Nikon Monarch HG 8x30

Review by David Chandler

Price: £899

Verdict

This binocular delivers a very good, very wide view and has a very good close-focus (despite what Nikon say!). It is wonderfully light, well-made, and felt good in my hands. Watch out for the vignetting though. If the niche and budget fit, try it. The Monarch HG range also includes 8x42 and 10x42 models.

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It’s a while since I’ve reviewed something new from this Japanese camera giant. Then like buses (only smaller) two came along at once – the 8x30 and 10x30 Monarch HG. I put most of my effort into the 8x, but also offer some comments on the 10x.

This binocular seems very well constructed and has a feel of quality. At just 450g, few people will complain about the weight though larger hands might find it too small. I liked it. Thumb indents are not to everyone’s taste but on this Monarch they are shallow and unlikely to bother anyone. As you would expect, this binocular is armoured, waterproof, and nitrogen-purged. Scratch-resistant coating on the outer lens’ surfaces provides another layer of protection.

The dioptre adjusts by pulling up the ring, twisting, and pushing down to lock, with ridges providing calibration. The twist-up eyecups are rubber-coated, with two click-stopped intermediate positions. I used them fully extended and they stayed in place. Focusing is via a single finger-wide wheel which moves very smoothly with moderate resistance, clockwise towards infinity. There are just over 1¼ turns, but mostly, you won’t be moving it more than about 1/8 of a turn. Typically, a gentle touch is all that’s needed – which I quite liked, and focusing precision is very good. Which brings us on to the view…

This little Monarch delivers a very good view with impressive, natural colours. It is wide, crisp, and plenty bright enough. Sharpness is excellent. I detected a bit of edge softness, but nothing to get worked up about, a bit of colour fringing (adjusting my eye position helped) and some vignetting (‘edge shadows’) – resting the binocular against my brow ridge, and pulling them closer to my eyes improved things. To get the best out of this binocular, handle it gently.

The 145m field of view (at 1,000m) is hard to beat and while the close-focus is quoted as a very acceptable 2m, I measured it as about 1.6m – significantly better.

As the evening crept in the small objectives didn’t limit things too much for my eyes – light gathering was good, though, had deteriorated a bit by 20 minutes after sunset.

Supplied accessories include a strap, case, rainguard and tethered objective covers. It’s a good case – hard, zip-up, and well-sized – you can fit the binoculars in with the eyecups fully up and the strap on. The rainguard is a tight fit but can be used loosely and the objective covers are removable – unusually, you remove the objective rings with the covers and replace them with supplied, cover-free rings.

These days, I am more of an 8x than a 10x person. I used the 10x in overcast conditions in woodland. The view was very good, and I had no issue with image wobble, something that can be harder to manage with a higher magnification. Light-gathering was fine and vignetting seemed less of an issue than on the 8x. The conclusion wasn’t what I would have predicted – with this binocular, maybe I prefer the 10x. There was another surprise – Mandarin Duck, a new species for #My200BirdYear, at the wonderfully named Nanpantan reservoir. That may sound like it’s in the Mandarin’s native range – actually, it’s near Loughborough.

Binocular specs

Eye relief: 16.2mm

Field of view: 8.3°/145m@1000m

Close focus: 2m

Weight: 450g

Size (LxWxD): 119x126x47mm

RRP: £899 (£949 for 10x)

Warranty: 10 years (limited)

Supplied with: case; strap; rainguard; tethered, removable objective covers.

This review originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Bird Watching