't regret it (as long as you don't miss the money.)

For specialized tasks, like long range surveillance or boating, these binoculars are not for you. But you probably already knew that.

These binoculars are made in China to keep the cost down but don't mistake that for poor quality. The Nikon engineers did their job well. This is a well designed pair and is proof that high quality goods can come from China if the quality controls are in place. The other pair of binoculars that I tried before these was also made in China but was poor in quality and design even though they cost more than what these cost. Kudos to Nikon. Even though these binoculars are a compromise, they are on the very high end of the value scale.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 8, 2010 9:40:06 AM PST
HSPS2 says:
One of the best reviews for anything I've ever researched on Amazon. Thanks! Don't know if I'll actually end up getting these particular binoculars, but there won't be any surprises, thanks to this review, if I do get them.

Posted on Jan 10, 2011 2:11:12 PM PST
Authoritative review with the practical user very much in mind. Well balanced comments and helpful asides that will interest a wide range of potential users, thank you. Enough said, I have bought a pair.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 23, 2011 10:19:24 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 23, 2011 10:19:38 PM PST
Citizen John says:
This is a great review, very informative. I just have one question - point #9 under What you GET. Were these really only forty dollars at one point?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2011 1:23:51 PM PDT
D. Dang says:
I wrote my review about two weeks after I bought them. At that time, they were under forty dollars with free shipping. It was such a good deal, that my friend at my gun club also bought a pair and is still quite happy with them.

Alas, with the economy improving and the US Government's unrelentless printing of money, the dollar doesn't buy what it used to just one year ago. At the current price of under seventy-five, it is still a very good value but not the steal it was a year ago.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2012 2:21:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 18, 2012 2:22:13 PM PDT
JV says:
Mr D, are you serious. you bought this Nikon for under 40 bucks? Now it is $85 with CA tax. but with your review I bought it anyway cause can't find other brands better than this for the same money :)).
Thanks Mr D very much for contribution your time and knowledge about this subject. I am sure your review helps so much for newbies like me who searching for the first binoculars.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2012 3:53:26 AM PDT
D. Dang says:
Yep. UNDER $40. I use my pair nearly every day and am kicking myself for not stealing a second pair when they were really cheap. BTW, my Steiner 8x30mm still cost the same today as when I bought them twelve years ago.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 10, 2012 7:11:35 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 10, 2012 7:25:16 AM PDT
is there anything similiar in specs and price, but are weatherproof / resistant to rain,fog,humidity? great review btw.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2012 3:44:10 PM PDT
D. Dang says:
As noted in the review, the Nikon Action Extreme line of binoculars have the features you want but, alas, they are more expensive. The only other ruggedized binoculars that I have tried are the Barska line, which I didn't like (but that was a while ago) and the Steiners which I like but are a lot pricier.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 11:51:35 PM PST
Geoid says:
Thank you very much for this detailed review! I wonder if you know how this pair compares to Bushnell 8x42 (either NatureView or Legend HD)? Also, would the excess moisture/fog be a real problem?

Posted on May 11, 2013 11:18:56 AM PDT
I read your Cuisinart hand mixer review and was so impressed I'm now reading your other reviews. Do you have a blog where you recommend products? I like your writing style as you invoke trust. Thank you.
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