Who's afraid of the big bad zoom?
Dec 31, 2005 (Updated Jan 3, 2006)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Crystal clear optics, smooth zoom, solid lightweight compact construction, reasonable price ... NICE!
Cons:None, other than normal limitations of any compact zoom binoculars, e.g., smaller FOV.
The Bottom Line: If you're not concerned about the few limitations common to all compact zoom nocs, you will find these Nikons an excellent value. Buy 'em. You'll love 'em.
If you like the idea of relatively inexpensive, lightweight, compact zoom binoculars, then look no further. I just got my pair of Nikon Travelite V Zoom (8-24 x 25 CF) nocs, and I already LOVE them.
Recommend this product?
Don't let the bird watching crowd talk you out of getting a pair of zoom binoculars, folks. When binocular nuts say that zoom nocs "don't perform well," and try to discourage people from buying them, what they really mean is that most people don't know what to expect when they get their hands on a pair of zooms, and are sometimes surprised to learn they don't work the same way as their favorite fixed magnification nocs.
As with all optical tools, zoom nocs are great for certain kinds of uses, and not so good for others. Specifically, at the bottom end of their range, zoom nocs "see" the same as any fixed mag nocs with the same focal dimensions. However, as you increase the zoom, three things happen: 1) your field of view ("FOV") gets smaller; 2) the visible light coming through the nocs lessens, or, the image gets a little "darker," and 3) it becomes more difficult to keep the nocs fixed on your target. Also, if you didn't adjust the focus very carefully at the bottom end before zooming in, you will probably have to re-focus a bit after zooming in on your subject.
Now obviously, if you are attempting to watch something like a small bird in flight, and perhaps even adjust the zoom while trying to keep the nocs focused on your subject at the same time, you will be VERY frustrated with the "performance" of these, or ANY zoom binoculars. That isn't because the nocs aren't doing their job ... it's because you're using the wrong kind of optical tool for the task at hand!
If, on the other hand, you are looking at a well-lighted subject that is stationary, or not moving around too much, and you just want to get a little closer look at it, you will be absolutely thrilled with what you get from these nocs.
Nikon's optics are crystal clear and a GREAT value at this price. The zoom mechanism is simple, smooth and cool ... you "zoom in" by simply turning the zoom ring on the right eyepiece clockwise, and then the other way to "zoom out." The diopter ring (the adjuster that compensates for any difference between the right and left eyes of the individual user) is on the left eyepiece. The nocs and focus wheel are solidly constructed, with a nice "tight" feel, and a black rubber armor covers the exterior for a good grip. They're very lightweight, they fit in your hands like a glove, and come with a neck strap and a custom-fitted nylon mesh carrying case, with a loop on the back for your belt.
Finally, if you have any difficulty holding the nocs steady at their maximum magification (and most people will), FEAR NOT! Consider getting an adjustable monopod to rest the nocs on as you look through them, for example, the PoleCat "Explorer" by Stoney Point, with optional binocular rest. This staff can be adjusted to support your nocs whether you're standing or sitting. It doubles as a hiking staff, and has a standard screw mount on the top for use with cameras, camcorders, etc.
I personally think the negative press on zoom nocs is nonsense. Just satisfy yourself that zoom nocs are ok for your intended use(s), and then learn how to use them the right way. I took a chance and bought the Nikon Travelite V zoom nocs, sight unseen, and I'm glad I did. These are great compact binoculars for the price.
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