I recently got a chance to examine the new Nikon Prostaff 16-48×65 spotting scope. Since this new scope is regarded as a replacement for the Nikon Sky & Earth spotting scope, I pulled a Nikon 15-45×60 Sky & Earth model we still had on the shelf and placed it side by side with the Prostaff. So, is the Nikon Prostaff just a repackaged Nikon Sky & Earth or is it a new design with some real differences?
Let’s face it, Nikon tends to change numbers and models for nothing more than a change in the color of the box. After playing with the scopes this afternoon, I had to conclude that the Prostaff is indeed a different scope. Yes, it is similar in overall feel to the Sky & Earth, so it shows its heritage there, but there are enough improvements for it to stand on its own.
First, the Prostaff is listed as fully “waterproof”, while the Sky&Earth; has always been listed as “water-resistant”. Not a big deal, I suppose, to a casual user, but the “water-resistant” stigma of the Sky & Earth made hunters and other hard users hesitate. Now they have a Nikon in the same general price range that is fully waterproof. The thing I most appreciated, though, with the Prostaff, is the much improved eyepiece. It is a bayonet mount, with twist up eyecup and feels more substantial than the old Sky & Earth (RA II) zoom.
It is a larger eyepiece with a slightly larger lens diameter. I wouldn’t rate it quite as good as a Fieldscope 7467 zoom, but it is a definite step up from the Sky & Earth. It is a bayonet mount (with a lock), so it will not work on the Sky & Earth. Other items that make the Prostaff different include a “target sight” that actually clips to the scope body as a sighting aide. Can’t say as I was impressed. It is plastic and it looks less than durable. Questionable improvement, here.
Nikon Prostaff 16-48×65 Spotting Scope Includes
- Case for eyepiece
- Stay on case for scope
- Carry strap (attaches to scope)
- Cap for eyepiece with tether hole
- Snap on plastic finderscope with pointer (fits in accessory shoe)
- Rubber tethered obj cap
Focusing on the Prostaff is similar to the Sky & Earth, but on these two models, the Prostaff focused smoother and with less effort. I put both scopes on the resolution test target and cranked them up to 45x. The 65mm Prostaff edged out the 60mm Sky & Earth, but only by a small margin. I’d credit that to the slightly larger objective, rather than a major improvement in optical quality.
Apples to apples, I’d say the two series are about the same in this department, once you account for different lens sizes. Okay, neither the Prostaff or the Sky & Earth will match up against a Nikon Fieldscope or one of the other premium grade Japanese and European scopes, but they are still among the ones to beat in their price range. In my opinion, the Prostaff is a worthy successor to the Sky & Earth.