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Nikon Fieldscope 82ED Scope

Nikon 82mm Angled ED Fieldscope The 82ED is the flagship of the Nikon Fieldscope line. We received the angled version for review, equipped with the Fieldscope Eyepiece MCII zoom eyepiece that renders the scope 25-75x (more on that later), and we put it through its paces. First impressions time: overall we liked it. Two things that just jumped out at us when we first handled it were the excellent flat field performance and the ultra cool case! But we're getting ahead of ourselves. All Fieldscopes are fully sealed and nitrogen-purged to be waterproof, dust-proof and internally fog-proof.

Optically speaking, we were quite pleased with the 82-mm Fieldscope overall. The view was bright and crisp and sharp right to the very edge of the field, and we mean to the very edge. There is no "dead zone" at the edges of the field. We observed no chromatic aberration either - just sharp clear image from edge to edge. There was no detectable color bias either - bright whites were bright white, with no hint of yellow tinge for added contrast. That being said, we did note that in fading evening light, the Fieldscope was slightly less bright than an 82-mm scope from another major optics manufacturer. It should be noted that this is a qualitative rather than a quantitative judgment, and that with the two scopes having non-equivalent magnifications in their zoom lens ranges, it's very difficult to get them exactly the same. Moreover, at this level of optical instrument, such differences, even when real, are very minor. You won't notice it in the field. The difference in zoom lens magnification range is a function of how Nikon designed the entire Fieldscope line: one zoom lens fits on all three of their Fieldscopes, but with a different magnification range for each. On the one hand, the fact that this zooms right up to 75x gives you that extra bit of "reach" to identify that distant shorebird or gull. On the other hand, it also means a smaller field of view and a longer minimum focus distance at the lowest magnification (16.4 feet for this scope). Scopes are always about trade-offs.

Nikon-82-fieldscope-zoom-ep-sm The Fieldscopes are only offered in ED glass varieties, with the options of 50, 60 and 82-mm objective lenses. With the 25-75x zoom lens, eye relief is 14.1 mm, which is a bit on the small side. Some eyeglass wearers may find this a bit short. The field of view at 1000 yards (at 25x) is 84 feet, which is pretty small. Then again, you don't buy a scope because you don't want magnification, so take this for what it's worth! All Fieldscope eyepieces screw into place, as opposed to the bayonet-type of mount. We did encounter one slight annoyance with the zoom eyepiece: the zoom function is located right next to the eyecup, and particularly when the eyecup is closed, you sometimes open it when you are attempting to zoom in on something. The zoom mechanism itself was fairly smooth. The focusing mechanism is a collar type, with a wide rubber ring covered with prominent, thick ridges to improve purchase. We found the mechanism just a bit stiff, though this may be a function of its newness. Focusing was quite precise though, and we noted a tendency for focus to need little further adjustment when we zoomed in on something, indicating that we had accidentally hit an "ideal" focus even at the lower magnification. More importantly, the image was sharp all the way out to 75x. Some scopes boast very high magnifications - the Fieldscope simply delivers them. In effect, the natural precision of the focus mechanism is high.
Physically, the scope has some interesting properties. Even though the 82-mm Fieldscope is somewhat more compact than other 82-mm scopes (13.3 inches for the angled model, 12.9 for the straight mount, body only), it is a somewhat hefty 58.9 oz., with the eyepiece adding another 5.3 oz. The design, particularly on the 82-mm Fieldscope, is very distinctive. The scope has a very pale green color with black rubber accents on the focus ring, the intrinsic lens hood, and the eyepiece mounting area. A rather slender optic tube flares dramatically to the objective lens, giving it a sort of rakish 'blunderbuss' appearance. For the most part, you'll notice this less because you'll usually have it inside the case, which brings us to the next subject of discourse.

Nikon-82-fieldscope-case The case is a padded cordura nylon affair, which makes up for the fact that the scope itself has no armoring. The case has a lot of great features and just a few not-so-great ones. This is a view-through case. The objective lens is covered by a deep cup that is designed to hang down from a nice secure, inch-wide tether when the scope is in use. When not in use, you can secure the cup in place with a Velcro patch, or just leave it open for rapid deployment, since it is pretty secure even without the Velcro. Likewise, the ocular lens end is covered by a shaped cup that Velcros in place, or hangs from a 1/4-inch tether when the scope is in use. The case cinches shut around the ocular lens and the scope mounting foot, a really cool little feature. We would have preferred that the main body of the case be just a bit shorter on the objective end, for it is so close-fitting that deployment of the excellent intrinsic lens hood is virtually impossible unless one takes the time to unzip the case. Like most high-end scopes these days, the 82-mm Fieldscope has a screw-adjustment that allows the user to swivel the body of the scope in place by just unscrewing a knob on the side. The knob is nice and big and adjusts easily, and the case has a well-placed hole to allow access to the knob. There's just one problem: the case fits so tightly that having unscrewed the knob, it's impossible to swivel the scope without removing the case. Since being able to do this is particularly important with an angled scope, this is a more important drawback to this otherwise excellent case. On the plus side, the flap that covers the focus mechanism was very well designed. The flap has tapering, folding flaps that hang down (and black leather trim bearing the Nikon logo) that close on the main body of the case with a nifty magnetic catch. These allow the flap to be opened to permit focusing from either the left or right side. An opening in the bottom of the case allows the user to grasp the focus ring with both fingers and thumb. It's true that having the case on restricts access to the focus knob somewhat, but these features are there to help keep the scope dry during truly inclement weather. In nicer weather, the entire flap can be peeled up and off the knob and secured in place with a Velcro patch. This whole aspect of the case is truly innovative and well-executed. We had minor quibbles with the lens caps, in particular the objective lens cap, which is nearly impossible to use when the case is on. Most users will probably keep the lens caps at home and just use the case. There is even a separate zipping padded case for the eyepiece when putting the scope away!

One other issue that we should mention concerns adapting this scope for digiscoping. You can do this with the Fieldscopes, but only with certain limitations. You must first purchase a specific digiscoping eyepiece for the scope, and then you attach a digiscoping bracket to the eyepiece, and even then, you can only use a particular Nikon CoolPix digital camera in conjunction with the Fieldscope. You have a choice of digiscoping eyepieces, at fixed magnifications of 30, 50 and 75x, but no zooming eyepieces are available or planned.

Nikon stands behind their products with an excellent warranty. In addition to the standard 25-year limited warranty on all binoculars, spotting scopes and Fieldscopes, Nikon has a "no-fault" replacement or repair policy. If your Nikon optic requires service or repair not covered by the 25-year warranty, Nikon will fix or replace the optic for just $10 plus shipping and handling, even if the damage was your fault.

The 82-mm Fieldscopes run $1,299.95 and $1,399.95 for the straight and angled versions respectively, which includes the MCII zoom eyepiece we reviewed (they are no longer available without this eyepiece). This puts the Nikon Fieldscope at the low end of the high-performance ED-glass scope market, in terms of price. So in summing up, optically this is a very good high-performance scope, and in terms of the value, it's a truly excellent one.

Nikon Fieldscope 82mm ED Spotting Scopes - current price and availability