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Nikon Monarch Binoculars

Nikon Monarch 5 Binoculars Beginning in 2012, Nikon significantly expanded and remodeled their popular line, coming out with ultimately three main branches of Monarchs, named, oddly enough, the Monarch 3, the Monarch 5 and the Monarch 7. And that doesn’t include the 36-mm Monarchs or the 50-mm Monarchs, at least so far. Confused? Don’t worry about it! We all are. All you need to know is that the world’s most popular binocular, the old 42-mm Monarchs, are the ones now called Monarch 5 binoculars. The quality hasn’t changed, except to go up a bit, and the price is pretty much the same. The Monarch 5 is still Nikon's medium-cost binocular that includes many features usually found only in higher-priced optics. All Monarch 5 binoculars are compact, lightweight, 42-mm, roof prism designs available in 8x, 10x and 12x magnifications which sell for $279.95, $299.95 and $329.95 respectively. All three are available in Team REALTREE® camouflage versions, which typically cost about $30 more than the non-camo models. The binocular is nitrogen-purged, and sealed to be waterproof, dust-proof and externally fog-proof. Our assessment is that for these prices with the kind of features these binoculars have, Monarch 5s are an excellent value for a 42-mm roof prism binocular.

At just 5.8 inches long and 5 inches wide, and weighing a feather-light 21 oz., the Monarch 5 binoculars won’t cause anyone fatigue. Nikon made the binocular even more comfortable with ergonomically-designed molding to the black rubber armoring (non-camo models!) and a nice no-slip surface with shallow thumb grooves just below a flange on which the strap attaches. The strap attachment does not interfere notably with the hands. Overall, this binocular is very comfortable to use.

The 8x42 Monarch 5 has a 330-foot field of view at 1000 yards while the 10x and 12x models come in at 314 and 262 feet respectively. In our hands, all three versions close-focus to about 7 feet with some field separation. The focus knob is large and easily accessed, and needs just about 1.25 turns to go from close-focus to infinity. The action is smooth and easy, making sharp focus quick and simple to achieve. Overall, the Monarch 5 is of average brightness for a 42-mm objective binocular. The lenses and prisms are fully multi-coated and phase-coated to improve optical performance. Additionally, Nikon has added a new dielectric coating to the prisms of the Monarch 5s for enhanced light transmission. There is some field curvature to the Monarchs so the focus gets a bit soft towards the outer 20% of the field. In bright light when focused on high-contrast objects, the Monarch 5 shows a notable chromatic aberration: a separation of the visible light to yield a prism effect.

The 8x42 Monarch 5 has eye relief of 19.6 mm, which is excellent, but the 10x and 12x versions are only about 15.5 mm which is a bit on the short side. The eyecups twist up to full extension, and click-stop both there, in fully closed position and in two stable positions in between, meaning there is a comfortable setting for everyone. The click-stops lock them in place, preventing accidental collapse in the field. The eyecups are made of pliable rubber, and are comfortable against the face. And while we’re talking about comfortable, the Nikon Monarch 5 binoculars have an interpupillary distance range of 54-74 mm. That’s a huge spread relative to most roof prism binoculars, and that means that there is a comfortable position for just about everybody with the Monarch 5s. The diopter adjustment is on the right barrel and traditional: it is a rubber ring that twists in either direction to adjust the focus of the right ocular. The mechanism is stiff enough to prevent it from slipping much in the field.

The rainguard is a pair of hard rubber cups joined by a flexing linker. The cups do not fit very snugly over the oculars and can sometimes dislodge easily when accidentally bumped. However, the strap threads through a bracket on the left side, and the similar bracket on the right side is gapped so it can be affixed or removed from the strap on that side, which prevents loss of the rainguard if it is accidentally dislodged. This is an adequate design for a rain guard. The objective lens caps are hard plastic and are anchored in place by an attachment on the underside of the barrels. Having tethered objective lens caps is an improvement over the old design.

The strap is a simple nylon one, widening at the neck, with a patch of cloth padding sewn into the inner side for extra comfort. On a regular roof-prism binocular it would be insufficient for comfort, but on the flyweight Monarch 5s, it is all that is needed. The cordura case is spacious and features a flap that closes with a Velcro patch, leaving the binocular strap comfortably free so the whole ensemble can be comfortably worn over the shoulder or around the neck. Alternatively, there is a wide, nylon, belt-mounting loop on the back of the case, allowing it to be conveniently worn at the waist. The rational design of the case adds value to the binocular – it too will be useful in the field.

In the end, there a lot of good things to be said about the Nikon Monarch 5 binoculars. Their small size and lightweight design make them very comfortable to carry and their ergonomic refinements make them feel great in the hands. And while the optical performance is not in the class of Nikon’s superb EDG LX binoculars, it is not by any means poor. While obviously aimed at the hunting sector (birders typically don’t request camo!), the Monarch 5s clearly have a much broader market appeal.


Nikon Monarch 5 Binoculars - current price and availability