Nikon is a world-renowned optics brand that produces numerous high-quality imaging and optical devices for personal and commercial markets, such as digital SLR cameras, mirror-less cameras, interchangeable camera lenses, binoculars, microscopes, laser rangefinders, lithography equipment, and Industrial Metrology systems. Presently, the company is a member of the Japan-based conglomerate Mitsubishi Group of Companies.
Nikon was established in 1917 in Tokyo, Japan as a producer of film cameras and standalone lenses for various optical equipment, for instance, microscopes, telescopes, and inspection systems. Initially called Nippon Kogaku K.K., the company was founded after three popular optics manufacturers, namely Tokyo Keiki’s factory, the Iwaki Glass Factory, and the Fuji Lens Factory, agreed to merge their respective business operations to form one corporation. The company produced various lenses for multiple local businesses in the years following WW1, which helped the business gain traction in its initial years.
Nikon launched the well-known “Nikkor” lens line in 1932. The newly branded lenses quickly gained the attention of professional photographers who paired the lenses with other cameras. During WW2, the company’s focus remained on producing military-grade tools, such as binoculars, periscopes, and bombsights for the Japanese armed forces. It was only after the end of the war that Nikon was able to unveil its first line of wide-angle consumer cameras, Nikon, which greatly boosted the business in the Asian region. An American photojournalist came across interchangeable Nikkor lenses while covering the Korean War, which he later took back with him to the USA. According to the New York Times, the Nikkor lenses proved to be superior in performance to German lenses of the time. This was how Nikon received admiration in North America in the 1950s.
In 1959, the Nikon brand was reused to launch the pioneering F-series SLR cameras after resolving a historic brand-scuffle over “Nikon” with Zeiss Camera AG. Nippon Kogaku K.K. was eventually renamed to Nikon Corporation in 1988, after the success of Nikon cameras.
The headquarters of Nikon Corporation has remained in Tokyo, Japan since its inception. The first Nikon factory, Oi Plant was established in 1917 in Tokyo, which was primarily focused on the manufacturing of glass lenses. This is the same location where Aero-Nikkor lenses were originally produced. In the following years, a number of additional manufacturing facilities were set up throughout the country to cater to the growing demand for SLR cameras, lenses, and sport optics. However, not all Nikon products are manufactured in Japan.
Nikon sources some of its affordable line of products from countries with comparatively economical labor, such as China, Laos, and Thailand. Products, such as binoculars and other sports optics are mainly manufactured in Japan, while some affordable models are produced in China. The optical glass, objective lenses, and microscopes are made in China. Digital cameras and interchangeable lenses for cameras are mass-produced in Japan and Thailand. Ophthalmic lenses are manufactured in Japan and Canada. This diversification helps to keep the overall price of these products in reach of people who are looking for quality products on a budget.
Since Nikon products are manufactured at several worldwide locations, a constant emphasis on quality that defines the Nikon brand is kept at all factories across the globe. To achieve this, the Nikon way of Monodzukuri (manufacturing) uses optimization methods from a group-wide viewpoint on all product development activities, such as design, procurement, production, and quality, which are implemented at all factories. The company has also crafted a Basic Quality Policy that outlines essential strategies for the quality management system to improve cost, quality, and delivery by preventing errors from occurring. To guarantee its implementation, a Quality Control directive is set up that certifies the execution of the policy, which in turn, ensures a constant “Made by Nikon” quality standard throughout the Nikon group.
Made in Japan
All the premium Nikon binoculars are manufactured and assembled in-house at multiple production facilities in Japan. This allows the company to maintain a great level of optical performance and built quality of the higher-end models.
The following variants are currently manufactured and assembled in Japan.
- WX 7×50/10×50 IF
If you are looking for an on-the-go binocular-telescope that can be used to view astronomical bodies and distant natural objects without a mount, then WX is the absolute best choice out there. The premium device is equipped with full multi-coated ED glass lenses and Abbe-Koenig roof prisms that produce ultra-bright images with high definition colors and stunning contrast ratios. The field flattener lenses minimize edge blur and further improve sharpness to produce edge-to-edge views in all lighting conditions. Some other specs are magnesium-alloy housing, Nitrogen waterproofing, individual focus system, and adjustable eyecups.
The cutting-edge Nikon EDG binoculars are designed to accompany you on virtually any expedition or leisure journey you can think of. The premium device is fitted with phase-corrected roof prisms and ED lenses with full multi-coating to provide breath-taking visuals with high contrast and true colours. Other features of the series include field flattener lenses, effective waterproofing up to 5 m, center dioptre focus, adjustable-detachable eyecups, and a robust magnesium construction for added protection.
It is available in the standard 32 and 42 objective sizes with 7x, 8x, and 10x magnifications.
- Monarch HG
Monarch HG is famous for people who love to spend time outdoors and explore the beauty of nature in high detail. The Monarch series comes with high-end optical features, such as ED glass lenses, phase-coated roof prisms, field flattener lenses, magnesium construction, Nitrogen waterproofing, caps for objective and eyepiece, and a rubber coat for comfortable grip regardless of the weather.
Monarch HG is available in 8×42 and 10×42 variants. https://www.youtube.com/embed/HrLLPRriWhQ?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-GB&autohide=2&wmode=transparent
- MARINE (sub-category)
Nikon produces a range of binoculars that are specifically designed for use around water bodies. Since the oceanic environment poses a series of threats for optical devices, such as binoculars and cameras, the marine binoculars are equipped with several features that ensure that the delicate internals does not get exposed to the salty water and humid atmosphere. Nikon offers the following binoculars in the marine segment.
- 7x50IF HP WP Tropical
The Tropical 7x50IF version is specially manufactured for those who spend a considerable amount of time at sea. These binoculars feature excellent waterproofing up to 5 m for minutes, which is extraordinary. A built-in scale, Porro prisms, individual focus, multi-coated optics, and long eye relief are some of the specs that make these binoculars an excellent choice for maritime professionals.
- 10x70IF HP WP
For those looking for larger objectives, the 10x70IF HP WP works wonders for both maritime voyages and nature explorers. The mighty binoculars are equipped with Porro prisms and multi-coated lenses to produce incredible visuals even in minimal light conditions. If brightness is important to you, then the 10x70IF binoculars are a perfect choice. Thanks to individual focus, this device is waterproof up to 2 m for 5 minutes.
THE STANDARD FOR ADVANCED NATURE OBSERVATION (Sub-Category)
A lot of people use binoculars for observing nature, which often requires superior optics. The following Nikon binoculars are particularly intended for the enjoyment of the fascinating aspects of natural objects.
These compact binoculars are designed to rediscover the beauty of nature. Armed with coated Porro prisms and multi-coated lenses, the 8×30/10×35 binoculars are best suited for bird watching, hiking, and camping trips since they are lightweight and produce amazing visuals with high color-fidelity. They also feature a center focus mechanism and magnesium-construction for seamless use when you are outdoors.
- 7x50IF SP WP/10×70 SP WP
These waterproof binoculars are one step ahead of their competition, as they can be used to explore the night sky, as well as seafaring. Equipped with separate focusing and Porro prisms, these devices create a high-quality viewing experience even in the dimmest lighting conditions. If you are looking for a set of binoculars with dual functionality, you cannot miss with these.
- 18x70IF WP WF
The Nikon 18×70 binoculars are perfect for occasions when a 10x magnification is not enough. Rarely any binoculars come with waterproofing and large 70 mm objectives, but you do not need to be worried around water bodies since they are waterproof up to 2 m depth for 5 minutes. Porro prisms, individual focus, long eye relief, and multi-coated optical elements are some features that make this device suitable for stargazing and cruising trips.
Made in China
The pocket-friendly variants of Nikon binoculars are usually manufactured in China. Since less expensive and entry-level models do not require intricate manufacturing processes and high-quality materials, they can easily be mass-produced in Chinese factories where production costs are significantly cheaper. However, the design of an affordable line of binoculars is a property of Nikon Corporation, therefore, these binoculars feature unique designs and are not sold under any other brand.
The following binoculars are made in China:
Nikon produces the following marine binoculars in China:
- Nikon OceanPro 7x50CF WP/7x50CF WP w/Global Compass
With Porro prisms and 50 mm multi-coated objectives, the OceanPro 7×50 CF binoculars are crafted to produce astounding visuals even in rough sea conditions. Additionally, the center focus system enables you to quickly focus on far-away water vessels and seashores without delay. Other features include Nitrogen-filled waterproofing up to 1m, rubber armor, and a floating strap. It also comes with a built-in Global Compass option.
- Nikon Marine 7x50IF WP
For advanced users who require separate focusing, Nikon 7x50IF binoculars provide a precise individual focus system so users can adjust the focus and dioptre only once, which is especially helpful in low-light situations. The main features are waterproofing up to 2 m, rubber amour, multi-coated lenses, Porro prisms, and long eye-relief for eyeglass wearers.
- Nikon Tundra 10x50CF WP
With a higher 10x magnification, the Tundra 10x50CF WP binoculars are perfect for situations when a 7x magnification is not effective, especially when viewing islands or water vessels that are far away. In addition, these binoculars are equipped with a center focus mechanism, waterproofing up to 1 m for 5 minutes, and shock-proof rubber armour.
- Monarch 5 and 7
The Monarch 5 and 7 are affordable devices from the Monarch series that excel in bird watching, camping, hiking, and occasional boat trips. Both models come with extra low-dispersion glass lenses, phase-corrected Schmidt-Pechan prisms, field-flattener lenses, and a center focus mechanism. Even in the most demanding situations, the Monarch range remains protected thanks to Nitrogen waterproofing and a rubber-coated Magnesium construction.
Available models are:
Monarch 5: 8×42, 10×42, 12×42, 8×56, 16×56, and 20×56
Monarch 7: 8×30, 10×30, 8×42, and 10×42 https://www.youtube.com/embed/HrLLPRriWhQ?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-GB&autohide=2&wmode=transparent
- PROSTAFF 3, 5 and 7s
The Nikon Prostaff range is best-suited for people who are looking for a mix of quality and price in binoculars. Unlike other binoculars, this series comes in a lightweight polycarbonate housing for comfortable handling for extended hours on camping and bird watching trips. The Prostaff binoculars feature multi-coated optical elements, phase-corrected roof prisms, and Nitrogen waterproofing. For added protection, the outer shell is covered with rubber armour to let you focus on objects with confidence.
Three variants of the Prostaff binoculars are available. Prostaff 7s comes in 10×42 and 8×30, Prostaff 5 comes in 8×42 and 10×50, and Prostaff 3s is available in 10×42 and 8×42 configurations. https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZpV9u394sBU?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-GB&autohide=2&wmode=transparent
- STANDARD Action EX 7×35/8×40/7×50/10×50/12×50/16×50
The Standard Action EX is not your average set of binoculars, as they are tailor-made for the most demanding of situations, whether on land or at sea. In addition to multi-coated lenses and classic Porro prisms, these robust devices feature Nitrogen waterproofing and protective rubber armour, so you are always ready for any unforeseen event. Other features include a quick center focus system, turn-and-slide eyecups, a wide neck-strap, and aspheric lenses (7×50 and 12×50 models only).
Nikon Aculon is a series of excellent compact binoculars that come in multiple personable designs to reflect your mood and personality. While the main aspects are compact size and small weight, there is no doubt that these binoculars feature multi-coated optics that produce visuals of realistic brightness and colours.
- T01 8×21/10×21
The T01 is a compact set of binoculars that comes in 5 alluring colours and features multi-coated optics, a center focus mechanism, and turn-and-slide eyecups. It is available in two configurations: 8×21 and 10×21.
- W10 8×21/10×21
In a stylish packaging, the modern Aculon W10 is made for traveling and hiking trips. It is packed with features such as multi-coated lenses, center focus, protective rubber armour, Nitrogen waterproofing up to 1m, and adjustable eyecups.
- T51 8×24/10×24
Designed for theatre and sports, the ultra-sleek T51 binoculars come in a metal body and four fascinating colours. The specs include roof prisms, center focus, multi-coated optics, and a small close focus that is suitable for indoor settings.
- T11 8-24×25
Aculon T11 combines the comfort of a compact size with the zooming capability. With four magnification options, this variant acts as perfect viewing glasses for sports, theatre, and opera. Multi-coated optics, center focus, and adjustable eyecups are some of the features.
- A30 8×25/10×25
For those looking for high performance in a compact housing, Nikon A30 provides multi-coated lenses, phase-coated roof prisms, longer eye relief, a rubber grip, and a lightweight body that makes it a handy choice for sports, theatre, hiking, and bird watching.
- A211 7×35/8×42/10×42/7×50/10×50/12×50/16×50
Armed with large objectives and Porro prisms, the Aculon A211 range is an affordable alternative that is aimed for bird watching, nature observation, and sports. The series is equipped with adjustable eyecups, shockproof rubber armour, aspherical eyepiece lens, and multi-coated objectives. Two zoom variants 8-18×42 and 10-22×50 are also available.
- ELEGANT COMPACT 4x10DCF
The Elegant Compact 4x10DCF is crafted for indoor arrangements, such as museums, musical concerts, and theatres, where there is usually plenty of light. Despite its small size, the lightweight binocular series comes with multi-coated lenses and coated roof prisms that produce movielike views with low image distortion. Additionally, the series does not require dioptre adjustment and instead features a central focus system.
- Nikon Mikron 6x15M CF/7x15M CF
The Mikron CF binoculars is another compact variant of the Elegant Compact series, which features a stylish metallic body. Designed for indoor sports, museum, and opera performances, the compact binoculars come in a Porro prism design and is equipped with multi-coated optics for reasonably bright images. If high magnification is what you need in small packaging, the Nikon Mikron is worth buying.
COMPACT AND HIGH GRADE (sub-category)
Nikon offers three binoculars in this sub-category:
- Sportstar EX 8x25DCF/10x25DCF
When a lightweight and compact size is crucial next to a good optical performance, the stylish Sportstar EX binoculars comes to the rescue. Special features, such as a foldable design, Nitrogen waterproofing, multi-coated lenses, and adjustable eyecups make it an excellent choice for on-the-go binoculars.
- TRAVELITE EX 8x25CF/9x25CF/10x25CF/12x25CF
The TRAVELITE EX range comes in an unusual design that is perfect for introducing adventure into your life. In addition to Porro prisms and adjustable eyecups, these ultra-compact binoculars feature sophisticated aspheric lenses that eliminate image distortion to produce exciting views even in poor lighting conditions. The lightweight series is best-suited for bird watching, camping, and boat trips.
- Nikon High Grade DCF 8x20HG/10×25 HG
For those who are looking for a high optical performance and built quality in a miniature size, the Nikon High-Grade range is the perfect choice. Designed for travelling, theatre, and marine sports, the HG binoculars feature a magnesium construction, phase-corrected roof prisms, a center focus, and a small close focus distance.
Ever since Nikon released its F-series SLR cameras in the 1950s, the company has been reaching new heights in terms of technology and market share year after year. As of today, the brand offers a series of high-quality products that are designed for every occasion at unbeatable prices. The commitment to innovation and quality has enabled the brand to remain at the forefront of customer satisfaction all over the world. The reason for the widespread popularity of Nikon devices is the number of features the company integrates into its products. Even the entry-level products offer features like Nitrogen waterproofing and coated optics, which most devices from other brands lack.
According to a recent survey, Nikon enjoys one of the largest market shares of optical and imaging products in the Asian continent. To maintain the prices and quality, all high-end binoculars that require precision manufacturing processes and quality control are produced in Nikon factories in Japan, whereas all affordable models are produced in Nikon factories in China. This way, more people who are on a high budget can enjoy the high-quality of Nikon products without spending a fortune. The same is true for imaging products, such as digital cameras, interchangeable cameras, and microscopes. The assembly operations are usually carried out in Chinese factories, while the development of optical glass lenses and related accessories takes place in Thailand, Laos, and China.
Source and author: Teodor Štimec, www.optics-trade.eu