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Any real differences between these binoculars? (1 Viewer)

neil calabro

Active member
Hi all,
I am looking for a pair of budget binoculars & found these two Nikon models. From a birder's perspective are there many differences between the two models? The field of view looks better on the Trailblazers. I have been able to try out the Trailblazers at a store & they seemed passable. The ProStaffs are not stocked by any stores near me. What do you all think?

Nikon® ProStaff 7 ATB Binoculars, 8x42 Nikon® ProStaff 7 ATB Binoculars, 8x42 http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/71309?feat=PROSTAFF-SR0&attrValue_0=Black
Field of View 330 ft. at 1,000 yd.

Nikon 8x42 Trailblazer ATB Binocular
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/482992-REG/Nikon_8220_8x42_Trailblazer_ATB_Binocular.html
Field of View 367 feet @ 1000 yd /

Thanks, Neil
 

ceasar

Well-known member
The Trailblazers don't have phase coated prisms. Compare their specs on the Eagle Optics website.
 
Last edited:

brocknroller

A professed porromaniac
United States
The Trailblazers don't have phase coated prisms. Compare their specs on the Eagle Optics website.

Neither does the Zeiss 7x42 EDF, but you don't see Star Farmer or Holger complaining. :)

Okay, that one may be an exception to the rule, for $1,000 it better be. But at the lower price level, phase coatings will make the image noticeably sharper.

Niel makes a good point, though, about the FOV. I could never understand why both Nikon and Pentax make lower priced, lower quality bins with wider FsOV than their more moderately priced roofs (or in the case of Pentax, even their top of the line roofs).

I looked through a Trailblazer in a sports store a while back, wasn't too pleased with the edges but it otherwise seemed okay. But edge sharpness has nothing to do with phase coatings, which are added because the light passing through Schmidt-Pecan roof prisms bounces off the surfaces of the mirror an uneven number of times and emerges out of phase. The p-coatings corrects this.

Very few roofs these days don't have phase coatings. Not sure why Nikon is holding out, the price difference isn't that great with the Prostaff.

The Prostaff 7 has a smaller FOV than the Trailblazer, but better edges. It's also 7" long! If you have small hands, you might find it unwieldy, but if you have big mitts like me, it might be just what you need to wrap you hands around and steady the image.

BF member Jerry (NDHunter) owns a pair and likes the Pro 7, and he's pretty picky (not as picky as me, but he owns top of the line roofs so that's a pretty good recommendation).

Also check out the Monarch 3. It's the new model, a step up with silver coatings (brighter) and in a smaller but not too small package. I don't care for the Monarch ATB. It's too short for my hands, but the image is the brightest (dielectric coatings).

If you are new to the bin buying game, here's what you need to know about coatings. There are three coatings to consider when purchasing a bin: Anti-reflection coatings - industry standard is Fully Multicoated but not all bins are FMC, some are multicoated (MC), some only fully coated. Old bins might say just "coated"; these increase light transmission

Then there's phase coatings, already discussed, and lastly prism reflective coatings.

Here's a tutorial on the differences in levels of anti-reflection coatings.

http://www.nightskyinfo.com/binoculars-optics/

Prism reflective coatings, unlike the AR coatings that increase light transmission, reflect light like a mirror and determine how much of the light gets reflected off the prisms.

The Prostaff has aluminum coatings (good, somewhat bright), the Monarch 3 has silver coatings (better, brighter), and the Monarch ATB has dielectric coatings (best, brightest).

If you wanted all the best coatings technology in a roof, you would look for FMC on the lenses, and phase coatings and dielectric coatings on the prisms.

But aluminum and silver coated prisms coatings will work fine (Nikon's mid-tier $1,000 Premier roofs still have sliver coatings), they just won't be as bright if you compared them side by side with a roof whose prisms are dielectric coated (might be noticeable on an overcast day).

In any case, if the Prostaff 7 is within your budget, for birding it would be preferable to the Trailblazer.

Brock
 

neil calabro

Active member
Neither does the Zeiss 7x42 EDF, but you don't see Star Farmer or Holger complaining. :)

Okay, that one may be an exception to the rule, for $1,000 it better be. But at the lower price level, phase coatings will make the image noticeably sharper.

Niel makes a good point, though, about the FOV. I could never understand why both Nikon and Pentax make lower priced, lower quality bins with wider FsOV than their more moderately priced roofs (or in the case of Pentax, even their top of the line roofs).

I looked through a Trailblazer in a sports store a while back, wasn't too pleased with the edges but it otherwise seemed okay. But edge sharpness has nothing to do with phase coatings, which are added because the light passing through Schmidt-Pecan roof prisms bounces off the surfaces of the mirror an uneven number of times and emerges out of phase. The p-coatings corrects this.

Very few roofs these days don't have phase coatings. Not sure why Nikon is holding out, the price difference isn't that great with the Prostaff.

The Prostaff 7 has a smaller FOV than the Trailblazer, but better edges. It's also 7" long! If you have small hands, you might find it unwieldy, but if you have big mitts like me, it might be just what you need to wrap you hands around and steady the image.

BF member Jerry (NDHunter) owns a pair and likes the Pro 7, and he's pretty picky (not as picky as me, but he owns top of the line roofs so that's a pretty good recommendation).

Also check out the Monarch 3. It's the new model, a step up with silver coatings (brighter) and in a smaller but not too small package. I don't care for the Monarch ATB. It's too short for my hands, but the image is the brightest (dielectric coatings).

If you are new to the bin buying game, here's what you need to know about coatings. There are three coatings to consider when purchasing a bin: Anti-reflection coatings - industry standard is Fully Multicoated but not all bins are FMC, some are multicoated (MC), some only fully coated. Old bins might say just "coated"; these increase light transmission

Then there's phase coatings, already discussed, and lastly prism reflective coatings.

Here's a tutorial on the differences in levels of anti-reflection coatings.

http://www.nightskyinfo.com/binoculars-optics/

Prism reflective coatings, unlike the AR coatings that increase light transmission, reflect light like a mirror and determine how much of the light gets reflected off the prisms.

The Prostaff has aluminum coatings (good, somewhat bright), the Monarch 3 has silver coatings (better, brighter), and the Monarch ATB has dielectric coatings (best, brightest).

If you wanted all the best coatings technology in a roof, you would look for FMC on the lenses, and phase coatings and dielectric coatings on the prisms.

But aluminum and silver coated prisms coatings will work fine (Nikon's mid-tier $1,000 Premier roofs still have sliver coatings), they just won't be as bright if you compared them side by side with a roof whose prisms are dielectric coated (might be noticeable on an overcast day).

In any case, if the Prostaff 7 is within your budget, for birding it would be preferable to the Trailblazer.

Brock

Hi Brock,
Thanks so much for a really thoughtful answer. I learned a lot. I will go with the ProStaff7s.
Best,
Neil
 

ceasar

Well-known member
Brock,
In the case of the Trailblazers being cheaper and having a wider FOV Nikon probably did it because it doesn't have phase coatings (it might be built by an entirely different sub-contractor than the others are-it looks much different) and Nikon needed something to help sell them otherwise. I remember Henry writing that it is not hard to tweak a wider FOV into a binocular, even while using the same eyepieces.
Bob
 
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brocknroller

A professed porromaniac
United States
Brock,
In the case of the Trailblazers being cheaper and having a wider FOV Nikon probably did it because it doesn't have phase coatings (it might be built by an entirely different sub-contractor than the others are-it looks much different) and Nikon needed something to help sell them otherwise. I remember Henry writing that it is not hard to tweak a wider FOV into a binocular, even while using the same eyepieces.
Bob

Bob,

Even though the Trailblazer is listed on both Nikon's birding and hunting Webpages, I suspect that more hunters than birders buy it.

Most hunters don't need to see fine detail such as field markings on a tiny bird but rather larger details on a big animal such as how many "points" on a buck's antlers. Hence, phase coatings are optional.

OTOH, hunters' targets are at much greater distances than birders, and they hunt in the winter under poor lighting, so one could argue that they need the sharpest and brightest optics they can afford. Hence, why every hunter in Colorado owns a Swarovski bin (according to dennis :).

Neil is buying the Prostaff 7 for birding, but here's the way Nikon pitches the Prostaff in its commercial:

"Drawing on its ATB roots, the PROSTAFF 7 defines the glassing experience for success-minded hunters who demand all-out performance. Engineered for a lifetime of extreme field use, the PROSTAFF 7 offers bright, high-resolution optics, long eye relief and a sleek, ultra-rugged body that will go the distance with the promise of uncompromising waterproof, fogproof performance..."

Nikon appears to be taking a "shotgun approach" in marketing the same bins to both hunters and birders in hope that they hit their target, whoever it may be.

Brock
 
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