A Work Commenced November 25 2022
Product: Nikon Action Extreme 7 x 35
Country of Manufacture: China
Field of View: 164m@1000m(9.3 angular degrees)
Exit Pupil: 5mm
Eye Relief: 17.3mm
Close focus: 5m advertised, 2.46m measured
Nitrogen Purged: Yes
Tripod Mountable: Yes
Weight: 800g advertised 798g measured
Dimensions: 18.2 x 11.9 cm
Accessories: padded soft case, rain guard and objective lens caps, padded logoed neck strap, instruction manual, warranty card
Warranty: 10 years
The Japanese optics giant Nikon has produced some incredible binoculars over their century + years of being in business. What I think they really excel at is designing and marketing really sweet binoculars at very competitive prices. That’s exactly the sentiments I felt towards their very economically priced Action EX 7 x 35 after spending a couple of weeks with it in the field.
You might think a 7 x 35 format would be lightweight and streamlined: not so with this binocular! Weighing 800g, this is one chunky binocular, overlaid as it is with a very thick rubber armouring, which contributes to its wet weather resistance. This instrument is o-ring sealed and purged with dry nitrogen gas making it fully water- and fog proof.
Nikon states that the Action EX series have multi-layer coatings on the lenses and prisms ensuring high light transmission. One good way to test the effectiveness of these coatings is to aim the binocular at a bright artificial light source after dark and examine the images produced. I was glad to see that there was very minimal internal reflections. Having said that, it was virtually identical to the result I obtained with the lower priced Aculon 8 x 42 marketed by Nikon. Still, those coatings weren’t nearly as good as the Japanese-made Nikon E II series which cost considerably more but shows virtually none in comparison.
The large centrally located focus wheel moves very nicely with no free play or backlash. It’s been reported that waterproof Porro prism binocular often have overly stiff focus wheels – a necessary compromise for making it weatherproof – but I must report that this was not my experience with the Action EX 7 x 35. The gearing in the focus wheel was perfectly fine, even when rapidly adjusting focus from close up to far away. One and a quarter turns clockwise brings you from closest focus to beyond infinity. Unlike classic Porros of the past, which usually come with fold-down rubber eyecups, the Nikon Action EX has modern twist up cups with three detents. Eye relief is a very decent 17mm. I tested them while using my eyeglasses and was comfortably able to access the entire field. The ocular lenses are very large and easy to centre your eyes in. The objective lenses are also very deeply recessed, further protecting them from stray light, dust and rain. The right eye dioptre ring is located under the eyepiece. It’s well designed and holds its position well.
Some may think the Action EX 7x 35 is overbuilt. I really don’t think so. Yes, it’s quite heavy for its relatively small aperture but it feels exceptionally sturdy in the hands and its 7x gives very stable views which partially negates its bulk mass. Comparing it to the lower cost Aculon 8 x 42, I felt the grip was noticeably better in the Action EX. The rubber armouring is simply more grippy in the latter.
Optically, the Nikon Action EX 7 x 35 is quite impressive: bright, sharp across a good chunk of the field with very good contrast. How bright? Allbinos measured one Action EX model to have a transmission of the order of 80 per cent – not bad but noticeably dimmer than models nearer 90 per cent transmission. Intriguingly, the lower priced Aculon models apparently have similar light transmission values.
The Nikon Action EX 7x 35 binocular also controls glare very well. That said, it was not significantly better than the less expensive Aculon 8 x 42 I tested alongside it. The outer field does display field curvature, but I think this is quite acceptable given the fact that the field of view is a whopping 9.3 degrees. I felt the edge of field performance was a little better than the 6.5 x 32 Opticron Adventurer T WP I tested a few months back. Depth of field is impressive too. I quickly became consciously aware of how little I had to refocus the instrument as I scanned the hills around my home. Anything beyond about 50 yards is sharply in focus.
On the afternoon the binocular arrived, it was a dull, overcast and drizzly late October day, but the Nikon Action EX 7 x 35 seemed to take it all in its stride. I scanned the leaden skies in the open fields near my home and quickly picked up the silhouette of a hovering raptor, which I was later able to identify as a Peregrine Falcon from its fanned-out tail feather. The enormous field of view allowed me to track the bird as it moved off toward the hills. At one stage the Peregrine entered the same field as a Buzzard which looked enormous in comparison. What a sight on a gloomy autumnal day! Nikon quote the close focus on the Action EX 7x 35 to be 5 metres, but I found that it is well under 2 meters!
I also found the Nikon Action EX 7 x 35 very useful during a few forest walks. This is where the field curvature and enhanced 3D effects combine to create incredibly vivid images of treescapes with even closeup tree trunks being sharply focused. Absolutely exhilarating! As good as this binocular is for daylight glassing, I found it most excellent for stargazing. With a decent magnifying power of 7x and 35mm objectives providing a 5mm exit pupil, not to mention its enormous 9.3 degree true field, the Nikon Action EX 7 x 35 throws up wonderful views of the night sky. On a dark, moonless night, I enjoyed sweeping the Milky Way through Cygnus, Perseus and Cassiopeia. The dazzling Pleaides star cluster looked rather small in the enormous field of this binocular. Ditto for the Hyades beneath it. The effects of field curvature are quite pronounced near the field stops but that’s a small compromise when you consider the modest cost of the instrument and the more than generous field of view. Quite simply, there is plenty to see in each new field of night sky.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Nikon Action EX 7x 35. It’s a very nice binocular to use in the field and I can readily understand why it’s such a popular choice. Its build quality goes well beyond the call of duty and although it’s rather heavy for such a small aperture binocular, you’ll quickly forget about it. This will make a good binocular for short-range birding, exploring landscapes and casual star gazing. It does many things well.
Dr Neil English is the author of a highly lauded 650+ page historical work: Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy.