Product Review: Nikon Prostaff 7S 8 x 30.

The Nikon Prostaff 7S 8 x 30.

In recent years, a flood of high-performance 8 x 30 roof prism binoculars have hit the market to cater for the demands of birders, hunters and nature enthusiasts looking to blend the comfortable and immersive performance of larger 42 and 50mm models with the smaller and lighter frames usually only found in compact or pocket binoculars. For example, Swarovski have successfully launched their CL Companion in 8x and 10x 30mm formats and Nikon have introduced a range of 8 x 30 models varying both in price and quality. While their flagship model – the HG 8 x 30 – retails for about the same price as the CL companion(£800 to £900 UK), Nikon also offer a number of more economically priced units in their Monarch 7 and Prostaff 3S, 5S and 7S models.  Curious to test out one of these models, I took a punt on the Prostaff 7S 8 x 30 model, which I was able to buy at a cost of £139 including delivery. Was it worth the cost? Absolutely yes! To see why, read on.

The package was boxed away nicely and included the 8 x 30 binocular, a quality padded neck strap, an instruction manual in a number of different languages, and plastic rain guard and objective dust caps. The Prostaff 7S also comes wth a 10 year (non-transferable) warranty.

The Nikon Prostaff 7S 8x 30 package.

My decision to purchase this unit was not entirely blind however. I became most intrigued by a very favourable review of this binocular from as well as a string of positive reviews posted on  Allbinos have cultivated a good reputation with die hard binocular enthusiasts owing to their impartiality and stringent testing regimes. That this binocular did so well in their tests is not surprising(in retrospect), as you’ll soon discover!

First Impressions: The binocular arrived in perfect condition. From the moment I first prized the instrument from its soft, black carry case, I was very impressed with the fit and feel of the instrument. The Prostaff 8 x 30 is exceptionally light weight; just 415g in fact, thanks to a tough, polycarbonate body overlaid by a thick, textured rubber overcoat with excellent grip. That makes it even lighter than the 8 x 32 Celestron Trailseeker(453g) I have been using in recent times. The focus wheel is exceptionally smooth with absolutely no backlash when racked clockwise or anti-clockwise from one extreme of focus travel to the other, and is also overlaid by the same thick rubber that attends the body armouring, making it wonderfully easy to manouevre either with or without gloves. From end to end, the focus wheel rotates through about 340 degrees (so less than one revolution), which translates into a very quick and responsive way to get from close up to far away with very little effort.

The Prostaff 7S 8x 30 has high quality twist-up eyecups for comfortable use with or without eye glasses.

The dioptre adjustment is located in the standard position for most binoculars offered at this price point; that is, under the right ocular lens. It is rigidly held and has a mark on it which enables the user to precisely record the optimum position for one’s eye. The unit is water proof(10 minutes at 1m depth), O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged to prevent internal fogging and corrosion of any metal parts housed inside the barrels. The eyecups are of high quality, rubber-over-metal and have four positions from fully down to fully up. They hold their positions very well, even when considerable pressure is applied to them, and stay rigidly in place in routine use. I found that the most comfortable position for my eyes was to extend them fully upwards, where they provide a comfortable 15.4mm of eye relief. That’s good enough for both eyeglass wearers and those(like yours truly) who prefer to view without glasses. The instrument is 11.9 cm long(with the eyecups fully down) and 12.3 cm width(fully extended)

The black and gold livery of the Prosfaff 7S 8x 30 is very eye-catching.

The bridge has a single central hinge that enables one to adjust the IPD with just the right amount of tension so that once adjusted, they maintain that position very well.

The Nikon Prostaff 7S 8 x 30 comes with a plastic rain guard to cover the eyepiece lenses and plastic objective caps that clip tightly into the recessed part of the objectives. Some folk have cried foul of these because they are plastic but I’ve not had that experience. I actually prefer them to the regular synthetic rubber caps since they remain tightly in place and so do their intended job  perfectly well.

Ergonomically, this little bino was a very pleasant surprise! I have always found the Celestron Trailseeker 8 x 32 quite tricky to hold in my rather small hands(for a bloke) well owing, to its very large central bridge. As you can see from the photo below, compared with the Celestron, the Nikon Prostaff 7S has a shorter bridge which enables me to wrap my hands firmly ’round the top end of the barrels much more effectively, whilst enabling me to focus using my left index finger.

The Nikon Prostaff 7S 8 x 30(right) has a significantly shorter central bridge than the Celestron Trailseeker(left), making it much easier to grip with both hands. Note the absence of a tripod stalk on the Nikon, which also frees up some space.

Another good design feature of these Prostaff 7S binoculars is their deeply recessed objective lenses, which affords protection from dust and rain, as well as serving as a barrier against the contrast-robbing peripheral glare.

The objective lenses on the Prostaff 7S are deeply recessed.

Optical Testing

The specifications supplied by Nikon state that the Prostaff 7S is fully multi-coated with a phase coating applied to the roof prisms. Light throughput is boosted by a mirror coating(possibly aluminium but more likely silver). By itself, these statements are meaningless unless one assesses the optical performance of the binocular in person. Indeed, I had learned from previous acquisitions that you don’t always get what you pay for.

But right from the get go, this little Prostaff impressed. As is my usual custom, I started by testing how good the binocular handled stray light and glare but performing my iphone torch test. This involves turning my torch up to its brightest setting and aiming the binocular directly into the light from just a few metres away. The result was excellent! Compared with my control binocular; the 8 x 42 Barr & Stroud, it showed an equally clean image, with no diffused light and only the merest amount of internal reflections. The Prostaff 7S did exhibit a fairly prominent diffraction spike though – which is common in roof prism binoculars –  much more than in my 8 x 42 control, which shows only the merest trace of a spike in comparison, but less intense than in my Zeiss Terra pocket glass. Testing the binocular on a bright sodium street lamp at night also showed excellent results, with no annoying internal reflections, excellent control of glare and a very modest diffraction spike. These results convinced me that the binocular ought to produce excellent contrast in daylight images, especially when pointed at strongly backlit subjects.

The Nikon Prostaff 7S 8x 30 passed my iphone torch test with excellent results. The Barr & Stroud 8x 42 control binocular(right) was used as a suitable control owing to its superb suppression of stray light.

Glassing a variety of targets in the open air yielded impressive results too. The image was tack sharp, with great colour rendition and contrast, and it remiined very sharp from the centre to the very edge of the binocular field. The binocular exhibits very mild pincushion distortion as judged by examining a telephone pole moved from the centre to the edge of the field stop. The brightness of the image was also noteworthy. Despite its lack of the highest reflectivity dielectric coatings, the binocular completely outperformed my 8 x 25 Zeiss Terra(a first-rate pocket glass) in low light conditions at dusk, but was very comparable to the brightness served up by the Celestron 8 x 32, which does have those dielectric prism coatings.

The Allbinos review measured the light transmission of the Prostaff 7S 8 x 30 at about 87 percent; which seems very credible to me. But what’s even more interesting is that it had a higher light transmission than the more costly Monarch 7 – measured at 85 per cent – which has ED glass objective elements.  This provides further evidence against the commonly parroted notion that ED binoculars produce brighter images; they do not! Brightness is much more strongly linked to the quality of the coatings applied to the lenses and prisms in the optical train. The Monarch 7 does have dielectric coatings however, so the Allbinos test result was a little surprising. There is a rational explanation though; having a significantly larger field than the Prostaff 7S, the Nikon Monarch 7 likely has a more complex optical design. And that usually means one or more extra optical components are needed to produce its very large (8.2 degree) field of view.  Indeed, if you look at the transmission data for a variety of ED and non-ED binos made by different manufacturers tested and published by Allbinos, you’ll soon see that ED glass does not, in itself, equate to brighter images.

As the reviewers on the Allbinos website remarked about the Prostaff 7S’ light transmission;

They didn’t stint on coatings, though. A transmission level in a wide range of the spectrum not much worse than 90% is something you don’t see often when it comes to roof prism binoculars sold at this price point.

The reader will also note that the state-of-the-art Swarovski CL Companion 8 x 30 has a transmittivity of 90 per cent(as published on  the Swarovski website), so the Prostaff 7S 8 x 30 will more than hold its own against it in low light conditions.

The larger exit pupil (3.75mm) on the Nikon Prostaff 7S makes for much easier positioning of one’s eye sockets than in smaller pocket glasses, which results in very comfortable, immersive glassing, even during prolonged field use. The silky smooth focuser makes this instrument particularly nice to use. Indeed, this little Prostaff has re-kindled my interest in both 30 and 32mm formats because of their sheer versatility. All of these findings raise an interesting and legitimate question: how can Nikon produce such a great performing binocular and market it at a relatively low price point? The answer, to some degree, pertains to its smaller field of view –  just 6.5 degrees. Most binoculars with these specifications have significantly larger fields – usually from about 7.5 to 8.3 degrees. Nikon obviously decided to restrict the field of view so as to maintain excellent image sharpness from the centre to very near the field stop. And that’s entirely understandable. I would personally prefer a smaller, sharper field than a larger one which blurs significantly as one moves out of the central sweet spot. And 6.5 degrees is plenty wide enough. I certainly don’t subscribe to the philosophy that once you regularly experience a 8+ field, there’s no going back. Besides, I already have a most excellent wide angle 8 x 42 binocular which delivers a very expansive 8.2 degree(143m@ 1000m) true field.

Another cost-cutting measure is to use a synthetic polymer to house the optics. This is quite acceptable too, as polycarbonate frames have been tried and tested with many other binocular makers over the years. It also shaves off additional weight to render the instrument lighter and more portable.

Many binoculars display a marked drop off in brightness towards the edges of the field. Not so with the little Nikon Prostaff 7S 8x 30! Indeed, I could detect little or no attenuation in brightness around the periphery of the field during daylight hours, which does add more aesthetic punch to the image garnered by this lightweight roof prism binocular that will certainly appeal to almost anyone who uses it. Chromatic aberration is very well controlled, but like most any quality instrument of this nature, it does show a trace when examining a high contrast object like a telephone pole against a bright background sky and only if you go searching for it. Like I said before in other binocular reviews, any discussion on chromatic aberration in well-made modern glasses like these amounts to little more than drivel.

The underside of the Nikon Prostaff 7S 8 x 30 binocular.

So, to sum up the daylight performance of these 8 x 30 binoculars, I would agree wholeheartedly with the concluding comments proffered by the reviewers at Allbinos:

For a quite moderate amount of money you get an optical instrument without any serious flaw. Due to its physical dimensions it might become your loyal and efficient companion on different trips……………….. we are very pleasantly surprised by the performance of the small Nikon – let’s hope there are more and more such good instruments available on the market. 

Note added in proof: My hunches regarding the lower light transmission of bigger, more complex binoculars appears to be corroborated in this Allbinos review of the Vortex Viper HD 10 x 42. But there are many other examples one can point to by means of illustration.

Ad Astra

Having in my possession a modest collection of binoculars from 20mm up to 60mm aperture, I can say, hand on heart, that 30mm is about the minimum that I would be happy with for regular stargazing. This, of course, does not at all detract from my ongoing blog using smaller pocket glasses, where I wrote (and continue to write) about using these small instruments on the basis of, “what if these were your only binocular?”

Yes, a 30mm aperture binocular will be vastly superior to a 20mm or 25mm glass when it comes to viewing the heavens. The larger aperture of the objectives and the larger exit pupil render this possible. The Prostaff 7S 8 x 30 pulled in significantly more starlight on virtually all objects I tested the glass on. Views of the showpiece objects, such as the M35, M36 to M38, the Pleiades and Hydaes, the Double Cluster, the Beehive Cluster(M44) and the Coma Berenices Cluster were very nicely rendered in this binocular with excellent contrast, while scanning the late winter Milky Way was a very pleasant experience indeed. Because of its nearly flat field, stars remain sharply focused nearly all the way to the field stop, and I was able to verify the true field of this binocular as being very close to the manufacturer’s published figure of 6.5 angular degrees. I was only just unable to image the two stars at the end of the handle of the Ploughshare(Big Dipper) – Alkaid and Mizar – within the same field. These stars are separated by 6.67 angular degrees.

Overall Conclusions

Worth the price: the Nikon Prostaff 7S 8 x 30 does what it says on the tin.

By most anyone’s standards, the Nikon Prostaff 7S 8 x 30 provides excellent ergonomics and optics given its very modest retail price. And now that the media has decimated the world economy through shameless scaremongering over the coronavirus, this would be a good binocular to acquire if you’re on a tight budget. Personally, I prefer it to the 8 x 32 Celestron Trailseeker(now bequeathed to my my eldest son) because of its superior handling, lower weight, better corrected field and similar light transmission. It’s a joy to use and should give its owners plenty to crow about for many years. In an age of deceptive advertising and influential binocular shills, the Nikon Prostaff 7S 8 x 30 could be all the binocular you might ever need.


Highly recommended!


Dr. Neil English is the author of seven books on amateur and professional astronomy. Taking no prisoners, he has dedicated much of his writings to de-bunking scientific and obsevational myths promulgated by fake gurus and armchair amateurs who wouldn’t know the North Star from Uranus.


De Fideli.

16 thoughts on “Product Review: Nikon Prostaff 7S 8 x 30.

  1. Hello, and thank you for this pleasant review.
    I recently found myself interested in widlife observation, especially birds.
    Being a lot into outdoor camping, hiking, and long distance bicycle trip, i was looking for a light an compact biconulars as a first purchase.

    After reading a lot of information all over the internet, I have chosen to buy the “Nikkon prostaff 7s” but i’m still wondering if there is a big difference with a 8×42 optics, about image quality … After all it has “only” a 225g and 5cm difference …
    It is a first purchase for me and i’m totally new in the binocular world, so i’m a bit lost ! 🙂

    Thank you !


  2. Hello Louis,

    Many thanks for your message.

    Yes indeed, the binocular market can be rather overwhelming these days with new models appearing almost weekly and so many choices to consider.

    The little Prostaff 8 x 30 is very small and lightweight so won’t get in the way as much if you’re on the road or just taking a stroll. I found it to be very good indeed with sharp optics in the centre and at the edge of the field. For the price it is very hard to beat.
    When you go to 8x 42, you get more relaxed viewing with the wider exit pupil which makes it easier to centre your eyes in the image, but it will also weigh more and be more bulky to take along with you. In the end you’re the only one who can decide which is best for you. The larger aperture 42 model will work better in low light situations and for astronomy because it picks up more light than the 30mm. If unsure, I’d go for the 8x 30 first; it costs less and may be all the binocular you need for watching nature, site seeing and birdwatching etc.

    Good look with your purchase!

    With best wishes,

    • Hello Neil,
      Thanks a lot for your answer,
      It has helped me a lot to make my final choice, and so I bought this particular model (8×30).

      As a total novice, i appreciate it a lot.
      I used it a few times to observe the birds arround a lake, and it was wonderful. As it is easy to carry, i can’t go without it anymore.
      I know it has only a x8 zoom, but one night, the sky was clear and the moon was bright and full. My girlfriend and I decided to take a look with the binoculars and we could not believe how good we could see the details and the relief on the surface.

      I showed the binoculars to my father, who compared it with his 12×52 old and heavy pentax. He was impressed by the quality and wishes he would have bought this model to carry it everywhere, even in sittuations where he didn’t planned to do any observations, like small walks.

      I’m now waiting for my next summer adventures to use it !

      Best Wishes,

  3. Dear Louis,

    That’s great to hear. The little 8x 30 is just dandy for go-anywhere observing.

    Very pleased for you!

    I can empathise with your dad too. After a thirty year hiatus with an old pair of 7x 50 I couldn’t believe how good even the less expensive roof prisms were in comparison to that old, heavy instrument. It was like night and day!

    Wishing you many wonderful years with your 8 x 30.

    With best wishes,


  4. A very comprehensive and well balanced review (And quite a refreshing change from some of the clearly biased reviews which give themselves away by throwing in affiliate links to sales websites).

    I’ve just bought a pair of 7s 10×30 and I’m fairly pleased with the image quality (mainly bought for bird watching in the garden). Can’t help noticing the chromatic aberration in the trees though which I wasn’t expecting to be quite so severe.

    Am I expecting too much from these bins to be a little disappointed with the amount of CA? Was considering sending them back in case they’re a substandard pair.

  5. Hello Paul,

    Thanks for your positive message and feedback regarding the ProStaff 7S 10 x 30.
    Alas, I have never checked out the 10x model, only the 8x, and different folk have clearly different levels of sensitivity to secondary spectrum. But in general, 8x gives the least compromised view over higher powered instruments in the same aperture class. If you’re not satisfied with the views, I would suggest sending it back and looking into another model. The Monarch 5 seems a good choice but not available in a 30mm configuration, as far as I know. But the Monarch 7 8 x 30 is almost universally lauded by glassers, but at a higher retail price.

    With best wishes,


  6. Hi Neil. Another good test report. I have three sets of Nikons: 8×40 action egrett 11’s, 7×20 travellites and 10×50 actions, all entry level, low cost binos, but all, optically excellent!! Reading your review, I’m extremely tempted to go up a level and have four sets!!

    All the best.


  7. Hello Mark,

    Thanks for your message. Those Nikons are sweet binos. I really liked the 8x 30 Prostaff 7S; really great bang for buck and super light for transport.



  8. Dear Neil
    Nikon now has new Prostaff P7 8×30 which has a wider fov of 8.7˚/152m (cf E II 8×30 of 8.8˚/154m) selling at ¥20,000 in Japan. It is made in China but I think that Nikon has good QC in their factories there.
    The Prostaff P7 8×42 is only 7.2˚/126m at ¥24,440.
    My main bird spotting binocular is an old Nikon porro 8×30 8.5˚. Not sure of the fov but it is very wide; it is otherwise a stunning view. It is probably not as good as the E II but I have yet to have the chance to test that. The E II 8×30 sells for ¥63,160 in Japan. My neighbour has an older type Nikon porro 7×35, but the fov is narrower and the image less bright. I have to agree that the Nikon 8×30 in all its versions is a great binocular. I bought mine for about ¥6,000 on the Yahoo online auction, some ten years ago. I also keep it in a dry box.
    Best wishes from central mountainous Japan.

  9. Dear Bob,

    Many thanks indeed for your feedback and thanks for bringing up the new Prostaff P7 8 x 30. I’ve heard the field of view is very impressive but some have reported that there’s a lot of plastic gone into it. For example, some one reported that the locking dioptre broke within a few days of use. That said, I think Nikon are doing great things and I agree that their QC is one of the best out there.

    I sense you’re a fellow Porro fan. My favourite formats are 8x 30 and 8x 32 as you can do everything during daylight with this aperture. The older Nikon Es are also excellent. I enjoy the 10x 35 Nikon E Criterion Widefield with its 6.6 degree field and great stereoscopic views.

    Another one to look out for is the Oberwerk SE 8x 32; a real sweet performer for a very decent price. It has arguably the best colour correction I’ve noted in this aperture class and a nice big sweet spot.

    I envy your location in the mountains of Japan; a great place to watch nature and the heavens above!

    With best wishes,


    • Dear Neil,
      Many thanks for your reply.
      I have been looking for a travel pair for a while, as I don’t want to take my precious porro 8×30 out too far (they get plenty of use in my garden though where we can have around 30 species of birds visiting even in one day). So on a trip into Tokyo I went to Yodobashi in Kichijoji, which is a gigantic shop, and found a Prostaff P7 8×30 sitting right next to a Monarch M7 8×30 on the try-it-for-yourself display. I found that there is very little optical diffference between the two. The eyecups and dioptre focus adjust seem to be identical. Both were stamped Made in China (in black and hidden underneath). The Monarch also had ED stamped on it (brightly, on top). There was a Vixen 8×30 nearby and that was also very good (and about 25% more expensive than the Prostaff). I say “very good” not as a professional birdwatcher but as a microscopist with many years of experience looking through lenses and as a keen photographer for more than six decades (Nikon and Leica). The wider FOV of the Prostaff was quite apparent. The ED lenses of the Monarch seemed not to be of any great advantage. The greatest difference between the Prostaff and Monarch was price, the Prostaff on 10% discount at ¥18,000 (about £112) and ¥43,560 (about £272) for the Monarch. For me the Prostaff is a clear winner on price/quality. I understand that there are anecdotes about parts breaking easily, but as I am used to adjusting expensive delicate equipment I will be unlikely to force anything, so fingers crossed the dioptre will not break. Lastly, I was a little taken aback that the ED Monarch was stamped made in China, as I had thought that the higher level gear from Nikon was made in Japan. Nevertheless, it seems to be just fine, and when the budget is right, the Chinese engineers should be just as capable as those in any other country.
      Best wishes,

  10. Good evening Bob,

    Good to hear of your experiences. Having tested all manner of binocular types over the last five years, I’m right on the same page as you regarding the real world benefits of ED glass. I like to think of ED glass as one small part of a very large stack of additional optical parameters that contribute to the overall image. I used to subscribe to birding magazines to check out various articles and read some reviews of binoculars. I was shocked to see the editor of one of the leading birding magazines spouting things like ” the ED glass makes the image brighter.” That’s just not true and there’s solid evidence to prove it. Still the casual reader is none the wiser to seeing though this kind of nonsense and those memes are parroted all over the internet.

    The truth is that a well designed binocular with well figured lenses, excellent antireflection coatings and good baffling will deliver a nice bright image without ED glass. Some of the best views I’ve personally experienced were through instruments with no ED glass. CA is generally very low in regular binoculars and I would never buy a binocular solely based on what kind of ED glass it might have. The classic Porros are a great example. The Swarovski Habichts, for example, achieve an astonishing light transmission of 96% and don’t use ED glass! That’s higher than any other binocular on the market including the fluorite models.

    You mentioned microscopy. I understand there are Apochromatic objectives but I don’t see many folk buying them.

    I once compared two binoculars which were identical in every way except one had ED glass and the other didn’t. I found it quite hard to see any differences! Usually you can tell by looking at off-axis fringing on high contrast images but the differences were very subtle.

    I also agree that Chinese manufacturing has improved immeasurably over the years and they are now producing excellent instruments that are taking serious money away from European and Japanese manufacturers.

    I use a Svbony SV202 8 x 42 ED roof prism binocular. It is quite inexpensive but delivers excellent images that are bright and sharp. Build quality is also excellent. I have no need of anything more expensive; it does its job perfectly well.

    The regular Monarchs are all Chinese made. The Monarch HGs and EDGs are still made in Japan.

    Will you be purchasing the Prostaff? Not sure if it’s the P3 or P7 model you were referring to?

    With best wishes,


  11. Hi Neil,
    I’d just like to say I completely agree with Bob’s assessment of the new Nikon P7
    I originaly bought the P7 10×30 but, was so happy with it I went back and bought the 8×30 model.
    The 8×30 is currently available in UK for only £169.

    • Hi Steve,

      Glad you like the P7s. They are intriguing but my Nikon EIIs do that job for me.

      Best wishes,


  12. Wonderful review, very practical information. I wish I had found this before I bought the more expensive model I own. But I will probably get this model for my daughter.

    I carry a large telephoto lens when I’m out looking for birds, so I wanted to shave a bit of weight and keep the bins compact and light. I wear glasses, so I like a decent eye relief. I appreciate a smooth focuser with a balanced resistance. I enjoy good resolution so I can see the details I need. And, as a life-long photographer, I appreciate low CA. But for this, as long as it doesn’t prevent a good look and ID, that’s good enough for me.

    I’ve found that in photography, while more expensive lenses do tend to be better than inexpensive ones, there is a diminishing return. When you spend 2x, 4x, or even 10x more, you don’t get a corresponding jump in quality. I suspect many don’t even spot the differences. This applies for bins too.

    I’ve looked through many models. One friend even owns a fancy pair of Swarovski NL Pures. They are nice, and definitely possess the best view I’ve looked through, but they aren’t 15x(+) better! I’m glad to know about these less expensive models.

    • Thanks John!

      Appreciate the feedback. The Nikon Prostaffs have been upgraded recently. You can have a Prostaff P3 or the more advanced P7. I discuss both of these in my new book.

      This is a great time to be a binocular enthusiast.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *