BBC Sky at Night Magazine
3 of the best: 7x50 binoculars
Begin your stargazing binocular adventure with wide views of the night sky
Nikon Action EX 7x50 CF
Price £169 • Field of view 6.4o • Weight 1kg • Extras Multi-click adjustable eyecups, front and back lens covers, wide strap, rubber armouring, nitrogen-filled waterproof optics, tripod mounting, carry case • Supplier Nikon UK • www.nikon.co.uk
At just 1kg, the Nikon Action EX 7x50 CF binoculars are light and can be used for long periods of observing without overly tiring your arms. They come with a soft padded case, but surprisingly this doesn’t have its own strap. The binoculars feature multi-click turn-and-slide eyecups that work well with and without spectacles, and a good range of adjustment for interpupillary distance (the distance between the pupils of your eyes) at 56–72mm.
Like many popular binoculars, these are centre focusing (alluded to in their name by the ‘CF’): you can make dioptre adjustments to the right-hand eyepiece and then use the centre focuser to bring everything into sharp focus. This is smooth in action, as is the right-hand eyepiece which has a thumbwheel adjustment. The lenses are multi-coated for better contrast and, when tested, they gave good colour rendition of stars such as the Garnet star and Antares, while the interior blackout was excellent.
So what is the view like? Interestingly, the actual field of view was the smallest of the three pairs of binoculars on review at 6.4°, but stars were crisp almost out to the field edges; we could just fit the ‘box’ section of Lyra, bordered by Beta (b), Gamma (g), Zeta (z) and Delta (d) Lyrae, in the view. Our tour of the summer Milky Way began by sweeping across Cassiopeia, up to Cygnus and down through Scutum to end with a glimpse in the light skies of M8, the Lagoon Nebula.
Generally 7x50 binoculars are best-suited to large-scale objects, so viewing the star clouds along the way was enjoyable, while there was enough light grasp and resolution to spot many of our favourite targets. The Double Cluster, low in the northeast, was nicely framed, while on the other side of the sky we picked out the Coma Star Cluster, M111, while the Sagittarius Star Cloud, M24, filled the view nicely.
Naturally, with such a wide field of view the Moon appeared small, but it looked stunning, with no hint of colour fringing. We could also just make out that Jupiter had four small companions – its Galilean moons – and amazingly we were able to catch them, with two placed on either side of the gas giant. Saturn also displayed a hint of being oval, which added to our enjoyment and satisfaction.