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Three Nikon 12x to choose from

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Old Sunday 27th January 2019, 18:05   #1
yarrellii
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Three Nikon 12x to choose from

I’m on the search for a set of 12x binoculars. I’m especially interested in the greater reach the 12x can provide compared to a 8x (I’ve tried several 10x, both porro and roof, but was not really convinced by the difference against 8x; it was there, but was nothing special). I’ve read many times that for many 10x is the limit for handheld use. However, the other day I finally got to use a pair of 12x and found that it was actually a nice view and did’t find particularly troublesome to hold it steady (if there was a higher degree of shake -I'm sure there was- it didn’t bothered me). It was a pair of old style USSR porros, the 12x40 Zomz BPC2 with a weight of 900 g/31,7 oz according to Allbinos.

I’ve been doing some research as to which 12x to get and currently there are three models on my shortlist that happen to be Nikon. I must say that I’ve had very good experiences with Nikon, I adore the 8x30 EII and I'm more than happy with the M7 8x30, despite the glare. I also have a 7x35 AE which is fine, although a little heavy and clunky. The three candidates are indeed different, and share very little besides the brand on the sticker, both in configuration and age. I'm listing them according to their price (cheapest first):

- Nikon Aculon 12x50 (LNIB from around 100 €).
Pros: price, porro, modern? (I wonder if "modern" can be called an advantage). Cons: heavy (910 g9, lowest quality.
- Nikon 12x40 5,5º WF. Porro from the 70-80’s (can be found used from a reasonable amount, in between the other two).
Pros: porro, quality?
Cons: old and dated, risky purchase
- Nikon Monarch 5 12x42 (new from a little under 300 €).
Pros: newest, brand new, very light (600 g), ED glass, waterproof, fogproof.
Cons: expensive, too light for 12x? (so, lightness can be an advantage and a disadvantage, how funny is that?)

So, two porros and one roof.
I haven’t tried any of them, and it is actually quite unlikely that I can do it (because of where I live). As a bit of background, I don’t mind buying used and I like porros (or should I say, “I don’t mind porros”), and actually enjoy the 3D vision and the plasticity of the image they provide, so I’ve listed “being porro” as an advantage, but there are many lovely roofs as well.

What is your experience with any of these?
Will the Aculon with their modern coatings beat the good ol’ 12x40 WF?
Can a roof at 600 g offer a reasonable/usable view in a 12x configuration?
I found the 900 g of the Zomz very reasonable for handheld use, but then the tubes were quite short, so the feeling was that of a stubby and compact binocular, comfortable to hold and use. Will the size/weight of the Aculon be usable?

As a wildcard… the Zomz; extremely easy to find used and at good prices (although this is always a gamble with old binoculars). How do you think the Zomz will perform against the 12x40 WF or the Aculons?

Thanks for any ideas (obviously, any interesting suggestion for a 12x binocular is more than welcome).

Last edited by yarrellii : Sunday 27th January 2019 at 18:36.
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Old Sunday 27th January 2019, 18:27   #2
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There is a 1995 WF 12X40 for sale on CN from a trustworthy seller,and he will ship internationally. If I were to choose from any of those, that would be the one.

Andy W.
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Old Sunday 27th January 2019, 18:40   #3
yarrellii
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Thanks for the input, dries1. I saw that a few days ago and sounds very tempting, but the price + shipping + customs would most probably place it in +400 € territory, which I find a bit steep for a secondary set (my main binoculars still are a 8x). I don't think I want to go beyond the 300 € threshold. However, that particular Nikon on CN looks soooo tempting (I think they could get on very well with my 8x30 EII :) ).
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Old Sunday 27th January 2019, 20:15   #4
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Would you be using the 12x for terrestrial viewing most of the time with occasional star gazing?, perhaps the Monarch 5 12X42 could be the one, although I have no experience with it. The 12X50 Aculons would be better suited if primarily used for the night sky because of the aperture.
Not many glass made in the 12X configuration, at least compared to 8 or 10X, and the quality at that price point not as good as the 8 or 10X choices. CN has much comparisons with the Aculons and Action Extreme models in 12X, so there is the feedback there.

Or wait, save some $$ and look for a used SE 12X50.

Andy W.
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Old Sunday 27th January 2019, 22:36   #5
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12x50 old Japanese Ultraview Porro (best of six tried in shop), 12x45 Baigish and 12x56 ED Barr and Stroud are my normal standard binocular.
I used the selected 12x45 Baigish as my main binocular for ten years.
I have no trouble at all using any of these hand held, although I may brace them on anything to hand.
I also like the old Minolta 12x50 Activa FMC Porro, although not as wide AFOV as Minolta Standard MKs.
And the Nikon 12x50 Action VII is O.K.

I also have two 12x40 Soviet binoculars in the two eyepiece variants. Almost 6 degree fields.
I prefer the 12x45 Baigish with about 5.3 or 5.4 degree field.
For me the 12x45 Baigish easily outresolves the Nikon 10x35 EII hand held. For me it has superb balance being long and old fashioned.

I don't wear glasses with binoculars.

The 12x40 Nikon sounds good if in clean and aligned condition.
I would like one.

I thought of the 12x42 Nikon, but narrow field and not great reviews.

I don't like the 8x32 SE or 10x42 SE Nikon because of image blackout although they are very good optically. That is why I have no desire at all for a 12x50 Nikon SE.
Others love the Nikon SE.

For someone who prefers 12x binoculars, then use a 12x.

Last edited by Binastro : Sunday 27th January 2019 at 22:51.
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Old Monday 28th January 2019, 10:41   #6
yarrellii
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@dries1 Yes, I do like some backyard stargazing several days a week. So the intended use is, as you imagined, mixed. I live on a small island, so I'm basically surrounded by coastline and nice opportunities to spot gulls, waders, gannets, Elenora's falcon, flamingos and the like. So I'd say both birdwatching and stargazing will share a 50/50 use. I'd love to try the Nikon SE, but if I ever save for that model, I think it would be for the 8x32, which is my preferred format One thing that worries me about the Aculon is the optical quality (being spoilt by the EII as I am). However, the Aculon is the only one I think I can actually try before buying, so I'll give it a try.

@Binastro Wow, really impressive, thanks! I wasn't aware of the Baigish 12x45 and your comment about the Baigish outresolving the Nikon EII sounds really amazing. As for the images of the Baigish 12x45 that I've found online, it does look a bit larger/clunkier than the Zomz 12x40, doesn't it? I'm trying to find the weight of the Baigish 12x45 but I'm finding varying figures from different sources. However, all of them seem to indicate that it is under 900 g. That sounds really light for a classic 12x45 (or my image thereof according to the pictures).

Thanks for your help and information. I'm a newcomer to the world of binoculars, so I don't have experience with older models, and I think my views are a bit biased towards modern optics. I remember trying an excellent unit of CZJ 8x30 multicoated Jenoptem and being quite underwhelmed comparing it to a 100 € Leupold Yosemite/Kowa IF, so I'm always curious as to how would a humble but modern Aculon compare to a classic Zomz/Nikon, etc.
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Old Monday 28th January 2019, 11:15   #7
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Hi Yarrellii,

Specially for you (:
Just weighed the Bin2 (Cyrilic) 12x45M Made in Russia 1994.
816 gram.
About 19cm long.

Mine is not marked Baigish.
It is in great condition even after 10 years of daily use, although I don't use it regularly now.
Serial number first two numbers give date of manufacture.

Coatings not great and maybe yellow cast, which I don't really notice.
Best of six.
But imports through the U.K. were generally better than home market ones.
I would be wary of modern ones as the price has been driven down and quality by Chinese methods of doing business.

So I would try out one if you find it.

I have the Aculon 10x42 and it is O.K.
Generally about 9 out of 10 of these types of Nikon are in good alignment new.

At least a 12x50 Aculon could be returned if not up to your standards.
Secondhand binoculars can be a risky purchase.

Regards,
B

Last edited by Binastro : Monday 28th January 2019 at 11:19.
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Old Monday 28th January 2019, 11:37   #8
yarrellii
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Binastro: Oh, thanks for weighting the binoculars, that was so nice!!!
816 g sounds pretty light for that binocular (the 12x40 Zomz I tried was supposed to be 900 g and I found it reasonably light).

As for the nomenclature and designations, I've been doing some research and it can be quite daunting. I've been reading Simon Spears, Holger Merlitz and many other contributors like yourself here in BF and also in CN. So, considering the price difference, now I'm hesitant, because most people praise the Baigish and Zomz, and they can be found at quite inexpensive prices (although it is impossible to try them beforehand I have found some sellers that accept returns).

Thanks again for all the information :)
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 08:28   #9
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A quick update: I have finally opted for the Nikon E (C), really looking forward to seeing what the last of the 12X E can deliver. I'll post my impressions when I lay my hands (or should I say "eyes") on them :)
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 10:07   #10
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Hi,

sounds like the best option short of an SE... I hope they arrive in good order!

Joachim
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Old Sunday 3rd February 2019, 01:27   #11
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Congrats on your new purchase. 12x does indeed offer considerably more reach than 8x (wobble is also significantly greater to me - but if you can brace elbows etc. against knees or railings it will help tremendously) and that model of the E series is well regarded. Look forward to reading your impressions.
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Old Tuesday 5th February 2019, 17:13   #12
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Today I finally got the Nikon E (C) 12x40 and the first thing I've noticed is how small they are. They look more like a 8x40 than a 12x. And then... they're so light. A mere 675 g (23,8 oz) which feels even lighter in the hand, maybe because there's no rubber armor, so the feeling you get reminds me of a bare metal tube on a classic bicycle frame: strong and light. I just can't believe how light these are, really. I've taken a picture for comparison with two other Nikon porros. A 8x30 EII and a 7x35 Action EX. The 12x40 is actually way lighter than the 7x35 (675 vs 800 g), and feels way more nimble (the AE does feel a bit clunky).

Then I've gone to test them briefly, since I didn't have a lot of time. I've gone to some nearby cliffs to watch the gannets dive into the sea on the west coast of Ibiza, where I live (a favourite spot during the wintertime). I'm no expert in optics (and my experience relates to this first contact, so I won't go into technical details that escape my knowledge).
- Magnification (an important point, since this is actually the reason I bought these binoculars). I had a 8x30 Nikon M7 by my side as a reference. While the 10x binoculars I've tried showed me no relevant difference compared to 8x (to my eyes, this is), at 12x I feel I see somehow "what I wanted to find on a 10x" (I don't know if this makes any sense). On this particular stretch of coast the gannets come quite close to land, so with the 12x you can appreciate their "mask" and the yellowish colour of their head: Nice!
- Image quality. Today it's a lovely end-of-Wintertime day that feels more like Spring: plenty of light and hardly any cloud at sight. Furthermore, the "temperature" of the light has been lovely over the last weeks, so the texture of the birds' plumage was just very lovely indeed (somehow like in a magazine; the Nikon have little to do here, it's just the time of the year). All in all, I've been very pleased with the contrast and the sense of clearness/crispness of the image. When the gannets entered the sea, the splash of water was really bold and 3D some (so to speak). The "rustic" calculation of afov is 66, which is supposed to be good to very good, but then I've found it to be ok (I need to do more tests, obviously, remember this is just a first contact, but I'm not 100 % sure that I am able to see 100 % of the fov, and I don't wear glasses). As for the inherent shake on a 12x, well, there was some shake, but I don't think I've found it to be particularly bothersome (mind you I've just used them for a limited time).
- Tactile/Haptic/Comfort. The size of the binoculars is just right (I mean, not for this 12x, but in general terms I wouldn't mind having a high quality 8x42, say a EII with this exact shape and weight, but then I've never tried a Swift Audubon, which, looking at the dimension/weight could be a close relative). Probably the only part that I've not found so great are the eyepieces, because they're the E and I'm used to the EII, where the rubber eyecup is way higher, on the 12x40 E I feel I'm very close to the glass on the eyepiece (maybe I'm not used to this), so I guess it won't be the best binoculars for spectacle users.

Well, that's it for now. Very happy with the little 12x40, surprised of their combination of lightweight comfortable handling, proper usable magnification and clear views.
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Last edited by yarrellii : Tuesday 5th February 2019 at 18:16.
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Old Tuesday 5th February 2019, 18:15   #13
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They don't seem to have been mentioned but also Nikon produced a pair of 12x36 roof prism binoculars. (image at: https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...lars-464827789). I have a pair and they were bought initially as a replacement for a pair of Zeiss Dialyts that were stolen from my car when I couldn't afford to replace them. I used them for years until purchasing a newer model with a wider field of view and much better close-focusing. Being quite light the 12x wasn't a problem.
Martin
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Old Sunday 10th February 2019, 13:44   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yarrellii View Post

I've gone to some nearby cliffs to watch the gannets dive into the sea on the west coast of Ibiza, where I live (a favourite spot during the wintertime).

- On this particular stretch of coast the gannets come quite close to land, so with the 12x you can appreciate their "mask" and the yellowish colour of their head: Nice!

- Image quality. Today it's a lovely end-of-Wintertime day that feels more like Spring: plenty of light and hardly any cloud at sight. Furthermore, the "temperature" of the light has been lovely over the last weeks, so the texture of the birds' plumage was just very lovely indeed (somehow like in a magazine; the Nikon have little to do here, it's just the time of the year). All in all, I've been very pleased with the contrast and the sense of clearness/crispness of the image. When the gannets entered the sea, the splash of water was really bold and 3D some (so to speak).

- Tactile/Haptic/Comfort. The size of the binoculars is just right (I mean, not for this 12x, but in general terms I wouldn't mind having a high quality 8x42, say a EII with this exact shape and weight, but then I've never tried a Swift Audubon, which, looking at the dimension/weight could be a close relative).

Well, that's it for now. Very happy with the little 12x40, surprised of their combination of lightweight comfortable handling, proper usable magnification and clear views.
I loved your descriptions amigo. I can just imagine how the pure whites of your gannets' plumage look through a 12x binocular, either on the cliffs or as they fly out against the blue sea, in that brilliant Mediterranean sun. So different to the grey conditions that dominate here at this time of the year! Those are the perfect conditions for using a porro. On those very bright clear days in our warmer months, even something like an old Zeiss West (single coated and with far worse light transmision figures to your E series Nikon) is bright enough, and the weather and temperature really let that kind of binocular play to its greatest strengths. Small porros fit my hands just as comfortably as roofs the same size (my 12x is a x50 with large prisms - much more cumbersome than your 12x40), and if you're on a cliff you can brace your elbows on your knees for a great steady view. Probably 95% plus of my observation is done with 8x or 10x (unlike you I do notice a difference going from 8x to 10x) but there's no doubt that for more detailed observation of individual birds, a 12x really shines.

PS. Do you see Eleonora's falcons in your area later in the year?

Regards
patudo

Last edited by Patudo : Sunday 10th February 2019 at 16:46.
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Old Sunday 10th February 2019, 16:58   #15
yarrellii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patudo
On those very bright clear days in our warmer months, even something like an old Zeiss West (single coated and with far worse light transmision figures to your E series Nikon) is bright enough, and the weather and temperature really let that kind of binocular play to its greatest strengths.
Absolutely. It took me a while to discover that here by the Med I dind't nee to haul a heavy 8x42 all day long, and that something with a smaller exit pupil would suffice for 90 % of what I do (for the rest, I have a night binocular 8x56 that delivers really bright images no matter the light conditions). So, yes, I guess the weather where you live does have an impact on the binocular you need/can use.

Quote:
Do you see Eleonora's falcons in your area later in the year?
Well, I'm not 100 % sure about their behaviour in other areas within their range, but here in the Balearic islands they're particularly known for being very late migrants. They have synchronized their lay so that they take advantage of the Fall migration of passerines going South to feed their offspring later than is usual for falcons or birds of prey here. It is not unusual to see them well into late October, I'm not so sure about how easy is to spot them in November.
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