Nikon Sportstar EX series are particularly compact and foldable. The Sportstar model is great for travel and on all occasions where compact, robust binoculars are what you need.
Nikon is a Japanese manufacturer of precision optical devices, including binoculars. The company is one of the world’s market leaders in cameras, and precision optics and is known for high-quality optics that work reliably also under difficult conditions.
Nikon’s main business is cameras and lenses, but other optical devices such as binoculars, microscopes, and telescopes are also manufactured by Nikon.
Their range of binoculars includes around twenty different series so that every user can find a suitable instrument for his needs.
Nikon Sportstar EX 8×25 Compact Binoculars
The Nikon Sportstar EX 8×25 has a robust, small, foldable housing that is O-ring sealed which makes it waterproof and fog-free. These compact binoculars from Nikon are available in the specifications 8×25 and 10×25, they are nice little all-round binoculars for occasional bird watching, nature viewing, sporting events, outdoors, or traveling.
Shortly before the world came to a travel hold, my brother went on a trip to South Africa. When in South Africa, then you have to go on a safari to see the wildlife and the Big Five. He bought this small, compact Nikon 8×25. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had these compact travel binoculars with me in the woods to try them out.
Specifications of Nikon Sportstar EX 8×25 Binoculars
|Optical Glass||Crown Eco-Glass (lead and arsenic-free)|
|Prism type||BaK4 Roof|
|Objective diameter||25 mm|
|Exit pupil||3.1 mm|
|Eye relief||10 mm|
|Field of view||426 ft/1000yrd|
|Close focus||8 feet|
|Water resistance||O-ring sealed/Waterproof/|
|Weight||10.5 oz/ 300 gr|
First Impression of the Nikon Sportstar EX 8×25 Binoculars
The specs are actually pretty standard for an 8×25 instrument. But note the wide field of view, where the Nikon Sportstar stands out a bit.
Holding the Nikon Sportstar 8×25 it feels solid and of high quality, you wouldn’t expect anything else from Nikon.
When folded up the binoculars are really compact and easily fit in the palm of your hand they are very light too. It lies comfortably and well-balanced in the hand, the rubber armoring of the housing provides a good grip.
The eyepiece caps are not very tight and come off right, they are a bit flimsy. But everything else is great. The center hinge allows for a smooth unfolding to adjust the distance between the eyes. Nothing rattles and everything is solid.
The central focus wheel also rotates smoothly. When you look into the lens from the front, the view is clear and unobstructed, and if you put it on your eye and take a look through it, you will notice the good image quality.
The Binoculars Housing
The housing of the binoculars is made of durable and tough polycarbonate plastic, as is usual these days. The material does not deform when impacted and is corrosion-resistant, another advantage is the lightweight. The case is covered with a thick non-slip plastic coating that provides a good grip and protects the device should it be dropped.
Dimensions and Weight
With a weight of just under 11 ounces, the binoculars are quite light so that they can always be carried along without tiring you out.
A disadvantage of the low weight may be that you are more likely to have to deal with shaky observation because shocks and even slight tremors are more likely to be transmitted to the instrument.
Waterproof Fog Proof
The advantages of an O-ring seal and nitrogen filling in binoculars can hardly be underestimated. When you are out in nature, exposed to the elements and adverse weather, the advantages of a waterproof and fog-proof binocular are obvious. You pay a few dollars more for this, but it’s well worth it.
The center focus wheel runs smoothly and even, it takes almost 3 turns to adjust from near to infinity. It may be good to focus precisely on an object, but it’s a lot of turning if things should go fast.
Middle Bridge & Hinge
The middle hinge design is not so much to my liking. The tubes are hung individually on a central plate, as is so often the case with compact binoculars, so you always have a somewhat asynchronous adjustment of the tubes. So far so good you can live with that, but with the model I had here the hinge function was almost too easy to move, the binoculars had to be adjusted to my IPD again every time I put them on my eyes.
The Sportstar has a diopter adjustment on the right eyepiece of +/-2 so that even minor corrections for different eyesight can be made. The eye relief is only 10mm which will not be sufficient for most users who rely on glasses.
The adjustment ring for the diopter compensation is rather stiff, which is not so tragic because once you have adjusted it to your eye once, then that’s it.
The binoculars have twist-out eyecups that can be twisted out almost a good quarter of an inch, but they don’t really snap into place.
When screwed in, the diopter setting ring is a bit difficult to grasp. But since the cups can be turned so easily, that will always be the first thing that happens when you adjust the diopter.
In terms of optical performance, you immediately notice it’s a Nikon. It’s really good compared to many other small compact binoculars.
The 8x magnification is the perfect power for such a small, lightweight binocular. And thanks to the good optics from Nikon, the excellent optical glasses with multi-coated lenses, and the BAK 4 prisms, there is nothing to complain about in terms of imaging performance.
Detailed, bright, and high-contrast images make viewing with the Nikon Sportstar a pleasure.
With a field of view of 8.2 degrees, which corresponds to 143 meters in reality, this small, compact instrument is a real wide-angle binocular.
The coating on the lenses makes a big difference in binoculars in terms of transmission and the quality of the images displayed. But here with this Nikon, it becomes clear that “only” multi-coated lenses can also project significantly better images than comparable inexpensive binoculars that are equipped with fully coated lenses.
It simply depends on the workmanship and precise even application of the coating. A precise multi-coated layer performs better than a not so evenly and precisely applied fully multi-coatings.
See the beautiful round exit pupil without edge shadows, which confirms the BaK-4 prisms in the Sportstar 8×25 binoculars.
This once again shows that processing and the quality of the optical glass can make a difference. Because even though the BAk4 prisms or the Sportstar are not phase corrected, there is a much less chromatic aberration to be noticed than in some binoculars that sport phase-corrected prisms.
Eye Relief of the Nikon Sportstar
The eye relief is only 10mm which is really not much. It is sufficient for people with normal vision, people who wear glasses cannot get along with these binoculars.
The closest focusing distance of the Nikon Sportstar is just under 8 feet. This is actually quite excellent, so you can use it to take a closer look at interesting insects or other small things that are sitting close in front of you.
Edge sharpness and Edge Blurring
Using the Nikon Sportstar is really fun, the images are beautifully sharp and rich in contrast. The middle 50% of the field of view is beautifully sharp.
Less edge sharpness is normal with cheap binoculars and anyway, nobody looks at stuff that’s near the edge of the field of view is (except when testing the binoculars) but swings the instrument.
In any case, you can live with it because the human eye only sees a very small central field of vision in detail and you turn your head when you look at something of interest to bring it into the middle.
The Nikon lets you see the objects in near-natural, true-to-life colors. Looking at a white house facade in the midday light, it appears as white as with the naked eye.
Some green vegetation may appear slightly warmer in certain lighting conditions.
Chromatic Aberration / Color Fringing
In cheap optics that do not use the very best glass, you often have chromatic aberration that is clearly visible. But Nikon scores here again. Almost no chromatic aberration is noticeable during normal use. Even with extreme bright dark transitions in backlighting, the effect is only slight.
Pros of Nikon Sportstar EX 8×25 Waterproof Binoculars
- Great Build Quality from Nikon
- Good optical performance
- O-ring sealed, Nitrogen purged, Waterproof
- Very compact when folded up
- Accessories: eyepiece lens caps, padded carry case, neck-strap
Cons of the Nikon Sportstar EX 8×25
Nikon is known for great optical instruments, but good ones come at a price. This is one of Nikon’s cheapest binoculars, well worth the money but has a few flaws.
- Prisms not phase corrected
- Eyecups not lockable
Using The Nikon Sportstar EX 8×25
The Nikon Sportstar 10×25 is a lightweight, stylish binocular with a robust o-ring sealed housing. The rubber is non-slip and the Sportstar feels good in the hand.
The 8x magnification makes viewing a pleasure. The lens diameter of 25 mm in combination with the multi-coated lenses ensures a bright, clear image even in low light.
Summary for the Nikon Sportstar EX 8×25
Very affordable compact binoculars from a world-renowned brand manufacturer of high-quality optical instruments. Ideal for anyone looking for a robust and inexpensive compact binocular for travel, hiking, nature, bird, or wildlife observation.
The rubber-coated housing is robust and ensures comfortable handling and a secure grip. The mechanics, the central hinge, the focus wheel, and the diopter adjustment work smoothly and flawlessly.
What is worth noting is the O-ring seal and nitrogen purging of the instrument. Actually, all binoculars should be waterproof, but for many instruments under $100, being waterproof is not standard at all.
The optical performance of the instrument with sharp, contrast images in the central field of vision is better than comparably priced models.
Blurring towards the edge can be noticed, but this is completely normal for such an affordable instrument, edge sharpness costs a lot of money.
There are certainly binoculars with better optical performance, but you pay up to ten times as much for them. Sometimes the added value is out of proportion to the benefit
The eye relief of just 10mm is a bit on the short side. Hardly a problem for people with normal vision, but not so suitable for people who need to wear glasses when looking through binoculars.
In summary, there is nothing wrong with the Nikon Sportstar, it is a good, small compact binocular that will be a reliable companion for the recreational nature and wildlife observer.