Nikon Action EX 12x50 binoculars review

A step-up in terms of power, these large and heavy binoculars are a good value way of getting closer to your subject

Nikon Action EX 12x50
(Image: © Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

A great value combination of power and light-gathering, the Nikon Action EX 12x50 binoculars are ideal for long-distance observations, however their 12x magnification and rugged design make them rather heavyweight.

Pros

  • +

    12x magnification

  • +

    Waterproof and fog-proof design

  • +

    Good value price

Cons

  • -

    Heavy to hold for long periods

  • -

    Some edge distortion

  • -

    Lens caps are easy to lose

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With 12x magnification, the Nikon Action EX 12x50 is a candidate for step-up binoculars for anyone wanting close-up views of distant objects. That does mean the Nikon Action EX 12x50 weighs a little more than your average 8x42 or 10x50 binoculars – considerably more, in fact – but the extra power doesn't appear to require an extra financial outlay. Great value and easy to use, here's how the Nikon Action EX 12x50 perform.

Nikon Action EX 12x50

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)
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Magnification: 12x
Objective diameter: 50mm
Field of view at 1000m: 96 m
Closest focusing distance: 7m/23 ft
Eye relief: 16.1mm/0.63
Weight: 36.8oz/1kg
Dimensions: 179 x 196 x 68mm

Nikon Action EX 12x50 key features

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)

The reason to buy the Nikon Action EX 12x50 is for that powerful 12x magnification, but just as important are its 50mm objective lenses, which are designed to let in as much light as possible. Nikon supplies multi-coated optics to maximize light transmission, using BaK-4 glass prisms to help achieve the same thing. 

The Nikon Action EX 12x50 uses the porro prism design, which means a wider body thanks to the Z-shaped design of the optical engine. However it should also mean bright images with plenty of depth of field. The former may be reduced somewhat by the Nikon Action EX 12x50’s 12x magnification, which itself makes the Nikon Action EX 12x50 longer than your average 10x50 binoculars. That all means a bulk of 1kg/36.8oz, which is rather heavy when using binoculars for long periods. 

Nikon Action EX 12x50 build & handling

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)

Although the Nikon Action EX 12x50 binoculars aren't necessarily designed to be used while mounted on a tripod, we do think you should consider doing just that. Like most pairs of binoculars, there is a thread between the barrels that an L-shaped binocular tripod adapter can be attached to. However, if you go down that route you will need as tall a tripod as possible if you intend to use the Nikon Action EX 12x50 to go stargazing (to avoid any uncomfortable stooping).

The Nikon Action EX 12x50 boast an impressive build quality, with their rubber armor adding some shock resistance, a textured surface that's easy to hold in drizzle, and an entirely waterproof design. 

We found the Nikon Action EX 12x50 easy to use, with the focus knob and diopter wheel nicely resistant while also being easy to turn even while wearing gloves. In the box is a good quality neck strap and shoulder bag, although we didn't get on well with the pop-off objective lens caps. We would prefer these to be either attached to each other, or to the binoculars, to avoid the chance of them being lost.

Nikon Action EX 12x50 performance

(Image credit: Jamie Carter / Digital Camera World)

The Nikon Action EX 12x50 are best considered as long-range binoculars. If you're going on safari, or on a bird-watching trip, the extra power on offer by the 12x50 specification is likely to impress. Conversely, if you want a pair of binoculars that you can use in your back garden to focus on birds and butterflies just a couple of meters in front of you, the Nikon Action EX 12x50 isn't for you. 

If that 7m/23 ft. close focus is going to be limiting for some, it’s the 12x magnification we’re most excited about. In use, that extra power makes a big difference in terms of image size, and the good news is that it doesn't mean a drop in brightness. We found images through the Nikon Action EX 12x50 to be bright enough even in dusk and dawn, while stargazing also heralded some crisp views. There's plenty of depth of field on offer, with images sharp and clear in the center, though we did notice a slight drop-off in detail towards the edge of the field of view.

Nikon Action EX 12x50 verdict

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)

The Nikon Action EX 12x50 is a great value combination of high power and light-gathering. If you really want to get closer to objects then look for binoculars with 16x magnification – and prepare to always use a tripod – but we think 12x is both a worthy upgrade from 10x binoculars without hugely adding to the weight. 

Yes, the Nikon Action EX 12x50 are heavy, but the extra power they offer (and for very little extra outlay) alongside their rugged design and clean crisp and colorful images make them a great option if long-distance observing is your objective. 

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Jamie has been writing about all aspects of technology for over 14 years, producing content for sites like TechRadar, T3, Forbes, Mashable, MSN, South China Morning Post, and BBC Wildlife, BBC Focus and BBC Sky At Night magazines. 


As the editor for www.WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com, he has a wealth of enthusiasm and expertise for all things astrophotography, from capturing the Perseid Meteor Shower, lunar eclipses and ring of fire eclipses, photographing the moon and blood moon and more.


He also brings a great deal of knowledge on action cameras, 360 cameras, AI cameras, camera backpacks, telescopes, gimbals, tripods and all manner of photography equipment.